other apology than that which we have hazarded in the commencement of our report.

The maps, which accompany these

volumes, form a very desirable supplement to their contents. But only seven quadrupeds, and four birds, are delineated in the plates.



Scott's Marmion, a Supplemental Article.

ON the subject of this poem, a friend has supplied us with an anec. dote so remarkable, and so illustrative, not only of the power of the poetry, but of the nature of local reports, that we are convinced our readers will be pleased with it. The poet certainly cannot be displeased.

In a voyage, with adverse winds, from Leith to London, this friend was detained two days at Holy Island, the scene of the trial and fate of Constance in that poem. He went ashore with an officer, and examined the ruins of the abbey, and found, on what seemed the site of the cavern in which Constance Beverley was tried and immured, a small fortress, with a few invalids, under a barrack serjeant, and one company of a regiment of militia. The officer instantly recognised the old serjeant as a soldier who had served under his father, who had also been in the army; and their early acquaintance was easily renewed. The serjeant then guided the voyagers through the fortress, which is built on a high and steep rock; and when they were on the highest part of the rock, he very gravely said, that there must be some profound cavern in it, to which, after a long search, he had been unable to find the entrance. Our friend asked why he thought so? Because, said he, a bell is distinctly heard to ring every


night at twelve o'clock, in the centre of the rock, and apparently at a great depth; probably as deep as the level of the sea. He observed our friend to smile at such a fancy, and then swore that he had himself repeatedly heard it. As the officer had mentioned that his old acquaintance had received some education, our friend immediately asked him whether he had ever read Marmion. On his saying, that he had read it with great pleasure, he was asked if the midnight bell had ever been heard by him before that period. "No," said he, "we never till then thought of listening for it." The whole body of the invalids agreed in the same tale. They had all heard him read Marmion, and all had ever since heard the midnight bell, though before that time they never thought of listening for it.

A stronger proof of the impressive nature of the poetry cannot easi▴ ly be imagined; and it may serve to show also by means of what faculty strange and preternatural sounds are usually heard, or sights of that description seen.

We meant to have interwoven this little narrative in our account of the Lady of the Lake; but having acci dentally omitted it, we thought it too curious, knowing it to be lite rally a fact, not to be given to the publick.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


An Account of the British Settlement of Honduras, with Sketches of the Manners of the Mosquito Indians, &c. By Capt. Henderson of the 5th West India Regiment. 12mo. pp. 220. price 68. London, 1809.

CAPTAIN HENDERSON observes that "opportunities for useful investigation, even amidst the fluctuations of a military life, are often found singularly favourable: but at the same time, it is probably to be regretted, that the ability and inclination to profit by these advantages, are not more frequently united." It is certain, that the military of our nation being often employed in fo reign expeditions, not only see much of the world, but by making remarks on the spot, may collect and communicate information peculiarly entitled to attention. The little work before us, is a respectable evidence of this; and creditable to the author's talents and diligence. Neither the time spent by capt. H. in this settle ment, nor the extent of his excursions into the interiour, from which we might estimate his opportunities for observation, are marked in his book. He has divided his work into chap ters; and to each chapter has allotted certain subjects: the geographical position of the country, the coast, the principal settlements, &c the climate, agricultural resources, soil, animals, and other natural productions; the rivers, slaves, pursuits of the settlers, commercial advantages, &c. The narrative is concise; and the geographer, the naturalist, or the philanthropist might desire greater precision, and completeness, on sundry articles. Capt. H. maintains, against Mr. Pennant, that a species of antelope is found in this country; it resembles the dorcas, or Barbarian antelope, of Linneus. He also mentions a peculiarity in the swallow tribe, which deserves notice:

"Myriads of swallows are the occasional inhabitants of Honduras. The time

of their residence is generally confined to the period of the rains, after which they totally disappear. There is something remarkably curious and deserving of notice dawn appears, they in a body quit their place of rest, which is usually chosen amidst the rushes of some watery savanna; and invariably rise to a certain height in a compact spiral form, and which at a distance often occasions them to be taken for an immense column of smoke. This attain

in the ascent of these birds. As soon as the

ed, they are then seen separately to disperse in search of food, the occupation of their day. To those who may have had the opportunity of observing the phenomenon of a water-spout, the similarity of evolution surprisingly striking. The descent, which in the ascent of these birds, will be thought regularly takes place at sunset, is conducted much in the same way, but with inconceivable rapidity. And the noise which accompanies this can only be compared to the falling of an immense torrent, or the rushing of a violent gust of wind. Indeed, to an observer, it seems wonderful, that thousands of these birds are not destroyed in being thus propelled to the earth with such irresistible force."

The number of white inhabitants in the settlement of Honduras is about 200; of mulattos and free blacks, above 500; of negro slaves, nearly 3000. As our chief supply of that elegant cabinet wood, mahogany, is from Honduras, we select as a specimen of the work, the captain's information on the mode of procuring it. We are interested in whatever concerns the material employed in so great a proportion of our domestick furniture.

"There are two seasons in the year for the cutting of mahogany; the first commencing shortly after Christmas, or at the

conclusion of what is termed the wet season, the other about the middle of the year: At such periods all is activity, and the falling of trees, or the trucking out those that have been fallen, form the chief

employments. Some of the wood is rough squared on the spot, but this part of the labour is generally suspended until the logs are rafted to the different rivers' mouths. These rafts often consist of more than two hundred logs, and are floated as many hundred miles. When the floods are unusually rapid, it very frequently happens that the labour of a season, or perhaps of many, is at once destroyed by the break ing asunder of a raft, and the whole of the mahogany being hurried precipitately to the sea.

"The gangs of negroes employed in this work consist of from ten to fifty each; few exceed the latter number. The large bodies are commonly divided into several small ones, a plan which it is supposed greatly facilitates labour.

He is

"Each gang of slaves has one belonging to it, who is styled the huntsman. generally selected from the most intelligent of his fellows, and his chief occupation is to search the woods, or as in this country it is termed, the bush, to find labour for the whole. A negro of this description is often valued at more than five hundred pounds.

"About the beginning of August, the huntsman is despatched on his errand, and if his owner be working on his own ground, this is seldom an employment of much delay or difficulty. He cuts his way through the thickest of the woods to the highest spots, and climbs the tallest tree he finds, from which he minutely surveys the surrounding country. At this season, the leaves of the mahogany tree are invariably of a yellow reddish hue, and an eye accustomed to this kind of exercise, can discover, at a great distance, the places where the wood is most abundant. He now descends, and to these his steps are directed; and without compass or other guide than what observation has imprinted on his recollection, he never fails to reach the exact point to which he aims.

"It not unfrequently happens, when the huntsman has been particularly successful in finding a large body of wood, that it becomes a contest with his conscience whether he shall disclose the matter to his master, or sell it to his neighbour. A liberal equivalent for this breach of fidelity being always punctually discharged. Those, however, who afford encourage ment to such practices, by such impolitick temptation, are perhaps not more mindful of the old adage than of their interest, as it cannot but indirectly sanction their own slaves to take equal advantage, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

"The mahogany tree is commonly cut

about twelve feet from the ground, and a stage is erected for the axe-man employed in levelling it. This to an observer would appear a labour of much danger; but an accident rarely happens to the person engaged in it. The body of the tree, from the dimensions of the wood it furnishes, is deemed the most valuable; but for purposes of ornamental kind, the branches or linibs are generally preferred, the grain of these being much closer, and the veins more rich and variegated.

"The mahogany tree is seldom found in clusters or groups, but single and often much dispersed; what, therefore, is denominated a mahogany work, comprehends an extent of several miles. The growth of this tree is considered rapid, but that of the logwood much more so, which, it is said, attains maturity in five years.

"The logs of mahogany are generally brought out by cattle and trucks to the water side, or to the Barquadier, as it has been termed in this country, which has been previously prepared by the foreman of the work for their reception. When the distance is great, this is a labour of infinite and tedious difficulty. As soon as a sufficient number to form a raft is collected, and the waters have gained the neces sary height, they are singly thrown from the banks, and require no other aid or guidance than the force of the current to Hoat them to the booms, which are large cables placed across the rivers at the dif ferent eddies or falls. Here they are once more collected, each party claiming his own from the general mass, and formed into separate rafts for their final destination. Sometimes more than a thousand logs together are supported by the booms, and the catastrophe attendant on their breaking asunder, which, during extraordinary floods, often happens, has previ ously been noticed.

"The mahogany, when disposed of at Honduras, produces from sixteen to thirty pounds, Jamaica currency, per thousand feet."

A single tree has been found to contain 12,000 feet superficial; valued at 1,000l. But these advantages are counterpoised by heavy drawbacks; such as, the keep of slaves, the price of every article of clothing and provision, all of which are imported (for the colony raises none) to which may be added, the dispersed state of society; for except at Christmas, the settlers have but

few enjoyments arising from reciprocal intercourse.

We suspect some errour in the rapid growth attributed to the mahogany tree; from the general grain of the superiour kinds of this wood, we should have thought it of slow growth, rather than rapid.

From capt. H.'s visit to the Mosquito Indians, we learn that

"This nation cannot number at the ut

most more than 1500 or 2000 men capable of using arms. Immediately contiguous to it are two other ribes, called the Poyers and the Towkcas. These people are more numerous, and considered much more enterprising and brave, although they are tributary to the former, and have been so from time immemorial. The acknowledg

ment of this dependence is expressed by the annual payment of a certain number of cattle. But neither the Povers or the Towkcas possess any thing like the civilisation of the Mosquito people. Hence unquestionably the cause and continuance of their vassalage."

Our author seems to think these savages tolerably happy. Their country is pleasant and fertile. Never theless, we find among them murder and treason; for "the late king George was murdered, and his death attributed very openly to his brother Stephen;" we find discontent and envy; and the messengers who carry the king's commands, carry also his



The Minstrel; or, the Progress of Genius. In continuation of the Poem left unfinished by Dr. Beattie. Book the Third. 4to. pp. S1. 6s. 1808.

WE seize on this specimen, which chance has restored to our observation, lest it should again be overlooked and forgotten, Arduous as the task is, of continuing an approved poem, this author is by no means unsuccessful in it; and the modest manner in which he presents it to the publick, renders his work the more interesting. "Notwithstanding the encouragement given him by his friends, he is," he declares, "very diffident of success with the publick. He therefore offers his poem in its present unfinished state, not as a pledge for its completion, but that he may find, in the manner of its reception, a touchstone by which to ascertain its real merit." Though unknown to the author, we would willingly stand among the friends who encourage him to proceed. He writes with purity and elegance, and we see no deficiency of poetick talent of any kind, which should vent his concluding the tale with success. The following passage will probably induce many of our readers to judge as we do.


[blocks in formation]





BEING about to publish an edition of Shakspeare, I shall feel happy by your circulating the following specimen. The work is nearly ready for the press, and waits but for the last hand being applied to a prefatory essay, proving that Reynolds approaches as near to Plautus, as Dimond does to Shakspeare, and that Sheffington would write better plays if he had any knowledge of the drama.

Act 1st.

"Your mind is tossing on the ocean."

The folly of editors in overlooking this nonsense would be truly wonderful, if any human folly were wonderful.

Your mind is crossing of the ocean, "Do overpeer the petty traffickers."

The whole sentence evinces that our author meaned to describe the pride of the Argosies. I therefore, without hesitation, prefer

Do overbear the petty traffickers.

"My ventures are not in one bottom trusted."

My ventures are not in one bottom thrusted.

I have no other reason for alter ing this, than that I have passed

[blocks in formation]

This is stark-staring fatuity. Antonio is thinking of his vessels, and Salarino therefore takes this mode of arousing him from his lethargy. It should be thus:

My wind, cooling my broth, Would blow me to the Hague, where, it may be supposed, the vessels were riding at anchor.

-But at dinner time I pray you have a mind where we must meet."

A simple alteration illuminates the profound darkness of these lines. But at dinner time

I pray you have a hind that we must eat:

« VorigeDoorgaan »