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island, its sole consequence depending on the fishery.
We cannot finish our account of North America without saying a few words concerning Hudson's and Baffin's Bays. The knowledge of these seas was owing to a project for the discovery of a north-west passage to China. So early as 1576 this noble design was conceived ; since then it has frequently been revived, but never completed.The most competent judges do not, however, despair of eventual success.
The inland sea, denominated Hudson's Bay, was explored in three voyages made by Hudson, during the years 1607, 1608, and 1610. This bold navigator penetrated to 804°, nearly into the heart of the frozen zone. His ardour for discovery not being abated by the difficulties that he struggled with in this world of frost and snow; he remained here until the spring of 1611, and then prepared to pursue his discoveries ; but his crew mutinied, seized him and seven of his most faithful compá. nions, and committed them in a boat to the open seas, after which they were no more heard of.
A charter for planting and improving the country, and carrying on trade, was granted to a company in 1670. The Hudson's Bay company has since retained a claim to the most extensive terri. tories, the length of which is thirteen hundred and fifteen miles, and the breadth three hundred and fifty ; but it is not understood that the gains of the company are very considerable. The annual exports are about 16,000l. ; and the returns, which yield a considerable revenue to government, amount, perhaps, to 30,000/. The principal trade consists in beaver and other species of furs, and of beaver and deer skins.
The regions around Hudson's Bay, and Labra. dor, which are sometimes called New. Britain, abound with animals whose fur is excellent; and it has been thought that the company do not carry the trade to its full extent.
No colony has been attempted at Hudson's Bay. The country is every where barren; to the north of the bay, even the hardy pine tree is seen no longer. Winter reigns, with an inconceivable rigour, for nine months of the year; the other three are violently hot. In summer a variety of colours deck the several animals; but when that is over, they all assume the livery of winter, and every thing animate and inanimate is white as snow. And what is still more remarkable, dogs and cats that have been carried from England to Hudson's Bay, have on the approach of winter, entirely changed their appearance, and acquired a much longer, softer, and thicker coat of hair than they had originally.
Even in latitude 57° the winter is very severe ; the ice on the rivers is eight feet thick. The rocks burst with a horrible noise, and the splinters are thrown to an amazing distance. Mock-suns and haloes are not unfrequent; and the sun rises and sets with a large cone of yellowish light. The aurora borealis diffuses a variegated splendour which surpasses that of the full moon ; the stars sparkle with peculiar brilliancy, and Venus appears as a lesser moon.
The fish in the Hudson sea are far from numerous ; and the whale fishery has been attempted without success. There are few shellfish; and the quadrupeds and birds correspond with those of Labrador and Canada. The northern indigenes are Esquimaux, but there are other tribes in the south, by all of whom the factories are visited. For these there seems no
provision but what their own art and ingenuity can furnish; and they exhibit a great deal of these in their manner of kindling a fire, dressing their food, clothing themselves, and in preserving their eyes from the ill effects of that glaring white which every where surrounds them the greatest part of the year; in other respects they are perfectly savage.
West-India Islands, how divided. Climate. Sca. sons.
Caribbees. Their character. Manners. Treatment of their Children. of their Wives. Religion. Dancing. Jamaica. When discovered. Taken by the English. Treatment of the Natives. Mode of peopling Jamaica. Attacked by the Spaniards. Buccaneers, account of. Con. stitution given to Jamaica. Attempts made to tax the Inhabitants. The Island described. Proportion of Slaves to free People. Exports. Earthquake at Port-Royal.
THE continent of America is, as we have al
ready seen, divided by Geogrophers into two great parts, north and south : the narrow isthmus of Darien serving as a link to connect them, and forming a rampart against the encroachments of the Atlantic on one side, and of the Pacific Ocean on the other. But to that prodigious chain of islands which extend in a curve from the Florida shore on the northern peninsula, to the Gulf of Venezu. la in the southern, is given the name the WestIndies; from the name of India, originally assigned to them by Columbus* Thus the whole of the new hemisphere is generally comprised under three great divisions ; North America, South America, and the West-Indies.
That portion of the Atlantic which is separated from the main ocean, to the north and east by the
* See p. 23 of this volume,
islands, is generally called the Mexican Gulf; but it is divided into three distinct basins,--the Gulf of Mexico properly so called, the Bay of Honduras, and the Caribbean sea. The latter takes its name from that class of islands that bounds this part of the ocean to the east; of which the greater part were formerly possessed by Indians, that were the scourge of the inoffensive natives of Hispaniola, who frequently expressed to Columbus their dread of those fierce and warlike invaders, styling them Caribbees. Of this class, a group nearly adjoining to the eastern side of St. John de Porto Rico, is called the Virgin Isles. The cluster of small islands, which stretch in a north-westerly direction, from the northern coast of Hispaniola to the stra opposite the rida shore, go by the name of the Bahamas. On one of these, called by the Indians Guanahani; by the Spaniards, St. Salvador; and by our own seamen, the Cat-Island; Columbus landed after his first magnificent but perilous voyage. The whole group is called by the Spaniards the Lucayos.
Most of the West-India islands being situated under the tropic of cancer, the climate is nearly the same with respect to the whole. Their year comprehends two distinct seasons, the wet and the dry; but as the rains form two great periods, the year may be considered under four divisions. The spring commences with May, when the trees become more vivid, and the burnt savannas begin to change their hue, even before the rains, which generally set in about the middle of the month. These come from the south, and are much less violent than those which pour down in the autumn. They commonly fall about noon, and break up with a thunder storm, exhibiting a beautiful verdure, and a