Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/204

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192
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

 The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
 The gloom of groves, the garniture of fields,
 All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
 And all that echoes to the song of even,
 All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
 And all the dread magnificence of heaven—
Oh! how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven?"

 
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THE GREAT BENGAL CYCLONE OF 1876.[1]
By CARL DAMBECK.

NO more convincing proof could, perhaps, be given of the headlong pace of our modern life, or of the thoughtlessness of our age, than the fact that, though we still hear of the earthquake at Lisbon, hardly a word is said of the fearfully destructive cyclone which, on the 31st of October, 1876, swept over the Delta of the Ganges. Even in the queen's last speech from the throne, there is not so much as a simple mention of that disastrous event, whereby a quarter of a million of British subjects in India were destroyed. The after-effects of the cyclone in themselves constituted a fearful calamity, for thousands are still[2] dying of disease and hunger—evils the seeds of which had been sown in October.

Cyclones usually occur toward the end of spring and in the fall—from April to June, and from September till November—the periods of the change of direction in the monsoons. By far the greater number of the cyclones occur at the cessation of the southwest and the setting in of the northeast monsoons in the fall: out of eighty-eight observed in the Indian Ocean, forty-nine occurred in the fall and only twenty-nine in the spring. The former, almost without an exception, came from a point lying somewhat to the north of latitude 15 north, in the bay of Bengal; while the latter had their rise in the neighborhood of the Andaman Islands. The whole east coast of India is exposed to the fury of these storms, and from Ceylon to Chittagong there is hardly a point on the coast that has not more or less frequently felt the power of the cyclones, though the localities which suffer most are the low-lying portions of the coast, more particularly when they are situated in a bight or in an angle, for wind and water are there brought into violent conflict. One of the earliest cylones of which authentic accounts are extant occurred in 1789, at an unusual season of the year—December. Furthermore, it was attended by three enormous storm-waves, which flooded the coast at Coringa,

  1. Translated from the German, by J. Fitzgerald, A.M.
  2. May, 1877, when this article was written.