MICHAEL GARFIELD SMITH
For long and distinguished service in the field of Anthropology in
which his researches and analyses of the social and economic condition
of African peoples in the Caribbean (including Jamaica) and m West
Africa brought his renown to the attention of Europe and North
America to his enduring credit
NOEL FOSTER DAVIS
Teaching of Music
VERNON LOPEZ ].
Radio and Televiril '
QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
SEPTEMBER 1973 VOL. 7- NO. 3
The Jamaica Letter. . . . . .. Dr. Aurelio R. Lopez W. 2
The Official Attitude towards the Elected Members in
the Jamaica Legislative Council 1918-1938 ... .. . A Cariss 6
19th Century Jamaica, A Review Article ..... Douglas Hall 11
Emigre's, Conflict and Reconciliation. The French Emigres
in Nineteenth Century Jamaica ... .... . . .. Patrick Bryan 13
Water, Water, Everywhere
The Surface Water Resources of Jamaica
Bringing forth Water from the rock
The Geology of Ground Water . .
Cockroaches . . .. .
ART AND LITERATURE
The Land of Look Behind . . . .
Child of Darkening Humour . . .
A Painter's Philosophy . . . .
The Century of Exile
Basil McFarlane speaks with Wayne Brown
National Photographic Exhibition .
The Man with the Red Shoes . . .
The Bucknor Exhibition ....
. . .. Thorant Hardware 20
. . Raymond M. Wright 23
. . . Dr. T. Farr 26
. .. Philip Sherlock
Noel D. Williams
. .. Gloria Escoffery
SCharles W. Mills
Due to circumstances beyond our control the 1935 Bustamante Letters are
not yet ready for publication. We have now requested Dr. Trevor Munroe
to prepare this study which will be featured in a later issue.
COVER-FROM COLOUR TRANSPARENCY
(UNTITLED) BY DR. OWEN MINOTT.
Simon Bolivar Photo courtesy of the Institute of Jamaica
J/AM CAIIIA LIETTIIE
by Dr. Aurelio R. Lopez W. *
(President of the Bolivarian Centre of Colon)
It was fortunate for Jamaica, whose strategic geographical
position was always coveted by Great Britain, that her links to
Spain did not last for long after her discovery and conquest
from the Arawak tribe, the original settlers of Jamaica.
Along the years as Great Britain became Sovereign of the
seas through her expanding empire, she deemed necessary the
possession of Jamaica so as to carry out aggressive operations
against the Spanish-American coasts and also to harass Spain's
navy and merchant marine. Thus Jamaica was seized from
Spain and turned into an unconquerable fortress to enhance
Britain's supremacy on the seas and also her political influence
in the New World.
It then seemed as if Jamaica had been lost to what would
become in the future, Hispanic-American independent nations.
And the Latin-Americans observed with sadness, without being
able to help her, the long struggle for freedom which has taken
Jamaica. through severe metamorphosis, to emerge proudly at
last, with the unique condition of a prosperous independent
country among her American brothers, to occupy with dignity
a place within Great Britain's Commonwealth of Nations.
During the years 1810 to 1812, Simon Bolivar, the father
*Lopez Williams. Dr. Lopez' mother (nee Williams) was a Jamaican
born in Spanish Town.
of Latin-America's freedom, along with a group of Venezuelan
and Colombian citizens, rebelled against the army to expel the
Spaniards; and they even declared their independence but
failed to sustain it for long owing to the people's ignorance and
lack of unity. Thus Bolivar with a high price placed on his head
by the Spaniards had to flee his homeland. He chose voluntarily
to take refuge in Jamaica and arrived here at Kingston on the
7th of May, 1815, to remain on the Island for seven months
and eleven days, that is until the 18th of December of the same
It was not by chance that Bolivar decided to come to
Jamaicaj he came here because this was the safest and most
suitable place for him to develop a campaign in favour of the
liberation of his people and the rest of the Spanish-American
colonies from the most vicious yoke of enslavement inflicted
upon them by the Spanish Crown, from Mexico down to Cape
He came here also, to be out of the reach of his pursuers,
but the bloody Spaniards reached out over the Caribbean Sea
sending emissaries to murder him here in Kingston. Fortunately
for history their plan failed. America was not deprived of her
liberation, neither did Jamaica pass into America's history with
a sad rememberance, but rather with great esteem, to occupy
an honoured position in the hearts of her American brothers
and in the history of America's social regeneration, through the
astonishing feat which Bolivar was enabled to accomplish during
his seven months campaigning in Jamaica; of which the prophe-
tic Jamaica Letter is the most outstanding testimony.
Bolivar came to Jamaica primarily to obtain England's help
so as to return to the mainland and continue the battle for
freedom not only of Venezuela but of all Hispanic-America, as
he now considered himself a citizen of America and the leader
of freedom in this sector of the world.
During his stay in Jamaica, he exerted the most strenuous
intellectual efforts. He talked to important people, maintained
an abundant correspondence and a staunch campaign in the
local and the foreign press in an unremitting effort to build up
a favourable international opinion in regards to the heroic resis-
tance the Latin-Americans were putting up against Spain's
Bolivar had the highest esteem and admiration for England,
whose democratic representative political system he thought
could be partly instituted in Latin-America once she had
attained her independence. His principal aim then, was to
impress Great Britain so as to win her over to Hispanic-
America's independence cause. This can clearly be seen in the
The British Crown, however, was not in favour of Bolivar's
intentions, therefore help was not to be extended to him. This
sad attitude of England's monarchs is now understandable, as
it was at the precise time when Napoleon's star was dwindling
as he had been defeated by the British army at Waterloo, and
also the time when the infamous Sacred Alliance was being
completed by the European monarchs with the purpose of
restoring the absolute monarchs who had been displaced by
Napoleon and his clan throughout Europe.
Notwithstanding England's highly democratic representative
government, the Royalists favoured the Spanish Crown because
they also were opposed to all such liberal ideals as were then
nourished by Bolivar, and because the European monarchs were
now uniting in order to maintain the traditional social order in
Europe and to back up Spain in her efforts to retain a strong-
hold on her American colonies.
Nevertheless, Bolivar still presumed that for commercial
reasons, England would be the most interested party in Latin-
America's independence, because of the commercial potentia-
lities and encouraging prospects which these colonies, once
they had attained their freedom, could offer her developing
industries and expanding commerce, as a vast consumers'
This was the prevailing European situation while Bolivar was
here in Jamaica; a situation of dark omen for America's
cherished independence. It was imperative that he receive help
before the Sacred Alliance could lay her forces on America to
abolish all vestiges of liberty. This situation, to Bolivar's distress,
coincided with what is known in European history as the
Restoration Period, which caused him, from 1810 to 1830
when he died, great anguish, as he had expended all his efforts
hoping for help which never came.
We have to admire the Liberator, faced with what seemed to
be insurmountable obstacles; how he managed to overcome
them, and with clear foresight, predicted with amazing chron-
ological precision in his historical Jamaica Letter, the present
and future events to take place in America and in England.
The Jamaica Letter:-
The Jamaica Letter begins and ends as a letter, but as to its
contexture and scope, it is rather a marvellous manifesto to
the world and in particular to England, in regards to the de-
plorable social and political situation prevailing in the Spanish-
American colonies, and also a plea for help for these people
in their struggle to be released from Spain's despotism.
The Jamaica Letter consists of 56 paragraphs most of
which could be the subject of a separate lecture. It was origin-
ally entitled "The Answer of a Meridional American to a
Gentleman of This Island." The gentleman of this island is,
now known to have been Mr. Henry Cullen of Falmouth, a
then very important Englishman who sympathized greatly with
the Latin-America's struggle for liberty, as is stated by His
Illustrious Eminence, the Archbishop of Venezuela, Monsignor
Nicolas Eugenio Navario in his book The Consignee Of The
Jamaica Letter, published in Caracas in 1954.
This letter, referred to today as the Jamaica Letter or
"The Prophetical Jamaica Letter", was not only forwarded to
Mr. Henry Cullen but was given extensive publicity and it pro-
duced a terrific impact on public opinion in favour of Ameri-
ca's emancipation efforts.
The first and second paragraphs comprise the introduction
to the letter.. In the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs Bolivar
explained the difficulty he encountered in replying in a precise
manner to his interrogator (a gentleman of this island) namely
Mr. Henry Cullen in regards to Latin-America's situation.
In paragraph six, as Bolivar outlines the irreconcilable rup-
ture that had taken place between Spain and her revolted
colonies, he expresses his firm belief in the final victory of the
revolution now flaring up in all Hispanic-America, basing his
opinion on the fact that these colonists had decided their fate
in an irrevocable way.
Paragraphs 8 to 14, describe the existing situation in the
different parts of the Spanish-American empire, and review
touchingly the possibilities of each colony in regards to the
revolutionary conditions prevailing there.
In paragraph 15, Bolivar laments that the Europeans had
remained indifferent to Latin-America's revolution. And with
pathetic words he tries to sway them towards the fate of the
ideals of liberty which were then in danger of disappearing
from the New World.
In paragraph 16 Bolivar expands the same theme. Here the
Liberator, considering that the independence of the New World
was an historical necessity, points out that it was in the interests
of Europeans to dissuade Spain from her intention of recovering
and subduing her revolted colonies. He also makes a persuasive
effort to obtain European.help, particularly that of England,
to foster his revolution.
From paragraph 18 to 21, Bolivar exposes points of view of
a historical and general nature pertaining to the inhuman con-
ditions in which the Spanish-American colonists were forced
The most valuable part of the Jamaica Letter begins at
paragraph 23. Here, Bolivar, after completing the preliminary
portion of his letter, reviews the political situation of the Latin-
Americans facing Spain's domination and emphasizes the lack
of preparation of these people for self-government, and the
need for experience in public administration, which training
was forbidden them by the Spaniards.
The Prophetic Section:-
Bolivar then enters into the most luminous part of the
Jamaica Letter, namely the prophetical inspired portion. At
this stage, Bolivar with shrewd clairvoyance of continental
American political and social conditions, indicates what he con-
sidered would lead the uprising Americans to achieve their
independence. Then from paragraph 24 to 26, he offers a
panorama of the exclusivist policy by which Spain had formerly
sunk the American natives' into a passive attitude of political
Paragraphs 27 to 30, contain a complete description of the
incredible inferiority in which the Spanish Crown maintained
her American colonists, denying them all decorous participa-
tion in public or governmental affairs; notwithstanding the
historical covenant subscribed between Charles V of Spain
and the discoverers and conquerors of America's territories,
CEDED TO THE
UNITED STATED IN 1821
* AND PERU
BATTLE OF AYACUCHO
DEC. 9, 1824.
ASSURED THE FREEDOMOF
SEAT OF KING OF PORTUGAL,
BECAME INDEPENDENT EMPIRE,
INDEPENDENCE WON IN 1821.
* CENTRAL AMERICAN STATES
ANNEXED TO ITURBIDE'S
MEXICAN "EMPIRE" IN 1822.
REBELLED AGAINST MEXICO
IN 1823 AND FORMED A
LOOSELY UNITED CENTRAL
FATHER OF URUGUAYAN
FIGHT AGAINST SPAIN
BUT WAS BLOCKED BY
JEALOUSY OF BRAZIL
AND BUENOS AIRES
* REPUDIATED JOSEPH BONAPARTE
ON MAY 25, 1810.
INDEPENDENCE OF THE "UNITED
PROVINCES OF SOUTH AMERICA"
DECLARED ON JULY 9, 1816.
which granted to them and to their descendants the creoles,
the right to exercise governmental functions over these terri-
In paragraphs 31 and 32, the Liberator refers to the prema-
ture combination of causes, such as Napoleon's invasion of
Spain and the overthrowing and imprisonment of her king,
which drove the Spanish-American colonists to revolt and
declare their independence. Paragraph 33 then describes what
took place in America while Spain was under Napoleon's
domination and the colonists were forced to depose the
Spanish authorities and to declare their independence and
create a new government.
Paragraphs 30 to 33 may appear to contain some contra-
diction; because whereas Bolivar asserts the lack of prepara-
tion of the natives to assume independence, nevertheless he
had engaged them on a self-government enterprise. Bolivar
realized unhesitatingly that even with the disadvantage of lack
of preparation, the opportunity for liberation had arrived for
the Latin-Americans with the breaking of links between Spain
and her colonies caused by Napoleon's invasion of Spain and
Portugal. He further states that the circumstances in Spain
itself, and the fear of Napoleon's intentions in regard to Spain's
colonies, forced the Latin-Americans to search prematurely for
their destiny, rather than fall into Napoleon's imperialist
Paragraph 34 contains an extensive reference to the revolu-
tionary occurrence in Mexico and its special significance at that
moment to the rest of Latin-America.
Paragraph 35 is of critical importance. Here Bolivar recalls
his judgements already expressed three years before in his
famous Cartagena Proclamation and the conclusions he had
arrived at then, that a democratic federal form of government
was not suitable at that time for the Latin-Americans. He did
not mean by this statement that he was opposed to a democra-
tic representative regime, which he considered to be the system
by which democracy should be applied in modern states. What
he tried to stress was that a group of nations enslaved for over
three centuries, such as the Hispanic-American colonies, could
not jump suddenly from such an unprepared civil state to
exercise such an advanced system as that of democratic federal
Bolivar was a convinced democrat, not a mere theorist; he
was a realist, therefore he thought that Spanish-America should
not copy completely England's constitutional system, but
rather develop her own in accordance with her particular needs,
and thus progress gradually towards a complete democratic
representative form of government. And in paragraph 36 he
reveals his doubts as to whether the Latin-Americans would
be able to maintain their freedom with a perfect democratic
republican constitution. He maintained that they should pro-
ceed gradually towards complete democracy. Following this
in paragraph 37, Bolivar describes and expresses his choice of
what he calls a paternalistt" government for the American
colonies which, he presumed, would give the people time to
acquire the virtues and necessary skill for the adoption of a
more liberal type of government. In paragraph 38 he expands
general considerations of what could be a unitarian or confed-
erated entity encompassing all the Latin-American nations,
but he also mentions the instability inherent in such an
In paragraphs 39 and 40 Bolivar expounds an interesting
plan concerning the division of Hispanic-America into 15 to 17
states, but he rejects categorically other suggestions for a
monarchist system for these independent states, although he
would be the one to be crowned emperor.
Paragraph 41 is without doubt the most prophetic part of the
"Jamaica Letter." Here the Liberator, after meditating pro-
foundly, arrived at brilliant conclusions. Bearing in mind that
statistics and demographic studies of human behaviour were
then unknown; and further that there was no adequate source
of information to indicate what would be the future of the
Spanish Empire now that Napoleon had fallen and Spain had
regained her crown; neither could Bolivar have known all the
different countries of Latin-America. His conclusions must
therefore rank him as the most outstanding and realistic poli-
tical speculator of his time, a statesman of great vision, an
intuitive sociologist and the most diligent student of history.
All these qualities co-existed in Bolivar's genial personality and
contributed to his conception of an original and more function-
al political formula, which four years later he successfully in-
corporated into the Angostura's Carta Magna for Colombia and
Venezuela and later, in the Carta Magna of the Bolivian
Paragraphs 42 and 43 are dedicated to Mexico and the Cen-
tral American Isthmus. Here Bolivar even predicted the con-
struction of interoceanic canals throughout Central America
which would shorten distances of the whole world and tighten
commercial links between Europe, America and Asia. Pertain-
ing to the Isthmus we Jamaicans and Panamanians are living
testimonies of his astonishing prediction, as thousands of
brave Jamaicans abandoned their homes to go to Panama and
hand in hand, side by side, worked hard along with the
Panamanians, shed their blood and sacrificed their lives in
what was in fact the materialization of Bolivar's gigantic fore-
cast: the construction of the Panama Canal and the enhance-
ment of Panama's grandeur as centre of the world, bridge of
the Americas and heart of the universe.
Paragraph 44 is dedicated to the political future of Venezue-
la and Nueva Granada, the latter known today as the Republic
of Colombia. In paragraph 45 Bolivar refers, with great pre-
cision, to the destiny of the region of Rio de la Plata that is
now known as Argentina.
The content of paragraph 46 relates to Chile, where he
considered existed the most favourable conditions to be found
in any Hispanic-American colony, for the establishment and
practice of republican liberties. This was completely confirmed
throughout Chile's social and political evolution until recently.
Bolivar in paragraph 47 alludes, with pessimism, to Peru's
political future. He presaged that in this viceroyalty region,
the rich and the nobles would oppose the introduction of
democracy and that there would be constant clashes between
the common people and the aristocrats. The battle for Peru's
independence and her social integration proved his predictions
to be true.
It is through the important ideals expressed by Bolivar in
paragraph 49 of the Jamaica Letter that he became the fore-
runner of America's International Law and Champion of Paci-
fic International Relations; as he heralded here the first world
international convention for peace, mutual defence and progress
in America and the whole world. This convention, known as
the Congreso Anf.ictioco dePanama or The Panama Convention,
took place on the 22nd of June in the year 1826, eleven years
after he had predicted this marvellous occurrence in his memo-
rable Jamaica Letter. And it is owing to this monumental
concept that he has been recognized, also, as- the forerunner of
PanAmericanism, the League of Nations and, actually, the
United Nations Organization.
Paragraph 50 to 52 relate mythical and religious traditions
of the Mexican natives and the procedure followed by the
leaders of their emancipatory revolution.
In the remainder of the Jamaica Letter Bolivar refers to
what Latin-America needed in order to obtain her indepen-
dence, emphasizing unity as the prime and most urgent neces-
sity. Thus, in 1815, long before Agusta Comte had proposed
the discipline of social dynamics as an autonomous science,
Bolivar reveals himself as a skilful sociologist, pinpointing with
facts, the reasons why this most desired unity of the Hispanic-
Americans would not be easily obtained. Nevertheless in para-
graph 55 Bolivar, with great confidence, reiterates that
Hispanic-America would gain her liberty and that once it was
attained, she would become the most privileged place for
human cultural development, and also a place of opportunity
With these inspiring words of confidence in the transcenden-
tal mission he was called to fulfill on behalf of America and
humanity, he brought to an end his Jamaica Letter written
when the lot of America's independence seemed most uncertain.
The Official Attitude
towards the Elected Members
Jamaica Legislative Council
In 1884, the Colonial Office approved of a new consittution
for Jamaica which restored elected representation given up by
the Assembly in 1866. The constitution provided for 9 elected
members, 4 officials and 5 nominated members in a legislative
council presided over by the Governor who also held a casting
vote. Candidates seeking election to the council could hold no
office of profit under the crown and should have an income
of at least 150 per annum from property or an income of
300 per annum from business. Elections were to be held
every five years. Voters qualified for the franchise if they were
male, of British citizenship, over 21 years of age, and on pay-
ment of taxes and rates of at least 1.10.0. per annum.2
Nominated members were public servants, chosen by the3
Governor. They were expected to support government policy.
Under the 1884 constitution, the Governor was given the
power to over-rule the Legislative Council in matters he con-
sidered to be of "paramount public importance." In carrying
out his commission of making laws "for the peace, order and
good government of the Island",5 the Governor depended
upon the advice of the Colonial Secretary, head of the local
civil service, and upon the knowledge of the senior public
officers who headed the various technical, administrative and
The Governor was also bound to seek the advice of the
privy council on all important matters. But he did not have to
accept their advice so long as he informed the Secretary of
State for the Colonies of his reasons. The elected element in
the Legislative Council was not represented in the privy council7
In spite of their removal from the policy-making areas of
government, the elected members were given special powers
under the constitution which allowed them to oppose govern-
ment policy, if only in a negative manner. If 6 or more elected
.members voted against the Government on any financial mea-
sure, the votes of the official and nominated members were
not taken unless the Governor declared the matter to be of
"paramount importance". Similarly, if the elected members
voted unanimously against the Government on any measure,
the votes of the other members were not taken unless the
Govern r declared the matter to be of "paramount impor-
In 1895, the number of elected representatives was increased
to 14, one for each parish except Port Royal. The number of
elected members required to veto a government financial
measure was raised from 6 to 9. The Governor was given the
authority to increase the nominated membership to bring
about parity with the elected side.
At the first elections in 1884, members returned to the
Legislative Council represented mainly the property and landed
interests.10 Until 1910, Negro and coloured members were
not prominent in the council.11 Although there were sm4l
adjustments to the franchise qualifications in 1886 and 1909,1'
the income requirements ensured that in the period up to
1938, no more than 10% of the population was able to vote.
Even when Negro and coloured members became more evident
in the Legislative Council, the qualifications for membership
ensured that they would be economically and socially apart
from the mass of the population.
The negative powers granted to the elected members over
financial measures soon brought on a constitutional crisis. In
1899, the elected members refused to accept the Finance Bill.
They petitioned the Secretary of State for the Colonies, inform-
ing him that their action was in the interests of "the general
inhibitants of the country." The Governor declared the matter
to be of "paramount importance". 13 He appointed additional
nominated members to the Legislative Council in order to have
the bill passed by an official majority. There was some protest
in Jamaica at the Governor's action but it was soon forgotten.
The additional members remained in the Legislative Council. 14
The position occupied by the elected members in the
administration did not encourage them to put forward con-
structive proposals or to act together in formulating policy.
Their powers were essentially negative and that led them to
criticize practically all government proposals, regardless of
merit. Realizing that they could not see their ideas implemented,
the elected members tended to act independently, most con-
cerned with the needs of the particular social and economic
group they came from. Unity of action only came when elected
members felt that a particular government proposal threatened
their constitutional powers. Pre-election groups were some-
times formed but dissolved immediately after the contest.
According to Hamilton, debates in the legislative council in
the years up to 1918 usually consisted of criticism by elected
members of government policy, interspersed with pleas for
development in their own parish.10
At the end of the first World War, the elected members
still demonstrated the disunity which had characterized their
deliberations since 1884. A 'Negro elector', writing to The
Daily Gleaner in 1919, pleaded with members to unite in order
to influence government policy.17 The following year, The
Gleaner reported that plans were going ahead for the appoint-
ment of a leader for the elected element in the legislative
council.18 Nothing further was heard of the suggestion. Apart
from J. A. G. Smith, the member for Clarendon, the elected
members of the period showed no particular interest inthe
economic and social problems of the colony, very noticeable
after the collapse of the post-war 'boom' in export prices.
The disunity of the elected members was an asset to Gover-
nor Sir Leslie Probyn, administrator of the colony between
1918 and 1924. His financial policies, especially those requir-
ing public expenditure to support state commercial enter-
prise,19 were unpopular with elected members. They disliked
his support for the claims of many government workers who
were demanding higher wages. They suspected that he appoin-
ted commissions outside the legislative council to examine
social and economic problems because he feared deadlock with
the elected members. But the elected members were unable to
present any unified front to Probyn in the first years of his
administration. Their sectional interests prevailed.
In a letter to the Colonial Office, Colonial Secretary Bryan
emphasized that point and observed that distrust between the
elected members was a real asset to the Government. He felt
that the majority of the elected members were confused about
the major issues facing the colony an lacked constructive
ability in formulating useful alternatives.20
Bryan's note was passed on to Parliamentary Under-Secre-
tary of State for the Colonies, E. F. L. Wood, preparing to visit
the British West Indies on a fact-finding tour. In his later report
on his trip to the Caribbean, Wood stressed the points mention-
ed by Bryan. He had observed the disunity of the elected
members, their lack of judgement on important issues, and
their tendency to resort to their special powers under the con-
stitution. He had been led to conclude that "The Government
of Jamaica would at present seem largely to consist in a series
of efforts to avoid a contest between the Governor and an un-
known nine out of fourteen men."
Wood's suggestions for improvement included the establish-
ment of a third administrative body, the Executive Committee,
with elected representation, and the responsibility for advising
the Governor on important matters. He also wanted the re-
moval of the special powers enjoyed by the elected members
under the existing constitution.1
The disunity amongst the elected members, noticed by
Bryan and Wood, disappeared when they considered that their
special powers had been threatened by the Governor's actions.
At the end of 1922, Probyn offered the Railway Director an
honorarium for his services, without the knowledge of the
legislative council. Apart from the fact that the Director was
unpopular with elected members, they saw the Governor's
action as contrary to accepted procedure. There was a storm
of protest hen reports of the payment were carried in the
local press. Although the honorarium was returned, the
elected members were suspicious of all the Governor's subse-
quent proposals. The rest of his term of office, some 18
months, was a prolonged confrontation with a Legislative
Council that suspected his motives and mistrusted his actions.
There was prolonged wrangling over government financial
policy which culminated, in early 1924, in attempts by elected
members to strike out certain sections of the estimates. Probyn
declared the matter to be of "paramount importance" and
informed the Colonial Office that the elected members had
been determined to antagonise him and were not interested in
Governor Sir Samuel Wilson, who came to Jamaica in 1925,
shared Colonial Office thinking on the quality of elected mem-
bers in the Legislative Council. Commenting on the results of
the 1925 elections, Wilson described the successful candidates
as "very second rate, both from the educational and social
points of view." He blamed that on the low franchise,24 and
noted that 'better-class' whites were afraid to enter politics for
fear of being defeated by coloured candidates. He felt that
most elected members were "conservative and averse to change
of any kind." The Governor's .descriptions of the various
members were far from flattering. He saw Phillips, elected for
St. Thomas, as "most erratic and unreliable", and Seymour-
Seymour, elected for St. Andrew, as obstinate, unreasonable
and obsessed with reducing taxation. Wilson was most impress-
ed with J. A. G. Smith, the member for Clarendon, who he
considered to be intelligent if argumentative. Hpnoted that
Smith was popular and well-known in the colony.25
In the Legislative Council, Wilson attempted to improve
relations between the Government and the elected members,
seriously strained during Probyn's term of office. Giving no
hint of his views on the elected members, as forwarded to the
Colonial Office, Wilson told a session of the Legislative Council
that the elected members were not really an opposition, deter-
mined to block government proposals. He felt that "In this
Council we are all seeking the same end, namely the prosperity
of this ancient colony, and we may hope to arrive at this end
by free and frank discussion."26
Recalled to London because of illness, Wilson left the
island's administration in the hands of the Colonial Secretary,
Jelf. In a letter to the Colonial Office, Jelf stressed again the
common official view held on the elected members in the
Legislative Council. He was more critical than Wilson had been
in his assessment of their capabilities. Jelf placed strong em-
phasis on their ignorance of the important issues facing the
colony. He considered that most elected members spoke and
voted without understanding matters before them and he
emphasized that criticism by observing that few of them had
any idea of how the major government departments operated.
He was of the opinion that only Ewen, the white member
for Trelawny, was objective in his criticisms of government
policy. Other members were regarded with less favour. Jelf
felt that Cawley, the member for St. Catherine, was completely
ignorant of the matters he spoke on and that Evans, a Negro
and member for Westmoreland, was "out of his depth" in the
Legislative Council. Harsh criticism was reserved for Lightbody
and Wint. Jelf described the first, the member for St. James,
as "a poisonous little creature, utterly unworthy to represent
anybody." Of the latter, the member for St. Ann, he noted
"a rough, ill-mannered member." But he conceded that Wint
was "possessed of brains."27
Observations on the character and ability of the elected
members, sent to the Colonial Office by senior public officials
in Jamaica, were important in influencing official policy to-
wards constitutional advance. After the debates in the Jamaica
Legislative Council on the Wood report, Assistant Under-Secre-
tary Grindle noted tht "Responsible government is out of the
question in Jamaica."2 Darnley, an official in the West Indian
Department, was critical of the type of candidate returned in
the 1925 election and hoped that some would at least gain
political education whilst on the Council.29 Freeston, another
official in the same department, commenting on Jelfs remarks
about the elected members, noted that "the attractiveness of
most of these gentlemen is not enhanced by stereoscopic
presentment."30 Assessing the long period of debate in Jama-
ica in the early nineteen-twenties about constitutional advance,
Darnley made it plain that the Colonial Office had hoped that
the outcome would be some constitutional concession in re-
turn for "the abolition of the Power of the nine." 1
Governor Sir Edward Stubbs, in Jamaica from 1926 to 1932,
endeavoured to follow Wilson's policy of diplomatic mistrust
towards the elected members. In private, Stubbs was critical of
the actions and motives of certain members. He informed the
Colonial Office of his belief that Wint, the elected member for
St. Ann, had been partly responsible for the disturbance at the
Kingston penitentiary in late 1926.32 He was convinced that
Smith's hostility towards the Jamaica Banana Producers Asso-
ciation resulted from the fact that Smith was jealous of the
success of a scheme with which he was not connected. 3
Stubbs was later to inform the Colonial Office that Smith's
long disagreement with the island's Chief Justice was nothing
more than a personal feud, based on his legal confrontations
in court over some years.3 Whatever his personal opinion of
the elected members, the Governor was careful to keep them
to himself or the files of the Colonial Office. He allowed the
elected members considerable freedom to discuss and criticize
government policy. His financial thinking was more orthodox
than Probyn's and the elected members were less opposed to a
Governor who placed considerable emphasis on self-help. At
the same time, it was the diplomacy and tactful handling of
the Legislative Council by Stubbs which enabled him to im-
prove the long period of strained relations between the elected
members and the Government.
The elected members responded to the Governor's overtures
for peace. The -ulmination of the period of improved relations
came in a resolution, passed unanimously in the Legislative
Council on November 27th, 1929, asking the Secretary of State
to extend the Governor's term of office in Jamaica.35
Throughout the years of improved relations between the
Government and the elected members, Stubbs was very con-
scious of the effect of any outside influence on the delicate
balance. He was deeply concerned at Marcus Garvey's inten-
tions of seeking election to the Legislative Council and inform-
ed the Colonial Office that Garvey's presence in the Council
could disrupt its procedure by introducing racial tension.-"
When the Colonial Office suggested that Jamaica might
make a contribution to the cost of keeping the British garrison
in the colony, Stubbs replied that no elected member would
support the proposal. He foresaw that the introduction of such
a motion into the Council would bring a series of rows between
elected members and the Government "which would destroy
all possibility of good government here."37
Before the end of his administration, the worsening econo-
mic outlook had placed considerable stress on the once ami-
cable relations between Stubbs and the elected members. Each
elected member was anxious to see expenditure in his parish
which might bring economic and social improvements.
Collectively, all elected members were opposed to the in-
creased taxation required to finance further public expenditure.
In times of economic adversity, elected members were most
prone to resist any government proposals for increased
The contradiction of attitude displayed by elected members
came out clearly in their opposition to the report of the
Governor's development committee. All members had agreed
on the need for action to improve social and economic condi-
tions but some were reluctant to sanction the expenditure
required to finance such schemes. Stubbs believed that the
members concerned, led by Smith, opposed the report simply
because they were in the habit of opposing all government
financial proposals. He blamed Smith for helping to create the
impression that the elected members were a permanent opposi-
tion in the Legislative Council.3-
In spite of the Governor's belief that Smith was responsible
for the stand of the elected members on increased expenditure,
Stubbs was only witnessing a return to the situation, hastened
by economic adversity, in which elected members were cautious
of government policy when it involved large-scale finance.In
the early years of Stubbs' administration, the island enjoyed a
period of prosperity with export crops bringing favourable
returns on the world markets. The end of emigration for Jama-
icans labourers, the uncertainties facing the banana industry
and the collapse of sugar brought the end of cooperation be-
tween the Government and the elected members, a notable
feature of Stubbs' governorship. It served to show that the
understanding had never been deep and that suspicion had
remained beneath the surface. In early 1932, the elected
members refused to consider the governor's programme for
raising additional revenue.39 In April of the same year, the
elected members twice used their special powers to defeat tax
proposals put forward by the Government.40
The Colonial Office expressed concern at the renewed
attacks by elected members on official economic policy. One
official commented that such action could only lead the
colony to bankruptcy and the need for assistance from the
British Treasury.4 Sir Ransford Slater, Governor of Jamaica
between 1932 and 1934, attempted to impress upon the elec-
ted members the concern of the Colonial Office at their
attitude. He appealed to members to refrain from striking out
the salaries of civil servants whom they regarded with disfavour.
The elected members objected strongly to his remarks.42
If one seeks to find a point in time when there came a
fundamental change of attitude in at least some elected mem-
bers, that change came in.1935. The general election of that
year created the most interest of any in living memory. Voting
took place in an atmosphere of increasing concern over unem-
ployment and low wages. Almost 50% of the electorate went to
the polls and only two seats were uncontested.43 The new
Governor, Sir Edward Denham, informed the Colonial Office
of the general state of excitement in the colony.44 The heated
campaign was blamed for labour unrest in Trelawny at the end
of May. The Custos of the parish, in his report of the incident,
claimed that several candidates had been active in the area and
that one was known to have called for a "French Revolution"
in the colony.45
Apart from the public interest displayed in the 1935 elec-
tions, several of the members sent to the Legislative Council
quickly demonstrated a desire to end the long tradition of con-
stant opposition to all government proposals. Prominent among
the new members in the council were Allan, the member for
Portland and Allen, the member for St. Elizabeth. Allan was
involved in the formation of the Association of elected mem-
bers some months after the election. He foresaw that the
association would allow for the formulation of policy on
import t matters. All elected members joined except for
Smith.'o The formation of such an association was one mani-
festation of the desire by elected members for a constructive
part in the formulation of policy on all important matters.
Undoubtedly, the desire of the elected members to work more
closely together was assisted by the fact that in 1935, most en-
joyed common racial and cultural ties. In 1884, the elected
membership had been entirely white. By 1935, practically all
the elected members were Negro or coloured. The coloured
sector of the community had long aspired to high office but
the rise of the Negro, assisted by social and economic improve-
ments, was of comparatively recent origin. At least some of the
elected members might identify themselves with the aspirations
of the majority of the population.
Between 1935 and 1938, it was the Government rather than
the elected members who failed to grasp the significance of the
new atmosphere in local politics. Although some elected mem-
bers still indulged in the harassment of public officers, as a
means of showing displeasure at government policy," several
members repeatedly spoke up on the serious problems of
unemployment and low wages. The appointment of the
Unemployment Commission in 19364 was one result of
initiative from the elected side. Another result was the Doorla-
Brown commission into low wages, appointed in early 1938.'
Manley appreciated that leadership the colony had to
come more and more from Jamaicans. But before the Royal
Commission in 1938, ne was critical of elected members who
criticized government policies without studying them first.
However, he acknowledged that the attitude of members was
largely the result of a feeling of helplessness over their inability
to see their ideas put into practice.51 Bustamante criticized
disunity between members and he felt that most of them had
little interest in the masses.32 Commenting on the publication
of Macmillan's book, Warning from the West Indies,5 Professor
Coupland from Oxford suggested that colonial governments
could not be held completely to blame for lack of development
in their colony when "they cannot carry with them the elected
members of their legislatures."54
Away from the scene, Coupland was in no position to note
the changing attitude of elected members in Jamaica to their
responsibilities. More serious was the fact that senior officials
on the spot seemed unaware of the change. In 1937, the Colo-
nial Secretary still held the opinion that elected members often
indulged in "ill-informed criticism, vindictiveness and abuse".
Denham remained until his death in June, 1938,little interested
in the initiatives being made by elected members in an effort
tcio!,;r. ()O T7he Le'islatil e Coluncil IWhllh ()pOretld Sessiona. Yest 'rdav.
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before I legislature
I. B I i
to draw the attention of the Government to the serious econo-
mic and social situation in the colony. Some elected members
despaired over what they regarded as the Government's failure
to heed their warnings. In March, 1938, Vernon, the member
for St. Mary, stated in the Legislative Council that the elected
members "have no initiative", and "have to go down on our
knees and implore Government and unless we do that we get
nothing."56 Only weeks later, Denham expressed relief to the
Secretary of State at reaching the end "of this most wearisome
Court MNrlili I
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COURTESY DAILY GLEANER FEB. 20, 1935
and difficult Assembly." He commented that one had to be
careful not to lose one's temper in the Council and thereby
lower the dignity of the Governor's office.57
The Gleaner, the only influential newspaper in Jamaica be-
fore 1938, observed that the elected members had made little
impression on the colony.58 Relying on reports from officials
in the field, along with the views of 'responsible public opinion',
it was inevitable that the Colonial Office should echo the criti-
Ims I -f MOI 1 11- l l' t
ONltR. l A -ber-,
MO R lfTll
cisms made locally about the elected members. At the end of
1938, one official noted that "The present Elected members
were a poor lot."3 His comment was mild by comparison with
the charges made against elected members by Custodes at a
private session before the 1938 Royal Commission. Their evi-
dence bore all the traces of a small but powerful interest group,
reluctant to concede that the process of political change was
leaving them behind. Their statements attacked the motives of
members recently elected and several bemoaned the fact that
coloureds and Negro members were predominant in the
Open to the influence of those most critical of the elected
members, Stannard, a reporter from The Times who visited
Jamaica in 1938, later informed the Secretary of State for the
Colonies that elected meplbers had "no policy for the general
welfare of the Island."o' Apart from the fact that Stannard
was in the island for only a short period, and hardly in the
position to make ajudgement,he overlooked the entire question
of responsibility for government under the constitution. The
existing constitution did not allow for the elected members to
formulate policy on the lines conceived of by Stannard. Cer-
tainly, the Government would have designated no such powers
to the elected members in 1938. With that in mind, it would be
difficult to support the claim, made by elected members before
the Royal Commission, that between 1935 and 1938, "the
administration has definitely come from the elected side of
On the other hand, it would be more accurate to state that
the elected members made numerous attempts, after 1935,
to influence official policy on important problems facing the
island. The failure to bring about a workable arrangement be-
tween the two sides rested as much with the limitations of
the constitution as with the Government or the elected mem-
bers. It is true to say that officials were prone to see criticism
by elected members in terms of vindictiveness or lack of under-
standing. Similarly, many elected members felt that officials
were unaware of the major problems and they resented the
government's attitude to their advice. But both sides laboured
under a constitution which did nothing to promote common
policy on major problems. By 1938, it had become evident to
many in the colony that progressive government was impossible
under a constitution in which the framers had not foreseen the
the full involvement of elected members in the island's admi-
nistration. But many months before, J.A.G. Smith had comen-
ted on the futility of allowing the existing political situation to
remain. Addressing the Governor, in the Legislative Council,
he stated that "The Legislative Council, Sir, is fast becoming
absolutely useless as a means of expressing what the country
1. Jamaica, correspondence on constitutional reform. 1884. C3854.
2. Further correspondence relating to a petition from the inhabi-
tants of Jamaica for a change in constitution. C4140.
3. C4140. Section 6.
4. 25 April 1884. 287th volume of House of Commons debates,
3rd series, 700-21. Speech by Under-Secretary Ashley.
5. C4140. Section 36 of Order in Council, 19 May, 1884.
6. The Colonial Service. Sir A. Bertram. (Cambridge, 1936).
7. Constitutional change in the British West Indies, 1880-1903.
H.A. Will. (Oxford, 1970)
8. C4140. Enclosure in No.20.
9. C0140/230. Legislative Council minutes. 1895. Appendix A.
10. Will, p61.
11. The experience of Jamaica with modified crown colony govern-
ment. R.V. Sires. Social and Economic Studies. Vol 4. No. 2.
12. Law 22 of 1886, Law 52 of 1908 and Law 28 of 1909.
13. Correspondence relating to the finances and government of the
island of Jamaica. 1899. C9413.
14. The road back. Jamaica after 1866. R.N. Murray. Caribbean
Quarterly. Vol 6. Nos. 3 & 4.
15. The rise and development of Labour Movements in the British
Caribbean with particular reference to British Guiana, Jamaica
and Trinidad. F.X. Mark. Ph. D. Edinburgh, 1959. p24.
16. Problems of administration in an emergent nation. A case study
of Jamaica. B.L. St. J. Hamilton. (New York, 1965)
17. Gleaner, 7 Nov. 1919.
18. Gleaner, 31 Jan. 1920.
19. In particular, his plans for a government-controlled sugar factory
and government-operated sisal plantations.
20. CO 137/751. 55731. Note by Bryan for Wood on constitutional
demands in Jamaica. 29 Oct. 1921.
21. Report by the Hon. E.F.L. Wood on his visit to the West Indies
and British Guiana. Cmd. 1679.
22. For a full report of the dispute see Gleaner, Nov. 29 & 30, 1922,
and CO 351/24. 5269. Probyn to Colonial Office. 30 Jan. 1923.
23. CO 137/774. 23812. Probyn to Thomas, 254, 3 May, 1924.
24. The author disagrees with Wilson's definition of a low franchise.
At the 1925 election, 54,678 persons out of a population of
approximately 900,000 qualified to vote.
25. CO 137/777. 27379. Wilson to Amery, 29 May, 1925.
26. CO 140/263. Legislative Council minutes, 20 Oct. 1925.
27. CO 137/781. 9583. Jelf to Amery, 16 April, 1926.
28. CO 137/767. 18702. Note by Grindle, 2 July, 1923.
29. CO 137/777. 27379. Note by Darnley, 19 June, 1925.
30. CO 137/781. 9583. Note by Freeston, 6 May, 1926.
31. CO 137/781. 4389. Note by Darnley, 1 March, 1926.
32. CO 137/781. 17211. Stubbs to Amery, 436, 11 Sept. 1926.
33. CO 137/786. 56007. Stubbs to Amery, conf. 10 March, 1928.
34. CO 137/794. 86085. Stubbs to Passfield, 29 May, 1931.
35. CO 140/271. Legislative Council minutes, 27 Nov. 1929.
36. CO 318/391. 56634. Stubbs to Wilson, 24 Feb. 1928.
37. CO 318/391. 56631. Stubbs to Grindle, 29 March, 1928.
38. CO 137/794. 86108. Stubbs' observations on petition by elected
memberson report of the development committee, 14 Oct. 1931.
39. CO 137/796. 95450. Pt. 1. Stubbs to Cunliffe-Lister, 44, 2 Feb.
40. Gleaner, April, 1932.
41. CO 137/801. 36412. Note by Emmens, 26 Jan. 1934.
42. Gleaner, 5 May, 1933.
43, Mark, pl1.
44. CO 137/804. 68517. Denham to Cunliffe-Lister, 20 May, 1935.
45. CO 137/809. 68557. Report of Custos of Trelawney on unrest
in Falmouth, 25 May, 1935.
46. CO 950/242. Memorandum of the Association of Elected Mem-
bers to the 1938 Royal Commission.
47. CO 137/820. 68858. Heads of Departments to Colonial Secretary,
17 Oct. 1936.
48. CO 137/811. 68729. Report of the unemployment commission,
49. CO 137/825. 68729. Denham to Ormsby-Gore, telegram 47,24
50. Gleaner, 16 Dec. 1935.
51. CO 950/86. Manley before Royal Commission, I th session,
Nov 14, 1938.
52. Gleaner, 16 Dec, 1935.
53. Warning from the West Indies, W.M. Macmillian. (Faber & Faber,
54. The Spectator, March 20, 1936 in Gleaner, 16 April, 1936.
55. CO 137/820. 68858. Colonial Secretary to Governor, 6 Feb.
56. Jamaica Hansard Debates, March 23, 1938.
57. CO 137/826. 68868. Denham to Ormsby-Gore, 8 May, 1938.
58. Gleaner, Ed. June 20, 1936.
59. CO 137/822. 68511/139. Beckett's note, 20 Oct. 1938.
60. CO 950/926. Custodes before Royal Commission, private session,
17 Nov. 1938.
61. CO 318/434. 71174. Stannard interview with MacDonald; note
by Emmens, 5 Sept. 1938.
62. CO 950/242. Association of Elected Members before Royal Com-
mission, 23rd session, 24 Nov. 1938.
63. Jamaica Hansard, Nov. 18, 1936.
A REVIEW ARTICLE*
by Douglas Hall
Though very uneven in quality, the first three publications
in the Institute's Cultural Heritage Series* shed some light on
Jamaican history in the 19th century. The late Mr. Ansell
Hart, lawyer and local historian, dealt in his book with George
William Gordon; Mr. H. P. Jacobs, journalist and local histor-
ian covers the period 1806-1866 in broad survey; and Dr.
Vincent Marsala, Associate Professor of History at Louisiana
State University deals with the governorship of Sir John
Peter Grant, the first of the Crown Colony governors after the
constitutional change of 1866. Mr. Hart's book carries neither
index nor footnotes. Mr. Jacobs' book is fully indexed but
has no footnotes. Professor Marsala's is heavily footnoted, and
includes a short bibliography, but has no index. None of them
is a really satisfactory work, but taken together they provide
for the lay reader (for whom the Series is clearly intended) an
entry into the questions and confusions of our post-emancipa-
"THE LIFE OF GEORGE WILLIAM GORDON"
Ansell Hart's book is far less an account of the Life of
George William Gordon than an attempt to attach some flesh
and blood to the skeleton of one of our recently proclaimed
National Heroes. As with so many of our other 19th century
notables Richard Hill, Robert Osborn, Edward Jordon and
Paul Bogle, for instance little is known, and little is ever
likely to be known, about Gordon's private life. Lack of per-
sonal and family papers and other evidence of their more
intimate ideas and relationships leaves us very much depend-
ent on official documents and on reports and accounts in the
public press. Though obviously useful, neither of these classes
of data provide opportunity for the researcher to come to
close grips with the emotional quality or the intellectual style
* Cultural Heritage Series, published by the Institute of Jamaica.
Vol. I "The Life of George. William Gordon" by Ansell Hart;
Vol. I1 "Sixty Years of Change, 1806-1866" by H.P. Jacobs; and
Vol. Ill "Sir John Peter Grant, Governor of Jamaica 1866-1874"
by Vincent John Marsala.
of his subject. Consequently, although Mr. Hart has put to-
gether the available information, we still on completion of his
account wish that we had really come to know Mr. Gordon
as a man.
It is not surprising then, to find that although Gordon's
birth year is thought to have been somewhere between.1810
and 1820 (the uncertainty is illustrative), and his execution
occurred in 1865, the account of his life up to 1860 is con-
tained in the first 20 of the 130 pages of Mr. Hart's biography.
But since the main purpose of the book is to show that
George William Gordon was not the wicked conspirator of
1865, but rather a public figure of merit with sincere concern
for the social welfare, the imbalance turns out to be less
important than obvious. To achieve his objective Mr. Hart
quotes extensively from contemporary comment by Gordon,
by his supporters, and by his detractors. For those who have
neither reason nor opportunity to go to the original sources of
these extracts, Mr. Hart's account to which they so largely
subscribe, is likely to be as interesting as it is helpful to a
better understanding of the events of 1865 and Mr. Gordon's
part in them.
"SIXTY YEARS OF CHANGE, 1806-1866"
Mr. Jacobs' survey of the period 1806-1866 begins with
his list of important changes which occurred in those years:
the ending of the slave trade (1808), the abolition of slavery
itself (1838), the legal abolition of distinctions of race and
colour, the gradual adoption by the British Government of a
policy of Free Trade, a consequent availability of land for
small farming as large estates went out of production, and the
surrender of the Constitution in 1866. He places particular
emphasis on the fall from political power of the 'old planto-
cracy' and their replacement by a new managerial plantocracy
who, though generally of sufficient education and good charac-
ter "... did not have the knowledge of the world which the old
plantocrats possessed ... could not mix freely with British
upper class society, and Governors, in general, did not like
While there can be no doubt that the old plantocracy was
in fact disappearing, and a new body of resident proprietors
was emerging (the 18th century plantocracy were sugar-
planters; by the early 20th century the sugar estates were
mostly company-owned and the new "plantocracy" were the
large pen-keepers) Mr. Jacobs seems to attempt too much
explanation by way of conjecture about social and political
motivations, and to give insufficient consideration to the social,
economic, and political consequences of the re-colonization
by which, in the later 19th century, political and economic
controls shifted from the hands of the old plantocracy into
the hands of the Colonial Office and Boards of Company
Directors in Britain. The new "plantocracy" of sugar-estate
managers and cattle pen proprietors thus inherited large social
prestige but little real power to go with it, except the author-
ity they wielded within the boundaries of their particular
In a sense one of the interesting features of Mr. Jacobs'
book the readiness with which the author falls out of history
into anecdote also constitutes its main weakness as a reliable
source of information. What exactly, for example,should the
reader make of this passage (and many others of similar kind)?
"The class of drivers or slave foremen was closely
bound to the slave-owners, by the enjoyment, and
often by the abuse, of their power over the field
hands. In the' thirties, the present writer was told of a
driver in Trelawny called Nile (born, presumably, in
1798, after Nelson's victory in the battle of the Nile),
who on August 1, 1834, broke his whip, went into his
cabin, and died."
In his two final Chapters Mr. Jacobs discusses the disturb-
ances in Morant Bay in 1865 and the following introduction
of Crown Colony Government. He thus provides the link
between Mr. Hart's work on Gordon and Professor Marsala's
assessment of the Governorship of Sir John Peter Grant.
"SIR JOHN PETER GRANT, GOVERNOR OF JAMAICA
Unfortunately, since a critical assessment of the first years
of Crown Colony Government would be useful, Dr. Marsala's
book goes very little beyond a cataloguing of the acts of the
new Governor. It is a very helpful little compendium if one
wishes to find out the year in which something happened, and
it carries a few useful statistical compilations. But although
Sir John Peter Grant, in accordance with his instructions on
assuming office as Governor of Jamaica, carried through many
acts of reform and of innovation, his regime was by no means
unassailed by criticism. Professor Marsala, it is true, indicates
this by occasional quotation of critical comment; but nowhere
does he attempt either to assess the measure and the quality of
the opposition to the Governor's "paternal despotism", or to
assess the actual achievement, in terms of real social benefit,
of Grant's measures.
It is always dangerous to pursue the specific topic without
sufficient regard to the general background by which it is
coloured and to which also, it lends colour. Professor Marsala's
understanding of the history of Jamaica in the mid-19th
century is by no means exemplified in this work, and there is
a clear sense that his curiosity does not extend beyond the
actual performance of the particular Governor. Indeed it is
Mr. Jacobs, and not Dr. Marsala, who attempts a summing-up
of the achievements of Crown Colony Government as against
a summing-up of the acts of a Governor with an assumption
of their lasting value. The comparison is interesting. In his
final paragraph Dr. Marsala tells us:
"When Sir John Peter Grant assumed the governorship
of Jamaica, he found the island in a deplorable, chaotic,
and bankrupt state. However, through his far-sighted
programs of reform and reorganization, he changed
Jamaica into a vigorous and enterprising Crown Colony.
His policies reconciled classes and colors and made the
government respected by most of the people. Grant was
able to lay the foundations of modern Jamaica because
he was guided by a true concern for the islanders, and
because he exercised administrative responsibility. His
many achievements, most of which are still evident to-
day, stand as memorials to his successful governorship,
and have won for him the title "Architect of modern
How simple, and how obviously too simple. Jacobs, concerned
more with the state of society, takes a different viewpoint and
comes to a very different conclusion. Here is his final paragraph:
"Thus Crown Colony government progressively rein-
forced the very tendencies which it was instituted to
hold in check. It created no vital force, and apparently
removed most of the vitality already existing. Its achieve-
ments in education, public health, communications, and
public order far surpassed those of the period 1806-
66, so that it is often forgotten how much pioneering
was done in that period: the railway is an example. But
after sixty years of Crown Cblony rule, the country had
no real self-consciousness. In another dozen years, it
would seem that the only thing to do was to revert to
the idea of self-government. Theoretically, it had always
been the object of Crown Colony government to prepare
the way for a return to effective representative institu-
tions. But by the 'thirties the country had virtually lost
the wish to govern itself and all faith in its capacity to
The readers of these volumes will not emerge brilliantly enlight-
ened by the experience, but they will have begun to recognize
some of the important features of our 19th century society.
19th Century House "Saxthorpe", St. Andrew.
"Concannon Collection" Institute of Jamaica.
i. .. ,
CONFLICT AND RECONCILIATION. THE FRENCH EMIGRES IN
NINETEENTH CENTURY JAMAICA.
by Patrick Bryan*
Jamaica watched events in Saint-Domingue with profound
anxiety. It was not difficult to understand that a society based
upon the plantation and upon slavery was being rent apart, and
that there was a distinct possibility that the afflictions of St.
Domingue could spread to Jamaica and to other British West
Indian islands. After 1791, therefore, Jamaica adopted most
careful security precautions to protect the interests of the
Jamaican plantocracy, in particular because a sizeable number
of emigres perhaps 1,200 white emigres -- sought refuge in
Jamaica. Jamaica's anxiety was based essentially upon two
things. First, there was the fear of Republicanism, and, second,
there was the fear that the entire class structure of the island
would be disrupted.
In St. Domingue, the free-coloured had been agitating for
greater political representation, and had been smarting under
the discrimination to which they had been subjected contin-
uously and increasingly because of their colour, and in spite of
their wealth. The French Revolution, with its stress upon
"Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" seemed to provide the
rationale for further agitation. The white colonists also inter-
preted the Revolution in their particular terms, and saw the
creed of the French Revolution as a justification for colonial
autonomy. The Negro slaves, in their turn, revolted and their
activity amounted to a direct attack on the plantation system,
as they burned plantations and declared war on the physical
persons of the whites of St. Domingue. It is commonly agreed
that there was no quarter given on either side.
The free-coloured to some extent saw the Negro slaves as
their allies, and when the insurgency started in the South of St.
Domingue, with upwards of two thousand men of colour
appearing under arms, the free-coloured were joined by six
hundred Negro slaves.1 But the alliance did not last, because the
free-coloured militants after their initial success were reluctant
to allow their black allies to "excite ideas of liberty among
those blacks who were still working on the estates."2 Another
possible reason put forward for the renunciation of the Blacks
* Patrick Bryan is a Lecturer in History in the University of the West
Indies. This article is based on a paper presented to Fourth Conference
of Caribbean Historians held at UW1, Mona, in April 1972.
was that the free-coloured militants found it difficult to exert
complete control over the Blacks. And according to Sir Spenser
St. John, the black warriors "were placed as prisoners on board
a pontoon in Mole St. Nicholas, and at night were for the most
part butchered by unknown assassins." St. John refuses to
state positively whether or not the free-coloured actually
organized the massacre, though he is perfectly certain that the
original plan at least had been to deport the Negroes. At that
particular moment of the Revolution 1791 the mulattoes
still hoped for some agreement with the whites and indeed
there was a temporary agreement a Concordat between
the whites and coloured on September 11, 1791. The Concordat
had barely been signed when it was announced that the National
Assembly had repealed the decree of May 15 upon which the
Concordat had been based.4 Again, the mulattoes or free-
coloured, thinking that the whites of the colony were privy to
the action of the National Assembly, flew to arms and were
joined by Negroes in Cul de Sac, in a renewed attack on the
whites.5 The free-coloured, then, even in this early stage of the
conflict regarded the Negro slaves as but a convenience, and an
alliance between them was called for only when the intransi-
genceof the whites of the colony, or the indiscretions of the
National Assembly warranted such an alliance. The free-
coloured, on the other hand, were not reluctant to come to
some agreement with the whites in face of the rampages of the
However, for anyone looking at the muddled picture from
outside St. Domingue, there was genuine evidence that the
mulattoes were not averse to allying with the Black slaves when
the occasion warranted such an alliance. In addition, although
the maroons of the western central mountains "would have
nothing to do with the Revolution ... and aided the conserva-
tive whites", and although the "slaves of the parishes at the
extremity of the southern peninsula . remained unaffected
for years by either the French Revolution of the black up-
rising",6 there was little question that St. Domingue was faced
with a massive Black uprising which assumed even more danger-
ous proportions because of the willingness of slaves to work in
alliance with mulattoes.
The pressure became too great for many of the whites and
mulattoes, many of whom were property-owners. In a short
time many of those two groups had to depend upon public and
private charity for survival. Thousands migrated to neighboring
islands Eastern Cuba and Jamaica and to the United States,
particularly to Louisiana.7 Others sailed to Trinidad, estab-
lishing themselves in "the valleys of the Northern Range".8 It
is evident that several emigres arrived in Jamaica penniless, and
that they set their hope upon obtaining some indemnity for
their properties in St. Domingue. Indemnities were not to be
paid until the 1830's, and some of the emigres had to resort
to heavy borrowing to keep themselves alive. On the other
hand, "others escaped with gold, jewels and furniture, and were
even accompanied by slaves who had chosen to cling to them".9
The emigres became important planters in the vicinity of
Santiago de Cuba, and in Jamaica the bulk of the emigres settled
in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. George and St.
Thomas-in-the-Vale. Some were planters, others merchants.
The inflow of emigres from St. Domingue constituted the
most direct impact of the Revolution in that country upon
Jamaica. However, there were other concerns as well. For St.
Domingue, for years to come, was to be a 'test-case' of the
capability of Negroes to work as free-labourers. The general
view was that the freed Haitian Negroes had to be forced to
work at the point of a bayonet. As the West Indian Reporter
declared. "If steady voluntary labor be not to be found in
Hayti, it will be found no where among Negroes."10 And two
many persons under the pretence of freedom refused to
labor, and went from the properties on which themselves
and their parents had been domiciled and neglecting
agriculture, addicted themselves to wandering about.1
Furthermore, one of the French Commissioners to St.
Domingue Roume "committed the indiscretion of trying
to raise a revolt in Jamaica. His agents were taken and hung." 12
Apparently Roume had had secret instructions to encourage
Toussaint to make an attack on Jamaica. 13
The fear of Republicanism, and the threat which St.
Domingue constituted in terms of the disruption of the class
structure were the most immediate problems. It was at least
conceivable that some of the emigres were fleeing to Jamaica
not to escape the dangers of St. Domingue but to undermine
the whole political, economic and social structure of Jamaica.
The Jamaican planters, determined to guarantee that Jamaica's
security would not be undermined exercised an extremely close
scrutiny over the emigres who poured into the island. In spite
of the fact that the British Government had encouraged Jamaica
to render what assistance it could to the emigres, the feeling
against them was rather strong in some quarters. The view of
G.W. Bridges was not unusual:
But the most implacable enemies of Jamaica were in the
bosom of the country, and the interior peace of the island
was again disturbed by the influx of foreigners, and the
disorders which the French emigrants from St. Domingo
produced in Kingston, where the police was unequal to
cope with their intrigues, or even to subdue their strength.
A cloud of brigand negroes and people of colour had
clandestinely been introduced from St. Domingo under
the feigned name of Curacoa men, and they maintained
an uninterrupted correspondence with the disaffected of
all descriptions throughout the island... A petition was,
therefore, laid at the foot of the throne, praying to be
relieved from the presence of such foreigners as infested
the island; as also from the guardianship of black barbar-
ians who, with arms in their hands, had been repeatedly
detected in rebellious conspiracies with the slaves.14
In this sort of atmosphere, there is little wonder that great
numbers of planters and slaves were sent away.15 The greatest
danger to Jamaican plantocracy, as understood by the whites,
lay in the subversive activities of coloureds and Blacks -
whether from St. Domingue or Jamaica but there was no way
of determining whether or not some of the white emigres also
posed a danger to the society.
Firstly, in the short term at least, there was a conflict
between the Jamaican plantocracy on the one hand (represen-
ted mainly by the House of Assembly and the Kingston Common
Council) and all the French emigres Black, White and
Coloured, on the other hand. But the identification of class
interests based upon a commitment to the plantation system
and on pigmentation resolved the conflict between the white
Jamaican plantocracy and the white French emigres, and the
latter entering the country as an 'out-group' (because of their
exposure to the revolutionary climate in St. Domingue and
perhaps France) were soon to be accepted as part of the
Secondly, insofar as the Jamaican free-coloured groups con-
stituted an 'out-group' in their own society, were engaged in
seeking civil rights, and were now being joined by what was
feared to be a radical free-coloured element from St. Domingue,
the effect of the entry of the free-coloured into Jamaica was to
intensify the struggle between free-coloured and whites in
Thirdly, both white and free-coloured emigres entered Jama-
ica with their slaves, and the traditional fears of the white
plantocracy that there would be an alliance between the Blacks
and free-coloured in a joint effort to overthrow the system,
But in 1791 no Jamaican planter could be so bold as not to
assume that all emigres were guilty until proven innocent, and
indeed, the history of the French emigration to Jamaica can
be seen in terms of conflict and reconciliation.
The arm of the law was particularly concerned with the entry
of Blacks, for even though French Negroes entered the rural
parishes generally at the instigation of their French masters,
formulators of policy were alarmed at the possibility that the
news of the revolt in St. Domingue would inspire the localslaves
to insurrection. The eighteenth century had been pock-marked
with slave rebellions not only in Jamaica but in the rest of the
British Caribbean, and the Maroons had been engaged in two
wars with the plantocracy. What then, if the Blacks by them-
selves or in alliance with the free-coloured, should rise up and
break the hold of the plantocracy on the economy, politics and
society of Jamaica? In spite of the fact that the alliance between
Blacks and free-coloured in St. Domingue had been an uncom-
fortable one, the precedent for such an alliance did exist.
As early as 1791, the slaves had begun to hear reports of revolts
in the 'French country'. At North Hall Estate in Clarendon,
slaves were aware of the fact that the slaves of St. Domingue
had "burnt all the cane pieces and obliged the white people to
take refuge in this country." They also seemed to be threatening
to do the same in Jamaica, and "when that time comes",
declared one slave to another, "I can say to you my friend, let
us go drink a Glass together, the same as those white people do
The trepidation manifested itself as early as 1791 when the
Lieutenant-Governor, Adam Williamson, commented on the
"very unfavourable accounts lately arrived from Hispaniola",
on the slaughter of whites by the people of colour, on the
burning of sugar plantations, and on the fact that the "mis-
chief' was drawing closer to the island. The Assembly was
already agitating for the "reinforcement or augmentation to
the regular (military) establishment here."l7
The policy of the Jamaican plantocracy towards the Blacks
was divided into three broad aspects. First, toprevent their
entry into Jamaica. Second, if Blacks did succeed in entering
the country with their masters, to endeavour to keep them out
of the rural areas where they could more easily influence Jama-
ican Negroes to revolt. Thirdly, to imprison all slaves who were
not quickly 'owned' by their masters with a view to expelling
them from the country. In 1799, it was estimated by the House
of Assembly that there were 1,486 'French' slaves in Kingston
alone, and that there were 1,512 in all.18 But the number in-
creased significantly after the definitive victory of Henry
Christophe in 1803. Each aspect of policy was to some measure
successful, particularly, however, in terms of confining the
Black population from St. Domingue to Kingston. But it was
extremely difficult to prevent French Blacks from moving into
the countryside when, in effect, the white planters desired to
have their slaves with them to pursue coffee agriculture. The
House of Assembly took issue over the fact that M. La Pointe,
an emigre,had introduced some 160 slaves from St. Domingue,
several of whom had already entered the Parish of St. Thomas-
in-the-Vale. About sixty-five French Negro slaves the property
of M. Edward Montagnac, an emigre were arrested, after
being removed from the latter's property called "Ginger Hall".
The prison at Bath in St. Thomas was the temporary home of
many of the Black slaves and the free-coloured. But even while
these new arrivals to Jamaica languished in prison the authori-
ties in the island continued to panic, especially because they
viewed with alarm the very real fact that the guards assigned to
the prison were Black and because of the generally-held principle
that the moral immunity of Black Guards was low when faced
with the challenging and attractive ideology which the coloured
and Black of St. Domingue were thought to have brought with
them across the sea. (The conditions of life in a prison,
habitually deplorable, met the vigorous complaints of "French
persons confined in the goal of the City",19 and in 1808 the
Courant Daily complained:
It is repugnant to delicacy to observe the mode adopted
in Burying the prisoners that die at the Bath Prison,
instead of the Bodies being placed a sufficient depth
below the surface of the Earth, their arms and legs are
generally seen out and their carcasses not unfrequentl
rooted up by hogs and dogs and terribly mangled.20
The Common Council ordered the matter examined immediate-
ly, and the verdict of the Police Officer was that the burial
ground of the prison was in perfect order.21)
It was not always easy to determine the number of slaves
who had arrived in the island, in particular because the French
emigres were, not surprisingly, unwilling to state how many
slaves they had brought with them from St. Domingue. In fact,
the Committee appointed by order of the Kingston Common
Council complained that in returns made by foreigners residing
in the City, there was some inaccuracy "particularly as to the
slaves specified whether they have come from St. Domingue or
been purchased as New Negroes in this Island".22 As a matter
of fact, it was difficult to keep track of all the emigres who
arrived. For example, Joseph Ducayet and Frederick Ducayet -
originally natives of France and residents of St. Domingue -
had been in the island some time before it was discovered that
they had not reported their presence to a Police Officer. Joseph
Ducayet had been in the island for nine years.23
Most Blacks who arrived in the island after 1791 were slaves
and they remained in the position of servitude. In Clarendon, it
was noted that a number of them had been sent to pick coffee
"upon Dr. Henderson's mountain, near Franchfield (sic) estate,
in this parish, by Mr. D'Aguilar ... They are supposed to be
the property of Colonel La Pointe".24 Some mulatto slaves, it
was feared, had found their way into the Twentieth Regiment
of Light Dragoons in the capacity of musicians.25 Some alarm
was expressed at this fact, and Major Gillespie of the Regiment
was made to appear before the Secret Committee of the House,
where he admitted that there were sixteen French Negroes and
people of colour in the band (three mulattoes and thirteen
Blacks). No doubt, the fear was considerably reduced when
Major Gillespie pointed out that the ages of the coloured and
Negroes in his regiment ranged from nine years to seventeen
years, and that they were in fact free citizens of St. Domingue
where they had been attached as musicians to the regiment of
Chasseurs de Gonaives. Furthermore, they came under the
same military discipline as other individuals in similar regiments
of His Majesty's service.26
It is important to recognize that in the uncertainty whether
or not Negroes and free-coloured were threatening the system
there was some difference in the intensity of feeling. While some
were alarmed at the very presence of Negroes wandering around
the rural areas, others, perhaps less ignorant of what was going
on, saw the virtue of incorporating the French Negroes into a
system which they understood. M. Montagnac, for example,
could boldly declare before the Secret Committee that he had
been authorized by one of his neighbours, Mr. Gates, to say
that he (Mr. Gates) was not in the least alarmed at the intro-
duction of his Negroes; that Mr. Gates had borrowed from him
a basket-maker and "Colonel Page has bespoke some of my
Negroes, after the crop to learn his Negroes the mode of prun-
ing coffee trees .."27 Colonel Page also indicates that as far
as he was concerned the 'French' slaves at Ginger Hall were
under the "most perfect subjection".28 Although fearing sub-
version as intensely as anyone else plantocrats such as Mr.
Page were quick to seek to employ the skills which the 'French'
Negroes had. 29
The second group of emigres with whom the Jamaican plan-
ters were deeply concerned in terms of conflict and disruption
were the free-coloureds. Some of the coloured emigres were
probably not lacking in material resources, while others, beyond
a doubt, arrived here very poor. It is difficult to tell which emi-
gres arrived here with sound financial resources and which did
not. But it is clear that upon their deaths in Jamaica a number
of free-coloured emigres left comfortable fortunes. Rosette de
la Forestrie in 1827, left an estate worth 6,649 much of
which was derived from running a Dry Goods Store,30 Magde-
line Martoleze, a free brown emigre, was able in 1809 to
purchase Lots 1013 and 1014 from the attorney of Samuel
McCall for 2,800, and owned twenty slaves upon her death
in 1828.31 Others did not do as well. Legite Peychiers estate
was only 473,32 Peter Petinaud 313.33 Others had to depend
upon charity of one kind or another.
It is clear that the Kingston Vestry recognized that there
were masses of indigents among the French emigres, and al-
though it is not easy to determine how many indigents were
white and how many were free coloureds and blacks, there is
little doubt that the free coloured must have constituted a
significant proportion of the indigent coloureds. From 1795
the Kingston Vestry made mention of the ruinatee houses and
yards.. ." occupied by the French emigres, and of reliefs which
must be granted to them,for fear that to recover debts owed
by them would lead to the 'utmost distress'.34 Clearly, several
of the emigres had to survive on reliefs of one sort or another.
Apart from the reliefs allowed by the Kingston Council,the St.
Domingue free-coloured created an organization the Societe
de Bienfaisance for the relief of distressed members of the
free-coloured community. One of the principal functions of the
Societe was to "manage charitable subscriptions for the burying
of foreign indigent people of colour.35 The fact that an organi-
zation had to be established to raise funds for subscriptions
for the burial of the dead is a sure reflection of extreme poverty
among some of the free-coloured emigres.
Nor does the story have a happy ending, if we observe the
obvious distress which many descendants of the emigres had to
face following the great fire in Kingston in 1843. If the value
of moveable effects can be regarded as an index of wealth and
poverty, it is obvious that there were many emigres who were
as poor as or poorer than they or their ancestors had been in
1791, living in that particular area of Kingston facing the
Harbour (Thames Street, Maiden Lane, Temple Lane, Lombard
Street, Rum Lane, John's Lane, Rosemary Lane, etc.)36 Reliefs
ranging from 17/- to 15 had to be offered to several emigres.
Some coloured emigres entered business, and naturally there
were differences in the achievement of fortunes. Some emigres,
particularly the women, kept shops and retailed liquor; others
kept hucksters' shops and sold grog and provisions to Negroes.
Yet others undertook the more or less secure occupation of
'housewife' for 'gentlemen' in the City.37 It must not be ignored
that some of the 'housekeepers' were rewarded for services
rendered. Louis Lubin, a white emigre planter in St. Andrew
bequeaths money, cattle and animals to Chonne Lucombe for
"essential services rendered on the plantation."38 The French
emigre, Charles Francois de Baligand D'Heillecourt, hopefully
leaves property to Janise Gentillot "a free woman of colour
residing in my yard", and the income from one year'slease of
his house.39 James Branchereau, originally of St. Geny in
France, makes provision for Saintes "a free Negro woman
living in my house" and speaks of the "services incessantly
rendered to me by the said Saintes." He also bequeaths apart of
of his estate to his "natural daughter living in my house". To
them both he bequeaths
all the property that shall belong to me and compose my
estate on. the day of my decease, consisting principally
of a house situate in Rosemary Lane in Kingston, in one
half of a small plantation called "Peter's Retreat" situate
in St. Thomas-in-the- Vale,40 together with all the slaves,
cattle, titles, credits, that shall prove to be my property,
under the condition that nevertheless that if in three
years to be computed from the day of my decease, my
nearest heirs should appear and claim my Estate and pro-
duce sufficient titles to obtain the same, it is my will that
delivery be made to them, of the whole under this provise,
that my said heirs shall not be allowed to take possession
of my estate until they shall have paid in specie, the sum
of 300 currency to the said Saintes and a like sum of
300 currency to the said Elizabeth Virginie.41
In spite of the fact that there were poor coloured emigres,
and others who could make adjustments for survival, there
were others who were quite wealthy, and who tended to join
the Jamaican free-coloured in their civil rights struggles. It is
difficult to determine exactly how intense their participation
was, especially as the whites in the Jamaican community appear
to have exaggerated the radicalism of the free-coloured in
Jamaica. However, the conflict between the Jamaican free-
coloured and the Jamaican whites was sharpened with the
advent of the French coloured emigres. It was far easier, it
seemed, to "keep the slave in his place" than the free-coloured
who were extremely vocal. The fact is that many coloured
emigre was expelled from the island as persona non grata, and
the free-coloured were lumped together with the blacks as dan-
gerous for the safety of the island.
It was the tensions between whites and free-coloured, com-
pounded by the radicalism of the Revolution in St. Domingue
which gave rise to the Lecesne-Escoffery dispute. Lecesne was
frankly charged with subversion, of working with other free-
coloured groups English and French alike to push Jamaica
along the violent course of St. Domingue. Lecesne was accused
of holding secret meetings in his house to which he invited all
free-coloured to participate, of encouraging them to join in a
conspiracy, and of keeping up a steady correspondence with St.
Domingue, Every free-coloured organization was regarded as
suspect, including the Societe de Bienfaisance which was link-
ed with the Philharmonic Society (both established by French-
coloureds emigres) as subversive, or a "pretended society".42
The fear was that the emigres who before the revolution in St.
Domingue had formed secret societies of this nature were about
to do the same thing in Jamaica. The very meetings which were
of an informal nature Balls and dances for example were
suspect.43 To the white emigres, Lecesne and his cronies were
serving to promote the insolence of the free-coloured class. One
witness, M. Candoline pointed out that
the object of those assemblies of the Coloured People was
to establish themselves in the same rank as the Whites,
both as members of the Assembly and officers in the
Militia and Lecesne was considered the head of these
societies. I have to add that the coloured people are
every day becoming more insolent to the Whites. I have
been insulted for giving my evidence in this matter and I
am obliged to carry arms in my defence. 44
M. Candoline at least was prepared to take up arms to defend
what he genuinely considered his class interest.
The Lecesne-Escoffery dispute highlighted the fact that the
class difference between the emigres counted for more than the
fact that the entire group came from the same island in the
Caribbean St. Domingue. Class differences were transferred
wholesale. For a time, the point was pressed that French
emigres generally were unwilling to testify against Lecesne. But
Dr. Lushington who, granted, was unequivocally onthe side
of Lecesne makes the point that "the French witnesses, so
far from testifying reluctance, have come forward to perjure
themselves with a facility the most disgusting."45
The white emigres who testified made it clear that, as one
of their number expressed it, they were "not in the habit of
frequenting the society of the people of that class [coloured]"
However, such witnesses were able to observe free-coloured
entering the Lecesne household with a clearly subversive intent,
and another white emigre got just sufficiently close to observe
that several young men of colour were busy taking away papers
(presumably subversive) to throw into the privy.46 According
to other witnesses the activities of the coloured emigres were
so approbious that many of the French (white) emigres were
"desirous of selling their properties and leaving the island, in
consequence of the meetings held at Sympson's Vendryes,
Lecesne's.47 Lushington, again, was well aware of the fact that
"the consequences of this investigation extend much beyond
the individual interest of Lecesne and Escoffery; in it are invol-
ved the conduct and loyalty of the class to which they belong,
the free-coloured population of Jamaica."48
The Lecesne-Escoffery case also highlights the fashion in
which even the judicial system was weighted in favour of white
supremacy. As Lushington puts it, "the white French emigres
were given greater credit because of the estate and condition
in life of the persons who swore to them (affidavits)"49
One of the witnesses, Jean Baptiste Corberand, along with his
brother was the owner of "Mullet Hall" in St. George, and in
1817 had 95 slaves and 19 stock,50 while Paul Lamothe de
Carrier owned "Silver Hill" and in 1816 possessed 50 slaves
and 50 stock.51 Lecesne's credibility would have been ques-
tioned not because he was not possessed of a fortune52 but
because he was a free-coloured, and therefore a step removed
from an 'upper class' defined in terms of wealth and whiteness.
Next, insofar as the plantocracy saw the plantation as the
nervuree" of Jamaican society, and insofar as the white emigres
saw it to be in their interest to maintain the plantation system
as it was in Jamaica in 1791, and as it had been in St. Domingue
before the Revolution, there was no conflict between the whites
of Jamaica and the white emigres from St. Domingue. How-
ever, insofar as there was the possibility that the white emigres -
some of them were tainted with revolutionary ideas (particu-
larly republicanism) there was room for scepticism scepticism
rather than conflict. When the House of Assembly spoke
of removing emigres of "almost every description"53 they
were obviously more concerned about the free-coloured and
Blacks than about the white emigres. It was agreed by most,
however, that the white birth-mark should be questioned,
initially at least.
On May 15, 1809, a resolution was passed in Council asking
that the Police Officer see about the apprehension and deten-
tion in custody of Benjamin Dranquett, "a Frenchman, who
has obtained a Police Ticket, but is considered a dangerous
person to remain in this Island." On October 11, 1803, the
Kingston Common Council offered a reward of three hundred
dollars to any person providing information leading to the
capture of Augustus Tossier, a Frenchman and late manager
of the Theatre in this City "who had escaped from his security,
and who was scheduled to have left the Island but had disappear-
ed completely."54 The Kingston Common Council also raised
objections to the entry into the island of French emigres "of
all Colours and descriptions ... from the Island of Cuba,"55
and to a ship-load of sixty-four French passengers (eight women,
fourteen children, twenty black females and twenty-two males
of all sorts).
The chilly reception afforded the white emigres induced
many to leave the island, and it is possible that that reception
may have served to hinder the quick absorption of the French
emigres into Jamaican society, and to reinforce and/or create a
tendency for the emigres to be clannish and inter-dependent.
But there are three main reasons why the conflict between
the whites never became as intense as the conflict between the
white planter-class of Jamaica and free-coloured. Firstly, the
emigres brought with them skills which the Jamaican planters
found useful. In addition, the skills which their slaves brought
were not overlooked by local planters. Secondly, some of the
emigres at least introduced capital. M. Montagnac, for example,
bought "Ginger Hall" for 25,000. Col. La Pointe bought
"Little Angels" for 4,000 paying down 2,059. Thirdly, the
white emigres established very clearly (especially during the
Lecesne-Escoffery dispute) that they were indisputably on the:
side of the Jamaican planter class.
A number of the emigres it is difficult to say how many -
went into coffee production, and in fact the period after the
1790's shows a sharp rise in coffee production in Jamaica.56
But in addition, we find that the Jamaican plantocracy were -
at least on an individual basis convinced that the emigres had
much to contribute in terms of methods of coffee production.
Colonel Page indicated that he was borrowing Negroes from
M. Montagnac to teach his Negroes the mode of pruning coffee
trees,57 Mr. Woolfrys considers the introduction of Mr.
Lagourgue into his neighbourhood "as one of the most fortu-
nate circumstances that could have occurred to me, and I
believe generally to the island, from the knowledge and light
that he had thrown upon the cultivation of coffee."58 When
it was established, moreover, that an emigre such as M.
Lagourgue was well-known for his services to old France,59
and M. Montagnac's reputation as a "violent royalist" became
known60, the Assembly must have seen the light.
The white planters of St. Domingue, then, joined the white
planters of Jamaica in the pursuit of plantation agriculture.
Their settlement into the community was facilitated by the
fact that they had been shaped by another slave society. There
was no problem of what has been termed "cultural integration".
The eneric differences" between the rural area and the
town6 did not apply seriously, because it was in the rural
area that the French emigres rapidly established themselves as
a part of the community, by their particular skills. The initial
problem was that the historical 'partnership' between slave
and master in maintaining the plantation system had broken
down in St. Domingue in face of an ideology of "Liberty,
Equality and Fraternity". The principal concern of the Jama-
ican plantocracy was that the traditional historical relation-
ships should continue and so long as the Negro-be he 'French'
or Jamaican creole-proceeded with the picking of coffee, and
so long as the white French emigres joined with the white
Jamaican plantocracy in maintaining a system in which the
whites controlled the plantations, and the Blacks created wealth
from the plantations for the benefit of the plantocracy, and
the free-coloured could be forestalled in their drive for civil
rights and equality with the whites, then the traditional relation-
ships could continue. The Black, White and Free-coloured
group could each find its own level in Jamaica.
By 1800 it becomes difficult to distinguish a white French
emigre from a white Jamaican planter. French emigre planters
undertake like everyone else to be waywardens, others are
absentee planters, and yet others own two or more plantations.
The French emigres often went into coffee cultivation, others
produced arrowroot. Yet others went into sugar cultivation.
By the end of the nineteenth century, some must have ,em-
phasised diversification. The Lecesnes of "Harker's Hall", for
example, converted an old sugar estate, bought of another
French emigre family (the Sorapures), into an estate producing
citrus, cocoa, coffee, breadfruit, coconuts.62 That property
was about 1,000 acres.63
It is difficult to generalize about the size of the farms pur-
chased by the white French emigres upon arrival in the island.
But it is reasonable to suggest that acreages ranged from small
to large. Isaac De.Gournay, for example, purchased an estateof
300 acres upon which he planted coffee.64 But there are exam-
ples where farms did not exceed ten acres. Below is a table of
estates and farms owned by French emigres in St. Thomas-in-
the-Vale in 1840 and 1845.65
36 acres 1840
180 acres 1840
78 acres 1840
Bienfaisance Place 10 acres 1840
21 acres 1845
25 acres 1845
42 acres 1845
21 acres 1845
139 acres 1845
Some French planters were resident proprietors, others were
absentee. Yet others were satisfied to have shares in one, even
two plantations. Still others owned more than one plantation
in Jamaica and also had plantations in Cuba as well. Naturally,
the possession of properties set at some distance apart imposes
a certain degree of absenteeism. Marie Catherine de Raymond,
an emigre spinster had shares in "Friendship" and "Mt.
Pleasant" in the Parish of St. David,66 Marie Chevalier de la
Fitte had coffee plantations in St. George ("Lovely Grove"
and "Alexander Garden")67 James Armaignac owned "New-
castle" in St. Andrew and "Good Intent" in St. Mary, and also
had property in France and in Cuba.68 There was an increase
in coffee cultivation in Jamaica during the 1790's and particu-
larly after 1796.69 While there is no doubt that the emigres
contributed to the increase in coffee cultivation, there is no
positive way of determining precisely what their contribution
was in terms of number of acres cultivated and amount of
However, all white emigres were not planters. Some emigres
hired out their slaves to obtain an income, some went into
business partnerships with each other, and a number of others
with local business-men.70 (Of course, partnerships in planta-
tion-ownership were not unknown.71) From early, there were
complaints about the increasing number of gaming-houses
belonging to French people in Kingston.72 It was not unusual
for a French emigre planter to have a liquor establishment
attached to the plantation. In Kingston the liquor-trade flou-
rished and some emigres, apart from retaining liquor, were also
engaged in the establishment distilleries.73 The emigres also
became owners of Dry Goods stores. Thus Jean Baptiste
Duverger owns a liquor store and 'other merchandise' which
he desires kept up for the benefit of his children. He conceded
a commission of 5% of the profits to whichever of his execu-
tors should take the trouble to run the store.74 Peter Desnoes
runs a store in Port Royal Street, Kingston, and recommends to
his heirs that the business be not sold insofar as it was
"lucrative".75 The Duquesnays run a rum and provision store
in Kingston,76 Arnold Malabre, Philip Charrier, Charles L'Hoste,
Armand Jacques de la Hay, to name but a few others, are
emigres engaged in the selling of Dry Goods, liquor or pro-
The French merchants reaped at least a moderate harvest.
And so too did some French planters. In 1822, Jaques Garaud
left an estate of 5,245 he was a planter of St. Andrew.77 In
1824, Jaques Herard left an estate of 5 773.78 Philip
Lemercier Duquesnays left an estate of 4,714.19
The white emigres were, then, attracted to planting and to
commerce, but also engaged themselves in real estate speculation,
relying upon rental for additional income, and there is no
question but that the emigres who remained in the island
"settled in satisfactorily" .B Like the planters, the French
merchants relied heavily upon slaves for labour, and emigres
such as Duquesnays left slaves to the "value" of 886 (15
slaves).81 Other merchants had strong links with the planters
supervising the sale of produce and providing loan capital.82
Close links were therefore kept with the planter-class, and as
such it is difficult to isolate the French merchant from the
French, or for that matter, the English planter class. Herein
lay another link, which reinforced a structure based upon race
It is important to note' two other factors pertaining to the
settlement of the emigres in Jamaica. The first is the relation-
ship between the emigres and the Roman Catholic Church. The
second is the close bond between the emigres themselves.
Although we have emphasised the links and the reconcilia-
tions between the white French emigres and the white planter
class of Jamaica, it is important to note that there were strong
links between the emigres themselves. In spite of the conflicts
the racial and class conflicts between whites, coloured, and
Blacks, the Roman Catholic Church attempted to bring them
all together again in the worship of a common God. The
Roman Catholic Church in Jamaica was actually strengthened
by the coming of the emigres, whose presence necessitated the
expansion of the Church to accommodate the newcomers.83
The French emigres contributed their funds, and occasionally
parts of their estate to the Roman Catholic Church for the
maintenance of that institution. The spreading-out of the
emigres into the countryside also made vital the establishment
of missions outside Kingston. These missions looked about the
spiritual as well as the educational welfare of Roman Catholics.
It is difficult to separate the development ofthe Roman Catho-
lic Church after the middle of the 1790's from the inflow of
the Catholics, whether from Spanish America or from St.
Domingue. The Church concerned itself not only with whites
but with brownand Blacks. Blacks, slave or free, were baptised
at the fonts with white French god-parents84 and in the coun-
try-side missions were established by mid-century at Above
Rocks, Cassava River, Avocat, Matilda's Corner.85 The Church,
serving a social and spiritual function, must have acted as a
meeting place for a group of emigres who had had to face a
stormy acceptance in Jamaica. The Church was a place for refuge
for devout daughters of the French emigres who donned the
nun's veil; and immigrant families the Duquesnays and
Desnoes among others have supplied priests as well.
It is also notable that in spite of the acceptance of the
white emigres into Jamaican society that there was a striking
clannishness among them. This clannishness may have been, in
part, the result of a hostile reception, but must also have been
a natural outcome of the fact that they were all companions in
distress. It is. notable that French merchants often looked after
the sale of goods produced on French-owned plantations, that
the witnesses to wills of Frenchmen or Frenchwomen were
almost invariably Frenchmen, that Frenchmen frequently acted
as wards for French children whose parents died leaving them
minors, and that there was a high degree of intermarriage
between French families. Mercantile clerks working in the
establishments of French emigres were often of French origin.
A common origin in France may not be the only reason for
intermarriage. Rather, it could be argued that there were
sound financial reasons for such marriages; and the effect of
such marriages alliances may have been to guarantee that
capital and wealth flowed among the French emigres and their
descendants. But whether or not intermarriage was brought
about because of a preference for marrying a French person,
or because such marriages were materially judicious, the ques-
tion of intermarriage highlights the essential clannishness among
the French emigres. The incidence of god-parenthood whereby
a successful French emigre family would virtually adopt a god-
child and make sound provision for the education of the child
and other aspects of the child's upbringing also demonstrates
that the emigres accepted a community of interest between
them. The frequency whereby two acquaintances would leave
their properties one for another, is also an example not only
of clannishness but of a tendency for properties and many to
circulate among the emigre families.
In spite of the considerable measure of integration into
Jamaican society, the emigres did not immediately sever their
links with France. Some emigres were collectors of rents from
France,86 and others bequeathed their estates to relatives in
France. It must be recalled that several of the emigres had
gone to St. Domingue in the first place either to make a first
fortune or to restore a badly impaired one. It is true that some
of the emigres were mere artisans87 but it is also true that
several were members of France's impoverished nobility. Not
surprisingly, Antoine Pavageau, originally a native of Nantes,
then a planter in St. Domingue, and finally a planter in St.
Andrew, Jamaica, indicates that he possesses properties in
France which he bequeaths to his six children.80 Le Chavalier
de St. Ours bequeaths to his nephew a Marquisite in France (if
his nephew were in a position to recover it).89 Matthew Paillet
bequeaths his French properties to his wife and his sister.90
In fact, during the first two or three decades of the nineteenth
century, there was a movement of French emigres back to
France. Some returned, but others did not.
In conclusion, the coming of the French emigres did not
ultimately bring about any rupture in the Jamaican community,
especially insofar as the mass of French emigres were able to
integrate into the Jamaican society on the basis of race and
class. The class conflict between whites and mulattoes was
perhaps intensified and achieved greater emphasis for a time,
but the inflow of free-coloured from St. Domingue, did not
alter the existing social relationships between free-coloured and
whites. The fears that the free-coloured from St. Domingue
would make the aspirations of the Jamaican free-coloured more
radical and make them seek fulfilment more rapidly proved
to be exaggerated. Even in St. Domingue the alliance between
free-coloured and slaves had been extremely uneasy. The fear
that the Black group would stimulate the Negroes of Jamaica
to rebellion was also an exaggerated fear, because the Negroes
who arrived here proved to be valuable partners in the develop-
ment of the coffee plantations, and seemed to have no parti-
cular desire to spur the creole slaves to rebellion. Indeed, they
seemed, for the most part to be 'under the most perfect sub-
jection.' The fear of the plantocracy that their feathers would
be clipped to force them 'to fly an ordinary pitch' proved
completely groundless. The basis of the conflict between the
two groups was that the white plantocracy refused to grant
the free-coloured class more powerful wings. As for the white
emigres, their problem was never as great in spite of an initial
conflict. It was soon clear where their identification lay, and
conflict rapidly led to reconciliation and cooperation.
1. Anonymous, History of the Island of St. Domingo from its
beginning to the present period. London, 1818, p. 149.
2. Sir Spenser St. John, Hayti, or the Black Republic, Frank Cass &
Co. Ltd., London, 1971, p. 42. (First edition 1884)
3. Ibid., p. 42.
4. James Franklin, The Present State of Hayti (Saint Domingo)
With Remarks on its Agriculture, Commerce, Laws, Religion etc.
Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. Second edition 1971. (First edition,
1828), pp. 71-72.
5. Ibid., p. 72.
6. W. Adolphe Roberts, The French in the West Indies, New York,
7. Ibid., p. 297.
8. R.H. Bryans, Trinidad and Tobago, Faber, London, 1967, pp.
9. Ibid., p. 289.
10. The West Indian Reporter, No. 3, London, March 1827. pp.
11. The West Indian Reporter, No. 5, May 1827, p. 71 (Ital. original).
12. Sir Spenser St. John, op. cit., p. 65.
13. C.L.R. James, Black Jacobins, Vintage, New York, 1963, p.237.
14. G.W. Bridges, The Annals of Jamaica, Vol. 2, Frank Cass & Co.
1968, pp. 292-293.
15. W. Adolphe Roberts, op. cit., p.298.
16. Governor's Dispatch to Colonial Secretary. 1791. "Enclosure of
17. Lieutenant-Governor Williamson to Colonial Secretary. Dec. 21.
18. Journal of House of Assembly, Vol. X, 1797-1802. A. 1799,
19. Kingston Common Council Proceedings, 1803-1815. fol. 151,
August 31, 1807.
20. Ibid., July 11, 1808.
21. Ibid., loc. cit.
22. Ibid., Oct. 31, 1803.
23. Ibid., fol. 150, Aug. 17, 1807.
24. Journal of House of Assembly, op. cit., p. 297.
25. Ibid., p. 299.
26. Ibid., p. 300 (1799).
27. Ibid., p. 307.
Ibid., p. 310.
It is interesting to note that in Glengoffe and Cassava River (St.
Catherine) weaving is still an important home industry.
Inventories, Jamaica Archives, Lib. 143, fol. 82. 1827.
Sheila Duncker, "The Free Coloured and the Fight for Civil
Rights in Jamaica, 1800-1830" (Unpublished M.A. thesis London,
1966, p. 73.)
Inventories, Lib. 137, 1822-23.
Inventories, Lib, 141, fol. 196, 1826.
Kingston Vestry, March 30, 1795.
Great Britain, House of Commons. Report of Debate in the House
of Commons. Papers on the Case of Lecesne and Escoffery, p. 46.
Votes of House of Assembly, 1843-44. Appendix 44, p. 424.
Votes of House of Assembly, 1818. Appendix 70, p. 314.
Island Record Office (I.R.O.). Wills of Supreme Court, Lib. 93,
Ibid., Lib. 95, fol. 66.
The other half was owned by James Dubedat. See Jamaica
Almanack, 1826, "Givings In".
Island Record Office, Wills, Lib. 94, fol. 23, 1817.
Lecesne-Escoffery papers, op. cit., p. 177.
Ibid., p. 196.
Ibid., p. 259.
Ibid., p. 160.
Ibid., p. 194
Ibid., p. 304.
Ibid., p. 56.
Jamaica Almanack, "Givings In", 1818.
Lecesne-Escoffery, op. cit., p. 48 and p. 80.
Journal of House of Assembly, op. cit.,
Kingston Common Council, op. cit., Oct. 11, 1803.
Ibid., April, 1809.
Journal of House of Assembly, op. cit., p.8.
See Note 27, above.
Journal of House of Assembly, op. cit., p. 310.
Ibid., p. 309.
Ibid., p. 305-306.
61. A. H. Neiva and M. Diegues, "The Cultural Assimilation of
Immigrants in Brazil", in W.D. Borrie (ed.) The Cultural Integra-
tion of Immigrants, UNESCO, 1959, p. 189.
62. Interview with Sister Lecesne, Stella Maris, St. Andrew, Jamaica,
63. Ibid. Born in 1884, she seems possessed of a remarkable memory.
64. See Malabre Manuscripts, West India Reference Library Collection,
Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.
65.q Plantations owned in 1840 were also owned in 1845. See Jamaica
Almanack for both years.
66. Jamaica Island Record Office, Wills, Lib. 128, 1858.
67. Ibid., Lib. 95, fol. 124.
68. Ibid., Lib. 98, fol. 175.
69. Journal of House of Assembly, op. cit., p. 438.
70. e. g. Malabre and Titley.
71. See Note 40, above,
72. Journal of House of Assembly, op. cit., p. 295.
73. Kingston Common Council, op. cit., fol: 128,Sept. 29, 1806.
74. I. R. O., Lib. 127, fol. 59-60, 1855.
75. Ibid., Lib. 130. fol. 146, 1867.
76. Ibid., Lib. 114, fol. 124, 1834.
77. Inventories, Jamaica Archives, Lib. 137
78. Ibid., Lib. 139, fol. 87.
79. Ibid., Lib. 141, fol. 70.
80. Clinton Black, History of Jamaica, Collins, 1968, pp. 129-130.
81. Inventories, Jamaica Archives, Lib. 141, fol. 70. 1825.
82. e. g. Michael Charles L'Hoste.
83. Francis Xavier Delany, A History of the Catholic Church in
Jamaica, B. W.I. New York, 1930, passim.
84. Chancery. Certificate of Baptism, 1798-1804.
85. Delany, op. cit., p. 69.
86. e.g. M. Herard. See Inventories, Jamaica Archives, Lib. 139, fol.
87. M. Branchereaux, for example, while having shares in a small
plantation in St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, was a carpenter.
88. I.R.O. Wills, Lib. 94, fol. 202.
89. Ibid., Lib. 99, fol. 174.
90. Ibid., Lib. 99, fol. 174.
Aerial view of the Mona Reservoir. Photo Courtesy survey Department.
In one form or another, water occurs practically everywhere,
varying in quantity from the vast volumes in the oceans to vir-
tually none in some desert regions. Water occurs in many forms,
in the atmosphere as vapour, clouds or precipitation, on land in
warmer regions as liquid water and in some colder regions as ice.
However, in spite of the ubiquity and abundance of water,
providing adequate supplies for the needs of mankind presents
many problems, and interest in water related problems has been
growing as population increases and water demand escalates.
In the Middle Ages it was believed that water flowed magically
from the centre of the earth. The science of hydrology may be
considered to have begun with the work of Frenchmen Pierre
Perrault and Edme Mariotte, and the Englishman astronomer
Perrault made measurements of the rainfall during 3 ye rs,
and he roughly estimated the area of the drainage basin of the
Seine River above a point in Burgundy and of the runoff from
the same basin. With this method he estimated that the quantity
of water which fell on the basin as rain and snow was about six
times the quantity discharged by the river. Mariotte computed
the discharge of the Seine at Paris by measuring its width, depth
and velocity, thus essentially verifying Perault's results.
by Thorant Hardware, Hydrologist
Water Resources Division
Ministry of Mining and
Halley made observations of the rate of evaporation and de-
monstrated that the evaporation from the Mediterranean Sea is
ample to supply the quantity of water returned to that sea by the
rivers flowing into it. These are among the earliest known in-
stances of anyone having correctly reasoned that precipitation
feeds lakes springs and rivers, and that there are evaporation
losses. Today the evidence for this is incontrovertible.
Water is being exchanged between the earth and the atmos-
phere continually. Water evaporates from the wet ground, from
the leaves of growing plants, from lakes, rivers and reservoirs. It
is carried in the air as water vapour. When water vapour rises, as
against a mountain range, it cools, condenses and changes from a
gas to a liquid and falls as rain. The rain feeds the rivers and lakes.
Rivers carry water to the ocean, evaporation from land and ocean
puts water back into the atmosphere and this exchange is continu-
ous. For this reason the exchange between earth and atmosphere
is called the Hydrologic Cycle. (See Fig. 1 ).
The amount of water vapour which the air can carry without
loss by condensation depends on the air temperature. The higher
the temperature the more water vapour the air can hold. When
moist air cools sufficiently there is too much water for the air to
hold as vapour, some vapour changes to liquid, forming droplets
which fall because of their weight.
FIGURE 1. The Hydrologic Cycle
.'.' ..' .. ..... .-
..... ...... . .. .. ..... .. ...... . ...
A principal cause of condensation is the lifting of warm air to
higher and cooler altitudes. Around the earth there is a layer of air
or atmosphere which gets progressively thinner away from the
earth. The atmospheric pressure at sea level is greater than that
above sea level because of the thickness of the overlying atmos-
pheric layer. When air is lifted up to a level where the layer is
thinner, the air expands because there is less pressure on the gas.
Expansion cools the air by allowing its molecules to spread farther
apart, thus reducing the frequency of their collision. If cooling is
sufficient, the vapour condenses as droplets and these droplets
The lifting of water vapour is brought about by three main
(1) Winds that blow towards mountains are forced to rise to
pass over the mountain barrier. The rainfall produced
thus is called orographic rainfall.
(2) Warm air rises because of localized over-heating at ground
level. This type of rainfall is typical thunder storm or
(3) A body of cold air and a body of warm air meet and the
warm air rises to pass over the cold air.
A discussion of water in the air and its precipitation as rain
leads logically to a discussion of that part of the hydrologic cycle
which concerns water on land. or surface water. Fresh surface
water occurs as lakes, ponds, rivers as well as glaciers. However,
in Jamaica by far the largest accumulation of surface waters is in
The volume of water which flows through our river system can
only be obtained by direct determinations. It would be too expen-
sive a venture to measure every stream or river which flows, thus
only the major streams are measured for actual volume. The Surf-
ace Water Section of the Water Resources Division has established
an island-wide network of hydrometric stations to measure stream
flow. Depending on conditions, the techniques of the wading
measurement, bridge measurement, and cable car measurement
are employed to obtain actual flows. The volume of flow is calcu-
lated from the velocity of the water and the cross sectional area
of the stream. These measurements of volumes are correlated
against measurements of the water level (stage) at preselected
points to give a stage discharge relationship.
With this stage discharge relationship and regular continuous
measurements of the stage of the river by staff gauges or automa-
tic water level recorders, the discharge of the stream may be ob-
tained. Staff gauges are usually read twice a day so that daily
stages are available. Continuous records of discharge are available
where an automatic water level recorder is installed. There are 60
such recorders in operation.
SURFACE WATER INVENTORY
A surface water Inventory is presented in the Table below, to
give some idea of the water which passes through our river sys-
tems. This is not a statement of the total surface water runoff to
the sea, much of which follows short gullies and is quickly lost.
This inventory is an assessment of the amount of water available
in well defined perennial river systems. In this Table the annual
runoff from the major streams in each parish is given. The figures
involve some estimation of ungauged (usually minor) rivers, but
the overall total is considered to be reasonably correct:-
AVERAGE ANNUAL FLOW OF MAJOR RIVERS
Lucea East and West
Dennis Valley )
New Savannah )
Flow in Million
Ac. ft. Gallons
AVERAGE ANNUAL FLOW OF MAJOR RIVERS Continued
Pear Tree Bottom
Of course not all surface water can be extracted from rivers
for domestic, industrial or agricultural uses. Since river flow in
Jamaica is highly variable, and large flow volumes persist for re-
latively short periods, this would require large storage structures
so that supply could be regulated to meet demand. Sites for such
large storage structures are not always available. However at
present large quantities of water are used from rivers in this way.
The Hermitage and Mona Dams with capacities of 400 million
gallons and 825 million gallons respectively, are filled by water
from the Wag Water River and Hope Rivers. About 100,000 acre/
feet* of water is diverted annually from the Rio Cobre below Bog
Walk for Irrigation of the South St. Catherine Plains, and addition-
al quantities for rural water supply are withdrawn from almost all
the major streams.
The use of water from our rivers is beset with many problems.
In addition to the necessity for expensive storage systems there
is the problem of treatment to remove sediment and to purify
the water, as well as the cost of conveyance from the point of
extraction to the point of use.
Average annual flows in some rivers have shown a general de-
cline since about 1967. The flow in rivers is affected not only by
variations in the rainfall but also by changes in the catchment of
the river. Although there has been less than normal rainfall in
many catchments over the past seven years, with 1967 being
amongst the worst, this could also be due in some catchments to
increased groundwater extraction which reduces the ground water
contribution to river flows. In others it may be due to modifica-
tions of the catchment brought about by deforestation. People
who live in urban centers might want to think that runoff has in-
creased because the streets and gullies seem to carry more water
than say fifteen years ago. This is most likely true in that develop-
ment means more paved areas and more roofs, so that rainfall
does not go into the ground for storage but tends to run off more
quickly and in larger volume.
22 An acre/foot of water is that volume of water which will cover an area
of one acre to a depth of one foot.
A Automatic Water Level Recorder Shelter and Pipewell.
B Stream Gaugers making measurement to determine
flow in a river.
THE FUTURE ROLE OF SURFACE WATER
The use of surface water is part of a number of water supply
plans being considered. The most important is the so called "Blue
Mountain Scheme" which envisages the use of water from the
Yallahs River and the Rio Grande to supply domestic water for
metropolitan Kingston. In addition, dam sites on the Rio Pedro
at Harkers Hall and the Rio Minho at Danks and Pindars River
have been considered.
In an age of increased leisure, it may well be that more empha-
sis will be placed in future on the use of surface water for recrea-
tional, as well as domestic, agricultural and industrial use. Rafting
down the Rio Grande is already well established, and more re-
cently rafting down the Martha Brae has been started. Perhaps
Jamaicans will increasingly realise the recreational potential of
our streams and rivers.
The foregoing discussion shows that although large quantities
of water pass through our river systems, these do not provide all
the answers to our water supply problem. It may be that when we
know more about our complex ground water hydrology the whole
system might be optimized through conjunctive usage of ground
and surface water. However, our surface water stocks are of great
importance to the nation and must be fully utilized and properly
safeguarded in the nation's interests.
/ e d / / / l e
Large drillhole / /_
/// / /,
CLAY LOAM /
/ / / /
.. ... / /
O.... te W ,
-Casing pipe _,
.* .' . .-.' .'.. '. * * . ..
.. .... : : ::: ::: .
S.*..*.:*.*. ..' :-Screen. . .. '. .
*. *.*.*.*.*.*. :.* .. . . .. .*.* **.*. .
......... *..'.'.' ... .'.*...'
S.* *'.*.*. *. **.*.*.*. : ** .*. *::.* .*-*
*:. :..*: WATER BE ARI N. :* : :.* q.' .
..- . . -***.* ..... ... ... .
'. ..'.'... ..*. *.*.. . .R A E *n *** .* .
PIGURE II. Schematic section showing a properly constructed well in
water-bearing gravel. All polluted water from surface and subsurface
sources is effectively excluded from the well by deliberately establish-
ing a large drill-hole and sealing the space between the drill-hole and
the casing pipe with cement grout. Use of a well screen assures maximum
capacity output from the well.
.' 25 / /
* / *
10 2 -
t * * j
from the rock
(THE GEOLOGY OF GROUND WATER)
by Raymond M. Wright
Mines and Geology Division
Ministry of Mining and
There are two main ways of coping with Jamaica's present
problem of insufficient water supplies. One is to utilize the water
that flows on the surface as streams the other is to tap the
water in the sub-surface, by means of wells. It is the latter, the
underground water source, that I shall discuss in a brief and
Hidden beneath the land surface, in almost every part of
Jamaica, are natural resources of water which the scientist calls
"ground water". Ground water is simply the water that fills
cracks and other openings in beds of solid rock and sand.
Imagine a glass jar filled with dry, coarse sand into which
some water is poured from above. What happens? The water
seeps down through the fine gaps between the sand particles
displacing air, until it finds its level. Now we have a lower layer
of sand that is saturated with water and an upper layer of
unsaturated sand. For the grains of sand now substitute a per-
meable rock such as porous limestone, and you have a picture of
a water bearing stratum, or aquifer, on a small scale: The bot-
tom of the jar represents impermeable underground rock, and the
water level within the material in it represents the water table.
Each drop of rain that soaks into the soil trickles downward- to
the water table, which is the water level in the ground-water
reservoir. From there, it begins to travel slowly through the
saturated earth until it appears as seepage or springs in some
lowland area, which may be along the shore of a lake, a river, a
swamp, or the sea. Springs are simply places where ground water
issues from the earth in a visible flow.
The movement of the rain water into the soil through the
earth, and finally into rivers and the sea is all part of a never-
ending water cycle that has been going on since the dawn of time.
It was King Solomon who observed wisely, that the rivers are
always flowing into the sea, yet the sea is not full, nor do the
rivers run completely dry. Actually, a large part of the water in
rivers is ground water that has slowly escaped from the earth all
along the valley floors which is why most rivers continue to
flow even after long periods of little or no rainfall. The sun,
which evaporates fresh water from lakes and oceans and sends it
back to earth again during rain and snow storms, is the source of
energy of this huge water system (Figure 1- ).
The term "underground rivers" enjoys wide usage but strictly
speaking there are few "underground rivers" in the world, except
in places where caves and channels have been carved in buried
beds of limestone. Examples exist in many areas of the Cockpit
Country where there is a high secondary permeability developed
in the fractured limestone. In other areas of rock and in beds of
loose sand and gravel, water fills all the cracks and open spaces,
and the ground-water reservoir may extend in a thick layer under
the land surface for many miles in all directions.
Ground water is our largest water resource, and perhaps as
rnuch as 75% of the fresh water available in Jamaica at any one
time is in the porous beds of rock that make up the island's crust.
Today, many of Jamaica's rivers, except the Black River and the
many streams on the northern side of the Blue Mountains, have
H ,been tapped for water supplies nearly to their full capacity, or
have been polluted by industrial wastes, some to a dangerous de-
gree, so we are turning more and more to the ground water that
can be found almost everywhere to supplement surface and rain-
water catchment supplies. In the old days, ground water was
thought of only as a source for household use, however, it is now
also tapped for large supplies by municipalities, industries, and
irrigation systems across Jamaica. About 40% of Kingston's water
supply now comes from ground water. The Vere district of Clar-
endon is an example of an area that receives most of its irrigation
waters for sugar cane from the ground.
.c The amount of ground water that can be pumped safely year
after year depends mainly on two factors: first, the quantity of
water in the underground formation, and second the climatic
and geologic conditions that affect replenishment of the ground
water source. Water already contained in a natural ground water
reservoir has been accumulating over years, and is a largely un-
tapped reserve to carry through periods of little or no rainfall. If
the amount of water taken from wells in a certain locality is less
than the long-term replenishment from rainfall, pumping may be
continued indefinitely without any harmful effects.
If pumpage is greater than the replenishment, however, inroads
will be made on the water already stored in the rock. This is one
of the dangers of ground water usage that of exceeding the
recharge rate from rainfall. Such overpumping is tantamount to
"mining" water. Obviously where groundwater is intended to
provide a permanent supply, extraction must not exceed the
recharge rate. If it does, then continued pumping will slowly low-
A er the water table, until the water supply is exhausted. Therefore
in spite of abundance in many coastal parts of the country, ground
B water is not an inexhaustible resource. As with all natural re-
sources, it must be conserved, properly developed, and managed
(A) Tributary of the Black River sinking near Balaclava
Y (photo R.M. Wright)
'" (B) The scarp of the Duanvale Fault in St. Ann. Such breaks in lime-
stone bedrock act as preferred channels for groundwater movement.
(C) Typical view of the Cockpit Country showing the peculiar karstt"
topography of hills and intervening depressions which is developed
on the major part of Jamaica's limestone terrain. In such areas
there is little surface drainage because runoff is collected in the
depressions and funnelled underground through sinkholes.
(photos B.C. J. Tyndale-Biscoe)
Alluvial plain cultivated with sugar cane and bordered by limestone hills, south of
wisely, to ensure its availability in the future.
Conservation of a natural resource, in its true sense, means
wise use of the resource. For a renewable resource such as ground
water, conservation seeks to pattern its use on the basis of natural
laws that govern its occurrence and replenishment. One way in
which we can maintain or even increase our supply of usable wat-
er is by removing polluting wastes from used wateribefore dispos-
ing of it. Where water quality is excessively damaged, it cannot be
based without expensive treatment.
Ground-water Aquifers in Jamaica
The dominant rock type in Jamaica, (except in the Blue
Mountain complex) is limestone (See Figure 3 ). A number of
interior valleys occur in the limestone, which are thinly floored
with alluvium this same alluvium constitutes the coastal plains
of Liguanea, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and West-
moreland. Wells drilled through the alluvium reach limestone at
depth and there are usually two aquifers one in the alluvium
the other in the limestone below. Over-pumping of these aquifers
now occurs in parts of the Clarendon and St. Catherine plains,
and in both these areas abstraction of well water is monitored by
government under the law administered by the Underground
Water Authority since 1959. Permission must be granted to
pump a new well (Figure 2 ) and a limit is placed on the amount
of water that can be extracted.
There is little surface drainage in the limestone regions of
Jamaica because the permeability of this rock type is so high
that most of the rainfall is directly absorbed and passes in a sys-
tem of underground drainage. The permeability, and hence the
ability to transmit water, that exists in the limestones arises from
solution widening* of joints, fractures and faults in the rock.
Such fractured zones are the best sites for wells.
Depth to water is most often determined by the elevation of
a particular locality. Ground water circulates vertically and later-
ally towards a base level which is either an impermeable horizon,
or sea level. This means that in many inland limestone areas, the
exploitation of ground water involves a high pumping lift, thus
domestic water supplies can only be provided at high cost to the
consumer. This situation maintains in such high plateau areas as
Mandeville, Malvern, and Browns Town. In the case of Mandeville,
which is at an elevation of 2,000 ft., ground water is provided by
a well at Porus at an elevation of 426 ft. and pumped some 7
miles over the hill. This water is somewhat expensive at a delivery
* erosion by physically and/or chemically aggressive water.
price to the domestic consumer in the region of 80c per 1000
gallons. Water at this price is not economical for irrigation.
Selecting Well Sites
Although ground water can be found almost everywhere, locat-
ing an adequate supply for a particular purpose calls for specialis-
ed know-how. Because ground water is hidden from view, the
help of an experienced hydrogeologist may be needed to find the
best place to drill a well. Sometimes, if a large water supply is
needed, a careful study of the rocks and their water content may
have to be made to show the locations and depths of the water-
In many respects, the search for ground water is similar to
prospecting for oil, although there is a greater chance of obtain-
ing positive results. The geologist familiar with ground water first
maps the land surface by the classic techniques of this science in
order to understand the structure of the hidden beds of rock.
This investigation, together with this knowledge and experience,
often allows him to make on-the-spot recommendations on the
most likely site for an efficient water well. Sometimes however,
it may be necessary to drill one or more test wells to find the
water,and after pumping, to determine (1) its quality; (2) the
volume of the aquifer, for which he must know both its effective
area and mean thickness; (3) the elevation of the water table; and
(4) the specific yield of the aquifer. To detect the presence of an
aquifer in the first place, corehole samples are taken and examin-
ed in order to identify the characteristics of the various rock
strata present. Such detailed studies are necessary, particularly if
a large quantity is needed, say for a town or industry.
Some persons still rely on the "water diviner" or "dowser" to
help them find sources of underground water. The water diviner
claims that he has an extra sense or special ability to detect hidden
waters, and that a forked tree branch held in his hands will twist
downward, often with considerable force, as he walks across
buried "water veins" and "water domes". Geologists however
regard dowsing as just superstition; and the water diviner is some-
times successful in finding ground water only because he is fam-
iliar with local conditions and because ground water is likely to
be present, at some depth, almost anywhere.
Quality of Ground Water
A high level of purity is the principal reason why ground
water is an ideal water supply. The quality of ground water is
determined mainly by the character of the earth materials
through which the water has seeped. Most ground waters contain
Continued on page 44
\ y Dr.
Three species of cockroaches, the American, Australian and
German (generally known as the "Teenager" in Jamaica) are
the chief invaders of buildings and market places here. None
of these species is native to the island and the first two arrived
here before the end of the 18th century.
In spite of their names the homeland of all three species is
now believed to be Africa. In fact, all the species mentioned in
this article, except ,the Kingston or Drummer Cockroach, a
West Indian species, are thought to have come from that con-
tinent. The Brown Banded Cockroach is perhaps a much later
immigrant and is a minor pest compared to the other three.
The Madeira Cockroach has been in the isl.md for many years,
but it is only during the last year or two that we have had
reports of its taking up residence in dwellings. It is quite likely
that in the past it has been a pest species but only in very limi-
ted areas in the island. The Brown Cockroach, which resembles
the American and Australian in colour and size, does not seem
to be much of a pest here. The Driental Cockroach, a real
nuisance in some parts of the world, seems to be uncommon
or even rare in Jamaica. The very large Kingston or Drummer
Cockroach is chiefly an "outdoors" insect which now and again
invades homes but seldom, in large numbers. Actually, most
of Jamaica's cockroaches (there are at least 50 species) live
outside in fields, woodlands and forests, where most of them
probably act as scavengers and help reduce dead and decaying
organic matter to humus.
We have all been impressed, even nauseatingly impressed, at
some time or another at the sight of large numbers of cock-
roaches in a kitchen, or dashing out of burning piles of trash,
or running for cover when the lid of a drain is removed. Cock-
roaches, like many other insects, have a high reproductive
capacity, and also, like many other insects the mortality rate
is high. Of the thousands upon thousands of eggs laid, only a
relatively small percentage of the individuals hatching from
them probably reach adulthood. Some are killed off in the egg
stage by parasites. The small black wasp-like insect frequently
seen flying about in buildings is a species that spends part of
its life, the grub stage, feeding on the eggs in cockroach egg
capsules. Other insects, spiders and scorpions also take their
toll. Lizards will eat cockroaches, even the large ones and so
will some birds. At the Institute of Jamaica we have seen Anis
(Crotophaga ani) swoop down and pick up large cockroaches,
probably the Drummer and the American. In spite of all these
enemies and in spite of insecticides, cockroaches seem all too
Cockroach eggs, as many of you probably know, are not
laid singly but are enclosed in little, bean-shaped or oblong
capsules, with a few to several eggs in each capsule. The num-
ber of eggs varies according to species and within the species
also. More than one egg capsule is produced and there is evi-
dence that in some species the number of eggs is greater in the
earlier capsules deposited. As many as 28 eggs per capsule may
be present in those of the American Cockroach, 24 in the
Australian and 37 in the German. The American Cockroach may
produce between 10 and 84 capsules and one laboratory reared
individual deposited 90, from which 970 "babies" emerged.The
Australian Cockroach will produce as many as 20 to 30 and
the German 4 to 8.
The young of cockroaches are called nymphs. They are
wingless and as they feed and grow they undergo a varying
number of moults. At the final moult the wings appear and
shortly thereafter the cockroach becomes a sexually mature
individual. A freshly moulted cockroach may be almost pure
white in colour but darkens as the cuticle hardens. It should
be mentioned that not all species of cockroaches have wings.
In some it is only the males that have' wings as adults, and in
other species there may be wingless, or short-winged individuals
of both sexes.
The rate of growth and the number of moults varies accord-
ing to species and within a species depending upon nutrition
and temperatures to which the various nymphal stages are
subjected. It is an interesting fact that laboratory-reared cock-
roaches develop at a considerably faster rate if reared in groups
rather than as isolated individuals.
Most of the data we have about growth rates for cockroaches
come from laboratories where they are kept under conditions
that are assumed to be optimum. Nevertheless, there is a re-
markable variation, even within the same batch of nymphs.
For the American Cockroach, this period may vary from 160
to 971 and for the Australian 179 to 191 days from hatching
to adulthood. One authority simply states that both these
species take about a year to complete their development. The
German Cockroach requires from 40 to 125 days. If tempera-
ture has such an influence on the development rate we might
expect considerable variation in Jamaica. For example, cock-
roaches at Hope Gardens would probably complete their
development faster than cockroaches at Lorrimers. At Hope
Gardens the average yearly maximum temperature, based on
a 17 year record, is 87.80 F. and the average minimum yearly
temperature is 67.70 F. At Lorrimers these temperatures are
78.70 and 62.30 respectively but based on only five years
records. The low and minimum temperatures are signifi-
cant for cockroaches because they occur at night when the
cockroaches are foraging. These low temperatures might be
somewhat offset in their effects on cockroaches in buildings
where temperatures tend to be higher than outside.
There is some information as to the potential length of life
after reaching adulthood and these data also come from labora-
tories where, of course, the cockroaches would not be exposed
to predators. The German Cockroach, under such conditions,
will live approximately 4 to 5 months and the American
averages about 15 months. The adult life span for the Austra-
lian Cockroach, according to one source, is only 4 to 6 months.
For the American and German Cockroaches, it has been obser-
ved that females tend to live longer than the males.
The Jamaican general public first become truly aware of
the phenomenon of insect resistance to chemical control when
insecticides used to control cockroaches began to lose their
effects in the late 1950's. This was first noticeable in regard to
what are called chlorinated hydrocarbons, of which DDT,
About the same size as the German Cockroach. Considerable
variation in colour. Pale to dark brown with lateral edges FEMALE MALE
BROWN BANDED of pronotum transluscent; region just behind pronotum
CuKOa Inpale with two similar patches about mid-length of each wing
(Supella longipalpa) producing a "banded appearance". Spreads throughout
Description of Adults
AMERICAN COCKROACH About 1-1%" long. Dark or reddish brown, pronotum dark
(Periplaneta americana) centrally but paler outside this area. Wanders about premises.
May fly in through open windows at night.
Somewhat smaller than the American. Reddish brown, the PALE
pronotum dark centrally, markedly contrasting with the / STREAK
AUSTRALIAN COCKROACH paler outer area; the pale yellowish mark on the outer
(Periplaneta australasiae) third of the front wings aids in distinguishing this cock-
roach from the American. Wanders about premises.
MADEIRA COCKROACH 1%"-2" long. Dull brown or greyish brown sometimes
(Leucophaea maderae) with olive green tint, wings somewhat mottled.
DRUMMER OR KINGSTON 2"-22" long. Tan or brown with broad front wings and the
COCKROACH head hidden by the large pronotum.
GERMAN COCKROACH 1/4"-%" long. Pale brown or grey-brown with 2 darker j
(Blatella germanica) stripes on pronotum. Tends to stay in kitchens.
dieldrin and chlordane are examples. It was chlorinated hydro-
carbons that were also being used here as residual sprays to
control mosquitoes in and about buildings, in those days.
The capacity to tolerate these insecticides was not an
acquired one; it was not a case of building up an "immunity"
by coming into contact with or ingesting sub-lethal doses of
the poison. The ability to detoxify and metabloize the poison
was an inherent characteristic already present in some, but not
all individuals of a species. Even though hundreds of thousands
of cockroaches were killed, there were still enough resistant
individuals left to breed and keep the species extant until
finally, just about all the population was resistant. The trump
card for cockroaches and most other insects against the
"insecticide plagues" is their great power of reproduction.
Then too, it must be remembered that they require a relatively
short time after hatching from the egg to reaching sexual
maturity. Another factor that may work in their favour is that
the young of most species do not require parental care. Never-
theless, there was certainly a noticeable decline in the cock-
roach population in the Kingston area during the few years
"breather" we had while resistant populations were building up.
It was the German Cockroach that made the "come-back"
first. I have heard two explanations as to why the German
Cockroach came to be called the Teenager in Jamaica. One
was that many people thought they were the young of the
larger species. The other was that they were called the Teenager
because they were hard to control and I think the innuendo
is perfectly obvious. Many thought that the German Cockroach
was a recent arrival in Jamaica but it was not. It had been here
for years and C. ('. Gowdey lists it in part 1 of his Catalogus
Insectorum Jamaicensis published in 1926. The German Cock-
roach had proved refractory to control by chlorinated hydro-
carbons almost from the start and as early as 1948 a resistant
strain had been reported from Sweden.
The American and Australian Cockroaches were very sus-
ceptible to chlorinated hydrocarbons and when they were used
the numbers of th.se species was dramatically reduced. In
talking with people who had lived in Jamaica before the advent
of modern insecticides, I was usually told: "We never had
Teenager Cockroaches until we began using these new insecti-
cides" or words to that effect. Why did the German Cock-
roach become such a nuisance here when the other two species
were controlled? One answer is that my informants were wrong
because as already pointed out that species was here and had
been here for years. But if here, why wasn't it a pest species?
Perhaps when the "big fellows" were present the small species
was unable to take over in homes and other buildings. There
are reports of inter-species incompatibility, but, so far as I
know, this has not been proven by experiments and statistical
evaluation. Inter-species incompatibility could have been part
of the answer here for it'does seem that with the development
of resistant populations of American and Australian Cock-
roaches, the German Cockroach has gone into a decline.
For centuries, cockroaches have been entering human habi-
tations not only feeding on stored food products but dissemi-
nating bacteria and fungi that cause food to spoil. We all know
that it isn't food only that they attack and a lengthy list of
items that are damaged if not completely destroyed by these
insects could be produced. Until recently they have been regar-
ded as nasty nuisances that one has to put up with, especially
in warmer climates. Oh, you could control them to some
extent by proper sanitation and even some of the old-fashioned
poisons used against them helped, but the cockroaches just
kept coming and still do. even into some of the nicest well-
Controlling cockroaches seems like shovellingg sand against
the tide" but we shouldn't give up, certainly not in homes
where there are very young children.
It has been discovered that cockroaches may carry within
their bodies or externally, viruses, bacteria and protozoa patho-
genic to humans. Since certain species, amongst them the
American and Australian, have been seen in large numbers
emerging from septic tanks, sewers and latrines these discoveries
were predictable. Cockroaches may also become contaminated
with disease organisms in households when they crawl over
soiled clothing and bed linen and, in fact, there are probably
several sources of contamination. The American Cockroach has
been found naturally infected with at least seven species of
bacteria that cause intestinal disorders ranging from mild to
severe and sometimes fatal. The German Cockroach is known
to be capable of harbouring three such species as well as bac-
teria associated with boils and abscesses.The American, Austra-
lian and Brown Banded Cockroaches have all been found with
the species of bacteria that causes leprosy. Four different
strains of the virus that cause poliomyelitis have been isolated
from American, German and Brown Banded Cockroaches. This
is only a selection from a longer list and all these records refer
to naturally infected individuals. If we were to include cock-
roaches experimentally infected in the laboratory, the list
would be much longer. Yet there is no absolute proof that
cockroaches have been the chief vectors of the causal organism
in any great disease outbreak. There is, however, some circum-
stantial evidence that they may be involved in the spread of a
disease on a smaller scale. The incident most frequently cited
comes from Belgium.
In 1950, an epidemic of food poisoning broke out in the
nursery of a hospital in Brussels. The possibility of adultcarriers
was investigated but with negative results. Stricken children
were isolated from the others but in spite of these and other
precautions the epidemic continued unabated. A nurse observed
that German Cockroaches were infesting the nursery at night
and they were actually seen to crawl over bed clothing as well
as the children. Some of the insects were caught, cultures were
made from their bodies and the species of bacteria that had
already been identified as the causal organism of the disease
grew in the cultures. The cockroaches were controlled with an
insecticide and the outbreak ended abruptly. Perhaps the epi-
demic was originated by a combination of human carriers and
cockroaches,but the fact that it continued after this possibility
had been ruled out and the fact that it ended abruptly when
the cockroaches were controlled certainly indicates that the
insects were seriously involved.
It must be admitted that the information presented in the
preceding paragraph rather smacks of sensationalism. However,
it contains facts about which the general public should be
made aware, and this should be done without "pushing the
panic button". Pushing a "panic button" probably wouldn't
cause much of a stir anyway. The truth is that cockroaches are
such a numerous and constant pest here, as they are in most
tropical countries, we have grown rather accustomed to seeing
them in our homes. It should be emphasized again that cock-
roaches have not been proven to be the chief disseminators in
any great outbreak of a communicable disease. It seems to me,
though, that there is now reliable evidence that they can be
concerned in limited outbreaks involving a single household,
patrons of a restaurant, hotel guests or patients in a hospital
Cockroach control is still necessary and in Jamaica it should
be a continuous campaign combining the judicious use of insec-
ticides with greater effort to improve sanitation on a community
-wide basis. A little sensationalism in aid of this campaign might
not be such a bad idea after all.
Cornwell. P.B. The Cockroach. Volume 1. The Rentokil Library.
Hutchinson & Co. Ltd. London. 1968.
Roth, Louis M. and Edwin R. Willis. The Medical and Veteri-
nary Importance of Cockroaches. Smithsonian Miscellaneous
Collections. Volume 134, no. 10. The Smithsonian Institution
Press Washington, D.C. 1957.
Annales de Institut Pasteur, Paris, Vol. 79: 654-660, 1950.
The chase stopped here
at this harsh border-line
where tangled undergrowth and green-fringed
parapets of rock define
a freedom-fortress place,
the Land of Look Behind.
The chase stopped here,
the lean-ribbed hunting dogs
with hanging scarlet tongues, the driven slaves,
the armed militia men intent
to capture or to kill,
the red-necked overseer with darting mongoose eyes,
eyes searching for a running slave,
a piece of merchandise broke loose,
a man for freedom bound;
all bondsmen in pursuit,
to catch and cage a man gone free.
No land for living this,
S no ordered fields astir with folk
obedient to the bull-horn's note,
nor curling smoke from mountain grounds
where men go free for half a day,
nor Great House talk, nor horologue of sounds
that mark the day's routine, the horn at dawn,
the creaking wagon wheels
the shrill-voiced pickney-gang
the bustle of the noon-day meal,
the curfew bell,
the lowing cattle penned at night. No stir
of jasmine-scented mountain breeze
nor watchman's tread nor silent warmth of sleep.
No land for living this, with fissured rocks
and hostile crags, its limestone pinnacles honed sharp
by wind and rain,
shrub-shrouded deep ravines
ghost-tenanted at noon,
where moving feet no imprint make,
a breathless place of watching eyes
and ears that measure every sound.
The chase stopped here. The big boss-man
brick-red with sun and rage
with shaking fist his curses cried
and fouled the air with hate:
"Had I but known by cock-crow time,
had they but brought me "word
by dawning time of your escape
I would by now have taken you
a tied and beaten thing, but still my own
with silver pieces bought.
That day aboard the ship
your gaze I felt upon me,
you held your head as though a man,
nor turned aside your eyes,
and counting out the cash I swore
to tame you as I would a horse,
to dull those proud rebellious eyes,
with treadmill, whip and iron chains
to break you to my will.
Now fled beyond my reach
to this accursed place
I yet will track you down
with magic and with Obi's might.
Come Bashra come, work fast your spells,
like feathered shafts my curses wing
First Publication of a new poem by one of Jamaica's leading poets
with hate: black scum of earth
may hunger knot your guts,
your skin to parchment'turn
with ravening thirst, may John Crows pluck
your eyes before you die,
your bones unburied lie,
your spirit never rest but tortured still
my burning curses bear."
The cursing died away.
The dogs, the limping slaves, the men
with muskets cold their steps retraced
and like a gently moving tide
the tepid stillness washed away
the foulness from the day.
To him who panting lay concealed
beneath the mountain cedar's shade
the night brought stars and healing calm
and fears new-born of what the dawn might bring.
To him alone and in distress
Lubola spoke, a presence from the shades,
who first with his Maroons the mountains claimed:
"Take courage, Brother Man,
your brothers round you stand
to comfort and sustain,
ancestral spirits who have gained
a wider sphere than mortals know
yet tied as by a navel-string
to living kith and kin,
each with his own, his special place,
a rock, a mountain cedar tree,
a cavern deep, a spring, a shrine
where we, the living past, commune,
where spirits speak to mortals through
a burning bush, a flight of birds,
a falling branch, a thunderclap
when skies are clear.
Like you we chose the mountain road,
chose hunger, nakedness and thirst,
we learned to find in this dry land
the secret springs in hidden caves
to hunt the wild pigs, track the conies shy,
as allies use the trees and birds
the stirring leaf that danger warned
the wind that told of manhunts near,
and now a silent host we guard
the living with our power.
From this time forth, Maroon,
we compass you about,
we who the Spanish power broke
we who refused the English yoke,
protect you here, unseen unheard.
Take comfort, Brother Man, no whip
no curse can touch you here,
you rest secure in this your home,
this freedom Land of Look Behind.
When first the darkness from the sky
began to pass
a darker shape itself revealed
beside the cedar's trunk
and Cudjoe spoke,
his low-pitched voice like distant organ-pipes:
"From this time forth you are with us,
you are with us and we with you.
We offer you no ease, no rest,
but we will teach you how to live
and keep the freedom we have won,
to find the water springs, to speak
the language of the Goombay drum,
the Coromanti flute to play
whose plaintive fading note deceives
the lonely Mountain Witch.
Each day each night
will bring its task, the slashing raid
with cutlass and with flame,
the canefields all ablaze, and women seized
to bear us sons, with corn and meat
and store of arms to keep us free. With us
in hidden ambuscades you seem
a shrub, a branch with Maroon wiss entwined,
and at the Abeng's note you wake
and kill without a sound,
nor mercy seek nor mercy give.
My eyes are far beyond this place,
my ears in distant towns. News comes
of musters of militia men,
of red-coats landing fresh from home
of Cuban bloodhounds and their trainers brought
to hunt us down. This is our life.
Our children hear no talk of peace,
their games are skills that keep us free,
each year brings its alarms, its bloody toll.
We do not yield. We pay the price
that freedom takes.
This cedar tree that sheltered you
is now your birth-cord tree,
your navel-string is here
and you will bear from this day forth
the day-name Quamin that you bore
beside the Volta's stream
in your ancestral land.
These brooding jagged rocks, these trees,
the bitter damsel and wild tamarind
with scarlet twisted pod,
the Quassia with pointed leaves
the greenheart and the bulletwood,
these are our revelation-place,
from each, as once in Ghana far away
the spirits speak, Funtumi here
and here Kodia strong,
the spirit of the cedar tree.
Here your ancestral spirits live
Up Quamin come,
and claim your freedom land,
The Land of Look Behind.
Illustrations Detail from "Maroons in ambush on the Dromilly Estate"
(Institute of Jamaica)
SHORT STORY ADULTS
by Noel D. Williams
Mrs. Beverly Segree (her husband had died in a spectacular
crash, she had informed a vacationing American at the Beauty
Parlour a few hours ago, and her little boy was approaching
fourteen and quite a prodigy) almost collapsed from laughter
one evening, minutes before Mrs. Hart ard her husband finally
left. She had been preparing to go out (it was her birthday) to
dinner with the Doctor and then the playhouse, and had wel-
comed the Harts graciously hoping to suggest (as she had learnt
to with difficult people and complainants at the Tourist Office)
that the timing of their visit was distressingly wrong. While Mr.
Hart was parked placidly before the television, a picture of the
courtroom composure he had worked hard to master (the
pipe-smoking lawyer, ingeniously detecting false evidence),
Mrs. Hart had slipped off and was perched on the pink spread
of the large bed, talking vociferously. She was relating at that
very moment, while Mrs. Segree skipped from bathroom to
dressing mirror pausing only at the hushed point before the
climax of a scandalous disclosure, an incident circulating in
talk relay among Ihe men and women of the University com-
munity. About a foreign lecturer in Physics and a city
prostitute. "My dear, it is quite frightening sometimes the
things that go on up there. You'd never believe it. The man
was led to believe she was a medical student...". Mrs. Segree
had interrupted, suddenly serious-faced, and shouted to Gran
in the living room to listen for the Doctor's car. He was not a
very patient man. He announced his arrival by giving three
short blasts on the horn, and waited, the motor still running,
for her to join him outside. Once in an inexplicable rage he
drove off and left her standing, well-dressed and fumbling with
the latch of the gate. She had stayed in Montego Bay (where
her office was located) for over a month and a half before
coming home to Gran and her boy, and the neighbours who
must have forgotten the whole thing.
Gran was sitting in an easy chair pretending to be engross-
ed in the newspaper. She made little attempt to converse with
Mr. Hart except to ask him, as a polite matter of course,
whether he wanted anything to drink. He had refused, tucked
a pipe at the side of his mouth and was preparing to light up
the tobacco. She did not like him at all, and had turned on the
television minutes before he had entered trailing after his
wife's breathless chatter and handbag smile (he had delayed
to lock up the car and to inspect it again, as if inviting the
secret approval of the world whose satisfaction he acknowledg-
ed with a practised, stiff gait and pencil moustache and the
studied inattention of a half-successful, brooding man). She
had hoped he would be tempted to watch, and he had indeed
nestled (it was close to a programme of World News) into that
thought-tidy, scrupulous sobermanliness with which he ap-
proached the tumult of every ungodly event, encapsuled and
reported now in the satisfyingly grave tones of the local news-
She thought he was quite unlike her son and glanced at him,
photographed and framed on the piano. She had heard, how-
ever, that he was an impressive lawyer, given to colourful
speeches on behalf of destitute clients. His English wife was
much more the talker during social visits. She chirped solicit-
ously, asked serious questions about quaint local customs and
Illustrated by Carl Abrahams
told hilarious anecdotes about other people which only for-
eigners to the island could relate with such peculiar zest, such
human world-weariness. She had attended the Courts once
and had said after, about Mr. Hart, that he displayed (Gran
remembered her exact words) 'a poet's remarkable sensitivity
to their unlettered terror of farcical procedure and legal
rigmarole'. She was a lecturer at the university. Their marriage
was the trump-charged hand of bridge players in the field, a
contract of concealment, without child.
But he sat before the television and sorted out from all the
screen intensity information about seemingly unstoppable up-
heavals in far-flung parts of the globe. He had grown familiar
with the 'trouble spots', the 'psychopaths' to the left and right,
and at weekends (often after strenuous afternoons of lawn
tennis, and over frothy beer at the club's bar) he turned his
thoughts incisively on the 'painful absurdities' here at home.
Gran turned to the centre pages and looked through the
windows half-expectantly. She wondered about Morgan, her
grandson, who had retired to his room earlier that evening,
and she feared an interruption, another display of bad manners
which his mother had, after one unforgettable evening, spoken
to the Doctor about, believing that his accident when still a
baby had caused serious damage to his brain as well. Recently
he had been given a Chemistry set (his mother always returned
home with an expensive gift. She felt it made up for her long
absence and would help to motivate the boy).
It was when she caught the first vagrant whiff of an offen-
sive smell that Gran knew the little demon was concocting
gases or something. She rose to speak to him but heard at the
same moment the sound of a car approaching the housi which
meant (she tensed in every patient muscle) the Doctor. The
door of the bedroom had opened and Mrs. Hart came out still
running her tale but preparing to leave. Mrs. Segree looked
slightly agitated and glanced towards the door. But the car
had stopped, the motor had gone silent, and shortly after (Mr.
Hart was also slowly, and with visible regret and annoyance,
detaching himself from the News) the Doctor came through the
door. He was a smooth-shaven man of middle height, wearing
an informal jacket, a neckerchief and flashing white shoes.
His gruffness of greeting softened into tasteful silence as he
found himself being quickly introduced, nodding politely at
the English woman and shaking Mr. Hart's hand (the name,
the name didn't register).
They seized a few moments of chatter, in a small impromp-
tu circle in the living room. It was their rubber dinghy of
sharing a rare warmth amidst the dark choppy waters of the
island's disorder. And Gran hoped they would not notice the
smell which had intruded and was becoming stronger. But
Mrs. Hart, warming instinctively to a new island acquaintance,
unwrapped a story about the day she arrived on the island.
"We hadjust left the airport," she was saying in confiden-
tial tones that promised intrigue, "and we had reached that
stretch of road, you know, where you get your first marvell-
ous view of the sea and the mountains. Well all of a sudden,
there, right in front of us, was this positively revolting figure
of .. a black man. Absolutely, stark naked!" The group perked
up and shuffled. The Doctor folded his arms and waited. And
Mrs. Hart, now feverish and inspired, rushed on up to the
intimacy she had flagged down. "He just stood there, trying to
stop our car. He was almost in the middle of the road and we
were, oh, about fifty yards or so away, when suddenly he threw
up his hands as if he were about to die or fling a curse at us or
something. We had to swerve to avoid hitting the man. We
might have run right over him."
(Mr. Hart had hissed "My God! The mentality of these
people ...", as if passing a traveller's cheque of self-advertise-
ment, or a scribbled note of apology to the flabbergasted
witness of the world).
"I turned to my husband and I said 'Darling, are we really
home?' I asked. Of course we all laughed and he said that for
a moment he was not quite sure, that, maybe, we were home,
back on the mainland somewhere.. It really was the most
incredible sight. I haven't met him since, the man I mean,
though you never can tell where next he'll turn up.
Gran had slipped away while the introductions were being
made. By the time she returned to the living room having spok-
en sharply to Morgan about his inconsiderate conduct (he had
not even looked up at her), the Harts to her great relief were
getting into their car. She seemed to recall a voice shouting
farewell, hoping perhaps the sound would locate her where-
ver she was in the house and deliver its ringing good cheer.
The Doctor was standing before the television, impatience
beginning to swell in his neatly dressed figure; for Mrs. Segree
was back in her bedroom attending to finishing details, but
appearing to delay longer than was necessary. Gran was on
the point of taking up the newspaper again (there was little
she could say to the Doctor in that mood) when he swore and
exploded with trembling anger.
The newscaster was reporting on army and police operations
in the hills. Gran had noticed a similar report in the newspapers
outlining new plans to combat disorder and crime. The opera-
tion was designed to smoke out criminals believed to be hold-
ing out in the hills. There had been rumours of secret training
camps and an unearthed cache of weapons, and it seemed a
big swoop and gunbattle had taken place in which three men
had been fatally shot.
The face on the screen affected deep concern but there was
just a hint of compensating triumph in the announcement
which did succeed, however, in comforting the Doctor. He
swore loudly again (Mrs. Segree was running to the bathroom,
shouting an excuse and promising to be right out) and broke
out in a tense perspiration. He fumbled for a handkerchief.
"Hooligans ... morbid anatomy and laziness, that's what it
is. And all these strikes, killings, all this indecency. Nothing
but morbid anatomy. Damn lazy hooligans, predatory on the
hardworking. A heap of unhygenic rabble, look at them!"
The screen was showing a small group of captured men being
handcuffed and pushed into waiting jeeps by cinematically-
clad troops, bristling automatic weapons. "And those other
dreamers blaspheming our sight with their self-righteousness,
polluting our ears with foolish lamentation and drums! I'd
castrate the whole pack of them. Make all that innocence and
holy rage into the impotence they conceal and robe in seedi-
ness and ignorant prophecy. It is the morbid anatomy of the
victim, badly wanting insult and courting our complicity and
reluctant hand in rituals of defilement."
He was wiping his face, fresh and wet and slapped from
some coiled serpent sleep, and he was apologizing to Gran as
if she were a patient on a crowded hospital bed, staring at him
through a film of bewildering pain; as if he had committed an
irrevocable error, with his blunt authority of scalpel and stain-
less white jacket and hypocritical wedge of an oath he could
not now renounce, like a cancerous disposition. He was sorry,
r^ -'L- v:^ -, I ^V ^
liga morbid aato a ai, at ha it s
"'Hooliganls... ntlorhid anratomv~l arttd laziness, thlat wh~al il is, "
Gran wished them a good night and waited until the car had
taken off before rising to peer through the window. The dark-
ness outside prowled away and assumed the stillness of a drow-
sy, half-attentive jury. She felt strangely soothed by its absence
of stress, its accommodating ocean depth (there were lights up
in the distance, of dwellings she could see clearly during the
day). She turned off the television, lights in empty rooms, ar'd
decided she would speak again to Morgan before she retired.
He had never known his father, Gran's only son and bridge-
head of an unexamined privilege of birth, and the stolen right
to make a name for himself. That was a selfmade man, she
always said. He had not gone abroad to pursue and fulfil an
impossible island yearning, and to return shot down by treach-
erous, doubtful homesickness. And ingeniously clever, he had
shown an early interest in building model planes. On Sunday
afternoon he went to a playing field nearby where scruffy,
slum youth, fighting over football, stopped, squatted on
haunches and watched as the model plane circled and dipped
through space. And later in his life when his position in the
Insurance Company allowed it, he had paid down for a private
plane, the airship (it was his charming way of describing the
Cessna) and flew around the island. On the day he died
(Morgan was one year old then) she felt as if the light of day
over the island had dimmed to an almost permanent state of
mourning for the loss of his kind of daring inventiveness.
She had not attended the funeral (she was too weak, and
the light seemed to hail her with a coded message she struggled,
through deeply private sadness, to decipher). She had read a
report in the newspapers (a vulgar piece she thought by some
exuberant trainee) which reported a man from a distant village
as saying that the airship had shot out, 'had come tumbling
out', of the sky. There had been a photograph on the front
page. The nose of the airship had lodged in the ground, one
wing had tilted at a ludicrous angle. It seemed so utterly
beyond repair. They had spared her details of the tragedy and
had made arrangements for a quick burial (the doctor had
been extremely helpful in making all preparations). Within one
week he was buried and when Mrs. Segree returned that
afternoon from the funeral, her eyes reddened from weeping,
she found Gran studying a framed photograph of her son,
handsome and in full vigour, almost indestructibly modest.
But calamity had struck again soon after. Mrs. Segree was
giving Morgan a morning bath when the child slipped from her
fingers and fell to the cold tile. She had screamed, and was
hysterical for several weeks. The Doctor had been summoned
and Morgan was taken to hospital. After months of what Gran
imagined, with a sigh, to be the best in local consultative care,
he was brought back home but it was feared he would grow
up unable to walk. It was a year of unbelievable tragedy for
the family but they survived the worst months quite well.
Mrs. Segree had taken this job with the Tourist Board, and
Gran had assumed the responsibility for bringing up Morgan.
Above all, she was careful to educate him. She sat with him
and watched television programmes which brought the troubled
world into their living room; she read him Children's classics,
fairy tales (he was fascinated with stories of forests and mons-
ters, and old men with white hair) and before he was ten he
was coping with Dickens and even Shakespeare. She was honest-
ly amazed at his quicksilver mind and imagination, and when
one day (it was two days after his twelfth birthday) he appeared
suddenly in the dining room, attempting bravely to walk, she
stared at him and felt an oncoming dizziness. When she could
see properly again and had focused on Morgan, he was telling
her about the first science fiction book he had just read but
she was only half-listening. It seemed that the light had
assumed a sharper edge, almost too strong for her ageing eyes.
It was as if some trapped animal, after years of despairing wait,
had released itself; as if some shrunken leg and spirit had found
its way back to a half-remembered lair or camouflaging lair.
It was a miracle of forgiveness for which, it seemed, there was
no one to thank amidst the vulgar confusion and foolish, strugg-
ling human war with the tight-lipped patient of life.
When Morgan was moving around the house (not too stead-
ily; he walked with a stick, an absurd prop to his natural brill-
iance, Gran felt) she watched him with even greater anxiety.
She would wait for him to approach, with some marvellous
question about the island or the world (he was given, however,
to uttering elliptical statements of late, and often stood gazing
blankly into space as if hoping to catch a chance communica-
tion, or scribbled note dropped from the beak of some winged
Her life was the routine and blessed compensation of the
ageing. She went through the regular motions of, first, unlatch-
ing the kitchen door for the maid to get in at five thirty; of
answering the phone and informing callers (frequently male
voices that sounded alarmingly familiar) that Mrs. Segree was
not in the city; and assimilating the sounds of domesticity in
their quiet neighbourhood.
She did not have much to say to the neighbours, hardly
finding the occasion to meet them. Across the road and be-
yond their high hedge lived, she knew, a French engineer, his
daughter and a rather fierce dog. She had glimpsed him several
times, washing his car or reading on the patio, and could hard-
ly avoid raising a hand in respectful greeting. She was more
intrigued with the little girl with short blond curls,who romp-
ed on the lawns with the fierce dog. She felt Morgan would
find her interesting to talk with. She seemed incredibly happy.
And charmingly wicked, for they waited (dog and solitary
girl) many afternoons until a noisy dishevelled group of child-
ren from a public school in the area passed by on their way
home, then the dog would be set to give chase, scattering the
children screaming in all directions. At precisely three every
day the girl practised on the piano, first rapid up and down
scales, then simple melodies of left and right hand delicacy.
And Gran, listening from across the street, forgot the dryness
and heat, the dust and hill fires, the mad hammerstroke of the
sun. She slipped gently into the reflective pool of the melodies.
It was the soothing hand of eternity upon the withered brow
of her years.
But on Sundays, each week and every month, there was a
visitor at the gate. A woman who travelled from a village in
the hills all the way down to the city to sell her vegetables,
oranges, breadfruit and cane. Gran had stopped her once, had
found her land produce cheap and her peasant manners quite
pleasing. She had told the woman to reappear at six in the
morning, not before and not much after, but as'early as five
thirty the woman and her boy (she had taken to bringing him
along to introduce him to the mistress, and to allow him a
taste of the city) and a mule bearing two heavy baskets were
waiting at the gate. The woman knew perhaps she had arrived
too soon. Gran was careful to go out shortly after six, her
greeting tones suggesting that the woman seemed to have no
understanding of what time meant.
On this Sunday (two days after Mrs. Segree's birthday; she
had flown off from the city), Gran went to the gate holding
the collar of her dressing gown tightly against the morning
chilliness. She enquired about the boy's health and inspected
the baskets, all the while complaining to the world about the
rising prices, the city problems of water and electricity, and
her good fortune in conducting gentle transactions with the
woman. When she was ready to withdraw (she never purchased
very much but received, always as a generous offer from the
heart, more vegetables and fruit than she could use) she listen-
ed as the woman spoke of her recurring illness. Recently she
had received an injury which now compelled her to limp (she
pulled up the hem of her long, plaid dress to display a stained
bandage strapped around her left calf). Gran commiserated as
best she could, exalting the woman's private distress to the
battered, suffering status of the world. It was the poignant
melody and game of lament played by the untidy island in
the open, dark field of the world.
"Wha's happening to us, ma'am?" the woman pleaded
suddenly, as if seeking a golden nugget of unearthed feeling
truth to take back from the city to her tiny village in the hills.
Gran felt a strange shudder in the morning light and looked
up, as if a huge wing-tip had brushed by her heart, flying
dangerously low and radioing its message and rhetorical plea
conversing with a strange man who seemed to be selling yard brooms.
for incredible salvation. The large markings on the woman's
obvious disquiet lay folded and wet, jettisoned in haste upon
the chilly dawn by some callous deliverer, or anguished victim
"Our suffering is ...," she was wrestling with a swelling
irritation and sadness but she seemed to detect, in an infinite
flash of sympathy, the ancient sigh nestling in the impulse of
the woman's question.
"Our suffering," she tried again, "is like the rude loss of a
treasured son, an emptiness ...." (It was coming through, rush-
ing up, plummetting down to an unmistakable clarity of dis-
closure) "I mean, the illegitimacy of such dank unfairness ... it
will be .. unclaimed or reclaimed .. Christ or Christophe ... It
will be, you'll see ... "
But the woman and her son and the mule had reached a
bend of the road where the curving hedge took them gently
out of sight. Gran looked around her, thinking she had address-
ed some stray dog or an upstart wind panting at the backdoor
of her heart, for all that she had sown and gathered and stored
away from all the hideous contemporary seriousness and
-frantic grope. It was (she hastened now to the house) the
awesome, quivering bloodstain and issue of a dark wrong and
amputation which no physician or magic healer from the sky
could join, with all the skill aboard this grounded ship of an
island, together again.
When she came into the living room she sat down in an easy
chair to catch her breath. Her ageing heart was heaving with
the thought of facing anew the intrusion of the world's curse
and ugliness, its shoddy vagrancy and dropped anchor of
innocence. And now, more menacingly than ever, this new
insolence with which its wandering beggars, cast ashore and
freed, dared to march into her island and boldly set up their
shacks of human refusal to accept the logic and sentence
passed over and upon them.
It was too much for her frayed soul (she wished her son
were alive, he would know how to deal with this) and she
lapsed into a troubled sleep.
It was the sound of someone hailing the Godharboured
day of rest which brought her to her feet (each hovering
sound was now a startling signal). What she saw when she
looked outside almost felled her with its seeming lack of
reason. Morgan was (what was he doing out there? And what
time of day was it?) conversing with a strange man who seem-
ed to be selling yard brooms. She recognized the man and
shivered anxiously. He was one of the mad cultists. He wore
a pouch of a hat, a thick, black beard and a towel or rag was
draped across his left shoulder.
"Morgan," she shouted from the door, "come inside at
once. Get away from that man. You, sir, what do you want?"
The man had seen her peering the first time through the
window. He smiled and replied, "Selling brooms, ma'am,
yard brooms." He broke off knowing he could sell nothing
here and, leaving a whispered prayer or password or sealed
pact with the boy, he stalked off, tossing in the air the weird-
est song and laughing lyric, or knife of a trick artist:
God is Dog / In-land is I-land
In and I and Out
-land is 1-world
God is Dog
in the spell of the Master
Morgan .was flabbergasted and stared after the man, his nose
tracking the strangest aroma, receding breath of illumination,
forbidden and outlawed from his steep diving hands until that
moment, until the man selling yard brooms had approached
"Come in here at once," Gran called, "Come away from
the gate. That man is dreadful. They're dangerous. They kill."
Morgan turned slowly, paused and started forward uncer-
tainly. (He seemed so brave and frail out there, Gran thought,
confronting the unpredictable, the shocking indecency out
there). He started up the path to the house, prowling lion of a
child, in a webbed lair of self possession from which, on
occasion, he pulled out or snapped the unfairest of sleeping
questions. He was muttering to himself.
"No wonder," (she could hardly catch his words) "no
wonder we tae off in quest of new orders to sell, new order
to celebrate, or cerebrate. It is this obsessional hunting of a
destitute prey. Foolish compensating raids on a praying com-
munity by legions of the saved, privileged to disdain or patron-
ise as the dripping fat of profits or scandal decree."
"An incensed, islanded love," (was he trying, the foolish
boy, to balance the whole earth on his left foot? he almost
fell.) "and the suffocating incense of the dead dog in humanity."
"Gran, what have your eyes seen?" (he was looking, through
uncountable trees of bewilderment, at her) "Who piloting this
damn airship? Chinee racehorse owner? Coat-and-tied Black?
Syrian moneyeater? White grab 'n flee? God is Dog, see him
He pointed and knew, where the man selling yard brooms
hailed songs to the heavens, his laugh and lyric looping back
through the air like raw meat tossed from the butcher shop
of his heart, whetting its patient knife for a humble sale.
Morgan looked at the gazing hills, then took the deepest
breath to exhale its burning tremor of the future. Its hewn
face of secrets, he knew, was the runaway spirit that once
sought its green slopes for a refuge and forge of its angry
breathing. Its smoke, curling in ascent, was the signal to a
gloomy patient (refusing to grieve, planting new seed) finally
free from the groping fingers counting the fee for a fumbled
job or flight of mercy (commission of the sensitized Doctor,
rummaging an island wound for the beloved hem that dragged
an unswept ocean floor; commission of the brooding lawyer,
exhibiting the dried blood on a curious murder weapon to a
jury convinced of the savage and un-salvageable in humanity).
It was growing dark, alarmingly dark upon the island, above
the dog/shot kennel of the world.
Gran shuddered, turned, stumped a pealing toe, entered the
house, shut and bolted the door.
There is this critic who says
You can't seriously push for progress with a push-cart,
While one small, determined Chinese lady of my acquaintance
"If you haven't a van, my friend, push, by all means push for
When the dark light-posts of our dreams
Burst into flower
Cascades of fireworks disperse,
Leaving us to crackle through our days
Enter with me if you will the commonwealth of play;
No passport needed but a little irony
Compounded of assorted kindly wishes
Directed to the incredible future
And a premonition of its impending arrival tomorrow.
This mechanic is at ease because it is Sunday.
These children are children
Of Liberty Valley, a real place, quite as complex
As my old A 40 there, which is
A muted green, not green as the leaves
Or as this boy's dream car, which may be
Emerald; topaz, garnet,
Mercedes, Mustang, Toyota.
If the reference to cars displeases you
Kindly focus on the trees with their essential branches
Or on the limbs of children.
Even this small blood animal call him Tiger -
Who cuffed this small girl so that she went away
With her knuckles in her eyes;
See how he smuggled his name in with the rest
In the margin of my drawing.
Vernice and Katie, Delroy, Sam and Isoline,
Your lives proceed along their own filaments
Even while your gestures are writing their shadows
On my page. Life will break
That girl, perhaps, or transmute her to leather-or quartz.
Can I change it? Mine is a play world only
And there is nothing I can steal from its counterpart
Which is measured in smiles and sighs of breathing lives.
Full grown thugs and lay-abouts I leave out:
Their blankness must be mirrored somewhere
But not in my ees.
To their threats and demands for dollars I respond
With a certain cultivated blandnessof my own.
Let them take their pressure politics elsewhere
For Liberty Valley has no need of them.
Sunday, my friends, it is Sunday,
And I am your Sunday visitor.
From behind this fragile A 40 wrap around
I emerge to see what I can see
In the crossroads mirror in which I am seen.
The closed window of a rooming house, one pane broken,
Discloses a sudden, sharp glimpse of red.
Good year and why not, after all, even for the elderly,
Leaning out from the shop pavement
To watch the devil and his wife brawling.
Life is at least an amusing spectacle.
Tomorrow it may be different, there may be no poor.
But we doubt it.
So here I am then, one Jamaican
Who isn't asking anyone to send me back
From where I was born to where I would wish to have been
Italia, my Africa, I study your painters and your language,
Content to save my cents for the pension vacation,
After the glimpse of the Giottos
To return home, with no regrets.
Enormous, in fintessimal world
On each street of whose snub nosed face
Poets and criminals are crossing eyes,
I am pushing;
I too am pushing.
PAINTING ABOVE "BREAD" (INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA) BY GLORIA ESCOFFERY
BASIL McFARLANE /
SPEAKS WITH WAYNE BROWN
TRINIDADIAN poet Wayne Brown, whose first book, 'On
The Coast, was published last year, says that he writes
verse" ... because of a persistent sense of the limitations of
the kinds of reality offered us by historian, economist or
ideologue". People, the poet says, ... when they recognize
others and themselves as individuals in thrall to the living
world, and not merely as flesh of a political or societal theory,
suffer many marvellous, half-grasped encounters to which
they respond with terror or joy, hope or abandon. And it is
that sense of marvel or wonder, like the wonder of metaphor,
to which, whatever the theme of each individual poem, I have
tried to be true."
'On The Coast' was a Recommendation of the Poetry Book
Society of the United Kingdom.
McF. What interests me in the statement you wrpte for the
Poetry Book Society, only a paragraph of which we
have quoted, is the reference to what you called the
drought'in West Indian experience. How would you
Brown. What I called the'drought' is really a sense of waiting
that one perceives in the West Indian situation.
Gordon Rohlehr, in an article in 'Tapia' defined
dread as a sort of brooding malevolence that is always
under some sort of formal control. Now, I would
suspect that this is the product of a colonial situation,
of people who feel that "real life" is passing them by.
But there's a sort of waiting for the millennium on all
sorts of levels, as if you have a number of sparks
arising take for example the marches in Trinidad -
but they subside; and then there's always this feeling
of, "till next time", till the real thing comes along.
It's a feeling of being famished, and of needing ful-
filment that never really arrives and I wonder if it
isn't connected with a sort of buried suspicion that
"real life" is taking place somewhere else; not here.
It's not merely a colonial situation; it also has to do,
of course, with the fact that this is an island a very
small island and it seems to be a sort of permanent
human drive to arrive at the metropolis, even if it is a
"metropolis" of the imagination, to arrive at the
centre of things, from which the vibrations are
McF. This seems to put you in the position of using poetry
for a moralising purpose.
Brown. I'm not sure I see the connection that you're making
there. In referring to the sense of drought, I'm talking
about an atmosphere that one imbibes, and that
influences one's work. Nobody writes out of a
vacuum although that's been said. You write; and
much of what you are writing out of is a sort of coal-
escing sense of the world around you. If this sense of
drought exists here, it will be mirrored in the verse.
But there is not a question of morality. I mean, I
wouldn't say that my verse is self-consciously aiming
to dissipate this sense of drought. It doesn't have
that sort of self-conscious purpose.
McF. In other words, the condition of drought is neither
a good condition nor a bad condition. You're not
meaning to suggest that there's something wrong by
Brown. Well, yes. I am. I do definitely feel that there is a lot
wrong. What I am saying is that I write out of what
is given. Eliot said that, when one is writing criticism,
one can write about how things ought to be: while,
when one is writing poetry, one must write about
things as they are. I just feel that I live in this situa-
tion, and I write about it and write out of it. I have
no doubt that it is a very unhealthy situation total
situation for the country.
McF. You speak of arriving at the metropolis, the very
absence of which is the equivalent of the condition
of drought. Might not some naive person be forgiven
for assuming that your poetry has, on the basis of
what you've said, as a sort of inner purpose, as a
sort of reason for being, the idea of providing this
metropolis: to endow life with meaning and a centre.
Brown. That is correct; once you understand the figurative
way in which we're using the word, "metropolis". As
you say, we're using it to mean a centre, a sort of
authoritative principle. But, why I keep pulling back
from what you're saying, is that I don't have the
sort of self-conscious purpose, purpose with a capital
'P', that you might be implying. But I would certain-
ly hope that the creation of poetry in the West Indies,
and that my share of it, has this effect of pinpointing
the fact that real life takes place anywhere; not only,
you know, in New York. I know my own verse is a
celebration of the reality of life that I feel in myself
and around me.
McF. Of course, the idea of drought immediately suggests
its opposite, that of fruitfulness and plenty. How
would you react to the suggestion that you are identi-
fying the drought exclusively with a West Indian
locale, and the fruitfulness and plenty elsewhere?
Brown. I think there are two questions there. The first is, as
I've said, that a large part of my work is a regurgita-
tion, or a transformation of an atmosphere that I
feel around me. So, it is not I in particular feeling
this way; rather, it's a question of mirror-ingthe sort
of spiritual climate of the society as a whole. Now,
I'm not merely taking cover by saying this. If you
had seen the marches in Trinidad ... in any case, you
know the P.N.P. slogan, "Better Must Come"; this
aroused everybody. So, there is this feeling; and I
would suspect that, apart from the very real prob-
lems the West Indies has, the poverty, the unemploy-
ment, the inequality I would suggest that the
reason why this feeling abounds is that West Indians,
people as a whole, have a notion of fulfilment in
terms of a certain kind of power that we will never
be in a position to achieve: and that perhaps a whole
West Indian ethic needs to be worked out, taking into
consideration certain permanent facts of our existence:
such as the littleness of our islands, the relative power-
lessness of our position. Until these are accepted -
since they cannot be changed there will always be
this feeling of being left out, this waiting. The second
part of the question is the answer to it, rather, is -
that I suspect this is not at all a peculiarly West
Indian situation. You said I was suggesting that "the
drought" was here, and not in the metropolis. But I
would say almost the exact opposite of that. What
I'm saying is, that people who are here feel that way.
In other words: you know the long journey of so
many West Indian writers to London: everybody's
travelling in expectation. But I'm pretty sure that in
London everybody's leaving and going somewhere
else in expectation. So, the dis-satisfaction is charac-
teristic of the mid-twentieth-century in the world at
large. It's a fundamentally religious dissatisfaction with
a world that is no longer clearly organized, or with
clear answers to offer. The first World War destroyed
all that. So, I wouldn't at all say it's a West Indian
situation. I mean, look at the lost generations in
America, England: all over the world. But, for our
purposes, all that matters is that the people here feel
that way. Now, implicit in what I've been trying to
say is this: I do not feel that this "drought" is as bad
as people feel it is. Even, for example, when Naipaul
talks about the littleness and the lack of achievement
in the West Indies he is forgetting himself. He is one
of the achievements, not merely of his own genius, but
of the West Indian environment as a whole. In the
same way, I would hope that the verse even while it
admits this condition of drought is by its very
arrival already lessening that condition.
McF. Have we arrived, then, Wayne Brown, at the point
where you are ready to admit that your summoning
of the idea of drought as a kind of metaphor for the
generality of West Indian experience,is merely another
way of saying that there is absent from West Indian
life a certain kind of spiritual experience?
Brown. Yes, I think that would be correct. But I would de-
emphasise the question of it being peculiarly West
Indian. I think the whole malaise of the century is a
sense of loss and a concommitant yearning for home.
What instigates this varies in different societies; but I
think we must not under-estimate the extent to which
technology and the breakdown of an automatic belief
in certain established religions has left the sort of
world-psyche in a defenceless position. If you take into
account that, almost overnight, we have been hit with
several trau:nas, such as the fact that we now have the
capacity to destroy the world; the fact that we have
discovered the world is not infinite; and that you can
pollute it. and yourselves, out of existence: the whole
relativity of life in the twentieth century is a fairly
new thing. Nothing is absolute, nothing is finally
determined; and the loss is a kind of nostalgia for
home. Now, there is of course the physical side of
home; and the fact that so many people have travelled,
so many people are first or second-generation immi-
grants (of course, we in the West Indies are all of us
immigrants). But, over and against that actual,
physical transmigration or dislocation, is a kind of
psychical unease; a feeling that there is no safe resting-
place of belief for the psyche, no metaphysical home.
In a sense, the whole twentieth century is in exile;
even those who have never left the country their
families lived in for many centuries.
McF. So, would it be an accurate re-phrasing of what you
have just said, to say that people in effect seem to
have lost all sense of the adventure in being alive?
Brown. Well, I suppose you could say that; but that is being
a bit hard on people. Because, an adventure is fine if
it comes as an exception; in other words, if you set
out from one place to which you will be returning.
But people get tired, you know, when there is no
point of rest. Now, if you look at the West Indies in
particular, where the angst is not so much the kind of
twentieth-century malaise I've been talking about -
because, most people in the West Indies can live their
lives without being too much aware of, say, the rami-
fications of the moon-probe but the alienation is no
less for this, only different. There is the sense of a
largely non-white population, surfacing and finding
itself in a white-controlled world which it can neither
enter entirely nor completely deny. I believe Claude
McKay was the first West Indian poet to write of this
predicament. In one of his sonnets he laments, that
Africa's sun has set and this now is a white-controlled
world; or words to that effect. Now, I don't think that
the question is as simple or as neatly demarcated as one
of race. What I think you have in Jamaica, and in the
Third World as a whole, is a cultural situation which
finds no echo or mirror of validity in other parts of
the world; parts of the world that control the power
and, particularly, the media. So, you have the feeling
of a society being denied its full value. It appears to be
a racial problem, although I don't consider that to be
a fundamental point. The fundamental point is one of
different world-views, held by differing kinds of cul-
ture; the one technological, the others agrarian or
semi-agrarian; that have different tools, or windows
through which they look at experience; and the domi-
nation of the latter by the first.
McF. I'm not going to ask you to express an opinion of
Derek Walcott's poems although I believe you to be
an admirer of his work but I would like to make
this suggestion: that the question of race forms a con-
siderable part of the interest, if not the meaning, in his
work. Do you agree?
Brown. I'm not sure. But, before 1 get on to that, let me say
something else. When I said that the real problem is
not a problem of race but a problem of culture, I was
making a distinction between the way in which we
wear our uniforms; in other words, the way in which
we are distinguished and acted upon and react in
terms of the world at large; and the cause of this
situation. Although you may say that, in effect, we
are in a racial confrontation or trauma because
whatever happens to us on a certain level happens
fairly evenly along the lines of race I don't believe
that the fundamental confrontation is one of race,
but one of differing world-views; that is, differing cul-
tures. But, let me get back to Walcott. I wouldn't
have thought that race was one of the central themes
of his poetry. In an early poem of his there is the line,
"When they conquer you, you have to read their
books", and 1 think that this is a far more central pre-
occupation in his work than the question of race qua
race. What he's saying is, that when a people are
colonised they are given certain methods of expressing
themselves and of regarding or interpreting experience;
and that the struggle is therefore to shed these differ-
ent, perhaps alien, ways of seeing; and to find one's
own individual viewpoint and voice. I think the most
fruitful way to look at Walcott's progress as a poet is
to see how he adopts and sheds the different voices
that in themselves involve different ways of seeing. I
mean, what poem are you thinking about in particular
when you say that the race question is central in his
McF. If not "race", then division; a division as potentially
traumatic as any racial discrimination could be. But,
as to the poem, I would quote from 'Letter to
Margaret': "You in your castle of skin/ I the swine-
herd". Incidentally, that I believe is where George
Lamming got the title of his first book.
Brown. Yes; I think in that poem Walcott is recognizing that
there is a correspondence between the colour of a
man's skin and the hierarchical position he tends to
find himself in. This is what I've said before, that the
problem can be seen to resolve itself along racial lines
in the sense that the sufferers turn out almost invari-
ably to be non-white. But I was trying to distinguish
between that which is the form the problem takes -
and what the heart of the matter is. And I would still
maintain that at heart it's a cultural matter.
McF. Now, do you recognize the possibility that the view
you have just elucidated places you substantially on
all-fours with those Utopians who contend that there
is really no racial discrimination in the West Indies?
Brown. There is racial discrimination in the West Indies, as in
many other places. But what I'm saying is that, since
it is not the original cause of certain patterns of
behaviour, it cannot be eliminated by appealing to
itself or to the need to eradicate it. I don't think
you'll ever get rid of racial discrimination by saying,
"racial discrimination is a bad thing". In other words,
I think the roots of the trauma do not lie in race but
in culture; of which economics is an integral part.
And, if you want to destroy a racially-unjust situation,
I think it would be far wiser to apply yourself to the
question of culture and economics rather than to
the question of race. This is more or less what I've
been saying. I mean, Garvey was at one time a
McF. Just for curiosity's sake: why should not Garvey have
been a capitalist?
Brown. I would have thought that would have been self-
evident. I mean, you've read Eric Williams', 'Capitalism
and Slavery'; and, incidentally, this is amplifying all
I've been trying to get across. It used to be said that
Africans were enslaved because of the Europeans' sense
of superiority, racial superiority and therefore it
was like a natural order of things that blacks should
work for whites. But what Williams and other
historians since Williams have shown is, that it was
quite the opposite; that. an economic system, that is
to say, 'capitalism', or rather the movement towards
'capitalism', demanded a labour force, a large and
cheap labour force; which demand produced slavery.
And it was only after a generation or two of recognis-
ably different people different, that is, from the
Europeans had been working as slaves that the
stigma of race became attached to what was essentially
an economic arrangement. The reason why Garvey
shouldn't have been a capitalist I suppose any
econoniist could tell you better than I, but certainly
it has to do with the fact that that system of itself
tends to be exploitative on behalf of the technological
countries; especially when it is expanded through
McF. You have said, and I have quoted you to the effect,
that practically the reason for your writing poetry is
a dissatisfaction with the kinds of reality offered by
either the economist, the historian or politician. Do
you mean to imply by that, that you consider the
concern of the poet to be with a distinctly different
Brown. Well, I wouldn't like to generalize here. I wouldn't
like to talk about, "the poet"; because there have been
poets who have written excellent didactic verse from
more or less the same viewpoint as one or more -
of these disciplines. I will say, that for myself and in
regard to the way in which poetry originates with me,
and I suppose this says something about my own
nature I cannot write out of these stances. My sense
of reality is not contained or enhanced by anything
these people can tell me. So, I would make a distinc-
tion here: between my own needs and nature, and
poetry at large.
McF. It seems to me, Mr. Brown, that what you are doing
is: setting-up 'poetry' as a discipline, contrary to or
rival to the others: history, economics and so on.
Is this in fact what you're doing?
Brown. Well, again I'm going to duck that question partly: by
saying that 1 don't really want to speak on behalf of
poetry with a capital P'. But I will say, that as far
as my own work is concerned, and I think there are a
number of poets who are recognizably seeing the
world in more or less the same terms as I am this is
how it is with me. The only way I can proceed here
is via examples. The whole question of "reality": what
is really happening when something manifests itself?
Now, the sort of fundamental basis of my perspective,
the place from which I start, is the belief that the
capacities of the intellect that is, the uses of the
rational or cerebral mind are extremely limited;
and that we are far more the prisoners of instinct
than reason; and, that an enormous amount of the
time that we think we're being reasonable, we're in
fact obeying certain animal or genetic codes within us:
in effect, instructions to act or to think in a particular
fashion. Take, for example, a situation where there is
an upheaval; some trauma takes place in a group of
people. Now, the historian may pounce on that and
say: that happened because and he traces the whole
line of events that he feels would have predicted this.
The ideologue will jump in and point out the machina-
tions of the dialectic. Each of them has his idea of
what is really happening there. But my own view of
the situation would not be either of these. What I
would tend to see are fairly naked, basic, age-old
urges being expressed: the tension for power within
the revolting group (no pun intended), the fear of
isolation among individual members of the group; the
way the waves of doubt and action follow each other
... you look at simple things like gestures, body lan-
guage; or you see, for example, two little boys about
to fight on a playing-field. They may tell you, the
historian or ideologue may tell you, that they are
going to fight because one is rich and one is poor; or,
one is black and one is white. But you see how the
last preamble to the fight starting, is when one boy
takes his toe and draws a line across the grass; and
says, "Cross that!" And as the other crosses the fight,
more or less inevitably, begins. And then you think of,
how like that it is when a dog chases another out of
its yard; and how, once outside, the intruding dog
turns and attacks the dog who was the pursuer, but
who has now forfeited his territory; who is now on
neutral ground. So, I tend to see all these things that
we are told have political or sociological or historical
causes,as having far more basic, almost immutable -
because genetic impulses behind them. And this is
not necessarily a bad thing; quite the opposite: I feel
that it is cause for joy. In other words, the knowledge
of our connection and dependence on the whole of
life life in all its manifestations, not only the human
is a proof against loneliness. I think our main
source of loneliness springs from the belief that man
is over, above and distinct from what we call the
natural world. Well, we may be over and above but
we are certainly very much still a part of it.
McF. Is this another way of saying, that the historian; the
economist; the politician; the ideologue: all these ways
of perceiving reality are simply institutionalisations of
particular modes of perception. Whereas, the poet
differs from the lot by his insistence on a return to
"first things"; to a sort of primitive and certainly
fresh and idiosyncratic view of what we all glibly
categorize as reality?
Brown. Well, firstly; I'm not trying to dismiss out-of-hand
these disciplines. They have their uses, obviously.
Only, I wouldn't like to confront experience solely,
or even largely, in their terms; at least, not at their
present state of evolution. I would feel I was missing
most of what is basic or premanently meaningful in a
particular experience, if I did so. But, to answer your
question: yes, I think I would agree with you. Even,
say, we accept the idea of "the poet". Ted Hughes,
for example, has said that poetry is a statement from
the forces in direct control of your life; and I think
he meant the emphasis to be on the word, "direct"...
You see, apropos of all this, I feel it must take a very
peculiar kind of person not to be shocked and dis-
mayed at the way that time makes much of history
seem so pathetic. It must be a peculiar kind of arro-
gance or narcissism, to feel that, in 1973, we have
suddenly got the solution for a world that has never
been solved before. The empires rise and fall; the
theologians, the philosophers, the scientists- even
the scientists take their positions; only to be counted
out by the fourth or fifth round that is, a couple
of generations later. Only the art stays. And that must
surely be because it is dealing, you know, with perma-
nent things; things that, perhaps, the economist or
ideologue would scoff at: things like love or doubt or
death. There's a phrase in a Walcott poem, "not
heroes, merely men". You see the statues get up; and
get pulled down, perhaps even within your own life-
time. But, in a simpler, quieter, more private way, the
men and women go on. And they're always the same,
each generation: at bedrock the same. So, you have to
watch the man who tells you differently. Whatever the
cause he's working for, he's the betrayer. But, to get
back to the institutions: I keep seeing them as ways
of simplifying experience, in such a way as to give us
the illusion that we are masters of the future. And, all
of them seem to me to be based on really terrifying
fallacies about our "freedom"; our ability to act
rationally. Because ... I think the evolutionary trick,
of which we may yet be the victims, is that we're at
the sort of half-way point. We are the species of animal
that has the ability to perceive what ought to be done,
what is rational, but does not have the freedom from
our own natures to do it. So, you find that in this
stupendously knowledgeable age we're closer to
wipe-out, total wipe-out, than ever before. I think it
is vitally important to recognize the ascendancy of
instinct in human nature. Not because, as I've heard
some people say, this is some sort of formula for
defeatism or passivity; but because to try to base a
course of action upon the fallacy, the prayer, that
these things do not really exist you're always going
to come to grief. Until you know and accept the
reality of human nature, you have no possibility of
channeling it along certain particular lines.
McF. I can see a lot in what you've just said with which I
would instantly disagree; specifically the notion of
something called, "human nature"; let alone the idea
that it is worthwhile, or even possible, to channel it in
some given direction.
Brown. Well, I'm not sure how we can go about deciding
whether there's anything called human nature; except
to perform the same sort of experiments on human
beings thathave been performed on other anintals -
and find that, in particular situations, we tend to react
in the same way. That may be side-steppingthe ques-
tion of definitions, but it provides knowledge; you can
work from that. As to the question of channeling, I
don't want to sound totalitarian here; because I'm
not, emphatically not. But, let us take a simple
example. If you can discover that it is genetically
innate in human beings to be aggressive; if, in fact,
aggression is the first impulse behind either love or
creativity; as well as destructiveness; then, so long as
you stop pretending that aggression is just a bad thing
and that you must therefore get rid of it, you can do
certain things to release it that do not involve killing
people or flattening continents. In other words -
this may sound banal, but in other words, you can
increase the incidence of sport, which is ritualized
aggression, non-lethal war (I mean, just think of the
lingo of any "sport"; football, cricket, whatever); you
can amplify the possibilities for personal and communal
creativity; which is also a manner of aggression, if you
understand that term in its basic sense; not just of a
man wanting to hit somebody, but as the outward
thrust of a man's energy into the universe. If you
take that as aggression, then you can see; that, deny a
man this kind of release, and he will take his release
where he can. Hence, for example, rape: which is the
warped face of love. But, surely, it is not a coincidence
that the most violent people in the society are also the
most downpressed; not a coincidence, nor due to the
idea that there's some natural connection between
poverty and 'badness'. The peasant farmer isn't violent.
He has his own arena, his own plot of land to attack
(and I'm using the word, "attack", on purpose), to
project himself upon. So, to my mind, it's not poverty
that causes violence; not material poverty, but the
curtailing of the possibilities for creative aggression
that certain kinds of poverty preclude. Again, take a
controversial example. A lot of people concerned with
the Third World have felt that it's an outrage; that,
with the world in its present state, the Americans and
the Russians should be spending so much money to
send a man to the moon. And this is a completely
natural position for the committed observer to take,
until the observer recognizes further, that this moon-
race is one way of releasing the war instinct; that, per-
haps, if this outlet hadn't been available, the real thing
might have ensued. So, what I'm saying is: that, in so
many of our activities, we come to grief because we
try to pretend that something, something in us, really
isn't there: and act as if it weren't. And then the thing
becomes aberrant and destructive. In short, we are in
the grip of forces, as all other animal and plant life is,
that are in themselves neither good nor bad but
contain the potential for either. And their final mani-
festation, as good or evil, depends on whether we
acknowledge them and find a creative, or at least a
harmless, outlet for them; or whether we remain
arrogant and narcissistic, and deny their existence un-
til they erupt anyway and ruin the architecture.
McF. Who are the poets whom you consider see the world
in the same way as yourself?
Brown. I would need to think about that. There's the Ameri-
can, Robinson Jeffers; Ted Hughes, certainly; I would
think, Tony McNeill; Eliot, even. Eliot's position is
not the naked position of, say, Hughes; but his whole
religious philosophy I believe is based upon an aware-
ness of "evil"; what he, being Anglo-Catholic, would
consider Original Sin: which is what I mean by one's
animal nature. And his whole superstructure of belief
is meant to contain this evil, right? So, once you put
it in those terms, there's a wide range of poets; even
someone like Robert Lowell. Also, some of what you
might call the humanist poets: depending on whether
they're being tough rather than, sort of, wistful ...
McF. Would you say that, as distinct from the austere,
religious approach of, say, T.S. Eliot: you and the
other, so-called humanist poets propose an intercession
on behalf of mere man?
Brown. Again, that pack, "you and the other, so-called,
humanist poets", won't work. In fact, the label,
"humanist", won't really work, either; so let me take
it back. But, let me single out a couple of writers. I
think, in particular, of Jeffers and Hughes. I mean,
I'm not comparing my achievement with theirs. I'm
talking about a perspective, a world-view. I think it's
not so much a question of intercession, but a question
of taking one's joy in a predicament that a -vriter like
Eliot would have seen as essentially disturbing: some-
thing to be negated. And the joy, in turn, comes from
a knowledge of union; an awareness that we are not
really as distinct from the earth as, say, the Quakers
would have liked us to believe. I'm going to mention
Naipaul here, again: so I'd better say that I think he's
a magnificent writer, and any criticism should be
taken in that light. But I often feel that Naipaul's
particular agony is connected with an inability on his
part (or, perhaps, even a revulsion) over the business
of fully accepting the inter-relationship between him-
selt and, not only other people in the region or in the
world, but also life: all life, human or otherwise. So,
you get this sort of terrible loneliness. It's there in
the syntax, in everything Naipaul writes. I think this
kind of alienation is a peculiarly Western invention (if
we can now generalize about the Western world), and
perhaps it's the corollary of conquest: the notion of
man as the subjugator of nature. Now, there are certain
things going on in the world today that are swinging
the philosophical foundations back towards the sort
of position I have been maintaining. Sciences like
ecology and anthropology are all working in the direc-
tion of highlighting our inter-connectedness with the
planet and its non-human life. These are both sciences
in their relative infancy, and my guess is that they're
going to grow fast and far enough to affect philoso-
phy in a very short time if they haven't begun to
do so already. I think, what I'm advocating involves
relating to the non-you at a visceral level, the level
of recognition: as against Eliot's policy of contain-
ment, so to speak. Which was why Eliot and Lawrence
could never pull. I'd invoke Lawrence very strongly
in all I've been saying. And with him someone like
Senghor, and the negritudee' poets as a whole.
McF. John Kennedy, somewhere or other is quoted as say-
ing that, in his value scheme and as a means of negot-
iating experience, laughter ranked possibly above any
other asset. Remembering that has prompted me to
ask you, just where in your value-scheme, your appar-
atus for assimilating or interpreting experience, do
you place the faculty of humour?
Brown. I'll have to make a distinction here between life and
work. I believe that humour is an extremely civiliz-
ing tonic, and an extremely valuable shade, or visor,
through which one can look at one's experience.
Because humour basically involves both detachment
and acceptance, and it leads to compassion. On the
other hand, I don't think I can say that humour has
played that much of a part in my own verse. When I
think of poets in whom you can see humour operat-
ing, I think again of McNeil, of Walcott, of Hughes.
So, when I ask myself why is it my own work is fairly
humourless, I can only say that perhaps it's because
I don't write from a vantage-point. But, that's not
good enough ... I don't know, really.
/ McF. Elsewhere in your statement to the Poetry Book
Society, you make reference to the noisiness of West
Indian life, and you don't interpret this in any sym-
pathetic or humorous vein. It seems that you are say-
ing that it is at odds with the purposes and the making
of art. Is this a fact?
Brown. I need to clarify what I meant by noise. By "noise",
I did not mean the clanking of machinery, or the
loudness at which people play their radios. I was
referring to the way we, in the West Indies, continual-
ly vent our conceits or opinionated selves under the
guise of commitment. Now, why I felt that kind of
noise to be at odds with the making of poetry is
because, for me, poetry is a listening process. You
have to get out of the way ill your sort of petty
views and opinions and conceits and what-you-had-
for-breakfast and who-you-don i-like-that-lives-down-
the-street. In other words, you have to clear the
passage for the sub-conscious to rise. In the first
phase of creating, I think one is in a very passive
state. That is, one is waiting; or listening. When the
thing surfaces, of course you may have to sort of take
it by the neck and beat it into shape. But, unless you
have access to those depths out of which the true
voice arises, everything you write is going to sound
like polemic and harangue. I mean, you see it all
over the West Indies today: all these multiplying
anthologies that we are told constitute a new poetic
awakening and that are really vehicles for noise. By
that I mean, that in most of them you will look hard
to find a really authentic, depth-voice speaking. It's as
if people were mistaking frenzy for emotional autho-
rity. I mean, how can a big man like John La Rose get
away with, "Damn Caliban! Damn, damn ..."? I don't
think an authoritative or true response ever arises in
such a spread-eagled manner. So, if one holds the view
of poetry as involving a process of coaxing the sub-
conscious, the depth-voice, to rise one has to avoid
like the plague all this chest-beating in bad prose
chopped into lines, and nicknamed "verse". You have
to refuse to be trapped into making noise yourself.
You have, I think, to be attentive; and silent.
McF. You made reference, at least twice just now, to what
you called, "the sub-conscious rising". In view of our
earlier discussion of kinds of reality, how would you
describe the function of the dream in the context of
Brown. Well, again, there are various kinds of creativity; but
I think one kind you can describe as being quite
analogous to the dream process. You see, art is based
upon the notion, even if this notion is implicit and
seldom articulated, that there is a fundamental order
to the universe; that, however chaotic things may seem
to us, it is only that we are too-immersed in them to
see the pattern of the whole: and art sets out to re-
create, to restore this pattern. Now, in some sort of
marvellous way, both the sub-conscious and one's
dream-world appear to go about selecting the crises of
one's experience and organizing them quite apart
from one's willed, conscious efforts to do so. So that,
I think, things like dream, trance, the sub-conscious:
all these are extremely important in the process of
creation. As you know, Coleridge said the whole of
'Kubla Khan' came to him in a trance, a drug-induced
trance. I'm sure there are quite a few poets who have
produced poems that have come almost full-formed
out of a dream. Perhaps, every poet has at one time
or another. In my own collection, 'On -The Coast',
one of the poems is simply the transcription of a
dream with little or no real attention to craft,
because it had already organized itself within the
dream. The thing is, in the writing of poetry I think
the most dangerous enemy is the conscious, the self-
conscious mind. The reason for this, I think, is that
there's a vast difference between the waking, social
self and the isolate, dreaming self; and, the more I
think about it, the more I watch people and myself,
the more I feel that an enormous part of our social
selves, "intellectual" activities et cetera, is just a
long-winded ruse to protect us from pain: specifically,
the pain of recognizing our unworthiness. The ra-
tionalizations, the varied stances, all are there to
protect our self-image. And what can be truly terrify-
ing if we think about it, is that we should really credit
these devices. It is, too, the need to keep an illusion
of order; which is not the same as order at a deeper
level, since it is an illusion arrived at through self-
interest. So, the "listening-in" period is the only time
one can surprise oneself; and I think that the element
of "surprise", of shock followed instantly by recogni-
tion is,- for me, the truest sign that one is in contact
with art with real art, and not bluster and it's
what I look for in reading other people's poetry.
McF. Is this another way of saying, what you said earlier,
about feeling obliged to reject the interpretations of
reality offered by people like economists, historians
Brown. Precisely. I'll tell you something. There has seldom -
perhaps there has never been anything I've written
in prose that has not disgusted me a few months
later. It's as if all that mental sweat, all that supposed
understanding that went into the article, or whatever
it was; as if, with the passage of time, I had come to
recognize how closely my needs at the time in terms
of self-image or intellectual bases for one's feelings -
influenced my so-called understanding of the situat-
ion: so that the whole experience became twisted,
became a prop. I suspect that this takes place with a
hell of a lot of people; and I have never been able to
ward off that kind of self-disappointment for too
long. Always, whenever I write something in prose,
it sort of comes back to point its finger at me. Only
the poems never behave in this way. It's as if they
have their own validity, and don't depend upon my
understanding or point of view. Even if they confront
me later; I tend to feel when they do that I must be
in the wrong at the time of confrontation, not that
the poem was in the wrong, if ever, at time of writing.
I'm not sure what the reason for this is. Clearly, it has
to do with the sort of airtight quality that a real piece
of art has. It's as though it came out of depths that
were almost independent themselves; and therefore
it lives independently; while the article or essay turns
out to have been just another shield between yourself
and nakedness or reality.
McF. "But the landscape, and its human people, continue
actively to survive; and it is from my involvement in
these that has come whatever inspiration these poems
possess." You recognize this, of course, as being part
of that same statement to the Poetry Book Society.
Does it mean anything to you that landscape seems
to be a pre-occupation of a majority among West
Indian (certainly among Jamaican) painters, as well as
Brown. I would need to think about that. The first thing that
suggests itself is, that our landscapes with the
exception of some very small and long-occupied is-
lands, like Barbados are fairly wild, fairly untamed.
Unlike, say, England: where so much of the land has
been marked off into squares, and colonized with
hedges: and you can tell that man has been there.
Now, this may be leading off into a kind of panthe-
ism; but I believe that an untamed landscape in-
fluences, enters into the spirit of a person far more
potently than a civilized or man-made landscape. I
don't know exactly what is going on, when the paint-
ers show a preoccupation with landscape; but, in
relation to my own work there are two reasons. The
first is that I've always hated the city. I still hate it.
As a child, I had the opportunity to escape to the
seashore every week-end; and not the civilized sea-
shore where all the bathers went, but a very rocky,
windy part of the north-east coast of Trinidad -
between Rampanalgas and Cumana where there
were only the few villages, and the sea and the wind.
Perhaps, the fact that I was an only child has some-
thing to do with it. I've always felt more at home in
the natural landscape than in the city. What I was -
or am mostly aware of in the city is a large amount
of sham and meaninglessness, the latter because of
rootlessness perhaps; and when I was in the country-
side I always felt that I was in the grip of real forces;
and, even the people, the fishermen, were themselves
in the silence of real things. To continue with the
painters, I am not sure how they are using the land-
scape; but I would like to believe that I never just
delineate landscape: rather, that the landscape is like
a starting-point or objective correlative, that of itself
arouses particular emotions in myself and in others.
So, what I'm trying for (it's the old Eliot thing) is an
expression of a particular emotion through the delin-
eation of a landscape that, in itself, calls up this
response. I don't know whether you would say the
painters are working in the same way. Would you?
McF. I would say that, in the case of the painters (and I
would venture that this is also true of yourself and
your own work, and possibly one or two other writ-
ing people that we're not now considering), 'land-
scape' has a sort of symbolic, even a spiritual, and
certainly a psychical function; in that it indicates the
preoccupation with anchoring oneself in the environ-
ment. That is to say, by a delineation and given the
limitations of the individual talent by as actual and
total a reference as possible to the world as manifesta-
tion, to the world whose impingement on the con-
sciousness is "experience" or, more accurately, forms
the basis of experience: by this constant reference to
landscape, the painters and, no doubt, yourself hope
to achieve the special fusion of the actual and ideal
that is one of the definitions of art. With your per-
mission, I would add that I don't think I've come
across another poet writing in the West Indies in
whom this particular preoccupation is quite as strong.
And yet, even admitting the strength of the pre-
occupation, there seems a still more special kind of
obsession. I know I've heard one or two people say,
and I agree with them, that you have a predilection
for a special kind of landscape: that your poems are,
as it were, more often than not, dictated on the coast.
Brown. Yes. Well, there's one very easy explanation for that,
if you believe in these things; and that is, I was born
under the sign of Cancer, the crab, which lives on the
coast; and in fact the very first keepable poem I ever
wrote was one called, "Crab". But, if you prefer not
to venture into those waters, I would say that, in an
island the most dramatic point, the island's focus, is
really the coast where the land meets the sea. One
gets the sense of different forces operating, especially
in collision, and a sort of perpetual tension between
sea and land: as well as the fact that the sea is almost
inexhaustible in its moods, and in the moods it
summons in the observer. And this makes that half-
landscape, half-seascape situation almost endlessly
potent for use as metaphor when one is writing
about human emotions and tensions, and so on. And,
of course, there's the situation I've already referred
to; that, as a growing child, I spent alot of time at the
seashore: so, that almost all my happy or awesome
memories of childhood are connected with that sort
of landscape. I put it in a poem called, "Insomnia"
the whole atmosphere and landscape is that of this
place I used to go to. And, if it is true that around
that age a child imbibes the kind of images and associ-
ations that will rule his imagination forever, then these
clearly came from there.
McF. It seems to be generally agreed that your work shows
the influence of two poets more than any others, one
being Derek Walcott and the other the Englishman,
Ted Hughes. How do you feel about this?
Brown. Well, I would have to plead guilty on both counts. The
nature of the influence is different, though. Walcott's
first book, 'In a Green Night', which I first read in
about 1964, was not only the first West Indian poetry
I ever read, it was also the first twentieth-century
poetry I ever read as well as the first thing by a
West Indian, in any medium, I had ever read. So, it was
a double shock; of meeting something that approxi-
mated far more closely to my own reality, on two
levels: that of time and that of place. It was, after
that, a fairly natural matter of trying to emulate some-
one whose work had shocked me practically into self-
awareness. The Hughes side of it is far more pervasive,
I think, in my work and far more dangerous;
because I feel very much closer in sensibility to Hughes
than to Walcott. Walcott has a sort of central, moral
concern that is not as fundamental to my work;
Hughes, on the other hand, has this total radiating
perception of natural phenomena in the way that
D.H. Lawrence had it. It is as if, 'if he looks at some-
'thing long and hard enough, the whole universe seems
to arise out of that object (or subject) and organize
itself around it in living relationship to it. But, I'm
not really worried by the fact of influences. I mean,
I'm twenty-eight. I imagine this sort of thing could go
on for perhaps another ten years; but I do feel much
more in danger of slipping into the Hughes sort of
perspective than into Walcott's.
McF. You used the word, "dangerous", in connection with
Hughes and his influence on your work; as if to suggest
there is something of a risk, of potential harm, in the
fact that one writer can be influenced by another. But,
in the entire range of West Indian letters, I don't think
anyone has been more variously influenced and for
over a more prolonged period than Derek Walcott him-
self, who still has managed to arrive at what I think
will be conceded to be his own distinctive utterance.
On the other hand, just occasionally you come across
a young poet, as in the case of Tony McNeill, who
seems to emerge with relatively few traces of the
influence of some other writer. But I would say that
this is exceptional.
Brown. Yes. What you say about Tony is quite correct; he is a
remarkably un-influenced young poet. There are some
influences; for example, if you read the poem called,
"Husks", you can see the Hughes influence there: all
those hard consonants and broad vowels, as well as the
total organization of the poem. But I think it is true
in general that he is a surprisingly clean poet for a
young man, and perhaps a large part of the cause of
this is the enormous pressure under which he produces.
When McNeill writes a poem you tend to feel the
poem wrote itself. There's a sort of dam-breaking
quality that itself has several side-effects. One is that it
keeps his poems short; you may have noticed that, of
all the poets in the West Indies today, he writes con-
sistently the shortest poems. Because the whole thing
is a kind of cataclysm; that erupts, and then sort of
sets him free. Another thing you notice, as I think
Denis Scott mentioned, is the relative spareness with
which he introduces the external world into his poems;
the poems are self-poems, the landscape tends to be a
landscape of the mind. But, to get back to the question
of influences, or craft; I think Tony is doing the most
exciting and perhaps the most risky thing that any of
the West Indian poets are doing right now. That is, he
seems to have thrown himself wholly upon the resour-
ces of agony or its correlative; which is joy. I don't
get the feeling that he has bothered to create any
means of transportation to carry him across the sort
of deserts of emotion when these appear, as they
periodically do. And therefore he's doing a very cou-
rageous thing. He is gambling on his capacity to live
at a great intensity all or most of the time. I suspect
that, if he sank from that capacity, he would simply
go dry: there would be no vehicle, no craft to lead
him back into the world of poetry. Of course, all this
is talking in the present; and he's a young man, with a
lot of development ahead. But, do you agree ...?
McF. Yes, I think that is a fair summary of the emotional-
psychological climate of McNeill's very unusual crea-
tions. But, while we're on the subject of contem-
poraries, I saw in print somewhere recently that you're
at work on a biography of Edna Manley. Do you want
to talk about this?
Brown. Well, I don't have to tell you, or any other Jamaican.
why a biography needs to be written about Edna
Manley. You know, I can reel off all those things
that everyone already knows; that she is an extra-
ordinary woman; that she has lived at a variety of
levels with conspicuous success: as an artist, wife,
teacher, mother: as a public figure ... Mv interest is
not in producing a heavy, scholarly documentation -
or any kind of political or sociological treatise but
to create and recreate the sense of a life. I think her
life, and the times she so greatly influenced, need to
be recreated. Otherwise, as time goes on, the myths
will begin to arrive; and whether the myth is a plus or
a minus will depend on the fashion of the time, what
ideology is in the ascendancy. And I just think that
Edna Manley's life, and the kind of currents her
passage through the years created especially in terms
of our artistic development is too important to our
whole understanding of ourselves and our history to
be allowed to go ramshackle into the future, and into
the jaws of fashion. So, all I want to do, really, is to
set down exactly how it was and how it is. And,
after that, anybody who wants to start a trend or
counter-trend apropos of Edna (or Norman) Manley
will have to find his way around this book.
BRINGING FORTH WATER FROM THE ROCK Continued.
some minerals dissolved from these materials. The dissolved min-
erals are rarely harmful to health and may give the water a pleas-
ant taste. Moreover, because the underground formations act as
natural filters to screen out pollution, the degree of purity of
ground water far exceeds that of surface water. However, ground
water can be easily polluted by the disposal of such substances
as sewage and liquid industrial wastes, in areas where there is not
enough natural purification because of a high permeability in
the rock. The joints and fractures in the Jamaican limestone make
our aquifers especially susceptible to pollution by wastes the
under from rum distilleries, and the red mud ponds of the baux-
ite companies are, potentially, cases in point. However that is
another matter for another time.
The ground-water potential of Jamaica is not yet fully known.
However, we are reaching the limits of abstraction in the Claren-
don and St. Catherine plains and a safe yield for these, and the
other major aquifer on the island, is being determined by the
work of the ground-water team of the Water Resources Division
of the Ministry of Mining & Natural Resources.
What is certain is that we will have to develop our ground-
water resources systematically, recognizing the increasing needs
of the general population and of industry. Continuous research
is required if we are to provide ground-water supplies for needed
development. This research is our generation's responsibility, and
must be carried out, not only in an effort to provide for our
present requirements, but so that our children, and our children's
children, will not blame us for making too little effort or for
implementing misguided plans.
"PERSPECTIVE-OLD PORT ROYAL"
"GIRL WITH STRAW HAT"
F. B. Phillips
Dr. Warren Robinson
"EGG & SPOON" Randolph A. DeMercado
L^ r ^--
- .--.Ig _--U. -^^a-;-- --- _
_z -.. __-
"AT PEACE WITH THE SEA"
Randolph A. DeMercado
Robert C. DeLisser
NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION
Stanley Motta Ltd. -
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DR. WARREN ROBINSON
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Institute of Jamaica -
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E. HAMMOND & DR. WARREN ROBINSON
Kodak Medal for Youth -
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Silver - HOWARD M. CHIN
Bronze PAUL NATION
Photo Centre -
F. B. PHILLIPS
SILVER MEDAL WINNERS
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Colour Prints Fig. Studies F.B. Phillips
Colour Prints Human Int. Headley Samuel
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Colour Prints Pictorial Dr. W. Robinson
Colour Prints Creative Art E. Hammond
Colour Prints Advert.lndust.&
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Colour Transp Portraiture
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Black and White
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Dr. W. Robinson
Dr. W. Robinson
Howard M. Chin
Howard M. Chin
by Charles W. Mills
Illustrated by Daphne Abrahams
This was the story. Flying down from some island a thou-
sand miles to the north-west, driving all the long, twisting way
to the capital, they had come to see the Festival. This they
both agreed on: they, the man and the woman both, the
husband and wife, the two lovers, hating, loving, destroying,
trying to save each other, they agreed on this. It seemed that
the man was an artist. Once, in fact years ago he had been
described as a most promising young artist. They had both
been young and confident then, secure in their conviction that
the world had to open up each time they knocked. Now the
man was not so young any more, nor so promising, and know-
ing it. And of course the woman was older too, and, looking
in the mirror, she resented this, as women will. The Festival
began on the twentieth. Somehow there had been a mix-up, a
mix-up with the invitations. The man had not received his. It
had been sent late. It had been sent to somebody else. It had
not been sent at all. It was not certain. Nothing was certain.
Perhaps they were thinking of this, the man and the woman,
as they came out of the taxi to greet their landlady.
Their landlady was an old woman, a squat black figure, face
cobwebbed with wrinkles, patting her hair in an ancient,
chuckling coquetry. The man and the woman, however, seem-
ed oddly ageless, neither young nor old, their faces waiting for
something, some decision to be made as they turned inquiring-
ly towards each other in the sun. The man or perhaps the
woman said something. The other nodded. The Indian taxi-
driver waved from the window of his cab. They ascended the
wooden stairway behind their landlady. The woman looked
back suddenly, as if she had lost something. The house waited
to receive them, dreaming on its concrete legs, staring out
over the ocean. The house swallowed them silently and then
stood waiting. The taxi drove away. The sun shone down on
the empty garden.
Somewhere in the long night, somewhere on the white sea
of the sheets, the man tossed and dreamed. He dreamed that
there was a knocking at the door. When he went to open it a
man was standing there, a man with red shoes. The man said,
"Third door down the corridor. On your left."
"What?" he asked; but the man had already gone. A cold
breeze whistled down the corridor. He shut the door quickly,
before he could catch a chill.
When he told the woman about it, she frowned absently.
"Red shoes? Oh, yes," she said suddenly. "That reminds me. I
gave your watch away yesterday, you know Shifting her
head on the pillow, she turned to him an expression he had
never seen on her face before, a faintly mocking smile. "In
town. To a man with red shoes."
He said nothing. The sheets of the bed were cold. He won-
dered if there was a blanket anywhere in the room. After a
time he got up and went barefooted over to a closet in the
corner. He was about to open it when he noticed that the
room was getting lighter. Stepping to the window, he pulled
aside the curtains and looked up at a pale, waiting sky, in
which shoals of tiny, pink-edged clouds floated. Their room
faced the east; morning had come. Automatically, he glanced
at his watch. His wrist was bare. Suddenly he realized what the
woman had said.
For a moment he stood motionless. Slowly, incredulously,
anger grew in him. The woman had calmly taken his watch
and given it to a complete stranger. And he had accepted the
news with an equal detachment. What had he been thinking of?
Had he been asleep? "Why did you do that?" he demanded,
whirling around. There was no answer. The woman was asleep.
He went over to the bed and began to shake her roughly. She
lifted a blurred, antipathetic face.
"What?" she asked in irritation.
"Why did you do that?"
"Give my watch to the man."
"What man? You don't have a watch. What are you talking
He could see the hostility in his own face reflected in hers.
But she was right, he realized slowly, as he stared at her. He
didn't have a watch. What had made him think he had one?
He must have dreamed that too, lying here, waiting for the
long night to end. The watch and a man with red shoes.
Silently, he turned away and sat down on the other side of the
bed. He began to feel self-consciously for his slippers, aware
that she was watching him.
"By the way." Her voice was too casual. "When are we
He pretended not to understand. "Leaving where?"
From the corner of his eye he could see her sit up, startled.
Didn't expect that, eh? he thought, beginning an involved,
unnecessary search for his left slipper. The woman said sharply,
"You said you were going to see the Director today."
"I changed my mind."
"When?" she asked suspiciously.
He shrugged. Actually he knew very well when he had taken
the decision: in the last two minutes. "They've decided not to
invite me," he said, with specious carelessness. "I'm not going
to go and beg them for accommodations."
"All right." There was a tic above her left eye; a sign, he
knew, that she was trying to control her anger. With reluctant
admiration, he watched it disappear. "Wait I know," she
said, as if to herself.
"Listen." She looked up at him. "I have a friend who lives
in town. Someone I was expecting to see at the conferences."
"Male, of course," he said, with heavy irony.
She gestured impatiently, brushing the comment aside.
"You know I don't get along with women. Anyway, look.
Jim my friend has some contacts with the Festival people.
He could find out for us. About the invitation. Maybe he
could even put us up," she added suddenly, as if it had just
struck her. "It'd be much closer to where everything is happen-
ing. And he has a guest room."
And your face is so innocent, too, he thought viciously, as
she looked inquiringly at him. Softly, laying the trap, he said,
"You seem to know a lot about him."
It was her turn to shrug. "He's an old friend .. I knew him
quite well a long time ago .. Then recently I saw him again.
That's all." Her eyes suddenly became challenging. "When we
go out somebody has to talk to people. Both of us can't be
sitting in the corer drinking."
"No, my dear, of course not .. So we'll move in with Jim,
then. I suppose you can be relied upon to make the rental
The slap took him by surprise, a crisp, stinging blow that
rocked his head to the side. He rubbed his cheek automatical-
ly, too amazed to be angry; she had never done anything
remotely like that before. Her face was set and wooden; the
eyes smouldered. "I'm tired," she said clearly. "I'm tired of
that sort of crap." For a moment tension flared between them.
Then the man picked up a towel and went through the door.
It was still dark. He shuffled slowly down the corridor.
Their room was at the easternmost end of the house. At the
opposite end lay the bathroom, connected by the long passage
which ran like a tunnel through the entire length of the build-
ing. All the doors on the left were closed; their landlady, Mrs.
Ricketts, had told them yesterday that they were the only
guests she had at the present. On the right was the single,
curtain-hung door to the dining-room. A pale, weary light
came from it. As he walked carefully through the gloom, his
cheek still smarting from the blow, he suddenly remembered
his dream and began negligently to count the doors on his left.
But from their bedroom he could only find two more. There
was no third door.
"Your wife sick?" Mrs. Ricketts asked him sympathetically
after breakfast. She had said nothing to him during the meal,
only bustled in and out of the dining-room, carrying plates.
But when she had seen him remain at the table she had come
to join him.
"Not really," he said. He smiled at her to show that no
snub was intended. The old woman was good company, if a
bit inquisitive. And right now he didn't have the slightest de-
sire to have any conversation with his wife. Christ, he thought
angrily, remembering, she must really take him for a fool.
"You come for the Festival?"
"You been married long?"
He nodded. Good-naturedly, he watched her studying him.
No shyness about her, certainly, he thought. Stifling a yawn,
he glanced around. Sunlight was drifting in through a white
lace curtain. In the still air dust-motes hovered motionless. He
felt he could sit here forever. His eyes wandered back to his
landlady. She was wearing a dress patterned with pink roses;
her head was resting on her hands, looking straight at him.
Something about her intentness, some animal quality, teased
his memory distantly. Like an iguana, he realized vaguely. The
same heavy folds of skin under the neck, the same unblinking
eyes. He started. "Sorry. What did you say?"
"Said I wouldn't mind going myself ... I ain't been in town
for a long time .." Her voice was a soft, reminiscing drone.
"You gets old ... You don't go nowhere no more ... Ain't it
so?" Carried along by her voice, he nodded. She smiled at him,
a startling flash of ivory in the black face. What a lot of teeth
she had. Of course, though, they were false." .. since my
husband used to take me."
"Your husband?" he echoed vaguely. The sunlight and Mrs.
Ricketts' voice were making him feel sleepy.
.. That was a real saga-boy .. When that man got dressed
to take you to town .. put on his suit and his dancing shoes ..."
Drowsily, he nodded his head, not listening, looking at her
eyes. Black and glittering, like two pebbles polished by the
sea, rapt in their private vision ... by the sea .. sea .. sea-wall..
"Sorry," he said. "I'm falling asleep."
.. said that afterwards we'd go down by the sea-wall..
after the dance, you know .. on a Saturday night the whole
town would be there .. but you gets old ... first you's young ..
then you's old .. then you's dead .."
.. ain't it so?"
Startled, he jerked upright. The old woman was poking him
in the side, face split by a wide grin. How long had he been
sitting there? He looked in confusion at her expectant face.
Apparently she was asking him some question. "Oh, yes," he
There was a high, shrill burst of sound. Several seconds
passed before he recognized that his landlady, her mocking
agate eyes staring at him, was laughing. Puzzled, but unresist-
ing, he joined in, wondering what he had given his assent to.
The sea-wall ran parallel to the far side of the road, a
concrete embankment overlooking the ocean. Clumsily, curs-
ing steadily, he manoeuvred the aluminium tripod and easel
on top of it, then the bag of paints, then scrambled up him-
self. "Shit!" He was in a bad temper already and the heat was
making it worse. Before the woman had left to go into town
they had had the scene he had half-feared, half-hoped for. He
had been snide and sarcastic, as was his style. While she had
just been unaffectedly furious, as was hers ("Do you know
why you really want to stay here? Because you're ashamed to
face your friends! Because neither you nor they can remember
when is the last time you did anything even a tourist would
All right, bitch, he thought savagely. Let us see. He jumped
down to the other side. The tide was out. He found a firm
patch of ground and set up the easel and tripod. Glancing up,
he saw with satisfaction that his subjects, a man and woman
he had first glimpsed from the road, were still there. They
were standing, talking, at the edge of the long concrete pier
that ran at right angles to the embankment, down the beach
and into the ocean. The man was throwing stones into the
water. He began to sketch them quickly. When he had a rough
likeness he pulled the water-colours out of the bagand started
to paint. To right and left, as far as he could see, there was no
sign of anyone. Behind him, the long, dominating sweep of the
sea-wall cut off all contact with the city. It was as if they were
in a separate, isolated world, a world with no evidence of life
but the two hallucinatory figures on the pier. Above, the burn-
ing vault of the sky, in front, the grey ocean, behind, the
empty sands; and, at their meeting-point, opposing their
leaden, oppressive power, the man and the woman. He felt the
old, almost forgotten excitement as the composition came
together in his mind. It would be a good picture. He was sure
of it. The paints ran into each other, colour blurring into shim-
mering colour. It was getting hotter all the time: a steady,
directionless heat, beating down from all parts of the metallic
sky. He could feel his shirt sticking to his back, feel the warm
serpent-slide of the sweat down his face. He worked harder,
wiping his forehead, squinting against the glare. Heat waves
were beginning to rise from the sand ... He looked up again.
The couple had gone. Dissolved into the haze some time while
he was working. He turned to the paper to see what he had
painted ... the crumbling pier, the opaque sky, the deserted
ocean, all harsh in the dreadful light, as he had intended ...
The pier was empty. The couple were not there either.
"Mrs. Ricketts?" He knocked rapidly on the door. From
inside he could hear a chair scrape on the floor. Then the slow,
dragging footsteps approached the door. Hurry up, he thought.
"I's coming ... I's coming."
The door opened. Mrs. Ricketts appeared, beaming as she
saw him. "You got a nice picture ..?" she began. Then she
noticed his face and exclaimed, "What's wrong? What's hap-
"Nothing," he said brusquely. He didn't want to be drawn
into any long explanations. "I was too long in the sun." Sud-
denly, after coming in, he had decided that he should go and
find the woman. "Tell me, has my wife come back yet?"
"I ain't seen her," said the old woman-shortly. It was
obvious that she was not going to be put off as easily as that.
"Now what happened? Sunstroke?" She took a decisive hold
of his arm. "Better come and sit down for a while."
"Mrs. Ricketts -"
"Come and sit down."
What a stubborn old woman she was. But he didn't want to
hurt her feelings. He let himself be led through the door. Be-
sides, it would only be for a few moments; then he could go
and find his wife. It was cool and dark inside after the burning
sands. The old woman took him to a chair and waddled out.
From the kitchen came sounds of ice being prised out of a
tray. He let his eyes wander listlessly over the room: closet,
What's wrong? What's happened?
religious prints, artificial flowers, a dresser covered with items:
china statuettes, glass jars filled with hairpins, an atomizer,
bottles of cosmetics, spools of thread, an old photograph in a
glass frame ... He shut his eyes wearily. Just a little bit longer.
Then he would go.
Something cold on his forehead. He lifted his hand and
felt a bag of ice cubes. Gratefully, he slumped back in the
chair. He could feel himself relaxing, his consciousness sinking
slowly down into the darkness. Wait. Unease flickered briefly
like a candle flame. Something he had to remember. It was re-
ceding from him. It was gone. He sank down further. No.
Again. Wait. Something he had to do. His wife. Yes. His wife.
Effortfully, he opened his eyes.
Mrs. Ricketts' black lidless gaze was fixed on him.
He staggered to his feet, staring. Her face seemed to shift
and change. In a surprised voice she said, "What's wrong,
"The key," he said, covering up. "You said you'd get the
room key for us."
"Oh, yes." She pursed her lips, her eyes speculative. Turn-
ing around, she went to the dresser and rummaged around for
a while. She handed it to him silently. He mumbled some-
thing and walked quickly. unsteadily, to the door. As he left
he could feel her eyes on him.
This was a wooden city, he thought. He was walking brisk-
ly through the festive crowds that thronged up and down the
tree-shaded walkways of the main streets. It was early after-
noon, the sun beginning to slant diagonally through the golden
air. Exhilarated, he stopped and looked around. His wife had
been right. When he found her he would unhesitatingly admit
it. They could move tomorrow. Or today. Ahead of him, a
circle of people had converged around the bright, reverberant
company of a steel band. The notes rippled metallically out.
He listened, then went over to join the growing crowd. Eight
young men in glowing orange shirts, hunchbacked with con-
centration, eyes intent on the intricate, weaving dance of their
sticks. People were beginning to sing along with the calypso
tune. Smiles flashed and glittered, hands clapped, heads tossed
on a sea of dashikis. Picking up the chanted words, he began
to sing too.
Suddenly, on the other side of the crowd, he caught sight
of his wife's face. She was laughing vivaciously, head thrown
back, body shaking with delight. A man was whispering some-
thing into her ear.
He stood rigid for a few instants, staring at them. Then he
began to push his way through the crowd, not caring if he
stepped on anybody. People gave way reluctantly. He was
almost through to the edge when he tripped and fell heavily
against someone. The man swore viciously and tried to pull
him back. Roughly, he tore away, nearly overbalancing into
somebody else. For a moment he paused, disoriented. At the
same time the music stopped. People began to drift away.
Cursing silently, he looked around for his wife and the man.
Nowhere in the dispersing crowd could he see them. He broke
into a quick, indecisive trot; then halted, feeling foolish. His
eyes darted in frustration from figure to figure. Ahead of him
a couple were turning the corner into a side-street. At the man's
feet there was a flash of colour.
The man! he thought, transfixed. So she had lied to him.
Then he was running after them. Somewhere horns blew,
tyres screeched. Heedless, he sprinted furiously around the
corner. He heard the fragment of a sentence -
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