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THE BERMUDAS, OR SOMER ISLES.
LOCALITY.—The Bermudas, or Summer Isles, exceeding 300 in number, lie in the Atlantic ocean, in latitude 32° 20' north, longitude 64° 50' west, about 600 miles east of South Carolina, the nearest point of North America, and contain about 14,000 acres of land.
History.—They were discovered in 1522, by J. Bermudez, a Spaniard, who found them uninhabited. May, an Englishman, is said to have been wrecked there at an earlier period, and, with his companions, built a vessel, with which he returned to England. Sir George Somers was wrecked upon them in 1609, and made his way to Virginia in a vessel constructed of cedar, 'which did not contain an ounce of iron, except one bolt in the keel. They were settled.
shortly after from Virginia and England, but disputes for some time prevailed, respecting the rights of the Virginia Company. They have ever since remained in the uninterrupted possession of England, and at one time attracted great attention from their salubrity and picturesque scenery.
PHYSICAL ASPECT.-The Bermudas consist of about 150 islets, lying within a space of fifteen miles by five, and situate on the south-east side of a zone of coral reefs. When viewed from a ship at sea, they appear to have but a trifling elevation compared with the bold and lofty aspect of many of our West India islands : the surface is very irregular, seldom presenting any lofty elevations, the highest land not exceeding 200 feet. The principal islands (St. George's, Ireland, St. David, Somerset, Paget, Longbird, and Smith's), together with the minor islands, lie in such a manner as to form several bays: the whole form a chain, with very little interruption, for about thirty miles long, seldom exceeding in breadth two miles (resembling a shepherd's crook), running nearly east and west; St. George's being the east, and Somerset and Ireland the west. It appears, in fact, as if an extensive island had disappeared in some convulsion of nature, leaving above water only a long narrow ridge, without either mountains or valleys, rivers, forests, or plains. Groves of cedars are here and there detached on little plateaus of rising ground; and the numerous basins (some sixteen miles in circumference), formed by the islands, give very much the appearance of lake scenery.
ISLAND OF ST. GEORGE.
The north shore is defended by the heavy sea from any approach to the island on that side (except through the channel), and by innumerable sunken rocks, which form a shoal, with little interruption, for the whole length of the islands, and stretching in a north-east direction for nearly ten miles, leave but a narrow and intricate passage for shipping, which is close to the shore, and defended by several strong batteries. The south coast is bold, and guarded by sunken rocks in a manner similar to the north shore.
The island of St. George, the military station of the colony, and formerly the seat of Government, is about three miles long, and at no part exceeding half a mile broad; it lies at the entrance of the only passage for ships of burthen. The harbour of St. George, when once entered, is said to be one of the finest in the world, and capable of containing the whole British navy. It is completely land-locked. The entrance to the harbour of St. George is narrow, and is protected by a fort called Cunningbam. After passing this entrance, the town presents one of the most beautiful landscapes the eye ever rested on. The square tower to the little church—the white and yellow houses——the clear and cloudless sky above, with the dark foliage of the cedar-clad hills in the rear, -combine to make the scene most enchanting. To the westward of the town is a hill called Fort George, where is situated the telegraph. The streets are extremely narrow, which, however, is undoubtedly an advantage in all warm climates, as it creates much pleasant shade, and without which walking in
the middle of the day would not be bearable. The houses are low, scarcely ever exceeding two stories, and built substantially of Bermuda stone. The barracks are situated on a hill to the eastward of the town, and are very commodious, and would probably comfortably accommodate two thousand troops. There are few springs in the island, and consequently the people depend principally on rain, for the purpose of catching which they have large tanks, built of stone, and covered with Roman cement. The air being free from smoke, and the roofs of the houses newly whitewashed, the water thus caught is very pure, and is really as delicious as any I ever tasted. The Government have large reservoirs of water on the north side of the town for the supply of the navy. The fortifications for the protection of this end of Bermuda, are the already-mentioned Fort Cunningham, at the mouth of the harbour, and a fort called Catharine, not quite completed, situated at the northeast extremity of St. George's Island.
There are several singular caves among the islands. The entrance to one of these is most picturesque:A kind of natural staircase is descended, into a dell surrounded on three sides with high rocks, corered with creeping plants of various kinds, and bordered around with the orange, coffee, palmeto, banana, and cedar trees, forming one of the most beautiful groves possible. The entrance to the cave situated in this spot is narrow, and visitors are obliged to go almost on all fours; there are two chambers, one running into the other, with lofty roofs, from which hang beautiful petrifactions of various sizes and shapes,
which, if struck with a piece of metal, or other hard substance, produce a variety of sounds. Another cave has a large body of salt water within, clear as crystal, and very deep; a stone thrown in makes a great noise; the roof of this is similar to the other, but not quite so extensive; both however are singularly beautiful.
The Dock-yard is situated at the west end of Ireland Island, and distant about fifteen miles from St. George's. For about three miles the course lies between St. George and Long-bird Islands; after passing which we arrive at the westernmost outlet of St. George's Harbour, a narrow passage about the eighth of a mile wide, called the Ferry. To protect this opening, a Martello-tower, with one gun, erects its head. The ferry is so seldom used for the ingress or egress of vessels, from the shallowness of the water and strength of the current, that the abovementioned fortification is quite as strong as necessary. The tide runs with much force. The rocks on the north of the island present a very formidable appearance, and certainly do away with the necessity of the work of man's hands, for no vessel could approach within ten or fifteen miles of this side of Bermuda, without the certainty of being shipwrecked, and the lives of its crew placed in the greatest jeopardy. Nine miles north is a rock, which, at low tides, presents a surface of about forty feet in circumference, called the North Rock. Shoals surround it for many hundred yards, and the water, when the wind is boisterous, breaks over it with a terrific noise. This rock, placed as it were as a