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West Indies, and I remarked that their speech had considerably less of the Creolian patois, than that of the negroes of the Carribbean sea islands. I do not recollect to have seen a Mulatto, or any other shade of those which are termed coloured people ; but I was shown a little Albino girl, (of a dead white colour,), whose parents were black.
Often, and often have I wandered in imagination over the scenes which I have so imperfectly attempted to describe, with almost as lively a degree of pleasure as I experienced in the reality, So attractive with all their sameness are the little « fairy isles,”'_sequestered in the midst of a pathless ocean,-delightful in climate, and beautifully verdant to behold; in fact they are a little paradise of the earth, to be envied by those who are the lovers of peace. The possessors I honour for their unassuming and moral character, and if good wishes can avail them aught, they have mine for their prosperity and indiminished happiness.
On the navigation around the islands we need not dwell long, it has been described in works of reference. In winter the winds are stormy, in the other seasons, calms and whirlwinds, lightning and thunder, squalls from all points at intervals, with very heavy showers of rain, and water-spouts are prevalent; but there is also much fine weather. The currents are proverbial for their fickleness, yet they are often found setting very strongly to the west and to the south-west.
Of dangers in the vicinity, there are none well established beyond the barrier reefs; one or two shoals lie to the south-westward, but with sufficient depth of water over them, I believe, for ships to pass without risk of striking ; they should however, be sounded over occasionally, as the coral zoophite is at work upon them, and therefore their vertical increase may be expected.
The reported Vigia called the “False Bermuda,” 300 miles easterly of the isles, if it ever existed, was probably a volcanic production, the rocks having since submerged. Many years ago we heard it confidently asserted that a Jamaica ship had been lost upon them. There seems to be a great deal of scepticism in these matters among many seamen, but although I am not unwilling to believe that dangers are sometimes reported which do not exist, yet I am satisfied that because a reported rock or shoal, is no longer to be found, such cannot be a conclusive reason that it never had existence. In the case we are speaking of, it is possible for a vessel vavigated alone by account, to strike on some of the rocks at the extreme of the barrier reefs of Bermuda, out of sight of the land, and the master to report that he had struck on a danger two or three hundred miles from those islands; this is more likely to occur in a voyage to America than in one homeward.
Both to the northward and to the southward of these islands, sand banks above water have been reported, but no second persons have ever seen them,-those who could fabricate such accounts must be either fools, drunkards, or madmen.
In the latest returns published, * we find the following particulars. The islands collectively contain about 14,000 acres, of which only 462 are cultivated, so that there are 13,338 acres covered with trees, in grass and unproductive.
* Martin's Colonies.
In 1832, there were 4,181 white inhabitants, and 4,895 blacks, total population 9,081. Of horned cattle there were 1,528 head,--sheep 228, and goats 199.
In 1826, the births were 299,--the deaths 219. Increase in the year 80.
Arrow-root made 18,174 lbs. Colonial revenue 10,0001. per annum,
Max. heat 84° Fah,, in June, min. 59° in February; winds northwest 4, north-east 3, south-east 2, S.S.E 1, east 1, south-west 1,—but this is for one year only. A register for at least twenty-five years is required, and I hope one has been kept at the dock-yard.
There are 1,500 convicts employed at the dockyard,
EXCURSION TO THE Lake of NICARAGUA UP THE RIVER SAN JUAN.
By Mr. George Lawrance, Assistant-Surveyor of H.M.S. Thunder, Com. E, Barnett, in March, 1840.
(Continued from p. 188.) Tuesday 17th.—At daylight we roused the Ramas, who were looking very stupid after their debauch, launched the canoe, and paddled to the Isletas; a group of islands lying off Grenada, which appear to have been thrown up by some violent eruption, as indicated by the immense detached blocks, rent and huddled together in the wildest disorder. But whatever may have been their origin they now present a most beautiful picturesque appearance, ornamented with many graceful trees growing in the interstices of the rocks, and overrun in all directions with luxuriant vegetation.
The high hill of Grenada towering over these islelets, by which we were land- locked on every side, produced a striking effect. We landed to breakfast on one of the most inviting of them, where we saw, as on most of the others, a solitary resident. We then threaded our way through this labyrinth of islands, and steered for the south end of Za, patero with a moderate, but short unpleasant sea; and sounded as we went, in six and nine fathoms.
At noon we stopped, being prevented proceeding to Nicaragua by the wind, which was blowing fresh, and dead against us; but at five p.s. the wind having moderated, we again embarked, and steered close under the western shore of Zapatero, where it is high and thickly wooded. This island is not inhabited, but in the season it is visited by the people of Grenada for the convenience of fishing. Its westeru hill is bare and barren having recently been cleared away by an accidental fire ; its geological aspect resembles that of the Isletas.
At sunset we passed between this island, which is distant from the main about a mile, and entirely composed of stratified rock, dipping at an inclination of 15° to 20° from the horizon, thickly overgrown, and at present visited by a few fishermen. A plain seems to extend across the isthmus from the south side of the Grenada mountains as far as the eye can reach, and the island of Zapatero, forms with the main, an excellent harbour.
Wednesday 18th.--At five a.m. we launched, and steered along shore for the road of Nicaragua, against a short chopping sea, which made us very wet and uncomfortable. I was rather surprised to find in a I ke where the prevailing winds at north and north-east are seldom very strong, how soon its surface becomes ruffled ; such however we experienced to a degree that not only incommoded us, but often threatened our little vessel with no small danger : the Padrone told us in crossing from Muerta to Grenada, that in all his trips in large bongos he had never before steered that course, but always kept close under the lee of the north shore; we for the sake of expedition preferred the former, as being the most direct.
The coast eastward of the Zapatero channel is low, with a straight Jine of beach, where the average height of the trees may be about seventy feet, and the soil appears to be most prolific. The soundings since we left Tahaja were from five to six fathoms.
At 9 A.M. we passed Palmata Point, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile, and in the course of half an hour more landed on Nicaragua beach, and sent the Padrone to the town for horses, in order that we might lose no time in waiting upon the authorities.
This beach is composed of disintegrated quartz and argillaceous earth, straight, and lined with trees of fifty and sixty feet high, completely intercepting the view of the town, which is only about three and a half or four miles off. Here, as at Grenada, we saw lots of “ lavanderas" washing clothes.
By the time we had obtained our sights, Pedro, the Padrone, had returned with a couple of horses, on wkich Mr. Scott and I mounted forthwith, to pay our respects to the Gefé Politico, not forgetting to take with us our letters of introduction to Senors Ruis and Mongalo. After an hour's ride up a very gradual ascent where the road is tolerably good, and hedged in on both sides by a penguin (Bromelia) fence. We reached the town, and first called at the house of the former, but finding him absent on an excursion to the Pacific, we waited upon the other, who received us with the greatest politeness, and at our request took us to the chief official, whom we met not in his own house, but in a neighbouring shop, dressed in anything but the garb of so high a functionary.
Through Senor Mongalo, I stated to him the object of our visit, and requested permission to cross over to the Pacific, at which he appeared to be highly flattered, and without a moment's hesitation, replied, that we were at liberty to go where we pleased, and make what observations we thought proper. Delighted with this courteous reception we took our leave, and after requesting our worthy interpreter to furnish us with horses and a guide, all ready equipped by 10 o'clock next morning, we returned to our lodging on the beach. Before we retired to rest, we got the altitude of three stars north of the zenith, the same we observed at Grenada, which gave the difference of latitude 28' 26" south
Thursday 19th.–At daylight the weather was fine, and wind E.S.E. when I observed for the true bearing of Ometape (the result being N. 62° 17' E.). At 9h. 30m. A.m, our mules arrived, not velocipedes, but we afterwards found them very sure-footed animals : the saddles of uncouth shape and rude material, but with the aid of a sheep's skin
thrown over all they were soft enough, and rather too comfortably warm! Our guide presented a grotesque figure, rigged out in a partycoloured jacket of the gayest colours, great jack-boots with spurs, and stirrups of most whimsical make, and unreasonable dimensions.
After completing all our preparations, we took our departure from the beach, slowly wending our way towards the town of Nicaragua, on the road to which, I observe there are several houses constituting a scattered village, where there is a church named St. George. The town of Nicaragua stands upon an elevation of about one hundred feet above the level of the lake ; its houses, similar to those of Grenada, are all of one story, those formerly belonging to the old Spaniards are substantially built of stone with capacious door-ways, and gloomy grated windows; the more modern ones of lighter material and construction, in fact, many of them are little better than mud huts. I saw but two churches, the largest of which is situated in the square opposite the guard-house, but neither have any pretentions to grandeur. The town of Nicaragua is said to contain 6,000 souls, all of whom are a mixed race of Spaniards and Indians to the utter exclusion of whites. For the first three miles the road is tolerably good, and the land partially cleared, with here and there a house to enliven the scene, but all beyond is a wilderness; the soil appeared parched and indicated a long absence of rain.
At noon we came to a small stream. Here we discovered that our only weapon of defence a pistol, which Mr. Scott had lashed to the pummel of his saddle was missing, but as time to us was of more importance than powder and shot, we left it behind, trusting that it might cast up on our way back.
Proceeding at a slow and steady pace, we rode through a forest of lofty trees thickly interwoven with gigantic creepers and spidendral plants, which appeared to be almost impenetrable on both sides of the road. The silence of the woods was only disturbed by the occasional discordant scream of a maccaw or parrot. At length we emerged from this agreeable “contiguity of shade," and came to a plain covered with short grass, and studded with clumps of calabash trees, (the crescentia) where we surprised a few deer. Here at times we had a good view of the peaks of Ometape and Madeira, towering over the trees and producing a very fine effect. The country through which we rode was one continued Savanna, and only wants a decent road to make it very agreeable, but owing to the deep fissures, caused by a long continuance of dry weather under a powerful sun, we found some difficulty to get along without stumbling.
The ground gaping for moisture reminded us that we were thirsty, and our sapient guide, no doubt sympathising with our feelings readily understood us, when we directed him to take us to the nearest spring, which after going two miles out of our way, we had the mortification to find was completely dried up, and we had to retrace our steps. His stupidity in taking us thus far became too apparent, when we found that we were within the same distance of a farm-house or cattle pen, called Quocoti, where we shortly afterwards arrived, and drank our fill of delicious milk and water.
Resuming our course which now lay over a rugged plain, where the
path could hardly be distinguished, our hopeful guide became so perplexed, that after « backing and filling "a few times, he candidly confessed that he was at a ne plus ultra, and pleaded as an excuse that he had not travelled across the isthmus “ por muchos anos.” With the assistance of Scott's Spanish we explained to him that it would be prudent to return to the farm-house, in which opinion he appeared to acquiesce, but had some secret misgivings whether he should be able to find it. In this dilemma we consulted the compass, and after a deal of traverse sailing, at length managed to hit upon a path which led to the house, where we were greeted by the inmates with a hearty laugh, our guide looking very sheepish and ashamed at being the cause of it.
The day being now far advanced, and our journey not more than half complete, the end of which I was anxious to accomplish before dark, we thought it advisable, instead of blundering along after this stupid fellow, who had already served us so many tricks, to engage another guide. The only one we could find at this place was a fine little boy, who volunteered to conduct us to Port San Juan, if his father, who seemed reluctant, would allow him to go. After some persuasion, expressed as well as our imperfect knowledge of the language would allow, we gained the paternal consent, on condition that we brought him back the following day, and for his services all he demanded was six reals, equal to three shillings.
Led on by our Muchacho, we again pursued the uneven tenor of our way, at a brisk pace, our quondam guide bringing up the rear at such a distance that we were often obliged to “ heave to " for him, much to our annoyance, but to the great amusement of the young one. In the course of half an hour's ride the road began to be more rugged, leading over and between very steep hills, so much so, that had our mules not been very sure-footed animals, and used to such travelling, our necks would certainly have been endangered in crossing the mountain passes, where the road was almost blocked up by fallen trees, rocks, &c.
These mountains are all thickly wooded, but not much overgrown with bush. From the summit of one more clear than the rest, whose height I roughly estimated at 800 feet, we had a delightful view of the Pacific to the westward, distant in a direct line about three miles, and the peaks of Ometape and Madeira rising out of the lake to the eastward.
The range of hills to the southward are, I should think, two or three hundred feet higher than this. Here we saw monkeys in plenty of the Coaîta or Ateles species, exhibiting feats of agility for surpassing anything I ever saw performed by those of the old world; their long, powerful, prehensile tail enabling them to make the most astonishing leaps from branch to branch, and to hang suspended while they chattered to us with almost human expression. A few wild cattle and deer occasionally came across our path, the former looking defiance, the latter no sooner seen than off.
Having rested our mules, we descended by an abrupt and rugged path, and then threaded our way through the vale of Volga, along the beds of dried-up mountain torrents, one of which our little guide called the Rio Volga.
At 6h. 15m. we found ourselves all at once on the shores of the