Who has not heard of the Himalayas-those Titanic masses of mountainsthat interpose themselves between the hot plains of India and the cold tablelands of Thibet-a worthy barrier between the two greatest empires in theworld, the Mogul and the Celestial? The veriest tyro in geography can tellyou that they are the tallest mountains on the surface of the earth; thattheir summits-a half-dozen of them at least-surmount the sea-level bymore than five miles of perpendicular height; that more than thirty of themrise above twenty thousand feet, and carry upon their tops the eternal snow!The more skilled geographer, or geognosist, could communicate hundreds ofother interesting facts in relation to these majestic mountains; vast volumesmight be filled with most attractive details of them-their fauna, their sylva,and their flora. But here, my reader, we have only space to speak of a few ofthe more salient points, that may enable you to form some idea of theTitanic grandeur of these mighty masses of snow-crowned rock, which,towering aloft, frown or smile, as the case may be, on our grand empire ofInd.It is the language of writers to call the Himalayas a "chain of mountains."Spanish geographers would call them a "sierra" (saw)-a phrase which theyhave applied to the Andes of America. Either term is inappropriate, whenspeaking of the Himalayas: for the vast tract occupied by these mountains-over 200,000 square miles, or three times the size of Great Britain-in shapebears no resemblance to a chain. Its length is only six or seven timesgreater than its breadth-the former being about a thousand miles, while thelatter in many places extends through two degrees of the earth's latitude.Moreover, from the western termination of the Himalayas, in the country ofCabul, to their eastern declension near the banks of the Burrampooter, thereis no continuity that would entitle them to the appellation of a "chain ofmountains." Between these two points they are cut transversely-and inmany places-by stupendous valleys, that form the channels of great rivers,which, instead of running east and west, as the mountains themselves weresupposed to trend, have their courses in the transverse direction-oftenflowing due north or south.