Of the Bahama Islands.

The Bahama Islands (called at their first Discovery Lucaies or the Lucaian Islands) are a tract of small Islands extending from the Gulph of Florida in a South East Direction almost the whole Length of Cuba. The most Northern of these Islands is Grand Bahama, which lies in the 27th Degree of North Latitude, Crooked Island being the Southermost is in the Latitude of 22 North. These Islands, according to the Map, consist of some Hundreds, most of them very small; about half a Score of the largest are from 20 to 50 Leagues in Compass. These are Grand Bahama, Andros, Abbaco, Elutheria, or Ilathera, Providence, Crooked Island, and Cat Island. The Island of Providence lyes in the Latitude of 25 North, it is eighteen Miles long, and about ten broad: On the North Side of it stands Nassaw, the principal Town of these Islands, and Seat of Government: Opposite to the Town lies Hog Island, which is a narrow SLip of Land, covered with Palmetto and other Trees, and is about four Miles long, which stretching parallel with the Coast of Providence, makes a Harbour before the town capable of admitting Ships of about four hundred Tuns. The Town has about two hundred Houses, most of them built with Palmeto Leaves, a few being of Stone: A Quarter of a Mile from the Town stands the Governor's House, on the Top of a steep Hill, which on the North Side overlooks the Town, and commands a Prospect of the Harbour, and Sea, sprinkled with innumerable Rocks, and little Islands: On the South Side of the House also is seen a glimmering Sight of the Sea cross the Island South: At the West End of the Town stands a Fort.

Grand Bahama is the largest of the Bahama Islands; it is low, wet, and full of Bogs: The Islands of Andros, and that of Abbaco, being very little better, yet they are all of use, and much frequented for hunting, fishing, and the plenty of excellent Timber, and other useful Woods they abound in: The Islands of Exuma, and Crooked Island have many Salt Ponds, for which they are much frequented: These Islands with Cat Island are said to abount with the most good Soil of any of the other, particularly Cat Island, which was formerly called St. Salvador, or Guanabani, and is yet more remarkable for being the first Land discovered in Americaby Christ. Columbus: Between Grand Bahama Island and the Island of Cuba on the Gulph of Florida, lies a knot of small Islandscalled the Bemines, abounding in Seals: Hither the Bahamians resort to kill them, carrying proper Utensels and Vessels for boiling and barelling up the oil drawn from these Animals. The Islands before mentioned are the principal for Extent, and Goodness of Soil, the rest are generally small, and very rocky, and contain so small a Quantity of Soil, that they are not worth setling: According to the Opinion of the most knowing and intelligent Inhabitants, Crooked Island and Cat Island (which are esteemed teh two best) contain not above a tenth or an eighth Part at most of the Land that is plantable, and the greater Part of that indifferent, the Number of Inhabitants on the Island of Providence are computed to be somewhat less than three hundred; three hundred more are said to inhabit Ilathera. These were the Number of Inhabitants which in the Year 1725 was computed to be on the Bahama Islands, besides about 200 Negro Slaves.

Tho' the Crown of England claims all the Bahama Islands, yet there are no residential Inhabitants, except on the three before mentioned: The Barrenness of these rocky Islands, and the little Soyl they contain, imploys not many Hands in its Culture: therefore the greater part of the Inhabitants get their Living other ways, viz: the more enterprising in building Ships, which they lade with salt at Exuma, and Crooked Island, and carry it to Jamaica, and to the French at Hispaniola. They also supply Carolina with Salt, Turtle, Oranges, Lemons, &c. but the greater Number of the Bahamians content themselves with Fishing, striking of Turtle, hunting Guanas, cutting Brasiletto Wood, Ilathera-Bark, and that of wild Cinamon or Winter's Bark, for these Purposes they are continually roving from one Island to another, on which Shores they are frequently inriched with Lumps of Amber-griss, which was formerly found more plentiful on the Shores of these Islands. The principal Food on which the Bahamians subsist, is Fish, Turtle, and Guanas, there are a few Cattle, and Sheep, but they increase not so much here as in more Northern Countries, especially Sheep: Goats agree better with this Climate. Their Bread is made of Maiz, or Indian Corn, and also of Wheat; they first they cultivate, but not sufficient for their Consumption. Wheat is imported to them in Flower from the Northern Colonies. They are produced likewise plenty of Potatoes and Yams, which supply the want of Bread, and are so much the better adapted to these Rocks, as agreeing well with a barren Soil. Besides Water, the most general and useful of all Liquors, their drink is Madera Wine, Rum Punch, and other Liquors, imported to them.

 

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