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We continned under sail until the 25th. In the interval we had covered a distance of 2,164 miles, the average daily run being 160 knots.
The prevailing winds from the east in the latitude of the tropics, and from the west in the temperate zones, greatly facilitate intercourse by sea, and were especially important before the general introduction of steam navigation. Certain it is that the discovery of America would not have been made by Columbus, unless the quaint caravels under his command had been carried forward by the propitious breezes of the north-east Trade Columbus did not know of the existence of the Trades when he decided, on his first voyage in 1492, to steer for the Canaries, and was thus brought within the influence of the winds which wafted him so rapidly and easily across the Atlantic.
Having entered the zone of favourable and steady breezes, our attention was next directed to the hurricanes of the West Indies. It is believed that they commence between 50° and 60° west longitude, and between 10° and 20° of north latitude. Desiring to keep as much as possible out of the region of these formidable visitations, we steered a southerly course, which brought us to the 50th meridian west in 11° of north latitude. The distance from this position to Trinidad was 858 miles. The Trade winds having become fitful and uncertain, steam was raised, and, with the occasional help of a favouring breeze, we made rapid progress during the three succeeding days.
At midnight on the 27th we eased the engines, preparatory to making the land. Long before the dawn an expectant group was assembled on the deck of the Sunbeam,' each eager to be first to discover the faintest outlines of cliff or mountain.
We made a capital landfall. With the first beams of the morning Tobago was visible under our lee, while the north-east point of Trinidad, for which we were steering, rose up boldly from the sea, on the port bow.
As the day advanced, a cloudless tropical sun poured a flood of light and a fierce heat on the north coast of Trinidad. The scene was glorious beyond description. The mountains, 3,000 feet in height, rise precipitously from the sea, clothed to their summit with dense vegetation, green and fresh from the copious downpour of the rainy season, only now drawing to a close. We could distinguish the stately forms of the palm and the graceful bamboo among the less characteristic trees by which they were surrounded.
After steaming a distance of fifty miles along the north coast of Trinidad, we opened the three narrow passages, named by Columbus
the Dragons' Mouths, which lead into the Gulf of Paria. Passing through the Boca de Huevos, we entered an arm of the sea, diversified by islands, and presenting all the attractive features of an inland lake in the tropics. At 2.30 P.M. we anchored off Port of Spain.
To discontented minds it might bave been tedious to spend eighteen days consecutively at sea. There were no uneasy spirits on board the Sunbeam,' for everybody had an occupation. We mustered early in the morning to admire the glorious beauty of the dawn. In the evenings we had readings and musical recitals for the crew, including songs by the seamen, accompanied by choruses at least as hearty as they were melodious. The calm hours and cloudless skies of those nights at sea in tropical latitudes were favourable for reflection on the transcendental wonders of astronomy.
On landing at Port of Spain we found ourselves in a thriving town, well administered under British rule. The environs are delightful. The Savannah on the north of the town is a charming feature. It lies between the sea-shore and a range of steep and densely-wooded hills, and with its large open spaces of pasture, divided by clumps and avenues of superb tropical trees, it affords to the inhabitants of Port of Spain all the amenities of a public park.
During our stay in these waters we anchored one night off La Brea for a visit to the pitch lake. The next night we lay off San Fernando, the second town in the island, and the centre of an important sugargrowing district. These excursions made us familiarly acquainted with
the navigation of the Gulf of Paria. It divides Trinidad from the continent of South America, and is the largest natural harbour in the world. It is nearly quadrangular in shape. The length from north to south is 100 miles; the breadth is 40 miles. The northern entrance, from the Caribbean Sea, is contracted at the Dragons' Mouth by a bold promontory, extending in an east and west direction a distance of 70 miles from the mainland. The southern entrance, called the Serpents' Mouth, is barred by extensive shoals. The depths are moderate, and ships can anchor safely in every part of the gulf. We escaped illness on board the .Sunbeam,' but the Gulf of Paria cannot be a healthy anchorage, the coasts being low and marshy. An extensive mangrove swamp adjoins Port of Spain to the south, and the prevailing wind blows across the swamp to the anchorage.
At Trinidad we had the honour of meeting Prince Henry of Prussia, who was serving as lieutenant of the Olga,' the latest and most perfect type of the cruisers of the German fleet. For general service the ‘Olga’is an excellent type. She sits well on the water, has a commanding freeboard, and is well rigged as a barque. Six ships similar to the Olga' are built or building for the German Navy. They have a displacement of 2,100 tons, being the same as that of the · Louise' and “ Ariadne,' but with the improvements which an experience of ten years has suggested. The new type are of composite construction. The older vessels are of wood. The speed has been increased from 134 knots to 141 knots. The main armament has been increased from six to eight 15-centimetre, or four-ton guns. The minor armament includes two boat-guns and four Hotchkiss guns. Torpedo-tubes are fitted above water in either bow.
The West Indies were described by the authors of the census of 1871 as those delightful West India islands, lifted by volcanic forces out of a tropical sea into a tropical sky, and which have living on their 13,109 square miles of sea-encircled territories 1,063,886 inhabitants. Of this favoured group Trinidad is the most prosperous. The export and import trade has doubled in the last ten years. The revenue is already nearly half a million. The population is 153,000, an increase in ten years of 45,000. The island is only ten degrees north of the Equator. In size it is about equal to Lancashire. The soil is perhaps the most fertile in the West Indies, the chief productions being coffee and cocoa. The exports of coffee represent a total of more than 900,0001., as against 350,0001. for cocoa. About one-fifth only of the island is cultivated, and a large area is unsettled and almost unknown. An extension of the railway to the southern and eastern coast would materially assist in the development of the inexhaustible resources of the soil.
After spending a most interesting week at Trinidad, we left at sunset on the 3rd of November, and, making the voyage under steam along the Spanish Main, reached La Guayra on the 5th of November
early in the afternoon. The distance is 330 miles. The mountains on the north coast of Venezuela rise precipitously from the sea to the lofty elevation of 9,000 feet. The perpetual rains in that torrid climate keep them green to the very summit, and for want of lesser heights, by which the elevation may be measured, it is difficult to realise the colossal dimensions of this noble range.
On the morning after our arrival we started on horseback for Caraccas. The path is of the roughest, and the ascent is extremely rapid. After an hour's ride the shipping in the Bay of La Guayra are seen at a dizzy depth beneath diminished to the merest specks. A dense canopy of trees overhangs the path. Here and there the undergrowth has been cleared for coffee plantations, and everywhere the loveliest flowers of our conservatories are seen growing in profusion. The summit of the pass is nearly 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. On gaining the topmost ridge Caraccas suddenly comes into view, lying some 3,000 feet below, in a noble amphitheatre of mountains.
Caraccas, the capital of Venezuela, has a population of 50,000, but, owing to the apprehensions of earthquakes, few of the buildings exceed one story in height, and the streets are miserably paved. In point of dimensions the public buildings in the centre of the city have greater architectural pretensions, but the construction is most flimsy. Statues of General Guzman Blanco, President of the Republic, form the most imposing artistic features of Caraccas. General Blanco has ruled Venezuela for the last twelve years with a rod of iron. He has done something for the improvement of the country, and he has been successful in putting down bis numerous rivals, but when it is considered that the civil allowance of the President of Venezuela is six times greater than that of the President of the United States, and ten times greater than that of the Prime Minister of England, it must be obvious that such a position offers too many temptations to political adventurers to be held long in undisturbed enjoyment.
In the evening we returned to La Guayra by the railway recently opened for traffic, constructed by an English company, and designed by English engineers. Caraccas is 3,400 feet above La Guayra. The distance by railway is only twenty-seven miles, for ten of wbich the line is carried almost on a level, closely skirting the coast. The ascent being so rapid, the engineering difficulties were of a formidable character. It has been found necessary to accept gradients of one in twenty, and curves of 140 feet radius, on the brink of giddy precipices. The scenery is magnificent, but the travelling seems hazardous.
From La Guayra to Port Royal we made a most successful passage under sail, urged forward by the Trade wind. The distance is 750 miles, and we maintained an average rate of sailing of nearly
nine knots an hour. It was the most satisfactory yachting we had done since we left Madeira. The Sunbeam,' like the Aroostock, so gracefully described by Mr. Howells, with a cloud of canvas filling overhead, moved over the level sea with the light ease of a bird that half swims, half flies along the water.
We made the lighthouse at the eastern extremity of Jamaica at ten A.M. on the 10th of November. The favouring breeze carried us during the afternoon along the south coast of the island, and through the intricate channels which lead to Port Royal. The wind died away to a calm as we anchored off the dockyard.
Jamaica enjoys a well-merited fame for the beauty of its scenery. The magnificent chain of hills which runs through the centre of the island has been rightly named the Blue Mountains. The effects of colour are most remarkable at the higher elevations, where bare crags of volcanic rock jut forth from among the dense masses of rich tropical vegetation, or between steep slopes clad with a verdure perpetually refreshed by copious showers. Jamaica is emphatically a land of streams. The paths in the mountain districts follow the course of torrents whose murmuring sounds are most musical and refreshing to the ear in the heat of the tropical day. These torrents, as they reach the plains near the sea-shore, expand into rivers which give inexhaustible fertility to the soil.
The statistics of Jamaica need not detain us long. The length of the island from east to west is 130 miles, and the breadth is 45 miles. The population consists mainly of negroes or coloured people. The numbers advanced from 377,433 in 1844 to 441,264 in 1861, 506,154 in 1871, and 580,804 in 1882. This rapid increase may be accepted as an evidence that the people command in abundance the necessaries of life, according to their standard of living. The standard, however, is low, and if regard be had to the requirements of the higher civilisation, their condition is by no means so prosperous as might be expected in a country where the most fertile land commands a merely nominal rent. We saw multitudes of idlers, and yet complaints are rife of a scarcity of labour. It is probable that the baneful traditions of slavery have prevented the planters, and the agents for non-resident proprietors, from resorting to the proper methods of stimulating the industry of a people in a state of freedom. Liberal payment by results would probably be found as efficacious in Jamaica as elsewhere. At the period of our visit the walls of Kingston were placarded with handbills issued by the contractors of the Panama Canal. The offer of wages at the rate of a dollar a day has attracted large numbers of negroes from Jamaica. It is said that they have exhibited great energy and endurance, and have even succeeded in competing successfully with the steam excavators, which have been provided as a substitute for manual labour.
The indolence of the negro population is induced by the prolific