Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Sources and authorities
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Book I: Introductory
 Book II: The dark age of Jamai...
 Book III: Transition
 Book IV: Modern Jamaica
 The blessed Island retrospect
 Map of Jamaica

Title: Jamaica
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081380/00001
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica the blessed island
Physical Description: 3 p. l., ix-xviii p., 2 l., 3-466 p. : plates, maps (1 fold.) ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Olivier, Sydney Haldane Olivier, 1859-1943
Publisher: Faber & Faber Ltd.
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1936
Copyright Date: 1936
Subject: History -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Bibliography: "References to books etc. that are mentioned in the text": p. 451-453.
Statement of Responsibility: by Lord Olivier.
General Note: "First published in November, 1936."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081380
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - ADH6452
oclc - 04072388
alephbibnum - 000646548
lccn - 37000718

Table of Contents
    Front Matter
        Page i
        Page ii
    Half Title
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Title Page
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Sources and authorities
        Page ix
        Page x
    Table of Contents
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    List of Illustrations
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
    Book I: Introductory
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 4a
        Page 4b
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 12a
        Page 12b
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 16a
        Page 16b
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 32a
        Page 32b
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 64a
        Page 64b
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Book II: The dark age of Jamaica
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 80a
        Page 80b
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 128a
        Page 128b
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 144a
        Page 144b
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
    Book III: Transition
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 224a
        Page 224b
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 240a
        Page 240b
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
    Book IV: Modern Jamaica
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 288a
        Page 288b
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 304a
        Page 304b
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 352a
        Page 352b
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
        Page 368a
        Page 368b
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 377
        Page 378
        Page 379
        Page 380
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
        Page 384
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 400a
        Page 400b
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
        Page 407
        Page 408
        Page 409
        Page 410
        Page 411
        Page 412
        Page 413
        Page 414
        Page 415
        Page 416
        Page 416a
        Page 416b
        Page 417
        Page 418
        Page 419
        Page 420
        Page 421
        Page 422
        Page 423
        Page 424
        Page 425
        Page 426
        Page 427
        Page 428
        Page 429
        Page 430
        Page 431
        Page 432
        Page 433
        Page 434
        Page 435
        Page 436
        Page 437
        Page 438
    The blessed Island retrospect
        Page 439
        Page 440
        Page 441
        Page 442
        Page 443
        Page 444
        Page 445
        Page 446
        Page 447
        Page 448
        Page 449
        Page 450
        Page 451
        Page 452
        Page 453
        Page 454
        Page 455
        Page 456
        Page 457
        Page 458
        Page 459
        Page 460
        Page 461
        Page 462
        Page 463
        Page 464
        Page 465
        Page 466
    Map of Jamaica
        Page 467
Full Text



Politics and Economics
White Capital and Coloured Labour
The Anatomy of African Misery
The Myth of Governor Eyre
The Empire Builder




24 Russell Square

First published in November Mcmxxxvi
by Faber and Faber Limited
24 Russell Square London W.C. I
Printed in Great Britain by
R. MacLehose and Company Limited
The University Press Glasgow
All rights reserved

Dedicated to

Lest while thine eyes by light of day
Explore the aspects of the way,
The unreasoning brute that carries thee
God's angel in the path shall see.


Sam indebted to many writers whose work has assisted me to
establish the foundations of this book: among those still
living-to Mr. W. F. C. Livingstone, Mr. H. G. de Lisser,
C.M.G., and Mr. F. C. Cundall, Secretary of the Jamaica In-
stitute. I am also greatly indebted to the Jamaica Imperial As-
sociation for having enabled me, by generous hospitality and
facilities for travelling in Jamaica in 1931, to refresh my pre-
vious acquaintance with the Island and its inhabitants. Most of
all for my understanding of the affairs of the Island as I appre-
hend them, am I indebted to many valued friends now dead,
such as John Vassall Calder, of Worthy Park, Planter and Pen-
keeper; Rowland L. Williams of Kew Park, Penkeeper and
Director of Education; Enos Nuttall, Archbishop of the West
Indies, and Sir John Pringle, of St. Mary's, among many other
perspicacious and effectual workers for the benefit of the Island
I am also under obligations to Mrs. G. Moulton Barrett,
formerly Head Mistress of Wolmers' School for Girls, and
widow of the late Col. E. Moulton Barrett, of Albion, St. Ann's,
for records preserved among private papers, and to Miss W.
M. Cousins, of Oxford, for the Index made by her of this book.
A complete list of the records and publications, the study of
which have contributed to the compilation of this book, would
unprofitably occupy much more space than can be devoted to
the purpose.
The book as it stands does not profess to be more than a highly
condensed survey; and much that had been drafted or tran-
scribed for embodiment or quotation as confirmatory, illustra-
tive or significant has been omitted in revising the typescript,
leaving the result, I feel, open to criticism as incomplete. I can
only hope that some young Jamaican student of history may be
stimulated to do better justice to the theme of my essay.


Sources and Authorities page ix

I. Approach to Jamaica 3
II. Preliminary Historical Gallop 13
III. The Face of the Island
i. The Character ofJamaica 25
ii. Geography and Geology 26
iii. Kingston and Liguanea 33
iv. Island Circuit of the Old Sugar Lands 37
v. The Mountains, Red Dirt and Cockpit 46
IV. Atmosphere, Climate and Health 50
V. Conditions preceding Emancipation 55

VI. The Historical Vacuum 79
VII. Religious Influences
i. Official 85
ii. Evangelical 94
iii. The Anglican Revival 1oo
iv. The Secret ofJamaican Religion 104
VIII. Unforeseen Sequels of Emancipation io8
IX. A Mission Congregation, 1840 12o
X. The Dark Age, 1838-1865
i. The Failing Estates 128
ii. The New Settlement 137
iii. The Havoc of 1846 143
iv. The New People 147

XI. Marketing page 158
XII. 1865 164
XIII. The 'Jamaica Rebellion' 172

XIV. SirJohn Peter Grant, 1866-1872 189
XV. 'Natural Indolence' 192
XVI. 'Juvenile Demoralisation' 200
XVII. Sir Anthony Musgrave, 1877-1883 215
XVIII. The Crossman Commission, 1883 221
XIX. Froudacity, 1885 237
XX. Two Progressive Governors, 1883-1897 247
XXI. The Norman Commission, 1897 255

XXII. Land and People
i. Surveys and Settlement 269
ii. Present Distribution of Land-holding 271
iii. Number and Increase of Small Freeholds 273
iv. Extensive Remaining Area of Large Free-
holds 274
v. IsJamaica Overpopulated? 274
vi. Parochial Distribution of Freeholds 276
vii. Comparative Progress in Parishes 280
viii. Scope for Wider Land-Distribution 282
ix. What Small Settlers Can Achieve 284
x. Wasteful Neglect of Large Properties 286
XXIII. Labour 290
XXIV. Small Settlers' Agriculture 311
XXV. Houses 328
XXVI. Woods and Waters
i. Changing Landscape 336
ii. Anxieties about Rainfall 337
iii. Legislation 338
iv. Revival of Attention to Denudation 339

XXVI. v. Natural Forestry in Jamaica page 339
con. vi. Forests and Rainfall 340
vii. Economic Forestry 341
viii. Mischievous Handling of Properties 342
ix. Extension of Clearances 344
x. Damage to Water Supplies 344
xi. High Mountain Clearances 345
xii. Protective Conservation Policy Desirable 346
XXVII. Crown Lands and Land Purchase 349
XXVIII. Water Supplies
i. Household Water Supply 355
ii. Irrigation 360
XXIX. Education 363
XXX. Conjugal Habits 372
XXXI. Banana War
i. Origins of the Banana Business 377
ii. The Defeat of Sir Alfred Jones 381
iii. The Battle of New York 386
iv. The Battle of London and the Canadian
Alliance 390
v. Co-operation Victorious 394
XXXII. 'Development' in Jamaica
i. The Ingratiating Word 399
ii. Putting Money in Circulation 406
XXXIII. Political Constitution 414
XXXIV. Integration 431
Leaving Kingston 441
St. Mary's, North Side 448
References 451
Index 455


Old Spanish Town facing page 4
Admiral Rodney's Temple and Public Buildings 4
King's Square (Litho. Hakewill) 4
Hurricane Damage in Portland, 1903 5
East Portland Mountains 5 5
Port Antonio 5
Eighteenth-Century Planters' Houses 12
Sugar Estate, Great House near Kingston (Litho.
Kidd) 12
Coffee Plantations, Great House, Red Hills, St. An-
drew's (Litho. Kidd) 12
Eighteenth-Century Sugar Estates 13
Trinity Sugar Estate, St. Mary's (Litho. Hakewill) 13
Whitney Sugar Estate, Clarendon (Litho. Hakewill) 13
Eighteenth-Century Architecture 16
Gale's Valley Sugar Works, St. James 16
Alley Church, Vere ('719) 16
Kingston 17
Kingston Harbour, Liguanea Plain and Long Moun-
tain, from Rock Fort on Windward Road near
Kingston (Photo. Gick) 17
Geological Map ofJamaica / 29
Kingston 32
Public buildings, King Street, Kingston (Photo. Gick) 32
A Kingston Slum (Smith's Village, Kingston) (Photo.
Gick) 32
Mountain Scenery, St. Andrew's, near Kingston 33
Hope River Gorge, St. Andrew's (Litho. Kidd) 33
Mountain Road, St. Andrew's 33
A Map showing the Spanish Settlement ofJamaica 4 41

Blue Mountain Scenery near Kingston facing page 64
Catherine's Peak, St. Andrew's, from Hill Gardens,
Cinchona, St. Thomas 64
Wagwater Valley, St. Andrew's, near Castleton Gar-
dens, St. Mary's 64
Silk Cotton Trees (Ceiba) in Liguanea Plain 65
Tom Cringle's Cotton Tree, Up Park Camp (Photo.
M. Scott) 65
Ancient Cotton Tree, Spanish Town Road (near the
Ferry River) 65
Rio Cobre Irrigation Canal 80
Canal near Spanish Town, St. Catherine's 80
Bog Walk Gorge, St. Catherine's 81
Bog Walk and Flat Bridge, St. Catherine's (Litho. Kidd) 81
Bog Walk, 1907 (Photo. by Sir H. H. Johnstone) 81
South-Side Scenery 128
Admiral Colbeck's Castle, St. Catherine's 128
Milk River, Vere 128
Two Great Plains 129
St. Thomas the Vale (St. Catherine's) from Mount
Diablo (Litho. Kidd) 129
The Plain of Westmoreland from Darliston Moun-
tains (Litho. Kidd) 129
Abandoned Sugar Estates 144
Government Stock Farm, Manchester (formerly
Sugar and Coffee Estate) 144
Cattle Pen on old Sugar Land, St. Elizabeth 144
Abandoned Sugar Lands 145
Logwood on old Sugar Cane Field, St. Elizabeth 145
Black River and Morass near Lacovia, St. Elizabeth 145
West-End Scenery 224
Raised Coral Beach, Hanover 224
Lethe Bridge and Sugar Works, Great River, Han-
over and St. James 224
Montego Bay, St. James 225
Montego Bay from Reading Hill (Litho. Kidd) 225
Montego Bay looking South-west, 1935 (Photo. Gick) 225

Jamaica Waterfalls, North Side facing page 240
Roaring River Falls, St. Ann's (Photo. Gick) 240
White River Falls, St. Ann's 240
Portland Parish, East End 241
Port Antonio 241
East Coast Road, Portland 241
White-Limestone Formation. Road Making in Cockpit Country 288
New Road 288
Draw Rump Hill, Upper Trelawny 288
Beauty Spots 289
Blue Mountain Peak, St. Thomas 289 J
Mountain Road, St. Andrew's 289
Marketing 304
Market Women, Windward Road, St. Andrew's,
1904 304
Market Women, Bog Walk, St. Catherine's, 1907 304
Marketing 305
Young Market Woman, 1935 (Photo. Gick) 305
Young Market Woman, 1936 (Photo. V. Taylor) 305
Small Settlers' Agriculture 352
Yam Cultivation in newly cleared ground 352 /
Coffee and Pimento Cultivation 352
Labour 353
Logwood Chipping 353
Sunday Work 353
Village Industry 368
Hat Making 368
Co-operative Agricultural Bank, St. Mary's 368
Housing 369
House on Rented Land, St. Andrew's 369
Shop and Houses on Rented Land, Portland 369
Housing 400
Small Settler's House, Upper Trelawny 400
Prosperous Small Settler's House, Hanover 400



Housing facing page 401
Sugar Estate, Coolie Barracks, Old Style 401
Sugar Estate, Coolie Barracks, New Buildings, by
United Fruit Co., Vere 401
Housing 416
Slum Houses in Kingston and neat Freehold House 416
Houses on Rented Land near Kingston (Liguanea
Plain) St. Andrew's 416
New Clearance of Thrown-up Land 417
New Clearance for Bananas 417
New Clearance for Citrus Fruits. (Note Cotton Tree,
grown tall in woodland now again cleared.) 417
A General Map ofJamaica at the end of the book


I shall be quite at home with the mountains ofHeaven-
The scarps and shadows and streams of the valleys of Death-
Crystal brilliance of dawn, rich softness of evening colour.
Because of the landscapes of Earth there are grades of vision
Only at times vouchsafed; but of clear identity-
Scenes ofa kingdom not coming with observation-
(Anywhere, it may chance, in the favoured moment)
Grades of the sensual perception of living beauty
Quickening through natural shaping (the methods ofArt have short cuts).
Not first here, in this Island-but here, in a lifetime, oftenest,
Came these moments to me; and here with most sudden impulsion
Unmistakable, charged with assurance and exultation,
Knowledge ofpower and promise and ocean-buoyance ofspirit,
After long absence resume-and are neverfor long denied me.
And whereas for me these places are full of dead men's friendships,
Here, more potent than elsewhere, abides what there was between us,
Was-and revives unchanged and still lives here in the living.
And I know these scenes and shadows are one with the settings of Heaven,
Because in these green pastures and by these waters of comfort
I know that God is my shepherd
Andfrom these hills comes strength.
Stony View, St. Andrew's: Jan.-March i93.

Book I

Chapter I

Jamaica, for most people in England, is little more than a
name, associated with romantic traditions of a once much-
prized West Indian Plantation disastrously decayed from
its ancient importance and interest, of idealised piracy, golden
trade-monopoly, immensely wealthy exploiters of slave-worked
cane-fields, a brilliant social atmosphere of dancing, drinking,
guzzling, gambling, sex-licence and horseplay, as fragment-
arily mirrored in Tom Cringle's Log, and with less light-hearted
gusto portrayed by the gently caustic humour of Lady Nugent's
heroically tolerant Journal-historic traditions of the saving
genius of Admiral Rodney, who had two deaf ears to Nelson's
one blind eye for ignoring instructions, and became the pre-
dominant local Divinity-his effigy raided from Spanish Town,
like the Ark of the Covenant, by the Kingston Philistines, and
indignantly dragged back again with uproarious rejoicings-
economic and social traditions of a British Colonial civilisa-
tion destroyed by an unparalleled feat of impulsive British
philanthropy, degenerating into a dingy medley of decadent
and despondent creoles and lounging 'niggers' (living, as
Carlyle assured our grandparents, on self-grown pumpkins
and rum), festering into bloody rebellion only quenched by
punitive massacre, rescued from anarchy by the strong hand of
Governor Eyre and of British Colonial statesmanship and from
insolvency by American enterprise, now getting along rather
better by selling bananas and catering (at stiff prices) for tour-
ists who bathe luxuriously at the 'Doctors' Cave' at Montego
Much of those traditions, evolved since Jamaica went out of
the limelight of the Emancipation controversy, is ill informed
and fantastic. (The bananas, the Cave, and the prices are quite
authentic.) The true history of that romanticised past might

repay re-writing. For Jamaica is a State of the British Common-
wealth very well worth taking seriously. I myself so regard her,
having been fated to know her the most intimately among the
British West Indian Colonies, with which, again, I am better
acquainted and in whose conditions and people I feel more in-
terest than all but a very few other living Englishmen. I know
Jamaica as an organic community, with a character and
destiny of its own, and her inhabitants as an assemblage of
human persons-many my friends-not less consciously impor-
tant to themselves and each other than English men and women,
having their own personal energies, passions, joys, sufferings,
sins, anxieties, hopes, secular interests, spiritual experiences, as-
pirations, disappointments and satisfactions.
Fishers for sponges and turtles use an implement known as a
waterglass, through which, when their vision of the variegated
life of the sea bed is blurred by the surface ripples, they can see,
in their true shapes and activities, the weeds and corals, and
unfamiliar living creatures that blossom and move in the sub-
marine prairies and thickets, and distinguish the unsuspected
rocks and snags of old wreckage that strew the sea bottom. The
aspect of these, so discerned, is very different from their surface
appearances; their realities sometimes agreeably, sometimes dis-
agreeably surprising compared with what is vaguely conceived
from above. Such waterglasses it has often seemed to me that
my fellow countrymen need in their relations with those West
Indian Colonies for whose government our Parliament is re-
sponsible, but which have their own long established traditions
of civilisation and government. What, actually, is the 'sea bot-
tom'-the soil in which these communities flourish? Here, only
a hundred years ago-not long in human history-were socie-
ties consisting entirely of a small white master-class and an im-
mense multitude of despised and ignorant slaves of a race con-
sidered sub-human. What are these societies now, how have
they changed within themselves, and how have their two for-
merly very distinct sections reacted on and modified each other?

A waterglass study ofJamaica and her nineteenth-century his-
tory is long overdue. No adequately understanding literary at-
tempt has been made to display the core of that history except
Mr. W. R. Livingston's little book Black Jamaica-admirable in
its theme and brilliant in its presentation but not adequately


Admiral Rodney's Temple and Public Buildings

'c "'FreiB5ffEi;;,IP^-'&]B~i~: a -*>' -

King's Square, 1830


East Portland Mountains

Port Antonio

exploratory and complete, and the talented occasional local
studies of Mr. H. G. de Lisser.
It may be asked why should I, or any writer not a Jamaican,
think it worth while to attempt a critical treatise about Ja-
maica, or hope, if he does, that anyone not a Jamaican may
think such a book worth reading? The island is a mere speck
in the map of the world; its area little greater than that of the
counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex together. The population
is little over a million. The handful of its inhabitants that were
classed as white in the latest census (and it may be doubted if
there are nearly so many as the 15,600 so described that are
of unmixed British, European or Jewish descent) can boast no
distinguished quality or achievement among their fellows of
similar stocks. The author' of the fairest and most intelligent
study of Jamaica society in the early years of the nineteenth
century, when the Island was at its highest point of prosperity,
confesses that-
'There are few, if any, individuals or families here who have
made themselves distinguished by uncommon talent, brilliant
achievement, or anything else that is very remarkable or eccen-
In intellectual culture Jamaica remains, even to-day, provin-
cial, without any very interesting provincial originalities. Her
artistic achievement, whether in the practical or the aesthetic
sphere, is trivial and second-rate.
I do not wish to suggest that Jamaicans are devoid of keen
sensibilities, ideas or aspirations-far from it-my confidence for
the Island's future rests upon what I recognize as their endow-
ment in those qualifications; but there is, in the provinces of art,
science or letters, very little as yet in her utterance or her
achievement from which the world outside could derive any
stimulus, inspiration or profit. The mass of her population is an
amalgam predominantly descended from West African negro
peoples which in their native lands had not developed civilisa-
tions or racial character even so remarkable as are in some re-
spects those of kindred communities of the same continent
which had early infusions of Asiatic race-strains and experi-
enced the furthest diffusions of Egyptian and Semitic culture.
Moreover, such developments of racial originality as the African
ancestors ofJamaicans may in their native land have displayed

have been destroyed or repressed in their transplantation.
They have become 'coloured' citizens of an English Chris-
tian civilisation; but, as compared with the white citizens
of other parts of the Empire, with whom they rank as equals,
they are, in consequence of the perverting reactions of slavery,
long left unredressed by public attention to education, illiterate,
uninformed and in many respects deficient in the civic and in-
dustrial virtues of European communities. In what degrees de-
ficient may be indicated in the course of this book, in which I
hope to exhibit also many manifestations of progress; and in so
doing I may be found giving credit for some compensating
racial and local virtues, advantages and even superiorities.
But, taken at her best, Jamaica is a smallish Island commun-
ity of proprietors of extensive estates engaged in agriculture and
stock-breeding, and many thousand small working landowners,
tenants and labourers similarly employed, together with the
shopkeepers, dealers, transport workers, tradesmen, artisans
and unskilled wage-workers that do their daily business, and
with as many clergymen, lawyers, doctors, professional men and
schoolmasters as can find occupation in ministering to their less
elementary needs. It is easy to think of the kind of people such
citizens in such small communities anywhere tend to be. Most
outsiders who will look at a book about a West Indian Island
would probably be more attracted by a sensational description
of Hayti, where negroes are understood, in common repute, to
have developed their own racial character and congenial civil-
isation, and, in the outcome, to find the crowning ecstasy of
their souls in sacrificing babies to devils. That is exciting. That
is the stuff for a popular book of travel. How often have not
Jamaicans encountered the scribbling visitor, eager for copy,
who questioned them under his breath about Obeah and Voo-
doo, romantically clinging to the illusion that some thrill may
still be attainable by the explorer of the sordid blackmailing
quackery that masquerades in dark corners in the rags of
African magic, or anxious to catch the atmosphere of romantic
Creole passion, as if that of Clapham were not now ardent
enough for the most daring of novelists.
Jamaica, however, has on the whole a more agreeable reputa-
tion than Hayti, with nothing factitious or vulgarly imaginative
in its essential basis; though some elements of it may be a little
distorted or out of perspective. The Island, before the War, had

for a good many years been advertised, justifiably, as a delight-
ful resort for visitors seeking health, rest or pleasure. Travellers
for pleasure, tourists or trippers are not, perhaps, the most per-
spicacious appreciators of what is excellent in the universe, and
the most intelligent of them do not travel in a critical frame of
mind. And in these times, when we have a civilisation to save
and remould, we may well think impatiently of pleasure-seeking
excursions. Such travellers, too, as can resort to Jamaica for
holidays must, at the best of times, be but a tiny pinch of hu-
manity. Yet let us take account of them sympathetically and
accept their impressions, with reasonable allowances, as a test.
Repress the irritation which the idea of the leisured lounger,
with money and time to spend, in these days in globe-trotting,
may well arouse in the minds of those condemned to struggle at
home against the canker of unemployment and the depression
of agricultural and industrial enterprise. All of us are holiday-
makers at times, even if we cannot afford to travel. The tourist
is a man or woman on a prolonged, deliberate holiday, able to
regard life continuously from the holidaymaker's point of view.
He seems, indeed, less out of place in Jamaica than he may in
busier regions, for a greater proportion of life has an aspect of
leisure there than it has, or can have in the old, civilised, sunless
lands from which tourists escape. In answering, then, the chal-
lenge of possible question why Jamaica should be considered
worth writing about, I should say quite simply and confidently,
as a beginning, that it is a country worth making acquaintance
with, for the sake of the exceptional refreshment and pleasure
which the senses and spirit of man will find there, if he has the
leisure and the means to visit it. Approach it with me.
The water of the Caribbean Sea is clean and clear; it floats
no oozy greenness like that of our Channel shores. Its surfaces,
broken, resemble fractured crystal. Smooth ribbings gleam on
the moving wave-slopes. Light springs refreshed out of the splin-
ters and dust of the water as out of snow or gems; the rhythmical
plunge of the vessel's forefoot throws wreaths of diamonds broad-
cast. This water is tinted, without obscuration of its transpar-
ency, with colour that in deep volumes is seen as bright sap-
phire-blue; not the steely indigo-black of the middle Atlantic;
its quality is kinder, more joyous. By day it does not need to
gather colour out of the sky and reflect it; sunlight it borrows to
illuminate and display the depth and strength of its own native

azure. Indeed the sky itself is often the paler element; the shim-
mer of its vapour whitens the face of the sea.
Before daylight, watched from the empty deck of the steamer,
wet with the early scrubbing, the water, towards dawn, dis-
sembles its store of colour. Its surfaces stealthily gather the first
of the growing light; it appears more luminous than the air, but
cold and serious in tone, like blackened silver. It cannot borrow
colour from the sky; there is not radiance enough from the vault
to carry it; the firmament itself is of a noble light blue, still
swinging a planet or two of incredible liquid incandescence, but
with most of the constellations lost. Light gathers around the
lower sky-rim; the spreading strain of rusty crimson promises
where the sun shall appear.
It is under such a sky and at such an hour that I have most
often approached Jamaica, coasting round the eastern end of
the Island, with the lighthouse at Morant Point still flashing
over the level thickets of mangroves and dark plumed masses of
coco-palms crowded behind them. That lighthouse was put up
by Sir George Grove, engineer and interpreter of music. I think
that is part of the reason why he could recognize what is felt in
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The tide of eternal joy is very
buoyant over against Rocky Point-the mystery of deliverance
driving hither across the floods of oppression and Death.
Looking landwards, as the steamer swings round the south-
eastern spit, you will see, above the mangroves and the tangled
web of the palm fronds, confused low hills near the shore, with fog-
wreaths caught here and there in the bushy gullies and, springing
clear of them inland into cloudless, transparent dark air, a great
velvety purple-black bank of forest, sweeping up on the slant of
a long up-tilted shelf to an escaped ridge 4000 feet above sea
level. The bluff drops steeply on the west into the notch of a
pass, and from the pass there runs westward and westward a
range of successive peaks with long outstretching buttresses,
very distinct even in this half light: high mountain ridges, dark
blue, not rugged or craggy but mossy of surface-texture with
thick vegetation; so noble in the style of their outlines, the
masses and clean true curves of their flanks, the saucy tilt of
their summits, that they hold in any aspect a dominant gran-
deur. These are the Jamaica Blue Mountains, setting the key of
the Island's colouring, entirely satisfying; only at times one is
moved to wonder how snow-peaks would show beyond them,

and to wish for a moment that they were shining there to accen-
tuate this magnificence.
Very soon the eastern faces of all these summits will be glowing
with soft dark rose, intensifying into violet the shadowed slopes
and ravines; and, as the horizon brightens, a pleasant white
light will envelope you, and suddenly the pale clear gold of the
risen sun will gleam across your shoulder and warm your neck
and cheek. And the lower scene will be losing some of its mys-
tery; but the colour of the ascending folds and hollows will grow
for some time yet, before haze comes to veil them, more solidly
and vividly blue.
If this should be the first time you are approaching Jamaica,
and more especially if this has been your first passage into wes-
tern tropical seas, the changes of physical atmosphere through
which you have travelled and the complex attack on your
senses of so much in the visible world that has been unfamiliar,
and, if you are accessible through the visible world to beauty, so
much that will have stirred you as overpoweringly beautiful,
will probably have unsettled your apprehension and shifted the
accustomed comparative ranges of your judgment. You will
have been brought into a state akin to intoxication, beglam-
oured, predisposing you to apprehend the sensible world with
standards a little dislodged by spiritual motions from their
habitual balances. You will, in fact, be prepared to fall in love
with the Island and all that belongs to it; just as you may have
found yourself, possibly to your own surprise, prepared to do
among your fellow travellers-as has happened to very many on
such new voyages. And if you are one of those so predestined,
you may at such an hour as this be taken at an advantage, and
a word may be spoken to you of which you will never, in the
world of secular reason, be able to give any account, but which
only at the peril of your soul's life will you ever deny or forget.
And you will become one ofJamaica's own lovers, coming face
to face with beauty embodied in her, and will be prepared (con-
sider how strange an illusion) to fall in love also with her in-
habitants ... who, indeed, are for the most part themselves also
truly her lovers, and so your fellow communicants.
Moreover, Jamaica as an inhabited unit of earth and as a
social community has a specific character of her own-an estab-
lished organic life and temperamental coherence. Something
has grown up naturally, something has by human will and

spirit been brought into being during the two and three-quarter
centuries of British Jamaican history, producing a society
chiefly alien in racial origin, which addresses to English and
American visitors the impression of an agreeable collective indi-
viduality, which makes the Island, quite independently of the
charms of its climate and scenery, a delightful and lovable place.
Positively, in the face of all the subhuman faults-the full en-
dowment of the seven deadly sins that may be charged against
every class of her population, Jamaicans of all classes feel this
and are proud of themselves as Jamaicans and of the Island that
breeds them.
This Island has an exceptional, privileged, responsible des-
tiny. Jamaica has a prerogative. To her, most pointedly among
the older British Colonial settlements, whose populations derive
both from Europe and Africa, must the question be put: What
have your white folk succeeded in doing to take away the re-
proach against them of the abomination of slavery and the
selfishness of ensuing oppression, and what have your black folk
done to prove themselves worthy of freedom-to make good
what was promised and vowed in their name by the Christian
Englishmen that fought their battles for them? I think that all
Jamaicans should feel the ambition, as I myself feel it and feel it
confidently for Jamaica, that she should furnish the leading case
and the most illuminating and convincing example of how the
problems of mixed racial communities can be most happily
solved, of what sort of fellow citizens and partners with Euro-
peans in the future of a nation and of the world the African
peoples can breed. And Jamaica can already make the most
encouraging answer. She is internally peaceful, her crime rate is
low, she is moderately prosperous and her planters and Workers
show progressive ability to adapt their productive economy by
intelligent organisation and combination to meet the heavy
stresses of economic disorder now paralysing the prosperity of
the world.
I fear that there is little likelihood of my succeeding in making
this book intelligible in the sense in which I intend it-that my
waterglass will be really transparent.
The nurture and education of English people, especially those
who form the administrative and propertied classes, seem to
render it permanently impossible for most of them to regard
or think of their coloured fellow citizens as really commensurable

human persons, or otherwise than as slightly comic or curious.
They habitually write and speak of all such as 'niggers', and
think of them primarily as a labouring class for employment by
white men. Even The Times reviewer of Professor Macmillan's
recent book on the West Indies refers to the manual workers of
that ancient British Colony as 'the natives', as if they were
members of uncivilised African tribes in their original habitat-
Masai or Bushmen. There are no persons of indigenous race in
Jamaica. Those born there, white, coloured or black, form, like
the inhabitants of Great Britain, a racial conglomerate, mostly
the descendants of naturalised denizens.
The attractions of Jamaica as a resort for tourists are being
now energetically advertised on behalf of those classes of her
population who expect to make profits out of their custom. But
it is manifest from the photographic groups which the Jamaica
Gleaner newspaper encouragingly publishes of such visitors,
generally depicting them in bathing costumes, with figures
cruelly reminiscent of the 'apenecked' form of Mr. T. S.
Eliot's Sweeney, as well as from much of the commentaries
which the interviewers of that enterprising journal extract from
their victims, that most tourists of the class that chiefly visits the
Island are not likely either to understand very much of this
book or to do Jamaica very much permanent good. Indeed the
tourist traffic has already destroyed the good manners of many
of the population, especially of the children near the towns and
main thoroughfares, by stimulating odious habits of touting and
begging, which were practically unknown when I first went to
the Island, or by mere uncouth, patronising and uncivil be-
haviour towards them. And the more energy is devoted in
Jamaica to making the Island 'attractive' to tourists in the
methods that are commonly understood to be inviting to them
(night clubs, 'Lidos', etc.), the less attractive does the Blessed
Island become to those who most profoundly appreciate her
character and her people. 'The Island', writes a Jamaican lady
resident to me-'is crawling with tourists-I am always glad when
the season is over.'
I notice that even this Spring, 1936, two popular English
novelists have been visiting Jamaica and have confided to
Gleaner reporters their hopes of discovering romantic material
for their art in the traditions of Obeah or Voodoo. The Gleaner's
writers have very frankly told them that they would be wasting

their time in attempting to do so. Nor apparently did these
explorers fare very much better even in Hayti, which they also
visited, hunting for like material. Jamaica has been made, and
her future will be made, by her people, white or coloured, who
grow on their own roots there.


Sugar Estate, Great House near Kingston, 1834

Coffee Plantation, Great House, Red Hills, St. Andrew's, 1834


Trinity Sugar Estate, St. Mary's, 1834

Whitney Sugar Estate, Clarendon

Chapter II

amaica was detached from the dominion of Spain in the
year 1655 by a raiding force commanded by General Ven-
ables. Ships under Admiral Penn had been sent by Oliver
Cromwell to attack Hispaniola, the important neighboring
island now divided into the Republics of Santo Domingo and
Hayti. Repulsed in this enterprise, the filibusters sailed to Ja-
maica, landed on a sandbank near the mouth of the Rio Cobre, in
an inner bay of what is now Kingston Harbour, at a spot known
later as 'Passage Fort', and threatened Villa de la Vega,1 the
capital town. Ramirez, the Spanish Governor, gave himself
prisoner, was deported and died on shipboard; his deputy
lieutenant, Ysassi, fled inland with the Spanish and Portuguese
residents, their men-at-arms, and their slaves; and Jamaica fell,
an inglorious and uncovered consolation prize to the frustrated
Imperialist ambitions of the Protector, who expressed his lack of
appreciation by sending Penn and Venables to the Tower on
their return.
An attempt made, in 1658, by a Spanish expedition from
Cuba to reconquer the Island was foiled, after some hard fight-
ing, by Col. D'Oyley, and in 1660 the invading force, accom-
panied by the residue of the earlier Spanish settlers, evacuated
the Island at 'Runaway Bay', in the north-east corner of what is
now St. Ann's Parish. Their escaped slaves established them-
selves in the central wilds of the Island, about Juan de Bolas
Mountain, near the apex of the principal settled area, and
became known as Maroons.
Chocolate, hides and lard were the principal exports at the
time of the English capture, but the Island abounded in cattle,
horses, sheep, wild pigs, fish, fowl, quick-growing food plants
and fruits, and its promise for colonisation was quickly recog-
'Now Spanish Town.

nised. Some early English settlers went out as true colonists. They
planted chocolate, sugar-cane, indigo, ginger, tobacco and cot-
ton, and developed a trade in timber, dye-woods, spices, drugs
and other natural products.
Charles II spoke of the Island affectionately (perhaps with a
desire to conciliate its Parliamentarian settlers) as his 'darling
Plantation'. It is a modern solecism to speak of it as a Colony.
Jamaicans habitually call it 'the Island'. Charles was hopeful
that it might be developed into a profitable fief of the Crown.
But the settlers were independent-minded and stiff-necked peo-
ple, many of them former soldiers of Cromwell's army. Among
them were Daniel Blagrave,1 and Col. Thomas Wayte, signa-
tories of Charles I's death warrant, and Whitelocke, one of
Cromwell's leading councillors. The families of other regicides,
among them Bradshaw and Scott, also took up properties in
the Island. Their dominant political principles were to resist
interference with their affairs on the part of the Crown, and to
obstruct its demands for taxes. This attitude long continued to
characterise the relations of the local Assembly with the British
Board of Plantations, and subsequently with the Colonial Office,
tempered only in some degree by the exigencies of their demands
for military and naval expenditure on the part of the Crown for
their protection.
The war with Spain continuing, Port Royal, situated at the
narrow entrance to Kingston Harbour, became the headquar-
ters of the 'Buccaneer' pirates who plundered the Spaniards'
treasure-ships. Some of the most active and capable early immi-
grants were Jews, who had been deported by the Inquisition
from Spain to Central America and repaired to Port Royal to
handle the trade in Spanish booty. The descendants of these im-
migrants form to-day a valuable and influential element in the
Island society. The most enterprising among the settlers became
more interested in piracy than in production. Planting and agri-
cultural husbandry developed slowly. Attempts to settle work-
ing white cultivators on small holdings were unsuccessful, and it
was not until buccaneering had been suppressed and the ener-
gies of British marine activity which it had attracted were
transferred to the sphere of the slave trade, that the production
of sugar and other tropical staples began effectively to attract
investments of English capital and a flood of applications for
'So spelt in the signature, though the family name survives as Blagrove.

large grants of land. For sugar planting and for the rearing of
cattle, horses and mules the soils and climate were peculiarly
advantageous. There were alluvial plains round the coast, some
of them abundantly watered, rich in the accumulated forest-
mould of innumerable centuries. Sheltered valleys among the
mountains were amazingly fertile, much of them level enough
for easy tillage, and also well watered by streams and seasonal
rainfall. The limestone uplands offered unsurpassed breeding
conditions and strengthening pastures for cattle, which were
carried down to plough and manure the cane fields, draw the
wains and turn the sugar mills, and to be finally fattened off for
the butcher on the rich feed1 of the lowland grass pieces. The
pimento, a kind of bay tree, with dark, glossy foliage, and
smooth grey and fawn-coloured bark, is native and indeed
almost peculiar to the Island. Its dried berries, under the trade
name of allspice, became a valuable export and it was encour-
aged to grow to shade the short, sweet grass that flourished on
the cleared limestone.
In the more accessible uplands 'provisions'2 for the mainten-
ance of the estate villages were cultivated by the slaves, in their
traditional African methods. In the limestone hill-country3
Arabian coffee was found to flourish luxuriantly, and profitable
plantations and curing factories were established. Further in the
interior, in their remote and inaccessible fastnesses, the descen-
dants of the Maroons, reinforced by later runaway slaves, long
maintained themselves as independent communities, and after
many years of irrepressible brigandage were brought under
control and granted lands in Trelawny and St. Elizabeth and
settled in permanent villages.
In 1795 the Trelawny Maroons, under gross provocation,
broke out in rebellion, and after eight months of indecisive irre-
gular fighting were induced to make an honourable capitulation.
The treaty signed by the British commander was, however,
treacherously ignored by the local Government, and most of the
Maroons were made prisoners and deported to perish in the
fogs and frosts of Nova Scotia. The survivors were transferred to
'Established by the accidental introduction of bird-seed from West Africa
and thence known as Guinea grass.
2i.e. vegetable food stuffs of many descriptions.
*The best coffee, however-the best indeed that the world produces-was
grown at higher altitudes-3000 to 4500 ft.-in the Blue Mountain range.

Sierra Leone. Within living memory there have remained only
two small Maroon settlements in St. Mary's and one larger
village at Moore Town, in the long neglected Eastern Parish
of Portland, with another at Accompong Town in the 'cockpit
country' near the middle line of the Island in St. Elizabeth
Parish. The Maroons still maintain a certain traditional self-
complacency in distinguishing themselves from the rest of the
black people, and enjoy partial exemption from taxes; but they
tend gradually to be absorbed and assimilated, which is the best
thing that can happen to them.
Port Royal, after the revenues it derived from buccaneering
came to an end, became, with Kingston, under treaty with
Spain, the sole depot and mart for the slave trade of the Carib-
bean and North American plantations. This privileged mono-
poly long maintained its unsavoury opulence. Port Royal also
became an important naval station and arsenal, and was forti-
fied and garrisoned. In 1692 the town was engulfed by an earth-
quake, appropriately paralleling the fate of the Dead Sea cities,
and Kingston superseded it as the principal port of the Island.
(The seat of government was transferred thither from Spanish
Town in 1872.) Kingston Harbour is a lagoon about ten miles
long by two broad, protected from the sea by a long narrow spit
called 'The Palisades', composed of shingle overlying a sub-
merged limestone and coral ridge, to the seaward of which there
are many reefs and islets of living coral. The channel from Port
Royal to Kingston is narrow and sinuous and demands careful
piloting. The recurrent earthquakes which caused Port Royal
to be abandoned, and the latest successor of which did great de-
struction to Kingston in 1907, have a remarkable local persist-
ence. They appear to result from sudden subsidences of part of
the sea bed near the southern coast between Port Royal and
Morant Bay; presumably along an ancient fault in the earth's
1Dr. Vaughan Cornish, who made careful observations after the 1907
earthquake, has suggested that the explanation of these recurrent earth-
quakes may be found in the alteration in relative local pressure on the sur-
face of the sea bottom by the extension of the great delta of soil and gravel
brought down from the Blue Mountain range by the Yallahs River, which
debouches opposite the habitual focus of the earthquake disturbances.
According to his conjecture it may take about a hundred years to pile up
a sufficient weight of debris to cause another subsidence along the line of
the fault. The earthquake waves of 1907 were traced as radiating from about


Gale's Valley Sugar Works, St. James

Alley Church, Vere


Kingston Harbour, Liguanea Plain and Long Mountain,
from Fort Rock on Windward Road near Kingston


Kindred with the subject of earthquakes is that of hurricanes,
a far more frequent affliction. These, when the noonday place of
the sun begins to draw to the southward after midsummer, orig-
inate as cyclonic storms in the Caribbean Sea, usually some-
where between Trinidad and the south of Santo Domingo.
Their inception is promptly reported by the meteorological sta-
tions with which the Caribbean region is now widely supplied,
and their subsequent course forms a subject of intense anxiety in
Jamaica. Will they turn north and go across Hayti, or will they
just brush the east end of Jamaica and go north through the
passage between Hayti and Cuba? Will they cross Jamaica it-
self, or pass to the west and ruffle the western end, or miss
Jamaica entirely and only harry her small coconut growing de-
pendency of the Cayman Islands? The later in the hurricane
season-from July to September-these tornadoes develop, the
flatter as a rule is the curve of the course they take, the more
prolonged is their journey westward and the greater the likeli-
hood of their striking Jamaica. Fortunately their vortex is never
wide enough to sweep the whole Island with hurricane force.
Where they pass they work spectacular havoc, especially to the
frail, unbraced houses of wood, wattle and thatch of the peas-
antry and to wooden buildings in towns. But houses built and
framed with reasonable regard to elementary principles of tim-
ber construction and properly pinned to foundations suffer little
The crop which suffers most severely from hurricanes, or from
the violent gales which skirt their fringes, is the banana. Most
other crops, though their yield may be temporarily checked and
a season's harvest lost, quickly recover, and flourish the better
for the abundant watering they have received.
The physical characteristics of the Island have been reflected
to an important degree in its economic and social history. The
earliest settled sugar estates lay in groups on the coastal plains
or in the vales and pockets of suitable soil easily accessible from
the shipping places. Communication by land between the sugar
districts' was long and, by such few roads as there were, ardu-
ous. This distribution and isolation both fostered an independent
this point with a corresponding focus of intensity to the north of the Blue
Mountain range, indicating that the whole island in this part had taken a
slight tilt over along its major axis.
1See Chapter III, iii.
B o.J.

and autonomous disposition among the settlers and conduced to
the development of a somewhat concentrated parochialism in
the principal settled districts. In the more prosperous parishes
there were societies of capable and successful planters who built
themselves handsome Great-houses and took pride in the public
buildings of their shipping and marketing towns. Surrounding
these comparatively civilised areas lay wide unreclaimed regions
of unfrequented and often impassable mountains and forests.
Practically the whole black population resided as slaves in the
estates' negro-houses. Only runaways and Maroons lived in the
Settled originally as a genuine colony Jamaica was, during
the course of the eighteenth century, transformed (in its occu-
pied parts) into an aggregation of large plantations worked by
slave labour for the profit principally of absentee English own-
ers, who took no more part in the direct management of their
properties than do shareholders in industrial investments to-day.
The rapidity of this revolutionary development is astonishing.
In 17341 the value of sugar exports was 54o,ooo, in 1764,
1,076,155, in 1770, 1,538,730. In 1768 there were 651 sugar
estates in cultivation, in 1786 there were Io61. Coffee planting
began to be taken up about 1770. By 1780 there were 150 coffee
properties, in 1799 there were 686, and coffee planting was still
extending rapidly. During this period Jamaica quickly became
what Dr. Johnson2 concisely and appropriately described it as
in his day being: 'a place of great wealth and dreadful wicked-
ness-a den of tyrants and a dungeon of slaves'.
This revolutionary transformation was due, as Gardner3
points out, directly to 'the steps that were taken by which the
Island became for a long series of years the finest sugar country
in the world . If sugar had not become the chief staple of this
magnificent island it would in all probability have become the
home of many thousands of Englishmen and men of English an-
cestry who, in farming occupations and the cultivation of what
are now called minor products, would have founded a colony
almost if not quite equal to those on the American continent.
This glorious mountain district would gradually have been
2Johnson's servant, Francis Barber, was a Jamaica negro.
aHistory of Jamaica. Mr. Gardner was a Congregational minister at Cha-
pelton in Upper Clarendon.

penetrated, and in such climates as that of the Pedros, the high-
lands of Manchester, Clarendon and the corresponding eleva-
tions of the north, English settlers would have found healthy
and pleasant homes. With a few needful precautions and regu-
lar, temperate habits, an English Colony would have flourished.
... Imperfect as the records of the early years of our history are,
enough remains to show that when the scum which had floated
on the surface of the first tide of conquest and immigration had
drifted away, a large body of colonists remained, whose ranks
were continually augmented, who sought to bring with them
all that was precious in the social life of the country from which
they came, and who would in time have made Jamaica what
their countrymen were making of the New States of America.
This was not to be. Colonists gave place to sugar planters. Sugar
planters required slaves, and gradually the Island became a
mighty aggregation of cane fields, in which negroes toiled and
white men were the taskmasters.'
It is one of the paradoxical and saving anomalies ofJamaican
history that so much of 'what was precious' in seventeenth-cen-
tury English character, tradition and culture did take root, sur-
vived and was kept alive by intelligent contacts. High standards1
of principle have never been unrepresented or their profession
and respect openly repudiated in the public life of the Island,
even when practice has been most corrupt.
I know no more striking illustration of the astonishing con-
trast between the true Colonial ideal of what Jamaica might
have been made, and the blighting of that ideal by the Island's
conversion into a sphere of British capitalist exploitation, than
the fact that whereas between 1667 and 1732 218 endowments
were left in trust by patriotic Jamaicans for the maintenance of
schools and churches (besides very many settlements by consid-
erate parents for the benefit of their illegitimate families2)
almost the whole of such property was embezzled during the
1The technique of self-complacent hypocrisy maintains a high standard
of literary magniloquence in the productions of local historians: notably, for
example, Bridges' Annals.
'An official enquiry made in 1763 estimated the amount that had been
left in trust for coloured children at between 200,000o and 3oo,ooo. As
coloured persons could not own real property, and personal legacies to the
coloured or base-born were limited by law to 12oo, these unlucky souls
could only be provided for by such settlements; and they could not sue
their trustees.

eighteenth century by its trustees, including such great attor-
neys as William Beckford, the celebrated Lord Mayor of Lon-
don and builder of Fonthill Abbey, who diverted 50,oo00 or
more belonging to one of the educational trusts (the Drax es-
tates in St. Ann's) to swell the immense fortune he harvested out
ofJamaican slave-property business.
It is a comfortable tradition, enshrined in most school text-
books of history and geography, that the West Indies in their
days of prosperity afforded a shining example of British genius
for Imperial colonisation.
But the glamour with which such writers as Kingsley and
Froude have gilded the traditional past of these Colonies will be
found on examination to reflect almost solely the renown of their
history as viewed from the mother country. It ignores the dom-
inant circumstance, not emphasised in romantic retrospect, that
the entire Plantation commonwealth was founded on slavery,
Sand depended for its maintenance on the slave trade. No one
who has had no occasion to peer below the surface of the Co-
lonial scene of this period can have any conception of the self-
corrupting and suicidal abominations which that foundation
and that recruitment involved. If Englishmen think with pride
of the past history ofJamaica, one cannot, after examining what
were actually the local conditions for the hundred years that
preceded emancipation refrain from wondering, as John Keats
'asked aloud', of those other colonial speculators, the brothers of
Isabella-'Why, in the name of Glory! were they proud?'
They have been, in fact, proud for two reasons. First, and
principally, because of the valour and martial genius displayed
by Englishmen-in particular Rodney and Nelson-in the
struggle with France for the mastery of the Caribbean Sea, and
secondly, because the Plantations produced large fortunes for a
number of influential aristocratic families and commercial mag-
nates at home.
Jamaica was much the most lucrative of the Plantations, and
by that very fact commanded the genuine homage always
accorded to Mammon. Society was dazzled, Grub Street intoxi-
cated by the extravagances of such bombastic vulgarians as
'Beckford's Vathek, the reputation of which as a book (it is quite unreadable
now) probably survives exclusively because of its catchy title, is a supreme
specimen of the literary virtuosity produced by that artificial atmosphere.

Those who think romantically of the past of Jamaica are in-
spired by the repown of names and exploits that do not belong
to Jamaica and by the refracted mirage of the gold sublimated
from the sweat of her slaves. The last simulacrum of expiring
Colonial virtue discernible in her political history is the request
of her Assembly in 1774 to the English Government to put a
stop to the importation of slaves. But the reason for that request
was solely that the local white slaveowners found that British
investment was increasing too rapidly, and feared being
swamped by a mass of untamed savages. The continuance of the
Slave Trade was first objected to by South Carolina. The
Jamaica House of Assembly in 1774 passed two Bills purporting
to restrain the traffic in negroes, which were rejected by the
HOME GOVERNMENT not only because the colony was arrogating
to itself a right to interfere with the commerce of the Mother
Country as some have stated, but on the broad ground ex-
pressed by the Minister, Lord Dartmouth, 'that he would never
allow the colonies to check or discourage, in any degree, a traffic
so beneficial to the nation'. England refused; in the interests
of Bristol, Liverpool and the City of London. Less delusorily they
are beglamoured by Jamaica's deserved reputation for exquisite
natural beauty, or by the 'gorgeous word-painting' and high-
spirited superficial buffoonery of Tom Cringle's Log. The only
surviving slavery-time Jamaica novel, Marly, depicts conscien-
tiously, and with no intention of satire, the general decadence
and complete vapidity of the most dignified Creole country
society of its period.
Moreover, while the ownership of Jamaican property was
mostly held in England, her local patriots kept themselves well
in evidence in their pretentious and peevish squabbles with the
British fiscal authorities over punctilios of constitutional rights,
or more material hagglings over meeting their obligations for
military and naval defence and the cost of slave and Maroon
rebellions put down by British troops. The influential class of
West Indian proprietors and merchants applauded at home
the independence and vigour with which, vicariously, the
Colonists defended their vested interests, both in these con-
troversies and in the even more bitter conflicts over the Slave
Trade and slavery. The intransigents of the Local Assembly
earned their respect as high-spirited champions of the rights
of free Englishmen, a character in which, by tradition, like

the American colonists of the period, the settlers were proud to
regard themselves.
It is unfortunately impossible, however, after unprejudiced
study of the materials available for an account of Jamaican
society during the period leading up to emancipation, to deal cir-
cumstantially and intelligibly with the history of that period and
of the years that followed without exhibiting the prevalent char-
acter and behaviour of the local plantocracy and the established
clergy as corrupt and despicable to a degree which must appear
almost incredible. So extraordinary are the vagaries of intelli-
gence and temper disclosed, that any conscientious historian
must be impelled, repeatedly, to ask himself whether his picture
is not over-blackened. But the general truthfulness of the repul-
sive impression which inevitably imposes itself is verified by the
fact, attested by the same sources of record, that there were
resident during the same period in Jamaica individuals whose
character, intelligence and behaviour were those of cultured and
civilised human beings, creditable to the professions of English
Christian Society. I do not refer only to the Free Church clergy
who came from England and Scotland after the religious re-
vival of the late eighteenth century, and whose record, in some
cases, by contrast with their creole surroundings, produces the
effect of an almost heroic splendour of character; though they
were no more than typical representatives of the courageous
and Christian commonalty from whose ranks they were drawn.
There emerge from time to time figures of old Jamaican stocks
such as the Barretts, who, although they might be opposed to
the abolition of slavery, conspicuously behaved in other respects
as one would have expected honourable and intelligent English-
men in their position to do; who refused to forbid their slaves
to be educated or converted, refused to convict missionaries
vexatiously prosecuted, and punished outrages on them; who
refused, after emancipation, to combine with their neigh-
bours in 'Macaroni'1 or 'Sixpenny Plots' to underpay and
oppress their labourers. These men, like the missionaries,
acted as civilised and intelligent Europeans of good character,
and the fact that they did so accentuates the abnormal and
subhuman iniquities of the class among whom they stood out
as exceptional.
'A 'Mac' =one shilling. These were the daily wages proposed by em-
ployers' organizations.

I do not blacken the picture, nor do I emphasise it out of
complacency in anachronistically censuring a particular class.
The fact that so much arrogant and unscrupulous villainy has
been conspicuous in times past among the controlling white
people ofJamaica makes the contrast of the Island's conditions
to-day as remarkable in regard to the present representatives of
that section as it is in regard to the black people. For, if the
negroes of a hundred years ago were, really, in character, what
they were then habitually alleged and believed by reputable
contemporary writers to be, their subsequent history and their
manifest present qualities might well be attributed to miracu-
lous and supernatural agencies. And it must be conceded that
the controlling conditions under which the estate system had to
maintain its functions rendered oppression, chicanery and cor-
ruption among its administrators, unless of quite exceptional
character, almost inevitable. Nine-tenths of the owners were
absentees. Their local agents, or their lessees, had to remit
money or lose their jobs; and at the same time were actively en-
gaged in absorbing so much of the profits themselves as would
enable them in their turn to become proprietors and go home
to star as West Indian nabobs. 'Devourers of estates', 'Host of
petty-foggers', 'Generation of vermin', were some of the descrip-
tions applied by Long, the most remarkable ofJamaican public
men and writers, to the planting attorneys and legal practition-
ers of the eighteenth century.
The soil and the slaves and the sweated salaried class of over-
seers and book-keepers, wretchedly underpaid, and themselves
dependent on pickings and perquisites for any chance they
might have of improving their own position, were ruthlessly ex-
ploited on most estates. Such a system bred and fostered every
form of demoralisation-domineering autocracy, dishonesty,
sexual licentiousness and over-driving of slaves. Capitalist ex-
ploitation, absenteeism and slavery created in concert the most
perverting complex of human iniquities that any modern system
of civilisation has yet exhibited. Capitalism and absentee pro-
perty are economic forms which breed their own diseases.
Slavery is a cumulative and obstinate social poison implanting
perversions of human character which afflict the successors of
the slave-owning class long after the freed slaves and their class
successors have adapted themselves to freedom. As Mr. Waddell
of the Presbyterian Missionary Society, who went to Jamaica in

1829 and passed his later years at Calabar in West Africa, wrote
at the close of his long Colonial life:
'The more I have seen of slavery the more do I condemn it as
unworthy of being maintained anywhere; bearable only when
required to escape anarchy; a thing it would be criminal to in-
troduce into any country whence it can be excluded. It is the
lowest stage of human society; and in its own nature debasing
and essentially barbarous, detrimental morally and physically,
to both master and slave, and if fully carried into effect, doomed
to prove self-destructive.'
In approaching, therefore, the study of the evolution and pro-
gress of the Jamaica community during the last hundred years,
it must be borne in mind not only that in 1834 practically the
whole of the common people were slaves, with all the vices and
disqualifying repressions which slavery breeds, but that the
great majority of the controlling class of that date were generally
of a level of character far less humanised than that of the corre-
sponding classes of contemporary English society. How that sit-
uation developed, and the process and significance of the transi-
tion of the Island society to its character of to-day, is the theme
of this book, and the story may, it is hoped, justify the claim of
its title.

Chapter III

T he factors that have moulded the character of the
Jamaica community cannot be appreciated without a
general but clear acquaintance with the geography and
geology of the Island, and the reaction of their peculiarities on
the course of economic and social development. That environ-
ment I therefore propose, in this chapter, to describe rather
fully. The social history, since emancipation, has not been com-
prehensively and completely treated in any published book. In
attempting, in later chapters, very summarily to exhibit it I may
perhaps appear to risk reviving unhappy memories of former
antagonisms, injustices and oppressions, sources of grievance
and enmity, between classes and racial strains. The survey, how-
ever, without prejudice or favour towards any class or section,
may, I believe, usefully be attempted. Jamaicans are a good-
natured and tolerant people. That is part of the effect of the
kindly influences of their Island heritage. However acute former
discords may have been, they are quickly forgotten. The temper
of feeling both between classes and between individuals is prin-
cipally, as befits rational men, determined by the character of
their contemporary relations and contacts. And these are very
different now from what they have formerly been-from what I
can myself remember them as being. It is now more than fifty
years since I first began to come into touch with Jamaican prob-
lems.1 Survivors from the very bad old times were even then few
in number. One whole generation of the men who were then in
their prime and prominent in Island affairs has died out, and
another, of contemporaries of my own with whom I have had
xThe author entered the West India Department of the Colonial Office
in April 1882.

acquaintance and friendship, has almost passed away. The effect
of this natural process in changing the attitude ofjudgment and
temper characteristic of different sections of the community
began to be noticeable more than thirty-five years ago, when I
first (in 1900) became resident in the Island, which I had previ-
ously visited and studied in 1897. During visits in 1930 and
1931, the further changes that had matured since I left the
Island in 1913 and the extent of the modifications which had
taken place during the whole range of my observation im-
pressed me as most agreeably remarkable. Apparently irrecon-
cilable opposition and incompatibilities of inherited attitude
which used to divideJamaicans of different classes or at any rate
those who spoke typically or representatively for them, were no
longer apparent. The political enthusiasts who had grown up in
antagonistic points of view ('plantocratic' or 'negrophil'), inevit-
able two generations ago,1 have quietly died out and left few, if
any, inheritors. I have myself been sympathetically acquainted
with typical representatives of those various classes and parties.
Some of them have been among my dearest personal friends. For
many years past the material provocative, justifications or ex-
planations of those old attitudes, and the resulting prejudices of
temper, thought and judgment have simply ceased to exist, and
can exercise no direct influence through personal experience on
the generation now growing up. That generation has and will
have its own disputes and controversies, but the ancient poison-
ous roots of malevolence are atrophied and forgotten. Indeed, I
have found, during recent visits, the change of general attitude on
the part of the estate-owning and employing class occasionally
almost amusing in its expression. Some survivors of the old-time
mentality appeared to feel it an impressive discovery that the
black people had quite normal and acceptable human qualities
and abilities, and acknowledged it as decidedly creditable that
they should be able to show them. But now to the Island.

SJamaica is the largest and the most agreeably habitable of the
British West Indian Islands. It lies in the Caribbean Sea, within
the Tropics, north of the Equator, between Latitudes 17 43'
1The date of the so-called 'Jamaica Rebellion', 1865, may be taken as a
crucial point in the Island's history.

Scale of Miles
t Maria i. - o
. .._, a.er R.



..... .....g'-owden

Rio vina

78 77
Recent. -E Alluvium and Coral. Upper&Aigene. Bowden Beds. Con
Pleistocene. Kingston & Liguanea Formation. Middle Oliocene. Te c WeLieqfne Series. Cretaceous. eai Con0 mes st'inTeff
Tran'itional (a Cambridge Beds.
Pliocene. M Manchioneal Beds. pa" a e i eo) Basal Complex. Granite Diorite.
pa Cretaceous) Ieson e
pali 14icmesaone

BreaR. oinBueno

and 180 33' North and Longitudes 760 12' and 780 24' West. It
is distant about 850 miles from St. Kitts, the nearest other British
island of any historic celebrity, i 0oo from Barbados, and only a
few less from Trinidad. The nearest other British Colony is
British Honduras, 600 miles west on the mainland of Central
America. The Island is approached from the North Atlantic by
way of the barren cluster of the Turks and Caicos Islands
(which are included under its Government) through the 'Wind-
ward Passage' between Cuba and Hayti. It is I 14 miles long and
averages about 40 across. Its extreme breadth is 49 miles; its
area is estimated at 4207 square miles, about three-fifths that of
Wales. It forms an elongated irregular rhomboid of land; its
outline on the map curiously resembling the shape of a turtle,
seen in profile, swimming, with head, carapace, fin and tail. It
is mountainous through the whole extent of its central region.
When Jamaicans speak of'the mountains' they usually mean all
the upland, inhabitable, pleasant, broken hilly country above
the coastal plains, rising to 3000 or 3500 feet from sea level; not
the inhospitable peaks and ridges of the higher and more im-
pressive 'Blue Mountains'.
Most of the present surface exposes Tertiary or later deposits;
but in the Blue Mountains and some other high ranges olderforma-
tions emerge. Here the basal geological complex1 of the Island
appears in granites, stratified shales, conglomerates, tufas and
other volcanic rocks, with occasional bands of marine limestone.
These limestones exhibit Upper Cretaceous fossils, and the
whole series has been heavily folded by lateral pressure. Upon
these formations (much reduced and denuded) there rests un-
conformably a coverlet, fully 1500 feet thick, of white marls and
limestones of the Eocene and early Oligocene periods, composed
principally of Foraminifera, together with Radiolaria, the tiny
shells or skeletons of minute animalculae deposited gradually on
a deep-sea floor. Towards the middle of the Oligocene period
contractions of the crust of the earth buckled and folded the
surface, and parts of the Island were thrust up far above their
present altitudes. Its dry land was apparently then continuous
with that of Cuba, Hayti, and Porto Rico, and probably also with
the mainland of Yucatan in South Mexico. During this uplift
dykes of molten igneous rocks were intruded into the overlying de-
posits and in some cases heat and pressure produced considerable
1See Matley.

metamorphism. Limestones were fused into marbles. These con-
vulsions produced a series of roughly parallel ridges and rifts
which cross the Island diagonally with a general axial direction
running from west-north-west to east-south-east. During the
Miocene and Pliocene periods the Island again subsided, and was
largely submerged, but not to such depths as during the Eocene
period. The strata then deposited are of shallow-water conglom-
erates, marls and limestones, containing molluscs, brachiopods
and corals. Finally a series of successive upliftings of inconsider-
able altitude, less than 500 ft. in the aggregate, raised the land
to its present level. The raised coral beaches which mark the
successive stages in this elevation are particularly well displayed
on the coast near Montego Bay.
By far the most widely exposed formation is that of the white
deep-sea limestone, analogous to the chalk in England. It covers
three-fifths of the Island. It composes the block of hills clothed
with low scrub seen on the left-hand side of the channel by
which Kingston Harbour is entered, opposite the point of Port
Royal. It reappears on the right hand in the Long Mountain,
conspicuously forming the western way of the East Liguanea
Plain, on the sea front of which Kingston lies, and again in
the hills bounding that plain on the west and north-west. The
formation is easily recognisable by the dense low woodland or
scrub which habitually covers it, atmospherically tinted a soft
blue in the distance. The conspicuously wrinkled range of hills
called the 'Ramshorn Ridge', overgrown with coarse grass and
more scantily timbered, which bounds the north of the plain
behind Kingston, is an outlier of the 'Blue Mountain' geological
The White Limestone deposits, when the Island was deeply
submerged, must have covered almost the whole of its present
area, except perhaps over what are now the Blue Mountain
summits. They have been lifted up out of the sea at the eastern
end of the Island to an elevation of about 4000 feet. Here they
form what are called the John Crow Mountains, visible from
approaching vessels as an immense forest-clad slab tilted up
against the end of the Blue Mountain range. North and south of
the Blue Mountains, with valleys, threaded by streams, inter-
vening, the white limestone forms ranges of hilly country run-
ning parallel to the coast. Further westwards it spreads in high
tablelands of very irregular surface, rising to 3000 feet or more

above sea level and broken away into lower foot-hills down to
the coastal plains. This formation, where it was shallow and
overlay or embraced more ancient high ground, has been much
eaten away by rain and rivers. The carbonic acid brought down
in the rain dissolves the rock, so that there has been formed in
the middle part of the Island, along the central line of up-thrust,
a long interior basin, lying chiefly in Upper Clarendon Parish,
precisely analogous to the English Weald of Surrey, Sussex and
Kent, with steep white limestone escarpments overhanging it
north and south, as the Downs overhang the Weald, and with
central ranges of hills like the Sussex forest-ridges. There are
many smaller interior basins formed in like manner, and either
completely enclosed or open at one end, in other parts of the
Island. The streams from the inner watersheds of older forma-
tions flow out through the limestone by deep-cut gorges, as
those of the English Weald flow out north and south through
their gaps in the Downs. The Jamaica limestone being both
harder in texture and more soluble by rain than the English
chalk, the Jamaican outlet gorges are often steeper-sided and
deeper-like Dovedale in the Derbyshire limestone country-
and in many cases the waters have not accomplished cutting a
gorge but have burrowed under the range on the surface of the
clays underlying it and issue in volume on the floors of other
interior vales or on alluvial plains or at the bases of cliffs round
the coast.
The largest of these enclosed vales of Jamaica, next after the
Upper Clarendon basin, is that of St. Thomas the Vale, now
included in St. Catherine's Parish. This vale is drained by
the Rio Cobre, through the gorge of Bog Walk,1 by which an
ancient thoroughfare to the interior and to the north side passes
north-westwards from Spanish Town. It forms a very character-
istic specimen ofJamaican country. It contains about 200 square
miles and is completely encompassed by mountains. The soil is
of undulating red clays and earths, watered by abundant peren-
nial rivers which issue from the base of the limestone hills. For-
merly densely clothed with high timber, and lying only ten miles
north of the old capital, it was one of the districts earliest settled
and planted in cacao by English Colonists. Much of the once-
cleared country has reverted to second-growth woodland and
some of the former sugar estates have been broken up into small
'Spanish 'Boca dell' Agua'.

peasant properties, which abound in much greater number on
the surrounding hills, especially where the well drained and
easily workable soils of the decayed granitic foundation emerge.
Both east and west of this basin the 'mountains' are now thus
densely peopled and St. Catherine's Parish, which now includes
the whole district, contains more small settlers' holdings than
any other.
West of St. Thomas the Vale there is a similar but completely
enclosed smaller basin, 'Luidas Vale',1 embracing Worthy Park,
formerly a magnificent sugar and cattle property, on which
sugar is still produced. There is no way out from this sunken
hollow except over the mountains. The river which enters it
from the north-west creeps under the limestone uplands from
the Upper Clarendon basin and on the east burrows again and
emerges in St. Thomas the Vale. Similar vales break the lime-
stone country in other parts, such as the fertile sugar lands of
the Hampshire Valley and the 'Queen of Spain's Valley' in the
parishes of Trelawny and St. James. The Great River valley
between St. James and Westmorland is of similar geological
history. The natural conditions of all these vales are peculiarly
favourable for tropical agriculture. They are sheltered from
wind, they are as a rule well watered by streams flowing out
from the hills, which in former times were used for working
sugar mills or for irrigation, and are invaluable for cattle in
times of drought. The exposed earths of the older formations are
generally of high natural fertility and easy for arable tillage.
The 'red dirt' of the encompassing limestone mountains is very
congenial to coffee and fruit trees as well as to most of the
'ground provisions' formerly raised by the slaves, and now
by the free cultivators for their own support. In the early
morning these valley-basins are sheeted over with level white
mist, which tempers the early heat and fosters the cane fields
and pastures.
Such conditions are favourable also for banana cultivation,
which has now extensively taken the former place of sugar-cane,
save where the denuded limestone has left behind it small

1Shown in Ogilvie's Map, 167o (p. 40), as 'Luidas Pastures', at that date
the remotest interior settlement in the Island. The old Spanish road from
Villa de la Vega to Sevilla d'Oro in St. Ann's passed this way; following the
course of the 'Mountain River' (Rio Montane) through the densely wooded
highlands of the St. John's district.


Public Buildings, King Street, Kingston

A Kingston Slum (Smith's Village, Kingston)

Hope River Gorge, St. Andrew's, 1834

Mountain Road, St. Andrew's

nodules of sulphate of iron known as 'black shot', which is pois-
onous to bananas. And on the lower slopes of the bounding hills
are to be found the best conditions for the growth of cacao, the
most lucrative crop of the earliest planters. It is no wonder that
the more accessible of these enclosed interior vales were occu-
pied early in the history of the Island, notwithstanding the great
difficulty of making passable roads into some of them.

The freeing of the slaves was the most important event in the
history ofJamaica, not only because it revolutionised the social
and industrial relations of white and black and substituted
wage-work for slave-work upon the estates, but because it re-
sulted in the transference of the domicile and sources of liveli-
hood of an increasing majority of the Jamaica people from the
'vales' to the 'mountains' and gave free Jamaica roots in her own
soil to grow on. The old-time planting economy, dependent
chiefly on sugar, had its roots in the plains; and as the shifting
of the Island's vital foundations was gradual I will speak first
of the lowland landscape.
Almost everyone who now enters Jamaica will land at King-
ston. He will have passed Port Royal, now a decayed and
squalid hamlet, still idly equipped with defensive batteries of no
modern martial utility, but for the ornamental manning of
which a small force of artillerymen is maintained by the British
Government. Whether, even before the indignant earth opened
herjaws to swallow it, there were ever any facilities for endurable
residence there, except the Admiral's house and the garrison
quarters, I do not know. The discreet Gardner hints that rum
shops and brothels were the principal shrines of its civilisation,
and that the thunderbolt1 which again destroyed it by fire in 1715
was hardly, in his opinion, regrettable. The immense collapse
which the contrast between the former and the present state of
Port Royal reflects may serve as a symbol of the almost equally
catastrophic depreciation which the commercial prosperity of
the whole Island suffered during the middle years of the nine-
teenth century.
Visitors to Jamaica, after passing Port Royal, will land at
Kingston. Save for the absence of any attempt at a seemly
1See Waddell.

sea-frontage, and the squalid untidiness of the irregular caddie of
wharves and warehouses that disfigures the foreshore, the aspect
of the town, seen from the sea, is agreeable. Verdant foliage of
shade trees and waving fronds of palms and casuarinas relieve
the grey of the roofs. The circuit of mountains that bounds the
shelving background is impressively beautiful. Not long ago
fruit and passenger steamers from the United States used to
make their first entry at Port Antonio, on the north side of the
Island, near the east end. There the forms of the Island scenery,
and the luxuriance of its vegetation are more superbly dis-
played than they are as seen from Kingston Harbour. Kingston
lies on the shore of a broad shelf of alluvium forming what is
known as the eastern part of Liguanea' plain, which slants up-
wards gradually to an elevation of 600 feet at the foot of the
mountains encircling it, six miles north of the town.
The impressions of a stranger on disembarking will be less
agreeable than he, probably, has expected. The worst economic
and social conditions-the greatest squalor and poverty-to be
met with anywhere in Jamaica are to be found in some parts
and among some classes of the people of Kingston. It is the sink
of all the unthrifty indigence of the Island. But much of King-
ston is now cleanly and handsome; it is certainly the most pre-
sentable town in the British West Indies and it is steadily being
improved and made more pleasant and clean by intelligent pro-
gressive work on the part of the Corporation that administers
its local affairs. Before the earthquake of 1907, even the seemliest
parts could claim no distinction of architecture or dignity of
thoroughfare. The better streets had indeed many small white-
painted, green-shuttered, shingle-roofed houses of pleasant as-
pect, with garden-frontages, bright with flowering shrubs and
creepers and that general distribution of evergreen trees which
gives the place, as seen from the harbour, a cheerful appearance;
but all the town was perennially smothered with fine white dust
of the limestone with which the streets were repaired, and by
day, when the sea-breeze was blowing, this dust could be seen
from afar overhanging the town like a fog. The worst of the
slums were indescribably horrible. Since the earthquake and
fire of 1907 much of Kingston has been rebuilt. Colonnades and
shade trees now line the sidewalks of the principal streets-too
meanly spaced, unfortunately, when the town was laid out. The
'Pronounced Ligany.

better streets have been surfaced with asphalt. The chief central
thoroughfare, King Street, spacious enough, runs north and
south between handsome buildings (of ferro-concrete construc-
tion to stand earthquakes), and passes through two large open
squares planted with trees and shrubs. The improvement of
the town in the twentieth century has been remarkable; and to
those who have known it long Kingston affords another such
astonishing contrast as that I have noted between the past and
the present state of Port Royal, but in the upward direction.
And even the Kingston of thirty years ago, disreputable as its
appearance still was, was in fact immensely better than it had
been thirty years earlier, and previously in the mid-nineteenth
It would be impossible for a visitor of today to conceive how
incredibly ghastly a scene Kingston presented after the rapid
collapse of the wealth of the planting and mercantile industry
during the middle years of the nineteenth century. Even the
contemporary descriptions of horrified visitors can hardly give
anyone, not familiar with the worst parts of the city even within
living memory, any appreciative idea of what its general condi-
tion had previously been. Only by personal recollection of how
cheap and makeshift-looking a place Kingston was, up to the
year 1907, when a great part of it was (with advantage) de-
stroyed by fire, as much had been already destroyed in 1882,
and by thinking backwards with the recollection that ten years
earlier1 it had been very much worse, is it possible to appraise
the immense improvements that have been made, and the signi-
ficance of that progress in regard to the social history of the
Island. And under recent legislation, the corporation are now
devoting increased attention to the improvement of the poorest
parts of the city, of which it may truly be said that 'the destruc-
tion of the poor is their poverty', for their residents are too
impecunious to pay the cost of decent housing, or healthy
But all around Kingston there has sprung up, almost entirely
since the War, a pleasant suburban district now studded with
hundreds of well designed and well built houses and bungalows
with delightful gardens. Civilised and attractive as this Liguanea
district now is it is not typical of the Jamaica country, or of
what the prosperity and character of Jamaica consist in. That
1The writer first visited Kingston in 1897.

increased prosperity, however, and that advance in civilisation,
its agreeable aspect reflects.
This gently shelving plain of silts and brick-earth was at one
time thickly covered with woodland. It carried much high cedar
and mahogany and other noble timber. Three miles from the
shore is the village of Half-way Tree. The 'tree' was a silk-cotton
tree with a tall silver-grey columnar stem, such as is produced in
that species when grown in high forest. I can remember only the
stem and the roots of it, in a dusty cave among which country
wayfarers used to repose. This last relic of the original forest has
now disappeared. The lower part of the plain was within my
own recollection mostly arid grass-fields, the characteristic sur-
viving low growth on which was dry-weather bush of lignum
vitae and bastard ebony, much of which still remains in the
Smoder gardens and paddocks. Lignum vitae is one of the most
Exquisite of tropical trees, with a smooth grey and olive-hued
bark, a branch formation full of quaint cranks and contortions,
a small round glossy dark green leaf, and a jewelry of small pale-
blue flowers in early spring. The ebony is a rebellious-looking
prickly lanky shrub with bright gorse-like flowers, almost as
charming as those of the lignum vitae. Where the pastures are
not kept clean other tangle springs up, and where they are
wholly neglected impenetrable thicket of thorny dry-weather
bush soon re-clothes them. The sheep that are still pastured by
some occupiers on their paddocks produce excellent mutton.
The common 'hay-grass', and the more modern 'Seymour-
grass' helped out by cultivated guinea grass-difficult to main-
tain in the drier parts of this district-offer good feeding for
horsekind and cattle. Anyone familiar only with the require-
ments of stock on English pastures would have been surprised at
the sleek condition which thrifty Jamaican animals used to
maintain on these torrid fields. But the roadsters and riding horses
everyone used to keep have now been ousted by motor cars.
All that part of the Liguanea Plain on which Kingston and
its extending suburbs lie is a 'dry weather' district, until you
approach the hills and pass north-eastwards into the throat of
the Hope River gorge. Here, when sugar was profitable, the
river was dammed and its water brought to Hope and Papine
estates and to Mona, behind the Long Mountain, for irrigation.
Mona and Papine have a naturally fertile soil, formerly a morass
of the Hope River caused by the ponding up of its waters before

it broke south through the mountains. At the north-western end
of the plain, springs from the limestone hills were also available
for the sugar estates, and a long tunnel was driven through the
Ramshorn Ridge to tap the stream of the 'Wagwater' (Agualta)
between that range and the western end of the main Blue Moun-
tain formation. This tunnel, which was made by slaves for the
Constant Spring sugar works, now conveys the main water
supply of the City of Kingston and its residential suburb of Half-
way Tree. The lower part of the plain, of a soil very fertile when
watered, became, after clearing from forest, better adapted for
paddocks and sheep-pens than for profitable sugar cultivation.
Under the Spaniards it was merely a stock-run. The mountain-
ous district of the 'Red Hills' which is seen to the north-west of
Kingston is again white limestone country; first planted for
coffee, with pleasant hill-houses; now thickly settled by small
cultivators growing fruit, cocoa, coffee and ground provisions.
Stony Hill, which is crossed at an elevation of 1500 feet by the
main road northwards across the Island, known as the Junction
Road, has a delightful climate, as have other adjacent parts of
the white limestone formation, and the St. Andrews and Port
Royal Mountains north-eastward.
The Blue Mountain range begins north of Kingston and runs
eastward for about a quarter of the length of the Island, rising
at its 'Peak' to 7360 feet above sea level. The Ramshorn Ridge
which bounds the Liguanea Plain on the north exhibits very
interesting outcrops of four distinct geological formations, the
white limestone, the granite diorite of the basal complex, the
conglomerates and metamorphosed clays and shales of the Blue
Mountain system, and the dykes of igneous rocks intruded dur-
ing upheaval.

From Kingston, the road to Spanish Town runs straight for
six miles, north-westwards across the front of the Liguanea
Plain. As it nears the Red Hills, clothed with low scrub growing
in the rich rusty rust-coloured surface soil, it runs into swamps
formed by the copious streams of the Salt River, the Fresh
River, and the Ferry River, issuing from the base of the range.
Old Jamaican annals make frequent record of the labour spent
to maintain this road in passable order, an achievement never

approached until within recent memory. Even after the streams
were bridged and the ferry was only a memory (surviving in the
name of a once popular tavern where travellers would rest their
exhausted nags or pass the night, till the passage could be safely
attempted) this road, which carried all the traffic entering King-
ston from the ancient capital, to which it converged from the
whole of the Island lying north and west, was continually
ploughed into ruts and pot-holes by the traffic of heavily-laden
drays, each drawn by three tugging mules, whose small sharp
iron shoes incessantly pecked it into rubble and dust. Only
within the current century has its foundation been consolidated
and its surface converted into an excellent motor road. After the
Ferry River is passed a more fertile part of the plain is entered,
formerly wholly occupied with valuable sugar estates, some of
which survive to this day, later extensively planted with hand-
some groves of Guango (Locust Bean) trees lightly shading rich
fattening pastures of guinea grass, with gigantic spreading silk-
cotton trees1 here and there. This section is the delta of the Rio
Cobre, which has brought down through the Bog Walk Gorge
wide deposits of rich red silt and sandy clays from the interior
basin of St. Thomas the Vale and the still more remote North
Clarendon watershed.
Spanish Town itself is now a dusty, dry, decayed and squalid
town, inhabited chiefly by labourers working on the banana
plantations that in the district served by the Rio Cobre Irriga-
tion canals have taken the place of the former cane fields and
grass pieces. From Spanish Town the western road, trending
slightly southwards, runs fourteen miles to the foot of the low
hills where Clarendon Parish begins, two miles beyond the town
of Old Harbour, crossing the base of the roughly triangular dis-
trict which was the principal area of the Spanish settlement.
The triangle had its apex between the St. John and St. Dor-
othy Mountains. This region, flat in the south and rising gradu-
ally northwards into low undulations of clayey alluvial soils,
corresponding geologically with those of the eastern Liguanea
Plain, is the least interesting and, in the dry seasons, the most de-
pressing part ofJamaica. At such times most of it has a general
aspect of being capable of producing nothing but wilted grass,
mean scrubby trees and thorny bush. But the Irrigation canal
1Of these most have now been felled. One immense specimen still stands
by the roadside. See Plate.



Sc Adiariawn.yliermm

fertilises and keeps green its lower margin nearly as far as Old
Harbour. Sugar-cane and bananas are still an estate cultivation
here, but it is a 'dry weather' district, and most of it is relin-
quished to cattle pastures, shaded by the drought-resisting
Cashaw (Acacia) chiefly useful for fence-posts, and producing
little else but firewood and ticks. Until the mountains are
reached the whole region feels accursed. Its history suggests
reason enough. The Spaniards exploited it profitably for a hun-
dred and forty years. Their furthest recorded settlements were
Guanaboa Vale in the St. Dorothy Mountains (where indigen-
ous cacao throve luxuriantly), and Luidas Vale (Worthy Park)
at the northernmost point. The road by which Don Ysassi fled
from Spanish Town ran this way, and thence by Old Woman's
Savanna to Pedro on the south boundary of St. Ann's, and
down through unbroken mountains and forests to the site of the
earliest settlement near St. Ann's Bay. All over the lowland
parts of what is now St. Catherine's Parish the Spaniards
employed the enslaved native Arawaks to clear the forests and
grow cassava and maize. Corn and cassava-bread, salt beef and
salt pork they exported to feed the Spanish garrisons and less
fertile settlements in Cuba and Hispaniola, and on the mainland
of Central and South America. Cattle and swine ran wild in the
woods, horses on the less thickly timbered savannas. The staple
nourishment of the settlers was cassava and beef. They ex-
hausted the land, they destroyed their own stamina by a
close family inbreeding, and they exterminated the Arawaks.
The Spanish chronicler1 states that these natives, to indulge
their intense distaste for regular industry, killed themselves off
by drinking cassava water, a deadly poison. Manifestly an irre-
claimable people. After they disappeared, many of the Span-
iards left the Island for Cuba and the Spanish mainland, and
the prosperity of the Colony declined. English colonisation re-
vived it by means of the energetic importation of negroes who
showed more stamina, moral as well as physical, than the Ara-
waks, and the whole district was planted for sugar. Its impor-
tance in these early days is apparent from the density of the
settlements marked in Ogilvy's map (1670) and by the scale on
which it depicts the watercourses-Mountain River, Saint
Faith's River, World's End Gully, Cockburn Gully, Bowers
Gully and Clarkes Gully which intersect it, which are shown
'See Jamaica under the Spaniards, Cundall.

flowing voluminously to the sea as imposing rivers. They are
now, except in the rains, dry channels. Two hundred years later
the land was again going back, exhausted, to ruinate; the able-
bodied black people had withdrawn to the mountains or
squatted on neglected properties near the sea shore. In these
twice ruined lowlands the solid masonry mass of Admiral Col-
beck's castle, overlooking the stony bed of its perished river, and
the half-dozen immense mahogany trees which there alone in all
Jamaica to-day survive as evidence of what her forest timber
must once have been, complete the emphasis of the depressing
effect of all this ill-starred district.
After passing the decayed market town of Old Harbour the
traveller will have seen the worst of Jamaica. The road rises a
little to traverse the northern slopes of the plains of Vere, with
parched-looking stony country lying on both sides of it. At May
Pen the more auspicious limestone formation rejoins the plain
and the Rio Minho is crossed, known here as the Dry River,
which during rains brings down through its breach through the
mountains (conformable with the Bog Walk Gorge) immense
floods heavily charged with red silt from the great interior basin
of Upper Clarendon. These floods have laid down the intrinsi-
cally fertile soils of the plain of Vere, formerly full of dry-
weather sugar estates and at one period extensively planted
with indigo, but needing water for profitable cultivation. On
the west this wide plain is bounded by the Milk River, whose
chalky flood is fed by springs from the limestone hills at its
north-west corner and from the eastern base of the escarpment
of the Manchester Mountains. Here, trending north-westerly,
the present main westward road passes up through a long deep
rift dividing the southern and northern limestone mountains
now included in Manchester Parish. Sugar estates, all long ago
thrown up, followed the course of this valley north-westward
until at the upper end of the gully the road struggled over a
rocky neck forming the north-western apex of the South Man-
chester tableland and descended over the precipitous face of
Bogue Hill into the cul de sac where the upper springs that feed
the Black River debouch into the tawny morasses of St. Eliza-
On the west of the plain of Vere the sugar districts were inter-
rupted by the great block of the South Manchester Mountains,
an irregular tableland, the bluffs and precipices of which over-

hang the sea shore, broken only by a sudden depression of dry
savanna country debouching at Alligator Pond Bay between
Manchester and St. Elizabeth. Favourable country for sugar
production resumed in the Black River basin, which is divided
into three distinct enclosed areas, old coralline sea-bottoms of
the Pliocene submergence, much of which is still in morass and
waterlogged, but in each of which in the eighteenth and during
the first half of the nineteenth century there were many valuable
sugar estates. Only three of these to-day precariously survive.
Logwood, a weed of the thrown-up cane-pieces, is now the
chief exportable crop of this district. The Black River, a navi-
gable stream, gives its name to the shipping port of the Parish.
West of the Black River basin there arises another extensive
tract of limestone upland, much of it now densely populated by
small landowners, beyond which opens the magnificent plain of
Westmoreland, also during the Pliocene submergence the bed
of a shallow sea, now a spacious mountain-encircled district of
shallow alluvium watered by hurrying rivers limpid as Hamp-
shire chalk-streams. This remote and isolated enclosure long
remained one of the principal sugar-producing districts; its
natural advantages enabling it to survive all the vicissitudes of
the sugar industry. Sugar estates, now mostly abandoned, ex-
tended all round the western end of the Island, wherever suit-
able valleys and level inlets occurred. Where the north-west
point is turned there emerge the fertile soils of the older yellow
limestone 'Richmond' formations, along the coast of Hanover
Parish, with a fairly good rainfall. Sugar works here were small,
but richly productive. Almost all are now extinct. From the gulf
which indents the north-western shoulder of the Island, where
the port of Montego Bay was early established, backed by a fine
expanse of alluvial levels, still producing sugar, the Great River
Valley and the Montego River Valley opened up fertile and well
watered planting country running up into more hilly and
wetter districts where the canes grew luxuriantly. But these es-
tates were more expensive to manage than those on the South
Side. Cultivation was more laborious and the cane-juice more
watery than where dry weather precedes the crop-time. The
Montego River and its converging valleys are fenced from the
north coast by the usual range of white limestone mountains,
and the North Side sugar estates, where this range is turned, lie
in the driest sugar-producing district of the whole Island. Those

in Trelawny were settled later than those of most of the West
Indian Islands. Here the shallow mould of the cane fields has
subsoils of marly white limestone. The canes are allowed to
'ratoon' for years, without replanting. The local system of culti-
vation and manufacture has always been in some respects
different from that of the rest ofJamaica. The upper shelf of this
sugar district is exquisite country. The pale green cane fields lie
in wide slanting hollows between low hills, many still crested
with dusky woodland. The banks and the roadways gleam snowy
white. At noonday the dancing northern sea pours violently
forth an intense dark sapphire1 radiance; pale turquoise washes
the creamy sand of the shoals. Sugar-cane planting has held its
own in this region chiefly because of the special excellence of the
rum produced there and also because of cheapness of labour
supply due to causes I mention later.
The area of adequate rainfall for lowland cane cultivation
is resumed in St. Ann's, and on the north coast of the middle
part of that parish there are alluvial levels north of the limestone
escarpment which have useful sugar soils, and which with
efficient working and irrigation can still produce sugar with
sound economy. Westward of St. Ann's the hilly and broken
country approaches nearer the coast, and in St. Mary's Parish
the clays of the older deposits underlying the limestone have
stronger soils which, however, except in a few places where
there are coastal flats, were of the character described as 'plant-
ing estates' as distinguished from 'dry weather' estates. These
being more costly to work and less convenient for sugar plant-
ing, and their rainfall increasing towards the east end of the
Island, were, with the inland estates of St. Ann's, among the
earliest to be thrown out of working.
In Portland Parish, both along the sea coast and in the valleys
lying between the limestone .and the Blue Mountain range,
there were formerly many sugar estates, but these also have all
succumbed to the cost of working due to the heavy rainfall.
Coconuts and bananas succeeded sugar. In St. Thomas's Parish
after the eastern point of the island is turned the heavy floods
that have poured for geological ages off the Blue Mountain
slopes and scoured deep gorges between that range and the lime-
stone hills that face it have laid down broad stretches of rich
1This astonishing and quite extraordinary colour effect is peculiar, I
think, in Jamaica, to the aspect of the sea from the northern coast hills.

alluvium in the valley of the Plantain Garden River, debouching
at Holland Bay at the extreme east end of the Island. Another
group of torrents uniting in the Blue Mountain Valley district
has channelled a wide outlet through the limestone to reach
the sea at Morant Bay on the southern shore. These two valleys
have some of the finest sugar soils ofJamaica. Their estates were
at one time very lucrative and long held their own in spite of the
depreciation of sugar. All the eastern end of the Island, Portland
on the north and the Plantain Garden River district on the
south, get heavy rainfall from the first condensation of the mois-
ture borne by the north-east trade wind, to be precipitated by
the high barrier of the John Crow Mountains. But already when
the Yallahs River is reached on the road from St. Thomas to
Kingston 'dry weather' country begins. The Yallahs River is the
most powerful of the streams that descend from the Blue
Mountains, and at the mouth of its breach through the lime-
stone has deposited a considerable delta, which by reason of the
comparative shortness of the river's course from the heights is
more stony and gravelly than the more deliberate deposits of the
longer St. Thomas Valleys further east. But the lower Yallahs
River was long ago trained into irrigation canals, and since
banana has here superseded sugar-cane the distribution has
been improved and modernised at considerable outlay by the
United Fruit Company. The narrower upper parts of the valley,
not being very convenient for cane cultivation, were settled by
coffee planters and later became a populous district of peasant
owners. Further west, towards Kingston, the limestone hills
leave only a narrow and drought strip of foreshore, the road
along which was until recently often rendered impassable by
the floods of the swollen rivers. The last of these, before King-
ston is reached, is the Hope River, which at one time ran down
to the sea through the plain on the shore of which Kingston now
stands. In some prehistoric period the river succeeded in forcing
its way through the limestone range behind the Long Mountain,
conspicuous now north-east of Kingston, and broke out to the
sea to the west of it. The narrow gorge which it has since then
scooped out through the deep alluvium formerly laid down by
itself is a very interesting geological feature, which may be ob-
served at Papine Corner, the terminus of the Kingston tramline
that runs past Hope Gardens.


The white limestone formation is described geologically as a
tableland, though its surface is no more like that of a table
than that of its little geological cousin Salisbury Plain is like a
plain. All round its outer edges it rises steeply, so that elevations
of about Iooo feet and upwards are quickly reached and the
upper levels are inaccessible except through the gullies and
gorges that break the escarpments. The making of roads to the
mountain levels demands heavy rock cutting and intelligent
engineering. Until fifty years ago most of the gradients were
cruelly steep. This whole limestone formation is of peculiar
interest both because of the aesthetic appeal of its scenery and
because of the very important and permanent influence which
its characteristics have exercised on the evolution of the modern
Island community and its means and habits of life. It is the true
mother soil of the free Jamaica people. Where it has not been
completely dissolved away into vales or large amphitheatres the
whole of its present surface is arbitrarily irregular, full of tum-
bled hills and depressions, and pitted with cup-like hollows
known as 'cock-pits'. Sudden hummocks, often with precipitous
sides, stand out above the reduced surface and emerge like mar-
tello towers from the level soils in the lowlands. Where not in
cultivation it is covered with secondary forest growth, often ofim-
penetrable small hardwood timber, prickly scrub and creepers.
Some of the cockpits go right down to the underlying yellow
limestone, which forms a very fertile soil where exposed, or to
the tertiary clays below. Where the base of the white limestone
coverlet rests on the older clays and less pervious rocks, large
caves are found, some of them still serving as channels for
streams running underneath it, some of them dry, haunted by
bats whose deposits of guano used to be dug out for manure.
Along the coast the margins of this formation have been dis-
solved into cliff-like bluffs from the bases of which strong springs
of water emerge, making rapid rivers whose water is highly
charged with dissolved lime. Along part of the north coast both
the escarpment of the white limestone, and below it that of the
underlying impervious formations, run some distance away from
the sea, and the rivers that gush out at the base of the limestone
make noble cascades down over the lower shelf, depositing

ledges and basins of flinty crust along their course, like the re-
nowned 'white terraces' of New Zealand. 'Roaring River' and
the White River in St. Ann's display the finest and most re-
markable of these waterfalls.
The limestone mountains present from a distance the aspect
of a continuous forest; but the original timber has long dis-
appeared and the present woodland is all of second or later
growth and of little commercial value. The exposed surface dis-
solved by the rain forms a dark red earth containing iron and
phosphates. The natural fertility of this loose-textured 'red
dirt', though it easily becomes exhausted by over-cropping, can
be restored and maintained by mulching with the brushwood,
foliage and grass that naturally spring from it; but the rugged
and rocky character of much of the surface makes it, generally,
impossible to till with the plough. Extensive areas, however,
especially in St. Ann's Parish and parts of Manchester, where
the weathered rocks lie buried beneath the surface, have for-
merly been cane fields or coffee pieces, and are now rich cattle
pastures, planted with fattening grass and studded with park-
like timber, or with the shorter pimento grass lightly shaded by
the graceful pimento bay which produces allspice. Its immense
expanses of broken and bush-clad hill country have always
afforded the most convenient and attractive field for settlement
by the Jamaica negro. It was on this formation that the freed
slaves found their most favourable habitat, built their villages
and developed their family properties. The soil is well drained;
in fact its surface is waterless, for all rain is absorbed as it falls
and no streams are formed; but it remains fertile and quickly re-
clothes itself after clearing because the white rock retains mois-
ture below the roots of the vegetation. The climate of all the
limestone country is very healthy, much cooler than that of the
lowlands; the malaria-carrying mosquito cannot breed there.
All necessary materials for building a settler's house are to be
found near at hand. Hardwood for framing, cedar for boarding
and roofing-shingles and rods for wattle-walling are never far to
seek. The red earth mixed and puddled with marl, or better
still with burnt lime, makes a hard cement, very useful for plas-
tering wattle walls and sufficiently durable for lining rainwater
tanks and for barbecues for curing pimento and coffee. The
morning climate is cool and delicious beyond description. The
broken character of the country, the abundance of sheltering

bush, and the rapid growth of fruit trees ensure to the settler an
agreeable privacy for his home. The first construction of roads
in this country demands hard labour and ingenuity to secure
reasonable gradients and to circumvent the cockpits and hum-
mocks, but once the roads are made their solid rock foundation
remains sound and dry and the material available by the road-
side binds itself into a hard smooth surface. The bridle tracks
and footpaths are steep and rugged; but the local ponies, mules
and donkeys travel them sure-footedly and with remarkable
speed. This limestone country was not convenient for sugar
estate cultivation, though sugar-cane has at one time or another
been planted in every accessible hollow of it. Most of it long
remained in virgin woodland until it was cleared for coffee or
cattle-pens. The estates used its forests to supply 'copper wood'
to boil their cane juice, or fuel for their furnaces when they
began to substitute steam power for that of cattle or wind. In
these uplands, also, provisions were grown by the planters'
slaves, and this agriculture became the foundation of the provi-
sion-agriculture upon which to this day the Island population
chiefly depends for its food supply. Arabian coffee throve luxu-
riantly everywhere in these mountains, yielding the small culti-
vator a valuable salable crop.
With the white limestone in its advantages for small settle-
ment may be classed some other hilly districts of fertile and well
drained ground such as are found where the decaying granite
formation is widely exposed, in Upper Clarendon, St. Cather-
ine's and St. Andrew's. In the heavy clays of St. Mary's, with
greater rainfall, the conditions for small landowners' settlement
have been less favourable to health and comfort, though the
great fertility of the soil has, especially since the development of
the banana trade, rendered them prosperous. They had no marl
for plaster or tanks, no handy road metal, no foundation for
cart roads. Transport over the heavy clays and frequent streams
was difficult. In St. Mary's and in Portland, a still wetter parish,
the negro settlers long lagged behind those of the rest of the
Island in prosperity and civilisation. Both parishes have been
made prosperous by the banana.
In the aspect of some of the wide continuous stretches of white
limestone and cockpit hill country there is a certain monotony,
but the cataclysms that have moulded the Island's surface have
deeply scored it with immense parallel rifts running generally in

a diagonal direction from south-east to north-west. These rifts,
and, in the eastern and central fractures of the Island, the high
mountain ridges that have been thrust up through their floors,
diversify the Jamaica landscape with impressively bold and
noble surprises of prospect. The most remarkable of these rifts
are the sudden deep trough of savanna country between the
South Manchester Mountains and the Santa Cruz range-best
viewed from the summit of Spur Tree Hill on the road from
Mandeville into St. Elizabeth, the Great River Valley dividing
the high escarpments of the limestone of Westmoreland and St.
James-which is geologically a continuation of the same fissure
-the great gully between the South and North Manchester
Mountains, the elongated basin of Upper Clarendon between
the Manchester and Mocho Mountains and the inner escarp-
ment of the Dry Harbour and Pedro-district mountains of St.
Ann's. The view of the Santa Cruz massif and the bleached
morasses of the St. Elizabeth plains in the Black River basin
from Spur Tree and that of the Clarendon basin and the Bull-
Head range at sunset, from the point where the road from May
Pen northwards crosses the crest of Chapelton ridge, are unsur-
passable anywhere in their combined effects of contour and
colour. Such smiling regions, as these viewpoints, display, not
the early settled coastal plantations, nor even the wild scenic
beauty of the Blue Mountain heights, but the characteristic and
significant face of the Island.

Chapter IV


Theflaming life of Love Divine,
Whose earthly ensign is the Sun,
Brings at this hour His bread and wine
For lifted hearts to feed thereon.
Likefar-off trumpetsfaintly heard
That radiance pricks the walls of sense;
And naked Spirit at its word
Resumes her own intelligence.
No speech, no wisdom shall there be
Only to feel, with quickening breath,
The inflow of a shimmering sea
That makes transparency of Death.
You shall not wonder how or why-
No need beyours to test or prove-
That instant ofeternity
Shall makeyou one with allyou love.
'The atmosphere itself seems to be intimately blended with some species
of elastic, acid air, which makes it invigorating to the animal spirits, which
refrigerates heated liquors, abates the sensation of thirst, and keeps the blood
in a cool and diluted state; so that ardent furors and canine madness are
almost unknown here. The rapidity of vegetation mocks the toil of the
labourer; the earth abhors infecundity and refuses to remain uncloathed.'
-E. LONG'S History ofJamaica, 1774.
'No sooner is one started on the mountain road than a feeling of exhilara-
tion comes on-a lightness and elasticity impossible to describe. No heat is
felt during the day on a mountain side-fatigue is little thought of even by
those who have lived for years in the lowlands and are unaccustomed to
any exercise beyond that obtained in carriage or buggy.'-PHILIPPO,
Jamaica in 1856.

Jamaicans love and are proud of their Island. Its landscapes
and innumerable features in detail-of woodland, rock and
water-are beautiful to the eyes; its climate and all that
goes to make up its address to the senses predominantly delight-

ful. The stranger may fear the heat; and sometimes, and in some
places, may find it too great for comfort; but even if heat may
trouble him he can quickly learn how to avoid such inconven-
ience and it need hardly interfere with even a visitor's occupa-
tions nor, if mosquitos are kept at bay, with his night's repose.
Jamaica is always delightful, because of her sunshine, con-
stant at most seasons and never intemperate; because her pure
air has that sustaining virtue noticed by Long and Philippo; her
vegetation is of refreshing grace, her mountains are quietly dig-
nified. Land, sea and sky are transfigured morning and evening
with soft and exquisite colour. I know nothing in any aspect of
Nature-not even the ranges of Alpine snow-peaks at sunrise or
Sunset, more quickeningly and serenely uplifting to the spirit
and restfully assuring to the heart than early morning hours in
Jamaican mountain country. All Jamaicans will remember the
places that have this special magic for them; I could speak of
many of them for myself-the sunrise view of the wooded sum-
mits north-eastwards across the Wag-Water gorge from my own
house at Fort George, the sudden revelation of the main Blue
Mountain mass across the Yallahs Valley on an early morning ride
by Mount Charles into Mavis Bank (what place ever better de-
served a romantic name?), the miracle of the Promised Land that
unfolds itself, smiling and golden, along under the dark forest-
clad buttresses of the Gibraltar Mountains ranging south on the
left hand as you look from Ulster Spring Court House across the
wasted Black Lands of Upper Trelawny towards Wait-a-Bit.
There are for all conditions of men and women living sources
ofjoy and strength in these prospects, in their peculiar illumina-
tions of light and delicate colour, in the softness and scent of the
air that wanders along them. Jamaica prodigally bestows these
revelations across the doorstep of every little white-walled
thatched hut in the mountains, and if Jamaicans, more gener-
ally than dwellers in many other countries, know that they love
their land, I can deeply understand why they do so, and, loving
scenes of my native country too, I think they have the keener
and more compelling reason. It is a good land. Knowing other
West Indian Islands which artists in words such as Charles
Kingsley and James Anthony Froude have rhapsodically ex-
tolled for their beauty, I say consideredly that Jamaica is by
far the most enchanting of all, for she has within her coasts
every variation of special beauty of landscape that any of them

possesses. (You can enjoy Dominica among the upper forest
valleys of Portland.) And Jamaica has a great deal more besides
that is exclusively and characteristically her own.
Indeed in this matter of physical beauty of landscape, so com-
plete in the satisfaction this country brings to the soul through
the eyes, that after long familiarity, remembered and again re-
visited, her scenery comes to be felt to attain and register the
limits of the sensuous appeal of natural beauty. Nothing in the
visible out-of-doors world could conceivably be in its kind more
movingly satisfying. It is impossible to grow tired of these pros-
pects when present with them in bodily and spiritual health; in
absence they are remembered with happy affection, and if there
is no heartache in the desire to behold them again, it is because
their perfection has helped to the understanding of what it is that
through them sustains and upholds man's spirit and renders it in
absence independent of their reminder.
Jamaica, then, has been praised, and will always be praised,
as a land of beauty, of pure sweet air and joy-giving climate for
rest and restoring of health, and not less for energetic practical
work and mental activity. She is praised as the home of a people
that impress even casual visitors as interesting to an attractive
degree, courteous and amiable. First impressions (if he will close
his eyes in parts of Kingston) do not sternly warn him that man,
among these pleasing prospects, is vile. Whatever deficiencies,
on a closer censorious consideration, may appear undeniable, the
surface characteristics of the people, their response to strangers
capable of addressing them with unaffected civility, are pleas-
antly human and likable; gracious excellences of humanity are
conspicuous in these children and grandchildren of the slave
herds of a despised race, shovelled hither by more privileged and
self-righteous nations in hideous holdfuls across the Middle Pas-
sage, like so much dung for their cane fields and trash for their
boiling houses.
Jamaica as an agreeable homeland, or for travellers to visit
for health and refreshment, began, after long eclipse, to receive
attention from journalists and makers of guide-books, towards
the period (about fifty years ago) when Mr. Wesson of the
(American) West India Improvement Company contracted for
the extension of the railway, and for large concessions of land
(happily now redeemed) as part of the consideration for that
undertaking. More particularly her attractions were advertised

into notice through the effort of the Jamaica Exhibition of 1890,
promoted by Sir Henry Blake. Dr. Philippo' of Kingston, had
already, in his pamphlet on 'The Climate ofJamaica', endeav-
oured to exorcise the discrediting ill-repute under which the
Island long had suffered as a hotbed of yellow fever. For that
ill-repute the economic collapse of the mid-nineteenth cen-
tury, entailing complete neglect of sanitary conditions in all the
towns, and previously the massacring imbecility of the War
Office and the local military authorities in the accommodation,
diet, and manner of life to which they subjected the unfortunate
British soldiers sent out for the garrison, had been principally re-
sponsible. Heavy drinking habits and complete medical ignor-
ance and superstition as to the causes of fevers and how to treat
them, otherwise than by bleeding, aggravated the mortality.
Under these circumstances Jamaica deserved her ill-fame as a
dangerously unhealthy island. Her natural conditions, however,
except in comparatively limited lowland areas where the
malaria-bearing mosquito is still allowed to breed, are in truth
markedly healthy and favourable to long and vigorous life.
Tropical countries, not parched with excessive heat or drenched
with immoderate rainfall are, so far as climate alone is con-
cerned, more kindly to human life than the cold and foggy.
Sunshine is by itself so powerful a bactericide and so energetic a
vitaliser that thanks to its purifying efficiency the poor in tropical
towns can survive amid conditions of filth and squalor which
under an English sky would be insupportable to the senses of
even the least fastidious and would breed continuous pestilence.
That is one of the reasons why such conditions can still be
treated as negligible and allowed to persist in some parts of
Kingston. Life in Jamaica is reinforced by its climatic condi-
tions; provided, of course, that concessions of reasonable relaxa-
tion are made to the mid-day heat and evening chills are
avoided. The principal enemies of health are avoidable fevers
and certain special complaints, liability to which is promoted by
intemperance in eating and drinking. The very high rate of mor-
tality among immigrant white men which earned the Jamaica
climate its black reputation was due principally to three causes
-yellow fever, malarial fever, and drink. Yellow fever (im-
ported from Africa with the slaves) has long been eliminated;
'Son of the pioneer missionary Philippo quoted at the beginning of this

malarial fever can be avoided and the conditions which breed it
are being progressively fought and abated. The mosquito whose
bite transmits it thrives only in limited areas; the greater part of
the Island does not produce it.
Sir Henry Blake, impressed by Dr. Philippo's enthusiasm, and
himself accustomed to energetic activity, with his wife, in ex-
ploring the Island, took up the theme, and he and Lady Blake
wrote vigorously in English Journals in praise of the health-giv-
ing qualities of the climate.
The advertisement of Jamaica in this regard, and as a holiday
resort for visitors, was resumed ten years later by another man of
imagination and sanguine energy, the late Sir Alfred Jones,
Managing-Director of Elder Dempster's Steamship Lines, in
connection with his enterprise of the Direct Line of fruit steam-
ers between Jamaica and Avonmouth. His efforts promoted in-
terest in and resort to the Island and therewith a multiplication
of pamphlets and books and magazine and newspaper articles
praising it. Many of these have been, indeed, superficial, con-
ventional and barren of original insight. They too often indulge
an unbalanced habit of gushing eulogy-the effect, possibly,
of that aesthetic intoxication and derangement of judgment of
which I have spoken-a shallow, pictorial, ignorant and often
vulgar and frivolous fashion of writing about the men and
women who form the mass of the population, and their reputed
psychology, habits and superstitions, and a recurrent unintelli-
gent serving up of old dull legends and antiquarianisms, or re-
ferences to the exploits of Rodney and Nelson, Henry Morgan,
the Maroons, Mrs. Palmer of Rose Hall, and so on, which ceased
long ago to have any tittle of interest or significance in the con-
sciousness of the Island community. I do not know of any really
completely truthful and unaffected book about Jamaica, either
as a country or as a society. Mr. de Lisser's novels, a regrettably
incomplete contribution, are much the best as far as they go.
The eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Island writers
aped the reverberations of Johnsonian or Gibbonian magnilo-
quence, embellishing them with the grace-notes of the earlier
romantic novelists. Local writers subsequent to the dark age
of the Island suffer deplorably from the second-hand literary
education inflicted upon them during her later revival of
educational effort.

Chapter V

The Journal of Lady Nugent, whose husband' was Lieu-
tenant-Governor of Jamaica from 180i to 18o6, fur-
nishes, so far as its direct observation extends, interesting
evidence about the social atmosphere of the Island thirty years
before emancipation. The slave-trade had not yet been abol-
ished, and the righteousness of slavery itself, as an institution,
had hardly yet begun to be questioned, at any rate locally.
Lady Nugent, as a detached critic and commentator, had the
advantage of being the daughter of a citizen of New Jersey,
U.S.A., a General Officer in the American Army and also
Attorney-General of his State. Her mother was Irish. She was a
capable, energetic and witty person, quite exempt, thanks no
doubt to her Irishry, from the conventional hypocrisies and dis-
cretions of British official and Colonial society. She says little
about the conditions of the slaves on estates. She did not come
directly into contact with them. She was distressed by slavery,
which was repugnant to her as a religious woman; but she re-
cognised its evils most clearly in its demoralising effect on the
white people. Her earliest note on the subject is perspicacious:
'Reflect all night upon slavery, and make up my mind that
the want of exertion in the blackies must proceed from that
She herself found 'the blackies' very likable, and appears to
have been quite free from colour prejudice. While finding some
of their habits a little trying, she is a good deal less disgusted by
them than she is by the manners and customs of the white and
coloured society. She gives us a pleasant glimpse of the Wind-
ward Road between Kingston and Morant Bay in St. Thomas,
an arduous section that long shut off the Parish of St. Thomas
from Kingston. 'The journey this day was beautiful, but tremen-
'General Sir George Nugent, K.C.B.

dous. Steep, rocky roads, rivers to ford, high rocky hills to pass
over, thick woods for the carriage to be dragged through, sloes
and a variety of beautiful plants and shrubs in full bloom, and
innumerable parties of negroes, laughing, dancing and singing,
and dressing their food on the roadside, and all hurrying to get
to Kingston; for, alas! Sunday is a great market day.'
These marketing people were slaves, profiting by their one
weekly holiday.
Writing of the slave-trade abolitionists she says:
'As far as I at present see and can hear of the ill-treatment of
the slaves I think what they say upon the subject is very greatly
exaggerated. Individuals, I have no doubt, occasionally abuse
the power they possess; but, generally speaking, I believe the
slaves are extremely well used . Yet it appears to me that
there would certainly be no necessity for the slave-trade if reli-
gion, decency and good order were established among the
negroes; if they could be' prevailed upon to marry; and if our
white men would but set them a better example; but white men
of all descriptions, married or single, live in a state of licentious-
ness with their female slaves; and until a great reformation takes
place on their part, neither religion, decency nor morality can
be established among the negroes. The overseers, etc., too, are,
in general, needy adventurers, without either principle, religion
or morality. Of course their example must be the worst possible
for these poor creatures.'
The years Lady Nugent passed in Jamaica were those during
which the profits of planters reached their highest volume. In
1798 the tonnage of sugar exported was 95,858. In the next year
it for the first time exceeded Ioo,ooo tons and in 1802 had risen
to 140,113 tons. In 1805 the largest crop on record (150,352
tons) was shipped, together with 53,950 puncheons of rum and
471 casks of molasses. The value of this crop must have been at
least 5,ooo,ooo. The crop in the following year was 146,601
tons of sugar, 58,780 puncheons of rum (the highest record for
rum), and 499 casks of molasses. In 1814 coffee production
reached its zenith, with an export of 34 million lb., worth, in the
Island certainly not less than 2,ooo,ooo. And the value of
other exports-logwood, pimento, ginger, etc., was also con-
'They could not legally do so and were rarely allowed to be named cere-
monially in church.

Lady Nugent deplores the fact that almost every Jamaica
proprietor of civilised tastes was an absentee. The resident
whites she mentions were their attorneys or agents. She does not
appear to have met any members of the few Island families
which did maintain continuous or intermittent residence or per-
sonal contact with their estates, and to whom credit is given in
contemporary accounts for having treated their slaves humane-
ly. The established social pleasures of the class who entertained
her and her husband were exclusively, as she repeatedly pro-
tests, gross over-feeding, heavy drinking, gambling, and cock-
fighting. Horse-racing she does not mention, but it was cer-
tainly then, as now, one of the favourite sports, and much money
was spent over it. Large pigeon-shooting picnics were popular.
'Cricket parties' had been tried but found too strenuous for that
generation. Dancing, of course, was as now universally popular.
It deservedly survives those more barbarous former convivial-
Lady Nugent's belief that, in general, the slaves were ex-
tremely well treated, was one commonly asserted by defenders
of slavery, and frequently entertained by benevolent critics of
that institution not directly in contact with the management of
estates. It was well founded, in some degree, in Jamaica, in
regard to the estates of respectable' resident planters, but it is
indisputable that on a great many others the slaves habitually
suffered savage and cruel punishments,2 that, universally, the
adult field gangs worked under the stimulus of the driver's
cart-whip, applied or threatened, and that late arrivals in the
'See for example the following from the will of John Blagrove, died 1828:
'And lastly to my loving people denominated and recognized by Law and in
fact my slaves in Jamaica, but more estimated and considered by me and my
family as tenants for life attached to the soil, I bequeathe a dollar for every
man, woman and child, as a small token of my regard for their faithful and
affectionate service and willing favours to myself and family, being recipro-
cally bound in one general tie of master and servant in the prosperity of the
land from which we draw our mutual comforts and subsistence in our
several relations (a tie and interest not practised on by the hired labourer of
the day in the United Kingdom).'
'That there was, in fact, a very great deal of cruelty on many estates is
made clear by such books as Mahon's Jamaica Plantership (1824), the me-
moirs of an overseer who had served under many employers and who chal-
lenged prosecution by giving the names and estates and of the persons re-
sponsible for their management. He was not prosecuted, but his book was
suppressed by confiscation and burning, and copies are very scarce.

morning were habitually punished with flogging. These inci-
dents were not considered 'ill-treatment' but merely proper and
necessary methods of discipline and penalties for misconduct,
beneficial to the character of the negro. If there had not been
available, as there still is, positive evidence from many unim-
peachable witnesses of the fallacies of the complacent 'general'
account impressed on Lady Nugent and others, the indignation
which effected the overthrow of the slave system could not have
been brought to bear on Parliament as it was in 1833.
One of the best known and most informing books about
estate-life in Jamaica is the Journal of Matthew Gregory Lewis,1
describing his two periods of residence in the Island in 1815-16
and in 1817. Lewis was a writer of genius, and his records are
brilliantly graphic. His observations were as little distorted by
prejudice in favour of slavery as those of a Jamaica proprietor
and son of a Jamaica proprietor owning slaves could possibly be.
He accepted slavery as a necessary and justifiable institution,
'Every man of humanity must wish that slavery, even in its
best and most mitigated form, had never found a legal sanction,
and must regret that its system is now so incorporated with the
welfare of Great Britain as well as of Jamaica as to make its ex-
tirpation an absolute impossibility without the certainty of pro-
ducing worse mischiefs than the one which we annihilate.
'But certainly there can be no sort of occasion for continuing
in the Colonies the existence of domestic slavery which neither
contributes to the security of the Colonies themselves, nor to the
opulence of Mother Country; the revenue of which, derived
from Colonial duties, would suffer no depreciation whatever even
if neither whites nor blacks in the West Indies were suffered to
employ slaves, except in Plantation Labour.'
The lot of slaves owned by small tradesmen, or by contractors
for jobbing gangs was, in fact, notoriously more severe and un-
happy than that of those domiciled in estate villages on old es-
tablished and well managed properties. Lewis at first believed
that the slaves upon his own estates were well treated. 'I am
fully persuaded', he says, 'that instances of tyranny to negroes
are now very rare, at least in this Island. But', he proceeds, 'I
'Owner of Cornwall estate in Westmoreland and Hordley in St. Thomas
in the East. Known to his English contemporaries as author of The Monk
and a friend of Byron's,

must still acknowledge, from my own sad experience, since my
arrival, that unless a West Indian proprietor occasionally visits
his estates himself it is utterly impossible for him to be certain
that his deputed authority is not abused, however good may be
his intentions.'
Lewis, in fact, before he came out to Jamaica, shared Lady
Nugent's complacent belief; but when he reached his estates he
was horrified at what he found to be the actual conditions. On
his first visit he judged his estate at Bluefields to be not inhum-
anely managed: but he had to reform various abuses, and when
he forbade whipping his overseers were incapable of getting the
work done. He had another estate at Hordley, in St. Thomas in
the East, which he did not see on his first visit, but about which
he was completely hoodwinked by the representations of his
attorney. On his second visit he went there. 'I expected', he
writes, 'to find a perfect Paradise and I found a fearful Hell.
Report had assured me that Hordley was the best managed
estate in the Island.' He found his attorney not actively cruel,
but completely indifferent as to the fate of the negroes. He had
to dismiss one of his book-keepers and the chief black driver.
What he found entirely corroborated the observations made
later by Joseph Sturge when he visited Jamaica (in 1837).
'There are no estates more oppressively and cruelly managed
than those of many liberal, humane and even religious proprie-
tors residing in England.'

After the last revolt of slaves, which broke out in St. James'
Parish at Christmas 1831, the House of Assembly set up a
Committee to enquire into its causes. Their Report illustrates
very significantly the mental attitude of the ruling class at that
They declared the causes of the Rebellion to be as follows :
I. 'The primary and most powerful, an evil excitement created
in the minds of our Slaves generally by the unnecessary and un-
constitutional interference of His Majesty's Ministers with our
local Legislation, together with the intemperate expressions of
the present Ministers, as well as other individuals, in the Com-
mons House of Parliament in Great Britain on the subject of
slavery . coupled with the false and wicked reports of the
Anti-Slavery Society.
II. 'The expectation of being made free after Christmas.

III. 'The system of the Baptists, Wesleyans, Methodists and
Moravians of recognizing gradations of rank (in their congrega-
tions) whereby the less ambitious . were made the dupes of
the rulers, leading Elders and Helpers.
IV. 'Public discussions consequent on continual suggestions
made by the King's Ministers about the Slave Trade ... and the
preaching of the religious sects called Baptists, Wesleyans,
Methodists and Moravians; but more particularly the sect
called Baptists, which had the effect of producing in the mind of
the slaves a belief that they could not serve both a spiritual and
a temporal master, thereby occasioning them to resist the lawful
authority of their temporal under the delusion of rendering
themselves more acceptable to a Spiritual master.'
The last assigned cause may appear at first reading a little
difficult to interpret. What the statement refers to is nothing
more than the fact that converted slaves sometimes disobeyed or
remonstrated against the orders of their temporal masters that
they were to abstain from attending meetings for worship,
prayer and bible-reading among themselves: a form of insubor-
dination for which many were flogged or otherwise cruelly
Throughout the Committee's enquiry persistent endeavours
were made to extract by imaginative suggestions evidence or
imputations of responsibility on the part of Baptist and Mora-
vian ministers of religion. These endeavours completely failed.
They were in every case completely rebutted. The Committee
nevertheless asserted such responsibility. The revolt was repre-
sented as a wicked, unnatural and unprovoked outbreak of un-
tamable savagery on the part of an ungrateful rabble of kindly-
treated servants inflamed by malicious 'sectarian' agitators.
These officially propounded explanations, especially the last
(No. IV), seem needlessly far-fetched to account for the twenty-
ninth slave rebellion of a series that had continued for a hundred
and fifty years. The untamable Ashanti warriors who had been
responsible for the most alarming of these insurrections had cer-
tainly not been prompted by any desire of rendering themselves
acceptable to the white man's God. No doubt the public discus-
sions of slavery in England, of which the slaves were kept very
fully informed by the angry table talk of their masters, as well as
through the letterpress which the missionaries had taught them
to read; no doubt, too, the effect of the personal attitude of these

missionaries in dealing with them as normal fellow humans, had
encouraged them to assert their right to freedom. But it was
wholly untrue that the missionaries had encouraged demands
for emancipation by any direct teaching or propaganda-still
more so that they had encouraged any form of revolt or rebel-
lion. The local ministers-and not least the Baptist missionaries
-were stringently restrained, by the councils of the religious
bodies who sent them out and controlled them, from every sort
of criticism of the institution of slavery, or emancipationist pro-
paganda. The formulated explanations of the Assembly Com-
mittee were far-fetched and factitious; and they had to be so,
because those who framed them started from the axiomatic
premise that the slave-owning society was a beneficent and
divinely approved social order, unassailable not only on the
ground of the sacred right of Property but on that of the well-
being and happiness which it ensured to the slaves, who, were it
not for the insensate activities of malignant and envious enemies
of their magnificent Colony and revered Church, the ruin of
both of which the 'sectarians' perversely desired at all costs to
effect, would live in complete and untroubled contentment with
their congenial lot.
The slaves themselves gave a simpler and more succinct
explanation. They attributed no more credit for their having
decided to attempt what they did to the uplifting influences
of their Baptist, Wesleyan or Moravian pastors than the 'Coro-
mantynes' of Ballards Valley had done fifty years earlier, or than
Paul Bogle did to Dr. Underhill or to George William Gordon
when he set out thirty-five years later to array his 'battle'
against an unjust magistracy at Morant Bay.
They did not, in fact, recognize slavery as part of the un-
changeable order of human society; they did not find it con-
genial or believe it to be the most happy condition in which they
could live. They endured it solely in submission to force. They,
and those associated with them, they said, had determined no
longer to submit to the slavery which had been imposed upon
them by predatory physical outrage. They believed, correctly,
that it was the declared will of the British King and people that
their enslavement should cease. They knew that the Jamaica
Government and their Jamaican employers were resisting that
will. They therefore designed and intended to deal with those
who claimed to be their owners as they and their slave-procurers

had dealt with themselves; to overcome them by force and to
take control of the Island. They did not believe that the King,
whose will was being defied by the local government, would
allow his soldiers to be used to repress them. The local Militia
they had no fear of. The cowardice displayed by that force in the
face of the rebels fully justified their contempt. The Rector of
Westmoreland told the Commissioners: 'The head and con-
fidential slaves, and consequently the most intelligent, have
been the most active rebels.'
One of them, Linton, in a statement made by him to this
clergyman after he had been condemned to be hanged, said:
'I tell you again, if the gentlemen do not keep a good look
out, the negroes will try this business again in two or three
Another, Gardner, in a like confession, declared: 'I firmly be-
lieved that the negroes were free by order of the King and his
Parliament. I heard that the order came out in March last.'
McKinley, another leader, added: 'I say the same as Linton
-that this business will begin again in about three or four
years; for the negroes say they are certain the King is on their
side; they hear too much talk of it in the newspapers. I heard
McLachlan say to us "This thing" (freedom) "has been given
up to you for a long time, and if you do not fight for it you will
never get it." '
Such were the simple and straightforward accounts given
under sentence of death by obviously intelligent and sober-
minded men of strong character. The outbreak was indeed a
pitiably desperate enterprise of very ignorant men; but there
was nothing in it distinctively barbarous or, judged by the
standards of conduct consistently pursued towards the black
man by the white, anything inhuman or wicked. The incentive
was, indeed, entirely deserving of honour. It was deliberately
intended to open a war of emancipation-precisely such a war
as that for promoting which in Santo Domingo the British Poet
Laureate, William Wordsworth, in an immortal sonnet, had
recently glorified Toussaint L'Ouverture.
The attitude of mind displayed in Jamaica during this period
by the agents and managers who represented the absentee
owners, and their swarms of professional and commercial sub-
sidiaries and employees, was truly astonishing. Those who
might have claimed to be representatives of the Island's culture

were, as Lady Nugent and other frank-spoken reporters tell us,
Voltairian Freethinkers, and heartily despised and detested the
Christian missionaries. This fact, combined with the recognition
that Christianity and slavery were politically inconsistent and
that religion and education were gaining ground among the
black population, sufficiently accounts for the vehement prac-
tical efforts they made to suppress or expel the missionaries, and
for their imputing to them seditious incitement of the slaves to
rebel. The latter charge was demonstrably untrue, whilst even
so far as concerned the imputed influence of the missionaries,
Mr. Samuel Barrett, Chief Magistrate of Trelawny and Speaker
of the House of Assembly, the representative of an old estab-
lished resident Jamaican estate-owning family, was writing to
William Knibb, the most detested of the incriminated Baptist
clergy: 'My opinion-an opinion resulting from my own fre-
quent and confidential intercourse, not only with my own
negroes but with the. negroes of various other estates, is that
religion had nothing to do with the late disturbances, but that,
on the contrary, its absence was a chief cause of them. No people
could have conducted themselves better than all the negroes on
the Oxford and Cambridge estates (in Trelawny) and in like
manner the people on Retreat Pen (in St. Ann's)'.
Mr. Barrett had encouraged Presbyterian and Wesleyan
missionaries to teach and H. M. Waddell to teach and preach to
his slaves; not, as he frankly told William Knibb, because he
had himself any belief in or sympathy with their religious ideas,
but because he was satisfied that the work of the missionaries
had an improving effect on the character of the negroes.
Of the character of the slave population who were to form the
mass material of the emancipated community of Jamaica, the
contemporary judgment even of temperate and humane minded
persons1 was unrelievedly pessimistic, and utterly sceptical as to
their capacity for a life above the level of that of mere animals;
the more tolerant regarded them as at best passionate children
demoralised by the adoption of civilised vices. Commentators on
the state of Jamaica who write quite rationally on other topics
relating to the affairs of the Island, uttered such prophecies as
the following:
1Not including the missionaries of the evangelical churches, whose faith
in the potentialities of the slaves' human nature reposed on Catholic reli-
gious psychology.

'Abolish Slavery and there would be turned loose on Society
a herd of idle, immoral and profligate wretches who would in-
stantly become pests to society and who would be a perpetual
burden on the community until they cease to exist. Great num-
bers of them, especially the most worthless, would seek the bush
and the mountains and become wild savages-the ruin of the
Island would be the most favourable contingency; far worse
consequences would be probable. This Island, the Queen of the
West Indies, would become a waste, the houses would be burnt,
the water destroyed, and industry would come to an end.'
Bryan Edwards, the English-born historian of the West Indies,
was equally persuaded of the degraded and irreclaimable char-
acter of the negroes; though he was prepared to attribute some
of their faults to the evil effects of slavery. He says:
'The negroes in general in our islands (such of them at least
as have been for any length of time in servitude) are of a dis-
trustful and cowardly disposition. So degrading is the nature of
slavery, that fortitude of mind is lost, as free agency is restrained.
To the same cause probably must be imputed their propensity
to violate and conceal the truth, which is so general that I think
the vice of falsehood is one of the most prominent features of
their character. The proneness observable in many of them to
the vice of theft has already been noticed and I am afraid evil
communication makes it almost general.'
Edwards, notwithstanding his aversion to slavery, fully shared
the local conviction that its abolition would spell disaster to the
community and to the negroes themselves. M. G. Lewis, whilst
he was horrified by the oppressive mismanagement of estates
(his own among them) considered the negroes quite incapable of
doing justice to any freer condition. He declared confidently
that emancipation would be a fatal mistake.
James Hakewill, an English landscape painter, who visited a
great many estates during a two years' stay in the Island about
ten years before emancipation, and who himself deplored the
existence of slavery, expressed similar views. His observations
may be taken as reflecting the apprehensions of the planters in
whose houses he stayed.
'What will be the first consequences of emancipation? The in-
discriminate sacrifice, in all probability, of the white inhabitants;
or at best some may be retained to expiate former servitude, and


Catherine's Peak, St. Andrew's, from Hill Gardens,
Cinchona, St. Thomas

Wagwater Valley, St. Andrew's, near Castleton Gardens,
St. Mary's


Tom Cringle's Cotton Tree, Up Park Camp

Ancient Cotton Tree, Spanish Town Road


the people of our own colour will become the disgraced and the
useless slaves of those who formerly looked up to them for pro-
tection, food and comfort.
'What would in the second place become of the negroes?
Driven as they would be from their native homes, their heredi-
tary grounds, many of the industrious who have saved a few
pounds will endeavour to purchase an acre or two of land, en-
close, build and cultivate. Those who can afford it will buy more
and harbour the lazy as casual labourers. The more vicious,
who are desirous of being without the pale of the law will take
possession of the backlands, live on such provisions as they can
raise and will only venture into the prosperous districts for the
purpose of exchanging ground provisions for herrings, commit-
ting depredations or receiving stolen goods. If these opportun-
ities are allowed the increase of the peasantry will cease.
'To suppose that the land of Jamaica or any part of it can be
worked by the free negroes or the people of colour is absurd in
the extreme.'
J. Stewart, a generally sober-minded commentator on the
Jamaica society of his time, wrote in 1824:
'Were freedom to be given to the slaves in their present moral
and intellectual condition, they would neither be made happier,
nor even more free, by the change . Discord and anarchy
would soon produce their usual effects among them-injustice,
violence and mutual slaughter; the country, in short, would be
desolated, and the people become more savage and wretched.
'Imbued as their minds are with strong passions and witness-
ing as they are likely to continue to do the licentiousness of their
more enlightened rulers it is not likely that they will relinquish
the pleasures or resist the temptations of unauthorised sexual
'The whites would not long be suffered to hold the great
possessions of their properties; they would have no safety but in
Mr. R. Bicknell,' curate at Kingston and Port Royal, and
Naval Chaplain, who deplored slavery and severely criticised
Island conditions under the planters' regime, wrote in 1825 that
emancipation 'would be a great injury to the slaves themselves
'The same writer speaks strongly of the bad character of the established
clergy and the improper ordinations and appointments made under the
Duke of Manchester.

. . for they are generally speaking in so barbarous and unen-
lightened a state, so devoid of education and religion that
anarchy, confusion, warfare and blood would be the dreadful
effects of the hasty and mistaken boon'. He admitted, however,
that many of the freed mechanics in Kingston and the dockyard
and arsenal were industrious and efficient.
More prejudiced creole commentators were naturally more
positive in their prophecies of the relapse into barbarism that
would inevitably follow emancipation. The negro, by common
consent, was incurably lazy, sexually profligate, mendacious and
thievish, with merely a thin veneer of self-protective good con-
duct, imposed by punishment or hypocritically assumed to curry
personal favour, overlying a deeply passionate and vindictively
savage character, amenable to no religious control save the sin-
ister superstitions of Obeah. Such was the decidedly unpromis-
ing social complex to which the drastic purge of emancipation
was administered.

Already while the profits of Jamaican estates were rising to
the astonishing volume which they reached during the latter
part of the eighteenth century, all intelligentJamaicans, capable
of reflecting upon the conditions which affected the Island's
prosperity, saw and attested emphatically one fact which all
agreed was disastrous to the community and threatened its ruin
-absentee ownership. Public-spirited and responsible writers
such as Edward Long, Speaker of the House of Assembly and
author of the first considerable History of Jamaica, and Bryan
Edwards, her other leading historian, an Englishman who made
a large fortune as a merchant and planter, whilst they were un-
able to contemplate or desire the supersession of slavery, were
at one with those who attacked and destroyed it in their insist-
ence that the most ominous threat to the Island's fortunes and
the cause of the greatest abuses of slave-owning lay in the preva-
lent absenteeism of the estate proprietors. And when any such
absentee owner of intelligence and education had the curiosity
to visit the Island he recognized and deplored the same evil.
Even those who denounced slavery granted that the material
circumstances of slaves on the estates of resident owners were in
some cases tolerable and far from unhappy, but the ill-treatment
of slaves habitual on estates under deputed management, which
formed the great majority, and the progressive encroachment of

that system of exploitation, furnished the principal force of the
arguments which overbore the apologies made for slavery, on the
pretext (unabashed by twenty-nine rebellions) that the slaves
were contented.
In the early years of the nineteenth century well informed
writers constantly speak of absentee ownership as covering
nineteen-twentieths of the land of Jamaica, absentee manage-
ment nine-tenths of the number of working estates. Independent
observers and critics discuss it as an admitted commonplace and
deplore its evils. The exceptions to it could not affect its disas-
trous influences-their existence merely enabled it to be recog-
nised how much better the governance of estates of resident
owners might be in regard to the treatment of slaves, the profit
to the proprietors, and, after emancipation, their relations with
their wage labourers.
A leading and successful Jamaica planter, writing on estate
management during the period of apprenticeship, analytically
demonstrates the wastefulness and extravagance of the manage-
ment of estates through the agency of attorneys. That system
maintained habitually a numerically excessive staff of overseers
and book-keepers (field foremen) who, though stingily paid in
cash, lived expensively at the cost of the property in the enjoy-
ment of quarters, perquisites, personal service of slaves or
labourers, cooks, washers, concubine housekeepers and their
progeny and other indoor servants, grooms, pig-men, grass-
cutters, and corn for horses and mules. The attorneys and plan-
tation staffs were being placed by emancipation in a position for
which they had no training or qualifications; slavery was being
replaced by a wage-employment system which both made it
difficult authoritatively to direct labour and often impossible,
through absence of cash remittances, to pay it adequately or
when the wages were due. During the period of apprenticeship
the local staffs resorted to all the most stringent modes of com-
pulsion which the law had placed in their hands, and the coun-
try gaols were crowded with recalcitrant labourers on the tread-
mill. Only personal attention and control on the part of the
proprietors could save the Island.
At the same time this planter-author was convinced that the
freed negroes ought to be kept at work on the estates. 'If they are
left to themselves the little civilisation which they have acquired
will disappear and they will sink into a state of barbarity. They

will bask in the sun and be contented to live on yams and cocos
with a piece of osnaburg or baize to cover their nakedness. Then
will the expensive and beautiful works and houses in Jamaica
become ruined and the fertile sugar plains and coffee mountains
scenes of desolation.'
He strongly advised the discharge of the whole of the staffs
employed before the establishment of apprenticeship, so firmly
convinced was he that they would make a mess of the business;
as in fact they did.
'If the peasantry are to be improved at all it must be by the
capital, exertions and attention of the planters. It can never
be through the means of the Governor and Stipendiary Magis-
trate. The former seeks the appointment from a desire to retrieve
his embarrassed circumstances; the latter by interest also and
has no stake in the country.'
Coloured magistrates might be better than the existing un-
paid magistrates (recruited from the staff of decaying estates)-
'if they can forget the injustice with which they were at one time
The House of Assembly itself took notice of the encroaching
evils of absenteeism, and in 1797 appointed a special Commis-
sion to consider what could be done to abate it. They dreaded
the increasing preponderance of an oppressed black population
over the white. They passed 'deficiency' laws to require that
every estate should employ white men in a number proportion-
ate to that of the slaves. This was one cause of the over-staffing
above referred to. They tried to attract white settlers by grants
of from thirty to a hundred acres of land, who might build up a
resident yeoman class. But such a class could not hold its own in
the local economy of that period. The sugar industry, demand-
ing as its productive unit a large extent of land, with a mill and
factory costing several thousands of pounds, two or three hun-
dred acres of arable, a wider area of common pasture for cattle,
and woodlands for fuel supply and the provision grounds of the
slaves, was the only type of agricultural unit upon which a self-
respecting planter could make sufficient income to enable him
to live a civilised life, or to induce him to endure the discom-
forts, moral and physical, of pioneer settlement. The small-
holder in a slave society had himself to own slaves, and he could
not afford to buy, maintain and control them profitably on his
limited command of capital.

The abolition of the slave-trade made it impossible for him to
replace those he had. The obligation to service in the local
militia, on him and the able-bodied white males of his household,
often constituted a severe tax on his time. Many of the early
settlers were ruined by this cause chiefly. The larger estates
avariciously bought up and absorbed the smaller patents to ex-
tend their own increasingly profitable business of sugar produc-
tion. The small white settler class was absorbed as overseers and
book-keepers, married or cohabited unmarried with coloured
women, and in a generation or two became merged in the class
described as the 'free coloured people'. They did not, as white
immigrants of their position did, for example, in Barbados or
in South Africa at a later period, give rise to a permanent1
'poor white' class; and it was very fortunate for Jamaica that
they did not.
Some few of them, indeed, prospered and were able, after
serving as overseers and becoming attorneys for the larger es-
tates, to become themselves estate owners and rich enough to
return to England or send their children to school there, follow-
ing the example of the many descendants of noble or gentle
English families that had acquired estates in Jamaica but had
abandoned, if they had ever entertained, the idea of residing
there. Already, in 1774, Long was writing of the vast number of
absentees, of the pluralism of local attorneys and the impossibility
of their doing justice to their responsibilities, of the increasing
complexity of the controversies that were arising over the spoils
of the planting system, the disputes about titles, liability to taxes,
etc., which were encouraging an immense pullulation of lawyers
and hangers on of the law. He speaks of them as a familiar by-
word-'the host of Pettyfoggers, that generation of vermin'.
Among the class of Jamaica citizens, white or coloured, who
as attorneys were directing the productive activities of the
Island, there were unquestionably men of ability and high char-
acter who acquired estates not dishonestly, and founded creole
families, the members of which have maintained their reputa-
tion up till to-day. Admirable, lovable men! But the higher the
character or reputation of such a man, the more business he
would obtain and indeed have thrust upon him, and the less
'They did give rise to a somewhat parallel poor coloured class, but the
coloured people became a very valuable and progressive element in the

effectual attention, in the then state of the Island, where tra-
velling was so difficult and expensive, would he be able to give
to his charge. The activities of the legal profession are respectable
and engrossing; the proceedings of its conscientious practitioners
may generally be assumed unimpeachable; and in any dispute of
interests there are always two sides to a question, each of which it
is usually possible to find grounds for arguing on pleas oflegality.
Whilst therefore it would be a mistake to infer from Long's im-
patient characterisation of his contemporaries that all the plant-
ing attorneys and all the Jamaica lawyers were rascals (the
contrary being indeed the case to a degree which has in fact
established in Jamaica a high standard of interest in and respect
for legality), nevertheless it is unquestionable that by the end of
the eighteenth century the attorney class, and a high proportion
of the legal practitioners and their satellites, had established for
themselves, and, it can hardly be doubted, deserved, a very un-
complimentary reputation, which adhered to them for a great
part of the nineteenth century. And as the estate system upon
whose pickings these classes had thriven collapsed and decayed,
and its revenues dwindled to a contemptible fraction of what
they had formerly been, the temptation to self-seeking and
chicanery in the exercise of their activities continually pressed
more deleteriously upon their representatives, with the result
that their activities and modes of procedure contributed, both
by example and by subservience to the interests of the small
property owners who were increasingly seeking assistance in liti-
gation, to impair the integrity of this new class of citizens also. If
the owners or claimants or managers of estates desired to take
advantage of tenants or labourers they could always find agents
and lawyers to help them to do so. On the other hand, if tenants
or squatters on abandoned estates desired to assert titular or
prescriptive rights over land, however ill-founded, they could al-
ways find a lawyer to help them, and to a degree quite astonish-
ing find the money to pay his fees. Contention and litigation about
land rights in Jamaica became exceedingly prevalent, as it gener-
ally is in countries where there is a peasant proprietary and much
confusion and weakness of title. And any close examiner of Ja-
maican affairs even within living memory could hardly fail to
acquire a discomfortable impression that there was an excessive
amount of dishonesty and sharp practice prevalent in the Island.
Jamaica, as I have already insisted, has never failed to possess

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs