A SKETCH OF
while the external surface is soft and earthy, and evidently losing a portion every year by the action of the atmosphere. Several of the smaller elevations are sugar-loaf in form, and in these granite predominates.
Lakes lie among the mountains as well as in the low lands along the sea-coast. Some of them are remarkable for their natural beauty, others are esteemed for their utility, and many of them are large, being often a hundred miles in length, though they are quite narrow, sometimes not more than a mile in breadth. Saririaka, the name of one of the lakes signifies “image of ocean.” There is a highly bituminous lake which is five miles in width and sixty miles in length. On the eastern coast of the island a series of lakes extends for a distance of two hundred miles. Several of these are remarkably beautiful, being spotted with islets of various dimensions, some of them clothed with verdure, and others enlivened with the habitations of men.
The rivers of Madagascar are numerous, and many of them are of considerable width, the greater number flowing into the sea on the western coast. But they are all less favorable for the purposes of trade and commerce than from their magnitude a traveler might be led to expect. At their junction with the sea they are generally choked with sand, and their course is often obstructed with cascades, falls, and rapids, rendering navigation dangerous if not impracticable. The sublime, gloomy, and unbroken solitude of some parts of the mountain scenery of the island is enlivened by cataracts of varied size.
The climate is exceedingly diversified, both in the range of its temperature, and the degrees of its salubrity. The heat in the low lands and on the coast is often intense, but in the interior and elevated parts of the country it is mild, theseldom rising above 85°. In the different sections every variety of temperature may be met with, from the oppressive heat of the coast, to the cold of the loftly Ankasatra range, on the summits of which ice may often be found; or the elevated regions in the northern part of the island, where showers of sleet are frequently encountered.
The temperature of the principal province, Ankova, in which the capital is situated, is agreeable to the European, the greatest heat being about 85°, and the lowest 40°. Though it is often sultry in the middle portions of the day, yet the mornings and evenings are always pleasant. In the winter months, from May to October, when the ground is frequently covered with hoar