CHARLES. "Bergen, one of the principal towns of Norway, stands on the North Sea: it is seated in the centre of a valley, forming a semicircle round a small gulf of the sea. On the land side it is defended by mountains; and on the other, by several fortifications. This city is chiefly constructed of wood, and has been many times destroyed by fire. So dreadful was the last conflagration, in 1771, that it is said the flames were visible in the Isles of Shetland, or at least the red lurid glare of them in the sky."
MR. WILTON. "There are silver mines in Norway; but the iron mines are the most profitable. We have to thank Norway for the magnet, of such inestimable value to the navigator."
GEORGE. "Papa, who found out the use of the magnet?"
MR. WILTON. "Flavio Gioia was the author of the great discovery of the property of the magnet, about the year 1302. He was a citizen of Amalfi, a town in Naples."
EMMA. "Is there not a destructive little animal, native of Norway, called a lemming?"
MR. BARRAUD. "It is called the lemming, or Norwegian mouse; it comes from the ridge of Kolen; and sometimes spreads desolation, like the locust. These animals appear in vast numbers, proceeding from the mountain towards the sea, devouring every product of the soil, and, after consuming everything eatable in their course, they at last devour each other. These singular creatures are of a reddish color, and about five inches in length."
EMMA. "We may now return to our station in Lancaster Sound, pass Croker's Bay, and enter Barrow's Straits which wash the shores of North Devon."
GEORGE. "In the New Archipelago, north of Barrow's Straits, are the Georgian Isles. They are numerous, and the principal are Cornwallis, Bathurst, and Melville. The latter is the largest, being 240 miles long, and 100 miles in breadth."
MR. BARRAUD. "Here is another dreary land where no tree or shrub refreshes the eye. The climate is too cold for any person to live there; and, from its vicinity to the magnetic meridian, the compass becomes useless, remaining in whatever position it is placed by the hand."
EMMA. "Prince Regent's Inlet will lead us into Bothnia Gulf, thence through Fury and Hecla Straits, which are between the peninsula of Melville and Cockburn Island, we can enter Foxes Channel, pass through Frozen Straits, and launch on the great waters of Hudson's Bay."
[Footnote 11: So named because these two vessels were here frozen up from October 20th, 1822, to August 8th, 1823.]
MRS. WILTON. "We enter Hudson's Bay on the north, close by Southampton, a large island inhabited chiefly by Esquimaux. Nothing can exceed the frightful aspect of the environs of this bay. To whichsoever side we direct our view, we perceive nothing but land incapable of receiving any sort of cultivation, and precipitous rocks that rise to the very clouds, and yawn into deep ravines and narrow valleys into which the sun never penetrates, and which are rendered inaccessible by masses of ice and snow that seem never to melt. The sea in this bay is open only from the commencement of July to the end of September, and even then the navigator very often encounters icebergs, which expose him to considerable embarrassment. At the very time he imagines himself at a distance from these floating rocks a sudden squall, or a tide, or current, strong enough to carry away the vessel, and render it unmanageable, all at once hurries him amongst an infinite number of masses of ice, which appear to cover the whole bay."
MR. WILTON. "Sixty years after the intrepid navigator Hudson had first penetrated the gulf that bears his name, the British Government assigned to a company of traders to those parts (by the title of the Hudson's Bay Company) the chartered possession of extensive tracts south, and east of Hudson's Bay, to export the productions of the surrounding country."
GEORGE. "Are there any whales in Hudson's Bay?"
MRS. WILTON. "No, all attempts at the whale fishery have been unsuccessful: indeed, there are very few fish of any sort here; but in the lakes around there are plenty, such as pike, sturgeon, and trout, and their banks are inhabited by aquatic birds, among which are observed several species of swans, geese, and ducks."
EMMA. "James's Bay is directly in the south of Hudson's Bay, and extends a hundred leagues within the country. I believe it is near here that the Company's most important establishments are situated, such as Fort Albany, Fort Moose, and the factory of East Main. This bay contains many islands."
MRS. WILTON. "What bays must we pass to get to Hudson's Straits?"
EMMA. "Mosquito Bay is the only one I can perceive; but there is Mansfield Isle, and Cape Diggs to make before we reach the straits; and in the straits there are several bays, the principal of which are North Bay and Ungava or South Bay."
MRS. WILTON. "Quite correct, Emma. The straits were discovered by Hudson, in his voyage of 1610. The eastern coast of Hudson's Bay forms part of the peninsula of Labrador. Will any member vouchsafe some information concerning this country?"
CHARLES. "All that we know of Labrador is, that it is a mass of mountains and rocks, intersected with numerous lakes and rivers, and inhabited by Esquimaux."
MRS. WILTON. "Once more in the Atlantic, the great highway and thoroughfare of civilized nations. Where sail we next?"
EMMA. "Through the Straits of Belle-isle into the Gulf of St. Lawrence."
MR. BARRAUD. "This gulf abounds with fish in a remarkable degree. The bears here combine together in numerous herds, to catch the salmon near the cataracts in the rivers, where great numbers are stopped in their ascent, and are exceedingly relished by that animal. Some of them plunge into the water, and pursue their prey, while others more idle watch them from the banks. There are only two islands of note in this gulf,—the island of Anticosti, 90 miles long and 20 broad, covered with rocks, and wanting the convenience of a harbor; and Prince Edward's Islands, pleasant fertile spots. The Gulf of St. Lawrence washes the shores of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island."
MR. WILTON. "Nova Scotia is about 350 miles long, and 250 broad: its chief town is Halifax. This island, with regard to fishing, is scarcely inferior to Newfoundland, which place is connected with the government of Nova Scotia."
MRS. WILTON. "Cape Breton, or Sydney Isle, lies north-east of Nova Scotia, from which it is separated by a strait only a mile broad. Its length is 100 miles, its breadth 60. A remarkable bed of coal runs horizontally, at from 6 to 8 feet only, below the surface through a large portion of the island: a fire was once accidentally kindled in one of the pits, which is now continually burning. Cape Breton has been termed the Key to Canada and is the principal protection, through the fine harbor of Louisburg, of all the fisheries in the neighborhood."
EMMA. "The next important bays in our southward course are Bay of Fundy, Delaware Bay, and Chesapeake Bay: then we come in sight of the Bahamas."
MRS. WILTON. "Which islands must stand aside while we examine the Bermudas, which are half-way between Nova Scotia and the Antilles. They were so called by Juan Bermudas, who discovered them in the year 1557, but did not land upon them: they are of various sizes, the largest being about twelve miles. The cedar-trees grown there form the chief riches of the inhabitants, and they estimate a man's income by the number of trees he possesses. St. George is the capital, and the islands belong to the English. They are sometimes called 'Somers Isles,' from the circumstance of Sir John Somers being shipwrecked on the rocks by which they are surrounded. Previous to this occurrence Henry May, an Englishman, was cast ashore on one of the largest, and as the islands abound with cedar, he contrived, with the assistance of the materials he obtained from the wreck, to build a small vessel, in which he returned to England, and was the first person who gave any account of the group."
GEORGE. "Now for the Bahamas. They are 300 in number! but only twelve are large. Nassau is the capital They were the first land discovered by Columbus in the year 1492."
MR. WILTON. "And were once a nest of pirates, but the English expelled them, and established a colony in 1720."
MR. BARRAUD. "Speaking of pirates, have you ever heard the plan adopted by the Portuguese for the suppression of piracy?"
No one had heard it, and Mr. Barraud proceeded.
"The Portuguese, in their early intercourse with the Indians, had a summary punishment, and accompanied it with a terrible example to deter others from the commission of the crime. Whenever they took a pirate ship they instantly hanged every man, carried away the sails, rudder, and everything that was valuable in the ship, and left her to be buffeted about by the winds and waves, with the carcasses of the criminals dangling from the yards, a horrid object of terror to all who might chance to fall in with her."
CHARLES. "Almost as dreadful a vessel to fall in with as the Phantom Ship in Coleridge's 'Ancient Mariner,' I always feel uncomfortable when I read that poem, and yet I admire it very much."
MRS. WILTON. "It is replete with such truthful descriptions, that you are involuntarily borne on the wings of imagination until all seems reality, and you identify yourself with the Ancient Mariner."
MR. WILTON. "I anticipate we shall all be ancient mariners before we conclude our voyage, but we must not be idle ones. Lead on, Emma, we will follow."
EMMA. "I have no more bays yet, and it is mamma's province to describe the islands."
MRS. WILTON. "Well and good: here are the Antilles. I shall not hasten over them, for they are our isles, whither we hope shortly to sail in reality; therefore it is highly necessary that we should be well informed concerning their locality. They form an arch between the two continents of America, and extend from the Gulf of Florida to that of Venezuela. They are divided into the greater and the less; Cuba, Jamaica, St. Domingo, and Porto Rico are called the Great Antilles, all the others the less Antilles.
"Cuba is the largest and most important: it commands the windward passage, as well as the entrance into the gulfs of Mexico and Florida, and is for that reason sometimes called the Key of the West Indies. It is more than 700 miles in length, and its medium breadth 70 miles. Havannah is the capital.
"Jamaica is a delightful island, endeared to me by many fond recollections; it is mountainous, extremely fertile, and abounding with springs (as its name signifies) of delicious water, a great luxury in a warm climate. The top of the highest mountain, Blue Mountain Peak, is 7800 feet above the level of the sea. Kingston is the chief place for trade. The island is 150 miles from east to west, and its breadth is 60 miles in its widest part.
"St. Domingo, capital same name, is a pleasant fertile country. The first town founded by Europeans in America was St. Domingo. The bones of Christopher Columbus and his brother Lewis are deposited in two leaden coffins in the cathedral of this city.
"Porto Rico is 100 miles long and 40 broad. It is beautifully diversified with woods, valleys, and plains, and extremely fertile."
GRANDY. "The Antilles are lovely islands, and some of the happiest moments of my life have been passed in admiring the wonderful works of our Creator, as shown to such advantage in the bright lands of the West. Beautiful are the mornings in Jamaica, when the sun, appearing through a cloudless and serene atmosphere, illumines with his rays the summits of the mountains, and gilds the leaves of the plantain and orange-trees. The plants are spread over with gossamer of fine and transparent silk, or gemmed with dew-drops, and the vivid hues of industrious insects, reflecting unnumbered tints from the rays of the sun. The aspect of the richly cultivated valleys is different, but not less pleasing; the whole of nature teems with the most varied productions. The views around are splendid; the lofty mountains adorned with thick foliage; the hills, from their summits to their very borders, fringed with plants of never fading verdure. The appearance of the valleys is remarkable: to form an imperfect idea of it, we must group together the stately palm-tree, the cocoa-nut, and tamarind trees, the clustering mango and orange-trees, the waving plumes of the feathery bamboo, and many others, too numerous to mention. On these plains, too, you will find the bushy oleander, many varieties of Jerusalem thorn and African rose, the bright scarlet of the cordium, bowers of jessamine, vines of grenadilla, and the silver and silky leaves of the portlandia. Fields of sugar-cane, houses of the planters, huts of the negroes almost hidden by the patches of cultivated ground attached to them, and the distant coast with ships, add to the beauty of the West Indian landscape."
MR. WILTON. "That is the bright side of the scene, my dear mother; and lest we should form wrong impressions, we will let the young folks hear how all this beauty is sometimes marred by hurricanes and earthquakes. One specimen will be sufficient; and I will describe a hurricane, in order that you may have some slight notion of the many delights attendant on a residence in the West Indies.—A hurricane is generally preceded by an awful stillness of the elements, the air becomes close and heavy, the sun is red, and the stars at night seem unusually large. Frequent changes take place in the thermometer, which rises sometimes from 80 deg. to 90 deg.. Darkness extends over the earth; the higher regions gleam with lightning. The impending storm is first observed on the sea; foaming mountains rise suddenly from its clear and motionless surface. The wind rages with unrestrained fury; its noise may be compared to distant thunder. The rain descends in torrents; shrubs and lofty trees are borne down by the mountain stream; the rivers overflow their banks, and submerge the plains. Terror and consternation seem to pervade the whole of animated nature: land birds are driven into the ocean; and those whose element is the sea, seek for refuge in the woods. The frighted beasts of the field herd together, or roam in vain for a place of shelter. All the elements are thrown into confusion, and nature appears to be hastening to her ancient chaos. Scenes of desolation are disclosed by the next morning's sun; uprooted trees, branches shivered from their trunks; and even the ruins of houses scattered over the land. The planter has sometimes been scarcely able to distinguish the place of his former possessions. By these dreadful hurricanes, fertile valleys may in a few hours be changed into dreary wastes, covered with the remains of domestic animals and the fowls of heaven."
CHARLES. "I do not envy you the prospect of an abode in the Antilles, friend George; but I shall be heartily glad to see you safe back again."
GRANDY. "Every country has an evil; 'tis right it should be so, or we should like this fair world and its enjoyments so well, that we should not care to 'go up higher.' There are many evils 'tis true, but there is also so much good to counter-balance the evil, that we should raise our hearts with thankfulness, and open our lips with praises to sing the goodness of our God.
"Emma, my child, where roam we next?"
EMMA. "We cannot quit the Gulf of Mexico yet, dear Grandy, until we have examined its environs. We entered it through the Gulf of Florida, which is situated between Florida and Cuba. The Gulf of Mexico almost intersects the two continents; and is, in fact, an extensive sea. It washes the shores of Mexico and Yucatan, and contains many comparatively small bays."
MR. BARRAUD. "This gulf may be considered as a Mediterranean Sea, which opens a maritime commerce with all the fertile countries by which it is encircled. The islands scattered in it are inferior only to those in the Indian Archipelago in number, in magnitude, and in value."
MRS. WILTON. "Mexico is a very rich city; the shops literally overflowing with gold, silver, and jewels. The cathedral, in some respects, surpasses all the churches in the world. The balustrade which surrounds the altar is composed of massive silver. A lamp, of the same metal, is of so vast a size that three men go into it when it has to be cleaned; and it is enriched with lion's heads and other ornaments of pure gold. The statues of the Virgin and the saints, are made of solid silver, richly gilded and ornamented with precious stones.
"Yucatan is celebrated for beautiful ruins, adorned with the most striking, imposing, and elegant decorations, but who were the architects, or when built, is at present a mystery; for when discovered by the Spaniards in the fifteenth century, it was inhabited by a fierce tribe of Indians, who were perfectly ignorant of arts and sciences; therefore, these magnificent erections must have been the work of civilized men, before Yucatan was possessed by the Indians. Many attempts were made by the Spaniards to obtain a footing in this country, but to no purpose. At length they hit upon the expedient of sending priests among the people. Five were found willing to go: they were introduced as men of peace by the Mexicans, were amicably received, and allowed to settle in the country. Their conduct soon gained them the love and esteem of the fierce Indians, and they brought their children to be taught, and were baptized with their whole families. Every day strengthened their attachment to the Padres: they built them houses to live in, and a temple for worship; and at last, without any compulsion, the chiefs acknowledged the authority of the King of Castile. But this allegiance was of short duration. Some Spanish soldiers went over, and carried fire and sword into the heart of their country, and soon obliterated the impression made by the good Padres. The Indians again waged war with civilized man, and the priests fled for their lives. Many years after the Spaniards were the conquerors, and succeeded in planting their standard in Yucatan, in the year 1537. It is now inhabited by Spaniards and Indians: there is an appearance of civilization surrounding many of these desolated places. Villages and towns have been formed, and lands cultivated in every direction."
EMMA. "Through the Bay of Honduras we enter the Caribbean Sea, and it is the last sea on this side of the equator."
MR. BARRAUD. "The Caribbean Sea is, generally speaking, still and quiet, and in fine weather the water is so transparent, that the mariner can discern fish and coral at fifty fathoms below the surface. The ship seems to float in the air, and the spectator is often seized with vertigo, while he beholds through the crystalline fluid, submarine groves and beautiful shells glittering among tufts of fucus and sea-weed. Fresh-water springs issue from the sea on both sides of the Channel between Yucatan and Cuba. They rush with so much violence out of the deep, that it is dangerous for small vessels to approach them; boats have been dashed to pieces by the force of the surge. Ships on the coast sail here sometimes for a supply of fresh water, which the seamen draw from the bottom of the Ocean!"
EMMA. "What extraordinary things we meet with in our travels! May we, before crossing the equator, visit the lakes, mamma?"
MRS. WILTON. "I am quite agreeable. Who wishes to go to the lakes?"
CHARLES. "I do, and will start directly I have prepared the necessary documents. Oh! here they are; Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron, are considered as forming one large inland sea, dividing the United States from Canada. There are several islands in these lakes, particularly in Lake Superior, which islands the savages believe to be the residence of the Great Spirit. It is strange that these lakes are never frozen over, although the entrances are frequently obstructed with ice."
EMMA. "Lake Superior is more than 500 leagues in circumference; its clear waters, fed by forty rivers, are contained in extensive strata of rocks, and their surges nearly equal those of the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Huron is connected with Superior, by the Straits of St. Mary. Lake Michigan communicates with Huron by a long strait, and the country around its banks belongs exclusively to the United States."
CHARLES. "Lake Erie is my favorite, because it communicates with the river Niagara, and with those celebrated cataracts of which so much has been written."
GEORGE. "For the same reason then, you should patronize Lake Ontario. It is 170 miles long, and 60 miles broad, at its widest part, and empties itself through the romantic 'Lake of a thousand Isles,' into the St. Lawrence."
EMMA. "Lake Winnipeg is the next nearest; it is more than sixty leagues in length, by thirty or forty broad. Its banks are shaded by the sugar-maple and poplar, and it is surrounded by fertile plains, which produce the rice of Canada.
"The Great Slave Lake is quite north, and the last of any consequence. It is more than a hundred leagues in length, and sprinkled with islands, covered with trees resembling the mulberry. Mackenzie found them loaded with ice in the middle of June."
MRS. WILTON. "There is nothing in other parts of the globe which resembles the prodigious chain of lakes in North America. They may properly be termed inland seas of fresh water; and even those of second and third class in magnitude, are of larger circuit than the greatest lake in the old continent. They all unite to form one uninterrupted current of water, extending above 600 leagues in length. The country around is intersected with rivers, lakes, and marshes to a greater extent than any other part of the world: but few mountains rise above this savage icy plain. One is tempted to inquire, why do such superb streams waste their fertilizing waters upon these frozen deserts? We only know they manifest the Power, and we must not doubt the Wisdom of their Creator."
MR. WILTON. "Now, Emma, return to our former situation in the Bay of Honduras. What of that bay?"
EMMA. "Only this, papa, that it washes the shores of Yucatan, which has already been described, and runs into the Caribbean Sea. Mamma will help me here."
MRS. WILTON. "The coast of Honduras was discovered by Columbus, in his last voyage, but its verdant beauties (for it is a lovely place.) could not win him to the shore. Without landing, he continued on to the Isthmus of Darien, in search of that passage to India which was the aim of all his hopes, but which it was destined he should never see."
EMMA. "The Caribbean Sea contains the Caribbee Islands, which are also distinguished by the names of Windward and Leeward Isles. The only one we should have to pass near in sailing out of this sea, is Tobago."
MR. WILTON. "But, Emma, are you going to leave this coast without a visit to Panama?"
EMMA. "My only reason for so doing, dear papa, is because I know nothing about it, except that it is situated close to the Isthmus of Darien, and its chief town is Porto Bello."
MR. WILTON. "Panama is itself an isthmus, and is most luxuriant in vegetable productions, and could challenge competition with any part of the world, in the vigor and variety of its woods. There are known to be growing there, no less than ninety-seven different qualities of wood. It is famed, as most woody places are, for snakes and poisonous reptiles: the country people will scarcely move abroad after nightfall for fear of them, and always carry a charm about their person to prevent injury from their bite. This charm is an alligator's tooth, stuffed with herbs, compounded and muttered over by some old woman."
MR. BARRAUD. "I have heard that toads at Porto Bello are so numerous, that it is the popular prejudice that the drops of rain are changed into toads; and even the more learned maintain that the eggs of this animal are raised with the vapors from the adjoining swamps, and being conveyed to the city by the succeeding rains, are there hatched. They are large and frightful, many of them six inches in breadth; and after a night of rain, the streets are almost covered, so that it is impossible to walk any distance without crushing dozens of them. The city is so badly situated, and the climate so unhealthy, that few persons can exist there, and it is justly termed by the Spaniards 'La Sepultura de los Europeanos.'"
CHARLES. "The people of Porto Bello are not particularly dainty. I am sure I should starve there, for I could not consent to eat their food. What do you think of shovel-nosed sharks being sold in the markets, and guanas—which you know are lizards—being considered a special treat? and then, worse than all, the country folks mostly feed upon monkeys. How should you fare amongst them, George? Could you make a dinner off a roasted monkey?"
GEORGE. "I do not think I should enjoy it, but if I were very hungry, I might not be particular: however, I must own I should even then prefer beef or mutton to lizards and monkeys."
MR. WILTON. "Panama is, notwithstanding their want of taste, a rich country; rich in gold, silver, and other mines. Commerce is gaining ground there, and in the present day the people are more anxious to make their fortunes than to display their magnificence. Formerly, no family in Panama ate off anything but plate, almost every domestic utensil was of the same material, and the women wore a profusion of chains, pearls, and other ornaments. But times are altered there as elsewhere; most of the gold has passed through the melting-pot to the Old World."
MR. BARRAUD. "True; but they have still enough left to make very grand displays on gala days; and, on these occasions, the dresses of the women are peculiarly splendid. A loose chemise of beautiful cambric, with innumerable and immense frills richly worked with lace, is, with a petticoat of the same, fastened at the waist by several massive chased-gold buttons. Round the neck are several gold chains, with pearl rosettes, crosses, and rows of pearls; the ear-rings are of the shape of a telegraph, and reach nearly to the shoulders; the fingers are covered with rings: and various combs, studded with rows of pearl cased in gold, are placed together with a massive gold bodkin, to great advantage in beautiful hair, plaited in two tails down the back. The feet are barely introduced into a little slipper, turned up very much at the toes, and also richly ornamented. The whole appearance is elegant and becoming."
MR. WILTON. "The pearls thus tastefully disposed around the person of a fair Panamenian, are procured among the islands of the coast by diving. The occupation is very laborious, and success most uncertain; but the pursuit is a favorite one, and the divers are very expert. They generally proceed in companies of several canoes together, each containing six or seven men, who dive in succession, armed with a sharp knife, rather for the purpose of detaching the oysters from the rocks to which they adhere, than for defence against danger. Before descending, they repeatedly cross themselves, (for you must understand, nearly all Central America is inhabited by Roman Catholics,) and generally bring up four oysters, one under each arm, and two in the hand. The usual time of stopping under water is from fifty seconds to two and a half minutes. Much has been said of the danger of these fisheries, both from the shark, and another enemy called the 'Manta.' which crushes its victim. But the shark is ever a coward, and no match for an expert diver with a knife; and accidents rarely occur."
EMMA. "Oh! how much information I should have lost, had I gone sailing on by myself. I think I had better resign my station at the wheel to some member who is better able to steer. Who will have it?"
MR. BARRAUD. "Keep it, Emma, unless you are weary, and we will direct your course occasionally. I am sure you have proved yourself so indefatigable on all occasions, that our vessel cannot be in better hands."
EMMA. "Before proceeding any further, I wish to read the enclosed account. I received it with two or three other papers, from our friend Dora, a few minutes before we assembled. She knew we should be explaining the Atlantic to-night, and begged I would introduce this at the meeting.
The Seaboy's Grave.
"'There was a poor little middy on board, so delicate and fragile, that the sea was clearly no fit profession for him; but he or his friends thought otherwise; and as he had a spirit for which his frame was no match, he soon gave token of decay. This boy was a great favorite with everybody; the sailors smiled whenever he passed, as they would have done to a child; the officers patted him, and coddled him up with all sorts of good things; and his messmates, in a style which did not altogether please him, but which he could not well resist, as it was meant most kindly, nicknamed him, "Dolly." Poor fellow! he was long remembered afterwards. I forget what his particular complaint was, but he gradually sank, and at last went out just as a taper might have done, exposed to such gusts of wind as blew in that tempestuous region. He died in the morning, but it was not until the evening that he was prepared for a seaman's grave.
"'I remember in the course of the day, going to the side of the boy's hammock; and, on laying my hand upon his breast, being astonished to find it still warm; so much so, that I almost imagined I could feel the heart beat. This, of course, was a vain fancy; but I was greatly attached to my little companion, being then not much taller myself, and I was soothed and gratified, in a childish way, by discovering that my friend, though many hours dead, had not yet acquired the usual revolting chilliness.
"'Something occurred during the day to prevent the funeral taking place at the usual hour; and the ceremony was deferred until long after sunset. The evening was extremely dark, and it was blowing a treble-reefed topsail breeze. We had just sent down the top-gallant yards, and had made all snug for a boisterous winter's night. As it became necessary to have lights to see what was done, several signal lanterns were placed on the break of the quarter-deck, and others along the hammock railing on the lee-gangway. The whole ship's company and officers were assembled; some on the booms, others in the boats; while the main-rigging was crowded half-way up to the cat-harpings. Overhead the mainsail, illuminated as high as the yard by the lamps, was bulging forwards under the gale, which was rising every minute, and straining so violently at the main-sheet, that there was some doubt whether it might not be necessary to interrupt the funeral in order to take sail off the ship. The lower-deck ports lay completely under water, and several times the muzzles of the main-deck guns were plunged into the sea; so that the ends of the grating on which the remains of poor "Dolly" were laid, once or twice nearly touched the tops of the waves, as they foamed and hissed past. The rain fell fast on the bare heads of the crew, dropping also on the officers during all the ceremony, from the foot of the mainsail, and wetting the leaves of the prayer-book. The wind sighed over us amongst the wet shrouds, with a note so mournful, that there could not have been a more appropriate dirge.
"'The ship pitching violently, strained and cracked from end to end; so that, what with the noise of the sea, the rattling of the ropes, and the whistling of the wind, hardly one word of the service could be distinguished. The men, however, understood by a motion of the captain's hand, when the time came, and the body of our dear little brother was committed to the deep.
"'So violent a squall was sweeping past the ship at this moment that no sound was heard of the usual splash, which made the sailors (naturally superstitious) allege, that their young favorite never touched the water at all, but was at once carried off in the gale to his final resting-place!'"
GEORGE. "Oh! how very melancholy. It seems much more dismal to be buried in the sea than on the land:
"'For the dead should lie in the churchyard green, Where the pleasant flowers do spring.'"
EMMA. "I shall be grateful to Captain Hall if his pathetic description of the funeral of 'Dolly' checks your desire to become a sailor, George; for I cannot bear to think of it. We are now to sail along the coast of South America, and the first gulfs in the north of this coast are the gulfs of Maracaybo, Coro, Trieste, and Paria, by the island of Trinidad, where——"
CHARLES. "Stop! stop! Emma. Out of four gulfs there must be something to be had worth fishing for, is there not?"
MR. BARRAUD. "You may fish for melancholy in the Gulf of Trieste, Charles, if you are so disposed, for it is a dreadful place. Here, in the midst of furious waves, enormous rocks raise their isolated heads, and scarcely, even with a fair wind, can ships overcome the strength of the stream."
CHARLES. "We will not angle in that gulf; but I have fished up an island in Maracaybo, or Venezuela Gulf. It is called Curacoa, and is arid and sterile. There is very little water, and only one well in the island, and the water is sold at a high price. Its capital is Williamstadt, one of the neatest cities in the West Indies."
MRS. WILTON. "The entrance to the Gulf of Paria on the north side is called Dragon's Mouth, on the south, Serpent's Mouth. This gulf separates Trinidad from South America. Trinidad is about 70 miles from east to west, and nearly 50 from north to south. The most remarkable phenomenon there is a bituminous lake, situated on the western coast, near the village of La Brea. It is nearly three miles in extent, of a circular form, and about 80 feet above the level of the sea. Small islands, covered with plants and shrubs, are occasionally observed on this lake, but it is subject to frequent changes, and the verdant isles often disappear. Trinidad is important on account of its fertility, its extent, and its position."
EMMA. "The next bay in our course is the Bay of Oyapok."
MRS. WILTON. "And the next country in our course is Guiana, washed by the Atlantic. This country is subject to annual inundations. All the rivers overflow their banks; forests, trees, shrubs, and parasitical plants seem to float on the water, and the sea tinged with yellow clay, adds its billows to the fresh-water streams. Quadrupeds are forced to take refuge on the highest trees: large lizards, agoutis, and pecaries quit their watery dens and remain on the branches. Aquatic birds spring upon the trees to avoid the cayman and serpents that infest the temporary lakes. The fish forsake their ordinary food, and live on the fruits and berries of the shrubs through which they swim,—the crab is found upon trees, and the oyster multiplies in the forest. The Indian, who surveys from his canoe this new chaos, this confusion of earth and sea, suspends his hammock on an elevated branch, and sleeps without fear in the midst of so great danger."
[Footnote 12: Animals similar to the wild boar of Europe, but very small.]
[Footnote 13: Cayman: a species of alligator.]
GRANDY. "Emma will have more than she can accomplish to-night, if she wishes to enter all the bays around South America, for no country in the world is so famous for its enormous gulfs."
MR. WILTON. "Yes; we must make a division for another meeting. To-night we will sail down to Cape Horn, and sojourn there until the 21st of this month. We could not choose a more favorable time than March for our visit."
EMMA. "Very well, then, we will merely mention some of these bays, viz.:—Pinzon, Maripani, Gurupy, Turiassu, Cuma, Paraiba, All Saints, Camanu, and St. Salvador Bay, near Rio de Janeiro."
MR. WILTON. "Well, Emma, you have certainly manoeuvred well to bring us over the equator without the usual visitation of Neptune and Amphitrite, and we must all thank you for landing us, without a ducking, in the principal town of Brazil. So now we will walk about and see the lions."
GEORGE. "We can go and fill our pockets, papa; for it is said that through the whole of this country, at the depth of twenty-four feet from the surface, there is a thin vein of gold, the particles of which are carried by the springs and heavy rains into the neighboring rivers, from the sands of which they are gathered by negroes employed for that purpose. There, too, we might happen to find some diamonds"
CHARLES. "You would find it not so easy to collect gold and diamonds as you imagine, and I expect you would come back poorer than you went."
MRS. WILTON. "Rio de Janeiro possesses one of the finest harbors known, having at its entrance a bar, at the extremes of which rise two rocks. This bay is twenty-four leagues in length, and eight in width, and has in it many islands; some are cultivated and possess sugar-works. The most celebrated of them is named De Cobra, off which island ships cast anchor. On the opposite side of this city, a natural wall of rocks, called Los Organos, extends itself as far as the sea, and forms a perfect line of defence independently of the neighboring fortresses."
EMMA. "Paraguay is the adjacent coast, and derives its name from the Payaguas, a treacherous and deceitful people, who subsist by fishing. It is a fertile district, and produces a species of ilex, which makes the tea so much used in South America. The laborers, who esteem it vastly more than we do our Chinese tea, will refuse to work if deprived of it. The twigs are steeped with the leaves, and the tea is taken through a silver or glass tube. The gulfs along here are not very important. I have no account of them."
[Footnote 14: Ilex: a species of oak.]
MRS. WILTON. "Monte Video is the next coast, and derives its name from a mountain near the city; it is completely enclosed with fortifications. The inhabitants are humane and well disposed. The ladies in general affable and polite, and extremely fond of dress, and very neat and cleanly in their persons. They adopt the English costume at home, but go abroad usually in black, and always covered with a large veil or mantle. Provisions here are very cheap; and such is the profusion of flesh-meat, that the vicinity for two miles round, and even the purlieus of the town itself, present filthy spectacles of bones and raw flesh at every step, which feed immense flocks of sea-gulls, and, in summer, breed myriads of flies, to the great annoyance of the inhabitants, who are obliged, at table, to have a servant or two continually employed in fanning the dishes with feathers to drive away these troublesome intruders."
EMMA. "Between Monte Video and Buenos Ayres are many bays: False Bay, Brightman Bay, and Union Bay are the principal."
MRS. WILTON. "Buenos Ayres was founded in 1535 by Don Pedro de Mendoza, who gave it that name on account of the salubrity of its climate. This town is in many respects the most considerable of all the commercial towns in South America. Bread is by no means the staff of life here, for meat and the great variety of roots and grain with which the country abounds, afford to the poor inhabitants an equally healthy and even more nutritious substance."
EMMA."—South of Buenos Ayres are Antonio Bay, Nuevo Gulf, Ergano Bay, Gulf of Vera, and Gulf of St. George, which last runs into the country of the gigantic Patagonians."
MR. BARRAUD. "The bays here afford good anchorage for ships; but there are neither inhabitants, wood, nor fresh water in the adjacent country: a few aquatic birds and sea-wolves remain unmolested on these dismal shores."
MR. WILTON. "Patagonia is inhabited by wandering tribes of Indians. From their extraordinary size they have given rise to many remarkable tales. Fernandez de Magalhanes says, that one day, when the fleet was anchored at Port San Julian, a person of gigantic stature appeared on the shore. He sang, he danced, and sprinkled dust on his forehead: a sailor was sent to land, with orders to imitate his gestures, which were considered signals of peace. The seaman performed his part so well, that the giant accompanied him to the commander's vessel. He pointed to the sky, wishing to inquire if the Spaniards had descended from heaven. His size was such that the sailors' heads did not come up to his waist."
GEORGE. "But are they really giants, papa?"
MR. WILTON. "Not exactly giants, my dear; not men who could travel in seven league boots: but they are really large people; many of them seven feet high; and such men seen through a traveller's microscope, would be magnified to huge giants!"
CHARLES. "Now, here we are in the land of Fires! and yet it is very cold. Emma, you are surely not going to name all these little bays?"
EMMA. "Do not be alarmed, Charles: I will not so far tax your patience; but we must see Terra del Fuego. It is divided into three large islands,—South Desolation, Clarence Island, and King Charles's Southland; besides which there are hundreds of smaller isles, habited and uninhabited."
MRS. WILTON. "Having reached the southern extremity of the American continent, we may take an excursion to some of the neighboring islands; for although they are not all subject to America, still they are nearer to it than to any other country. To the south of Patagonia there is a number of cold, barren, and mountainous islands; volcanoes which cannot melt, brighten and illumine the perpetual snow in these dismal regions. Here it was that the sailors observed fires on the southern shores of the strait, for which reason the land on that side was called Terra del Fuego."
GEORGE. "Mamma, I wish to know why March is a favorable month for visiting Cape Horn?"
MRS. WILTON. "Because midsummer takes place in February, and is the best time of the year. July is the worst month, for then the sun does not rise until nine o'clock, and it sets at three, giving eighteen hours night; and then, also, snow and rain, gales and high winds are in abundance. Charles, will you favor us with some account of the islands?"
CHARLES. "Staten is a detached island, which may be considered as forming part of the archipelago of Terra del Fuego. It was discovered by Lemaire.
"The Falklands are two large islands, separated from each other by a broad channel of the same name. We are now nearly out of the Atlantic."
MR. WILTON. "Yes; we had now better clear the decks, and pipe to supper."
GEORGE. "One question more, dear papa. Can any one tell the depth of the Atlantic?"
MR. WILTON. "The depth is extremely various, and in many places wholly beyond the power of man to fathom. The greatest depth that has ever been reached, was effected by Captain Scoresby in the sea near Greenland, in the year 1817, and was 7,200 feet. Many parts of the Atlantic are thought to be three times this depth. How much is that, my boy?"
GEORGE. "21,600 feet, papa."
MR. WILTON. "Well done! Now go and discuss mamma's realities, and try and remember as much as possible of our imaginary wanderings, that they may prove of real utility to you in your journey through life."
The water of the vast ocean, When it has raged with all its fury, becalms itself again; This is the course of the world;—and likewise still to forget. Kalmuck Song.
There were no disappointments on the twenty-first; but there was evidently some cause of uneasiness, for there was a great deal of whispering between George and his sister, and a great many significant glances at papa, which plainly indicated that some important disclosure was about to be made. But muffins and tea appeared, and disappeared, and still not a word. George fidgeted, and Emma looked uneasy, which Mr. Wilton observing, he said: "I apprehend there will be no business done to-night, unless I set these anxious little folks at rest, by informing the present company of the events which have transpired since our last meeting. I believe you were aware that it was my intention shortly to visit Jamaica. During the past week I have been bringing affairs to a crisis, and it is now finally arranged, that, should nothing intervene to the prevention of our plans, we sail for that island on or about the thirtieth of next month. This, of course, will preclude the possibility of meeting many more times; but I think we may promise ourselves one farewell debate. I regret our separation principally on account of our little society, for it has been the means of passing our evenings, not only agreeably, but profitably. Should our lives be spared, I trust we shall again assemble under the same roof and again enjoy the advantages of each other's researches."
This news spread a gloom over the little party, for they could not contemplate a separation from their kind friends without feelings of deep regret, and there were more tears than smiles in their usually bright eyes.
Grandy looked from one young face to another: all wore the same expression. Thoughtful, sorrowful, and silent, they sat around the table where they had enjoyed so many happy hours; and she, too, felt that, although it is delightful to possess the affection of friends, yet too often that affection is the cause of much anxiety and deep enduring sorrow.
A separation of 5000 miles was not a trifling cause of grief; but it was a pity to tinge the next month of their existence with unavailing melancholy: it had been better that it had remained a secret, than to have caused such unhappiness to cloud their serene and cheerful days; and Mrs. Wilton endeavored to make them view the matter in a brighter light. "At all events," she said, "we must not render each other miserable, because we are called upon to exercise this self-denial. It is wrong to waste in unavailing regrets the time we have still to be together, and be gloomy and sad for a whole month. No! that cannot possibly improve our affairs, and will only unfit us for the performance of our duty, and increase our misery. Come, wipe away those glistening tears, my children, or they will freeze on your cheeks; for, if I mistake not, we are supposed to be somewhere about the sixtieth parallel of south latitude, and the thermometer somewhat below Zero. Come, see who will find the situation first. George, try what you can do."
The children commenced their search, and before George exclaimed "South Shetland, dear mamma!" every eye, although still dimmed with tears, was eagerly in quest of the desired parallel.
MRS. WILTON. "Right, George! I fear it will not be prudent to venture any further south, as we may encounter some ice-islands, for there are several in this vicinity; but I should like to hear, if any of you can tell me why Deception Isle (one of the South Shetland group) is so called?"
DORA. "It is so called from its very exact resemblance to a ship in full sail, and has deceived many navigators. This island is inhabited only by penguins, sea-leopards, pintadors, and various kinds of petrels. It is volcanic, apparently composed of alternate layers of ashes and ice, as if the snow of each winter, during a series of years, had been prevented from melting in the following summer by the ejection of cinders and ashes from some part where volcanic action is still in progress; and that such is the case seems probable, from the fact of there being at least one hundred and fifty holes from which steam issues with a loud hissing noise, and which are, or were, visible from the top of one of the hills immediately above the small cone where Lieutenant Kendall's ship was secured, to whom I am indebted for this information."
MRS. WILTON. "The only habitable islands near here are the Sandwich Isles (not Captain Cook's) and Georgia; but they are neither large, numerous, nor important: we will, therefore, round the Cape and enter the Pacific Ocean."
DORA "According to Emma's chart we are to follow the coast, calling at as many of the islands as are worthy of notice; but, previously, here are the bays to be enumerated, and such a number of them! I could scarcely have imagined it possible for any shores to be so indented."
EMMA. "I need not read all the names, as with your maps you can each read for yourself; but the following are the largest: Gulf of Trinidad. Gulf of Penas, Gulf of Ancud by the Island of Chiloe, and Conception Bay on the coast of Chili."
MRS. WILTON. "Here is a part for me to play, I perceive. The natives of the coast of the Gulf of Penas are descendants of the Araucanians, a warlike people, who, observing the great advantages the Europeans possessed from the use of gunpowder, tried in vain to learn its composition. They saw negroes among the Spaniards, and because their color was supposed to resemble that of gunpowder, they imagined they had discovered the long-wished-for secret. A poor negro was caught by them and burnt alive, in the full belief that gunpowder would be obtained from his ashes."
GEORGE. "Poor man! what ignorant people they must be. Are we to stop at the Island of Chiloe?"
MR. BARRAUD. "Most certainly, as you will agree when you hear what I have to say. It lies near the south coast of Chili: its length is 120 miles, average breadth 40 miles. It is mountainous and covered with cedar, which is exported in great quantities to Peru and Chili. The climate is healthy, but damp, as it rains ten months out of the year. Money is here almost unknown, and traffic is conducted by barter, or payment in indigo, tea, salt, or Cayenne pepper. All these articles are much valued, particularly the indigo for dyeing woollens, for the weaving of which there is a loom in every house. According to Captain Blankley, the golden age would seem to be revived in this part of the world. 'Murders,' says he, 'robbery, or persons being in debt, are never heard of: drunkenness is only known or seen when European vessels are in port: not a private dwelling in the towns or country has a lock on the doors, and the prison is in disuse.' The inhabitants are cheerful, and passionately fond of music and dancing."
EMMA. "I think we had better remain at Chiloe: it must be a delightful place to live in, where all the inhabitants are so upright and honest."
MRS. WILTON. "Yes, my dear; but business must be attended to before pleasure, and we are bound for Chili.
"Chili is an independent State, and includes the country of those same ignorant Araucanians; who, notwithstanding their attributed ignorance, have proved themselves equal in some respects to Europeans; for they have tried in vain to subdue this warlike race of men. The shores of Chili are mostly high, steep, and rocky. The whole country is extremely rich in metals: silver is there found nearer the surface than in any other country. Nearly all the rivers wash down gold and there are copper, lead, and even coal mines. The Chilians are good potters, and make light, strong, earthenware jars, which ring like metal. Chili is specially subject to earthquakes; shocks are felt in some parts almost daily, and the country is continually desolated by them."
MR. WILTON. "The little island of Mocha on this coast was once celebrated as a resort of buccaneers, and thickly peopled; but it was found deserted by Captain Strong in 1690; and appears to have remained uninhabited since."
EMMA. "The most memorable island near our course is Juan Fernandez, 110 miles from the coast. I ought rather to have said islands, for there are two. The largest was discovered by a Spaniard in 1563, and has been so much praised by early navigators, that it has been thought an earthly paradise. Its chief advantages arises from its being a good resting-place for ships. This island is called Mas-a-terra, because nearest the continent. There are many Spanish settlers there, who have erected a battery, and built a town. The smaller island is generally called Mas-a-fuero, because further from the continent."
MR. WILTON. "Juan Fernandez has lately been taken on lease from the Chilian Government, by an enterprising American, who has taken thither about 150 families of Tahitians, with the intention of cultivating the land, rearing cattle, and so improving the port of Cumberland Bay, that it may become the resort of whalers, and other vessels navigating the Pacific Ocean."
CHARLES. "Oh! for the imagination of Daniel de Foe to conjure up the delightful pictures of his Robinson Crusoe. The poet Cowper has done much towards handing the event down to posterity, in his touching account of the feelings of the poor outcast when he found himself on the desolate shore."
GEORGE. "Oh! you mean Alexander Selkirk's soliloquy. I think I can remember some of the verses:—
"' I am out of humanity's reach, I must finish my journey alone, Never hear the sweet music of speech, I start at the sound of my own. The beasts that roam over the plain My form with indifference bee; They're so unaccustomed to man, Their tameness is shocking to me.'
"'Religion I what treasure untold Resides in that heavenly word! More precious than silver or gold, Or all that this earth can afford; But the sound of the church-going bell, These valleys and rocks never heard, Ne'er sigh'd at the sound of a knell, Or smil'd when a sabbath appear'd."
"'Ye winds, that have made me your sport, Convey to this desolate shore, Some cordial, endearing report Of a land I shall visit no more. My friends—do they now and then send A wish or a thought after me? Oh! tell me I yet have a friend, Though a friend I am never to see!'"
EMMA. "A life of solitude must be very dreadful: we cannot conceive such an existence while surrounded by our dear friends, and all the luxuries of civilized life. How long was Alexander Selkirk on the island?"
CHARLES. "Four years and four months, I believe."
DORA. "In sailing along the coast of Peru we must pass close to Lima, its capital, which is a magnificent city. Like other Spanish cities of America it is laid out in quadras or squares of houses, and through the centre of nearly all the streets runs a stream of water three feet wide, which carries away a good portion of the refuse of the city."
MR. BARRAUD. "The ladies of Lima are celebrated for beauty and fineness of figure. They wear a very remarkable walking dress, peculiar to this city and Truxillo. It consists of two parts, one called the saya, the other the manto. The first is an elastic dress, fitting close to the figure down to the ankles; the other is an entire envelope, disclosing scarcely more than one eye to the most scrutinizing observer. A rich colored handkerchief or a silk band and tassel are frequently tied around the waist, and hang nearly to the ground in front."
MRS. WILTON. "The population of Peru consists principally of Indians, Spaniards and Negroes. The first are represented by travellers as in the lowest stage of civilization, without any desire for the comforts of civilized life, immersed in sloth and apathy, from which they can rarely be roused, except when they have an opportunity of indulging to excess in ardent spirits, of which they are excessively fond. They are dirty in the extreme, seldom taking off their clothes even to sleep, and still more rarely using water. Their habitations are miserable hovels, destitute of every convenience and disgustingly filthy."
MR. WILTON. "The Peruvians had at one time a curious contrivance for crossing their rivers. They did not know how to make a bridge of wood or stone; but necessity, the parent of invention, supplied that defect. They formed cables of great strength, by twisting together some of the pliable withes or osiers with which their country abounds; six of these cables they stretched across the stream parallel to one another, and made them fast on each side; these they bound firmly together, by inter-weaving smaller ropes so close as to form a compact piece of net-work, which being covered with branches of trees and earth, they passed along it with tolerable security. Proper persons were appointed to attend to each bridge, to keep it in repair, and to assist passengers."
GEORGE. "Almost as clever a contrivance as the bridge of the present day, although neither so strong nor durable. They were a persevering people."
EMMA. "The Gulf of Guayaquil is so called from a river of this name which is famous for its shifting sand-banks, on which as the water recedes alligators are left in great numbers. The Bay of Choco is on the same coast (Columbia), and is the scene of continual storms. The greatest riches in washed gold are deposited in the provinces of Choco. The largest piece found there weighed twenty-five pounds; but this country, so rich in gold, is at the same time scourged with continual famine."
GRANDY. "Proving that gold is only valuable as the means of procuring the necessaries of life, and enabling its possessor to benefit his fellow-creatures. 'Whoso seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassion, how dwelleth the love of God in him?' The people here value not the gold, for it is unable to buy them freedom from the awful scourge."
DORA. "Emma, the Bay of Choco is on the coast of Granada, which, although it is a district of Columbia, is large enough to be regarded with some attention, particularly as it is actually one of the three great divisions of Columbia."
CHARLES. "Nearly in the same latitude, just over the equator, are the Galapagos. They are pretty islands: the cactus and aloe cover the sides of the rocks, flamingoes and turtle-doves fill the air, and the beach is covered with enormous turtle. But no trace whatever indicates the residence of man, and I believe no man has ever landed on these lonely shores."
MRS. WILTON. "Columbia abounds in stupendous natural wonders; amongst the rest are the natural bridges of Iconongo, not far from Bogota; the fall of Tequendama, the loftiest cataract; and the Silla de Caracas, the loftiest cliff yet discovered. The climate is hot and unhealthy, and the country subject to earthquakes. It is inhabited by Indians, Spaniards, and Negroes. The Caribs are the ruling Indian tribe; they are tall, of a reddish copper-color, with dark intelligent eyes, and a grave expression of features. They raise the flesh of their legs and thighs in long stripes, and shave most of the hair from their heads, but do not flatten the forehead, as is customary with the other tribes along the Orinoco. Columbia is a country of great natural riches, but suffered to lie for the most part waste, for the people are naturally indolent; and Captain Hall remarks, that the Columbian who can eat beef and plantains, and smoke cigars as he swings in his hammock, is possessed of almost everything his habits qualify him to enjoy, or which his ambition prompts him to attain."
MR. BARRAUD. "Along this coast many of the inhabitants subsist as fishermen; and the Indians of Cartago have a singular method of catching wild-fowl, which may here be noticed:—They leave calabashes continually floating on the water that the birds may be accustomed to the sight of them. When they wish to catch any of these wild-fowl, they go into the water with their heads covered each with a calabash, in which they make two holes for seeing through; they then swim towards the birds, throwing a handful of maize on the water from time to time, the grains of which scatter on the surface. The birds approach to feed on the maize, and at the moment the swimmer seizes them by the feet, pulls them under water, and wrings their necks before they can make the least movement, or, by their noise, spread an alarm among the flock. Many families are supported in this way by disposing of the birds thus caught at a low price in the markets."
EMMA. "The next bay is Panama, in which are the Gulf of St. Michael and Gulf of Parita. There are several islands here, but the largest is Rey Isle. The Gulf of Dolce runs into Costa Rica, and so does the Gulf of Nicoya: and the little bays about here must not detain us."
MRS. WILTON. "San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica. There are no fine buildings in this city, and the churches are inferior to many erected by the Spaniards in the smallest villages. Nevertheless, the whole place exhibits a business like appearance, much more so than most cities in this lethargic part of the world. In Costa Rica is a volcanic mountain, Cartago (now quiet), from the top of which the traveller can view the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at one glance. In a right line over the tops of the mountains, neither is more than twenty miles distant, and from the great height from which they are seen they appear to be almost at the traveller's feet. It is the only point in the world which commands a view of the two Oceans."
GRANDY. "I remember a touching description of a funeral in San Jose, which will not be out of place here:—
"'While Mr. Stephens (the author of several delightful books) was standing in a corridor of his friend's house, a man passed with a child in his arms. He was its father, and with a smile on his face was carrying it to its grave. He was followed by two boys playing on violins, and others were laughing around. The child was dressed in white, with a wreath of roses around its head; and as it lay in its father's arms, it did not seem dead but sleeping. The grave was not quite ready, and the boys sat on the heap of dirt thrown out, and played their violins until it was finished. The father then laid the child carefully in its final resting-place, with its head to the rising sun, folded its little hands across its breast, and closed its fingers around a small wooden crucifix; and it seemed, as they thought it was, happy at escaping the troubles of an uncertain world. There were no tears shed; on the contrary, all were cheerful; and though it appeared heartless, it was not because the father did not love his child, but because he and all his friends had been taught to believe, and were firm in the conviction, that, taken away so young, it was transferred immediately to a better world. The father sprinkled a handful of dirt over its face; the grave-digger took his shovel; in a few moments the little grave was filled up, and, preceded by the boys playing on their violins, they departed.'"
MRS. WILTON. "There is a spirit of thankfulness evinced in that father's conduct which requires great faith. I fear none of us would be found to possess as much under such a trial, for the spirit is, unhappily, at most times under the dominion of the flesh."
GEORGE. "Is not Papagayo Bay close to the Lake of Nicaragua?"
EMMA. "It is only divided from the Ocean by a portion of the district of Nicaragua. It is a great lake, ninety five miles long, and thirty broad, and is navigable for ships of the largest class."
DORA. "It is covered with beautiful and populous islands, and two of them—viz. Isola and Madeira—contain burning mountains. The largest volcano—Omotepeque—always continues burning, and reminds one of Mount Etna rising from the water's edge, a smooth unbroken cone to the height of nearly 1000 feet. The waters of this lake descend by the river St. John towards the Atlantic; but there is no outlet into the Pacific Ocean."
GEORGE. "I should like to know why the Pacific is so called?"
CHARLES. "I can tell you, George. In the year 1520, when Magellan was on his way to the Spice Islands (the Moluccas, you know), he and the crew suffered dreadful privations: they were nearly four months at sea without discovering land. Their stock of provisions was almost exhausted, the water became putrid, and in consequence the poor men were attacked with that horrible disease the scurvy. The only source of consolation, under these troubles, was the uninterrupted fair weather they enjoyed, and the favorable winds which wafted them gently onward; so that Magellan was induced to call the Ocean Pacific: hence the origin of its name."
GEORGE. "Thank you, Charles. How pleasant it is to get all the information we require, without the trouble of searching in great dusty books. Now, Emma, will it please you to travel onward?"
EMMA. "What, George! Have you, too, caught the mania, that you are in such a hurry to get to California?"
GEORGE. "Not to go gold-hunting, indeed; but the Rocky Mountains are up in the north, and I have a story about them."
EMMA. "Well, to oblige you and ourselves too, we will proceed. The Gulfs of Fonseca and Conchagua are deep indentations, about the middle of the coast of Guatemala, to which country Costa Rica belongs."
MRS. WILTON. "The city of Guatemala was founded in 1776. It is situated on table-land, 5000 feet above the sea and enjoys a delicious climate,—literally, a perpetual spring. Beautiful churches and buildings adorn this city; but the houses are built only one story high, in order more effectually to resist the action of earthquakes; for you must know this city has close to it two burning mountains—Fuego and Agua, which prove the volcanic nature of the earth. Among all the phenomena of nature few appear to be attended with such horrible consequences as earthquakes. Thousands, who in one moment are full of busy life, are, the next, swallowed up as if they had never existed, or crushed to death by fragments of falling buildings. In six minutes, by the great earthquake of Lisbon, in 1755, sixty thousand souls were launched into eternity; and though none in this city have equalled in destructiveness the great one at Lisbon, yet Guatemala has been several times nearly destroyed by earthquakes, combined with the eruptions of the neighboring volcanoes."
MR. BARRAUD. "The inhabitants are mostly of Spanish origin; consequently, mostly Roman Catholics; and a recent traveller says that from the moment of his arrival, he was struck with the devout appearance of the city of Guatemala. At matins and vespers, the churches were all open, and the people, particularly the women, went regularly to prayers. Every house had its figure of the Virgin, the Saviour, or some tutelary saint, and on the door were billets of paper with prayers. You will be surprised to hear that nearly all the ladies in Central America smoke. The married ladies smoke puros, or all tobacco; the unmarried ladies smoke cigars, or tobacco wrapped in paper or straw."
DORA. "What an odd indulgence for a lady! In England, ladies never smoke; although I must say I have often seen poor women with pipes in their mouths, and thought what a dirty habit it was."
MRS. WILTON. "It is the custom of the country, and were you a Spanish lady, Dora, I have no doubt you would enjoy a cigar as much as any of the senoritas. We shall next see the shore of Mexico. What gulfs must we pass to accomplish this?"
EMMA. "Only the Gulf of Tehuantepec which is worth noticing."
MRS. WILTON. "Mexico has been travelled over already; so we will pass on to the Gulf of California."
GEORGE. "But is there not a place called New Mexico?"
DORA. "Yes, but not near the coast: however, I will tell you all I know about it. It is mostly inhabited by Christian Indians, of whom there are no fewer than thirty villages. They are of various tribes, but all trained to industrial habits, and are in every respect a worthy set of people. Their clothing is the skin of wild goats; their women wear mantles of cotton or wool. Their mode of travelling is on horseback, and the only access to their huts, which are square, with open galleries on the top, is by a ladder, which is removed during the night."
CHARLES. "Robinson Crusoe fashion, I presume?"
DORA. "Exactly. 'Now we are in front of the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The mountains on the northern side are 3000 feet in height, and come boldly down to the sea As the view opens through the splendid strait, three or four miles in width, the island rock of Alcatraz appears, gleaming white in the distance. At last we are through the Golden Gate—fit name for such a magnificent portal to the commerce of the Pacific. The Bay is crowded with the shipping of the world, and the flags of all nations are fluttering in the breeze.' Before us lies the grand emporium of the Gold Region—a city which has well nigh realized the extravagance of the Arabian Nights Entertainments. As if by the touch of a magic wand, what was five years ago a little Indian village is now a large and flourishing city, which is increasing at a prodigious rate. From every nation and people and clime, emigrants have been pressing to it in pursuit of the precious metal. The golden sands of California, with their brilliant glitter, have attracted thousands upon thousands from every land—and there is now arising on the far distant shores of the Pacific a great Empire destined to exert a mighty influence in the affairs of the world. The glowing prospect which the success of the first adventurers had created, soon drew to her shores the energy and enterprise of the nations of both Europe and America. 'Around the curving shore of the Bay and upon the sides of three hills, which rise steeply from the water, the middle one receding so as to form a bold amphitheatre, the town is planted and seems scarcely yet to have taken root, for tents, canvass, plank, mud and adobe houses are mingled together with the least apparent attempt at order and durability.' However, the appearance of the city is fast improving—for churches and schools and public buildings are springing up on every side, and substantial edifices are fast taking the place of the more temporary erections. The sudden rush or so many people to one point, and many of them poorly provided, combined with the abundance of the gold, caused provision, rents, and labor to rise to enormous prices. A tent for instance, called Eldorado, fifteen by twenty feet, occupied mostly by gamblers brought the enormous yearly rent of $40,000. 'Miners' Bank,' used by Wright & Co., brokers, about half the size of a fire-engine house, was held at a rent of $75,000. A gentleman who wished to find a law office, was shown a cellar in the earth, about twelve feet square and six feet deep, which he could have at $250 per month. One of the common soldiers at the battle of San Pasquale was reputed to be among the millionaires of the place, and had an income of fifty thousand dollars monthly.
[Footnote 15: J. Bayard Taylor's 'Eldorado.']
"The prices paid for labor were in proportion to everything else. The carman of Mellus Howard & Co., had a salary of $6000 a year, and many others made from fifteen to twenty dollars daily. Servants were paid from a hundred to two hundred dollars a month. This state of things, as might have been expected, did not long continue, for all things soon find their level, and the rapid importation of produce, materials and laborers, had soon the effect of lowering the prices to a fair and ordinary scale.
"California territory belongs to the United States of North America, and will, doubtless, in a short time, form several distinct states in that already powerful confederacy."
MR. WILTON. "Now, George, we have arrived at the Gulf of Georgia;—you will not have very far to travel to the Rocky Mountains."
CHARLES. "The Gulf of Georgia is very considerable: it divides Quadra or Vancouver's Island from the continent, and communicates with the Pacific to the south by Claaset's Straits, and to the north by Queen Charlotte's Sound. Quadra is a large island, and I think better known by the name of Nootka Sound, which is at the south end of the island, and contains an English establishment."
MRS. WILTON. "The natives of Nootka Sound are not an interesting people, and are greatly inferior to the other tribes inhabiting the continent. They are short, plain-looking people, not unlike the Esquimaux. Their ordinary dress consists of a mantle edged with fur at the top, and fringed at the bottom, which is made out of the bark of the pine, beaten into fibres. Their food is mostly drawn from the sea. Large stores of fish are dried and smoked, and the roes, prepared like caviare, form their winter bread. They drink fish-oil, and mix it with their food. The women go fishing occasionally, and are as skilful as the men; but their usual occupation is within doors, preparing the fabric of which their garments are composed. Captain Cook, in speaking of their houses, says: 'They are as filthy as hog-sties,—everything in and about them stinking of fish, train-oil, and smoke.'"
GEORGE. "I shall have to travel upwards of 600 miles to tell my story; but, as truth is worth seeking, I do not mind the trouble: so here it is:—
Story of Boone and the Bear.
"A young man named Boone, son of the mighty American hunter, made a settling amongst the Rocky Mountains, and when his hut was erected he used to leave it for days, out on hunting expeditions. One night, after returning from one of these enterprises, he retired to rest on his solitary pallet. The heat was intense, and, as usual in these countries during summer, he had left his door wide open. It was about midnight, when he was awakened by the noise of something tumbling in the room: he rose in a moment, and hearing a short and heavy breathing, he asked who it was, for the darkness was such that he could not see two yards before him. No answer being given, except a kind of half smothered grunt, he advanced,—and, putting out his hand, he seized the shaggy coat of a BEAR! Surprise rendered him motionless; and the animal, giving him a blow on the chest with his terrible paw, threw him down outside the door. Boone could have escaped, but, maddened with the pain of his fall, he only thought of vengeance,—and, seizing his knife and tomahawk, which were fortunately within his reach, he darted furiously at the beast, dealing blows at random. Great as was his strength, his tomahawk could not penetrate through the thick coat of the animal, which, having encircled the body of his assailant with his paws, was pressing him in one of those deadly embraces which could only have been resisted by a giant like Boone (who was six feet nine inches in height and proportionably strong). Fortunately, the Black bear, unlike the Grizzly, very seldom uses his claws and teeth in fighting, contenting himself with smothering his victim. Boone disentangled his left arm, and with his knife dealt a furious blow upon the snout of the animal, which, smarting with pain, released his hold. The snout is the only vulnerable part in an old black bear. Even at forty yards, the ball of a rifle will flatten against his skull, and if in any other part of the body it will scarcely produce any serious effect. Boone, aware of this, and not daring to risk another hug, darted away from the cabin. The bear, now quite angry, followed and overtook him near the fence. Fortunately, the clouds were clearing away, and the moon threw light sufficient to enable the hunter to strike with a more certain aim: he found also on the ground one of the rails, made of the blue ash, very heavy, and ten feet in length; he dropped his knife and tomahawk, and, seizing the rail, he renewed the fight with caution, for it had now become a struggle for life or death.
"Had it been a bull or a panther, they would have had their bones shivered to pieces by the tremendous blows which Boone dealt upon his adversary with all the strength of despair; but Bruin is by nature an admirable fencer, and, in spite of his unwieldy shape, there is not in the world an animal whose motions are more rapid in a close encounter. Once or twice he was knocked down by the force of the blows, but generally he would parry them with a wonderful agility. At last he succeeded in seizing the other end of the rail, and dragged it towards him with irresistible force. Both man and beast fell, Boone rolling to the place where he had dropped his arms, while the bear advanced upon him. The moment was a critical one; but Boone was accustomed to look at and brave death under every shape,—and, with a steady hand, he buried the tomahawk in the snout of his enemy, and, turning round, he rushed to his cabin, believing he would have time to secure the door. He closed the latch, and applied his shoulders to it; but it was of no avail: the terrible brute dashed in head foremost, and tumbled into the room, with Boone and the fragments of the door. The two foes rose and stared at each other. Boone had nothing left but his knife; but Bruin was tottering and unsteady, and Boone felt that the match was more equal. Once more they closed.
"A few hours after sunrise a friend called at the hut,—and, to his horror, found Boone apparently lifeless on the floor, and alongside of him the body of the bear. Boone soon recovered, and found that the timely blow which had saved him from being crushed to death had buried the whole blade of his knife through the left eye, in the very brain of the huge animal."
CHARLES. "That is a spirited story, and very well told, George. I should not like to have been Mr. Boone in such a situation, although he was a 'mighty hunter;' a bear is an ugly animal to embrace."
DORA. "Yes; and, lest we should meet with any, we will leave the Rocky Mountains and go on to the north of Quadra, where are situated King George's Archipelago and the Admiralty Isles. The inhabitants of the former bear some resemblance to the Esquimaux. The women wear an extraordinary kind of ornament, which gives them the appearance of having two mouths: it consists of a small piece of wood, which they force into the flesh below the under lip."
MR. BARRAUD. "Those are Norfolk Sound people; but they are a kindly race, notwithstanding their outrageous customs; and, to show you how readily they are affected for good or evil, I will relate a circumstance which happened when Captain Cleveland was trading with them. A canoe containing eleven persons went alongside his vessel, and raised the screens at the port-holes, to look in on the deck. Before the captain had time to speak to them, the cook (either by accident or design) threw a ladleful of hot water over them, which causing an involuntary and sudden motion of their bodies to the other side of the boat, immediately upset, and all were immersed in the water. The confusion was then very great,—as those who at the time were under the stern, engaged in traffic, fearing some treachery, made haste to paddle away, without regarding the distress of their comrades. All of these, however, appeared to be capable of taking care of themselves; excepting an infant of about a year old, whose struggles being observed by one of the mates, he jumped overboard and saved it. The weather was very raw and chilly: the captain had the child dried and warmed by the fire, then wrapped it in a blanket, gave it a piece of sugar, and returned it to its parents, who were exceedingly pleased and grateful; and, as soon as all had recovered from the effects of their immersion, their business (which was trading for skins of various kinds) was conducted throughout the day to the mutual satisfaction of all parties."
MR. WILTON. "As these islands are near the coast of Columbia, I wish to inform you that here there is an excellent harbor and a navy yard, to which ships of the largest tonnage may ascend. The yard covers a space of thirty-seven acres, and in it are made nearly all the anchors, cables, and blocks required for the service of the United States' Navy, which, although inconsiderable in point of numerical strength, is perhaps the best organized and most effective in the world. The unexpected success of their frigates in contests with British vessels of the same class has established the reputation of the American navy for skill and prowess in the eyes of Europe; and the United States, with comparatively few ships, already rank high as a naval power."
EMMA. "We now pass Admiralty Bay, go through Cook's Inlet, out by the Straits of Chilogoff, round by the Aleutian Isles into Bristol Bay."
MRS. WILTON. "The Aleutian Isles are very numerous, principally volcanic: the three largest are Bhering's, Attoo, and Onolaska. The natives are of a dark brown complexion, and the women disfigure themselves by cutting an aperture in the under lip, to which various trinkets are suspended. Their subsistence is principally obtained by hunting and fishing. The seal is particularly valuable to them, affording a constant supply of food and clothing. Their dwellings are spacious excavations in the earth, roofed over with turf, as many as 150 individuals sometimes residing in the different divisions."
GEORGE. "Must we go through Bhering's Straits: they will take us into such very cold regions?"
EMMA. "We must not mind the cold if we can learn anything by going; but, as you are afraid of venturing so far, we will leave you at Point Hope, while we make our way to Point Barrow."
CHARLES. "Appear not at Point Hope. George; for if you do, you must never hope to see us again. Do you know that the Indians who live in the mountains not far from the Point are cannibals, and would seize you for a delicious morsel? They are not at all particular folks; and when there is a scarcity of food among them, they cast lots for victims, and eat their relations without the slightest remorse."
MR. BARRAUD. "The fierce and savage propensities of these mountain Indians have been circumstantially described by an old man, who, while yet a stripling, fled from the tribe, and joined himself to another tribe called Dog Ribs, in consequence of his finding his mother, on his return from a successful day's hunting, employed in roasting the body of her own child, his youngest brother!"
MRS. WILTON. "Oh! horrible! Let us quit this savage Point, and see what Point Barrow resembles."
Mr. WILTON. "It is a long spit of land composed of sand and gravel. When Captain Simpson was on an exploring expedition in the Polar Seas, he landed there, and one of the first objects that presented itself was an immense cemetery. There, the miserable remnants of humanity lay on the ground, in the seal-skin dresses worn when alive. A few were covered with an old sledge, or some pieces of wood, but far the greater number were exposed to the voracity of dogs and wild animals. The inhabitants of this Point are Esquimaux."
EMMA. "Bhering's Straits divide the Old from the New Continent, and the water to the south beyond the Gulf of Anadir is called Bhering's or Kamtschatka Sea, and washes the shores of Kamtschatka."
MRS. WILTON. "Kamtschatka is a portion of Asia, about the same size as Great Britain. It is a cold, foggy country, and subject to sudden storms of snow and sleet, which the natives call 'poorgas,' and when overtaken by one they do not attempt to travel through it, but suffer the snow to bury them and their dogs, and as soon as it is over, they extricate themselves as well as they can. The natives comprising the two tribes of the Kamtschatdales and Koriaks differ principally in their mode of life. They are all of low stature, and not remarkable for their beauty. They are shy, averse to strangers, but honest, and extremely hospitable. They dwell in fixed habitations, although hunters and fishers; but their dwellings are low, comfortless, and filthy, sunk in the ground in the winter months, and raised on posts during summer to facilitate the curing of fish, which are hung up on lines to dry. In travelling, they use dogs harnessed to a sledge instead of horses."
DORA. "We are now to leave the coasts, and sail about in search of the islands in the Pacific Ocean; and, as we happen to be above the equator, we can more conveniently see those of the North Pacific. We have each selected our favorite isles for description, and Charles is at the head of the catalogue."
MRS. WILTON. "To make our remarks better understood, we will, like scientific geographers, class all these islands under the head of Polynesia, for the term is applied to the numerous groups, both above and below the equator, in the Pacific Ocean. The equator forming a dividing line between North and South Polynesia. Sir Francis Drake was the first English captain to whom appertained the honor of sailing on the Pacific Ocean.
"'The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; He was the first that ever burst Into that silent sea.'"
[Footnote 16: Coleridge]
CHARLES. "The Sandwich Islands appear to me one of the most interesting groups, although the most isolated of all in North Polynesia. They are ten in number,—eight inhabited,—and were named by their discoverer, Captain Cook, in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, a minister who had warmly promoted his labors. The island of Owyhee, or more properly Hawaii, is the largest, being 415 miles in circumference. It obtained a celebrity, as the scene of Captain Cook's death, who was killed by the natives on the 14th of February, 1779. A celebrity of a different kind now awaits it, as the focus of civilization in Polynesia. The inhabitants have, with the assistance of the English and Americans, built twenty merchant-ships, with which they perform voyages to the north-west coast of America, and even visit Canton. They used to sacrifice human victims, but were never cannibals; they tattoo their bodies, and the women tattoo the tips of their tongues. Hawaii contains a tremendous volcano, the top of which is 16,000 feet above the level of the sea. The whole island, indeed, is one complete mass of lava. Christianity was introduced by the American missionaries in 1820, and is now the religion of the state. Schools have been established, and churches built. Honoruru, in the Island of Cahu, is the capital of the group. Some of the houses are built of stone; but the natives still prefer living in their huts, so that the town is grotesquely irregular. The principal public building is the English school, where children of both sexes are taught to read and write. The place is altogether in a flourishing condition, and so advanced in the refinements of life, that the news-paper, lately established in the town, sets forth the following articles for sale:—'Ladies' shoes from Paris, Ices, and Eau de Cologne.'"