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Buffon and the showman of Bartholomew fair notoriety,* as to the power of the porcupine of harpooning a distant object with his quills; and I would just as soon stand as target for a toxophilite society, as I would before a society of porcupines, barring the distance. A brotherofficer of mine had a spaniel completely transfixed with a porcupine's quill; and, although I did not personally see the quill shot, I saw the dog lying dead in the same place that it was shot at, with the quill driven about eight inches in, hehind the shoulder, and completely drilling a hole through the heart, as it afterwards proved on dissecting the dog. It was perfectly impossible that the quill could have been thus forced into the body of the dog without being shot at him with very considerable force; and my friend, who was close by the animal at the moment, asserted that the dog was at least a couple of feet off from the porcupine at the time, and that three or four quills flew off in different directions at the same instant. As this is a matter finding more infidels and heretics than true believers, I have thus particularised it, and am ready to uphold my case (hy “ye wager of battell") if he chooses with any sceptical heathen in Christendom.
The country in the vicinity of Aripo was flat and uninteresting, although in penetrating it to the extent of two or three miles there was no lack of game, such as hares, partridges, snipes, &c. Crocodiles poked their noses out of every pool one came across, but they would never attack one, and if a shot was sent at their heads they would merely disappear altogether until the danger was passed. Tortoises in dozens used to cross our path, but they were very small and perfectly useless. A few miles further inland is a celebrated monkey territory, where the tribe grow to a larger size than anywhere else, and where a story is told, and I believe truly, of a certain functionary in the island who had the misfortune to fire at one of the animals in hope of carrying home his carcase to be stuffed. He had no sooner fired than the whole forest rang with the most heart-piercing cries, and in a very
of time he saw an army of monkeys, some standing nearly five feet in height, arrayed against him, whilst some attended to the wounded brother. Of course he lost no time in beating a retreat, but was soon overtaken by the exasperated animals, one of whom walked deliberately up to him and took away his gun, and having thus punished him, allowed him to depart in a whole skin, which was more than he deserved, for there is something so cold-blooded, so useless, so uncalled for a slaughter of the prototype of man in a poor defenceless monkey, that a person ought at least to be half hanged for such an act. If you happen to know any Ceylon man, my dear reader, mention the story to him, and he will tell you the person's name--if you are inquisitive.
The oysters at last coming to an end, or, being tired of a game at which there was no reciprocal fun, having issued marching orders to all that survived, the place is again deserted by every one except the troops, who remain till the last captured oyster is thoroughly decomposed, and then in case they (the troops) are not in the same state themselves, are permitted to quit the scene until their tour of duty comes round again; but as soon as the fishery is over the most dangerous time begins, for the putridity of millions upon millions of oysters impregnates the air to such a degree, that I would defy the most obstinate limpet that ever clung on to a rock to escape going into hospital, owing to the effluvia. Men drop dead on duty from its effects-shrubs are entirely withered, and, as in
* For the benefit of the reader unacquainted with the view of the case held by this worthy, it may be as well to set it forth in his own eloquent and expressive words. Speaking of the porcupine he is showing, he says, “ Buffoon says the little animal shoots his quills; but Buffoon is a fool and a liar. He no more shoots his quills than I my arms nor legs."
The Dead Sea air,
Nothing lives that enters there ;Consequently, whilst yet it wanted a week or ten days to the expected recall of the troops, I found myself carried over the waves in one of the native catamarans in the direction of home, with as respectable a specimen of a typhus fever on me as one might be contented with for the remainder of his life ; and after having undergone three months' suspension between two worlds, my ghost was at length allowed to revisit the messroom of the regiment, where, by dint of making itself perfectly at home, it in time assumed a more tangible and corporeal substance, which, it is happy to say, it now enjoys, and means to retain as long as it possibly can.
And now, my dear reader, our “ Jaunts” are at an end for the present, at all events. If you have been enduring enough to accompany m throughout, I fear you must be getting weary of the jungle, and anxiour to leave its wilds for more refreshing and civilised scenes, so I will have mercy on you
and let you go. Should you, however, still feel inclined to keep me company through similar scenes, or over the less romantic plains of Hindostan, I am sure you have merely to hint your wish to "our Editor,” who will, doubtless, forthwith issue a general order commanding a compliance with your request.
But I cannot help wishing that you had corporeally, as well as mentally, accompanied me on these “ Jaunts in the Jungle," for two reasons, charitable and selfish.
In the former case you would be, wise as you may be now, a far wiser man ; nor would you be so incredulously inclined to put down every extraordinary fact, of which you may not have been yourself a witness, as being but the result of man's inventive faculties;—whilst in the latter case, I delicious idea!) can picture the seductive billet-doux you would forth with despatch, insisting, when I came that way, of my sharing your "potage,” and passing an opinion on “ that particular bin of extraordinarily old port,” over which, as we toasted our toes before a Christmas fire, ere adjourning to music and muslin, we might recount all our escapes, re-slay half our victims, and thank Heaven that we were now left safe and sound to tell the tale, still possessing the mens sana in corpore sano, the energies of youth in an unscathed frame, and attributing thereof the cause that
We've trusted aye to Providence,
Jan.-VOL. LXXXII, NO. cccxxv.
HISTORY OF BARBADOS.*
Aspect of the Island_Springs and Rivers—Climate–Thunder-storms, Water
spouts, and Whirlwinds—Hurricanes-Connexion of Hurricanes with Earthquakes and Volcanic Action-Insect Pests – The Sugar Ant—The ChigoGeology of Barbados-A raised-up Mass of Coral-Rocks composed of the Siliceous Shields of Microscopic Animals--Civil and Social State-Narrative of Events-Sugar Question.
THE “ History of Barbados” would appear to be an object of interest chiefly to those who are attached to that small island by birth, by ties of blood, or otherwise. The rose or the violet growing in his own garden, has more charms for him who raised it, than the stately palm in the princely conservatory; and thus it is in history: the incidents which occur in our birth-place create a higher interest than the great events in neighbouring countries, though forming an epoch in the history of empires.
But this is not the case in the present instance. The “ History of Barbados” is by no means barren of events which have materially affected the British empire. It was there and in St. Christopher's that England founded its first colonies in the southern part of America ; it was there that the first sugar-cane was planted upon the soil of the British dominions; it was there that many of those attached to the royal cause, during England's civil wars, sought and found an asylum, until the chivalric opposition of this small spot to the mandates of Cromwell roused his ire and vengeance. Nor is this all. If the navigation-laws led to England's supremacy on the seas, this small island was the cause that conduced to their adoption. Barbados is the most windward, or the most eastern of the group
of islands which are known to English geographers under the name of the Carribee Islands. Its name is curiously enough derived from the number of a species of fig-tree, from the branches of which great mats of twisted fibrous roots hang down, and which were compared by the Portuguese to luxuriant beards (Barbudos). It is quite erroneous to say that no mention of this island occurs prior to 1600, Sir Robert Schomburgk has shown that it is met with, under the name of Baruodo, in the map of the world by Michaelis Tramezini, in 1554, and there is great probability that it was known as early as 1518. The island forms a kind of irregular triangle nearly twenty-one English miles long, and fourteen in width. It approximates
, indeed, closely, both in size and shape, to the Isle of Wight. It is almost encircled by coral reefs, and, although the shore rises boldly to a height of from thirty to fifty feet on the northern point, generally we find long lines of sandy beaches, which are only protected against the encroachments of the sea by coral reefs. Mount Hillaby, the highest elevation, is a few feet more than 1140 feet above the sea. The ground rises from the west or leeward coast in
distinct successive terraces, to the central ridge, and these terraces are interrupted by ravines, called gullies in the island. If we turn to the east, an aspect of a quite different nature presents itself; we see before us a mountainous country in miniature; hills of a conical form radiate from the central
The “History of Barbados ;" comprising a Geological and Statistical Description of the Island ; a Sketch of the Historical Events since the Settlement, and an Account of its Geology and Natural Productions. By Sir Robert H. Schomburgk, Ph. D. Longman and Co.
ridge, and chiefly from Mount Hillaby in a north-eastern direction towards the sea-shore, and their sides are rugged and worn by the heavy rains and mountain torrents. This district has been represented as similar to the Alpine country of Scotland; which name has been adopted for it. One of the most picturesque sites in this region, is the parish church of St. John's, which is built only a few yards removed from a precipitous cliff, at a height of 823 feet above the sea, and stands boldly out in relief: a solitary palm-tree, the emblem of Christian faith overtowering it.
There is not a superabundance of water in Barbados. A few streamlets have been honoured with the high-sounding names of rivers. There are also subterranean channels, and water is readily obtained by sinking wells, even on the sea-shore ; but the inhabitants have to have recourse to rain-water, collected in the cavities and basin-like hollows of calcareous and coralline rocks lined with clay. There are, also, chalybeate waters, as at Vaughan's, Spa, and Cheltenham. The “boiling spring" is considered one of the greatest natural curiosities of Barbados. It is a small cavity not more than two feet in diameter, from which an inflammable gas escapes, which, on the application of a flame, burns with a pure whitish light. If the shallow excavation is filled up with water, the gas passing through it gives it the appearance of boiling, without any real change of temperature. There are, also, springs of petroleum, or mineral tar, which is much used for domestic and medical purposes.
Barbados is considered one of the most wealthy of the West Indian islands, yet its climate presents remarkable variations. The month of January is one of the most delightful in the year. It is generally dry, the sky is of a deep azure, and the breeze, which sets in at an early hour, seldom allows the thermometer to rise above 81 deg. Fahr. February partakes of the same character; occasional showers refresh the air, and the thermometer ranges from 71 deg. to 82 deg. March is dry. The thermometer ranges from 72 deg. to 83 deg., and slow nervous fevers set in towards the end of it. In April, dry warm weather prevails; but occasional showers refresh the air. The commencement of May is dry and warm, but towards the latter end frequent showers fall
, and heavy rains set in. In June, the clouds are heavy ; lightning, followed by thunder, sets in, with frequent showers. Bilious and putrid fevers begin to manifest themselves. In July, vast masses of clouds rise on the horizon, and bring in their train severe lightning, followed by loud peals of thunder: rain descends at times in torrents: the heat and stillness of the air are quite oppressive: the thermometer ranges from 76 deg. to 86 deg.: dysenteries become more frequent, and are sometimes epidemical. August is not so wet : southerly winds, if there be any breeze, prevail
. September is very wet. Dysentery and slow fevers continue. The thermometer varies between 77 deg. and 85 deg. October is still wet and sultry, but towards the middle it becomes drier, and refreshing breezes generally set in after thunder-storms, and gradually close the rainy season. In November, the air becomes cooler, but heavy rains fall occasionally, and dysentery and catarrhal fevers still prevail. The last month of the year partakes much of the first. The brisk and cool winds from the north-east render it healthy, but it has been known some seasons to rain every day, more or less.
The greatest and most unenviable peculiarities of Barbados are the frequency and the variety of the devastating meteorological phenomena
for which it is so pre-eminently famed. “There is,” says Sir Robert Schomburgk, " no other island in the West Indian Archipelago where thunder-storms are so frequent and attended by so much damage as in Barbados." The quantity of accumulated electricity that is evolved during these storms may be imagined when in one instance (July 11th, 1819) the lightning killed nine persons and wounded eighty-two.
Water-spouts are also frequent during the hot months in the latitude of Barbados. They seldom pass over the land; but when such an event happens, they mark the line of their alarming progress by uprooting trees, unroofing buildings, and sucking up the water from the reservoirs over which they pass. Whirlwinds are more frequent, especially during the months of August and September, when the sultry state of the atmosphere seems to develop more rapidly the causes in which they originate.
But the devastating power of water-spouts and whirlwinds combined are to be met with in the hurricane, which Sir Robert designates as most awful of Nature's phenomena.” Sir Robert enumerates in his dea: tailed and comprehensive work 127 hurricanes that have ravaged the West Indies from the year 1494 to 1846, or in a period of 352 years. The months in which they most commonly occur are in August, September, and October. While the originating cause of hurricanes is unknown, it appears from a variety of observations that their analogy with whirlwinds is beyond doubt. Sir Robert agrees with Colonel Reid and others in attesting to the wind gyrating round a centre. The extraordinary quantity of electricity evolved during these violent convulsions is equally satisfactorily demonstrated. The accounts of the great hurricanes in Barbados
record the existence of large masses of electricity. Colonel Reid doubts whether earthquakes have any connexion with hurricanes, but we are inclined to agree with Lyell and Sir Robert Schomburgk in considering that they have. Sir Robert enumerates many positive cases in which hurricanes are recorded as having been accompanied by shocks of earthquakes; and it can be easily imagined that in numerous there is reason, indeed, to believe very many instances--shocks of an earthquake have taken place during hurricanes, which have escaped notice during the deafening noise and general consternation. In Sir James Lyon's official account of the hurricane of 1831, it is stated as follows :
From about two o'clock till day broke, it is impossible to convey to your lordship's mind any idea of the violence of the storm ; no language of mine is adequate to express sufficiently its horrors. The noise of the wind through the apertures formed by it, the peals of thunder and the rapidly repeated flashes of lightning (more like sheets of fire) and the impenetrable darkness which succeeded them, the crash of walls, roofs and beams, were all mixed in appalling confusion, and the whole house shook to its very foundation ; whether this last effect was produced by the force of the wind, or by an earthquake, supposed by many to have accompanied the storm, I am unable to decide ; but the rents and fissures which are visible in the massive walls of this building would lead one to suppose that the latter cause only could have produced them.
Calamitous as were the many tempests by which Barbados had suf. fered, the aggregate destruction produced by the whole combined, is said to have been unequal to that effected by this blast of 1831. The description of the appearance of the island after that horrible night, is fearful.