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Placed close to Normandy, with whose early history they were intimately connected, the inhabitants of the Channel Islands have never lost the associations that were hence derived. In language and literature, and in laws and customs, they retain many early forms adapted for a young people, and thus they offer abundant material for useful study and comparison, to the ethnologist, the philologist, the student of history, and the lawyer. They have also abounded in antiquities referring to the earliest inhabitants of Western Europe, although such remains have disappeared rapidly of late years.

But chiefly are these little spots remarkable for exquisite and varied beauty of scenery. Each island has its own beauty, but all are remarkable. The artist may study for weeks the trees and ferns of a few acres of ground, or the rocks and lichens of some hundred yards of cliff; and the naturalist may wander for days over a space of a few square miles, without half exhausting its treasures.

That the Channel Islands are not known to the public generally cannot be said. But the knowledge concerning them is vague, and not at all in proportion to the interest they are calculated to afford. The islands are popularly little distinguished from each other, though essentially very different. Their magnitude and relative importance are scarcely ever appreciated by those who have not visited them; and those who do visit one, are frequently induced to pass over the others as of minor interest; although, in fact, there is hardly any resemblance in the characteristics of each, and all are worthy of a prolonged examination.

It must not be imagined that size is a criterion by which their relative interest can be guessed at, or that any of the islands can be understood by a rapid survey. There are difficulties in the way of really reaching the spots best worth seeing in all the islands, while the readily accessible views, and various points of view dwelt on in guide books, with the unction pecu

liar to that class of literature, cannot safely be accepted, either as those which will satisfy the true lover of the picturesque, or as in any way worthy of the exclusive notice they have been favoured with.

As in most small tracts of country where there are objects of special interest, some little time and trouble must, in fact, be devoted to their discovery. A carriage will doubtless place one near the spot where these things are to be looked for, and the roads are generally good; but a pair of legs, accustomed to convey their owner without complaint, and a steady head, not alarmed at a precipice, are necessary for any one who would do justice to nature, and seek her where she loves to linger, and where she pours forth her most valuable treasures.

As a place to visit during summer and autumn, but especially in the late autumn, up to November, it may safely be said that these islands are, beyond comparison, superior to any of the ordinary resorts of tourists, unable to reach the south of Europe. Much more varied in the style of beauty, though much smaller than the Isle of Wight, we have in most parts of Jersey and Guernsey, conditions only found in the most sheltered parts of the Undercliff in the Isle of Wight.

The winds blow, and may be troublesome, but in the latter half of the year they are seldom cold, and never treacherous; there are then no fogs, and night frosts are extremely rare. The flowers continue to bloom, the fall of the leaf has more of softness and tenderness than of sternness, and the approach of winter is so quiet and gradual, that it is almost unheeded. There may be better summers on the Continent, though they are pleasant enough here, and the spring is ungenial in all northern latitudes; but for late autumn, there is no rival to the Channel Islands within several hundred miles.

In describing the islands, it will be best to proceed systematically, beginning with those that form the northern boundary of the tract of sea they are contained in. Those whose time is

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limited, cannot indeed follow this course in their travels; and many do little more than drive round Jersey and Guernsey, and spend a few hours in a fatiguing walk over the flat table land of Sark. To them this systematic course cannot fail to be useful; for though they no doubt fancy they have seen everything, they may thus discover that there remains material for another visit, when they will do well to devote time to each island in succession, and look out for the points before neglected. They may be assured, that they will find few places so small that take so long to see.

Those also who have not yet visited these outlying possessions, these ancient fiefs of our Queen, whose inhabitants regard themselves as independent of parliamentary jurisdiction, being governed by their own houses of assembly, and by officers appointed by the crown without reference to the laws of England, will be enabled thus to obtain beforehand a general glimpse of what is to be seen and studied, which may save much time and trouble when they do come.

That the Channel Islands possess great importance as military stations, and are capable of affording refuge to shipping in time of war, is a fact that has always been felt, and from time to time acted on by Great Britain. Large sums of public money have been expended in fortifying them and commencing harbours. The harbours, however, at present available, have been constructed entirely at the expense of the islanders. Perfect freedom from customs'-duties, and all other taxation for the benefit of England, an absence of interference with local laws, and even a permission to use in the public courts, and for public occasions, the French language, and to employ French coins in circulation, has been granted without question. That a people so governed should be loyal, and should do all in their power to retain the customs and privileges under which they have so long flourished, is not surprising. That islanders should be hardy boatmen, and but indifferent agriculturists, might also be ex

pected; and that a people so greatly favoured by nature in climate and fertile soil, and by political circumstances in their local governments, should be free and independent, jealous of interference, and rather proud of what they have already done, than careful to adopt new systems of which they have had no experience, is neither to be wondered at nor blamed.

In visiting these possessions, therefore, or while reading an account of them, the traveller in the one case, and the reader in the other, will do well to bear in mind, that both place and subject are neutral ground. The islands can neither be regarded properly from an English nor from a continental point of view. The people have customs, venerable from age and historical association, customs, superseded in Normandy and England, but not, perhaps, the less adapted to small communities. They have a language which, in its peculiarities, must be regarded as unformed rather than deformed. They are, in Guernsey especially, and in some respects also elsewhere, singularly tenacious of their family ties, and apt to narrow, rather than extend, their social circle. They are, in a word, islanders rather than English. It must also be borne in mind, that hardly any Celtic element is recognisable in these islanders. They are not like the Manx men, the Welsh, or the Bretons. They are Normans, but Normans of the old school. Norman freemen, before there were Norman barons and vassals of the crown, retaining the northern love of independence, and not at all the Gallic tendency to depend on the fostering hand of a central government.

They thus offer curious points of character; and, till lately, the mass of the population in some of the islands had undergone marvellously little change.

But the time of change has come. Roads, steam-boats, and public works, have already so far altered the peculiar features of the larger islands and the national peculiarities of their inhabitants, that we must now seek for many quaint and interesting characteristics that, only a few years ago, openly presented them

NUMBER OF ISLAND-GROUPS.

15

selves in the streets and market places. The cultivation of the land is improving; legitimate trade has assumed large proportions; excellent roads, and noble piers, quays and harbours, have been constructed at vast expense; and to provide funds for these, the inhabitants have been contented to tax themselves very heavily. Prices of all kinds of food, house-rent, and other necessary items of expenditure, have become gradually higher and higher, have approximated, in fact, more and more to the prices of similar articles in the great centres of population; so that now, the islands have almost ceased to tempt the possessors of small incomes and large families to migrate thither. In the place of these, of whom, however, many remain, there is a rapid increase in the number of tourists, who flock over by hundreds, in search of health, amusement and relaxation; and who will find their time well spent in examining the numerous objects of interest that here abound. It is desirable to clear the way for their benefit, and state briefly and what is distinctly remarkable and best worthy of notice in every part of our little channel archipelago; and in the history, antiquities, science, natural history and literature belonging to its various members.

To give the reader some idea of the very great number of islands, islets, rocks and shoals, forming the Channel Islands, a list is subjoined of the various groups, as named in charts; and to this is appended the proximate area, in square miles, of the space each group may be considered to occupy. It must be understood, that the area given is not that of the actual land. In some of the groups, the surface of rock exposed at high water is not more than a few square yards in area, for every square mile of dangerous surrounding sea; but, estimating the dimensions by the extent of dangerous water, a very fair idea will be formed of the relative importance of each group in navigation. It would, perhaps, have been interesting, had it been possible, to state the number of rocks beyond a certain size, visible at all times of tide; but no sufficient materials exist for this.

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