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H. Indeed! that is strange.
U. O. The reason is, that the agents of the Indian traders are always at Muscat; and the persons who fish for pearls prefer to carry them there, where they are certain of a sale, than to seek a higher but less regular price in any other market. There are usually two sorts of pearl, one yellow and the other white. As the Indians prefer the former, they are sure to be sent eastward; but as the Europeans and Turks, and, I believe the Persians also, prefer the white pearls, many of them, besides those which go to Persia, are distributed, by way of Bussorah and Bagdad, through Asia Minor, from whence a great number are brought into Europe. In their way, a very large proportion are kept at Constantinople to deck the ladies of the Sultan and of his great officers. Now, Henry, we want your services again, to read the passage I have marked in the same poem from which you read to us at the end of our last conversation. The passage describes a calm moonlight night in the Persian Gulf.
Her banks of pearl and palmy isles
Bask in the night-beam beauteously,
And her blue waters sleep in smiles.
All hush'd—there's not a breeze in motion;
Nor leaf is stirr'd, nor wave is driven;
Can hardly win a breath from heaven.” U.O. The wind-towers of which he speaks are hollow towers or chimneys, so constructed as to catch the wind, and carry down a draught of cool air to refresh the apartments below.
THE INLAND WATERS. Uncle Oliver. We are now come to a subject which I think a very nice one, and that is the Lakes of Persia, Let us look to them in the map. Here is the Caspian Sea, which is merely a great lake; here is the large lake Shahee or Ourmiah ; and here is Bakhtegan. There are other smaller lakes; but it will be enough to speak of these. None of these lakes have any visible outlet, and all of them are salt. The Caspian is salter than the ocean, Shahee is salter than the Caspian, and Bakhtegan is salter than Shahee. The Caspian is not very much salter than the ocean, and it abounds in fish; but the saltness of Shahee is so great that it has no fish of its own, and all those that are brought into it by the rivers die immediately.
Henry. But, Sir, I thought that fresh-water fish would die even in the salt water of the ocean.
U. O. Not all. There are several kinds of fish which can live either in fresh or salt water.
H. I cannot understand how it happens that when so much fresh water comes in by the rivers, and does not run out again, the lakes do not become fresh. How strange it is that they should
alter than the sea!
U. O. I will try to explain it to you. Lakes which receive much fresh water, and have an outlet through which they discharge much water. into the sea, are almost always fresh; because, if they ever were salt, their salt water has been gradually carried out along with the fresh. But when lakes that are salt have no outlet, as much salt as they ever had must always remain in them. Suppose the Caspian Sea was at one time exactly of the same saltness with the ocean. If the rivers brought in more fresh water than could get out again, the lake must be fuller and fresher than it was before, unless it got, at the same time, a fresh supply of salt. But if the air, which always sucks up fresh water and leaves the salt behind, takes away as much as the rivers bring in, then the lake would remain not more or less salt than the ocean. And if, again, more fresh water is taken away than the rivers bring,—then, as there is as much salt in the lake as before and less water, the water which does remain must, of course, be salter than it was before. This alone is enough to explain how these lakes may be salter than the sea; and if the water went on diminishing in this way, while the same quantity of salt remained, much salt will, in the end, be left in a
solid form upon the shores. Thus the lake. Bakhtegan is still salter than the lake Shahee, and this is because its waters have diminished more, in proportion to its size. Indeed the people have a tradition that the present lakes of Bakhtegan and Mahlu are only parts of one great lake which once filled all the valley. I think this is very likely. In summer, when the torrents which feed the lakes abundantly in winter are dried up, or become mere brooks, the lake Bakhtegan declines amazingly, and leaves upon its shores a fine salt, which supplies all the province with that useful article. It is the same in some degree at Shahee, where I have ridden over a large tract of land covered with a crust of salt, and which, during one part of the year, forms a portion of the lake.
H. You said, Sir, that the water having diminished more, was partly the cause of the greater saltness of Bakhtegan. Is there any other cause?
U. O. The diminished water is alone a sufficient cause; but, besides this, we should consider that the rivers and rains often wash in salt matters from the land ; and when the neighbouring country abounds in salt, this would be enough to show how a lake might become salt if it was