Slike strani
PDF
ePub

SAINT CHRISTOPHER's.

This island, commonly called St. Kitts, is firùated in 620 weit longitude and 170 north latitude, about fourteen leagues from Antigua; is twenty miles long and about seven broad; it was discovered in November, 1493, by Columbus, and named after himself, but was never planted or poffefsed by the Spaniards : it is in reality the oldest of all the British settlements in the West-Indies, and the common mother both of the French and English settlements in the Caribbean islands. It was first settled by a Mr. Warner and fourteen other persons in 1623. Mr. Warner, a respectable gentleman, had accompanied Capt. North in a voyage to Surinam, where he had become acquainted with a Capt. Painton, a very experienced leaman, who suggested to him the advantages of a settlement on one of the West-India islands deserted by the Spaniards, and pointed out this as eligible for such an undertaking. Mr. Warner returning to Eu. rope in 1620, determined to carry this project into execution. He accordingly failed with the above party to Virginia, from whence he took his passage to St. Christopher's, where he arrived in the month of January, 1623, and by the month of September following had raised a good crop of tobacco, which they propofed to make their ftaple commodity.

Unfortunately, their plantations were destroyed the latter end of the year by an hurricane; in consequence of which calamity, Mr. Warner returned to England, and obtained the powerful patronage of the Earl of Carlisle, who caused a ship to be fitted out and laden with all kinds of neceffaries, which arrived on the 18th of May following; and thus faved a settlement which had otherwise died in its infancy. Warner himself did not, however, return till the year 162 5, when he carried with him a large number of other perfons. About this time, and, according to some writers, on the fame day with Warner, arrived D'Efnambuc, the captain of, and about thirty hardy veterans belonging to, a French privateer, which had been much damaged in an engagement with a Spanish galleon; they were received kindly by the English, and remained with them on the Vol.IV. K k

island, furcs

island, from whence, by their united endeavours, they drove the original inhabitants.

After this exploit, these two leaders returned to their respective countries to folicit fuccours, and bringing with them the naine of conquerors, they met with every encouragement, Warner was knighted, and, by the influence of his patron, fent back in 1626. with four hundred fresh recruits, amply furnished with necessaries of all kinds. D’Esnambuc obtained from Cardinal Richelieu, the then minister of France, the establishment of a separate company, to trade with this and some other iflands. Subscriptions, however, did not come in very rapid, and the ships sent out by the new company were so badly provided, that of five hundred and thirty-two new settlers, who failed from France in 1627, the greater part perished miserably at sea for want of food. The English received the survivors, and, to prevent contests about limits, the commanders of each nation divided the island as equally as possible among their respective followers. The island thus continued in the hands of the French and English until the peace of Utrecht, when it was finally ceded to Great Britain. We are not, however, to suppose, that during this period harmony and good-will prevailed; on the contrary, the English were three times driven off the island, and their plantations laid waste: nor were the French much less sufferers. Such are the consequences of those cursed systems or maxims of govern. ment, which beget a spirit of enmity against all those who are of a different nation. After the peace of Utrecht, the French pofleffions, a few excepted, were sold for the benefit of the English government; and in 1783, eighty thousand pounds of the money was granted as a marriage portion to the Princess Anne, who was betrothed to the Prince of Orange. In 1782, it was attacked and taken by the French, but again ceded to Britain at the peace of 1783.

About one-half of this ifland is supposed to be unfit for cultiva. tion, the interior parts consisting of many high and barren mountains, between which are horrid precipices and thick woods. The loftieft mountain, which is evidently a decayed volcano, is called mount Misery; it rises three thousand seven hundred and eleven feet perpendicular height from the sea. Nature has, however, made a re. compense for the sterility of the mountains by the fertility of the plains. The foil is a dark grey loam, very light and porous, and is supposed by Mr. Edwards * to be the production of subterraneous Sport Vide History of West-Indies, vol. i. p. 42).

fires finely incorporated with a pure loam or virgin mould ; this foil is peculiarly favourable to the culture of sugar. In the south-west part of the island hot fulphureous springs are found at the foot of some of the mountains : the air is, on the whole, falubrious, but the island is subject to hurricanes.

St. Christopher's is divided into nine parishes, and contains four towns and hamlets, viz. Basseterre, (the capital) Sandy point, Old road, and Deep bay; of these, Basseterre and Sandy point are ports of entry established by law. The fortifications on this island are Charles fort and Brimstone hill near Sandy point, three batteries at Basseterre, one at Fig-tree bay, another at Palmeton point, and some others of little importance.

St. Christopher's contributes twelve hundred pounds currency per annum towards the support of the governor-general, besides the perquisites of his office, which in war time are very considerable: the council consists of ten members; the house of assembly of twentyfour representatives, of whom fifteen make a quorun. The qualification for a representative is a freehold of forty acres of land, or a house worth forty pounds per annum; for an elector, a freehold of ten pounds per annum: the governor is chancellor by office, and fits alone on the bench. The jurisdiction of the courts of king's bench and common pleas centers in one fuperior court, wherein justice is administered by a chief justice and four afliitant judges, the former appointed by the king, the latter by the governor in the king's name; they all hold their offices during pleasure. The office of the chief judge is worth about fix hundred pounds per annum ; those of the affiftant judges trifling. The present number of inhabitauts are estimated at four thousand white inhabitants, three hundred free blacks and mulattoes, and about twenty-fix thousand flaves.

As in the other British islands in the neighbourhood, all the white males from fixteen to fixty are obliged to enlist in the militia ; they serve without pay, and form two regiments of about three hundred effective men each: these, with a company of free blacks, constituted the whole force of the isand before the last war. Since that period, a small addition of British troops have, we believe, in gene ral been kept there.

[blocks in formation]

A N T I G U A.

ANTIGUA

NTIGUA is fituated about twenty leagues cast of sí. Chriso topher's, in west longitude 62° 5', and north latitude 17° 30'. It is about fifty miles in circumference, and is reckoned the largest of all the British Leeward islands.

This island has neither stream nor spring of fresh water ; this-inconvience, which rendered it uninhabitable to the Caribbees, der terred for fome time Europeans from attempting a permanent esta. blishment upon it; but few, if any, are the obstacles of Nature, which civilised man will not overcome, more especially when interest spurs him on. The soil of Antigua was found to be fertile, and it foon presented itself to the view of enterprifing genius, that by means of cisterns the neceffity of springs and streams might be fuperfeded. Hence, as early as 1632, a son of Sir Thomas Warner, and a number of other Englishmen, settled here, and began the cultivation of tobacco. In 1674, Colonel Codrington, of Barbadoes, removed to this ifland, and succeeded fo well in the culture of fugar, that, animated' by his example, and aided by his experience, many others engaged in the saine line of businefs. A few years after, Mr. Codrington was declared captaia-general and commander in chief of the Leeward islands, and carried his attention to their welfare farther than perhaps any other governor either before or since has done, and the good effects of his wisdom and attention were soon manifest.

Antigua, in particular, had so far increased, that in 1690, when General Codrington headed an expedition against the French settlement at St. Christopher's, it furnished eight hundred effective-men. Mr. Codrington dying in 1698, was succeeded by his fon Christopher, who, pursuing his father's steps, held the government till 1704, when he was superseded by Sir William Matthews, who died foon after his arrival. Queen Anne then bestowed the government on Daniel Park, Esq. a man who' for debauchery, villany and despotism, though he may have been equalled, was certainly never excelled. His government lasted till Dec, 1710, when his oppressions

aroused Roufed the inhabitants to refiftance : he was seized by the enraged multitude and torn to pieces, and his reeking limbs scattered about the street. An inquiry was instituted with respect to the perpetration of this act; the people of England were divided, fome looking upon his death as an act of rebellion against the crown, otliters viewing it as a juft facrifice to liberty. The government, however, after a full inquiry, were so fully fatisfed of Park's guilty and illegal condu&, that, much to their honour, they issued a general pare don for all persons concerned in his death, and, some time after wards, fanctioned the promotion of two of the principal perpetrators to teats in the council.

The principal article raised in this island is sugar ; besides which, cotton-wool and tobacco, is raised in considerable quantities, and likewise provisions to a considerable amount in favourable years.

Crops here are very unequal, and it is exceeding difficult to furnifh an average : in 1779, there was shipped three thousand three hundred and eighty-two hogsheads and five hundred and seventy-nine tierces of sugar: in 1782, the crop was fifteen thousand one hundred and two hogsheads and one thousand fix hundred and three tierces; in 1770, 1773, and 1778, there were no crops of any kind, owing to long continued drought.. The island is progreslively decreaning in produce and population. The laaccurate returns to government were made in the year 1774, when the white inhabitants of all ages and sexes were two thousand five hundred and ninety, and the enslaved blacks thirty-leven thousand eight hundred and eight: seventeen thousand hogMeads of sugar of fixteen hundred weight each, are deemed, on the whole, a good saving crop; as one-half of the canes only are cut annually, this is about an hogMead to the acre.

Antigua is divided into fix parishes and eleven districts, and contains fix towns and villages. St. John's, which is the capital, Par. ham, Falmouth, Willoughby bay, Old road, and James's fort; the two first are the legal ports of entry. The island has many excellent harbours, particularly English harbour and St. John's, at the former of which there is a dock-yard and artenal eftablished by the English government,

The military establishment here is two regiments of infantry and two of militia, besides which there is a squadron of dragoons and a battalion of artillery raised in the island. The governor, or captaingeneral, of the Leeward islands, though directed by his instructions to visit each island within his government, is generally Ita

tionary

« PrejšnjaNaprej »