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Nature volume 71, pages 268269 (19 January 1905) | Download Citation



WITH climates varying from the ice-bound deserts of the higher Himalayas and the rain-steeped forests of Tenasserim, to the desolation of Makran, where at one time of the year fire is almost unnecessary, even for cooking, and at another the cold blasts almost defy human endurance; the inhabitants of which number races unsurpassed as brave and stubborn fighters, and races among whom physical cowardice is regarded as no disgrace; where in one part music is produced by stamping on a piece of wood, and in another has been carried to a refinement which requires sixty-four tones to our octave—both extremes, it may be added, equally unmusical to the European ear; where there is found a system of laws so elaborate that the cashier who has confessed to embezzlement may yet succeed in escaping punishment, and a system of government so paternal that it imprisons the husband, whose domestic happiness has been ruined, to prevent his committing the crime of murder; the territories known as British India may be a country for political purposes, but in no proper sense of the word do they constitute a nation, they are hardly even a “region of the world,” and the name is nothing but a geographical expression for the area which is administered by the British Government through the agency of the GovernorGeneral of India in Council. To write a description which, in a book of moderate compass, will convey a clear and fairly proportioned conception, requires a master hand; not to have failed is in itself high praise, but Sir Thomas Holdich has done more than this, he has produced a topographical description of the Indian Empire which, in spite of minor errors—such as the reference to the Kasmur bund as intended for the storage of water, and a general inaccuracy where he ventures into geology—is not only interesting to read, but accurate and well proportioned on the whole.

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