Page images


voracious shark, that tyrant of the deep, pursuing the affrighted dolphin, as the latter pursues the flying-fish.

On approaching the shores pf Jamaica, if at a certain season of the year (from January to June!, when the crops of sugar are getting in, the eye of a stranger is instantly struck and delighted with the diversity of the landscape. Here a dry stubble field in the midst of others covered with ripe sugar-canes, clothed with the verdure of luxuriant guineagrass, finely shaded; there a wind-mill on the summit of a hill; in another place a cluster of buildings, or tuft of trees; and in the neighbourhood an extensive savannah, partly bare and partly covered with wild shrubbery and trees, with a stream of water rushing precipitately from the contiguous bills upon its level bosom; while the lofty cloud-capt mountains behind, crowned with deep woods, and covered with perpetual verdure, close the scene. Add to this, the novel appearance of the mangrove, with which the shores of this island are deeply fringed. Perhaps nothing is more delightfully rural than the fine extensive guinea-grass pastures here, shaded by the tall and elegant bread-nut, whose deep green foilage forms an enchanting contrast to the lighter verdure of the grass ; or adorned by the fragrant pimento, whose leaves are still of a deeper green and finer polish than those of the

bread-nut, and whose perfumes remind us of Arabia.

But it is in the interior of the country that the great and stupendous works of nature are chiefly to be seen. Here the barren and the fertile, the level and the inaccessible, are mingled. In one place a fine valley, or glade, fertile and irrigated, stretching along the foot of craggy and desolate mountains, covered with immense rocks, slightly intermixed with a dry, arid, and unfruitful soil ; in another, a narrow and frightful defile, or deep and gloomy cock-pit, where the rays of the sun never penetrated, both inclosed by abrupt precipices, overhanging rocks, and impervious woods. It was in the midst of these fastnesses, these stupendous fortifications of nature, that the Maroons bade defiance to the whole military force of the country, Safely concealed in ambush, and entrenched behind fragınents of rocks and huge trees, these savages poured in a close and deadly fire on the parties and detachments that were sent in pursuit of them, while the caverns of the rocks afforded to their women and children a temporary retreat. But of this more hereafter.

In many parts of the interior there are extensive tracts of mountainous forest, so barren and so dreary, that every tree is stunted, and not even a reptile is to be seen crawling on their desolate surfaces. In the midst of these inhospitable tracts, however, fine glades are often discovered, made fertile by the washings from the surround ing acclivities. No country can be more diversified with hill and dale. About ten miles from Montego Bay (in the parish of St. James, on the north side of the island) is a commanding eminence near to the road leading to the Trelawney Maroon town, from which the spectator looks down on a considerable tract of country, so inconceivably varied as to bid defiance to the pencil. In gazing on this landscape, the author has been more than once reminded of the method a gentleman, who had been in Jamaica, took to give an idea of its interior to some of his acs quaintance, who wanted a description of it. . He took a sheet of writing paper, and crumpling it up

between his hands, laid it on the table, and, half expanding it, told the company " that was the best description he could give of the face of the interior of Jamaica.” No country perhaps is more susceptible of ornament than this, and yet there are few who take much pains in embellishing their estates with those sylvan beauties which we meet with in the mother country. Men here are otherwise engaged, and have other objects in view. There is, however, something more subļime and attractive in the wild and simple charms of nature, disregarded and unimproved as they may be, than in all the efforts of art; and here this remark will be found often exemplified. The scenery, as already said, is beautifully varied, ;

[ocr errors]

innumerable springs gush down the sides of the hills, or wander along the glades; in the woods a thousand undescribed blossoms and wild flowers emit their sweets; and numberless unknown birds chaunt (or rather chirp) their “wood-notes wild,” for there are few of the feathered tribe here endowed with the gift of song. .

What an interesting field is there here for the naturalist; for though Sir Hans Sloane and other succeeding naturalists have been supposed to have rifled the treasures of the animal and vegetable kingdoms in these regions, yet there are hundreds of recesses throughout the island which neither Sir Hans Sloane nor any other person ever penetrated, much less explored. And can there be a doubt, that in those deep, and almost impervious retreats, there are birds, insects, plants, and fossils, that have no existence in any other museum than the grand repository of nature ?

There are few countries in the world better watered than Jamaica ; for, besides the countless springs and rivulets which issue from its mountains, there are many five rivers in various parts of it. None of these are, however, navigable, excepting Black river, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, on which flat-bottomed boats bring down the sugar, rum, and other produce from the interior of that parish to the port of Black river: on some of the others, as the Rio Cobre, &c. canoes and small boats can sail for some way up.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

As to the smaller streams, it is impossible to particularise them ; suffice it to say, that in many parts of the island seven or eight springs, all or most of them perennial, are known to take their rise within the circuit of two or three miles.

Jamaica is divided into three counties, Middlesex, Surrey, and Cornwall; and these are sub- , divided into twenty parishes. It contains one city (Kingston), and 35 towns and villages. The principal of these are Montego Bay (which for size, population, and trade, may be ranked second to Kingston), Falmouth, St. Jago de la s franconia Vega (the seat of government), Port Royal, Savannah la Mar, Morant Bay, Port Morant, Lucca; Port Maria, Old Harbour, St. Ann's (or St. John), Lacovia, &c. Kingston is a large city, and has a very extensive trade. Its population may be set down at upwards of thirty thousand souls of all descriptions. It is governed by a mayor, aldermen, and council, and has a town guard of forty men, who act under the police of the city, and are of great service in protecting the inhabitants, and preventing riot and disorder. There are in it some handsome build. ings in the West India style. Kingston is, however, a hot, and, at times, a very unhealthy place. Many of the gentlemen there have pens, or country seats, in the cool parts of the vicinity, particularly the Ligumea niountains, to which they occasionally retire, and where they breathe

« PreviousContinue »