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Mount Misery, from an unfortunate man, who attempting to climb the precipice, fell backwards and was killed. It is the highest point of land on St. Christopher's, its height being reckoned a mile and a half perpendicular from the sea; but Mr. Smith thinks it not so high by a quarter of a mile. This vast mountain is situated in the middle of a long chain of lesser and lower ones, that run across the island; but, lofty as it is, our author thinks the Nevis mountain considerably higher.
The whole breadth of one part of the abovementioned rim is taken up by a large single rock, in the form of a triangular pyramid, equilateral, and almost as smooth as if it had been cut by the chisel of a skilful workman. From angle to angle, at the base, it measures seven or eight yards, is somewhat blunted or rather broken off at the top, and a third part downwards from thence it seems to be cracked quite through sideways. The colour of the rock resembles the red part of oriental granite, and like that it is so extremely hard, that a strong arm can scarcely make a visible impres sion on it with the point of a sharp cutlass. This triangular pyramid on one side of the cavity, and Mount Misery on the other, each taking up the breadth of the rim, prevent a person's walking more than half way round the circle.
Near this pyramid, by the help of bushes and roots, our author and his companions ventured to slide down forty or fifty yards into the cavity, till they came to some wild bananas, which were ready to quench their thirst with most clear and excellent water that runs out of them upon sticking in a penknife just where the leaves join to the top of the body of the tree, and so form a small hollow, as if on purpose to receive the blessings of
Heaven, the rain and the dew, and reserve them for the thirsty traveller. It is observable of these trees, that they are annuals, dying quite to the ground every autumn, and shooting up again from the roots in the spring till they are thicker than a man's thigh; but the wood is so very soft and porous, that one may easily cut it through at a single stroke with a sharp hatchet.
Keeping on in a very steep descent, through this wood of bananas, cabbage-trees, &c. they arrived at the bottom of the cavity, where having crossed a little plain they came to an uneven spot of ground consisting of thirty acres or upwards. Here they found a very large rock, jutting out of the side of the hill; and at the bottom of it were thee or four round holes in the earth as wide as a hat-crown, from whence issued hot steams like smoke out of chimneys, which tinged the edges of the holes with seemingly fair brimstone. The little plain above-mentioned is so sulphureous, that it bears nothing but long deadish grass, or rather weeds, with a few stunted bushes.
At length they came to some boiling springs, vulgarly called the "devil's coppers," each of them about three feet in diameter. The water is of a muddy colour, and rises within twelve inches of the surface of the earth, boiling fiercer than a sugar copper, and sending up strong clouds of steam into the air. No kind of grass will grow within twelve yards of these springs, the soil being wholly sulphureous, and so excessively hot, that the travellers found it warm through very thick shoes which they had bought on purpose for this expedition. A negro in company was much frightened at the sight of these coppers, and could
not be dissuaded from believing that jumbu, or the devil had his residence underneath them.
On the south side of the plain before mentioned, there is a pond about forty yards over, not supplied by springs, but by rains which fall very heavily in that warm latitude.-The bottom of this pond consists entirely of clay, which is as beautifully veined as the finest Castile soap, and as delicate as well polished marble.-Near this pond grew a bed of rushes, on which the company sat down and dined; and afterwards returned to Chianne, not a little fatigued with their journey.
Nevis, another of the Caribbee islands, is separated from St. Christopher's by a narrow channel; and is about twenty-one miles north of Montserrat. It makes a very beautiful appearance from the sea, being a large conical mountain, covered with fine trees, of an easy ascent on every side, and richly cultivated. The circumference is about twenty-one miles, with a considerable tract of level ground all around.-The climate in the lower parts is reckoned to be warmer than that of Barbadoes, but it is more temperate toward the summit.
The soil of Nevis, especially in the valleys, is fruitful, but the rising ground is stony, and the plantations are consequently the worse, the higher they ascend towards the summit of the mountain. This mountain has been measured with a quadrant from the bay at Charles-town, and it is said to be exactly a mile and a half perpendicular, though Mr. Smith thinks it is not so high; he allows it, however, to be higher than the mountain called Coal in Norway, or that called Skiddaw in Cumberland.
On the south-side of St. John's parish, there is a
considerable spot of sulphureous ground, at the upper end of a deep rupture in the earth commonly called Sulphur-gut, which is so exceedingly hot as to be presently felt through the shoe-soals; and, some eggs being buried in it about an inch deep, for the space of three or four minutes, were as hard in that time as boiling or roasting could have made them.
At the foot of the declivity adjoining to the south side of Charles-town, there is a little hot river called "the bath," supposed to flow from the above-mentioned sulphureous ground, which is not above three quarters of a mile higher up in the country: This rivulet runs at least half a mile before it loses itself in the sands of the sea; and towards the sea-side there is a particular part of it, where a man may set one foot upon a spring that is excessive cold, and the other upon another spring that is surprisingly hot. All distempered people, both whites and blacks, find great benefit from this hot river; and our author says he knew a negro boy, who was sent from Barbadoes to Nevis for that purpose, cured of the leprosy by drinking and bathing in it three or four times a day, after having been twice salivated in vain. Mr. Smith himself bathed in it once a fortnight, and owns that it contributed not a little to his health and vivacity; and, the last nine months of his stay in Nevis, it was his custom to walk to the river every morning at sun rising, and drink a pint of its water, which operated well, and proved very bene ficial.
At another place, a little to the southward of Charles-town, there is a sharp point of land that jets out a considerable way into the sea; on the rocky extremity whereof Mr. Smith stood, whilst
a negro slipped down from it into the water, and, taking some sand from the bottom, he gave it into our author's hand, who found it to be very warm, the man at the same time affirming that the spring at the bottom was so excessively hot, that he could scarcely bear to set his foot upon it.-The water of Black-rock pond, about a quarter of a mile from Charles-town, is milk warm, occasioned, no doubt, by a mixture of such hot and cold springs; and yet it yields several sorts of excellent fish, and some of the finest eels in the world.
Antigua, situated sixty miles east of St. Christopher's and forty north of Guadaloupe, is reckoned the largest of all the British leeward islands, containing about seventy thousand acres of ground. It is very subject to hurricanes, and the air is not so wholesome as in the neighbouring islands. The soil is sandy, and in many places overgrown with wood; and as there are no rivers nor wholesome springs, the inhabitants are obliged to preserve the rain water in cisterns. A gentleman who visited the island in a time of great drought, observed that the face of the country looked extremely dismal, and the cisterns were almost entirely empty, so that the inhabitants were obliged to send to Guadaloupe and Montserrat for their fresh water, which was afterwards sold for eighteen pence a pail-full.-In some parts of this island are found large, white, and roundish stones, whose inside is hollow, and the outside overspread; as it were, with one continued mass of crystal, which somewhat resembles wrought diamonds set close together.
Montserrat is a small, but very pleasant island, so called by Columbus from its resemblance to the famous mountain near Barcelona in Spain.