Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE WEST INDIES.

I. LUCAYOS OR BAHAMA ISLANDS.

The number of islands, islets and rocks which extend from the Gulf and Straits of Florida, and along the northern coast of Cuba, to the sixty-ninth degree of longitude west of Greenwich.

II. THE GREATER ANTILLES.

Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Porto Rico.

III. THE LESSER ANTILLES.

France possesses—

1. The Windward Islands or Caribbee Islands1: the Virgin Isles, Santa Crux, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Bartholomew, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Christopher, Nevis, Redonda, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, Guadaloupe, the Saintes, Deseada, Mariagalante, Dominica, Martinico, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent, Bequia, the Grenadines, Grenada, Tobago, Trinidad.

2. The Leeward Islands: Oruba, Curaçao, Buen Ayre, Los Roques, Orchilla, Blanca, Tortuga, Salada, Margarita, Cabagua and Coche. The four latter are sometimes excluded from the Leeward Islands, as being too close to the coast of Venezuela; but if this be adopted, Trinidad must be excluded for similar reasons from the Caribbee Islands.

These islands are in the possession of six European nations; Hayti constitutes an independent state, and the island of Margarita and its dependencies is annexed to the republic of Venezuela. The Archipelago contains an area of 86,548 square miles, and a population of about 3,399,683 souls, of which

Square miles.

Population.

A part of St. Martin, Guadaloupe,
with the Saintes, Deseada, Ma-
riegalante, &c.

Martinique .

[blocks in formation]

1

If we cast a glance over a chart of the West Indies on a large scale, the Caribbee Islands, from the Island of Grenada to the Virgin Isles, and including Porto Rico, form a remarkable regular curve, the chord of which from the south point of Grenada to the south-western point of Porto Rico extends in the direction of north 414° west, 470 nautical miles. Barbados lies separate and isolated to the east of this curve, the extent of which amounts to about 750 miles. According to the general chart of the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico, published by the Hydrographical Office of the Admiralty, a north-eastern line drawn from the semidiameter of the chord passes close to the small island Aves, and strikes Barbuda.

* Tableaux de Population, de Culture, de Commerce, &c. sur les Colonies Françaises pour l'année 1841.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1 See Parliamentary Papers, West Indies and British Guiana, No. 426, June 30th, 1845. The census of the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands was taken in 1841; the others in 1844.

2 This includes 278 Caribs.

3 Cariacou has 3825 inhabitants.

4 This number is too low. It is specified in the Penny Cyclopædia as St. John, 2490; St. Thomas, 7000; St. Crux, 32,000. It is considered that the town of St. Thomas by itself has a population of 12,000 inhabitants.

These numbers respecting the population are merely assumed; the areas are more

correct.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF THE ISLAND OF BARBADOS.

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 Caribbee Islands. It is comparatively removed from that chain, and occupies an isolated position, the nearest island being St. Vincent, which is about seventy-eight miles distant from it.

The geographical position of the Engineer's wharf near the Fort of St. Anne, in Bridgetown, is, according to Lieut. Raper's 'Maritime Positions,' in latitude 13° 4′ north, and longitude 59° 37' west from Greenwich. It is to be regretted that this position is not well determined; Lieut. Raper considers that there may be a difference of a mile or two in the longitude. As Barbados is the principal station of the military command of the Windward and Leeward Islands, and as its position, in a nautical point of view, is of such great importance, an astonishment naturally arises that there should still exist such uncertainty. The late Dr. Nevil Maskelyne communicated the latitude of St. Michael's church, the present cathedral of the See, as 13° 5' 30" north; the longitude has varied between 59° 37′ and 59° 43' west.

I have adopted Lieut. Raper's position, and according to it, and discarding the seconds, I deduce the following data for the most remarkable points, namely

The Cave or North Point, latitude 13° 19' north, longitude 59° 37' west.
The South Point, latitude 13° 2' north, longitude 59° 32' west.
Kitridge Point, the most eastern point of the island, latitude 13° 8' north,
longitude 59° 26' west.

Harrison's Point, the most western point of the island, latitude 13° 17′ north, longitude 59° 39' west.

The exact date of the discovery of Barbados is hidden in obscurity, but

1 See Humboldt's Personal Narrative, vol. vi. pp. 133, 160.

the observation which we find in most of the modern Geographies and Encyclopædias, that no mention of it occurs prior to 1600 is perfectly erroneous, and has been copied from one work into another without investigation of the truth of the assertion. I shall give the proofs which I possess in another part of this work, and will here only observe, that the island occurs 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 derivation of its name has been ascribed to the number of a species of fig-tree (Ficus laurifolia, Lam.), from the branches of which great mats of twisted fibrous roots hang down, which have been compared to luxuriant beards. It is conjectured that the Portuguese, who, in their voyages to Brazil, were the first Europeans that landed on the island, gave it the name Las Barbadas from this circumstance. The derivation of the name is no doubt ingenious, and there is every probability of its being the correct one; only it ought to be Barbudos, instead of Barbadas; and we find that in the earlier maps it is called Baruodo, Baruodos, Barbudos. Bolognini Zaltery, who published his map of Nova Franza in 1566, calls it S. Barduda: Barbudo signifies in the Portuguese language one that has a thick beard. In the French maps which were published about the middle of the seventeenth century it is called La Barboude, at present it is generally named La Barbade. Ligon, in some parts of his text', and after him Oldmixon, calls it Barbadoes. For the proper orthography of this derivation no reasonable grounds can be assigned, and it should be strictly avoided. In all documents emanating from the government offices it is called Barbados.

Ligon has given the first map of the island. He tells us that a Captain Swann had executed an exact plan of the whole island, which he was commanded to deliver up to Sir Henry Hunks, then Governor, who carried it with him to England in 1641, where it was lost. It appears that Ligon received a copy of it from Captain Swann, as far as his memory and loose papers assisted him to give such a document. It must have been considered of great interest at that time, as it was published in France under the title of Déscription Topographique de l'Isle de Barbade3,

"

The description of Barbados in Oldmixon's British Empire in America1,' is accompanied by a map of the island by Hermann Moll, geographer.

1 "A true and exact History of the Island of Barbados, by Richard Ligon, Gent., London, 1657." On the map, on the title, and in his dedication, Ligon writes it Barbados, but in the text it is written Barbadoes.

2 Ligon, p. 26.

A copy of this map is preserved in the King's Library in the British Museum. The British Empire in America, containing the history of the discovery, settlement, progress and present state of all the British Colonies on the Continent and Islands of America. London, 1708, vol. ii. p. 1.

This map, on a larger scale, is in the library of the British Museum. The legislature of Barbados commissioned Mr. William Mayo to make a map or plan of the island, and to fix the parish lines, which when finished should be considered the true and real boundaries'. An act passed the legislature under the administration of Governor Robert Lowther on the 21st June, 1720, declaring Mr. Mayo's map legal evidence in all disputes respecting the bounds of the parishes.

At a later period Captain Barrallier surveyed the island of Barbados upon trigonometrical principles, which occupied him, according to his own statement, seven years. The survey was finished in June 1818, and it was subsequently published. It is much to be regretted that this map, which is otherwise so exact in its positions, should be so erroneous in the names of the estates and in the division of the parishes, which faults can be only ascribed to oversight.

These are the principal maps which exist of the island; the others are mostly spurious, and without authenticity.

CHAPTER III.

GENERAL OUTLINE AND ASPECT.

It has been already observed that Barbados appears quite detached from the Caribbean chain, its nearest approach to St. Vincent, which island lies due west from it, being seventy-eight miles. On the north stretches the mighty ocean to the eastern point of Newfoundland and Davie's Strait; to the east it extends to the west coast of North Africa; to the south are the mouths of the Orinoco and the west coast of Guiana2.

1 This map, of which a copy is to be found in the King's Library, is entitled "A new and exact Map of the Island of Barbados, from an actual Survey made in 1717-1721 by William Mayo."

2 In the charts of the eighteenth century, appeared an island under the name of Fonseca, about eighty leagues to the eastward of Barbados. As far as I have been able to ascertain, it appeared first under that name on a chart published in 1722 by Delisle. In another edition, published in Amsterdam in 1739, the observation "Selon quelques-uns" is added to the name. However, already in Hondius's map, entitled * America novissima Descriptio,' an island occupies a similar position as Fonseca with the designation Y. de S. B° attached to it. M. Rochette exhibits on his chart a rock nearly in the same situation, in about 12° 20′ north, and 54° 49′ west, which he calls Galissionière's rock. It is said to have been seen again by the Rainbow, a manof-war, and by another vessel as recently as 1822. It is more likely that the discoloured water which has been frequently observed about seventy to eighty leagues to the eastward of Barbados, and which has been attributed to the stream discharged by the Orinoco, has given rise to the fancied existence of Fonseca, and later to the Vigia of M. Galissionière.

« PreviousContinue »