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About eleven o'clock in the morning of the 11th of August, I ventured out and walked from the Careenage along the bay: not a house, not a wall, not a tree, to be seen standing, until we reached the Honourable Mr. Beckle's dwelling, part of which only is injured. Shingles, immense pieces of wood, &c., knee deep through the streets; in one place, the heads of the numberless dead were seen, in another, their arms and legs in many instances severed from the body, whilst others were carried to and fro on boards. I then went up to the garrison, and here my pen fails to describe the scene which presented itself; the barracks almost to the ground, and numbers buried in the ruins. I next proceeded to Bishop's Court, here, too, was devastation and ruin-not a wall standing, except the New Hall : the bishop, Mrs. Coleridge, and the Rev. Mr. Luckcock were in the hall , neither his lordship nor Mrs. Coleridge remembered my name, although I had before been an inmate of the family. They knew my person. The former had nothing on of his own except an old hat. I met Mr. S- at the foot of Gibraltar Hill (where his residence was situated), with hardly a rag on his back; to and fro was he wandering; pitiful, indeed, was the sight; he, from whom we had parted, not five days before, in comfortable circumstances, was now reduced almost to beggary ; his grandmother, mother, and aunt, shocking to relate, hastening to the grave : Cavan's house levelled to the ground, -the archdeacon's escaped with little damage, Government House unroofed and otherwise materially injured; the boy's central school slightly damaged, the girl's entirely gone, every individual within at the time buried in the ruins ; but, most providentially, all have been dug out, and pot so much as a limb broken; the king's house and commissary qnarters are standing, but the iron fence enclosing them totally destroyed.
That the house should remain standing while an iron fence, otherwise open and not offering much resistance, should be totally destroyed, is an evident proof of the electricity evolved during one of these tornados. The impetuosity of the wind may be judged of, by the fact, that a piece of lead, which weighed 150 pounds, was carried to a distance of more than 1800 feet, and another piece, 400 pounds in weight, was lifted up and carried a distance of 1680 feet. Rafters and beams were flying through the air with fearful rapidity, and shingles pierced, in several instances, hard-wood trees, and remained sticking in them. Another instance is related, that part of a child's tin trumpet was driven into an evergreen tree, where it buried itself in the trunk. Several instances are related of children being blown out of the arms of their nurses and parents. Some perished; over others a guardian angel seemed to watch.
Barbados was, in former times, little subject to earthquakes. Slight shocks were experienced in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but in more recent times, the shocks have been more numerous and more severe. The connexion between hurricanes and earthquakes, presents matter for very serious consideration. On the occasion of the eruption of the mountain Tomboro, in the Island of Sumbawa, in the eastern Archipelago, violent whirlwinds carried men, horses, and cattle, and whatever else came within their influence, up into the air; tore up the largest trees by the roots, and covered the sea with floating timber. " The sound of the explosion was heard in Sumatra, at the distance of 970 geographical miles; and so sweeping was the destruction of human life, that out of 12,000 inhabitants, only twenty-six individuals survived on the island. (Lyell's “Geology,” Fifth Edition, vol. iii., p. 198.)
The West Indian Archipelago, a great belt of coral reefs and rock tilted up by earthquakes and volcanoes, embracing the Carribean Sea, like a bracelet of beads, is eminently exposed to catastrophes of this kind. From the year 1839 to 1843, this Årchipelago was visited by three
terrific and devastating earthquakes ; namely, on the 11th of January, 1839, in Martinique and St. Lucia; on the 7th of March, 1842, in St. Domingo; and on the 8th of February, 1843, in the Island of Gaudaloupe. The latter was felt more or less sensibly throughout the Carribean chain, and on the adjacent continent; but the most dreadful visitation fell upon the town of Pointe à Pitre, in Gaudaloupe, where, in an instant, 5000 human beings were ushered into eternity.
On the 27th of April, 1812, the volcano of St. Vincent's, called Mount Souffrière, or Morne Garon, burst forth with a dreadful explosion. At first a vast column of thick smoke was followed by an emission of vast quantities of sand and ashes. On the 30th the flame burst pyramidically from the crater through the mass of smoke, and the lava broke out on the north-west side. Earthquake followed upon earthquake, and the whole of the island was in a state of continuous oscillation. The ashes were carried in showers to Barbados, and even as far as 500 miles to the eastward of it.
The consideration of what physical changes must take place, how many islands be swallowed up, how many towns destroyed, and how many human beings hurried into eternity before the apparent course of nature is run, the new bracelet of beads becomes a continuous bracelet, and the Gulf of Mexico, and the Carribean Sea two mediterraneans, or inland lakes, would not be a pleasant theme to dwell upon. The Great Ruler of events is as merciful as he is great, and we can scarcely agree with Sir Robert when he says that "the inherent feelings of human selfishness, no doubt, produce in the breasts of the inhabitants of Barbados thoughts like these. Thanks to a kind Providence that our little island has not witnessed such scenes in our times !” This is not selfishness so much as a praiseworthy reliance on the protecting goodness of an all-wise Dictator of events. It is almost refreshing to turn from the contemplation of catastrophes of such overwhelming magnitude, and upon which the experience of the past, and geological analogies could alone authorise us to speculate for a moment; to evils of a minor description, and which a knowledge of the light that Sir Robert Schomburgk's intimate acquaintance with the different branches of natural history will enable him to throw upon such curious matters, lead us to refer to, with the certainty of acquiring new and interesting details. We allude to the insect pests of the West Indies.
Among the most important of these, both from its numbers and its power of devastation, is the sugar-ant. It is called the sugar-ant, but it is in reality omniverous (Formica omnivera of Linnæus). It is recorded by Oveido and Herrera that the whole island of Hispaniola was almost abandoned in consequence of the devastation caused by ants in 1518. A tradition also prevails that the town of Sevilla Nueva, which was founded by Esquivel, in the commencement of the sixteenth century, was entirely deserted for a similar reason. Barbados, Grenada, and Martinique have suffered more than
any other islands from this plague. They showed themselves about 1760 in Barbados, and caused such devastation that “it was deliberated whether that island, formerly so flourishing, should not be deserted.”—(Dr. Coke's “West Indies," vol. 3, p. 313.)
The history of this insect attests, however, in a most remarkable manner, to the goodness of Providence even in apparent disaster. Their numbers were so immense that they covered the roads for many miles together, and so crowded were they in many places, that the impressions made by the feet of horses which travelled over them would remain visible only for a moment or two till they were filled up by the surrounding swarms. Calves, pigs, and chickens when in an helpless state were attacked, and perished when not timely assisted. The greatest precaution was requiste to prevent their attacks upon men and women disabled by sickness, and on children that were unable to assist themselves.
In olden times great processions and vows were made in honour of Saint Saturnin, and the day of the saint was celebrated with great solemnities, but in vain. In after times fire and poison were tried with equally indifferent success. They extinguished the fire by the amazing number that rushed upon it. Corrosive sublimate, however, had the effect of making them outrageous, and they attacked and destroyed each other. In 1776, the government of Martinique offered a reward of a million of their currency for a remedy against this plague, and the legislature of Grenada offered 20,0001. for the same object ; but all attempts proved ineffectual, until the hurricane in 1708 effected what human power had been unable to accomplish. The sugar-ant disappeared before the violence of the tornado. It is truly a wise apothegm which
that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
The list of insects which prove an annoyance or are noxious to man, is by no means inconsiderable. Scorpions, centipedes, and wasps need only be mentioned. But in addition to these a large hairy spider, nearly allied to the tarantula, inflicts bites which are as painful as those of the scorpion. The chigo, jiger, or jigua, resembles in appearance a small flea, and nestles in the flesh beneath the nails and toes and other parts of the body. It does not deposit its eggs under the flesh, but matures its brood there, which do not pass through a perfect metamorphosis. There are several species of tick which attach themselves by means of their mandibles to the flesh in which they bury their heads so firmly that it is difficult to remove them without tearing off part of the skin. A species of horsefly (æstrus) inserts its eggs under the skin of man when asleep, and he does not become aware of it until the grub is matured and produces painful irritation. Sand-flies are also very troublesome, but Sir Robert Schomburgk gives precedence to mosquitoes, as being by their voracity and the continuousness of their attacks, the greatest plague of tropical countries ; la plaga del insufrible tormento de las moscas, as Humboldt has it.
In a geological point of view Barbados presents one of the most remarkable instances of a coral island, which, by gradual and successive elevatory movements, has been raised to a height of nearly 1200 feet, a great mass of dead coral hardened into a compact calcareous mass, fringed by a reef of living polypifers, raised above the surface by successive convulsions. Sir Robert Schomburgk is in error, however, when he states that the stepformed terraces which are the evidences of these successive elevations have no parallel in other coral islands. These are met with in the coral island of Kharaj at the head of the Persian Gulf, and in Malta we see tiers of sea caves superimposed upon one another. The chief fossils found in Barbados are siliceous shielded microsopic animals called polycystina by Ehrenberg, who has described 282 species from the rocks of Barbados alone. Besides these there are numerous other siliceous shield, bearing animals belonging to three groups, polygastric infusoria, phytolithana and geolithia, the latter being perfectly new and of very peculiar forms. When we consider that the ashes and pumice in which Pompeii is buried have been shown to consist of siliceous cases of similar microscopic in
fusoria, that the impalpable dust which is known to fall sometimes out of the atmosphere in the midst of the Atlantic, also contains infusoria with siliceous shields, and that Professor Grant asserts that nearly 500,000,000 of polygastrica, that is, as many as there are individuals of our own race on the earth, are contained in a single drop of water; we are not more filled with wonder at the immeasurable fecundity of nature than with feelings of astonishment as to where the research of naturalists will cease.
Professor Ehrenberg's definition of the age of the Barbados rocks, “ the forms which compose the rocks of Barbados, are comparatively more foreign to the present organisation of beings, and to that of the tertiary period, than to the calcareous formation of Sicily,” is almost without the domain of previous geological axioms, and so it is with all human science. Man is proud of determining a belemnite, a terebratulite, a nummulite, or a Cerithia formation, yet such determinations appear as vain illusions, before the ascertained organic origin of whole geological formations.
We have been induced to dwell upon the natural phenomena of the Island of Barbados, rather than upon its civil and social history; in the first place, because we knew that Sir Robert Schomburgk was strong on those questions, and in the second, because they appeared to us to possess greater inherent interest, and to enable us to effect a few generalisations of such a comprehensive character as would best establish the author's merits, and, at the same time, present more that is new and instructive to the reader.
In that which concerns the history and the social and political condition of the island, Poyer in his "History of Barbados;" Oldmixon in his “British Empire in America,” and Frere in his “Short History," have preceded Sir Robert Schomburgk, who, indeed, professes to have confined himself to a plain statement of facts, leaving the reader to form his own judgment.
The consideration of the civil and social state of Barbados, embraces population, religious and public instruction, literature, statistics of crime, agriculture and commerce, customs, roads, defences, &c., and with the minute details of the local geography, are mainly of interest to the inhabitant. It is very curious that, although this voluminous work is illustrated with some pretty lithographs and wood-cuts, the most essential thing of all, a map, appears to be wanting.
The narrative of events, that have occurred from the settlement of the island to the year 1846, embraces many that are of a peculiarly interesting character. Such were the insurrection of slaves in 1649, the grant of the Carribean Islands to the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Francis Willoughby's loyalty, his banishment, his restoration, and his final untimely death in a hurricane; the invasion of Sir George Ayscue, the first general assembly under the Commonwealth, the great prosperity of the island under Sir Jonathan Atkins, the frequent misunderstandings between the members of the council and of the general assembly, the suspension of members of council, and the dissolution of general assemblies by dictatorial governors, the cupidity of a Cunningham and a Dotin, and the firmness of a Seaforth ; and the all important subject of sugar, and the reduction of duties on foreign sugars generally, in this country, to the detriment of our own colonies. The admission of sugar and molasses into the British breweries and distilleries, has, in a slight degree, diminished the harsh treatment lately inflicted upon the colonists by this country;
many other concessions will be necessary before the British planter can enter into competition against slave labour, with chances of success; and among these are especially an unrestricted immigration into the West Indies, freedom in shipping, equalisation of duties on British and colonial spirits, the separation of the cultivation of the cane from its manufacture into sugar, and, as a sequence, the admission of the cane produce into the British markets on the footing of raw materials. At the same time, on the part of Barbados, greater attention to the progress of agricultural science, the introduction of improved modes of carriage and locomotion, economy and retrenchments in individual life, and in the concerns of public administration, and an increased exertion, are essential to enable her to weather the double storm which the extinction of slavery and the equalisation of the sugar duties, have, most undoubtedly, inflicted upon the British