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QUARTERLY OFTHE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA DECEMBER 1967
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Front Cover Illustration:
Commemorative statue to Paul Bogle,
leader of the peasant rebellion in Morant
Bay in 1865, in the George VI
Memorial Park, Kingston.
Sculpture by Edna Manley, 1i
Colour photo by Raphael Shearer.
l4maica Journal is published Quarterly
F,br their Institute of Jamaica, 12-15 East
t spet, Kingston, Ja ica West Indies. .
. .:.... . . . .
issus,- 3 years 2.15A., 5 years
4.10.. Individual copies wi be on
aie -at. all Jamaican Book Sellers and
Wgazine Vendors at 51- 'per copy.
Bulk purchases will be at special
discount rates of 10% for 10 copies,
15% for 100 copies.
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QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
DECEMBER '67 VOL.1 NO.1
Chairman's Message ......................... by Frank Hill 2
Forward ............................. by Alex Gradussov 3
HISTORY and the Institute ............................ 4
The Institute of Jamaica .................. by Bernard Lewis 4
The Ideology of Simon Bolivar ............ by G.R. Coulthard 9
Chandeliers ........................... by Judith Richards 13
The Last Day of Port Royal ............... by Robert F. Marx 16
Mountain Scene (colour) .........................by Kidd 21
Lady Nugent's Journal.................... by Sylvia Wynter 23
Houses of Jamaica .................. by T.A.L. Concannon 35
Sir Anthony Musgrave ................... by Lady Musgrave 40
SCIENCE for the Layman............................ 42
Jamaican Insects ............................ by T.H. Farr 42
Sex and Love ............................ by John Hoad 48
Hurricanes ...................... by C.C. McArthur Ireland 54
ART LITERATURE MUSIC ................... 60
The Delinquents ......................... by Arthur Scott 61
Some Faces in Jamaica........... by Ian Sangster & R. Shearer 66
Head (colour) ................ by Malachi Reynolds (Kapo) 67
On Reading Louise Bennett, Seriously ........ by Mervyn Morris 69
Icon (painting)......................... by Osmond Watson 75
Two Pages of Art ...................................... 76
The Woman .................. by Ralph Campbell
The Poet ........................ by Ras Dizzi 1
Two Women ................... by K. Parboosingh
The Beggar .................... by Clifford Stone
Harmonica Player .................. by Roger Mais
Self Portrait .
Rasta Boy ...........
Friday Night .........
African Antique ......
Home From The Wars ..
Festival 67 ...........
War Dung A Monklan' .
..... .............. by J. Thomas
... by Roy A. McNeil, Jr. & Cliff Ashley
............. by Ras Daniel Heartman
................... by Sally Henzell
.............. by Alexander Cooper
................... by John Hearne
. ............... by Colin Garland
............ collected by Olive Lewin
Water Joke ........................... by Louise Bennett
Arawak Song ..................... collected by Olive Lewin
1. A Chapter from a Novel in progress by Orlando Patterson,
illustrated by Albert Huie.
2. A short story by Vic Reid.
3. The History of the Jamaican.Theatre by Henry Fowler.
4. The History of Mico College by A. J. Newman.
5. The Problem of violence by Jim Whetton.
"Were some who ran one way.
Were some who ran another way.
Were some who did not run at all.
Were some who will not run again.
And I was with them all."
People may have forgotten that the Institute was founded by a Colonial
Governor, Sir Anthony Musgrave, about whom you may read in this Journal;
and I want to jolt this memory into place. Not because the foundation was
useless; not because I am an admirer of Colonial governors, but to set the
The aims of the Institute have obviously changed since the foundation
in 1879 and the change needs explanation and detailed description. What
has changed most of all is the public for whom the Institute has to cater.
Not some genteel old ladies and gentlemen for whom planters presided
over as Board of Governors. Not only for members of the aspiring middle
classes trying to improve themselves. Not closed to any class or group, but
for all Jamaicans. We give now school children and office clerks, the
aspiring middle class and even the same planters, service when they require
it; and one of the services is "Jamaica Journal". It will start, no doubt,
with shortcomings but let it never be said that exclusiveness or snobbery
is one of them in the Institute.
Many volumes have been written about the word "Culture". Its
meaning in Jamaica is unfortunately mostly misunderstood; it is neither a
dressing up for the 'better' people nor the exclusive acquisition of the
intelligentsia. It is simply the way in which people arrange their lives, and
in Jamaica we have a culture just like everybody else. Unfortunately it is
often, in the words of Oscar Lewis, 'a culture of poverty and therefore a
poverty of culture'. To live contented lives requires involvement, response
and self-respect. When these are lacking we speak of an erosion of culture
- of an impoverishment of life in its fullness of joy and sorrow. Apathy,
suspicion and apprehension are the enemies of all attempts to enlarge the
context of a people's culture.
We must build new bridges; offer new opportunities, become aware
of new methods. Make people read. Make people see. Make people think.
It is my wish that "Jamaica Journal" will be an aid in this process of
My good wishes go to this work and its aims. All those connected with
the Institute and the Journal must, however, remember that change is not
turning the same thing from side to side like a dog worrying a bone, but
in taking up new aids to implement new ideas.
Be courageous. Be honest. Be curious.
Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Jamaica
The Jamaica Journal will not have an editorial in each issue. On its
first appearance, however, we take this opportunity to explain our aims
and something of our method.
The Journal sets out to act as a magnet as well as a directional device.
It sets out to provide 'a home' in its pages for all Jamaicans (and some non-
Jamaicans) who create whether in literature, art, literary criticism,
historical and scientific thought. Merit, in the areas where such merit is
relevant to our Jamaican scene, is the basic criterion for inclusion.
The Journal will address itself primarily to Jamaicans, secondarily to
others. And we hope that while, on the one hand, our reader shall not feel
that he is being fed esoteric and incomprehensible stuff, he should not, on
the other, feel able to dismiss us for not having aimed high enough.
Yet we must make clear that this Journal will not set out to 'impose
high standards' borrowed from other peoples' achievements. Instead we
hope to explore new directions of our own, new lines of thought; to help in
the essential task of groping towards the creation of 'standards' valid to
our own experience.
Last, but by no means least, the Journal, sets out to publicize the work
of the Institute. And, through articles, reproductions and photographs, to
make widely available to the Jamaican people one of the few valuable
legacies from our past the wealth of historical and scientific material,
collected and preserved at the Institute of Jamaica.
In a lighter vein, the Journal promises never to take itself too
seriously. Human values are important but not immovable. We hope that
all those who feel excluded will realize that exclusion is part of the Editor's
unfortunate task. That his judgment is fallible but all that he has to go by.
That the rejected manuscript or drawing forms as much a part of the
process of the creation as the accepted ones. And that it is the process of
creation as much as the achieved result that this Journal sets out to
Finally we set out to achieve simplicity, vigour, clarity, relevance,
whether through words or pictures. No one can give the absolute answer to
these demands. But we hope that all those who contribute and all those who
read, will use these criteria as a rough rule of thumb in accepting, or
rejecting, what we have to offer.
Date Tree Hall, original home of the Institute of Jamaica, 1879.
The Institute of Jamaica
by Bernard Lewis
When Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Jamaica in 1944, she remarked
that the Institute of Jamaica served the Island in a fashion similar to that in
which the Smithsonian Institution in Washington serves the United States.
Indeed, the Institute of Jamaica has similarly diverse interests.
The Institute of Jamaica was established in 1879 during the governor-
ship of Sir Anthony Musgrave "for the encouragement of Literature, Science
and Art". Its headquarters always has been on East Street in Kingston.
Its first home was in an attractive 18th century building known as Date
Tree Hall which stood where the present Library building is now situated.
The libraries of the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council, which
bodies had been dissolved in 1866, were transferred to the Institute to form
the basis of the first Library. The foundations of the Museum were built
upon collection inherited from the then defunct Royal Society of Arts and
Agriculture which itself had been a fusion of two associations, the Royal
Agricultural Society of Jamaica, formed in 1843, and the Society of Arts,
established in 1854. The collections included the original geological survey
collection assembled by James Gay Sawkins in the 1860's.
The Board of Governors of the Institute at first consisted of seven
members, and included some of the foremost personalities in the community:
the Governor, the Colonial Secretary and the Custos of Kingston served as
members for a number of years.
From its inception the Institute was regarded as an organization
designed to help Government in the advancement of culture in the island.
The first Annual Report of the Board (1879 -- 80) recorded such diverse
activities as drafting the rules for the Jamaica Scholarship, the presentation
of a course of lectures by the Island Chemist on Chemistry and Natural
Philosophy and the addressing of communications to the Custodes on the
subject of better housing for the people of the island. To encourage enter-
prise in developing the island's resources, the Board offered two prizes of
10 each for the best samples of salted beef and salted pork, and prizes of
15 each for the best dried fish and for fish preserved by what was described
as the "wet process". It is interesting to note that the prizes were awarded
for the salted pork but not for the fish which was thought "unfit for human
consumption"! Education too was given the Board's attention. Through its
efforts, for example, the University of Cambridge Local Examinations were
established in Jamaica and the first examinations were held on the 17th
December, 1882, the boys at the Collegiate Schoolroom (Jamaica College)
and the girls at the Institute of Jamaica.
The first Curator of the Museum was Mr. J. J. Bowery, who was also
the Government Chemist. Bowery was followed by T. D. A. Cockerell from
England, who in three years, did much to establish the Museum's collections.
In the face of ill health, Cockerell left the island for the United States of
Thc Old Institute Building when completed 1911.
America where he became a world famous biologist and died only a few
years ago in his late 80's. After the turn of the century, the Museum suffered
some decline and no fulltime Curator was appointed. Interested citizens
such as Dr. H. Grabbam, D. Stuart Panton, and C. B. Taylor tried, voluntarily,
to maintain the scientific reputation which had been established, but lack
of official support made their task most difficult. The earthquake of 1907
destroyed the old building and seriously damaged all of the collections.
Following on from such interesting beginnings, and despite the
disastrous earthquake, the Insitute of Jamaica developed in many directions,
taking up such tasks as might be required from time to time, often to pass
them on to others in the course of development. For example, for many
years the Institute provided courses in adult education but, as soon as the
University of the West Indies was established with a well organized Extra
Mural Department, this service was gladly passed to the better equipped
and then more appropriate organization. As a result of representation by
the Institute, early in 1940 the Board took over the custody and preservation
of the records of the High Court of Vice Admiralty and other neglected
historical records and documents stored by the Deputy Keeper of Records
in Spanish Town. They remained under Institute care for fifteen years during
which time their importance was established and some progress was made
with a system of arrangement and study. Sir Hilary Jenkinson, Deputy
Keeper of the Records in England, and a foremost authority, was brought
to Jamaica under a grant obtained from the Carnegie Corporation of New
York and, as a direct result, the Archives Division of the Registrar General's
Department was re-established and the Institute's archivist was appointed
The Institute of Jamaica buildings on East Street at the present time.
to the post of Government Archivist. After keeping a small collection of
animals in the gardens of the Institute, as a live adjunct to the Natural
History Museum, the Institute played a major part in establishing the Hope
Zoo. The Director still serves as Chairman of the Zoo Committee which
falls administratively under the Superintendent of Public Gardens.
At the present time the Institute is administered by a Board of
Governors of twelve, eight of whom are nominated by the Minister under
whose portfolio the Institute falls, four being chosen from the House of
Representative (by tradition the selection has been two from the Govern-
Mr. Proctor, head of
the Botany Department,
containing at present
considered the best
in the Caribbean area.
ment side and two from the Opposition), the remaining four members are
elected from the membership of the Institute. The term of office for each
member is a period of 4 years.
The various sections of the Institute today include:--
(a) The General Library: Located on East Street in the same building
which houses the administrative offices. With the establishment of the
Jamaica Library Service, most of the light reading, which was once provided,
was discontinued and the limited funds available have been concentrated
on the provision of books for more serious reading and for reference. The
book stock consists of approximately 28,000 volumes. A wide selection of
over 150 periodicals are provided. The art section is particularly strong
and a music library is now being established. The United States Information
Service Library (Alexander Hamilton Library) is associated with the General
Library. The Library is open to the public free of charge but the privilege
of borrowing is restricted to those who have been admitted as Readers
(free) and to Members of the Institute. Hours: 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Monday
through Saturday; books on the 1st floor, newspapers and periodicals on
the 2nd floor.
(b) The West India Reference Library: This is the most important
collection in the West Indies for historical research on the West Indies. It
contains approximately 20.000 books, extensive files of newspapers, maps,
engravings, prints, and thousands of manuscripts covering the West Indian
Islands, those countries of Central and South America which touch upon
the Caribbean, and also parts of West Africa, the ancestral home of the
majority of the island's population. In 1966 this important library moved
into a new and modern building especially constructed for it next to the
General Library on East Sreet. The Exhibition Gallery, to display a selection
of the most interesting items in the collection is now being constructed
on the ground floor of this new building. Hours: 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Monday through Saturday.
(c) Two Junior Centres: one at East Street, and the other in the old
Court House building at Half-Way-Tree, jointly serve approximately eight
thousand children. Each Centre maintains a children's library, and provides
an assortment of activities in music, dancing, art, hobbies, etc. which are
(d) The Natural History Departments are located in the Museum Build-
ing which has its main entrance on Tower Street. It provides and maintains
teaching exhibits and study collections of plans and animals, mostly from
Jamaica and other surrounding territories. The plant collections presently
containing some 50,000 specimens are considered the best in the entire
Caribbean area. Amongst the animal groups special attention has been
given to birds, reptiles and amphibia, fishes, echinoderms, corals and other
marine groups as well as to several groups of insects. The Archaeological
collection are rapidly growing. All the study collections are available to
students on application to the Curator. The Museum Library contains over
10,000 volumes and extensive files of serials, pamphlets, etc.; it is constantly
becoming more and more complete for studies on the natural history of
the Carribean area.
(e) The Exhibition Gallery: Located on the upper floor of the Museum
building, this gallery provides for changing exhibits of Arts and Crafts.
There is no permanent art gallery at the present time, and the important
collection of contemporary art which is being brought together is
housed in various parts of the Institute, especially in the East Street Junior
Centre and in the General Library.
(f) Lecture Hall Facilities: The main lecture hall in the Museum build-
ing, the hall at the old Court House, Half-Way-Tree, and to a lesser extent
the hall in the Junior Centre, East Street are used for meetings by various
cultural and civic organizations at nominal charges. The first mentioned is
widely used for the purposes of the Institute, including the Lunch Hour
Concerts which are very popular!
(g) Folk Museum: Located in the old outbuildings of the Old King's
House in Spanish Town, this Museum was created and opened to the public
on the 22nd November, 1961 by a voluntary committee the old King's
House Restoration Fund Committee which had been organized under the
chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Blackburne, a former Governor of Jamaica.
It now comes under the administration of the Institute of Jamaica. This
Museum, depicting peasant life and industry of bygone years mostly
19th Century is, in fact, the first stage of a long-term development pro-
gramme for the Old King's House site where eventually, it is hoped, the
main building may be appropriately reconstructed to form a major National
Historical Museum. Hours: 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily (including Sundays).
(h) Arawak Indian Museum: Located at White Marl, ten miles west of
Kingston on the road to Spanish Town. The Museum is adjacent to the largest
known Arawak village site in the island. Excavations are in progress there
and open air exhibits supplement the indoor Museum exhibits. Extensive
study collections are maintained at the Indian Museum and students are
welcome. Hours: 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily (including Sundays).
(i) Jamaica School of Art: The headquarters of the school are located
at 11 North Street but some of the teaching programme is conducted at
1 Central Avenue in Kingston Gardens. The School was first established
in 1950 as an afternoon and evening school, providing instruction in Fine
Arts. Gradually it developed into a full time school providing a four year
diploma course and a two year intermediate certificate course with depart-
ments in painting, sculpture, ceramics and graphics. Most of Jamaica's
best contemporary painters have been associated with the School at one
time or another.
The Institute of Jamaica now falls within the perview of the Hon.
Edward Seaga, Minister of Finance and Planning, who has been taking an
active and great personal interest in all cultural developments in Jamaica
which must keep pace with the rapidly expanding social and economic
progress of the new nation. The re-establishment of this Journal is one of
the projects in which the Minister has taken special interest. Also established
within the past few months is an Historical Research Programme, a project
for Folklore Research and plans have been laid for the preparation of
Histories of Jamaica Literature, Performing Arts and Creative Arts. The
Institute is now establishing field stations for biological research in different
parts of the island and the close collaboration between the Jamaica
National Trust Commission may well lead to a merger of the two organiza-
tions in the very near future:
Follow our activities and growth through the pages of our Jamaica
:, :i~ i .-1i I ,
'!E 1r ~;lsS`
The Ideology of
SG. R. Con
by G. R. Coulthard
America, when it trembled at.the beginning of the nineteenth
century from its heart to its mountain peaks, became a man,
and that man was Bolivar. It is not that men make peoples,
but peoples which, at the moment of their birth, pour them-
selves, vibrant and triumphant, into one man!
Josg Marti (1893)
It is not merely as a great soldier, brilliant gen-
eral and military tactician that Simon Bolfvar lives
on as a symbol in the minds and heart of Spanish
America the period of independence wars produced
many great soldiers, although Bolivar's tenacity and
resilience were certainly extraordinary. Nowhere does
this come out more clearly, perhaps than in his deal-
ings with the "Liberator" San Martin who a great
soldier and military leader had been instrumental
in achieving the independence of the Argentine,
Chile and to a large extent Peru. In Guayaquil in
1822 the two met. The basic soldier that was in San
Martin must have realized that he was no match for
the fiery, imaginative, charismatic Bolivar and re-
signed, unobtrusively going into self-imposed exile
in France where he died in 1850 without ever return-
ing to the Latin American continent. Unlike Bolivar,
he felt that he had fulfilled his historic mission by
leading his armies to victory, but Bolivar dreamed
of building something solid and durable for the
future on the basis of his military defeat of Spain,
although shortly before he died he wrote his own
epitaph in terms very similar to those San Martin
had possibly thought in when he resigned: "I have
achieved no other good than independence. That was
my mission. The nations I have founded will, after
prologed and bitter agonies, go into an eclipse, but
will later emerge as states of one great republic,
America". But in the meantime Bolivar was not
content to rest on his military laurels, his restless,
basically romantic temperament drove him to action
and political thought, and today it is to a large
extent his political ideas, particularly his ideal of
Latin American unity, that keep him in the minds of
the peoples of Latin America as an ever-living
His famous "Jamaica Letter" is a clear demon-
stration of his speculations and insight into the
nature of Latin America and its future development.
He first realized the singularity of the new Latin
American, and stated it in very clear terms: "We
are a microcosm of the human race", he wrote". We
are a world apart, confined between two oceans,
young in art and science, but old as human society.
We are neither Indians nor Europeans, yet we are
part of each". He was already dreaming of a united,
strong government of Latin American states, under a
SSimon Bolivar liberator of six republics, Venezuela,
Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Panama; gift of
the People and Government of Venezuela to the People
and Government of Jamaica.
radical, democratic regime like that of the United
States of North America, the model for many Latin
American thinkers in the nineteenth century. But he
knew his fellow-countrymen they were corrupt,
tyranical and intransigent, traits which they had
inherited from Spanish colonial rule, many of which
the new creole leaders tended to perpetuate.
Although ideologically and emotionally stirred by
French democratic radicalism, with its rhetoric of
freedom, brotherhood of man and equality, his
French theories were tempered by his sense of
reality in America, and also influenced by the British
example of stable, peaceful and authoritarian
government. He suggested a president e e c t e d
for life, a hereditary senate (on the model of
the British House of Lords) made up of wealthy
and educated creole families, but he mistrusted
Latin Americans, totally unprepared for self govern-
ment, politically immature, and realized that
nothing could be expected of them for a long time
to come. Many indeed, like the Indians of the Andine
countries Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and to a lesser
degree Mexico, did not understand Spanish. Unfor-
tunately, the creole aristocracy, from which he had
expected enlightened and dis-interested leadership
tended to be selfish and narrow-minded, and their
rule of the Indian mestizo and Negro masses was
harsh, crude and far from paternalistic. They ruled
through military dictators, who were often ignorant,
corrupt and brutal in their methods of government.
Indeed it is only in the last fifty years that popular
democracy has taken root, first in Mexico after the
1910 revolution, while in other countries such as
Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica radical reform has
been achieved without the million dead of the Mexi-
can revolution. Some far-sighted statement such as
Belaunde Terry of Peru, are trying to achieve the
much needed economic and social reform by peaceful
means, but they have to fight the entrenched, and
still hostile "traditional obstacles".
Perhaps Bolivar's most lasting achievement was
his ideal of founding a great and powerful Latin
American nation with a culture and way of life of
its own, and to this end he called the First Pan-
American Conference in Panama in 1826. He pro-
posed that the new league should be united under
international law and there should be a basis of
equality in their association. Racial discrimination
was to be abolished as were all remaining forms of
slavery. No new colonial ventures on the soil of
Latin America would be tolerated and free trade
should be made the general rule. However, only the
representatives from Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and
Colombia attended the meeting. The other republics
abstained from any participation. Resolutions were
passed, but Bolivar realized that it had been a failure.
Although he made light of this failure, stating that
it was a sensational bid for world attention, a "coup
de theatre", he was clearly disappointed, but did not
give up his belief in the principles which had in-
spired the meeting as is clearly demonstrated by his
attempt to set up a less ambitious Federation of the
Andes (Peru, Colombia and Ecuador); but this too
was a failure. It was only in years to come that what
is often called the Bolivarian ideal" began to bear
fruit, as a result of the realization that a divided
Latin America was weak and vulnerable. Today the
Bolivarian idea is more alive than ever before.
However in his day, very few people were recep-
Courtesy of Venezuelan Embassy, Kingston.
C Natl del ertaor
Typical street in Venezuela at the time of Bolivar.
tive to his ideas. He dreamed of a powerful, peaceful,
hard-working and productive Latin Amercia. Instead
of this he experienced in his life-time anarchy, des-
potism, parochialism and the rivalry between various
generals and factions, who feared and mistrusted his
charisma and genius. Many feared that he aimed at
becoming the supreme dictator, or even having him-
self crowned king or Emperor. Indeed, many his-
torians have speculated as to whether he was not
tempted by the idea of becoming a monarch. Repub-
licanism was not clearly understood and in the early
nineteenth century Latin American republics was a
great novelty. Several Latin American leaders did
have themselves crowned king or emperor-Iturbide
in Mexico, Christophe in Haiti. Brazil in fact did
have an emperor, and at the Congress of Tucuman
in the Argentine in 1816 it was seriously suggested
that the closest descendent of the last Inca should
be crowned emperor of the River Plate provinces.
Bolivar however does not appear to have harboured
such ambitions, nevertheless fear and mistrust of
him were such that he was exiled from Bogota, to
die sick, broken and prematurely aged in Santa
Marta, Colombia, at the early age of forty-seven.
It would be presumptuous to attempt to account for
the character and personality of Bolivar. Perhaps the
statement closest to the truth is that he was a roman-
tic. His period (1783-1830) was that of the romantic
revolution, and there are many typically romantic
features in his make-up. He had the romantic's de-
sire for freedom, from the shackles of convention,
freedom political, religious or moral (and yet there
is a practical side to Bolivar making him a supporter
of authority); he was a great lover of beautiful women,
one almost could say a philanderer; a man with a
sense of his personal destiny, a sense of mission
(yet an astute general and tactician), a dreamer, but
CaCe tfiVpa La PKtors
Courtesy of Venezuelan Embassy, Kingston.
also a realist, and his main dream was that of a
powerful, united Latin American nation, with a force-
ful original culture of its own: "Such a Federation
would have the advantage of being homogeneous,
solid and closed. The North Americans and the Hai-
tians would be a foreign substance in our body",
he wrote in one of his numerous letters.
Bolivar was the living incarnation of the kind of
hero the romantic writers put in their poems and
novels, and finally an outstanding romantic writer
himself. His voluminous prose, restricted to political
proclamations and private correspondence, is full of
striking dramatic statements and images. It would
be impossible to give an adequate idea of his style
here, but one or two quotations, (and they are not
isolated examples), may perhaps suggest its quality.
For example: "This war is like polishing a diamond
which becomes harder and more brilliant with every
cut Really as a theatrical spectacle there is no-
thing more magnificent" or "The origin of our exist-
ence is impure. All that preceded us is covered by
the dark cloak of crime. With this mixture of blood,
with these moral elements, it is impossible to make
laws for heroes or to lay down principles for men."
And there is the final note of bitter, romantic disen-
chantment in one of his last statements: "America
is ungovernable. Those of us who have served the
Revolution have ploughed the sea."
There are no better words to conclude this por-
trait of Bolivar than those of the Cuban Jose Marti,
who, poet, philosopher, political thinker and martyr,
must have understood Bolivar better than almost any
other writer: "He was a really extraordinary man.
It was as if he lived surrounded by flames and he him-
self was a flame and the hero wrapped himself
in the Indian, mestizo and white flame, as in a single
FROM OLD KING'S HOUSE, SPANISH TOWN
by Judith Richards
There are now two chandeliers which hang in the
buildings of the Institute of Jamaica. These were
originally a part of the furnishing of the Old King's
House in Spanish Town and hung in the ballroom
there from the end of the eighteenth century.
The history of these beautiful Georgian chan-
deliers with their ornate bronze candle brackets
and glass shades is somewhat tantalizing as there
appear to have been two sets of chandeliers in King's
House, and there are certain unanswered questions
as to which set these were, as the records concerning
them either were destroyed or no one thought to
record the information.
Our main information comes from the Journals
of the House of Assembly and the historian, Edward
Long, who gives a detailed description of the interior
of the ballroom at King's House in his History of
Jamaica, published in 1774.
On October 7, 17621 the Committee which the
House of Assembly had appointed previously to view
King's House reported what standing furniture they
thought would be necessary to furnish the Council
Chamber and the apartments for public use. Among
the items listed were '24 brass-gilt girandoles of a
large size.' There is however no record of chandeliers
being ordered at this time.
1'lf, I ---
Illustrated by Colin Garland
1. Jamaica. House of Assembly. Journals. Vol. 5. p.353-354.
Long, in his description of the interior of King's
House written before 1774, described the ballroom
and its lighting fixtures as follows:-- 2
"Two principal entrances lead through it
[i.e. the front portico] into the body of the
house; the one opens into a lobby, or ante-
chamber, the other into the great saloon, or
hall of audience, which is well-proportioned,
the dimensions being about seventy-three by
thirty feet, and the height about thirty-two:
from the ceiling, which is coved, hung two
brass gilt lustres. A screen, of seven large
Doric pillars, divides the saloon from an
upper and lower gallery of communication,
which range the whole length on the West
side; and the upper one is secured with an
elegant entrelas of figured iron work. The
East or opposite side of the saloon is finished
with Doric pilasters; upon each of which are
brass girandoles double-gilt."
The idea that comes to mind after this description
is that the Committe must have overstepped their
instructions and bought two chandeliers as well as
girandoles for the public rooms. The Assembly
Journals 3 record that in 1766 Richard Roach, a local
cabinet maker who had been given the job of making
the 13 settee mahogany chairs, as recommended by
the abovementioned Committee in 1762, was seeking
payment. He had delivered seven of these chairs in
1764, but he had not been paid for them because the
money allotted for purchasing furniture for King's
House had been overspent paying for items imported
from London. Perhaps the over expenditure was on
On the 10th February, 1774 the Assembly 4
instructed the Commissioners of Forts, Fortifications
and Public Buildings to order Venetian blinds to be
provided for the several windows and three glass
chandeliers or branches for the hall of King's House.
The Minutes of the Commissioners for Forts, Fortifi-
cations and Public Buildings 5 record the above order,
and also an account for 2. 15. 0. for the purchase
of "2 large hook bolts with forelocks and keys to
hang the chandeliers on in King's House," which was
presented to the Commissioners at their meeting on
26th February, 1777, these items having been bought
in October, 1776.
The only painting known to exist showing the
interior of the Great Hall or Ballroom is that done
by Philip Wickstead between 1773 and 1780.6
Although there are three chandeliers in this picture
and although their design is not similar to those we
have in the Institute today, this is not conclusive
evidence that they are not the same chandeliers.
'-- .14 -
. VA lllff
2. Long, Edward. The History of Jamaica. 1774. Vol. II. p.7.
3. Jamaica. House of Assembly. Journals. Vol. 5. p.657.
4. Jamaica. House of Assembly. Journals. Vol. 6. p.507.
5. Jamaica. Minutes of the Commissioners for Forts, Fortifications and
Buildings. 1773-1783. (Manuscript in the Jamaica Archives, Spanish
6. Oil painting in possession of The West India Committee, London.
Many of the details in this painting have been proved
to be inaccurate, both as to number of columns and
windows, and as to architectural design. It is more
than likely that Wickstead's representation of the
chandeliers is also inaccurate. He possibly made a
rough sketch and filled in the details afterwards
depending on his memory. William Beckford, author
of A Descriptive Account of the Island of Jamaica,
and also employer of Wickstead, said of him: 7
"His powers of painting were considerably
weakened by his natural indolence, and more
than all, by a wonderful eccentricity of
The next reference found to the chandeliers of
King's House, Spanish Town, is in 1932, when the
architect Hubert C. Corlette, presented a report and
historical review to the Old King's House Restoration
Committee in Jamaica, which reads as follows:- 8
"Two of the exceptionally fine bronze chan-
deliers from Old King's House are now in
use at New King's House. But all the gilding
on them, noted by Long in his description,
Corlette's comment on his examination of the
pieces of the chandeliers which were in the Public
Works Department Stores, (these pieces were later
reassembled to form the chandeliers now in the
Institute) is as follows:-
"My examination of a collection of old scrap
metal in the official stores at Kingston
resulted in the discovery of the remains of
anothc of these chandeliers, and parts of
more material of a similar kind. It became
possible to collect enough of the old parts to
to re-assemble one chandelier almost com-
pletely. Some details were damaged and some
lost, but under skilled direction in England
the fabric could be completed and brought
back into use again."
It seems to be generally agreed that these pieces
and the two chandeliers recorded as hanging in
King's House, St. Andrew, were salvaged from the
fire which gutted King's House, Spanish Town in
1925, and were not taken down before.then. It is
known that in 1929 there was a list of the items of
moveable property saved from the fire, and where
these things had been housed, because this was
reported to the Legislative Council. 9 Unfortunately
this list, which was kept by the Director of Public
Works, has not been located.
In 1938, the Board of Governors of the Institute
of Jamaica agreed to take over for keeping at the
Institute the chandelier which had been re-assembled.
In addition, in January 1939, the Superintendent of
the Public Works Department Stores made arrange-
ments with the Institute to take the pieces of the
incomplete chandelier, and on 10th March, 1939, both
these were delivered, comprising:--
41 etched chandelier shades
239 plain white shades
7. Journal of the Institute of Jamaica. Vol. 1. 1891-93, p.356.
8. Corlette, Hubert C. The King's House in the King's Square, Spanish
Town, Jamaica. London, 1932. p.18.
9. Jamaica. Legislative Council. Minutes. Vol. 70. 1929. p.108.
2 large shades
1 hanging lamp shade with metal fittings.
The assembled chandelier was hung in the foyer
of the Museum building when this was completed
At a later date the parts of the incomplete chan-
delier were sold by the Government to Mr. Roy
Lindo, who had them re-assembled and hung in the
dining room of three different homes, first in St.
Andrew at "Royston", 105 Hope Road, then at 9
Norbrook Road and finally at "Hummingbird Hill" in
Runaway Bay, St. Ann. After his death in 1963, this
chandelier was offered for sale. Due to the generous
contributions of individuals, companies and organiza-
tions, the money was raised to purchase this
which now hangs in the foyer of the West India
Reference Library building.
There are still a number of discrepancies and
missing links in this account of the chandeliers
which can only be filled in by imagination and sup-
The major confusion seem to be about the number
of chandeliers, when and why-they were acquired.
Long said he saw two chandeliers, but he also
said he saw seven columns supporting the gallery
floor when there were five. Wickstead, whose reputa-
tion for accuracy is already doubtful, painted three
chandeliers. Three glass chandeliers were ordered in
1774, but in 1776 only two bolts were purchased to
hang them on.
Could it be that the two chandeliers which Long
saw were found to be too small to light the ballroom
adequately and so three new glass ones were ordered
in 1774? Glass chandeliers came into use after 1750
and by the 1770's were really in vogue. They
consisted of faceted glass beads, prisms and drops,
the brilliance of which increased the feeble lighting
power of the candles.
Perhaps an economically minded member of the
Board of Commissioners for Forts, Fortifications and
Public Buildings realized that if they ordered 3 new
glass chandeliers these would not match the 24 brass-
gilt girandoles on the walls and glass sconces would
would have to be purchased as well. Maybe a com-
promise was reached by ordering 3 chandeliers to
match the girandoles, using elaborate etched glass
shades. The 6 girandoles which are now on the walls
of the Museum foyer are of the same design and
material as the two chandeliers in the Institute of
Jamaica. There are pieces which belong to a third
chandelier of the same design, so from this evidence
it would appear that three chandeliers really did
arrive in Jamaica, although only 2 hooks were
The two bronze chandeliers which Corlette
referred to as being in the present King's House are
still there, and are much smaller chandeliers than
the ones hanging in the Institute.
No one really knows the answers to these ques-
tions, one can only speculate.
THE LAST DAY OF PORT
by Robert F. Marx
Seventeenth century visitors to Port Royal were
usually struck by how crowded the place was. More
than two thousand buildings stood jammed together
in what appeared to be a solid mass, its edge reaching
out into the harbour where houses had even been
built on pilings driven into the soft sand. Some
private dwellings stood four stories high, and even
more imposing were the Governor's House, the King's
Warehouse or Customs House, and the two prisons
- the Marshallsea for men and Bridewell for women.
Near the shore stood three large forts Charles,
James, and Carlisle. The largest and most impressive
building of all was St. Paul's Church, the pride and
joy of the towns respectable inhabitants.
Although St. Paul's dominated the scene, Port
Royal had a reputation for godlessness unrivaled in
the Caribbean. Tales of profligacy, drunkenness, and
wantonness to be encountered there circulated
around the world. Situated advantageously for trade
in the center of the Caribbean and at the entrance
of a harbour that could accommodate more than
500 ships, the town was a magnet for those who
wanted to make money quickly. According to a con-
temporary account, there was "more plenty of
running cash (proportionally to the number of
inhabitants) than in London." Not all of the wealth
was made by trade alone: although the activities of
the buccaneers was called to a halt by the English
king in 1670, as the result of England and Spain
making peace, Port Royal still continued to serve as
a depot for disposing of plunder and having a good
time after a successful voyage by the buccaneers.
11. f i lr'R
I r POR 7/' 1?7 m- I.- .*, I7.V/-V 0
Often it was a case of easy come, easy go legend
tells us that fortunes were sometimes made in a day
and lost in a night. Thus Port Royal could be
considered a boom town and everyone expected the
boom to last forever. Then, abruptly, it ended.
Tuesday June 7, 1692, dawned hot and sultry.
with a cloudless sky. The sea was as still as a mirror
except for occasional disturbances: ripples caused by
sharks approaching the shore to feed on scraps
discarded by fishermen and butchers; turbulence
around the wherry boats returning with fresh water
from the Rio Cobre. Humidity weighed heavily on
the air, as it had throughout the week. Although the
weather had been hot and dry at the beginning of
the year, May had brought a continuous rainfall that
disrupted the normal life of the town. Now the rains
had stopped, but the inhabitants considered the
aftermath just as bad, for the lack of wind prevented -*
the ships from sailing. To a thriving seaport like
Port Royal, such inactivity was annoying because it L
meant a drop in profits.
The weather was unwelcomed for a reason other
than financial: it made a number of people quite
uneasy. Since the founding of Port Royal, earth
tremors had occurred almost annually, and in the
proceeding four decades every one of them had been
felt during hot, windless weather following a squally
spell the longer the calm, the more severe the
quake. Though the quakes rarely caused serious
damage, the townspeople had a good reason to be ap-
prehensive. For the more superstitious, apprehension
verged on terror. Shortly before, a visiting astrologer
had predicted a cataclysmic earthquake in the near
future and the people remembered that, only four
years before, the same prognostication had been
followed by a quake that knocked down three houses,
damaged countless- others, and dislodged the guns
of ships in the harbour from their gun ports. To make
matters worse, for years the town had possessed its
share of self-styled prophets who stalked the streets
shouting that Port Royal would be razed as punish-
ment for its wickedness. The wife of John Taylor,
an English clergyman who had resided in Port Royal
for a time, once predicted that the town "could not
stand but would sink and be destroyed by the
judgment of God." Now the voices of doom were
more clamorous than ever, drawing. a parallel with
the Great Fire of 1666 that had devastated a wicked
Restoration London: Port Royal they prophesied was
destined for a similar catastrophe.
Most of the town's 8,000 inhabitants, no more
superstitious than they were interested in the
weather except insofar as it affected their pocket-
An old chart of Port Royal with some of the many Span-
ish silver coins recovered during the present excavation.
Spanish coins were the official currency of Jamaica until
in the 19th century.
books or comfort, paid little heed to the predictions.
For them it was business as usual. There is no reason
to suppose that the morning of June 7 was different
from any other for the majority of the inhabitants.
At daybreak, while the lamplighters made their
rounds extinguishing street lamps, the town in-
variably began to bustle. Smoke issued from the
chimneys of the cookhouses where slaves and
indentured servants prepared breakfast for their
masters. Other slaves rushed to the town's three
markets one for meat, one for fish, and one for
vegetables and fruits to buy the food needed for
The lookouts in the forts were at their posts with
the first rays of dawn, scanning the sea for approach.
ing ships. This day they were especially vigilant, for
it was expected that a French squadron with a
base in St. Ann's Bay on the north coast might
attack Port Royal at any moment. One of the island's
two warships, the H.M.S. Guernsey, was out on
patrol, but the other, the H.M.S. Swan, in the process
of being careened, was unavailable for action. While
the invasion scare was on, the gunners of the forts
remained on duty round the clock.
The harbour was another scene of teeming
activity. Usually ships were loaded and unloaded
at the crack of dawn: wharfage rates were steep in
Port Royal, and captains wanted their ships moored
there as short a time as possible. Although it must
have been obvious on this particular morning that
ships would not get under way this day, the crews
would have been busy, for there is always a great
deal to be done on board a ship and they were in the
habit of getting an early start.
Typical tavern table scene of old Port Royal.. All of
the items in this illustration were recovered during the
present excavation. Two tankards are made of pewter,
candle stick made of brass, ash tray of lead and spirit
bottles of glass.
In the numerous taverns and grogshops, it was
not a question of an early start but of a late ending
to a night of carousing. Those who were able to
move under their own power started through the
streets with empty pockets and groggy heads. Others
had to be carried home. Generally the ranks of the
roisterers were considerably diminished during the
course of a night. Brawling and duelling felled some
and made plenty of work for Port Royal's swarm
of doctors, most of them little better than quacks (a
contemporary account informs us that these quacks
were responsible for many deaths by prescribing
medicine indiscriminately and bleeding their patients
for virtually every ailment). Still more revelers were
picked up by roving patrols of militiamen for drunk
or disorderly behaviour and escorted to Fort Charles.
Like their prisoners, the militiamen regarded
dawn as an end rather than a beginning. While the
majority of the townspeople set about their daily
routine, the militia and half of the fort's permanent
garrison were coming off a twenty-four hour tour
of duty. But before they could go home to breakfast
and a well-earned rest, they had to march their
K17V F_ _Y
prisoners to the Marshallsea and deliver them to the
magistrate. After rapid court proceedings (there was
seldom any novelty to the offenses) the magistrate
meted out punishments usual whipping, dunking,
or imprisonment. Severity depended on the nature
of the crime, and perhaps on whether the magistrate
had managed to get a good breakfast under his belt.
Sentence was carried out at once. Whippings and
dunkings took place in public and were well
attended: no doubt the enjoyment of many a
spectator was heightened by the knowledge that only
luck had spared him from the lash or the water.this
In the houses of the gentry and the wealthier
merchants the early morning pace was not quite so
hectic, except in the servants' quarters. The master
of the house was generally awakened by a slave in
livery, who stood ready to bring the morning glass of
Madeira or, if necessary, an antidote for a hang-over.
There was time for a leisurely breakfast before the
master left for his shop or for the Exchange, where
most of the important business transactions took
place. May be he uttered a few comments on the
state of the weather to his wife, which were probably
unfavorable on this morning, but it is unlikely that
he thought much about the weather. The date was
too important: John White, the lieutenant governor
of Jamaica (then acting governor in place of Lord
Inchinquin, who had died earlier in the year) had
scheduled a meeting of the Council of Jamaica at
the King's House in Port Royal.
The citizens of the prosperous town went about
their business in the normal way on the day that for
many of them was to be their last. As the morning
wore on the heat grew worse. Children of the rich,
confined to the house with their tutors or to a school-
room, must have -envied the poorer children who
were free to roam the town and swim in the sea to
cool off. Everyone must have longed for noon, when
activity would cease for dinner and the subsequent
siesta, usually taken in a swinging hammock.
No one in Port Royal took a siesta that day, a day
on which the earth opened to swallow what had been
called the world's most wicked and sinful city. What
happened had been described by a merchant who
lived through the disaster:
Betwixt eleven and twelve at noon, I being
at a tavern, we felt the house shake and saw
the bricks begin to rise in the floor, and at
the same instant heard one in the street
cry, "An earthquake!" Immediately we ran
out of the house, where we saw all people
with lifted up hands begging God's assistance.
We continued running up the street whilst
on either side of us we saw the houses, some
swallowed up, others thrown on heaps; the
sand in the streets rise like waves of the
sea, lifting up all persons that stood upon it
and immediately dropping down into pits;
and at the same instant a flood of water
breaking in and rolling those poor souls over
and over; some catching hold of beams and
rafters of houses, others were found in the
sand that appeared when the water was
drained away, with their legs and arms out.
The small piece of ground whereon sixteen
or eighteen of us stood (praised be to God)
did not sink. As soon as the violent shake was
over, every man was desirous to know if
any part of his family were left alive. I
endeavored to go to my house upon the
ruins of the houses that were floating upon
the water, but could not. At length I got a
canoe and rowed upon the great sea towards
my house, where I saw several men and
women floating upon the wreck out to sea;
and as many of them as I could I took into
the boat and still rowed on till I came to
to where I thought my house stood, but could
not hear of either my wife nor family; so
returning again to that little part of land
remaining above water. But seeing all the
people endeavoring to get to the island, I
went amongst them in hopes I might hear of
my wife or some part of my family, but could
There were three strong quakes in a matter of
minutes; the third the most severe was followed
by a huge tidal wave that broke the anchor cables
of ships in harbour, wrecked the ships near wharves,
I r' ~:
.r -q r.;l
British naval vessel used at the time of the earthquake.
and flung the H.M.S. Swan into the middle of the
town, where it came to rest on top of some houses
and served as Noah's Ark for more than two hundred
lucky souls. The catalogue of horror, of lives lost
and property destroyed was seemingly endless.
Another merchant wrote:
Those houses which but just now appeared
the fairest and loftiest in these parts were
in a moment sunk down into the earth, and
nothing seen of them; such crying, such
shrieking and mourning I never heard, nor
could anything in my opinion appear more
terrible to the eye of man: Here a company
of people swallowed up at once; there a
whole street tumbling down; and in another
place the trembling earth, opening her
ravenous jaws, let in the merciless sea so that
this town is becoming a heap of ruins ....
Dr. Trapham, a physician in this place, was
miraculously saved by hanging his hands
upon the rack of a chimney, and one of his
children about his neck, were both saved by
a boat, but his wife and the rest of his
children and family were all lost. Several
people were swallowed up of the earth, when
the sea breaking in before the earth could
close, were washed up again and miraculous-
ly saved from perishing: others the earth
squeezed up to their necks and then closed
upon them and squeezed them to death with
their heads above ground, many of which the
dogs eat. Multitudes of people floating up
and down, having no burial. The burying
place at Palisadoes is quite destroyed, the
dead bodies being washed out of their graves,
their tombs beat to pieces.
The most detailed account of the day's events was
given by the Rector of St. Paul's Church, Dr. Heath:
I had been at church reading prayers,
which I did every day since I was rector of
this place to keep some show of religion
amongst a most ungodly and debauched
people, and was gone to a place hard by the
church, where the merchants meet, and
where the President of the Council (John
White, the acting Governor) was, who came
into my company and engaged me to take
a glass of wormwood wine with him as a whet
before dinner. He being my very good friend,
I stayed with him, upon which he lighted a
pipe of tobacco which he was pretty long in
taking; and not willing to leave him before it
was all out, this detained me from going to
dinner with one Captain Ruden .. .. whose
house, upon the first concussion, sank into
the earth, and then into the sea, with his
wife and family and some that were come
to dine with him: had I been there, I had
But to return to the President and his pipe
of tobacco. Before that was out, I found the
ground rolling and moving under my feet,
upon which I said to him, "Lord, Sir, what is
that?" He replied, "It is an earthquake. Be
not afraid, it will soon be over." But it
increased, and we heard the church and
tower fall, upon which we ran to save our-
selves. I quickly lost him and made towards
Morgan's Line, because being a wide open
place, I thought to be there securest from
falling houses. But as I made towards it, I
saw the earth open and swallow up a
multitude of people, and the sea mounting
in upon them over the fortifications. I then
laid aside all thoughts of escaping and
resolved to make my way towards my own
lodging, and there to meet death in as good
posture as I could. From the place where I
was, I was forced to cross and run through
two or three very narrow streets. The houses
and walls fell on each side of me, some
bricks came rolling over my shoes, but none
hurt me. When I came to my lodging I found
all things there in the same order I left them,
not a picture, of which there were several
fair ones in my chamber, being out of place.
I went to the balcony to view the street in
which our house stood, and saw never a
house down there nor the ground so much
The people seeing me there cried out to
me to come and pray with them. When I
came into the street every one laid hold of
my clothes and embraced me, that with their
fear and kindness I almost stifled. I per-
suaded them at least to kneel down and make
a large ring, which they did. I prayed with
them an hour, when I was almost spent with
the heat of the sun and the exercise. They
then brought me a chair, the earth working
all the while with new motions and trem-
blings like the rolling of the sea, insomuch
that sometimes when I was at prayer I could
hardly keep myself upon my knees. By that
time I had been half an hour longer with
them, in setting before them their heinous
sins and heinous provocations and in serious-
ly exhorting them to repentance, there come
some merchants to me of the place, who
desired me to go aboard some ship in the
harbour and refresh myself, telling me that
they had got a boat to carry me off. So
coming to the sea, which had entirely
swallowed up the wharf with all those goodly
brick houses upon it, most of them as fine
as those in Cheapside, and two entire streets
beyond that, I upon the tops of some'houses
which lay leveled with the surface 6f the
water got first into a canoe, and then into a
long boat, which put me aboard a ship called
the Storm Merchant, where I found the
President safe, who was overjoyed to see me.
By the time the sun went down on Port Royal, all
that remained was a mere ten acres of land, with less
than a tenth of the houses remaining standing and
most of those in no condition for habitation. Fort
Carlisle and Fort James were nowhere to be seen,
nor were a good number of ships and smaller sloops.
The toll of property taken by the upheaval was
incalculable, but not the toll of life more than
2,000 people perished.
FronmXhrtklnStonlwJB Kdd. S A
B3wick, S*horteel CmThotortimSt.
CIPELAN T. E MO4T
W6@UNTA]IN k CABIMA M TIEIESo.
SCENEnnth*BLUE MOUNT AINS.
". . It is in the Great Houses that
down to this day, the Brazilian charac-
ter has found its best expression, the
expression of our social continuity. In
the study of their intimate history all
that political and military history has
to offer in the way of striking events
holds little meaning in comparison with
a mode of life that is almost routine;
but it is in that routine that the char-
acter of a people is most readily to be
discerned. In studying the domestic life
of our ancestors we feel that we are
completing ourselves . The past awak-
ens many strings and has a bearing on
the life of each and every one of us;
and the study of this past is more than
mere research and a rummaging in the
archives; it is an adventure in sensitiv-
ity ... ." GILBERTO FREYRE. Masters
Preyre went on to lament the fact
that in Brazil because, 'the confessional
absorbs personal and family secrets . .
In vain would one look for the gossip-
filled diary of a mistress of the house,
of the sort to be encountered with
among the British and North American
of colonial times." We are lucky then,
to have Lady Nugent's Journal. And the
Institute of Jamaica is to be commend-
ed for their recent edition Lady
Nugent's Jamaica Journal, Edited by
Philip Wright, Institute of Jamaica,
1966. The edition is illustrated with ex-
cellent photographs of drawings, paint-
ings, caricatures, a map, etc. The notes
by Philip Wright clear up references,
and elucidates something of the broader
background against which Maria Nugent
etched in her picture of life in Jamaica
between the years 1801-1805. The edi-
tion, a prestige one, (the price is Two
Guineas) was printed in the Netherlands,
is finely bound and altogether hand-
It is clear that such an edition is in-
tended for a select audience. It is in
this intention that the Institute does
Maria Nugent scant justice. Not that
Mrs. Nugent (later Lady Nugent) wrote
her dairy to be read by anyone outside
her family; and, one suspects, her circle
of aristocratic friends, for whom, in
1839, five years after her death her
children published a small private edi-
tion. Yet some seventy years after, Frank
Cundall was quick to see her wider re-
levance. He published Lady Nugent's
Journal in 1907 and other editions fol-
lowed in 1934 and 1939. By this time her
importance as a source for historians,
for sociology scholars was undisputed.
As Philip Wright points out, 'a distin-
guished American scholar (Lowell J.
Ragatz. The fall of the planter class in
the Caribbean, New York, 1928) has
described it (her diary) as giving "an
utterly inimitable and imperishable pic-
ture of planter society." It is interesting
to note, in this context, that Maria
Nugent was something of a scholar her-
self. We may smile today at her his-
torical projects she turns 'the great-
est part of the history of England into
verse' and writes an 'abridgement of
French History' but it is this de-
termined discipline in the jungle of
planter society, which helps her to ask
the kind of questions and come to the
conclusions which the historian of to-
day now finds invaluable.
Being a scholar was only part of
Mrs. Nugent's life. And her journal goes
far beyond the uses of a scholar. The
limitation of the present Institute edi-
tion, is that excellent as it is, it may
serve the purpose only of the historian,
the researcher, and the informed and
interested amateur. There is nothing
wrong with this. Except that it carries
bananas to Portland when the drought
lies heavy on St. Elizabeth. I said earlier
on, that we, unlike Brazil, are lucky to
have Lady Nugent's Journal. And yet, in
a sense, we have and we have not. We
stand in an uneasy relationship to our
past. And avert our eyes from a con-
frontation. Jamaican history we feel, is
a subject to be taught in school; or to
be reserved like a sacred cow on acad-
emic grass. Although in a few villages
of St. Thomas, the Morant Bay rebellion
still lives on in obscure scraps of legend.
there is, on the whole, little 'popular'
history. History does not move in us, nor
help to consciously determine our being.
We choose to remain deliberately un-
aware of the historical process that has
made us what we are. Our choice is
tacit, our conspiracy of silence instinc-
tive. And not without its arguable rea-
son. To rake up the past, we feel, is
to exacerbate old sores. Better to let
sleeping dogs lie. Yet, it is through our
ignorance of the past, that we are, to
quote Santayana, condemned to repeat it.
'The Dead to the Living and the
Living to the Unborn'
If today, over a century and a half
since she wrote her journal, Maria
Nugent were to return to Jamaica, one
wonders what would astonish her most
- that so much has changed? Or that
so much has remained the same?
Mrs. Nugent is, to borrow her language,
alas, no more. But through her journal
she has made us heir to a perspective,
as impossible now to her as it is urgent
to us. It is only through a proper know-
ledge of the past that we can find the
'key to the understanding of the pre-
sent.' A cheap paperback edition of
Lady Nugent's Journal should be com-
pulsory reading in all advanced grades
of our schools. And should take the
place of, or at least find a place beside,
the narcotic trash, now freely circulated
in drug stores and grocery shops.
Such an edition might well require
a new type of introduction. Since its
intention would be different. And its
value depend on the extent to which
the editor might persuade us to come
to terms with our own ambivalence to
the past. To read Lady Nugent's Journal
is to be faced with some difficult ques-
tions: What is a Jamaican? We are Ja-
maicans but who are 'we'. When we
read Lady Nugent's Journal whom do
we 'claim' as 'our ancestors' And whom
do we 'reject'? The planters who gen-
erally revolt her, the mulattoes who dis-
turb her, or the 'blackies' for whom
she feels that pity that is sister to con-
tempt? The tendency amongst us is to
claim and reject that portion of our
ancestry, that version of the past, that
bolsters our stake in the present. We
slant our concept of history according
to our colour and our class. For the
'white Jamaican' and those who assidu-
ously assimilate to him, the only history
is the history of the English in Jamaica.
And of course he clings to the fallacy that
he too is ''English". Those few mulat-
tos who do not assimilate to 'white
values' insist that they are the only
truly indigenous and nationalist people
and therefore Jamaican history begins
and ends with them. For some black
Jamaicans, Jamaica has no reality and
no history. They prefer the illusion that
they are "Ethiopian". Others, the Afro-
Saxons, feel themselves involved in the
history of the English in Jamaica. Others
for whom 'black nationalism' provides
a much needed crutch or an easy ride
to power, assert that history is the his-
tory of black Jamaica only. The over-
whelming majority, involved with the
struggle for mere survival, are uninter-
ested in a past which the present has
not yet altogether changed.
There is little discussion about this.
Yet it is the consciousness of this divi-
sion that makes us wary. To publicise
our past we fear, would only stir up
memories of a time when we were even
more savagely divided when some
of us were exploiting masters, others
exploited slaves, and others, uneasily
balanced between. The paradox is that,
if we are to inform our society with
that motive force which can transform
the unjust system we have inherited,
which divided and still divides us, if
we are to become conscious of ourselves
as a people, as an entity, then we must
confront ourselves with our origins,
must lay claim to and take hold of our
history. How then can we resolve the
contradiction? Lady Nugent's Journal,
read in its context, may well provide
For the society which she portrays
with such a terrible accuracy, a society
Lady Maria Nugent Something of a scholar herself.
Prospect Penn now Vale Royal -
whose economic arrangement, 'like a
powerful god' alienates man from man,
making one the enslaved and the other
the enslaver, is, nevertheless, a society
united by a terrible bond. It is a society
whose component parts have all been
Here Lady Nugent twas entertained.
torn away from a particular place. Who
have been disrupted from an integrated
social pattern. And who, by clinging on
to the 'culture', the way of life that
they left behind them, distort the old
remembered pattern and abort the new
one. Master, mulatto, slave, each in his
own exile, each a displaced person, each
an uprooted man. It is this tradition of
uprootedness that links us all, to all
of them to the total gallery of people
that Mrs. Nugent brings in their grotes-
que agony to our attention. More, it is
the persistence of their exile in us that
compels our adventure towards those
new frontiers where man's psyche need
no longer be sheltered by racial or cul-
tural absolutes. And where the uprooted
man may find new roots in what Conrad
termed "the subtle but invincible con-
viction of solidarity that knits together
the loneliness of innumerable hearts ...
which binds men to each other, which
binds together all humanity the dead
to the living and the living to the un-
"The Richest Commoner
In the first tour of the island which
she made with her husband, the Gov-
ernor, Mrs. Nugent was entertained at
Prospect Penn (now Vale Royal) by a
wealthy planter, Simon Taylor. On the
5th of February, 1802 she wrote in her
"As there were merely gentlemen of
the Party, I only brushed the dust off,
and went down to dinner at 7 o'clock
. .. a most profuse and overloaded
table and a shoulder of wild boar stew-
ed with forced meat as an ornament to
the centre of the table. Sick as it all
made me, I laughed like a ninny . and
Mr. Simon Taylor and I became the
greatest of friends . .Mr. Taylor is the
richest man in the island and piques
himself upon making his nephew, Sir
Simon Taylor, who is now in Germany,
the richest commoner in England which
he says he shall be at his death . ."
Here she puts her finger on several
basic features of the society. The
absence of wives, the profusion and yet
pathetic clumsiness of the hospitality,
and above all the vaulting ambition
which drives men like Simon Taylor.
Men who, obscure outcasts from their
own country, dreamt to strike it rich,
and return home, armed with their
wealth to assault the social towers of
London's exclusive society. This was
their dream, the glittering prize of their
exile in El Dorado. If they themselves
were not to return home, then it was
enough, that a legitimate son, or
nephew, should bear their names on
gilded pennants; and link them through
marriage with famous names -of high
lineage, themselves descended from
some more ancient buccaneer. For these
were still the fabled days of Sugar and
the London scene was lit up with the
splendours of the West Indian million-
"The sugar planter", writes Eric
Williams *, "ranked among the biggest
capitalists of the mercantilist epoch."
A very popular play, "THE WEST
INDIAN"was produced in London in
Capitalism and Slavery'.
Simon Taylor The richest man in the Island.
1771. It opens with a tremendous
reception being prepared for a planter
coming to England, as if it were the
Lord Mayor who were expected. The
servant philosophized: "He's very rich,
and that's sufficient. They say he has
rum and sugar belonging to him to
make all the water in the Thames into
But fiction could not rival the fact.
And the fact itself contained an
enormous element of fantasy and myth.
For the exaggerated claims of their
fortunes put about by the West Indians,
were part of their stock in trade. As rich
as Croesus, they bragged that they were
richer. Affronted by the fact that Clive
of India should have returned home
from the mere East, with 40,000 a
year as his share of the colonial loot,
the Jamaican absentee planter, London
merchant and Lord Mayor, William
Beckford boasted that he would leave
his son, William Jnr., 40,000 (Pounds)
a year and many thousands in cash.
Whether he did or not there was no
one to disbelieve it. For in spite of the
fact that from 1770 there was a twenty
year depression in sugar, Lord Mayor
Beckford gave splendid dinners in Lon-
don where 600 dishes were served upon
gold plate at a cost of 10,000 Pounds a
throw; and most famous names of the
aristocracy condescended to attend. Such
was the report of his wealth that the
shrewd Alderman was able to buy
100,000 in Government loans yet only
had to put down in hard cash, one
tenth. Bluff stood security for the rest.
The extraordinary career of his son,
William Beckford, (author of Vathek)
was due to his determined attempt to
live up to the myth that he was the
'richest commoner in England'. He
succeeded, after squandering his West
Indian fortune, in becoming the most
hated one. To be fair, he had two strikes
against him. He was an upstart West
Indian, with pretensions to English
gentility, and he was a suspected homo-
sexual. His attempts to bribe himself
into the House of Lords failed. And he
had to pay a stiff sum, and carry on
arduous negotiation before he could win
Lord Mayor William Beckford He boasted that he
40,000 a year.
would leave his son
the hand of the Duke of Hamilton for
his daughter. One of the provisos
was that he should not visit her in her
But there was something unusual
about Beckford that seemed to mark
him out from the common run of West
Indian absentees. Himself somewhat of
an artist, he was a fabulous patron of
the arts. Not in Jamaica, of course.
Unlike Monk Lewis he never set foot in
the island from which his wealth
derived. Once on his way there he
couldn't bear the thought and stopped
off in Portugal.
But with the wealth from this rejected
island he built the Gothic splendour of
Fonthill Abbey, employing artists of all
descriptions, and filled it with his
immense collection of exquisite and
precious objets d' art. Yet even his
artistic feeling was contaminated by the
Midas touch. Art was for him as it still
is today for the rare Jamaican who
takes an interest, more an object for
possession, a piece of conspicuous con-
sumption. Hazlitt, who was not fond of
Beckford, pointed out that all the items
in his princely collection were 'nothing
more than obtrusive proofs of the wealth
of the possessor'. It was this obtrusive
proof which made him envied and
hated in England. Yet it was all he had
to hold on to. An uprooted man,
coming out of the raw brigandage of
an uprooted society which existed only
to increase the wealth of the parent
country, he could mirror his being only
in his possessions. His biographer gives
the following anecdote about him. It
strikes to the heart of our contemporary
"By his calculated ostentation in
the West Indian tradition he sought
the respects of all ranks on his
precipitate return from Paris where
he imagined himself slighted by
his old friends, the Portuguese Am-
bassador Marialva and the famous
Count of Palmela. Back in London
in his lawyer's dingy office in
Lincoln's Inn he wrote: 'I came like
a thunderbolt, having electrified by
sheer weight of money, the Pass-
porteers, Customs, the inn and post
house keeper. In short everybody
along the whole route; of me alone
do they talk and think, to me alone
do they drink."
"They Eat Like Cormorants and
Drink Like Porpoises"
The sheer weight of money which
provides the spur is matched by the
sheer weight of food consumed. For
eating was as much conspicuous con-
sumption as anything else. And creole
language paid testimony to the part that
food played in that variation of the
Tantulus myth to which they were con-
demned. They lived to eat. Yet they
seemed perpetually hungry. Mrs. Nugent
notes that one planter said of the other
- "he likes to have his keg well filled".
And on parting from Simon Taylor after
a tour of his St. Thomas estates, she
records her confusion as to his meaning:
"When I expressed my regret at
parting with Mr. Simon Taylor, he
said, 'I am very sorry, too, Ma'am,
but Almighty God, I must go home
and cool coppers'. I thought really
he was going home, to have all the
large brass pans emptied to cool,
that I had seen the sugar boiling in,
and that it was part of the process
of sugar making; but I found he
meant that he must go home, and
be abstemious, after so much
From her arrival at the King's House
in Spanish Town she had been horrified
at the 'yellow wrinkled faces' of the
departing Governor, a Jamaican planter,
Lord Balcarres and his staff. She found
her rooms in a 'filthy condition' and
soon had to 'set the black ladies to work'.
But the table manners of Lord Balcarres
and his attitude to food proved even
worse. On the 31st July, 1801 she writes:
"I wish Lord B. would wash his
hands, and use a nailbrush, for the
black edges of his nails really make
me sick. He has besides an extra-
ordinary propensity to dip his
finger into every dish. Yesterday
he absolutely helped himself to
some fricassee with his dirty finger
And a month afterwards she confesses:
"Lord Balcarres and a large party
at breakfast. I behaved very ill,
having placed an Aide-de-camp be-
tween me and his lordship; for
really his hands were so dirty, I
could not have eaten anything had
he been nearer."
But it is during her tour of the island
that she enters a Gargantuan Inferno.
That she seems to have been pregnant
without being as yet aware of the fact,
explains some of her heightened sensa-
tion. But even so the going was pretty
rough. She describes the dinner given
her at Mr. Scott's Moro (Hordley Estate):
"Our dinner at 6 was so profuse
that it is worth describing. The first
course was entirely of fish, except-
ing jerked hog, in the centre, which
is a way of dressing it by the
Maroons. There was also black crab
pepperpot for which I asked the
recipe: It is as follows: a capon
stewed down, a large piece of beef
and another of ham, also stewed to
a jelly; then six dozen of land crabs
picked fine, with their eggs and
fat, onion, peppers, ochra, sweet
herbs, and other vegetables of the
country, cut small; and this well
stewed, makes black crab pepper-
pot . The second course was of
turtle, mutton, beef, turkey, goose
ducks, chickens, capons, ham tongue,
orab patties the third course
I am not astonished at the general ill-health, of the men of this country; for
they really eat like cormorants and drink like porpoises.
composed of sweets and fruits of all
kinds I was really sicker than
usual at seeing such a profusion of
eatables and rejoiced to get to my
own room . ."
At Nonsuch in St. Mary, she discovers
'the reason why the ladies here eat so
little at dinner':
"I could not help remarking Mrs.
Cox who sat next to me at second
breakfast. She began with fish, of
which she ate plentifully, all swim-
ming in oil. Then cold veal with the
same sauce. Then tarts cakes and
fruits. All the other ladies did the
same, changing their plates, drinking
wine as if it were dinner . . I got
away to my own room as soon as
At the Sheriff's coffee estate, she has
to endure 'the vulgar Mr. Murdock, so
drunk that I called for my maid and
went to bed. ." But it is during her stay
at Seville Estate in St. Ann that she
begins to lose her nerve:
"I ate little and talked less. The
chattering Mr. Whitehorne was on
one side of me and really wore down
my spirits, and put me out of
patience, by speaking with his
mouth full and obliging me constant-
ly to change my plate . I am not
astonished at the general ill-health
of the men in this country; for they
really eat like cormorants and drink
like porpoises . Almost every man
of the party was drunk, even to a
boy of fifteen or sixteen, who was
obliged to be carried home. His
father was very angry, but he had
no right to be so, as he set the
example to him. .."
Not a Thought Beyond
Her Own Penn
In the midst of this satiety, Mrs.
Nugent is starved 'for a little agreeable
conversation'. Not that she now expected
any. After the First Assembly that she
gave at King's House in Spanish Town,
she had remarked, after meeting the
ladies and gentleman, on "the sad want
of local matter, or indeed any subject
for conversation with them". So after
they had asked her how she liked the
country, she sent for the fiddlers' and
we had a very merry dance! This
determines her never to have a conversa-
zione ever again but to settle instead
'for Friday dances'. And indeed, Balls,
Grand Balls and little Balls, House of
Assembly Balls and Colt's Balls, balls
in honour of her first son and of her
daughter,' of Christmas and Easter, and
a public ball for the King's Birthday
are innumerable in her journal. For-
tunately she liked dancing, Scotch reel
and all. And at one of the Balls that
she gives for the King's House slaves
she outrages and terrifies the creole
Misses Murphy by dancing with a
venerable old slave, exactly as she
would have done at a servant's ball in
England. In her frank enjoyment of
dancing, and her clear eyed realization
that being belle of the ball is due to
her being 'the Governor's lady', she
most nearly resembles Jane Austin with
whom she has quite a bit in common.
In 1799 Jane Austin writes in one of
"I do not think I was very much in
request. People were rather apt not
to ask me till they could not help
it. One's consequence you know,
varies so much at times, without
any particular reason'.
In 1801 Mrs. Nugent notes in her diary:
"It is wonderful how such a high
station embellishes- I heard it
whispered on the parade this morn-
ing, that General Nugent was one
of the finest men that ever was
seen, and Mrs. Nugent, although
small, "a perfect beauty"I
But flattery was not enough. Even
though she got this in lavish quantities
from the ladies and gentlemen. Mrs.
Pye flattered her until "she felt quite
sick," and with the gentlemen flattery
was a prelude to their asking some
favour, some patronage, or some money
making concession. She was horrified
at how "indelicate" both "ladies and
gentlemen were in their applications".
Apart from this gambit the only other
subjects of conversation to be had in
the island was 'the mountain wind, the
sea breeze, slaves, plantation, the prices
of different articles" as well as "debt,
disease and death." And this is with
the gentlemen. The creole ladies are
far more rustic. Mrs. Nugent's pen is
sharp as she remarks on them:
"The Creole language is not con-
fined to the negroes. Many of the
ladies, who have not been educated
in England, speak a sort of broken
English, with an indolent drawing
out of their words, that is very tire-
some and disgusting. I stood next
to a lady one night, near a window,
and, by way of saying something
remarked that the air was much
cooler than usual; to which she
answered, "Yes, ma'am, him real-ly
As for the content of what they have
to say -
"The extent of Mrs. Israel's travels
has been to Kingston, and she is
always saying, "When I was in
town"; she says, too, that frost and
snow must be prodigious odd things."
And even more incisively:
"Mrs. C. is a perfect Creole, says little
and drawls out that little, and has not
an idea beyond her own Penn . ."
Mrs. Nugent soon discovers the range
of interests and the occupation of the
Creole ladies gossip, spoiling their
tyrannical children, dressing, flirting,
'laughing in the carriage at the Church
door' during the service and most of all
scolding their servants: She writes of
the ladies at Seville Estate:
. they appear to me perfect
viragos; they never speak but in the
most imperious manner to their
servants, and are constantly finding
Mrs. Bullock called them Serpents
The only custom, in fact, of the Creole
ladies that Mrs. Nugent approves of,
and that she too in fact indulges in is
the custom of creolizing. "After
breakfast, the usual routine," she notes,
"reading, writing, and creolizing".
Philip Wright inserts this explanation:
"Creolizing is an easy and elegant
mode of lounging in a warm climate;
so called because much in fashion
among the ladies of the West Indies:
that is reclining back in one armchair,
with their feet upon another, and some-
times upon the tables".
When creolizing with the ladies, she
puts them to stringing beads or keeps
her ear to the ground by listening to
The dominant theme of this gossip
is the -relationship of the gentlemen.
their creole husbands, brothers. sons.
fathers with 'the brown and black
ladic-' Soon after her arrival Mrs.
Nugent records "'the ladies told me
strange stories of the influence of the
black and \ello\w women. and Mrs.
Bullock called them serpents."
On her first visitt to Simon Ta.lor at
Prospect Penn. MIrs Nueent after
dinner. "Took tea in m.r own room. sur
rounded by the black broun and yellow
ladies of the house" As Simon Taylor
is an old bachelor, she assumes that he
'detests the society of women' At his
(;ol(cen Gro\e Estate however she soon
di-co\ers tiat Simon Taylor like e\ery
other white man in the colony, conforms
to the sexual pattern of the society
"A little mulatto girl \was sent into
the drawing room to amuse me. She
was a sickly delicate child. \with
straight light brown hair and %ery
black eyes. Mr Ta.lor appeared
very anxious to dismiss her. and in
the evening, the housekeeper told
me she \was his own daughter, and
that he had a numerous family.
some almost on e\ery one of his
,', ,',' J '," r , r. ".tt >/ ,, If.me .-
fI'/P [" t 11 / .:.;,,I lill s ; l'
After this she accepts the fact that
the planters had harems, and for
'political' reasons as well as from her
own curiosity and kindness. receives
the "Mi\es" unofficially in her rooms
w hene\er she is a gueLte at any of the
estates Only on very rare occasions
does she meet any 'creole ladies' in the
drawing rooms. White ul\es are scarce
'Where the 'creole ladies' are present.
Mrs Nuient meets with their resent-
ment w hen she insists on giving private
audience to their black and brown
The jealousy of the creole ladies is
intense. The easy availability of other
women reduces their status They are!
intended to breed legitimate heirs andi
little else. The brown and black ladies.,
well auare that to be a white man's'
mistress is the only avenue of social,
and economic mobility open to them.,
\work hard at being mistresses It be-
comes their occupation, their profession.:
The. are good at their jobs. and all,
throughout the journal Mrs. Nugenti
refers to the power and fascination&
which they wield oler the white men.
To ha\e children by white men too. is
to make sure that their children will
rine in status and that their own position
The doininant theme of gossip is thic 'rcIationishiip of the gcntllc'iemt'.
will be more secure. When she visited
the Hope Estate (of which the present
Hope Gardens was a part) she writes:
"The overseer, a civil vulgar Scotch
officer, on half pay did the honours
to us . . The overseer's chere
amie and no man here is without
one, is a tall black woman, well
made, with a very flat nose, thick
lips and skin of ebony, highly
polished and shining. She showed
me her three yellow children and
said with some ostentation she
should soon have another. The
marked attention of the other
women plainly proved her to be the
favourite sultana of this vulgar ugly
Scotch officer, who is about fifty,
clumsy, ill-made and dirty . He had
a dingy, sallow brown complexion.
and only two yellow discoloured
tusks by way of teeth . ."
Mrs. Nugent disapproves strongly of
this type of menage. She is too fervent
a Christian not to, too secure in her
own integrated pattern of social
behaviour not to be shocked at the kind
of liaison that threatened Christian
marriage. As we shall note later on she
consistently advocates Christian baptism
and marriage for the slaves. Her dislike
of miscenegation, although perhaps
based on some racial ground, is most
concerned 'with it being a 'social mistake'.
In 1804 she enters:
"In my drive this morning I met
several of the half-black progeny
of some of our staff; all in fine
muslim, lace, etc. with wreaths of
flowers in their hats. What ruin for
these worse than thoughtless young
She remonstrates with the young
officers attached to King's House, 'her
family', 'upon the improper lives they
lead' and 'the horrid connections they
have formed'. She listens to their his-
tories, to their troubles in which 'the
brown ladies as usual concerned'.
But seeing that her efforts are useless
"This is indeed a sad immoral
country, but it is no use worrying
She sympathises with the creole
ladies 'ninnies' as they are, and as a
wife aligns herself on their side. She
speaks with distaste of the efforts of
the President of the Legislative Council
to get her to patronize a 'decayed'
mulatto milliner of 'bad character'. And
she is very funny about Captain John-
son's determined efforts to prove that
his 'ugly mulatto favourite' was not
guilty of stealing a pair of shoes, even
though the shoes were 'found in her
bosom'. In a more serious vein she
announces "the death of poor wretched
Captain Dobbin. He died without seeing
his children, and, it is said, has left all
he is worth to his black mistress and
her child. This is, I am afraid, but too
common a case in Jamaica".
She also tells about a crime passionnel
centering once again on a devastating
.... "all the conversation about a
sad affair that has just taken place.
A Mr. Irvine, in a fit of jealously,
having murdered one of his ser-
vants. It seems the favourite was
a brown lady; and to mend.the
matter, Mr. Irvine is a married man,
and his unfortunate wife has been
long, nearly broken-hearted, as his
attachment to this lady has occasion-
ed his treating her often with the
greatest cruelty even".
And Their Vulgar Buckism
Amused Me Very Much
Yet the fact that she 'receives' the
black and brown ladies, makes it clear
that she realizes that the force of long
habit and necessity had brought into
being this type of union, and that her
own standards of 'morality' and 'im-
morality' could not here prevail. For
what was at work in the society was the
response to an economic system. Whilst
she saw the effects she was unable to
relate them to their root cause. As
Freyre has insisted, "In reality neither
White nor Negro in himself was the
active force, in the sexual and class
relations that developed. What was
given expression in these relations was
the spirit of the economic system that
like a powerful god, divided us into
enslaver and enslaved . There is no
slavery without sexual depravity .
Depravity is the essence of such a
regime . In the first place economic
interest favour it, by creating in the
owners of men an immoderate desire to
possess the greatest numbers of crias
(children). From a manifesto issued by
slave-holding planters, Nabuco quotes
the following words so rich in signific-
ance. "The most productive feature
of slave property, is the generative
belly". The masters of these slaves
favoured dissoluteness in order to in-
crease the herd . "
The effect of this system was to
create in the women a pride in their
'generative belly'; and in their physical
appearance which was a sine qua non
to the attainment of this ambition. Their
lives centred about a bed, about dress-
ing, and external adornment. The mind
was not cultivated, nor the intelligence.
These would have been drawbacks. For
the secret of their success with their
men lay in their passivity, in their
acceptance of a slave status which
augmented feelings of masculinity.
The effect on the men was to develop
in them an excessive pride in their
virility. The capacity to breed, like the
capacity to absorb food and drink, and
to acquire money was what marked out
the men from the boys. Mrs. Nugent
neatly notes this quality of boastful
. ."..for the Inn, (the Ferry Inn)
is situated on the road between
Kingston and Spanish Town, and it
was very diverting to see the odd
figures and extraordinary equipages
. then a host of gentlemen who
were taking their sangaree *, in the
piazza; and their vulgar buckism
amused me very much .. ."
*Sangaree Madeira wine diluted and
Ferry Inn . diverting to sce odd figures . .
All the Pages of My Life
Are Wiped Out
It is no wonder that in a society such
as this, someone like Mrs. Nugent should
have felt herself in a place of exile.
In spite of her journal, her husband,
her children, her sketching, writing
poetry, practising French in spite of
the balls, the grand balls, the Assemblies,
the levees, the wining and dining, the
incredible beauty of the island with its
'lilac-coloured hills' the hollowness at
the heart of the life lived here catches
hold of her. At first she attributes this
only to the climate: "I cannot tell what
it is but this climate has a most extra-
ordinary effect upon me; I am not ill
but every object is at times, not only
uninteresting but even disgusting. I
feel a sort of inward discontent and
restlessness that are perfectly unnatur-
al to me. At moments when I exert
myself I go even beyond my usual
spirits; but the instance I give way, a
sort of despondency takes possession of
my mind. I argue with myself against
it but all in vain . till the malady of
the spirits has taken its departure all
these considerations, and even religion,
are of no avail .."
Increasingly she notes the lack of
personal and social relationships, the
impossibility of personal happiness in
a society totally geared to one purpose
- making money. She soon gives up
the friendship of Mrs. Pye, because the
latter, anxious for status, makes known
to all far and wide her closeness to the
'Governor's Lady', and the latter is
criticized for favouritismm'. General
Nugent as Governor finds it impossible
to rely on the discretion of many mem-
bers of the Legislative Council. To
enhance their status, they are apt to
drop inside knowledge, and to make
economic use of it. Bribery and corrup-
tion is an essential feature of the
society. Even Mrs. Nugent is not averse
to giving gifts to the wives of Members
of the Assembly to 'secure their vote'.
She notes how sweet smiles are bestowed
on her by the gentleman who hope to
be appointed Chief Justice. And learns
that Lord Balcarres had accepted 1,000
as a "douceur' from the former Chief
Justice (who had not been a lawyer) for
the appointment. Absentee public
officials living in England rent out their
posts as Collector of Customs to mer-
chants, etc. Dishonesty is the accepted
practice. Attorneys are soon owners of
the estates left in their charge.
Religion also worships the Golden
Calf. The clergymen are in some cases
ex-overseers who purchase their livings.
In one church the sacrament is adminis-
tered only three times a year, and some
gentlemen argue with Mrs. Nugent that
religion is a farce. Kingston merchants
do active business with the French
forces assaulting Santo Domingo, whilst
England and Jamaica are at war with the
French. Every other consideration is
secondary to the 'greed for gain'. At the
end of her first tour in the island, Mrs.
"In this country it appears as if
everything were bought and sold.
Clergymen make no secret of making
a traffic of their livings . It is
indeed melancholy, to see the gen-
eral disregard of religion and
morality throughout the whole coun-
try. Every one seems solicitous to
make money and no one appears to
regard the mode of acquiring it."
On leaving Jamaica Mrs. Nugent com-
ments on 'how different she feels now'
from what I did on my first arrival! And
one cannot help detecting a lessening
of her joie de vivre across the years. To
have remained longer in the colony
would have infected her own relation-
ship with her husband. Their frequent
escape to Government Penn and Port
Henderson is an attempt, not only to go
to somewhere cooler than Spanish Town,
but to keep up that adult friendship
between husband and wife which is un-
known in the prevailing mores of the
society. She observes that the ladies and
gentlemen are surprised that at a Ball,
she and General Nugent are content to
sit out dances and converse with each
other. Increasingly she longs for 'dear
England and domestic comfort.: When
she is safely back, she enjoys at the
home of the Buckingham's, with the
relief of one suffering from thirst.
'music and agreeable conversation'. But
before her longed-for departure she con-
fesses to her journal:
"The people here are so uncongenial
to us that I am often reminded of the
complaint of the poor French emigre
that I met with in some late publication
- 'Toutes pages du livre de ma vie
semblent effacees." (All the pages of my
life seem to be blotted out.)
No One Appears to Think or Feel
For Those Who are Suffering
On the voyage coming out, Captain
Noble, whistling one minute, dies of a
stroke the next as Mrs. Nugent tries to:
aid him. On the voyage going home,
'the carpenter was found dead in the
very act of putting up his tools last
night'. These sudden and violent deaths,
from yellow fever, apoplexy, help to
create the feeling of despair that
shadows her journal. She tries to steel
herself not 'to lament as I am apt to do',
for 'the usual occurrence of a death.'
She fears for the health of her own
husband and children. She gives a
picture of Doctor Robertson lately
married to a young wife, afraid of the
climate, and yellow fever, wanting at
all costs to be sent home, finally break-
ing down as he pleads with General
'It was quite shocking to see the state
he was in, crying and sobbing like a
child; and with such a robust figure
made the scene altogether deplorable".
She is horrified at the lack of feeling
shown by the creoles for the suffering of
others; or for those recently dead.
Gentlemen even make jokes about the
dear departed and draw her anger upon
their heads. She perceives the brutaliza-
tion of their spirit, but does not admit
its provenance. The wealth of the West
Indian by the time it arrives in London
to help support the genteel society of
which she forms part and in which she
cultivates her capacity to feel, is made
here on the sugar estates. On the sugar
estates, unlike England, no magic wand
of good breeding can waft the horror
away. She has a glimpse of this inferno
on her visit to New Hall estate belong-
ing to 'King' Mitchell ('a humane though
vulgar man') near Spanish Town. She
is being shown the 'whole process of
sugar making'. In the boiling house she
un~mikblit w .a Bo1L1Y: 1 I' JIll '
obsen es some of the slaves 'with a large
kinlmcmr upon a long pole, constantly
s~trring the sugar and throwing it from
oine cauldron to another. She continues:
"I asked the oversear how often
hl people were relieved. He said
e\er. twelve hours; but how dread-
ful to think of their standing twelve
hours over a boiling cauldron, and
doimn the same thing; and he said
to me that sometimes they did fall
asleep, and get their poor fingers
into the mill; and he showed me a
hatc.iet, that was all ready to sever
the %hole limb, as the only means
of saving the poor sufferer's life!
I would not have a sugar estate for
And these slaves are kept at their
cauldron by the practise and threat of
violInce. The whites who must practise
thr; violence must brutalize their spirits,
and they do. They accept it as natural
that they should live in an island where
a gun fired at five starts the day; and
at eight, concludes it. Where the guns
look out to sea against the covetous
enem. anxious to get the wealth of sugar
and slaves that the island possesses;
and "here the guns are ready to swivel
round upon the slaves, the most
valuablee property of all at any such
time that they may revolt against being
a mere commodity. During Mrs. Nugent
sta. in Jamaica, a relative handful of
mile- across the Caribbean, the first
successful slave revolt in history, was
already \ working out, under Toussaint
and after, Dessalines, its paradoxical
Cc Leral Toussaint d'Ouverture.
He Must be a Wonderful Man!
Santo Domingo, soon to be called
Haiti. was the biggest problem that
General Nugent had on his plate during
his lGo ernorship of Jamaica. He seemed
to ha\e carried on British policy very
tuccesfully. And was, in fact, rewarded
\ith a baronetcy after his return home.
The priorities of his policy as Governor
was to make sure that the example of
Haiti did not spread to Jamaica. In this he
was successful and wrote in a despatch
to London: "the island of St. Domingo
is no more talked of here than if it was
in the East Indian seas'. His second
policy was to foster good relations with
Toussaint with whom the British had
signed a trade convention, after their
effort to capture the island for them-
selves had failed. The important thing
for Nugent to see to, was that the rich
sugar producing island of Haiti did not
fall once more into the hands of the
French, and enable them to recapture
the sugar market from Britain. At the
same time, fearful of the example of the
Black Republic, Britain would not do
anything to prevent Napoleon's troops
from recapturing the island, especially
if its cane fields would be devastated
in such an attempt. Nugent helped by
Mrs. Nugent carries out this tortuous
and tricky policy superbly. Lady Nugent
receives magnificent dresses from
Pauline Leclerc, Napoleon's sister, and
wife of the General in charge of the
French troops attacking Santo Domingo.
But they give them neither aid nor
comfort and carry out their trade
negotiations with Toussaint, and after
he had been captured, with Dessalines.
Early on, when she is recently in the
island, Edward Corbet, the British agent
in Santo Domingo, gives her a good
account of General Toussaint and she
remarks: 'He must be a wonderful man
and intended for some good purposes'.
Later on, an Aide de camp, of one of
the 'brigand generals', a mulatto named
Captain Dufour comes on a mission
and she is surprised by him:
"He is a much more gentleman like
sort of a man than I expected, .I was
surprised at the good language he
Their Black Ankles Peeping
Out of Their Particulars
But she does not take the Jamaican
black or mulatto with quite the same
sort of consideration. It would be
difficult for her to. The Haitians are
free men who have won their freedom.
Except towards the end, when she begins
to be fearful of a black revolt in Ja-
maica, her attitude towards the 'blackies'
is one of a benevolent paternalism. One
suspects that she likes 'the blackies'
more than her own white servants.
Certainly she sees little difference be-
tween them and is indignant about the
airs her white servants gives themselves
in dealing with the Negroes. She
lambasts 'the lower orders' for "con-
sidering the negroes as creatures formed
merely to administer to their ease, and
to be subject to their caprice; and I
have found much difficulty to persuade
those great people and superior beings,
our white domestics, that the blacks are
human beings, or have souls."
Mrs. Nugent is certainly convinced
that they have souls. She is determined
that all the King's House domestics
should be made 'Christians' and properly
baptized before she leaves. She labours
at this, instructing them in the duties
of a Christian before Baptism. She goes
as far as drawing up a catechism with
which to instruct them. She approves of
Mr. Wilberforce and his efforts on their
behalf and sends him a copy of the
catechism she has drawn up. She is
world wise enough to keep her opinion
of Wilberforce to herself, seeing that
this would do the slaves no good with
the planters and make more difficult
her husband's task of putting through
measures in the House of Assembly
which were more favourable to the
British interest than to the Jamaican
She takes care of their welfare how-
ever whilst she waits on Mr. Wilberforce
to do the rest. Time and time again she
gives them extra indulgences. On Boxing
Day, one of the traditional slave
holidays, she writes: "Nothing but
bonjoes, drums and tom toms going all
night and dancing and singing, and
madness all the morning . Some of
our blackies were most superbly dressed
06 ON-ff" 1M- w -_
hai~-i~l~C~~i~i';-"q~~ 7i~S;~nr -;i;----- --N S
On Boxing-Day nothing but bonjoes, tom-toms .
singing all the morning.
... in the masquerade . gold and silver
fringe, spangles, beads and really a most
wonderful expense altogether. General
N. gave the children money, and threw
some himself among them from the
gallery, and in the scramble all the
finery was nearly torn to pieces, to my
great vexation. However they seemed
not to mind it, but began dancing with
the same spirit as if nothing had hap-
pened, putting their smart clothes into
the best order they could. We gave them
a bullock, a sheep and a lamb with a
dollar to every person in the house . .
Perhaps however it is more than is
usually done, but, for the short time
we are with them, we will make them
as happy as we can".
She looks on the slaves 'drunkenness'
after the holiday with a more benevolent
eye than she does on their masters.
Altogether she s rather 'amused' by
their antics and indulgent to their 'baby-
like pleasures'. She is rather worried
about the fact that her household slaves
do not exert themselves: . The poor
blackies! They are all so good humoured
and seem so merry, that it is quite
comfortable to look at them. I wish
however they would be a little more
alert in clearing away the filth of this
otherwise nice and fine house".
But rather sensibly, she concludes:
'Reflect all night upon slavery the
want of exertion in the 'blackies' must
proceed from that cause". She is glad
at a banquet to be able to get away
from 'the smell of the blackies and of
hot meats', and amused at entering
Seville Great House at night to find
about a dozen black heads 'popping up'
from the floor. In the feudal relation-
ship of the great House the household
slaves slept on the floor in the corridors
Her favourite black servant is her
young attendant Cupid who carries out
her chair, and is to serve as valet de
chambre to her first child. She baptizes
him, and when she is departing leaves
him money to buy a keepsake.
During her confinement, he pined and
refused to eat until she was safely re-
covered. There are only a few other
blackies' who stand out as individuals
to her in the'journal. At Golden Grove
Estate she records 'One little black
girl came to beg that I would take her
with me. She was remarkably thick-
lipped and ugly but intelligent child."
And in 1805 she writes ... we met
a gang of Eboe negroes, just landed,
and marching up the country . I
bowed, kissed my hand and laughed:
they did the same . One man attempt-
ed to show more pleasure than the rest,
by opening his mouth as wide as possible
to laugh which was rather a horrible
grin. He showed such truly cannibal
teeth, all filed as they have them, that
I could not help shuddering. He was
of a Herculean size, and really a
tremendous looking creature".
Sometimes, as at New Hall sugar
estate, she glimpses the less "happy"
side of slavery. At Mr. Shirley's estate
Spring Gardens, 'two poor negroes, who
had been in chains nearly a year, came
to General N. to ask him to intercede
for them". And whilst at Government
Penn, she records that 'Many negroes
came to make complaints of their
masters". At another time Lord Balcarres'
slaves also lay a complaint. And on
January 10th whilst still at the Penn
she records that a carpenter from
Spanish Town came to beg General
Nugent to intervene on behalf of a young
slave who was due to be hung the next
morning. The boy had entered a house
and stolen a watch. She explains:
"The law of the land is, it seems that
three magistrates (that is, planters) may
condemn a slave to death, General N.
made every exertion, but in vain to save
the life of the boy and to send him out
of the country; but it appears that it
could not be done, without exercising
his prerogative very far, and give great
offence and alarm to the white popula-
tion This law of the three magistrates
appears to me abominable".She sits in,
too, and listens to a case involving some
slave merchants and is distressed by the
revelations that she hears.
Yet, from her vantage point of Gov-
ernor's lady at the King's House, she is
shut away from the grosser realities.
And is so enabled to make that
accommodation of conscience to profit
which is the reverse side of Protestant
piety. As Wright points out, she backs
her reasons for marriage of the slaves,
with an argument 'addressed to the slave
owners' material interest" "Amused
myself with reading the evidence before
the House of Commons on the part of
the petitioners for the Abolition of the
Slave trade. As far as I at present seel
and can hear of the ill treatment of thel
slaves, I think what they say upon thel
subject is very greatly exaggerated.
Individuals, I make no doubt, occasion-!
ally abuse the power they possess, butl
generally speaking, I believe the slaves
are extremely well used. Yet it appears
to me there would be certainly no
necessity for the Slave Trade. if religion.
decency and good order, were estab-
lished among the negroes, if they could
be prevailed upon to marry: and if our
white men would but set them a little
better example. Mrs. Bell told me today.
that a negro man and woman of theirs,
who are married, have fourteen grown
up children, all healthy field negroes"
But except for these few instances
when she advances, according to Wright,
on 'dubious grounds', she feels herself
on the "side" of the slave, and never
fails to note whatever is exotic or
colourful in their appearance. In Bar-
bados the sight of Negro slaves running
behind their master's horses holding on
to the horses' tails, 'amuses' her greatly.
Her description of the John Canoe
bands, of the Sunday Negro market
where the slaves sold the excess from
their provision grounds; her account of
the 'blackies' use of the English lan-
guage, of the old black woman who
peeps in at her at the St. Thomas Bath,
the old negro midwife with her handful
of herbs during her confinement are
vivid. The same sharp eye for the
ridiculous that she has for the creole
ladies' gentlemen 'Mr. Wilkes a man
who looked as if he had been buried
and dug up again', Mr. Scott before and
after he had been struck by lightning,
the bride in tears before her wedding
because there was no white satin ribbon
to be had in Kingston, nor sage and
,,,, , ", I ". I I I i
Y "WEMST I .-O 1 A FASN i1 0 L'V'1. 1 *
The sight of Negro slaves running behind their master's horses holding on
to the horses tail 'amuses' her greatly.
onions to stuff the duck, the Jews of
the militia attending a Christian Sunday
service so as not to lose their five
shillings a day pay; Mrs. Cummins the
white nursery maid who married an
officer, "then threw away her cap and
appeared, dressed in her own hair" -
informs her pen with regard to 'herself
and the 'blackies':
". . myself, in the sociable, with
our two black postillions, in scarlet
liveries, their black ankles peeping
out of their particulars, and
-altogether a rather novel appear-
ance . ."
A Sort of Fierce Look that
Struck Me with a Terror
But half way through her journal, a
different note, as far as the 'blackies'
are concerned, begins to be heard.
Santo Domingo is not yet sealed off. The
French prisoners and refugees, planters
and slaves and mulattos in Jamaica are
supposed to be stirring up trouble.
France is taking a leaf from England's
book and is prepared to use a slave in-
surrection to defeat their crafty Anglo-
Saxon enemy. On the 17th of June, 1803
Mrs. Nugent cautiously notes:
"It is said that much mischief is
brewing in the country and that it is
connected with the St. Domingo
French, but all . this is secret
information and must be enquired
From hereon she becomes fearful that
"this wretched country is devoted to the
same destruction that has overtaken
Santo Domingo". She tries to 'keep my
mind at ease' But in the rest of the
country the rising hysteria, the fear of
the blacks, begins to come to a crescendo.
A Slave Court is held in Kingston and
two slaves are tried and found guilty
of 'forming a rebellious conspiracy'.
They are hanged by the neck at the
Parade, and their heads severed from
their bodies. As a warning their heads
are put on poles one on Slipe Pen road.
the other 'on that adjoining the city
leading to Windward'. That Sunday Mrs.
Nugent regrets having to go to Church
"for we were obliged to pass close by
the pole on which was stuck the head of
the black man who was executed a few
In July several Negroes 'disappear'
from different estates. Agitated, Mrs.
Nugent prays: 'God preserve us from
the horrors of an insurrection". Almost
a year later there has been none, but
she is still haunted by the possibility.
She notes that when there is talk of the
bravery and success of Dessalines in
Haiti among her dinner guests 'the
blackies in attendance seem so much
interested, that they hardly change a
plate, or do anything but listen". When
in April 1805 a large French fleet is
expected to attack Jamaica, General
Nugent declares Martial Law and sends
Mrs. Nugent and his family off to Port
Henderson, she needs the comfort and
courage of her 'white maid, Margaret
Clifford'. In Spanish Town the Negroes
'appeared to be inclined to riot, when
the troops marched out but they were
soon dispersed by the militia'. She
argues with herself that perhaps the
Negroes' commotion will be only tem-
porary, "for like children, they are
fond of fuss and noise, and have no
reflection", later, out for a walk with
her children she has an encounter in
which she sees for the first time in the
apparently happy and aquiescent slave,
the instinct for freedom; an instinct
which must by nature of her involve-
ment in its captivity, pose a threat to
her very existence. And she writes:
"We met a horrid looking black man,
who passed us several times, without
making any bow, although I recollected
him as one of . . the boatmen of
the canoe we used to go out in, before
we had the Maria. He was then very
humble, but tonight he only grinned,
and gave us a sort of fierce look, that
struck me with a terror I could not
"And the Man was Henry IVth
The French did not make their
expected attack. The slave revolt did
not take place until some twenty years
after Mrs. Nugent had left Jamaica. In
1804, a year before the Nugent s left
Jamaica, the golden bubble of sugar
began to burst. In England William
Beckford, the once 'richest commoner'
in England finds that his fortune made
from slaves and sugar, is vanishing like
Cinderella's finery as Sugar's clock
strikes midnight. He is forced to sell
his magnificent folly, Fonthill Abbey.
He sells it to a Scottish millionaire of
humble origin who 'had, in the modern
manner, made his money out of gun-
powder, depression in the Funds and
real estate'. In 1825, with a symbolic
crash, the main tower of Fonthill Abbey
collapsed. Jamaica, the island and the
society that had financed this golden
tower, collapsed more slowly, but even
more surely. The Scottish millionaire
wrote off his loss, sold the land at Font-
hill as building lots. Some time after
a great part of the Abbey was demolish-
ed and used as building materials. Only
the northern end of it now stands. As
with Jamaica, only the statuesque ruin
Now that the island's gold mine had
been exhausted the greedier took their
departure. As the island became less
wealthy, less of a prize, a sense of fair-
play came dimly into being. The mulatto
gentleman, who in Mrs. Nugent's time
had been excluded from office, from
society and from the voter's list, from
the House of Assembly, and from the
King's House, fought and won the right
to all. Mrs. Nugent had met several
mulatto women who were the daughters
of members of the House of Assembly.
One year before she came to Jamaica, the
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Kean
Osborne, whom she frequently enter-
tained, and whose estate at Woods she
visited and wrote about in her journal,
had an illegitimate son by a woman of
colour. The Assembly and Island politics
was dominated by this mulatto Robert
Osborne and by another Edward Jordon,
until the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865
and the imposition of Crown Colony
Government. Another mulatto, George
William Gordon, son of.a former Scotch
Beckford's fortune, made from slaves and sugar, built Fonthill Abbey.
overseer turned planter and member of
the House of Assembly, was to challenge
the power of a British Governor, in a
way that General Nugent had not been
challenged by even the most recalcitrant
planter. And to pay with his neck. And
above all, the 'blackies rebelling in 1832,
impatient for freedom, will finally get
it in 1838. Those of the creoles com-
mitted to their exile by force of
circumstances or by attachment will
fight a rear guard action to keep their
former power and influence. But as the
society changes and the free black
peasant and landless labourer begins to
assert his right to citizenship the old
bases of power begin to be replaced.
But not until after freeholders like Paul
Bogle and hundreds of others have also
paid with their lives for challenging the
If Mrs. Nugent were to return to
Jamaica today she could still see
recognizable traces. The plantation sys-
tem, although less profitable and less
dominant has not been displaced. A
'greed for gain', a new and yet old gold-
rush has begun to replace in a different
context, the sugar bubble. A society,
reluctant to examine its premises,
evasive of its past, uncertain of its
identity, afraid of its own promise, wor-
shipping its white heritage, despising its
black, or at best settling for
the current view of being a multi-
racial, multi-cultural 'Out of Many
People One', is in danger of creating
the spiritual Inferno that Mrs. Nugent
pictured so vividly, in a twentieth cen-
tury setting. For it is society where the
majority are still exiles in their own
country. They are exiles because for too
long they have been made to deny one
part or the other of their heritage.
And yet it is in her description of the
customs of the most despised part, that
Mrs. Nugent gives a clue, and points a
finger, without being aware of doing so,
at a significant and hitherto missing
link. For in our tormented tossing about
for an identity, our labelling ourselves
Afro-Jamaican, Euro-Jamaican, Afro-
Saxon, Chinese Jamaican, etc., etc. we
have missed a truth because so many of
us may have subconsciously wished to
evade it. And also because this link.
this truth has been obscured by the myth
fostered by British historians and sucked
in with our mother's milk. It is the myth
that Eric Williams in his book "British
Historians And The West Indies" tilts an
angry lance at when he quotes the great
historian Toynbee to this effect:
"The Negro has not indeed brought
any ancestral religion of his own from
Africa. His primitive social heritage was
of so frail a texture, that every shred
of it was scattered to the winds at the
first impact of our Western civilization.
Thus he came to America, spiritually as
well as physically naked; and he has
met the emergency by covering his
nakedness with his enslaver's cast-off
To this Eric Williams remarks, "With
all this it was possible for Toynbee, with
his tremendous scholarship, to ignore
completely the civilization of Africa
before the European slave trade". But
what is even more to be wondered at is
that Toynbee should here choose to
ignore the theory of history that he has
given the world the theory of
'challenge and response'. Recent and
numerous studies, have shown the
dominance of African religions, their
persistence in the New World. Freyre
has in fact insisted that in Brazil. it
"was Europe that reigned and Africa
that governed." But perhaps what is
most significant is that. of all the up-
rooted men who came to the New World.
the African was the only one who
through force of circumstance lost con-
tact for centuries with his point of
origin. And lost contact with the touch-
stone of orthodoxy. He was forced to
cover the resultant "nakedness" not with
the enslaver'ss cast off clothing', but
with a new cultural creation of his own.
For the African in the New World be-
came a Negro. And the Negro is the
world's first uprooted race. He is the
only race who is not tied to a land mass.
The African belongs -to Africa.' The
European to Europe. The "negro" has
no such territorial cradle.
He was fortunate in that the African re-
ligions which he remembered and trans-
mitted, emphasized a world view that was
embracing rather than exclusive, a cult
rather than a sect. This prepared him
to accept all gods, and all influences.
To borrow equally from all. From the
European, what Toynbee calls 'the cast
off clothing', from the Indian, from the
Chinese, from the Moslem. In Guyana,
Negroes play the drums at the Festival
of Hosein and Hassan; at a shango
ceremony in Trinidad, St. John speaks
through the mouth of a Negro medium
in the voice of an Indian businessman.
And San Philomene sings to the wor-
shipper a snatch of a Hindu song. In
Jamaica, the Indian Maid is featured in
the Pocomania bands. In Haiti, Catholic
Saints, Legba and Damballa are not
incongruous together. Out of their
remembered African music joined to-
gether with hymns, and Protestant
tunes, the American Negro created jazz.
And jazz is the music of twentieth cen-
tury uprooted man.
In her description of Christmas Day,
December 1801, Mrs. Nugent gives us a
picture of an early indigenous theatre
in the making. It was this indigenous
theatre in the American South that first
gave the Christy Minstrels the idea of
their parody. And it is significant that
the 'white' minstrel shows effectively
helped to conceal the fact that the Negro
instead of imitating his master-Gentle-
men pray be seated was creating; to
conceal the fact that of all the peoples
that came to the New World, the Negro
as a group, has been the most creative
culturally. He has been because he has
had to be. It is the rythm of the negro
- not of the African, not of the
European that informs the popular
music, of the New World jazz. Afro.
Cuban, and in Jamaica, the ska, the rock
steady. What happens in Trinidad ever
carnival, happened in a more coherent
form on Christmas day 1801 in Spanish
Town, Jamaica. Mrs. Nugent writes
"All night heard the music of tom-
toms, etc. Rise early, and the whole
town and house bore the appearance of
a masquerade. After Church amuse'
myself very much with the strange
processions, and figures called Johnnm
Canoes. All dance, leap and play a thou
sand antics. Then there are groups of
dancing men and women . They had
a sort of leader or superior at their head,
who sang a sort of recitative, and seemed
to regulate all their proceedings, the
rest joining at intervals in the air and
the chorus. The instrument to accompany
the song was a rude sort of drum, made
of bark leaves, on this they beat time
with two sticks while the singers do the
same with their feet. Then there was a
party of actors Then a little child was
introduced, supposed :to be a king who
stabbed all the rest. They told me that
some of the children who appeared were
to represent Tippoo Saib's children, and
the man was Henry the IV of France
What a melange"!
One Place that We Passed
Was Called Paradise
Then as now the Negro was the syn-
cretic mixing force of the society. When
the creole lady answered Mrs. Nugent
about the coolness of the air 'Him
really too fresh' she merely gave back
the 'melange' that the Negro, fusing his
former speech habits with the English
language had made. This melange of
language, habits, customs, peoples, is
what constitutes the single most im-
portant factor of our identity. It is only
when we accept and explore the implica-
tions of this when we lay claims to
all and reject none and consciously
continue the process of creative fusion
already begun, that we shall begin to
take on that identity which lies far be-
yond the horizons of race or place. The
paradox of the Jamaican, or Caribbean
identity, is that it will defy definition.
Balanced, perhaps, between the impos-
sible and the absurb. To be found, who
knows, at one of the few estates that
Mrs. Nugent did not visit. So we will
let her have the last word:
"One place that we passed was called
Paradise, and a Mr. Angel was the
by T. A. L. Concannon
The art of building for human habitation in
Jamaica commenced. so far as our present knowledge
indicates, about 650 A D. plus or minus 120 years,
by radio carbon dating of a site at Alligator Pond,
Manchester, when the Arawak Indians lived in the
Island They were primitive people, living in huts of
simple construction. of which no trace remained
after the Spaniards had taken possession of the
country\ and killed most if not all of the inhabitants.
Apart from some foundations and sections of
,alls excavated in recent years on the site of the
"Governor's Castle' at Seville on the north coast,
ancient Sevilla Nueva the first Spanish capital of the
Island, virtually all trates of building by the Spanish
ha'e vanished An account by Sir Hans Sloane
physician and botanist who came to Jamaica in 1687
with the Duke of Albemarle the newly appointed
governor) gikes a picture of Spanish buildings he had
seen. Sloane %rote the\ were "usually one storey
high. having a porch. parlour, and at each end a
room. with small ones behind They built with posts
put deep in the ground, the lowness, as well
as fixing the posts deep in the earth, was for fear
their houses should be ruined by earthquakes, as
well as for coolness"
Larger and more important buildings were con-
structed of brick and stone, the paucity of Spanish
remains is in part due to a lack of interest in their
preservation by the early English colonists, who
utilized all available building materials for their
houses and industrial works, particularly bricks and
dressed stone readily at hand without the trouble
and expense of quarrying.
The English period, from 1655.
Most of the buildings erected by English settlers
in the first hundred years from 1655 seem to have
been of no great importance, and not much care was
given by the planters to their domestic buildings.
Charles Leslie says of Jamaica in 1739:-- "One is not
to look for the beauties of architecture here; the
buildings are neat but not fine ..... The gentlemen's
houses are generally built low, of one storey, consist-
ing of five or six handsome apartments, beautifully
lined and floored with mahogany . . In the towns
there are several houses which are two storeys, but
that way of building is disapproved of because they
seldom are known to stand the shock of an earth-
quake or the fury of a storm". The historian Edward
Long, writing in 1768 commented "It is but of
late that the planters have paid much attention to
elegance in their habitations; their general rule was
to build what they called a make-shift; so that it was
not unusual to see a plantation adorned with a very
expensive set of works, of brick or stone, well
executed, and the owner residing in a miserable
thatched hovel, hastily put together with wattles and
plaster .... But the houses in general, as well in the
country parts as in the towns, have been greatly
improved within these last twenty years".
Houses surviving today.
Despite the lamentations of Leslie and Long a
few outstanding houses of this first period to circa
1750 may still be seen unfortunately in ruins.
One of these, Stokes Hall near Golden Grove in St.
Thomas was in fact in use as a residence until a few
years ago, and was probably the oldest house in good
preservation in Jamaica. Another large house whose
walls remain standing their full original height of
more than thirty feet, a vast and imposing pile of
stone and brick, is Colbeck Castle, north of Old
Harbour in St. Catherine. There must be some doubt
concerning the actual date of construction of Colbeck,
but it almost certainly falls within the early English
period. There are others, too numerous to mention
The period after circa 1750.
It is difficult to date many of the surviving houses
with accuracy, but there is abundant evidence that
this second period from mid-eighteenth century
produced a relatively large number of good buildings.
Construction was halted by the decline in the
fortunes of sugar, but many houses were erected
with factories on estates, and there was an increase
in the amount of town house building.
The list is too long to be stated in this note, but
some fine country houses built in this period of
prosperity include Rose Hall, St. James (circa 1760
and at present being restored by the owner); Marl-
borough in the Manchester Hills near Spur Tree,
built in 1795 and faithfully restored by the owner;
Cardiff Hall in St. Ann, another house in the Georgian
style and possibly by the designer of Marlborough;
Arcadia, Bryan Castle and Good Hope in Trelawny,
three country mansions where it is possible to
visualise gracious living of the past; Prospect in St.
Mary and others in different parts of the country.
Town houses of charm and distinction, but of
necessity on a smaller scale, were built in Kingston,
Spanish Town, Montego Bay, St. Ann's Bay and
Devon House, St. Andrew, built in 1881 A striking piece of domestic architecture in a classical style.
Marlborough House, Spur Tree, in the .MaunthciH'shr ill. /
A di'_.lnifictd t ontry residt nt i C. 179.35 in tht Go. .r11uin
tradition. adapted to Jamiican 'ionditiois.
elsewhere In Spanish Town in 1762 there was
erected King's House, a residence for the governor
built in the town square on the site of a Spanish
building All that is left of the Georgian block is the
brick facade, remaining after a disastrous fire in 1925
that destroyed the house. This essay in Georgian
architecture was a forerunner of others completed
in the period to 1792. including the House of
Assembly, Court House, the Island Record Office and
Rodney Memorial, forming a civic square of simple
but impressive character.
In Kingston at the north end of Duke Street
stands a town house of interest and importance,
built b\ Thomas Hibbert earl\ in the second half
of the 18th century as a wager with other Kingston
merchants to decide w~ho could build the finest house.
This building. Headquarters House, is of historic
interest also because it w.as used as a meeting place
'it the Ior IIer legislatiu-e cIouncI l. and i-, .still in use
as a government office Other houses built for the
\wager have long ago disappeared, and included
Jasper Hall iwhit.h the historian 'undall believed
should have \won the bet'i Bull House in North Street
and a house in Hanomer Street known as Harmony
Devon House, St. Andrew, built in 1881.
Probably their most impressjie house built in
.lamaica in the third period from lirea 1850 \\as
Devon House. bulit in 1881 In St .ndlre'i -\ the site
,)f a former house known as Devon Pen Solidly
i.onstrullted in brhik and timber. Dev\on House is a
striking piece o1 dionlestit architecture in a classical
style and on a scale larger than comparable buildings
in the Island It \was (on(eived and erected b\ George
*. "*" I' .
......---,,-.-.----,- - -
No e V a-NO a P0 j 1 I.
Simplified ground plan of Dcion HouII, and the
Gate Post Devon House.
Part of centre fountain Devon House.
M qW o -- a 6r AII inAl
One of the few remaining traces of the Spaniards i
Jamaica Arawak women on a column from Nueva Sevill
See first page of article The Spaniards.
Steibel, a Jamaican who had left Kingston in his
youth to seek fame and fortune abroad, which he
succeeded in doing apparently with great success
gold mining in South America.
On his return home about 1876 he began plans
for Devon House, which he is said to have 'designed',
It is more likely that he had seen a similar house in
his travels, and had made sketches or obtained
drawings which, with his knowledge of construction
(gained during his early apprenticeship in Kingston
as a shipwright) he was able to translate into bricks
and mortar. He is believed to have been concerned,
in the 1840's after his discharge from articles, with
reconstruction of the Ferry Inn, on the road to
Spanish Town, which, if a fact, suggests that he was
capable of building, if not 'designing' Devon House.
The main house constructed by Steibel is a
rectangular block on two floors, with two timber
interval stairways, one to the west in an entrance
vestibule or 'long hall' on the south front and a
second placed axially at the rear (north). This
principal stairway is approached via an inner hall,
flanked by a dining room (east) and library (west).
Other rooms on the ground floor include bedrooms
and staff rooms, and a pantry and kitchen. There is
a wine cellar under the north stairs.
The first floor contains bed rooms, bath rooms, a
smaller library or study and a large salon, with
parquet floor, papered dado, and a cornice in wood
with plaster roundels. The rectangular ceiling is
decorated with fibrous plaster reliefs, and a chan-
N- -W;;i ,-- -.-'
delier is hung from the centre, unifying a room of
impressive size. In the roof of a boarded floor
provides space for storage; the roof is in pine timbers,
covered in shingles.
Of the outbuildings, comprising coach-house, staff
quarters, kitchen and latrines, it is difficult, without
detailed research, to date these with accuracy; but
it is likely that the coach-house (west) and old kitchen
(north-east) were part of the former Devon Pen,
although there is visual evidence that some rebuild-
ing took place (probably after the 1907 earthquake).
It is possible, too, that the harness room (north-west)
and silver vault (near the coach-house) date from an
earlier house on this site.
Attached to the main house on the west is a small
block containing ground floor toilets, a puzzling
arrangement that seems to have come about by using
the substructure of part of the former house, or one
of its outbuilings. Adjacent to this is a room now
connected to the main house, used in recent years
as a swimming pool; this is another curious piece
of design, since appearance suggest that the unit
was not planned with the Steibel construction of 1381.
Devon House today.
The house has been listed by the Jamaica Na-
tional Trust Commission as a monument on account
of its high architectural quality, the only example of
its type in the Island. The buildings and grounds
have recently been purchased by Crafthings Jamaican
Limited, to be used as a cultural centre and sales
outlets for the company. One of the former staff
quarters will be used as craft workshops, where
visitors may see work in progress, and craft sales
rooms will be formed in another block of staff
quarters and from the shell of what was the harness
room. Two orchid houses are being constructed in
the north courtyard, and these could later be
converted into additional craft sales rooms.
The brick-built silver vault will be used to display
special items, such as replicas of ancient objects
found at Port Royal; the coach-house is being trans-
formed into an old-style bar and barbecue, with
tables under the shade of a superb mahogany tree
in the adjoining garden.
In the main house there will be exhibitions of
furniture and paintings, and displays of craftwork;
there will also be a centre for disseminating informa-
tion concerning Jamaica and its arts and crafts. The
Institute of Jamaica will be responsible for mounting
and rotation of exhibits in the various galleries.
Building work currently in progress is expected
to be completed in time for Devon House to be open
to the public at the end of this year. Restoration and
conversion has been carried-out by the building works
force of the Jamaica National Trust Commission
under direction of the technical adviser to the Com-
mission, for the Restoration Committee, Crafthings
Statue in the grounds of Devon Hou e.
Reprint from Vol. 1
Journal of the Institute of Jamaica
SIR ANTHONY MUSGRAVE: A Memoir
by Jeanice Lucinda Musgrave
I have been asked to write a short
sketch of my husband's life to accom-
pany the likeness of him published in
this number of the Journal of the Insti-
tute of Jamaica, and, though conscious
of an unpractised pen, I will briefly
trace his life's work, for work truly was
all, and filled all his life.
Anthony Musgrave was born in 1828,
the third son of Anthony Musgrave,
M.D., Treasurer of Antigua, and was
educated in great measure by his father
himself, who took his children to Edin-
burgh in order to give them what he
considered the best teaching. This third
son became in 1850, Private Secretary
to Mr. Mackintosh, Governor of the Lee-
ward Islands; but in the following year
he entered at the Inner Temple, being
intended for the bar. His father's sud-
den death interrupted his legal studies,
and recalled him to Antigua, where he
acted for a year as Treasury Account-
ant, resuming his course at the Temple
in 1853. He was, however, persuaded by
a friend to enter the Civil Service, and
to apply for the post of Colonial Secret-
ary in Antigua, which he did, though
with small expectation of obtaining it.
On hearing that his application was
accepted, he at once gave up all thoughts
of the bar, and returned to the West
Indies to take up his appointment, which
he retained until 1860, when he was
sent as Administrator to the little island
of Nevis, and thence as locum tenens
to St. Vincent, of which he became
Lieut.-Governor in 1862. In this, his first
government, and while still a young
man and young official, his judgment
and resolution were sternly tested by
the outbreak of riots on some estates,
which broadened into serious disorders
and threatened to stop cultivation and
prevent the residence of proprietors
and managers on their plantation's, and
which obliged him to make requisition
for troops from Barbados; and H.M.S.
Challenger from Trinidad to restore or-
der. But though the affair became com-
plicated and prolonged, his entire con-
duct of it won approval from the Duke
of Newcastle, then Secretary of State
for the Colonies, and in 1864 Governor
Musgrave was promoted to Newfound-
land. Such a violent change of climate
was trying to health, but proved bene-
ficial, and his five years in the region
of frost were made interesting by the
negotiations for the incorporation of the
colony into Canada, then much favour-
ed in the place, and by the first success-
ful laying of a sub-Atlantic telegraph
cable which had its terminus at Heart's
His next post, most agreeable though
full of responsibility, was that of Gov-
ernor of British Columbia. The Imperial
Government wished to promote the con-
federation of the Colony, then directly
dependent on Imperial authority, with
the Dominion of Canada; and Governor
Musgrave was, during his two years in
Vancouver's Island; engaged in effecting
this union on favourable terms.
In his negotiations with the Canadian
Government, he especially insisted on
the necessity for binding together the
Dominion by the Canadian Pacific Rail-
way. The success of the union, so
cemented, proves his sagacity. In British
Columbia he' had the misfortune to
break his leg from an accident while
training a young horse for my use, and
much of his subsequent work in that
Colony was done in bed, for the fracture
- a compound one was difficult to
set, and at one time seemed to endanger
his life. The achieving of the Union for
which he had laboured, put an end of
course to his commission, and in 1872
he was glad to be released and go to
London to secure the best surgical treat-
ment for his leg, which, however, re-
mained to the end of his life a crippled
member, and a cause of suffering and
an obstacle to walking exercise.
At that date, Natal was to get a new
charter (as I write I see that it is shortly
to be presented with responsible govern-
ment) and Governor Musgrave was sent
out to introduce this new charter to the
colonists, a rather delicate task. He
accomplished his mission in less than a
year, and then received the appoint-
ment to South Australia.
Much as he liked and admired Austra-
lia, the want of interesting work for the
Governor of a self-governing colony.
wearied his active spirit, and though
he threw himself ardently into the
study of political economy, a science
congenial to his tastes and pursuits, and
published a series of papers on the sub-
ject he was not displeased, after
three and a half years' residence in
Adelaide, to receive a despatch from
Downing Street, offering him the post of
Jamaica. He arrived in that beautiful
island in August 1877; his family follow-
ed in the autumn, and I can never for-
get the first sight of those most exquisite
shores, nor the first ride in the Blue
Mountains, where the Governor had
established his household for a few
During the nearly six years of his stay
in Jamaica, Sir Authony Musgrave (he
had been made K.C.M.G. in 1875, and
the G.C.M.G. was given in 1885) worked
incessantly, and with the utmost zeal
and interest. He always said that his
best work was done there, and with
-such assiduity did he apply himself to
it often at his desk for eleven hours
of the day that his health suffered.
At that time the Colony was entirely
under the Crown, and no affair connect-
ed at all with public interest was so
small or so great that it could be trans-
acted without the Governor's personal
sanction. The principal measures which
he carried through in Jamaica were:-
the Regulation of Coolie Immigration:
the Reform of Legal Procedure and
Statute Law in almost all its branches;
the Provision for preservation of Island
Records; the Establishment of Electric
Telegraphs: the Purchase of the existing
short and ill-made Railway, and its re-
construction and great extension; THE
FOUNDING OF THE INSTITUTE OF JA-
MAICA; the Reorganization of all the
Public Gardens, and arrangement of an
effective Botanic Department, securing
from England a man of talent and posi-
tion to be its head; the Remodelling of old
Educational foundations, by which the
higher schools were placed on a sound
basis; the Consolidation of the Public
Debt, and its adjustment on more fav-
ourable terms; the Reform and re-estab-
lishment of the Reformatory, bringing
the female prisoners from the hills to
the plain, and putting them in charge
of a committee of visitors; and the
Establishment of a Steam Coasting Ser-
vice to take the place of the old "drog-
Besides the labour necessarily involv-
ed in the elaboration of these measures.
and in settling their details with the
Minister at home, it must be remember-
ed that many of them and perhaps the
most useful and important, were carried
out in the face of a determined opposi-
tion on the part of those who now in-
deed openly acknowledged their mis-
take. And I recall this opposition not
to give pain, but to show how wearying
must have been the administration of
government under such circumstances
to one who had to act alone, and push
his way against the current. However,
there were those who appreciated his
work even then, and who joined in a
petition to the Secretary of State in
1882, to prolong his residence in Ja-
maica beyond the usual term. Lord
Kimberley, however, replied that it was
not for the good of the public colonial
service in general to alter the usual
course; and certainly my husband could
not have borne a longer strain. Indeed,
when we reached Queensland in 1883,
he became so ill that the doctors there
were seriously troubled, and they
puzzled themselves to account for a
weakness which seemed to have no
organic cause; and finally gave as their
opinion that continuous and anxious
labour in a relaxing climate had over-
taxed his strength, which would be slow
in returning. In a measure, it did return,
but never completely, though when he
revisited Jamaica for a few days in 1886
to inspect his coffee plantation at
Radnor, he was fairly well, and was able
to enjoy once more a glimpse of that
lovely island, and to appreciate the
cordial welcome accorded to him every-
where, but especially in Port Antonio,
where the fruit-growing which he had
so earnestly promoted had immensely
spread and flourished. What he thought
of the resources and of the future
prospects of Jamaica was expressed in
a paper read before the Colonial Insti-
tute in 1880 in London and the most
partial son of the island could not ask.
foi more to be said in her praise.
We returned to Queensland from an
eight months' leave, in the autumn of
1886, and spent two more years in that
interesting vigorous young Colony; and
so soon as the long-looked-forward-to
sixtieth birthday came my husband
wrote to the Secretary of State asking
to be permitted to retire and end his
term in Queensland rather sooner than
is usual, so that we might return to live
in the healthier climate of England.
That despatch was found incomplete on
his table on the morning of October 9,
1888, when after five hours of alternate
pain and swoon, but with no previous
illness, he had passed from this life, to
receive the reward promised to every
"Good and Faithful Servant."
'.ARTIC .LARITEZ CUR IEUES DE L ILE DE S C IHRISTI R f ILE ET lFE I..X
PROVINCE DE BElY IA.IV a nN F' rL. A\TilI.F.i
EI -.- -.54 -r -,----J-- r-' - -[
.m ...+. .. ..,...I ,~~~ D9~ .. :.+.
' '_._~ r_ "=--,
Since the early days of the English occupation of
Jamaica, the island has attracted the interest of
naturalists, many of whom collected insects, even
though insects may not have been their primary
interest. Such men as Sir Hans Sloane in the 17th
century, Patrick Browne, Richard Hill and Anthony
Robinson in the 18th century and Philip Gosse in the
19th, would have to be considered in any history of
Jamaican entomology. In the last decade of the 19th
century, two men who later became very prominent
in the profession resided in Jamaica. T. D. A.
Cockerell arrived in July 1891 and left in May 1893.
C. H. Tyler Townsend was here from June 1893 to
May 1894; both had been employed as Curators of
the Institute of Jamaica. Actually, the two men
exchanged jobs; Townsend took over Cockerell's post
here and Cockerell assumed Townsend's duties at
the New Mexico Agricultural College. Cockereli was
born in England and from young manhood suffered
from ill health to such a degree that he resigned
himself to an early death. He was, however, deter-
by T. H. Farr
mined to get as much work done as he possibly
could and he seems to have worked as if he seldom
expected to see the next day. His interests widened
(he even became interested in poetry) and his pro-
fessional papers included articles on molluscs and
fishes as well as insects. He died in January 1948, in
his 82nd year!
Townsend became well known because of his
Manual of Myiology, a twelve volume compendium
of knowledge about certain families of flies. Two
controversies highlighted his career. One concerned
the speed at which an insect can fly. He observed
flies, which he took to be a certain species of bot-fly,
in the mountains of the Southwestern United States
flying at great speed. He estimated the speed at
800 miles per hour, later changed that estimate to
700 m.p.h. and still later changed it to 727 m.p.h. as
the result of some calculations he received from an
aerodynamicist in the Royal Dutch Navy. Townsend
never caught specimens of his high speed flies, a
fact hardly to be wondered at, but always believed
(7 NI -
/ f,/, f
that he was right, especially because, as he said, he
had excellent eyesight. In volume 12 of his Manual
of Myiology, you can find a lengthy discussion of the
problem. In reading it over, I found myself wanting
to believe Townsend, but as far as I know, his data
and observations regarding the speed of the flies
are not accepted today. Indeed, laboratory experi-
ments indicate that the greatest speeds insects can
attain are around 30 to 50 m.p.h. The other
controversy involved the scientific name for the
house fly. For many years the accepted name was
Musca domestic but Townsend produced evidence
that it was not the correct name and according to the
International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (a set
of rules for assigning scientific names to animals),
he was right. However, the Code provides for cases
such as this, i.e. when strict adherence to the Code
may cause too much confusion, the controversial
name, though incorrectly applied, may be used. An
International Commission ruled that Musca domestic
would remain the correct name for the house fly -
much to Townsend's disappointment for he had
already devised another name for it Promusca
In the 20th century, there have been many visits
by entomologists and I wish that we had a complete
list of them for it would make quite an impressive
roster. In 1920, Carlton Cragg Gowdey, a native of
Barbados and a graduate of the University of
Massachusetts, after having spent 12 years in Africa,
arrived to take up the post of Government Entomolo-
gist. This post he held until his death in 1928 at the
age of 44. He was, of course, primarily interested
in problems of applied entomology and it is a mystery
to me how he found the time to do the large amount
of general collecting he obviously did. His collections
formed the basis for his well known Catalogus
Insectorum Jamaicensis, parts 1 and 2 of which
appeared in 1926, and part 3 in 1928. The Gowdey
collection, or at least most of the specimens returned
to him by specialists, is now in the care of the
Institute of Jamaica. Since Gowdey's time there has
been no such general inventory but the Institute is
attempting to build a collection which will eventually
be the basis for another such catalogue.
Gowdey lists approximately 2,000 species, but
he must have realized more than anyone else that his
catalogue was far from complete. Since Gowdey's
time many species have been recorded representing
insects found for the first time in the island, other
species new to science and discovered here; I've no
doubt many more species remain to be discovered.
At one time I had thought that the total number of
species which would eventually be recorded in
Jamaica would be 8,000 to 10,000 but I have had to
revise my estimate downward. Certain groups have
now been well collected and we have not obtained
the number of species in these groups which I had
thought we would. Furthermore, a recent tabulation
of species from Puerto Rico indicates that only some
4,000 species have been recorded there. Puerto Rico
has had the advantage of a fairly continuous insect
survey for over 30 years, and even though new
records and new species will undoubtedly be found
there, the total number will probably not be much
above 5,000. In some of the well collected groups,
Jamaica is running slightly ahead of Puerto Rico,
so I expect that our total number will be close to
6,000 species. For a sub-tropical to tropical area
6,000 species is really not very many but Jamaica is
a relatively small island and has been cut off from
any larger land mass for millions of years. Any dis-
cussion of the number of species on an island rather
naturally leads to the question of where they came
from. For Jamaica, present evidence points to
Central America as the source of our original stock.
It is true that there has been some exchange of
species between the Greater Antilles, and for Jamaica
this seems to be especially so with Hispaniola.
Jamaica shares some species with North America,
but only a few and most of these are from the South-
eastern United States. It is an interesting fact that
the exchange of species with other West Indian
islands is still in progress. We are quite certain, for
example, that the swallowtail butterfly, Papilio
andraemon, now common in Jamaica, came here
from Cuba probably with hurricane winds in 1944.
No doubt, from time to time, many smaller, less
conspicuous insects are brought here by winds, too.
Man has accidentally brought several species of
insects to Jamaica, but some, such as the honey bee
and certain parasites and predators of insect pests,
he has deliberately introduced.
Although the number of insect species in Jamaica
is not great, we do have some that have aroused
considerable interest amongst entomologists. There
are also some which have interesting stories associa-
ted with them which, I think, may interest the
Every year, the Science Museum of the Institute
of Jamaica receives at least a few specimens of a
large, green beetle which we have no trouble at all
identifying. The scientific name for the beetle is
Euchroma gigantea ("beautifully coloured, gigantic")
and some entomological text books give its common
name as "giant metallic wood borer". This species,
and varieties of it, is one of the best known of the
spectacular beetles of the American Tropics, occur-
ing on some of the other islands of the West Indies
as well as in Central and South America. Its larvae,
or grubs, tunnel in the trunk and larger branches of
the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) and in Jamaica I
have seen the adult beetles emerging from infested
trees at all seasons of the year. Except for its large
size, there is nothing very unusual about Euchroma
gigantea but the history of our knowledge of its
presence in Jamaica presents an intriguing little
puzzle. Sir Hans Sloane, physician to the Duke of
Albemarle, Governor of Jamaica, lived here for
about fifteen months (December 1687 to March 1688).
Sir Hans was an assiduous collector of natural history
specimens; his collections formed the nucleus of the
British Museum. He wrote an account of his visit
to the New World which was published in two large
volumes, the first appearing in 1707 (the year of the
birth of Carl Linnaeus) and the second in 1725. In
the second volume he included many illustrations and
brief descriptions of the animals and plants that he
had obtained in Jamaica. Figure 13 on plate 236 in
his book is a life-size, and quite good drawing of
Euchroma gigantea and furthermore Sloane wrote,
"I had it from Jamaica". After Sloane, as I have
already mentioned, many persons interested in
natural history, including entomologists, have visited
Jamaica and some have resided here for considerable
periods of time. Yet it is a fact that from the late
17th century until 1945 we have no more records of
Euchroma gigantea in Jamaica. I certainly do not
believe that this large, brightly coloured insect, so
noisy in flight, could have been overlooked. It seems
highly unlikely that the insect became extinct here
and later re-invaded or was brought back into the
island accidentally, but there is that possibility.
Patrick Browne, who evidently was a keen observer
of nature, makes no mention of Euchroma gigantea
in his Civil and Natural History of Jamaica published
in 1789. So, if this beetle, did become extinct, the
extinction probably occurred some time during the
first half of the 18th century. A simple answer to
this puzzle would be that Sloane was mistaken about
where he obtained his specimen, (actually he visited
other West Indian Islands) but I certainly would
hesitate to call into doubt the data of the renowned
and learned Sir Hans.
One group of insects that has always attracted
the attention of laymen and scientists is the fire.
flies, known locally as "Blinkies", "Peenie Wallies"
or "Peenies". These insects, which are actually
beetles, not flies, used to be common even in
residential St. Andrew but housing and shopping
centre projects have destroyed much of their habitat
and they are no longer as numerous as they were
even ten years ago. In rural areas one may still see
"Peenies" in good numbers and you might even be
lucky enough to witness the phenomenon of
"synchronous flashing", that is when the beetles
flash their lights on and off practically in unison.
Scientists have studied and are continuing to
study the physico-chemical properties of fire-fly
light for it presents, I am told, an interesting pro-
blem regarding "high energy intra-molecular reac-
tions." A few years ago a group of scientists came
here to study fire-fly light, bringing with them
equipment costing thousands of dollars and weighing
hundreds of pounds. They came here because Jamai-
can fire-flies have become rather famous amongst
entomologists and scientists who are interested in
studying bioluminescence, that is, the production of
light by living organisms. It is a remarkable fact
that fifty species of fire-flies are known to occur in
Jamaica. Such a proliferation of species in a relative-
ly small area is always of interest to students of
genetics and evolution, especially so when one
compares that number with a comparable area, such
as Puerto Rico, where only about a dozen species
have been recorded.
Another example of this rather peculiar species
proliferation in Jamaica, I find particularly interest-
ing. "Wild pines" or bromeliads are plentiful, both
as species and as individual plants on the island.
Many of these epiphytes trap rain water in their
leaf bases and the tiny reservoirs with the tightly
packed leaf bases forming their walls, serve as home
and/or hunting grounds for a host of creatures.
Tadpoles, crabs, snails, spiders, mosquito, dragon
flies (needle case) and beetle larvae as well as several
other kinds of insects may be collected from a single
plant. There is one group of insects, often found in
them, that has had rather an unusual development
here. They are beetles belonging to the Ground
Beetle family (Carabidae) and to the genus Colpodes.
There is no common name for the genus. Some of the
species of this genus are very noticeably flattened
dorso-ventrally and this modification no doubt
affords them greater facility of movement between
the leaf bases. Dr. P. J. Darlington, Jr. an authority
on ground beetles, has this to say about Jamaican
species of Colpodes "The Colpodes of Jamaica
(except the widely distributed, winged riparian C.
aequinoctialis Chd.) form several groups so distinct
that their relationships can hardly be guessed at,
and they, more often than the Colpodes of the other
islands, have tended to lose tactile setae and to
radiate ecologically;-- none of the other islands has
anything like the Jamaican bromeliarum group of
the genus [which are] confined to epiphytes."
The Scarabaeidae or dung beetles are represent-
ed in Jamaica by at least 42 species; the presence
of one of them I find rather puzzling. The species
I am referring to is the tumble bug, that largish,
black beetle with a recurved horn on its head. This
beetle is fairly abundant on the Mandeville plateau
and in St. Elizabeth. Its scientific name means "light
emitting, executioner" certainly not very appropriate.
The beetle neither emits light nor does it reflect
much and it is not a killer either. Its present chief
source of food is cattle manure but it will also use
human faeces, so I would advise collectors of
Phanaeus carnifex to be somewhat fastidious about
handling it! Now, as far as we know there were no
large land mammals in Jamaica prior to the arrival
of the Arwaks some 1,300 years ago. If there were,
we would expect to find their bones in Arawak
middens or perhaps in caves. It is true that fossilised
bones of large rodents have been found here but
they represent remains of animals that became
extinct long before the arrival of man. What did
Phanaeus carnifex use for food during the ages of
dung famine? There were of course birds here, and
conies, and bats and perhaps a species of rat. There
was also the manatee, but the manatee never roams
about on land and so could not have been much help
to the beetle. Did it use the droppings of some of the
other animals mentioned? Perhaps.
Authorities say that this beetle is a distinct
species within its group and found only in Jamaica.
One of the peculiar things about it is that there are
no tarsi on the front legs. The tarsi are composed of
the five small segments at the lower end of the leg,
the ultimate of which bears the claws. I suppose that
it might be argued that this adaptation has arisen as
the result of the beetles using bird, bat or coney
droppings. Since the beetle is a distinct species found
only in Jamaica, it must have arrived here thousands
of years ago. Cut off from the original stock,
evolving characteristics of its own, the Jamaican
beetle became so modified structurally and gen-
etically that it eventually became a separate entity.
It became a species which is found nowhere else.
Yet it seems strange indeed to me, that Sloane
neither mentions nor illustrates this interesting
beetle while Browne has a very good illustration of
it. I find it very hard to believe that Sir Hans would
have overlooked it, had it been in Jamaica at the
time he resided here.
Phanacsi Cailifi.\ (Dung Beetle).
Jamaica's most famous butterfly is Papilio
homers. With a wing expanse of over five inches, it
must rank as one of the largest butterflies in the
Western Hemisphere. As far as we know it is to be
found only in Jamaica and, even here, it now seems
to be restricted to the eastern end of the Blue Moun-
tains, John Crow Mountains and part of the Cockpit
Country. Included in the Jamaican list of over 120
butterflies, is a species with the rather lengthy
scientific name Brephidium isophthalma. I mention
it because it happens to be one of the smallest known
species of butterflies having a wing expanse of about
a half inch.
I have been especially interested in robber-flies
of which there are at least 24 species in Jamaica. I
say at least because in spite of all the time and effort
I have put into searching for them, there probably
are species here that I have not collected. Robber-
flies prey on other insects and some reverse the
traditional spider-fly relationship by preying on
spiders. I have actually seen a robber-fly pounce on
a spider and snatch it from its web and I in turn
captured both the robber-fly and its victim. We also
have a robber-fly which habitually rests in spider
webs located in hollows and niches of banks or cliffs
and also in crab holes. It belongs to a genus known
in Central and South America, and in the West Indies
only in Jamaica. I suspect, however, that it will
eventually be found in Hispaniola. Although, several
species of flies have the habit of resting in spider
webs, it seems to be a rare behavioral pattern
Where have all the stingless bees gone? We used
to have them here; Richard Hill saw them in 1847
"at Skelton Pen on the banks of the Rio Cobre" and
Gowdey collected specimens at Brooke Lodge in
1923. I have been on the look out for them for over
13 years but I have never seen them. These relatively
small bees generally nest in tree hollows and a hive
of them may number hundreds of individuals. They
store honey and the Indians of Central and South
America have used it, and the wax, for centuries and
I have heard that they still do. Honey was one of the
first things Indians in Cuba brought to Columbus
as a trade item; he obtained bees wax in Hispaniola
too, but apparently there are no stingless -bees there
now. Stingless bees belong to a family with numerous
species in the Tropics of both the Old and New
Worlds. The honey is said to be of a fairly good
quality but evidently no better than that produced
by the honey bee; moreover stingless bees do not I
produce it in as great amounts as the honey bee. As
the'name implies, stingless bees do not sting although
some species possess rudimentary stingers. Hill
indicates that the Jamaican species was not aggressive
but some Central and South American species rush
to the attack if their nest is disturbed. They -swarm
over the body of the offender, concentrating on the
head where they crawl into the eyes, ears and nose.
They also entangle themselves in his hair and to add
to his troubles, they bite! Perhaps our species is
extinct or reduced to a very few colonies as the
result of raids on the hives by ants and honey bees,
a phenomenon which has been observed in other
regions where stingless bees occur.
"The people of Jamaica consider a plate of
crickets a compliment to the most distinguished
guest". This astounding sentence is to be found on
page 61 of a highly regarded book, Destructive and
Useful Insects, by Metcalf, Flint and Metcalf, 4th
edition, 1962. When I have shown it to Jamaicans,
they are, of course, flabbergasted or insulted or
both. The original source of this commentary on
Jamaican hospitality, I have never been able to dis-
cover, but I have an idea that it was originally
intended as a joke, albeit, a joke that someone
apparently took very seriously. Is it possible that
some "distinguished", but unpopular foreign visitor
was served a plate of crickets and led to believe that
refusal to eat them, would offend his host.
I have already spoken of the probable number
of insect species in Jamaica and have mentioned the
fact that the cataloguing is still going on. Actually
it is easier to collect insects than to get them
authoritatively identified and assigned to species.
It is not always easy to find a person who specializes
in a particular group you are interested in. Even if
you lind a specialist willing to work over the material
you must expect to wait for months, sometimes even
years before identified specimens are returned
to you Full time Insect Taxonomists, i.e. persons who
identify and classify insects are employed by
museums and government agencies and such posts
are relatively few in number. However, many persons
who do this sort of work, do it in their spare time.
Usually they are university professors who have a
small portion of their "work week" allotted to
research, and some of them devote their vacation
or sabbatical leaves to this work. So we have the
bottle neck of a limited number of taxonomists and
the amount of time they can devote to their projects.
The actual identification of the specimens can be
the most serious bottleneck. There are now at least
800,000 described species of insects. But say, for
example, the specialist is dealing with crane-flies
which belong to the order Diptera or true flies. There
are at least 80,000 described species of Diptera,
which is about ten times the number of species of
birds, and the Tipulidae number over 12,000 species.
Suppose the specimen he is examining belongs to the
genus Limonia, the next lower grade in the classifica-
tion hierarchy. He probably did not have much
trouble in identifying his specimen to genus, but
not the going is likely to get"rough". His specimen
is from Jamaica so it may be the same species
as Species A from Cuba or Species B from Haiti; on
the other hand it might be Species C from Puerto
Rico Yet it does not exactly match either of those
three, so there is the possibility that it has never
been described before. It is at this stage that the
knowledge, skill in observation and no doubt,
intuition of the specialist come into play.
Naturally, he wants to make the right choice.
Too many mistakes will damage his prestige and
prestige is extremely important to him. So he
ponders the problem for a considerable time before
making his decision. If he is working with a large
number of specimens, involving several species, he
will undoubtedly encounter several "puzzlers".
Indeed, it seems to me the more a specialist learns
about his particular group, the more cautious he
There is a practical side to insect identification.
The occasion may arise when the decision whether or
not to go ahead with an expensive survey or control
programme rests upon the taxonomist. Many of you
have no doubt read about the furore the finding of a
few individuals of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly
causes in Florida. Other less publicised, but equally
important cases, could be cited. Even in Jamaica,
entomologists are faced with problems of this nature.
For example, a few years ago the decision whether
or not to fumigate a German ship suspected of having
an infestation of the Khapra beetle, a dreaded pest
of stored food products, had to be made. A search
was made in the hold and certain larvae were found
which proved to be Khapra bettle larvae. The ship
was fumigated at a cost of hundreds of pounds and of
course its departure was delayed. Entomologists
here, will in the future be faced with an increasing
number of such problems because insects are now
moving about on faster ships and in aeroplanes.
Since 1958, I have been examining insects taken from
aeroplanes landing at Jamaica's airports. Thousands
of specimens. have been brought to me since that
time and although most of them were of no real
significance, we have discovered some of them to
be definitely on our "Not wanted list". For instance,
there was a period when our inspectors were finding
specimens of the Sugar Cane Frog Hopper on planes
coming from Trinidad. Dozens of them are now in
our collections, all taken from aeroplanes. Naturally
entomologists at the Ministry of Agriculture took a
dim view of this importation; measures were
instituted to halt it, and in the past five years, none
have been discovered.
Dr. Farr at work on robber-flies.
SEX and LOVE
by John lH,',l
"There are a hundred different ways of doing a hernia operation '
surgeon said. There are a hundred different ways of viewing, ard dolrinl
most things. But the time comes for the operation, and the surgeon nimu.i
cut, and must choose. So with life, and human relationships. We all e% entual
ly take a stand, even if it be on the fence. I am writing about sex and lu,,
from a definite point of view. I am "open" to the lessons of modern iienlce
psychology, sociology. All truth, I believe, is God's truth. But I speak a. on
who stands, as best I know how, in the Jewish-Christian tradition, helie\lne
that its contribution is by no means a spent force, but is a vitally needed
word and way for the Twentieth Century seeker after a creative and stisaf%
ing pattern of sexual relationships.
ASPECTS OF LOVE
Sex, as a biological fact, obviously does not stand on its own, not, that
is, for a human being. Our physiology is woven into our psychology. I am
writing therefore about sex and love:, about sex in the context of love, about
love with sexuality as a component factor. Love is a many-sided thing, and
I shall consider four aspects of it. Using ancient Latin and Greek tags, we
may refer to these as physical attraction (VENUS), emotional involvement
(EROS), companionship (PHILIA), and devotion (AGAPE).
A basic differentiation into two sexes runs through organic life.
The authors of Genesis viewed this as part of the divine purpose ("male
and female created he them") and as linked with both reproduction ("be
fruitful and multiply") and psychological need ("it is not good for the man
to be alone"). Biologically, sex increases variety within a species. Instead
of the offspring being an exact replica of the parent, the offspring of sexual
union is the inheritor of different genetic legacies, and the combinations
make for a million individual faces and fingerprints.
Tied in with this biological mechanism for reproducing the species are
strong, compelling, instinctual forces, glandular and hormonal, urging
us to mate with someone of the opposite sex. This is Venus, sexual attraction
at the physical level.
Off-stage, that is, out of sight, the sexual system is organised, in the
male, as an ejector for implanting the male semen in the female, and, in
the female, as an egg-producer linked to an internal nest. From puberty
to menopause, a biological clock (interestingly timed to the cycles of the
moon!) will trigger off the monthly release of an egg from one of the
flanking ovaries and send it on its way along one of the Fallopian tubes that
lead to the uterus, or womb. The lining of the womb, the endometrium,
will have been prepared for its coming, and is charged with blood. If the
egg is fertilised, it nests, or "nidates", in this lining, and the new embryo
begins its life. If the egg is not fertilised, it passes on and is lost, and at
the end of the monthly cycle the lining is shed as a discharge of blood.
It needs to be stressed that this is a natural healthy process, and is not
a sickness. Many superstitions surround menstruation in Jamaica. After its
onset, girls are often urged to have sexual intercourse to save them from
going crazy. This is nonsense. Pain,, little understood, but which many
modern drugs can relieve, may accompany the monthly discharge, and such
pain may clear up (but does not always) following pregnancy and childbirth.
But such physical distress where it does occur will not make a girl crazy,
unless her head is filled with old wives' tales and she believes them. The
problem then is psychological, not physiological. To resort to sexual inter-
course for such a mental side-effect is to pay a heavy moral price for
Such is the sexual system, off-stage. What we see on-stage, of course,
are the external male and female characteristics: the shape of the body,
the complexion, the fall of the hair, the look in the eyes, the way of the walk,
the intonation of the voice. There seems to be some evidence that some
people are regularly attracted to certain fairly definite physical types (which
is more than just a matter of "looks") a fact that should perhaps not be
ignored (hesitate to marry if physically repulsed), but which need not be
determinative (to see the spirit through the flesh is one of the characteristic
triumphs of man).
It should be made clear that an analysis of this sort draws somewhat
arbitrary lines. It has its uses. We dissect that we may the better re-combine.
But sexual attraction is seldom only physical. The biological pull immediately
arouses feelings. Love is also emotion, awareness. Loving, one feels the
barriers of isolation go down. Loving, one feels the loneliness of individual
existence dissolve. Consciousness is flooded with the psychedelic effects
of this powerful drug, love. "Love," as Johnny Cash sings, "is a burning
thing; and it makes a fiery ring."
The nature and intensity of the attraction, at this level, will depend
on the kind of people we are. (Which suggests that we should not let others
set the pace for our approach to love. Be in love the way you are.) And the
attraction itself may spring from a variety of emotional needs: which means
that it should be reflected on and probed. (Am I on the rebound? Or wanting
a father I never had? Or trying to escape from dependence on my mother?)
The recognition of such emotional needs intertwined with our love for
another need not mean that the relationship should end. Such recognition
helps us to handle these hidden factors more effectively. Awareness creates
new possibilities of finding oneself and another.
VENUS AND EROS
The physical and the emotional are linked in a way that suggests a
certain course of action. There are different levels of physical intimacy
that correspond to different levels of emotional involvement. Our gestures
can be graded. We shake hands with hundreds, hold hands with few. We
use our lips to speak to thousands, to kiss but few. And so it goes with our
eyes, our dress, our gifts. Each physical gesture has its appropriate
emotional level. Custom and fashion and temperament my dictate variations,
but the general assumption stands, and suggests a discipline. Let us put
it in a diagram.
The arms of this "V" meet at bottom in a point. This point represents
sexual intercourse, as is indicated by the superimposing of the
biological symbols for male and female. In its progress to this point,
the relationship of the man and the woman will descend a physical arm and
a personal arm. The discipline is to keep the lines between these arms in
parallel correspondence, not one running ahead of the other. The more
frequent temptation, of course, is to run down the physical arm too rapidly,
with the result that physical sex play becomes a pleasurable end in itself
divorced from personal meaning.
My formula is: "Let the physical be guided by the personal, and let
the personal be guided by the spiritual." That is, go no further physically
than you have gone in establishing genuine personal friendship, and go no
further in commitment to one another than you have gone in sharing a
common basic outlook on life. In living encounter, physical, mental and
spiritual lines are difficult to draw, but the formula does map a recognisable
path. Following it, we train ourselves to integrate physical sex with personal
meaning. Sex then carries a message; it is a way of communicating at a
deep level; a wordless talking. As such, it will be a lynch-pin in the network
of the interpersonal relationships within the marriage.
SEX LIFE In the Christian understanding of life, this integration is health. It must
,SEXUAL not be misunderstood as an attempt to impose a verbal or intellectual
INTERCOURSE meaning on every physical act. No labelling machines in bed, please! Sex is
INTERPRSONAL its own language. like music or painting. But when sex is divorced from
personal communion, when it is sought as an end in itself, this betokens
dehumanisation. The forces of the personality are pulling in different
directions. The next diagram represents a depleted personal relationship.
The physically sexual takes on a separate existence, actively escaping out
of the marriage bond or withdrawing inwardly while remaining in the
Many young couples, at the stage of courtship, wonder "how far how
fast" they should go in physical encounter. Many would like specific instruc-
tions, almost an anatomical lesson, with signs posted up. "No Trespassing
Here". I prefer to state the basic principles, and counsel each case on its
merits, though I would hold firmly to one landmark: let the deepest level
STHoRAWAL of physical intimacy be reserved for the deepest level of personal commit-
ment. In other words, reserve sexual intercourse for marriage. With that
landmark in view, each couple can guide their courtship in a disciplined
progress related to length of engagement, temperamental preferences, their
ability to "hold a line" in caressing, and so on. Lovers can become sensitive
SEXUAL to these factors, and call a halt or change course when their physical
BREAKING OUT expressions of love are crossing a line into indulgence and no longer adding
anything significant to their communion.
I set this landmark for three reasons. Briefly, (1) Venereal disease is still
rampant, and its incidence increases with promiscuity. The Christian way
is the healthy way, the best prophylactic against these diseases, which show
no sign of abating even before the marvels of modern medicine. (2) There
is the possibility of pregnancy. Contraceptive methods, even the best, all
at present have their failure rate, and the risk is increased in the circum-
stances under which courting couples are likely to have sexual intercourse.
.Just as nature builds a physical nest into the woman's body for the best
growth of the embryo, so we need to prepare an emotional nest for the best
growth of the child outside the womb. Waiting until marriage ensures that
the child to be born will have its natural birthright of linked and loving
parents. Further to this consideration, we note also that pregnancy often cuts
short the training of an unmarried girl for a career. She may pay a heavy
price for her partner's moment of pleasure. (3) Even if we were safe from dis-
ease, and secure against unwanted pregnancy, the landmark would still stand.
Short of marriage, a couple are still not fully committed to each other. Why
should they falsify that situation by acting as if they are? Deep calls to deep.
Mere physical experience cannot ensure personal harmony or prove that
two persons are suited to one another. To think that it can is one of those
specious lies that have been part of the stock-in-trade of the young-man-in-a-
hurry in most generations. We may call it the "pig-in-a-poke gambit" in the
courtship game. But if you sharpen your pencil with a razor blade, you
cannot then use that blade to shave with. Sharpen your physical sex
experience by indulgence before marriage, you shall very likely blunt the
edge of sex as an instrument for expressing the deepest personal intimacy.
To many in our generation these two aspects of love, Venus and Eros,
cover the ground completely. The Romantic ideal of love popularised as
"marry only if you are in love", "stay married only if you remain in love"
fails to take its devotees on to the third aspect of love, Philia. Philia is
the love that is friendship, community of thoughts and tastes, shared
experiences, co-operation. Without Philia, Venus and Eros often come to
K grief. "The first love is drunken," said Martin Luther, "when the intoxica-
tion wears off, then the true marriage love begins."
When two, persons marry, two subconscious minds marry. The
consequences are not always foreseen.
When the original romantic surge has died down, there is no reason
why the couple should not go on loving one another. But this love has got
to take stock of aspects of the other that will "surface" from the sub-
conscious in due course. Within a year after marriage (but usually five or
ten years on), the cry may go up, "Are we still in love?" How this "surfacing"
takes place we will illustrate in a moment, but let us say at once that this
development can be contained and turned to good account, if Philia is also
present and growing. For this is the love that "likes", that shares, that
finds deep roots in companionship, in being together as persons. This is
the love that is shared enjoyment of the children, of friends, the garden,
Church, a common cause. This is love not just looking into one another's
eyes but looking out together on life aware of the other's looking along with
one. Such love rides out the ups and downs of feeling.
Such love promotes understanding of the growth and change in a
relationship through time. It can absorb the revelations that come with
familiarity. It can deal creatively with the things that "surface" from the
subconscious. Let me illustrate.
What surfaces from below is often the result of earlier childhood rela-
tionships, an example of which is the mother-son husband-wife complex.
The characteristic theme of a mother-son relation is that "mother gives,
son receives". But when "son" becomes "husband", his relation to the new
woman, who is his wife, must be one of giving as well as getting. If the
man's relationship to his mother has been such that he never got free, but
remains dependent, spoilt, selfish, then the wife is going to need a great
deal of understanding, patience, and tact to put up with this adult "child"
and to lead him into the satisfactions that come from taking the initiative in
giving and from accepting responsibility.
The shoe, of course, may be on the other foot, with the wife bringing a
disturbed relation to her father into her relation with her husband. Both
O in fact, will have to learn what makes the other "tick", and try to match,
creatively, their respective angles of vision.
When a man and a woman face any given problem, X, what they see
is not merely the objective X, but X as filtered through the screens (or
knots) of childhood and adolescent experiences, relationships to parents
and family and teachers, and temperamental individualities. The man looks
o at X, and says he sees something like, say, a star, A. The woman looks at X,
and says she sees something like, say, a cross, +. Marriage is the art of
understanding, respecting, and matching these viewpoints so as to deal
creatively and effectively with X.
Such love is not separate from the sexual relationship of the couple.
Sex plays its part in helping understanding. But this is sex, not as chase
and capture, but as part of a way of life, of a piece with the wind and tide,
the eating and drinking, the rising and sleeping, the labouring and resting,
of the couple's life. It is not sex trying to prove anything or to demand
anything. It is sex as an exploration of new heights and depths of a\ areness,
sex as sacramental of mutual care, of "belonging together".
The fourth aspect of love gets its name from the most commonly used
word for "love" in the Greek New Testament. This is "agape" (pronounced,
ag'ape, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary). Perhaps "devotion".
with its etymological root in the making of a "vow", would best translate
it, if we could save "devotion" from the debasement it suffers in popular
songs. Agape is vowed love; dedication. It has in it that "loyalty to a
covenant" that characterises the Old Testament "lovingkindness". This is
the specifically religious note in love. It is God's love for the sinner, the
love of God in Christ from which nothing can separate us. It is the shepherd
seeking the lost sheep, the father welcoming the lost child. It is the divine
love that finds its reflection, as Jesus taught, in the sun shining on the good
and the bad, the rain falling on the thankful and the thankless. It is the
love that befriends even "the enemy".
Translated into psychological terms, this is the love that embraces the
Jungian "shadow" side to our personalities. Translated into marital terms.
this is love "for better, for worse". It can see the worst and yet accept the
person, and go on believing in and working for the best. It is the love that is
"there" for the other, not using, not demanding. not imposing, let strong
antiseptic, healing. It never "gives up" (the person): yet never *gives in"
(to unsatisfactory ways of seeking emotional fulfilment).
Such love does three things for the other loves. (1) Agape sets the other
loves in a context of ultimate purpose. Many marriages fail because they
are undermined by prevailing attitudes in the society around. b\ basic
anxiety in a competitive world, by loss of faith and hope in something bigger
than our little lives. The divine love widens the horizons, and gives some-
thing to live for. (2) Agape takes account of human sin, is not caught by
surprise at its appearance, and moves to heal it. This love is not blind. It
knows the tug of temptation, the reality of moral conflict. But it sees, in
the midst of the conflict, a healing Cross. It sees beyond the distortions to the
essential, redeemable person. It opens the way to forgiveness and renewal.
(3) Agape also gives depth and breadth. Venus and Eros tend to exclusive-
ness: even Philia is family oriented and circumscribed, confined to "like
minds". Agape makes us part of a wider movement of love, in which we
share in the whole family of God with its potential borders the whole of
The question may be raised, "Is there a sexual component even in this
love, even in Agape?" The quick answer would be No. Jewish and
Christian faith said No to the fertility cults of ancient Canaan and of the
first century Mediterranean world. For Kazantzakis's Jesus, "the last
temptation" (in the novel by that name) is to marry Mary and Martha and
beget many children. Jesus overcomes this temptation too, and dies
triumphant. Indeed, in the Gospels, Jesus teaches us to look forward to a
realm of love beyond "marrying and giving marriage".
But these disclaimers should be seen as cleansers rather than removers.
Genesis sees man as made in "God's image", "male and female" being
mentioned at once as somehow filling out this statement. Further., the Song
of Songs and the mystic tradition that feeds on it, show how readily erotic
imagery can be sublimated to express spiritual relationship. Christ is the
Bridegroom, the Church, or the soul, the Bride. Obviously we are at a
different level here, but (as in climbing a circular staircase) the new level
is still over the same old ground. So that D. H. Lawrence can make bold to
say: "The great saints only live, even Jesus only lives to add a new fulfilment
and a new beauty to the permanent sacrament of marriage." The flesh,
crucified with Christ, is resurrected with Christ; "transformed (as James
Hillman puts it) into body".
It is important to say this, lest so-called spiritual love become detached
from human reality and tyrannise over the body, to their mutual destruc-
tion. True spiritual love, like its Lord, "becomes flesh", reaches down into
our sexuality, and transforms it from an animal urge or a demonic
compulsion into a fertilising stream, sacramental, personal, tender,
I picture the personality as a flame within a flame: a red flame,
enveloped by a green flame, enveloped by a blue flame. The red flame is
the vitality of the flesh. The green flame is the life of the mind and the
heart. The blue is the over-arching spiritual context of the life. The three
flames are fed by one fuel, love now expressing itself at one level, now
It is the balance and combination of these three flames that determine
the integration of the personality and the health of inter-personal relation-
ships. This holds good for the (unpartnered) unmarried as well. In them the
red flame may certainly burn, but it enriches the other flames without
leaping sideways to make contact with another's red flame. Their abstinence
in sex works as a counterweight in the story of human sexuality and love,
and makes possible new dimensions of loving, if they can reflect the
creative singleness of Christ.
In some persons, (the so-called "sex symbols") the red flame pre-
dominates. In others, (the intellectuals, the sentimentalists) the green.
Occasionally the blue flame smothers and sucks dry the others. But a whole
man and a whole woman in a wholesome and holy relationship tend all three
flames. Their union glows with love in all its aspects, and every aspect of
their union glows with love. For them, marriage becomes (what Jeremy
Taylor called it) "the nursery of heaven".
by C. C. McArthur Ireland
'All that remains',
Hurricane Charlie 1951
Photo, The Gleaner Co.
Despite extensive radio and television coverage, a general lack of
understanding of the West Indian Hurricane and its behaviour still prevails.
We attempt here to present some information about it in simple language
in the hope that it may explain the origin of a hurricane and the features
of its behaviour.
First, we will speak generally about the tropics, and then we shall
focus our attention upon conditions in the tropical North Atlantic, as this
not only concerns us directly but is typical of the rest of the region.
On the poleward sides of the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn,
meteorological conditions are very different from those which exist
within the Tropics. The Tropics extend 231/2 on each sides of the
Equator, with a total latitudinal extent of 47. This bulging waist of the
Earth receives far more energy from the sun than do the poleward regions.
This energy provides heat and, as a result, the Tropics become a plus
anomally, while the rest is minus. The imbalance now created of necessity
leads to Polar air invading tropical regions and, vice versa, in an attempt
at redress. Thus,in the Northern winter cold Polar continental (cP) air pulses
southwards down the Mississippi valley and brings the cooling Norther to
the Caribbean even as far South as Costa Rica, while in the Southern winter
the cold friagem moves northwards from Southern Polar regions over the
Parain a Valley as far north as Santarem in the Amazon Valley, near the
In the Northern summer too warm, most air, unstable and rising be-
cause heated from below (mT or Tropical maritime) carries moisture and
heat from the Caribbean area and/or the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi
Valley to the American Mid-west. This is a normal tropical invasion of the
mid-latitudes. The well-distributed rain and warmth of Western Europe
is the result partly of air flowing from the South-west and carrying the
warmth of Tropical seas (mT air). In these mid-latitudes, outside of the
Tropics, the structure, temperature and other differences between the
various types of Tropical and Polar airmasses are very marked, and the
surfaces along which they meet, known as discontinuity surfaces or fronts
are always places of storm and all sorts of weather disturbance. These
fronts are the result of converging or convergent airmases, and since the
natural result of convergence is a spiralling and inward movement
cyclonicc) with ascending air, rain follows. The general movement of the
front in the Mid-latitudes is from West to East. No such fronts exist in
the Tropical regions. The one strongly convergent zone that hovers in the
vicinity of the Equator has such minor structure or temperature differences
between its N. and S. airmasses that is merely known as the Inter-tropical
Convergence (ITC.) a region of constant convergence, rising air and chronic
The nature of an anticyclonic cell (N.
Atlantic anticyclone). At H the air-
flow is sinking (subsident), because of
this, it is intensely dry. The airflow
spreads out (diverges) in two direc-
tions, (a) polewards (N.) (b) Equator-
wards (S.). The general circulation
around the cell is clockwise (in North-
ern Hemisphere). Over the Ocean,
and going W the isobars fall farther
and farther apart, and the presence of
warm ocean heating air from below
(mT) produces more and more con-
vergent and ascending air which gives
rain to the S.W. and W. sides of the
cell. (i.e. over the West Indian area.)
The Trades N.B. at its origin iso-
bars are very close, indicating great
speed, they are also very dry the re-
sult of their strongly subsident nature.
They are Tropical Continental (cT)
but change when they blow over the
Seas westwards into mT air with
moisture increasing as it goes West.
N.B. The Trades re-curve at the W.
end of the cell (where isobars are
weak and far apart), they turn W.
then N. then Eastwards to join the
The climate boundaries of the Tropics: the Anticyclonic (High-Pressure) cells.
Stretching around the globe, immediately on the poleward sides of the
Tropics is a discontinuous zone or band, of High Pressure. These high
pressure areas are represented on the map as closed elongated
or elliptical circles (cells) in which the highest pressure is at the
centre because the airflow in it is subsident (sinking) and divergent
(spreading out, i.e. polewards as the Westerlies and Equatorwards as the
Trades). Naturally at its point of origin this airflow is markedly dry. The
airflow speed is indicated by the fact that at the eastern end of the cell
the isobars (lines showing equal pressure) are closer than at the western
end, where the anticyclonic strength of the cell is reduced and convergent
conditions produce ascent and heavy rain. This is of some importance in
understanding the track of a hurricane.
The four anticyclones diagrammatically represented in figures 2 and 3
indicate how strong they are as centres of action. From them move the
strong and steady Trades equatorwards and westwards, becoming Tropical
Easterlies as they go west, and gradually recurving polewards when they
have reached the western end of the cell. At this point they are reinforced
by westerlies from the poleward side of the cell, and they join the general
westerly circulation of the mid-latitudes.
These cells are of importance to us because it is their
behaviour which may sparks off the hurricane: it is their strength or
weakness which determines its track. Let us take a hypothetical case in the
North Atlantic for example. In midsummer the N. Atlantic cell is moderate
in strength and is sitting astride Spain and N. W. Africa. It is subsident and
divergent, hence dry and completely resistant to any westerly oceanic (mT)
airflow entering the Mediterranean. It is sluggish. When the sun begins
his return journey south, as the season progresses, the cell gently moves
along with it, gaining strength and size both vertically and horizontally
as it moves South-Westwards towards the West Indies. Since the centre of
the cell is the core of its aridity (Figure 4) and it bends strongly S.W. as it
ascends, at 40,000 feet in the winter season, it is overhead at Puerto Rico,
while its disappearance from over N.W. Africa now allows the entry of
rain-bearing air from the West into the Mediterranean.
The Hurricane its development Stage 1
If however the cell remains sluggish and inactive over N.W. Africa
and Spain, prologing the summer drought there while the sun
moves nearer to the Equator, there is bound to develop within it a
triggering-off action which, converting its latent heat energy into sensible
heat energy as it were to start its engine, drives it equatorwards at a faster
speed than usual. This creates a strong solenoid field on the equatorward
side of the cell.
The term solenoid is derived from electricity. Actually it is a cylindrical
coil of wire which acts as a magnet when an electric current is passed
through it. In the same way as the cell can be mapped to show isobars,
i.e. lines along which there is equal barometric pressure, so also it can be
mapped to show lines along which the air has constant specific volume -
isosteres. Reference to figure 4 will at once give the idea that the isostere
map, in depth will be something like the isobaric one. When the cell quietly
moves with the sun, no disturbance occurs, but the sudden start (after the
cell has lagged behind for some time) caused by the triggering-off action
that sets off the engine results in a jiggling movement in which isosteres
and isobars begin to cross one another. This, in depth, sets up a series of
spiral movements each charged electrically from the seas below, occurring
over a warm ocean of about 80F. This is the beginning. It is usually small
and highly localized, and is tempted to increase in size whenever there has
been present any mild pre-existing disturbance which shows up on the map
as easterly wave, shear line along which the wind shifts quickly, or even
a minor tropical depression.
Nor does it develop where the true N.E. Trades blow. It is when the
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- Cl 4
Fear followed him like a shadow. The fear had
been with him since he left home and had been very
intense in the dark. More than once, particularly
when he was walking through the gully, and after,
through the lumber yard, he had got the distinct
sensation that he was being followed. But whenever
he glanced in the direction he thought he saw some-
one, it was as if the person always managed to
conceal himself in time.
When he came out on South Lane he was relieved
to see, in the bright wash of the street light, the tall,
slender figure of Johnny sitting on the bridge.
Rupert trusted his hands deep into his pockets,
approaching Johnny now with a little of his old
"What happen, Johnny," he said.
"You not coming from you yard now?" Johnny
"Then why you come all the way from down so?"
"I hear Whitey and him gang looking for me,"
Johnny leaned and spat cleanly over the bridge.
"Then you fraid for them?" he asked.
"You know is bout ten of them?" Rupert said
angrily. "You know say them carry knife and me
hear Whitey have gun."
Johnny came slowly off the bridge, hitching up
his pants. Rupert glanced keenly at him, a little
startled and ashamed of his own vehemence.
Jamaica Festival 1967 Prize Winning Short Story.
They walked along the lane in silence. Rupert
took his hand and felt the tender lump on his fore-
head. It was the size of a penny. He had got it at the
Suede Shoes. At the usual Friday night dance, a week
ago, he had been there alone when he saw a girl
in a tight black sweater sitting by herself. He had
asked her for a dance and after a time he had thought
that, because of how she swung her belly against
him, it should be alright to try and get her across
the broken-down wire fence and into the thick grass
of the open land next door. He was going towards
the door, an arm about her waist, when the girl was
suddenly jerked away from him and the fellow who
did it slapped her twice, quite hard. Then he and
the fellow, whom he subsequently learned was called
Whitey, closed immediately. He had felt quite strong
and sure of himself for he had been training with
weights for over three months. They struggled
violently, gripping each other closely, and they had
been so close together that he could smell the strong
beer-smell on the other's breath. Then they had gone
down heavily to the floor and Rupert broke away and
brought his knees up and drove it hard between
Whitey's legs so that he grasped hoarsely with pain.
They stood up again and Whitey's face was a grimace
of pure pain and he had one hand rubbing where he
had been hurt. He braced himself as Whitey prepared
to come at him again when he saw that somebody
had handed Whitey a beer bottle. There had been a
moment when, twisting himself away from the
descending bottle, he thought he had made it, and
another moment when he did not quite know what
had happened. Then he was on the floor, stupidly, on
his hands and knees, when it dawned on him that
the noise around him were people trying to get away
because the police had arrived. He had climbed
through a window and managed to make his way
safely to the street.
Rupert and Johnny walked unhurriedly through
the lane, passing between massed ramshackle build-
ings with their crazy broken-down fences. Presently
they came to where the lane was bordered by open
land and where there were no houses at all
Johnny paused, and in the pale darkness Rupert
made out the shape of what he had in his hand
"Careful how you hold this thing you hear man."
Rupert held the gun gingerly as though afiraii
"Just hold it so. Don't do anything to it," Johnn,
"Where you get it Johnny?" Rupert asked. He
held the gun in his hand, liking the curious thrill it
gave him. It had been like the first time he had held
a switch blade.
"I get it from a fellow off a boat," Johnny said.
"You can use it?" Rupert asked.
Johnny laughed, putting the gun back into his
pocket. He wore a loose black shirt outside his pants
which covered the shape of the gun completely.
Johnny was twenty one. He was merely two years
older than Rupert. Yet it was though Johnny moved
and lived in a world of men where life was really
lived and was worth living. Rupert often thought of
himself as existing on the drab periphery of Johnny's
world and that he only managed to gain experience
of this world because of his tenuous association with
Johnny. Sometimes he was quite amazed at the
extent of Johnny's knowledge and experience. For
instance, Johnny said he knew how to use a metered
telephone without using pennies and he also had a
hundred ways of getting into a dance hall or theatre
or watching a football match without once going into
his pocket. Johnny often said he knew a lot of bad
men and he also knew, he had said, where one or
two of them were hiding from the police. Once he
had showed Rupert a gold watch which he said had
been given to him by a blonde American woman.
Her husband, a Jamaican businessman had gone to
the United States for vacation. She had wanted
Johnny to drive for her husband when he returned
but Johnny had thought that would be too dangerous.
He told Rupert that he knew all the sport houses in
the island, and when he was driving for one of those
rent-a-car business that catered to tourists he had
driven a rich American man to one of those plush
sport houses where you had to have a pass to enter
and he Johnny had been the first Jamaican black
man to have gone there. Some of the girls there,
Johnny had said, you could see working in the days
in the front section of the big offices down town.
Rupert and Johnny walked around to the back of
the gas station. Dicky, who was Johnny's friend,
worked there as an attendant. They came upon Dicky
by the sink. He was shirtless and was washing his
face and hands with brown soap. He rinsed his
mouth and spat loudly into the sink. It was obvious
that Dicky was in a nasty mood. They stood silently
watching him while he began to curse, not loud, but
in a steady intense manner. Then he ceased cursing
and dried himself vigorously with a rag which he
flung to the floor.
"What happen Dicky?" Johnny said.
"Mr. Mac no pay me off, sah. I feel like ...."
His voice ceased and he glared at them in a kind of
baffled and unbearable anger. Then he tore a bright
plaid shirt from a nail on the wall and put it on.
"The man no say him doan like how me talk to him
customers. Is what him wan' me fe do, eh, kiss them
footbottom? I have a mind fe go inside and bust a
chair pon him head."
"Play it cool Dicky," Johnny said. "It don't make
sense to do that."
"But is what else you can do wid a man like
that?" Dicky said.
"Make we go up to Suede Shoes an' drink a
couple beers," Johnny said.
"But that too far man. Make we go to Lennie
instead," Rupert said.
"Look guy, Whitey not troubling you if him see
me with you," Johnny said.
"And we doan have fe walk," Dicky said. "I have
a pal old Ford Prefect fe de night."
When, in the car, Johnny displayed the gun,
Dicky did not appear to be impressed.
"Oh, is a thirty eight," Dicky said. "Me had one
last year and me threaten fe shoot a man, but me
had fe sell it when the police them start look fa me."
Dicky suddenly swung the car hard to the left.
"Me going cut through here," he said.
They were in the parking lot of a theatre, and
Dicky was driving crazily in and out among the cars
which were moving slowly into the street. He had
almost gained the other road when, in swinging from
behind a parked car, he crashed into another one.
The car was large and quite new.
The driver of the car came out very quickly and
stared at his wrinkled fender in a kind of shocked
disbelief. He was obviously quite young. He was fair-
skinned, clean-cut and was well dressed in a dark
suit. A pretty girl was seated in the car. She stared
out at them with round, frightened eyes.
"My old man is going to raise hell about this,"
the young man said to himself. Then he turned sud-
denly upon them. "Do you admit liability?" he asked
in cold fury.
"Admit wha'?" Dicky said.
"What you talking about guy?" Johnny said.
"You want me to peel you tail out here tonight
guy?" Dicky said.
"I want your name," the young man said to Dicky.
"We don't have no name guy."
"Come David," the girl said in a thin, quavering
voice. "Let us go."
The young man took a pen and notebook from
his pocket. He walked towards their car, trying to
read the license disc.
"You don't hear the lady call you guy," Rupert
said. "Come David," he said, imitating the thin
scared voice of the girl.
The young man hesitated. A shadow of fear flitted
across his face. They stared at him stonily, a hostile
and deep resentfulness uncoiling within them.. It
was easy to guess that he belonged to that class of
people that got all the opportunities they could
tell that he had a good job in some big office in
Rupert looked around. All the other cars had
driven from the lot. They were alone there with the
fellow. He removed his hand from his pocket, gently
pressing the catch of the switch blade. It made a
nice, clicking sound as the blade flicked free.
They doubled up with laughter as the young man
drove hurriedly away.
"Man, them big American car is no good," Johnny
said. "Look at this old car man. All it have is a little
sink on the grill."
At the Suede Shoes a small group of people con-
verged at the door. Rupert craned his head through
the car's window, staring at them. "See Whitey there
man," he said.
"Is alright. Take it easy," Johnny said.
Whitey and three other fellows in a close little
group, were leaving the Suede Shoes and were walk-
ing deliberately towards them.
Rupert felt a sudden and intense panic.
"Is him you mek beat you?" Dicky said.
Dicky's voice sounded loud enough for Whitey to
hear. A curious mixture of anger and shame assailed
Rupert. There was a violent pounding in his head
and his mouth felt completely dry.
"What happen Whitey?" Johnny said.
"Oh, is you Johnny," Whitey said.
Whitey glanced at Rupert, scowling. He looked
surly and uncomfortable. "You travelling wid this
fellow, Johnny?" he asked, nodding his head in
"Yes," Johnny said. "I hear him an' you run into
each other the other night."
"The guy no try tek way me woman."
"Is a misunderstanding, Whitey,' Johnny said.
"Him never realize she belong to anybody."
"Him never look like him want to know," Whitey
"Well him did find out soon enough," Johnny
They all laughed, Rupert tried to laugh too but
his face would not respond.
"So why you don't call it quits, Whitey?' Johnny
said. "The fellow never mean anything."
"Awright Johnny," Whitey said. "As is your pal."
"You coming back to Suede Shoes later?" Johnny
"No," Whitey said. He glanced back, scowling in
the direction of the brightly lit building from where
came the vibrant and compelling sound of a slow
blues tune. "Man them say me and me pals musn't
show me face in there again. Them say we create
too much trouble. I wan' tell them, them doan see
trouble yet. And them have one new guy as bouncer,
a big black fellow him was a heavyweight boxer
one time. I going cut him up one day."
"You mean a man can't go where him want for
a drink nowadays."
"I going see you Johnny," Whitey said.
"Cool it Whitey."
Whitey and his companions shuffled across the
street and disappeared behind the grocery shop at the
At the door of the Suede Shoes a small crowd
clotted. A young boy who could not have been more
than fifteen, collected from the people who passed
the door in single file. The boy glared constantly
about him with hard, suspicious eyes, and he could
curse as solidly as the men with whom he dealt.
"Where you going man?" they boy said to a
bearded fellow. "You tink you can come in here
"See you money here man. You think me is a
damn tief or what?"
"Hurry up an pass through man. You holding up
everybody." the boy said belligerently.
"But this boy facety you know man. Him wan'
somebody whip him tail for him tonight."
"Whip what man?" the boy said, glaring at the
source of the voice. "Whip you father, you mean?"
"Come bwoy. We doan have all night."
"Is sixpence more man," the boy said. "Is what
you trying to do?"
A man cursed and the boy cursed him back and
a woman said, "but this bwoy don't have no respect
fe woman at all."
Rupert paid his money and brushed irritably past
the boy. He and Dicky entered the building. Johnny
had not come in with them. For some reason Rupert
felt moody. Something ugly was growing and
intensifying inside of him. He spat arrogantly on the
floor. "Make we have a beer, no." he said to Dicky.
They sat at one of the tables beyond the dance
floor, sipping beers. Dicky began to wink at a girl
who sat with some men. Presently she rose and began
to dance with a fellow in a red shirt. She kept looking
around at Dicky.
Is what she looking at we so for? Rupert wondered
angrily. She can't look someplace else? The ugliness
was festering and it had become almost unbearable.
He looked at Dicky with hatred. "Is pure jase ears
woman here tonight," he said. "Mek we go someplace
"No man. Make we stay here."
Rupert sat there, brooding. It began to dawn
on him how often in the past he always had to be
giving in to whatever Johnny and Dicky decided. He
pondered on this for a while, recalling each occasion
with great detail, feeling the violent mounting of
tension within him.
Like a ghost, Johnny appeared suddenly among
"Where you was guy?" Dicky asked.
Johnny sat slowly, stretching out his long legs.
"I met a pal outside," he said. He placed the beer
carefully on the table.
"I don't see no sense in staying here," Rupert
said. Make we go to Lennie, man."
"Make we cotch here for a while," Johnny said.
"Tek it easy guy," Dicky said. "Whitey not coming
back here tonight." Dicky was leaning back in his
chair, a foot on the table, a wide, cynical smile upon
Rupert slapped the beer from Dicky's hand. They
both leaped violently to their feet, facing each other
Johnny said, "play it cool Rupert. No sense in
Dicky cursed loudly. "Mek him stay," he said
"I going kill him here tonight."
"God blind me! Is what happening here."
The seaker was Willy, the owner of Suede Shoes
Beside him was the boy who had been collecting
and next to them was a big fellow with a battered
face. The fellow wore a white T-shirt and he stood
before them in a slight crouch, as a boxer stands.
"Is the fellow this?" Willy asked the boy,
pointing to Johnny.
"Is him yes," the boy said.
People had begun to converge about them.
"What you mean man?" Johnny asked.
"You don't pay a damn to come in man," the man
said angrily. "You tell the boy that you just going
inside to see somebody. How you can do a thing like
"I can explain," Johnny said.
"Get out of here," Willy said. "I don't want you
"Wait a little man," Johnny said.
"Throw him out Bigger," Willy said.
Bigger pushed Johnny violently. Johnny toppled
across the table and fell awkwardly to the floor. He
scrambled to his feet, his long legs straddling in all
directions. Bigger pushed him again and this time he
staggered backwards a few steps before he fell.
"Them is all trouble maker," a woman shouted.
"Is that one start the fight the other night."
She pointed to Rupert.
"All of you get out," Willy said to Rupert and
Dicky. "I don't want see any of you here again.
The police them want to close down the place because
a rowdy like you."
As they hurried to get away from Bigger the three
of them were momentarily wedged in the narrow
doorway. Bigger came up swiftly, and from behind
he gave Rupert a hard thrust with his foot. The
impetus hurled him against the others and they all
tumbled down the steps and fell to the ground.
The crowd laughed loudly.
Rupert's hand came in contact with something on
the ground and when he gripped it he realized that
the gun had fallen from Johnny's pocket. From the
corner of his eyes he saw Johnny and Dicky running
towards the car. Bigger was coming quickly down
the steps, walking towards him in a low crouch.
Rupert stood suddenly, pointing the gun.
Bigger stopped. He was motionless as a statue.
His face, in the wash of light from the doorway,
had that curious masklike quality of intense fear.
There was a sudden screaming and shouting.
People were running madly in all directions, like
Then Rupert saw the gun in Willy's hand.
And before he could do anything at all something
struck him suddenly, with great force, in the chest.
In an unbelievable sort of way it seemed to him
that he was lying flat on his back.
He could hear many voices, confused and
indistinct, as though shouting to him from a great
distance. He could not understand what was being
said. It was becoming difficult now to focus his
attention on anything.
Then quite suddenly, just before it grew
completely dark, he saw with the utmost clarity and
intensity such as he had never known in all his life,
the clear, unmistakable shape of the black hills
against the silver sky, and the moon a little above,
incredibly huge and round and golden.
SOME FACES HU i|
Photos by Ian Sangster, Raphael Shearer
by Mervyn Morris
I believe Louise Bennett to be a poet. By many
people whose taste and judgement on other
matters I respect she is regarded more or less as a
local joke; a good, high-spirited joke, but, in the end,
only a joke. I believe it is time we took Louise
Bennett more seriously; and the purpose of this essay
is to suggest literary reasons for doing so.
I trust it is not necessary to argue in any detail
that a comic writer can be serious. There is a distinc-
tion to be made between the serious writer and the
solemn writer, a distinction which Hemingway has
made. The serious writer, he tells us, may be an
eagle, a nightingale, he may even be a popinjay; the
solemn writer is always a bloody owl. We may say,
I think, that a comic writer is serious insofar as
values seriously and responsibly held by him are
implied in his work which may, however indirectly,
serve to strengthen those values or gain for them a
wider acceptance. What a work implies, however, is
not enough to justify literary attention: to be worthy
of that, a work must be at least technically adequate,
and should usually be something more.
Before going on to the exact nature of my claims
for Louise Bennett, it may be useful to outline what
has seemed to me to be the attitude of others.
I am told (I think on good authority) that Miss
Bennett had been writing and speaking her poems
for many years before she won general acceptance
even as an entertainer. The Jamaican middle-class
was slow to acknowledge an interest in dialect which
represented for most of them the speech-forms of
a lower class from whom they wished to be distin-
guished. Our political and social history since about
1940 confirms the assertion that the Jamaican middle-
class have moved only very gradually towards an
1 Written 1963. Awarded first place in 1963 Jamaica Festival Essay
awareness of Jamaican identity; we have moved
gradually from an unthinking acceptance of a British
heritage to a more critical awareness of our origins
and a greater willingness to acknowledge African
elements of our past as part of our national person-
ality. Dialect was, naturally, associated with our Afri-
can past, because, basically, Jamaican dialect is Eng-
lish creolised by Africans and supplemented by some
African words. ("Speaking well" in Jamaican middle-
class usage still means not speaking clearly, interest-
ingly or intelligently, but speaking in accents and
language as nearly like BBC newsreaders' as pos-
Gradually, Louise Bennett won middle-class accept-
ance; though one may well wonder for what reasons.
Is it not possible that many middle-class audiences
laugh at dialect verse or drama for uncomfortable
psychological reasons? My own observation suggests
this. If one reads Louise Bennett to middle-class
school children they are apt to laugh not only at wit
and humour but at the language itself. The language
which their maids and yardboys use is not yet accept-
ed simply as one of our Jamaican ways of speech.
I write particularly of the middle-class because
it is that class which must necessarily form at present
the mass of a Jamaican reading-public, and which
has so far been the bulk of our theatre audiences.
It is for that class, mainly, that Louise Bennett has
so far written and performed.
The middle-class, then, came to accept Louise
Bennett as an entertainer; they bought her poems -
her early volumes are now unpurchasable and
they laughed delightedly (or in embarrassment) at
It was not perhaps fair to expect that many of those
who enjoyed Louise Bennett should have thought
much about literary value. But one might surely have
expected this of those who read other poetry. They
were not many; and most of these few were busy
over-rating the borrowed sensibilities and fake poems
of Tom Redcam, Claude McKay and the late Poet-
Laureate, J. E. Clare McFarlane. The Poetry League
was formed; they crowned McFarlane Poet-Laureate.
McFarlane himself wrote an absurd little volume
called A Literature in the Making in which he praised
fulsomely a number of poets who, whatever their
merits, scarcely deserved the adulation heaped upon
them. Clare McFarlane called Tom Redcam "a great
poet" not once but twice in the same paragraph:
"But Tom Redcam is a great poet. In Jamaica
now we are afraid to ascribe greatness to any of our
fellows. We seem to believe that greatness is the
exclusive right of peoples other than ourselves, and
we are inclined to discourage even the aspiration
toward it. Well, I have said that Tom Redcam is a
great poet, and I am prepared to abide by it; more,
I challenge anyone with equal knowledge of the facts
and equal or better ability to judge, to contradict
Anyone who has read A Treasury of Jamaican
Poetry (edited by Clare McFarlane) may well wonder
whether the Redcam poems chosen do justice to such
There are some interesting (though one would be
foolish to say "great") poems in that anthology; not-
ably, competent work by Philip Sherlock ("Poco-
mania", "A Beauty Too"), Roger Mais ("All Men
Come To The Hills"), H. D. Carberry ("Nature") and
Adolphe Roberts ("The Cat"). But this anthology of
Jamaican poetry, some of it startlingly inept, finds
no place for Louise Bennett.
To Caribbean Quarterly Vol. 7 No. 3 Dr. R. J.
Owens contributed a convincing judicial article on
"West Indian Poetry". (The article dated badly
almost as soon as it appeared, because Derek
Walcott's In A Green Night, not yet published when
the article was written, was available very shortly
after its publication; and on In A Green Night2 any
serious article on West Indian poetry is obliged to
focus). Apart from its faint praise for Walcott, the
most remarkable thing about that article is that it
does not mention Louise Bennett, even although it
offers some interesting comments on the vernacular
and poetry. The article was based primarily on the
two anthologies of West Indian Poetry, Kykoveral
No. 22 (1957), and Caribbean Quarterly Vol. 5 No. 3
(1958); neither of these anthologies included any
Louise Bennett. Her omission from West Indian an-
thologies makes better sense than her omission from
Jamaican anthologies, however, for Miss Bennett
writes for Jamaicans and is not easily appreciated
Dr. Philip Sherlock's introduction to Anancy
Stories and Dialect Verse by Louise Bennett, Dorothy
Clarke, Una Wilson and others (published by Pioneer
Press in 1950) had dealt with the Anancy story. It
2 And now, of course. The Castaway (1965), A. L. Hendriks' On this
Mountain (1965), and Edward Braithwaite's Rights of Passage (1967).
is in the foreword to Laugh With Louise (City Print-
ery, November 1961) that one finds a member of
what one may call Jamaican cultural establishment
saying plainly that he thinks Miss Bennett valuable.
Mr. Robert Verity writes:
"Louise Bennett, by the authenticity of her dialect
verse, has given sensitive and penetrating artistic
expression to our National Character. Her sympa-
thetic, humorous and humanitarian observation of
Jamaicans and our way of life, has been given liter-
ary expression in a medium which is 'popular' in
the original and authentic meaning of that much
"Her work has constituted an invaluable con-
tribution to the discovery and development of an
indigenous culture and her verses are valid social
documents reflecting the way we think and feel and
That seems to me something approaching justice,
though "has been given literary expression" gives
no real indication of Miss Bennett's poetic abilities.
In the Independence Anthology of Jamaican Lit-
erature (edited by A. L. Hendriks and Cedric Lindo)
Miss Bennett does appear. But she is not regarded
as a poet. The poetry section does not include
Miss Bennett. Her place is at the back of the book,
tucked away under "Humour", keeping company
with the hard-working jocosity of Mr. A. E. T. Henry.
Louise Bennett, then, has been accepted as an
entertainer but, with the glowing (but, as to her
being a poet, slightly equivocal) exception of Mr.
Verity3, not as a poet.
I do not believe that Louise Bennett is a consid-
erable poet. But a poet, and, in her best work, a
better poet than most other Jamaican writers, she
certainly is. She does not offer her readers any great
insight into the nature of life or human experience,
but she recreates human experience vividly, delight-
fully and intelligently. She is rarely pretentious -
the most common fault in West Indian poetry; she
is not derived from other poets she has her own
interesting voice; and she is invariably sane. (Sanity
is, I believe, an important literary value: I think it
a crippling criticism of any poem to say that it is
fundamentally silly or fundamentally mad.) Miss
Bennett's wit and irony are indices of her lively
intelligence; her humour springs from her sanity and
her generosity of spirit.
The form most often chosen by Miss Bennett is
dramatic monologue. This is hardly surprising in a
poet who often performs her work. She writes for
the voice and the ear, and when her poems are ex-
pertly performed something more, movement, is
added. The poem "Candy Seller" should make these
Candy lady, candy mam?
Bizniz bad nowadays,
Lady wid de pretty lickle bwoy
Buy candy, gwan yuh ways!
Yu right fe draw de pickney han,
Koo 'pon him two nose hole,
3 And Mr. Harry Milner who has pointed out that in reviewing
McFarlane's Treasury he complained about the omission of Louise
Him y'ey dem a tare out like him want
Hickmatize me candy-bole.
Nice young man come here. Wat yuh want?
Ef yuh naw buy wey yuh stop fah!
Beg yuh move yuhself yaw sah.
Me noh ha notten dah gi way,
Gi de lady pass fe come,
Wey yuh noh go jine de air force?
Dem have plenty use fe bum.
Come lady buy nice candy marm?
Dem all is wat I meck.
Which kine yuh want manm pepper-mint?
Tank yuh mamn, Kiss me neck!
One no mo' farden bump she buy!
Wat a red kin 'oman mean!
Koo har foot eena de wedge-heel boot,
Dem favah submarine.
Ah weh she dah tun back fah? She
Musa like fe hear me mout
Gwan, all yuh should'n walk a day,
Yuh clothes fava black-out.
Me keahn pick up a big sinting
Like yuh so draw dat blank.
Afta me noh deh a war, me naw
Colleck no German tank.
C'lr,-i'li ay Come here nice white man
Don't pass me by soh sah!
See me begin' by de roadside.
Come buy a nice wangla.
W'en wite people go fe ugly
Massa dem ugly sah.
Koo' ow dat de man face heng dung
Lacka w'en jackass feel bad.
Me dah liff up now yaw Dinah,
Lacka ow dem lock up store
An' everybody dah go home,
We naw go sell much more.
Me wi' cry out as me go along,
Me might get a brake -
Buy peppermint till later awn
Ale gawn Fresh pindacake.
The Candy-Seller is addressing a number of dif-
ferent people in a number of different tones of voice.
Her wheedling to prospective customers plays off
against her cursing of them as they pass on, and the
last stanza clearly says that she is about to move on,
her less personal cries ("Buy peppermint", "Fresh
Pindacake") contrasting with her earlier invitations
("Come lady buy nice candy mam?") As in a Brown-
ing monologue, the entire dramatic situation is made
clear without the direct intervention of the author.
The whole poem convinces; it has a vitality that
seems perfectly to match the imagined context. The
images focus on war because the poem was written
in wartime and it was perfectly natural that the first
abuse that came to mind should relate to war. If
anyone doubts the precise suitability of the images
- wedge-heel boot like submarine, clothes like black-
out, and so on-he should be disarmed by the dramatic
context. This could all well be said by a candy-seller
in this situation. Rhythm and rhyme are used effort
lessly, the pauses coming where the dramatic sense
demands them. There is no constriction, no monot-
ony. The poem has the oneness the wholeness, of a
completely realized experience. What more does lit-
erary taste ask for?
Several other of Louise Bennett's dramatic mono-
logues could survive detailed examination: for ex-
ample, "Street Boy" in which a youngster, held by
a policeman -for swearing, pleads with passersby to
beg for him, appeals to the policeman's memory of
his own young days, thanks him extravagantly when
he lets him go, and then, once out of reach, gloats.
"Ah get weh doah, yuh brut!"
"Parting", where the situation is a platform fare-
well, and "South Parade Pedlar" are other outstand-
ing monologues of this type.
Sometimes the situation is presented through the
poet as story-teller rather than directly through
characters. A good example of this is "Dry Foot
Bwoy" in which the affected speech of a boy just
home from England is dramatically contrasted with
the story-teller's Jamaican dialect:
Ae gi a joke, de gal dem laugh
But hear de bwoy, "Ha-haw!
I'm sure you got that bally-dash
Out of the cinema!"
Same time me las' me tempa, an
MAe hall, "Bwoy kir out!
No chat to me wid no hot pittata
Eena yuh mout!"
In some of her poems Louise Bennett is not just
a story-teller but is herself the central character.
"Television" is an example of this. There she com-
municates the excitement of the occasion:
Red light start flash, de place start get
Quiet and quieta.
Dem put me fe tan up fronten
Bans a big camera!
One man start ask me question
Bout folksong and all dem ting,
One guitar start fe rhythm up,
An den me start fe sing.
Me never even nervous an me
Never even shy,
Me tan up brazen like pus bruck
Coc'nut eena me yeye!
It was just like movin' pictures
Me was jus like movies queen
Wid camera dah flash pon me
And me dah flash pon screen.
An as fe all me friend dem! Po
Miss Manda feeling gran
She dah boas bout how her choky-bead
Ac' pon television.
Perhaps there is a trace of falsity here: one is not
entirely convinced of the ordinariness of this per-
former. The milieu is wrong. She can convince us
that she is a peasant or a maid or a market-woman
or a street-boy but somehow the television studio
reminds us too forcibly that Miss Bennett is a trained
performer; dialect seems imposed on the situation.
It is normal to admire the force of poet's images
where this is possible. Some of Miss Bennett's images
seem, poetically, very apt, even when, as these two
do, they appear in undistinguished pieces:
Soh nineteen forty-tree gawn like
De seat a Jane ole chair!
or, about a tram,
If it just-a-bruck de corner, is
No wonder it tan long so,
Koo how it disa crawl like
Worum eena rotten mango.
I have claimed that Louise Bennett is a very sane
poet and that she has generosity of spirit. She is
always attacking prevention by laughter, and some-
times by hard logic. An example of logic would be
"Back to Africa" in which an argument is ruthlessly
Back to Africa Miss Matty?
Yuh no know wa yuh dah sey?
Yuh haffe come from some weh fus,
Before yuh go back deh.
Ale know sey dat yuh great great great
Gramma was African,
But Matty, doan yuh great great great
Grampa was Englishman?
Den yuh great gran mada fada
By yuh fada side was Jew?
And yuh grampa by yu mada side
Was Frenchie parley-vous!
But de balance a yuh family
Yuh ole generation
Oonoo all bawn dung a Bun grung
Oonoo all is Jamaican!
Den is welt yuh gwine Miss Matty?
Oh, you view de countenance
An between yuh an de Africans
Is a great resemblance!
Ascorden to dat, all dem blue-eye
Wa great granpa was Englishman
Mus go back a Englan!
Wat a debil of a bump-an-bore,
Rig-jug an palam-pam!
Ef de ole worry start fe go back
Weh dem great granpa come from!
Ef a hard time yuh dah run from,
Tek yuh chance, but Matty, do
Sure a weh yuh come from so yuh got
Someweh fe come-back to!
Go a foreign, seek yuh fortune,
But no tell nobody sey
Yuh dah go fe seek yuh homeland
For a right deh so yuh deh!
It takes a shape very eighteenth-century in its care-
ful balance, the balance helping to point the strictly
logical operation of a keen intelligence. Louise
Bennett's sanity takes her straight to a fact
that too many intellectuals, evidently, find too
simple for their acceptance: the central fact of our
identity: that we are Jamaicans because Jamaica is
where we come from.
Miss Bennett's irony is sometimes easy-and cheap;
but it is also sometimes important and illuminating.
In her poem "Independence" she sets our national
aspirations in perspective:
She hope dem caution worl-map
Fe stop draw Jamaica small
For de lickle speck can't show
We Independantniss at all!
Often the pretensions attacked are minor or top-
ical pretensions, but not always. Look for example
at "Po' Ting" in which a common, and no doubt
eternal, human pretension is ridiculed, unwillingness
to face the fact of age.
Po' Miss Mattic, Po' Miss Mattie!
Ah pity de po' soul,
Me haffe goh bruck it genkly
Soh tell her sey she ole.
Me meet her pon de tram one night
An' mek me tell yuh trut',
De way she dres, she trying' hard
Fe bring back days of yout'.
But Missis powda ongle mek
De po' ting 'kin more yella,
An' rouge an' lip-stick meck de wrinkle
Dem tan up fe de betta.
Before she kip herself quiet,
An' meck by-gones goh by,
As she turn roun' an' se' me soh,
De po' soul cut har y'eye.
Yuh know how she look widdad up,
An' shapeless already?
Well lawd wen har y'eye kin come dung
She fava dead smaddy.
She start fe smile, but missis she
Was eena de same place,
For wen she laugh it look like she
Dah mek up monkey face.
Ah go fe laugh out afta har,
But ah nevah bada,
For ah consider sey she ole
Enough fe tun me mada.
So wen she jump off like she young
An' start fe walk an' swing,
Ah ongle shake me head an' sigh
An' say to meself "Po' ting."
There is a touch of pathos in that last stanza, I feel.
The comic treatment here is more acceptable, and I
think more delicate, than Gilbert's sometimes cruel
laughter at women growing old:
She may very well pass for forty-three
In the dusk, with a light behind her.
There is a good deal of simple plain fun in Louise
Bennett. Sometimes it is fun in the situation, as in,
say, "De Bathsuit And De Cow", an excellent little
dialect ballad. Sometimes the fun is an intoxication
with language which she manipulates or invents with
Riah tun pon Butcha Jones who noted
Fe sell all scrapses meat
An sey "Thou shalt not give they neighbours
Floolooloops to eat!"
Or, as in "Cuss Cuss":
Me sorry fe de man yuh get
De po ting hooden nyam
When yuh ackebus him saltfish
An bwilivous him yam.
It is not my main purpose in this essay to demon-
strate Miss Bennett's weaknesses, but it may be well
to mention some of her problems or faults and to
attempt to define her limitations.
I think her most central difficulty is choice of
subject. Many of her poems are a sort of comic-verse-
journalism; she is quick to tackle the topical; which is
only natural, as she published her early and some of
her later poems in newspapers. One willingly says
good-bye to numerous poems about new Governors,
new pantomimes, Paul Robeson's visit, a Test match
victory, and so on, where interest has not survived
the topicality of the subject. As in the same periods
as her very topical poems she wrote others of more
lasting interest, we can hardly complain: we can only
regret that so much of the journalism has been pub-
lished in book form. It would be a service to her read-
ers if Miss Bennett would present a Collected Poems,
dropping all the ephemera and choosing the best of
Miss Bennett is sometimes false to her medium.
I have been careful not to parade these falsities, but
even in the poems I have quoted some may be found.
For example, in "Back to Africa" the stanza:
Den is weh yu gwine Miss Matty?
Oh, you view de countenance,
And between yuh and de Africans
Is a great resemblance!
"Countenance" is doubtful for the dialect level of
the rest of the poem, and certainly "resemblance"
(for the rhyme) cannot pass: at that level of dialect,
we favour African, surely, we don't resemble them.
To anybody, who thinks that a lively metrical
sense and some wit are sufficient equipment for writ-
ing dialect verse like Miss Bennett's I suggest he
make the attempt. He will find, as Miss Bennett her-
self found, that dialect has to be felt, like any other
.To trace Louise Bennett's development is interest-
ing. She develops, I think, from the high-spirited
monologist to a more purposeful thinker writing in
dialect: it is not for nothing that the mature irony of
"Independence" or the logic of "Back To Africa" are
recent, and the best dramatic monologues are early.
Or, compare the tone of "Gay Paree" (an earlyish
poem in which there is a childlike peasant delight in
the strangeness of French) with the tone of "Touris"
4 Different criteria were adopted by Miss Bennett and Mr. Rex
Nettleford in selecting the poems for Jamaica Labrish (Sangster's
Book Stores, Jamaica, 1966).
(much later, in which the poet sees herself ironically,
with a certain sophistication).
Den me sey me want fe learn it to,
Me haffe buckle dung,
Screw up me mout and roll me y'eye
An foreign up me tongue.
An hear me now dah parley-vous
Dah tell yuh mon cheree
Want a joli-joli bon-bon time
Me spen in Gay Paree.
Missis, you would a dead wid laugh
Fe hear me touris voice!
Fe hear how me a pop big words
An gwan like say me nice!
When me listen to sweet music
Me say "Charming melody."
When me se some pretty sights me say
We walk into de biggest' store
Dilly-dally all bout',
Touch up de mos expensive tings
Den say "thanks" an walk out.
In between these two stages of development Miss
Bennett spent some years in England; when she
returned she wrote what I consider some of her
worst pieces. The dialect was forced and untrue:
So May, me dear, now dat yuh hear
All bout how me dah drive
No fret no more for now yuh sure
You darlin frien mus trive.
"Trive"!; She made some metrical experiments she
would have done well to keep out of print. A fair
example is the internal jingle of "Pedestrian
Crossin' ", a jingle which seems to have no function.
The rapidity of her normal stanza form is lost, and,
it seems, nothing is gained:
Now me chance come at last,
As dem cros ah gwine pass,
Ah mus beat dah ole-oman to dis,
By de hook or de crook -
Lawd one police a look!
"Pass on lady, your right of way, Miss."
It would seem that the dialect (or Louise Bennett
using it) cannot cope with a rocking rhythm such as
Living in Jamaica again, Miss Bennett seemed
to grow into the dialect again, though she never
regained her early innocent vitality. I think that
accounts for the greater pervasiveness of acute
intelligence in the later poems and the decreasing
inclination to rumbustious dramatic monologue. Miss
Bennett's own development seems to show that her
use of dialect is involved with real feeling, as is any
poet's use of language.
A weakness, particularly in the early poems, is
for direct and unsubtle moralising. In the later poems
any sentimentality or tendency to moralise is usually
redeemed by irony or wit. It is instructive to compare
her poem "Homesickness" with a rather well-known
poem which scarcely deserves its frequent quotation.
In "Homesickness" Miss Bennett gives a sentimental
list of things she misses while in England; the list
does name things we can recognize as part of a real
Jamaica: bullas, sugar and water, dumplings; but it
is nevertheless a sentimental selection in its total
effect. But the last three stanzas run:
For me long fe see a bankra basket
An a hampa load
A number-leven, beafy, black,
Hairy mango pon de road!
An me mout top start fe wata
Me mount corner start fe foam
A dose a hundry buckle hole me
An me wan fe go back home.
Go back home to me Jamaica
To me fambly! To me wa?
Lawd ha masse, me fegot,
All a me fambly over yah!
Easy as that final irony is, it redeems the poem. It
gives a guarantee that there is a mind alive behind
it all. The lush sentimentality of H. D. Carberry's "I
Shall Remember" fares badly in a comparison with
"Homesickness", (which is hardly one of Louise
Bennett's finer poems).
Louise Bennett's use of Jamaican dialect is not,
of course, the only literary use there is. Our Jamai-
can folk songs, for example, are a rich store, and
they seem to suggest (what one might reasonably
have guessed even without their evidence) that our
dialect can be used for other effects than Miss
Bennett has so far attempted. Let us examine one
Dis long time gal me never see you
Come meek me ho' you han'
Dis long time gal me never see you
Come meck me hol' you han.
Peel head John Crow
Si' dung pon tree top
Pick off de blossom
Meck me hol' you han gal
Come meek me ho' you han'.
Here there is a deeper, more obviously "poetic",
symbolism than Miss Bennett ever attempts. The
John Crow picking the blossoms I take to be an
image of death encroaching on beautiful promising
young life; and this clearly deepens the significance
Long time gal me never see you
Come meek me ho' you han.
The song becomes more than just another love-song;
it is deeply involved with time and mortality.
"Carry Me Ackee" does not have this sort of
deepening, but its poignancy seems outside the range
of what Miss Bennett tries.
All me pickney dem a linga linga
Fe wey dem Mumma no bring.
It is a very sad song, quite as sad as the Frats
Quintet sing it on their record.
Evan Jones' "Banana Man" uses a dialect level
different from Louise Bennett's. It is nearer standard
English. This poem achieves a power beyond Louise
Bennett's published range; the Banana Man seems
to stand partly as a symbol of strength, freedom, self
"I'm a strong man, a proud man, an' I'm free.
Free as these mountains, free as dis sea."
The last poem I want to mention is of a different
kind. It is Dennis Scott's "My Uncle Time", a
Uncle Time is a ole, ole man ..
All year long 'im wash 'im foot in de sea,
long, lazy years on de wet san
and shake de coconut tree
dem quiet-like wid 'im sea-win' laughter,
scraping away de lan' . .
Uncle Time is a spider-man, cunning an' cool,
him tell yu': watch de hill an' you si me,
Huh! Fe yu' yi no quick enough fe si
how 'im move like mongoose; man, yu' t'ink 'im fool?
Me Uncle Time smile black as sorrow;
'im voice is sof as bamboo ledf
but Lawd, me Uncle cruel.
When 'im play in de street
wid yu' woman watch 'im! By tomorrow
she dry as cane-fire, bitter as cassava; an when 'im
teach yu son, long after
yu' walk wid stranger, an' yu' bread is grief.
Watch how 'im spin web roun' yu' house, an' creep
inside; an' when 'im touch yu', weep.
Here we have a poet using dialect, as Walcott does
in "Poopa da was a fete", for artistic purposes that
don't seem natural to dialect at all. The poem
has been thought, so to speak, in standard
English. Louise Bennett uses dialect more or less as
we can believe the normal speakers of dialect might
use it, if they were skilled enough; Walcott and Scott
borrow dialect for the literary middle-class. The
image "smile black as sorrow" is too abstract for the
eminently concrete medium of dialect. It must be
said, however, that this poem has a careful exquisite
beauty that I cannot claim for anything in Louise
Louise Bennett, then, is a poet of serious merit,
although like all poets, she has her limitations. Like
most poets she is, I have tried to show, developing.
And she is so much more rewarding a poet than
many to whom we in Jamaica give the name, that it
seems reasonable to expect more of those who claim
an interest in poetry to give her more attention. She
is sane; throughout, her poems imply that sound
common sense and generous love and understanding
of people are worthwhile assets. Jamaican dialect is,
of course, limiting (in more senses than one); but
within its limitations Louise Bennett works well. Hers
is a precious talent. We ought to read her more
seriously; for she is worth it.
HEA.D by Malachi Rernolds, "K.PO'"
,.1~~: M in
99-1EI :1.1 i-IC~ I-' "
I-f~ .~ 1. I, i_
.. .. ..
0. 93Z, ;M .i
1. by Ralph Campbell
2. Self Portrait by J. Thomas
3. by Parboosingh
4. Harmonica Player
by Roger Mais
5. The Poet by Ras Dizzy
6. The Beggar by C. Stone
L 0 line d
A Dostoevskian Hero or
The True Gage
by Roy A. McNeil jr.
The room at first was merely a room,
Something to sleep in or work in,
Derive shelter from when it rained
Or the sky glared redly at noon.
The room from that modest beginning
Proceeded to grow around him,
Or else it closed in while seeming
To extend on for miles in space.
The actual size of the room
Was, in fact, impressively normal,
But he never quite saw it right,
It was always too large or small.
One day, however, hearing the walls
Like temples about his ears,
He took a gun or a ruler,
Applied it, and got the true gage.
Jamaica Festival 1966 Prize Winner
Letter from Home
by Cliff Lashley
My fathers histrionic hand exclaims
Uncle Enos Moss is dead
Who wasn't any and anybody uncle
Not even his nieces and nephews
didn't love his relatives by reflex
as fastidious in his favour
as in making shoes
I remember his permanent makeshift shop
motel for mice and lizards
how he drew faces on the young calabash
with the fruit the faces grew fat -
sent me to my granny for pigeons milk
Nothing much remains with me now
of my old people
no more than the memory of a mood
an explicit sense of mystery
the rag and bone of our history
my fathers monitoring hand
a little larger than life
on an island of lifesize people.
A1 ,~~~ iZ
by Sally Henzell
why don't you come to me
gently . .
as calculated as the regulated ticking
of a clock.
the love of a quiet man
a week-day man
a man who brings me roses
but not orchids
a kind man with friendly eyes
and regimental habits.
but I have been seduced
by friday night
friday night at her bawdiest and best
neon lights and muted jazz seeping up
from dingy doorways
and lovers quarreling
loud and unashamed
a street bulb reflected in a puddle
and yesterdays newspapers
and flirtations of the night
asking nothing more
than that friday night may end
as friday night began
that friday night will end at midnight
taking with her all she gave
and leaving nothing
for the morrow.
Jamaica Festival 1967 Prize Winner
African Antique by Alexander Cooper
...an epitaphby John Hearne
The catalogues of nursery men and the treatises
of arboriculture inform us that it is especially
important to cut the central root, the taproot (pre-
cisely that of "the soil and the dead").
It is a complex fate to be an American.
The artist in exile is a completely free man. And
as such he deserves our pity. Nothing is asked of
him by his adopted country except deference to its
laws; he can give nothing to the community around
him except a simulated response. After a while, he
begins to believe in the responses he fakes. Or
rather, he begins to forget the habit of intimate
response. That is the time for him to come home.
If he doesn't he will lose the nerve for that love
affair, scarcely distinguishable from a perpetual
quarrel, between himself and his society, which is
what he has really trained himself for all his life.
For if there is anything that all artists share it is the
element of sexuality with which they seem to endow
all relationships. The life of the artist is one of
constant and indiscriminate love-making with
places and things as much as with people.
But it is hard to sustain this loving interest for
a country in which you really have no part, which
really does not need you and your gifts. The
redundancy of the artist in exile eventually produces
a dryness within him which is very like the sexual
dryness that comes to some middle-aged men. It is
not lack of potency, but simply the shrivelling of
curiosity. The demands made on him by the social
and political environment into which he has migrated
are not subtle enough, not constant enough, not
extreme enough to keep his talent for loving alert.
Above all, he begins to suffer from a lack of those
nagging, sometimes outrageous invasions by the
other of one's self which are an indispensable part of
any successful love affair.
The penalties of servitude, then, would seem to
be more necessary to the act of creation than the
pleasures of freedom in exile. And yet in saying this
about the artist, in particular the West Indian artist,
we have to concede that it is only half a truth. The
most dangerous half for us to accept without
examination of the other necessity which the artist
must face: that the surgery and shock of transplanta-
tion are essential to the maturing of any original
No artist can escape this obligation to sys-
tematically exercise, astonish and even outrage his
sensibilities. It has to be done, sometimes at the
expense of happiness and even health. Sometimes,
indeed, the conduct of the artist must appear
demented to those who don't realise the urgency of
his need to disturb an order in himself which he has
outworn or used up. The artist is not the only
creative being, but he is unique in the diversity of
resources he must employ in order to create. A life-
time's accumulation of learning, plus the unbiddable
intuitive flash, goes into making of a new theorem
or philosophy or mechanical device. Deliberate ex-
posure to every experience short of death, an
assiduous collecting of anything that can pleasure you
or hurt you, plus a constant and exquisite emotional
tension (readiness, really) are where a story, a poem,
a painting or a concerto come from. The density and
penetrative power of a work of art is generally in
direct proportion to the risks the artist has taken
with his psyche; are acquired during the expeditions
he makes into some very rough (often very sordid)
territories of feeling. No artist can live or suffer all
the possibilities sometimes for legal as much as
for personal reasons but the better he is the fewer
possibilities will he leave to others to live for him.
That is, it was not necessary for Dostoevsky to
murder an old woman with an axe in order to write
Crime and Punishment, but Dostoevsky had to stalk
the murderer in himself to a point of closeness that
would have destroyed most men in order to become
Raskolnikov. Every artist, if he is the genuine
article and not merely contriving from the forebrain,
has to do the same; has to go on solitary hunts into
what we are; lose his ego in the wildest places of
the heart; jettison the security his senses have
accumulated in a familiar pattern of living and a
stable moral code. Any art is a way of seeing, not
a way of thinking. Only those who venture into
where the action is are likely to see anything worth
When the modern West Indian artist began to
sublimate the brute facts of ancient West Indian
experience, he was presented with a problem to
which he has not yet found a satisfactory solution.
His culture has no integral value. It was a source of
raw energy which was transported and used to fuel
another culture which did have a massive integrity.
Our society was, and still is to a large extent, a
haemorrhaging victim. The blood of our resources
did not circulate: it flowed across the runnels of the
sea and was lapped eagerly by invisible celebrants.
We were not, in short, part of any system: we were
attached to a distant system from which only the
most distorted reports were permitted to filter.
The above is not to be read as my token contribute
tion to anti-colonial polemic. I am simply trying to
define a cultural phenomenon which is, as far as I
know, unique. No other area in the long history of
colonisation had ever been looked upon purely as a
mine or valued solely on its material yield. No other
area could have been. However gross and brutal the
exploitation of Ireland, say, or the Congo to take
two territories which were exploited with far greater
cruelty and greed than were the West Indies they
yet had to be assessed on a spiritual level. They were
culturally valid when the invaders arrived; and the
invaders had to recognize, however grudgingly, the
native products of the imagination they found, had
to accommodate their style of occupation to a native
style of life they could not wish away. It was rape
of a sort, but that is often how cultures are cross-
bred: the bastard doesn't mind how he got life, only
that he is alive.
In the West Indies we could not even claim rape.
The only West Indians who could, the Arawaks and
Caribs, are dead. We are the descendants not of
conqueror and conquered but of two groups of
political prisoners exiled in perpetuity to a vast
labour camp. The territory holds few significance
or attachments for any of its inhabitants. What is
called the West Indian character is often no more
than the basic code of behaviour which any collec-
tion of imprisoned people must evolve if they are
not to tear each other to pieces. It is a utilitarian
exercise in survival, not a way of life.
The emerging West Indian artist of the thirties
and forties was acutely aware of the limitations that
an accident of birth had placed on the possible
development of his individual gift. He was aware of
them sensuously even if he could not define them
articulately. It was an assessment of the body or
instinct more than a judgement handed down by the
mind, and by and large it was a sound and pre-
serving assessment. There were three conditions
that made it almost mandatory for the West Indian
artist to exile himself if he was going to discover the
true shape in himself and realise his scope.
One, as I have suggested, was the stark fact that
his products were simply unuseable by a society
trained only in the use of the most utilitarian, the
simplest, plantation tools. There was not even, by the
beginning of this century, an upper class of sham
patricians who demanded fine local craftmanship for
their houses. The systematic reduction of native self-
confidence, which is the chief and necessary instru-
ment of colonial rule, had been so thorough that
even the rich in the twentieth century West Indies
were born nervous and ashamed.
In such a society art is not only an awkward extra
piece but it is dangerous. Like the sewing machine
in a Stone Age tribe its introduction can reverberate
to a pitch that will eventually shake the whole
structure loose. Fortunately for the original artists -
Claude McKay, Eric Walroud, Edna Manley, Roger
Mais, the painter Dunkley the general comprehen-
sion of what art might mean was so slight that they
suffered few hostile or punitive measures. At worst,
they were received with apathy or with a little half-
malicious, half-uneasy laughter.
But the inability of his society to comprehend
his work the crippling knowledge of his total use-
lessness was not as urgent a force in driving the
artist out and away as was his recognition of his own
singular ignorance. This ignorance was not a lack of
schoolroom skills. Examination passing was probably
more highly regarded as a sport in the West Indies
than cricket. It was, rather, the ignorance of stunted
and unnourished sensibilities. No West Indian had
ever known an organic relationship with a function-
ing and complex culture. All he had experienced was
being a category of employee on a shoddily cultivated
estate owned by a perpetually absent landlord. For
his imagination's sake it became essential for the West
Indian artist to find his way to the only culture of
which he possessed at least the verbal coinage. He
had to observe, if he hoped to give his work any
context, what it really signified to be part of a
historic body. That he could never become part of
that body himself, no matter how skilfully he
camouflaged himself, was relatively unimportant. It
was only in the company of the body's constituents
that he could begin to learn so late in life the
subleties ot civilised, as opposed to purely domestic,
The opportunity that exile offered for experience
of original and exacting art, whether as executor or
spectator, was almost a minor, certainly a secondary
consideration although it is often thought to be
the most rewarding influence gained abroad and the
one most hungrily sought. What the West Indian
artist was seeking, whether he recognized it or not,
was a system of relationships in which a man and his
society were complementary and in which generally
accepted rituals had been fashioned. He was starved
for these and, once abroad, he flung himself on the
simplest evidence of them like a wild animal onto
a salt lick.
In the two years that Roger Mais and I lived
together in Europe, I think I got him to attend a
theatre twice, a gallery once and a concert hall not
at all. But I can remember his unpretending apprecia-
tion of the Trooping of the Colour and of the busy
traffic of nuns and priests about the community of
religious houses that encircle Notre Dame. Yet he
was not a militaristic or an ecclesiastically oriented
man. It was simply that the two examples I have
chosen, of what his artist's instinct seized upon,
represented idealism, evolved and brilliant pageantry,
corporate discipline, form. These, no matter to what
service they might be put, were what man in a com-
munity was meant properly to do. To a man as
sensitive as Mais, from a clumsily materialistic,
tawdry, servile and unassembled land, these were
the living art and the true arts of living from which
he had been too long excluded.
Every West Indian artist who exiled himself had
his own Trooping of the Colour and his personal
equivalent of that casual yet purposeful, ceaseless
criss-cross perambulation of priests and nuns. For
me, once I had defined my own equivalents, it became
a matter of deep enjoyment to guess at or discern
the equivalents in others such as Lamming, Naipaul,
Aubrey Williams, and Salkey. Ultimately, what we
were all greedily consuming was style. This had been
the missing trace element in our diets, and God
knows we needed it. Everybody likes style, I suppose,
when they see it, but for the artist, as for the pro-
fessional sportsman or the soldier, it is more than a
holiday: it is a condition of survival.
And yet, somewhere in the middle of his progress,
the West Indian artist has to make, in Baldwin's
wonderfully exact word, a "reconciliation" with his
own society. He has to return from that orderly,
battlefield where another people are conducting their
own fascinating civil war (and on which however
respected he may be, however often his commentary
is needed, he will always and only be a foreign
observer) and resolve his part of the conflict by
applying tactics and strategy, peculiarly suited to the
The military metophor is extended but it is the
only one that will do. Art does not offer a society
peace. Its whole purpose is ruthless disturbance,
followed by a treaty in which society agrees to pay
tribute to the artist's way of looking at things.
Society offers the artist a battleground on which
to fight his particular campaign of liberation. But he
cannot fight that campaign with any sense of
relevance unless the reconciliation at the end affects
the quality of his own order of life. And his own
order of life began a long time before he became a
practising artist. However well he fights on another
soil, however decisive his contribution, he can be at
best nothing more than a mercenary.
Nobody except his mistress and a few messmates
ever remembers exactly where a mercenary was
Festival '67 by Colin Garland
II R PU~ IN-I -yA~~~E1'tFN ~
-UN \ WkPK jl A, tA\ -:
1A~ 1 APC tte.aP 7AM( f
E HFfr-~f-i'~M Cuu ,' i j' 1''f tT?
MAr v \ I i H t
Sot WW PI^~~ 'Wi0 1- O" F iULe k XWOV4 Wop A< vu k
:^ SjIN J, J^^^
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[H-SO -f PUM WfW '\
wokk 0 EHE B-RV WU 0
Work Song -, In Dorian Mode
Design by Lennox Gayle
-L~ I I I I
by Louise Bennett
Rain a fall;
But de Dam wont budge at all!
Rain a fall, breeze ablow,
But de Dam-Water low
Doah de rain a fall!
Lawks, it sweet me you see! An after is not me one; whole heap a
people a teck de water condition so meck joke. Dem say dat is only fool
Water Authority a-fool we up wen dem tell we say dat Jamaica suffering'
water-shortage, for dat is a lickle water amusement game dat authority play
wid Jamaica people ebery 'ear. Some people say dat dem got four strong
pints fe back dem up 'pon de water disappearing pranks-playin; an prove
say dat water-authority could never serious 'bout water shortage.
De fus pint is de water-rate pint, for everybody know say dat is only
a samfy smady who try fe sell sinting weh dem no got. An if a deastant
respectable authority like water-authority deh demand water-rate payins,
den dem musa know say dat dem got water fe sell. De next pint is de
flowers-growing industry pint, for anoder authority deh pon a encourage
flowers-growers to grow flowers; an as everybody know say dat flowers
cant grow widout waterin, den authority mus know which part de water
gwine come from fe keep up all dem more and more flowers-growin.
Den de next pint, which is a kine a fool-fool pint, is de fact dat Jamaica
name de land of wood an' water, an since we naw suffer no wood-shortage,
me no see wah meck we should suffer watershortage? Den de las' an very
confusion pint, is de Rainless-Dam pint, for ebery time rain fall, authority
tell we say dat no rain no ketch in a de Dam dem, an dat soun like say dat
Rain an Dam dah carry grieviance against one anoder; an dat no meck no
scene at all, seeing dat plenty-plenty a we road way dem an' we yard dem,
an' eben we house dem, tun Dam in a rainy season. Nuff-nuff potto-potto!
so den it really look like say dat is jus' a little jokify pranks dat water-
authority a play pon we ebery 'ear wen dem meck de big alarm 'bout water
Dry wedder room a flood-up,
House top a-leak lihke mad,
Roses a-blow an lang grass a-grow
But de Dam condition bad.
De cos' a libin high now,
Tings raising fas' in town,
Water-rate an' taxes gone up
But de Dam water gone down.
'Y" : '
_ I _~ ~I_ __ ~_ ~-~--~V~13111 I
PEE KEE TO MA SEY DAN DA KO BA TAY.
KEN BE NA WA KA ROH TON RAH C EH BAN'Y, -,
DA OVA YU FA KAN A- SEf DA SHCEQ QUA SA NAH RtbH
DA QUA YU PA KAN AH SE DA SHE QUA A AH R.OH
3 TA NAAH NA TA NAH NAH TA NAH NA TAH NA H
F BE WAHEE SEY EE AH RO DA SHE SIHA KOH BAH
J KYA FAHEE SEY BAH REH NEE TOH RAH CHFH 6AMK DEN'
Recowr by OCve-rewikv, g9yana, Ap C, iqy. Sunw -j P. Pitrs
11 >l-ii /I'l Inlighl ( tald L I *,
Back Co'er Iliustrations:
1.S79: Foundation date of the Institute
Letter 1 top left)
Frank Cundall, first Secretary and Librarian
of the Institute of Jamaica as well as
Editor of the Journal of the Institute,
writing to Mr. Townsend, later to become
third Curator of the Institute.
Letter 2 top right)
Frank Cundall writing to one of the
Institute members, Mr. C. W. Stear, in
answer to an enquiry.
Letter 3 (bottom left)
Cash-Book entries of the Institute of
Letter 4 (bottom right)
Thomas D. A. Cockerell, 2nd Curator of
the Institute of Jamaica, writing one
of his innumerable letters, identifying
an insect specimen sent by
A. E. Husband Esq.
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