Monday 23d – beautiful weather. Fresh and favourable breeze. Saw the Island of Bermuda at 12:10, and came to anchor at 4 P.M. near Smithy Island.
Tuesday 24th – variable weather.
Wednesday 25th – cloudy weather with occasional rain. At 7.30 received the Mail, but could not start until next morning, in consequence of day light being necessary to see the rocks, between which the passage is very narrow.
I should here mention shortly those passengers whom we landed at Bermuda.
Major Henderson & M.r W.m McCardy – M.r Tobin
Brevet Major Henderson of the 71st reg.t came on board at Falmouth, being obliged tho’ much against his will, to join his regiment at Bermuda. His father was a Scotsman & his mother a lady of English extraction. His uncle is Henderson the Grocer on the South Bridge. Major Henderson has been now 38 years in the service, and during that long period has been in several actions. When a mere boy at School he had a Commission in the 92nd in which regiment he remained for some years until he got his Company in the 71st. He was with Sir John Moore at the retreat of Corunna – at Copenhagen – at Thoulouse and at Waterloo where he was severely wounded in the thigh by a grape shot. He had expected to have received his full Majority at the coronation of William IV, but the subject of reform so occupied the public attention that it was inexpedient to observe the custom of promotion which on such an occasion had been universally practised. Had he obtained his Majority, so tired was he of Sodgering, it was his intention to have retired on half pay and to have passed the remainder of his life in the bosom of his family at Flint in Wales. Of Major Henderson I cannot speak too highly for gentlemanly manners and agreeable temper. He stands out pre-eminent in our opinion before all other military officers, whom we have met with – for they were haughty insolent, and often impertinent, and looked down with supreme contempt upon all others of a different profession, as if the mere external covering of scarlet coat, with gold embroidery, could make amend for empty brains and want of sense.
At Halifax we took on board 4 passengers.
1. M.r W.m McCardi, who keeps a store and the Kings Arms Tavern at Bermuda, a great well-behaved middle-aged man.
2. M.r John Tobin a younger man, who had a house in the oil trade in Newfoundland – & his father is an extensive and wealthy merchant in Halifax. He was very pleasant in his manners – rather too much of a quiz and a little too free in his talk, which is not much to be wondered at, since he has travelled thro’ Italy, France, West Indies, and South America, mixing in all societies without being scrupulous as to their morality.
3. Inglesbe Leon a “Mudian late Capt.n of a fine Schooner, which three months ago was lost on Sable Island. He was a good specimen of the genuine “Mudian, with merely the rust rubbed off by his intercourse with the world abroad. He was a true seaman, up to a spree – ready for a lark, and enjoying the fun as much as the youngest of us all.
4. M.r Knight, Lieu.t of the 37th a very young man ____ has been five years in the service. He did not appear to be remarkably bright in his intellectually suffering himself to be easily and most unmercifully quizzed without perceiving it – but I must in justice to him – say, that I have heard from other quarters that he is considered a well informed young man & to be possessed of more sense than is to be found among all his brother officers put together. For my own part I did not like his manners, nor form a high estimate of this mental capacity from the specimens he was pleased to give us – and in short I care not if I never saw his phiz again.
During our short stay at Bermuda I had but little time to go about, in consequence of the serious illness of our Master. I was however twice ashore at S.t Georges, and from the conversation of several passengers well acquainted with the Bermudas, I have gathered a few Notes on which I can depend. Having my old Journal before me, I shall endeavour to avoid repetitions tho’ by strictly doing so, I shall leave myself little to add to my former statements.
You may remember that when we last visited Bermuda it was in the summer season during one of the three or four months which are felt to be the most oppressive throughout the whole year. Then all nature looked languid and parched up & then the body being relaxed and enervated by the fervent heat, the mind was sympathetically affected – which was the case with me as you will judge from the unfavourable opinion, which I have formerly given of these Islands. On our present visit however the aspects of nature, and the temperature of the air are wonderfully different. The fields look green & smiling – the trees are clothed with their respective verdure, and more than all, you can traverse town or country with satisfaction and comfort. Under these favourable circumstances, I felt inclined to see beauties, where I had beheld defects before – and to fancy that after all Bermuda was, like the Devil, not so bad as it was painted. The truth seems to be between two extremes. The place is not so bad as its native Eulogists would have it to be – I mean with reference to its climate – for in other respects it is as bad as bad can be.
No improvements have taken place since I last was here, and I have heard more of the state of the country than I was then aware of. Very few vegetables are attempted to be cultivated, and onions alone are good and plentiful. Potatoes are fair in quality, but not keeping well, are only to be obtained at certain seasons of the year. Several Englishmen have tried the experiment of producing various vegetables, and when they had succeeded so far as to have the flattering prospect of an excellent crop, a blighting South West Wind, has, like the angel of destruction, destroyed the finest hopes of their garden. A small quantity of barley is also grown, out of the straw they make excellent straw-hats. Instead of cutting it down with a reaping hook, they cut it with a pair of scissors, as if having so much leisure time, they were obliged to have recourse to this method of employing it. One day an old [man] was very sedulously engaged in his snail’s-pace task, when an English Officer came up to him & asked him why he did not use a reaping hook or sickle. “My,” said he, “I does’nt know – my vather & grandfather never had any other vay – and I does’ny see vy I should change it.” “Why,” replied the officer, “if your grandfather and father were two old fools, is that a sufficient reason why you should be a third.” “I does’nt nothing about the matter,” and with that he pursued his labour without deigning any further reply.
Nor alone does the climate affect detrimentally the productions of nature – but exerts a wonderful & equally prejudicial influence over animal life. The many and sudden changes of temperature produce a multitude of diseases, which if they do not immediately destroy life, lay the foundations at least of a diseased constitution. Yellow fever seldom prevails – but there is abundance of liver complaints – diseases of the bowels, and affections of the head. A contrary opinion as to the healthiness or unhealthiness of the climate has been advanced by those interested in the decision, but I am strongly inclined to believe that the climate is unhealthy. In a few weeks the most florid European becomes pale – not the paleness of the other Islands, but a sallow paleness – & the strongest man becomes enervated and averse to exertion. There is no regular succession of land & sea breezes which serve to keep the body cool, but a noxious dampness often prevails, which combined with the heat renders you liable to the attacks of various diseases. Well might an officer of the 71st in England, writing to his brother officers in Bermuda, address his letter “To the 71st Exiles in Bermuda.”
Bermuda – Meat – Whales flesh &.c
For almost every necessary of life Bermuda is dependent on foreign supplies. The United States and British America send their flour – their sheep and their oxen – England sends her manufactures – the West Indies their rum & sugar – & wine is obtained from different quarters. In the summer season an officer told me, he could not obtain fresh meat oftener than twice a week, & for a month or two together he has not tasted a potatoe or other vegetable. Poultry alone is attempted to be reared & these in no great numbers. Just when they are nearly fit for market a disease of the feathers carries them off, even to the extent of a dozen in one night. Food for them is also expensive, and hence at the best of times you will be asked 4/- for a small fowl – 6/- for a duck & so much per pound for a Turkey. Geese strange to say will not breed here and those imported seldom thrive, but are more frequently destroyed by a warty disease. Eggs fetch from 4/- to 5/- a dozen, and even those cannot be depended on as to their freshness. Fish is rather plentiful and good, but there is no great variety. In the season of the Whale Fishery, great is the uproar & joy when the first whale is caught. The news spreads like wildfire, and hundreds of blacks and mulattoes crowd the shore to welcome the successful boat, at the same [time] in the well-founded expectation of receiving a share of the prize. I am told that the flesh of the young Whale is most excellent and not to be distinguished from a veal cutlet, and that the prime part of a grown whale is equal in sweetness and tenderness to the best beef steak. It has no fishy taste whatever, like the flesh of the porpoise. Every person, whether black or white is eager to obtain it, and this is one of the sources, tho’ a rare one, whence they get a supply of fresh meat. Were it not also for the preserved meats sent from England, the case of the poor exiles would be miserable indeed, as they would be forced to live on fat salt pork & beef – especially if it should happen, as it has this year, that several vessels, freighted by the Army & Navy Contractors with live stock from America, have been totally lost – and it was a most fortunate circumstances for the military that there were no men of war here to share with them the little that arrived safe.
It might be thought perhaps that if they were badly off in the article of meat, that they had other things to make amends. But no – To add to their miseries, dullness exists a perpetual dominion over the Town and its inhabitants, and I have heard it confidentially asserted that the natives are an inferior race to the Europeans. For the first time, I noticed that they have a peculiar dialect & like the cockneys transpose the V for the W & vice versa.