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sands and rocks are covered with wild vines, of the most beautiful verdure.
I have mentioned that every stream and rivulet Storm of 1815. in Jamaica abounds with fish ; but Yallahs river, since 1815, is perhaps an exception : the dreadful storm on the 18th and 19th of October in that year having swept away or destroyed every description of fish in it. This river, which in wet weather is the dread of travellers, has its source among the highest of the Blue Mountains, whence, collecting its waters from a number of rugged glens in a mountainous district, where the scenery is beyond description awful and sublime, it rushes down its short course to the sea with such impetuosity as to carry stones of great size along with it. The unexampled rain that accompanied the storm or hurricane of 1815, the effects of which will be seen for
loosened the soil on the hill sides; and repeated shocks of earthquake taking place at the same time, the ground in several steep places gave way and slid down into the ravines. The torrent of water was thus for a time dammed back; but forcing its way at last over these obstacles it speedily swept away the earth, stones, and trees that obstructed its course.
The works of many of the sugar and coffee plantations were destroyed, some swept away, and others buried deep under stones and gravel. The number of lives lost was considerable, and the case of a Mr. Smith and his family
was particularly distressing. His house stood on a small plain at some distance from the river, which, however, overflowing its banks and cutting a new channel on the other side between him and the mountains, left him no means of escape. His house was carried away, and when last seen he was clinging to a tree with some of his family; they were carried away by the torrent, and their bodies so mangled, that only some of their legs and arms were ever found. A large iron bridge was swept away at the same time, not a particle of which has ever been seen.
Happening to be in Kingston at the time of this storm, and Yallahs river continuing for several weeks impassable (several years elapsed before it ran clear), I embarked in a coasting vessel to return to Port Morant by sea. Passing off the mouth of Yallahs river we were obliged to take a considerable offing to keep clear of the enormous quantity of floating trees which literally covered the water, to a considerable distance, while the interior of the country bore scarcely less striking traces of the storm. The white chasms in the mountains marked the broken ground that had been carried away; and the usual green appearance of the forests being changed into a brown colour, they looked exactly as if they had been scorched with fire. Eight or nine sail of West Indian ships, and all the smaller craft of every description in Port Maria, Annotta Bay, Port Antonio, and Manchioneal, were driven on shore
and lost. In the county of Surrey the crop on the ground both of canes and provisions was nearly destroyed; but the leeward part of the island sustained little injury. It is worthy of remark, to how small a space these visitations are frequently confined. In the present instance the centre of the storm passed from north to south across the island from Annotto Bay down the course of Yallahs river on the other side. At Spanish-town, about 40 miles to the west, it was scarcely felt; and a vessel off the Morant Keys at the time, about 50 miles to the east, experienced only a fresh gale.
In the month of May in the present year, 1825, there was a shower of hail, or rather of ice, in the eastern part of Jamaica. The cloud came from the north, and was attended with a most violent gust of wind, which continued about half an hour. The pieces of ice were not round, like hail, but of an angular shape about the size of nutmegs. A parcel of them gathered and put in a glass took half an hour to melt in a temperature of 75o. The negroes who had never before seen water in a congealed state, were in the utmost consternation and terror at this extraordinary phenomenon.
Of the Decrease in the Slave Population of the
The decrease of the slaves in our colonies having been referred to by Mr. Stephen and other writers, as affording demonstrative proof of their being ill-treated by their masters, I mean, in this article, to offer a few remarks on the subject : and I must begin with one which may seem rather trite, and yet appears to have escaped these writers; namely, that wherever there is an influx of foreign inhabitants to any town or country, it must occasion the deaths to exceed the births in the bills of mortality. Such, it is almost needless to say, is the case in every city in Europe; such was the case in the States of America, and such has been, and will be the case, in the West Indies, till the bulk of imported Africans is extinct; for the effect here does not cease immediately with the cause. Adults for the most part were imported, children but rarely (to say nothing of there being fewer women than men) and the necessary consequence was, that a large proportion of the slave population was always far advanced in years. Hence, when importation ceased, it was clear they must decrease till the over-proportion of aged persons had died off, and time had produced a
population consisting, as in other places, of a due proportion of all ages.
To place this matter in a clearer view, let us look at the population of Great Britain, and compare it with that in one of our colonies. The Government returns of 1821 give the ages of 12,487,377 persons, of which we find only 4,402,592, not quite A THIRD, are above 30 years of age; while, by a return of the slave population of Demerara and Essequibo, so late as the 31st of May, 1823, it appears, that out of 74,418 persons (one half of them Africans), no less than 38,057, considerably upwards of ONE HALF of the whole slave population, were then above the age of thirty. Here, then, is a most important fact, established by documents that will not be questioned; for it surely will not be said that the negroes are represented as older than they actually are; the contrary is well known to be the case. When the Africans were registered, there being of course no possibility of ascertaining the time of their birth, and as the younger the more valuable, in affixing their age the masters certainly somewhat underrated it: the Africans, therefore, must even exceed in years what is stated, and I am satisfied that nearly one half of the negro population of Demarara can at the present moment be little under 40 years of age. That a population composed of so large a proportion of persons past the prime of life can support itself, is utterly impossible: for it is clear, that, exclusive of other casualties, in little