BERB10E, CAYENNE, DEMERARY, &C. In the present article we confine ourselves to such topics as may be considered common to them all, especially to the natural history of Guiana, comprising its soil, climate, native pro -auctions, original inhabitants; &c.
Guiana was originally called by some navigators the wild coast ; and its shores, accessible only by the mouths of its livers, are every where covered by dangerous banks, quick sands, rocks, and impenetrable thickets. Its appearance from the sea is wild and uncultivated ; and it is so low and flat, that, even where there are plantations along the coast, there is nothing visible at first but a continued forest, stand ing close to the beach ; so that the country appears as a cluster of trees growing out of the water. The European settlers, particularly the Dutch, attempted at first to culti vate the banks of the rivers, at a considerable distance-from the coast ; but, by the example of the British, were per suaded to extend their plantations along the shore, where the soil is remarkably fertile, and adapted for every variety of tropical production. The ground, for a considerable way up the country, is every where level ; and so low, that, during the rainy season, it is usually covered with water nearly two feet in height. This renders the soil so rich, that, on the surface, for 12 feet in depth, it is a stratum of perfect manure, and has been actually carried to Bar badoes for that purpose. In some places, 30 crops of rice can be raised in succession ; whereas, in the West India islands, not more than two is ever expected from the richest lands. The whole country is intersected by deep swamps or marshes, numerous rivers, and extensive savan nahs. The interior has been little explored ; but, in pro ceeding inland, it becomes more hilly, and the soil poorer, sometimes rocky, and often sandy. It is covered with im mense forests, rocks, and mountains ; and, in some of the latter, a variety of mineral substances are found. The most prominent objects are, a lake called Parima, whose extent varies with the seasons ; and a chain of mountains called Mei, nearly parallel with the form of the coast. From these mountains, rivers flow in every direction ; some, like the Essequebo, falling into the Atlantic ; some, like the Caroni, joining the Orinoco ; and others, like the Rio Blanco, uniting with the river of the Amazons.
The climate of Guiana is the mildest and most salu brious of any tropical country hitherto inhabited by Eu ropeans. This has been ascribed principally to the regular blowing of the t•ade-wind over the surface of a vast tract of ocean, which thus carries a perpetual stream of cool air over Guiana from east to west ; while, on the opposite coast of Africa, the same equatorial wind, coming over land, is heated with the sultry vapours of sandy deserts.
Besides this general flow of the whole atmosphere in a westerly direction, there is a daily lateral fluctuation, term ed the sea-breeze and the land-breeze ; the former, which is the cooler of the two, blowing from the north-cast dur ing the day, temperating the ardour of and the latter, which is the warmer of the two, blowing from the south east during the night, preventing too rapid a chillness. The range of the thermometer on the coast, during the whole year, is from 72 to 87 ; and, between two or three hundred miles up the country, it is from 654. to 84. In stead of the cold and the warm seasons of Europe, the year is divided by the rainy and the dry seasons, which may be termed the winter and summer of the country. But, in Guiana, there may be said to be annually two win ters or wet seasons, and two summers or dry seasons, which arc distinguished from each other by the appella tion of the greater and the smaller, referring not to the in tensity of the heat, or the violence of the rains in the one more than the other, but to their duration. The long wet season begins about the middle of April, declines in Au gust, and ceases in September ; when the short dry season commences, and continues till the middle of November. Then comes on the short wet season, which lasts till the middle of January, when the long dry season appears, rt which does not terminate till the middle of April. During this last period, especially in the month or March, the weather is most pleasant, the atmosphere clear and pure, the climate genial and cool. There are frequent variations in these stated periods ; and the changes are generally ac companied with tremendous storms of thunder and light ning, which sometimes prove fatal both to the inhabitants and the cattle of the country. In the wet season, though the rain falls in torrents, yet it is generally in the after noon ; and in the dry season, there is rarely a drought, but showers occasionally come during the night. The earth is thus, during the whole year, adorned with perpetual verdure, the trees loaded at the same time with blossoms and ripe fruit ; and the whole presenting to the view a de lightful union of spring and of summer. There are no hur ricanes to destroy the crops of the planter ; and rarely are any earthquakes felt in the level districts.