The World of Waters
Mrs. David Osborne
Part 3 out of 5
"'Instead of a land, and river, and desert transit, with all the
obstructions and inconveniences of track-boats, native steamers,
donkey-chairs, and vans, shipping and unshipping, there will be no
_land transit_, and the whole passage may be made by sea from London
to Bombay without stoppage. Instead of four days being consumed in
the Egyptian transit, five hours will only be requisite. Moreover,
the 2_l_. 12s. expense caused by the present transit in Egypt, and
charged to each person, will in future be saved by every
MR. BARRAUD. "I propose a vote of thanks to Emma for introducing the
subject, as by so doing we have gained a great deal of information."
MR. WILTON. "There you see, Emma, you are not laughed at, but we all
thank you, for revealing your thoughts. Now to the Persian Gulf, if
you have any particulars."
EMMA. "The Persian Gulf is another noted inland sea, about half the
length of the Red Sea, and is the grand receptacle of those
celebrated rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. The small bays
within this gulf are Katiff Bay, Assilla Bay, Erzoog Bay. There are
various islands and large pearl banks here; and on the Euphrates,
not many miles from these shores, stands Chaldaea. The inhabitants
are the Beni Khaled Arabs, descendants of the founders of the 'Great
GEORGE. "Oh, papa, I have a discovery: here is an island nobody has
noticed--its name is Dahalac."
MRS. WILTON. "That was certainly an omission, for Dahalac is a large
island, sixty miles in circumference. It contains goats which have
long silky hair, and furnishes gum-lac, the produce of a particular
kind of shrub. To this island vessels repair for fresh water, which,
however, is very bad, being kept in 370 dirty cisterns!"
MR. BARRAUD. "This district is especially interesting to Christians,
for here are situated the mounts celebrated in Scripture. In the
centre of Armenia you may observe Mount Ararat, a detached elevation
with two summits; the highest covered with perpetual snow. On this
mountain rested the Ark, when God sent his vengeance over all the
earth, and destroyed every living thing. Mount Lebanon is in Syria;
and not far distant stands Mount Sinai, an enormous mass of granite
rocks, with a Greek convent at its base, called the convent of St.
Catharine: here was the law delivered to Moses, inscribed on two
tables of stone by the Most High God."
MR. WILTON. "The whole coast of Oman, in South Arabia, which on the
north is washed by the waters of the Persian Gulf, and on the south
by the Sea of Oman, abounds with fish; and, as the natives have but
few canoes, they generally substitute a single inflated skin, or
sometimes two, across which they place a flat board. On this
contrivance the fisherman seats himself, and either casts his small
hand-net, or plays his hook and line. Some capital sport must arise
occasionally, when the sharks, which are here very numerous and
large, gorge the bait; for, whenever this occurs, unless the angler
cuts his line, (and that, as the shark is more valued by them than
any other fish, he is often unwilling to do,) nothing can prevent
his rude machine from following their track; and the fisherman is
sometimes, in consequence, carried out a great distance to sea. It
requires considerable dexterity to secure these monsters; for when
they are hauled up near to the skins, they struggle a good deal, and
if they happen to jerk the fisherman from his seat, the infuriate
monster dashes at once at him. Many accidents arise in this manner;
but if they succeed in getting him quickly alongside, they soon
despatch him by a few blows on the snout."
[Footnote 7: Vide Lieutenant Wellsted's Travels in Arabia.]
MRS. WILTON. "There are many little circumstances of interest
connected with the Persian Gulf. In several parts fresh springs rise
in the middle of the salt water, particularly near the Islands of
Baharein. The whole shore of this gulf is lined with islands; and
_on_ its shores are several independent Arabs, who almost all live
in the same manner. They subsist by maritime trade, and by the peril
and other fisheries. Their food consists of dates, fish, and dhoura
bread. Their arms are muskets, with matchlocks, sabres, and
bucklers. These tribes, among whom the Houles are the most powerful,
all speak the Arabic language, and are enemies to the Persians, with
whom they form no alliances. Their houses are so wretched, that an
enemy would think it lost labor to destroy them. As they generally
have but little to lose on land, if a Persian army approaches, all
the inhabitants of the towns and villages go on board their little
vessels, and take refuge in some island in the Persian Gulf until
the enemy retires."
EMMA. "Where are the Baharein Isles, mamma?"
MRS. WILTON. "Near the Arabian shore. They are remarkable for the
pearl fishery, which is carried on in their neighborhood during the
months of June, July, and August; a fishery which, in the sixteenth
century, was estimated at 500,000 ducats. The name Baharein
signifies two seas."
[Footnote 8: A ducat is of the value of nine shillings and
MR. WILTON. "Well, Charles; what can you tell us about the little
Sea of Aral?"
CHARLES. "Not much I am afraid, sir. The Sea of Aral, or Eagles, is
situated about 100 miles east of the Caspian, and is nearly 200
miles in length and 70 in breadth; it is surrounded with sandy
deserts, and has been little explored; its waters are not so salt as
the Caspian, but there are many small saline lakes in its vicinity.
There is a remarkable detached sea in Siberia, or Asiatic Russia,
which we have not noticed, called Baikal Sea; it extends from the
51 deg. to the 55 deg. of north latitude. This sea is 350 miles in length
and only 50 in breadth. The water is fresh and transparent, yet of a
green or sea tinge, commonly frozen in the latter end of December,
and clear of ice in May. At particular periods it is subject to
violent and unaccountable storms, whence, as terror is the parent of
superstition, probably springs the Russian name of Svetoie More, or
the Holy Sea. There are many seals here, and abundance of fish,
particularly a kind of herring called omuli."
MR. WILTON. "Very good, Charles. Now, my son, try your best memory
on the Eastern Sea."
GEORGE. "I am glad you have given me that sea to describe, for I
have been much amused with the curious names of the islands printed
on the map in these waters. A little group not far from 'Tchusan' is
called 'the Bear and Cubs;' another 'Lowang,' or 'Buffalo's Nose;'
another 'Chutta-than,' or 'Shovel-nosed Shark.' Near the Japan Isles
there is a little cluster called 'Asses' Ears.' This sea is called
by the Chinese Tong-hai; and in it are the large islands Formosa and
Loo-choo; but I know nothing of them."
MRS. WILTON. "I will aid you there, George, because you have done
well to remember all those difficult names. Formosa is a fine
fertile island, belonging to the Chinese, where oxen are used for
equestrian purposes for want of horses or asses. The Loo-choo
Islands constitute a little civilized kingdom, tributary to China.
There are thirty-six of them. The capital is Kinching. These isles
were discovered by the Chinese many hundred years ago. Their
products are sulphur, copper, tin, shells, and mother-of-pearl. The
inhabitants vie with the Japanese in the manufacture of lacquered
ware. Loo-choo itself is one of the most delightful places in the
world, with a temperate climate and great fertility. All animal
creation here is of a diminutive size, but all excellent in their
kind. The people are amiable and virtuous, though, unhappily,
worshippers of Confucius."
MR. WILTON. "The China Sea falls to Dora's share: are you prepared,
DORA. "I think so, sir. It lies south-west of China, and connected
with it are the Gulfs of Siam and Tonquin. In the former are the
Islands Hastings and Tantalem: the latter washes the coast of Cochin
China; a coast that suffers more from the encroachment of the sea
than any other known: in five years the sea gained 190 feet from
east to west. The low country is exposed to an uncomfortable degree
of heat during part of the year, and the rains are so plentiful,
that boats are navigable over the fields and hedges, and the
children go out in small barks to fish for the mice which cling to
the branches of the trees."
EMMA. "Poor little mice! I dare say they would rather be playthings
for children than be drowned."
CHARLES. "They need no fishing-tackle for their sport; I suppose
they catch them in their hands. Do you know, Dora?"
DORA. "I believe they do.--Now what comes next? Oh! Hainan. It lies
in the China Sea; its capital is Kiang-tchou. In the southern part
this island is mountainous, but towards the north it is more level,
and productive of rice; in the centre there are mines of gold; and
on the shores are found small blue fish, which the Chinese value
more than we do those known as gold and silver fish. The blue fish
will not survive long after they are caught, and two days'
confinement to a glass bowl suffices to end their lives."
MR. BARRAUD. "The Gulf of Tonquin and the adjacent seas are
remarkable for dreadful whirlwinds, called 'typhons.' After calm
weather they are announced by a small black cloud in the north-east
part of the horizon, which gradually brightens until it becomes
white and brilliant. This alarming appearance often precedes the
hurricane twelve hours."
CHARLES. "Pray what is the cause of this dreadful 'typhon?'"
MR. BARRAUD. "They seem to arise from the mutual opposition of the
north-wind coming down from the mountains of the continent and the
south-wind proceeding from the ocean. Nothing can exceed their fury.
They are accompanied by dreadful thunder, lightning, and heavy rain.
After five or six hours a calm succeeds; but the hurricane soon
returns in the opposite direction with additional fury, and
continues for an equal interval."
GEORGE. "Papa, there are seas of all colors, for I have actually
found a Blue Sea. Here it is, between Loo-choo and China. What droll
people the Chinese are! they have such odd names for their places."
MR. WILTON. "Yes; they call China Tchou-Koo, or the 'Centre of the
World;' for in their overweening pride, they consider other
countries as mere strips surrounding their territory; and their
names and titles are very grand. At a distance of six hundred paces
from the shore of the 'Yang-tse-Kiang' is the wonderful Island of
Chin-shan, or 'Golden Mountain.' This island is covered with
gardens and pleasure-houses. Art and nature have united their
efforts to give it the most enchanting aspect. It is in the fields
of this isle that the shrub grows producing the cotton of which the
article known by the name of Nankeen is made. The fibre is not white
like other cotton, but of a delicate orange color, which it
preserves after it is spun and woven."
MR. BARRAUD. "There are many noble lakes in China, particularly in
the province of Howquang, which name signifies 'Country of Lakes;'
and I remember reading of a traveller who often observed on one near
the Imperial Canal, thousands of small boats and rafts, constructed
for a singular species of fishery. 'On each boat or raft are ten or
a dozen birds, which, at a signal from the owner, plunge into the
water; and it is astonishing to see the enormous size of the fish
with which they return grasped within their bills.' They appeared to
be so well trained, that it did not require either ring or cord
about their throats to prevent them from swallowing any portion of
their prey, except what the master was pleased to return to them for
encouragement and food. The boat used by these fishermen is of a
remarkably light make, and is often carried to the lake, together
with the fishing-birds, by the fishermen themselves."
CHARLES. "What preposterous things people do in other countries! How
strange to train birds to catch fish!"
"Why, Charles, we have fishing-birds in England," exclaimed George.
"The only difference between them is, that _our_ birds fish for
themselves, while the Chinese birds fish for their masters. I have
often seen the kingfishers pounce upon their prey, and I have heard
of herons and storks living on fish caught by themselves."
MR. WILTON. "Quite true, George; and this proves that many
'traveller's wonders' cease to be wonderful when we examine into the
circumstances and particulars, or compare their relations with the
commonplace occurrences of everyday life. Now for the Bay of Bengal,
which contains the fine islands of Andaman, Nicobar, and Ceylon; for
the particulars of these islands I beg to refer the members to Mrs.
MRS. WILTON. "We will describe them according to their merits; and
by so doing, the last will be first. Ceylon is considered the finest
and richest island in the world: we read that the stones are rubies
and sapphires, that amonium scents the marshes, and cinnamon the
forests, and that the most common plants furnish precious perfumes.
Its length is about 250 miles, its breadth 150. Its principal
productions are gold, silver, and other metals; excellent fruits of
all kinds; delicious spices; ivory, cotton, silk, musk, and many
varieties of precious stones. The chief town is Candy, situated on a
mountain in the middle of the island. Trincomale and Columbo are its
other great towns. I forgot to tell you that elephants of the most
handsome and valuable kind run here in herds, as the wild boars do
in the forests of Europe; while the brilliant peacock and bird of
paradise occupy the places of our rooks and swallows.
"The Andainans--The inhabitants are probably cannibals; their
antipathy to strangers is singularly strong. They possess all the
characteristics of the negro, but scarcely know how to build a boat,
or manage a rope; however, they have acquired a little more
civilization since the foundation of an English establishment on the
Great Andaman, for the reception of criminals sent from Bengal.
"The Nicobar Isles are inhabited by a harmless inoffensive race of
people; and here, as also in Andaman, are found the edible
bird's-nests so much esteemed in China."
MR. BARRAUD. "These nests form an extensive article of commerce:
they are built by a little bird called the Jaimalani, black as jet,
and very much like a martin, but considerably smaller. The nests are
made of a slimy gelatinous substance found on the shore, of the
sea-weed called _agal-agal_, and of a soft, greenish, sizy matter,
often seen on rocks in the shade, when the water oozes from above.
The best are found in damp caves, very difficult of access. They are
sold at a high price, and considered a great luxury, consequently
only consumed by the great people of China, chiefly by the emperor
and his court."
MR. WILTON. "George looks as if he did not relish the idea of
feasting on bird's-nests. I believe the Chinese monopolize these
delicacies entirely, and they are quite welcome so to do, as they
are not esteemed elsewhere: so do not look so scornful George; the
inhabitants of the celestial empire would not offer _you_ a
bird's-nest for your supper if you paid them a visit. They cost, I
have heard, their weight in silver! Emma, can you tell me in what
sea to look for the Maldives?"
EMMA. "Yes, dear papa, Maldives and Laccadives are both in the
Arabian Sea. The first are small islands, or rocks, just above the
water. The Dutch trade with the natives for cowries, little shells
used as money on some parts of the coasts of Africa and India. Ships
from India sometimes resort thither to procure sharks' fins for
those epicures the Chinese, who consider them an excellent seasoning
"The Laccadives are about five degrees further north, and are in
themselves larger islands, but not so numerous as the Maldives.
Bombay, which is the central point of communication between India
and Europe, is on the Arabian Sea. Have we not devoted sufficient
time to Asia, mamma?"
MRS. WILTON. "I scarcely think so, my dear; we could find subjects
for conversation which would profitably occupy the hours of many
meetings in this delightful quarter of the world. Remember here were
our first parents placed, when in innocence and happiness they were
created by Almighty God; here in the Garden of Eden they dwelt
enjoying the light of His countenance; here they fell in guilt and
misery, and were banished from the presence of their offended God;
here was the prophecy fulfilled, for here was born our Blessed
Saviour. By Him was the great and wondrous work of redemption
accomplished; He offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the
whole world; He gave us the Everlasting Gospel, and He has become
our mediator with God: by Him we gain access to the Father; by His
blood only can we be cleansed; by His merits only can we hope for
salvation; and only through His Grace assisting us can we perform
that which is right and well-pleasing in the eyes of our Heavenly
Father: then believing in Him, trusting in Him, rejoicing in Him,
Christ will be our All in all _here_, and All in all _hereafter_.
There are many lakes and small inland seas in Asia, memorable as
having been the scene of our Blessed Saviour's labors, trials, and
triumphs. Not the most insignificant on the list is the lake of
Genesareth, sometimes called the Sea of Galilee, or Sea of Tiberias;
for near here is situated Nazareth, the great city of Jesus Christ.
About six miles to the south stands the hill of Tabor, which a
venerable tradition assigns as the scene of Christ's
transfiguration; and on the south-west side of the Gulf of St. Jean
d'Acre is Mount Carmel, where, we are told, the prophet Elijah
proved his divine mission by the performance of many miracles.
Thousands of Christians once lived in caves of the rocks around this
mountain, which then was covered with chapels and gardens: at the
present day naught but scattered ruins remain to prove the truth of
MR. WILTON. "A most extraordinary fact relating to this sea is, that
its waters are 300 feet below the level of the Mediterranean: and
this reminds me of the Dead Sea, situated in Palestine, which
covers from 450 to 500 square miles; for its waters are no less than
1300 feet below the Mediterranean. We are told by many who have
visited this sea, that neither fish nor shells are to be found in
it, and that its shores, frightfully barren, are never cheered by
the note of any bird. The inhabitants in its vicinity, however, are
not sensible of any noxious quality in its vapor; and the accounts
of birds falling down dead in attempting to fly over it are entirely
fabulous. The water is exceedingly nauseous, and the effluvia
arising from it unwholesome, but so buoyant, that gentlemen, who
have made the attempt from curiosity, have found it impossible to
sink. An Irishman, named Cortigan, some fifteen years ago, conveyed
a boat to the waters of the Dead Sea, and, aided by an old Maltese
sailor, rowed nearly all round. He was a week exploring, and
imagined he had made great discoveries; but no one knew what they
were, for on the eighth day he became seriously ill. He was carried
to the shore by his companion, and expired soon after in the hut of
a Bedouin Arab. We are led to believe that in this place stood the
famous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by the wrath of God,
and utterly buried beneath this bituminous lake."
GRANDY. "We have gone through our toils this evening with no
personal inconvenience; but that is owing to our travels being of
the mind instead of the body: for what man journeying through Arabia
but has felt the annoyances of heat, the pangs of thirst and
unutterable anguish from the horrors of a lingering death? That we
stay-at-home travellers may justly appreciate the blessings of home,
I will give you an instance of the sufferings of those who are
compelled to wander.
#The Slave Merchant.#
"The caravans which carry goods from Bagdat to Aleppo usually pass
by Anah. They pay tribute to the Arabs, who reckon themselves Lords
of the Desert, even to the east of Euphrates. They have to encounter
the dangers of the suffocating winds, the swarms of locusts, and the
failure of water, as soon as they depart from the line of the river.
A French traveller tells us he witnessed one of the most
appalling scenes of this kind between Anah and Taibu. The locusts,
having devoured everything, perished in countless heaps, poisoning
with their dead bodies the ponds which usually afforded water when
no springs were near.
[Footnote 9: Maltebrun.]
"This traveller saw a Turk running down from a hillock, with despair
in his looks. 'I am,' cried he, 'the most ill-fated man in the
world. I have purchased, at an enormous rate, 200 young women, the
finest of Greece and Georgia. I brought them up with great care, and
now, when arrived at the age of marriage, I have come with them on
my way to Bagdat, thinking to dispose of them to advantage. Alas!
they are all now dying of thirst in this desert.' The traveller,
going round the hillock, beheld a sight of horror. In the midst of
twelve eunuchs and about a hundred camels, he saw all these girls,
from twelve to fifteen years old, stretched on the ground in the
agonies of a burning thirst and inevitable death. Some had already
been buried; a larger number had fallen down by the side of their
keepers, who had not sufficient strength left to bury them. On every
hand were heard the sobs of the dying; and the cries of those in
whom enough of life still remained, begging for a drop of water. The
traveller hastened to open his flask, in which a little water was
left, and was now offering it to one of these poor victims. 'You
fool!' exclaims his Arabian conductor, 'would you have _us_ also to
perish for want of water?' and with his arrow he laid the girl dead
at his feet; laid hold of the bottle, and threatened the life of any
one who dared to touch it. He advised the Turkish merchant to go on
to Taibu, where he would find water. 'No,' said the Turk, 'at Taibu
the robbers would carry off all my slaves.' The Arab forced the
traveller to accompany him. At the moment of their departure, these
unfortunates, losing the last ray of hope, uttered a piercing
shriek: the Arab was affected, he took one of the girls, poured some
drops of water on her burning lips, and placed her on his camel,
intending her as a present for his wife. The poor girl fainted
repeatedly on passing the dead bodies of her companions. The small
stock of water of the travellers was soon exhausted, when they
discovered a well of fresh clear water. Here, disconcerted by the
depth of the well, and the shortness of their rope, they tore their
clothes into strips, which they tied together, and, with this frail
cordage, contrived to take up the water in small quantities,
dreading the loss of their bucket, and the disappointment of their
hopes. Through such perils and anxieties, they at last found their
way to Syria."
MRS. WILTON. "With this we will conclude the evening's business; and
as we have been so much in the East, I have prepared a little
present for each of you, in the form of a Chinese Puzzle; and
whenever you exercise your patience on them (and I assure you they
will require it, for they are most ingenious) you will think of our
travels, and of the many little facts you learnt while visiting the
lands of other nations. Also, I wish you to endeavor to gain
knowledge, not merely for ornament and reputation, but because your
mind is a rich storehouse, by means of which you may glorify God,
and do much for the happiness of your fellow-creatures."
Mrs. Wilton then produced a beautiful Japan box, and, opening it,
displayed to the admiring gaze of the young party a number of
curious contrivances to tease and tire impatient folks, exquisitely
cut in ivory, and mother-of-pearl, and light woods. Each puzzle was
ticketed; and, highly delighted, they all sat down to partake of the
good things spread on the table, determined to vie with each other
in trials of skill and perseverance on their curious little toys. We
wish them success, and "Good night."
There was an old and quiet man,
And by thy fire sat he:
"And now," he said, "to you I'll tell
A dismal thing which once befel
To a ship upon the sea."
"Oh, mamma, dear mamma," exclaimed Emma, bursting into the parlor
where Mrs. Wilton was sitting at work, "everything goes wrong
to-day. Look here, the postman has brought a note from Dora Leslie:
she has been to a party, caught a cold, and is obliged to remain in
the house for I know not how long. What can we do without her? I am
sure _my_ portion will not be ready; for, in the first place, I know
not how to begin with America: the number of seas, gulfs, and bays
quite puzzles me, and I have felt so miserable all day, because I
have no notes prepared for the meeting."
Mrs. Wilton continued her sewing while Emma thus gave vent to her
feelings; then quietly taking her hand, "My dear little girl," said
she, "sit down by me and listen.
"Many years ago there dwelt in a little cot on a hill's side an aged
matron and her grandchild; they were alone, but not lonely, for they
were happy in each other's society; their wants were few, and their
gratitude unbounded. There were no neighbors near them,--no gossips
to drop in upon them, and fritter away the precious moments. They
subsisted on the produce of their garden, and labored for their
daily bread in gladness of heart.
"Every morn, almost with the sun, Eva arose, fed the chickens that
fluttered around her, and went through her business merrily,--richly
rewarded by the approving smile of her aged parent, when she blessed
her darling before retiring to rest.
"But 'man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward,' and this
happy pair were not exempt from the curse. One night, the wind blew,
the rain fell in torrents, thunder and lightning rent the skies,
and, in fear and trembling, the aged woman and her fair grandchild
wept and prayed, until the glorious sun rose above the horizon, and
proclaimed the advent of another day. Then Eva stepped to the
cottage door, and gazed in speechless agony on the devastation
wrought by the fury of the elements in one single night. The
beautiful path, lately so trim and neat, which led to her garden,
was blocked up with stones borne from the mountain's side by the
violence of the torrent. Her vines were crushed and drooping; and
even the poor birds came not to her side, but remained crowded
together in a corner under the shade of the cottage roof.
"'Alas! alas!' cried she, 'where is the pretty path I used to
tread,--where are my flowers, my shrubs,--where all my joys and
happiness? Gone! gone! and left desolation and misery in their
stead. I cannot repair this damage, I shall no longer have pleasure
in my work, for _one_ storm has undone the toil of months; and now
our cottage must stand in a wilderness, our garden must be overgrown
with weeds, and my chickens must die of starvation!' then, wringing
her hands, she sank on the earth and wept.
"How long she wept I know not, but she was aroused by a gentle
pressure on her shoulder; and, raising her eyes, she beheld a
beautiful female, whose cheerful, good-natured countenance put to
shame the tears of despair which bedewed the cheeks of the fair Eva.
"'Why weepest thou?' said she; 'why not be up and doing? What _has_
been done, can in like manner be again effected. Arise, and follow
"'But I am alone,' remonstrated the weeping girl; 'and without
assistance am unable to repair these ravages.'
"'I will assist thee,' replied her beauteous visitor; 'fear not,
together we will accomplish much.' So saying, she led forth the
gentle girl, and in a few hours their voices might be heard in one
united stream of flowing harmony, filling the air with delicious
sounds, and the heart of the aged woman with rapture.
"For many days, Eva worked in company with her angelic friend,
until, at length, Desolation acknowledged her power, and
disappeared. Her garden was restored to its pristine beauty,--the
path was cleared.--her favorites flocked around her; and again
kneeling in thankfulness at her grandmother's feet, she read her
evening lesson, and praised Almighty God, who in love and mercy sent
'Peace on earth, Goodwill toward all men.' Now, my child, who
thinkest thou was Eva's helpmate?"
"I know not, dear mamma, unless it were Perseverance."
"No, my dear," replied Mrs. Wilton; "Perseverance might have
hindered instead of assisting her; she might have persevered in her
resolution to await the total destruction of her little property.
No, her heavenly companion was 'Goodwill.' Entreat her aid, Emma,
set about your task with renewed energy, and certain I am that you
will be successful."
Emma Wilton appreciated her mamma's kindness, and the result of her
labors will be seen in the following pages.
"I see one of our number missing," said Mr. Wilton, as he opened the
large Atlas. "What has become of Dora Leslie?"
"She is slightly indisposed, my dear," replied Mrs. Wilton; "but
Emma will be her substitute."
"What an industrious little girl!" exclaimed her papa; "and you are
really going to supply the meeting with information sufficient to
prevent us from feeling the loss of your friend. You are resolved we
shall not be becalmed, eh?"
"Ah! papa, you know not what has happened. I have been nearly
becalmed, but, in a lucky moment, mamma sent a gentle breeze which
filled my sails, and carried me gaily on my course, or I fear I
should have been ill prepared to supply the deficiencies to-night.
If the members approve the following plan, we will act upon it. I
propose, that we start from England, cross the North Atlantic Ocean,
enter Baffin's Bay by Davis's Straits, and following the coast, work
our way round to the other waters in America."
MR. WILTON. "I see not the slightest objection to the plan; and we
will call at all the islands which lie in our way, beginning with
Madeira. This name is a corruption of Madera, so called by its
first discoverers on account of the uncommon luxuriance of its
foliage. It is an exquisitely beautiful island, with every variety
of climate in various parts: the soil is volcanic, though there has
been no eruption within the memory of man. Madeira belongs to the
Portuguese, and lies north of the Canaries. Madeira is about sixty
miles long, and forty broad: its chief town is Funchal.
[Footnote 10: Madera signifies wooded.]
"The Canary Isles, formerly called Fortunate Isles, belong to Spain.
The three largest are Grand Canary, Teneriffe, and Ferro. These
islands are famous for wine, and those pretty little singing birds
"Teneriffe, the second in size, is remarkable for a volcanic
mountain, called the Peak."
CHARLES. "Are we not going out of our way, sir, to look at these
islands? Baffin's Bay is much more to the north."
MR. WILTON. "You are right, Charles; but on voyages of discovery we
are permitted to wander hither and thither at will, so long as it be
for the advantage of all parties."
GEORGE. "But ships of war, papa, may not go out of the way: they are
obliged to be very orderly, are they not?"
MR. WILTON. "So long as the winds will allow them, they keep on
their course together, but adverse winds will send them far asunder
at times, as in the case of the destruction of the Spanish Armada
'He blew with His winds, and they were scattered,' was the motto
inscribed on the medal Queen Elizabeth caused to be struck in
commemoration of that great victory."
MR. BARRAUD. "England can never forget the destruction of the
Spanish Armada, for it was the immediate cause of the acquisition of
so many colonies to England. The signal success which attended Sir
Francis Drake and others, induced them again to sally forth with
sanguine hopes of extending the kingdom of their sovereign. This was
providential; at least, that is my view of it: all this was wisely
arranged that England might, by obtaining dependencies, strive to
enlighten, moralize, and spiritualize the people who acknowledged
the same temporal sovereign with herself, that in due time they
might also acknowledge the same spiritual sovereign."
GEORGE. "I should like to go on board a man-of-war, and see all the
arrangements; because so many men on board one ship must need close
packing, I should think."
MR. WILTON. "You shall be gratified, my boy. Put on your coat and
hat: we will go on board one of Her Majesty's ships before the
gentlemen have dined."
EMMA. "Papa is only joking, George; you may sit still. I can guess
what you are going to say, papa. 'Is not our voyage imaginary, and
should we not be consistent?' Am I right?"
MR. WILTON. "Very nearly, my dear. You are very sharp to-night: the
extra duty has quickened your discernment."
CHARLES. "I enjoy this imaginary travelling very much; but I must
confess, if everything connected with it is to be consistent, I
shall not be at all satisfied with my supper."
"No! no!" exclaimed the other children; "supper is to be real,
because we get really hungry."
"But, papa," added George, "can you tell me any of the ways of a
MR. WILTON. "Yes, my dear. I will fulfil my promise, and initiate
you in some of the mysteries which are enacted at dinner-time on
board of one of these wonderful vessels. As the hour of noon
approaches, the cooks of the messes may be seen coming up the fore
and main hatchways with their mess-kids in their hands, the hoops of
which are kept as bright as silver, and the woodwork as neat and as
clean as the pail of the most tidy dairymaid. The grog also is now
mixed in a large tub, under the half-deck, by the quarter-masters of
the watch below, assisted by other leading and responsible men
among the ship's company, closely superintended, of course, by the
mate of the hold, to see that no liquor is abstracted, and also by
the purser's steward, who regulates the exact quantity of spirits
and of water to be measured out. The seamen, whose next turn it is
to take the wheel, or heave the lead, or who have to mount the
mast-head to look out, as well as the marines who are to be planted
as sentries at noon, are allowed to take both their dinner and their
grog beforehand. These persons are called 'seven-bell-men,' from the
hour at which they have their allowance served to them.
"Long before twelve o'clock all these and various other minor
preparations have been so completely made, that there is generally a
remarkable stillness over the whole ship just before the important
moment of noon arrives. The boatswain stands near the break of the
forecastle, with his bright silver call or whistle in his hand,
which ever and anon he places just at the tip of his lips to blow
out any crumbs which threaten to interfere with its melody, or to
give a faint' too-weet, too-weet,' as a preparatory note to fix the
attention of the boatswain's mates, who being, like their chief,
provided with calls, station themselves at intervals along the
main-deck, ready to give due accompaniment to their leader's tune.
"The boatswain keeps his eye on the group of observers, and well
knows when the 'sun is up' by the stir which takes place amongst the
astronomers; or by noticing the master working out his latitude
with a pencil on the ebony bar of his quadrant or on the edge of the
hammock railing,--though, if he be one of your modern, neat-handed
navigators, he carries his look-book for this purpose. In one way or
other the latitude is computed as soon as the master is satisfied
the sun has reached his highest altitude in the heavens. He then
walks aft to the officer of the watch, and reports twelve o'clock,
communicating also the degrees and minutes of the latitude observed.
The lieutenant proceeds to the captain wherever he may be, and
reports that it is twelve and that so-and-so is the latitude. The
same formal round of reports is gone through, even if the captain be
on deck and has heard every word spoken by the master, or even if he
have himself assisted in making the observation.
"The captain now says to the officer of the watch, 'Make it twelve!'
The officer calls out to the mate of the watch, 'Make it twelve!'
The mate, ready primed, sings out to the quarter-master, 'Strike
"And lastly, the hard-a-weather old quarter-master, stepping down
the ladder, grunts out to the sentry at the cabin door, 'Turn the
glass, and strike the bell!'
"By this time the boatswain's call has been in his mouth for several
minutes, his elbow in the air, and his finger on the stop, ready to
send forth the glad tidings of a hearty meal. Not less ready, or
less eager, are the groups of listeners seated at their snow-white
deal tables below, or the crowd surrounding the coppers, with their
mess-kids acting the part of drums to their impatient knuckles. At
the first stroke of the bell, which, at this particular hour, is
always sounded with peculiar vivacity, the officer of the watch
exclaims to the boatswain, 'Pipe to dinner!'
"These words, followed by a glorious burst of shrill sounds, 'long
drawn out,' are hailed with a murmur of delight by many a hungry tar
and many a jolly marine. The merry notes are nearly drowned the next
instant in the rattle of tubs and kettles, the voices of the ship's
cook and his mates bawling out the numbers of the messes, as well as
by the sound of feet tramping along the decks and down the ladders
with the steaming ample store of provisions, such as set up and
brace the seaman's frame, and give it vigor for any amount of
"Then comes the 'joyous grog!' that nautical nectar, so dear to the
lips of every true-hearted sailor, with which he washes down Her
Majesty's junk, as he roughly but good-humoredly styles the
government allowance of beef; and while he quaffs off his portion,
or his whack, as he calls it, he envies no man alive, and laughs to
scorn those party philanthropists who describe his life as one of
unhappy servitude. The real truth is, there is no set of men in the
world, in their condition of life, who are better taken care of than
the sailors and marines of the navy, or who, upon the whole, are
more content and happy. There, George, what think you of all that?"
GEORGE. "Why, that they must be a merry set of fellows, and I should
like to be a 'Middy' amongst them."
EMMA. "Oh! George, do not wish to be a sailor: remember Frederic
Hamilton.--The next islands we come in sight of are Cape Yerd
Islands near Africa. They were discovered in 1446 by the Portuguese,
their present proprietors; they are remarkably fertile. St. Jago is
the largest, and is the residence of the Portuguese viceroy."
CHARLES. "May we now steer north, and call at the Azores or Western
Isles? We shall then be half-way between Europe and America."
MR. WILTON. "We shall be very willing to accompany you, if you will
entertain us when there."
CHARLES. "That might be done at a moderate expense, for they are
delightful islands, with a fine climate, a spacious harbor, good
anchorage, and all essentials,--but they are subject to earthquakes;
therefore it is not advisable to prolong our visit One remarkable
circumstance I had almost forgotten is, that no noxious animal can
exist, or is ever to be found on these islands."
MRS. WILTON. "The Azores are also called the Land of Falcons,
because when discovered there were so many of these birds found tame
on the islands. They are 800 miles from the shores of Portugal, and
belong to that kingdom. Nature appears everywhere smiling; the
plains wave with golden harvests, delicious fruits adorn the sides
of the hills, and the towering summits are covered with evergreens.
But, as Charles observes, they are volcanic; and many new islands
have been raised from the bottom of the sea by volcanic action. In
the year 1720 one of these phenomena took place, on approaching
which next day an English captain observes:--'We made an island of
fire and smoke. The ashes fell on our deck like hail and snow, the
fire and smoke roared like thunder.' The inhabitants of the Azores
are an innocent, honest race, who prefer peace to conquest, and
distinction in industry rather than in arms."
EMMA. "My course is now tolerably plain; but while we are so near
Newfoundland, we may as well look in upon the people. This large
island shuts up the northern entrance into the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
is for the most part barren and unfruitful, and covered with
MR. BARRAUD. "These fogs are, no doubt, produced by the currents
that flow from the Antilles, and remain for a time between the great
bank and the coast before they escape into the Atlantic Ocean."
CHARLES. "Sir, I do not understand how the currents can cause a
MR. BARRAUD. "It is because these streams, coming from tropical
regions, are warmer than the water surrounding the banks of
Newfoundland, and necessarily warmer than the atmosphere,
consequently they cause a vapor to arise which obscures the island
with a moist and dense air. Newfoundland was for a long time
considered the inhospitable residence of fishermen; but of late it
has doubled its population and industry, and the activity of the
British nation has added another fine colony to the civilized
MRS. WILTON. "Newfoundland is the nearest to Great Britain of any of
our North American possessions. It is rather larger than England and
Wales. Its chief town is St. John's. It was discovered in 1497 by
John Cabot. The fisheries here are the chief wealth of the island,
and consist principally of codfish, herrings, and salmon. The great
Bank of Newfoundland, which appears to be a solid rock, is 600 miles
long, and in some places 200 broad."
CHARLES. "Newfoundland is famous for dogs; but I find the most
numerous there are not like those we call Newfoundland dogs, which
are large handsome animals, for _they_ are comparatively rare. The
most abundant are creatures with lank bodies, thin legs and tail,
and a thin tapering snout. They are very intelligent though, and
would beat the Chinese birds in catching fish; for Mr. Jukes, a
gentleman who has been to Newfoundland, says of one of these
dogs:--'He sat on a projecting rock beneath a fish-flake, or stage,
where the fish are laid to dry, watching the water, which had a
depth of six or eight feet, and the bottom of which was white with
fish-bones. On throwing a piece of cod-fish into the water, three or
four heavy, clumsy-looking fish, called in Newfoundland "sculpins,"
with great heads and mouths, and many spines about them, generally
about a foot long, would swim in to catch it. These he would watch
attentively, and the moment one turned his broadside to him, he
darted down like a fish-hawk, and seldom came up without the fish in
his mouth. As he caught them, he carried them regularly to a place a
few yards off, where he laid them down; and his owner told us that
in the summer he would sometimes make a pile of fifty or sixty a
day, just at that place. He never attempted to eat them, but seemed
to be fishing purely for his own amusement. I watched him for about
two hours; and when the fish did not come, I observed he once or
twice put his right foot in the water, and paddled it about. This
foot was white, and my friend said he did it to "toll" or entice the
fish.' Cunning dog was he not, George?"
GEORGE. "Yes; he would make his master's fortune if the fish he
caught were worth selling."
EMMA. "To get into Baffin's Bay, we must go through Davis's Straits,
so called from their discoverer, John Davis, who sailed through them
in 1585; and following the coast on the north side, we shall pass
South-east Bay and Coburg Bay. In 1818 Captain Ross completed the
circumnavigation of this oblong bay. The middle of it seems
everywhere occupied with impenetrable ice, between which and the
land is the only passage for ships."
MRS. WILTON. "That portion of the bay you have just described washes
the shores of Greenland and the Arctic Regions. Greenland is
considered as a peninsula attached to America, wretchedly barren,
for no trees grow there. But God, who made man of the dust, also
promised to supply his wants, and most wonderfully is this
exemplified with regard to Greenland. To provide the inhabitants
with the means of warming and nourishing their bodies, God causes
the sea to drive vast quantities of wood from distant shores, and
with thankfulness the poor Greenlanders regularly gather these
providential supplies from their own coasts. Some parts of Greenland
are nothing more than huge masses of rocks, intermingled with
immense blocks of ice, thus forming at once the image of chaos and
GEORGE. "Is it not near Greenland the ships go to catch whales?"
MR. BARRAUD. "Yes; and, as you have mentioned the subject, we may as
well stop and inquire into the particulars of this fishing."
GEORGE. "I remember reading that there are three sorts of
whales--the finback, the right whale, and the sperm whale; but I
should like to hear how they are caught."
MR. BARRAUD. "A man is stationed at the mast-head to look out, and
as soon as he perceives a whale, he shouts, 'There she blows!'
Immediately all hands are on the move to prepare the boats: this
takes but a short time, and the chase commences. I will now give you
an American account of such a chase.
"'The moment of intense excitement now arrived. We pulled as if for
life or death. Not a word was spoken, and scarcely a sound was heard
from our oars. One of the men sprang to his feet, and grasped a
harpoon. A few more strokes of the oar, and we were hard upon the
whale. The harpooner, with unerring aim, let fly his irons, and
buried them to the sockets in his huge carcass. "Stern all!"
thundered the mate. "Stern all!" echoed the crew, but it was too
late. Our bows were high and dry on the whale's head! Infuriated
with the pain produced by the harpoons, and, doubtless, much
astonished to find his head so roughly used, he rolled half over,
lashing the sea with his flukes (tail), and in his struggles dashing
in two of the upper planks. "Boat stove! boat stove!" was the
general cry. "Silence," thundered the mate as he sprang to the bow,
and exchanged places with the harpooner; "all safe, my hearties!
stern hard! stern! stern! before he gets his flukes to bear upon
us." "Stern all!" shouted we, and in a moment more we were out of
danger. The whale now "turned flukes," and dashed off to windward
with the speed of a locomotive, towing us after him at a tremendous
rate. We occasionally slacked line in order to give him plenty of
play. A stiff breeze had sprung up, causing a rough, chopping sea;
and we leaked badly in the bow-planks; but, notwithstanding the
roughness of the sea, we went with incredible swiftness. "Hoorah!"
burst from every lip. We exultingly took off our hats, and gave
three hearty cheers; but while we were skimming along so gallantly,
the whale suddenly turned, and pitched the boat on her beam-ends.
Every one who could grasp a thwart hung on to it, and we were all
fortunate enough to keep our seats. For as much as a ship's length
the boat flew through the water on her gunwale, foaming and whizzing
as she dashed onward. It was a matter of doubt as to which side
would turn uppermost, until we slacked out the line, when she
righted. To have a boat, with all her iron, lances, gear, and oars,
piled on one's head in such a sea, was rather a startling prospect
to the best swimmer. Meantime, the whale rose to the surface to
spout. The change in his course enabled another boat to come up, and
we lay on our oars, in order that Mr. D----, (the other mate) might
lance him.--He struck him in a vital part the first dart, as was
evident from the whale's furious dying struggles; but in order to
make sure, we hauled up and lanced the back of his head. Foaming and
breaching, he plunged from wave to wave, flinging high in the air
torrents of blood and spray. The sea around was literally a sea of
blood. At one moment his head was poised in the air; the next, he
buried himself in the gory sea, carrying down, in his vast wake, a
whirlpool of foam and slime. But this respite was short; he rose
again, rushing furiously upon his enemies; but a slight prick of a
lance drove him back with mingled fury and terror. Whichever way he
turned, the barbed irons goaded him to desperation. Now and again
intensity of agony would cause him to lash the waters with his huge
flukes, till the very ocean appeared to heave and tremble at his
power. Tossing, struggling, dashing over and over in his agony, he
spouted up the last of his heart's blood. Half an hour before, he
was free as the wave, sporting in all the pride of gigantic strength
and unrivalled power. He now lay a lifeless mass; his head towards
the sun, his tremendous body heaving to the swell, and his
destroyers proudly cheering over their victory.'"
EMMA. "It seems very cruel to catch these poor creatures."
MRS. WILTON. "They are tortured as little as possible; but they are
so strong, that it requires immense skill and bravery to contend
with them. Their usefulness justifies the act, for I know not what
we should do without some of the comforts produced from these
monsters of the deep."
EMMA. "What part does the oil come from?"
MR. BARRAUD. "First, from the blubber which is the outer covering,
or, as whalers call it, the 'blanket-piece;' this is stripped off by
means of an ingenious contrivance, cut into pieces, and the oil
boiled out. Secondly, from the head, which is called the 'case,' and
sometimes contains from ten to fifteen barrels of oil and
spermaceti. A sperm whale frequently yields as much as 120 barrels
of oil. Forty-five barrels is considered a medium size."
GEORGE. "I hope, when we go to Jamaica, we shall see some whales."
MR. WILTON. "No doubt we shall. I have often seen them rolling and
spouting in the wide Atlantic: and you will also see the flying fish
skimming in the hollows of the waves: they are very pretty."
GRANDY. "Yes, they are, poor unfortunates! for, though possessing
the qualifications of a bird as well as a fish, they are so
persecuted by enemies in both elements, that, whether taking their
temporary flight through the air, or gliding through the waters,
their double faculty proves insufficient to defend or secure them
CHARLES. "What creatures war against these innocent fish, madam?"
GRANDY. "While in the air the man-of-war bird pounces upon them; and
they are chased in the water by the bonito and albacore: thus
constantly persecuted, they do not become very numerous."
CHARLES. "Icy Peak, in Greenland, is an enormous mass of ice near
the mouth of a river: it diffuses such a brilliancy through the air,
that it is distinctly perceived at a distance of more than ten
leagues. Icicles, and an immense vault, give this edifice of crystal
a most magic appearance."
EMMA. "Shall we now continue our voyage through Lancaster Sound?"
MRS. WILTON. "I have been considering whether it would not be better
to finish with these northern latitudes before we proceed on our
voyage. In that case we will test the hospitality of the people of
Spitzbergen, Iceland, Nova Zembla, Ferroe Isles, and sundry others
in this part of the Atlantic and Frozen Ocean, and then descend to
MR. WILTON. "A very good plan, if we do not get blocked up by the
ice in these dreadful seas. By-the-by, there is an account of such a
calamity happening to a vessel some years ago.--In the year 1775,
Captain Warrens, master of the 'Greenland,' a whale-ship, was
cruising about in the Frozen Ocean, when at a little distance he
observed a vessel. Captain Warrens was struck with the strange
manner in which her sails were disposed, and with the dismantled
aspect of her rigging. He leaped into his boat with several seamen,
and rowed towards her. On approaching, he observed that her hull was
miserably weather-beaten, and not a soul appeared on deck, which was
covered with snow to a considerable depth. He then hailed her crew,
but no answer was returned. Previous to stepping on board, an open
port-hole near the main-chains caught his eye; and, on looking into
it, he perceived a man reclining back in a chair, with writing
materials on a table before him; but the feebleness of the light
made everything very indistinct. The party went upon deck, and,
having removed the hatchway, descended to the cabin. They first came
to the apartment which Captain Warrens viewed through the port-hole.
A terror seized him as he entered it: its inmate retained his former
position, and seemed to be insensible to strangers. He was found to
be a corpse! and a green damp mould had covered his cheeks and
forehead, and veiled his open eyeballs. He had a pen in his hand,
and a log-book lay before him. The last sentence in its unfinished
page ran thus:--
"'Nov. 14th, 1762.
"'We have now been enclosed in the ice seventeen days. The fire went
out yesterday, and our master has been trying ever since to kindle
it again without success. His wife died this morning. There is no
"Captain Warrens and his seamen hurried from the spot without
uttering a word. On entering the principal cabin, the first object
that attracted their attention was the dead body of a female,
reclining on a bed in an attitude of deep interest and attention.
Her countenance retained the freshness of life: but a contraction of
the limbs showed that her form was inanimate. Seated on the floor
was the corpse of an apparently young man, holding a steel in one
hand and a flint in the other, as if in the act of striking fire
upon some tinder which lay beside him. In the fore-part of the
vessel several sailors were found lying dead in their berths, and
the body of a boy crouched at the bottom of the gangway stairs.
Neither provisions nor fuel could be discovered anywhere; but
Captain Warrens was prevented by the superstitious prejudices of his
seamen from examining the vessel as minutely as he wished to have
done. He, therefore, carried away the log-book, and immediately
steered to the southward, impressed with the awful example he had
just witnessed of the danger of navigating the Polar Seas in high
northern latitudes. On returning to England, and inquiring and
comparing accounts, he found that this vessel had been blocked up by
the ice for upwards of thirteen years!!! Yes!--
"'There lay the vessel in a realm of frost,
Not wrecked, nor stranded, yet forever lost;
Her keel embedded in the solid mass;
Her glistening sails appear'd expanded glass.'"
[Illustration: THE GEYSERS.]
GRANDY. "A most awful situation to be placed in, surrounded on
all sides by impenetrable ice, which closeth up the water as with a
MRS. WILTON. "Iceland is first in point of distance. It is situated
south east of Greenland, in the North Atlantic Ocean, and considered
an appendage to America; although it was known seven centuries
before the time of Columbus. It is truly, a land of prodigies: where
the subterranean fires of the abyss burst through a frozen soil;
where boiling springs shoot up their fountains, amidst eternal
snows; and where the powerful genius of liberty and the no less
powerful genius of poetry have given brilliant proofs of the
energies of the human mind at the farthest confines of animated
CHARLES. "There are twelve volcanoes in Iceland; the most celebrated
of which is Mount Hecla, situated in the southern part of the
island: its elevation is about 4800 feet above the level of the
GEORGE. "And there are hot springs, too, in this island; but they
have not all the same degree of heat. Mamma, do you know anything of
MRS. WILTON. "Those springs, whose tepid waters issue as gently as
an ordinary spring, are called Langers, or baths; others that throw
up boiling water with great noise, are denominated Caldrons, in
Icelandic 'Hverer.' The most remarkable is the Geyser, which is
found near Skalholdt, in the middle of a plain, where there are
about forty springs of a smaller size. It rises from an aperture
nineteen feet in diameter, springing at intervals to the height of
fifty or even ninety feet. In these hot springs, which formerly
served to baptize their Pagan ancestors, the Icelanders boil their
vegetables, meat, eggs, and other articles of food; but it is
necessary to cover the pot suspended in these steaming waters, in
order to prevent the volcanic odor from imparting a taste to their
contents. Iceland is not so barren as you might imagine from its
extreme cold, for gardening is cultivated throughout the island: but
there are no large trees."
MR. WILTON. "The present houses of the Icelanders differ little from
those used by their ancestors, who first colonized the island, and
are, no doubt, the best fitted for the climate. They are only one
story high; the stone walls have all the interstices stuffed with
moss, and are about six feet in thickness. In the better sort of
houses, the windows are glazed, in the others, secured by a thin
skin stretched over the frames. They have no chimney or grates; the
smoke escapes through a hole in the roof. The beds are merely open
frames filled with feathers or down, over which they throw their
blankets, and cover themselves with a counterpane of divers colors.
Their seats are, in general, the bones of a whale or a horse's
skull. But much is said and done in these rude huts which would
EMMA. "Are the Icelanders civilized people: I mean, at all refined?"
MRS. WILTON. "Every Icelander knows how to read, write, and
calculate, which is more than we can say of the English. They are a
grave, honest, benevolent people, but not remarkable for their
industry. Their favorite amusements, when assembled together,
consist in reading history or poetry, in singing, or playing at
chess, in which game they take great delight, priding themselves on
their skill. They are refined enough to admire poetry and music: I
think I need say no more. We will now visit Spitzbergen."
EMMA. "Spitzbergen is a group of three large islands, and a number
of lesser ones near the North Pole. The mountains crowned with
perpetual snow, and flanked with glaciers, reflect to a considerable
distance a light equal to that of a full moon. The Icy Sea washes
its shores, and abounds with whales, who love to roll their enormous
bodies among the marine forests of the sea. In the vicinity is found
the polar bear, which pursues everything animated with life, devours
every animal he encounters, and then, roaring with delight, seats
himself enthroned on the victorious trophy of mutilated carcasses
CHARLES. "The only tree growing in Spitzbergen is the dwarf willow,
which rises to the vast height of two inches! towering with great
pride above the mosses, lichens, and a few other cumbent plants."
GEORGE. "What a ridiculous little shrub! We might just as well
dignify mustard and cress with the title of trees. To whom does this
_very fertile_ island belong?"
MRS. WILTON. "To the Russians; and it certainly is not an enviable
possession, for the climate is most wretched. From the 30th of
October, until the 10th of February, the sun is invisible; it is as
one long dreary night, and bitterly cold. The inhabitants sit by
dull fires during this season, immersed in furs, and endeavor to
doze through the tedious gloom. They are chiefly of Russian
extraction, and many of them natives of Archangel."
MR. WILTON. "Other animals are found in these regions besides the
bear and whale: for we read of foxes, reindeer, walruses, and seals
being occasionally caught by the people; and many islands about here
(for the Frozen Sea is full of islands, principally composed of turf
hills,) are the dreary abodes of bears and reindeer."
EMMA. "The Ferroe Isles, belonging to Denmark, are seventeen in
number; they produce agate, jasper, and beautiful zeolites, and
export feathers, eider-down, caps, stockings, tallow, and salted
CHARLES. "I do not think that can be very nice: I wonder who buys
EMMA. "It always finds purchasers: therefore some folks are not so
fastidious as Mr. Charles Dorning."
GEORGE. "Mamma, let us go back past Norway, and see what are all
these little islands on the coast."
MRS. WILTON. "As you please, George; but most of the islands are
barren, uninhabited spots. Those worthy of notice are Karen, Bommel,
Sartar, Hittern, at the entrance of the Gulf of Drontheim; the
Victen or Victor Isles, and the Luffoden Isles: the latter are the
most numerous and extensive, and noted for the whirlpool Maelstrom,
which has drawn so many fine ships into its abyss, and from which
even the bellowing struggles of the great whale will not suffice to
redeem him if once he gets within the vortex."
GEORGE. "What causes this whirlpool?"
MR. BARRAUD. "When two currents of a more or less contrary direction
and of equal force meet in a narrow passage, they both turn, as it
were, upon a centre, until they unite, or one of the two escapes.
This is what is termed a whirlpool or eddy. There are three
celebrated whirlpools noticed in geography--the Maelstrom, the
Euripus, near the island of Eubaea, and Charybdis, in the Straits of
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
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
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
[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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"'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
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
[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
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
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
MR. WILTON. "Yes; we had now better clear the decks, and pipe to
GEORGE. "One question more, dear papa. Can any one tell the depth of
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
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.
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
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