VOLUME I NUMBER 4
Reprinted from a copy in the collections of the
University of Florida Librairies
Reprinted by permission of
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES, Kingston, Jamaica
A Division of
KRAUS-THOMSON ORGANIZATION LIMITED
Printed in Germany
VOL. I No. 4
GREAT MEN OF THE CARIBBEAN
Josd Marti. W. Adolphe Roberts
THE FREE VILLAGE SYSTEM IN JAMAICA
Poem. P. M. Sherlock
JOHN SEBASTIAN BACH-1685-I750
Dr. T. W. J. Taylor 2;
THE "PEOPLE'S UNIVERSITY" AND THE TRADE UNIONS
Rawle E. G. Farley, B.A., Dip.Ed.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN JAMAICA AND BRITISH GUIANA
Experiment in Self-Help. Philip Sherlock
Local Government in British Guiana. Malcolm B. Laing 35
A LETTER TO THE EDITOR 38
Road to Survival 38
Treasure in the Caribbean 40
Men in the Tropics 40
Under the Skin 41
A Short History of the British West Indies 42
A Morning at the Office 43
CARIBBEAN BOOKSHELF 45
PHILIp SHERLOCK, University College, Jamaica, B.W.I.
ANDREW PEARSE, Old Post Office, St. Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, B.W
MSS. AND COMMUNICATIONS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to the Editor of the
Caribbean Quarterly, and not to an individual. Unsolicited MSS. which are not accepted
for publication will be returned if accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope.
HOW TO OBTAIN CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY
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Trinidad and Tobago,
Subscribers in United
Kingdom or Abroad
...Mrs. G. Cumper, Extra Mural Dept,, University
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A. C. Pearse, Old Post Office, St. Vincent Street,
THE EDITORS once again face the readers of Caribbean Quarterly, this time in the
fourth and concluding number of the first volume of the journal. We are aware
that it has taken us nearly a year and a half to complete Volume One, and we
must beg the indulgence of subscribers for delays. However, we can look forward
to more prompt publication during the coming year. Readers who know th;
Caribbean Quarterly is printed by the Trinidad Government Printery will reali-e
that the General Election in Trinidad and Tobago under the New Constitution,
which has just taken place, imposed a very great strain on the inadequate equip-
ment and the staff of the Printery they will, however, be encouraged to know
that two new printing machines have recently arrived, and that a Mechanical Type
Composing Machine is expected to be delivered in the near future.
We are glad to welcome amongst our contributors Hugh Paget and Rawle
Farley. Mr. Paget spent many years in Jamaica, where he brought his historical
training and enthusiasm to bear on several aspects of Jamaica history. Mr. Farley
is a Guianese, at present in England, who has realized the importance of the role
which the Trade Union will play in the building of a West Indian Dominion. In
his article he demonstrates the way in which both Universities and Trade Unions
have laboured in the cause of popular education in Great Britain on the firm ground
of mutual respect and a stoutly maintained independence of both government
control and the encroachments of partisan ideologies and propaganda.
We are extremely grateful to Mrs. Edna Manlcy for allowing us to reproduce
a photograph of her fine carving in wood, which adorns the cover.
The Editors regret that W Adolphe Roberts' article "Simon Bolivar" in
Volume I No. 3 of Caribbean Quarterly contained an error in paragraph 3, page 7
which the author had asked to be corrected but which was overlooked in proof
reading-The attempt on Bolivar's life in Jamaica was not made by two Spaniards
and the unlucky victim was not a secretary. The Negro slave Pio stabbed to death
Felix Amestoy, mistaking him for the Liberator.
Great Men of the Caribbean
3. Jose Marti
W. ADOLPHE ROBERTS
COMING a generation later than Simon Bolivar, Jos6 Marti brought a very different
temperament and different methods to the service of his country. He was born in
Havana in 1853, the son of a Spanish ropemaker who was then serving in the army
as a non-commissioned officer, and of a mother from the Canary Islands. The
home, which is preserved as a national monument, was of the humblest sort and the
family income was always low. The mother helped by taking in sewing as
The young Marti was grave, studious and poetical. Of the scores of pictures
of him at all ages that are in existence, not one shows him smiling. He was so
gifted a scholar that one lyceum after another agreed to enroll him for small fees,
because his father could not afford to pay the full rates. When he was fifteen, the
first Cuban revolution broke out, but it was confined to the eastern end of the island
and he could take no active part in it. For publishing a patriotic poem and counter-
signing a letter of protest to a fellow-student for enlisting in the Spanish army,
Marti was arrested and sentenced to six years at hard labour. He was then sixteen
years old. He worked with iron shackles on his legs in a stone quarry, which is
now within the city limits of Havana and is established in his honour as a museum.
Friends intervened at the end of six months and the sentence was commuted to
exile, this being interpreted as allowing him to go to Spain. He completed his
education first at the University of Madrid and then at that of Saragossa,
graduating in law with the tribute, "exceptional ability" attested by the examiners.
Marti returned to America, landing in Mexico, since he was still barred from
Cuba. He went to his native island once, under a false name, before the revolution
ended, but was forced to leave to escape arrest. The Ten Years' War, as it was
called, subsided in utter failure in 1878, and he benefited by an amnesty to go
home. He found Cuba prostrate, her people sunk in despair. But he refused to
believe that her case was hopeless. He openly expressed republican sentiments and
was again expelled, this time in perpetuity.
He now devoted himself to his life's work in a spirit of self-abnegation, and
with an industry and oneness of purpose that may possibly have been equalled but
can never have been surpassed. Toussaint would have been capable of it, if he had
had freedom of motion and the education required. The restless soul of Bolivar
would certainly have shrunk from the patient, obscure labour that Marti undertook,
knowing that it would be many years before the goal could be reached.
The task was to rebuild the Cuban effort toward independence on a basis so
patriotically sound, so carefully planned, that it must succeed. Marti saw that he
would have to depend largely upon Cubans living abroad, some as political exiles,
some as merchants and workmen. He had great natural talent as an organizer. He
began by rejuvenating certain committees and clubs already existing in New York,
Mexico City and elsewhere. Then he founded dozens of new groups, among the
cigar workers of Key West and Tampa, Florida, most of whom were Cubans
among his countrymen wherever he could find them, in all the eastern cities of the
United States, in all the Latin-American countries around the Caribbean Sea and
in the British colonies, including Jamaica.
The leaders of the late revolution had scattered. Some had fled to Central and
South America, some to Hispaniola and some to Jamaica. Marti kept up a
correspondence with all of them, telling them of his work, stimulating them to ardor
for the next attempt. Many of them were older men than he, and they had to be
wooed into accepting guidance from him. Without exception, they ended by
admiring him wholeheartedly.
Marti did not confine himself to agitation. He spoke and wrote incessantly
along moral and cultural lines, to prepare his people for self-government. He was
historian, essayist, poet and journalist, all in one. He coined unforgettable phrases.
Listen to some of them : -
"To many generations of slaves must succeed one generation of
martyrs" "He is a criminal who promotes an evitable war, and he,
also, who avoids an inevitable war" "What I must say before my
voice is silenced and my heart ceases to beat in this world, is that my country
has all the virtues necessary for the conquest and maintenance of her liberty'
Marti persuaded exiled Cubans to contribute generously to the funds of the
revolution. He refused to spend one penny of this money upon himself, though
often he was in sore need for the support of his wife and child. Instead, he earned
a living as a teacher, writer and translator, occasionally as a lawyer, and at one
period as consul in New York for Uruguay and Argentina. He lived very simply
and turned over as large a share of his earnings as possible to the Junta, as the
Central Cuban Revolutionary Committee in New York was called.
At the end of fourteen years the objective was in sight. Forces within Cuba
were rallying for the blow. The exiled military leaders were prepared to return.
and these included Maximo G6mez, a native of Santo Domingo, who was to be
commander-in-chief ; the great mulatto general, Antonio Maceo, then in Costa
Rica ; and Calixto Garcia, who was in Spain. Marti shipped arms and ammunition
to Cuba, by means of blockade-running expeditions, most of which were successful,
though some were intercepted. It was hoped to start the revolution in 1894, but
the loss of a very important consignment of munitions forced a postponement. In
February, 1895, the uprising at last took place, beginning at Baire, a town in
Oriente Province near Santiago.
Detractors had said that Jos6 Marti would ask his compatriots to die while he
sat in an easy chair in New York. He concluded that it was necessary to disprove
this sneer. He had never borne arms, but that was equally true of thousands who
were volunteering. Over the objections of his associates on the Junta, and of most
of the generals, he resolved to take part in the first campaign, though it was agreed
that he would leave Cuba after he had demonstrated his courage. Coming from
that self-sacrificing spirit, it was a gesture of humility.
Marti joined MAximo (;mez in Haiti. Accompanied by a few officers, they
reached Cuba in an open boat that had been dropped from a freighter in the
Windward Passage. A few weeks later, on i9th May, the small command they
headed ran into an ambush at Dos Rios. G6mez asked Marti to keep to the rear,
using the expression, "for this is not your place" But Marti would have none of
that. He joined in the charge and was shot dead in his first skirmish. The Spaniards
captured his body, took it to Santiago and placed it on display, then buried it
respectfully enough in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery.
The death of Marti so shocked and grieved the Cuban people that they rose to
the support of the revolution with a fervor they might not otherwise have shown.
The struggle lasted for three years and was being won by the patriots when the
destruction of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbour brought the United States
into the war. The end was thereby considerably hastened. After four years of
military government, for which there was little justification, the American withdrew
and the republic became a fact in May, 1902.
The Cubans called Jos6 Marti "The Apostle" They have sanctified him in an
extraordinary degree, giving him a veneration that is subtly unlike the passionate
idolatry accorded Bolivar. His bust or portrait, the expression austere, presides
over every public office, every schoolroom in the country. Never is he portrayed
in a flamboyant attitude. A biography of him, officially crowned and published
in 1941, is entitled, Josd Marti, the Saint of America. I know of no patriot more
deserving of that name.
The Free Village System In Jamaica
This article is reproduced by kind permission from the Jamaica Historical Review,
Vol. i. No. I. The author, who took his degree in History at Oxford, was for some
years representative of the British Council in Jamaica, a member of the Board of
Governors of the Institute of Jamaica, and a founder of the Jamaica Historical
LORD OLIVIER, in his masterly study, "Jamaica the Blessed Island" writes
"The twenty-seven years between 'Emancipation' (1838) and the
'Jamaica Rebellion' (1865) form a single continuous period in the develop-
ment of the Jamaican people. That period transformed an amorphous
aggregate of 320,000 negro slaves, reputed to be irreclaimable savages, into
the organic and self-respecting citizenry of a British community. There exists
no professed history giving a connected and understanding account of that
remarkable social and economic phenomenon, unparalleled so far as it goes
in human story"
I shall endeavour, in the present article, to make some contribution towards
a more complete understanding of the nature and significance of the events and
trends in the history of the earlier and more important years of this period.
The significance of the year 1838 in the history of the Jamaican people cannot
be exaggerated. Before that date there were certainly large numbers of people in
Jamaica (the population was, in fact, over 370,000) but they did not, in any true
sense, constitute a society or a community. On the one hand there were the
colonists ; on the other hand there were the slaves. Each constituted an entirely
distinct social group separated not so much by race as by the rigid economic
structure of an artificial society. Neither was a normally balanced social group,
for each had been uprooted from its normal environment and had lost in the process
the traditional social sanctions and the spiritual basis of social life. In between
these two groups there had grown up, it is true, an aggregate of free coloured
people which had for a long period been steadily, increasing in, numbers and
importance but they were only just beginning to play that fuller part in the life of
the country which had been made possible by the "Act to remove all disabilities of
Persons of Free Condition" passed in the year 1830, and they were still a people
apart both from the white and the negro elements in the population.
Sir Lionel Smith, Governor of Jamaica, in his speech to the Council and the
Assembly in October, 1838, called the complete emancipation of the slaves "the
most important event in the annals of Colonial history" This statement, which is
as true today as it was over a century ago, shows dearly enough that the Colonial
authorities fully appreciated the significance of emancipation, a fact which makes
it seem all the stranger that more was not done to ensure the complete success of
the measure. It is easy to be wise after the event, but any intelligent person in
Jamaica at that time could have anticipated most at least of the problems arising
out of the transformation of the vast majority of the population from a condition
of slavery on the estates to that of a landless proletariat. The extreme unwisdom
of such a policy, in the first place, should have been self-evident ; for a people
who have for generations derived their livelihood from the soil can hardly
be divorced from it by a stroke of the pen without disastrous results. This was not,
of course, precisely the intention, nor in fact actually the case in every instance
but the important fact remains that the foundations of a society based upon estate
slavery were overthrown in a moment and that little or no attempt was made by
the authorities to erect in its place a properly designed and well founded social
structure. This anomaly becomes more readily understandable when it is
remembered that Emancipation was conceived in England and was forced upon the
Assembly of Jamaica by Parliament and that the members of the House of Assembly
upon whom rested the responsibility for creating a stable and progressive free
Society in Jamaica were, almost to a man, opposed to the idea of Emancipation
and were determined both from prejudice and from a mistaken idea of their own
interests, to wreck the policy which had been imposed upon them by the force of
public opinion in Great Britain.
Exactly a century ago, on 7th June, 1845, the Rev. William Knibb, who played
an important part in the life of Jamaica in the years immediately following
Emancipation, openly accused the Assembly of this obstructive policy at a meeting
held at Norwich. "Immediately on the possession of that freedom to which I have
referred" declared Knibb, "there were laws passed which were intended to act in
all their force (and the declaration that they were thus intended to act was publicly
made) upon the then free inhabitants of Jamaica. These laws were-first, the
ejectment act ; secondly, the trespass act. By the first the whole population, or
any portion of it, could be ejected at a week's notice from the homes in which they
had been born and in which they had vegetated while slaves ; by the other, the
police of the country was empowered to catch hold of and to imprison any individual
who was found in his former home, after he had received notice of ejectment. This
was done with the avowed purpose of compelling the labourer to work for whatever
wages they chose to give, and to perform as much work as they required"
Every generalisation is made at some sacrifice of truth but the planters in
Jamaica of that day are, with some notable exceptions, proved guilty by
the evidence of history of that of which Knibb accused them.
It had not been anticipated that emancipation would involve a general exodus
of the former slaves from the estates. Joseph Sturge and Thomas Harvey during
their tour of the West Indies in 1837 (with a view to studying the apprenticeship
system established in 1834 preparatory to complete emancipation which followed
in 1838), visited various estates in Jamaica including Farm in the parish of
St. Catherine. So impressed were they with what they saw that they recorded
their opinion that so far from complete emancipation being injurious to such
estates as these, the people when free, will be too unwilling to leave their cottages
and gardens, and fruit trees, the heirlooms handed down to them from their
ancestors, to be likely to forsake the estates"
"In a state of freedom" they wrote elsewhere, "it may be anticipated, that the
condition and resources of an agricultural labourer, working for regular wages, will
be, as they are in England, superior to those of the petty agriculturist cultivating
his little plot of land with the labour of his own hands ; and it is evident, therefore,
that the negroes will generally prefer working on the estates. Their strong attach-
ment to the place of their birth, to their houses, gardens, to the graves of their
parents and kindred, exceeding what has been recorded of any other people, is
another circumstance, which favours their continuance as labourers, on the estates
to which they are now respectively attached.
"To such views as these, is opposed the fact that the negroes will be tempted,
by the abundance and fertility of the waste lands, to become small settlers, and
independent cultivators. We do not think such an alarm reasonable, and we
deprecate any attempt to evade the difficulty, by lessening the free agency of the
labouring population. It would be possible to deprive freedom of its substance
and value, by restrictive laws, devised with subtlety and executed with violence"
Planters who sought to drive the people from the estates resorted to
two principal expedients-ejectment and the imposition of high rents. The
Emancipation Act provided that the negroes who occupied cottages and grounds
on the estates should keep them for three months after freedom. Unfortunately it
was not made clear that this occupation was to be rent free. A decision was given
by the Attorney General of Jamaica against this point of view and this decision
was in turn reversed by the Attorney and Solicitor General of Great Britain. This
confusion of opinion led to chaos.
An illuminating account of these ejectments is given by Mr. Charles Darling
(later Governor of Jamaica) to the then Governor, Sir Lionel Smith, in a letter
dated 13th May, 1839. "Notices to quit were", he writes, "served in great numbers
very soon after the Ist August, and long before the publication of the opinion of
the Attorney and Solicitor General of England" Of the effect which these
notices produced upon the minds of the peasantry a striking instance will be
afforded by the following statement :-
"On taking possession of Weybridge estate in September last, I visited
the 'negro village', and in conversation with one of the more intelligent
labourers, I asked why he had allowed his house to fall into such bad repair,
and what was the cause of the irregular attendance of the field labourers at
work ? He told me immediately that they did not care to do anything to
their houses as they were uncertain whether they would be allowed to retain
them or not, and that they felt 'quite unsettled' Upon inquiring what had
occasioned this uncertainty, he immediately produced his notice to quit,
and I then, for the first time, learnt that not only every householder on the
property had been served with one, but that the practice had been in many
other instances adopted in the district"
A vivid picture of the state of affairs in Jamaica at that time may be gained
from the reports of the stipendiary magistrates who were appointed throughout the
island to safeguard the interests of the apprentices and of the fully emancipated
One of these magistrates, Mahon, writes from Vere in April, 1839, pointing
out that "Every estate in the parish is doing well, which I entirely attribute to the
planters doing away with the abominable system of ejecting the labourers"
Some of the planters charged their former slaves excessive rents, even resorting
to the astonishing expedient of charging rent to every member in a family, a system
which, John Gurley reports in June, 1839, had "been the means of many estates
being almost deserted" in the Nassau mountains of St. Elizabeth.
John Dillon writes from Dry Harbour in the parish of St. Ann in March,
"Where rents are not charged, cultivation has best succeeded ; where
rents are charged, wages are higher, and labour less continuous besides the
host of evil feelings it engenders. The man paying rent will be desirous of
equalizing his position with his neighbour who does not, and he effects his
object by demanding higher wages in plain figures the account
"The average sum hitherto recovered for houses and grounds is 3s. 4d.
a week the man paying rent demands and receives 2s. 6d. a day, or
12s. 6d. a week he who does not pay, works for Is. 8d. a day, or at the
rate of 9s. 4d. a week, leaving a balance in favour of rent of only 2d. per
week and yet for this vision, this two-penny farthing delusion, some
properties have been depopulated"
W. J. Marlton, writing from St. Mary's in April, 1839, takes a more favour-
able view :-
"In general the labouring population earn with ease sufficient money to
pay their rent and supply their wants. Would the employers repair the
cottages, the peasantry would have no reason to complain"
It would in fact have been very easy for the planters to have retained the
labourers on the estates if they had wished to do so. It has already been observed
that the people were very strongly attached to the houses and grounds which had
been their homes, in many cases for generations. There were also hospitals on the
estates and other advantages which were not to be found elsewhere and the fact
was that the proprietors of good estates had no difficulty at all in retaining the
people upon them.
It was, on the other hand, the definite policy of the majority of the planters
to drive the people from the estates in the belief that cheap labour would be more
readily obtainable on their own terms from a landless proletariat.
This was stated baldly enough by a meeting of the freeholders, proprietors and
managers of the properties in the parish of Trelawny held in February 1839 "It
is the opinion of this Committee that the people never will be brought to a state
of continuous labour while they are allowed to possess the large tracts of land now
cultivated by them for provisions, which renders them perfectly independent of
Edmund Lyon reports from Trelawny in July, 1839 :-
"Many proprietors have advertised for sale the mountain lands hereto-
fore cultivated as provision grounds by their labourers, from an assumption
that their produce, by rendering the people independent of estates' labour
for sustenance, has a tendency to prevent that regularity of labour they deem
necessary for sugar culture this in conjunction with the irritation produced
on some properties by the indiscriminate service of notices to quit, has
induced a very large portion of the best class of agricultural labourers in
this parish to become purchasers of land, thus producing an effect the very
reverse of that contemplated by their masters, in rendering them more
independent of daily hire than before"
Exactly the same process was observed in August of that year by Fishbourne,
the Stipendiary Magistrate at Buff Bay, in the present parish of Portland :
"Planters are unwilling to permit families to reside on their plantations,
the females of which refuse to devote themselves to agricultural labour. The
object is to increase the number of contract field labourers the effect
I have reason to believe will be the reserve-for many respectable people
are now availing themselves of opportunities of purchasing or leasing small
pieces of land where they are preparing to place their wives and children
and where they also will retire when they can quit the estates, without
sacrificing the provisions now in the ground"
This was the crux of the whole matter. As a general rule the people would
have preferred to continue to live in their old villages on the estates and to cultivate
their old provision grounds. If, however, they were ejected or were subject to
ejectment at notice so short that they were in danger of losing each crop that they
planted, and had, in addition, to pay high rents, they had perforce to leave the
estates and to make new homes for themselves where their tenure was sufficiently
secure for them to plant crops with a reasonable assurance of reaping them, to
build good houses and to make other improvements which they need not be afraid
of losing through the caprices of irresponsible landlords. Thus only could a man
make a home for his family consistent with his self respect by that means alone
could he obtain that measure of independence which could give him some bargaining
power in the matter of wages. This was clearly seen by H. Daly who wrote from
St. Andrew in July, 1839 "To escape this state of dependency many of the late
apprentices are purchasing or renting lands in the vicinity of their former masters'
estates" and by Thomas Abbott who observed in August, 1840, that the small
settler's acre or half-acre in Westmoreland, although not being sufficient to support
him completely, "may enable him to procure higher wages than if he were living
at sufferance on the estate"
The Rev. William Knibb, the Baptist missionary to whom reference has
already been made in this article, saw clearly enough before the slaves were
completely emancipated that settlement on their own land was the only course open
to the people evicted from the estates. On Igth July, 1838, he told a meeting of
2,500 Jamaican apprentices at Falmouth, that, "if they (the planters) are blind
to their own interests, and drive you from their properties, there is plenty of crown
land in Jamaica, and you can resort to that in case of extremity" These then
were the causes of that remarkable social revolution which took place in Jamaica
in the years immediately following the emancipation of the slaves. As early as
1839, in the Report of the Commission of Quit-Rent Inquiry, it is observed that
"the recent change in the social and political state of the Colony has brought with
it one very important consequence--a minute sub-division of landed property",
and this process continued at a great pace during the next few years. At the end
of that period the population, which had hitherto been grouped artificially on a
purely economic basis on the sugar estates, had for the most part settled themselves
on a social basis in the districts, villages and on their own scattered individual
freeholds where, so far as the availability of land permitted, they chose to live.
The present social structure of Jamaica does in fact date from that period the
people had taken the first and most important step towards becoming a real
community. This settlement on the land was for the most part, haphazard and
unplanned. It was determined primarily by the availability of land in the area
concerned. In some places sugar estates which had fallen into ruin through the
decline of the sugar industry were cut up and sold to the people. In others only
back land, far from roads and often rocky and unfruitful, could be got and there
the people made their grounds and built their houses. A report written by the
Stipendiary Magistrate Ewart, from Morant Bay in October, 1840, gives an account
of the process in St. Thomas which may be regarded as being typical of conditions
in most parts of the Island-"The progress of the rural population in establishing
themselves as small freeholders has been rapid and unceasing. Within a few miles
of Morant Bay, three extensive villages have been established on sugar plantations
that have been thrown out of cultivation for many years. These freeholds vary in
extent, from one to ten acres, and the cottages, amounting to upwards of 300, are
neat and comfortable and surrounded by gardens and provisions grounds.
Independent of these villages there are many other small freeholds scattered over
Wherever possible the people settled together in villages or towns. A remarkably
clear account of the process of establishing such a settlement and of the reasons
for which the people did so is given by Hall Pringle, writing from Clarendon in
June, 1839 :-
"On the borders of Clarendon and Manchester, a town is springing
up at Porus, by the unaided energy and industry of the negro settlers, of
whom there is now, as near as I can guess, 1,5oo including the females and
children. Within an area of two miles, several proprietors are selling land
for the purpose. The most extensive sales have been made by Mr. Andrew
Drummond. This gentleman, since August last year, purchased 700 acres
for 500 L. currency the whole of this, except about 20 reserved acres, he
has sold in lots averaging 15 to 25 acres each. What he purchased for 500 L.
he has sold for 2,000 L. It appears that the purchasers from Mr. Drummond
only acted as agents, and amongst them and the entire body of the settlers,
there is now only three who hold so much as five acres each, and the
generality of these freeholds contain no more than from one and one-half
acres to two acres. I have visited this village several times, and conversed
with the settlers, and also with some respectable individuals who reside in
the immediate vicinity of Porus, and I learn that the conduct if these
newcomers has been irreproachable and that their industry has been
surprising. The quality of the land is so bad, and freeholds so small, which
these persons have purchased that it is almost an impossibility that they can
reap any produce from them, and this the settlers know well ; I was
informed by them they only wished for homes where they could not be
troubled, and that they might have the liberty of working where they might
choose for their livelihood"
As Pringle clearly saw, the average land holding acquired in this way,
although giving its owner some measure of independence was too small to make
him entirely self-supporting. He adds that "there are three very fine sugar estates
in the immediate neighbourhood, on the Clarendon side, but none of these settlers
have yet taken employment on them, and the locality of the village will certainly
enhance the value of these sugar estates, as well as the other properties in the
It is little short of tragic that the Government of Jamaica at that period missed
its opportunity of carrying out a definite policy of settlement of the many
emancipated people upon good land near to the estates and other centres where
regular employment might be obtained. Had such a policy been initiated the
people would have benefitted and the estates would have been supplied with
sufficient regular labour and the whole community would have prospered accord-
ingly. It may be said that Government Land Settlement Schemes are a modem
conception and that this criticism is therefore unjustified, but those who governed
Jamaica a century ago, cannot plead ignorance before the bar of history, for just
such a plan as this was put clearly before the Governor, Sir Charles Metcalfe, by
the Honourable D. Robertson, Custos of St. Elizabeth, in a remarkable letter datle
21st September, 1840
"The labouring population of this parish" writes the Custos, "formerly
attached to properties, have in many instances left and established them-
selves as small freeholders on very poor unproductive savanna lands, too
distant from the large estates to enable them to labour thereon to advantage
they will consequently at no distant period have to desert these freeholds,
and return to the estates, or resort to situations more productive and central
for obtaining labour. I would, therefore, with every deference take the
liberty of suggesting the very great utility and advantage that would result
to the labouring population generally were Government to purchase lands for
erecting new interior townships in healthy and productive situations, where
they would, by being in the vicinity of large estates, be certain of procuring
continuous labour the town or villages to be erected on a regular plan,
each cottage to have a lot of land attached, sufficient by proper cultivation,
to assist in the maintenance of a family, for which the tenant would pay a
stipulated rent to Government. The villages to be situated at such distances
from each other as to prevent the labourers disputing about labour on the
adjoining estates ; each township to have at once erected a school-house and
chapel in the centre of the village, where an island curate would have to
perform divine worship at least once every fortnight or oftener, if the villages
are not so situated as to permit his service at both every sabbath day ; this
plan would afford greater facility for the education of the children than at
present exists, and would tend very much to the moral improvement of the
adults as well as the children. Were this course adopted it would at once
put a stop to the impositions that have been so extensively practised on the
labouring population in many parts of the island by designing individuals,
who have purchased at a low rate large tracts of land, and resold the same
in small lots to the peasantry at a shamefully exhorbitant profit, the lands
being at the same time very poor and unproductive, and so situated as to
prevent the labourers from being able to procure sufficient employment to
support their families, thus exposing them to indigence and poverty instead
of comfort, happiness, and affluence, which would be consequent on the
plan I have taken the liberty of suggesting"
Not only does this letter outline a constructive policy of land settlement ; it
contains a whole programme of social and economic rehabilitation for the people
which demonstrates the fact that amongst the landowners of Jamaica of that day
were to be found some at least with foresight and with a highly developed sense of
social responsibility although these qualities were not very much in evidence
amongst the Island's legislators.
Fortunately for Jamaica there was one group of men in the Island who not
only realized to the full that there was an imperative need for something constructive
to be done to meet the situation but who were ready and willing to do it themselves
these men were the missionaries of the evangelical churches.
We have already seen that the Baptist missionary, William Knibb, in a public
meeting at Falmouth in July, 1838, had warned the people of the possibility of
their being driven from the estates and had advised them, in that eventuality, to
settle upon the crown lands. He had gone on to tell them "I have had an offer
of a loan of Io,ooo from a friend in England ; and if it be necessary, that sum
shall be appropriated towards the purchase of lands on which you may locate
yourselves if your present employers force you to quit the properties on which
you now live" John Howard Hinton, the biographer of Knibb, makes the following
comment upon this speech :-
"The reader will observe in this speech the idea of providing a refuge
for labourers who might be expelled from the estate cottages, by purchasing
land on which they might erect tenements for themselves. The idea was a
felicitous one. It was an effectual remedy for the evil contemplated. It
was also as magnificent as it was felicitous It was a scheme for
delivering people from bondage. Its vastness might well have caused it to
be deemed impracticable conceived, however, with so much sagacity and
foresight, it gradually ripened into an active element. It was the germ of
what subsequently became so notorious and so successful under the name of
the Free Village System"
Knibb was not in fact the initiator of this system. That honour is probably
due to another Baptist missionary, James Murcell Phillipo, who established the
first "Free Village" in the hills above Spanish Town and named it Sligoville after
the Marquis of Sligo, then Governor of Jamaica. Dr. Underhill gives the following
account of the place after visiting it in 1861
"A visit to this township was most interesting, it being the first of those
numerous settlements of the enfranchised slaves which sprang into existence
immediately after emancipation. It comprises about fifty acres of land
twenty-five acres were purchased in the commencement of 1835, by
Mr. Phillippo, as peculiarly eligible for village settlement, on account of the
good roads about it, and its proximity to Kingston and Spanish Town.
In June (1838), two months before entire freedom was proclaimed, the first
lot of land was purchased by Henry Lunan, formerly a slave and headman
on an adjoining plantation. I record his name to mark with special
emphasis this commencement of a new era, not only of liberty, but of an
independent peasantry in the Island of Jamaica"
In St. Ann's parish, the Rev. John Clark devoted himself to this work. "In
this endeavour", writes the Rev. George Henderson, in his book, "Goodness and
Mercy", "he was supported by Mr. Sturge, and probably by other kindred spirits
in England. Mr. Sturge lent the sum of 400 for land purchase and with this
amount Mount Abyla was bought, divided into village lots, and sold out, and
some one hundred families were settled in a village now named Sturge Town,
where a Church was formed and a day school established in 1840. Then,
in succession followed the settlement of the villages of Clarksonville, Wilberforce
and Buxton, whose names commemorate the friends of the race who laboured so
long, and sacrificed so much, in their efforts to bring liberty to our land.. In
addition to these, lands were bought and homesteads settled at Bethany, and at
Salem on the same seashore and subsequently the villages of Happy Valley,
Philadelphia and Harmony were founded, some two miles from Brown's Town.
"In these places comfortable cottages of two or three rooms with the
necessary outbuildings, were erected by the purchasers, and for the most
part were solidly built of native lumber and Spanish wall, shingled and
floored and many still stand (1931) as the homes of descendants"
Others who were prominent in this invaluable work were the Baptist
missionaries, Thomas Burchell (who founded Bethel Town and Mount Carey),
Messrs. Dendy, Dexter, Abbott, Taylor and Reid, and the Rev. George Blyth, of
the Scottish Missionary Society.
If the House of Assembly was indifferent to, or even antagonistic towards the
settlement of the emancipated people upon the land in Jamaica, this was certainly
not true of those responsible for the administration of the Colonies in Great Britain
or their representatives in Jamaica, the Governors of the Colony.
Attempts were made as soon as the Emancipation Act had been passed to get
the Assembly to deal constructively with some of the problems arising out of that
measure but unfortunately with little or no effect. At the same time reports were
constantly being called for which exhibit the concern with the welfare and progress
of the people in Jamaica which was felt by the British Government.
The settlement of the people on the land was regarded with favour. Sir Charles
Metcalfe, Governor of Jamaica, wrote on i6th October, 1839, to the Marquis of
Normanby, Secretary of State for the Colonies
"In some instances labourers have purchased small lots of land and thus
become proprietors. I should be glad if this were a general practice. It
would put an end to the cause of irritation which may continue to exist while
they hold their houses and grounds on an uncertain tenure ; it would not
necessarily throw them out of the labouring class, their properties not being
sufficiently large to exempt them entirely from the necessity of seeking other
means of support"
Lord John Russell, who succeeded Lord Normanby as Secretary of State for
the Colonies in 1839, asks Metcalfe in a despatch dated Ioth December, 1839, for
"any information which you may be able to obtain respecting the acquisition by
the negroes of freehold property, and of electoral rights"
In his reply of 9th June, 1840, Metcalfe informs him that there is no record
that shews these acquisitions by negroes alone", but that "the additional number
of freeholders with electoral rights acquired since Ist August, 1838, was 934.
"According to the return of the Island Secretary's Office, the number
of conveyances of land under 20 acres entered between the Ist August, 1838,
and the Ist May, 1840, is 2,074. This number no doubt includes the greater
part of the beforementioned 934, and may also include other new freeholds
with electoral rights, which have not been registered in the vestries; and
which, until they be so registered, are not operative in confirming those
The number of electors at the last election appears to have been 2,199,
to which even 934 would be a large relative addition ; but it is probable
that the increase is much greater"
In his Despatch of 3oth March, 1840, the Governor had given Lord John
Russell a most valuable analysis of the situation in Jamaica :-
"Were the labourer comfortably settled in a home from which he could
not be removed, or not at least without sufficient notice", he writes, "there
would, I am almost sure be a better chance of obtaining willing labour from
"I am happy to add that several gentlemen take this view of the
question ; that some have sold land to negroes and thus given them a settled
abode that others are beginning to perceive the advantage of doing the
same and that this view is, I trust, gaining ground. I shall do all I can
to promote it from a conviction that it will increase the happiness and
content of the negro population, and from a belief that it will also tend to
the benefit of the landlords.
"It appears to me that the land which they purchase is chiefly for the
purpose of obtaining a secure home, that it is generally too little in extent
to be looked to as a permanent source of subsistence and that they must
calculate either on obtaining additional means of comfort by going out to
labour, or on taking more land on lease for their own cultivation. For
my own part I rejoice at these settlements of the labourers their present
happiness must be greatly increased, and I do not see that the consequences
must necessarily be injurious to the landlords. I rather think that there is
greater probability of their proving beneficial".
On Ist August, 1840 (on the second anniversary of emancipation), Metcalfe
sent a circular despatch to the Stipendiary Magistrates and Custodes of each parish
in which he requested information upon :-
"The progress of the rural population in establishing themselves as
small freeholders. The effect of small independent freeholds on the supply
of steady labour, whether conducive thereunto or otherwise.
"The condition of the new interior towns and villages created since the
abolition of slavery, and their effect on the internal retail commerce of the
Colony" and "the state of education among the children of the towns and
The numerous and often voluminous reports which were received in response
to this despatch provide one of the principal sources from which our information
about this highly important phase in the social development of Jamaica is derived.
A fairly typical account is that of the Stipendiary Magistrate, Pryce, who, in the
course of a long report, dated ioth September, 1840, from St. Thomas in the East,
"Several villages are settling by the peasantry in this district, viz., at
Delvey, Airymount, Navarino, Greenwood, Islington, and Beldona,
independent of the very great addition to the townships of Port Morant,
Rocky Point, Bath and Manchioneal where hundreds of lots have been
purchased in fee, in some instances at the enchanced rate of 40 L. per acre,
for lands previously considered almost valueless.
"Their domiciles are being erected upon a much more spacious and
comfortable scale than those of former days. In short, the manifest
improvement in the people, in their social and domestic comforts, and the
independence of the peasantry generally, as well as their dress and
demeanour, form a most pleasant contrast to those of former days ; they
are constant in their religious duties, and continue unremittingly their
regard for educational impulses"
Sir Charles Metcalfe's Despatch to Lord John Russell of z4th December, 1840,
and its enclosure are of such outstanding importance in a study of the subject with
which we are concerned that they are here reproduced in full :-
I4th December, 1840"
The accompanying statement shows that a large increase has taken
place from 1838 to 1840 in the number of proprietors of small freeholds in
the several rural parishes of this island ; the increase consisting almost
entirely of emancipated negroes.
"2. It appears that the number of such freeholders assessed in 1838
was 2,04 ; and in 1840, 7,848. There was no assessment in the inter-
mediate year, owing to the suspension of ordinary taxation.
"3. The return received from Kingston does not exhibit any increase,
being a commercial city, in which land is expensive, and occupied by
dwelling houses, purchases, it may be presumed, cannot be effected there
to the same extent, or at the same prices as in the rural districts"
I have, &c.,
C. T. METCALFE.
"The Right Honourable Lord John Russell,
&c., &c., &c."
The following table is enclosed with this Despatch
"Comparative Statement of Freeholders Assessed
under Forty Acres in 1838 and 1840.
Saint Catherine 48
Saint Mary 72
Saint Dorothy 86
Saint John 7
Saint Ann 178
St. Thomas in the Vale 131
Saint George III
St. Thomas in the East 70
Saint David 35
Saint Andrew 166
Port Royal 15
Saint James 94
Saint Elizabeth 146
as holding Freeholds
There is some discrepancy in the table but the general trend is unmistakably
that of an overwhelming increase in the number of small freeholds throughout the
Island. The percentage of this increase (which is 290 for the Island as a whole on
the basis of the totals given) varies surprisingly in different parishes. The increase
is as high as 700 per cent. in Clarendon and as low as 26 per cent. in Hanover it
is impossible to go into a detailed analysis of the causes of this variation within the
limits of this article but it would provide a fruitful subject for careful study from
which it is reasonable to suppose that facts would emerge having an important
bearing upon conditions prevailing today in the different parishes of the Island.
It is sufficient for our purposes to observe that the evidence makes it clear that the
emancipated people, throughout Jamaica, were planning their lives in accordance
with what they believed to be their own interests. It is evident, moreover, that
many, if not most of them, believed that these interests would best be served by
establishing themselves upon the land and that where there were few settlements
this arose from the fact that suitable land was not available. A realistic statement
of the process is contained in a letter from the Stipendiary Magistrate, John
Daughtrey, written from St. Elizabeth in July, 1839
"Of the large body who have been induced to provide homes of their
own, if they discover it to be less to their interest to cultivate a small patch
of land than to work for hire, as in general they certainly will, the neigh-
bouring estates where they shall be best treated and best paid will ere long
be again able to obtain their services.
"In all these respects they will now be governed by their own views of
personal interest, the same as in any other class of society. Nothing can
permanently keep labour out of the channels which yield most advantage
and comfort to the labourer"
The Rev. William Knibb, in the address given in June, 1845, to which I have
before referred, summarised the progress in settlement on the land which had
already been made :-
"By the census taken during last year, I find that there were full
nineteen thousand persons, formerly slaves, who had purchased land on
which they were erecting their own cottages. In St. James' parish there were
io new free villages, with II,ozo houses ; in Trelawny, the parish in which
I live, there were 23 free villages, and 1,590 houses ; in St. Mary's, 15 free
villages, with 632 houses in St. Thomas in the Vale, Io free villages with
A century ago the foundations of the structure of a free and homogeneous
Jamaican community had been securely laid.
P. M. SHERLOCK
My father walked beside me
Through the fields where grasses green
Softly sang and flowers sprang
From the dust beneath our feet.
My father's father too was there
And all around the eyes of those
Who shuttered clay had cast aside
While trees in robes of living light
Sang hallelujah ceaselessly.
See singing in that shining band
Brave Tacky claps his hands for joy
See Cudjoe dance before the Lamb
His blessed wounds now golden mouths
For Hallelujahs evermore
See Bogle shepherding his flock
The hangman's rope a garland gay
And Gordon wave his lifted arms
And sound his passionate amen.
The Great House owners, slaves no more,
With naked feet approach the throne,
They join with ecstasy the throng
And freedom find in brotherhood
The dancing feet no imprint make,
But beauty flows upon the land
On flowers and fields and singing trees
Roots moving gently through the silent ones.
John Sebastian Bach
DR. T. W. J. TAYLOR
Two HUNDRED years ago, on 28th July, 1750, Bach died in a fit of apoplexy. He
had reached what in the eighteenth century was the ripe of sixty-five and he
had been blind for the last three years of his life owing, it i; said, to the great tax
he had placed on his eyes throughout his life in writing and copying music. He is
one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known.
Bach did not cut the romantic figure which is demanded by the present
artificial conventions of the film. He was not wayward or impulsive or striking to
look at. He was a solid individual in a wig who married tw ce and had a total of
twenty children of whom more than half died in infancy. His four surviving sons
were brought up in his art and all made their name in music some of their wcrks
are played today. Bach earned his living throughout his life by music, first as a
singer in a church choir, then by playing in the private band of a German prince,
then as organist to the Court at Weimar in Germany. At the age of thirty-two he
was appointed to take charge of the music in a church at Cothen and six years
later as director of music in the two chief churches in Leipzig. There he remained
for the rest of his life, twenty-seven years in all.
His output of musical composition is enormous and nearly all of it was written
for strictly practical purposes organ music for his churches, "church cantatas",
which were an elaborate type of anthem set for soloists, choir and a simple
orchestra, settings of the services of the Lutheran Church, hymns, notably those
written for his second wife who had a beautiful voice, harpsichord pieces for playing
in the home, orchestral suites for the bands at the princely and ducal courts of
Germany, simple exercises and pieces for teaching music. He wrote no operas or
oratorios though Handel, who was born in the same year as Bach, was writing
many of these and winning great renown thereby. He wrote for the simple
orchestras available to him in Leipzig and was content to do so. He was himself
a highly accomplished organist and for many years after his death he was
remembered as a performer rather than a composer. Sir John Hawkins, who
published a general history of music in 1776, says nothing about him except that
he was celebrated "for his performance on the organ, especially in the use of the
Pedals". Practulally -othing of his was published rlur:ng his life and most of the
great mass of his music remained in manuscript in Leipzig. The musical world
did not realize how great a man he was and indeed hardly had the chance of doing
so. It was not until the end of the eighteenth century that his true place in music
began to be recognized and this was largely due to two other great composers,
Mozart and Mendelssohn. Mozart, that brilliant and unfortunate genius who was
born six years after Bach's death and died at the age of thirty-five, knew one of
Bach's sons and during a visit to Leipzig in 1789 heard a motet in eight parts by
Bach performed from the MS parts he exclaimed "Here is something from which
I can learn" and demanding more of the manuscripts he became absorbed in their
study. Mendelssohn did much to reveal Bach's genius by organizing in Berlin a
performance of his great Passion according to St. Matthew in 1829, exactly one
hundred years after its first unpretentious production in St. Thomas' Church in
Leipzig. To quote a nineteenth century writer, "A powerful excitement seized the
musical world people began to feel that an infinite depth and fulness of originality
united with a consummate power of formal construction was lying hidden in these
Since then Bach's fame has grown without ceasing. A society was formed in
Germany whose sole purpose was to publish everything he wrote. Choral societies
which are proud to bear his name and devote much of their energies to performing
his works have been founded in England, the United States and Germany. In the
university world the Oxford Bach Choir has been in existence for more than fifty
years. He is universally recognized as a member of that select company of the great
geniuses, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Dante, Aristotle, Newton and the few others.
To explain the many aspects of Bach's musical genius would demand much
space and much knowledge (both from the writer and the reader) and would obscure
the simple purposes of this article which is to record the two hundredth anniversary
of his death. Some of his pre-eminence lies in his technical mastery of form. He is
indeed the culminating master of one musical form, the fugue. Just as Beethoven
put the final touches of genius in what is called the sonata form, a confusing term
because though used in the sonata it is equally important in the symphony, the
concerto and much chamber music, so Bach carried the fugue to its highest state
of development. He was also a pioneer in overcoming purely practical difficulties.
The best example is his famous "Well-tempered Clavier" As most people know,
if the ordinary scale is played in a number of different keys and in one of these
keys the intervals between the notes are strictly accurate, then the scales in the
other keys, or at least some of them, will be uncomfortably out of tune. There must
be a compromise if the same notes are to be used in different keys and it must be
such that the divergence from true pitch is distributed equally through all the keys.
Bach proposed a method of doing this and showed that it worked by writing two
sets of preludes and fugues in all the possible keys, major and minor, the famous
Forty-Eight. All these could be played without obvious dissonance on a clavichord
(an early form of the piano) tuned according to his system. It was more than one
hundred years after his death that this system of equal temperament was adopted
in England for pianos and organs. But there is much more in Bach than technical
accomplishment. His vitality and vigour as a composer is outstanding his music
is on a big scale and he is not concerned with pretty effects, however charming they
may be. His power of expressing the greatest intensity of emotion with the simplest
means has hardly ever been equalled and never surpassed. Those familiar with his
works will think at once of examples. Some of the most striking can be found in
his great Mass in B minor the simple throbbing accompaniment of the Crucifixus
which makes the backbone turn to water, the trumpets and drums in the Gloria
and the interplay of flute and violin in Domine Deus.
Bach in his comparative isolation in Leipzig was thinking and writing a century
and more ahead of his time. When the splendours of his music had been unearthed
in the early nineteenth century, it was too difficult to be played. As late as 1871
one of the leading London weeklies reporting on a performance of his Passion
according to St. John said, "It will, of course, be a long time before the intricate
music of Bach can be properly and effectively executed" Fortunately this has not
proved to be the case. Though some of his works, both for the organ and for the
orchestra, and especially for voices, will always remain a severe test for adequate
performance, much of his music is within the capabilities of the ordinary performer
nowadays. It can be played and enjoyed again and again and every performance
discloses more of the depth and the width of his musical genius.
The "People's University" and the Trade Unions
RAWLE E. G. FARLEY
Rawle Farley is a young Guianese teacher, who is now in the United Kingdom on
a British Council Scholarship, and who has been making a study of Adult Education
"No ROOF, NO WALLS, but for all that a living university-a University of the
People" Thus does Stuart Emery, writing in the News Chronicle, sum up his
survey of the work and activity of the Workers' Educational Association. For the
W.E.A., as it is otherwise popularly known, is the largest, the most powerful, and
the most distinguished organisation in adult education in the United Kingdom,
and brings to its large, diverse, and widespread student body education that is of
genuine university standards. It demands high and consistent levels of attainment
it insists on serious and disciplined study, on free discussion, and on a spirit of
genuine enquiry and intellectual integrity, from both students and tutors. Like the
Universities in this country, it is nun-party political it is free from official and
party political influence, although it receives a large measure of financial support
from the Ministry of Education, the Local Education authorities, and the Trade
Unions. Rather does it aim at continuously changing the climate of official and
public opinion in a dynamic society so that social progress shall continuously be
made. And in the international field of adult education, it is certainly a unique
organisation, for not only are many of its persistent features not shared by the now
widely flung international W.E.A's, but this student-governed and student-controlled
democratic organisation has been the progenitor of the many adult education
movements the world over, which, in conjunction with the Universities and the
government, are engaged in educational provision for the people.
Perhaps, the most impressiv- fact is that this organisation which today has
over 5,oo000 classes throughout the United Kingdom, and a student body numbering
over 103,ooo, is the product of voluntary service. The W.E.A. has been built by
the voluntary efforts of the working classes of Britain, in conjunction later on with
the Universities and those members of the community who had enjoyed happier
educational opportunities, and who saw, with the working classes, the fundamental
value of education in a rapidly changing society. The W.E.A. was founded by
Dr. Mansbridge in 1903. Its major objective originally was the social and industrial
emancipation of the working classes, an aim consistent with the existing social,
industrial, and political conditions of the working classes of that time. And the
working classes, too, as S. G. Raybould has pointed out, were, in that age, a
clearly definable body. This clear-cut definition is impossible today, after half-a-
century of virtual social revolution in this country. In the words of an eminent
liberal English intellectual, we are all working class today. The re-definition of the
term working class is basic to Raybould's challenge to the W.E.A., in his important
recent book "W.E.A.-The Next Phase", in which he asks again, "Who are the
workers" ? However this question is settled--and the book was considered to be
so important that a National Conference was organised to consider its implications
-the fact remains that the W.E.A., since its foundation in 1903, and especially
with the emergence of the Joint Committee System, developed rapidly and widely
enough to bring into comprehensive functional interrelationship three major voluntary
bodies, engaged in the previous half century in organising educational provision
for "the educationally underprivileged" as against "the educationally sophisticated"
These voluntary bodies were the Universities, the Co-operative Movement, and the
The history of the adult education movement in England, before the advent
of the W.E.A., is of the utmost significance, and throws light on subsequent
developments. For the founding of the W.E.A. by Dr. Mansbridge is to be
regarded as a culmination and integration of the ardent but irregular demands for
educational provisions which were made previous to 1903 by the working people
themselves. The spontaneous demand for educational facilities was the outcome
of felt needs, sharpened by the Industrial Revolution, which was, of course, a
revolution not only in the economic structure of Britain. but in English social
organisation as well. The Napoleonic wars acded sti iuius to tha demand for
technical education, and the religious movement sought education of the illiterate
so that the Bible might be read, and the power of *'e Church reinforced.
Francis Place, the Charing Cross tailor, so prominent in early Trade Union
History, sought education, and political and social rights. William Lovett, of the
London Working Men's Association, made a combined demand for education and
reform. Religious fervour and social concern led the Welshman, Griffith Jones,
to poineer the new circulating schools. The curriculum was rigorous. Classes in
these schools started at 6 a.m., broke off for the long hours of work in those days,
and began again at 8 p.m. while on Sundays, classes were held before chapel at
o1 a.m. Yet despite the hours of work and the burdensome hours of school, by
1850, 150,ooo people in Wales were students in these classes. The Mechanics
Institutes, founded by Birkbeck, marked another stage of development. The new
movement met at first with the solid discouragement of officialdom. "The mechanics
will not come" they declared, "If they come, they will not listen, and if they listen,
they will not understand" Yet the Mechanics' Institutes met with remarkable
response. By 185o, 600 Mechanics' Institutes were founded with a membership
of over 500,000. But their decline was as rapid as their rise. The fundamental
reason for their fall is important. The fact is that the original predominating
educational purpose had surrendered to conventional social aspects. Only Birkbeck
College, London University remains, the sole prominent witness to the rise and
fall of the Institutes.
More lasting foundations were laid, when in 1873, James Stuart, a Scotsman,
initiated the University Extension Movement at Cambridge. Stuart himself was a
remarkable man. He founded the first Women's College at Cambridge, and was
the first Professor of Engineering there ; he was also a London Newspaper Editor,
and for some time a Member of Parliament. Imbued with the strong sense of
community apparently natural to the Scotsman, he felt that the benefits of
University education should be placed at the disposal of the community. And so
began the Extension Movement, and organised interest by the University in the
adult education movement. The University of London had been founded by
Radicals and Reformers, as part of the popular movement for education. It was
the founding of the W.E.A., however, and the institution of the Joint Committee
System which wedded these movements, gave them pattern, and concerted social
purpose. Through the W.E.A. and the Joint Committees, the University met the
people. The "educationally sophisticated" middle class intellectuals met the
"educationally underprivileged" and socially depressed working classes. The
University itself had broadened out and become part of the University of the People.
But throughout these developments, there is the underlying social philosophy.
It is true that the value of education was realized, in so far as it could serve further
in the particular purpose of consolidating the ranks of labour, and of securing
for that section of the community social acceptance, economic justice, and
a greater share in the government of a country, in which universal adult
suffrage was yet to be granted. But far more important was the consciousness
of the continuous contribution which education made to clear accurate and
responsible thinking, to the understanding of contemporary society, and above all, to
the extension of social cohesion. This philosophy still prevails in the W.E.A. It
exists to provide continuous and thorough courses of study, which lead not only
to the improvement of the individual, but to the understanding and improvement
of the society of which he is a part. It has chosen not to become a party propaganda
disseminator, but an organisation concerned with teaching its students how to think.
It believes that teaching "which aims primarily at organising acceptance for
particular ideas, programmes or policies is not education, but propaganda, and
should not be countenanced by the Association" It is "the business of the tutor
to encourage his students to form their own judgments" and "to combine with
intellectual integrity a sensitive respect for the inner freedom of his students, and
a recognition that he himself may after all be mistaken"
It is noteworthy that the academic freedom which the W.E.A. maintains and
encourages has been accepted as likely to be in the best interests of the Trade
Unions, both by the Workers' Educational Trade Union Committee (W.E.T.U.C.)
and by the Trade Union Congress Educational Committee. These are the two bodies
which co-operate with the W.E.A. in making educational provision for the Trade
Unions. In expressing its views on the resolution on centralised Adult Education
passed at the Trades Union Congress (1946), the W.E.A., with the W.E.T.U.C.,
reiterated W.E.A. objectives and policy, as they now stand "to co-operate with
trade unions, co-operative societies, political parties, and organizations such as the
Club and the Institute Union, and while it does not accept responsibility for the
activities of these bodies outside the particular activities for which it enters into
co-operation, its object in such co-operation is to provide working class education
in order to enable the workers to develop their capacities and to equip them for
their trade unions, labour, co-operative and club activities generally, in securing
social and industrial emancipation" It is re-emphasised that the W.E.A. can do
best service to the trade unions by teaching and helping students to think
Objective education of this kind is of the greatest value to the trade unions
today. Labour now occupies a powerful position in this country, and realises that
no political programme can be launched by any political party, without reference
to organised labour. The tasks of 1948 still remain, but withal the programme of
the Welfare State has been adopted by the two major political parties of the
moment-the Conservative and Labour Parties. They differ only as to the minima
which should be set at the moment with the problem of the dollar gap still unsolved.
The principles of full employment, and social security have been agreed upon and
this agreement has enchanced the strength of labour. Maximum administrative
efficiency, and increasing economic productivity are required if this country is to
succeed in solving the present economic problems. In view of the existing situation,
the largest measure of responsibility is asked of the unions which are in the strongest
position they have ever had. Not only the leaders of the unions, but the rank and
file of the labour movement must understand the present economic and international
problems which the country is facing. Successful co-operation can only be gained
with understanding, and understanding underlines the need for further educational
provision. The unions are fully aware of this. "If we are to justify control" the
W.E.A. and the W.E.T.U.C. states, "it must be at an intellectual level as good
as or better than that of our predecessors"
The unions realise that not only a state of national emergency, but the very
survival of the trade union movement is bound up with the task of educating their
members. A good trade unionist must have a broad and liberal education, but he
must have also a special knowledge of the history of the trade union movement,
the problems of industrial relations, the wages and price structure, and the relation
between his movement and various aspects of his society. The education desired
now is not education for "social and industrial emancipation" as in 1903, but
"education for responsibility". It is this recognition of their changed position that
led certain trade unions themselves to create the W.E.T.U.C., and to take the
fullest advantage of the provision made by the older body, the W.E.A.
The educational facilities of the W.E.A. are at the entire disposal of
the W.E.T.U.C. According to the 28th Report of the W.E.T.U.C. (1948), forty-one
trade unions were now affiliated to the W.E.T.U.C. The W.E.T.U.C. comprises
representatives from the affiliated trade unions, the W.E.A., and the Trades Union
Congress General Council. It is interesting to note that the President of the W.E.A.,
a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, is the Treasurer of the
W.E.T.U.C. In the districts, the Divisional Secretary of the W.E.A. now serves
in a similar capacity for the W.E.T.U.C. And as the W.E.A. has established
relationships with the Ministry of Education, the Local Education Authorities
(L.E.A.) and the Universities, it follows that an indirect relation herein exists for
the W.E.T.U.C. This body enjoys too all the advantages which the W.E.A. gains
through its prestige, and long experience, and through its well-established contacts.
The trade unions contributed in 1948 approximately 1o,ooo-a sum of money
which was to be devoted to educational facilities for its members. One-third of this
sum is retained by the W.E.A. to finance the administrative costs of making such
provision. The W.E.T.U.C. supervises and controls the expenditure of this sum
of money. The normal provisions made by the W.E.A. are open to the members
of the unions affiliated to the W.E.T.U.C. These provisions comprise single
lectures, one-day schools, residential week-end schools, national and international
summer schools, residential education, and the normal terminal, sessional, and
tutorial courses of the W.E.A.
The affiliated unions have clearly indicated that the broad, liberal, and objective
education provided by the. W.E.A. is in their best interests. In W.E.A. classes,
whether in economics, international affairs, sociology, history, literature, or
philosophy, the trade unionist meets not only other trade unionists who have been
sent by their unions, but the wider range of students who attend W.E.A. classes.
This range includes clerks and travellers, shop assistants and teachers, civil servants
and professional and social workers, nurses and draughtsmen. The cross-fertilisa-
tion of this wide range of experience and of knowledge cannot but be beneficial.
The Unions, like the range of "educationally sophisticated" students who attend
W.E.A. classes, realise that early educational experience did not prepare them for
the sudden and far-reaching changes. "They have outstripped our capacity to cope
with them and we have to learn how to adapt ourselves to new ideas and new
ways of life" People die mentally at different ages. The unions by taking
advantage of the W.E.A. facilities ensure that their members shall not encounter
The extent to which the unions affiliated to the W.E.T.U.C. take advantage of
the voluntary services of the W.E.A. can readily be indicated. In 1947/8, the
W.E.A. arranged classes for a student body numbering o03,757. 3,426 of these
classes were specifically for workers and trade unionists ; and some of the classes
so organised were of the most specialised character. It must be re-emphasised that
the standardss of the W.E.A. classes are high and consistent. The Board of
Education, according to Raybould, stated firmly that the standard of work (in
Tutorial Classes) must correspond with that required for University degrees in
Honours" and again that "the instruction must aim at reaching within the limits
of the subject covered, the standard of University work in Honours" The
W.E.T.U.C. itself then arranges pioneer and preparation classes for its own
members should there be need to do so, before entrance into a W.E.A. class. These
preparation classes may or may not themselves be conducted with the help of the
W.E.A. and may take the form of single lectures, informal discussions, study circles
in the union's meeting rooms among members of that particular union or with
members of various trade unions brought together.
Almost over the whole range of its provision, co-operation exists between the
W.E.A. and the W.E.T.U.C. and the Universities through their Joint Committee
system, by which the University Extra-Mural Departments co-operate with the
Association. For instance, in 1948, twenty-seven summer schools were arranged,
in which trade unionists participated, and in the organisation of which the
W.E.T.U.C., the W.E.A. districts and the University Joint Committees-the
Oxford Extra-Mural Delegacy, the Manchester Extra-Mural Department-
co-operated. At these schools as also in other schools, trade unionists meet together,
and if the schools are international, a wider area of contact among all unionists is
As previously indicated, the W.E.A. may arrange special courses for special
trade unions, or special courses for the general body of trade unionists who are
interested. The W.E.A. West Lancashire and Cheshire District arranged a special
course in "Human Factors and Industrial Planning" A most interesting experi-
ment was carried out in co-operation with the Oxford University Tutorial Classes
Committee, in arranging a residential course for tutors on trade union problems in
adult education and for trade union officers. Co-operation between the W.E.A.
and the W.E.T.U.C. may take various other forms. The W.E.A. and the
W.E.T.U.C., in order to arouse interest in Trade Union education, arranged a
meeting of London Trade Unionists which was addressed by that distinguished
Parliamentarian-Mr. Herbert Morrison. At the Margate Trade Union Congress
in 1948, the W.E.A. and the W.E.T.U.C. arranged a meeting which was addressed
by various delegates and members of the W.E.A. The new Residential College of
the W.E.A.-Acland House-would be used to provide special courses for trade
The range of subjects studied falls within the framework of W.E.A. objectives
and the original purposes for which the Association was founded. In the South-
Eastern Division, in 1948, subjects covered in the informal courses for trade
unionists were :-
Modem political doctrines,
Problems of local government,
Economic and social problems,
Problems of social welfare, and
History of the working class movements.
The subjects studied at the one day schools in 1948 included :-
Problems of management, The American Labour Movement, Trade
Union participation in Nationalised Industry, Industrial Psychology,
Industrial Democracy, The New Functions of Trade Unionism, The Educa-
tion Act (1944), Impact of European Culture on African Society, U.S.A. and
U.S.S.R., Wages, Profits and Prices, the Coal Problem, Culture and Society,
Agriculture and the National Economy, Problems facing the working class
movement, and so on.
A similar range of industrial and social problems was discussed at the various
International Summer Schools arranged by the W.E.A. In 1948, for instance, the
W.E.A. arranged Anglo-Danish, Anglo-French, and Anglo-Scandinavian Schools,
with an International School for trade unionists at Manchester and Oxford, and an
ILO School for trade unionists, each of them lasting two weeks.
Scholarships are of course provided to students in W.E.A. classes not only to
the classes, but also to residential courses and to the Universities, where many a
trade unionist has taken a good degree, and has returned to the movement as a
tutor, or has entered into the higher posts of the administrative service. In the last
Parliament, in fact, over 1oo members were former students of the W.E.A. and
hundreds of others hold responsible posts throughout this country. The Ministry
of Education itself, as a result of W.E.A. representations, grants State Scholarships
to trade unionists in W.E.A. classes, while the Local Education Authorities,
statutorily bound to provide for further education under the Education Act of 1944,
must consult the W.E.A. and the Universities before formulating and submitting
its programme. There is therefore a wide area of complex but smooth-functioning
and beneficial relationship between the W.E.A., the Universities, the Local
Education Authorities, the Ministry of Education, and the Trade Unions.
In England, the whole structure of organisational relationship and activities in
adult education is the result of the persistent and self-sacrificing voluntary efforts of
the people of this country. The provision they have made for adult education-of
the type described in this article-is certainly remarkable. The problems the
pioneers faced in the past, and the problems the members of the movement face
today, are not easy to solve. But there is a profound pride in what has been
achieved so far. The movement has the solid support of its large body of members.
There is no complacency, despite the attainments. The National Annual Conferences
of the W.E.A. are for purposes of self-examination and self-criticism by members
themselves, and for the renewal of their missionary zeal, and characteristic faith
in their movement.
The Prime Minister in a letter to the W.E.A. during the W.E.A. week, in
discussing the idea of government of the people, by the people, for the people,
asked the question "Unless the people understand, how can they govern" ?
And he continued "If we accept the challenge of these words today, then we
must accept their educational implications" Challenges like these renew effort and
refresh the movement. For it is a movement that has had a distinguished record,
distinguished teachers like Professor R. H. Tawney, G. D. H. Cole, Barbara
Wootton, Ramsay Muir, and Lady Simon of Wytenhshawe, and by and large a
loyal hard-working body of students who feel rightly that the movement is their own.
They are well aware, to use the words of Stuart Emery, that their movement, the
University of the People, is today, in their country, "not only one of the greatest
driving forces in modern education, but a bulwark of the democratic system"
But there is an implication far more fundamental than mere pride in their
institution and its place in a democratic community. The democratisation of the
political and social institutions of this country throughout the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries gave the trade unions here a degree of political, social, and
economic power which they had never enjoyed before. It was, indeed, rightful
power. But power, whether it be in the hands of the State or in the hands of
individuals within the State, or in the hands of groups within the State, is
a potentially dangerous and corruptive influence. The growth of power must be
correlated with a corresponding growth of responsibility. There can be no real
progress if power is irresponsible. The fact that the trade unions sought and
financed objective education, of the type organised by a responsible body like the
W.E.A., is refreshing evidence that a considerable section of the working class
people is conscious that, pari passu with the growth of trade union power, they
must educate themselves to understand how rightly to use that power.
The W.E.A. and the W.E.T.U.C. Committee, expressing its views on the
Trades Union Congress (1946) Resolution on Centralised Adult Education declared
firmly "We believe that the test of a man's faith in trade unionism or in anything
else is not the volubility with which he affirms it, but the reasons he gives for holding
it. The labour movement is all the stronger for men of this calibre. We have
never believed it to be the function of the W.E.A. to emancipate the workers. It is
our function to provide him with the tools to emancipate himself, to make him
socially conscious and aware of his own power if he cares to exercise it through his
privileges and responsibilities as a citizen"
There is a significant shift of emphasis to individual responsibility for self-
emancipation and the use of individual power. No doubt this shift is dictated by
a profound change of circumstances. The working classes are no longer easily
definable. They are not confined to the manual worker. The "educationally
sophisticated" with all the advantage of a secondary education, the middle classes,
and even the aristocracy, are now members of the labour movement. But the
important fact remains that education continues to be used by the unions as one
means in their search for the solution of one of the most difficult of the problems
of the twentieth century-the problem of the use of power.
And this conception of education in relation to the exercise of power and of
responsibility cannot be without significance for us in the Caribbean.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN JAMAICA AND BRITISH GUIANA
The two articles which follow provide an interesting contrast in the problems of
rural development in the Caribbean area, and are of special interest at this time,
when the need for the responsible participation of the country people in the manage-
ment of their own affairs is so widely recognized. The first article is by Mr. M. B.
Laing, C.M.G., O.B.E., Commissioner of Local Government in British Guiana, who
has for many years been guide and friend to the Village Councils of British Guiana.
The second article gives the picture of a different approach to the same problems,
this time through a great voluntary organisation-Jamaica Welfare-by Mr. Philip
Sherlock, M.A., Vice-Principal of the University College, and one who has been
one of the leading figures in the organisation about which he writes.
Experiment In Self-Help
A Chapter from the story of Jamaica Welfare Limited
DURING the summer of 1944, a hurricane struck the north side of the Island of
Jamaica, destroying crops and houses. One of the villages that suffered most was
Bonnett, where some thirty families were left homeless.
The people of Bonnett were poor. Their village was encircled by the hills. A
steep red dirt road linked them with the main road two or three miles away, but
few trucks or carts turned aside from the main road to break into the quiet life of
this county village. There was a time in the "banana days" when trucks had
ventured along Bonnett's clay road to collect the high-piled bunches of bananas,
but disease had wiped out the bananas and the old prosperity had gone. The village
was derelict, a collection of one-room shacks.
Then the hurricane destroyed the shacks. The materials that were salvaged
were worthless a few broken boards some blades of rotten thatch ; nothing
with which to rebuild a home. At first there was no attempt to rebuild. People
who had lost their homes set up a small shed or roof of thatch or of damaged sheets
of galvanised iron as if they had been children building houses with playing cards,
and at night they crawled under this shelter, huddling close together for warmth.
But all was not lost. There were two or three, men and women of spirit and
courage, who went down to the community centre at Guy's Hill, five miles away,
to seek help from Jamaica Welfare Limited. A meeting was held in Bonnett, and
twenty-four persons pledged themselves to work together in a special housing
scheme. The new cottages were to cost about 18o each, and the money was to
come from three sources one-third as a loan repayable over ten years from the
Agricultural Loan Societies Board ; one-third as a grant from hurricane relief funds
through the Central Housing Authority and one-third to be contributed in cash,
labour and material by the owner of the house. No cottage was to have less than
two-rooms, or more than three since some people might easily have taken on greater
obligations than they could carry. The men and women had full opportunity to
discuss the plans for their cottages, and the women were encouraged to make
curtains and mats.
Schemes of this sort collapse quickly if they are not planned in great detail.
The group of twenty-four was broken into four teams, each with its captain and
secretary. Weekly meetings were held, and labour days organised. Timber was
collected from the forest, white lime was burnt, sand and earth collected, sites
cleared. The work was planned so that no house was completed long before the
others. Skilled carpenters and masons supervised the work of their unskilled
helpers. Material was purchased in bulk, and anti-termite precautions taken. There
were difficulties and moments of anxiety, but ten months after the start of the work
twenty-two houses had been completed.
The Bonnett experiment is small, when it is set against the many needs and
problems of Jamaica. It is nevertheless significant, because it demonstrates some
of the methods of community education that have been followed by Jamaica
Welfare, an organisation which came into existence in 1937 as a result of conversa-
tions between a Jamaican barrister, Mr. Norman Manley, and the President of the
United Fruit Company, Mr. Samuel Zemurray.
As a result of that discussion it was agreed that two of the banana companies
doing business in Jamaica would make a monthly contribution, based on their
export shipments, to a fund which was to be used for the welfare of the Jamaican
peasantry. No conditions were attached.
A limited liability company was formed to administer the funds built up by
a cess of a halfpenny on every bunch of bananas purchased by the Fruit Companies,
and the new organisation began its work knowing that it was free to evolve its
policies in the bracing atmosphere of freedom from commercial interference and
The Company gradually elaborated a programme of community education.
For more than a century, as Lord Olivier pointed out in his book, JAMAICA, THE
BLESSED ISLE, the church had made a great contribution to the social welfare
of Jamaica, but the time had come for formulating a co-ordinated programme of
social welfare. The directors of the new company agreed not to embark on purely
economic or commercial ventures. Such schemes would be aided only in very
special circumstances, where they could be established as co-operative efforts, the
objective being not the making of profits but the improvement of social conditions
by the development of a new industry organised on co-operative lines.
It was also agreed that no attempt should be made to take over duties which
rightly belonged to the Government, such as the provision of medical services or of
schools. Further, all forms of charitable relief were excluded.
Gradually the work began to take shape. The economic projects include the
development of cottage industries and of co-operatives. At the same time a
programme was outlined for the development of community centres first
consideration being given to rural areas where small settlements dominated.
In one of its reports the Company disclaim "any attempt to attribute to its
activities greater practical results than they have yet achieved" and asks that its
small beginnings should be modestly regarded. It does claim, however, "to have
evolved a policy of distinct and recognizable form which regards social welfare
services of this type as a natural element in the forces that modern society must
use so that intention may govern the evolution of social affairs. In this policy the
importance of programme and the insistence on techniques are only the result of
a constant regard for the organic relations of the economic, the moral and the
spiritual in society"
Other lands have taught lessons and given guidance to the Jamaican effort.
Officers have studied in Britain and in the United States. The old and honourable
example of Rochdale, the stimulating teaching of the Dane Grundtvig, the study
clubs of Sweden, the work of Brayne in the villages of Bengal, and the programme
of adul education as conceived and carried out at Antigonish in Nova Scotia, have
all helped to make more effective the attempts at rural reconstruction in Jamaica.
But the dynamic, the drive and its methods, are disclosed in that passage of the
company's report which says that it has been its object "to discover how best to
assist the release of the latent moral and social forces that are generated when people
act together for a common aim which they can comprehend and may hope to
achieve under a leadership which they find among themselves. This task involves
almost any activity which may happen to fit in with the needs and opportunities of
any given place"
At the centre of the programme is the "Better Village Plan" which aims at
co-ordinating existing activities, and helping the village to study its needs and meet
them. All other activities, such as the development of housecrafts, of village
industries and of co-operative enterprises, are regarded as specialized elements of
the Better Village Plan and are treated as specific branches of work, partly because
of their importance and partly because of the special technical problems involved.
Where the work is successful the village will, it is hoped, gradually become a living
community, capable of united and effective action. This attempt to build the village
into a community is of special importance for Jamaica. In some parts of
the British Caribbean, as in many parts of the world, family, village, and church,
combine to give cohesion and stability to society. But in many parts of Jamaica
these basic social units of family and village have yet to be built up and
In this programme the purely educational and the economic aspects of the
work are closely interlocked and are to be considered as parts of the same work.
Day by day there is fresh evidence that without a powerful incentive for self-
improvement (which in many cases is derived from the realization of an economic
need) any programme of literacy or education will fail. Yet a purely economic
need is not the only stimulus. With trained officers a general desire for education
and for better living conditions can be aroused and used. A plan of action has been
adopted by which community associations are organized and a programme planned
by the community. The full programme meets the needs of all age-groups, but only
as the result of a gradual process.
The visitor, then, would not find local conditions transformed, but he would
find a new force at work. He would find that poor folk in the remote village of
Llandewey had cleared a recreation ground for themselves and built a small village
hall ; that in the poverty-stricken village of Graywood the peasants had repaired
and built one another's houses ; that in Ragsville men and women had replaced
tumbledown hovels with decent houses. He would find this same force manifesting
itself in the Pedro district in the South through the formation of Associations of
Tomato Growers, and he would find it in the Parish of St. Thomas in the East in
teams of humble men and women seeking with guidance to meet their own needs.
The outbreak of war created new difficulties. After some time the shipments
of bananas fell sharply and it became necessary to begin using the reserve funds
which had been carefully accumulated. New possibilities developed when the
Colonial Development and Welfare Fund was established. The Comptroller's
adviser on Social Services, Professor T. Simey, visited Jamaica and, after investiga-
tion and discussion, decided to recommend that the work of Jamaica Welfare
should be expanded. As a result the original company, as an autonomous
organisation, passed out of existence in 1943, its place being taken by a larger and
more representative Board which included a number of the original directors. The
new company, Jamaica Welfare (1943) Limited, received an annual grant of
30,000 from Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. The functions of the
company were :-
(a) To act as a channel of communication between the Government and
the various voluntary agencies in the field of social administration
(b) To execute the services for which the Company is specifically made
(c) To train social workers ;
(d) In collaboration with the Secretary for Social Services to prepare plans
for the development of voluntary social services in the Colony
(e) To maintain its existing services and develop them in accordance with
the plan of action for social services prepared by Professor Simey
Provision was made for the situation to be reviewed after five years, and so
in 1949 further changes were made. The old limited liability company was
replaced by a statutory body, since this type of administration gives more
flexibility and freedom, and offers more opportunity for voluntary effort than does
a government department. The Jamaica Social Welfare Commission was created
by law to carry on the work that was begun twelve years ago by Jamaica
Local Government in British Guiana
MALCOLM B. LAING
THE HISTORY of the village communities of British Guiana is interesting. Anyone
going along the sea coast of the Colony and seeing the established villages but who
is unacquainted with the domestic history would have to be told that these well
ordered communities sprang from comparatively small beginnings. The stranger
would have to be told that the first villages were largely composed of settlements
which arose out of the purchase of plantations by liberated slaves in the early years
following emancipation. The freed people remembering patriarchal life of their own
old country trusted their savings to their own leaders who were known as headmenn'
and it was in the names of the headmenn' that the plantations were bought and
subsequently divided into equivalent shares representing individual savings of the
contributors. And so it was that the first law regulating the partition of lands was
passed in 1851 with particular reference to the village of Buxton. The freed people,
out of gratitude to the great emancipator, Buxton, named their village which was
formerly called Orange Nassau after him. A similar case of reverent gratitude is
the Victoria Village District which was originally called Northbrook.
The frontlands of these plantations became residential areas divided into house
lots and the lands beyond these going aback to the end of the plantations were
divided into what is known as cultivation lots. The method of subdivision which
made house lot areas distinct from cultivation areas resulted in making the pursuit
of agriculture an arduous task as the cultivation lands are often miles away from
the houses. The cultivation lands having been divided into sections say, A, B, C and
D, meant that each proprietor of a house lot owned a corresponding lot in each of
those sections. Of course, an alternative to this method of division would have
been to found a community in the middle of the area and to surround it with the
amenities of churches, schools, playgrounds and so on, with the cultivation areas
at equal distances from the community areas generally. But this would have meant
that the good effect of the immediate Atlantic breezes would not have been gained.
So much for the immediate founding of the village communities. There were
many unsuccessful efforts of the villagers to manage their own affairs and in 1856
an Ordinance was enacted which was the germ out of which the existing more
elaborate system has grown. But the most outstanding advance in village govern-
ment was the enactment in the year 1892 of a measure aiming at the ideal of self-
government. There may still be a few leading old villagers today who recollect the
historic meeting in St. Paul's schoolroom at Plaisance when Dr. Carrington, the
Attorney General of the day, expounded the legal machinery for providing a better
ordering of affairs in village administration. This was over 50 years ago and there
have been many changes aiming at improvement since then.
In 1945, the Legislative Council of the Colony passed a Comprehensive
Ordinance combining all the separate Local Government laws into one complete
law. It has been called the Handbook of Local Government.
The new Ordinance of 1946 took the place of the old Local Government
Ordinance, Chapter 84, and the amending Ordinances, and one of the principal
changes in the new Ordinance over the old is the constitution of the Local Govern-
ment Board. The new Local Government Board will consist of ten members, three
of whom are ex-officio members, namely :-
The Commissioner of Local Government,
The Director of Medical Services, and
The President of the Village Chairmen's Conference,
three members of the Legislative Council, two members of Village Councils or
Country Authorities, a representative of the British Guiana Sugar Producers
Association and one other person. This personnel, it must be admitted, is variedly
I have referred to the amending Ordinances. The principal amending
Ordinance was the Village Councils Election Ordinance of 1935. It was by this
Election Ordinance that the present system of village elections came into being and
through which the village electors were given the right to elect two-thirds of the
members of the village council and the councillors the right to elect one of them-
selves to be Chairman of the Council. Provision has now been made for the election
of a Deputy Chairman. This has been enacted for the first time in this Ordinance
and as the name implies, this Councillor will deputise in the absence of the Chairman
so that there should always be without dispute someone at the head of affairs in
the village to whom the villagers could go at any time.
These are one or two features in the new Ordinance which may be of interest,
of special interest, to the villagers themselves. Now there are two classes of districts
and these are the village districts and the country districts. The simple difference
between the districts is that the Local Authority of the village district is called a
Village Council two-thirds of that Council is elected by the village electors and
one-third appointed by the Local Government Board. The Local Authority of the
country district is called a Country Authority and all the members are appointed
by the Local Government Board.
An important addition in the new Ordinance is that provision is made for the
raising in status in an easy manner and without interruption of administrative
affairs of a country district to the status of a village district and it is hoped that the
ratepayers of many of the country districts will take advantage of this and improve
the status of their districts. Where there is representation by election there is
always a more personal interest in the administration of affairs and the Local
Government Board is always ready to recommend to Government the increased
status for progressive country districts, but of course, the desire for change must
come from the ratepayers of the districts themselves. Under the old Local Govern-
ment Ordinance there was also this difference between a village district and a country
district. An appeal against the appraisement of any property in a village district
could be made to the Magistrate but an appeal against the appraisement of any
property in a country district was made to the Local Government Board. In the
new Ordinance appeals in respect of both classes of districts must be made to the
Magistrate and this should be more satisfactory as the Local Government Board,
being, so to speak, the mainspring of local administration, should be freed from
deciding such matters with which they themselves are in other ways concerned.
Another advance in the new Ordinance is that Local Authorities are now given the
power to levy rates on leased Crown Lands and on leased Colony Lands and to
proceed to recover the rates if they are not paid by the lessee by execution on the
right title and interest of the lessee. Before now Crown Lands and Colony Lands
were exempt from the payment of rates.
These are some of the more popular changes in the Local Government Ordinance
and these may give some indication of the activities of the Village Councils and
Country Authorities working away in the rural districts. Reference must be made
to the part these Authorities play in the work of sanitation. Under the Public
Health Ordinance the Local Authorities are as such the Local Sanitary Authorities
responsible to the Central Board of Health. It is proposed that shortly there will
be a Town and Country Planning Ordinance and a Housing Ordinance and here
the Local Authorities will be expected actively to co-operate for housing reform.
The varied activities of the Social Welfare Organisation in the rural districts are
fairly widely known and the Local Authorities, I am glad to say, are heartily
co-operating with the many movements of social betterment. These are important
affairs, for too often a Village Council or a Country Authority seems to the ordinary
person little more than a nuisance, a body which shoves rates upon us and inter-
feres with personal liberties here and there. It is the duty of us all to do what
we can to eradicate these limited and erroneous ideas and to get abroad
a better and bigger conception of what rural administration really means in the
homes and daily lives of the people in the rural areas.
Local Authorities have therefore a special task to perform ; first that of
creating a sound interest and knowledge about local government in their areas ;
and secondly, a realisation of the necessity for re-generation of the soil as a vital
factor in the preservation of the health of their community. In what manner can
that task be discharged ? It can be done by the adoption by the Local Authorities
and the Unions of Local Authorities of a planned policy to educate the people, and
(1) that local government is democratic and exists for the common good;
(2) that the services performed by Local Authorities have a wide range and
(3) that rates represent no more than payment for essential services and
(4) that local government is their own business in which they should take
an individual pride and interest
(5) that voluntary personal service is an education in citizenship, and;
(6) that rights and privileges of citizenship carry with them corresponding
duties and responsibilities.
While urban denizens may not be as interested in the passing changes in local
government as their rural cousins, yet it behoves us all to take an interest in what
goes on around us, and there are few things which sustain so abiding and so lasting
an interest as the government of ourselves by ourselves.
A Letter to the Editor
I am directed to refer to an article by
Mr. J. Wright, Deputy Director of Agricul-
ture (Research), which was published in the
September Quarter 1949 issue of the
Caribbean Quarterly, and to request that
the following statement be published in
your next issue for general information: -
"The article appearing in the
September, 1949 issue on "An Experi-
ment in Land Settlement at Lucky
Hill, Jamaica" by J. Wright should
not be regarded as an expression of the
views of the Government of Jamaica.
In particular, the statements made in
the first paragraph of the article in
regard to the creation of small hold-
ings on an unrestricted freehold basis
are not endorsed and are indeed far
from being the views held by this
Government on the subject ; the
experiment being conducted at Lucky
Hill in land settlement on a co-opera-
tive basis is still in its initial stages
and in the opinion of Government, it
is too early to draw reliable concla-
I am, Sirs,
Your obedient Servant,
Sgd. E. MILLER
for Colonial Secretary
ROAD TO SURVIVAL William
Vogt. (Victor Gollancz Ltd.,
1949, 288 pp.)
THE REVIEW-R knows of no book which
should be more widely read than this.
Although addressed mainly to U.S. citizens
and written in a manner to shock them
into action, its concern is not one race,
one culture or one political entity, but
mankind as a whole, and, in its relatively
few pages, it presents a remarkable
picture of the problem on a world-wide
scale. The early pages move slowly but
there is ample reward for those who per-
sist and the facts and arguments, pre-
sented later, completely offset any first
impressions of the case being overstated.
One may quibble at a statement here or a
deduction there from time to time but one
is left with the inescapable conclusion that
the author has made his point beyond
doubt. Since that point concerns vitally
every living individual and his posterity
the book should be read by all, priests,
parishioners and politicians, governors and
governed, merchants and manufacturers,
farmers, foresters and engineers.
And what is the author's point ? That
man has squandered and is still squander-
ing the irreplaceable wealth of the world,
that what is left cannot maintain ever-
increasing populations at ever-rising stan-
dards of living and that, at this eleventh
hour, we most take stock of what is left,
organise its use so that it will serve a
given population in perpetuity and then,
by education and propaganda, contain
reproduction within the limits set.
Man cannot eat iron, copper, or bauxite
and if, by indastralisation of his mineral
wealth, he earns money to purchase food,
he still starves if there is not enough land
in the world producing more food than
the local inhabitants can consume. Such
surpluses of food for export occur mainly
in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and
Argentina. They occur, in part, because
the local population has an average of
several acres per head and, in part,
because they overcrop their land by bring-
ing under the plough areas which are
subject to erosion, by destroying the forests
which protect their watersheds and by over-
grazing their ranges. On the other hand,
the exportable surplus food is being
shortened from the home end by increases
in the local population. What hope is
there then, in a few years, for the feeding,
let alone the raising of the standard of
living, of the Indians, who increase by
14,ooo per day, or the Greeks, Rumanians,
Poles, Italians and Dutch who will all
double their population within the lifetime
of persons already born.
Vogt lays great stress on determining
what is the sustained yield which may be
expected from a given area. So much of
the world's land has been overcropped for
short periods and then abandoned or has
become marginal land. It is true that in
Barbados, in British Guiana and in Hawaii
sugar yields have increased and not
declined, after many years of cropping, but
such areas are small and few and the
increased yields are largely dependent on
imported fertilizers. So far as nitrogen is
concerned there is an almost limitless
supply in the atmosphere and man now
knows how to convert atmospheric nitro-
gen into ammonium sulphate. The story
in regard to potash and phosphate is, how-
ever, quite different. These are mined at
specific points and the supply is dwindling
Those who clamour for the wholesale
industrialisation of the British Guiana
forests, without due regard to reafforesta-
tion, those who think the population of
Jamaica or Puerto Rico or Haiti can be
allowed to grow indefinitely, those who
would burn the forests off our steep hill-
sides to plant corn, should be forced to
read this book. Those who think soil con-
servation and planned land usage scientific
fads should be taken to see one of the
worst cases of soil erosion and man-made
desert in the world-the Venezuelan state
of Lara is relatively near.
Vogt deals interestingly with the man-
made ecological changes which led to the
disappearance of great empires and cities
in the past, both in the old and new
worlds, with the parasitism of Europe on
the New World and Australia and its par-
tial latter-day reorientation towards Africa,
with the fundamental cause (population
pressure) of many past wars and the threats
from the same source now building up in
India, China, Japan and Russia, and time
and again he brings out the complexity
of the relationships which alter climate,
fauna and flora and shape man's destiny.
As he says
"A sick river valley is vastly more
complicated than a sick man, if only
because the man is one of the most
important parts of it ; diagnosis and
treatment of the illness should, in
many cases, require the particular
skills of climatologists, pedologists,
hydrologists, botanists, zoologists,
agronomists, soil conservationists,
foresters, grazing experts, sociologists,
economists, &c. In some parts of the
world the sick valley may be subjected
to the blundering management of a
lawyer. In the United States we are
likely to turn it over to an Army
His comments on the Sanitary Revolu-
tion, which followed Pasteur's discoveries
as surely as the Industrial Revolution
followed the Steam Engine, and the cotton
gin, are provocative. Why, says he,
preserve the infant that he may spend a
lifetime in misery and die eventually of
slow starvation ? It is clear that "indus-
trialisation", on which alone so many pin
their faith, will not answer that un-
pleasant question. His book suggests
other angles of approach.
TREASURE IN THE CARIBBEAN
-A first study of Georgian build-
ings in the British West Indies by
A. W. Acworth. Published by
Pleiades Books Ltd., London,
IF YOU WALK down Long Street, in
St. John's, Antigua, you may notice that
the upper floors of many of the wooden
houses dating from the late x8th-early
19th centuries are supported by turned
Usually, however, that is the limit of
observation. This is where, with
Mr. Acworth's help, the further step can
be taken. "These upper floors", he writes,
"are supported by turned posts which to
modern eyes would seem more suited to
uphold the canopy of a four-poster than
the upper storey of a building. In point
of fact they were the work of ship's car-
penters and were modelled on the wooden
posts used between decks in a man-of-
Or in Nevis: why is it that in this small
island of stony fields, the cemeteries boast
so many elaborate and richly worked tomb-
stones ? "Despite its small acreage it
supported two dozen and more estate
houses and to the profits of sugar
were added the less respectable gains of a
slave market. To Nevis, too, at a time
when water-cures were all the fashion, came
from far and wide the planter aristocracy
to bathe in the sulphurous waters of the
spring which bubbles up a short way out
of Charlestown. But times have
changed The architecturally undis-
tinguished Bath Hotel, built in r803 at a
cost of L4o,ooo, was sold before the century
was out for no more than L40"
One virtue of M. Acworth's introductory
notes is that they open up many avenues
of further exploration and discovery.
Sometimes one is compelled to question,
as in a passage where we are told that the
Jamaican estate houses of the late 17th and
x8th centuries "were designed in part for
purposes of defence-there were still
Spaniards in the hills, as well as deserters
from the British army".
The true reason would seem to be the
presence of the Maroons in the hills and
the fear of slave-risings. Perhaps an even
stronger general criticism, however, is the
fact that the author often makes valuable
and interesting comments without amplify-
ing them or, sometimes, giving a clue to
his authority, as in the statement that the
"Jamaican practice of 'sanding' paint-
work" "began some three-quarters
of a century ago when a certain Francis
Phillips, who was employed in a Kingston
lumber-yard, discovered that Timber which
had lain in fine white sand from the Cays
(near Port Royal) was not attacked by ter-
mites. And so he invented the process of
throwing sand on to exterior paintwork
while the paint was still wet" Surely
even a "first study" might have more
Mr. Acworth's book contains 6o excellent
photographs which illustrate the ways in
which the Georgian architectural forms of
England were modified to suit living in the
West Indies, the rich variety that resulted,
and the common characteristics imposed
upon them by the climate. The result is
a book which should find a place in every
public and school library, because its
study will open the eyes of West Indians
to some of the treasure to which those
living in the islands are so often blind.
P. M. SHERLOCK
MEN IN THE TROPICS-A Colonial
anthology compiled and edited by
Harold Evans. Published b y
Hodge & Co. London, 1949.
THIS BOOK "aims at being both a piece
of entertainment and a work of reference"
The author has put together "some of the
more piquant, shrewd and illuminating
things that have been written about people
and places in the Tropics". These have
been selected and arranged to form five
sections, each dealing with a part of the
British Empire. each self-contained, each
with a short historical introduction by the
Part Two of the book deals with the
Caribbean. The attempt to compress
Caribbean history into five pages of text
exposes the author to criticism because he
is compelled to make generalisations and
tempted to mention the spectacular and to
ignore the significant. Accuracy becomes
difficult, because there is no space for full
statement. For instance, it is not com-
pletely accurate to say that Cromwell
despatched his armada in 1655 "to exact
revenge" for the destruction of an English
settlement at Santa Cruz near Porto Rico
in 1650. It is true that buccaneering was
a spectacular feature of Caribbean History
in the late 17th century but the shift from
tobacco cultivation to sugar estates in the
eastern Caribbean in the mid-seventeenth
century is no less significant. The first
receives some six pages of text, but the
social and economic revolution of the
165o's receives no notice. And, as far as
generalisations are concerned, how does the
author arrive at the astonishing conclusion
that there does not seem much doubt "that
most negroes found life as a slave in the
West Indies more congenial than life as a
free man in West Africa" Surely even
"potted history" should limit itself to
It is clear, nevertheless, that the author
approaches his task in a liberal and
sympathetic spirit, and the selections
show a genuine feeling for natural beauty
and for the spiritual values in human life.
No anthology is perfect, and as far as
the second section of this book is con-
cerned, one might regret the absence of
extracts from Monk Lewis or from Bryan
Edwards or Long. Here again one cannot
have everything, and one of the tanta-
lising charms of an anthology is the way
in which it tempts us to think of selec-
tions that are not there.
A final question. Did the men of the
tropics have no sayings, no songs, no tales
of which even a few might have been
P. M. SHERLOCK
UNDER THE SKIN by Phyllis
Bottome. Published by Harcourt,
Brace & Co., New York, 1950.
PHILLIS BOTTOME is so charming a per-
son that to have met her almost disqualifies
one for the task of reviewing her latest
novel; for it is hard to avoid the con-
clusion that, judged by' the high stan-
dards she has set herself by her choice of
subject, 'Under the Skin' is not a success-
ful book. As the titles implies, the subject
is the relation between people of different
skin colours-black, brown, white and
yellow-in an unnamed West Indian island
which is easily identified as Jamaica
behind the particularities of these rela-
tions can be clearly seen the author's
preoccupation with the nature of the
geniuses of the three stocks, European,
Asiatic and African, and their functions
in the world of the present and the future.
Miss Bottome has observed the manifesta-
tions of colour conflict with a keen eye and
interpreted them with a sympathetic and
liberal sensibility: but one can pay tribute
to the justice of her views and yet find
their expression in "Under the Skin" to
The plot of the book is simple and
belongs to an already well-explored genre.
A young headmistress takes over a girls'
boarding school that has been for some
time under the control of the capable
sEnioe mistress the tacit struggle for
possession that occurs is finally decided
wlhen, in the crisis caused by a hurricane,
the headmistress keeps her nerve and the
senior mistress loses hers, but a senior girl
is driven by her love for the latter to try
to kill the headmistress and later, by the
intensity of disillusionment, to kill herself.
All the action takes place within the micro-
cosm of the school.
The microcosmic plot is capable of great
effects (witness Jane Austen's novels), but
there are certain uses to which it can
hardly be put. Miss Bottome attempts to
represent and expound her enormous theme
through her limited plot by making each
character in the microcosm the representa-
tive, or the expounder, or both, of some
figure in the gallery of racial conflict.
The young headmistress is the brave intelli-
gent and unstable European, the displaced
senior mistress the ambitious, embittered
near-white: the school is given an annex
presided over by a clear-sighted and mature
Chinese, and a school doctor, suspicious,
intellectual and African, whose function in
the spiritual drama is to fall out of
love with the perfection of the Chinese
and into love with the more con-
genial limitations of the European.
All these types represent real forces in the
Jamaican social scene but their very
fullness jostles continually against the frail
plot and the physical limits of a 3oo-page
It is impossible in any book shorter than
"War and Peace" to act out the social
significance of the West Indian racial mix-
ture through character and action alone,
without simplification. In attempting it
in "Under the Skin" Miss Bottome has
had to throw overboard the intensity and
subtlety of emotional analysis which is one
of the virtues of the microcosmic novel
and she has not been able to bring to the
larger theme the vigour and spontaneity
which comes from direct, interior know-
ledge of the situation. She falls back too
often for the comfort of the West Indian
reader on straight exposition, especially
through the mouth of the Confucian
Mr. O'San. At these times the writing
has the attraction of a travel book written
by an intelligent and observant tourist
but the interest of the novel, which
above all a story, sags meanwhile.
It is interesting to compare "Under the
Skin" with Vic Reid's "New Day" Many
of the same sights and sounds figure in
both but what to Miss Bottome is a
tropical bird, is to Vic Reid a pechary or
a klingkling, and what to her is an impres-
sive river is to him a stream to bathe your
feet when you are walking far. There is
evidence too, that Miss Bottome's under-
standing of Jamaican people does not go far
enough down the scale to take in the prin-
cipal characters of "New Day" ; the
servants of the school, for example are
mute and nameless, save for the theatri-
cally necessary figure of Adassa; and her
one speech is couched more in the lan-
guage of Pocahontas than in that of
Jamaican working girl. Essentially,
"Under the Skin" is a novel with a West
Indian background whereas "New Day" is
a West Indian novel. "Under the Skin"
is an excellent exposition in novel form of
a part of the racial preoccupations of West
Indian society, for those who do not know
them directly but West Indians them-
selves will find it often disconcerting.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE
BRITISH WEST INDIES-by
H. V Wiseman. Pub. Univer-
sity of London Press, London,
THE EYES of the West Indian have been
set in the ends of the earth. The school
child in the mountains of St. Lucia or in
the country villages of Antigua can repeat
with commendable accuracy the names of
the capes and rivers of Britain while the
pupils in secondary schools have been busy
with Poyning's Law and the wives of
Henry VIII. Around there is rich natural
beauty. From the St. Lucia school, on a
clear day, across the waters where Nelson
waited, the school child can see down the
great mountains of Martinique. The child
in Antigua can look down from Shirley
heights down on to the waters of English
harbour, where frigates of the line were
fitted out to fight the French. He could
see (if he were shown) in the streets of
St. John wooden columns turned after the
fashion of the columns supporting the deck
of the eighteenth century ship of the line.
But he does not see these things. Eyes
remain closed to the significance of the
local and familiar.
There are many reasons for this neglect
of the familiar, for this blindness to the
past. A century ago those who had educa-
tion looked on Britain as their home and
on the West Indies as a place of pilgrimage.
As early as 1719 Lawes, governor of
Jamaica, appealed to the Council and
Assembly-"I wish you would consider of
making some proper provisions to educate
our youth at home ; which will beget in
them a natural and stronger affection for
the place they are born and bred in, and
a greater love for their native country than
their fathers shewed"
Times are changing. The future holds
the possibility of Federation, the certainty
of closer association. The present wit-
nesses growing interest in the West Indian
community and a stronger sense of belong-
ing to that community. The past is no
longer a cupboard full of shameful
memories, to be kept fast locked. It is
the stirring record of the settlement of the
Caribbean by the people from many lands,
of the establishment of new communities,
the creation of new societies.
As a result of this today, more than
ever, there is a general demand for books
that deal with the history of the West
Indies. It has in the past been well-nigh
impossible for the West Indian to go into
a bookshop and purchase a good concise
general history of these lands. It is now
more important than ever that he should
be able to do this.
This is one reason why Mr. Wiseman's
book will be well received in the British
Caribbean. But it deserves a welcome
also from Its own merits. It is clearly and
concisely written. In 153 pages the author
tells how the British West Indies were dis-
covered and settled, and recounts briefly
the vivid story of the great European
powers fighting for the islands. It shows
how intimately Caribbean history is bound
up with the history of Europe, West Africa
and North America and it discusses the
relationship between the Home Government
and the Colonies, the problems of Federa-
tion, and the hopes for the future.
Teachers in schools and in training colleges
will find the book invaluable, and the
general reader will appreciate the sympa-
thetic and balanced treatment of the
A "short history" often takes a long
time to write. Within the narrow limits of
150 pages the author must present the
history of more than four centuries, pre-
serving always a sense of proportion and
balance. It is to Mr. Wiseman's credit
that he has been able to do this. There
are a few inaccuracies, as in the statement
that Penn and Venables failed in their
"attack on Hispaniola and Santo Do-
mingo" The attack was on the city of
Santo Domingo in the island of Hispaniola.
There is the reference on page 56 to the
maroons in Jamaica intermarrying with the
"buccaneers of the hills" but these "bucca-
neers of the hills" could only have been
maroons also. The inaccuracies are few,
and some of them are the result of over-
simplification. Thus Vernon's victory at
Porta Bellow is mentioned, but not the
much more Important defeat at Cartagena.
These few inaccuracies can easily be cor-
rected in a second edition. The balance,
sense of proportion, and the clarity of
presentation make the book a welcome
addition to recent works on the West
Finally, the publishers are to be con-
gratulated on having produced so service-
able, well-bound and well-illustrated a
volume for so reasonable a price as 6/-.
P. M. SHERLOCK
19th June, 1950
A MORNING AT THE OFFICE-
by Edgar Mittelholzer. Pub. by
Hogarth Press Ltd., London.
THIS IS A STORY well worth a place on the
bookshelf. The language flows with ease
and grace, and the form of the novel is sur-
prising and entertaining. The author main-
tains a clear unity by relating his frequent
digressions to a particular morning in a
Trinidad office. Though lightly held
together, the threads of the story firmly
weave the pattern of fourteen lives into an
artistic tapestry depicting an authentic
moment in West Indian life.
The authenticity never falters, and there-
in lies the power of the book. The writer
i,, benignly objective and uses the morning
as a convincing opportunity to describe the
people of the West Indies whom he loves
with fine understanding of human strength
and weakness, and whom he knows in all
their enchanting variety of race. Edgar
Mittelholzer enjoys humanity, and writes
with humour and freedom of these ordinary
people. It is an advantage that he can
use his own West Indian setting for this
psychological study, for the West Indies
must surely be one of the richest sources
in the world for a skilled student of human
In describing the characters of the book
as "ordinary" I have perhaps violated the
spirit in which it is written since the author
regards nobody as "ordinary" his stan-
dard for behaviour, as he mentions through
Nanette Hinkson, being based on integrity.
Whereas this oversimplifies, it is that
same quality which gives special signifi-
cance to his writing. Horace Xavier, the
ambitious office boy, is the most appeal-
ing of the characters and it is around his
painful problem of infatuation for an older
socially superior woman on the staff that
the story develops. Horace is first a
human being, but the added fact of his
black skin gives an astringent interest,
Similarly the humanity of the other
characters, created from the mixed race of
Trinidad, comes first. These people might
be an office staff anywhere, except for
their race and colour, which present an
added challenge to their lives, in a world
where colour is generally regarded as a
In the course of the novel a charming
fairy story is told and like all good fairy
tales it has a moral. We learn through a
little girl named Mooney, that everyone
has a terrifying fear that must be met,
as Mooney meets her 'Jen' Obviously
Mittelholzer has met and overcome his
'Jen', with laughter and charity, and is
able to stand free, seeing the 'Jen' of
colour-consciousness as no more awful than
other human terrors, and able to address
the 'Jen' in the words of the child 'Too
great and lonely and dreadfully dreadful
for anyone to let you hurt them'
Within the poetic licence of a theory of
'Telescopic Objectivity' the author tells
certain incidents in the past of a key, a
desk, and a door in the office. These inci-
dents influence the present and future of
people in the office. I found this device
intriguing and extremely well handled by
This novel is admittedly limited in scope,
but within the limits that he has set him-
self the author shows that he is a serious
craftsman of vivid imagination from whom,
I hope, will come much, and more pro-
found, writing. 'A Morning at the Office'
is a distinct indication of his ability.
loth August, 195o
THROUGHOUT the British West Indies there is a rapidly growing interest in Caribbean
history, and in the socio-economic aspects of Caribbean Society. Many of those who
are interested find it difficult to obtain information about suitable books for reading
and study. This short list is published for the guidance and help of those who find
themselves in this difficulty. Some of the books in the list cannot be purchased
easily, but copies should be available at the Public Library. On the other hand
recent books, like Dr. Eric Williams' "Capitalism and Slavery" can be purchased
through any bookseller in the West Indies or in Britain.
This list is very incomplete. It is published for those who are beginning to
study the history of the British Caribbean for purposes of comparison a few books
on Puerto Rico and Haiti are included.
Agriculture in the West Indies. London Col. No. 182, H.M.S.O.
ANDREWS, C. M. Colonial Period of American History. The Settlements.
Vol. 3. Yale, [U.S.], 1947.
ARCINIEGAS. The Caribbean. [U.S.], Knopf, 1946.
ASPINALL. Wayfarer in the West Indies. Methuen, 1928.
Pocket Guide to the West Indies. Metheun, 1939.
BECKWITH. Black Roadways. Chapel Hill Press. [U.S.]
BEER, G. L. The Old Colonial System. New York, 1912.
BLANSHARD. Empire and Democracy in the Caribbean. Macmillan & Co.
BROWN, ORDE. Labour Condition in the West Indies. H.M.S.O. 1939.
BURN, W. L. Emancipation and Apprenticeship in the British West Indies.
CALDER-MARSHALL. Glory Dead. London, 1939.
CARMICHAEL, MRs. A. Domestic Manners and Social Condition of the White,
Coloured and Negro Population in the West Indies. London, 1833. 2 vols.
COUPLAND. British Anti-Slavery Movement. Home University Library, 1933.
Wilberforce. Collins, 1945.
CUMPER, G. Social Structure of the British Caribbean (excluding Jamaica)
Parts I, 2, 3.
Social Structure of Jamaica. Extra-Mural Department, University College of
the West Indies, 1949.
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