« AnkstesnisTęsti »
with all the tropical fruits, and there are great quantities of cattle. The poultry are considered to have a finer flavour than those of Europe.
The next islands our voyager made were St. Lucia and St. Vincent. Passing between them, and observing a smoke on St. Lucia, they landed, and purchased pine-apples, plantains, and sugar-canes of the natives, and some of the latter came aboard in a canoe.
"These often repeated the words Captain Warner,' and seemed to be in some disquiet about him. We did not then understand the meaning of it; but since I have been informed, that this Captain Warner, whom they mentioned, was born at Antigua, one of our English islands, and the son of Governor Warner, by an Indian woman, and bred up by his father after the English manners: he learned the Indian language also of his mother; but being grown up, and finding himself despised by his English kindred, he forsook his father's house, got away to St. Lucia, and there lived among the Carribee Indians, his relations by the mother's side; where conforming himself to their customs, he became one of their captains, and roved from one island to another as they did. About this time the Carribees had done some spoil to our English plantations at Antigua, and therefore Governor Warner's son, by his wife, took a party of men and went to suppress those Indians, and came to the place where his brother the Indian Warner lived. Great seeming joy there was at their meeting; but how far it was real the event shewed, for the English Warner providing plenty of liquor, and inviting his half-brother to be merry with him, in the midst of his entertainment ordered his men, upon a signal given, to murder him and all his Indians, which was accordingly executed."
This island is situated about 80 miles to the N.W. of Barbadoes; it was very wealthy in large timber trees, fit for all uses. The English had repeatedly endeavoured to settle a colony here, but without success, on account of the depredations of the Carribee Indians, but at last they accomplished their design.
Leaving these islands, they fell in with the east end of Hispaniola, or St. Domingo; from thence they steered away for Jamaica, and brought to the island the first news of the peace with the Dutch. Our author set out for Colonel Hellier's plantation, the way to which, he observes, was formerly a considerable distance about, round a large mountain, but they discovered the present passage by coasting along till the river ran between a rock that stood perpendicularly steep on both sides. This they with much difficulty climbed over; but a dog, unable to follow them, found a hole, and crept through the rock; this afterwards being excavated by means of gunpowder, a hollow was formed big enough for a horse with a pack, and high
enough for a man to ride through. At this plantation Dampier remained but six months, and then engaged at another; but his restless spirit could not long continue in one place, so that he took his passage to Port Royal in a sloop; and on his arrival shifted into a vessel that traded round the island, and by these means became acquainted with its various creeks and bays; but after six or seven months, becoming tired of this, he shipped in a ketch, (a small two-masted vessel), bound to the Bay of Campeachy, to load logwood. These territories were claimed by the Spaniards, and they had watch-towers on the coast, where the Indians kept a constant look out for the privateers. The Indian fishermen having frequently been compelled to act as pilots to the English and French, no sooner discovered a sail than, in order to avoid the task, they sunk their canoes below the level of the water, just keeping their own heads above till the danger was past. In a fortnight they arrived at Trist. Their cargo to purchase logwood was rum, which they speedily disposed of among the wood-cutters, who were then about 250 men, mostly English. Our countrymen were not at first acquainted with the value of this wood, for after the taking of Jamaica, when they were cruising in the Bay, they found many barks laden with it, which they either sunk or burned, till one of the captains having captured a ship, brought her home to England, and sold the wood at a great rate, though before he valued it so little, that he used it for firing during the passage. On his return to Jamaica he discovered the place where it grew, and it soon became worth 90, 100, or 110 pounds per ton. The Spaniards employed the Indians in cutting it at Champeton River; and the English, if they met with no prize in the bay, would run for the river, where they were certain of finding considerable piles ready cut, which they did not fail to turn to their own advantage, to the great injury of the Spaniards, who were at last obliged to send troops to guard it, and to prevent further depredations. But the English by this time knew the trees in their growing state, and searched the coasts of the Main till they discovered large groves of it, first at Cape Catoch, where they commenced cutting, and nearly cleared the grounds along the coast. They then found out the Lake of Trist, in Campeachy Bay, where they had continued to the time of our author's arrival.
The ketch having completed her cargo at the latter end of September, they quitted Trist for Jamaica, and after escaping from the pursuit of the enemy, encountering several severe gales, and suffering great hardships from the want of provisions, they had the additional misfortune to strike on the rocks off the Alcranes, at which islands they anchored to repair damages. After two or three days they again sailed, working to windward
and passing through the Colorado Shoals, they got between them and the island of Cuba. They had now been two months from Trist, and were yet a considerable distance from their port, with a foul wind and scarcely any food; however, they contrived to reach the Grand Caymane. This island lies about fortyseven leagues W.N.W. from the west point of Jamaica; about twenty leagues distant from this, are the Little Caymane and Caymane Brack. They are all well stored with turtle, and were much frequented by the people of Jamaica, who came hither to catch them. At the present day, the Grand Caymane has a population from two to three hundred, who are descended from the old Buccaneers. This little colony is considered the most peaceful and happy in the West Indies, the climate and the kind of food which are particularly salubrious, rendering the inhabitants healthy and vigorous, and prolonging their life to a very advanced age. Their island produces the necessaries of life, beyond what is required for their own consumption. Being hardy and intrepid sailors, they are excellent pilots for these dangerous seas, and from their situation as well as activity and humanity, have frequently been the means of saving immense property, and what is more valuable, the lives of those who in all probability would otherwise have perished. Their chief employment, however, is fishing for turtle. A great number of these creatures lay their eggs in the low and sandy shores of this island. When they have done laying, they quit this spot for the larger islands, and in four or five weeks' time acquire that fatness so highly prized by our worthy court of Aldermen. At the time of our author's visit, it was uninhabited. They found neither water nor provisions, but saw many crocodiles on the Bay, some of which would scarce move themselves out of their path. They staid here but three or four hours, and then stood over to the Isle of Pines, a small island, lying on the south side of Cuba. Between Pines and Cuba, are many small woody islands, with channels for ships to pass between. In these parts, alligators and crocodiles are very numerous, the last will sometimes follow the canoes with their mouths wide open, and are considered the most daring in all the West Indies. There is a considerable difference between the alligator and crocodile, though both are called Caymane by the Spaniards. It is reported, that they love dog's flesh better than any other whatsoever
"This I have seen with my own eyes, that our dogs were so much afraid of them, that they would not very willingly drink at any great river or creek where those creatures might lurk and hide themselves, unless they were (through necessity) constrained to it, and then they would stand five or six foot from the brink of the creek or river, and
bark a considerable time, before they would venture nearer, and then, even at the sight of their own shadows in the water, they would again retire to the place from whence they came, and bark vehemently a long time; so that in the dry season, when there was no fresh water but in ponds and creeks, we used to fetch it ourselves, and give it our dogs, and many times in our hunting, when we came to a large creek that we were to pass, our dogs would not follow us, so that we often took them in our arms and carried them over."
After they had gained the S.W. point of Pines, they encountered a heavy gale which detained them several days, when they once more attempted to reach Jamaica, but the wind continuing unfavourable, and being totally destitute of food, they held a council whether it would not be better to bear up before the wind for South Keys, a cluster of islands to the eastward of Pines. The only dissenting voice was Dampier's, and, accordingly, they up helm and steered away N.W. with flowing sheets. He turned into his cabin, excessively dissatisfied, assuring them they would all be starved, but in a short time, he was cheered by hearing the glad sound of Land! Land! The first they saw, was Blewfield's hills in Jamaica, and hauling to the wind, stood in for it, and soon after saw all the coast, not being more than six leagues from it. The following afternoon, they anchored at Negril, the westernmost point of Jamaica, after a passage of thirteen weeks, a greater length of time than it requires in the present day to sail to the East Indies. Indeed, when we reflect on their imperfect knowledge of navigation, and the unhandy, shattered vessels in which they often embarked, we are only surprised at their ever accomplishing a voyage But these difficulties could not subdue the ardour of a spirit like that of Dampier. The acquaintance he had formed with the logwood-cutters, opened to his view a source of emolument, as well as a prospect of gratifying his desire for information; and though, perhaps, he could not have chosen a more hazardous or fatiguing employment, yet he resolved to join the adventurous band, and, accordingly, providing himself with the necessary implements, he again quitted Jamaica, and arrived at Trist. Here he was hired by a company of six men (who had one hundred tons of wood ready cut,) at the rate of one ton per month, to assist in conveying it to the coast, and with the promise of admission to the joint concern on the accomplishment of the engagement. The logwood-cutters are represented as sturdy strong fellows, and as labouring excessively hard; but when the ships came from Jamaica with rum and sugar, they were too apt to mis-spend both their time and money. Their huts were slightly built, but well thatched with palm leaves to prevent the rains from soaking in. Their bedding was raised
VOL. IX. PART I.
about three feet and a half from the ground on a wooden frame. Another frame covered with earth to dress their victuals on, and a third to sit at, by way of a table, composed their stock of furniture. In the West Indies there are only two seasons, the wet and the dry.
"During the wet season, the land where the logwood grows is so overflowed, that they step from their beds into the water, perhaps two feet deep, and continue standing in the wet all day till they go to bed again; but, nevertheless, account it the best season in the year for doing a good day's labour in."
Dampier kept to his work of cutting till rendered incapable, by what is called the chegoes* getting into his leg, which were, however, extracted by a negro, who received in compensation a white cock, as the cure was effected by means of some supposed incantation. Scarcely was he recovered from this, when a violent storm reduced them all to great inconveniences, and at last they were compelled to quit the place in their canoes, as the highest land near them was three feet under water. Our author was deprived of the means of continuing his labour, and compelled to become a wanderer for nearly twelve months, cruizing about the bay and its shores to seek a subsistence, in company with some privateers, visiting all the rivers from Trist to Alvarado, and making descents among the villages to procure provisions. Thus it appears, that the first connection of Dampier with the Buccaneers was occasioned by imperious necessity, and no doubt it was at this time, while engaged in their habits of lawless plunder, that he imbibed many of their principles, a circumstance he feelingly laments in the latter part of his life. But even here his active genius prompted him to make every minute observation on the various places to which their roving disposition led them. Thus we have some correct descriptions of the harbours, creeks, and rivers of the bay, together with those indications which are of the highest importance to the navigator. At Alvarado, with two vessels having eight guns and sixty men in the whole, they took the fort, losing eleven in the attack, but were compelled to abandon it on appearance of seven sail of Spaniards with fourteen guns, and between four and five hundred men. With this formidable body, they, however, engaged, and ultimately made their
* A sort of worm occasioning great swelling and severe pain: it is common to the negroes of Africa, and frequently the cause of amputation of the affected part.