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Beach, from which we had set out, and we returned to it thankful to the Almighty for the preservation of our lives, and with the worst opinion of the Owerrie, (being an inlet of the sea or an estuary, miscalled a river,) for any useful or profitable purpose whatever.
Pilot Beach wbich we set out from and returned to, is a small cove within a quarter of a mile of the mouth of the inlet on the left hand side in entering it, on which there is about an acre or two of clear land, and it is beyond all comparison the best place we saw in the course of our travels. On this spot, being the only one we say, in the whole distance adapted for the purpose, Captain Stein, above-mentioned, landed a few young cattle some years ago, which were said so have greatly increased in number. A house is now however building on the ground formerly occupied by them, and it is to be presumed they do not approve of their new companions, for they have taken to the hills, although it is a mystery not yet solved how they contrive to climb them. It was proposed to shoot one of them for Christmas and New Year's days dinners, and whether they were aware of the kind intention of their friends or not is uncertain, but it was found utterly impracticable even to get sight of them, even by stealthy and active New Zeelanders to get near them, por unless the spectator was in a boat, and might see them on the side or ridge of a hill. Whoever may be the proprietor of them, he will do no injury to his fortune, by giving them to whoever can catch or shoot them.
We afterwards learnt from Colonel Wakefield, whom we met at Port Hardy, in D'Urville's island, that he had been twenty miles higher up the Owerrie than we were, baving gone up above the falls in a canoe which was carried over the shallows, and that he entertained as unfavourable an opinion of it as we did. He told us there had formerly been a pah higher up than we had been, but in consequence of its being flooded in the night by a fresh, and sixty of the natives drowned, they had abandoned it. He said he considered the Owerrie utterly unfit for the residence of settlers, an opinion in which we cordially agreed.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 15th of January, Captain Rbodes of the barqne Eleanor, of Sydney, accompanied by Mr. Espie, of Poverty Bay, having been two days up the Owerrie in a whale boat, examining it with a view to purchase it of the natives, returned and stopped the night at Pilot Beach. They both had formed the same opinion of it as we did, that it was not worth any person's accepting in a present, if coupled with the condition of residence. In short, the natives having abandoned it, seems to be conclusive proof of its being of no value, either to civilized man or savages.
Amongst the petty miseries of a temporary residence on the beach, before our excursion up the river, was the heat of the sun in the middle of the day, confined as the place was at the foot of steep hills, and owing to the absence of all circulation of air, to go under a tent only made matters worse. Add to this, the noxious visits of a large blue fly, destroying by its deposits, the blankets and every woollen thing, and being bit to death by sand flies during the day, and by bugs, lice, and fieas, the latter of which were got in swarms from the natives, whom it was impossible to keep out of the tents by night, and some idea may be formed of the comforts of bush life in New Zeeland ; although it was oppressively hot in the middle of the day, a great coat was worn with comfort in the morning and evening. The importunity of the natives in begging everything they saw, was also troublesome, but it must be added, they were strictly honest, as nothing, however trifling, was ever missed or stolen.
The writer of the above article was in various parts of Cook's Straits during the months of December and January last, and he considers the climate to be unfavourable for a settlement, as it was either blowing a gale of wind or raining in torrents. He was on board the Aurora, the first ship with emigrants for the New Zeeland Land Company, before and after her arrival in Port Nicholson. The emigrants were on arrival in good health and spirits, but did not approve of the mountainous look of the land. The first of them were landed on the beach on the day he left the port. No huts, tents or shelter of any kind were to be found, and their new quarters were inhospitable enough. It was however reported, that they were to be allowed to sleep on board the ship for a few nights, a measure which would be indispensably necessary, as it came on a very heavy rain that night. They were landed on what had the appearance of, and proved to be, a swamp, covered with jungle, and they were sent out so soon after Colonel Wakefield and the pioneering party that the limits of the township of Britannia, the name of the proposed town had not been fixed, nor its site scarcely determined on before their arrival. It appears by the papers, they have since been obliged to abandon this locality, and choose another for the township. Many of the emigrants at that time were so disappointed in expectations, that they wished they had had the means of getting to New South Wales. The land at Port Nicholson is of a very similar description to that of the Pelorus River, and forbids all communication with the interior of the country, be it of what description it may, by impassable mountains. Nearly all supplies for the township of Britannia must be brought by sea. Nor is Port Nicholson a good harbour, it is too large, and a reef of rocks partly above and partly under water, runs off the head, within which the township is now to be formed. It blew so hard on the day of arrival off the harbour, as to render it impracticable to work in.
Instead of New Zeeland becoming the granary of New South Wales, the writer is of opinion it will, with its increased population, have quite enough to do to be a granary for itself for some years to come. He does not apprehend that rearing stock, or the cultivation of the land can be carried on to a great extent. The want of natural grass, and frequent heavy rains are serious objections to rearing of stock, and the general hilly nature of the land, and want of roads, are serious obstacles to the cultivation of the land. He was in eight different ports in New Zeeland, including the Bay of Islands, and standing on Batmans Hill, or the high land to the east or west of Melbourne, he sees more level land within range of his vision, than he saw in the eight ports of New Zeeland, although all the level land in them had been put together. The climate of the Bay of Islands is very superior to that of Cooks Straits, but there also, are frequent heavy and long continued rains.
NAUTICAL RAMBLES.- The Bermudas.- No. VI.
(Concluded from page 169.)
The Bermudas are certainly a singular group, whether we consider them with reference to the ocean in which they are placed, or compare them with others therein. The Azores, the Madeiras, the Canaries, and the Cape Verdes, to the eastward, are, very different in their physical features, their geological structure, and in their hydrography. From Newfoundland and its marginal isles, Sable island and the islands of the St. Lawrence, they are more remote in their resemblance in every point of view. To the Bahamas they seem to be nearer allied ; but, there are still some shades of difference, principally with reference to the vegetable productions; and although they lie 540 miles from the northern tropic their climate differs little from that of the West Indies. There is nothing remarkable in this, the diminution of heat being extremely gradual as we advance on the ocean from the tropic northward; and the norths which blow in the Caribbean sea, cause a fall of the temperature there equal, perhaps, or nearly so, to the winter standard of Bermuda. South and south-west winds I have known to prevail the greater part of the autumn and winter at the latter, when northerly gales occur in the former. Neither are we to feel surprise at the dissimilarity of the general or annual temperature which exists between these islands and the opposite continental shore of America, from which they are distant about 630 miles. The intervention of the beated waters of the Florida stream probably assists in mitigating the rigour of the northerly and north-western breezes in their passage across the ocean during the seasons of cold.
Altogether the Bermudas, though of small extent, are, not only interesting to the stranger, but, unquestionably, of great importance to the mother country. Their natural security from evasion is a feature that has, independent of their particular situation, claimed the especial attention of the authorities at home; and which being well known to all nations, may be deemed a protection equal to that which formidable forts would afford to a more accessible place, against the assaults of an enterprising foe.
I have spoken often, and rather freely perhaps, of the dearth of food in these islands, arising principally from a partiality among the landed proprietors for the growth of cedars.* Wood, it is true, is requisite for fuel, there being no coal; but, why not cultivate all the best portions of the land, and leave the worst parts only for the darling tree. I have understood that all the large timber has long since been consamed in the construction of ships ; the returns, therefore, must be un profitably slow to the owners of the soil, who, there is scarcely a doubt, would reap more benefit, and bestow comfort on their fellow-men by growing vegetables and fruit (oranges), and in raising stock. What the price of cedar may be at the present time I do not know; but, thirty
*On the north front of St. George isle, aback of the barrack, and near St. Catherine head, we observed very tall trees in groves; we do not know exactly of what species they are, but believe them to be the Plane-P. Occidentalis.
ENLARGED SERIES.-NO. 4.-VOL. FOR 1841.
years ago the largest tree in the islands was not worth more than 221. or 231. currency; and it was said that there was not another equal to it throughout the whole cluster.
If the islanders are so wedded to this particular sort of wood in the construction of their vessels, they may procure it on the continent, in* Virginia, Carolina, Georgia, and Flinda; and a similar wood, the bastard cedar, with the same aromatic scent, the tree of which, is of very large dimensions, and grows in Jamaica and the other islands.
At the island of Abaco, Bahamas, and probably in some of the other islands, there is an excellent species of fir-tree fit for ship-building, and probably might be imported into the Bermudas at a cheap rate, as the duties of the home market are so high as to be prohibitory,—the run would be a short one, only three or four days. The wood is resinous and durable, and I think it requires no argument to insist upon the truth that timber of a warm climate is the best adapted to the construction of vessels to be employed in such climate.* It is surprising what the industry of man will accomplish with land which in a state of nature is sterile, and apparently worthless. I have seen many instances of this; but I need only to allude to Ascension to be convinced that where there is any soil by artificial means, it may be made productive. I can perceive no formidable impediments to this being effected in the Bermudas, if the land owners there were so disposer, and none that may not be obviated in the rearing of stock. It is true, that from the position of the islands they are subject occasionally to the devastating effects of the progressive hurricane; but almost all countries, whether inter or extra tropical are at all times exposed to some particular vicissitudes of weather, or other continued drought, excessive inundations, severe and protracted cold, &c.
The land of the islands is no where sufficiently high to afford shelter to one spot more than another, under the infliction of a circular storm; on account of the veering of the wind there is no remedy for this, and unless the crops can be so regulated as to be gathered in before the season of these storms arrive, the vegetable productions must suffer: precautions, however, may be taken to prevent destruction among the stock by erecting suitable cover for them in cases of need. At present the greatest misfortunes to be apprehended from such terrible visitations is the destruction of the boats of the fishers, and the suspension of their ordinary and indispenable occupation. We believe few or no lives are lost from the effects of these storms, as the dwellings are substantially formed of stone, and therefore afford safe retreats and shelter without apprehension of their falling or being blown away, as is the case with the wooden structures of the West India islands; and the boats generally keeping within the barrier reefs, have no difficulty in retreating upon the signs of approaching bad weather. That the boats are destroyed during the transit of hurricanes, can only be regarded as occurring from a want of that due precaution which it is imperative on the inhabitants themselves to have exercised. Were suitable boat-houses erected this would not happen, and as every individual more or less,
• Would it not be worth while for the government of this country to cast an eye towards Abaco, and its fir-trees. The schooners and small steamers might perhaps be profitably built there by artificers sent out.
is dependant on the fisher's avocation for his daily food, if he neglects to provide the means for the security of the vessels employed for that purpose, he deserves the consequences. An appeal to the sympathies of the public can never be made with good effect, where the distressed party are by their own negligence, indolence, or indifference, suffering privation. The poor instruments who minister by their labours to the general good, are not to be blamed, and must obtain the pity of every feeling heart, but that will not remedy the evil ;-to remedy that effectually, the richer natives should subscribe (and it would be to their own advantage as well as credit to do so,) and have proper boathouses built along the line of coasts above the reach of the surf. It is not improbable but that the government would afford its aid in some way or other, to effect so humane and desirable an object.
I do not know whether the islands are often visited by the progressive hurricanes, but presume that a register has been kept of their times of occurrence ; I should be much gratified to see such a list, (if there be one,) recorded in the pages of the Nautical Magazine. In the absence of such information, I am inclined to believe that the occurrence of these storms is not very frequent at the islands; the meteors in their advance to the northward, passing generally to the westward of their meridian, and, perhaps, some few to the eastward. The loss of property chiefly, it is said, among the least wealthy, which took place during the hurricane of last year, amounted to the large sum of £80,000!
In speaking of the habitual indolence of the natives, I would not be understood as using the term as one of reproach, for they are no more to be charged with the characteristic as a fault, than the Frenchman would be for his gaiety or loquacity, and the Hollander for his phlegm, or any other people for a peculiar mode of life, or habits induced by a climatal influence, &c. The whites are the descendents of one of the most energetic races of men in the world, and there is not a doubt but that the elements of enterprise and vigour are a part of their nature, dormant because not exercised. Indeed, the fact is not to be disguised, that those who have little to do in a warm climate, will naturally become prone to a listlessness of body, and a corresponding inertness of mind, and which, unless aroused, will grow into a habit, I should be sorry to follow the example of the poet, who perhaps, to heighten the effect of the compliment, he seemed desirous of paying to the lasses of Bermuda, treated their pa pas to a very sorry one, -certainly unmerited, and coming with a very bad grace from him who had “ blarnied” about their hospitality. In truth, I opine, that the most bumble of the Mudians is at least, (to speak commercially,) “ 100 per cent” higher in the scale of civilization, and genuine christianity, than the Bog-trotters or Mullingars," of that “ gem of the first-water," which takes off the rough edge of the Atlantic billows from Britain,
The natives of the Bermudas are generally a quiet, inoffensive, and amiable race of people; most of them appear to be of a serious and religious turn of mind, and their morality we have never heard questioned. From the observations which I was enabled to make, I should say that the blacks are superior to their sable brethren of the