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, nor its substitute education, but who had been struck out
of a printer's devil by the rap of a composing-stick, as
Minerva is reported to have been struck, full-grown, out
of Jupiter's head by the hammer of Vulcan, it is probable
that the wiseacre might have discovered that it was aa
inexcusable interference with the rights of the colonists,
to enact that no one should carry letters for hire, but those
connected with the regular post-office. But, no such per
son existing, the public mind was left to the enjoyment of
its common-sense ignorance, which remained satisfied with
the fact that, though it might be possible to get a letter
carried from the Reef to the Cove, between which places
the communications were constant and regular, for half the
money charged by the office, yet it was not possible to get
letters carried between some of the other points in 'the
colony for twenty times the regulated postage. It is probable,
therefore, that the people of the Crater and the Peak felt,
that in supporting a general system, which embraced the
good of all, they did more towards extending civilization,
than if they killed the hen, at once, in order to come at
the depository of the golden eggs, in the shortest way.

In the middle ages, he who wished to send a missive,
was compelled, more than half the time, to be at the ex
pense of a special messenger. The butchers, and a class
of traders that corresponds, in part, to the modern English
traveller, took charge of letters, on the glorious Free Trade
principle ; and sometimes public establishments hired mes
sengers to go back and forth, for their own purposes.
Then, the governments, perceiving the utility of such ar
rangements, imperfect as they were, had a sort of post-
offices for their use, which have reached down to our own
times, in the shape of government messengers. There can
be little doubt that the man who found he could get a letter
safely and promptly conveyed five hundred miles for a
crown, after having been obliged previously to pay twenty
for the same service, felt that he was the obliged party,
and never fancied for a moment, that, in virtue of his
patronage, he was entitled to give himself airs, and to
etand upon his natural right to have a post-office of his



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 377

own, at the reduced price. But, indulgence creates wan
tonness, and the very men who receive the highest favours
from the post-offices of this country, in which a letter is
carried five-and-twenty hundred miles for ten cents, pene
trating, through some fourteen or fifteen thousand offices,
into every cranny- of a region large as half Europe, kicks
and grows restive because he has not the liberty of doing
a few favoured portions of the vast enterprise for himself;
while he imposes on the public the office of doing that
which is laborious and unprofitable I Such is man ; such
did he become when he fell from his first estate; and such
is he likely to continue to be until some far better panacea
shall be discovered for his selfishness and cupidity, than
what is called ' self-government.'

But the Craterinos were thankful when they found that
the Martha -was set to running regularly, from place to
place, carrying passengers and the mails. The two busi
nesses were blended together for the sake of economy, and
at the end of a twelvemonth it was found that the colony
had nothing extra to pay. On the whole, the enterprise
may be said to have succeeded ; and as practice usually
improves all such matters, in a few months it was .ascer
tained that another very important step had been taken on
the high-road of civilization. Certainly, the colonists could
not be called a letter-writing people, considered as a whole,
but the facilities offered a temptation to improve, and, in
time, the character of the entire community received a
beneficial impression from the introduction of the mails.

It was not long after the two brigs were sold, and just
as the Martha came into government possession, that all
the principal functionaries made a tour of the whole set
tlements, using the sloop for that purpose. One of the
objects was to obtain statistical facts ; though personal ob
servation, with a view to future laws, was the principal
motive. The governor, secretary, attorney-general, and
most of the council were along ; and pleasure and business
being thus united, their wives were also of the party.
There being no necessity for remaining in the Martha at
night, that vessel was found amply sufficient for all other
purposes, though the " progress" occupied fully a fortnight.
As a brief relation of its details will give the reader a full
32*



378 THE CRATER;

idea of the present state of the " country," as the colonists
now began to call their territories, we propose to accom
pany the travellers, day by day, and to give some short ac
count of what they saw, and of what they did. The
Martha sailed from the cove about eight in the morning,
having on board seventeen passengers, in ^ addition to two
or three who were going over to Rancocus Island on their
regular business. The sloop did not sail, however, directly
for the last-named island, but made towards the volcano,
which had of late ceased to be as active as formerly, and
into the condition of which it was now deemed important
to make some inquiries. The Martha was a very^ fast ves
sel, and was soon quietly anchored in a small bay, on the
leeward side of the island, where landing was not only
practicable but easy. For the first time since its existence
the crater was ascended. All the gentlemen went up,
and Heaton took its measurement by means of instru
ments. The accumulation of materials, principally ashes
and scoriae, though lava had begun to appear in one or two
small streams, had been very great since the governor's
first visit to the spot. The island now measured about two
miles in diameter, and being nearly round, might be said
to be somewhere near six in circumference. The crater
itself was fully half a mile in diameter, and, at that mo
ment, was quite a thousand feet in height above the sea.
In the centre of this vast valley, were three smaller craters
or chimneys, which served as outlets to the fires beneath.
A plain had formed within the crater, some four hundred
feet below its summit, and it already began to assume that
sulphur-tinged and unearthly hue, that is so common in
and about active volcanoes. Occasionally, a deep roaring
would be succeeded by a hissing sound, not unlike that
produced by a sudden escape of steam from a boiler, and
then a report would follow, accompanied by smoke and
stones ; some of the latter of which were projected several
hundred yards into the air, and fell on the plain of the
crater. But these explosions were not one-tenth as frequent
as formerly.

The result of all the observations was to create an im
pression that this outlet to the fires beneath was approach
ing a period when it would become inactive, and when,



OR, VULCAH'S PEAK. 379

indeed, some other outlet for the pent forces might be
made. After passing half-a-day on and around the vol
cano, even Bridget and Anne mustered courage and
strength to ascend it, supported by the willing arras of
their husbands. The females were rewarded for their
trouble, though both declared that they should ever feel a
most profound respect for the place after this near view of
its terrors as well as of its beauties.

On quitting the volcano, the Martha proceeded directly
to leeward, reaching Rancocus Island about sunset. Here
the sloop anchored in the customary haven, and everybody
but her crew landed. The fort was still kept up at this
place, on account of the small number of the persons who
dwelt there, though little apprehension now existed of a
visit from the natives ; with the exception of the Kannakas,
who went back and forth constantly on board the different
craft in which they were employed, not a native had been
near either island of the colony since the public visit of
young Ooroony, on the occasion of bringing over labourers
to help to form the grounds of Colony House. The number
and force of the different vessels would seem to have per
manently settled the question of ascendency in those seas,
and no one any longer believed it was a point to be con
troverted.

The population on Rancocus Island did not amount to
more than fifty souls, and these included women and
children. Of the latter, however, there were not yet
many ; though five or six were born annually, and scarcely
one died. The men kept the mill going, cutting lumber
of all sorts ; and they made both bricks and lime, in suffi
cient quantities to supply the wants of the two other
islands. At first, it had been found necessary to keep a
greater force there, but, long before the moment of which
we are writing, the people had all got into their regular
dwellings, and the materials now required for building
were merely such as were used in additions, or new con
structions. The last, however, kept the men quite ac
tively employed ; but, as they got well paid for their work,
everybody seemed contented. The Martha never arrived
without bringing over quantities of fruits, as well as vege
tables, the Rancocusers, lumber-men like, paying but little



380 THE CRATER;

attention to gardening or husbandry. The island had its
productions, and there was available land enough, perhaps,
to support a few thousand people, but, after the group and
the Peak, the place seemed so little tempting to the far
mers, that no one yet thought of using it for the ordinary
means of supporting life. The " visitors," as the party
called themselves, had an inquiry made into the state of
the animals that had been turned loose, on the pastures and
mountain-sides of the island, to seek their own living.
The hogs, as usual, had increased largely ; it was sup
posed there might be near two hundred of these animals,
near half of which, however, were still grunters. The
labourers occasionally killed one, but the number grew so
fast that it was foreseen it would be necessary to have an
annual hunt, in order to keep it down. The goats did
particularly well, though they remained so much on the
highest peaks as to be seldom approached by any of the
men. The cow had also increased her progeny, there
being now no less than four younger animals, all of whom
yielded milk to the people. The poultry flourished here,
as it did in all that region, the great abundance of fruit,
worms, insects, &c. rendering it unnecessary to feed them,
though Indian-corn was almost to be had for the asking,
throughout all the islands. This grain was rarely har
vested, except as it was wanted, and the hogs that were
fattened were usually turned in upon it in the fields.

It may be well to say, that practice and experience had
taught the colonists something in the way of fattening their
pork. The animals were kept in the group until they were
about eighteen months old, when they were regularly trans
ported to the cove, in large droves, and made to ascend the
steps, passing the last two months of their lives amid the
delightful groves of the Peak. Here they had acorns in
abundance, though their principal food was Indian corn,
being regularly attended by Kannakas who had been trained
to the business. At killing-time, each man either came
himself, or sent some one to claim his hogs ; all of which
were slaughtered on the Peak, and carried away in the
form of pork. The effect of this change was to make
much finer meat, by giving the animals a cooler atmosphere
and purer food.



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 381

From Rancocus Island the Martha sailed for the group,
which was visited and inspected in all its settlements by the
governor and council. The policy adopted by the govern
ment of the colony was very much unlike that resorted to
in America, in connection with the extension of the settle
ments. Here a vast extent of surface is loosely overrun,
rendering the progress of civilization rapid, but very im
perfect. Were the people of the United States confined to
one-half the territory they now occupy, there can be little
question that they would be happier, more powerful, more
civilized, and less rude in manners and feelings ; although
it may be high treason to insinuate that they are not all,
men, women and children, already at the ne plus ultra of
each of those attainments. But there is a just medium in
the density of human population, as well as in other things ;
and that has not yet been reached, perhaps, even in the
most thickly peopled of any one of the Old Thirteen.
Now, Mark Woolston had seen enough of the fruits of a
concentrated physical force, in Europe, to comprehend their
value ; and he early set his face against the purely skim
ming process. He was resolved that the settlements should
not extend faster than was necessary, and that as much of
civilization should go with them as was attainable. In
consequence of this policy, the country soon obtained a
polished aspect, as far as the settlements reached. There
were four or five distinct points that formed exceptions to
this rule, it having been considered convenient to make
establishments there, principally on account of the whalers.
One, and the largest of these isolated settlements, was in
the Whaling Bight, quite near to Blubber Islanu, where a
village had sprung up, containing the houses and shops
of coopers, rope-makers, boat-builders, carpenters, black
smiths, &c. ; men employed in making casks, whaling
gear, and boats. There also were the dwellings of three
or four masters and mates of vessels, as well as of sundry
boat-steerers. In the whole, there might have been fifty
habitations at this particular point ; of which about two-
thirds were in a straggling village, while the remainder
composed so many farm-houses. Everything at this place
denoted activity and a prosperous business ; the merchants
taking the oil a fast as it was ready, and returning for it,



382 5-fis CRATER;

hoops, iron in bars, hemp, and such other articles as were
wanted for the trade.

By this time, the Rancocus had returned, and had dis
charged her inward-bound cargo at the Reef, bringing
excellent returns for the oils sent to Hamburgh. She now
lay in Whaling Bight, being about to load anew with oil
that had been taken during her absence. Saunders was as
busy as a bee ; and Mrs. Saunders, who had come across
from her own residence on the Peak, in order to remain as
long as possible with her husband, was as happy as the day
was long ; seeming never to tire of exhibiting her presents
to the other women at the Bight.

At the Reef itself, an exceedingly well-built little town
was springing up. Since the removal of the whaling ope
rations to the Bight, all nuisances were abated, and the
streets, quays, and public walks were as neat as could be
desired. The trees had grown wonderfully, and the gar
dens appeared as verdant and fresh as if they had a hun
dred feet of loam beneath them, instead of resting on solid
lava, as was the fact. These gardens had increased in
numbers and extent, so that the whole town was embedded
in verdure and young trees. That spot, on which the sun
had once beaten so fiercely as to render it often too hot to
be supported by the naked foot, was now verdant, cool,
and refreshing, equally to the eye and to the feelings. The
streets were narrow, as is desirable in warm climates
thus creating shade, as well as increasing the draughts of
air through them ; it being in the rear that the houses ob
tained space for ventilation as well as for vegetation. The
whole number of dwellings on the Reef now amounted to
sixty -four ; while the warehouses, public buildings, ships,
offices, and other constructions, brought the number of the
roofs up to one hundred. These buildings, Colony House
and the warehouses excepted, were not very large cer
tainly, but they were of respectable dimensions, and neat
and well put together. Colony House was large, as has
been mentioned ; and though plain, certain ornaments had
been completed, which contributed much to its appear
ance. Every building, without exception, had some sort
of verandah to it ; and as most of these additions were
now embowered in shrubs or vines, they formed delightful
places of retreat during the heat of the day.



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 383

By a very simple process, water was pumped up from the
largest spring by means of wind-sails, and conveyed in
wooden logs to every building in the place. The logs
were laid through the gardens, for the double purpose of
getting soil to cover them, and to put them out of the way.
Without the town, a regular system had been adopted, by
which to continue to increase the soil. The rock was
blown out, as stone was wanted ; leaving, however, a quay
around the margin of the island. As soon as low enough,
the cavities became the receptacles of everything that could
contribute to form soil ; and one day in each month was
set apart for a " bee ;" during which little was done but to
transport earth from Loam Island, which was far from
being exhausted yet, or even levelled, and scattering it on
those hollow spots. In this manner, a considerable extent
of surface, nearest to the town, had already been covered,
and seeded, and planted, so that it was now possible to walk
from the town to the crater, a distance of a quarter of a
mile, and be the whole time amid flowering shrubs, young
trees, and rich grasses !

As for the crater itself, it was now quite a gem in the
way of vegetation. Its cocoa-nut trees bore profusely; and
its figs, oranges, limes, shaddocks, &/c. &-c., were not only
abundant, but rich and large. The Summit was in spots
covered with delicious groves, and the openings were of as
dark a verdure, the year round, as if the place lay twenty
degrees farther from the equator than was actually the
case. Here Kitty, followed by a flock of descendants, was
permitted still to rove at large, the governor deeming her
rights in the place equal to his own. The plain of the
crater was mostly under tillage, being used as a common
garden for all who dwelt in the town. Each person was
taxed so many days, in work, or in money, agreeably to a
village ordinance, and by such means was the spot tilled ;
in return, each person, according to a scale that was regu
lated by the amount of the contribution, was allowed to
come or send daily, and dig and carry away a stated quan
tity of fruits and vegetables. All this was strictly regu
lated by a town law, and the gardener had charge of the
execution of the ordinance ; but the governor had privately



384 THE CRATER;

intimated to him that there was no necessity for his being
very particular, so long as the people were so few, and the
products so abundant. The entire population of the Reef
proper amounted, at this visitation, to just three hundred
and twenty-six persons, of whom near a hundred were
under twelve years of age. This, however, was exclusively
of Kannakas, but included the absent seamen, whose fami
lies dwelt there permanently.

The settlement at Dunks' Cove has been mentioned, and
nothing need be said of it, beyond the fact that its agri
culture had improved and been extended, its trees had
grown, and its population increased. There was another
similar settlement at East Cove or Bay would be the bet
ter name which was at the place where Mark Woolston
had found his way out to sea, by passing through a narrow
and half-concealed inlet. This entrance to the group was
now much used by the whalers, who fell in with a great
many fish in the offing, and who found it very convenient
to tow them into this large basin, and cut them up. Thence
the blubber was sent down in lighters to Whaling Bight, to
be tryed out. This arrangement saved a tow of some five-
and-twenty miles, and often prevented a loss of the fish, as
sometimes occurred in the outside passage, by having it
blown on an iron-bound coast. In consequence of these
uses of the place, a settlement had grown up near it, and
it already began to look like a spot to be civilized. As
yet, however, it was the least advanced of all the settle
ments in the group.

At the West Bay, there was a sort of naval station and
look-out port, to watch the people of the neighbouring isl
ands. The improvements did not amount to much, how
ever, being limited to one farm, a small battery that com
manded the roads, and a fortified house, which was also a
tavern.

The agricultural or strictly rural population of the
group, were seated along the different channels nearest to
the Reef. Some attention had been paid, in the choice, to
the condition of the soil ; but, on the whole, few unoccupied
spots could now be found within a league of the Reef, and
on any of the principal passages that communicated with
the different islands. There were foot-paths, which might



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 385

be used by horses, leading from farm to farm, along the
margins of the channels ; but the channels themselves were
the ordinary means of communicating between neighbours.
Boats of all sorts abounded, and were constantly passing
and repassing. Here, as elsewhere, the vegetation was
luxuriant and marvellous. Trees were to be seen around
the houses, that elsewhere might have required three times
the number of years that these had existed, to attain the
same height.

The visitation terminated at the Peak. This place, so
aptly likened to the garden of Eden, and frequently so
called, could receive very little addition to its picturesque
beauties from the hand of man. Parts of it were culti
vated, it is true ; enough to supply its population (rather
more than three hundred souls) with food ; but much the
greater portion of its surface was in pasture. The build
ings were principally of stones quarried out of the cliffs,
and were cool as well as solid edifices. They were low,
however, and of no great size on the ground. At the go
vernor's farm, his private property, there was a dwelling of
some pretension ; low, like all the rest, but of considerable
extent. Here Bridget now passed much of her time ; for
here it was thought best to keep the children. So cool and
salubrious was the air on the Peak, that two schools were
formed here; and a large portion of the children of the
colony, of a suitable age, were kept in them constantly.
The governor encouraged this plan, not only on account
of the health of the children, but because great care was
taken to teach nothing but what the children ought to
learn. The art of reading may be made an instrument of
evil, as well as of good ; and if a people imbibe false prin
ciples if they are taught, for instance, that this or that
religious sect should be tolerated, or the reverse, because it
was most or least in conformity with certain political insti
tutions, thus rendering an institution of God's subservient
to the institutions of men, instead of making the last sub
servient to the first why, the less they know of letters, the
better. Everything false was carefully avoided, and, with
no great pretensions in the way of acquisitions, the schools
of the Peak were made to be useful, and at least innocent.
One thing the governor strictly enjoined ; and that was, to
33



386 THE CRATER;

teach these young creatures that they were fallible beings,
carefully avoiding the modern fallacy of supposing that an
infallible whole could be formed of fallible parts.

Such is an outline of the condition of the colony at the
period which we have now reached. Everything appeared
to be going on well. The Henlopen arrived, discharged,
loaded, and went out again, carrying with her the last bar
rel of oil in the Bight. The whalers had a jubilee, for
their adventures made large returns ; and the business was
carried on with renewed spirit. In a word, the colony had
reached a point where every interest was said to be pros
perous a state of things with communities, as with indi
viduals, when they are, perhaps, in the greatest danger of
meeting with reverses, by means of their own abuses.



CHAPTER XXVI.

41 Cruel of heart, and strong of arm,

Proud in his sport, and keen for spoil,
He. little reck'd of good or harm,
Fierce both in mirth and toil ;
Yet like a dog could fawn, if need there were ;
Speak mildly when be would, or look in fear."

. The Buccaneer.



AFTER the visitation, the governor passed a week at the
Peak, with Bridget and his children. It was the habit of
the wife to divide her time between the two dwellings;
though Mark was so necessary to her as a companion, in
tellectually, and she was so necessary to Mark, for the
same reason, that they were never very long separated.



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 29) → online text (page 35 of 42)