ページの画像
PDF
ePub

a

entirely different from any thing and in the country now inhabited by known to be produced in the adjacent the Indians, which will probably aimountains. Diamonds are by no ford these gems in equal abundance. means peculiar to the beds of rivers After residing here five days, we or deep ravines; they have been found visited a diamond work called Monin cavities and water-courses on the tero, about two miles up the river, summits of the most lofty mountains. and went a league further to a gold

I had some conversation with the work called Carapata. The cascalofficers respecting the matrix of the hao at this work was taken diamond, not a vestige of which could part of the river eight feet deep, I trace.

They informed me that which forms an eddy under a projecthey often found diamonds cemented ting point ; I was shewn a heap of it, in pudding-stone, accompanied with that was estimated to be worth 10,000/. grains of gold, but that they always In removing this heap from its bed, broke them out, as they could not four hundred negroes had been ementer them in the treasury, or weigh ployed three months; and to wash them with matter adhering to them. it, would occupy one hundred men I obtained a mass of pudding-stone, for three months more, the expence apparently of very recent formation, of both operations amounting to percemented by ferruginous matter, en- haps 1,5001. We arrived at this veloping many grains of gold; and place at eight o'clock in the morning; likewise a few pounds weight of the six negroes were employed four hours cascalhao in its unwashed state. in washing two troughs, containing

This river, and other streams in its together about a ton of cascalhao, vicinity, have been in washing many when, to my great surprise, after the years, and have produced great quan water ran clear, and the large stones tities of diamonds, which have ever were thrown out, the black oxide of been reputed of the finest quality. iron, of which there was great abunThey vary in size; some are so small dance, was fringed with grains of that four or five are required to weigh gold, a novel and very agreeable one grain, consequently sixteen or sight to a stranger. The gold was twenty to the carat: there are seldom taken out at three or four different found more than two or three stones times, and, when the washing was of from seventeen to twenty carats in completed, was dried over a fire and sthe course of a year, and not once in weighed : it amounted to nearly two years is there found throughout twenty ounces Troy. This is esthe whole washings a stone of thirty teemed a very rich place, and such carats. During the five days I was circumstances are of rare occurrence. here they were not very successful; The whole neighbourhood is sterile, the whole quantity found amounted presenting the same characteristics as only to forty, the largest of which those before described. By proper was only four carats, and of a light cultivation it might be rendered very green colour.

productive; but, as the troops of neFrom the great quantity of debris, groes and their officers are continually or worked cascalhao, in every part changing, no regular establishments near the river, it is reasonable to cal. are formed. culate that the works have been in The number of diamonds sent over operation above forty years ; of course during the first twenty years after there must arrive a period at which the discovery is said to be almost inthey will be exhausted, but there are credible, and to exceed one thousand grounds in the neighbourhood, parti- ounces in weight. This supply could cularly in the Cerro de St Antonio, not fail to diminish the general value

carats.

of diamonds, as none had ever before sive, the expences were 204,000).; been known to come from any other and the diamonds sent to the treasury part of the globe, except India, at Rio de Janeiro weighed 115,675 whither the Brazilian diamonds were

The value of gold found in afterwards sent, and found a better the same period amounted to 17,3001. market there than in Europe. sterling, from which it appears that the

By stratagems and intrigues, Go- diamonds actually cost Government vernment was prevailed on to let thirty-three shillings and ninepence these invaluable territories to a com per carat. These years were esteemed pany, who were under stipulations to singularly productive; the mines do work with a limited number of ne not in general yield to Government groes, or to pay a certain sum per more than 20,000 carats annually*. day for every negroe employed. This opened a door to every species of fraud ; double the stipulated number Description of the Eruption of the Sourof negroes were admitted; and this FRIER Mountain, on the 30th of April imposition was connived at by the 1812, in the island of ST VINCENT +. agents of Government, who received pay in one hand and bribes in the THE Souffrier mountain, the most

northerly of the lofty chain runother. Presents were made to men ning through the centre of this island, possessing influence at court, by the and the highest of the whole, as comcontractors, who soon became rich, puted by the most accurate survey and they continued (subject to a few that has yet been taken, had for some regulations) in possession of the dia- time past indicated much disquietude; mond minés until about the year and from the extraordinary frequency 1772, when, Government determin- and violence of earthquakes, which ing to take them into their own are calculated to haye exceeded two hands, these contracts were ended. hundred within the last year, por

This was the time for reforming tended some great movement or erupabuses, and for placing this rich dis- tion. The apprehension, however, trict under the best regulations, but

was not so immediate as to restrain it was neglected; prejudice prevail- curiosity, or to prevent repeated visits ed over prudence; and the manage to the crater, which of late had been ment was entrusted to men who did

more numerous than at any former not understand the real interests of period, even up to Sunday last, the the concern, or, what is more pro- 26th of April ; when some gentlemen bable, who were so shackled in their ascended it, and remained there for authority, that they could not pursue

some time.

Nothing unusual was them. From this time affairs be- then remarked, nor any external difcame worse, and the establishment ference observed, except rather a was in debt to foreigners, who had stronger emission of smoke from the advanced a considerable sum of money interstices of the conical hill at the on the security of having all the dia- bottom of the crater. To those who monds which the mines produced. have not visited this romantic and This debt still remains unpaid, and

wonderful spot, a slight description of their are other incumbrances, which

it, can be removed only by a total change of system. In its present Exclusive of this amount, there is a state the establishment appears to

vast quantity smuggled. .

+ We have here collected the best accounts produce much greater wealth than it

that could be procured of the various conactually does. During a period of vulsions which have recently agitated the five years, from 1801 to 1806 inclu. islands and coasts of the Atlantic.

it, as it lately stood, is previously ne- quillity, and from the luxuriant ve. cessary and indispensable to form any getation and growth of the forest, conception of it, and to the better which covered its sides from the base understanding the account which fol- nearly to the summit, seemed to dis. lows; for no one living can expect to countenance the fact, and falsify the see it again in the perfection and records of the ancient volcano. Such beauty in which it was on Sunday, was the majestic, peaceful Souffrier, the 26th instant.

on April 27th ; but we trod on “ig. About 2000 feet from the level of nem suppositum cineri doloso," and our the sea (calculating from conjecture,) imaginary safety was soon to be conon the south side of the mountain, and founded by the sudden danger of de. rather more than two-thirds of its vastation. Just as the plantation bells height, opens a circular chasm, some- rang twelve at noon, on Monday the what exceeding half a mile in diame. 27th, an abrupt and dreadful crash ter, and between 400 or 500 feet in from the mountain, with a severe condepth : exactly in the centre of this cussion of the earth, and tremulous capacious bowl, rose a conical hill noise in the air, alarmed all around about 260 or 300 feet in height, and it. The resurrection of this fiery about 200 in diameter, richly covered furnace was proclaimed in a moment and variegated with shrubs, brush- by a vast column of thic black, wood, and vines, above half-way up, ropey smoke, like that of an immense and for the remainder powdered over glass-house, bursting forth at once, with virgin sulphur to the top. From and mounting to the sky; showering the fissures in the cone, and intersti- down sand, with gritty calcined par. ces of the rocks, a thin white smoke ticles of earth and favilla mixed, on was constantly emitted, occasionally all below. This, driven before the tinged with a slight bluish flame. wind towards Wallibon and Morne The precipitous sides of this magni. Ronde, darkened the air like a cataficent amphitheatre were fringed with ract of rain, and covered the ridges,

and aromatic woods, and cane-pieces, with light shrubs, flowers, and many Alpine gray.coloured ashes, resembling snow plants. On the north and south sides when slightly covered by dust. As of the base of the cone were two the eruption increased, this continual pieces of water, one perfectly pure shower expanded, destroying every and tastless, the other strongly im- appearance of vegetation. At night pregnated with sulphur and alum.- a very considerable degree of ignition This lonely and beautiful spot was was observed in the lips of the crater; rendered more enchanting by the but it is not asserted, that there was singularly melodious notes of a bird, as yet any visible ascension of flame. an inhabitant of these upper solitudes, The same awful scene presented itand altogether unknown to the other self on Tuesday ; the fall of favilla parts of the island : hence principally and calcined pebbles still increasing, called, or supposed to be, invisible; and the compact, pitchy column, from though it certainly has been seen, the crater, rising perpendicularly to and is a species of the merle. an immense height, with a noise at

A century bad now elapsed since intervals like the muttering of disthe first convulsion of the mountain, tant thunder. On Wednesday, the or since any other elements had dis- 29th, all these menacing symptoms turbed the serenity of this wilderness of horror and combustion still gatherthan those which are common to the ed more thick and terrific for miles tropical tempest. It apparently slum- around the dismal and half-obscured berod in primeval solitude and tran- mountain. The prodigious column

various evergreens

shot

shot up with quicker motion, dilating the ground, overpowered with showers as it arose, like a balloon.—The sun of favilla, unable to keep themselves appeared in total eclipse, and shed a on the wing, the cattle were starvmeridian twilight over us, that ag- ing for want of food, as not a blade gravated the wintry gloom of the of grass or a leaf was now to be found scene now completely powdered over -the sea was much discoloured, but with falling particles. It was evi. in nowise uncommonly agitated; and dent that the crisis was as yet to come it is remarkable, that throughout the --that the burning fluid was strug- whole of this violent disturbance of gling for a vent, and labouring to the earth, it continued quite passive, throw off the superincumbent strata and did not at any time sympathize and obstructions, which suppressed with the agitation of the land. About the ignivomous torrent. At night, four o'clock, P. M. the noise became it was manifest, that it had greatly more alarming, and just before sundisengaged inself from its burthen, set the clouds reflected a bright copby the appearance of fire flashing now per-colour, suffused with fire. Scarceand then, faking above the mouth of ly had the day closed, when the flame the crater.

burst at length pyramidically from On Thursday, the memorable 30th the crater, through the mass of smoke; of April, the reflection of the rising the rolling of the thunder became sun on the majestic body of curling more awful and deafening; electric vapour was sublime beyond imagina. flashes quickly succeeded, attended tion—any comparison of the Glaciers, with loud claps; and now, indeed, of the Andes, or Cordilleras with it, the hurly burly began. Those only can but feebly convey an idea of the who have witnessed such a sight, can fleecy whiteness and brilliancy of this form an idea of the magnificence and awful column of intermingled wreath- variety of the lightning and electric ed smoke and clouds ; it afterwards, flashes ; some forked zig-zag playing assumed a more sulphureous cast, like across the perpendicular column from what we call thunder clouds, and in the crater—others shooting upwards the course of this day, a ferruginous from the mouth like rockets of the and sanguine appearance, with much most dazzling lustre-others like livelier action in the ascent, a more

shells with their trailing fuses flying extensive dilation, as if almost freed in different parabolas, with the most from every obstruction-afternoon, vivid scintillations from the dark santhe noise was incessant, and resembled guine column, which now seemed inthe approach of thunder still near- flexible, and immoveable by the wind. er and nearer, with a vibration that Shortly after seven P. M. the mighty affected the feelings and hearing ; as cauldron was seen to simmer, and the yet there was no convulsive motion or ebullition of lava to break out on the sensible earthquake. Terror and con- N. W. side. This, immediately afsternation now seized all beholders. ter boiling over the orifice, and flowThe Charaibs, settled at Morne Ron- ing a short way, was opposed by the de, at the foot of the Souffrier, aban- acclivity of a higher point of land, doned their houses, with their live over which it was impelled by the stock, and every thing they possessed, immense tide of liquified fire that and Aed precipitately to the town.- drove it on, forming the figure V in The negroes became confused, left grand illumination. Sometimes when their work, looked up to the moun- the ebullition slackened, or was intain, and as it shook, trembled with sufficient to urge it over the obstructhe dread of what they neither under- ting hill, it recoiled back like a restand nor describe the birds fell to fluent billow from the rock, and then

again rushed forward, impelled by tionably heavy to their size, not a fresh supplies, and, scaling every ob. living creature could have escaped stacle, carrying rocks and woods to- without death; these having undergether in its course down the slope of gone a thorough fusion, they were the mountain, until it precipitated it divested of their natural gravity, and self down some vast ravines, conceal- fell almost as light as pumex, though ed from our sight by the intervening in some places as large as a man's ridges of Morne Ronde.—Vast glo- head. This dreadful rain of stones bular bodies of fire were seen project- and fire lasted upwards of an hour, ed from the fiery furnace, and burst- and was again succeeded by cinders ing, fell back into it, or over it, on

from three till six o'clock in the mornthe surrounding bushes, which were ing. Earthquake followed carthinstantly set in flames. About four quake almost momentarily, or rather hours from the lava boiling over the the whole of this part of the island crater, it reached the sea, as we could was in a state of continual oscillation; observe from the reflection of the fire - not agitated by shocks, vertical or and the electric flashes attending it. horizonal; but undulated like water About half past ope, another stream shaken in a bowl. of lava was seen descending to the The break of day, if such it could eastward towards Rabacca. The be called, was truly terrific. Darkthundering noise of the mountain, ness was only visible at eight o'clock, and the vibration of sound that had and the birth of May dawned like the been so formidable hitherto, now day of judgment; a chaotic gloom iringled in the sullen monotonous roar enveloped the mountain, and an imof the rolling lava, became so terrible, penetrable haze hung over the sea, that dismay was almost turned into with black sluggish clouds of a suldespair. At this time, the first phureous cast. The whole island earthquake was felt; this was follow was covered with favilla, cinders, ed by showers of cinders, that fell scoria, and broken masses of volcanic with the hissing noise of hail

, during matter. It was not until the aftertwo hours. At three o'clock, a rol. ternoon that the muttering noise of the ling on the roofs of the houses indi- mountain sunk gradually into a socated a fall of stones, which soon lemn yet suspicious silence. thickened, and at length descended in a rain of intermingled fire that threat. The following letters contain farther ed at once the fate of Pompeii, or

details of this awful event. Hørculaneum. The crackling and Extract of a letter from St Vincent, coruscations from the crater, at this dated 1st May, received by a vessel period, exceeded all that had yet pas. arrived in the Clyde : sed. The eyes were struck with “ Having been informed that you momentary blindness, and the ears had not sailed from Grenada by the stunned with the glomeration of sounds. April fleet, I hasten to give you some People sought shelter in cellars, un account of a most alarming circumder rocks, or any where--for every stance which took place here last where was nearly the same ; and the night and this morning. About sunmiserable negroes, flying from their set on Thursday evening, we observ. huts, were knocked down or wound- ed an immense quantity of fire and ed, and many killed in the open air. smoke to proceed from the volcano, Several houses were set on fire. The and continued till one o'clock this estates situated in the immediate vici- morning, when a most tremennity scemed doomed to destruction. dous explosion took place, which Had the stones that fell been propor. continued till four, throwing up

immense

« 前へ次へ »