QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
DECEMBER '70 VOL. 4 NO. 4
Colour Prejudice in Jamaica . . . . . ... .AnsellHart
The Morant Bay Fort . . . . . ... David Buisseret
The Real Sir Charles Price. . . . . . . Michael Craton
Kelly's Estate Two Paintings (Full Colour) . . . . . . .
The Prophesies of Chilam-Balam. . . . . . G.R. Coulthard
The Windward Maroons after the Peace Treaty . . .. Beverley Cary
SCIENCE ...... ...............
Conservation and Ecology. . . . . . E. Barton Worthington
ART LITERATURE MUSIC . . ......
Abstract Art, the Avant Garde and Jamaica . . ... .Edwin Todd
An Abstract Painting (Full Colour). . ... . .George Rodney
Interview by Martin Mordecai with Anthony McNeill . . . . ..
Poems . . . . . . . . . . .Sally Giray
Pole ............... ....... Dennis Scott
Judah Come. . . . . . . . .Phoebe Chung
The Concert .. ................. .Tessa Dow
Cover Picture: Devon House,
Kingston by Errol Harvey
Inside Cover by Audrey Wiles.
For an account of the rise of Jamaica's
great "Coloured Class", one is able to draw
on source material from many books that
are now out of print. By reason of a very
long life, I have also had the privilege of
watching history in the making and there-
by of supplementing reading by experience
and observation. The social changes which
have taken place in Jamaica during eight
or nine decades have been truly astonish-
ing and gratifying. They have made the
shibboleths and heartaches of half a cen-
tury ago out of date and irrelevant. To
report old grievances is to state the histori-
cal record; to dwell on them with resent-
ment is like "fighting the last war", a vain
by Ansell Hart
and unsatisfying exercise in futility.
Of the written record, let me first call
attention to three scholarly lectures de-
livered by Richard Hill (in aid of Mission
Schools) in the 1850's. They were pub-
lished in book form in the year 1859; and
are doubtless available at the West India
Reference Library. The Lecturer called
them "Lights and Shadows of Jamaica
History", adopting the adjectival use of
the word "Jamaica", which has been of
common "usage" from the days of Hincker-
ingill in 1661. Richard Hill was himself
one of the most illustrious examples of
Jamaican miscegenation, claiming, it was
said, maternal Arawak descent; but it
should be borne in mind that in the old
days Negroid descent was not a matter of
pride. He was in the forefront of the
movement for the removal of civil dis-
abilities from free Blacks and Persons of
Colour; and he was heard on the subject at
the Bar of the House of Commons. He
was a friend and collaborator of the
famous "fundamentalist" zoologist, Philip
Gosse, who associated him with himself in
the authorship of his "Naturalist's Sojourn
In his lectures, Hill reflected on the
extra-marital relations and disabilities
which were forced by the colonial policies
of Spain, France and Britain on their
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colonial citizens. France and Spain had
"mesalliance" laws, which prohibited mar-
riage between the races. Britain had
no such laws; but similar consequences
ensued from the refusal of civil rights to
the progeny of mixed sexual associations.
The result was that in all the colonial
centres "polygamy and concubinage were
accommodated" As the Lecturer reflected
"public opinion had excluded different
parts of society, differently accepted for
political and social consideration, from
unions of equality. The Law had denied
them credibility in Courts of Law. They
were shut out from the testimony neces-
sary for registration; they considered them-
selves not wrong but wronged. The result
was that the island from one end to
another was strewn with wives without
husbands and with children without pater-
nity. Concubinage, being without dis-
credit, obtained respect, and was recog-
nised without scandal". (Some of these
conditions were to continue up to and
during most of my lifetime). As the
lecturer remarked, "What was politically
evil was not morally wrong. Children were
bastardized as an inexorable necessity,
like the Protestants of France and the
Christians of a contaminated Race in
In the year 1818, ten years after the
Abolition of the British Slave Trade, the
population of Jamaica comprised 20,000
White and 35,000 free Coloured and Black
of which 30,000 comprised the Coloured.
There must have been many Coloured
Persons among the 346,000 Slaves. By
1834, on the eve of the Apprenticeship
preceding the 1838 full Emancipation
from Slavery, the free population had
reached only 70,000. The decline of the
Plantation Economy had synchronized
with what Professor Ragatz called the
"Decline of the Planter Class", which he
dates as having occurred between the years
1763 and 1833. The decline of island com-
mercial activity followed. As Hill notes,
"our great merchants have left us; we have
unoccupied 'stores' and untenanted whar-
ves". The American journalists Bigelow
and Sewell and Novelist and British Civil
Servant, Anthony Trollope, visiting the
island between 1850 and 1860, give simi-
lar reports of the times.
The coming of independence from
Spain of her former American colonies
and there shift from sailing to steam-
propelled vessels destroyed the value of
Kingston as a port of re-shipment. Jamai-
can internal trade also changed; and
Emancipation and labour wages ushered in
the great retail houses. Beside the factors
mentioned by Hill, there were others
which contributed to miscegenation.
Frowned on by Church and State, it never-
theless operated biologically as a beneficial
form of "natural selection". By and large,
the people of colour testify to this
physically and intellectually and culturally.
While Church and State deplored the cus-
tom, to the mothers of the mixed race it
meant both the "whitening" of the race
and the social and economic advancement
in life of their progeny.
In his History of Jamaica (1774) Edward
Long deals lengthily with the subject of
miscegenation in Jamaica. He notes that
an Enquiry was initiated by the Jamaican
Assembly into the social and economic
evil of endowments of property by white
fathers to their coloured progeny. It
amounted to nearly three hundred thou-
sand pounds in value of property, com-
prising four sugar estates, seven grazing
pens, thirteen dwelling houses and un-
specified lots of land. Long records that
"after duly weighing the ill consequences
that might befall the Colony in suffering
real estate to pass into such hands, a Bill
was passed to prevent the inconveniences
arising from exorbitant grants and devises
made by white fathers to Negroes and the
issue of Negroes and, to restrain and limit
such grants and devises". Devises exceed-
ing.2000 were made void. "It might be
much better for Britain and Jamaica too",
the Historian reflected, "if the White Men
in that Colony would abate of their
infatuated attachment to Black Women.i
Of all the vices reigning here, none are so
flagrant as this of concubinage with white
women and cohabitation with Negresses
White fathers also frequently sent their
coloured children for education to Eng-
land and Scotland. There they made
social contacts conformable with their
fathers' social position and wealth. In
later years also cultured and well-to-do
coloured gentlemen paid frequent visits to
the British Isles, where they also received
due social recognition. As late as the time
of Herbert George DeLisser, editor of the
Gleaner and a person of colour, he received
little or no social recognition from the
whites in Jamaica until after he had
cemented a friendship with Viscount
Burnham of England.
The romance "Marly" gives an informa-
tive picture of social conditions affecting
persons of colour in Jamaica during the
1820s. From the mouth of a Jamaican of
colour, presented as having been educated
at Edinburgh University, we learn at first
hand the hopes and fears, the frustrations
and indignation of a man of Colour at the
social indignities forced on his class in
Jamaica, while he claimed that under the
Windsor Proclamation of 1661, persons of
colour were legally entitled to all the civil
rightsof free born Englishmen. He placed
his half-brethren, the Blacks, in an entirely
different social and human category in
that they did not have running in their
veins the blood of the White Man, as the
Persons of Colour had. Indeed he solemnly
warned the whites of the dangers of pre-
cocious or precipitate freedom of the
Black Slaves, a consummation devoutly to
be desired but only in due course and after
due preparation, lest Jamaica become "a
In his priceless social satire on colour
prejudice in Jamaica notionallyy sited,in
Trinidad) the distinguished Biologist Grant
Allen in his "In All Shades" gives a vivid
picture of conditions as late as the 1860's.
Grant Allen, later author of "The Evolu-
tion of the Idea of God", was principal of
the short-lived University College estab-
lished in Spanish Town in the 1860's
under Crown Colony Government.
Jamaican history is a microcosm of
world history. I well remember, as late as
the 1940's, the social impact of colour pre-
judice in neighboring Miami. Takingaa
hospital case to New York, along with a
coloured trained Nurse of dark complexion
but Aryan features, we were met at the
airport by a Doctor whose services had
been engaged. We were to put up at a
hotel for the night. He looked question-
ingly at the coloured Nurse. "You are
going to have trouble, getting her into the
Hotel," he murmured. "She is Spanish," I
said. "Good gambit," he said. "I wish you
luck; but see that she keeps to her room."
Next morning, at the airport, I tried a
similar gambit, when the attendant said:
"I am afraid, Sir, your maid will have to
have breakfast with the stewards." The
gambit worked. Today, I am told, slightly
coloured people experience little or no
trouble in Miami.
By the 1820s three remarkable coloured
men were in the twofold political move-
ment in Jamaica for the removal of civil
disabilities from free persons of colour and
emancipation of the Slaves. They were
Edward Jordon, Robert Osborn and Rich-
ard Hill, None of them, not even Samuel
Constantine Burke, to be hereafter men-
tioned, are listed by politicians among the
so-called "national heroes". They were
none of them men of violence quite the
contrary. They might be called "pillars of
respectability". Other days, other mores.
It was relevant to the presentation of a
petition to the Assembly for the removal
of civil disabilities from persons of colour,
that the egregious historian Rev. G.W.
Bridges, author of the Annals of Jamaica
(1827), published the libel on Lecesne
and Escoffery, which resulted in criminal
proceedings in England against his Pub-
lisher John Murray and the suppression of
the second volume of the Annals.
Richard Hill. WIRL
Bridges wrote:"The Colonial Senate
once again proceeded with care and cau-
tion to revise the Laws, to lighten the last
remaining links of the servile chain, and to
remove from the condition of the coloured
classes every pretence of unnecessary dis-
abilities. That portion of the population
began to feel its overwhelming power; and
though far less wise than wealthy, it
plainly received the influence which it
must shortly obtain in an island which in
the next generation will surely be their
own. The discouragement of marriage and
the degeneracy of the white inhabitants
have already bequeathed some of the lar-
gest properties to their coloured children.
The evil, if such it be, is hourly increasing;
and the historian feels that the page he is
now inditing will be far less useful or inter-
esting to its present readers than it may
hereafter be to them. It was however a
failure of their usual prudence which led
them to anticipate their rising fortunes and
to demand admission to the privileges of
freehold suffrages, or, while the blood of
pagan AFRICA still flowed thick and dark-
ly in their veins, to affect to consider it an
unnecessary degradation to be obliged to
produce evidence of their conversion to
Christianity before they were permitted to
bind themselvestby a Christian oath. The
island was become the scene of con-
spiracy and rebellion".
Lecesne and Escofferyhad been arrested
prior to deportation under the Aliens Act,
when they were released under Habeas
Corpus proceeding by Chief Justice Scar-
lett. It was of this incident that Bridges
wrote: "A case of unparalleled atrocity
drew the public attention to a subject much
at variance with that which had lately
engaged' it, and whose investigation has
been the fertile subject of bitter calumny,
promoted by one distant and prejudiced
individual, who has blindly espoused the
cause of murder and rebellion, against the
great body of colonial eyewitnesses, who
were themselves the objects of destruction.
A multitude of witnesses pressed forward
to prove, not only that they were natives
of Hayti, and persons of the most in-
famous character, but that the conspiracy,
in which they were deeply engaged, was of
such a nature that the most speedy removal
of them could alone preserve the island.
Instead therefore of instituting a legal,
probably a tedious process, but one which
would ultimately have consigned them to
the gallows, the humane Governor adopted
the urgent recommendations of the Legis-
lature, and, by the timely exercise of the
power with which he was vested, he once
more saved the colony. The extravagant
assertion of the two convicted conspirators
that they were not aliens, may be dismissed
with silent contempt".
In the sequel, Lecesne and Escoffery,
being freed from arrest on Habeas Corpus
proceedings, were, on the advice of William
Burge, Attorney General re-arrested and
immediately deported. Picked up desti-
tute at Port au Prince (Haiti) by a sea-
captain, bound for England, they were
received by the Anti-Slavery people; and,
piloted by Barrister Lushington, a Parlia-
mentary Commission investigated the case,
found Lecesne and Escoffery neither aliens
nor seditious, repatriated them to Jamaica
with substantial compensation, and secured
the suppression of the second volume of
Bridges' Annals which contained ihe libel
of which Bridges' British publisher was
found guilty in criminal proceedings for
In the confusion consequent on im-
minent "Emancipation", the Jamaican
Legislature removed civil disabilities from
free persons of colour in the year 1830.
It was due to the excesses of the
Colonial Church Union against the mis-
sionaries after the slave revolt of Decem-
ber 1831 and January 1832, that Mission-
ary Knibb of the Baptist Denomination,
proceeded to England and energetically
forwarded the anti-slavery movement
which was receiving political attention. In
the meantime, Richard Hill was heard at
the Bar of the House of Commons advo-
cating the removal of civil disabilities
from free persons of colour in Jamaica.
Richard Hill was a distinguished publi-
cist in Jamaica and an elected member of
the Legislature and Secretary to the de-
partment of Stipendiary Magistrates; accor-
ding to Gurney he was offered the gover-
norship of St. Lucia but refused it. Unlike
Jordon, he had an unchequered career.
Edward Jordon was the son of a coloured
Barbadian, who was in the forefront of the
movement in Jamaica for the removal of
civil disabilities. He nominated his young
son for the position of secretary of the
secret civil disabilities society, with the
result that young Jordon lost his job, at
the age of twenty, when his political
affiliations were discovered. He was then
chief clerk in James Bryden's mercantile
house. He had to cast about for gainful
employment. He had already given up his
apprenticeship to a firm of Tailors. In
turn, he kept a liquor shop, book shop and
printer and produced along with his
friend Robert Osborn a newspaper, which
they called "The Watchman". The Watch-
man supported the activities of the mis-
sionaries and of the successive arrivals,
Burchell, Phillippo and Knibb of the
Baptist Missionary Society of London. It
was in support of the cause that Jordon
found himself in trouble.
An Editorial appeared in the Watchman.
The times were troublous after a Slave
Revolt. The Editorial said that "Now that
the Member for Westmoreland has come
over to our side, we shall be happy with
him, and the other friends of humanity, to
give a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull
together, until we bring the system down
by the run- knock off the fetters,;and let
the oppressed go free". Jordon was
indicted for sedition and treason. He was
acquitted when the Judge directed that
there was not sufficient evidence connect-
ing Jordon with authorship. But Jordon
was still in trouble. He had also been
charged with criminal libel against one of
his political opponents. He was convicted
and served three months of the prison
term before being released after successful
With all these troubles assailing, it was
not until the year 1835 that Jordon and
Osborn sought election as Members of the
Assembly, which position Jordon held
until in the 1860's he resigned to become
Island Secretary, a position which he con-
tinued to hold after the institution of
Crown Colony Government, Osborn re-
maining a member until the abdication of
the Legislature on the invitation of Gover-
nor Eyre in December 1865. At the time,
Jordon was also Governor's Secretary.
Jordon was consistently politically con-
servative. While he was a member of the
Executive Committee (established under
the New Constitution of 1854,) the Execu-
tive Committee exceeded the authorised
expenditure. Governor Darling, resenting
being blamed for acts of his Executive
Committee, sent a Message to the House
of Assembly saying: "I cannot for a
moment doubt that the intention of the
Legislature was to establish in Jamaica the
main principle at least upon which Res-
ponsible Government rests that in all
important questions of a purely domestic
nature the colony should be governed
according to the well-understood views of
the constituencies ... In short it is clear
to me that it must have been intended that
the principle of responsibility to the Legis-
lature on the part of the Committee" (and
he made it clear, through the Legislature
to the Constituencies) "should have full
operation. . The theory of Responsible
Government has always been observed by
me, and ought to be rigidly adhered to. .
Jordon along with George Price of the
Executive Committee replied that the New
Constitution "intended the Governor alone
to be responsible, and the members of the
Executive Committee to be his assistants,
and the medium of communication be-
tween him and the other branches of the
legislature ... Nothing would be more un-
wise than to surrender any portion of the
power or authority given to the Crown. To
introduce responsibility would cause just
alarm among the agricultural and mercan-
tile bodies and their connections at home"
Differing from the Governor as to the
intention of the legislature and next as to
the desirableness or propriety of introduc-
ing "responsibility now", Jordon and his
The legislature of the day was neither
uneducated nor irresponsible. Within
twenty five years there had been only
three black members. In 1860, there was
only one. Only ten members were more
or less coloured, seven of them indisting-
uishably so. The coloured members
usually supported the Governor, being, as
distinguished from the whites, mostly
town or commercial members of the com-
munity. There were thirty-seven white
members. They collectively comprised a
body of merchants, editors, physicians,
high Government officials, barristers, sugar
manufacturers and large landowners. Thirty
four of the forty-seven had been educated
in England. Forty of them were Justices
of the Peace. Eight of them were Custodes
of various Parishes. As to the franchise, in
a population of 440,000, less than one
half of one per cent enjoyed voting rights,
which was also hedged around with a 10/-
registration fee. Confidence in the integ-
rity and sense of justice of Great Britain
was very strong throughout the island. In
Great Britain, the whites looked for a
place of repatriation, and the people of
colour found social recognition which was
denied to them in Jamaica by the local
whites. The blacks or emancipated slaves
were grateful for Emancipation bestowed
on them by "Missis Queen", and for
watchful official care and protection dur-
ing Slavery and the Apprentice and in
the post-Emancipation period, including
the protection afforded by specially ap-
pointed Stipendiary Magistrates. British
loyalties were firmly held. Jamaican loyal-
ties were unknown or neglected, along
with the particulars of Jamaican history
Jordon probably held more varied and
numerous honorary and official distinc-
tions than any other Jamaican. He held
the C.B. from the Queen, Commissions in
the Kingston and also in the St. Andrew
Militia. He was during one period both
Custos and Mayor of Kingston. He was
Leader, and at one time Speaker of the
House of Assembly, and member of the
Executive Committee; and he resigned as
an elected Member of the Assembly to
undertake the duties of Island, later Gover-
Robert Osborn was for thirty years a
distinguished elected Member of the As-
sembly, with a good deal of statesmanlike
commonsense, honest and forthright and
far-seeing, and with a pawky humour. He
had spent most of his life near the Printing
Press and showed himself from his speeches
to be a man of culture. Except for mem-
bers of the Executive Committee, political
services were unremunerated Osborn op-
posed the surrender of the Legislature
and Constitution, until the latter Bill was
substituted giving all power to the British
Sovereign. Perhaps by that time he saw
the futility of further opposition, or saw
that was the safer course. In a never to be
forgotten speech, he deplored the plot to
surrender the Constitution out of unrea-
soning fear of the blacks and in panic over
what he described as a "Riot". Instead of
fearing the time when the island would be
in the hands of the blacks and depriving
the island of ancient constitutional rights
by reason of the rising influence and per-
sons of colour, he said the proper course
was to start training the blacks to be fit
for administrative duties; for the Country
would soon be theirs. At one point in his
speech, his remarks were claimed by a
member to be seditious, and by the
Speaker to be improper.
Samuel Constantine Burke was a youn-
ger man, and politically a comparative late
comer. He lived until the end of the cen-
tury. I knew him in his later days. like
many of his coloured contemporaries he
was a man of distinguished culture and
deportment. His determined and last
ditch opposition to the surrender of the
Constitution Was presented in a magnifi-
cent speech, eloquent, logical and replete
with historical analogies. He was Crown
Solicitor and member of the Legislative
Council under the new 1865 system of
Crown Colony Government. He resigned
his seat in protest at Jamaica being saddled
with damages on the illegal seizure of a
vessel as directed by Government. He and
others claimed that the damages should be
for the account of the British Government,
and should not come out of Jamaican
Going back to the book record, refer-
ence may be made to Anthony Trollope,
British novelist and civil servant employed
in the Postal Department of Government,
author of several novels and of the book
entitled "The West Indies and the Spanish
Main", which includes a visit to Jamaica,
and some reflections on the coloured
population. It was believed that he visited
Jamaica in the interests of the Postmaster
General of England, who had always had
under his jurisdiction the postal depart-
ment of Jamaica. It was not a paying pro-
position; but the Postmaster of England
did not succeed in relieving himself of res-
ponsibility (and loss) until he resolutely
refused to continue the undertaking.
The only hint that Trollope gives in his
book of his mission to Jamaica is the fol-
lowing! "The accomplishment of certain
affairs of State, of import grave or trifling
as the case may be, with which neither
thou (cherished reader) or I shall have
further concern in these pages.... At the
inns, as at the private houses, the house-
hold servants are almost always black.
The manners of these people are to a
stranger very strange. They are not
absolutely uncivil, except on occasions;
but they have an easy, free, patronising air.
If you find fault with them they insist on
having the last word, and are generally
successful. They do not appear to be
greedy for money; rarely ask for it, and
express but little thankfulness when they
get it. It is absolutely necessary that these
people be treated with dignity; and it is
not always easy to reach the proper point
of dignity. They like familiarity, but are
singularly averse to ridicule; and though
they wish to be on good terms with you,
they do not choose that these shall be
reached without the proper degree of
Trollope has a chapter on "Black Men"
in Jamaica, another on "Coloured Men,"
and yet another on "White Men". It is
more proper to our subject to refer to the
second of these three chapters. Of
coloured men in Jamaica, Trollope said:
"They are to be met at the Governor's
table, they sit in the House of Assembly;
they cannot be refused admittance to state
parties, or even to large assemblies; they
have forced themselves forward, and must
be recognized as being in the van. Indivi-
duals decry them will not have them
within their doors-affect to despise them.
Edward Jordon. WIRL
But in effect the coloured men of Jamaica
cannot be despised much longer .... If the
coloured people in the West Indies can
overtop contempt, it is because they are
acquiring education, civilization and power.
In Jamaica, they are, I hope, in a way to
do this. My theory for I acknowledge
to a theory is this: that Providence has
sent white men and black men to these
regions in order that from them may
spring a race fitted by intellect for civiliza-
tion; and fitted also in physical organiza-
tion for tropical labour. The Negro in his
primitive state is not, I think, fitted for
the former; and the European white Creole
is certainly not fitted for the latter."
The Author continues the discussion
as to the potentialities of the Mulatto. He
cannot work as a Negro can; but he can
work safely under a tropical sun. Nor, so
far as we yet know, have Galileos, Shake-
speares or Napoleons been produced among
mulattos. But that they partake largely of
the intelligence and ambition of their
white forefathers, it is, I think, useless,
and moreover wicked to deny. Let any
stranger go through the shops and stores
of Kingston, and see how many of them
are either owned or worked by men of
colour; let him go into the House of
Assembly, and see how large a proportion
of their debates is carried on by men 'of
colour; how large a portion of the public
service is carried on by them; how well
they thrive, though the prejudice of both
white and black are so strong against them.
The Mulatto, technically so called, is the
child of parents one of whom is all white
and the other all black; but no such dis-
tinction can be effectively maintained of
these people. The various gradations of
coloured blood range from all but perfect
white to all but perfect black. The dis-
tinction between white and coloured is
closely looked into. Many deny their
African parentage. But the tale is told (by
unmistakable signs); and the life struggle
is made always, and always in vain. This
evil for it is an evil arises mainly from
the white man's jealousy. But I doubt not
whether such energy or repudiation be not
equally low. With nine-tenths of those of
mixed breed no attempt at concealment is
possible. They take their lot as it is, and I
think that on the whole they make the
most of it. Of course they are jealous of
the assumed ascendancy of the white men;
they are imperious to the black men, and
determined on that side to exhibit and
use their superiority. But the great point
to be settled is whether this race of mulat-
tos, quadroons, mustees, and what not,
are capable of managing matters for them-
selves. If not, it will fare badly for Jamaica.
But I think there is no doubt that they are
fit. They say there are seventy thousand
coloured people in the island and not
more than fifteen thousand white people".
After many entertaining social inter-
ludes and instances, the Author continues:
"But all this is quickly changing. Matri-
mony is in vogue, and the coloured women
know their rights, and are inclined to
claim them". (This in reference to their
previous willingness to become concubines
of the white men). Obviously the Author
had written off the blacks as confined to
the class of manual labourers and to the
servant class. Events mock at human
The author of "Marly" and historians
Stewart and Gardner explain the prefer-
ence of coloured girls (often of wealth)
for concubinage with white men rather
than marriage with coloured men on the
ground of the better protection afforded
by consorts who enjoyed full civil liberties.
There was perhaps also the lure of the
"whitening" process for the progeny and
the prevailing higher personal comfort and
It seems clear that "Colour", the pro-
duct of miscegenation had a profound in-
fluence on Constitutional changes in Jam-
aica, which commenced with the aspiration
for "self-determination" of the early Eng-
lish Settlers, languished largely as a result
of "Colour Prejudice", and was not serious-
ly revived until the 1940's when largely
under pressure from persons of colour, the
persuasion of liberal political elements in
Britain and the proddings of Roosevelt dur-
ing the second World War, a climate of
opinion favourable to self-determination
was generated, resulting finally in full self-
determination for many of the British Col-
onies, including Jamaica. It may therefore
be relevant to give some account of a little
remembered immediately post-emancipa-
tion event which was for a long time to
cloudthe slumbered issue of self-determina-
tion with its disastrous sequel of the 1865
voluntary surrender of the Jamaican Con-
In the year 1839, with "Emancipation"
of the bulk population of Jamaica from
Slavery assured, following the "Abolition"
of the British Slave Trade which had pre-
ceded "Emancipation" by thirty years,
the Colonial Office in England turned its
attention to Prison Reform in the British
West Indies. The British Parliament passed
the Prison Reform Act; and the Jamaican
Legislature, in a period of economic dis-
tress in Jamaica, resented this invasion of
the legislative privileges of the island. The
Jamaican Legislature went on strike; and
refused supplies to Government. The
impact of British legislation on the issue
for Jamaica and of other post-emancipation
problems are dealt with by Rev. W.J.
Gardner in his"History of Jamaica", pub-
lished in 1873. The incident occasioned
or accompanied the fall of a British Gover-
nment, and the subject is dealt with, in its
various ramifications, in Disraeli's Novel
called "Sybil". The British Parliament
passed an Act providing for the govern-
ment of Jamaica in the event of the
Jamaican Legislature continuing its refusal
to function; and a former Attorney Gen-
eral of Jamaica, the distinguished William
Burge, argued the Jamaican case in Eng-
land. The Colonial Office in England
showed both firmness and understanding;
and it was in this spirit that the New
Jamaican Constitution of 1854 was'in-
stituted, with the establishment of an
Executive Committee to assist the Gover-
nor and provide liaison between himself
and the Legislature which was accom-
panied by an Imperial Loan of 500,000,
25,000 of which was earmarked in pro-
tection of the due payment of the salaries
of higher officials. The relevance of the
1839 incident to this Paper is the possible
connection between current thoughts sti-
mulated in the Colonial Office in England
and the similar trend of thought which
eventuated some quarter of a century later
in the mind of Governor Eyre, resulting in
the abdication by the Jamaican Legislature
of the tolerable measure of self-Govern-
ment which the Constitution had afforded
for a period of two hundred years.
In the Colonial Office was the astute
Henry Taylor (later Sir Henry and a man
of letters). Arising out of the 1839
imbroglio, he then prepared a memoran-
dum for the British Cabinet, pointing out
that instead of their fears and impatience
at the intransigence of the white oligarchy
in Jamaica they should turn their atten-
tion to the rising influence of persons of
colour, which would probably result in
the course of time in the existence of a
legislature far more intolerant than had-
ever been the White Plantocracy. Now, he
said, was the time to abolish the Jamaican
Legislature with its substantial powers of
self-government and substitute a Constitu-
tion more under the control of the British
Government. Did Eyre know of this?
Was it fellow feeling for Eyre's clearly ex-
pressed distrust of persons of colour that
made Eyre the persona grata at the Colon-
ial Office that he obviously was, in spite
of the well-accredited evidence of the
irregularities of Eyre's administration.
In closing, it may be relevant to reflect
that the generation of today can with dif-
ficulty appreciate the change during the
past quarter of a century in what may be
called the social atmosphere of "Colour
Prejudice" in Jamaica. Like most historical
events, it seems to stem from a number of
factors, largely stimulated by the intrinsic
worth of persons of colour and the Con-
stitutional changes which came in 1944.
The Colour Prejudice prevailing in 1838
seems to have remained static tor about a
century, following more or less inconse-
quently the cost of living and other social
and economic indices, such as education,
care of the person, deportment, habits of
dress, political activities and ways of
social life. Public tea parties and garden
parties, for example, (to mix refinements
with the banal) were displaced by the more
sophisticated and arduous and fashionable
cocktail parties, the change for men from
slacks to shorts, the disappearance of the
boiled shirt and "standing collar", and of
coats and generally of formal wear, not to
mention the immense changes in female
apparel and ways of life. The tempo of life
quickened in the twenties, with marked
acceleration in the 1930's. Up to the
1920's, the haunting dread continued of
the "throwback" (to African ancestry)
which might be caused by marriage follow-
ing on social contacts between the races.
An occasional "throw-back" caused em-
barassment in some families and frustra-
tion and unhappiness to the victim of the
Throughout the earlier period, with all
its difficulties and vagaries, there was a
large amount of relative acceptance and
goodwill, the various classes, largely deter-
mined by Colour (more or less like the
classes in Britain, influenced by birth,
education, culture or wealth), "knew", as
it was called, "their place", including the
concubines who were in large measure the
mothers of the great mixed race. Fairly
well recognized reciprocal courtesy and
respect were exhibited and accepted, along
with the tacit exclusion, as of right or
propriety, of persons of marked colour
from the homes, hotels and clubs of the
whites, with exceptions in outstanding
cases or in favoured locale. Special factors
gave rise to special exceptions, such as
wealth, special characteristics of charac-
ter or behaviour, or social flair, early
school association, talent etc. Sometimes
however friendly association came to an
abrupt end, when matrimonial aspirations
on the part of the coloured youth were
observed or feared. That pesky "throw-
back" was a haunting dread the pigmen-
tary standard of value was deeply rooted.
Numerous specific illustrations occur
to me; but I think the picture is tolerably
clear. Resentment still rankles in a passing
older generation which sensed insult or
frustration from Club, or hotel or tennis
tournament or access to the golf course.
One such remarked to me that he viewed
with joy the demolition of Myrtle Bank
Hotel with its unpleasant associations.
Colbeck Cistle, St. Catherine by Errol Harvey.
by David Buisseret
Morant Bay was probably a settlement in the time of the
Spaniards; we know that one of their cattle-ranches was called
the hato de Morante, and it is likely that the main buildings of
this ranch were near the present site of the town. After the
English came, the area around Port Morant, a little to the east,
was settled by the colonists from Nevis, 1,600 of whom arrived
in December 1656, under their governor Luke Stokes.
This wave of settlement probably accounts for the establish-
ment of the first fort at Morant Bay, described in 1675 as a
"platform with three guns". This description comes from the
"Statistical Papers" printed at the end of volume 1 of the
Journals of the House of Assembly; unfortunately the Journals,
which are usually a mine of information about the fortifications
of Jamaica, tells us no more about this first little fort.
For further information we have to turn to the New York
library of the Hispanic Society of America, which has preserved
two remarkable manuscript accounts of the "states of the forts
1. Plan ol the fort at Morant Bay by Richard Jones, 1773
(Librar' of the Hispanic Society of America)
and batteries in Jamaica", written by the engineers Richard
Jones and Thomas Craskell. Jones and Craskell, writing in the
1770's, describe the fort much as we see it today. It was built,
they say, in 1758, and designed to cover with its fire the "ships"
anchoring ground", though not in the best situation that it
might have been placed on".
As plate 1 shows, and as may be verified today, the fort was
designed for nine guns, and in 1773 these were 18-pounders
(that is, they fired a solid shot weighing eighteen pounds).
Their range was about a mile at maximum elevation, so that
they easily covered the anchoring-ground, which was about
half a mile offshore. The three guns at present in the fort are a
a little larger than the original weapons, since they are 24-
pounders, manufactured in the early nineteenth century.
These three guns are mounted on elaborate cast-iron carriages,
fitted with an ingenious elevating-screw; the earlier guns were
almost certainly mounted on wooden carriages (like the one at
the Mill restaurant in Kingston), which had the virtue of
resisting enemy fire better.
It almost looks as if these three 24-pounders are the very
guns visible in Kidd's delightful lithograph of Morant Bay,.
reproduced as plates 2 and 3 (enlargement of the section
including the fort). Here we see the anchoring-ground very
clearly, and the long wharf with its crane. The fort crowns the
little bluff, and below it are to be seen those merchants' store-
houses which are marked as "stores" on plate 1; there seem to
be barrels on the shore, no doubt containing sugar to be loaded
on to the ships.
On the Kidd lithograph, the court-house is visible behind
the fort, on the 1773 plan, however, it is the magazine and
barracks which lie immediately to the north of the battery. A
superficial inspection reveals no trace of the underground
2. View of Morant Bay by J.B. Kidd, 1838-40
(Institute of Jamaica)
"magazine" which apparently occupied the area behind and
below the present court-house, though it could probably be
exposed by excavation; the barracks were almost certainly
destroyed when the court-house was built.
However, these were not buildings of any great architectural
distinction or interest. We should be content that the battery
itself survives, and can easily be inspected by visitors as they
pass from the front of the court-house round to the tombs of
those who fell in the rebellion of 1865.
3 Detail from plate 2.
Sir Charles Price
by Michael Craton
Great men were rare in eighteenth-century Jamaica; just
how rare can be seen by re-examining the career and reputation
of Sir Charles Price "the Patriot" (1708-1772), for almost 20
years Speaker of the Jamaican Assembly. The man is certainly
legendary, for writers and popular folklore have conspired to
make him larger than life and more intriguing. The introduction
into Jamaica of all manner of exotic plants and animals has
been attributed to him. Philip Gosse mentioned wild deer still
to be found in remote parts of Jamaica in 1850 Mexican
guazuti or European fallow deer which were believed to be
descended from animals kept by Sir Charles Price at his famous
estate near Guy's Hill called 'The Decoy'.1 For the splendours
of The Decoy itself we have the breathless prose of Lady
Nugent, written within 30 years of Sir Charles Price's death,2
though mansion and estate, like the fallow deer, have since
disappeared. Tom Concannon has found The Decoy founda-
For a more direct account of Sir Charles Price we must rely
upon the scarcely impartial attacks of his political enemies or
the far more common praise of his planter peers. Early in his
career one calumny claimed that Price was a financial juggler
"of no abilities or Experience" who "frequently Lyes with
Black women", though a friend retorted that the latter charge
at least could be levelled against nearly all the planters.3 The
extravagant Latin panegyric composed for Sir Charles Price's
tombstone by his son and namesake can be almost as easily
discounted as filial piety 4 But what are we to make of the
elaborate encomiums of Edward Long? In his History of
Jamaica (1774), Long wrote of Price's delicate sensibilities and
his eighteenth-century brand of patriotism:
an honest loyalty to his sovereign, which none could surpass,
he possessed a truly patriotic attachment for his country;
and though ever ready to assist and facilitate administration,
while conducted on the great principle of public good, he
was always the steady, persevering, and intrepid opponent to
illegal and pernicious measures of governors. If it were at all
necessary to produce testimonials in justification of his
character, I might refer to the very honourable marks of
approbation which were so deservedly conferred upon him,
both by the crown, and the different assemblies in which he
presided, for so many years, as speaker, with an integrity,
candor and dignity, that were almost unexampled.5
The plantocratic view of Jamaican history and society ex-
pressed by .such .as Edward Long has outlived itself, and seems
today to be nothing but an elaborate myth. Edward Long, him-
self, while an important chronicler and pioneer statistician, was
an absentee sinecure-holder and a notorious negrophobe. It is
1. Philip Henry Gosse, A Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica, London,
Longmans, 1851, 433-40.
2. Philip Wright (Ed.), Lady Nugent's Journal, 1801-1805, Kingston,
Institute of Jamaica, 1966, 109-10, 151-2.
3. Francis Gashry to Edward Trelawny, July 25, 1749, B.M. Add. Mss.
19038, f. 48, quoted in George Metcalf, Royal Government and Poli-
tical Conflict in Jamaica, 1729-1775, London, Longmans; 1965, 100.
4. CAROLUS PRICE, Baronettus, multis vir ornatus virtutibus; in
omnibus enim vitae offlcils ita se probavit ut et civibus et sociis
gratissima esset ejus integritas et fides. Memoriae tanti viri Carolus
Price, filius natu maximus et quattuor solus superstes, fortunae et
honors, utinam ac virtutem haeres, hoc monumentum posuit. By his
own orders, Sir Charles Price was buried at The Decoy. His monu-
ment there was transferred to the church at Port Maria in 1932, his
tombstone to the Cathedral at Spanish Town.
5. Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, 3 vols., London, 1774, II, vii,
Sir Charles Price Memorial column at Port Maria.
time that Sir Charles Price too was de-mythologised. We intend
therefore to place Price's "patriotism" and service to "the
public good" in proper perspective, and to consider what
Edward Long's kind of sensibility really meant.
From the beginning Charles Price was exceptional in one
respect: unlike the majority of his fellow planters he chose not
to take advantage of his family's sugar wealth and live the drone
existence of an absentee. Having been sent to "some of the
best schools in England", to Trinity College, Oxford, and on
that pinnacle of a polite education, the Grand Tour, he return-
ed to Jamaica in 1730 to take over and extend the family
estates on the death of his father, "Colonel" Charles Price of
Worthy Park. With the benefits of his expensive overseas educa-
tion, young Charles Price in Jamaica was somewhat like a pike
in a sluggish backwater inhabited by minnows and carp.
Naturally he gravitated to the Jamaican Assembly like his father
and grandfather before him, being first elected in 1732 at the
age of 24. Over the next decade he rose to a position of emi-
nence, largely through his friendship with Governor Edward
Trelawny (1738-52), with whom he enjoyed Cornish political
and family connections.6
6. The details of Sir Charles Price's career are given in George Metcalf,
Royal Government and, in more detail, in Michael Craton and James
Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation; The History of Worthy Park, 1670-
1970, London, W.H. Allen and Toronto, University of Toronto Press,
1970, IV, 71-94.
~4*4 -1 12
cocoa Walks, St. athnrne Institute Collection
ca. 1834 Attributed to Isaac Mendes Belisario
Aeuy s augar ractory, ar. carnnne
ca. 1834 Attributed to Isaac Mendes Belisario
In Jamaica as in England, the eighteenth century was the
Age of Interest, when politicians pursued selfish ends under the
guise of orotund abstractions. In both countries, 'Party"
signified a factional group, "The People" meant those indivi-
duals with "a stake in the country", and "Patriotism" was the
code-word for opposition to any move by the Executive to
infringe the interests of a Party or the People represented in the
Legislature. Between 1672 and 1728 the Jamaican Assembly
had united to win important "constitutional" points from the
governors, but before the emergence of Charles Price as the
dominant force, politics at Spanish Town were very much a
caricature of those at Westminster, without such orators as the
elder Pitt to dignify the factional squabbles. Traditionally the
local landed or planter interest was opposed to the merchants
who were often their creditors, had much closer involvement
with the metropolis, and were more concerned to trade with
the Spaniards than to develop Jamaica on plantocratic lines.
At times, however, even the planters were divided by their
selfish parochial interests.7
Sir Charles Price's tomb in the Church Yard
at the Spanish Town Cathedral
By 1746, when he was first elected Speaker, Charles Price
had almost ended faction by uniting the planters and by per-
suading the long-tenured Trelawny to toe the planters' line.
Crisis recurred, however, when Trelawny's successor, Admiral
Charles Knowles (1752-6), tried to reimpose Executive power
by supporting the interest of the Kingston merchant clique
against the Spanish Town cabal of planters. The comical climax
bubbled up in 1755, when Governor Knowles dissolved the
Assembly with a speech larded with references to Lucifer and
Catiline,8 imprisoned Charles Price and 15 of his chief support-
ers, and removed the Jamaican capital from Spanish Town to
Kingston. Unfortunately, the Jamaica Association formedby
the Governor's opponents wielded greater influence than
Knowles imagined. It was dominated by a triumvirate consist-
ing of Charles Price, his cousin Rose Fuller, and Richard Beck-
ford, all of whom enjoyed excellent connections with the
Ministry in London. Charles Price's nephew, John, was an
important local politician in borough-rich Cornwal; Rose
Fuller's four brothers were M.P.'s at Westminster and clients
of the Duke of Newcastle; and Richard Beckfora was the
brother of the millionaire Alderman William Beckford, the
confidante of William Pitt. Consequently, Governor Knowles
was recalled to London in 1756 and the capital was returned
7. L.B. Namier, Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III,
London, Macmillan, 1957; Richard Pares, Merchants and Planters,
8. ". .. some of you 'have also attempted to alter the established Con-
stitution of your Country, and have entered into a Combination to
govern independently ... ." Speech of November 8, 1754, quoted in
"Jamaicanus", The Jamaica Association Develop'd, Jamaica, 1755
and London, 1757, 4.
to Spanish Town, amid general rejoicing that included the
burning of Knowles in effigy.
Charles Price had gained the approval of his fellow planters
for his energy during the war of 1742-8 and in putting down a
dangerous slave revolt, and this was reinforced by his leadership
during the Seven Years' War (1756-63) when even the mer-
chants became the planters' allies for the duration. Yet Price's
present of plate worth 500 from the Assembly in 1763 (like
those already given in 1748 and 1760)9 was chiefly in gratitude
for his unfailing championing of the planters' cause through his
invaluable influence in far-off London. It is significant that in
titling him The Patriot, the Jamaican planters were echoing the
nickname assumed by William Pitt and his followers, the
"Young Patriots", in their earlier successful opposition to
Charles Price was nominated to the Jamaica Council by
Edward Trelawny's naval cousin, Governor-William Trelawny,
in 1768, and in the same year was made a baronet by George IIL
The four years of life remaining to him were a golden evening,
during which he was Custos of St. Catherine's, Judge of the
Supreme Court and Major-General of the militia. Yet candid
research into the ways in which he used his supremacy and
power greatly qualifies any admiration for his achievements.
The deeds and patents quietly lodged in the obscurity of the
Island Record Office at Spanish Town demonstrate that Charles
Price was not only 'a wholesale speculator in land, but also the
most flagrant practitioner of the system whereby cheap Crown
Land went as spoils to those who controlled Jamaican politics.
Without intending any irony, an anonymous proponent
wrote as early as 1746 that Charles Price was not only "a
Gentleman of strict Honour and Integrity", but also "one of
the greatest Possessors in the Island".10 By the end of his
career, however, Sir Charles Price had advanced much further,
and with over 26,000 acres in his possession was probably the
greatest landowner that Jamaica has ever known. Much of this
land was acquired by shrewd transactions whereby the total
capital outlay of 30,000 was recouped in selling off 58 per
cent of the less desirable acreages. 11 Yet more than a third of
Sir Charles Price's territorial empire was acquired by patents
from the compliant government no less than 8,707 acres in
all despite an Order-in-Council limiting grants to 1,000
acres.12 A graph of Price's acquisitions shows unmistakably
that they were greatest when his ascendancy in government was
most complete. His most outstanding coups were to obtain
6,000 acres along the Lacovia and Black Rivers during the hey-
day of the Jamaica Association, and to sell to the government
itself in 1760 for 3,880-240 acres at Salt Pond, St. Catherine's,
which had been sold to his brother in 1748 for 498.13
Having engrossed a dozen splendid estates, Charles Price used
his position further to have the government subsidise roads to
open them up. On the plea of "the public" interest he had the
Assembly vote thousands of pounds between 1764 and 1772
to construct a magnificent road over Guy's Hill to Port Maria
which, coincidentally, went by way of The Decoy; and at the
time of his death he was busy "engineering" the great carriage
road over Mount Diablo to the north coast (now Jamaica's Al
Highway), which would have linked up several more of his
properties in St. Thomas in the Vale and St. Ann's.14 The
9. Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, III, v, 248; V, 385.
10. "... Mr. P-- being in the Chair was a terrible Prospect for the Faction;
for they had long since abandoned any views towards the Welfare of
the Island; and for this Gentleman's known zeal and Candour, they
had reasons to fear he would destroy their Aims . ." Anon., A
Letter from a Friend at J-- to a Friend in London giving an Impartial
Account of the Violent Proceedings of the Faction in that Island,
London, printed for John Creole in Jamaica Street, Rotherhithe
11. Charles Price speculated chiefly in the highly developed areas of St.
Catherine's or St. Andrew's, and the rapidly-geveloping back-country
areas of St. Mary's and St. Ann's, while concentrating on developing
the Price heartlandss" around Rose Hall, St. Thomas-ye-Vale and
Worthy Park, St. John's; Craton and Walvin, A Jamaica Plantation,
12. Order-in-Council of July 30, 1735, C.O. 137/22, 1.
13.Jamaica Archives, Patents, 21/29, 21/170, 22/11, 23/139, 25/140,
25/150, 26/29, 26/30, 28/159, 30/133, 32/34; Island Record Office,
Deeds, 134/152, 184/150.
island as a whole did benefit from these works, but not from
the Act which Charles Price prised out of the Assembly in
February, 1762, empowering him personally to levy a toll of
5/- on each coach or wagon and 3/6 on each sugar wain on a
road he built at The Ferry to control the entire traffic between
Kingston and Spanish Town. At this extortion there was such
an outcry that the privilege was rescinded, though not until
1767, when, after levying tolls for four years, Price was com-
pensated to the tune of 700.15 Needless to say, the part
played by Charles Price in this episode was not mentioned by
Outstandingly powerful if also hugely (though surreptitious-
ly) corrupt, Sir Charles Price was also reported to be of except-
ional refinement. "In private life," wrote his tireless admirer
his complacency of manners, accomplished knowledge of
books and men, and delicacy of humour, rendered him the
polite, instructive, and entertaining companion: here he
shone the inflexible lover of truth, the firm friend, and the
generous patron. His mind was amply stored with the trea-
sures of a liberal erudition. But theology seemed his
favourite science; and the Great Author of nature, the chief
object of his study.16
Certainly the competition in Jamaica was not high. Charles
Leslie in 1740 gave an indelible account of the unlettered
grossness of the average Jamaican white.17 No doubt in this
society, Charles Price was egregious; and the elegance of his
country retreat was undeniable. The Decoy (again according
to Edward Long) was constructed,
... of wood,
but well finished, and has in front a very fine piece of water,
which is commonly stocked with wild-duck and teal. Behind
it is a very elegant garden disposed in walks, which are shad-
ed with the cocoanut, cabbage and sand-box trees. The
flower and kitchen-garden are filled with the most beautiful
and useful variety which Europe or this climate produces. It
is decorated, besides, with some pretty buildings; of which
the principal is an octagonal saloon, richly ornamented on
the inside with lustres, and mirrors empanneled. At the
termination of another walk is a grand triumphal arch, from
which the prospect extends over the fine cultivated vale of
Bagnals quite to the Northside Sea. Clumps of graceful
cabbage-trees are dispersed in different parts to enliven the
scene; and thousands of plantane and other fruit-trees
occupy a vast tract, that environs this agreeable retreat, not
many years ago a gloomy wilderness. 18
The chief omission in the praise accorded for creating this
rural paradise is any mention of the people who actually toiled
to make it possible: to construct the road that joined it to the
coasts and to grow the sugar without which the Prices would
never have emerged from poverty: the Negro slaves. Charles
Price's "liberal erudition", like that of Edward Long himself,
did not extend to the finer humanitarian ideals of the Enlight-
enment, and his concept of the designs of the Great Author
placed the unfortunate Negro in a very low place in the Chain
Charles Price did not scruple to use his female slaves when it
suited him, and it is certain that he, like most Jamaican white
men, produced his share of coloured illegitimates.20 Yet he
was not so indelicate or honest as another planter, quoted
by Bryan Edwards, who wrote a hymn in praise of the beauty
of the Negro women.21 To Charles Price, slaves were little more
than units of value, the almost invisible sinews of his rural
enterprises. Yet even as a slaveowner Sir Charles Price enjoyed
a better reputation than he deserved at least among his peers.
14. Craton and Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation, 82-3, footnotes, 34, 35.
15. Ibid., 83-4, footnote 38.
16.Long, History ofJamaica, II, vii, 77.
17. Charles Leslie, A New History of Jamaica, London, 1740, extensively
quoted in F.W. Pitman, The Development of the British West Indies,
1700-1763, Yale University Press, 1917.
18. Long, History of Jamaica, II, vii, 76-8.
19. The plantocratic view of the Negro, particularly that of Edward Long,
is extremely well discussed in Lerone Bennet Jr., White on Black,
London, Penguin, 1969.
20. For example, although Sir Charles Price's will was remarkably short,
he did bequeath an annuity of 10 to "a Mulatto woman named
Not long after Price's death the Jamaican Agent Stephen Fuller
told a Parliamentary Commission an instructive tale of one of
the Baronet's Negroes. Discovering that the man had been a
Chief in Africa, Sir Charles offered him both his freedom and
repatriation. The man gratefully accepted the former, but
decided to stay on in Jamaica. Not only did the ex-Chief
prosper as a freeman; he was also instrumental in persuading
Sir Charles Price's Coromantines not to rebel on an occasion
when insurrection was sweeping Jamaica.22 To Stephen Fuller
and most of his auditors the moral of the tale was plain: the
only good Negro was a grateful one. Our present age has a
different category and label for the ex-Chief: Uncle Tom.
Our instinct, surely, is to ponder on the plight of the Coro-
mantines who were persuaded not to rebel. The evidence
available on their fate is dismal. To open up his new estates,
Charles Price purchased huge consignments of fresh Africans
until, with some 1,800 Negroes under his control, he was
probably Jamaica's greatest slavemaster. Yet among such new
arrivals the mortality was frightful; at least one-third died
within three years of reaching Jamaica. Moreover of the slaves
owned by Charles Price on his new estates, less than a third
were females, and in such a situation of imbalance any hope of
stable sexual relationships was minimal. To offset a death-rate
that was probably as high as 7.0 per cent per year overall, the
birth-rate of the slaves on the new estates was almost certainly
less than 1.5 per cent.23
The experience of Charles Price as an estate developer on the
largest scale showed that even when huge acreages of virgin land
were acquired for next to nothing, the sudden importation of
the Negro slaves necessary to clear and plant was an invitation
to disaster; though the Prices paid only with their money and
the slaves with their lives. The system of borrowing capital for
slaves, plant and provisions was geared inexorably to the lender,
and it could give some posthumous satisfaction to Sir Charles
Price's victims that in his territorial megalomania he over-
reached himself and bequeathed to his son in 1772 a mire of
debts. With typical bravura, Sir Charles Price Junior begged
the Jamaican Assembly in 1786 to bail the family out;24 but
by that time affairs were beyond redemption and all the Price
estates eventually went to creditors save Worthy Park and
The Decoy itself was sold in 1789 for half the value of its
mortgage. When Lady Nugent knew it the mansion was already
past its best, but it was saved from the steady decay which faced
most Jamaican Great Houses by being completely dismantled a
few years later. In this way its legend was enabled to grow, just
as Sir Charles Price grew in stature as a legendary hero as time
went on. Yet there is perhaps a conscious irony that the wise
common people of Jamaica still call any exceptionally large
rodent a "Charles Price rat", though the true animal the 18-
inch canepiece rat fat and sleek from living off the sugar cane
is now, like the old-style planters, an extinct species.
Michael Craton and James Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation; The History
of Worthy Park, 16 70-1970, London, W.H. Allen and Toronto, U.
Margaret residing at Rose Hall and to her two Elder Children"; I.R.O.,
21."...The loveliest limbs her form compose,
Such as her sister Venus chose,
In Florence, where she's seen;
Both just alike, except the white,
No difference, no none at night;
The beauteous dames between ...
Do thou in gentle Phibia smile,
In artful Benneba beguile,
In wanton Mimba pout;
In sprightly Cuba's eyes look gay
Or grave in sober Quasheba,
I still shall find thee out ...
"Ode to the Sable Venus" in Bryan
Edwards, The History, Civil and Commercial, of the West Indies, 2
vols., London, 1793, II, 27-33.
22. Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons, Accounts and Papers,
1789, XXVI, Appendix.
23. See Craton and Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation, VI, VIII, and forth-
coming article; Michael Craton, "Jamaican Slave Mortality".
24.Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, VIII, December 2, 1786.
25. Craton and Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation, VII, 155-82.
V G- 10.I~
by G.R. Coulthard
Maya Temple at Tival, Guatemala.
In 1847 there broke out a race war, often referred to by
Mexican historians as the "guerra de castas". The war was
between the Maya Indians and the white and mestizo inhabitants
of the state of Yucatan (today Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana
Roo). The effects of this war were far-reaching and multiform
and the causes had their roots in the Spanish colonial period
although the Spaniards had been ousted from Mexico by 1847
when this war occurred.
Although less spectacular and dramatic than the defeat of
the Aztecs of Central Mexico by Cortes, the conquest of the
Maya world had the same features of brutality, imposition of a
strange religion and setting up of a feudal system. The so-called
prophetic books of Chilam-Balam, (the prophecies were a
posteriori) such as the Chilam-Balam of Chumayel are full of
lamentations over the fate of the Indians at the hands of the
"Christians", and there were many Indian uprisings in the
colonial period, the last before the abolition of colonialism in
1761. The following passage is typical of the Books of Chilam-
"Alas, let us weep because they came. They came from the
East when they reached this land, the bearded men (the
Spaniards), the messengers of the sign of the God, the red-
faced ones.- - Let us weep because they came, because the
great pilers up of stones came, and of beams to make false
gods from the end of whose arms bursts forth fire, wrapped
in their shirts, the men with ropes for hanging- - This True
God, who comes from the sky will only speak of sin, this
will be his teaching. His soldiers will be inhuman and his
dogs savage. - In their time the strangers who have come
to our land will receive their tribute, when they come, the
masters of our souls - when the water of baptism is thrown
on our heads in all parts of this land, when the foundations
of the great Church are laid, the great house of God, in the
town of Tihoo, Merida. The suffering will be terrible be-
cause the hanging of people will start, the bursting of fire
from the end of the white men's arms, etc. (Alfredo Barrero
Vasquez and Silvia Rendon El Libro de los Libros de
Chilam-Balam, 1965, p. 68-71).
Top Left: Maya Glyphs from Copan, Honduras.. Top Right: Fort Cairns (Orange Walk Town)
Below: Fort Barlee (Corozal Town).
Maya Jade Plate from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.
As the Mexican historian Hector Perez Martinez points out,
the "hatred in the dominated race grew and broke out in spora-
dic but systematic explosions which indicate a historical conti-
nuity, in a latent state, of rebellion among the Maya Indians."
(Introduction to "Diario de nuestro viaje a los Estados Unidos,
Mexico", 1938, p.33).-
After independence the white and mestizo ruling class clear-
ly intended to perpetuate the colonial situation. However a
special situation arose from the breaking of the Federal Consti-
tution by General Santa Ana, and Yucatan refused to accept
this trampling of its rights. In order to increase the armed
forces of Yucatan the Indians were armed and encouraged to
defend Yucatan. They were trained, armed and promised
various advantages in recognition of their services to the state.
However once the state of emergency was over the promises to
the Indians reduction of taxes, land grants, etc., were for-
gotten. Many Indians were executed, particularly in the village
of Tepich on the 30th June, 1847. Seeing themselves once
again cheated, the Indians decided to put an end to the situation
once and for all, by getting rid of the whites and mestizos. As
their leaders Cecilio Chi, Jacinto Pat, Francisco Caamal, Alselmo
Hau, Gregorio Chi, Apoliar Tzeel and Juan Tomas Poot, pointed
out, the whites had shown them the way. Both sides fought
with great savagery, committed atrocities. The Indians were
defeated, many were massacred, others were sold into slavery
in Cuba until the Mexican government stamped out this revolt-
However the war was not over in 1847, and two points had
come to the surface. Firstly that the Yucatec whites were ready
to hand over their country to the Americans to preserve
"civilization". In his mission to the United States Justo Sierra
O'Reilly had started "To save Yucatan, a temporary expedition
from the United States is not enough; means must be found of
having white population permanently "he states in his "Diary"
and in the same "Diary" he writes "The war waged by those
barbarians, the savage, atrocious war in which neither Sex or
age are respected by those furies, has taken on a truely formid-
able character in Yucatan. --- Works which three hundred years
of civilisation and the efforts of our ancestors had raised up,
have disappeared wherever the cursed race has put its foot,
which today is paying in fire and blood the immense benefits
it had received from the people of Yucatan" (Diario p. 99),
and again "What will be our lot if that infernal, accursed race of
savages ever is in a position to dictate the law" (Diario p. 28).
It is indeed difficult to see what these "immense benefits" were.
They had been forced to become Christians, but otherwise re-
ceived no education, and were in the position of serfs. Most did
not even speak Spanish.
The Indians answer to military defeat was to withdraw into
the more remote parts of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, cutting
themselves off from the main-stream of national life. In 1908,
the dictator Porfirio Diaz sent an expedition to pacify the
Indians, and its cruelty only strengthened their desire to remain
apart. Culturally they lived in a back-water, on corn and as
members of tribes with a mixture of Christian and pagan reli-
gious views. Politically they were subject to local chiefs, such
as Francisco May, and a true rapprochement with Mexico only
got underway in the 1930's with the mission of General Doctor
Jose Suriob. Many, even today, have only the most rudimentary
knowledge of Spanish.
Other effects were the increase of the Spanish-speaking
population of British Honduras, where many mestizo refugees
took refuge from the Indian uprising. By 1857 the Spanish-
speaking town of Corozal was set up, and in the 1860's the
Spanish-speaking white and mestizo element out-numbered the
hitherto predominant negro and coloured element. The original
Maya Indian element probably increased and devoted them-
selves to a large extent to smuggling between the British colony
and Mexico. They felt no particular allegiance to Mexico, and
were just as willing to submit to British rule, provided their way
of life was not interferred with. The colonists of British
Honduras had in fact helped the Indians by supplying arms,
ammunition and cloth.
The racial war, in this case, did nobody any good Indians
butchered "whites" and "whites" massacred Indians and sold
them as slaves. Yucatec economy was seriously damaged, and a
large part of the Indian population simply withdrew from
WORKS OF REFERENCE
1. Justo Sierra O'Reilly: "Diario de nuestro viaja a los.
Estados Unidos", (Introduction by Hector Perez Martinez,
2. Serapio Baqueiro: "Ensaya historic sobre las revolu-
ciones de Yucatan", Merida, 1878-9.
3. Justo Sierra O'Reilly: "Los indios de Yucatan", Merida,
4. Ramon Betunza Pinto: "Guerra social en Yucatan",
5. D.A.G. Waddell: "British Honduras", Oxford University
Maya Stela from Piedras Negras, Guatemala.
by Beverley Cary
Cudjoe and Dr. Russell exchange hats as a token of friendship
during the peace-making negotiations. (From "History of the
Maroons" by Dallas, 1803.)
The story of the Maroons battle for their freedom has been
well documented but accounts of how they existed after the
signing of the Peace Treaties are few. It is toward filling this
gap that I have selected for this article some material on the
Maroon settlement at New Nanny Town which is now called
Moore Town. This Maroon group has been allowed to lie too
long in the shadow of Accompong; because, as the records will
reveal, the activities of the eastern Maroon group held the
attention of the government more frequently and longer. It is
to the events of the 1795 Trelawney Town rebellion that the
western Maroons owe their present importance.
There were two Peace Treaties with the Maroons: one was
signed in 1739 and the other in 1740. The first was signed by
Cudjoe, on behalf of the Leeward or Western Maroons, and by
Colonel John Guthrie and Captain Sadler on behalf of the
Government. Colonel Guthrie had captured Cudjoe's town, 18
miles from Montego Bay in 1737 and subsequently had been
sent up into the St. James hills to offer the fugitive Cudjoe and
his followers the message of peace. This mission was achieved
with the assistance of Dr. Russell who became the first Super-
intendent of the Leeward Maroons. The Treaty was signed on
March 1, 1738/1 (1739 in modern usage).
The second Treaty was signed by Quao for the Windward or
Eastern Maroons and by Colonel Robert Bennet, on behalf of
the Government, on the 23rd June, 1739/40 (1740 in modern
usage). This Treaty was achieved after several-disatrous at-
tempts had been made to locate Quao and his followers who
were especially war-like and were inclined to view the Govern-
ment's peace efforts with great scepticism.
The two Treaties each consisted of 14 articles and were alike
in several respects. Articles 1 and 2 stated that all hostilities
should cease and that the Maroons should be free. Articles 3
and 4 gave them restricted areas of land on which to settle,
freedom to cultivate it and to rear cattle, the opportunity to
sell their produce in the towns under licence from the Custos
and the magistrates. Article 5, allowed them their old privilege
of hunting, with the restriction that this should be done outside
the three-mile town limit. Articles 6 and 7, assured their parti-
cipation in the suppression of rebellious Negroes and protecting
the island against foreign attack. Article 8, protected the
Maroons against persecution by the white community and also
protected the white community from attacks by the Maroons.
Article 9, forced the Maroons to return slaves to their masters.
Article 12, gave their leaders the right to punish them for minor
crimes, while under Clause 13, they were obliged to maintain
good roads to their settlements. Article 14, allowed the ap-
pointment of two white men to live among them and Article 15
secured the succession of the leadership of the community.
The Treaties differed in Articles 9, 10 and 11. Whereas the
Treaty with Cudjoe stated that if any Negroes should run away
and be caught by Cudjoe they should be returned to the Chief
Magistrate of the Parish where they were caught, Quao's Treaty
stated that in case they were overpowered by more Negroes
than they can fight, they might apply for aid to the Governor.
Article 10 of Cudjoe's Treaty called for a return of slaves which
had recently joined the Maroons, while this article in Quao's
Treaty dealt with the punishment of the Maroons. Article 11
in Quao's Treaty dealt with the sale of produce in the towns.
It would appear that the amendments in Quao's Treaty were
not greatly significant, but were merely a streamlining of the
first Treaty. The wording of the Treaties indicated that they
were not unilaterally drawn up but that they were decided on
after negotiation between Government representatives and the
Maroon leaders. These facts were subsequently borne out in a
memoir written by a Lieutenant Philip Thicknesse, who said
that he had been a voluntary hostage in the eastern Maroon
community when peace had been discussed. So then the terms
of the Treaty were not worded in such a way as to give all the
advantages to the Europeans. Considering that the Maroons had
fought long and convincingly to obtain their freedom, it was
unlikely that they would have agreed to a Treaty which was not
satisfactory to them. Essentially, in exchange for an agreement
to turn in future runaways, and to defend the island against
foreign attack, they received freedom to settle on certain pre-
determined sites, they also obtained freedom to mix to a
limited extent with the free people living in the settlements and
SAfter the Treaties, four settlements were recognized at
Accompong in St. Elizabeth, Cudjoe's town in St. James (later
known as Trelawney Town), New Nanny Town and Crawford
Town in Portland. There are few records about the events of
1739 and 1740. According to Maroon legends; Granny Nanny
was leader of the Eastern Maroons in this period. However, this
is not strictly true, for the recrods show that Quao was the lead-
er and indeed it was with Quao that the British concluded the
Treaty. However, there is evidence that Nanny was an in-
fluential member of the community at this period. Lieutenant
Thickness refers to an old "obeah woman" of strong influence
who was in disagreement with the principle of peace with the
British. This description fits very well the Maroon concept of
Nanny, as a woman, small in size, possessed of extraordinary
supernatural powers possibly through myalism, as the Maroons
do not accept the concept of obeah in relation to themselves.
It is my opinion that Nanny was the Maroon leader at the
time of their greatest glory when Nanny Town resisted the
British (1728-1734). There seems little contradiction to this
belief for it was traditional for the Maroons to name their town
after their leaders and Nanny Town was undoubtedly named for
Nanny. It is also my opinion that after the fall of Nanny Town,
Nanny lost some of the support of her people. When the
Treaty was being discussed, the community was sharply divided
into two groups, those wanting to accept the Treaty and an
older group wanting to remain at war. Quao led the party which
After the Treaty was signed the entire community settled
down at New Nanny Town (Moore Town) but later, a small
group moved to a site on the Spanish River, calling their
community Crawford Town. It would appear that this group
was led by Ned Crawford, Quao having failed to retain the
leadership. He, however, went with the Ned Crawford group.
In 1754, Quao was to attempt to take the leadership by force,
killing Ned Crawford, closing the town to outside communica-
tion but he was captured in the end by the militia and some
other Maroons. Cath, who was also named to succeed to the
leadership of the Eastern Maroons, stayed at New Nanny Town.
The site of New Nanny Town had been familiar to the
Maroons for a very long time. Many settlements had been built
on the Negro River and as many had been destroyed by the
Maroons in ambush on Dromilly Estate, Trelawny. Merigot Aquatint ca. 1796. WIRL.
Map from History of Maroons by Dallas 1803 showing location of Maroon Settlements.
militia. New Nanny Town was preferred among all others
because of its strategic location. Situated on a number of little
hills which surrounded the small flat land along the Negro
River, the area gave a good view down river for six or seven
miles. The small hills themselves gave access to torturous paths
into the densely forested John Crow Mountains and through
them to the coasts of eastern Portland.
In 1740 then, a group of over five hundred Maroons settled
on 500 acres of poor agricultural land. They earned their living
by vegetable cultivation on crown land outside the community,
hunting wild pigs in the forests and fishing from the streams.
At the same time they built up their own stocks of domestic
animals. A small income came from their assistance in the
locating of runaway slaves and the returning of these to the
estates. Few, if any were literate though they spoke fluently in
the Paw Paw and Coromantee tongues and a broken English.
They were completely dependent on their Superintendent for
their relationship with central government and it is because they
obtained the services of people with whom they could get along,
that they were able to avoid the rebellions and quarrels which
had beset other Maroon communities.
Increasing numbers forced them to expand into the crown
lands which abutted on their boundaries. Eventually the
government allowed them the extra land and this is shown on
plans for the area for 1785. Though their movements outside
their settlement were restricted because permits had to be
obtained from the Superintendent to visit other communities,
life for the Maroons was not too bad, for several of them ob-
tained permission to move and to live in communities of other
free Africans. They apparently also visited freely their relatives
who lived at Crawford Town.
Nanny eventually died and leadership of the community
passed to Clath. He was not a good leader and suffered from
ill-health which forced him to ask the Governor to allow him to
move with his family to Bath, where he could benefit from the
sulphurous spring. But even then he interfered in the function-
ing of the New Nanny Town community, eventually he was
ordered to remove to another part of Jamaica by Governor
Elletson thereby severing his connections with New Nanny
Town. At this time Charles Swigle was Superintendent at New
Nanny Town. He too was a poor administrator and constantly
irritated the Governor by'his frequent absence from the Maroon
community. This resulted in the Maroons making direct con-
tact with Elletson whenever they had a problem. Despite his
unpopularity with the Governor, he remained Superintendent
until 1785. It is believed that he died by drowning in the Rio
Grande and it is this spot on the river that was named Swigle
Hole after him. I must point out that Swigle was not unpopular
with the Maroons who were probably allowed to roam over his
two Kent properties. Later in the late nineteenth century they
were to purchase Swigle's properties and add them to the
considerable amount of communal property which they already
Swigle was replaced by Charles Douglas, a planter with a
property at Joe Hill adjoining the Maroon Town. It was during
Douglas' superintendency at New Nanny Town that the
Trelawney Town rebellion occurred in St. James and resulting in
the deportation of Maroons to Nova Scotia in Canada. The
eastern Maroons were not involved in this rebellion but the
rebellion had served to show that discontent was not far be-
neath the surface. As a result, the government took a decision
to build a number of military barracks all over the island near
any large concentration of Negroes. One of these barracks was
planned for Cornwall Pen, an estate only three miles from New
George Fuller, a planter at Parkmont, Captain in the militia
at Port Antonio, and a past member of the House of Assembly
for Portland, was selected to supervise the construction of the
barracks and to act as Barracks-master. Fuller employed New
Nanny Town Maroons to. clear and build the barracks, which
became the most modern in the island. He later became
Superintendent at Moore Town and remained there for 17
years, until he died in 1823. The descendants of the first
Maroons continued working at Cornwall Barracks and later
established the small Maroon settlement which developed there.
During the time that the new barracks were built, the
government also withdrew most of the privileges enjoyed by
Maroons. They enforced the sections of the Treaty which dealt
with their movement outside their settlements and also ceased
their use in the patrols which re-captured the slave runaways,
thus depriving them of a major source of income. These
measures were intended to curtail severely their association with
the plantation slaves in particular. Disapproval was also ex-
pressed of the Maroon custom of themselves keeping slaves and
the beating of the Coromanti drums at night.
Several events at New Nanny Town mark the post-treaty
years. The first of these was the building of the barracks which
was referred to earlier and the subsequent withdrawal of
Maroon privileges. However, in Fuller's superintendency, the
government restored the same privileges after representations
had been made by the Maroons through their superintendent.
It is interesting to note that in making their representations, the
Maroons promised allegiance to their Superintendent and the
Governor and offered to defend the island, but omitted service
in the navy.
The next event of great significance occurred in 1833 when
the Apprenticeship Act was passed as a forerunner of the
Abolition of Slavery. The Apprenticeship Act said that all
children born six years before the passing of the Act, should
become free persons and that all persons who were listed as
slaves in the last registration of slaves should become labourers
on the estates of their former owners. The slave-owners were
handsomely recompensed for the loss of their slaves. Up to this
time, the Maroons were not accustomed to make a separate
return of their slave holdings for this was included in the annual
return of the Maroon towns made by the Superintendent to
the Governor. This return listed the Maroons by name, gave
their ages and degree of fitness for military duty, women and
children were included as well as free persons living among the
Maroons and those Maroons living among the free persons.
However, in 1733 when the Act was passed, the government
took the attitude that the Maroons had contravened the special
section of the law dealing with slave registration and the slaves
were set free. However, in 1835 the matter came up again for
discussion. The Maroons wrote to the Governor, the Marquis
of Sligo, as follows:-
.'we beg leave to inform your excellency that many of
our late apprentices are duly registered on approved titles
and recorded in the proper offices at Spanish Town,
that returns of all these, including both the registered and
the unregistered, are hereunto forwarded, on which list
amounting to the number of sixty and four'
On receiving the Maroons' letter, the Governor wrote to the
Superintendent to say that he was under.the impression that all
the Maroons' slaves had not been registered at Spanish Town.
The correspondence between the Governor and Superintendent
Thomas Wright went on for several months. In the end the
Governor was forced to admit to a mistake and instructions
dated 6th July 1835 were sent to the Superintendent as fol-
7 am directed, by his Excellency the Governor, to state that
he has felt it his duty to represent to the Colonial Secretary
the great negligence that occurred in the execution of his
orders, relative to the persons apprentices of the Maroons...
In the meantime you will take notice of the circumstances
of the mistake that has been made, as it should not, at all
events, for the present, be made know to the parties'
Sgd. W.G. Nunes Secretary to the Governor.
Here the matter ended. Superintendent Wright tried to
obtain some compensation for the Maroons but the 20 million
pounds set aside for this purpose had already been used up and
Parliament refused another grant.
The next event of importance in the Maroon community was
the change in the methods by which leaders were selected a
matter covered by the terms of the Treaty. However, after
Clath left New Nanny Town, the leadership passed to the most
senior male in the community. This was determined by seniority
in the Maroon arm of the militia. Thus Colonel Kean Osborne,
born in 1764, became leader in the 1830's. On retirement he
became one of the few Maroons to obtain a government pension.
He based his claim on the fact that in retirement he still had to
support a family of over 64 persons.
About 1827, Ebenezer Collins started a small school at
Moore Town, with 118 in attendance. This effort probably
originated from the Anglican Church which had been established
at Richmond Hill in Port Antonio and which had over 500 in
Waraha Innn Bryan
Dola n Miano
Ml rt;irc't Welcome
Nlitchcl Low Hnari
Mole,. FJnae s.
Total 25 47?
Summnarn of theforegoing list, 18 J.
Omicera ... as
Men, young boys and children (including
tloe receding out or the town) 227
Women, young girls, nd cltildren, (ditto ditto
ditto) ... 0
Infants bIen in 1829, name and sexn unknown 0
Toutl dfmroonn. ... 22
'otlt of manroo.n Ive, per lint
Total of free |Ijle in town, per litto 3
Grand total 70
Summary of the
1829 return of
slaves in the
Votes of the
the congregation. We know that because of increasing numbers,
a new church, Christ Church, whose structure dominates the
landscape of Port Antonio, was dedicated in 1840 and from here
many missions were established to the hinter land of Portland.
In 1844, a new chapel had been built at Moore Town and the
government handed over the deeds to the chapel and the four
acres of land on which it stood to the Church Missionary Society.
St. Peters Chapel, a decrepit structure, standing on the banks of
the Negro River, should be the first monument restored in
After the abolition of slavery, no effort was made to change
the laws under which the Maroons were being governed. It was
not until 1840 that Superintendent James Johnson, made
representations on their behalf and they became free in the true
sense of the word. Thereafter, their leaders were sanctioned by
the Custos of Portland, but no Maroon alive today can recall
when this was last done.
Freedom and the loss of their Superintendent resulted in
problems of administration and loss of special favour in dealing
with the central government. It is recorded that in the next
four or five years their development took place at a slower
During 1830-1840 the government made several attempts to
encourage emigration from Scotland and England. Among the
sites selected for location of the settlement of these emigrants
was one at Altamont, about 6 miles from New Nanny Town
and 1 % miles from Cornwall Barracks. The earliest discussions
were held by the vestry at Superintendent Johnson's former
residence at New Nanny Town. Thereafter the urgency of
emigration seemed to have disappeared.
On representation from the New Nanny Town Maroons, the
government appointed a Commissioner and Council from among
the planters to direct the development of Altamont Township.
The Maroons were subsequently employed to construct the
buildings to house the emigrant families and to cultivate 20
acres of land around each house.
In 1837 the emigrants arrived from Aberdeen on the ship
"Ada", Three families came first, a month later four more
arrived. No worse site could have been selected than Altamont.
It was situated on both sides of the Back of the Rio Grande in
an area of thick mist forest and torrential rainfall. In a short
time various tropical illnesses associated mainly with the damp-
ness, claimed the lives of most breadwinners. The majority of
women and children subsequently moved to live among the
Maroons at New Nanny Town and among the long time free
people a't Millbank. The Portland families of Kellers, Hepburns,
Brodies, Allans, Mitchells, Christies and Stevensons originate
from these people.
The next major incident in the lives of the New Nanny Town
Maroons is the event associated with the 1865 rebellion, but
this topic cannot be discussed in an article such as this. I intend
to deal with the matter of the loss of slave labour in 1833 and
the circumstances of Maroon participation in the rebellion of
1865, in a subsequent article.
rortlana: I ne magniTicent northern slopes ot the Blue Mountain Hidge. Sept. 1969.
by Dr. E. Barton Worthington *
My object is to consider what ecology and conservation
mean to the Caribbean countries today in relation to the quality
of the environment tomorrow. My foremost impression is that
unlike highly industrialized countries, you in the Caribbean
have not yet grossly polluted your environment. You have pol-
luted in some respects but not grossly, so that you have a
chance to apply the principles of prevention rather than the
much more expensive one, cure, which the industrialized
countries are having to face at the present time.
First, I would like to ask or try to answer the question,
what is ecology. We have already heard this morning from the
Ministerland from the Vice Chancellor2certain interpretations,
and I will try to give my own. In the first place, ecology is not
truly a scientific discipline, it is more a mode of thought;
literally of course, it means the study of habitats (oecos
means a house). So it implies, looking at all aspects of the
environment, identifying the points at which knowledge is
insufficient, plugging those gaps and drawing conclusions, you
might say that this is just common sense and I agree, but it is
1. Hon. E. Seaga 2. U.W.I.
the kind of common sense based on experience and applied by
Ecology started with plants which are relatively easy to
study because they do not move about very much;it is developed
with animals and now is applied to problems of the most
mobile animal of all, mankind. Today with the aid of new
techniques called 'systems analysis' of computers, much of
ecology is devoted not only to understanding the past and the
present situations, but also to prediction of what will happen
in the future.
The second question which I would like to answer is, what-
is conservation. It is different from preservation. Conserva-
tion is dynamic, preservation static. Theodore Roosevelt early
this century coined the phrase "conservation through wise use"
which sums it up pretty well. In the "fifties" everything was eco-
nomic development rather than culture, rather than social devel-
opment; in 1957 the International Union of the Conservation of
Nature and Natural Resources, usually referred to as IUCN, want-
*Slightly edited version of an address to the Caribbean Cultural and Conservation
Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. 29/7/70.
ing to get away from the preservation idea and to emphasise
economic advantagesdescribed conservation of natural resources
as their use in the best way by the greatest number of people
for the longest possible time. Personally, I think this was over-
doing it a bit, because while all conservation of natural resources
implies some form of management, the best management for
some of them may be to ensure that they, at least for the time
being, are left alone. For example, there may be no obvious
use today for the gene pools of unique plants and animals which
exist in the Caribbean Islands; as you know many plants and
animals have come into existence through evolution in these
islands and are found no where else in the world. But surely
they are of value for their own sake and some of them may be-
come of importance later to plant and animal breeders, if they
are enabled to survive the hurly burly of development.
In my own international biological programme we have a St; Catherine: Great Salt Pond and Hellshire Bay an area
world operation in saving plant gene pools which in effect is designated for early development with Port Henderson
saving species which may or are likely to be of economic- Hill behind the Pond reserved as a park. Aug. 1970.
importance in the future. J.S. Tyndale-Biscoe
Now, what do ecology and conservation mean to the Carib-
bean? Clearly, they mean different things to different people.
In the context of this Conference, one could perhaps think that = -
there is an ecology of history; and also of the arts of music,
dance and decor.
I am sure there is an ecology also of economics, and some-
times I believe that the usual cost benefit analysis of a develop-
ment project might, with advantage, be replaced by ecological
criteria and also by social criteria. But in this Conference con-
text, I suggest that two aspects of ecology and conservation
need special emphasis at the present time in the Caribbean area.
One is the importance of studying the ecological effects of
development projects before, and I underline 'before, decisions
are taken to undertake them.
St. Catherine: Dawkins Pond mangroves. Aug. 1970
The other is the need to have a series of conservation areas,
-- national parks and nature reserves and so on, in each country
as yardsticks for study, by which to measure the change
brought by man. So let us examine these two aspects.
Many development schemes in these islands which are likely
to have ecological effects are already in progress or proposed.
Many more will be advanced in future. They include new roads,
water supplies, and drainage schemes, mining and agricultural
enterprises, re-afforestation of mountains, creating new resorts
and public facilities on the coast, draining and filling in of
swamps. Every one of them has influence on the environment,
some relatively obvious, others obscure and difficult to predict.
Ecological study in advance will often show how modification
of a project may remove or at least soften undesirabl9 impacts
or it may, I think, increase that impact if it changes for the
better. Do not think that ecologists exist to hamper progress;
often they may point the way to it. But there may be examples
where ecological study reveals that a project would cause so
much ancillary damage to an amenity or a resource that the pro-
ject should never be undertaken at all.
In the old days the planner and the engineer could see all
round a project, and were well experienced in this respect. It is
difficult, I think to fault many of the structural developments
in these islands of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
considering the social values of those times. But today specialisa-
tion is intense and the power of machines is very great so that
i. the specialist has to be brought in. How many civil engineers
Today study local botany in order to determine appropriate
plants to prevent erosion when the soil and rocks are disturbed?
Such was a commonplace in the early days of railway con-
St. Elizabeth: Marsh Forest along Black'River. Feb. 4, 1970 Consequently, today the ecological and ancillary effects of
G. Proctor development projects are apt to be forgotten or thrust into a
back place. But the importance of retaining quality in the
little for the other Caribbean countries. In the eyes of many,
the unique works of natural evolution are as exciting and
beautiful as those of man himself. I am sure that the time is
overdue to recognize this and to adjust the balance before it is
Fortunately, in these islands there are a number of specialists
in botany and zoology and related subjects who know what
areas and what species are of special value, and a number of
persons in authority recognize the need, not only- for well
ordered recreational areas for the many, but also national parks
where nature can be enjoyed away from too many of one's own
species, and for nature reserves some of which must be kept
strictly for scientific research and teaching. I admire the fore-
sight of Jamaica in arranging last year for a group of conserva-
tion specialists to visit this island. In addition to conserving
areas designed wholly for recreation purposes, they proposed,
with the aid of local scientists, some eighteen areas of
national parks and an additional fourteen smaller areas as
nature reserves. A number of these areas,which include marine
as well as land areas,are already under threat of development,
so their designation and development as national parks and-
reserves is urgent. One of these areas is already firmly protected
and reserved.3 Perhaps this conference could be an occasion to
look at this question on the Caribbean scale; to urge those
countries which have not yet done so, to prepare such a list of
sites;and to take appropriate steps to study and conserve them.
This brings me to a few thoughts about ways and means.
There is so much to be done and so little time before the
damage becomes irreparable and that goes for my own field of
biological conservation just as much as it does for archaeology
and folk lore conservation. To achieve both these objectives
means that good ecological advice on development schemes and
on conservation areas, a number of specialists will be needed.
Moreover, this is a continuous process, for it is important not
only to have initial study but to follow through the after effects
3. Mason River See J.J. Vol. 4 No. 2. J.S. Tyndale-Biscoe
Portland:Waterfall, Back Rio Grande River. March 3, 1970.
Taken from helicopter G.R. Proctor
environment is at least becoming recognized. Those who take
this broad and longer view of the development may draw much
encouragement from a recent pronouncement by Mr.McNamara,
President of the World Bank, that in future ecological study
will form a part of the assessment of all development schemes
submitted to the Bank for finance.
Let us think, for instance, of a project in the special field
of wet land. A project say, to drain a swamp in connection with
the development of a coastal resort. There is much more in a
swamp thin the mosquitoes and bugs which may annoy tourists.
Swamps, like forests have a place in the conservation of water
supply; they have a capacity for using and purifying pollutants
if this is not overdone;they are of great importance to fishermen St. Catherine: Cabarita Swamp a rich feeding ground for
and sportsmen; they often support rare and exciting kinds of herons and waders and roosting place for pigeons and doves.
plants and animals; and on this account they may, like the An area selected for permanent preservation. Aug. 1970.
Everglades National Park, for instance become an attraction to
tourists and the residents also. Each of these attributes needs
examination and assessment before a decision is taken to
destroy a swamp.
Now the second major problem I want to mention can be
dispatched perhaps more quickly, and that is the subject of
conservation of areas national parks and nature reserves.
Frankly, the record of the Caribbean in the conservation of
areas and species does not appear to an outsider too good in
contrast to the strides which Mr. Concannon has mentioned in
the related subject of archaeology and historical buildings.
Even from this island of Jamaica a unique Macaw, a giant
Iguana and the Arawak race of Homo sapiens have been wiped
off the earth and many other unique species and races have
gone also or are liable to do so soon.
Now, international prestige attaches to these matters so I
was disturbed to find in the official list of national parks and
equivalent resources of the world which has been prepared by
the IUCN and accepted by UN, no firm entry for Jamaica, and Hanover: Bubby Hill, Cockpit-type country. June 1970.
of conservation. Most clearly a limited one for there is clearly
a limit to the value of short-term visits by outsiders, however
eminent they may be.
Is it not time that the Caribbean trained its own ecologists?
This indeed has already started through the Universities. But if
the principle of prediction before prosecution of development
projects is accepted looking before leaping then a cadre of
ecologists will be needed, woven into the permanent fabric of
government and University. To obtain good students, this
implies an organized service with career prospects and it also
implies a post-graduate training scheme. The cadre of ecologists
must be a matter for each country now to organise. The systems
of government vary and the appropriate agency for ecological
advice will differ; but I would urge that ecologists, if appointed,
should be kept together as a group to learn from each other
rather than distributed in-ones and twos in the departments
of government which particularly need their services. As to
training them, which involves several disciplines Biology,
Geography, Geology and some of the Social Sciences too,
surely this might become a co-operative operation, with perhaps
one post-graduate school for the whole Caribbean.
St. Thomas: Coastline from Bull Bay eastward to Albion Point.
June 1970. J.S. Tyndale-Biscoe
Finally, I would like to enunciate what I believe to be
an important guiding principle in these matters. In any natural
environment the countless pressures have pulled and pushed to
reach a form of stability not a total stability but one which is
adapted to the daily, seasonal and long term changes in climate,
water supply, natural erosion, and the productivity of plant and
Whatever changes are brought by mankind, nature will tend
to pull the environment towards a new relative stability, which
may become better or worse for mankind.
It follows from this firstly that development of Caribbean
countries should be a partnership of man with nature, not a
fight between the two.
Secondly, that any natural system should be not drastically
interfered with unless the reasons for doing so are compelling
and over-riding after considering the alternate advantages of
leaving it alone. I believe, that if this simple ecological
thought were more often borne in mind, we should not put any
break on sound development; but we would help to ensure that
our children and our children's children will not blame us for
Portland:Forest Camp, Stony River Below Nanny Town. doing it wrong.
March 3, 1970 G.R. Proctor
the avant gai
Jamby Edwin Todd
Late last year and early this year four
loosely related stimuli gave impetus to
write this essay. The first was the newly
opened John Peartree Gallery, calling itself
"the avant garde" gallery. The second was
the quotation, in the invitation to an
exhibition of paintings by David Wayne
BOXER, from Ortega y Gasset and Hans
Hofmann urging the necessity of the avant
garde and the abstract: Ortega y Gasset
saying that . . to insist on carrying on
within the same familiar horizon, betrays
weakness and a decline of vital energies,'
and Hofmann speaks of '... purely repre-
sentational values (which) have little to do
with the aesthetic content of a picture'
Thirdly, the art critic, Norman Rae's state-
ment in the Gleaner concerning Boxer's
show that abstract- art seems to be gaining
the ascendancy. And finally, again a
quotation in the invitation to Roger
Bruinekool's exhibition at the John Pear-
tree Gallery, where B. F. Cott called
Bruinekool an "artist truly in tune with
These four items raised a number of
questions in my mind.
Is it any different from the past?
Just what is going on in the art world
What is this thing called "abstract art"?
Is it something new? Is it the statistically
predominant feature in the art world
What is the avant garde in art? Is it
concerned with abstract art?
Does Jamaica have an avant garde? Does
Jamaica need the avant garde?
Does the avant garde truly express our
Let us start with "abstract" art. To
simplify things drastically, art can be
divided into two polar categories natural-
istic (or representational) and non-natural-
istic (or non-representational). To some
it may come as a surprise that naturalistic
art began with Masaccio in the fifteenth
century in the Renaissance. All other art
up to that time (with the exception of a
very short period in Hellenistic Greece and
Rome)-cave man art, Egyptian, Sumerian,
Greek, Early Christian, Romanesque, and
Gothic were all non-naturalistic. There
was no truly naturalistic art during these
vast periods; it was all modified in some
way stylized, simplified, hieratical, etc.
But from 1425 naturalistic art grew stron-
ger and stronger, until around 1905 its
stranglehold was broken by a group of
artists nick-named by the press, "les
Fauves'" (the wild beasts) and this date
interestingly enough coincided with the
popularization of photography. So from
c. 30,000 B.C. to c. 1425 A.D. we have
non-naturalistic art, and from 1425 to
1905 we have naturalistic art predominat-
Perhaps more details should be gone
into as to what is meant by "Naturalistic".
I have avoided the term "realism" because
it means too many different things to var-
ious categories of persons. To a novelist,
"realism" means putting in all the vulgar
dirty little details ordinarily left out. This
was true also with certain painters and
sculptors, and even as far back as the late
Renaissance, Caravaggio (c.1600) was cal-
led "the painter of dirty feet", because he
believed in "realism" and used bare-footed
peasants as models for his pictures of
"The Nativity", "The Descent from the
Cross", etc. instead of beautiful "ideal"
"Representational" is too broad a term
and can be used by semi-abstract, natural-
istic, realistic, etc. artists.
"Photographic" is another term which
has lost most of its usefulness, and was
never very accurate in describing natural-
istic work. For example, the Renaissance
painters invented linear perspective, (which
is confirmed by photographs) but had no
intention of being photographic, since
they arranged their figures and setting
very arbitrarily, left out unimportant
shadows and details, created "ideal" figures
and backgrounds, etc. "Figurative" is a
newer term and generally means any kind
of art work which uses anything in the vis-
ual environment as its point of take-off.
Within "figurative" we can include natura-
listic art which has been altered by means
c). partial abstraction
The Renaissance painters practiced only
the first means of alteration, although the
late Renaissance painters (Caravaggio,
Tintoretto, etc.) amplified shadow (sfumato)
to gain emotional effects and to centre
attention. Goya (1746-1828) is the most
prominent example of an early artist who
practiced distortion, as in his more fantas-
tic paintings and prints, e.g. "Saturn Eating
Finally with the Fauves we see the first
instance of true abstracting.
"Abstraction" in simplest terms means
taking away. A legal abstract, e.g. is a docu-
ment which has left out most of the
original from which it is taken,and pre-
sents only the salient points.
In one sense all art is abstract, as it
leaves out life. And even naturalistic
painting is to some extent abstract as the
third dimension is taken away. (When the
third dimension is faked in by means of
linear and atmospheric perspective, the
painter is said to be doing an illusionisticc"
painting, and as the man said, who wants
Modem painters and here I mean
modem .in the sense of style, have left out
(taken away) various parts of their sub-
jects to suit their own needs and means,
and the term "abstraction" has become.
expanded from its original meaning to in-
clude almost any reductive treatment of
natural subjects reducing shape and/or
colour to essentials, simplification, and
even some distortion and exaggeration of
shapes and colours.
Artists who use the process of abstract-
ing, work under the basic principle that
they are presenting and not just recalling
the original object or objects which gave
them the impetus. Furthermore they
believe that the painting (or statue) alone
is justification for its being, and no relation-
ship with whatever inspired the painting is
more important. That is to say, the
activity within the painting the relating
of one colour to another and to the whole,
the juxtaposing of lines and the kinds of
lines, the shapes and patterns and textures
of the different areas and their relating to
each other, etc. these items are of
primary importance to the abstract or
semi-abstract artist and not to what ex-
tent the painting "looks like" the original
To repeat, abstracting is the process of
taking away, that is; eliminating unessen-
tial details. By "unessential" is meant
something which detracts, or distracts from
the bigger purpose of the painting, accord-
ing to its creator. If the artist is interested
primarily in patterns he will simplify out-
lines and eliminate little squiggles within
the outlined areas, so that the spectator
can concentrate on the bigger field. If the
artist, on the other hand is interested in
emotional impact, he may not simplify all
the outlines, but instead eliminate details
which would distract the viewer from the
emotion wanted. Details may be eliminated
also for reasons of symbolism. For exam-
ple, to symbolize old age and decay, all
smooth lines may be done away with and
only broken little lines and scraggly cur-
licues retained; if peace, all diagonal lines
are eliminated and only horizontals and a
few verticals kept. Some of the younger
artists who are called "new realists" only
abstract in the sense of "editing" the
details;, they "clean up" the subject so as
to have a purity of impact. And some
artists abstract in order to get a mood
across e.g. an old building or buildings,
empty and idle, may be made more somber
and gloomy by eliminating details so as to
emphasize the gaping black holes of doors
and windows concealing we know not
what. Other artists such as Leger simplify
organic shapes and lines down to their
geometric counterparts. Ther e as many
knds of abstraction as there are artists.
The Fauves (Matisse, Vlaminck, Derain,
Braque and Dufy) abstracted by simplify-
ing shapes and by showing colours in all
purity, even exaggerating them. Their
first important exhibition was in 1905,
and created a tremendous sensation. Be-
fore the Fauves the Impressionists (Monet,
Pissaro and Sisley) c. 1890 had abstracted
the appearance of solidity from their
paintings, but their intentions were essen-
tially, illusionistic, that is, when seen from
a distance their paintings looked 'natural'.
The Expressionists (Van Gogh, d.1890,
Gaugin d.1903) simplified shapes but they
also distorted shapes and colours for
emotional heightening, so they cannot be
said to be true abstractionists.
The Cubists c.1914 (Picasso, Braque,
Gris, etc.) abstracted objects to planes and
later even shuffled the planes about,
showed objects from several views simult-
aneously, invented collage etc. and had
such an impact -n painting, sculpture,
architecture, corn ...rcial and industrial art,
that the reverberations have never ceased
Cubism was the opposite of Fauvism in
that the latter was concerned with un-
bridled emotions, whereas Cubism was
Cezanne (d.1906) simplified the shapes
of objects (abstracted details) in order to
gain f greater sense of solidity and struc-
by Jackson Pollack
But what about the avant garde? Act-
ually all the above-mentioned artists -
beginning even earlier with Giotto (b. 1266-
1337) -were in the vanguard of their day.
The term 'avant garde' came into general
use around the late 1940's and early 50's
with a group of artists now labelled
'abstract expressionists' who worked in
New York city (and thus sometimes
called the 'New York' School.) The late
Jackson Pollock was the most famous
1. Some critics maintain, therefore that Cezanne
was the first abstract painter or at least the
S father of modern art.
artist of the group with his invention of
the large 'drip ard dribble' paintings. (On
the U.S. West Coast, painters who followed
this practice of painting,were nick-named
the 'Sea-Gull Painters'.)
Action Painting is a particular kind of
Abstract Expressionist painting and is best
exemplified by the French painter Georges
Mathieu. In painting his 'Battle of Bruges'
Mathieu squeezed paint directly from
tubes onto the canvas, smeared it around
with a rag dipped in gasoline, etc., and
other action painters even squirt paint
from their mouths or fling it from a paint
can. Action Painting cannot truly be called
abstract, as it starts from nothing in
nature, except that in the case of "The
Battle of Bruges" Mathieu more or less
followed the movements of the battle with
Little Fool in Trance by Paul Klee
his brush strokes and smears.
In Abstract Expressionism and Action
Painting the use of the "automatic" method
largely prevails. This was first used by
Paul Klee (1879-1940) as a starter for his
paintings, and consists in letting the hand
and brush do what it will without any
control by the conscious mind. (Klee,
however, did use conscious control to
finish his paintings.) This method was
popularized by Gertrude Stein of "a rose
is arose is a rose" fame. Robert Rauschen-
berg said, "To think while painting is a
form of degradation". And Mathieu says,
"When I paint, my mind must be a com-
plete blank, no thought, no deliberation,
no method, no choice "
Abstract Expressionism thus glorified
the untrammelled ego of the artist.
In reaction to this we have had "pop"
art, "op "(optical) art, "hard-edge" abstrac-
tion and minimal art, all of which reduced
visible signs of the artist to as near zero as
"Pop" art took popular images from-
the mass media movies,.advertising, the
comics, etc. images such as Marilyn
Monroe, Campbells Soup Cans, the Flag,
etc., and reproduced them as literally as
possible. Actually pop art must be
appreciated the same as abstract art, how-
ever, as arrangements of line and colour.
Roy Lichtenstein's enormously blown-up
imitation cartoons are a good example.
"Op" art was the next avant garde, but
it is not abstract in the true sense, in that
it does not start with nature, but is a man-
Improvisation by Wassily Kandinsky
Perhaps we should here make a distinc-
tion between "Abstract" and "Non-objec-
tive" art. The latter is a historical term
and was first used in connection with
Bauer's and Kandinsky's paintings of 1913.
Non-objective refers to art which does not
start from anything in the environment,
but has its beginning in self-sufficient
lines, shapes and colours. Op art used
lines and colours in such a way as.to con-
fuse the eye as to which line or shape was
forward or backward, producing a visual
"Kinetic" art was more or less the next
form of the avant garde, although it had a
famous predecessor Alexander Calder,
who invented the ubiquitous mobile.
Kinetic art involves using moving parts, or
the whole moves, regardless whether the
moving is done by hand, wind, motor, etc.
"Light" art is very popular in the
United States at present and chiefly in-
volves the use of clear or transluscent
plastic sheets, spot-lights, strobe lights,
neon lights, etc. In a recent catalogue
from an important show in Chicago, two of
the 'Light' artists refused to allow photo-
graphic reproductions of their pieces as
they claimed no photograph could do
justice to the three-dimensional subtlety
of their works.
"Minimal" art (also called "abc" art
and "primary" art) is likewise very popular
at present. It is not abstract, but non-
objective in character, and involves using
the barest minimum of means primary
colours and black and white, straight lines,
circles and cubes. Because of the paucity
of content, these works must be of neces-
sity very large, or they remind one of
children's blocks, beginning as design exer-
cises, etc. Minimal art represents the
extremes type of reaction to Abstract
Expressionism and its glorification of the
artist's ego. For example, one "Minimal"
artist called at a steel foundry and ordered
a ten foot cube of steel fabricated and
sent to the gallery without the artist
having seen or touched his "work of art".
b The x by Ronald Bladen
Ice by Rafael Ferrer
The most avant of the avant garde are
some loosely grouped artists recently pub-
licized in a book under the title of "Art
Povera" (impoverished art). These include
the earth-movers who hire a bull-dozer and
dig a ditch through a wheat-field, or lay a
square sheet of lead in the snow, etc.; the
"processors" who pour acids over sheets
of metal, etc.; "anti-formers" e.g. one
arranged six two hundred pound blocks of
ice with autumn leaves; (when you "buy"
it you get the paid-up ice bill); "impossible"
art e.g. a satellite emitting flashes of
light and coloured smoke (when you "buy"
it you get the drawings and specifications)
etc. These de-aestheticizing artists are like
the Abstract Expressionists in that they
glorify the artist's ego, but they go one
step farther, in that only the process is
important, not the end result.
Let us now ask the question, is the
latest avant garde form supplanting all
previous avant garde forms, as well as
naturalistic painting and sculpture?
The University of Illinois Art Gallery's
bi-annual show is one of the best indicators
of what is going on today in the realm of
painting and sculpture in the U.S.A., and
this in turn is indicative of the rest of the
art world. The latest catalogue has repro-
ductions of all the works in the show, and
I have gone through them all and classified
them. Of the one hundred and twenty-two
works in the exhibition, the cateogry "com-
pletely naturalistic" (which includes two
"new realist" paintings) contained nine-
teen works. "Partly abstract" numbered
thirty-nine works, "completely abstract"
works totalled thirteen, and "non-objec-
tive (containing also op, minimal, kinetic,
and light works) amounting to fifty-one
works. (In many cases it was difficult to
tell whether a work was abstract or non-
objective but when in doubt I put the
painting or sculpture in the non-objective
category.) From this tally it can be seen
that the newest category with fifty-one,
does not out-number the older classes with
a total of seventy-one. It should be added
however, that the museum could not
exhibit some of the minimal constructs as
many require at least a twenty-five foot
ceiling and a forty by twenty-five foot
floor space for one alone!
A very important recent book, "Music,
the Arts, and Ideas" by Prof, LB. Meyer
of the University of Chicago, claims we
have reached a period of stasis in styles in
the arts. In this stasis all movements -
avant garde, surrealist, neo-realist, natural-
ist, semi-abstract, non-objective, etc. -
will continue but no style will ever again
reach a predominant ascendancy over the
others. The author backs this thesis with
a cogently reasoned mass of arguments.
The avant garde in music gives the
music lover a harder time than that in
painting and sculpture, since the latest
thing in music is aleatoric br chance music,
and the composition (?) is never the same
no matter how many times it is played.
The only similar experiences in art are the
self-destructing kinetic machines of the
Belgian artist Jean Tinguely.
Still the avant garde at present is
enjoying an unprecedented boom in the
USA at least, due to two factors: the
economic upsurge creating large-numbers
of arrivistess" or "neo-riche", who want
to own the "latest", and the faddishness
of McLuhan's emphasis on the importance
of media coupled with the mod generations'
insistence on the "now". Unfortunately
the very latest art forms are largely uncol-
lectable. How does one collect "Five
Bottles of Dye Poured Into a Country
We are now in a position to answer our
question concerning Jamaica and the
avant garde and we can safely say that
Jamaica's ventures into such extremes have
been almost nil. In 1966 at an Institute,
Ben Eales exhibited a number of "assem-
blages" composed of sections of telephone
poles, beer cans, etc., and in 1962 the
writer, while by no means avant garde,
showed a piece made of twelve fisherman's
buoys joined together with brass "arms"
and standing on brass "legs". The gallery
director waggishly called the piece the
"Twelve apostles" and thereby gained it
niuch more controversy, than it merited.
In 1952, when the writer arrived in
Jamaica, there was no abstract art being
done, let alone avant garde. The only
possible exception was the work of a
Roman Catholic lady, who did brightly
coloured designs symbolizing her beliefs.
These were exhibited at the Institute in
1954, but had no discernible influence on
A show of the work of relatively modem
Cuban student artists was presented in the
gallery of the Institute in 1952 and also
in 1954, and the then Gleaner art critic,
Harry Milner, wrote to the effect that he
hoped no Jamaican artists would see this
show and be influenced by it, as he thought
that Jamaicans had more affinity for the
style of Reynolds and Gainsborough. I
challenged this attitude in a letter to the
editor, but up to Nov. 15, 1955, Mr.
Milner's views prevailed, as he was able to
write in his criticism of the Tercentenary
Exhibition, "There were happily none of
those meaningless old-fashioned 'abstracts'
so beloved by Teacher Todd.". Of course
I had to reply that the Carnegie Institute's
Art Director said, after selecting paintings
from all over the world for the Pittsburg
International Biennial of Painting, that
"abstraction continues the chief idiom of
the day, and if anything, is gaining ground
and popularity". (Time magazine Oct.
25, 1955) and hence abstracts were not so
old-fashioned. In 1958, in Art News,
Adolph Gottlieb predicted "we are now
going to have a 1000 years of non-repre-
Roger Mais, Henry Dailey and John
Dunkley had contributed a sort of home-
grown expressionism to Jamaican art, and
Edna Manley had deviated from naturalism
to the extent of a sort of Blakean simplifi-
cation and distortion of naturalistic repre-
sentation of the human figure, but all
other Jamaican artists worked their utmost
to present nature as she is.
The first slight breakthrough came with
the return to Jamaica of Milton Harley2
and Eugene Hyde in 1961. Harley,
whose work was exhibited at Hill's Gallery
was at that time doing paintings in a sort
of played-down abstract expressionist style
and the effect was so remote and personal
that most Jamaican artists were baffled
and uninfluenced. Hyde, on the other
hand, exhibited some older work (as well
as new) at the Institute and this being in a
powerful, slightly abstract style, was most
impressive. Even Hyde's abstractions
showed verve and virility while retaining
recognizable references to the subject and
of course had an impact upon other
Jamaican artists. Hyde has had fairly
regular shows of his work since his coming,
as a rule doing a series of abstractions on a
single theme, flowers, female nude, etc.
Our artistic chameleon, Karl Parboo-
singh, also had a show in which he showed.
that he cold paint in "drip and dribble"
style, cubism, expressionism, non-objectiv-
ism, what have you. Then Karl's wife,
Seya, began painting also, her first one-man
show was in 1957 and sometimes worked
in a figurative mode and sometimes in the
abstract mode, developing several interest-
ing new manipulative techniques. Reggie
Lyn returned to the island and contributed
his special bit: colourful & pleasing con-
structions, in the non-objective vein.
Douglas Chambers, a young Englishman,
came to teach at the Jamaica School of
Art in 1963, and showed sensitive and skil-
One recent event which augurs towards
the increase of abstract or semi-abstract
painting in Jamaica is the teaching of the
Thubrons at the Jamaica School of Art for
the past year. These two English artists,
Harry and Elma, entered into their work
with such authority and such enthusiasm
that most of their students caught fire too
and we are already seeing the product of
this hyper-ventilation, in the June Jamaica
Journal and in the Festival Art Exhibition.
Once the urge towards abstraction is im-
parted, it is unlikely that it will die, and
we can thus expect to see more and more
2. See Jamaica Journal, Volume 4, Number 2.
On Horse-back by Seya Parboosingh
"Composition by ReRgie Lyn
work in the line which the Thubrons
One of the most promising of our youn-
ger artists inclined to abstraction is George
Rodney. This painter, like Lyn and
Howard Parchment, (and unlike Ralph
Campbell and Vernal Reuben) profited
from his study abroad and has steadily in-
creased in stature. Rodney's abstracting is
not of the geometric ilk, but rather the
essence type, retaining the bio-morphic
feeling of the items from which he abstracts.
At first the paintings were only partially
abstracted, with the original inspiration
whether human figures, still-lives or land-
scapes, readily discernable. However, as
time went on the work has gradually elim-
inated most specific references to the
original starting point, and today Rodney's
paintings are to superficial inspection com-
pletely abstract. It is indicative of Rod-
ney's mode of thinking that he prefers to
work in his studio from notes and sketches
rather than in the field, as in this manner
he can concentrate on the bigger elements
and not be distracted by non-essential
details. Rodney speaks of working hard
for "realism", but upon close questioning
this'realism' turns out to be that of the
theologians an inner harmony that is the
only "real" and lasting thing, in contra-
distinction to the ephemeral and changing
outer world. "Hard-edge" abstraction,
geometric abstraction, optical exercises,
etc., leave Rodney unmoved, as he feels a
greater depth of inspiration in using the
natural environment as the basis for his
Perhaps we can now try to answer our
last question is the avant garde is
abstraction in tune with our times; is it
expressive of our times? The kickoff for
this question, you'll remember, was the
quote by a gallery owner of Roger Bruine-
kool's work, which at that time consisted
of very bright coloured constructions of
mechanical shapes parts of spheres,
cubes, cylinders, etc. Naturally, we must
say that this sort of thing is expressive of
our times but only one aspect of our
times. Kinetic constructions and light con-
structions are also clearly in tune with our
times. The age in which we live is con-
cerned with technology, space efforts,
scientific advancement, etc., and any work
which follows the same lines does express
On the other hand there is an increasing
spirit of rebellion against the 'Establish-
ment', and against the Establishment's
exclusive concern with technology and
materialistic attainments. Students unrest,
y by George Rodney
1970 Collection of the Artist
Dusk by Georg Grosz
"It's no use to do any more" by Ben Shahn
dissatisfaction with war, the civil rights
movement, Black Power etc., have few
champions in painting and sculpture.
Georg Grosz, the German artist forced by
Hitler to flee to the US was one of the
most powerful protesters of the inhuman-
ity of our times, and has influenced many
'social protest'artists. The late Ben Shahn
was one of the few US artists who con-
cerned themselves over this aspect of
modern life. His "Lucky Dragon", series
which dealt with the effect of nuclear tests
in the Pacific and the resultant fall-out used
the horrible deaths of the fishermen on
their boat, the "Lucky Dragon", to under-
line the tragedy. Francis Bacon in England
specializes in painting the effects of the
neuroticism of our age and thus is also "in
tune with our times". In the U.S.A. Ed-
ward Kienholz has created much contro-
versy with his constructions illustrating
the horrors of illegal abortions, inhuman
mental institutions, effects of war on John
Doe, etc. It is obvious that there is great
need for more modern-day Daumiers and
Goyas who can express the dissatisfaction
of the vocal minority in two and three
dimensions. In Jamaica Vernon Tong had
a show last year at Hill's Gallery'and at the
Institute Gallery which had as their theme
the dehumanizing effects of demogogy
and bureaucracy. These paintings were
semi-abstract and semi-symbolic, yet were
most powerful in their effect.
To go back to the avant garde, we may
well ask why there is all this urge to be in
the advance, to be different, to be "the
latest"? Perhaps the answer lies in the
search for identity that is characteristic of
our age. We live in times of general inse-
cutity, with the threat of mass annihilation
hanging over our head, of possibilities of
choking to death in our own waste
materials, of over-populating ourselves to
extinction. Furthermore our personal
security is gone. We know not if God be
dead, on strike, non-existent, or un-caring.
In former times, we were content with
what we were, what we were doing, what
gender and what we were wearing. Life
was on an even keel, as the cliche has it.
However, with the speed and proliferation
of the mass media, and the development
of possibilities of mass annihilation, all
the comparative serenity has disappeared.
Only those lucky individuals who have an
inner security seem to retain any genuine
sense of serenity. Individuality and the
feeling of worth of the individual have in
the past been the chief keys to a feeling of
serenity. Today, however, with so much
mass this and mass that, individuality is
hard to maintain. Consequently the indi-
vidualism which comes from the slow
growth of the feeling of worth of the in-
dividual has waned, and in its place is the
individuality attained by means of trying
hard to be "different", to "freak out", to
be "way out", avante garde. But because
of the speed of the mass media, anything
outre today is passe tomorrow, and hence
the necessity to keep trying desperately to
be the newest "now".
I am sure Harry Milner will be amused
John Doe by Edward Kienholz
"Orator"by Vernong Tong
to know that I have the feeling it is just as
well Jamaica is rather isolated, so that our
artists can develop at a slower, saner rate,
and not be too much influenced by the
'latest' thing that is happening in the art
world of the US and elsewhere. I would
hate to see, for example, Rodney abandon
his slow but certain progress in painting,
hire a back hoe, dig a ditch across the
beach, and call the public to see.
with ANTHONY McN El LL
This evening we present a profile of the young
Jamaican poet, Anthony McNeill, by way of read-
ings from his poetry and an interview with the
poet. First we'll hear a very early poem, written in
1962, entitled "Chinaware":
I do not smoke the more
Or eat the less,
Nor do I think the world
Ido not drink in pain
Or in the shadowed night
Forget to pray.
Yet once my heart
A scarlet tear,
Slid down my cheeks,
Like chinaware -
Upon your marble bier.
Next, by way of contrast, a poem written in 1969 -
seven years later entitled "Wind-change":
Seasons shift subtly here.
Winter's a mere wind-change
Sensed in air apparelled
In flowering sorrel.
Some cyclical sleight-of-hand
Conjures a whole new season
Out of thin gir, which I,
Scarcely inhale for fear
I should cloud, turn vapour.
Tony, the contrast between these two poems,
"Wind-change" and "Chinaware", is not as great,
perhaps, as it could be between the early poetry
and the more recent works, but there is a contrast,
I think. The similarity, I think, is that they are
both lyrical, which most of your later poetry
definitely is not; but, at the same time, the "I" in
both poems there is a difference there, it seems
to me a more unconscious "I" in "Chinaware" and
a more neurotic, or aware,perceptive "I" in "Wind-
change". Is this just the natural development of
the person in the process of the seven years separat-
ing the poems, or is it a sort of conscious develop-
ment, a conscious contrast?
MCNEILL Well, I think to be genuine, it has to be a combina-
tion of the two: writing "Wind-change", for example
I was much more aware of certain techniques. I
was much more concerned with working within a
very tight form, and yet at the same time to try and
get a kind of fluidity and delicacy into the poem
which I may have got unconsciously in "China-
ware". This sort of thing may be a good or a
bad thing, I don't know: I think the poetry has
to say whether it is or not.
In the later poems, you mentioned awhile ago the
working consciously within a sort of structure, or
form: the later poems are very much within a very
tight structure. Why is this?
MCNEILL Well, I think it's possibly due to a formal inability,
in a sense: the effort to get poetry with integrity of
form,' which, I think, is very difficult to do in free
verse. Robert Lowell, if I remember correctly, con-
fessed somewhere that he was afraid of even attemp-
ting free verse before the age of forty.1 In free
verse one is completely set adrift, in a sense, from
all the traditions of poetry; and I have found that I
work better in an octosyllabic line. And I think
possibly that the eight-syllabled -as against the ten-
syllabled or pentametric line is indicative of the
cramped personality at work.
M.M. Would you agree with Lowell's sentiment? Do you
also feel adrift, and slightly frightened of com-
pletely free verse?
MCNEILL I am. And there are very few poems, I think, that I
have written successfully in free verse. And those
poems are almost like miracles to use a hackneyed
phrase because they seem to make their own
form as they go along, but possibly for a year I may
write only five or six of these.
M.M. But it seems to me as a layman2 that it would be
somewhat easier i.e. to write in free verse: in that
structured, formalized verse not even necessarily
rhyming, but in terms of stress and syllable -
imposes a certain difficulty and discipline on the
imagination or the creative spirit. This would seem
to me, personally, to be something of a stricture on
allowing the poem to develop. How do you feel
MCNEILL Well, I agree with you that it is a stricture up to a
certain point, but it is also an easy formula, in
another sense, in that once one knows that one is
working in, say, eight syllables, one can vary the
stresses within those eight syllables, but at least one
is working with a framework. In other words, it's
like being presented with the frame of a slate, for
1. What Lowell actually said was: "I never dared write it (free verse)
until I was almost forty". (From Conversations Robert Lowell,
Cleanth Brooks, and Robert Penn Warren: Holt, Rinehart and
Winston publications in English literature and language. -)
2. Mr. Mordecai is modest: he has published poems in Bim, New World
and Caribbean Quarterly. A short story of. his, "The Pool of
Memory", appeared in Vol. 4 No. 1 of Jamaica Journal.
example, and being asked to fill it with something;
whereas in free verse one has complete emptiness
to fill: there is nothing there.
M.M. "Chinaware" represents what you might call an
instinctive poem. This, as mentioned already, was
in '62: where did you go poetically from there?
MCNEILL Well, I think that for three years I remained in that
fairly straightforward, instinctive mode although
to be frank, poetry has never come very easily for
me; it's a matter of hacking out something emerging
from the subconscious, or whatever you want to
call it. But I think that themes which are now
present in my poetry and I think that the basic
theme is one of the divided self began to appear
from as early as 1964 or 1965 when I wrote the
"Dostoevskian Hero"; and, as an adjunct to that,
there is also the concern with the terror and bizarre-
ness which lie behind reality; when one peels back
the fabric of so-called normalcy, one discovers the
the bizarre world of, say, "Who's Sammy?":
The white face of Sammy, that mad
clown. I can't sleep,
He's dancing amid the sheets, Can
see him again, elusive, pale,
pushing dope and some fairy tale.
Who's Sammy? Sammy's a mad.
Who's Sammy? Sammy's a clock.
In the dark, Sammy goes tick tock.
Sammy's a sock.
Wham! in the brain.
But most of all, Sammy's a mad,
Sammy's a strange.
I say: flush Sammy down the drain,
He's a dancing blot on my brain.
Midnight. Sammy's still loud
Sammy's a clod.
When he fell, his white face splintered and bled.
Several weeks dead,
He's a dancing duppy above my bed.
Who's Sammy? Sammy's a demon.
Sammy's a child's fairy garden.
A sinister leer.
The perfect March Hare.
But suppose Sammy's some more,
Suppose he's a wound apart from a stain,
"A modem buffoon and Jesus-man,
who, pinned to a lewd grin,
undertakes for us all
the clown's crucifixion "?
M.M. Sammy, in this poem is an actual character.3 He
represents a sort of external point of departure, if
you like; similarly, the poem you mentioned earlier,
"A Dostoevskian Here or The True Gage", a
Festival poem.' Is this a sort of phase to have an
external point of departure? What I mean is, were
there incidents or factors in your own personal
everyday life that moved you in this direction?
MCNEILL Iam sorry to disillusion you, but "Who's Sammy?"
like "Rimbaud Jingle" which came two years later,
'69, and which I would say are the two best poems
I have written, if only for the reason that they
appear to have been written by somebody else (I
always read them with a sense of strangeness) -
began as a sort of jingle I mean, actually a word-
3. Sammy and Angelo (the enquirer not mentioned by name in the
poem) are based on the two principal characters of the Edward
Lewis Wallant novel, "The Children at the Gate". See Jamaica
Journal, Vol 3, No 1.
4. The poem won first prize and a silver medal in the 1966 Festival
competition. See Jamaica Journal, Vol 1 No 1.
game and after awhile it started to achieve a kind
of dynamism not only a verbal dynamism, but a
dynamism of meaning, as well; and I wouldn't say
that it is necessarily treating any of the basic
themes that one might find in my poetry, except,
of course, that there is the constant division, only
more externalized, as you suggested; I have actually
pinned it on to a character in a book.
To some extent it's pinning yourself to this
MCNEILL Yes. Add the division would come in the sense
that Sammy could almost be interpreted as the
astral body of Angelo, the character who is being
obsessed by the figure of the dead Sammy, who,
in turn, I think, ultimately becomes a symbol of
the crucifixion, the clown-martyr.
M.M. Well, more recently in the poems you wrote last
year you leave this external point and very much
internalize in very very personal poems, like "1-2":
Sam wired for sound. I live
In a ringing network of bones
More alarming than skeletons.
Even asleep, I buzz and hive.
Constantly bee-high, Ialight
On external flowers, pushing
Through petals with my pink snake-tongue
In search of an exit, or light.
But neither lives here, nor silence.
The hum of internal traffic
Crazes within this place, soon hooks
Me back out, both flaccid and tense.
Returned to my sounding abyss
I stand outside flowers and bees
Who responding to easy cues
Deftly relax in the darkness.
Tomorrow will re-start their lives
With sunlight's certain ignition;
I sleep with my eyes wide open,
Uneasy among my shrill hives.
When something snaps, as it could do,
I71 be carried off to a place
Soundproof and new. If not, I'll stay
Here and marry. Or split in two.
Well, like other people, poets live their lives on a day-
to-day basis; but being, perhaps, more intensely con-
scious, they make more conscious choices than the
rest of us. Now, was this sort of poem like "1-2"
and "Rimbaud Jingle", which we haven't heard, but
I have read, and is similar to a lot of poems you
have written recently was this sort of poem a
conscious choice -this sort of internalizing process?
MCNEILL Well, it's perhaps an unfortunate thing to have to
admit, but after writing poetry for over ten years, I
began to be obsessed with the possibility that there
might not have been unity in the poetry; because
after writing this long, one begins thinking in terms
of producing a book of one's own, and I have
found that most of the more significant books of
poetry which have come out, have had certain
themes which unify the poetry; so I began almost
conscioulsy to talk about this divided personality,
which became a bad thing ultimately, because I
think that I can no longer write about that parti-
cular theme again, I have become too aware of it.
I think I have exhausted its possibilities.
M.M. And this became evident in the poetry as well?
MCNEILL I am not sure. I think someone else would be
needed for that, but certainly I have become bored
by that particular theme; and once boredom sets in,
especially in the tight framework I work in, the
poetry itself becomes monotonous.
M.M. So where do you go from there then?
MCNEILL Well, I have two choices really; one, silence -
which is possibly the most perfect poem of all; or
two, a kind of self purificatory process in which
the divine begins to come into the personality,
because all of the poems that I have written have
been what I call human poems. I think that one
has got to get outside of himself and try to merge
with the greater intelligence which is out there.
M.M. Well, before we get on to that, I would like to talk
to you about some of your poems that I have seen -
published and unpublished that represent ai
interest for lack of a better word in the
Rastafarian cultism element which is ever-present
in the emerging society. Perhaps we could hear one
example of that, "Saint Ras":
Every stance seemed crooked. He had not
Learned to fall in with the straight
Queued, capitalistic, for work.
He was uneasy in traffic.
One step from that intersection
Could, maybe, start peace. But he dread -
Fully missed, could never proceed
Wth the rest when the white signal
Flashed safe journey. Bruised, elbowed-in,
His spirit stopped at each crossing,
Seeking the lights for the one sign
Indicated to take him across
To the true island of Ras.
But outside his city of dreams
Was no right-of-passage it seemed.
Still-anchored by faith, he idled
Inside his hurt harbour and even
His innocent queen posed red
Before his poised, inchoate bed.
Now exiled more, or less,
He retracts his turgid divinity,
Returns to harsh temporal streets
Whose uncertain crossings reflect
His true country. Both doubt and light.
M.M. Well, this interest, or preoccupation, represents yet
another conscious choice on your part as a poet.
MCNEILL Well,-this hasn't really been a conscious choice on
my part. It is something which has been ferment-
ing for quite some time. The association with
Rastafarians, which stems from days when I used
to work with JIS,5 resulted in an attraction to the
poetry which exists in the lives of these people;
because I think that basically a Rastafarian's life
represents a life-poem -and apart from being poetic,
obviously a life that is deeply religious. And I
don't think that if poetry is to be any good at all,
it can be divorced from the religious sense. With
me writing is a religious impulse. It's the old story
of the Catholic who defects and enters the cathe-
dral of art. And the Rastafarians represented to me
the nearest thing to poetry and religion which
existed out here. But the Rastafarian thing is all
tied up with a new city-poem which, I would say, is
coming mainly out of Western Kingston. As far as
I am concerned, people like Prince Buster and
King Stitt are folk poets of the highest degree; and,
I mean, I have often tried to get into my own
poetry some of the primitive impulses and primi-
tive expressions even though its a new city
5. As a producer-scriptwriter for radio 1966-1968.
thing and I think that, to a great extent, I have
failed. Therefore, the Rastafarian stage has not
lasted quite as long as I would have liked.
M.M. Why do you think if I may ask why do you
think you have failed?
MCNEILL Well, because I do not think that I have got into it
quite as deeply as I would have wished and I
think that I would never be able to get into it very
deeply, because I would have to actually stifle a lot
of my rationale, and that sort of thing, to get into
it; because it's basically a very imaginative thing.
M.M. So you would have to stifle a part of yourself a
very important part of yourself?
MCNEILL I think so.
So having to some extent found yourself dis-
satisfied with this or unable to enter into it, as
you claim but still perhaps fascinated by it (the
religious impulse or whatever it is), how has this
affected your poetry?
MCNEILL Well, it has affected it in the sense that I have
reverted to the more internal poetry which basically
I have always written; but I think there's a slight
change at work now, in that I am becoming overtly
more concerned with our religious responsibility -
something with which I tried to come to terms in a
poem called "First Dark":
Limp, I pillow on stone. Father,
I seek your face in the desert.
My want cries up to that crater
Which carries your image and hurt.
Contained in this innocent grass,
Rank origins clog up my pores.
No constellation is guiltless.
Amazed, the sky breaks out in stars.
And I'm man-proud, watching this moon,
These stars funnel up to reflect
Me. shining back from lost heaven,
Sustaining some terrible past
Universe I lived in before
She seeded forbidden and reaped
The sorrow-filled creatures we are.
Lord, your light shone down uncensored.
Until we ate darkness and were.
Although "First Dark" had a religious intent, it
failed, I think for it concluded as blasphemy. That
"Lord, your light shone down uncensored/Until we
ate darkness and were" is immoral man setting
up himself as a kind of god. It's claiming that man's
existence did not begin until he sinned and com-
menced this limited existence which he now enjoys
or fails to enjoy.
M.M. When you say that the poem failed, do you mean
aesthetically, as poetry; or rather in terms of what
you would have liked to express?
MCNEILL Well, it started out by addressing itself to God in
praise, or at least in search; it ended up by affirm-
ing man's own temporality, defensively taking
pride in a rather sick way in this temporality.
And, as I said earlier, I think that for my poetry, at
least, to progress any further, I will have to get out
of myself completely not only out of my self,
but out of my limited nature and seek God; and
I think that God exists outside, in very simple
things: in trees, in rocks, in wind:
is the receiver through which energy
utters its longing. Cries hungrily in
from the sea's impulse to extend
its discussion inland
imposing its nerve all over
blusters up, refusing to quit
till it hears its half-speech kindle
in branches, till all fill with it,
and will level the sturdiest
trees to render its phase: askew
with this urge for expression, rolls
through earth and our hearing all day.
At nightfall, when our small area
Of universe darkens, it dies
Back to its essence, surprising
Itself in the heart of silence.
M.M. You said in introduction to this last poem, "Wind"
and it's a theme that has cropped up in our talk here
you said something which suggests that the man (the
poet, Yourself) leads the poem, not the poem the
man (the latter being, perhaps, a misguided but pop-
ular impression of the relation of the poet to the
poem). What do you see, on a general level, as the
purpose of the poet and his poetry?
MCNEILL Well, I hate the word purpose: I write poetry com-
pulsively. I mean it's something, in a sense, that I
have to do ...
All right, perhaps we could say then the role, of the
fashioned idea that what the man is, will come out
in the poetry; it may not come out overtly, but it
will certainly be there unconsciously. Therefore, I
think that one can only write great poetry which
obviously has to be one's goal, as ridiculous as it
may seem unless one himself is great: I think
that a man has to be a great man to write great
M.M. Now, turning perhaps to the role of the poet in the
larger context; in the society Nowadays in
Jamaica and the West Indies particularly for us,
anyway the usefulness of the artist is largely
regarded as questionable; some people see him as
superflous, because there are so many real problems
MCNEILL I am glad you brought up that point; I think it is
precisely this that makes it harder for the man in
the West Indies to be an artist, or to be a valuable
artist, than possibly anywhere else,because personal
poetry is a luxury which we cannot afford. For
poetry to have any immediate value in the West
Indies, it has got to be concerned with the identity-
crisis which exists here.
Tony McNeill, thank you very much.
MCNEILL In terms of the man and the poetry?
MCNEILL Well, I still go along with the, perhaps, more old-
Tony McNeill receiving Festival Prize from Mr. Chester Burgess.
Photo Arthur Smith.
by Sally Giray
out of your life
shall I find you?
Here on hillpaths
are burnt grasses
for your oven
across the gully
your buried face
plaits white cinders
your cutlass eye
to hide me
behind the cho-cho vine
to whisper vilely
what Seth has done!
Now with fidgety ladies
sadly I sit
to eat dry cake...
but this is
no place for me
her at your wake
Come, you and I
we wilTwalk higher
right to the watershed...
See? I don't mind
your gums chomping
your brown skin
a bamboo leaf
Ayee! Granny Jack
how could I mind
for haven't I
Illustrations by Anne Wienholdt
by Sally Giray
Bring the drums
the chooka chooka
the whistle and pipe
a tallbodied man's
brought a daughter back
to start again to wife.
Tobacco and chat
in the afternoon
laughter in a hot
the end of town
a daughter home
to stay for now
Wth feathery blood
she wooed his skin
with molten eye
she moistened it
with a far down cry
she knelt and bit
then covered it up
with a lily pad lip.
Ayee! what should he do
if he lost this girl
in a passage of love
as old as the world
should he follow
her follow to her
to her breastbone's
listen! is it yes?
.--4 0 F--
by Sally Giray
I am not here
when rain comes
to listen to
the rain's beat
I on the broken shard
Iam not here
to eat yam goat
to drink from
the green heart
f of coconut
I not here at dawn
to jump from dream
at first haul
of the city
Sfto smoke your
to rock my baby
or know your
From the Book.
I am not here
to take in linen
From the line
to call for Ice!
or Fish! to take
to the latrine.
I am not here
and yet I am!
till all too soon
like you I am
not here again.
I don't know how long it is really, I
mean I try to count the steps all the time,
but something always happens. My mind
wanders, or I start to thinking about how
I'll walk right past the telephone operator
this morning, and don't even say hello -
the one that straightens her hair and is
always touching herself when the men are
around, like she was squeezing the skin a
little. Some days it's like you can smell
her. Touching, touching. One day I got
as far as five hundred and three, just by
where the guango tree leans out over the
fence, and then four dogs come out of the
bushes. The bitch was in heat, and the
bulls were falling all over each other to get
to her, and squealing. I had to cross the
road to get away from them, it was terrible
man, and then I forgot all about counting
for a while. But I haven't given up.
The other way is short, you see. It goes
straight down the Avenue, that takes you
to the Terminus, it's shorter; but there are
always the two girls in their green uniforms
waiting for a lift. They stare at me when I
walk past and I can feel my ears burning
long after I pass them. Actually, some-
times I'm sure they don't really see me at
all, when I'm late and have to hurry that
way, not really, don't notice my shoes or
my old fashioned tie or the little tears in
the pocket of my shirt, they're probably
talking about the date they had last night
or the gossip at office -but suppose they're
actually whispering about me? Suppose
they're giggling about the way my arms
dangle, my mouth that Arie says looks
twice too big for my face? When I pass
them I know my walk gets funny, jerky,
I take the longer route.
This morning Arnie has the day off. It's
Saturday, and he's slept late so that we
leave at the same time. He's going into
town to walk around, and later he'll be
drinking with the men from the factory.
Arnold is very popular. He's Union dele-
gate. Now he's walking with me, bouncy.
At the gate.
"Why you go this way man? It longer,
you know." He starts straight down the
Avenue. "Besides we going pass them two
chick that work at the Bank. Pair o'nice
thing, you know them?" I don't answer.
He hitches up his trousers and grins.
Arnold rents a room in the boarding
house where I live. It used to belong to a
politician, in the days when this was a well
to do place just on the edge of town. Now
the house is full of people, two Cubans, a
student, us; a dressmaker lives and works
in half of it. Sometimes I hear her in
Arnold's room in the early morning. They
wake me up sometimes, laughing.
The pouie tree at the corer is bloom-
ing, bright yellow. Arnold whistles a
little under his breath. Dust is coming off
away from his sneakers in little puffs. It's
a narrow road, and when a car passes we
step up onto the bank. Whenever that hap-
pens I remind myself to dust off my shoes
with a handkerchief before I get to the
office. Mr. Weekes is very particular
about the office staff, even though the
pay is so low. Cheap white man!
Sweat is forming already behind my ears.
It's going to be a bitch of a day.
The girls are just coming out of the
house where they live, the brassieres are
showing through the thin shirts they have
on. All of a sudden I feel like my pants
are too tight for me, the Way I did once
on the bus standing close to a fat smelly
woman. Nothing that you could see, mind
you, but if I thought about it I'd get stiff
One of them is wearing nail polish the
colour of bouganvillia at the gate. A
Public Service man has climbed up close
to the top of the pole opposite, he's
stretching up towards the wires. I cross
over, looking at him, looking interested in
what he's doing. Arnie stares at the girls,
bold, and slows down. He pats his hair in
the shiny window of the van. Then he
looks up the pole to where the man is
hanging below the wires, working very
"Come nuh, Arnie." I say it quietly.
He frowns at me, shrugs. He looks at the
girls, sort of nods as though he isn't sure
he knows them, but thinks he might. One
of them returns the look and says some-
thing to her friend. The friend looks at
her watch like she's been waiting a long
Suddenly, there is a little cough from
the top of the pole. At the same time
there's a slight sizzling sound, like water on
a live coal, and then a pair of heavy pliers
comes clattering down bouncing off the
by Dennis Scott
Illustrations by Dennis Ranston
spikes on the pole, and it falls beside
He says "Rahtid!" I look up quickly.
The linesman is arching back like half of a
C away from the pole. He's only held up
there by his belt now. His feet are sticking
out from the other side and his hands are
fisted out behind him, pointing straight
down in heavy black gloves.
"He touch a wire!" Arnie says in a
"Look!" "Oh mi god!" One of them
has dropped her bag. The sweat stings my
eyes. A bright blue sky. The car zooms
past us, left hand drive Chewy with a
poodle on the back shelf.
"We have to get him down," says Arnie
loudly. "The belt look as if it going to
slip any minute. Miss, call the police.
Call an ambulance."
The girls twitch. One of them runs off
back inside the house, clattering on the
concrete-pathway. Her bottom is swaying
in the tight uniform. The other one looks
at her watch and then she looks at us. All
of a sudden I remember the way their
faces look, those women that go to the
pictures alone. When you sit down beside
them it's like that. Not sure, but waiting.
I am always afraid, though. Suppose they
call out. Suppose they came and turned
the flashlights on me? What then. So I
never do anything.
"Both of us have to go up." Arnie is
saying. "You have to hold him while I
loosen the belt."
"Him not touching no wire! Gwan up,
man." His eyes shine. The girl is taking it
all in, squinting her eyes in the glare. I feel
her. He turns to her.
"Better call the Police, too," he says
again. He wraps a handkerchief round his
hand. The girl doesn't move, just glances
down the road, then back at us.
"You going to climb up and bring him
down," she says, not really asking or giving
any opinion. She's got bumpy knees, this
"You coming with me or not?" I
move like a puppet towards the foot of the
pole, not answering him. He leans against
the van and strips off his pussboots and
the green socks to match his shirt. Then I
am climbing slowly. He tugs me from
"Hold still, you going break you blasted
neck in those shoes." He pulls off the-
loafers, I hear them hit the ground. The
metal spikes on the wood are cold, even
though the sweat is soaking my collar
already; it's funny, you never think how
hard it is to climb straight up like that.
We're near the top now, the man's
hands are just a few inches from my head.
His head hangs back looking straight up
into the sky.
"Go on higher. Get on a level." He's
excited, his voice sounds higher than usual,
"How you mean, dead? Suppose he's
just suffering from shock? Is shock! Just
suppose, you going leave him up here?"
"We should have a ladder, we have to
wait for the police, you need a ladder."
"After we get up here already?"
"After we get up here already? Artifi-
cial respiration, that's what you supposed
to do. The quicker the better."
The girl who was telephoning runs back
out, I hear her. She gasps, staring up at us.
I feel very brave. Arnie is very good at
"Go right up," he says. I climb another
two rungs, counting automatically. Nine.
Ten. Now I'm looking down at the man's
face, I'm touching him. His face is sur-
prised. There's a slight breeze now, but
the sun is very hot. I tighten my hands on
the spikes, crouch against the wood so
there's a big space between my head and
the first set of wires. The belt has left a
scuff mark where the man slipped down
the pole, it looks ugly and whitish like a
scar. His crotch is jammed up against the
pole. All of a sudden I think about what
it must feel like to be pressed up against it
like that. If you're conscious, that is.
"Step on my shoulders," says Arnie.
"They trying to take him down," from
below. I stare at the streak of something
yellow, like paint on the man's brown
shirt. It matches the sharp pencil that
sticks out of his breast pocket. I move my
right foot a little, feeling the smooth spike
under my socks.
"Careful. All right, go ahead." I feel
for Arnie with my feet, trying to see down.
Then one foot shifts, my weight tilts over
a bit, it's on him now. My stomach
cramps up, but I don't make a sound. I
want to piss. Amie grunts as he takes up
"All right," I say. "What now?"
"See if his heart is beating." I want to
say, don't be a blasted fool, he's dead, he's
dead, and the sun is right in my eyes. I
lean over carefully. I'm squinting against
"I can't reach him, Arnie, it's too far."
"Hurry, nuh! I getting cramp." A
little further, and my hand is on his chest.
He seems to move a little, in slow motion,
and the head turns all the wayover to the
other side, on his long thin neck. But the
way it looks, he's going to fall, I know it,
before I can stop myself I'm holding his
shirt, and the head swings a little slowly
backwards and forwards, like a hanged
man. All loose. I know I am going to be
I vomit dry towards the ground. Past
the limp, stiff face.
"Jesus," says Arnie. I'm holding on
too tight. I look at my hands. The
knuckles are damp and grey. After a long
while Arnie says, "All right, All right,
We shift over, very slowly. My feet are
on the spikes again, both of them. I hear
him going carefully down the pole, and
after a bit I relax my hands enough to fol-
"Artificial respiration," he says. One
girl nods quickly; her eyes are wide open.
The one with the handbag holds on to it
tightly, licking her lips and frowning a
little. "He's dead. Maybe". He shrugs.
My socks are dirty, I'm thinking and wish-
ing I could do something about it. I lift a
foot, and brush at the sole. It doesn't
help. The girls are staring at me. I wipe
my hands on my handkerchief. I know
what they're looking at. My mouth. I
wipe it, I wipe it, with the back of my
hand. I get my shoes, looking at the road.
Then I sit down in the shadow of the van,
trying to put them on. My fingers are
Arnie says, "How you feel, boy?"
A black Buick pulled up. The girls go
quickly to the door. One of them holds
back and says "They're coming.. I called
the police. They said to wait." I am
thinking what it would be like to force my-
self between her legs, and make her call
out with the pain. As the car starts away I
see they're talking very fast to the driver,
and looking back at me. My mouth is salt,
and sweet, and bitter from the vomit bile.
.i My shoulders hurt. I wonder how long be-
fore the ambulance gets here, or something.
Monday morning I'm going to have to go
the long way, as usual. But I'm going to
count it next time. That way I'll know
for sure how far it is.
by Phoebe Chung lustrations by Dennis Ranston
by Phoebe Chung Illustrations by Dennis Ranston
Ras Judah felt the bright noon sun hot
and burning against his cheeks. His
shoulders soaked the rags covering them
with wet perspiration, his hand clammy on
his walking stick, his feet burning and
sore in his sandals, and his hair itchy
under his wool tam. But most of all his
mouth and tongue and throat felt dry and
dusty like the road stretched out ahead of
him. And his stomach weak with empti-
But his eyes looked straight ahead and
his head was held high and full of medita-
tions. When he walked his steps were
firm and even, and the lower part of his
body seemed to glide. He was looking
ahead with steady brown eyes and the
blackness of his face gleamed in the sun.
Five ringlets of wiry hair stuck out of his
red and green tam and above his proud
face in all His glory was pinned the image
of The Most High Emperor Haile
"I will be true to you-,". Music and
words lifted his spirits while his mouth
tasted as dusty as the road clouds stirred
by the passing cars.
Ras Judah had begun walking on
Spanish Town Road in the cool of morn-
ing and now he was approaching the
Matilda's Corner intersection on Hope
Road. "Glory unto the most high God,
sing praises, unto His name, Jah. Even as
the faithful shepherd did lead his sheep to
safe ground before the storm, so shall I
lead I people out of Babylon before the
destruction of the Temple of Idols. So
come up hither, Judah, and let I show
thee things which must be hereafter, I and
my comforter." He fondly rubbed his
Judah had walked nearly a quarter mile
during this last meditation and felt the
dust biting his throat and his lips crack
with heat. He paused. Into a driveway
and beyond a neatly trimmed hedge he
saw an oasis of green. Rolling lawns, a
Buick in the carport. But what caught
Judah's attention was the shade spread
out by a sprawling mango tree in front of
the house. The cool green soft grass
opened up before him as he passed through
the open gate, and he was sure he saw an
orange-red mango hiding in the green
leaves of the tree.
The shade brought visions of the Gar-
den of Eden to the mind of the locksman
and he gave thanks to the Creator for the
splendours of life and for allowing him to
partake thereof. "For I an I shall be like a
tree that is planted by the rivers of water
that bringeth forth fruit in due season. I
an I lock also shall not wither and whatso-
ever I doeth shall prosper."
Looking through her kitchen window,
Mrs. Wilson watched this intrusion with
horror. She must have left the gate opened
when her husband went to the office this
morning. She would have to try to get
another maid. She couldn't remember
She was annoyed with herself and
finished washing the plate in her hand.
She looked up to see the Rastafarian still
standing under her mango tree. She slowly
realized the situation. She bit her lip in
panic. Suddenly she wished she could
vomit. But nothing seemed to be there to
come up. Even her legs seemed hollow.
She held the wet dishrag dripping in her
hand as if she were frozen. She watched
the Rastafarian through the window as if
she were part of the house itself.
Ras Judah was gently poking his walk-
ing stick into the foliage.
"Now's my chance," she thought. "I'll
sneak away and telephone the police." She
moved stealthily as if the black man's eyes
were following her.
Breathlessly she explained her position
to the Emergency Operator. Then slowly
she returned to her place before the sink
and window. Her eyes fixed on the
bearded face. He was seated comfortably
under the tree sucking the last juice from
the mango seed.
"In the times of the ancients it used to
be that Man did walk in fear of I, the true
living God, and did honour and obey I
laws. And in these times the land of
Ethiopia did prosper."
Mrs. Wilson mechanically began to rub
the dishes with the dishrag again, only her
hands moving. She thought of playing the
game of statue as a child during school
"If I can just maintain composure.
Just go on as if nothing Unusual was
happening until the police come." Over
and over again Mrs. Wilson repeated and
repeated this dictum, only interspersed
with pleas for the police to come charging
down the driveway swords in air like a
"Great kingdoms did wax and wane
and wax again even as the setting sun does
rise the next day. And men ruled over all
these kingdoms and man prospered and
grew wise." Ras Judah paused in his
meditations to look around his newly
found Garden of Eden. Then Ras Judah
felt a natural urge and stood up to respond.
"What is this? No! Unbelievable!"
Mrs. Wilson's eyes were deceiving her.
"What desecration, what insolence, what
bestiality! Right in my own yard like a
dog! My own front yard, my own mango
tree! The neighbour's dogs are enough
nuisance, but this is nakedness!"
Mrs. Wilson acted in fury. Letting go of
the dishrag she ran out the kitchen door
and around the house. "There's just so
far a person can'be pushed,just so much a
person can put up with. This is my house,
my lawn, my tree-."
Mrs. Wilson wasn't sure when she stop-
ped thinking these thoughts and began
Ras Judah looked down on her with
calm as he replaced his instrument of
watering. It was as if a buzzing mosquito
had interrupted his meditations.
Mrs..Wilson looked up at the beard, the
blackness of Ras Judah's face, the white-
ness around his calm, staring brown eyes,
and the five ringlets of hair standing
against the blue cloudless sky.
"Love, Sister," Ras Judah pronounced
in a blessed tone.
Mrs. Wilson thought again of what she
had seen him do. "Where do you think
you are? A dog in the park letting himself
"I am always in God's park," a sonorous
deep voice rolled.
"O," Mrs. Wilson drew. herself up tall
with biting sarcasm. "I had not been in-
formed. The grass is still bare in spots and
the fruit trees slow to bear I would
have expected more."
"No more, no less. It is His Will," the
deep voice rumbled.
"Now see here out. Out and off my
property. If you think you can just-"
Beyong the five stiff ringed curls Mrs.
Wilson saw the cavalry advancing down
the driveway in the form of a police car
and two policemen in the front seat. And
just in time as she wasn't quite sure how
she was going to finish her threat.
Ras Judah turned to face the police.
"The days of Babylon have come," he
called. "Being certain of their leaders,
being filled with conceit and wicked
desires, did see fit to denounce God, and
make a mockery of I laws, and the people
being no more than clay in the hands of
the officials did listen to these blasphe-
mous teachings and were filled with the
Spirit of Evil and did lust after such
things as money and women and strong
One policeman stuck his billy stick into
Ras Judah's side. Mrs. Wilson winced.
'Maybe that wasn't quite necessary. After
all he hadn't really been violent. Perhaps
he meant no harm. He might have gone
away by himself.' But the police were
already doing him that service as they led
him to the police car.
Then Mrs. Wilson saw his walking stick
in the grass. She picked it up. It felt
light in her hands and she knew she would
The world seemed to be in its place
again. Mrs. Wilson would telephone her
friend, Mavis, and tell her about her adven-
ture and recount it again at the dinner
table for her husband.
She looked up again and watched the
police remove Ras Judah by gripping his
arms and dragging his feet on the grass.
Ras Judah looked up to the sky. "And
they became unworthy of being the
Children of God and I saw fit to deliver
them up into the hands of the pagan
Philistines as due punishment."
Mrs. Wilson felt limp with relief as she
watched. Then the same policeman stuck
his club into the side of Ras Judah. She
didn't know what to do. Should she call
out to the retreating policeman?
But now the three figures slowed down.
The policemen were keeping step with the
bearded man who was walking with meas-
ured steps, head held high, the five ringlets
spread out in the breeze.
"Almost regal," thought Mrs. Wilson.
His voice called out to the sun and the
sky. "Behold I people have served long
enough, and have come to know humility
once more. And I will show them that I,
Ras Tafari, am Alpha and Omega, the first
and last, that which was, and is, and is to
come. I shall free I people from the hands
of Babylon. The time has come for the
harvest to be reaped, for debts to be paid,
let the doors be bolted and the windows
The last exclamation co-incided with
the policeman shutting the car doors and
then driving up the driveway. The car
turned left and carried Ras Judah further
up the road he had been travelling that
"Come together all ye prophets and
apostles of truth. Call thy people from out
of Babylon, for none shall be spared. Now
shall the hills be levelled and the mighty
shall crash when I pass judgement. For
they have built their seats on the hilltops
from whence they rule I people with an
iron hand. But their seats shall fall and
their hilltops be made again into dust and
their iron chains broken. I am the Lord
thy God and death to all who heed not.
Craft exhibit in
by S. Rowe
.. % o r
by Tessa Dow
Small boy Domino, sometimes called The Dreamer, leaned against the vast trunk of
a spreading Silk Cotton tree. It was a very hospitable tree, lending its limbs to support
any number of plants and creepers, a tree adorned with the air-feeding plants called
epiphytess" and endowed with all sorts of leafy hide-outs for birds and lizards. Domino
loved its shelter dearly. It was a tree of secrets, a tree to dream under. One of its best
secrets was revealed once a year on some balmy evening in August. Just after dark a miracle
would unfold. A prickly green creeper called Cereus, inconspicuous all year, put forth on
this night fragrant flowers of such beauty, to last only for a few hours of darkness, that
whoever is lucky enough to see them must believe that it is a flowering of miracles. An-
other secret was the occasional presence of a large, vividly green lizard, and yet another was
a family of small Ant-Eater birds, neat little creatures wearing their grey and white pinstripe
suits. All these were on the friendliest of terms with Domino. He slid down to sit on one
of the prominent roots,just as Chocho the pup arrived. There followed a long conversation,
now serious, now giggly, then serious again. Afterwards, Chocho went on his way with an
air of great importance. He was on an urgent errand for Domino and therefore could not
allow himself to be distracted. He delivered messages to his dear friend, Winsome Mon-
goose, Claude and Cassilda, the inseparables, resident Cats and Ratters in Domino's yard.
Chocho delivered more messages, until the wonderful smell of soup and dumplings remind-
ed him that it was time to go home for his supper.
A little after dusk, when the hurricane lamp had been hung up on the verandah,
people began to arrive at Domino's yard. Claude and Cassilda quickly settled themselves
on the most comfortable chair, purring loudly, preparatory to a little post-prandial nap.
Ralph Rubberlegs, the postman, who could shinny up the highest Coconut tree with ease,
arrived, smiling and saying,"Good evening, good evening, good evening", and settled down
near Chocho. After everyone else, came Miss Winsome Mongoose, timidly peeping round
and seating herself very near the door in case of emergency. Although Chocho was her best
friend, she didn't really approve of his friendship with those unpredictable Tabbies.
Domino came out and cleared his throat very loudly before starting to speak:
"Welcome friends, and I am glad to see you all here tonight."
(Claude who had just been having a short Cat-nap, woke up suddenly, clapped and
said, "Hear, hear".
"Shut your beak," said Chocho sternly.)
Domino resumed: "I been having some dreams, lately, and in all my dreams it comes to me
like we should have in this village A Fund Raising Function, it being the season for Fund
"Please, Mr. Domino, Sir," quavered Winsome, "In aid of what?"
"In aid of We. Fe We Community Centre. And further I propose that the Fund
Raising Function can take the shape of a concert, seeing that some of us here have a few
talents in the way of entertaining."
Illustrated by the Author
This statement was most popular with the meeting. An excited chattering broke
out, as Claude and Cassilda clapped their paws and Winsome executed three consecutive
somersaults in her enthusiasm. As Domino was trying to restore order to the meeting, all
were quieted suddenly by a mighty roar. Onto the verandah strode The Growler himself.
He growled and roared and roared and growled, then settled himself down next to Domino.
"Glad you could come along, Mr. G.," said Domino to the new arrival. "We are
trying to organize a concert. Would you like to help us?" A soft growl was the answer.
It was unfortunate that The Growler could not communicate by speech, having been
bereft of this faculty in early childhood. Some people said, and a few actually believed,
that his speech had been taken from him, when his mother had once crossed the local
Obeah man, and this was his revenge. However, Domino knew that Obeah did not possess
any such powers, since it was only a relic of bygone days of ignorance, when there were
not many proper doctors about. He understood that poor Mr. G. was born this way, and
could, nevertheless, make himself understood by growls and hand signs.
"Now for volunteers to take part in the show. Raise a paw or hand whoever feels
they can contribute an act."
Immediately every paw and hand present shot up and began to wave in order to catch
Domino's attention. He brought out a stubby pencil and worn notebook.
"First, Claude and Cassilda?"
They rose on their hind legs. "We shall sing a duet."
Everybody groaned, and there were some Cat-calls, but Domino wrote them down.
"Who next? You, Winsome?"
"Yes," she quavered, "I can do acrobatics."
There were murmurs of approval; people knew how skilled she was when out play-
ing on the log which marked the entrance to her burrow. Ralph Rubberlegs stood up,
grinning and a bit sheepish. "Me can do the out and out regay and t'ing, and whistle me
Domino, who was a great reader, remembered. the words of the poet -
Postie, postie, don't delay,
Do the regay all the way.
He wrote down Ralph's name and accomplishments. Chocho got up to ask if he
might be the Stage Manager. Then Domino said matter of factly, "Meself will recite one
or two of my own poems." The meeting broke up and some were saying yes and what
about a spot of hunting tonight, and The Growler was performing a little growling and
hand-talk to Domino, which was all about making big posters and fixing them up on all
the big trees of the village and round about.
- \ -- _--_- ^
PLL A# IftAcd &aL40 wLd 4o
The Growler showed his flamboyantly painted posters to Domino. He had used
three different colours of house paint, begged from the Builder, blending and combining
them to produce a great variety of shades.
Meanwhile lots and lots of rehearsing was going on; Domino's yard was full of
suppressed giggling and secret comings and goings. Domino himself recited his poems over
and over. Everywhere there were bright posters stuck on trees, the work of The Growler
who was daily taken for a walk by two large Alsatians on leads. The two dogs towed The
Growler all over the village so that he could put up the posters. Then they towed him
back to his yard, all three of them growling with pleasure.
Four days after the meeting, a rehearsal was called at the school. Claude and Cassilda
sent a message saying they could not attend, as they had an appointment with the dress-
maker. Everyone knew already that the Tabbies were a vain couple. It was rumoured that
Cassilda was thinking of wearing a gown made of pure pink Hibiscus blooms. The re-
hearsal went very well. Both Winsome and Ralph performed as though they had not got a
bone in either of their bodies. Domino said:
"There are fifty verses in my poem, so I won't trouble to recite it now." "Just a
verse or two," the others begged. So Domino began:
English Lords and Slaves.
What a lot of History that,
And Maroons in their caves.
African as well.
Rasta man and Poco Sam
And much and more to tell.
Bogle and his men;
Many gone, and more to come
And what will happen then?
His small audience liked how it sounded, and clapped, leaving Domino well gratified.
Ralph got up and did a new whistle and dance; the foot was neat and sprightly, and the
body boneless. Domino knew that he would be a success. Then they all went in search of
lunch. What a hungry-making business show business was! Ralph returned to his deliveries
as postie, Chocho running alongside his bicycle, carrying for him a very mysterious package
from abroad. It was addressed.to Claude Tabby, Esq. No amount of sniffing would yield
up the secret of what was inside."
For the next couple of days Domino and Chocho were quite extraordinarily busy
with arrangements of all kinds connected with the concert. Nevertheless Domino managed
to spend a half hour or so with his poems beneath the shade of his Silk Cotton tree. Cho-
cho ran all the errands, and completed the plans for the seating and decorating of the
schoolroom. At last the day of the concert dawned. Chocho was beside himself with
excitement. He was awake and about with the first light. What is more he went around
waking everyone who was sleeping, bidding the tired night-hunters bestir themselves before
breakfast, although they were in the habit of drinking their milk and then disappearing for
a sleep all morning, until the tempting cooking smells of midday tickled their noses and
announced the advent of dinnertime. Chocho gave Cassilda's face a rough washing with
his tongue, and earned himself a box on the ear from Claude.
Well, the appointed hour for the concert finally came, and Domino was thrilled to
to see the schoolroom packed to capacity with every age, specie and type of beings. They
sat row by row in anticipation of an exciting show. A few kid goats in a group at the back
were staring fixedly at the stage, bleating to one another occasionally. One large window
was full up with a very large contingent of wild parrots who had flown all the way from
their limestone habitat on Constitution Hill especially for the concert. Meanwhile, the
artists were in a little room behind the stage, some powdering their whiskers and others
making sure their costumes were exactly right. Cassilda was wearing a gown made entirely
of large pink Hibiscus flowers, while Claude had draped long necklaces, strung with the
seeds of Job's Tears all round his neck. On his head he wore a wig! A pair of large
mustachios almost covered the lower part of his face! Chocho jumped in fright when he
saw him; so that was what the parcel had contained!
Winsome Mongoose was to open the show. She came onto the stage in a series of
somersaults, performed in time to a roll on the drums, provided by Chocho. She had such
an attractive stage personality that time and again she received the applause of her au-
dience. One old Nannie goat was heard exclaiming that from she born she never see
mongoose jump about like monkey. Winsome's act put the audience in a very good mood.
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Next, a school speaking-choir recited a long poem about an old sailor and a bird called an
Albatross. After that it was the turn of Claude and Cassilda. Styling themselves The Cool
Cats, they strolled elegantly out onto the stage and began their "song". What a piece of
ear-piercing wailing! What an ear-shattering row! What a Cat-erwauling! Now on the high
notes the canine members of the audience felt obliged to howl too. They lifted their
snouts towards the ceiling and wept and wailed and howled, just as happens sometimes on
nights of the full moon. Some of the audience rocked with laughter, but some had to block
their ears. The birds from Constitution Hill yelled and squawked at the stage, and some-
one shouted, "Fire!". Then someone threw a half-eaten pattie at The Cool Cats; Cassilda
neatly caught it and stuffed it in her mouth but did not cease to sing. Then followed a
shower of things onto the stage, cakes, buns, icecream and even a couple of not very fresh
eggs. The whole thing was a Cat-astrophe. However, The Growler walked onto the stage
with a big growl, lifting up his hands for silence. Gradually the commotion ceased; Claude
and Cassilda were persuaded to leave the scene without doing an encore, although they
swept some deep bows to the audience as they left. Could they really have been unaware
of the dire effect they had on the crowd?
Gradually order was restored. Out onto the stage walked Domino, with his poem
neatly written out in a school exercise book. He was well known for his learning and often
prophetic dreams, and everyone waited in respectful silence for him to begin reciting. He
intoned his poem clearly and solemnly being a touch nervous and only occasionally
hadhe to refer to his papers. This feat alone impressed the audience, and a few people also
understood the contents. When he had finished Chocho called out "Encore!".
Much as they had enjoyed themselves so far, there was a sort of restless feeling
throughout the audience. It was as though something was missing. Grownups and little
ones, all seemed to feel it. With the next act came the answer. Onto the stage skipped
Ralph Rubberlegs, followed by a small but powerful band. That was it! Music was the
missing element! On came Postie with his cheerful whistling and nimble legs and feet. You
might say that his audience was by way of being expert and critical, but they were quite
swept away by his performance. In fact, not long afterwards, certain small people began to
shuffle and dance; soon the whole room was on the move and in time to the beat. The
visiting parrots gave screeches of delight as they jogged from side to side on their stretch
of window. Chocho now paced elegantly round with Winsome, inclining his head slightly
whenever she did some trickifying steps on her own. Gradually the whole schoolroom was
taken over by swaying feet and bodies, many of the younger folk trying out new steps or
going over polished old ones. There wasn't a single person in the place who wasn't on the
move. The band went on playing until exhaustion overcame them, as it did the dancers.
"Allright, Mas' Ralph", said Domino at last. He had jumped up onto the front part of the
stage, and eventually obtained everyone attention. "Friends," he said, "All you who
have honoured us by your presence here today, thank you for your support. Now the
show has. ended; it's time to go home to bed, and LAST ONE LEFT INSIDE HERE
CLEANS UP. The crowd dispersed with the speed of impending danger, leaving only
Mr. G. and Domino to cope, which is just what they wanted.
The next day Domino rose late. He took time and ate a large breakfast of salt-fish,
ackee, pear and Johnnie cakes, all washed down with a mug full of milk. He decided that
he would move no further than the Silk Cotton tree that day, and it was here that Chocho
and The Growler found him later that morning, reading a book. Soon the three of them
were discussing the concert, giggling and remembering and enjoying it all over again. Then
The Growler softly growled, ahemm, ahem". Domino realized he wanted to get down to
business. He fished around in his pocket and brought out the crumpled notebook with the
accounts. It was a very complicated balance sheet, but pointing out each word as he read,
The Growler gradually got through it with much scratching of the head. This is how it
Rent of schoolroom 3s. 6d. but teacher say it all O.K. Hiring chairs 3s. 4%d.
Refreshments cost 7s. 93d. but sold back for 7s. 11 1d. Band play for 11s. Od.
Use of electricity Is. 4d. Ticket money at the door care of Mistress Madrush
17s. 93d. plus extra contributions totalling 3s. Od. Bill received as follows:
For Talented Services Rendered: One Pound Two Shillings and Fourpence, signed
yours ever The Cool Cats.
Not paying that one at all. Total proceeds: minus 3s. 6d. Profits In Aid Of We.
"It's very odd," said Domino, "but we don't seem to have any money left over;
very odd indeed." But The Growler shook his head and showed Domino from the state-
ment that it was really remarkably even.
The Growler and Chocho left Domino to the peace of his shady tree. For a little
while, Domino was aware only of the creaking noises from the nearby clump of Bamboo
as it swayed and gently filtered the wind through its leaves. Then The Dreamer gazed up
at the spreading branches of his tree, slowly made himself more comfortable, and then fell
asleep on the threshold of another enchanting dream.
Os. Os Os.a