Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/262

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been injured, that Sir Richard Temple calculates that, it only one-third is found to have been saved, it will suffice for the wants of the population. The plantain trees had lost all their fruit, but the cocoanuts withstood the storm and afforded some sustenance. Terrible as has been the loss of life, the material injury seems not to have been so great as might have been expected. Order was soon restored by the prompt intervention of the authorities on the mainland. Most of the local native officials had been drowned on the islands; and of those who escaped, some stood by their posts and did their duty well, while some few deserted and fled for their own safety, and these offenders, who belonged chiefly to the lowest grade of the police, will, Sir Richard Temple says, be duly punished. But all the higher authorities who were near enough to render any effective aid showed the most exemplary activity and zeal, and before Sir Richard Temple left he had sketched out a complete scheme of what the course of the government and its agents was to be. The great danger was, he thought, that of an epidemic from exposure to the climate, from the putrefaction of the dead bodies of men and animals, and from the pollution of the drinking-water, and he established a large medical staff ready to combat disease as soon as it might show itself. For the general body of the people the best thing to be done was, he thought, to cheer them, to give them heart to work, to encourage them to rebuild their houses and open shops. Government was to interfere principally as a comforter, and, if there were to be relief centres, these centres were set up, not so much to give relief, which was to be accorded only in extreme and exceptional cases, as to preserve order. The inhabitants, who are a thrifty, industrious race, will soon, Sir Richard Temple thinks, build new houses, buy new boats, and find the land as profitable as ever. A little money may have to be spent by government in its work of encouragement; but the local resources will be sufficient, and no application to the Imperial treasury will be necessary. Nor will it even be necessary to remit the land-tax. It is small in these districts in comparison to the total profits of the land, and the people are quite able to pay it. The government got in all its land revenue during the much worse crisis of the famine of 1874 in every district of Bengal; and Sir Richard Temple sees no reason why the result should be worse in the case of the tracts over which the storm-wave swept. Altogether, this memorandum by Sir Richard Temple is most creditable to him, and to the whole system of Indian administration. It shows - that those who govern India never spare themselves trouble to gain a real practical knowledge of facts; that they sympathize with the victims of calamities, and keep up every official to a high standard of duty; and that at the same time they do not lose their heads when great misfortunes happen, see what the natives can be made to do, and are not to be diverted by pity or ignorance from insisting that the, paramount claims of the government shall be respected and satisfied.

The Variations of Gravity. — The pendulum observations made in India have shown that there is a deficiency of attracting matter under that great continent, and this conclusion is borne out by a comparison of the geodetic and astronomical longitudes of stations on the east and west coast, from which it appears that the ocean bed exercises a stronger attraction than the raised land. In the Astronomische Nachrichten Herr Hann calls attention to this, and also to the circumstance that oceanic islands show an excess of attraction which cannot be accounted for by the nature of the rock of which they are composed. The theory that there are great cavities under the large continents appears hardly tenable, and the more probable supposition would seem to be that they rise above the sealevel by virtue of their specific lightness, floating perhaps like icebergs surrounded by a floe, with the molten liquid under a thin crust. There are, however, difficulties connected with precession and nutation and tides in a fluid interior, all of which Sir W. Thomson has pointed out, and we can only wait for further data. The balance of evidence, however, seems now to have changed, inclining to the hypothesis of a moderately thin crust with fluid or semi-fluid interior. Academy.