Following the Equator: A Journey around the World - Vol. 1

By Mark Twain | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX

Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.

-- Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

T HE successor of the sheet-iron hamlet of the mangrove marshes has that other Australian specialty, the Botanical Gardens. We cannot have these paradises. The best we could do would be to cover a vast acreage under glass and apply steam heat. But it would be inadequate, the lacks would still be so great: the confined sense, the sense of suffocation, the atmospheric dimness, the sweaty heat--these would all be there, in place of the Australian openness to the sky, the sunshine, and the breeze. Whatever will grow under glass with us will flourish rampantly out-of-doors in Australia.1 When the white man came the continent was nearly as poor, in variety of vegetation, as the desert of Sahara; now it has everything that grows on the earth. In fact, not Australia only, but all Australasia has levied tribute upon the flora of the rest of the world; and wherever one goes the results appear, in gardens private and public, in the woodsy walls of the highways, and in even the forests. If you

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1
The greatest heat in Victoria, that there is an authoritative record of, was at Sandhurst, in January, 1862. The thermometer then registered 117 degrees in the shade. In January, 1880, the heat at Adelaide, South Australia, was 172 degrees in the sun.

-167-

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