Mid Year, 1954
Bouquet for E. R. Burrowes, M.B.E,
--Marjorie Broodhagen -Wilson Harris
-Hubert Moshett -Coralie Whittingham
UalJ U .... ....n ....
(from a new novel)
Quality in the West Indies ....
(Harold Stannard Memorial Lecture)
k. J. SEYMOUIT,
Poems Criticism Illustrations
Vol. 6 No 18. TWO SHILLINGS
a zo. 2
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Vol. 6 No. 18
Bouquet for Burrowes
Synopsis of My Life
My Song is the Awakening
Fertilise Our Song
We Play Rounders
The River in October
A Song of Farewell ..
Fires are not Quenched
Quality in the West Indies
(All the Illustrations in t
Mid Year, 1954.
E. R. Burrowes .. 4
Marjorie Broodhagen 7
Wilson Harris .. 8
Hubert Moshett .. 10
A. J. Seymour .. 12
Coralie C. Whitting-
Esau T. Glasgow
Ralph E. Chandisingh
C. T. Uchlein
A. J. Seymour
his issue are by E. R. Burrowes)
Contributions and all letters should be sent to the Editor "Kyk-
Over-Al", 23, North Road, Bourda, Georgetown. British Guiana.
-This is a publication of the B.G. Writers' AssoQjation.
Let us now praise famous men is the admonition of the
ApoCtypha, and Kyk-Over-Al is proud to present a tribute to E.
R. Burrowes who has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen
for his serves to Art in British Guiana. We have gathered a *
Bouquet for Burrowes prepared by congratulatory hands.
Many years ago the late Carl T. Uchlein, Secretary to the
Income Tax Commissioners was sufficiently stimulated by the Q
talk of Evan Potter, J. A. V. Bourne and myself to write a long
short story on one of the features of the early life of mankind. )
This story he later gave me to use as I wished, and after sleeping
dust-laden years in one of my files it has come up to light again
in the pages of Kyk-Over-Al.
We can balance the creative work of "Banim Creek," an ex-
tract from an unpublished novel by the poet Wilson Harris,
against the critical theory which Sydney Singh propounds in the
For the rest of the contents, we welcome Ignatius Glen with
his Poems from the Pomeroon and Esau T. Glasgow with his
poems from St. Vincent.
(Lino Cut) (E.R.B.)
Synopsis of my Life
by E. R. BURROWES
I was schooled at a preparatory school run by an English gentle-
woman at Bridgetown, Barbados. This old maiden lady specialised in the
teaching of English and good manners. I was brought over to British
Guiana and sent to Queenstown R.C. School. After passing out of the sixth
standard, my foster mother could not afford to sent me to a secondary
school so I was sent to learn the tailor's trade under the late Mr. Marcus
Knight, at M. N. Rick's tailoring establishment, and at G. Bettencourt's
I made such rapid progress that after four years of apprenticeship I
was a journeyman tailor and the following year at the age of 19, I opened
my own tailor's shop as' a master tailor.
During the period of my apprenticeship, at the age of 16, I started a
boy's library using the large number of books owned by my foster father
and which were left as my only inheritance. This library existed for three
years when I had to close it down because of the many books I lost and
lack of time to devote to the library. At the age of 15 I had come under
the influence of the late Rev. John Dingwall who very kindly gave me
night lessons for a small monthly fee. He held the view that I had some
small gift of oratory and tried to encourage me to study for the Ministry.
In fact I served under him as a local preacher for three years, serving at
the Good Intent Moravian Mission. His wife, the first Mrs. Dingwall,
discovered that I had a good bass voice and gave me some training and
for several years after I did a great deal of singing in the choir, at concerts
and on the first Radio Stations, V.P. 3. B.G. and V.P. 3. M.R. My singing
activities became so well recognized that the late Bishop of Guiana, Rt.
Rev. Oswald Parry offered to send me to be trained as an opera singer at
his own expense. I, perhaps, very foolishly, turned this kind offer down,
because I found myself with the divided ambitions of going abroad
to study law, to write or to take up art seriously.
I had started art as a child at school and was greatly helped and
encouraged by Rev. Fr. Gough, Manager of the Queenstown R.C. School
and Mrs. Rowland, wife of Dr. Rowland, who herself was a pioneer of art
in British Guiana. So I took up the study of art seriously and soon found
that I had the gift to teach others as well.
Among my many early activities were those concerned with, firstly,
the Alberttown Debating Society succeeding the late Augustus Gibson
Devonish as President and Leader of the Debating Team. Secondly, I
became one of the founders along with F. C. Archer, P. F. Loncke, and
Isaac John of the African Development Association which was then known
as the New Negro Development Association.
Percy Loncke, the late Ken Rockliffe and I formed a Concert and
Dramatic Group to raise money for this Association in order to build a
Cultural Centre, for the inhabitants of the Colony. This was my first
association with the Drama stage. I wrote and produced three plays for
this group before withdrawing from the Association.
I succeeded Mr. J. T. Clarke as President of the Kitty Brotherhood
Movement in 1943 and resigned from the Movement in 1945.
SMy activities as a Teacher are as follows: 1931 I started a children's
:irt class at the Moravian School which I named the Ruskin Art Group.
This Group was able to put on the first School Art Exhibition in the
Colony in the year 1935. I discovered, fostered and guided the talent of
such prominent Guianese artists as Dennis Williams, Basil Hinds, Lloyd
Hinds, Makepeace Richmond, Terence Richmond and many others.
I was employed as Part-time Art Teacher at the Modern High School
ih 1936, promoted the next year as assistant English and Religious
This school was the first and until now the only B.G. school to hold
;n Exhibition in England. The show was an International one held and
sponsored by George Rowney and Sons. The work of the Modern High
$School was rated third in order of Merit among work of 60 other
S1939: I resigned from Modern High School and joined the staff of
the Modern Educational Institute under Mr. J. I. Ramphal. At this school
an exhibition was held in aid of the British Red Cross in 1941 and raised
1he sum of $100.00 for the fund from the sale of pictures and handicraft
work; I joined the staff of the Government Training College for Teachers
as Visiting Art Tutor.
I resigned from the M.E.I. and opened the Kitty Collegiate High
School in January, 1945 and had some moderate success in the passing of
students for the 1946-1948 Cambridge Junior and Senior Examinations.
SI closed the School in December, 1948 and joined the Education
Department as School Attendance Officer. I was British Council Art
I founded the Working People's Art Class in April, 1948.
ABOU BEN ADHEM
BALLET (Wood Engraving)
Bouquet for Burrowes
The title "pioneer" is freely bestowed by writers, but few really
merit the distinction. The names of those in British Guiana who have
earned that title are also few, but one that really merits it is Rupert
It was most gratifying to me to hear that a portion of an issue of
Kyk-Over-al was to be devoted to Rupert Burrowes in recognition for
the great contribution which he has made to Art in British Guiana.
SI gladly accepted therefore the invitation to write my short apprecia-
The first thing that impresses me about Rupert Burrowes is his
enthusiasm, drive and utter sincerity. He lives for art and is never too
busy to give help in things artistic to anyone seeking it. It is a wonder-
ful experience to meet and talk with this interesting man. His quiet
,voice and friendly manner turns every interview into an event never
to be forgotten. His expansive nature welcomes one's confidences. Rupert
Burrowes has the rare gift of being able to arouse in the minds of those
with whom he comes into contact the same desire to pursue the spirit
of beauty which animates himself. In an amazing way he combines a
lovely vision with sound practical common sense and the skill and un-
derstanding of a fine craftsman He can see both sides of a problem and
usuallyy the right solution; even if it is only just a simple case of choos-
Ing suitable paper, pencils or paints for his pupils. His vision, patience
and quiet persuasive power go far to convince even the most obstructive
bf the reality of those definable standards of goodness which he feels to
SRupert's tremendous enthusiasm has lead him to do much for Art in
BG.; whether it be just teaching an Art Class, running an exhibition,
giving a handicraft lesson to a Women's Institute, or just talking art. He
wants our artists to express themselves, he wants our public to be art
conscious; he wants everyone in B.G. to derive as much pleasure as pos-
sible from Art; and to this end he works untiringly. Let us in British
Guiana not fail him.
In congratulating Mr. Burrowes on the honour which has been con
ferred on him like a hopeful omen for the community spirit in Guiana
I cannot help recalling a discussion that happened between Mr. Burrowes
Mr. Dennis Williams and myself in London, July or August of 1950.
It would be a curious thing indeed if some of these discussions one
engages in from time to time could be played back again and one couk,
judge the frame of mind that distinguished a particular gathering.
The meeting between Mr. Burrowes, Williams and myself occurred ii
Williams' flat (where I was staying at the time), and I wish my recollec
tion of it were clearer at this time. But since then so much water hal
flowed under the bridge.
Mr. Burrowes had come to say 'goodbye' to Dennis. It was the enc
of his year in England on a British Council Scholarship. And as a climax
to that year he had had a fortnight in Paris looking through the museum,
and palaces of art. He spoke in glowing terms of the marvellous paint4
ings of Roualt. I asked him what were his impressions of the Easter Islanc
blocks or Monuments in the Museum of Man. I cannot remember ot
recall now his reply but I do recollect my own dwelling on the strange
and terrible genius in these unsmiling forms that seemed to look into z
historyless pit of times past or generations drowned or lost.
The question arose whether it was possible to distinguish between
the community or historical value in the work of Roualt, for instance
and the enigmatic almost-despairing-of-community value in the Eastel
Island Monuments. The first reflected the sophisticated genius of man
prizing civilisation, and accepting the torch of spirit to save or grace
generations present and to come. The second might well have been
carved by weathers and seasons into a phenomenal figment of the
imagination, to comfort or guide no one, but alarm undreamt-of mariners
in a remote or incredible future.
There was a lesson here for us in the function of art. And w
decided that there were only two ways open to human society-that o1
self-destruction when there remains only the cold flame of the seasons
like a congealed stone the spirit retains to warn passersby near the fatal
spot or the community of re-creation, the spirits of optimism and
renewal and noble discipline.
Mr. Burrowes cited how a nourishing community life inspires works
of art like the Elgin marbles. And our discussion moved away from thfe
dark topic of the Easter Island mood to a concentration on the hopeful
and promising vista ahead. Near us Williams had one of his paintings
tacked on the wall-a study on brown paper in pastel called "Genesis".
Mr. Burrowes liked it and he and Dennis exchanged a few reminiscences
going back to the art classes Mr. Burrowes had taught or instructed in\
British Guiana, from which promising painters had come, like Bourne
(now in Venezuela) and Williams himself.
The main theme of our discussion never entirely disappeared-that
is, the theme of the artist and the community. Mr. Burrowes never lost
his strong sense of optimism. He told us something of his own work in,
hand. He hoped to do wood carvings and sculptures when he got back
to B.G., but also he had far-reaching plans for exhibitions by the
Guianese Art Group and the like. The community must have a cease-
less opportunity to experience and measure itself in the work of art.
We were all heartily agreed on that. When Mr. Burrowes left, I had
gained the impression that his year in England had been a great stimulus.
He spoke surely on his subject-explained certain problems of crafts-
manship and skill and dwelt on the spirit and the grace and the deep
understanding that illuminate the best in the arts of the West.
And now with a leap to the West Indies -- beyond the shadow of
a doubt the past three or four years have been turned into occasions for
bringing the community into closer contact with works of art. I confine
myself in this article to the exhibitions staged by the Working People's
Art Class and the Guianese Art Group in British Guiana. These took a
new turn recently with out-door exhibitions at street corners in George-
town, New Amsterdam and in the country. What I wish to emphasize
is that Mr. Burrowes has lived up to his convictions in helping to
stimulate a climate of appreciation without which all values become
meaningless. And art is a fundamental principle at any rate to awaken
dialogue and the high level of responsibility, without which communities
In connection with Mr. Burrowes' work, I have formed a certain
appreciation of his evolution and style as a painter. And if I may venture
an opinion it seems to me that he has retained much of his early candour,
but in addition now engages themes drawn from Music or literature or
folklore in a manner as though his responsibility as an artist is no longer
that of a carefree and rambling sightseer in the Guiana outdoors, but
rather that of an urbane and serious mind, ever conscious however of its
Early and happy optimism and tireless hopes.
THE MERMAID IDYLL
The first thing one is struck by on meeting Edward Rupert Burrowes,
(Eddie to me) is his unbounded enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for anything he
is interested in at the moment-books, painting, a song, play, debate, or
just a friendly chat. He surrenders himself completely to the business
in hand and is momentarily shut off from outside contact.
Recollection of my earliest association with Eddie was when as
schoolboys we exchanged books. The kinds most popular with boys of
those days were "Buffalo Bill", "Robin Hood", "Dixon Brett", "Sexton
Blake", "Billy Bunter", "Chums", "Boys Own Paper" and perhaps a few
more which I cannot now call to mind.
I very soon discovered that reading was not his only interest; he
made sketches and finished them in water colour and crayon. He was
never seriously put out by lack of materials, he just manufactured his
own. On one memorable occasion when nothing else was handy, he made
his own colouring by soaking pieces of coloured paper in warm water
and squeezing the juices therefrom. I later learnt from him that the
back of a piece of oil cloth, a piece of flour bag or rice bag could be
prepared to hold an oil painting almost as well as the expensive type of
I have come into contact with Burrowes as an amateur actor, a
singer on stage and radio, teacher and organiser, and I do believe that
his thoroughness and sincerity have won for him the respect and admir-
ation of the majority, even when he may have fallen short of the high
standard he has been accustomed to set himself.
From at least about 20 years ago, Burrowes has been gathering
around him interested youngsters, to encourage and assist them to
develop artistic appreciation and ability, and this has led to the formation
of the Working Peoples Art Society ,which has and is producing a number
of young artists with a progressive outlook-an accomplishment which
has been possible only at great sacrifice by a few of its virile members
and its founder Mr. Burrowes.
The honour bestowed by Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
on Edgar Rupert Burrowes of Membership of the Order of the British
Empire is a clear indication of the high appreciation of service which he
has rendered unselfishly over a number of the best years of his life and at
the same time, I am happy to say, casts a creditable reflection also on the
Guianese Art Group which he has been serving as Vice President from
(Lino Cut) (E.R.B.)
" CIRCE "
A. J. SEYMOUR
I have a few memories of my own to add to this bouquet. Many years
ago Mr. Burrowes was interested in sculpture." It was the time I used to
pay frequent visits to his house to see how his paintings developed from
one stage to another. I remember-how clearly now-that this was the
time I fell in love with two paintings of his-The Eucalyptus Tree, and
the Bridge at La Penitence, which people still admire on the wall.
But quite apart from the paintings, I was greatly taken with the
experimental work in sculpture that Burrowes was engaged upon. He
had just finished a head in concrete, which in my fancy took shape as a
possible portrait of his father, or his father-in-law,-or if not either of
these two worthies, then a type of father-in-law for many Guianese. The
head was strongly African, patriarchal, obviously the head of a head of'
a family, accustomed to take decisions in weighty matters, and to give
orders as of right. I would have said that he belonged to the tribe of
Umslopagaas, the incredible runner in the tale by Rider Haggard, or that"
the blood of the Zulu flowed in his veins.
Burrowes said that it had nearly killed him to finish the head. He
would have the concrete prepared almost to hardening point, and then
begin chiselling away as it set to rigidity. The powerful jaw was cut out
without much difficulty, but it was the eyes that gave him the trouble and
he had to work at them again and again.
I have little experience of sculpture but for me that head in concrete
by Burrowes was a symbol of strength and patriarchal dignity and
responsibility, and I have felt to myself that Burrowes had something in
him to give the community a lead there if only he had had the opportunity
to devote time to developing his skill in this field. Of course, the creative
consciousness cannot be directed beyond a certain extent and Burrowes' t
special gift has been to impart enthusiasm and technique to the many
young people he has taught, but I still cherish the wistful thought that
that head in concrete held the beginnings of a special flowering in
(Wood Engraving) (E.R.B.)
CORALIE C. WHITTINGHAM
I remember how delighted everyone in the British Council Office was
when the news came that Mr. E. R. Burrowes had been awarded a British
Council scholarship. How pleased, too, Mr. John Harrison, our Art Officer
in the Caribbean was when he heard it. This was not only because we
liked the man but because he had given us faith in him and the work he
was doing with the Working People's Free Art Class.
I little thought then that I would benefit from that same scholarship
but soon after Mr. Burrowes returned from England he persuaded a group
of us to form a Friday Art Class. We had a very mixed collection of
styles in our class and I often admired the way in which our teacher
could pass from one pupil to the other, each showing a different interpre-
tation of the same subject, yet no one got less encouragement than the
Of course I knew before I became his pupil that by virtue of his
character alone Mr. Burrowes would make an ideal teacher. He is so
unselfish and so patient. As soon as he learns anything of value his nature
is such that he must pass it on. Neither does he only pass it on unselfishly
but joyously. Every bit of knowledge he acquires is a treasure he has
found and he is only too anxious to show it to his pupils, to discuss it with
them. Nor is his the jackdaw mind that stores its treasures in a bright
jumble. Because he loves art so much, it is all laid out carefully in his
mind in the pattern of its own development and growth. A subject really
loved is a subject known.
If I were to mix a palette now to paint Mr. Burrowes it would be a
study in brown burnt sienna, brown madder, burnt amber, chrome
yellow all the lovely earth colours. No distant blues, no envious greens.
Perhaps just a wisp of grey for the smoke from'his inseparable pipe! How
suitable these colours are for him for earth is the element of the artist
just as air is that of the musician. The artist uses the earth's clays, pig-
ments, and oils for his materials, its marbles and stones for his sculpture.
But alas, it is only an imaginary protrait. The pupil cannot do justice
to the master--
the furious needs
torn from the earth's
center raw wounds open
to the yellow sun's cry
lies a sob
the blind hurling
in the void
yet not quite blind
lies a vision.
driven by needs
and the sorrow for
of a halcyonic time
lies the sea, murky
failing to elucidate
the amnesic pause
(too soon emerging
one always does
and the immediacy of fear
lies the symbol.
or. minimizing of events
swings the thread
towards could be never was
might be is yet now
(o for the fear of loss)
forever torn forever incomplete
forever separate forever bare
yet our acts
are they a promise ?
ESAU T. GLASGOW
My Song is the Awakening
My song is the awakening of my passion,
The passion of an urchin, as I stand
Here in the dark, screened,
Screened by the gloom, the awed token of silence,
Undisturbed, lavishing melody on the stars and
The stern wilderness of night, thinking
Of you, recalling you in tune.
You, who since time's innocence
Fashioned my smile, and provoked the impulse
Of my sex, you Syletha,
You my first love,
Return to me across
The blue awfulness of the deep;
Across the emptiness of
Years seek me again;
For we are one.
Let us gather the broken
Fragments of our first dream;
For fixed is the constellation
Of Heaven that binds our fate.
Shatter your late affections on
The flint of emotion, and be mine,
Be mine, and
By the blown bubbles of mature
Friendships, and the babbling lust of age
Be not deceived, my dear;
Pure love lies only
At the fountain head,
In the first spring of youth:
And fresh is its flow.
Go back to Meribah.
Back to the rock of the years
And find me there.
Find me m my desert of extreme desire,
Ready to smite, and quench
My dying thirst.
But if my prayer be useless, my mistress,
And I be your bondman,
Spare me the bleeding whip, spare
Me the harsh stripes
Of your indifference,
Pity me rather, mercy, I implore;
I am a child again,
A weeping child again.
ESAU T. GLASGOW
Fertilise our Song
(A Prayer for new inspiration)
Light of our dream, shatter
Your bushel and dispel
The dark; condense the cloud of doubt
About you and appear.
Magnify your gleam
And fertilise our craving song,
You another ray;
Fertilise our song.
For we are buds ready to break forth
That need you, need to feel your
Spirit; buds drooping in the dark, praying,
Praying for a spark to
Provoke the damp core and
Stimulate a smile.
Shine again, and
With a brighter glow
Dazzle our drowsiness.
For there where before the dark
The fire sun burns
To pale ash-cloud its glowing chaffs,
Is your grave,
Where a new spark illumines
Heaven, a glittering diamond in
The horizon's ring,
Is your awakening.
Now be your Phoenix hour;
Burn your cloud in death, and
Triumph -in your resurrection.
Rise and triumph,
And with new life
Rejuvenate the soul, the
Dying poet's soul.
ESAU T. GLASGOW
We Play Rounders
A river of irroressions
Flows on, on ... never resting;
And we move on its end,
Live on its end,
Looking back on past rapids
Past meanderings of peace, past
Pools of calm,
Moving on, on
Toward the ever beckoning sea of futurity.
The only destination is "nowhere," v
And we go on, on,
Finding it again,
For the wind dies
And loses itself in air
Where it began.
Too far east is west;
On our life's field
We play rounders.
For we live ever dreaming
In beds of weary toil
Of tomorrow's hope of success,
And clip today's wool
Grazed on yesterday's pasture
With the shear of the next sun.
... and the crop of rain
Falls in its ripe season,
And is gathered
Into the harvesting sea
That elsewhere stores on
Banks of young clouds
Its next plucking.
And where would we be
At the breaking?
In the same fields,
Fields of sweat,
Fashioning tomorrow's luck.
Poems from the Pomeroon
Once I loved a woman
She was beautiful and true
Tender and enchanting as a Rose.
Locked in love's sweet slumber horrid dream.
She darted from her pillow with a scream
And the frenzy of her start
Spurred her to impart
The dread unwanted vision of her palpitating heart.
"Gloating snarling eyes of human
Grasping claws of maddened woman
Leaping at me from the ocean
Killing me. Oh, my God,"
"Hush, my darling,
Sleep upon the breast that loves you
Mermaid Lulu Water will not catch you ever."
Swimming in the river
Laughing in the water,
Like a sylvan nymph at play
Thrilling me with mischief's banter- matchless Rose.
And the softly rippling water
Framed her form like angel's daughter
And her eyes like crystals clear
Sparkled merrily and dear
So I stopped to lift and kiss her
When her cry rang out of unsurpassing agony and Fear
"Staring bloody eyes of human
Piercing claws of maddened woman
Stabbing at me from the ocean
Killing me. Oh my God."
"Hush my darling.
Peace within the arms that hold you
Peace within the arms that hold you
Mermaid Lulu water will not catch you ever."
Sleeping by the river
Colder than the water
L;ke a slab of marble grey
Brows and breasts so silent fallen Rose.
Oh the sad and sobbing water
Of the agitated river
And the weeping West Wind sought her
E'en the whisp'ring leaflets brought her
"Fare-thee-well, oh spotless victim of the sea."
Horrid scream in midnight dream
Frenzied chase by phantom woman
Fitful gurgling red blood spurting
From the lips mysteriously.
"Oh my darling.
Sleep upon the Breast that keeps you
Mermaid Lulu Water cannot wake you ever."
A maiden loved me once
She an Indian I, to her thoughts
Of loftier race.
But still love's flooding urge
Moved her to express the chaste emotion of her soul
In the faint hope that I
Her man-god and her star
Might prove responsive to her passion.
One night I stood alone
Upon a hillock's peak.
The moon above, her silvery ghost-radiance around;
Below, the settlement's twinkling lights
And from the caverns of the night
The Boo-too-too's mournful call.
Mineena stole to me, handed a spray of pure white buds
Told in a language strange love's sacred tale
Outpoured her soul in one embracing look
I should have followed if I loved the maid
To where she waited in the shadows.
I should have pledged her love
And broke the seal of maidenhood betokened by the buds.
But, the language of her act not understood,
Mineena saw her heart as being unwanted,
Then how the flame of unrequited love did burn her soul.
My work was done,
Around me was the world of Steamer-days:
Woop of the river-boat's whistle,
Swirl of blade and boiling water
Stelling-porters' wild confusion-patches, tug and tlumiblh
Sandy smell of ground provisions,
Whiffs of fried fish, nuts and crushed ice,
Boviander belles giggling at the mad uproar
Stench of boiler-smoke, crash of landing stage
And city dreams.
Rushing by with gathering speed
In a lonely nook, I saw
A maid, madonna-like
Clasping a spray of pure white blossoms to her breasts.
Misty eyes star-shining with the light of grieving love,
Bare toes seeking solace in the sand;
It was Mineena, weeping, and alone.
The River in October
Hey Ho. The East Wind blows
The river dances
Tall trees bow and rustle in a fury of delight
And the plaits and the skirts
Of the bonnie fisher-girls
Go way-sailing out
In the boist'rous caper of a glad October day.
Ho, Ho. The East wind grows
The river prances
Like a herd that frenzies for a mad stampede
Boom. The mad waves tumble
Feel the shy shore tremble
To the Titan's uproar
The majestic song and dance
Of the wild winds and the wild waves
Of a mad October day.
So slow the West Wind moans.
The river chances
On a whisper that beguiles my soul to pray'r.
Hush! The tears of evening
Still the fears of nooning
In the holy dreaming
Of the sad winds and the sad waves
Of a sad October day.
RALPH E. CHANDISINGH
A Song of Farewell
1. When the paddy fields are green again
And the cane is waving high,
SWhen the 'sakis chirp their glad refrain
And no clouds dark the sky,
SWhen once again my erring feet
Stray neath the 'kokar trees,
I'll recall those days when we did meet -
My dearest, Dolores.
S. The pleasant words which you did say,
Your voice so sweet and clear
Your radiant smile, so carefree, gay,
The roses in your hair;
'Tis thoughts like these that'll haunt me still
The things I'll ,ever see,
Though I'm alone in Rose Hall vill.,
And you across the sea.
3. And through the years while you're away
In far and friendless climes
Maybe alone at close of day
You'll think of me, sometimes.
You may recall those cheerful bowers
In which we found such bliss.
Whiling away the happy hours
With talk and stolen kiss.
4. Or you may think of eventide
When day had vanished far,
And night had stolen to our side
And brought its merry stars;
How oft' at such a time, did we
(With Love to guide us right)
Wander to the silvery sea
'Neath the moonbeams' mellow light.
5. And if these thoughts, my dearest heart
Should bring tears to your eyes,
And stab you like sharp-pointed darts
And fill your heart with sighs,
Then to me, dear, won't you return?
Though 'Nay!' shout earth and sky,
When the paddy fields are green again
And the cane is waving high.
Where the Fires are not Quenched
by C. T. UCHLEIN
I have a habit-whether it is good or bad I cannot say-and that is
to dream. At the same time if it be bad, I am afraid that I will not brine
myself to make any effort to be rid of it as it gives me lots of matter
which is very interesting and so that I can occupy my leisure hours try-
ing to fix a meaning to the strange scenes I have witnessed and what
they meant to teach me, if in fact they are direct revelations as I
sometimes believe them to be. Also there is much that is amusing,
sometimes extremely hilarious, and also at times too much that is hor-
rible and occasionally positively terrifying. In spite of this last I db
not desire to be rid of a habit which affords me such interest which at
times is as positively absorbing as the one which is in my mind at the
present moment and which I will relate to you.
One night in March of this year, I went to bed at the usual hour but
in spite of the night being fairly cool and very breezy, I was unable to go
to sleep promptly. I searched about for the reason but seemingly nothing
was wrong. I apparently was not suffering from indigestion, I had not
slept during that day and was not overtired, but try as I might, I did
not close my eyes until nearly 12.30 a.m. I did not seem to have been
sleeping for a long time when I was vouchsafed a vision. I say vouch-
safed advisedly because the dream that I had was of such a nature that
if one considers that it was sent by design as in my secret heart I would
like it to be so deemed, vouchsafed is exactly the word that I should
use with reference to this manifestation that I then received.
There appeared to me a seer of the ancient world, and he himself
was an ancient man, his long white beard hung straight down his breast
until it nearly reached his feet. so that at times it seemed capable of
tripping him up. His head was perfectly bald without a grain of hair
showing, and was as shining and round as an egg. His face was lined
with wrinkles which crossed every portion that was left exposed by his
voluminous beard. But withal he still kept himself perfectly neat ard
his eyes were bright and piercing, as if it was his intention to, and,
he did actually, see right through one.
He informed me that he was one of the Magi and resided in ancient
Babylonia, and I have an idea that he mentioned the ancient city of
Lagash. He, however, did not mention his name and told me that he
had been sent, but by whom he did not say, to instruct me in the
beginnings of religion. He also suggested that if I gave his teaching the
attention that it was worth and followed his reasoning closely, there was
hope, but he did not appear to think that it would come about, that in
time I might become as wise as he. But looking at his apparent extreme
age, I certainly thought that I would be dead and buried before I reached
that exalted height. He also was kind enough to address me as his son
but I thought that he might with truth have put me several generations
S He spoke for some time or so it seemed, but what he said I cannot
now very well remember, so that it seems that his estimate of my ability
to follow his reasoning was correct, and that the difficulty which I would
have to reach the position intellectually to which he had arrived was
very real indeed. He did say, however, that every distinct part of a
creed was the result of some experience in the human race which from
S.the circumstances had impressed itself on the imagination of the people
Ain an indelible fashion, and that mankind had fought its way upward
from a savage (I would almost say an animal) state, and that every
pew vision broke with such inspiring forcefulness on some particular in-
dividual that the impression was that he had been vouchsafed an in-
spired revelation. That at one time mankind lived without the know-
,edge of right and wrong and that some person superior to the rest
developed a conscience and thereby felt exceedingly sorrowful for some
.sin he had committed, which of course happened when he had been
found out and punishment was about to overtake him or perhaps what
hie deemed was the great punishment for that particular act.
He then stated that he would take me to see an incident in the life
'of people living when the world was young in order that I might under-
stand what he was telling me. He then put his right arm around me and
Though he was ancient, yet his arm seemed to have lacked no strength.
SHis power also over nature must have been great, and I felt a thrill at
'the thought that at some date I might reach the same development and
I was pleased with the idea of imagining how I could surprise my con-
temporaries by the exercise of similar gifts.
S He bore me up with him in the air and we began to shoot through
space at an unheard of rate but always parallel to the earth's surface.
I will never forget my sensations during this journey. At first I was over-
I tome by an overmastering fear but gradually it subsided, and it was suc-
ceeded by a feeling of great content, and I enjoyed every moment of this
long journey. We sped over rivers and lakes, woods and forests, hills and
forest-clothed mountains, seas and oceans, but whether it was a journey
to the particular place where these people dwelt or over the centuries
to their epoch I cannot tell, though it appears to have been the latter.
'For at first the configuration of the land resembled the present surface
Sof the earth, but it subsequently took a formation which was altogether
new and strange.
SAt last, however, we landed in a valley running at the foot of a high
mountain on the face of which were innumerable caves. It was morning
a1nd the first peep of dawn was just showing. The place seemed to be
S'the abode of a very primitive tribe who lived in the caves, two or more
families s generally being found in each. At the entrance of each cave
Sa fire was burning, which seemed to have been placed there to keep away
S:savage animals which otherwise would have gone into the caves and
-destroyed the inhabitants. Two or more persons seemed responsible for
each flame and it seemed that they had taken watches in which to attend
to the fire, for in the faint light of dawn I would see a dim figure appear
at the entrance of one of the caves and let fall a bundle of firewood on
it, and then draw back into the shadow. Also, here and there I would see
the dim figure of some prehistoric carnivora approaching an entrance
and have to turn back because of the fires. I saw the terrible sabre-tooth
tiger, the gigantic cave bear and various other beasts of the carnivora
Gradually the dawn began to lighten, and the various animals began
to slink away to their lairs, and figures of men and women appeared in
the entrances of the caves. At last when it was fairly light, a woman
stepped out of a cave apparently to carry out some duty. She came boldly
out looking to left and right, but at the same time not neglecting to arm
herself with a blazing brand. And it was well that she had taken this
precaution for a large cave bear, which had been hidden behind a huge
projection of rock nearby, suddenly appeared and charged down upon
her with a savage roar. Sne promptly flung the blazing brand in his face,
turned and ran for the shelter of the cave, at the same time shouting
at the top of her voice in her language which seemed to be made up
only of monosyllabic words. At the sound of this alarm, men hurried out
of each cave, each armed with a brand and a club or spear sharpened
into a fine. They surrounded the bear which had drawn back from the
brand flung at him by the woman, and which menaced by the blazing
torches, was able to put up only a half-hearted fight and began to make
a slow retreat. The men of the tribe still half surrounded it and pressed
as close to it as circumstances would permit. Now and again they were
able to get close enough to drive a spear in its side or deal it a blow
from a club. At last when the fight had lasted fully half-an--hour and
the bear had stopped for a moment in seeming bewilderment, perhaps
exhausted by the continual harrowing which he had endured, a huge man,
not so tall but the broadest across the chest that I have seen, and armed
with a mighty club, rushed in and struck the bear a savage blow be-
tween the eyes with all his might, which laid him dead at his feet. The
bear, however, had got his own back because in the path which the fight ,
had traversed there were two casualties, one man whose head had been
crushed with a blow from his paw, and another whose thigh was laid
open and who lay on the ground as if dead.
When the bear collapsed the tribe, evidently bent on not taking any
risks, still continued to beat and pierce his carcase with their spears
until there was left no doubt that the bear was dead. They then made
a circle round the dead body and shouted and roared at the tops of their
voices, stamped, jumped and skipped. Just before they had begun the
dance of victory, the brands had all been thrown on the ground in a heap
which had begun to blaze. The people then made a circle around it and
still shouting began to bow down themselves before it, and obviously
showed their adoration and reverence as to a great and mighty god who
alone was able to bring down the great cave bear by his strength and for
whom all creation had such a wholesome respect. Then the big mail
who had killed the bear approached the body from which he cut off two
huge junks of flesh, threw them on the flames, and let them be devoured
apparently as an offering to the god.
After they had taken up the wounded man and carried him into his
cave where his wives gave him such attention as their experience sug-
gested, they cut up the meat and each household took its portion. The
Sbig man who officiated at the worship of the god also supervised the
sharing of the kill and it seemed that he was the chief of the tribe. They
now came and went about their daily duties, and I was able to notice
more especially their personal characteristics. They were a dark-skinned
race, and were absolutely without clothing of any kind, and showed their
bodies without a sense of shame or fear. They had low foreheads and
broad faces, and in height averaged 5ft. 4in, but were an exceptionally
broad-chested and long-armed race. The chief of the tribe was a giant.
He was fully 5ft. 6in. and broader in proportion. Also his face seemed
More intellectual than that of his fellows and seemed to have been given
to more thought, if that is possible in such a man.
I may mention that while my companion and I were able to see and
hear everything, we were not visible to the tribe but were like a pair
of ghosts moving among them. We were as if we had put on the in-
r visible helmet, and we were able to move freely among the people
ee everything, hear all that was said, note all the private motions and
actions of each individual without the inconvenience of being seen our-
selves. After a space of time which seemed to be about two days, I got
to know everything about the most important personages. The first in
importance was, of course, the chieftain whose name was Daug. He had
about ten wives and lived with them in the topmost cave which was big
Said roomy. It appears that the tribe which numbered about eighty men
and about two hundred women had come originally from a place about
1 six days' journey away, where they had been familiar with fire. This
place seemed to have had a subterranean volcano and in spots the flames
Should be seen issuing through cracks which had been made in the rock.
The place, however, was more or less desert and there was not much
hunting to be found there. The tribe therefore deemed it advisable to
seek better hunting grounds. They then sent exploring expeditions, and
at last the spot was discovered. They brought the fire with them and war-
shipped it as a god, but did not know all its uses for instance, they deem-
ed that anything thrown into the fire and even slightly scorched had been
accepted by the god, and the scorching was a sign that he had devoured
Some of it and it became consecrated to the god. Anything there which
became partially burnt or scorched was immediately thrown into the
fire as a sign that the god had accepted it and required the sacrifice by
all faithful worshippers. For example, the man who was slain in the
Fight with the bear had fallen on his torch and had received a burn on
his side. His body was taken and burnt before nightfall with appro-
priate ceremonies. Again, a woman attendant on the fire, of which I will
explain more fully further on, was one day accidentally burnt on the leg.
She was immediately brought before the chief who adjudged her to have
been consecrated by the god. She was put into a pen, and I may say well
looked after. Every huntsman had to bring a portion of his kill and pre-
sent it to her, on an appropriate day she was brought out and with a
Regular ceremony her head was bashed in, her body flung on a hear of
fuel arranged before the caves and so consumed amid the dances and
worship of the whole tribe.
The fire was kept burning day and night by the oldest women in
the tribe in a cave which had fissures which seemed to go through the
mountain to the other side, and these fissures were used as chimney$~
The fuel used was a peat-like earth which was brought from a spqt
some distance away. The fire had to be kept burning day and night, and
the women attended to it in watches. As my conductor and I stood over
this fire he said to me. This is the origin of all vestal fires and vestal
virgins, although at present this tribe attributes no virtue to virginity
or scarcely realises what it is."
Daug took a great interest in the tribe, always watched over the,
members and endeavoured to prevent as much as he was able strife
among the men, as that was one reason for rth small proportion of men,
His judgments seemed to have made marked improvement in the ber
haviour of the tribe although the aggressor was never put to deach. If
the fight was for the possession of a weapon or a kill, and the aggressor"
won, the spoil was confiscated and consecrated to the god by being burnt
publicly. If the prize were a woman, the bachelors of the tribe were ,
made to compete for her and she was given to the winner of the coin-
petition. As an example, in one instance that I saw was, the throwing of
a spear at an object. Here I may state that I did not see everything
necessarily but that the memory and mind of the person whom I was
examining was like an open book before me at the moment, and I could
see the reason for every move and also how his thoughts and his mind
were operating. Daug then was much in advance of his people, was, a
very successful chief, and the tribe seemed to be happy and and con-
tented under his rule. He had begun to rule about 12 years before, the
preceding chief having been killed in a great fight with a sabre-toothed
tiger which Daug had afterwards succeeded in killing. Even then he had
to dispose of two claimants for the chieftainship before he was estab-
lished in the office. Since then his rule had never been challenged, i
There was another man in the tribe in whom I took a great interest.
This was a youngster called Tung. One could see that he had just
reached man's estate and yet he was quite as tall as Daug, though not as '
broad, but it seemed that when he reached full maturity he would even
be taller and broader than the latter. His mind also was as much
developed as Daug's, but at present he had no ambition except to be
thought a good hunter as unquestionably he was. No man in the tribe
was capable of teaching him anything about hunting, and moreover he
was an adept with every weapon. Though at the contest which I have
related above, he had been absent for some days, and that brings me to
an incident which I will relate. One morning my companion decided to -
follow Tung when he left for hunting. At daybreak he took his spear
and his club and set out on a brisk walk. He went through the forest
with eyes and ears on the alert for a possible enemy. After walking
rapidly for about half-an-hour, he found a tree trunk and a long pole
drawn into a river bank. He jumped on the trunk and pushed it off into
the stream. The current immediately took him and carried him rapidly
down the stream. He used the pole then to steer the log so as not to run
into the bank and not to be taken too far out into the centre of the river.
The river here was about a mile and the current was strung. So he went
along at a fast rate, and we who were following were walking, or rather
running on the surface of the stream in order to keep up with the log.
V It had gone some distance when, with a loud roar, a huge sabre-toothed
Tiger sprang from the bank some distance ahead and was seen swimming
tbivards the log. Tung immediately fastened his pole in some branches
which were attached, and crouched on the log with his club held at the
steady. The sabre-toothed tiger approached and stretched out one of his
fdrelegs to grip the log, Tung immediately sprang at it, and brought his
club down with a resounding smack on the leg, breaking the bones. The
> tiger drew back his leg with a roar, seemed staggered for a second, but
immediately continued swimming with his good leg which he soon after
stretched forth and found it dealt with like the other. This tiger was
now in an unfortunate position. He could not swim against the tide
because of his broken forelegs, so he drifted down the river until he was
carried below by a huge crocodile-looking animal.
SAfter his victory Tung continued on his voyage. About mid-day he
)- Was leaning over the side of his craft looking intently in the water as if
waiting for something to appear, with his spear ready to strike. Sud-
denly his arm shot forward, and when the spear was pulled out there
w as a large fish with the spear stuck through the body. He immediately
-pulled the body to pieces and crammed the flesh in his mouth. At about
M rid-afternoon he arrived at a little alcove on the bank of the stream.
Here he landed, pulled the log up partly on the bank, hid it with the
*overhanging leaves, and with his weapons and the balance of the fish he
strode off through the forest. After about one hour's walk he came to a
'glade and from his actions seemed to have expected to have met someone
Sior something. Not seeing anyone, he waited for a few seconds, and then
uttered a sharp animal cry. This was immediately answered and soon
after there came into the glade a young woman. She was of a much
lighter shade than Tung and probably her body was something voluptu-
bus by the way that he looked at her, but I am unable to appreciate that
tin any such creature. Her face was as ugly as Tung's people, her hair
|hung matted over her forehead, and she was a nude as he was and as
Sunashamed. The only difference that I saw was her lighter skin. I may
state here that in examining Tung's mind some time before I had dis-
Sebvered that he had discovered the art of sailing on a log and being able
to steer a course with the end of a pole, and on his first voyage he was
startled about this spot at seeing a face peering out at him. The face
,immediately disappeared so he circled round, and after seeing nothing
further he approached the land with great caution and sprang ashore.
When searching in the forest, this woman suddenly sprang out and fled
through the forest.. Tung immediately sped in pursuit and it was evident
;from the start that he was overtaking her. After some considerable
:time had elapsed and a fairly good distance had been covered, the woman
Tripped herself up by catching her foot in a root and fell outstretched on
.the ground. Tung immediately secured her, and in spite of her struggles,
/sCratches and bites, bore her through the forest. At last he came to this
S'glade and there Tung, perhaps sick of her blows, because by this time his
face was covered with blood, handfuls of his hair had been plucked out,
a .nd his eye was completely closed, deposited her on the turf and began
to belabour her with the end of his spear until she began to whimper
with the pain. Then she opened her eyes and stared at Tung with a
frightened look like some whipped cur. Tung then put an end to the'
punishment, took her in his arms again, and this time she made no.
attempt to struggle. He deposited her at the foot of a tree, sat down
beside her and began to make love to her This at first she resisted, but,.
we had better draw a veil over their future actions.
When they were finished, they hunted through the forest and killed'
a small animal which modern scientists claim is the ancestor of the,
modern horse. Then as it was near sunset they climbed to the top of a
huge tree and settled themselves to sleep, The next week was spent in
hunting, sleeping, and, of course, in love-making. These primitive
people seemed to be able to communicate thoughts to each other, although
they do not understand each other's language. Tung then made the
woman to understand that he must go away to his own people, and did
not know when he would return but would endeavour to do so in about 4
10 days' time, and that she must keep a look out for him. He then em-
barked on the trunk and as the current was not so strong in the shallows;
near the bank, he was able to push his craft only with the help of the
pole. In 10 days he was back, and at regular intervals he visited the
woman as he did on this trip.
This time as the woman came into the glade, she motioned Tung into
the shadiest part and there immediately told him that her man had
become suspicious about her frequent long absences. With a companion
he had followed her on this occasion as she had hidden and seen them
searching for her, and at the present moment they might not be very far
away. Tung then decided that they should..... .hide... They therefore
ensconced themselves in the branches of a tree and were enjoying them-
selves when they were suddenly startled by hearing the sudden report of
a snapped twig below them. Tung sprang up as readily as a startled
animal, peered through the foliage, and saw two men climbing up into
'he tree. Seeing that they were discovered, they descended and Tung
as quickly descended, dropped off on the end of the trunk and faced
them. Each was armed with a club and they both rushed at Tung
together. He circled around them until he got them into a position of
one in front of the other when he pressed the first one, barred a blow
from his club and brought his club down with a smashing blow on his
head. His man was killed immediately and his dead body fell against ,
his companion who was then, for a moment, put out of action. Tung was
quick to seize his chance. He rushed in and dealt with this one as he had
dealt with his companion. Now master of the stricken field, Tung leaned
on his club and surveyed his fallen foes. The woman, springing out of'
the tree, drew near and put her arms around him with an expression of
pride and reverence in her eyes. They then left the spot, and after
spending the balance of the day together, it was decided that the woman
should return with Tung to his people. So on the next morning, they
set out, the woman being provided with a pole of her own. Thus they
made more rapid progress, and after an uneventul voyage Tung returned
to the caves with his new found wife. It was amusing to watch the
curiosity displayed by the members of Tung's tribe They crowded
around the woman, pinched her, prodded her, and often rubbed her very
7 hard until the skin was almost bruised as if they thought she might have .
, had a covering of some colouration over her skin which gave her this
fair colour. One man even attempted to run his spear into her to make
Sure that she was mortal and could bleed and also die. He was stopped
by Tung's aggressive attitude. Altogether, she was molested in this way
for the first few days after she became as one of the tribe as far as any
notice of her was taken, but altogether the others seemed always sus-
Spicious and not over-friendly.
In a day or two she settled down as Tung's accepted wife in his cave
and entered fully into the life of the tribe. At first she was afraid of
Sthe fires which she saw burning, but at last Tung was able to get her to
hold a brand. She did this with a great amount of caution as if she
expected it to leap from the stick on to her. After a week she came and
Went freely and I said that she must have been voluptuous from the way
she was regarded by the men, for Tung had to kill two to keep his prize.
I noticed Daug often sitting in front of his cave and eyeing her with a
sensuous look on his face. So bad it got that on one occasion he followed
her into the forest and attempted to induce her to give herself to him.
He said, "I big chief, Tung little boy. I eat him up in no time. I am
more suited to you. Come to me." To all of which she said, "No, Tung
great warrior. He kill two great warriors of my people. He kill you too."
Such was her faith in Tung's prowess, and she remained faithful always.
-At last, about two months after she had arrived among the tribe, Tung
early in the morning went into the forest to hunt. Daug saw him go and
immediately followed. Tung went through the forest as usual with a
wary step, but Daug was lurking behind. He was certainly shadowing
him with murder in his heart. When they had got into the heart of the
forest, Daug made an effort to increase his pace and immediately made
a slight sound which attracted Tung's attention. He swung round on the
instant and the rivals were face to face. He sensed what Daug had in-
P tended to do and was immediately on the defensive. Daug with his
great club seemed intent on closing in. Tung, realising that he had a
Strong opponent to deal with came to the conclusion that it was best to
keep at a distance and use his spear. Then they circled around each
Other for some time. Tung meanwhile made several attempts to get at
Daug with his spear which the chief skilfully avoided, but he did not
come off altogether scatheless, as at one time Tung succeeded in piercing
Shis arm. Thus they went with Tung circling round Daug, and at last
Daug managed to catch hold of his opponent's spear and as his club was
, too heavy to wield with one hand, he dropped that and they closed. It
was evident from the start that the fight would go to Daug as he was
the stronger and the heavier man. They wrestled for a long time and at
last fell Daug above, Tung below. The end of this fight was gruesome
f'or he literally tore Tung to strands, but at the same time he did not
come off without evidence of the fight for Tung's teeth had met several
times in his arms and elsewhere in his body.
Bloddy but victorious, Daug rose and gathered up his weapons and
the weapons of his dead foe, and set off for the caves. As he got near
he reasoned with himself that he had made a law which I have related
before, that if a man killed another for the woman the prize was to be
forfeited. Therefore, if he said that he had killed Tung he would lose
Lall. He therefore made up his mind to lie and to say that Tung had
been attacked by a savage species of ape which roamed thereabouts. So
walking boldly into the clearing he related the occurrence to all who
might choose to hear. He said that he had heard the roaring of the
beast, and when he came on the scene he had found Tung almost dead.
He had rushed in and succeeded in despatching the beast, but not until
he had got the wounds visible on his body.
The people came around and listened respectfully but Lall, remem-
bering the incident in the forest, seemed inclined to doubt his word.
However, being a newcomer to the tribe and as the others, because of
the fear they had for Daug, accepted the tale without comment, she was
obliged to acquiesce. Then Daug, turning to her, told her that as her-4
man was dead she must come to his cave. She looked helplessly around.;
but seeing no one likely to give her assistance, she meekly obeyed, went
before him and entered the cave. The next days Daug was not seen, but
the next day he appeared famished-looking and went hunting. He
brought back his kill, and he and his woman enjoyed their fill. Things
went on in the usual way with the tribe for about a week when one day
after it had been very hot and close during the morning, the earth began 1
to tremble, a split appeared in the mountain and a huge rock came crash-
ing down the mountain side. Lall and several other persons were stand-
ing in its path and they were all crushed to death by it. Daug was not
there at the time. He had felt the earthquake in the forest and had
rushed to see if anything had happened. When he stopped into the
clearing he was told of the happening. He said nothing but his face was
distorted with pain. He went to his cave but in the evening he came out
and called the people about him. Seating himself on the chieftain's stone *
he spoke to them in this wise, "I, Daug, the great chieftain, made a law
that whosoever coveted a woman and fought for her and won, that woman
should be forfeit and given to another. It is not the law, 0 people?
Hear, all people. When Tung was killed, it was no ape that killed him,
but I. I killed him for the sake of Lall, his woman. I followed him
through the forest to kill him but he turned and saw me coming and we
fought. And I, because of my great strength, for who can conquer me,
killed him. But Fire, our god, who sees all things and is a terrible and
just god, saw me and was determined that I should lose Lall, and today
she has been taken away. Terrible and just is Fire, and terrible in his
judgments." And seizing a brand from the fire before the entrance of a
cave, he waved it before them shouting, "Worship Fire, the just and
terrible god, who drove off our enemies and can punish those of us who
will do wrong and who will not obey the laws and has this day punished
me, even me, Daug, the great chief."
And the people fell on their faces and worshipped, and Daug also
fell on his face and worshipped the fire, holding his hand aloft.
The Constant Perimeter
,, By Sydney Singh
For man is greater than the sea and all its islands
And one must plumb him like a well
To rise with a secret water of submerged truths
(Pablo Neruda Heights of Macchu Picchu)
The twentieth century, moreso than any of its predecessors reflects
Sthe cultural crisis that confronts the human being. The crisis is not con-
= fined to any single institution, any single area of consciousness but exists
in all human activity. Any sensitive individual who has experienced the
in internal exhibition that accompanies and is simultaneous with the aware-
ness of the concepts of progress and evolution must realise that human
Consciousness has reached an impasse which threatens all development.
The freedom that the untrammelled development of the human personality
demands from society is the freedom that allows the mind of man to
attain the maximum range of its subjective complexity; attuning itself
as it were, to abstruse and varied levels of conscious efforts. Human
Spersonality whose range is a function of subjective complexity can only
be limited by the collective experience of humanity functioning historic-
ally in time. Only time considered in a finite sense should be the
Subjective perimeter of human consciousness. Persons who have sustained
the rhythms which are part and parcel of the wave length of human
communication are often deprived of a stable evolutionary equilibrium
r when an insufficient and inadequate range of subjective complexity is the
nature of the society in which they live that forms the basis of decisions
That intimately affect their lives. Freedom in itself implies a pre-condition
of stable equilibrium which is absolutely necessary for the creative
evaluation of the forces of necessity that are operating within society;
herein every subjective release is fed from and embraces the total com-
plex of the conditions of objective reality that are responsible for
y germination. Today the forces that threaten the realisation of stable
evolutionary equilibrium within the framework of human society are
manifold; indeed it seems that these forces have created a constant peri-
> meter around consciousness with the tendency of further delimiting
This crisis is one that has universal significance since it is the very
concept of humanity which is at stake. The immediacy of this urgency
has more than exercised the sensitive minds of this century, and the
following excerpt taken from an address delivered by Mr. R. F. Kennan-
the American thinker-at a Convocation of the Roman Catholic University
of Notre Dame, Indiana, reveals the core of the problem that confronts our
society today. "I feel this first of all because these forces are narrowly
exclusive in their relation to our world position and they carry this
exclusiveness very rigorously into the field of international cultural:
exchanges. They tend to stifle the interchange of cultural impulses as,
between nations but that interchange is vital to the progress of the intel-
lectual and artistic life of our people. People who are the bearers of
these forces seem to feel that cultural values are not important at all or
that America has reached some sort of apex of cultural achievement and
no longer needs in any serious way the stimulus of cultural contacts with
other nations ..... They seem to look with suspicion on the sources of
intellectual and artistic activity in this country and on impulses of this
nature coming to us from abroad. The remote pasts of artists and
scholars are anxiously scanned before they are permitted to come into our
country and this is done in proceedings so inflexible in concept and
offensive in execution that their very existence constitutes in itself an
impediment to cultural exchange. The personal movements and affairs
of great scholars and artists are passed upon and controlled by people
whom I am sure have no inkling of understanding for the creative work
that these same scholars and artists perform."
Originality and creation are implicit factors in the development of
higher levels of consciousness; but where the criteria of evaluation and
assessment are provincialism and mediocrity the psychological plasticity
necessary for scientific and aesthetic research is stifled in the morass of
fear and standardisation which has inevitably accompanied the triumph
of mediocrity. The West Indian no less than the European or Americanr
artist is involved in and confronted with this cul-de-sac of culture. His
dilemma is perhaps more pronounced since the forces of provincialism
and mediocrity which may be his final arbiters are completely devoid of
the capacity to appreciate or sustain the shocks or original discovery. This |
limitation viewed in its historical context can be attributed to the follow-
Up to now the West Indian has always had to look to external sources
for any genuine assessment of cultural achievement that has taken place
within the West Indies. It is however heartening to know that a
few figures like A. J. Seymour and Frank Collymore have consistently
offered the most liberal facilities they command for expression to the
"creative minority" in the West Indies. However I feel that the concept
of "creative minority" is only a transient factor in the overall pattern of
social evolution in spite of the fact that there is a disinherited majority
wherein economic class differentiation has produced no relativity in sub-
jective levels of consciousness. This "colonial cultural proletariat"
(about which the middle class has surrounded itself with an illusory halo
of supremacy) has exhibited a minimum of response to original aesthetic
penetration in the West Indies and therefore we are to conclude that we'
are victims of a system of education that has produced a society whose
reflexes are totally unconditioned to the recognition of works of art. This
is a very dangerous condition since a society which has not been psycholo-
gically conditioned to the realisation and acceptance of original creativity
' within its internal nucleus is inherently prone to view with suspicion (born
Sof ignorance) the motive energies that are making for the externalisation
of creative values within its own midst. What then happens to the artist?
A: time gap is created between the artist and his society and a paradoxical
Situation arises where he is in and yet ahead of his time. The work of
Start therefore fails to return to its source and its powers of nurture suffer
restriction (in its immediate locality) instead of diffusion and release
Inter-penetration has to surrender to divorce, and the barrier between the
inner and the outer becomes a permanent edifice.
Psychological and spiritual nurture is indispensable to the integral
functioning of the human person, whose very foundation is undermined
When deprived of the capacity to externalise and whose eventual reaction
might very well be an over-simplified reflex that will uproot society at
Sits very foundations.
Let us examine ourselves critically. The most acknowledged contri-
Sbution of West Indian society to world culture has been the calypso and
steel band music. Their claims for universal cultural validity are not
Only endorsed from without but from within the society itself by the
entire body social. I have cited this since it is an important instance of
cultural recognition realising itself internally as a valid form of value.
This might be advanced as a counter-argument to the theory that creati-
vity evokes no response or creation from within. But it must be remem-
bered that these are immediate forms of externalisation that had their
origins more m escapism than in genuine release; They are indeed import-
Sant reflexes of release which are of supreme significance in the mutation
of cultural phenomena but they are still in a youthful stage of evolution;
they are indeed eulogised by certain sections of the provincial mediocrity
who are more aware of their escape value than of their cultural signifi-
Scance. The freedom for externalisation in one sphere of human activity
pre-supposes the demand for a similar freedom in other spheres despite
the conflicting paradoxes that critical penetration is bound to bare when
certain levels of consciousness illuminate the problems of our time. The
men of West Indian art and science must continually demand from their
Society the freedom and facilities for the development of their subjective
potential at its highest level of complexity. This entails the freedom of
research into the storehouse of world culture an orbit of study that in-
volves the entire history of man having no national boundaries or constant
perimeters of consciousness. The negation of this fundamental freedom
must undermine the very basis of aesthetic and scientific integrity an
integrity which does not comprehend phenomena in a purely segmental
4 aspect but rather the universality of the human being in the sense that
John Donne saw it when he wrote:
"No man is an island entire of himself: everyman is a piece of the
continent, a part of the main; any man's death diminishes me because I
am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the
bell tolls; it tolls for thee."'
Extract from an unpublished novel
By Wilson Harris
It was as a boarder occupying a room in the same house that I had
learnt so much about Marie, Champ arid Jerry. As fate would have it
Champ, Jerry and I met again, so many years after, working on ourt
present job. Van was apparently the complete stranger in our midst. But
somehow from the outset he too seemed to belong to an existing pattern:
of things like an integral link in a chain. The trend of my thoughts
during the past hour had taken such a phenomenal grip on my mind that<
I felt a whole school of ideas seeking to be marshalled properly or related
properly in perspective. I stirred uneasily and raised myself slightly of'
my elbow to see if there were signs of someone coming yet. The riveiP
was as calm as a lake. I felt suddenly stiff and arose to a sitting postuire
I got up entirely after a while and sauntered slowly Zo the cokerite tree
in the clearing. There was a better view of the river here, and I sat on
the ground and leaned against the trunk of the cokerite palm. i 4
There was a remarkable sameness about the river. The same jet-
black water, the same green islands of grass. I asked myself-what was'
it that filled me with such a sense of foreboding? If I could answer this"r
question I felt I would have the key to my present thoughts. Nothing had'
actually happened yet, to the best of my knowledge, but it was strange'
that I should feel as if something had happened or was actually happening ,
something terrible and tragic. The very sameness or apparent changeless-'
ness in the physical world in one's own experience suggested that things'
present had already existed, and things to come were already present.
This gave me a core around which to order my thoughts. The drama of
human life might be the visible form of events that had already occurred:
in the spiritual sense. Herein lay the source of prophecy and even
perhaps of every decision, conscious or unconscious, in that it was anp
awareness of the spiritual origin, and the material actual thing might even
possibly offer a freedom to alter the fateful course of things! One's
decision could be the veritable grace of God for someone else, who knows'?
or someone else's decision might be the miraculous stroke of fortune that
influenced still someone else away from doom into an act of repentance."
Heaven, hell and purgatory were surely the stages already present ari)"
active in human destiny: that is reward for the good, reward for the bad,
and the grace that lies halfway in between, to be eternally chosen op ,
Banim Creek was the name of the place where the tide-readers' camp'r
ground lay. We had travelled up the main river for many hours to get
there. There were sixteen of us to be encamped in parties of fou,,,f
several miles apart along the river banks. The officer in charge pq,l
operations had utilised the time travelling in discussion of the dry,,;
statistical side of our job. Eventually he dumped four of us at Banim and .
steamed away in the big survey laufich.
Van, the stranger amongst us, was a tall, handsome Negro. He was
quite distinguished-looking with a strong face and a straight nose. His
4 lips were his worst feature. They revealed a peculiar sore-looking scar
like a burn when he opened his mouth to laugh or speak. There was
something slightly repellent about that scar. But this flaw was
lost in an earnest and serious quality that gave his whole expression an
indefinable charm. It was a great disappointment to find as the weeks
and months rolled by that Van very often was striking a pose. And yet
Sto say precisely what that pose was, or to try and track him down in his
Strickery was to find oneself more and more deeply involved in a maze.
I I used to watch Jerry staring at Van like a hunter at a new indefatig-
' able animal. Jerry became more and more determined to expose Van
once and for all.
SAs for Van he never lost sight of his objective, which was to captivate
all with whom he came into contact and to worm himself into the hearts
,o. men. He realized he might fail with Jerry but he kept a sharp eye on
Sthe remainder of us.
The first great battle of wits between Jerry and Van occurred in con-
nection with a woman living six miles down-stream of Banim. She came
,to the camp for the first time selling greens and paw-paw fruit. She was
Portuguese, fair-skinned, with light, waving brown hair that clung to her
Abrow in moist places. She was very frail-looking in a sexy, appealing
manner. I felt instantaneously drawn to her and yet repelled by a sort
of bulging largeness beneath her eyes. There were also cruel weals across
her face and arms. She appeared quite shamelessly prepared to expose
these weals and seemed to derive satisfaction in explaining that her
husband had brutally beaten her. It happened whenever he had no
money to spend and became crazy for liquor, she said.
i Her tale aroused in Jerry his high-pitched, bitter laugh.
"You look like you like getting beat up! he said. But Champ cried,
selecting beans and fruit from the woman's basket at the same time,
"Don't worry with Jerry, madam. He's always like that, always dis-
"Disagreeable? And why not?" said Jerry. "I always say some
people always looking for trouble. They only happy when they getting
tricked and they in trouble! I don't trust nobody. When I fall in with
Anybody I do it 'cause I got to. I watch every step after that!" He too
selected greens from the basket on the selling, exclaiming
"You agree with what I say lady?"
-The woman replied vaguely-"I don't know!" Van who had made no
remark so far squatted near the woman and helped himself liberally to
-greens and fruit.
-, "Ah hope you will always trust me lady!" he said cheerfully. "You
ain't no man-hater, I can see that!" Champ had been counting some
losee coins in his pocket. He drew the woman aside while paying her
and whispered something. She nodded. Jerry gave his ironical laugh like
'a hunter who scents his game. Van too looked very thoughtful. Suddenly
he had an idea and his countenance lit up.
"I got some washing," he addressed the woman. "It would put a bit
in your way."
The woman gave no answer but gently tidied her hair. Her hands
were remarkably slender. I found myself observing them with fascination.
They seemed entirely foreign, far too aristocratic for the circumstances in
spite of several callouses. They had a miraculously blue, frail outline of
"You always lived here in the river?" I asked her. She turned her
bulging eyes on me and they seemed to grow even larger as she replied 1-
"I ran away from home when I was nineteen. My father is one of the
wealthiest merchants in town." She smiled when she saw my surprise, and
continued before anyone could speak--
"I was educated at the best schools!"
"And your husband?"
"He was my father's chauffeur."
Jerry gave a grunting incredulous sound: "You little liar! I bet you
don't even know who your father is! You think we are fools, eh?"
The woman looked hurt and annoyed. Her face flushed. I saw,,a
baiting look come into Jerry's eyes.
"Well just tell us his name, this wealthy father of yours! I suppose he
has cut you off without a cent, eh? Maybe you can never go back!"
"I'm ashamed to go back," the woman replied simply, the anger drain-
ing out of her countenence. "And I don't care what you think or say since
you do not understand. Have you ever found," she said looking at us
appealingly out of those sickening eyes of hers, "that to go back, before you
realise what caused you ever to leave, is sometimes to die? I prefer to learn
to live wherever I am."
"How do you mean to go back is to die?" Champ asked in bewilder-
ment. "And you say you got a wealthy oldman to look after yuh?"
The woman caressed the weals on her skin, lost in thought. At lasi
-"I said I was ashamed to go back. I was wrong. It is my father who
is ashamed of me and my husband. He does not wish us to remain
together if I go back!"
"And you prefer to stay in this bush, and get bite by fly, mosquito?
Get mark up and beat up by that precious husband of yours? You is a
"Don't you understand there's no place for me to go? It would have
to be me and someone else, I can't go alone!" "I understand just how yot
feel", said Van coming to her assistance with that earnest look of his. "It's
life, that's what it is. It's not you is funny. It's life is funny."
The woman turned and stared at Van for the first time as if she hadn't
seen him before. She felt that here was someone to whom she could talk
Champ was still bewildered. The lady did not fit into any scheme oJ
things he had known i6 the past. And yet for some reason or other h(
felt an acute disgust with himself as though the whole matter should have
been a simple one for him to understand, or any man for that matter. HE
wondered to himself whether the woman was lying, or whether the whole
thing was not a kind of dream she had had, and that everybody has al
some time or other and then after forgets! A dream of companionship
you may call it perhaps.
Jerry had been following the conversation closely. He had been
Sweeping a shrewd eye on Champ and Van.
"I feel so sorry for you, lady! When I listen to you talk I feel you
need a lot of good commonsense pumped into that head of yours."
SJerry wagged a finger in the direction of Van and grimaced -
"Not a lot of easy romantic stuff. Believe me there's a trick in that
I., Champ silently agreed wholeheartedly with Jerry's remarks. Some-
thing like satisfaction with himself returned. The woman was obviously
well! How could she so patiently endure the brutality in her present
iupode of living when a million dollars waited around the corner! Either
Sshe was a liar or a very sick woman to abandon everything for nothing.
.nd she seemed to find something painfully pleasant in Jerry's words.
.-, he replied as if with melancholy relish "Oh you're sorry for me? I do
need your sympathy!"
Jerry laughed. It was his plan to play off Champ and Van against
'each other. He felt he had helped to restore Champ's belief in himself.-
The knight of compassion had been rudely shaken a short while ago, when
Sthe woman with the greens and paw-paw fruit, who stirred his interest
and desire, appeared to move so strangely out of his grasp and compre-
.,'hension like a phenomenon of nature! At the same time Jerry knew he
had baited a trap for Van.
SThe great battle of wits had started in earnest. Champ took a coriai
'and disappeared down river after sunset. Jerry jokingly remarked that
Champ had gone on his mission of love. I too, remembered how Champ
,had whispered to the woman while paying her for his share of the greens
'and fruit. It was a beautiful evening. Deep in the west a great glow
still lingered, a blue pool charged by an expanding sensuous purity of
'light. But this expansion was only an illusion. The scene rapidly
darkened and the stars had to come out on duty at last in every inch of
', i I booked the tide readings with the help of a torchlight hour after
Hour. It is strange how one's eyes become accustomed to the darkness,
that inky-blue tropical darkness that floods the whole world. Then how
innumerable and complex are the heavenly stars, and how sharp and clear
are their earthly reflections in the mirror of waters! There came a ripple
r of disturbance as I watched and a corial shot up to the selling, turning
Sup the cold reflected watery stars into churning streaks of light. Champ
had returned. He clambered up the ladder against the selling and came
,. ver to me where I stood.
"Hi Charles," he said. "No go at all with that woman!" There was
a-,anote of bewilderment and exasperation in his voice. He stood for a long
time pensive and then as if in explanation -
,Ji "The husband's away downriver. I say to myself she hate him how
,she talk today! But I don't know for sure now. She say adultery is not
- in her line!" Champ shook his head-
S: "The woman's crazy I tell you, Charles. But I like she all the same.
Ah really like the kid and Ah going to look her up again!"
S It was nearly midnight. I shone my torch on the gauge and booked
the level of the river. The high tide was close at hand.
In spite of Champ's optimism fortune did not smile on him. The
aristocratic woman of the fruit basket kept him at arm's length. Everyone
in the camp sensed his disappointment, and Van constantly rebuked him.
"You still following up the little woman? Aw, have a heart. You
can't see she ain't the kind of woman out for just a good time? You
believe she come all the way in this jungle just for a good time? She is
the sort of woman you got to love and she got to love you before all you"'
can come together and make one."
But she husband cruel to she!" Champ insisted.
"She still got pity for him," Van declared. "And who knows which'
is stronger-pity or love?"
"Love," Champ cried.
"Well give her then," Van laughed. "If you've got it to give!"
Champ did not appear ever to lose hope that he had it to give. He
looked forward constantly to the frequent visits the woman of the greens
made to the camp. Most often Van was away hunting or collecting fire-
wood. Jerry was often present, though sometimes he too was out hunting
or fishing. Champ alone never missed her whenever she came. His
approaches however, were all to no avail.
Jerry decided that the time had come for him to show his hand and
spring the trap as every good hunter must eventually do. The afternoon v
came he had chosen for that purpose. He pattered out to meet the "lady
with the greens" when she arrived. It was a bright, glaring afternoon.
The tide was falling and the inflowing stream had checked, the river was
getting ready to turn. The floating patches of grass on the river seemed
not to move at all as if time itself were dragging, waiting for a sudden'
impulse to give it direction.
"You look nice-nice lady!" Champ said.
"Nicer than usual when she comes here?" Jerry asked with a laugh.
"I dunno", Champ said, wrinkling his brow. "You know you treating
me bad?" he whispered to the woman. She smiled in a nervous manner-
"I'm sorry Champ! Let's be just friends like that. What more can
you really desire?"
Champ turned his hot gaze on her arms.
"You need someone to care you," he muttered like a man repeating
a timeworn lesson. Then uneasily realising that Jerry and I had over-
heard his remarks, he became silent and glum.
The woman completed her sales. She gathered the full white skirts
of her dress closely around her, and gingerly lowered herself into her
small craft by the selling. A gentle twist and the craft entered the slow-
moving stream. She waved her paddle, the blade flashed another day's,
farewell in the sun. Soon the craft turned the bend and could no longer
be seen from the selling.
No sooner it disappeared Jerry spun on us- "A bitch! just a bitch.
But that don't interest me anyway. She ain't my woman. And men are
just as low anyway!" he laughed. "That's why I trust nobody. No
permanent woman for me and avoid trouble I say!" Then suddenly like
a crouching panther, he spat out.
"She's been meeting Van when she leave hey at the plum tree past
the bend. You doubt? Go now and see. I track them down a few times
W 6I)yl I tell you go and see him. You'll know what a low, scheming crook
t, admirable Van is!" There was a blaze in his eyes as he continued
Salmost to himself.
"Can you beat it? Men are all traitors I tell you! Ive never forgotten
t at lesson. He has taken your place Champ. He's the fountainhead of
compassion now." Jerry laughed suddenly his high, ironical laugh,
peering at Champ with a kind of frightful glee.
4 All Champ said was-"Plum tree past the bend?" And he caught up
a stick and was off. But even as he turned off the selling to pass the
Aminp, Van appeared coming from the very opposite direction, upriver. He
had a bundle of firewood on his head, which he threw to the ground near
' the camp. We all stood dumbfounded watching him, and then Champ
gave a shout.-
,' :"Look Van deh right here, Jerry! What in hell yuh bin trying to
Essay Jerry gave a sulky grin. He cried to Van.
'" "How come you pass up the lady with the greens today Van? Like
yb miss her today! No kisses under the plums today?"
Van stared at Jerry coldly -
."You got a dirty mind, boy," he said. "What in hell are you talking
"You know what I'm talking about," said Jerry watchfully.
-- "You talking 'bout you own brutishness," Champ cut in roughly. A
terrible feeling of hate for Jerry suddenly possessed his entire heart and
soul. "You always know more than everybody. It's your hand always
against every man's hand. You talk 'bout traitors. But you worse than
a traitor. You ain't grow up yet man. You sick-sick-sick, man!" Champ
choked on his own words. He felt empty and forsaken, ashamed in some
Jerry said nothing. He remained extremely watchful. And then as
if satisfied there was no real danger he relaxed. The decision for life or
-death always rests with the hunter, no, the hunted. He was quite sure
Paula her name was: the aristocratic lady who sold greens, and had
become such a centre of attraction. The surprising accusation that Jerry
had levelled at Van made any reconciliation Van had hoped to accomplish
-,With Jerry impossible. In one respect Van had emerged victorious in the
battle of wits. For instance Champ now hated Jerry. But in another and
Shidden respect Van was involved in a deeper and more frightful struggle.
His first adversary in the form of Jerry, the ruthlessly free man, retired be-
hind a proud contemptuous barrier; and Van was left face to face with
himself as in a mirror, and he did not like the image he saw there. Thus
a second battle of wits had ensued between Van and a new, subtle ad-
versary, the human conscience it was and no other.
` As I sat there in the cool of the clearing, possessed by the strain of
--r rut thoughts, watching the changeless river before me, I could not help
Wondering whether that secret companion to which one is ever attached, as
tb one's conscience, was bringing sharply before me the reconstruction of a
tragedy that had happened in the spiritual sense already if it had not yet
occurred in the physical order of things. In this way I received the bur-
den of my participation in it. I had been too passive, certainly not suf-
ficiently active to help avert the disaster. In fact it was this deepening
sense of lo~, which occurs when anyone dies whether friend or foe--
that seemed to sharpen my perceptions to such a degree that a veri-
table halo of reflection imbued every minute thing that had happened.
It were as though a kind of penance had started within me to atone for
a fault I had committed.
And yet it is not always clear what participation is possible to the
individual, whether any action of his might not further speed events down
the incline. Perhaps our secret prayers are more effective since courage
and compassion, it is certain, come from God. Not from man who is
merely an actor and an agent, whether he chooses to acknowledge it or
not, to his ultimate credit or downfall.
So it was that Champ whose agency was a perverse and fatal com-'
passion, continued his pursuit of Paula. And Jerry whose agency was
self-revelation took a malicious delight in assuming the role that Van had
no longer stomach to perform: that is rebuking Champ for his pursuit
of Paula which constantly sought to impose upon her a kind of prostitu-
tion that would only further complicate her personal problems. Van's
loss of stomach before Champ, Jerry and myself finally drove him to the
greatest form of deception. He began to play a kind of superhuman role.'
How else can I describe it? His role was the role of Satan himself for he
had successfully exorcised all human conscience. And this was his second
paradoxical victory. It started when he became friendly with Paula's
husband-Mark his name was-and invited him every day to the camp at
Banim. It was child's play after that to instruct Mark in reading the
tide gauge, Mark understood quickly, and Van uitilised him during his
spell at the gauge, many a time, to read the tides. Mark received
monetary consideration every time he acted for Van. In this way Van
was free to cruise down river hunting or fishing. It was very rare, how-i
%iver, that he returned with either game or fish. His excuse was the
season and the weather were unpropitious. But in truth and in fact he had
found a higher sort of game. His double victory had ushered in the
satanic role of power in eclipsing his all-too-human adversaries in the
faculty of bringing down the most previous game life had to offer, that is,
love. He secretly met Paula, and impressed upon her more and more his
sympathy and compassion for her plight. He succeeded where Champt
continually failed, as Champ was bound to fail ever since his encounter
with Marie when he had been dismissed by her, in her enduring role as
Woman (that embodies both fertility and death) from all reckoning as a
living truly compassionate body. Van succeeded, too, in discrediting
Mark: but only for a while since Mark was to accomplish what Champ
was failing or had failed to do: submission to the enduring and spiritual
One has to be careful not to let one's thoughts race ahead too quickly!
With this warning ringing in my ears as if uttered by a voice in the wind
or in the trees around me I knew it was necessary to pay the utmost at-
tention to the story of Mark and Paula. Their relationship was an im-
portant link in the chain I found myself so painfully reconstructing! the
chain of man's existence and his eternal damnation or his eternal heaven
The 1951 Harold Stannard Memorial Lecture
The Creation of Quality in the
A. J. Seymour.
It is customary and fitting that a Memorial Lecturer should first
say something about the man in whose honour the lectures were inaugura-
Sted. This act of respect is even more necessary in the peculiar circum-
stances which surround the inauguration of this series, although it is true
Sto say that the universal respect and love with which the name of Harold
SStannard is remembered is an off-setting circumstance that makes the
duty a pleasure and the burden light.
I first met Harold Stannard when he came to British Guiana in 1943.
I was at that time working in a curious relationship between figures and
-, words which necessitated frequent consultation with Mr. Harewood and
early one afternoon as I was about to leave the BPI for the Income Tax
SOffice after one of these consultations, Mr. Harewood said casually "Won't
yu hold on a bit longer and meet Stannard? He's up your street, and he's
dropping in here in another 5 minutes." I remember now that I was al-
ready very late for office and how reluctantly I remained. But when the
little man with the Victorian moustache entered the room and we began
talking in a group I can still remember how immediately interested I be-
came in what he was and what he was saying, the wit, the kindness, the
Slightly carried learning. My reluctance melted like ice in the Guiana sun
and enchanted, I remained for close on an hour.
Like so many other West Indians, I had never met a man like that,
Siwho almost told me all I knew and whose personality seemed like a work
iof art. I remember that in that first meeting, the conversation turned
) upon the existence of fairmaids in Guiana. In that buoyant atmosphere
I contributed a story of a wind-dance at Fort Wellington that I had got
r from my sister-in-law and told it with all its elaborations. At the end,
he leaned across the table with a disarming smile of complete incredulity,
and asked "Ah yes! A Fairmaid. Tell me, Seymour, have you ever
seen one?" Needless to say I retreated in confusion before this scientific
lance of a question and we all collapsed to the exquisite pricking of the
I saw him last in London at Paddington three years later. He was
Seeing me off on my way home to British Guiana and in the intervening
years he had granted me the boon and inspiration of his friendship. The
autumn afternoon had a wintry cast and knowing his frail health, I
looked through the train window at the genial face above the greatcoat
and I knew that I would never see him again. He would never come
r again to the West Indies and circumstances would not conspire within
a few years to bring me again to London. We said goodbye lightly but
I had left a farewell letter for him in which I said that in a very special
sense Lloyd Searwar, Philip Sherlock and myself and others in the Wes'
Indies, some of whom I knew and others I would not know, would dar9
to look upon ourselves as his sons in the tradition of culture and kindliness
which we glimpsed in him.
Between those meetings, the years are intersected, gratefully for my%
part, with lines of correspondence. Stannard was a good correspondent'
and I was an eager one, and I cannot now tell you how many were the.
intangible things I learnt from him. They would correspond to thel
bouquet that connoisseurs savour in the best wine and they are of the,
essence of civilisation in so far as that essence can be communicated;
from one individual to another.
This is not the place nor time to embark upon reminiscences. Let1
me just say that on his death in London four years ago this very day,
the gratitude and the memories felt by so many of us led to the publica-
tion of a special Memorial Issue of Kyk-over-al, in preparing which I;
had the assistance of friends and fellow-admirers in London and in there
West Indies. Still this did not seem sufficient; the West Indies were still
in his debt and so in an Open Letter to West Indian Writers, the idea'
was mooted that the University College should institute an annual series
of Harold Stannard Memorial Lectures and bring to the West Indies emi-'
nent lecturers from abroad in history and civilisation. Philip Sherlock
noted the suggestion approvingly but there was no money to make it a
reality. Still it did not seem sufficient to have the suggestion put away,
indefinitely in cold storage and the Combined Cultural Committee in'
British Guiana has now accepted the suggestion and agreed to sponsor.
Memorial Lectures to be delivered here either annually or as circum4i
stances permit. So I am here to give the first lecture because of the desire1
to pay a tribute on behalf of the West Indies to the memory of his name.
The memory of Harold Stannard is a West Indian possession and 1'
am conscious that I speak with the grateful voice of many intelligence;
scattered up and across the length and breadth of the British Caribbean,'
as I stand before you. These West Indian intelligence seek to add to"
mine their separate gratitudes for the inspiration he has been, and con-1
tinues to be, in their endeavours to make a region that will be better able'
to create images of beauty and reality, in art and music and literature,L
and also better able to criticise their environment and remould it nearer'
to their heart's desires. I speak with the community words of a people,
regretting the lost touch and the vanished voice of guide and friend, but -
full of the working of the spirit he had fostered. Around his name a:
legend of kindliness and wit has grown, the words he used and the epi-:'
grams he coined are told and retold with gathering significance by many.
mouths, and stories of the little, gentle scholar with the Victoriarn
moustache are brought out and exchanged in cherished company.
I am particularly happy to be able to deliver this lecture under the'
auspices of the Combined Cultural Committee consisting of representa-'
tives of the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society, in whose
premises Harold Stannard delivered his first lecture in British Guiana, the-
Union of Cultural Clubs, an organisation of which he may truly be said'
to have been the father, and the British Council whose Adviser he was
during his year in the West Indies. And I would like with your permis-
sion, Mr. Chairman, to associate with this Memorial Lecture the Public
Free Library, under whose auspices he gave, I believe, more than one
lecture, and whose work in the Community he greatly appreciated, and
also that branch of the University with us now embodied in the B.G.
SExtra-Mural Association. The spirit of Harold Stannard will endorse my
satisfaction from among the shades. As an Oxford man, his outlook on
life, in his own words, was "broadened and humanised by the influence
on his spirit of the ordered beauty amid which his mind was shaped;" he
knew the great truth that the pursuit of wisdom was a social activity ana
was not to be undertaken in solitude, he believed in the value of institu-
Stions, and he pinned his faith on the University College of the West Indies
as a well-head of learning and intellectual integration which would foster
the realisation of a West Indian way of life.
In the last broadcast he made, to the West Indies in August 1947, he
emphasised the part he believed the University College would play in
Assisting all groups formed to pursue intellectual or artistic interests in
this area and he said then (I quote) "I want to tell those clubs which
have kept the love of learning and of the arts, alive under difficult con-
ditions, in British Guiana and elsewhere, that brighter days are at hand,
that they will get advice and guidance and a sense of companionship
from the University College.... the College and the clubs are comrades
s in arms against mass ignorance" (unquote). I happen to know of his
Discussions in Jamaica with persons interested in the idea of the Uni-
versity long before that idea was translated into practical expression, I
know of his interest when Dr. Taylor was appointed Principal-Designate
in 1946, because I was one of the West Indians then in London whom
Dr. Taylor met on Harold Stannard's suggestion, and his interest in the
University was lively until the day of his death.
As we all know, the University is already playing an increasing part
in the West Indies, in the academic instruction within its walls, and in the
fields of research and adult education outside of those walls. The spirit
Sof Harold Stannard must rejoice, that his name is being remembered in
association with an organisation of this kind, established to form a base
for the influence of the University among grateful adults here at this
other end of the Caribbean road, and that the people and the University
are already drawing strength and ambition from each other in lifting the
level of intellectual life.
In these opening remarks, there is another organisation to which
I have already referred; that is the British Council which sent Harold
Stannard out to this region as its ambassador and cultural adviser. I
Shave word from Sir Christopher Cox, Educational Adviser to the Sec-
retary of State for the Colonies, that when the invitation came from the
SBritish Council asking him to return to the West Indies for 12 months,
to help chart the field in which the British Council might play its part,
Sin the new chapter of West Indian history that was then beginning to
unfold, that Harold Stannard confided to him he considered it a "great
opportunity" not only to renew and deepen old friendships and to form
new ones, but also to play a direct part in the building of the West In-
dian cultural aspirations, and by interpreting the thought and cultural
Life of the United Kingdom. A great opportunity, he said, and one that
he turned to great account: Dotted over our coastlands here in Guiana,
and everywhere throughout the islands of the British Caribbean there are
persons of all walks of life who remember him as an orator of distinction
with an immense and unfailing gift of sympathy for people, both in an
audience and as individuals. The enthusiasm that he engendered with
his personal quality has certainly outlived him and has helped to pre-
pare the way for the staff now maintained in this region by the British
I have dealt at some length with the relationship between Harold
Standard and the British Council whose ambassador he was, and between
him and the University he foreran, because in this Memorial Lecture I
desire to underline the subtle and caseless two- way traffic that is always
going on in history and in civilisation between the individual and the
community of which he is a part.
4 S *
All lectures must have a main theme running through them. I
want us to think of Quality as the backbone of this assembly of thoughts
because to my mind it best symbolizes the essential character of Harold
Standard and it becomes a beacon, not only for the achievement we all
seek as individuals, but also for the essence of leadership we must have
in the British Caribbean, if we are to realise the promise of nationhood
now unfolding before us in this generation.
What is quality ? Quality, we are told, is a peculiar power in any
object, it is that which makes a thing what it is, and it carries with it
a connotation of superior character. In each individual there is -a drive
of some strength, urging him to realise his potentialities, urging him
to add to and enhance his personal quality, impelling him to be the
best he can be. It is this urge from within that sets him to the conscious
adult activity of sharing in extra-mural classes, and so improving his
facilities and his skills. It is most active in the scholar who desires to
know and appreciate the best that has been thought and said and done
in the history of the world, and who wishes to compress into his mind,
a living picture of the way people lived in past centuries, the events
that stirred them, and the expression of their thought and feeling. We
may not all be like the scholar who wishes to become the nucleus of truth
and significance, but we are fellow-travellers with him along the road
of self-discipline and growth in the matters of the intellect and the
emotions. Because quality is never born full panoplied from the head
of the gods, it is a sensitive plant that is carefully nurtured and fed by
reading and writing and discussion that one engages in with similar
spirits of one's choice; and then discrimination comes, ani at long last,
if at all, comes wisdom in her full flower.
All this so far is like Christianity, a personal matter, the decisive
plan of an individual who has the inner urge and is prepared to do
something about it, and who by inclination and environment is able to
work his way slowly through the various stages of his intellectual and
discriminating growth. Difficult is the way and it is the passionate
few who follow it.
Of course we have in our statements so far produced arguments
from psychology, based on the nature of the inquiring and intelligent
,nan. Perhaps we should round out the references with an appeal to
history. What are the periods in European history, in which quality
Shas been at a permium when there have been societies enjoying leisure
and relief from work, and consisting almost entirely of aristocrats of the
Spirit? Immediately, a babel of voices assails us, but if we sift the
evidence they proffer, we will, I believe, be left with some three or
* four periods which were distinguished by a highly developed sense of
values in the individuals and by the continual appeal to reason in every
event. One such period was the Greece of Pericles, and others were
Italy during the Renaissance and France before the Revolution, and the
common characteristic necessary for the emergency of these periods
ceems to be leisure resulting in the existence of what we might be in-
clined to call a parasitic society centred around the rulers of the com-
I have considered only the civilisation of Europe for two very good
:reasons, because first I know nothing of others and secondly because I
want to trace the process by which European civilisation has fertilised
the countries on the lapping shores of the Atlantic Ocean and exported
its quality to North and South America, and therefore to the sunlit archi-
pelago of islands between the two continents-which we know as the
SWest Indies. There is a section of a West. Indian poem which describes
in ten lines the way in which this area has been developed mentally and
spiritually. First :
"A shame of race pervades the sea
Dark flowers feed our history.
Where the warm sea encircles all,
See Asia's shadows lean and fall.
And Europe's cargoes from the North
Start spirit like swallows winging forth.
Across the water walks the wind
SGardens are quickening in the mind.
Imagination's leap, the mountain's mood
Spirit and beauty weave nationhood."
In a recent broadcast! on the wakening nationalisms in Asia, Professor
Arnold J. Toynbee points out that history, like the human heart, has its
rhythmic periods of sending out blood and taking it in again. For two
or three centuries the relatively small area of Europe has been exporting
scientific knowledge to Asia and the rest of the world. The time has
come, he said, when the field of reception is saturated, Asia has
learnt to control its apparatus and desires to be master in its own
house. Well, in the same way, though in a minor key, Europe's cargoes
from the north have helped to start spirit in the Caribbean. Stannard
-+ was indeed part of the process by which Europe has been transferring
tradition from its own creative centres of civilisation to the under-de-
veloped countries of the spirit. The torch has to be handed on to carry
the light through new country, as every lover of the Olympic Games
knows. And many of us harbour the thought that in some precious
sense the anxious civilisation on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean
may find a unique expression in this Mediterranean of the New World.
The mixtures of races in the Caribbean provides a rich soil for the
growth of quality and it is to this slender link of tradition with the,
old World that we look for tempering influence. Individualism in the
New World has given rise to the dictatorships and political bosses of
Latin American republics, and although there are symptoms of the same.
disease of community growth affecting the Caribbean, we can hope that,
the creation of quality, not only in the leaders but also in the rank and,
file, can furnish checks to undesirable developments.
Perhaps at this point I should say a few words on the way in which
a young awibitious West Indian may best acquire quality in the a ts.
We are on the outskirts of a world civilisation. Our community is too
-porly equipped to support ballet and opera; of sculpture we have none,',
and drama and music are just beginning to be created here, although,
there are many and increasing opportunities for interpreting these arts,
and recordings in both branches are increasingly available. But a man:
can paint a picture or write a book wherever he finds himself,
and to us in the West Indies books form the major link with things:
of beauty and power created in a more highly civilised country and sent
over the seas. We can read for ourselves the books which trace not only'
the development of European civilisation but the civilisations found in"
other parts of the world.
That means that to a preponderating degree our search for quality
leads us to books and to libraries, where we must use our imaginations
to recreate the reality from the black marks on white paper before us.
If there were time and if this were the proper place, one might
attempt a reading list of books which will be a diet for the ambitious
West Indian and make him a leader in his community. One might even
go further and explain the complex structure of the young West Indian
community with the working class drive for leadership and the paralysed
functioning of the middle classes. But this is not the time nor place
and one must be content with the emphasis that quality and its creation
in our West Indian community is largely dependent on the printed word.
I want now to touch on a few of the conditions that obtain in the'
W.I. that have a bearing upon this personal quest for mental and spiritual
First of all there was, and still to a limited extent is, the consciousness-
'of being a colonial. As one W.I. poet wrote years ago.
"The world's a blind enlocked conspiracy
To hedge the individual soul
Keep it from growing, developing,
Rippling outwards, fulfilling its unknown destiny.
It fetters with dark colour and iron class,
Cramps the wild free beauty in the soul
That seeks to leap and bound
And dart swiftly."
In the championship boxing ring or in the athletes flashing down
a track for Olympic honours, for long the odds have been on the col-
oured or the colonial contestant, but in our time individual ability has
expressed itself in higher realms. In our time Ralph Bunche has been
awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace and Arthur Lewis has built an inter-
national reputation as an economist. Dark colour does not fetter so
closely, and at certain levels of intellectual endeavour one can no longer
A b conscious of the colour of another's skin. Stannard, you know, cele-
b'6ted his 60th birthday while in Trinidad in 1943 by coining an epigram
SIe said "If love is blind culture is colour-blind." and with that remark
ht' neutralised much of the protest concerning colour prejudice, that
SIJrek Walcott was later to express rather bitterly in his poems. -By
personal growth and intellectual achievement the colonial can consoli-
'date the equality of status with the inhabitants of the United Kingdom,
Conferred upon him by the British Nationality Act of 1949.
This emotional growth apart, (for it is only that) there is a much
more formidable hurdle which again, though indirectly, bears witness
to the timeliness of Harold Stannard's visit to this region and gives point
to the use of his scholarship and kindliness and wit, a use that converts an
unusual British export into a symbol of the best of Britain projected into
;he West Indies. Political circumstances have conspired suddenly to
king the West Indies to the brink of nationhood and it is a matter of
history and of political and economic organisation that a century of
freedom has not welded the descendants of the emancipated slaves into a
coherent social community. Instead of a community there is in the
West Indies a truncated society, a pyramid with the top lopped off,
and it is a race with time for us to put a top on this unfinished pyramid
and provide the creative and responsible leadership that the West Indies
j needs. It is social criticism of the highest order, and it is also a truism,
even a platitude, to say that the West Indies at this present time does
not seem to have evolved the quality of leadership that it needs. The
process that has been at work in a very rudimentary form of creating,
shall I say aristocrats of the spirit, in the midst of our infant democracy,
has shown that ability is not enough but that it must be anchored in
social responsibility, that quality in the individual cannot be self-seeking.
As a matter of fact, there is need for an upwelling in this region, of
the spirit of the ancient Romans that we know as gravitas and pietas.
0 the sense of dedicated duty to the demands of one's family and to eternal
. values, and the responsible cast of mind that keeps one's hand to the
plough. The Romans have written their name upon history mainly be-
cause of their respect for law and order, but .the roots of that respect
for law and order can be found in the self-discipline and the sense of
,,responsibility which the Roman people developed within themselves.
The West Indian is faced with this need for personal discipline and
" social responsibility. Telemaque in Trinidad has written a poem:-
Who lifted into shape
The huge stones of the pyramid
*t Who when it came that they should leave
Their urns of History behind
Left only with a sad song in their hearts
SAnd burst forth into soulful singing
As bloody pains of toil
? Strained like a hawser at their hearts
To those, hail............"
We have to build the top of our pyramid with the bloody hawser strain
ing at our hearts.
So far we have looked at the problem of creating quality in oup
West Indies and at the need for mingling the moral with the intellectual
as we produce the leaders needed for our West Indian Society,
There is a further problem of preserving that quality once it is achieved,
and of creating a tradition. Because of her long and vivid history Great
Britain is herself one of the aristocrats among the nations and in her'
structure there are discernible broad layers corresponding to the upper
and middle and working classes. I say discernible because from the
beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria social forces such as compulsory
education, other social services, death duties, and the pressures most
forcibly exerted upon a nation at war-these have been at work blurring
the edges of these classifications and permitting the rise and fall of
family constellations. These classes allow the emergence of honour and
privilege, and from these classes there have developed groups of leaders
concerned with government, art, philosophy and science which may be
considered the elite. If one remembers the generation of Harold Stan-
nard, his family, one more than usually cosmopolitan in outlook, his edu-
cation at King Edward's High School, Birmingham and at Christ Church,'
Oxford, one will appreciate the richly stored context of the British
Social System which shaped his personality and brought his mind to'
fruition. By comparison one is conscious of the poverty of a colonial
hierarchy, studded with functionaries of an official type who are con-
cerned with the political and economic life of the community but uni-
concerned with the large arid spaces where should be its intellectual
and artistic activities.
In the West Indies, any one engaged upon the personal pursuit do
quality comes sooner or later upon this dismaying lack of tradition in'
the community's life. Many of you will remember the poem by W. B.
Yeats on his descendants.
"Having inherited a vigorous mind
From my old fathers, I must nourish dreams
And leave a woman and a man behind
As vigorous of mind, and yet it seems
Life scarce can cast a fragrance on the wind,
Scarce spread a glory to the morning beams,
But the torn petals strew the garden plot I
And there's but common greenness after that."
The suggestion has been made that these individual meteors which flairi
across the Caribbean heavens and then plunge into night can only be
transformed into fixed stars in the firmament enduring for generations,
when West Indian women are enabled to bring into family life more
intellectual and moral strength. I run the risk, I know, of constantly*
flickering between two different social systems, but it has been pointed,
out to me that the average middle-class Victorian girl was often prepared'
for her career as wife and mother, in the knowledge of a little French
and embroidery and water colour painting, and a slight acquaintance with
the more sentimental songs of the period. Inadequate as these skills must
necessarily be for the exacting career of wife and mother they did
SKYK OVER-AL 51
Ensure to some degree that the children of the family grew up in an at-
mosphere which took for granted things of the intellect and of the spirit.
In the century that has flowed since the emancipation of slavery, partly
because of the lack of family tradition, all too often the hard-won gains
6f the West Indian individual have been lost after his death. Perhaps you
inow the lines :
". Man is a flung stone and his trajectory
Lifts its slim curve before it comes to earth.
Within that dome he shapes his bright pavilions
Although no final beauty be achieved.
Nations throw deeper curves and farther stones
(Genius may raise a curve or stetch a span)
But they too find a bed upon the earth
SAnd there they sleep in silence."
So the suggestion comes that W.I. parents should spend more money
on the education of their girls. Men are individual boughs but women
are the main family tree, and we are reminded that "the primary channel
-4of transmission of culture is the family; no man wholly escapes from
the kind, or wholly surpasses the degree, of culture which he acquired
X from his early environment." T. S. Eliot is speaking mere about the
SEuropean family and he goes on to say "when family life fails to play
its part, we must expect our culture to deteriorate." 1 want to switch
the application a little and to say that so far as the West Indies are
concerned, "if family life fails to play its part, we cannot expect oul
culture and the quality of our community life to improve."
We started out upon our personal and individual quest after quality.
and we have stumbled upon the truth that the precarious success of the
Individual seeker can only be preserved and consolidated by the family
That it is as it should be, for no man is an island. But in each com-
munity there is a creative minority, the people who built the top for
the pyramid, the people who transmit quality in their family constella-
tions. And I would like for a few minutes before I pass on to the final
sections of this lecture to refer to a potential characteristic in West
I Indians which may be of great value for the future. I refer to an ir-
-rational and religious element, something of mystique in the makeup of
If we take the writers in the West Indies as being in some way
representative of the thought of the region, we will see that this religious
feeling sometimes finds explicit expression. In Philip Sherlock's poetry
"twwe find an admirable account of the possession of pocomania and the
Religious rites brought from across the Middle Passage as well as thr
apocalyptic visinr. of Eden standing by Gordon Town. George Camnbell's
t- references are oblique. He compares daylight to a sacrament in his
hands, he declares his love to be a crucifix to place within Time's hands
Sand in another of his poems he says "Woman and man in man doth lie,
The little Jesus fast asleep." Derek Waicott says "we the long builders of
beyond this flying breath" can discern the Author of the Universe and
the Author's purpose "Beyond the written Heavens, the wide open sea.
the land like a green book."
There are writers in Guiana also who in explicit manner, express this
religious feeling, and in others, here and elsewhere, there are implicit
references which colour the written verse very much in the manner that
water is blushed by wine. I look upon these expressions, both overt
and hidden, as part of the dynamic in West Indian community life which'
strives to equate the intellectual with its moral vibrancies, an element
for whose roots we should look far back to the part played by the Church
in this region as an institution which built up the personality of the slave
and the emancipate, and gave him confidence in himself and in his powers
to grapple with the environment around him.
I cannot pretend that I have done anything except to string together'
a few platitudes but I hope they and their application to the West Indies
nave been redeemed by the spirit of the man whose memory we ar
mml to honour. This is an important formative period in the history of
the West Indies and the winds are set in the right direction. Think only
of the opportunities open today to the enquiring young mind, with extra T
mural classes, British Council scholarships, Government and C.D. & W.
scholarships, the establishment of special classes at the Technical Inr'
stitute and I think we will agree that there is an air of community
preparation which augurs well for tomorrow. But I am sure there are
many of us who think that the concept of Quality as an element is re-
sponsible leadership is one to be kept in mind in this formative period.
Some indication of the task ahead and nf the responsibility to be
attached to it may be made if I offer this reference. In August 1947.
a meeting in the Town Hall, Georgetown, sat listening to a relay over4
Station ZFY of a broadcast from the BBC. Harold Stannard was speak-
ing for the last time to the West Indies though neither he nor we knew
that. We heard the fine voice with its careful articulations go on strongly
through its message and come to the words (I quote) "It is easy for
us in England which is full of old buildings ranging from Cathedrals to
cottages, to realise that the men of he past built for posterity and that
it is for our generation to hand on the torch. But in the West Indiesy
it falls to your generation to be the first consciously to build for posterity.
politically, educationally, socially. Yours is a hard task but it is also
a great privilege. Build zealously; build with both heart and mind; build
with courage and faith in the future and you may be sure that you wiU
build enduringly." (unquote).
In that Town Hall in August 1947, we sat very still under the responsi-
bility and the Inspiration he was placing upon us. It was a charge to builj
with heart and mind being laid upon us by a man who more than an3,
other man T know has embodied Quality in himself and it is a charge
pregnant with meaning for our future in the West Indies.
What of the future? Can we in any way discern the setting of the
tide in a direction which would assist the creation of Quality in this
region ? Well, there are indications and promises of a better future
in this respect. With the operation in this area of the British Council
and the University College, we had for the first time organizations at
work which are intent on lifting the intellectual and artistic life of
%ur West Indian community at the level of the adult. Before these
Scodies, all the organised forces at work were those which treated Wes:
Indians as potential producing units in the economic and administrative
Life of the region. There had always been governors and judges, persons
,encerned with the maintenance of law and order in this life; there had
been ministers and priests, concerned with preparation for life in the
next world; there had been, as I said, captains of industry and commerce
concerned with output and the production of wealth. But is is only in
Sthe past fifteen years that the extra economic activities of people in the
West Indies have been a matter engaging the attention of public bodies.
iThe tide turned, I believe, at the time of the Royal Commission in
whose report you will find the dawning change, the gradual shift of
emphasis, so that the Deople of the West Indies become, not so much
t he object of an enquiry, the thing spoken of, but rather the subject
being addressed and the person spoken to.
Staunard's mind was alive to all these influences and events and he
-4has suggested that an attempt should be made to put on the agenda
for West Indian Conferences an item dealing with this type of activity.
I daresay he had in mind the attending as cultural observers of the
SConference, of British Council and University Representatives and others
'Interested so that a completely integrated picture of the Caribbean should
be obtained at Conferences of this kind.
In this, as in so many other respects and ideas, Stannard was ahead
of his time. It is difficult to envisage such an item appearing on a
*'Caribbean Conference agenda which for many years to come will be
overladen with projects for economic and political development, anoi
social services. The nearest thing to his high ideal occurred last year
in Trinidad when, at the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Trinidao
and Tobago League of Literary and Cultural Clubs, an attempt
was made to form a Caribbean-wide body called the British
'Caribbean Association of Cultural Organisations. Because of lack of
-tInitial planning, because of lack of any kind of follow-up, this splendid
Idea has fallen to the ground abortive and without a trial. But speaking
on the platform in San Fernando and returning thanks for the honour
i accorded in electing me one of the Vice- Presidents, I coupled with that
expression of thinks the name of Harold Stannard and said the idea
I was one he would have approved and done his best t- encourage,
especially as the Conference was completely unofficial and was the un-
"aided work of a voluntary organisation.
It is a movement like that, abortive though it was. which takes the
I measure of the potential of our West Indian way of life and which makes
me feel hopeful over the future of the West Indies. The fledgling which
now balances upon the edge of the nest will one day and not far from
now be ready to tumble out and try her wings and then she will dis-over
that she is an eagle.
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