BERMUDA BY A FIELD-OFFICER. * Fox the geographical space they occupy,
or the historical events with which they have been connected, "the still vex'cl Bermoothes " have had their full share of attention. If Shakspere did not, as the " Field-Officer " maintains he did not, lay the scene of The Tempest there, he certainly had the group in his mind's eye ; Waller and Andrew Marvell have celebrated the Somer Isles in verse ; Bishop Berkeley expatiated upon their beauties in prose ; and Moore has made them memorable by his poetry and his residence. Yet of the three hundred and sixtyfive isles or islets of which the group consists, only some halfdozen are sufficiently large to be habitable : they form a chain of about twenty-four miles in length, and are connected together by bridges or ferries ; their breadth varies from three hundred yards to a mile and a half. The climate is favourable to production if there were but the soil. Wheat can be grown ; the crops of barley and tobacco are good ; sugar and coffee can be raised, and are as curiosities; but the staple production for export is or was arrowroot. The population ranges at about 8000; the imports in 1855 were 162,0001., and the exports 41,000/.—a discrepancy explained by the fact that the Dockyard, convict-establishment, &c., cost this country annually upwards of 200,000/. The importance of the islands as a military and naval station is undoubted; less, probably, for their actual use than for the mischief they would be in the hands of America, which has always since the first outbreak of the Revolutionary war had her eye upon them. What return this country gains for the outlay, is not so clear, and we speak with reference to the defence of the islands. The position of the group is within a few degrees of the Tropics—in the same latitude as Madeira. The climate is of course hot in most summers, though bearable; but from December to June it is one of the finest in the world. Were it but as close to England as it is to America, the Field-Officer thinks it would be a favourite resort for invalids. Great changes, however, must first be made in the accommodation and mode of living, which are those of the West Indies in a colder climate. Besides the want of hotels and other appliances to comfort, as well as the presence of convicts, there are very few houses with chimneys except in the kitchens. Yet fires must be desirable in the winter : on the 1st of June last year, the officers of the • Bermuda, a Colony, a Fortress, and a Prison; or Eighteen Months in the Somers' Islands. (With Map and illustrations.) By a Field-Officer. Published by Longman and Co.
mess at Ireland Island had a fire lighted for dinner,—an exception, probably, but exceptional weather overtakes invalids. In the Bermudas there are no hurricanes proper, but they are yet " the still vex'd Bermoothes "; gales sweep over them, and from the narrow width of the land, and the absence of elevation, must blow with terrible violence—enough to blow you into the sea.
The Field-Officer who gives a pleasant though somewhat general account of this group, as "a Colony, a Fortress, and a Prison," passed eighteen months there on duty in 1855-'56 ; but he appears to have visited the islands before, and to have some knowledge of the West Indies. He gives a good description of the group, both land and water—for the mainland is so surrounded by islets and rocks that it is fenced off from the Atlantic ; together with an account of the soil, climate, and natural productions. There are a rapid resume* of the history of the colony-, some sketches of its
present social state, a criticism on the condition of its defences, and an account of the convicts, with some observations on the systems past and to come ; for it seems the dissatisfaction at home has caused new instructions to be issued with the last arrivals, giving less discretion and enforcing greater stringency. All these things are touched in the easy style of a man of the world, but somewhat superficially, and occasionally with the prejudices of a "practical" man. The chief utility of the Bermudas would be in case of a war with America, when as a station it would command the entire range of the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to the mouths of the Mississippi, and furnish a rendezvous for refitting cruisers. To America its value would be greater. Not only would the place be a defence instead of a means of attack, but it would command the track of all the West India trade, and besides a naval station would become a perfect hornet's nest of privateers. That the importance of the place is not overlooked by our authorities, is shown by the fact, that during the late differences with America the Bermudas were on two distinct occasions the rendezvous of a fleet. This, however, could not be permanently done without losing the advantage of the ships as cruisers. The land fortifications are either of old date or neglected.
"St. George's is well fortified. It is defended by about ninety guns ; but they are of a calibre unsuited to the times we live in. "Castle Harbour should no longer be suffered to remain in its present state. From Bermuda inwards it cannot be entered by sailing-boats drawing more than five feet of water ; but ships of large burden can enter it from the South-east, with a little care and a good pilot. And as there are no forts to guard the entrances, that side of the Bermudas may be considered quite defenceless. Some suggest the filling up of Castle Harbour ; but that measure would be both difficult and expensive. It would be' moreover, cruel ; for in tempestuous weather vessels sometimes take refuge there. The alternative is to fortify the entrance. A couple of batteries of eighty-four or even of sixty-eight pounders, on some of the little islands near the mouth of the harbour, would be sufficient to render impassable a channel already difficult of access.
"If there is any colony in which the concentration of executive power is especially necessary, that colony is Bermuda. Perhaps from its being both a naval and military station, two chiefs are unavoidable. But surely that is enough. At present there are three nearly independent authorities ; a Colonel who is civil Governor ; a Colonel who commands the troops ; and an Admiral, who is in fact Governor of Ireland Island including the Dockyard. Here we have in perfection that division of power and frittering away of responsibility, which is the death-blow not only to all enterprises of great pith and moment,' but to all good government. "Then to revert to the defences of the islands. We have 200 guns of insufficient calibre, defending a place which almost any military nation would deem worthy of 1000 pieces of artillery. Even 200 more would go far to render it impregnable whilst provisions lasted; or two or three more martello towers would do much. It is a mistake, however, to suppose, as some do, that a few gun-boats would supply every deficiency. They could not prevent a surprise ; for it would be by no means easy, even in moderate weather, to carry these boats rapidly round to the weak points which might be threatened ; and even when there they might be overmatched by warsteamers, which, in some places, could come within musket-shot of the shore."
There are sketches of actual convict management, and several stories about the convicts, as well as a good many opinions upon the subject ; but they are better read in the volume. Here is an account of a glaring job,—and let us not fancy that such things cannot slow be perpetrated. The time when this took place is within the period of financial reform ; and an unprincipled favourite, with interest at head-quarters, or with little more than impudence, may yet squander a good deal of money.. It is about thirty years since the then Commissioner in charge of the Dockyard, dissatisfied with the house he occupied, obtained the sanction of the Home Government to the building of a new mansion. The very liberal sum of 12,000/. was estimated for, and sanctioned. An elevated spot, at the North-east end of the Dockyard, was the site selected. Gradually a palace rose, such as few governors in the largest colonies (except India) have ever possessed. Yet the Commissioner in no way represented Majesty, and was always subordinate to the Naval Commander-in-chief of the station. " The external appearance of the house, with its double row of verandahs, supported by iron pillars, and guarded by railings of the same metal, must have had a very imposing aspect, before the building was suffered to
fall into decay. The apartments are numerous; those of lower story raised high above ground are lofty, and must once have been magnificent. The wood-work is of mahogany, and very solid in its construction. The chimnevpieces are all of fine marble—in a country where most houses have no fireplaces except in the kitchens.
"There are two kitchens, and countless cellars. The outhouses were once very numerous, though now they are chiefly in ruins. They formerly included stabling for twelve horses—in an island where until last year (1856) horses, except for carts, were almost useless. A magnificent marble bath completed the comforts of the Commissioner, and one of the most stupendous jobs of the nineteenth century.
"The exact cost of the house and grounds cannot now be accurately ascertained. The marble, mahogany, and iron were all imported from England; from whence also many of the workmen were brought. Common report estimates the total expense at about 90,000/. The best local authority, however, reckons it at about 60,000/. Even this is five times the amount of the liberal sum which was originally sanctioned by the Government.
"The famous bath—a large room fitted up for the purpose--is said by some persons to have cost 50001., and others 500/. Even the latter sum appears quite incredible, since the so-called marble does not resemble that used in the chimney-pieces, but is made of a stone found in one of the islands, and which admits of a beautiful polish. The bath was taken to pieces at the end of 1855, and the fragments were still lying at the hack of the building last year. The bath was supplied by pipes with salt water from the sea, and with fresh water from the tanks, wlulst a third pipe conveyed hot water also.
"The gentleman—originally a Treasuryclerk—for whom this monstrous expense was incurred, never took possession of the new house. Ile went mad before it was finished, but could scarcely have been more insane than the Minister who sanctioned his plans. "A subsequent Commissioner, an Admiral, reaped all the advantages of a measure for which he was in no way responsible. He appears to have enjoyed a salary in keeping with his palace; and although subordinate to the Naval Commander-in-chief, he lived like a prince. When his time expired, he took leave of his friends with the remark—' I am going from turtle and champagne to mutton chops and small beer !' " The post of Commissioner has long since been abolished. The charge of the Dockyard rests with the Admiral. In his absence, the Naval Storekeeper modestly, but effectively, performs the duties ; though unassisted by twelve horses and unsolaeed by a marble bath!"
DOWLING'S HOMES AND HAUNTS OF POETS AND STATESMEN.* ME. Dowtaxo's notices of places in the neighbourhood of Eton and Windsor, that have been rendered memorable as the " haunts " of poets or statesmen, is a readable and agreeable volume. The criticism on the poets Cowley, Milton, Denham, Waller, and Pope, may not be very new or profound ; the estimate of the statesmen Burke, Fox, Canning, Lord Grenville, and the Marquis of Wellesley, may verge upon commonplace, and that too of rather a common kind ; the biographical notices of the ten tell nothing which is new, nor is the information newly put: but it is all interesting, from the interest attached to the persons and the easy manner in which the facts are convey-ed. The charm of the book, however, is in the excursions and the scenery. We are earned among the commons, woods, half-wild lanes, and cultivated scenery, which surround Eton and Windsor, while through them
Wanders the hoary Thames along His silver winding way.
The reader visits at Chalfont, the house where Milton retired from the plague, and Horton, where his mother was buried. At Chertsey he sees the house where Cowley tasted the pleasures or discomforts of retirement, and died. Cooper's Hill gives the scene of Denham's poem, with Runnymede below : the poet, we fancy, had little real love for the country. Waller's mansion at Beaconsfield was pulled down soon after his death ; the present house was built by one of his sons ; but there are the trees he loved to look upon, and a rather splendid monument in the churchyard, though neglected and going to decay. Binfield, where Pope resided for nearly twenty years, receiving his earliest, perhaps his only real impressions of natural scenery, and forming his mind and cultivating his genius, is but poorly done. Part of the house remains ; part of the wood, where tradition says the poet loved to walk, remains ; the church and the surrounding country are there ; but Mr. Dowling abandons them to the engraver, while he writes an indifferent life of the poet. The best descriptions, too, arc somewhat deficient in precision as guides. Mr. Dowling describes some charming walks by half-hours or hours ; but a moderatelygifted pedestrian would rather go by miles. It is curious that the homes or houses of the poets, poor as they
are, seem more permanent than those of the statesmen. Milton's at Chalfont and Cowley's at Chertsey survive with fewer alterations than two hundred years might have been supposed naturallyto have produced. Part of Pope's house at Binfield seems to remain ; if Waller's was pulled down, it was rebuilt on the same site. But Burke's residence at Beaconsfield has been swept away. It does not seem that Canning or Wellesley ever had a house, in the Roman sense of " domus "—a family residence ; at all events not in the neighbourhood of Windsor. They are connected with the locality by their education at Eton. St. Anne's Hill remains, but one hardly associates the idea of domestic permanency with Fox. Dropmore was, no doubt, a family mansion ; and from an engraving of the gardens "a place" well worth describing ; but for all that appears in the text, Mr. Dowling might as Well never have been there. It is less singular that the fame of the poet surpasses that of the statesman—that the bard is more a household word than the minister. Inscriptions mark the house at Chertsey where Cowley died, and at Chalfont where Milton sojourned awhile. At Horton all material traces of the "Prince of Poets" have vanished, but his name still lives in the memory of the people. Here is Mr. Dowling's account of his visit. "Leaving Windsor, and preceding through the soft woodland scenery of the Home Park, we cross the Thames by the Victoria Bridge, and in halfan-hour fluid ourselves passing through Hatchet. Stepping forward for another half-hour, we reach Horton. Here then we are again treading the lanes where, in his younger days, the mighty Poet walked. But one disappointment awaits him who enters Horton searching for memorials of Milton. Not a vestige remains of the house in which he lived. At Chalfont we mourned the loss of the old porch, but here not one stone has been left upon another, not one suggestive mark remains. The site of his former home is however well known.
"A modern mansion occupies the spot where once stood the house of Milton. The situation is retired, without being secluded. It is just beyond the
* Poets and Statesmen; their Homes and Haunts in the Neighbourhood of Eton and Windsor. By William Dowling, Esq. of the Inner Temple, Barrister-at-law. Published by Williams.
sound of the village hum, yet from its windows the chimneys and roofs of each peasant home are visible. The ancient church-tower, now garlanded with ivy, must have stood in full view of the old house. The embattled keep of Windsor Castle bounded the prospect on one side, whilst on the other the hills of Surrey, looking down on Runnymede, presented their outlines to the poet's eve. "We asked an old man, who by the help of a stout stick WS limping
along the road= Is that the place where Milton's house stood ? " Yes, sir,' was his answer, that it is but it's all gone now ; and,' continued the man with some vehemence, the old tree where he used to sit and write poetry, that's gone too.' How proudly roiOt Horton have felt ; had both the house and the tree been preserved. No place in England could then have exhibited such memorials of Milton's early days. The men of the last generation were able to look upon these expressive remembmneers of the poet, for the old house appears to have remained till the year 1798.
"The mother of the great poet lies buried in the chancel of the parish
church. The villagers scent to pride themselves on this indubitable and sole visible sign of their connexion with the history of the bard. One little incident seems to prove this. Being unacquainted with Horton, we were uncertain in what direction the church or the site of Milton's abode was to be looked for. Turning about for some guide, we noticed a neat matronlylooking woman tending her little cottage-garden. Without any preface we put the question, Do you know where Milton's house stood ? " Indeed, I don't,' said she ; but I dare say the clerk does : but, air, Milton's mother is buried in the church—that I know. Poor woman ! how natural was her feeling, that the tnolher of a great BUM should bear some portion of his honour ! We entered the church, having paused for a minute to note the fine ancient door-way at the North end, and immediately (lune upon the grave of Sara Milton.' In the centre of the chancel, a dark slab lies level with the floor : it bears no heraldic devices, not one word of praise or regret meets the eye : three lines of rather rudely-carved letters toll the simple but solemn tale ' HEARE LYETH TILE BODY OF SARA MILTON THE WIFE OF JOHN MILTON WHO DIED THE 3RD or arum 1637.'
" The mother appears to have been the link which bound the poet to Horton : after her death he departed on a tour through Italy, mid this village saw him no more."
Mr. Dowling has connected with his biographical notices some extracts from the writings or speeches of tho different persons. They are not badly chosen, but those from Cowley and Denham are the most useful. The copious extracts from "Cooper's Hill" furnish the modern reader with a sufficient specimen of the poet. Except in the well-known passages on the Thames, they will hardly sustain his traditional reputation.