Page images

than in Scotland. The sharp ridges, running as it were from the semicircular range of cliffs, which encompass Scotland towards a central point, sink gradually as they approach the seashore; and the narrow vales with rocks of all shapes scattered about on the hill-sides or on their summits, resemble much more in miniature the scenery in North Wales than the grand and picturesque scenes which the traveller witnesses in the highlands of Scotland. The steep sides of the hills have mostly a rugged and dreary appearance; here and there the bright green of the sugar-cane imparts variety, or the lofty trees of Turner's Hall wood remind us that there is at least one spot in the island where nature still reigns, and where the axe has left the virgin soil unreclaimed. St. Andrew's is no doubt the most interesting parish to the naturalist and the lover of the picturesque. Mount Hillaby, the highest eminence in the island, rises to a height of 1148 feet, and affords a view over the whole island, entirely surrounded by sea. North-east of it is the craggy and precipitous Chalky Mount with its three lofty pinnacles'; its name is erroneously given, as it is mostly composed, not of chalk, but clay and sandstone.

Turner's Hall wood, a remnant of the tropical forest, clothes a ridge or spur which stretches from the semicircular cliffs to the north-east; it consists almost entirely of Locust, Cedar, Fustic and Bully trees: some of these trees are of considerable height, and approach in size those of the equatorial forest. The author has been told that on several occasions, when mill-timbers were required, trees of more than a hundred feet in height have been felled in this wood. The lover of nature can only indulge the hope that this relic of the former forest may be kept sacred, and may not fall a sacrifice to the all-engrossing sugar-cane.

The "Boiling Spring," to which allusion has been made in a former page3, is situated in a ravine in this wood, and a coloured woman in the neighbourhood shows its wonderful property to the curious for a small recompense. After the small pool is cleared of the water it contains, or during dry weather of the fallen leaves and rubbish, a kind of reversed funnel is placed over the fissure from which the gas escapes, which is thus obliged to ascend through the tube: it ignites readily, and burns with a clear, whitish light. It has been remarked that the gas is more abundant after rain than in dry weather. During the rainy season the edge of the pool requires only to be touched with a lighted match, when it will be encircled with a bright fire, which it is difficult to extinguish. Visitors

1 It is related that a bold horseman, a son of Mars, reached one of these pinnacles on horseback—a feat which appears incredible when viewing the cliff from below.

2 It is very remarkable that although the soil of Barbados differs so essentially from the primitive structure of the interior of Guiana, the author has found in this wood several trees and shrubs which were considered to belong singly to Guiana and Trinidad. The estate called Turner's Hall, to which this wood belongs, is the property of Sir Henry Fitzherbert, Bart., of Tissington-hall in Derbyshire.

3 See ante, p. 12.

generally suspend a saucepan over the flame containing cold water and some eggs, which, if the gas ascends in an abundant stream, are boiled in about eight minutes1. Benjamin Collyns alludes to a second spring in this district in which the ebullitions are less violent and at longer intervals: in contradistinction to the other it is called the cold spring2.

The sandy beach which extends along the seashore of the parish is nearly four miles long, and the indentation of the shore is called "Long Bay." It is so named in Ligon's map, and the other Long Bays seem to have been named at later periods. The shore is however inaccessible to vessels; the sea rolls in over numerous coral-reefs in endless breakers, which, even when the open sea is as smooth as a mirror, break here with great noise. The water has thrown up a barrier of sand which stems the stream that flows from the adjacent hills, and forms a large expanse of water called Long Pond: it is described by Oldmixon as "a sort of lake about a mile from the shore." Previous to the disease which now destroys the cocoa-nut trees in Barbados, the flat ground near Long Pond abounded in avenues of this useful palm. A number of sand-hills have been thrown up by wind and waves, thinly overgrown with brushwood and sedge; behind these hills extends a flat, which belongs to a neighbouring estate called Walker's. It has some salt-springs; the proportions which the water contains are not great; and it remains a geological question, whether the saline particles were originally derived from the sea, or from a bed of fossil salt.

Green Hill, an adjacent hill bordering the sea-shore, consists of micaceous sandstone, cropping out in slabs, which might be used for building purposes. A little further on towards the Peak of Teneriffe lies on the sandy beach a huge oblong coral rock: it was no doubt separated from the wall-like cliffs during a period far removed from our own, and from its isolated position forms a remarkable object3.

The former parish-church of St. Andrew was one of the few which escaped the destruction occasioned by the hurricanes in 1780 and 1831. It was situated at the foot of a hill, and was protected on the east by the Dune-like hills just alluded to. Its age however rendered it necessary to take it down, and a new edifice was rebuilt on nearly the same site. The corner-stone of the new parish-church was, in the absence of the Lord Bishop, laid by the Vicar-General, the Venerable Archdeacon Lawson, on the 30th of November 1846, being the Saint's day of the Patron. The


1 I have wondered why no proper use for lighting the adjacent buildings of the estate is made of this gas. It might be led in tubes and through a purifying receiver into the boiling-house; the expenses would be but trifling, and the advantage very considerable. Mr. C. K. Bishop has collected this gas by a gasometer, and, although it was confined for weeks in a common bladder, it burnt when ignited with a clear white flame. 2 Collyns's MSS.

3 This rock is shelving, and forms a protection against wind and weather. When the author saw it last, it was used as a dwelling by a poor white family.

church is intended to be sixty feet long by forty wide, with a tower and prettily planned recess for a chancel, and is calculated to contain above a thousand sittings. Oldmixon relates that the altarpiece of St. Andrew's Church was painted by M. Birchet, one of the best artists in London, but it was not put up when his work was published, in 1708.

St. Andrew's contains a chapel of ease, St. Simon and St. Jude, very romantically situated in the upper part of the parish near Turner's Hall wood: a large coral block seems to protect it against the heavy onset of a gale. Another chapel, St. Saviour, is in the course of erection in the valley through which Scotland River takes its course, on a small eminence near the Estate Friendship or Pool. Under the summit of Mount Hillaby, and near to the road which leads to Mount Hall, is a Wesleyan chapel.

The Parish of St Lucy.-Area 8725 acres ; population 6934; number of sugar-estates 38. This parish occupies the northern point of the island; it ranks sixth in point of size; according to its population it stands eighth. The northern part, or extreme point of the parish, is flat, marshy, and covered with short grass, sedges and pimploes, or prickly opuntias. The seashore, which bounds the parish on three sides, consists of bold and rocky cliffs from forty to sixty feet high, against which the waves dash with great fury when the sea is agitated by a brisk breeze. It appears that the sea has here encroached upon the land; detached and insulated coral rocks lie at some distance from the coast, apparently the remains of cliffs which formerly extended so far.

For the first mile from the northern point inland the ground is level and open; it gradually rises, advancing southward; and behind the parish church is a projecting point of the wall-like cliffs or terrace, which reaches to 449 feet above the sea; it is called Mount Gilboa, and forms a remarkable object in the landscape1. The land at the extreme point is sterile, and resembles the south-eastern part of St. Philip's and the southern part of Christ Church; further inland however is some good soil. This applies equally to the sugar estates on the second terrace or elevation, among which Lambert's is considered to be one of the first settled estates in that part of the island.

The parish church of St. Lucy has been built since the hurricane in 1831 its style of architecture resembles that of St. Philip's. There are besides two chapels of ease, St. Clement and St. Swithin, in the parish, which is populous for its size.

The cliffs along the coast, from the constant beating of the heavy swell, are very rugged, and have numerous caverns, of which the Animal

1 Under Mount Gilboa is a large cave, which must have been one of the resorts of the Indians. The Rev. Griffith Hughes found here several of their broken images, pipes, hatchets, and chisels.-(Hughes's History of Barbados, p. 7.)

flower Cave and the Bachelor's Cave are those mostly visited by strangers. The former received its name from a species of Zoophyte, the Sea-anemone (Actinia), several of which inhabit an excavation or basin filled with sea-water in one of the divisions of the cave. The access to it is round a precipitous cliff, in which some holes are chiseled, by which any person not apt to turn giddy may reach the cave in safety during smooth water. It is however different when the sea rolls roughly in; it then becomes dangerous to visit the cave; for although the cliff is upwards of forty feet high, the sea breaks over the rock. The cave is approached under an overhanging cliff resembling a porch. Near this cliff or shelf is a large circular hole in a block of coralline limestone, with a large stone in its centre resembling a round of beef in a caldron. Continuing along the cliff, and rounding a point which is called the Horse, the cave is reached by a few rude steps. It is spacious and irregular. The constant beating of the tremendous swell that rolls in has formed several caverns, which are connected by small passages and open upon the sea. The roof of the cavern is hung with stalactites, from which clear fresh water continually drips into the pools of salt-water below.

The great curiosity, the animal flowers, are in the Carpet-room—a division of the cavern, the only means of access to which is by wading knee-deep through water in order to reach a fissure or archway that opens into the cave. In the middle of this excavation is a natural basin filled with sea-water by the waves, which occasionally rush in with great impetuosity. The water is clear as crystal, and the bottom and sides of the basin are covered with a kind of sea-moss or algæ of rich and beautiful colours, varying through all the intermediate tints of green, red and crimson, in consequence of which it has been compared to a rich carpet. In the middle of the basin is an oblong rock, likewise clothed with the variegated sea-moss; and from this rock issue, when the water is undisturbed, small stems or tubes which would scarcely attract attention, until suddenly from the summit of the tube expand several organs in the form of a bright yellow flower, nearly resembling the single marigold; but as soon as a hand approaches to pluck this wonderful flower, the petallike organs retract themselves, and the stem or tube vanishes into the crevice of the rock from whence it issued, re-appearing soon after the hand is withdrawn and the water left undisturbed'. There are two other species, one with blue and the other with brown flowers, which are occasionally found among the coral reefs along the shore in Christ Church. The Back Cave, where the sea-moss is more abundant and of brighter colours, can only be reached when the sea is quite calm. When the author visited the Animal-flower Cave in the company of a friend, the sea was very boisterous: this afforded him an opportunity of witnessing

1 For a description of this curious animal, I refer to the article on Zoophytes in the third part of this history..

a sublime spectacle. The waves approached the headland in long, unbroken masses, until they came in contact with the cliffs, when they dashed against them with a deafening noise, filling the opening of the cave; the water rushed with a great impetus through it, but subdued as it were by the genius of the grotto, it silently filled the basin, and rushed back again to join anew in the onset. The effect, when the opening is covered with the watery curtain, is peculiar and grand; at the commencement, when the masses are thick and compact, almost darkness prevails; then follows suddenly a brownish hue, which changes into a yellowish glare, until the wave has retreated, and a bright light breaks through the opening, again to be darkened anew the next moment.

The Bachelor's Cave is approached by a rude staircase, much in the same way as the bath in Dawlish. The mouth of the cave opens however directly on the sea, and it is only advisable to enter it when the sea is tolerably smooth.

There are some caverns along this coast, called "the Spouts," where the cavity is not wide enough to encompass the impetuous wave, which rushes through the opening, and the water has forced passages vertically upwards, which are worn as smooth as if excavated with the chisel. Through these openings the water rushes up with great violence in boisterous weather, and flies high into the air, forming a kind of natural fountain; as soon as the water recedes, the wind rushes into the apertures, with a noise which is heard at a considerable distance. It is said that the spray sometimes flies to a height of forty feet, when the surface of the sea is stirred by a strong breeze.

In the description which Father Labat gives of Barbados, in 1700, he speaks of a small town called St. John or John's-town1. According to the position which he assigns to it, in the map that accompanies his description, its situation must have been near Maycock's Bay.

The Parish of St. John.-Area 8600 acres ; population 8538; number of sugar-plantations 38. This parish is the seventh according to size, and the fifth with respect to population. The soil is considered very fertile, chiefly the portion forming the table-land, which with a part of St. Joseph's is called "the Top of the Cliff;" the latter rises gradually from the seashore, until towards the summit the cliffs assume an almost perpendicular appearance. St. John's is one of the most delightful districts in Barbados, and in consequence of the number of proprietors resident in this parish, it has been called the "West End" of the island. The air is very pure, and the thermometer generally stands three to four degrees lower than in the valley. The romantic situation of the church has been already alluded to in the third chapter of this work: it stands at a short

1 Labat, Nouveaux Voyages, &c., vol. vi. p. 193.

« PreviousContinue »