Guatimala or the United Provinces of Central America in 1827-8/1

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Guatimala or the United Provinces of Central America in 1827-8  (1828)  by Henry Dunn
Part I, Chapter I: Voyage, -Sunset, -Night at Sea, -West India Islands, -Jamaica, -English Quay.




Voyage to the Bay of Honduras,—Sun set,—Night at sea,—West India Islands,—Jamaica,—English Quay.

A favourable voyage across the Atlantic cannot of necessity be very rich in incident. Each succeeding day bears the features of its predecessor, and its events are only varied by perhaps a sail in the distance, or the appearance of some one of the various inhabitants of the deep. In the absence of all the artificial excitements of society every object acquires an interest, and the wonders of nature in one department at least are for a time rescued from the neglect to which they are generally condemned.

After losing sight of the shores of England, if the winds be favourable, the voyager soon finds himself rolling in the restless bay of Biscay. We entered it in the month of January. Its dark blue waves heaved heavily—a few wandering sea gulls roamed over the face of the deep, and the sun beamed upon the waters with a warmer and a brighter ray.

From hence to the Islands the traveller must content himself with the few objects of natural history, which present themselves. To watch the grampus, the porpoise, or perhaps the great white shark playing around the vessel and darting before its bow as if offering to guide its course through the trackless deep, are the daily amusements of every landsman in these seas; and with a few flocks of stormy petrels, a wandering albatross, or that most beautiful of all the finny tribe the dorado, relentlessly pursuing its unhappy victim the flying fish, they constitute almost the only novelties.

But at sea the every day occurrences of nature seem to exhibit themselves in new forms, and acquire a freshness which clothes them with a new interest. Oftentimes will the sun set with a peculiar splendour, pouring a flood of glory over the whole horizon, and as he dips beneath the waters the reflection of his beams clothe the western clouds in a thousand different hues, abundantly supplying to the fancy golden lakes and palaces adorned with all the magic tints of a fairy creation. Nor is night without its charms. A large vessel with all her sails set, gliding gently over the bosom of the ocean. Her canvass scarcely swelled by the light breeze, and her track illuminated by the faint phosphoric light of myriads of animalculæ, is a most imposing sight; while the awful stillness which prevails over the vast expanse of sea and sky, only broken by the light splash of the white billows against the sides of their disturber, seems sufficient to calm the most agitated spirit.

At length however new objects present themselves, and the cry of “Land” awakens curiosity. With us it announced Colon's Deseada or the desired island. The appearance of this little spot is rocky and uninviting, and it is almost uninhabited. The next morning at sunrise we were amongst the islands and close to Montserrat, one of the most beautiful of them; its western side declines gently towards the sea and is covered with fruitful plantations, while the cedar and palm shade and adorn its mountains. How lamentable that nine tenths of its inhabitants should he slaves.—From this point Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts and Guadaloupe, are seen faintly exhibiting their outlines on the horizon, and the whole forms a striking and not uninteresting picture.

A few more days and we had passed the south side of the island of Jamaica. Its appearance from the sea is singularly romantic: blue mountains encircled by clouds and clothed with verdure to the very summits form the back ground, while richly cultivated sugar plantations interspersed with the cedar and cocoa nut, line the hills and spread along the shore. Nature here at once presents herself in her forms of wild sublimity and luxuriant beauty.

The third of March brought us in sight of English Quay, one of those beautiful little islands which adorn the entrance to the bay of Honduras; and by the afternoon of that day we had anchored in Belize roads.