VOLUME 5 : NUMBER 4
COVER ILLUSTRATION-See Article "A Newcomer to Sculpture-
Dorothy Payne"-By M. Sandmann, on page 229.
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. 5. No. 4
DOROTHY PAYNE-A NEWCOMER TO SCULPTURE
M. Sandmann 229
REJECTION OF EUROPEAN CULTURE AS A THEME IN CARIBBEAN
G. R. Coulthard 231
VEGETATION IN THE CARIBBEAN AREA
G. F Asprey 245
THE COURONIANS AND THE WEST INDIES-THE FIRST
Edgar Anderson 264
WILLIAM DAMPIER (1652-1715)-WRITER AND BUCCANEER IN
THE WEST INDIES
John A. Ramsaran 272
TIIE PANAN, AN AFROBAHIAN RELIGIOUS RITE OF TRANSITION
Melville J, Hcrskovits 276
DARK Pu'If'rAN-lPART III
M. G. Smith 284
BRITISH HONDURAS AND ANGLO-AMERICAN RELATIONS:
David Waddell 292
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A SELECTION OF CONTENTS FROM PAST ISSUES
Vol. III, No. 2
Recent Developments in Race Relations in the United States...George E. Simpson and
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The Mud Volcanoes K. W. Barr
Sir Charles Metcalfe D. G. Hall
The Rise of the Village Settlements of British Guiana Rawle Farley
A Note on Economic Policy in Tortola Simon Rottenberg
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Citizenship in an Emergent Nation
The Archives of Jamaica
Research and the Lay Scholar
The Apprenticeship Period in Jamaica 1834-1838
A lexandre Petion
West Indian Reptiles
On Being a West Indian
Vol. III, No. 4
Trinidad Town House
French and Creole Patois in Haiti
The Choice and Use of Words
Form and Style in a Bahamian Folktale
Coco and Mona
Vol. IV, No. I
Africa in West Indian Poetry
The New Movement in Haiti
Island Carib Folk Tales
The Language Problem in the British Caribbean
Labor Relations in an Undeveloped Economy
Jamaica Prepares for Invasion, 1779
The First Chapter in Caribbean History
Frederick Douglass Letters from the Haitian Legation...
R. K. Gardinor
Clinton V. Black
M. W. Barley
D. G. Hall
H. W. Springer
Sir Thomas Taylor
Daniel J. Crowley
J A. Borome
E. P. Banks
R. B. Le Page
Robert Neil McLarty
Vol. IV, No. 2
The Teaching of History in the Americas J. H. Parry
Festivals of the Calendar in St. Lucia Daniel J. Crowley
Launching a Schooner in Carriacou Bruce Procope
The Shadow and the Substance Rawle Farley
Tobago Villagers in the Mirror of Dialect H. B. Meikle
Quater-Centenary of Richard Eden's Decades of the Newe
World or West India, Etc.' John A. Ramsaran
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Carnival in Nineteenth Century Trinidad
The Traditional Masques of Carnival
The Changing Attitude of the Coloured Middle Class
Carnival in New Orleans
Mitto Sampson on Calypso Legends of the Nineteenth
Daniel J. Crowley
Barbara E. Powrie
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Pierrot Grenade Andrew T. Carr
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Vol. V No. I
The Development of the Idea of Federation of the British
Saribbean Territor;es Jesse H. Proctor, Jr
Dark Puritan M. Smith
Tree. His Testan ent Philip Sherlock
British Honduras atul Anglo-American Relations ... David Waddell
WE regret very much the belated appearance of this issue of Caribbean
Quarterly. The delay was unavoidable. There were unusual technical com-
plications holding up production. We do not expect the recurrence of these
We apologise for the delay, but we nonetheless believe that our readers,
who have in the meantime been making anxious inquiries, would welcome
what might be almost be described as the reappearance of this Extra Mural
The journal is now under the joint editorship of Dr. Philip Sherlock,
the Acting Principal of the University College and Dr. Rawle Farley, the
Acting Director of Extra Mural Studies, Mrs. Ivy Lawrence Maynier, the
Resident Tutor for Extra Mural Studies in Trinidad and Tobago, is now
Managing Editor. She replaces Mr. Andrew Carr, who rendered such
invaluable service to the journal in this capacity.
The format of the journal for the time being, however, remains
unchanged. The articles in this issue continue to carry on the aim of the
Dorothy Payne-A Newcomer to Sculpture
To celebrate the emergence of the West Indies Federation, artists from all
over the Caribbean had contributed their works to a great Festival exhibition
in Trinidad. Among them was a newcomer from Jamaica-the sculptress
Dorothy Payne. The originality and high quality of her work is such that it
is well worth analysing her exhibits and, in particular, her carving "New
Life" which is reproduced on the cover of this issue.
Having been privileged to watch Dorothy Payne's development, I can
perhaps say that in the statues "The Believer" and "New Life" (both shown
in Trinidad) she has found herself. "The Believer" is an earlier work and
has been referred to as "praying hands" although it really represents the
entire bust of a person. Yet the hands doubtless dominate, and the still,
expressive head behind them merely serves to emphasize the idea of prayer.
These hands strike one as massive and yet there is a great tenderness about
them. Here we have three elements of Dorothy Payne's sculptural language: 1)
expressive emphasis on the important factor (in "The Believer", the
hands); 2) massive earthbound form together with 3) a great idealistic and,
perhaps, feminine tenderness. In the statute "New Life" we find again
expressive stylization and great tenderness of treatment. But a comparison
with the older statue shows a significant development.
The emphasis on essentials has led to a bold suppression of everything
not immediately connected with the central theme, hence the affinity of this
work with that of the expressionists and abstractionists. In our statue the
left breast and arm of the mother are suppressed in order to emphasize the
area where the life stream flows from mother to child, together with a tender
and yet somehow animal-like protectiveness of the right arm and hand. The
suppression of unessential features has been done so skilfully, however, that
the onlooker is not aware of any violence done to the representation of the
mother. The tender inclination of her head is played in space as a counter-
motive to the movement of shoulder and arm, thus adding to the compact-
ness of the statue while underlining an interesting balance of movements.
Comparing "New Life" with "The Believer" we find some new artistic
devices. Expression has been replaced by expressive suggestion. This is most
obvious in the handling of the face. It is essentially realistic in "The Believer",
but has been reduced to a mere veiled gesture in "New Life": another new
factor is the reliance on light effects. Statues are often planned in terms of
space only; they are "plastic" but not "pictorial". Lighting conditions are merely
accidental. But in the case of "New Life" light is an integral part of the
sculpture. It demands certain half subdued lighting effects to bring out to
the full its veiled tenderness. This is why the statue is difficult to photograph
and very exacting as to its placement in a room. Its interesting interplay of
rest (the child), movement and countermovement (arm and head of the
mother) in three-dimensional space requires accessibility of the statue from
three sides and the lighting effects must underline the secretiveness of the
very intimate work, while bringing out the inherent drama of this "New
Life" Given these conditions the beauty of the carving is revealed with the
It will be most interesting to watch Dorothy Payne's development in
8th July, 1958.
Rejection of European Culture as a
Theme in Caribbean Literature
G. R. COULTHARD
THE literature of the Caribbean Islands, whether in Spanish, French or English,
possesses a community of themes, of subject matter, which is no doubt due to
similarities in historical, social development, and also to similar ethnic com-
position. It is not just a question of general common subject matter, similar
social patterns and economic problems providing raw materials for literature,
but of specific "themes" which seem to attract not one but many writers. There
is, for instance, the theme of the journey from Africa of the Negroes with its
inevitable attendant horrors; the master and slave relationship in the days of
slavery; the theme of nostalgia for the imaginary, lost fatherland, Africa; there
is the anti-imperialist theme which invariably takes the form of the oppression
and persecution of an individual, family or small community, by the represen-
tative of a powerful foreign company. Usually the small man goes down,
although he may go down fighting. The object of this kind of writing is to
produce indignation. The treatment of "nature" the sensuous, pleasant Carib-
bean tropics is a commonplace of all the literatures of the area.
With slight variations of emphasis, these themes appear in the writing of
all the Caribbean Islands.
The theme it is the object of this essay to deal with is what I have called
"the rejection of European culture" It has been handled by a sufficiently great
number of the more outstanding writers of the area to make it worthy of
analysis. Whether it is a theme which will continue to be treated in varying
ways, or whether it corresponds to a particular historical moment in the
development of a Caribbean consciousness would at present be difficult to
predict. The objection that the idea of jettisoning European culture in favour
of African values (which are what are suggested as a replacement) is absurd
and impracticable is beside the point. In any case, we are not concerned with
whether writers are right or wrong, but with analysing how the theme is
presented, what its possible cultural origins are, and with trying to define its
temporal limits. That there is a powerful emotional, and possibly political drive
behind this theme is obvious, and need not be discussed here.
To start with, let us see how this theme appears in the writers of various
In Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, which had already developed
a fairly abundant literature in the course of the XIXth century, we find
repeated attacks on the European colonial powers for the cruelty with which
they first destroyed the Indians and then brought Negro slaves from Africa,
subjecting them subsequently to the horrors of forced slave labour (writings
of Salmon Urefia de Henriquez, Cirilo Villaverde, GalvAn, Suarez Romero).
These attacks cannot however be interpreted as a rejection of European values.
They are fundamentally political writings, which aim at forming a national
consciousness. The Cuban and Dominican clearly identifies himself with thu
Indians who are being hounded by the Spaniards and who are trying to defend
their lives and lands against the foreign usurper. Haiti, enjoying a precarious
independence since 1804, naturally felt the need to form a national conscious
ness in the face of possible imperialist aggression. But this is not the same thing
as a rejection of European cultural values in favour of African ones.
One of the very first voices raised in praise of Africa was that of the
Haitian, Antoine Firmin, who in his De l'Egalitd des Races Humaines,
Paris, 1885, points to the great achievements of the ancient Egyptians, who
he claims were black people of Ethiopian origin. Efforts on the part of European
anthropologists to prove that the ancient Egyptians were not black are due,
according to Firmin, to racial prejudice:
"every imaginable subtlety has been brought to play, every quibble
has been built up into a sound argument, every possible erudite subter-
fuge has been accepted, all in order to make out that the ancient
Egyptians were white" (page 337).
This notion of a great and highly civilized African past was destined, as
we shall see, to become an article of faith with many Caribbean intellectuals.
In 1927 appeared a book which was to have a deep and lasting influence
on Haitian literature, indeed, on Haitian culture in general: Jean Price
Mars's Ainsi Parla L'Oncle (Port-au-Prince, 1928). The object of the book
(originally a series of lectures) was to revaluate and rehabilitate the African
elements in Haitian life, and African civilization itself. With this object in mind,
Price Mars analyses the civilizations of Africa, the popular beliefs, customs.
and rituals of the Haitian masses of African origin. With regard to literature,
he attacks the XIXth century writers who despised their own country, and
suggests as literary material the life, customs, folk-tales, religious beliefs of the
Haitian people, "magnificent human material of which is made the warm heart,
the multiple consciousness, the collective soul, of the Haitian people"
(page 147). In his final chapter (originally a lecture given in 1922), he delivers
himself of the following protest:
"Ah, my friends, my heart is not great enough to contain all the
love I feel for all men. Therefore I have no room for hatred. But I
cannot prevent myself from shuddering with horror at the thought of the
carnage and destruction wrought both here and in Africa with implacable
method by those who boast of a superior humanity and who dare now
to reproach the black race with its savagery and the instability of its
And he ends his chapter with the following words, "But what were those
nations and peoples which today are rotten with ostentation, prejudice and
hatred, when for nineteen centuries there flourished a magnificent civilization
on the banks of the Nile? What were they? Miserable barbarians, history
The importance of Price Mars's book is that it set the tone of Haitian
w riling foi his generation. Haitian writers interested themselves in their folk-
lore, in Africa, in Haitian music and dancing, and an attitude of challenge and
defiance is evinced by many, of defiance as coloured writers facing a hostile or
scornful world. A similar line is found in the writings of the Jamaican Marcus
Garvey-Africa was cultured and civilized when Europe was still living in a
state of barbarism and savagery. From Garvey, the politician, as one would
expect, the expression is more violent and aggressive:
"When Europe was inhabited by a race of cannibals, a race of
savages, naked men, heathens and pagans, Africa was peopled by a race
of cultured black men, who were masters in art, science and literature;
men who were cultured and refined &c. Black men, you were once great;
you shall be great again" (Garvey, Philosophy and Opinions, New York,
1927; Vol. II; page 19).
or again in one of his poems:
Out of cold old Europe these white men came,
From caves, dens and holes, without any fame,
Eating their dead's flesh and sucking their blood.
Relics of the Mediterranean flood.
(Garvey, Tragedy of White Injustice, New York, 1927; page 3).
The idea of the past greatness of Africa is a common theme and appears
in much of the writing in West Indian literature which concerns itself with
Africa, although not always in the form of such incisive affirmations of African
cultural superiority. Often the tone is one of nostalgia, sadness and regret, as
in the following poems of the Haitian Regnor C. Bernard, and the Jamaican
Gone are the forests where sang and danced
the inspired priestess,
and the hearth of the household gods is no longer lit;
the sacred adder sleeps no more on the mapou branch;
the crocodiles are dead on the river banks;
profaned are the altars of the eternal lamp;
and the Sphinx mourns at the empty desert's edge.
The Pharaohs are troubled at the heart of the Pyramids;
and Africa no longer is:
neither its temples
nor its mysteries,
for the priests are dead,
for the traders in Negroes have come,
and the tribes of the Congo, of Dahomey and the Aradas
have known the bite of chains
and of the whip
and the strangling heat of drifting holds ....
And now, only,
in the night and the silence of the St. Domingue mountains,
a timid throb of the drum still sometimes tries
up to the stars
the profound nostalgia of the transplanted ones of Africa.
Translated by W. A. Roberts REGNOR C. BERNARD
The sun sought thy dim bed and brought forth light,
The sciences were sucklings at thy breast;
When all the world was young in pregnant night
Thy slaves toiled at thy monumental best.
Thou ancient treasure-land, thou modern prize,
New peoples marvel at thy pyramids!
The years roll on, thy sphinx of riddle eyes
Watches the mad world with immobile lids.
The Hebrews humbled them at Pharaoh's name.
Cradle of Power! Yet all things were in vain.
Honor and Glory, Arrogance and Fame!
They went. The darkness swallowed thee again.
Thou art the harlot, now thy time is done,
Of all the mighty nations of the sun.
One form of the rejection of European culture presents itself in the feeling
that the Negro writer is somehow constrained, forced to mould his life in models
which do not suit him. He is cramped and uncomfortable in his European
clothes, language and patterns of thought. In a well known poem, Betrayal.
from his Musique Negre, (1931), the Haitian poet L6on Laleau complains of
the inadequacy of French to express his primitive soul:
And this despair, equal to no other
of taming, with words from France,
a heart which came to me from Senegal.
and similarly Claude McKay:
For the dim regions whence my fathers came
My spirit, bondaged by the body, longs.
Words felt, but never heard, my lips would frame;
My soul would sing forgotten jungle songs.
I would go back to darkness and to peace,
But the great western world holds me in fee,
And I may never hope for full release
While to its alien gods I bend my knee.
Something in me is lost, forever lost,
Some vital thing has gone out of my heart,
And I must walk the way of life a ghost
Among the sons of earth, a thing apart.
For I was born, far from my native clime,
Under tho white man's menace, out of time.
The French buianese writer, Leor i;'.mas, in his Pigments (Paris, 1937),
expresses this idea of discomfort much more completely in his poem Wages
I feel ridiculous
in their shoes, in their dress suits,
in their starched shirts, in their hard collars,
in their monocles and bowler hats.
And from habits of dress he denounces habits of thought:
I feel ridiculous
with the theories which they season
according to their needs and their passions
I feel ridiculous
among them, an accomplice, among them a pimp,
among them a murderer, my hands terrifyingly red
with the blood of their civilization.
From Aim6 Cesaire's (of Martinique) Cahier d'un Retour au Pays Natal
(Paris, 1943) we find the following:
Listen to the white world
horribly tired from its immense effort,
hear its rebellious joints cracking under the hard stars,
the rigidity of its blue steel piercing the mystique flesh
hear its victories trumpeting its defeats,
hear its miserable stumbling accompanied by grandiose alibis
Pity for our omniscient and naive conquerors.
And from his Soleil Coupd (Paris, 1948), in the poem Aux ecluses du vide
we find the following rejection of Europe, violent and vituperative:
I give my support to all that powders the sky with its insolence
to all that is loyal and fraternal to all that has the courage to be eternally
new to all that can give its heart to fire to all that has the strength to
burst from an inexhaustible sap to all that is calm and sure
to all that is not you
pompous name for excrement.
In another poem published in the literary magazine La Revue Indigene,
Phillipe Thoby Marcellin expresses himself full of a fierce joy in Sainement as:
Swearing an eternal scorn for the refinements of Europe,
I want henceforth to sing of you, revolutions, shootings, massacres.
sound of cocomacaques on black shoulders,
Call of the lambi, mystical sensuality of voudou,
to sing you in a delirium three times lyrical and mystic.
To strip off you classical trimmings
and stand up naked, very savage and very much the son of slaves
to sing in a new voice the de profundis
of your rotting civilizations.
The passages quoted so far suggest a dissatisfaction with "European"
culture, a repugnance for its formulae of thought and life, which are felt to
limit and constrict. Naturally, in rejecting Europe, something must take its
place. What in fact takes the place of Europe is Africa, or at least the coloured
world whether Africa or coloured America. Some writers are very explicit about
what they find in Africa which is preferable to European culture. In the passage
already quoted Aim6 C6saire denounces Europe as being exhausted and tired
of its own efforts. His attack is clearly on European technological civilization.
Against this, in the same poem, he puts the spirit of Africa and the Negroes:
Eia for those who have never invented anything
for those who have never explored anything
for those who have never tamed anything
but they give themselves up, entranced, to the essence of all things
ignorant of surfaces, but gripped by the movement of all things,
not caring to conquer, but playing the game of the world
true elder sons of the world, &c.
The suggestion here is clearly that the coloured world, and Africa in
particular has preserved a sense of the life of the earth which has been lost in
over-sophisticated European culture.
In his poem, Nous NMgres, the Haitian, Jacques Lenoir, says virtually the
We have not colonized Africa,
We have not discovered America
We who are the colour of Satan &c.
We rise up and our dance
is the earth turning
our singing breaks the glasses of silence
it is the nameless rhythm of the seasons,
the cross roads of the four elements, (Optique, 1954, No. 3).
Writing in the following number of the same review, Optique, we find an article
by Joseph D. Baguidy on The Awakening of Black Africa in which the
author discusses a statement of Jomo Kenyatta to the effect that black civiliza-
tion is superior to white which is self-destructive and produces frustration and
unhappiness: "From this point of view", Baguidy writes, "black civilization,
more human and less mechanical, which develops according to natural patterns
with its own possibilities and which only cares at present for the perfection of
the human personality, black civilization is, we think, superior to white
civilization" (Optique, No. 4, 1954).
The line of attack appears then quite clearly to be that European or
"white" civilization is over-mechanized, dehumanizing, over-sophisticated.
This complaint against the over-sophistication of Europe is clearly expressed
in the following two poems of L6on Damas, both from Pigments
Then I'll put your feet in the plate
and grab you by the scruff of the neck
with everything that disgusts me
in block capitals
assimilation and the rest.
and in Limbo
Give them back to me, my black dolls, so I may play with them,
the naive games of my instinct
stay in the shadow of their laws
recover my courage,
feel myself again,
new self which I was yesterday,
when came the moment of being uprooted. (loc. cit.).
In J. F Brierre's Le Drapeau de Demain, dramatic poem in two acts,
(Port-au-Prince, 1931) in which the souls of Dessalines and Geffrard rise and
express their horror and disappointment at what has happened to Haiti since
independence, "Civilization" is attacked for having produced slavery and
encouraged racial discrimination:
Men lead by the low instincts of beasts,
and draping themselves in the vain name of civilisers,
and believing themselves the kings of the whole planet,
command that the Negro, branded by his colour
throughout the world, should be an unconscious thing
a stepping stone for their ostentation,
should live in the night, and die in filth
while, civilization, carrying its torch
stained with the blood of our race,
watches them parade under triumphal arches (page 27).
In the Haitian review, Les Griots (1938-1939), the case of African
civilization is put very forcibly. Carl Brouard, writing in the first number under
the title of Doctrine of the New School says. "The abolished splendours of the
civilizations of the Sudan made our hearts bleed" In the second number,
Lorimer Denis and Franqois Chevalier in an article, The Essentials of the
Doctrine of the Griots "The Haitian l6ite rejects the primordial factor in our
civilization to the exclusive benefit of the Gallo-Latin influence. Hence our
moral unbalance, logically leading to the American occupation" And they
continue: "Since on the one hand all our efforts since Independence to this
day have consisted in the systematic repression of our African heritage, both
in the literary, political and social fields, our action should lead us to demand
the revaluation of this raciological factor" (page 153). They end by claiming
an "integral reform of Haitian mentality" based on both factors, the European
and the African, but principally the African, which had hitherto been neglected.
The same two writers in a subsequent number of the review Les Griots
in an article on Ethnical and Historical Psychology have the following to say:
"Voudou is not'a product of magic and gross superstitution. Worked out on
the land of Africa, whose powerful mystery it reflects, a product of spirituality
going back to a legendary past, voudou is none the less the expression of a race
before the riddles of this world. Voudou is essentially cosmogonic, philosophical
and spiritualist" (page 501).
The defence and idealisation of the civilizations of Africa is indeed almost
a commonplace of the writings of many West Indian writers. In Discours sur
le Colonialisme (Paris, 1950), a political pamphlet which reads more like a
poem in its emotionalism and rhythm, Aim6 Ctsaire attacks the barbarism of
European colonisation, accusing the Europeans of having been savage, cruel
and callous. Many of the primitive societies broken up by the coming of the
Europeans in Africa were happy and balanced. "They were common-holding
societies, never societies of all for a few" They were not only pre-capitalist
but anti-capitalist. They were democratic communities. They were co-operative
fraternal communities. I make a systematic apologia of societies destroyed by
imperialism (page 24).
He goes on to point out that for material progress Europeanisation was not
essential, and quotes the example of Japan. The following passage is worth
quoting in its entirety, as it touches the very heart of the problem:
The Viet-Namese, before the arrival of the French in their country,
were a people of an ancient and exquisite and refined culture. We must
not remind the Bank of Indo-China. Turn on the forgetting machine.
The men of Madagascar who are being tortured today were, less
than a century ago, poets, artists, administrators. But, silence. Button
up your mouth.
Fortunately there were the Negroes. The Negroes. Well, let's talk
about the Negroes. Let's talk about them.
What about the Sudanese empire? The bronzes of Benin? Shongo
sculpture? Fair enough. All that will not change the lamentable and
sensational baubles which adorn so many European capitals. And African
music. Why not?
And he finishes:
Civilized to the marrow of their bones. The idea of the barbarous
Negrcois a European idea (page 37).
The idea that Africa possesses, or more commonly that Africa possessed in
the past civilizations of great splendour and refinement is found very frequently.
It is often coupled with the idea that the white man, the European, destroyed
this African civilization in his lust for wealth and power.
Although these writings in which African civilizations are praised, even if
they are of the past and have ceased to be, do not state a direct rejection of
European culture, they certainly do represent an implied criticism, in as much
as they point to the brutal and barbarous destruction at the period of the
Another avenue of attack on European civilization consists in a criticism
of Christianity, in its relation to the Negro world. The line taken is a fairly
obvious one that Christianity is a white man's religion at best, closing its eyes
to racial discrimination, indifferent to the oppression and persecution of the
Negro, and at worst an active agent of colonialism helping to keep the Negro
in subjection. The attacks on the Christian religion range from mildly ironical
remarks like the following quotation from the Martiniquais writer, Mayolte
Capecia's Je Suis Martiniquaise (Paris, 1948): "No doubt the God that Father
Labbat revealed to my ancestors is also the God of coloured people, but he is
still white" (page 65), to the violent anticlericalism of Jacques Roumain,
Paul Niger, C6saire &c.
Two poems from Roumain's Bois d'Ebine (Port-au-Prince, 1946, dated
Brussels, 1939). The New Negro Sermon is anti-clerical and I think, funda-
mentally anti-Christian. It uses a Christian background and set of references
to increase its emotional force. The theme of the poem is that "they" that is
"the rich men, the pharisees, the landowners and bankers" have defiled and
degraded the Negro. Christ today is in the house of the thieves, the Church
preaches submission to the rich, and in the cellars of the monasteries, the
servants of the Church hoard their wealth. Roumain uses a number of Biblical
phrases, twisting them to his purpose, which nevertheless retain much of their
emotional force by association; for example:
We shall not forgive them, for they know what they do.
They have made of the bleeding man the bloody god.
Oh Judas snigger, snigger Judas.
In the cellars of the monasteries the priest counts the
interest on the thirty pieces of silver.
The poem ends with a complete rejection of Christianity:
No, brothers, comrades,
We shall play no more
We shall no longer sing our sad despairing spirituals.
Another song shall surge from our throats,
and we shall unfurl our red banners.
In another poem from the same book, Dirty Niggers, we find an even more
violent and abusive rejection of Christianity:
Jesus Mary Joseph
when we catch the missionary by the beard
to teach him in our turn
with kicks in his backside,
that our ancestors were not the Gauls,
and that we don't care a damn
about a god who
if he is the father,
well, we, the dirty niggers,
it is obvious that we are only his bastard sons,
so there is no point in yelling
Jesus Mary Joseph
like an old wine-bag spilling over with lies.
The manner of this writing is vituperative, intentionally disrespectful of
established Christian values, and again quite intentionally shocking, or intended
to shock. The Guadeloupe writer Paul Niger in his poem I don't like Africa
uses a similar technique of heavy sarcasm plus coarse, and vulgar argot, which
he makes God speak. The following is one of the milder passages of the poem:
Christ redeemed sinful man and built his Church in Rome.
His voice was heard in the desert. The Church on top of society
and society on top of the Church, the one carrying the other,
founded civilization where men, docile to the ancient wisdom
to appease the old gods, not dead,
sacrifice every ten years several million victims.
God had forgotten Africa.
But it was noticed that a race (of men ?)
still had not paid God its tribute of black blood, they reminded him.
So Jesus spread his hands over the curly heads, and the Negroes were saved.
Not in this world, of course.
(L6opold S6dhar-Senghor's La Nouvelle Podsie Negre et Malgache,
At another level, although essentially following the same line, is Ren6
Piqion's book A New Song (Port-au-Prince, 1945), a partial biography of
Langston Hughes with translations into French of his poems. The work contains
a number of attacks on Christianity; for example: "And to make them (the
Negroes) for ever submissive, in the days of slavery and in capitalist society,
they are served with the classical medicine, of subtle and reliable effects-
religious opium. The Cross always precedes or accompanies the gun".(32).
And even more violent and fundamental (an attack at once on the Church
and also quite explicitly on West European civilization): "The hand raised
in blessing absolves in advance all the crimes perpetuated in the name of
Christian civilization, the injustices of soulless capitalism. The Church teaches
the curly, bent heads, with an unsurpassable perfidiousness, the comforting
art of resignation of earth, in the hope one day of enjoying, beyond the empty
tombs, an infinite beatitude. In their deep distress, aggravated by their
ignorance of the causes of their misfortunes, the Negroes resort to mystical
So we see at least four main lines of attack or rejection.
(1) The feeling that the Caribbean Negro is somehow constricted in the
moulds of European thought and behaviour patterns which are not fitted to
his nature. Linked with this is the interest in African cultures, both past and
present, both in Africa and their remains in the West Indies. (See my article
The Theme of Africa in West Indian Poetry-Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 4,
No. 1, 1955).
(2) The feeling that European civilization has failed by becoming
excessively concerned with power and technical progress, and not sufficiently
concerned with the production of happiness for the human individual. African
or Negro culture is presented as being nearer to nature and nearer to man.
(3) The rejection of Christianity as an agent or ally of colonialism.
(4) The attack on European civilization for the brutality and cynicism
with which it enslaved and exploited the Negro, while still maintaining high-
sounding principles of freedom and humanitarianism.
Historically, the period at which these attitudes appear in Caribbean
literature is certainly between 1900 and 1950, and although the writing of
Jean Price Mars (Ainsi Parla L'Oncle, 1927) and J. F. Brierre (Nouveau
Serment au Drapeau de Demain, 1928) was composed at an earlier period, this
period can be further narrowed down to 1930-1950. That is to say that the
period in which these attitudes are developed coincides with certain contem-
porary political and aesthetic trends.
From a political point of view, anti-imperialism of the Marxist variety
was particularly fashionable in left and extreme left wing intellectual circles
in Europe in the years immediately following the first world war, and French
radical anti-imperialism was invariably accompanied by strong anti-clericalism,
which indeed is part and parcel of French radicalism in general. It is significant,
I think, that the most violent expressions of rejection of Christianity come from
writers from Haiti, and the French West Indies, all of whom are closely con-
nected with Paris as an intellectual centre. Brierre, Roumain, CUsaire, all have
spent considerable periods of time in Paris, where they would meet coloured
French African intellectuals thinking along similar lines. The attack on
European civilization, and particularly on Christianity, can then be quite
clearly seen in the context of radical or Marxist European thought of the
Another influence which certainly should be taken into account is a semi-
aesthetic one: i.e. the whole complex of iconoclasm which came to a head in
the surrealism of the 1920's. The revaluation of primitive art had started much
earlier, with the cubists and the fashion for Negro art in the period 1902-1907.
Writing of this period Georges Lemaitre says:
The candid expression of genuine, though brutal sensations and
sentiments, stirred man in a way that was beyond the power of a clever,
sophisticated technique. So it became obvious that the hard crust of an
age-old civilization, the thick layer of interpretive notions and traditions
which intelligence had deposited upon all things, was the main obstacle
to direct contact with the richest sources of human inspiration and
emotion (From Cubism to Surrealism in French Literature, Harvard,
1941, page 76).
This movement towards primitivism developed in the 1920's into a powerful
vogue for Negro sculpture, music (mainly in the form of jazz), and a pre-
occupation with the organization of primitive societies. Dadaism and its
successor surrealism were the enemies of all traditional notions of art and indeed
of all that was regarded as the European cultural heritage. They carried out
a systematic onslaught on all established values whether in art, literature,
morals, religion or politics. Like the Marxist radicals they were violently anti-
clerical and indeed, anti-Christian. They not only questioned, but jeered
destructively, used every form of weapon from caricature and satire to virulent
and obscene abuse to shatter people's acquired, traditional responses. Anything
"primitive" appealed greatly to the surrealists, as it was not associated with
the odious superconsciousness of traditional European culture, which they
regarded as having been wrong from the start. Both communists and surrealists
made it their mission to attack and demolish all that pertained to "decadent"
or "bourgeois" culture. It is not surprising that young colonial intellectuals
should have drawn lessons from all this. Roumain was a communist in politics
and owes much to surrealism for his literary technique; Aim6 C6saire is a
communist in politics (he has represented Martinique as a communist deputy)
and a declared surrealist in his writing. The intellectual background of such
writers as Brierre, Zobel, Damas, Niger, is clearly very radical.
Apart from the communist and left-wing attacks on decadent bourgeois
culture, we find an attack from another quarter: the Fascists. A considerable
influence of Osvald Spengler, whose Decline in the West was widely and avidly
read in America. The initiator of the Afro-Antillian movement in Caribbean
literature, the Puerto Rican, Luis Pal6s Matos, has the following to say in an
article published in the magazine Poliedro, San Juan, 1927.
"The aesthetic sense of the white race has reached a stage of dangerous
cerebralization, cutting itself off from its cosmic roots. I do not believe in a
monumental art of purely cerebral representations; I only believe in an art
which identifies itself with the thing and fuses with the essence of the thing"
And after talking about art being the outcome of the "urge of the blood" he
goes on to quote Spengler on the "metaphysical" decadence of contemporary
European art. And he concludes:
"The super-literariness which the western world suffers from is an
unmistakable, symptom of decadence" So like Spengler he sees Europe as
exhausted, as having worked out all its artistic possibilities, and he even speaks
of "the progressive and wilful sterility of the white race"
If these quotations are not sufficient to prove the Spenglerian influence on
Pales Matos and the Afro-Antillianism of Puerto Rico and Cuba, here is another
quotation from an article published on the death of Spengler, in the Mundo, of
San Juan, by Juan Antonio Corretjer. It is called: Spengler-a Creole
"That Spengler was the intellectual apostle of the appearance of the Negro
in the artistic hemisphere of Europe, there is no doubt. The apogee of the
Negro, as an artistic novelty, follows on the appearance of Spengler's theories.
Pales read and for a time was under the spell of Spengler"
If other writers of the Afro-Antillian movement of the '30's-such as the
Cubans Guillen, Ballagas, Carpentier, Quirao &c-were not exactly "under
the spell" of Spengler, their supervaluation of the primitive elements in
Caribbean life certainly has its distant roots in Spengler.
One other point is worth mentioning. That is the political and cultural
awakening of Africa, particularly black Africa. During this period, there grew
up a feeling of community among coloured people all over the world who were
suffering from some form of colonialism, exploitation or discrimination on racial
grounds. Many West Indian intellectuals who met African writers and thinkers
in Paris and London developed an interest in African culture whose values were
being brought to the fore by African writers. This explains why many of them,
when they start to try to think in terms of a culture of their own, which is not
just an adaptation of what they receive from Europe, turn to Africa. As
pointed out in another, Africa seems to exercise a powerful fascination over
many West Indian intellectuals. The fascination is largely emotional and
political, although serious attempts to get to know about Africa and to learn
more about African elements in Caribbean life have been made. The review
Les Griots, (1938-1939), in Haiti, Bureau d'Etudes Ethnographique, (founded
by Jacques Roumain in 1941), the Revista de Estudios Afrocubanos, (1939-
1940) are significant in this respect.
As we have already suggested, the strongest and most fundamental attack
on European civilization has come from writers in the Caribbean territories
which are under French cultural influence. The Jamaican, Claude McKay, for
instance, although he felt very deeply the predicament of the Negro, and
although, in the poem quoted in this article, he seems to hanker after a means
of expression more akin to his nature, made no wholesale rejection either of
Christianity or of European cultural values in general, and in fact, did not
accept the overtures of the communists who went to considerable lengths to
win him over.
In Cuba and Puerto Rico, although we find anti-imperialism as a very
common theme in poetry, novel and short story, and also a great interest in the
Negro elements in Cuban life amounting in the period 1926-1940 to a veritable
literary fashion, there is no direct rejection of the traditions of European culture
and civilization, only an attempt to find a distinctive Cuban tonality in the
concert of world culture, which is not the same thing at all.
The same is true of the Dominican Republic, where fear of Haitian
infiltration over the frontier has driven the Dominican government into a
position of strong support for all that is most Spanish, i.e. most European in
their cultural life. Measures have been taken to eradicate any traces of Haitian
influence either in language, customs or religious practices (voudou) from the
frontier provinces. Here is a most categorical affirmation of European values
and rejection of "African" values of Haiti. "If the immense majority of the
Dominican population" writes Joaquin Balaguer, "were to be africanized,
as it would be africanized if no measures were taken to prevent it, Haiti, whose
policies have always been fanatically racialist, would in the more or less near
future, realize its old dream of the indivisibility of the island" (Realidad
Dominicana, Buenos Aires, 1947, page 117).
The critical attitude towards the traditional culture of Europe on the part
of West Indian (and African) writers has attracted considerable attention in
Europe itself. In the last seven years two important anthologies have been
published: Nouvelle Anthologie de la Podsie Negre et Malgache, selected by
the French African writer L6opold Sedhar Senghor, with a long preface
L'Orphde Noir by Jean-Paul Sartre (Paris, 1948); and Schwarzer Orpheus-
modern poems by African Peoples in both hemispheres, by Janheinz Jahn
(translations into German), Munich, 1954. The bulk of the poems in both
collections is from the West Indies.
One of the reasons why European intellectuals are so fascinated by the
critique of European culture by West Indian and African writers, is that the
attack has come just at a moment when Western Europe is unsure of itself.
It is not that Europe has not become quite accustomed to cries about its own
decadence. The French symbolists and English 1890 writers luxuriated in the
idea of their "decadence", and the "noble savage" goes back at least to the
Renaissance. However, the First World War, the Nazi-Fascist period, the
Second World War, the growth of Communism and the threat of another war,
all these have severely shaken that confidence and optimism which were at the
very heart of European culture. Unlimited confidence and optimism in its own
potentialities of development have been, indeed, the basis of European civiliza-
tion since the Renaissance. Any change was to be a change for the better. The
French Encyclop6distes of the XVIIIth century rejected the ancien regime,
but were confident in a new and better order of things. The social idealism of
the XIXth century, from Fourier to the English Fabians, was confident of an
optimistic future. Today, however, Europe has the feeling that the reins of its
future are no longer even in its own hands. And at this moment comes the
attack from outside. Europe is being looked at and judged, critically. Sartre
puts this very pointedly in his essay, L'Orphde Noir "Here are black men",
he writes, "who are standing up and looking at us-I hope you feel, like I do,
the thrill of being looked at. For the white man has enjoyed for three thousand
years the privilege of looking without being looked at" (loc. cit. page 9).
Vegetation in the Caribbean Area
G. F. ASPFEY
"ITS lands are high and there are in it very many sierras and very lofty
mountains, beyond comparison with the island of Teneriffe. All are most
beautiful, of a thousand shapes, and all are accessible and filled with trees
of a thousand kinds and tall, and they seem to touch the sky. And I am told
that they never lose their foliage, as I can understand, for I saw them as green
and as lovely as they are in Spain in May and some of them were flowering,
some bearing fruit and some in another stage, according to their nature".
These words from Christopher Columbus' account of the island of
Espanola written in 1493 are quoted by Richards as being perhaps the earliest
description of that type ,of vegetation which is now known as evergreen
Tropical Rain Forest. It is the natural vegetation of tropical areas where
temperature, rainfall and soil conditions combine to produce the most favour-
able environment for the luxurious growth of tropical plants. Tropical
evergreen forest is to be found in the equatorial lowlands of South and Central
America, Africa and south-eastern Asia. Although present in some of the
islands of the Caribbean, in former times if not today, it was never the sole,
or even the most prevalent, type of vegetation. It is the purpose of this review
to discuss the various types of tropical vegetation that are present in the
Caribbean area and to relate them to one another and to variations in the
The distribution of plants in any region is not haphazard. Each species
is adapted to particular environmental conditions where it may grow, complete
its life-cycle, and compete successfully with other plants. Rain forest plants
require a climate of uniform high temperature combined with a high
non-seasonal rainfall. This type of rainfall is not to be found throughout the
tropics. There are many areas where the rainfall varies with the seasons
resulting in alternate wet and dry periods. Rain forest plants cannot exist in
regions subject to periodic drought. Here the vegetation consists of plants
specially adapted to such conditions. Similarly, the environmental conditions
peculiar to mountainous regions will be reflected in the specialised plant life
to be found there. Plant distribution then is controlled by the environment. It
is pertinent therefore to enquire more deeply into the factors of the environment
which affect the distribution of plant species and of the natural communities
of which they form a part. The environment is, in the main, controlled by
the three variables climate, soil and topography; they "interact in a complex
manner sometimes tending to counteract one another, sometimes acting in the
same direction" (Richards). It is considered that the most important influence
which these factors exert in plant distribution in the Caribbean area, and
possibly in all tropical countries, is through their joint effort in the moisture
relationship of plants. The Caribbean climate is not uniform throughout. The
variations that occur, however, follow a more or less standard pattern
throughout the land masses of the area. They are primarily determined by the
presence of a wet windward belt, a cool wet mountainous belt and a dry
leeward belt. Rainfall may vary from 20" to over 200" per annum. This in
itself is an important factor in plant distribution but the relationship is not
direct. Annual rainfall must be considered in conjunction with its seasonal
distribution and with soil drainage. It has been estimated that in the
Caribbean under good soil drainage conditions, a monthly rainfall of the order
of four inches is necessary if evaporation is not to exceed precipitation. If
there is less then drought conditions will prevail. In Jamaica, for example,
the pattern of annual rainfall distribution is as follows
1. No Dry Season. 0 months with less than 4" rainfall.
2. Slight Dry Season. Up to 3 months with less than 4" rainfall.
3. Moderate Dry Season. 3-5 months with less than 4" rainfall.
4. Fierce Dry Season. 6 months or more with less than 4"
Rainfall distribution patterns of this type, interacting with soil conditions
largely determine the pattern of vegetation.
"Soil type appears to be significantly important, mainly with respect to
those physical features that decide its moisture relations, its chemical
properties and attributes appear to exert little or no influence, except in so far
as they affect the behaviour of soil water (Hardy). Coarse gravelly sandy
soils and soils thinly overlying limestone rock have excessively free drainage,
while at the other extreme clay soils of fine particles have poor drainage and
are susceptible to water-logging. Soil drainage may be exaggerated by local
variations of topography i.e. the slope and elevation of the land. A water-
logged soil means a poorly aerated soil where oxygen is in short supply. Only
special plants can exist under such conditions.
Atmospheric humidity is of great importance in the moisture relation of
plants since it affects the rate of water loss from the leaves. The lower the relative
humidity of the air the greater its capacity to take up water vapour from
the plant and from the soil. In the hot dry zones the relative humidity is low
during the day-time but climbs to pear saturation (100%) at night. By
contrast, in the cooler mountainous areas, above 4,500 feet, cloud and mist
are present for most of the day and this cuts down water loss by the plant
to a minimum. Exposure to desiccating winds, causes a high rate of water
loss from soil and plant and is important in coastal and montane areas.
The factors that we have mentioned above may be termed the natural
factors of the habitat. Where they are stable or have a stable rhythm, the
vegetation will have developed until the component plants are in harmony
with their environment. Under natural conditions therefore, the vegetation
-will have a more or less static structure although it may show rhythmic
SUMMARY OF VEGETATION TYPES OF THE CARIBBEAN AREA
A. T3 CIUMATIC FORMATIONS
i. All conditions optimum throughout the year.
Note Since there is no variation in the
habitat there is no variation in physiognomy
and therefore the formation type is also of
formation series rank.
2. Seasonal drought.
The formations are arranged in order of
increasing adversity. This is reflected in
a reduction of stratification and stature of
the woodland in passing from the optimum
(a) to the pessimum (e).
3. Permanent lack of soil moisture due to
excessively free drainage. The formations
are arranged in order of increasing ad-
versity which is reflected in a reduction in
stature from a. to e. Littoral woodland is
a convenient term which is used to define
collectively the formations of a status
from c.-e. which are under the influence
of the sea.
Formation Series and Formation Types
TROPICAL RAIN FOREST
a. Evergreen Seasonal Forest.
6. Semi-Evergreen Seasonal Forest.
c. Deciduous Seasonal Forest.
d. Thorn Woodland.
e. Cactus Scrub
a. Dry Rain Forest
b. Dry Evergreen Forest
c. Dry Evergreen Woodland
d. Dry Evergreen Thicket
e. Evergreen Bushland
Examples of Constituent Associations
Eschweilera-Licania association (B.G.)
2. Dacryodcs-Sloanea association (Trinidad and
1. Carapa-Eschweuilera assn. (Trinidad) (Crappo-
2. Terminalia-Callophyllum-Swietenia assn.
(B. Honduras). Peltogyne-Protium-
Tabebuia assn. (Trinidad). (Naked Indian
or Red Birch-Yellow savonette).
Acacia-Prosopis-Pithecellobium assn. (Jamaica)
Lemairocereus-Acacia assn. (Jamaica)
Wallaba Forest. (B. Guiana).
Delineated for British Guiana.
Rhus-Tabebuia-Thrinax assn. (Jamaica)
t 4. Adverse conditions due to altitude ; in-
ow creasing exposure, decreasing temperature
and presence of mist and cloud. Increase
in adversity from a-e.
B. THE EDAPHIC FORMATIONS.
8. Seasonal fluctuation in waterlogging of soil
due to seasonal rainfall and presence of
impervious sub-soil. Increase in adversity
(water-logging) from a-d.
ary of Vegetation Types of the Caribbean Area-Continued
Formation Series and Formation Types Examples of Constituent Associatione
a. Lower Montane Rain Forest
b. Mist Forest
Montane Rain Forest.
c. Elfin Woodland.
SEASONAL SWA (MABSH) FORMATIONs.
a. Seasonal Swamp (Marsh) Forest.
1. Coccoloba-Thespesia assn. (Most Caribbean Is.)
(Sea Grape-Seaside Mahoe).
2. Jacquinia-Pithecellobium-Bumelia esn.
3. Thrinax aesn. (Jamaica)
(Short thatch Palm)
4. Coccoloba-Hippomane asen. (Lesser Antilles).
1. Byrsonima-Licania assn. (Trinidad & Tobago).
2. Calophyllum-Psidium-Symphonia assn.
(Santa Maria-Mountain guava-Hog gum).
Podocarpus-Cyrilla-Clethra assn. (Jamaica).
1. Clusia-Clethra assn. (Jamaica).
2. Clusia assn. Jamaica & L. Antilles).
1. Manicaria-Jeesenia-Euterpe asen. (Trinidad)
2. Symphonia-Tabebuia-Euterpe assn.
TABLE I-Coxn uxn
Summary of Vegetation Types of the Caribbean Area-Continued
Formation Series and Formation Types Examples of Constituent Associations
SEASONAL SWAMP (MARSH) FOBMATIONs-Continued
b. Seasonal Swamp (Marsh) Woodland.
e. Seasonal Swamp (Marsh) Thicket.
O. Soil Waterlogged due to topography.
Variation from optimum of short period of
inundation to pessimum of permanent inun.
a. Swamp Forest
1. Fresh Water
2. Brackish Water
b. Swamp Woodland
c. Swamp Thicket
d. Herbaceous Swamp
1. Clusia-Tabebuia assn. (B. Guiana).
2. Amanoa assn. (Dominica)
Mauritea-Chrysobalanus assn. (Trinidad)
1. Curatella-Byrsonima-Grass assn.
Savanna serette-Rough Leaf-Grass).
(Cuba, Hispaniola, Cent. America,
S. America, Trinidad).
2. Pinus-Curatella-Byrsonima-Grass Assn.
(Pine-Ridge asan.) (Cent. America, Cuba,
The Pterocarpu assn. (Common on the
mainlands and some Islands).
The Mangrove asen. (Throughout the areas)
Delineated for British Guiana.
The Sedge association.
1. THE OPTIMUM FORMATION-Tropical Rain Forest
Let us consider first of all the optimum habitat, i.e. the one containing all
the factors influencing plant growth in their most favourable combination. The
rainfall is adequate and non-seasonal in its distribution; every month has at
least 4" of rain. The soil is well drained, deep and fertile, and the site is
sheltered from violent winds. Evaporation is moderate and the temperature
warm and uniform. Such conditions give rise to the most luxuriant and
complex plant formation-the Tropical Rain Forest. The forest consists of
three tree strata, the upper layer comprising huge, scattered trees from
120-180 feet tall which may form a canopy or closed layer. The lower layers
occur at about 75 feet and 45 feet. True Rain Forest has been described as giving
the impression of "the vault of cathedral aisles" because the dominant trees
are straight boled and unbranched up to 60-90 feet. Woody climbers or lines
are common, epiphytes may be conspicuous while palms may or may not
be present. The forest is evergreen and the leaves are predominantly compound
in the upper stories and simple in the lower. True Rain Forest is less common
than generally supposed and bears no resemblance to the popular conception
of tropical "jungle" It occurs in restricted zones in Trinidad, the Lesser
Antilles and in former times was to be found in the Rio Grande Valley of
Jamaica. It is seen to its greatest development in the Amazon Valley, in
British Guiana and parts of Central America. Since by definition the habitat
conditions are optimal no major variation, other than floristic composition,
occurs and the Rain Forest has therefore a similar physiognomy throughout
the world tropics (Tropical America, Africa, Indo-Malaya).
2. SEASONAL FORMATIONS (Seasonal Formation Series)
Seasonal formations occur on well drained lands subject to seasonal
drought (as defined earlier) due to unequal monthly rainfall distribution. Such
conditions are found throughout the area both on the dry leeward belts and the
wetter windward belts. The degree of 'adversity' due to seasonal rainfall distribu-
tion varies widely. We have seen that in Jamaica drought conditions may vary
from 2-3 months up to 6-11 months. As would be expected such variation
in the seasonality of the rainfall gives rise to an unbroken series of formations
from the optimum (moderate dry season) to the pessimum (severe dry
season). In this series five major formations have been recognized and are
given below and in Table I in order of increasing adversity of the habitat. It
will be evident that a progressive decrease in stature and in number of tree
strata occurs as the pessimum is reached.
It should be noted here that seasonal rainfall does not necessarily lead to
seasonal formations. Soil conditions may provide excessively free drainage
(porous coarse sands) or excessive run-off (hard clinker limestones). Such
conditions lead to permanent drought and the development of the dry evergreen
formations. Indeed it will be seen that Thorn Woodland and Cactus Scrub are
composed of evergreens. There may be some reason to doubt whether these
two formations should be placed in the seasonal formations rather than in the
dry evergreen formations. It would seem that both formation series converge
towards the Cactus-Thorn formation as the pessimum is approached.
a. Evergreen Seasonal Forest.
This is the optimum formation of the series and approaches Rain Forest
in its physiognomy. It consists of a three storied forest, the upper storey being
of discontinuous emergent trees up to 110 feet tall. The second storey forms
the canopy (45-90 feet) and the lower storey is 10-30 feet tall. The general
impression is of an occasional tall tree among smaller growth. The lower
canopy admits more light than in Rain Forest and "the closely ranked
columnar effect" of Rain Forest is lacking since in addition the large trees
branch low down. Lianes and epiphytes are common. Buttressing is a
prominent feature of the emergent trees and palms may be present.
The forest is predominantly evergreen and the leaves are large, dark
green and thin. The flora is very rich and the ground vegetation is abundant.
The valleys of the Cockpit Country of Jamaica, with a rainfall of 100
inches per annum and a slight dry season, formerly supported high forest
which most probably could have been classified as evergreen seasonal forest.
It consisted of Board Leaf (Terminalia), Santa Maria (Callophyllum), Cedar
(Cedrela), Mahogany (Swietenia) and Shadbark (Pithecellobium). Detailed
analysis of the Cockpit Country is needed since it is most likely that the slopes
and ridges of honeycomb limestone support a different type of forest belonging
to the dry evergreen formation series.
b. Semi-Evergreen Seasonal Forest.
This type of forest consists of two tree layers with the upper storey
forming a closed canopy in the rainy season from 60-80 feet and the lower at
20-45 feet. Rare trees reach gigantic thickness, but most mature trees are one
and a half feet in diameter. Branching is low down and the crowns are
umbrella-shaped. Buttresses may or may not be present. Lianes reach
maximum development. The species of the upper storey are mostly deciduous
while the lower storey is evergreen with hard, leathery leaves. Many species
are facultatively deciduous, i.e. degree of leaf fall depends on intensity of the
drought. There is a marked shrub layer in which members of the Myrtaceae
(rodwoods) are conspicuous. The flora is rich containing 50-80 trees per
association. The guango (Sananea saman), a native of Northern South
America, is a typical canopy tree of this formation.
Deciduous Seasonal Forest
Deciduous Seasonal Forest is comprised of two layers of which the upper
consists of scattered trees up to 60 feet tall and the lower forms a canopy at
10-30 feet. Trees do not attain great girth. Lianes and epiphytes are rare.
Small fan palms may be present. Over 66 per cent. of the upper storey are
deciduous, while the lower storey consists of hard-leaved evergreens.
Deciduousness is obligate and appears regularly in the dry season. Ground
vegetation is rare.
Semi-Evergreen Seasonal Forest and Evergreen Seasonal Forest have been
described for Trinidad and their former presence has also been conjectured for
the Lesser Antilles. Deciduous Seasonal Forest has been described for Tobago.
It is likely that in former times these formations occurred throughout the area
on well drained lowlands subject to seasonal rainfall but the forest has since
been removed to provide agricultural land. Remnants may be seen in the lower
shale valleys of Jamaica. It is thought that the constituent major trees here
were Guazuma (Ba'Cedar), Cedar, Hogplum, Grape, Breadnut, Cotton Tree,
Angeleen Tree, Mahogany, Fig, Shadbark, Birch, Dogwood, Trumpet, Yoke-
wood, Balsa, Prawn (Prune), Sandbox, Calabash and the Rodwoods.
d. Thorn Woodland
The formation is found on well drained sandy/gravelly soil and consists
of a woodland of small thorny trees, from 10-30 feet tall, with small hard
evergreen leaves. Leathery leaved shrubs may also be present. Ground vegeta-
tion may be sparse or consist of succulents. Bromelia pinguin and Alternanthera
ficoidea are common members of the herb layer in Jamaica and the latter may
completely cover the ground.
e. Cactus Scrub
In coastal areas there is frequently to be found scattered vegetation
dominated by columnar cacti and the prickly pear type of cactus. The thorny
trees of the last formation, often stunted in height, are also present. The whole
community is specialised for conservation of water by development of water
storage tissue (the succulent) or reduction in leaf size combined with a strongly
developed deep root system (Acacia).
The above series are given in order of increasing adversity of the habitat
conditions. There will be seen to be a gradual simplification in structure of the
community as the pessimum is approached. This is shown by loss of stature of
the trees and reduction in the number of strata. The final example of the series
would be the Desert formation which is not found in the area under considera-
tion although some coastal examples of stunted Cactus Scrub may approach it.
3. THE DRY EVERGREEN FORMATIONS
The Dry Evergreen Formations, like the seasonal formations occur in
seasonally dry areas but they express a permanent lack of available moisture
due to excessive drainage, excessive evaporation as a result of strong winds
and low relative humidity or physiological drought due to salinity (Littoral
Woodland). Such conditions are to be found in the coastal limestone areas of
the Caribbean and the porous white sands of British Guiana. Here, due to
seasonal rainfall combined with excessive drainage and evaporation, the water
supply is consistently inadequate for the growth of normal mesophyticc) plants.
The species that are to be found are drought resistant. The majority have
simple, medium sized or small, evergreen leathery leaves. Succulents such as
Agave and the Cacti are a feature of some formations. There is a high propor-
tion of plants with latex and essential oils. Eg. Latex: Ficus sp., Plumiera alba,
Euphorbia spp. Essential Oils: Bursera simaruba, Bursera simplicifolia, Canella
winterana. Some Eg. Bursera simaruba and Rhus melopium shed their bark.
The intensity of the prevailing drought conditions is variable from the
optimum for the habitat to the extreme adversity of the pessimum. Such
variation is reflected in the physiognomy of the formations as a progressive
reduction in stature. Thus at the optimum (Dry Rain Forest) although the
luxuriant growth of the other Formation series is not reached, the forest consists
or two layers; a canopy at 40-60 feet and occasional emergents up to 80 or 90
feet. There is little or no under-storey. As the pessimum is approached the
height of these two layers is reduced until Evergreen Bushland is reached. Here
the woodland may consist of a dense growth of gnarled little trees and shrubs
10-20 feet tall with or without occasional emergent trees up to 30 feet tall.
As with the seasonal formations the dry evergreen formations form an
unbroken series from the optimum to the pessimum. Five artificially defined
stages have been described of which three occur throughout the area and in
British Guiana, while two at the optimal end of the series (Dry Rain Forest
and Dry Evergreen Woodland) have so far only been described from British
Guiana. In addition the littoral woodland formation belongs to this formation
series but this is a specialised example since it exists under the influence of the
Woodlands of the dry evergreen formations are likely to be more wide-
spread in the Caribbean than is generally realized. The formations have not
been studied in detail and some of the woodland has been damaged by felling,
coppicing and burning. Nevertheless the second growth that occurs has a
distinct physiognomy which places it in this formation series and which has
developed so as to resemble closely the primary woodland which is still to be
found of the more inaccessible regions. The coastal limestones of the Lesser
Antilles (Eg. Barbuda) and of the Greater Antilles (Eg. Jamaica) and the white
sands of British Guiana support woodlands belonging to this formation series.
a. Dry Rain Forest
This is the optimum formation according to Beard and has been described
in British Guiana by Fanshawe under the heading of "Wallaba Forest" as
"A three-storeyed forest with the canopy more or less closed between
25-35 meters, a discontinuous under-storey between 12-20 meters and a dense,
not very well-defined undergrowth from 6-12 meters. Illumination within the
forest is relatively intense and the atmosphere dry. Stocking density is high
and the trees are slender in relation to height. True under-growth species are
few and the herb layers are poorly represented. Lianes are few and small.
Epiphytes, especially sun epiphytes, are plentiful and descend low on the trees.
Heavy buttressing is very rare. The proportion of semi-deciduous species is
higher than in true rain forest. Leaves are mesophyllous, mostly compound in
the canopy and simple in the under-storey"
b. Dry Evergreen Forest (formerly Xerophytic Rain Forest of Beard)
This type of forest is very near the optimum. The structure shows some
reduction in stature so that the canopy layer is at 40-60 feet and there are
occasional emergents up to 80 or 90 feet. It has been described for Tobago by
Beard. The forest is entirely evergreen, predominantly mesophyllous and
without thorns or succulents. According to Beard "over 80 per cent. of the
emergents and 50 per cent. of the individuals of the lower storey possess some
specialisation of the leaves which appear to serve the purpose of reducing
transpiration. Nearly half the trees of the lower storey shed their barks in
sheets. There is no shrub layer and ground vegetation is very sparse".
Dry Evergreen Woodland (Xeromorphic Rain Forest of Fanshawe)
The canopy layer now reaches a height of 20-40 feet with discontinuous
emergents at 60 feet. The woodland has been described for British Guiana by
Fanshawe as follows:-
"A two-storeyed forest with the canopy formed of densely packed,
attenuated trees, not larger than 18-20 inches diameter (45-50 cm.) and about
20-40 feet high, made up of larger trees. The forest is almost entirely ever-
green" Although this formation has so far only been described for British
Guiana, it is considered that the most luxuriant evergreen woodland occurring
in the Portland Ridge area of Jamaica approaches this type (see Asprey and
Robbins page 382).
d. Dry Evergreen Thicket (Xeromorphic Woodland of Fanshawe)
This formation has been briefly described by Fanshawe for British Guiana
"A two-storeyed forest with a low, open or dense canopy and a dense or
sparse undergrowth. The canopy is between 20 and 40 feet high (6-12 meters),
and trees have slender stems not larger than 6-8 inches, (15-20 cms.) diameter.
There is an occasional larger emergent" Recent studies on the honeycomb
limestone of Portland Ridge, Jamaica (Asprey and Loveless unpublished) show
that the forest here should be placed in this formation. It is furthermore
considered that much of the woodland on the dry limestones of Jamaica was
formerly of this type before interference by man.
e. Evergreen Bushland (Xeromorphic Scrub of Fanshawe)
This formation has so far only been described for the coastal limestones
of Barbuda (Beard) and the sandstone rock outcrops of British Guiana
(Fanshawe). Recent work has shown that it is also present on the exposed
coastal limestone hills of Jamaica. The habitat has a very low seasonal rainfall
with a long drought period and exposure to strong winds. The soil is thinly
dispersed in pockets in the bare honeycomb limestone. Interference by man
is difficult to assess. Beard thinks that although some species have been severely
cut (Eg. Lignum vitae) the general physiognomy has not been greatly altered.
There is only one tree layer of low or gnarled little trees from 10-30 feet tall.
Bursera simaruba and Bursera simplicifolia may form a scattered emergent
layer at 25-30 feet above the dense lower layer. The leaves are predominantly
simple, hard and evergreen. Thorniness is not a feature but Acacia tortuosa,
Pithecellobium unguiscati and Comocladia may be present. Mosses, ferns and
lines are absent. Epiphytic Tillandsia is frequent. The general impression is
of reduced stature both of the whole plant and of its leaves. The ground is
usually bare but the succulent Portulaccas and the grasses Lasiachis, Uniola
and Setaria may occasionally be found.
f. Littoral Woodland
As originally somewhat loosely defined by Beard, Littoral Woodland
"includes the 'littoral hedge' of stunted and wind blown bushes which front
upon the ocean and all the transitional zones from this to the relatively tall
evergreen woodland behind where growth is sheltered from the wind". It is
now evident that these landward transitional zones can be fitted in to the
evergreen bushland and evergreen thicket formations respectively. Nevertheless
it is considered desirable to retain the term Littoral Woodland for the vegetation
that is under the influence of saline soil and winds. The woodland is of low
gnarled windswept trees frequently stag-headed i.e., with dead branches.
Leaves are often simple leathery and shiny as a result of a thick cuticle. They
are able to withstand the mechanical force and evaporating power of the wind
as well as the destructive effect of salt spray.
The Coccoloba (Grape)-Thespesia (seaside Mahoe) association is common
on coastal sands throughout the region. Frequent associates are the nicol bean
(Caesalpinia bonduc) the button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) the spanish
plum, (Crysobalanus icaco) and the introduced almond (Terminalia catappa)
and Willow (Casuarina equisetifolia). On limestone shelves and beaches
Jacquinia spp., the palm, Thrinax parviflora, Plumiera alba (Frangipani)
Ficus sp. (Fig) Hippomane mancinella (Manchioneel) and Cordia sebestana
are also present.
Sub-Climax Coastal Communities
It is convenient to deal here with the various so-called sub-climax coastal
communities which frequently form distinct zones on the beaches.
I. SAND DUNE VEGETATION
The pioneer vegetation on freshly thrown up sand where the surface layers
are dry, consists of scattered plants of three types.
(a) Sand runners e.g. Ipomea pescaprae
(b) Sand binders e.g. Sporobolus virginicus gras
(c) Ephemeral Herbs e.g. Cakile lanceolata
Euphorbia buxifolia is commonly present in coastal areas and can withstand
very severe conditions. Locally, in hollows where the water table is high and
the soil is less mobile and less porous, succulent halophytes such as Philoxerus
vermicularis and Sesuvium portulacastrum may be found.
The pioneer plants form focal points where sand is accumulated and sand
movement arrested. The habitat becomes more stable and, owing to leaching
by rain water, less saline. The sand binding grasses, especially the ubiquitous
Sporobolus, increase rapidly and may form a pure grassy sward covering the
ground. Spartina patens, another sand binding grass is common in some parts.
The scrambling seaside bean Canavallia maritima together with Calonyction
tuba may also be present. This zone may be invaded by scattered shrubs and
dwarfed trees of the Littoral Woodland or Cactus Scrub association.
2. THE VEGETATION OF SALT FLATS (salinas)
Flat areas of silt and clay with a high saline water table are colonised
almost exclusively by Batis maritima which can withstand the extreme salinity
of the dry season. Batis has been found growing in soil with a salinity of 12,000
parts per million. Where the concentration of salt is higher than this no
vegetation is found. The salinas are usually fringed by mangroves on the
3. THE VEGETATION OF ROCK PAVEMENTS
Along the windward coasts of many of the limestone islands of the Lesser
Antilles and of Jamaica there are stretches of windswept raised coral-limestone
beaches. They consist of jagged bare honeycomb limestone with occasional
pockets in which sand and detritus accumulates. These beaches are charac-
terised by an outward spray swept fringe completely bare of vegetation.
Further from the shore isolated procumbent masses of wind shaped shrubs
manage to gain a roothold in the crevices of the rock. Hardy shrubs
such as Rachicallis americana, Strumpfia maritima, Euphorbia buxifolia,
Borrichia arborescens, Tournefortia gnaphaloides, Suriana maritima and
Erithralis fruticosa are characteristic and may reach a height of 6 inches to 3
feet. Occasionally sand filled hollows may support Sesuvium portulacastrum,
the grass Paspalum vaginatum and the sedges Cyperus brunneus and Fimbris-
tylis spathacea. The severity of the habitat is emphasised by the appearance
of recumbent mats of plants that under more normal conditions are tall trees
and shrubs. Here, such plants as the button Mangrove, the Sea-grape and the
Fig (Ficus ochroleuea) sprawl over the rocks at a height of only a few inches.
There is a rapid increase in height of these plants with the wind protection
afforded on proceeding inland until a type of evergreen bushland is formed.
Here occur such plants as: -
Jacquinia armillaris Conocarpus erecta Capparis flexuosa
Coccoloba uvifera Pithecellobium unguis-cati "ferrugineau
Burmelia retusa Thrinax parviflora cynophallophora."
4. MONTANE FORMATIONS
Different zones of vegetation are encountered on ascending mountainous
regions. The vegetation changes with higher altitude and shows a series of
formations which differ from those of the lowland tropics. They tend to
resemble more and more the formations of temperate latitudes. Many of the
lowland formations do ascend into the mountain ranges, often very far up the
valleys, but, of course, only if their habitat requirements are met. As with
the other furmations this series starts with the optimum for the habitat which
means high rainfall and luxuriant growth, and proceeds through to the higher
elevations with progressively more adverse conditions of temperature and
exposure. In the area under consideration the limit of tree growth is hardly
reached unless we include the Columbian Andes (20,000 feet) where under
severe conditions of low temperature and exposure alpine meadow and finally
tundra are to be found.
Temperature is by no means the only important factor. Excessive
humidity such as that found in the Mist Forest reduces transpiration and light.
Exposure to high winds, on the other hand, curtails the height of tree growth
especially when considered in relation to shallow soil on steep slopes and
exposed ridges. The presence of thick small leathery leaves is noteworthy
and reflects the severity of exposure. This factor cannot be overstressed and
alternation of Lower Montane Rain Forest, Mist Forest (Montane Rain Forest
of Beard) and Elfin Woodland may be related to degree of exposure. Severe
exposure to wind and low temperature, acting together or separately produce
the same effect on the plant as regards the moisture relationship. The former
causes excessive water loss from the plant and the latter limits water
absorption from the soil.
a. The Lower Montane Rain Forest Formation
This formation bears great resemblance in its physiognomy to true
(Lowland) Rain Forest and by many is considered to be a sub-formation
of this type. According to Beard, however, the tree strata are typically reduced
to two (100 feet and 50 feet respectively). The leaves are predominantly simple.
Shrubs are few and ground cover sparse. The formation is very widespread
throughout the area both in the islands and the mainland territories and no
doubt formerly linked up at the lower elevations with Lowland Tropical Rain
Forest. In Jamaica the best examples seen occur on the west slopes of the
John Crow Mountain in the Rio Grande Valley at altitudes of 2,000-2,500 feet,
in the vicinity of Cuna-Cuna Gap and Corn Puss Gap and on the more
inaccessible northern slopes of the Blue Mountains in the Parish of Portland
at similar altitudes.
b. Mist Forest (Cloud Forest, Montane Rain Forest).
The forest has two closed storeys at 60 feet and 30 feet respectively, with
a well developed shrub layer which frequently includes tree ferns. The trees
have heavy crowns, branch low down and are loaded with mosses, lichens and
epiphytes. The leaves are simple and frequently covered with epiphyllous
liverworts and mosses. The forest is readily located because it is associated
with the montane mist belt and occurs throughout the area at altitudes, usually
between 4,000-5,000 feet. Examples in Jamaica are seen in the Blue Mountains
and on the western slopes of the John Crow Mountains.
c. Elfin Woodland Formation
Typically, this formation appears above 5,000 feet at the upper limit of
tree growth in the montane regions. It is also to be found throughout the Mist
Forest Formation where exposure and soil conditions are limiting.
It is an open woodland of gnarled, twisted and stunted trees, windblown
and laden with mosses, lichens, ferns and other epiphytes. The leaves are
thick and frequently fleshy In the Blue Mountain of Jamaica the formation
is often present as a more stunted and open form of Mist Forest, i.e. the
species present may be the same but the physiognomy is different, the trees
only reaching shrub height and heing more -cattered. In the higher eleva-
tions Clusia havaelnides Cletlra alevandrii become conspicuous. On the
Calcareous John Crow Mountains where the rainfall is above 200" per year
this formation occurs as low as 2,500 feet and covers the plateau at 3,000 feet
Here Clusia (Mountain Mangrove?) is dominant as a low sprawling tangle of
branches and roots covered with a wet verdant mass of epiphytes.
In the formations which we have discussed above climate is the
predominant factor and they may be referred to as the Climatic Formations of
the Caribbean. There are, however, two more important Formation Series, in
which it is the soil moisture conditions that control the vegetation. These are
the Seasonal-swamp (Marsh Formations) and the Swamp Formations. In the
former a seasonal waterlogged condition of the soil results from poor drainage
due to the presence of an impervious layer of sub-soil called a "pan" In the
latter the soil has a permanently high water table due to its topographical
position. These two formations may be considered to be the Edapic Forma-
tions of the Caribbean.
5. THE SEASONAL SWAMP (Marsh) FORMATIONS
Marsh or seasonal swamp implies marked seasonal fluctuations in the soil
moisture conditions of the habitat. This can vary from very wet (waterlogged)
to very dry. Such conditions are produced when seasonal rainfall is combined
with impervious sub-soils in the form of a clay "pan" This may lie near the
surface or be several feet deep. In the wet season the ground can be water-
logged for varying periods. In the dry season the upper layers of the soil, at
least, become desiccated. Conditions then are such that only specialised plants
can exist. The habitat conditions vary from the optimum, (deep pan and low
water table so that the soil is rarely completely waterlogged) to the most
adverse (shallowpan, high water table, frequently waterlogged). Four rain
formations may be recognized and these are usually present in definite zones.
a. Seasonal Swamp Forest
This is a two to three storied forest in which the upper storey is 50-80 feet
tall and emergent while the lower storey is at 30-50 feet and forms the canopy.
Where palms are conspicuous they may form 40-60 per cent. of all the trees
and largely comprise the lower canopy although some may be emergent.
Lianes are few, strangling epiphytes (Ficus and Clusia) and other epiphytes
may be conspicuous. Buttressing may be present but is not marked (10-30 per
cent). Stilt roots and pneumatophores may be present. The forest is entirely
evergreen and the leaves simple and mesophyllous. The ground surface tends
to be "hog wallowed" i.e. consists of a regular mosaic of raised ground (round
the tree roots) alternating with bare wet depressions.
b. Seasonal Swamp Woodland
This formation is composed of a low woodland with emergents up to
60 feet and canopy at 30-50 feet. The trees are small stemmed, regularly spaced
and scattered emergent palms are a feature. The diameter of the majority of
trees is only 4"-though the emergents may be from 16-36" Stilt roots are
c. Seasonal Swamp Thicket (Palm Marsh and Marsh Woodland of Beard
This formation includes the Palm-Marsh of Beard and occurs with or
without palms. It consists of a low dense woodland (40 feet) of spindly boled
trees and shrubs often only a few centimetres in diameter. The ground is
'hog-wallowed" and may carry sedges.
The term Savanna, as used botanically in the Caribbean, implies a type
of grass land brought about by the seasonal alternation of moisture and
drought, coupled with shallow soil and the presence of an impervious clay or
iron pan or rock. Waterlogging is rapid and large areas may be inundated in
the wet season. The severest alternations produce dry savanna, the less severe,
wet savanna. Where the soil is deeper, low, scattered gnarled trees occur in
groups or singly. Byrsonima sp. and Curatella sp. are common throughout
the regions (B.H. B.G., Trinidad, Venezuela &c.,). In some parts of
Honduras, Guatemala, B.G. and Cuba, Pinus caribaea is dominant. The
ground flora of grasses and sedges is further encouraged by repeated burning
The formation has been the subject of an extensive paper by Beard. It
does not occur in Jamaica.
6. THE SWAMP FORMATIONS
The term "swamp" implies permanently inundated or waterlogged
conditions where the soil rarely has chance to dry out completely for any
length of time. The land may be inundated all the year round or for varying
periods, but always has a high water table. The shorter the period of inundation
the more "optimal" the conditions and the nearer the approach to rain forest
(except under brackish conditions when the climax is Mangrove Forest). The
longer the period of inundation the poorer the vegetation until at the extreme
limit Herbaceous swamp or even submerged trailing vegetation (Aquatic
Swamp of Fanshawe) is reached. The sequence of edaphic conditions described
above may be seen on the margin of slow flowing tidal rivers and results in a
zonation of the formations. The outermost fringe is the only free water at low
tide. The inner zones are exposed for progressively longer periods while the
innermost zone is only inundated at exceptionally high tides or during the wet
season. Zonation of vegetation in the direction away from the free water
(towards the shore) is Herbaceous Swamp-Swamp thicket-Swamp Wood-
land-Swamp Forest (or Mangrove Forest).
a. Swamp Forest Formation
1. FRESH WATER
A forest of one storey with an open canopy between 60-80 ft. tall
composed of trees and palms. Plank buttresses of Plerocarfus, the invariable
dominant, are a feature. Lianes are infrequent, epiphytes rare, stilt roots may
be evident. Leguminous trees are a prominent feature, while leaves are ever-
green, mesophyllous and compound.
2. BRACKISH WATER (Mangrove Forest)
The brackish water equivalent of Swamp Forest is Mangrove Forest. This
is very widespread and of constant floristic composition along the Atlantic
and Caribbean coasts of the Area. At its most profuse the canopy may be
80 feet tall but falls much lower on the fringe of fresh water or in exposed
coastal areas. The three common mangroves Rhizophora Mangle (The Red
Mangrove), Avicennia nitida (The Black Mangrove) and Lagunculuria
racemosa (The White Mangrove) dominate the formation. Stilt roots (Rhizo-
phora) and pneumatophores (Avicennia) are noteworthy. The leaves are
evergreen, thick and heavily cutinised.
Note :-The Mangrove association is common throughout the tropics on
brackish mud flats, on coasts, and in tidal estuaries. The Old World
has some different species of Mangrove.
b. Swamp Woodland Formation
The freshwater series is marked in the transition from Swamp Forest to
Herbaceous Swamp by a zone of shrubby woodland of low spreading trees
and occasional palms, often containing dwarfed members of the swamp forest
formation. This passes gradually into the next formation.
c. Swamp Thicket Formation
A dense growth of shrubby vegetation on sand banks or silt, submerged
at high water level. Shrubs, perennial herbs and lines are occasionally
d. Herbaceous Swamp Formation
This formation consists of colonies of rushes and sedges on submerged
sand or silt. Species such as Eleocharis, Sagittaria, Pista stratiotes, Montri-
chardia, are common associates.
As the open water is approached the sedge and rush vegetation gives way
to floating vegetation, rooted at the bottom of the water. Here, such species
as the following common:-Water Lily (Nymphaea sp.), Water Hyacinth
(Eichornia crassipes), Water Ferns (Azolla and Salvinia), Utricularia sp.,
Ceratophyllum sp., Ricca sp. (a liverwort).
The above summarises the edaphic and climatic climax types of vegetation
of the Caribbean area. Examples of associations belonging to the various
formations are, by and large, to be found throughout the islands and fringing
mainland and indeed throughout the tropics as a whole. (See Table I). It must
be reiterated however that the climax types do not give a complete picture of
the vegetation as it exists today. The remainder may be conveniently reviewed
as Secondary Vegetation.
Vegetation to be considered under this heading covers by far the greater
part of land. Briefly the main types may be classified as follows :-
With the exception of the savannas already dealt with there is no natural
grassland. It has all resulted from removal of the original forests by cutting
and burning and is maintained in this condition by grazing, bushing and
frequent fires. Seymour grass is the most prevalent for it is able to withstand
bush fires. The shale hills of St. Andrew, Jamaica are maintained as grassy
slopes almost entirely by the effects of burning. It should be noted that if the
biotic factors were removed the grassland would show successional trend through
bushland to forest. This may be seen on the Alluvial plain of Jamaica where
abandoned land moves very quickly from Guango or Thorn Savanna to Thorn
Woodland. Under natural conditions this would no doubt develop into a type
of seasonal forest. In the upper elevation of the shale hills burning induces
a hill grassland of molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora).
(2) Fern brake
The removal of the forest from steep shale hills has resulted in erosion of
the soil. The extent of the erosion in Jamaica can be judged from the extensive
deposits of alluvium on the alluvial plains where it may be up to 80 feet deep.
This has left on the hills a very poor 'degraded' soil which would take a very
long time to develop into a condition where high forest could be supported.
On such areas burning has resulted in the spread of the bracken ferns
(Gleichenia pectinate in Jamaica, Pteris sp. in other islands). Large areas are
completely covered with this plant in great density. Its underground stems
(rhizomes) make it resistant to burning and by its dense growth it ousts all
Ruinate is an expressive Jamaican word which aptly describes the mixture
of herbs, shrubs and spindly trees that develop on abandoned land. It is
especially marked in the limestone areas. The succession has not been studied
but it is evident that quick growing trees such as Trumpet, Jointer, Bastard
Cedar, Acacia, Ebony, Mountain Broomweed would give way to 'high ruinate'
and ultimately to forest climax types.
(I) Secondary Plant Succession
If any one of the formation described was to be destroyed, wholly or
partially, and then the area was left undisturbed the climax vegetation would
eventually be re-generated. In the process of regeneration a succession of plant
communities would appear before the mature structure of the climax was
developed. The time taken would vary with the particular formation and would
be conditioned mainly by the rapidity of colonisation. Such development of
climax vegetation may be thought of as secondary plant succession. Here the
habitat suitable for the particular climax formation is, by and large, already
defined by the prevailing climatic and edaphic conditions. The sequence of the
plant communities that appear is conditioned by the 'biotic factor' which in
this case is
(1) The efficiency of dispersal of the propagules (seeds, spores,
(2) The effect that the plants themselves have on the habitat.
In effect this means that the early colonists are herbaceous types with
methods of rapid reproduction. Such are the 'weeds' that spring up in aban-
doned cultivated land. In a woodland climax the herbs will be mixed with
shrubs and seedling trees and finally a stratified woodland will be developed.
Such stratification is in itself a good example of the biotic factor since the
presence of plants that demand shade protection must await the appearance
of shade cast by the taller members. The examples of secondary vegetation
already described are cases where the normal sequence of succession is arrested
at some stage because the interference (fire, grazing, felling) is periodically
continued so that the climax is never attained.
(2) Primary Plant Succession
Primary Plant Succession is the initiation of vegetation on bare areas
where none has previously grown. New land is formed on the coasts and in
river estuaries by deposition of silt and sand; bare parent rock may be exposed
on steep slopes of the interior by land slides. These new habitats are usually
unsuitable to the requirements of most plants because of the adverse conditions.
In the aquatic environment there may be a surplus of moisture and a lack of
soil; on the other hand the bare parent rock habitat suffers from lack of soil
and lack of moisture. The pioneer plants that do succeed in gaining a roothold
have special adaptations enabling them to survive. They have an ameliorating
effect on the habitat by helping to improve the edaphic conditions. Plants
growing on dry rocky ground help the moisture situation by addition of humus
to the soil and this improves its water retention. The accumulation of decom-
posing vegetation in aquatic environments, together with the assistance provided
in silt retention, may elevate the soil and lead to drier conditions.
It will be apparent from what has been said so far that there is a major
difference between primary succession and secondary succession. In secondary
succession the habitat as conditioned by climate and soil is already present.
Primary succession on the other hand, although affected by climate is very
much controlled by the edaphic conditions and furthermore these soil conditions
are changing. In the two extreme cases quoted there is either bare rock,
awaiting the slow process of soil development, or aquatic environments awaiting
the potentially somewhat faster process of soil accumulation and elevation.
Such progressive changes in the habitat lead, in the course of time, to progres-
sive changes in the vegetation i.e. to plant succession. Within an edaphic
formation series these changes may be so profound that a succession of
formations leading towards the optimum can be found or deduced. Perhaps
the clearest example of such succession is in the Swamp Formation Series. Here
the accumulation of soil forming organic and inorganic matter elevates the land
and decreases the moisture content. At any one point in space the time sequence
of the vegetation may be Herbaceous Swamp-Swamp Thicket-Swamp
Woodland-Swamp Forest. The sequence will be seen to be the same as the
donation in space already mentioned. This is to be expected since vegetational
sequence will follow the edaphic sequence and this is the same no matter
whether the sequence itself is in space or time.
The spatial zonation of vegetation on the coast frequently indicates the
time sequence of primary succession. On sandy shores the pioneers on newly
exposed sand form a zone to the seaward side of the dune community of sand-
binders which may in turn fringe a zone of Littoral Woodland. If there is a
great decrease in moisture content and salinity of the soil, which may be
brought about by elevation of the land, an inner zone of Cactus-Thorn Scrub
may develop. Under static soil conditions these zones are more or less
permanent but they indicate the potential succession of communities that would
take place in time at any point if there should be land accretion seawards. Thus
the whole sequence of zonations would follow bodily the seaward movement of
the coast. This means in effect that any point may have a time sequence of
pioneer-due-Woodland (Littoral Woodland or Cactus Thorn Scrub).
It should be pointed out that there are some botanists who reserve the
term 'climax' for mature communities that are considered to be primarily
controlled by climate. They do not recognize the term 'edaphic climax' since,
as we have seen, there is always the possibility that edaphic conditions may
change giving rise to plant succession. The edaphic climax types defined here
would be called sub-climax communities.
ASPREY, G. F. & RoBBrs, R. G., The Vegetation of Jamaica. Ecol. Monogr. 23 1943.
BEARD, J. S., Climax Vegetation in Tropical America. Ecology. Vol. 25 1944.
BEARD, J. S., The Classification of Tropical American Vegetative Types. Ecology, Vol.
36 : 1955.
BEARD, J. S., The Natural Vegetation of the Windward and Leeward Isles. Oxford
Forrestry Memoir. No. 21 : 1949.
BEARD, J. S., The Savanna Vegetation of Northern Tropical America. Ecol. Monogr. 23,
BEARD, J. S., The Natural Vegetation of Trinidad. Oxford. For. Mem. No. 20. 1946,
CHARTER, C. F.. A reconnaissance survey of the soils of British Honduras. Govt. Printer.
FAmsHAWE, D. B., The Vegetation of British Guiana. Imp. For. Inst. Pap3r No. 29. Oxford
HARDY, F., Some aspects of tropical soils. Trans. 3rd. Int. Congr. Soil Sci. (Oxford) 1935.
LovELEaS, A. R. & ASPREY, G. F., The Evergreen Formitions of Janiica. (In ths press).
RICHARDs, The Tropical Rain Forest. Cambridge 1952.
The Couronians and The West Indies
The First Settlements
THE complicated history of the Caribbean area still offers many opportunities
for study to the historian particularly interested in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Among the countries which made their appearances in Caribbean annals one
may also mention the Duchy of Courland.
The area of the Duchy of Courland comprised 10,500 square miles and
consisted of two western provinces of Latvia situated on the Peninsula of
Courland (Kurzeme) and the Plains of Zemgale between the Baltic Sea and
the Gulf of Riga. The Duchy was inhabited by approximately half a million
inhabitants. The majority of the people were Latvians, but Germans formed
the most influential minority. The chief occupations of the people were
agriculture, deep-sea fishing, navigation, and handicraft industry. The country
produced for exports: rye, flax, oats, timber products, copperware, glassware,
ironware, meat, beer, brandy and aquavit, wool and linen textiles, tar, pitch,
rope, sailing equipment, leather goods, ships, guns and amber jewellery. The
dukes possessed considerable navy which was larger than those of many
great powers of Europe Duke Jacobus, e.g., possessed at different times a
total of 44 armed and 15 unarmed men-of-war, 60 big merchant ships and a
considerable number of smaller vessels. These ships sailed under a flag which
had a black crayfish on a red field.'
The Duchy of Courland was established as a fief of the United Kingdom
of Poland and Lithuania in 1562 by Gothard von Kettler, the last Grand
Master of the Livonian Order of Knights. It was practically independent and
neutral during most of the time of its history. In 1795 it was absorbed by
Russia and was liberated only in 1918. The capital of the country was Jelgava
(Mitau), the principal ports were Ventspils (Windau) and Liepaja (Libau).
The most important ruler of the Duchy was Duke Jacobus (James,
1642-1681). He studied economics, shipbuilding, geography and navigation in
Germany, France and the Netherlands. Presumably in 1634 he made a secret
agreement with the Dutch banker Marsdlis who promised to finance Jacobus's
colonising enterprises westward.' In 1642 Prince Jacobus became the duke
and in 1645 he married the sister of the Grand Elector of Brandenburg. The
Duchess Louise Charlotte had a considerable share in the Dutch West India
'Arnold Spekke, History of Latvia (Stockholm: M. Goppers, 1951), p. 249;
Hugo Vitols, La mer Baltique et les Etats Baltes (Paris: Domat-Montchretien, 1935),
'State Archives of Latvia, Archives of the Duchy of Courland, Riga, Latvia
(further cited as LVA), 311/2052.
Company." In his economic policy Duke Jacobus was mercanf.iat. He. sg t
to develop his duchy as a maritime power. His shipyards built ships not only
for domestic use, but also for France, England, and Spain. He had diplomatic
representatives in all important centres of Europe, a naval station at Flekeroe
and mining centres at Eidsvold and Kongsberg in Norway, and colonies in
Gambia (in West Africa) and Tobago (in America).'
The Kettler family had very close relations with the Stuart dynasty of
England. Duke Jacobus was godson of James I of England. The English
diplomats, particularly Sir Thomas Roe, protected Courland against Sweden
and Poland. James I and Charles I paid pensions to Duke Wilhelm, Jacobus's
father. During the Civil War of England Jacobus supported the Stuarts with
ships and considerable shipments of food, arms and ammunition the total
value of which in 1649 reached 380,000 Rixthalers. Jacobus also supported
Both England and the Netherlands had close economic relations with the
Duchy. The duke's minister in Holland and France, Jean de Wicquefort,
greatly extended the influence of Courland in those countries. The dukes also
had friendly relations with the Orange family of the Netherlands and the
Danish royal family. As early as 1643, the Duchy of Courland had treaties
of friendship and commerce with France, Sweden, and Venetia, and in 1648
similar treaty with Portugal was signed and friendly relations were established
The Couronians appeared in the West Indies quite early, immediately
after the English, French and Dutch made their appearances there. They were
particularly interested in Tobago, which was inhabited by the Caribs at the
time when Europeans discovered it. Some English adventurers visited the
island as early as 1594. In 1614 Joannes Roderigo founded a short-lived
'Ernst Seraphim, Eine Schwester dest Grosses KurfOrsten Luise Charlotte.
Markgrafin von Brandenburg, Herzogin von Kurland, 1617-1676 (Berlin: Verlag von
Alexander Duncker, 1901), p. 21ff.; Otto Heinz Mattiesen, Die Kolonial-und Ubersee-
politik der kurldndischea Hers6ge im 17 sad 18. ]hd. (Berlin & Stuttgart:
Kohlhammer, 1940), p. 410.
'Spekke, op. cit., p. 240; Mattiesen, op. cit., pp. 28, 37; Jekabs Juskevics.
Hercoga Jikaba laikmets Kursemn (Riga: Valstspapiru spiestuves izdevums, 1931).
pp. 164-82, 265, 586, 637; Walter Eckert, Kurland hunter dem Einfluss des Merkan-
tilismus (Riga: Verleg G. Loffler, 1937), p. 137.
'LVA, 110/613, ff. 39-41, 49, 52; 110/614; 107/601, f. 38b; 112/612, ft. 1, 5:
131/862; 35/240; Juskevics, op. cit. p. 13: Alfred Bilmanis, A History of Latvia
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), pp. 186-87; Great Britain. Public Record
Office, State Papers, Domestic Series [further cited as PRO, SP], 1/ 174; Great Britain.
Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of
Charles I [further cited as Cal. Dom.], I, 537; IV, 314, 308, 326; Scottish History
Society Miscellany of the Scottish History Sooiety (Ediaburgh: T. A. Constable, 1893).
KV, 145, 155. 189-90, 209-11.
*LVA. 35/240, ff. 3, 26; 50/708, f. 47; 55/704; 65/707, f. 41; 107/601, ff. 1-2.
1-11, 32; 108/639; 450/460; Eckert, op. cit., pp. 54-55, 147, 154, 167; Juakevics,
?p. cit., pp. 26, 164-65, 177, 182, 265, 275, 586, 637; Otto vog Mirbach, Briefs aus und
ack Gurland adkrend der Regirungsjahre des Hersogs Jacob (Mitau: Reyher, 1844),
Spanish settlement on Tobago. In 1626 Sir Thomas Warner took possession of
all the Caribbean islands in the name of King Charles I. From 1628 to 1630
and from 1633 to 1636 the Dutch had established their colonies on the island,
but the planters of Barbados made occasional visits to Tobago to secure wood
and timber supplies.
The Couronian Prince Jacobus probably received some information about
Tobago from the English diplomat, Sir Thomas Roe, who defended the
Couronian interests in 1629-30 and had seen both Trinidad and Tobago in
1611. In 1627, the founder of the Dutch and Swedish West India Companies,
William Usselinx, visited the Duke of Courland in order to get him interested
in the colonial enterprises. A Couronian officer, Joachim Deniger von Olinda,
fought on the Dutch side in Brazil in 1630. Prince Jacobus studied in Holland
shipbuilding, geography and economics from 1634 to 1636 and probably heard
about the failure of the Dutch on Tobago. He spent much of his time in Zealand
where the Tobago colonists came from and contacted banker Mars6lis in
Amsterdam, who promised to finance Couronian colonising expeditions
Some sources (Colonel John Scott, &c.) mentioned the first Couronian
colony on Tobago as established in 1634, but other sources do not confirm
their statements.' Some other sources (Anderson, Praetorius) placed the first
Couronian settlements in 1637 or even in 1640.' Scott mentioned that 212
Couronians perished on the island in 1634. Most of his statements are confirmed
by later research studies. Therefore his manuscript should not be entirely
ignored. If the duke really had a settlement on Tobago in 1634 or a few years
later he had all reasons to be silent about it (fear of competition and jealousy,
experienced failure, dubious nature of the colony, &c.).
On July 2, 1627, James Hay, Earl of Carlisle, received a grant of all the
Caribbean Islands from the King of England, Charles I. Philip Herbert, Earl
of Pembroke and Montgomery, intervened and received a grant of Trinidad,
Tobago and two other islands on February 25, 1628. After an unsuccessful
attempt to settle Tobago in August, 1638, the son of the Earl of Pembroke sold
his patent to Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, who organised two expeditions
to Tobago, one under Captain Robert Marsham in 1639, and another one,
under Captain Marshall, in 1642. The colonies established by these men lasted
for a few months each. After another unsuccessful attempt the Earl of Warwick
offered the island for sale on August 12, 1647. Nothing more was heard of the
'LVA, 321/1057. f. 4; J. Franklin Jameson, Willem Usselinx, Founder of the
Dutch and Swedish West India Companies (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1887).
p. 124; J[ohann] C[hristoph] P[raetorius], Tobago Insulae Caraibicae in America Sitae
Fatum (Groningae: Spikes, 1727), pp. 19-20.
'British Museum, Department of Manuscripts [further cited as BM], Sloane MSS.
3662, ft. 47v.-48r.; John Fowler, A Summary Account of the Present Flourishing Stale
of the Respectable Colony of Tobago (London: [n.p.], 1774), p.8.
'Adam Anderson, An Historical and Chronological Deduction of the Origin of
Commerce from the Earliest Accounts, Containing an History of the Great Commercial
Interests of the British Empire (London: A. Millar, 1764), II, 377; Praetorius,
op. cit.. p. 23 and In textu corrigenda.
Duke Jacobus (James, born 1610, died 1681) was the founder of the
Colonial Power of the Duchy of Courland.
The museum of Province of Courland at Jelgava, Lativa
The Line-of-Battle Ship Die Pax (4 m guns) reached Tobago in
September. 1656 with 120 Latvian Colonists on Board.
-Painting of F. Baurs.
r- '4"'.. ,. "' *
*^' gt ^ _n|j
The Couronians claimed that they had bought Warwick's patent, with the
knowledge of Jacobus's friend, Charles I, who received considerable support
from the Couronian duke during the Civil War. Warwick, however, joined
the side of the Parliament against the King. Nobody knows when and how the
island was purchased by the Duke of Courland. In May, 1658, there were
still some unsettled accounts to be dealt with between the Duke and the Earl
of Warwick. In 1660, however, the second son of the Earl did not present his
claims to the island. It seems that no document was issued to confirm the
business transactions for security reasons, but Charles I, who probably knew
about it, died in 1649. Tobago archives at London were burnt in 1668.1"
Scott and the anonymous author of Tobago mentioned another Couronian
settlement on Tobago from 1642 to 1650. They mention a group of smugglers
from Zealand, a total of 310, under Captain Caroon, from Brazil, who settled
the island under the protection of the Duke of Courland. The Caribs had
exterminated their colony. There are many evidences which prove the existence
of this colony. The duke's correspondence, however, did not mention Caroon's
(or Caron's) settlement, but later some Cornelis Caron presented his claim to
a separate settlement on Tobago. His reputation was bad and in 1666 he was
arrested and tried for some old crimes. "
Most of the authors claim that the Couronian ships had never been in
the West Indies before 1654. Their statements were not correct. Several
Dutch, English, and Danish documents clearly indicated the presence of the
Couronian ships in the West Indies in 1642, 1645, 1649, and 1653. They
were slave traders, but they also carried grain and elephant tusks. A banker
from Danzig, Israel Jaski, congratulated Duke Jacobus on October 9, 1649,
for his profitable "India trade" "
"Arthur Parcival Newton, The Colonising Activities of the English Puritans (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1914), pp. 121-23, 197; Briefve Deduction par laquelle
ii est clairement montrd ue l'isle de Tabago apprartient d Monsigneur le Duc en
Livonie et en Courland [further cited as Briefve deduction] (Mitav: Michel
Karnall, 1668, pp. 3, 6, 5; LVA, 118/622, f.l; 47/241, f. 55; Public Record Office.
State Papers, Colonial Series [further cited as PRO, CO], 1/62; 29/3; 29/7; Public
Record Office, Calender of State Papers and Manuscripts Relating to English Affars,
Existing in the Archives and Collections of Venice [further cited as Venetian],
XXXI, 192; Mattiesen, op., cit., pp. 445-45.
"BM, Sloane MSS, 2662, f. 48r; Praetorius, op cit. pp. 22-23; [Anonymous].
Tobago; or, a Geographical Description. Natural and Civil History [further cited
as Tobago] (London: W. Reeves, [1750?], pp. 2-3; Rev. George Edmundson,, "The
Dutch in Western Guiana," English Historical Review, XVI (October, 1901, pp. 645-46;
W. R. Menkman, De West-lndische Compagnie (Amsterdam: P. N. van Kampen
& Zoon, 1947), p. 91; The General State Archives, [further cited as ARA] Archives of
the old West India Company [further cited as OWIC, The Hague, The Netherlands,
"Secrete Kas," West-Indische Compagnie, Inv. 10.
"ARA, Archives of the States General [further cited as St. Gen.], Liassen West
Indie, Inv. No. 5774; LVA, 112/606, ff. 16-17; 107/601, ff. 32-36; 52/748; 55/704;
Heinrich Diederichs, Herzog Jakobs von Kurland Kolonien an der Westkiiste von Afrika
(Mitau J. Steffenhagen, 1890), pp. 14-16; Thurloe State Papers. A Collection of the
State Papers of John Thurloe, Esq. (London: Printed for the Executor of the
late Mr. Fletcher Gyles. Thomas Woodward, and Charles Davis, 1742), 111,410.
In the decade from 1640, the Duchy of Courland experienced consider-
able prosperity and rapid industrial development. The Duke had a powerful
navy and a considerable merchant fleet. In 1645, he was made a Prince of
the Holy Roman Empire and his international prestige was greatly
strengthened. He approached the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, and
received a letter of safe-conduct and neutrality from him on August 28, 1654.
On July 17, 1657, a treaty of commerce and navigation was signed between
the Commonwealth and the Duchy of Courland. The Dutch refused to sign a
similar treaty, but they signed, at least, a treaty of neutrality, in December
1653, with the Duchy of Courland. The Duke appointed a rich merchant from
Amsterdam, Henryk Momber, as the director of shipping and commerce of
In 1654, the Duke offered to the Dutch 6,000 soldiers under Colonel
Joachim Deniger von Olinda to help them to conquer Brazil. On August 21,
1651, he offered to the Pope Innocent X 40 men-of-war and 24,000 sailors and
soldiers in order to conquer new lands in Australia. The Lutheran duke would
have the commercial profits of this venture, while the Pope would provide
financal backing and would reap a harvest of spiritual dividends in the
missionary line. In 1655 this project was dropped."
The Duke refused to participate in a joint Brandenburg-Courland
Company, but developed a plan, on June 4, 1651, to promote vigorous slave
trade with the Spanish colonies. The Spaniards did not answer. In January,
1652, the Duke demanded several Spanish islands in the West Indies as a
compensation for captured Couronian ships. The Duke's interests were
defended by the Spanish statesman and admiral Don Francesco Maura y
Corte Real, Marquis de Castel Rodrigo. On February 15, 1656, a treaty of
commerce and navigation was signed between Spain and the Duchy of
Courland. Already on January 16, 1650 an agreement was signed between
the Duke of Courland and the Portuguese General Company of Brazil. The
Duke promised to participate in the Portuguese trade with Brazil.15
On October 25, 1651, the Couronians established themselves in Gambia,
in West Africa. They sent to Gambia metalware, glassware, pottery, and toys
"Cal. Dom., 1653-54, VI, LXVI; 1654, pp. 487, 516; 1656-57, pp. 300-01; 1657-58,
p. 27; Venetian, XXIX, 247, XXI, 90-91; Thurloe Papers, II, 374; LVA 47/241,
f. 193f; 61/712, f. 1; 116/624; 448/1056, f. 43; Mattiesen, op. cit., pp. 97-98, 108,
116, 392-93, 400, 402, 405, 419-421; Dierderichs, op. cit., 19-20; Eckert, op. cit.,
pp. 167, 169; Menkman, op. cit., p. 138; Lieuwe van Aitzema, Saken van Staet en
Orlogh ('s-Graven-Haghe: John Veely, Johan Tongerloo, Jasper Doll, 1669),
"Juskevics, op. cit., p. 211; Eckert, op. cit., pp. 181-82; Bilmanis, op. cit..
p. 189; Diederichs, op cit., pp. 17-18; Mattiesen, op. cit., p. 110.
"LVA, 315/625, ff. 1, 21a, 21b, 40; 56/727; 437/623, f. 34; 65/709; 65/707, f. 41;
116/624, f. 2b; August Seraphim, "Die Beziehungen Herzogs Jacob zu Spanien"
[further cited as Seraphim, Beziehungen], Sitzungsberichte der Kurlandischen Gesell-
schaft filr Literatur und Kunst nebst Ver6ffentlichungen des hurlandischen
Provinzial-Museums, aus dem Jahre 1890, pp. 44-45; Mattiesen, op. cit., pp. 112, 337-38,
66-67, 71-73, 242.
Three Couronian ships at some West Indian islands-A Drawing
Dating Back to the Seventeenth Century.
for the Negroes. They imported from Gambia gold, ivory, wax, fur, pepper,
oil and fruits of palm trees, and slaves. Duke Jacobus also organized Negro
militia and used intelligent Negroes in his services. He bought his colonies
from Negro kings and engaged in missionary activities. Therefore, he differed
from many other colonizers who were only interested in profits."
In late 1652 a squadron consisting of three Couronian ships left Ventspils
for Brazil under the orders of Admiral Wilhelm Mollens Sen. and the
commercial director Croynfanger. The expedition was very successful." On
May 20, 1654, the first regular Couronian colony was planted on Tobago by
Willem Mollens, Jun., who sailed to the West Indies on board the Das Wappen
der Herzogin von Kurland. For Jacobus (James) were erected on the north-
western shore of the island and a town, called Jacobusstadt, developed in the
neighbourhood of the fort (present day Plymouth). Eighty families composed
of different nationalities (German, Latvian, Dutch, French, and English)
settled around the town. The garrison of 124 soldiers also received lands for
private use. The minimum unit of an individual settlement comprised 63 acres,
but the maximum unit was 10 times larger. Even the serfs received lands and
became free men. The first three years were duty-free. Afterwards the settlers
were to pay the "customary" dues and buy slaves from the Duke. Foreigners
were permitted to settle in Tobago if they were willing to acknowledge the
supremacy of the Duke of Courland. The first Governor was Willem Mollens.
In July and August, Matthias Beck, an influential Dutch Brazilian official
visited the island and left an interesting report on the development of the
island. The Couronian documentary evidence concerning the development of
Tobago is scarce, and more information could be found in the Dutch and
German archives. The colonists were often attacked by the Caribs, notwith-
standing the Couronian struggle to maintain friendly relations with them.
There was a Couronian Lutheran mission and five Carib settlements on the
The Lampsins's family from Flushing and Middelburg wanted to continue
the colonizing experiments started by Jan de Moor in Tobago, in 1628. In
September, 1651, the settlers of these rich merchants under the orders of
Pieter Bec(uard reached the island, had some clashes with the Couronians and
finally made an agreement with the Couronian Governor according to which
they recognized the supremacy of the Duke of Courland and promised to pay
him an annual tribute. The Dutch Government, being exhausted by the war
with England (1652-54), was not in a position to help the Lampsins, but the
Dutch West India Company was paralysed after the heavy losses suffered in
"LVA, 116/624; Diederichs, op. cit., pp. 14-15, 20-21; Eckert, op. pp.
169-170, 177-78, 206; Mattiesen, op. cit., pp. 119, 179, 267. 279-82, 290, 298.
"LVA, 50/708, ff. 24, 61ffi 65/707, f. 41; Mattiesen, op. 242, 246-47. 251-52,
381, 443. 465.
'8YVA, 50/708, ff; 61/713, f. 15; Briefve deduction, pp., 1, 3; Pro, Co
1/62; Library of the City of Riga, Department of Manuscripts, "Abr6ge de I'Histoire
de Tabago" par Ewald von Klopmann [further cited as Klopmann's MSS]; ARA,
OWIC, No. 67; ARA. St. Gen.. Loket Kas, Particuliere Stukken, No. 3863 A;
Juskevics, op. cit., p. 234; Edmundson, op. cit. pp. 648-49.
Brazil against the Portuguese. On the other hand, the British Government
was willing to help an enemy of the Dutch."
On June 20, 1655, Das Wappen der Herzogin von Kurland returned to
Courland. In January, 1655, Constantia, under Jacob Ros, sailed to Tobago
with provisions and returned home on December 31, 1655. In August, 1655,
Das Wappen der Herzogin von Kurland, under Jan Brandt, accompanied by
Der Jiger, under Peter Friedrichsen, was sent to Brazil and Tobago, actually
reached Rio Cruz, but was seized later in Lisbon by a dishonest duke's
business partner. The Portuguese island Isle del May served as the Duke's
On September 18, 1655, the States General recognized the Lampsins as
the patrons of Tobago and granted them privilege to settle and cultivate the
island. The Lampsins not only cultivated the land, but also engaged in
interloping and smuggling. On July 20, 1654, Cornelis Caron representing a
group of Dutch colonists petitioned the States General to consider his settlement
as an independent colony in Tobago. Petition was repeated on May 19, 1656.
The petitioner seemed to be the same Captain Caroon who settled Tobago a
decade before in the name of the Duke of Courland. The States General ignored
the petitioner and finally arrested him."
On September 27, 1656, Huijbrecht van Beveren was appointed as
Commander of the Lampsins's colony. The French settled on the Couronian
side of the island in increasing numbers. The Couronian ship Der Isslandfahrer,
under Jelle Helles, sailed to an unknown place as a slave trader on June 10,
1656, but returned on October 8, 1657. On September 12, 1656, the Constantia
made her second trip to Tobago under Jacob Petersen sag Albersten. On board
the ship there were 130 soldiers under Major Wolfrat von Brederow (or
Brederlo) named Clottring, who was made the second Governor of Tobago.
The ship returned home on November 1, 1656. La Paix left Courland in fall
of 1657, under Andre Bohm with 120 settlers. The ship returned home in
October, 1658. In December, 1657, Die Herzogin von Kurland und Die Dame
left Courland under the orders of skipper Marten Martens and military
commander Nicolas de Brion. The first Couronian pastor in Tobago was
Peter Engelbrecht, who lived on the island from May, 1654, to the early part
of 1657. The church life was quite developed. The territorial districts of
Tobago were called Ance (settlements). There were Couronian, French and
"W. R. Menkman, "Tobago, een bijdrage tot de geschiedenis der Nederlandsche
Kolonisatie in tropisch Amerika," De West-Indische Gids [further cited as Menkman,
Tobago], XXI, 310; [Sieur Charles de Rochefort. Tableau de I'Isle de Tabago our
de la Nouvelle Oiaalchre [further cited as Rochefort, Tableau] (Leyde: Jean de
Carpaintier, 1665). p. 18; ARA, St. Gen., Loket Kas, Particuliere Stukken, No. 3863
A; No. 129, Loqte C. Lita B; Briefve deduction, pp. 4-5; Tobago, pp. 31-32; Fowler,
op. cit., p. 9; ARA, OWIC, Loket Kas No. 61; LVA, 321/881, f. I; BM. Egerton
"LVA, 50/708, ff. 47, 93; 47/241; Briefve deduction, p. 7; Klopmann's MSS.
"ARA, OWIC, InstructiOn & Commissi;n, 1655, ff. 42, 91, 96; ARA, St. Gen.,
Registers van Commissifn, 1651-59, No. 3253, ff. 216; 275; Registers van commission,
1654-60, No. 2319, ff. 56; 211-12, 247; 251; Rochefort, Tableau, pp. 71-72; Menkman.
Tobago, pp. 313-14; BM, Sloane MSS, 3662, f. 48r; ARA, OWIC, Secret Kas, Inv.
No. 10; ARA. St. Gen.. Registers van de ordinaris resolution, 1657, No. 82; Mattiesen,
op. cit., pp. 491; Henry Iles Woodcock, A History of Tobago (Ayr: printed for the
author, 1867), p. 25.
Dutch ances in Tobago. The islanders had their own democratically elected
councils under the presidency of the governor. The Couronians were successful
colonizers, but could not compete with the Dutch as merchants and traders.
There were three towns (Couronian-Jacobusstadt; Dutch-Lampsinston,
Nieuw Vlissingen), and four forts (Couronian-Jacobusfort; Dutch-Lamp-
sinsburgh, Fort Beveren, Belleviste). The Couronians exported to the island
and neighboring areas slaves, timber, hardware, glassware, grain, brandy,
beer, flour, salted meat, salted fish, amber jewellery, &c. They imported from
Tobago and the neighboring areas tobacco, tropical timber, cotton, ginger,
indigo, sugar, rum, cocoa, coconuts, feathers of tropical birds, and shells of
tortoises, Tobago was famous for its good, natural harbours and fertile soil.22
On August 6, 1958, Der Cavalier and Die Dame, under Willem Mollens,
Jun., sailed to Tobago, reached the island, but did not return home. Der Kbing
David and Der Islander never left the European waters, because of the
beginning of war in Courland. From 1653 to 1660, 12 ships were sent to
Tobago, but only eight ships definitely reached the island. On October 10,
1658, Duke Jacobus was taken prisoner by the Swedes. The agents of the
Lampsins induced the lonely Couronian garrison to mutiny on November 11,
1659. Governor von Brederow had left the island, but his representative,
Lieutenant Christian Holtzbruch, was arrested, by the leaders of the rebels
-Christian Thiessen, Christoffel Kysselingh and Pierre Sanderson. The Dutch
took over the entire island with all of its installations, transported most of the
Couronian soldiers to Europe, and paid them little pocket money. It was
stipulated in their agreement with the Dutch, however, that as soon as the
Duke should recover his liberty the settlement would be restored to him. On
February 27, 1660, Christoffel Kysselingh was forced to sign another written
statement declaring that the Couronian territory and fort were transferred to
the Dutch "voluntarily" and "without persuasion." Afterwards he disappeared
from the stage, but the Duke of Courland lost Tobago for a long time."
"LVA, 50/170, f. 128; 50/708, ff. 47, 22, 130; 61/713, fi. 15, 48; 55/704, ff. 4,
130; Briefve deduction, pp. 8-11; German Central Archives, Prussian Secret State
Archives [further cited as DZA, GPSA, Rep. 9, 7, E2, if. 14, 18, 20; Klopmann's MSS;
Rochefort, Tableau, pp. 74-105; ARA, St. Gen.. Part. Stukken, No. 3863 A; Mattiesen,
op. cit., pp. 85, 287, 293, 301, 383, 422-23, 448-49, 470-72, 481, 483, 494-95, 499;
Juskevics, op. cit., pp. 238-39, 275, 279; Praetorius, op. cit. p. 24; Eckert. op. cit.
"LVA, 110/618, fl. 4, 6, 28; 47/241, f. 45; DZA. GPSA, Rep. 9, 7 E 2, ff. 6, 6a,
18; ARA, St. Gen., Regiqters van de secrete resolution van de Staten-General, 1654-60,
No. 2318, f. 56; Briefve deduction, pp. 10-12, 19-12; Juskevics, op. cit., pp. 239,
William Dampier (1652-1715)-Writer
and Buccaneer in The West Indies
JoHN A. RAMSARAN
(University College, Ibadan, Nigeria)
No aspect of the Caribbean so captured the imagination of the 17th century
English public as buccaneering. The legacy left by Hawkins, Drake and
Raleigh from Elizabethan days, lay obscured for a time by the clouds of the
Civil War until it was brought once more into the light by a long line of daring
seamen. Many of these belonged to the buccaneering fraternity or the Brother-
hood of the Main, outcasts from society living by their own code of conduct.
Their mode of life has been described at length by Exquemelin in Bucaniers
of America--a graphic account of deeds of savagery, and of incredible
rashness and daring. It has all the colour and bravura of the most improbable
kind of pirate tale one can imagine. Hurricanes contribute to the atmosphere
of blood and thunder, as towns are stormed or treasure ships attacked by the
"devil's water rats"
It is in the writings of the buccaneers themselves that the West Indies of
the late 17th century is most vividly depicted as pulsating with prolific
vegetable and animal life, heightened and intensified by storms and hurricanes
-all giving full scope to the buccaneers' zest for life. No writer of the fraternity
gave a more faithful picture of their life and setting than William Dampier
who spent several years in the West Indies as logwood-cutter and pirate. His
first book, A New Voyage Round the World, appeared in 1697 making him
famous overnight: a second edition followed the same year, and a third was
called for the following year. Then Dampier's publisher demanded fresh
material for a new book which comprised Campeachy Voyages and Discourse
on the Trade Winds published in 1699 along with the fourth edition of his
In his Campeachy Voyages Dampier gave a full account of the years spent
in the West Indies. He first went out to Jamaica in 1674 at the age of 22
intending to manage a plantation; but that did not suit his disposition. So he
shipped himself on a vessel that went on coasting voyages round the island
and gave him an opportunity of becoming "acquainted with the ports and
bays about Jamaica" "But after six or seven months," he writes, "I left
that employ also, and shipt myself aboard one Captain Hudsel, who was
bound to the Bay of Campeachy to load Logwood."2 Later he joined the
logwood-cutters hoping to make a fortune, but had to give up that employ
too, because of the havoc wrought by a severe storm:
I was then cutting Logwood in the Western Creek of the West
Lagune About 4 a Clock the 2d Day after this unusual Ebb, the Sky
looked very black, and the Wind sprung up fresh at S.E. and increasing.
In less than two Hours time it blew down all our Huts, but one; and
that with much labour we propt up with Posts, and with Ropes cast over
the Ridge, and fasting both ends to stumps of Trees, we secured the
Roof from flying away. In it we huddled all together till the Storm ceased.
It rained very hard the greatest part of the Storm, and about two Hours
after the Wind first sprang up, the Waters flowed very fast in. The next
Morning it was as high as the Banks of the Creek The Flood still
increased About 12 at Noon we brought our Canoa to the side of our
Hut, and fastnd it to the Stump of a Tree that being the only Refuge
that we could expect; for the Land a little way within the Banks of the
Creek is much lower than where we were: So that there was no walking
through the Woods because of the Water. Besides, the Trees were torn
up by the Roots, and tumbled down so strangely a-cross each other,
that it was almost impossible to pass through them.'
It was after this incident that Dampier turned to buccaneering although
it is almost certain that he had already had a taste of it like the logwood-cutters
whom he has described as enlivening their humdrum existence with short
buccaneering trips along the coast:
They'[logwood-cutters on Beef Island] were good Marks-men, and so took
more delight in Hunting; but neither of these employment affected them
so much as Privateering, therefore they often made Sallies out in small
Parties among the nearest Indian Towns; where they plundered and
brought away the Indian Women to serve them in their Huts, and sent
their Husbands to be sold at Jamaica-'
In 1679 Dampier returned to England for a short period but was soon
back in Jamaica; and this time he gave his full attention to buccaneering and
keeping a journal of his activities and close observations of everything around
him. The most notable exploit on this tour was the journey across the Isthmus
of Darien and the return from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean of a number
of pirates who refused to stay any longer under the command of their captain,
the buccaneer Sharp. The full story of the return is told by Dampier himself
who managed to preserve his cherished journal in an ingenious way
Forseeing a necessity of wading through Rivers frequently in our Land-
march, I took care before I left the Ship to provide my self a large joint
of Bambo [bamboo], which I stopt at both ends, closing it with Wax,
so as to keep out any Water. In this I preserved my Journal and other
writings from being wet, tho' I was often forced to swim."
The journal has a freshness and vividness which evoke every detail of
the tropic atmosphere of this heroic struggle to cross the difficult terrain dense
with forests, that shut out the sunlight, and presented a barrier of under-
growth impenetrable but for the use of cutlasses. Further, it was the wet
season when the swift mountain streams were swollen with tempestuous
showers, and when it was impossible to keep oneself dry by day or night.
Dampier describes the journey in his usual direct and lucid style without a
trace of exaggeration, or straining after effect. He concludes-
Thus we finished our Journey from the South Sea to the North in 23 days;
in which time by my account we travelled 110 miles, crossing some very
high Mountains; but our common march was in the Valleys among the
deep and dangerous Rivers. At our first landing in this Country, we
were told that the Indians were our Enemies; we knew the Rivers to be
deep, the wet season to be coming in; yet excepting those we left behind,'
we lost but one Man, who was drowned.'
After this adventure Dampier spent several years in piratical expeditions
chiefly among the West Indian islands and along the coasts of Central and
South America. This area was the happy hunting grounds of the buccaneers
who had gathered detailed information about it both from personal observation
and by interrogating prisoners. Dampier, for example, gives from time to
time, in his journal, very accurate and often interesting accounts of the
individual islands and places which he saw. The systematic gathering of data
is best illustrated by the following passage in his New Voyage.
The Privateers have an account of most Towns within 20 leagues of the
Sea, on all the Coast from Trinidado down to Vera Cruz; and are able
to give a near guess of the strength and riches of them: For they make
it their business to examine all Prisoners that fall into their hands,
concerning the Country, Town, or City that they belong to; whether born
there, or how long they have known it? how many families, whether most
Spaniards? or whether the major part are not Copper-colour'd, as Mulattoes,
Mustesoes [Mestizos], or Indians? whether rich, and what their riches
do consist in? and what their chiefest manufactures? if fortified, how many
great Guns, and what number of small Arms? whether it is possible to
come undescried on them? How many Look-outs or Centinels ? If
any River or Creek comes near it, or where the best Landing And
if they have had any former discourse of such places from other Prisoners,
they compare one with the other.'
The remarkable thing about Dampier's books is the fact that his descrip-
tions are often more than mere topographical notes or bald statements
enumerating plants and animals of the region. His observations reveal what
Coleridge called "an exquisite refinement of mind" Mr. Masefield imagines
him "writing up his journal, describing a bunch of flowers, or a rare fish,
in the intervals between looting a wine-shop or sacking a village".' His
description of the humming-bird may be quoted as evidence of his keen
observation and his sensitive response to beauty in an environment where
the blood-thirsty pirates had created a hell of their own
The Humming-Bird is a pretty little feather'd Creature, no bigger than
a great over-grown Wasp, with a black Bill no bigger than a small Needle,
and his Legs and Feet in Proportion to his Body. This Creature does not
wave his Wings like other Birds when it flies, but keeps them in a
continued quick Motion like Bees or other Insects, and like them makes
a continual humming Noise as it flies. It is quick in Motion, and haunts
about Flowers and Fruit, like a Bee gathering Honey, making many near
Addresses to its delightful Objects, by visiting them on all Sides, and yet
still keeps in Motion, sometimes on one Side, sometimes on the other;
as often rebounding a Foot or two back on a sudden, and as quickly
returns again, keeping thus about one Flower five or six Minutes, or
It was no wonder that William Dampier's writings were so popular with
all classes of readers in his own day, and that he was welcomed in the company
of John Evelyn the diarist, Charles Montague, President of the Royal Society,
and Sir Hans Sloane who had spent a period (1687-1689) in Jamaica as
surgeon to the Duke of Albemarle, Governor of the Island.
'This was the English translation (1684-1695) of the original published at
Amsterdam in 1678, entitled De Americaensche Zee Roovers.
'Dampier, William. The Voyages of Captain William Dampier, ed. John Masefield,
London. 1906, II, 144.
'Op. cit. II, 285-6.
'Op. cit. II, 156.
'Op. cit. I, 47.
'Lionel Wafer, another buccaneer-author and companion of Dampier in the journey
across the Darien Isthmus, suffered an accident to his knee and was left behind
together with four other buccaneers among the Darien Indians. See A New Voyage
and Description of the Isthmus of America by Lionel Wafer, 1699. Hakluyt Society
edition, London, 1934.
'Dampier, op. cit. I, 53-4.
'Op. cit. I, 58-9.
'Op. cit. I, 10.
"Op. cit. II, 166.
The Panan, an Afrobahian Religious
Rite of Transition
MELVILLE J. HERSKOVITS
THE rite to be described here is one of a cycle that marks the emergence of
novitiates (yawo, Yoruba "junior wife") in the Ketu sect of Afrobahian cult-
groups (candombld) after a period of seclusion wherein they are ritually
dedicated to the worship of the gods (orisha) by whom they have been chosen.
As such, it functions as a mechanism of social reintegration, assuring the
initiates that on their return to the daily round they will not be spiritually or
physically beset by the dangers arising out of intercourse with the secular world
from which they have been withdrawn, and which they are soon to re-enter
with new names, as new personalities.
Descriptions of the "public" ceremonies of these cult-groups, especially
of the Ketu variety are numerous and, on the whole, give adequate knowledge
of their manifest forms of worship. We have relatively little information,
however, as to their integral organization, and less on their complex theology,
their inner rituals or their social functioning. As we probe more deeply into
their working, we see emerge a well-defined system of belief that is based on
the substantial knowledge of African lore, language and ritual by officials of
the various cult-groups, whose role is accurately described in the local idiom
as the estado-maior, the "general staff" and on the discipline they enforce in
administering the affairs of the group and regulating the behaviour of its
members. This presence of a clear-cut system is further found in the reasoned
understanding and controlled ritual expression of worship on the part of the
cult-initiates and other affiliates with various degrees of "understanding" who
make up the cult-group. For cult-affiliation, it becomes clear, responds to an
hierarchical pattern, stratified on two levels. The first distinguishes the degree
of sanctioned participation according to the ritual experience, including the
type of offerings, of the individual in relation to his personal god (eleda). The
second is in accordance with the powers and role assigned to the individual by
his orisha. The first category determines priorities in participation, the second
In broadest outline, theology and ritual of all the Afrobahian cult-groups
in Bahia, as elsewhere in Brazil, represent well-defined retentions of African
worship. A person may become a member in various ways, but can acquire the
right of active worship only through initiation. The only exception is the
individual who is born in a cult-house while his mother is undergoing training,
and becomes an initiate by virtue of having shared the mystic experience
in utero. The need for initiation-the ultimate degree of participation in cult
life-is signalized by the possession of an individual by a deity, who "mounts
the head" of the one thus marked as his devotee, and by subsequent divination
to determine the name, nature and wishes of the god. Urgency is demonstrated
by an act of possession by the god, known as "falling" and "rolling", during
the progress of a ceremony at a cult-center. This is directed toward the feet of
the priest or priestess of the cult-house (pai- or mie-de-santo, or Yoruban
babalorisha or iyalorisha), and toward the quarters which house the novitiates
when they are undergoing initiation, the camarinha, known by the Gege
(Dahomean) terms hunko or hundemi, or the Nago (Yoruba) yara ashe. In
most cases, however, the deity is less exigent and the candidate is permitted
to amass the considerable amount of goods and money-considerable, that is,
in terms of the prevalent standard of living-that must be in hand to defray
the expenses of induction into the cult.
The many cult-groups found in Bahia, and elsewhere in Brazilian centers
with an appreciable population of African descent, differ in the degree of their
adherence to African religious custom. The most rigorous-"orthodox", in the
African sense-are the Gage, of Dahomean derivation. Most numerous today
among those who hold closest to African procedures are the Ketu, who take
their designation from the town of the same name lying on the Yoruban-
Dahomean border in West Africa. They are essentially Yoruban in derivation
and linguistic expression. Another smaller group, the 'Jesha cult, is to be traced
to the Yoruban political group of the same name (Ijesha). It may be regarded
as a local variation of the generalized Yoruba religious culture that was
continued in Bahia. The Nupe, called Tapa, the name even today given them
in Africa by the Yoruba, and remnants of the Hausa and their northern and
westerly neighbours are incorporated largely into the Ketu group. The Congo-
Angola sect, as its name indicates, comes from the more southerly portion of
western Africa; its linguistic usages have been traced to Kimbundu, but
intensive research, in Brazil, Angola and the western Congo will be necessary
before precise provenience can be determined.
The Congo-Angola groups provide the link to the less "orthodox" Caboclo
cults, wherein Indian and Portuguese names of deities abound, wherein Portu-
guese words are sung to many of the songs, wherein initiatory periods are
truncated to a few days or weeks, and wherein the most diverse African and
non-African innovations are present. Finally the continuum moves to the
Spiritualist groups, and to full-blown European beliefs and practices, many
of which are syncretized into even to most "orthodox" aggregates. In a sense,
this completes the circle, and makes for the cultural integration of Afrobahian
religious life that is the outer form of the inner unities of belief and value
systems that give the Afrobahian the psychological adjustment seen in his
relations with his fellow, with those of other social classes, and with the universe
in which he lives his life.
The panan (or pana, without nasalization), essentially comprises a series
of major rituals, each of which symbolically reproduces some act which the
emergent initiate will perform in daily life. Because, as in West Africa, these
initiates are in great majority women-in the rite described here, there were
no male initiates-most of the acts symbolized pertain to the woman's sphere
of life. In performing these acts, the initiate brings into play a protective force
that comes from anticipating unwitting transgression of ritual prescription,
while at the same time re-introducing this newly-born personality-in a spiritual
sense-to the world in which life must be lived.
Unlike the great "public" ceremonies, the panan is a quiet, almost intimate
ritual. At the one to be described there were no more than twenty-five or thirty
spectators, many of them officiating members of the cult-group holding the rite,
the others relatives of the initiates. The contrast of this with the elaborate
ceremony of name-giving, shortly before, marking the initial emergence of
these same initiates from their seclusion, publicly demonstrating their skill in
dancing for their gods, and showing their rich ceremonial paraphernalia, could
not have been greater. No general announcement of smaller rituals of this sort
is made, as is done for the "public" dances. For while the panan is in no way
to be regarded as one of the esoteric elements of the initiatory cycle, of which
there are many, an outsider, unless he were a friend of the priest or of the
family of an initiate, and his interest in these matters was recognized, would
never know of its occurrence. Yet in its relaxation, its humor, its quality as
theater, it helps us understand some of the intangible reasons why African cult
practices have been retained so tenaciously in this portion of the New World.
The particular ceremony now to be considered had been scheduled for
six o'clock' in the evening; but actually it was well toward 10 o'clock before
the rite was to begin, since there was an unexpected interruption of the sort that
helps us understand the flexibility of this belief-system in meeting unforeseen
contingencies. A sailor, presumably in a state of possession, announcing himself
as the Deity Eshu-of-the-crossroads, entered the establishment, demanding
offerings of money-for the cult-house-and rum for himself. He proceeded
to upbraid those who were not adequately deferential, calling for songs in his
honor, and in general making difficulties for the priest and the ogans, the men
whose duty, on occasions such as this, is to see that cult practices go on without
disturbance. Finally, after an hour, the head ogan of the cult-house, with the
aid of the priest, induced him to leave.
There was some question whether the sailor's behaviour was an actual
manifestation of this powerful, feared god, or of a man the worse for drink,
and some speculation whether the priest would order the postponement of the
panan. But whether divination dictated otherwise, or considerations of accepted
practice entered, it soon became apparent that the ritual was to go on. For the
spectators, this occasioned further waiting while the newly initiated yawos were
being dressed; not, this time, in ceremonial finery such as they had worn at their
initial appearance at the public dance, but in the distinctive costume made
famous by the Bahian Negro woman, the Bahiana.
At 9.45, all being in readiness, the yawos filed in and stood, heads bent,
in a row before a bench that had been placed along the wall of the barracao,
the large room where the public ceremonies take place. The priest, holding each
in turn by the shoulders, lowered and raised her three times before finally
'Eighth of February, 1942. It was one of the many rituals, publi- and private, attended
in various cult-houses during field research carried on in Bahia and elsewhere in Brazil, under
a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, that occupied a period of 12 months in 1941-1942.
seating her. Then first the priest, and after him in turn the assistant priestess,
(the mde pequena; Yoruba iyakekere) and a younger woman, wearing a plain
white dress, later identified as the named successor of the mde pequena, first
took up a switch lying at hand for the purpose, then a palmatdria-an instru-
ment of wood with holes bored in its flat surface that was used to chastise slaves
by striking them on the palm of the hands-and a broken china dish. With the
switch, each of the yawos was symbolically whipped on shoulders, arms and
legs; her hands were struck twice with the palmatdria; and from the dish some
dust was scrapped off with a stone and made to fall on her head. The signifi-
cance of the whip, called atori de Oshala, was explained by the priest in a short
homily. If in the future, he said, these initiates do not obey those who rank
them, saying when they are called on to perform a task for their orisha that
they will not do it, that they are too busy, or that they cannot, then they will
be punished by Oshala who, as father of the gods, is the one who more than
any of the other African deities chastises those who disobey. And when the
mde pequena used the whip on the two initiates for Yansan, the goddess of the
wind, she prefaced her statement about the need for obedience to one of them
with the phrase as you know already" The palmatiria similarly
signified that punishment would be meted out to those who disobeyed; but the
significance of the grains of dust from the broken dish was not indicated.
However, it was thrown, crashing, to the ground after it had been used.
When this episode was finished, the priest called the senior initiate of the
cult-group, an elderly woman, who repeated the symbolic whipping and palm-
striking on each of the yawos, and after her all other women who were present
were summoned to perform the same acts. As each woman went forward, she
put a coin in a plate placed on the ground for the purpose; in one case, where
a woman had no money, the priest himself gave her a coin to put in it. The
mae pequena then concluded with a quick repetition of the two ritual acts in
the name of five women who could not themselves perform them. One wore
a black skirt, and hence could not approach the newly initiated yawos whose
spiritual condition was still precarious, wearing the color of death, while the
others were caring for infants and could not be disturbed. It was then the turn
of the men. First the chief ogan of the group performed the symbolic acts, then
a man, an ogan of another center, his guest, then an elderly white-haired man,
the father of one of the yawos, and then some ten or twelve others present.
This concluded the first episode, which took just under an hour to complete.
The second part, which began at 10.40, symbolized the re-entry of the
initiates into activities of everyday life. The priest again pointed the lesson of
the symbolism-that each initiate must perform each of these tasks since, if this
were not done, harm might come to her when she later had to do them. The
order of the tasks, and the manner in which they were performed, follow:-
(1) Along one wall of the room stood a row of water-jars, one for each
initiate. Each jar was covered with a cloth, which the yawo who
used it made into a head-pad, putting the jar on her head. Then,
in a line, the group went outside the barracdo "to get water" In
several minutes they returned with the pots upright; each "poured"
the imaginary water into a tin container, and put the jar down.
(2) Each took the broom that was standing ready, and swept a part of
(3) Each went through the pantomime of "pouring water" from the
container into a basin, and then "washed" the cloth that had been
used for head-pad.
(4) At the center of the hall was a table, an iron standing ready on the
floor nearby. Each woman, in turn, went to the table and, taking up
the iron, which was cold, went through the pantomime of "ironing"
her cloth. It was a commentary on the differing personalities of the
yawos to see how differently each went about the task in hand. All
of them, however, gave a creditable performance, in a light,
humorous vein, but without exaggerated caricature or exhibitionism.
(5) A coal-pot, some coals, a grate and a fire-fan were brought forward.
Each yawo lighted a match, applied it to the coals, and fanned the
(6) A pot was then put on the "fire", and each initiate, using the stirring
spoon in it, proceeded to "cook" and "season" her dish.
(7) A mortar and pestle was used by each. The pounded "meal" of
cassava or beans, was placed in a woven sifter and "sifted" into
(8) Each initiate worked at a grinding stone.
(9) A basin of water was placed on the table, containing two leaves, each
leaf symbolizing a fish. The yawos, in turn, using the knife ready
at hand, "cleaned" the "fish" One of them, with a sense of theatre,
added a realistic touch by snipping off the "tail"-that is, by cutting
off the stem of the leaf. All this went on to the accompaniment of
much laughter from the audience, and an impassive seriousness of
It was now 11.05, and the yawos were again seated on their bench. The
next two episodes represented acts that are taboo for an initiate, and for which
immunity must be had if later done, even unknowingly.
(10) A candle was lighted, and after it had been passed behind the head
of each initiate, she blew it out.
(11) Lighting a cigarette, a young man blew smoke in the face of each
The women then arose from their places, and, forming a line, filed outside
the barracao. The following items were next enacted:-
(12) As each initiate re-entered the hall, she simulated buying at a
(13) She took an incense-burner, and went about the room with it, making
motions as though to distribute the smoke in the manner of
purifying the hall with incense.
(14) A tray of fruit was brought in, and each yawo put it on her head,
going out of the door and back and about the hall, hawking her
wares. This was a further source of great amusement, since each
initiate tried to be as imaginative as possible in naming what she
had to "sell"
(15) In the meantime, on the other side of the room, the yawos went to
grate leaves on a grater-this was "grating coconuts."
(16) Simultaneously, nearby, others were now mashing leaves in a basin,
representing the preparation of the seasoning for dishes to be cooked.
(17) A ladder was placed near a window. Each yawo climbed it to call
to an imaginary trader outside to come and bring his wares-again,
with imagination in what was said, and much laughter from the
(18) The initiates then went outside once more, and, despite the full skirts
that each wore, climbed over the window-sill and into the hall. One
or two of the women had to be helped in this, an incident that the
spectators punctuated with comment and laughter.
(19) Now they made themselves ready to go out. On the settee were comb,
brush, powder, mirror and other feminine accessories, and each took
her turn at using them.
(20) Next each woman went over to the dish in which offerings of coins
had been placed, and "counted" what was there. Each announced
her "findings" in fantastic figures, with simulated high seriousness,
to the delight of the spectators.
The time was now 11.20, which gives some indication of the celerity and
smoothness with which the items in the program of events succeeded each other.
The next group of episodes, that continued without pause, concerned still other
phases of life:-
(21) The shoes of the initiates had been brought into the hall some time
previously, and each yawo now got into hers. This proved to be
somewhat difficult, since, as the priest remarked, "Your feet are
large", and in actuality must have spread during the period of
seclusion, when none had been worn. This was a part of a series of
preparatory acts that symbolized getting ready to go to Mass2 and
continued with gestures putting on of bracelets and other ornaments.
A woman came out holding three comic looking hats, which three
of the initiates put on; then she handed them three books which
represented missals. There was great laughter again as the three,
caricaturing elegance at every step, walked a short distance out of
the door on their "way to mass" to be followed by the remaining
group of initiates who repeated the act-three yawos, then three
more, then the remaining two.
(22) The next episode to be "experienced" was "getting married" The
priest went off to a small chapel, of the type found in all cult-
centers, which in this case was then in a nearby house of the complex
of cult buildings. These chapels, in appearance at least, do not differ
As has been demonstrated by all students of these cults, the members are simultaneously
worshippers of the African gods and communicants of the Catholic Church. It is from this
fact that some of the most significant syncretic aspects of Afrobrazilian cultural adjustments
from any private Catholic altar, with a small figure of the patron
saint of the establishment-in this case, Saint Anthony, syncretized
with the African deity Ogun, the orisha of the founder of the cult-
house. This episode had as its aim to ensure that the yawos would
find happiness in the relationships that had been interrupted when
they went into seclusion, and were to be re-entered, or that were
later to be formed. The episode, it should be indicated, not only
included the taking of the vows but simulated the performance of
the sexual act, the "groom" in each case being represented by a
male infant. It is to be noted that when a small boy of about five
years of age was brought forward to act in this capacity, he was
rejected by those in charge as being "too old" The yawos went off
to the chapel two at a time, and the bell could be heard ringing to
"celebrate" the "marriage" When they returned, each "groom"
was carried by his mother, while each "bride" had flowers. The
"couple" then lay down on a sleeping-mat that had been placed
for the purpose, and were covered with a cloth for a moment before
the yawo got up and the infant was taken away. The audience was
especially diverted by the first "groom" aged perhaps two years,
who disliked the entire performance and made vocal his protest.
The "marriage" over, the succeeding episodes concerned behaviour inside
the home, where the initiate was presumably mistress of a prosperous house.
(23) Each initiate took her turn at hammering a nail.
(24) Each took a small piece of cloth, cut it a bit and sewed a few stitches.
(25) A meat-grinder was given a few turns by each.
(26) Each turned a few pages of a cheap magazine as though reading it.
(27) A dust cloth was used.
(28) Each put up an umbrella.
(29) Each brushed her clothes.
(30) The radio was turned on and, as the yawos listened for a moment,
some short-wave station was heard.
It was now 11.45, and from the interior of the building adjoining the
barracao came the sound of voices, and some music. The yawos stood about,
waiting until the table was set for the final episode.
(31) The senior initiate of the cult-house, acting as hostess, cut the meat
that had been brought, and put a piece on each plate. The yawos
then took their places, to simulate partaking of a "formal" meal.
They ate the meat; then bread was passed. Their manners were
excellent, and their comportment was watched with interest by all
those present. A young man, as "waiter" poured a little wine for
each, which each drank, first holding up her glass and pronouncing
the polite "Lincenqa" before drinking. Each drank a little water,
and then partook of dessert, which consisted of small cakes. Finally
all arose, and once more took their places on the bench.
At midnight a five minute interval ensued, after which the priest announced
that they would proceed to the ceremony of "purchasing" the yawos. He
pointed to each, asking who would "buy" them. One had a father, one a
husband as "purchasers"; one was named as a "slave of Ogun" This may
have had one of two meanings-that she had been "purchased" by an ogan,
a member of the cult-group, for the deity, or that she "redeemed" herself.
The other initiates seemed to have no one to "purchase" them; whereupon
the priest asked "How much are the yawos worth?" and forthwith announced
prices, which would either have to be paid by a future "purchaser", or paid
by the initiate herself over a period of time. Though actual money passes when
these "purchases" are made, the obligations assumed in the ensuing relation-
ship between the "purchaser" and the yawo make for a complex of reciprocal
obligations, much of which is ritual in character. The prices announced for
devotees of the various deities were as follows; for those who vowed to Yansan,
the god of the wind, 4005000,3 for thbse of Ogun, Oshala and Oshosi, the gods
of iron and war, the sky and the hunt, respectively, 3505000, those for Oshun
and Omolu, the deities of fresh water and of the earth, 300$000.
Without waiting for further bidding or permitting conversation, the priest
went on to the closing episode, the benediction. A mat was put down and,
beginning with the "slave" of Ogun, each yawo prostrated herself individually
in turn before him, kissing his hands, and then the hands of the younger woman
who was to be the future mde pequena. The mat was then transferred to the
opposite side of the hall, near the spectators, so that all might receive blessings.
The collection plate was put down at the head of the line which the new initiates
now formed, and as each spectator passed down this line to receive the blessings
bestowed, he placed a contribution in it. The chief ogan was first to be blessed,
after putting a note for 100$000 in the upturned hands of the first initiate; then
two other ogans; the other male spectators, followed by the women who were
present, and then the children. Contributions were generous in terms of accepted
values, with more than 2505000 in the plate by the time the children went down
the line of initiates to be blessed. The blessing itself consisted in having the
hand kissed by each yawo; and to simply make a contribution was not regarded
as sufficient, as was seen in the rebuke administered by the priest to one
spectator who hesitated at participating in this aspect of the rite.
The ceremony ended at 12.45 a.m. The yawos returned to their living
quarters to await the next rite that would bring them one step nearer the
resumption of everyday life as full-fledged initiates. Spectators and cult-
members went about exchanging greetings. The ceremony had gone off well,
and if this Eshu who had intruded had actually come with evil intentions,
he had been powerless to halt the smooth flow of the ritual, or to bring about
untoward happenings during its performance in the face of the spiritual strength
of the cult-group and its priest.
At the time of this research, the unit of currency in Brazil was the milreis, now termed
cruzeiro. One of these units (1$000) has the value of five United States cents, or about thirty
PART III-WORK AND WOMAN TROUBLE
M. G. SMITH
MORE ABOUT HAMPSTEAD
I would like to feel, with all the experience that I had with Mr. White,
that his family, if they get this book to read, can see and know how I have
been with him, honest. And even up to this time, whatsoever I am doing,
whenever he visit me in vision and something is wrong, he come and speak
to me, he is always right. The two of us never had any quarrels, never.
He married about 1913, he was married in Princeton, a very big wedding.
I had been learning tailor about six months then, I was not working with
him. He called me one morning, and say, "You must come back, I want
you arid you must come. I said, "I am learning tailor now, I can't come."
He said, "You are supposed to come, I want you and you must come; I want
all my old servants back because I am going to marry." I feel that the
work was too much, he said, "You must come, I want you, you must come."
So I said, "if I must come, you must see my mother about that." He said,
"I will see her today, and tomorrow please God I will see you." He went
to the field and he saw my mother and he said, "I saw Norman this morning,
and I want him back to work, to do his old work, butlering." She said,
"He learning tailor now, sir, I would not want him to leave it." He said,
"You must allow him to come. When I return she said, "Mister Ted say he
want you to work, he want to have you; I don't know what you want to do."
When I went to see him he hand me a letter, when I opened it, it told
me to get a set of white suit, white shirt, white shoes. He going to have a big
dance and he want me to come. I said I would work for him a little time
and then I get away, but I couldn't get away that time, until he passed
away in my hands. He held me so close I couldn't get away till he passed
away. It was about two years after I went back before he died.
He used to talk to me at night, late at night. If the wife did anything
wrong he would call me and tell me, and sometimes he would sleep on the
bed here and I would sleep on the carpet on the ground. Sometimes at night
I would get Florida water and Cologne water and I would rub him down,
I would rub his feet-he couldn't sleep at night. The real trouble was, he
used to have dealings with the ordinary field women, and they gave him
a spirit. An evil spirit he had, because sometimes he say, "Look at an
amount of little children breaking their necks!" He would run and hide,
sometimes he would stand up talking to somebody, he would talk and talk,
and ask me if I didn't see the person. They gave him an evil spirit because
he had money, and they ask him for money, and everybody wanting to get.
The servant that used to work for him, when she died she left a good amount
of money in the bank, and she left a house, she leave cattle, she leave
horse and so on, and everybody talk about it; and that is the way she get
that money-by handling this witchcraft to get him stupid, then she get
this money to bank it up. She used to get the money from him. It was a
disgraceful thing to see his condition, and all his friends feel that they
couldn't come to enjoy an afternoon with him, because he came as a little
child. Yes, he became a little child.
He was like that for more than two years. When I left before, he was
like that but it used to come and go. He was married, but it used to come
and go. After he married I did not stay with him very long before I went
away, then he called me back.
When he died it had over a hundred motor cars in his funeral, and people
walking after the motor cars-you could have scarcely tell where the coffin
was, and the church was so packed, and some people never get to see
where he was buried until afterwards, days afterwards. It was in the Anglican
Church at Verdun. They didn't have anything for him, no wake, no third
night, nine night-the people in the estate, nobody never had anything for
him, and I don't believe anybody ever offered anything for him; I didn't,
but when I got in this work and see him often, he visiting me, I went in
two churches and gave a service for him, a Mass. That was in the Roman
Catholic Church, where I was ordered to go.
He was a good age, he died in middle age and his wife was young when
he died, she married pretty young. She was educated in England, and part
of his education in England, too, but he was more for plantering, he was
on the father's side. He had three children on the estate, different women.
The estate people didn't mind that. They lived with their mothers, some-
times the children used to go to his house.
The people on the estate lived together quite well because Mr. White
was a peacemaker, and if it comes to any quarrel he would settle that. As
soon as it came to a quarrel they would leave and come to the yard and
consult him, and when he listen he would stop them. They never quarrel
about money or land or so, they quarrel about work; the women in the
boucan, you know they always have little bickerings among themselves,
sometimes one tell this of another, and doing this, and not supposed to put
your hand there, and another one feel "I am the head, I must issue orders,"
and so on. This one want to issue orders and that one want to issue orders,
and that one wouldn't want to carry out orders, and it bring confusion.
Sometimes some of them quarrel and fight, and he laugh at their jokes, and
they obliged to give up fighting.
About every three years he would go to England. When he returned he
would bring shirts and dresses, presents for the labourers. Mr. Archibald at
Innswood, whenever he went to England and he coming back, the people
dress with their frocks and flowers and meet him coming in the buggy a
mile off the house, and they would beat this drum and they would surround
the carriage, a procession after him. I know he would bring many presents
for them, too. They would all give their people cropover, and sometimes they
would allow them to have some pleasure and they would give them a lunch,
just as how Mr. White would do.
Flamstead estate was next to Hampstead, the workers didn't use to
quarrel with the workers at Hampstead, because partly all the labourers are
family. But at Carnival they had a fight coming back home, boasting against
one another. Flamstead feel they can handle the whip better than Hamp-
stead, so they went on until they could decide that Hampstead was better,
after three Carnivals they fight each other, after that they stop and they
get on friendly terms again. Each estate feel that its manager was better-
Hampstead feel that they get better treated, and Flamstead feel the same. But
to me that was not so, because Mr. Archibald did his best for his labourers
just the same, it was only Mr. White would do more, because he feel that
nobody mustn't do anything better than him, but the labourers at Flam-
stead were well treated.
Mr. White's mother used to live at Hampstead, and there was a woman
among the labourers by the name of Mamie, a creole.* His mother was that
woman's aunt-she is living up there now. He treated her very well, he
never treated labourers any different, whoever they were. Always respectful
to anything they needed. They would ask him for money, sometimes on
Saturday he would go to Sauteurs market and see some of them, he would
say "I see Mamie out there", or "Cook's son. Call him for me." When
they come he say "I see you, what you doing here?", he would say "Come
and see what the market is like." He would say "How much you want?"
They would say, "If you give me a two shillings, sir, I buy some fish."
He would say "Nonsense two shillings, give them ten shillings, five dollars;"
he would say "If you want anything, go to the shop, say I sent you."
The estates around was one family, scarcely any strangers in the group;
the old people, when I was there, they were born on the estate; my grand-
mother born on the estate and she live there, and after she live a good old
age, she was unable to work, her daughter married and took her to live at
her home, and she died there. My mother born on the estate, and if I hadn't
taken her away she might have died on the estate too. My mother's sisters
were living there too. One big family. The men stayed on the estate, too,
Keith, Darkie, myself-only Ralphie, of my mother's sons didn't work on
I stayed on in the house after Mr. White died, Mr. Cockburn became
manager. They cut down my wages, I was only getting a shilling a day.
The first time 1 worked with Mr. Cockburn, when he was still overseer, he
knew well I was his cousin but he didn't say so,
After Mr. White died I stayed on for six months because of the wife,
but I was afterwards in possession of the house for a period of about three
or four years more for Cockburn, because after Mr. White died, he became
manager of the estate, and I had known most of the business of the house,
* Creole-In this context, a Grenadian of African descent.
so I was kept there to take up telephone messages, care the house and care
the flowers-garden and everything. The wife went away six months after
he died and she came back to England. When he was dead a few months
she married and she gave up the house.
After the wife went away Cockburn he never married, but he had
children; he had a woman, but she wasn't in the house with him, and the
children didn't stay with him. He was living there along with me. He was
very strict and all for himself, he was not a kind of person at all. Everything
what Mr. White used to do was stopped, he never kind to the people; he
quarrel with them plenty. If the people want anything as a help, he think
it hard to help them- he never help them. Of course he was only a coloured
man, but he hadn't the right principles that Mr. White had; he always have
things to himself. He is working, if is anything he could have it to himself,
the labourers have no facilities with him. Even though there was an
attorney for the estate, if you want anything you would go and ask
Mr. Ronald White, Mr. Ronald send you to him, Cockburn would tell the
attorney he haven't. He always try to tell the attorney "Well, he mustn't
do so and so for the labourers, because they take a great advantage of
Mr. Ted White." And that is how it is, sometimes the white people would
like to treat the poorer class of people good. But according to those that have
a little privilege over the poorer class, they are sowing bad in the white
people. Such as you have an overseer. You would like to give the labourers
a little facilities, sell some coconut give them, sell some provision to them.
"No sir, don't do that, because if they people get anything and you want
them to do anything, they won't do it. Better sell it to strangers." Sometimes
a man will come and say, "Boss, my house is bad; lend me a little money
and I will make manure from a cattle for you to pay back. He will suggest
it to the overseer, and the overseer will say "No, don't do that, sir, because
when you do it they feel they won't work again, and you going to lost your
And that is the way most of the people suffer in the hands of the white
people, because of having a man of your colour in the work, who tells them
things against the poor class of people. And that's the way the whole of
Grenada upset. By the overseer, the drivers on the estate, and the watchman.
They goes and tell the owner-suppose the owner would say "Give this man
a cattle-pole on the estate, let him make as much manure as he could"
"Boss, you better not give this man a cattle-pole because having the privilege
to walk on the estate, he will cut the provisions, he will see where the coco-
nut is, he will see where the nutmeg is, you will have more trouble with
that man. Better not give him." He rent a piece of garden to the labourers,
but he have two coconut trees in the garden: "You better make an arrange-
ment not to let him take the coconuts, you didn't rent the coconut, you only
rent the land to him, and if he take two coconuts in the garden he will take a
hundred outside, and say he getting them in his garden. If he not getting
any, whenever we see him with a coconut we know he steal it." It is just
like that since a few years ago. In Grenada they used to give the labourers
things-sometimes you ask for a coconut, Mr. White send the watchman
with you to go and pick, he tell the watchman to give you a dozen coconuts,
the watchman give you three dozen, four dozen. They never sell to the
labourers. Afterwards they start selling, they would weigh and count. But
now they are all spite: "Leave the coconut on the ground let it rotten,
don't sell no bluggo to them, sir, because is too much they will get. "They
calling strike, they don't want to work, sir; only when they work you pay
them, sir." That is how Grenada start to suffer. But in the old days there
wasn't that at all. Like the De Gales, whether you working or not working
with them, you have any grievance, you go to them and ask them for a
favour of any kind, they would gladly do that and sorry for you. But because
in the strike our colour has done bad things, these white people, they talk
about it, and when one meet up with the other they say they have something
as a council among themselves, and everyone does the same thing.
Cockburn was a brown skin, very little different than me. We are rela-
tives, his mother and my father are two sister's children. He knew that,
but they never acknowledge us as a family. He have sisters, they don't want
to know that we are poor people to be connected with the family. But he
knows that, and sometimes we tell him, but his sisters would say "Don't
tell then anything about that, they knows no family but their mother and
their father." They were prejudice against us, they say we so low down to
be connected with the family, they don't want people to know.
Oftentimes he get into a quarrel with the labourers; sometimes he give
the people overwork on the estate, and they would quarrel and call up the
attorney, and he would have to judge them, and the labourers would say
how wicked and cruel he was to them, and of course the attorney wouldn't
say anything to him in presence of the labourers to give them the right,
but he would listen and he would say, "All right, you go to work, I will
see to that." I know one of the men beat Cockburn for giving them over-
work, and they had a quarrel between them for a whole two days; Cockburn
sometimes used to ride late at night going at his mother, and the man wait
for him in the road, Cockburn was riding a mule, and the man take his belt
and beat him. When he came home he call me, the man was still coming
to him, and I went to put the mule in the stable; and while I was putting
the mule in the stable, he leaning on the gallery and he talking to him.
While he talking to him, the man come and get him and give him one or
two belts again, and Cockburn fired a revolver. But not that he wanted
to shoot the man, he fire it to get him scared.
It was then they stop cropover. Long ago Grenada was all very friendly,
and more helpful to the poorer class of people-the people having children,
they would ask the estate owner for clothes for the children, they would
give them some old clothes for the children, for themselves, anybody. But
now they would rather bury it than give it away. No charity. The change
began gradually from 1911, and Mr. MacLarence had predicted that. He was
a person used to go all over Grenada preaching and prophesying things to
come, and he predicted that a certain change would take place from 1911
onwards, and the people would be seeing trouble, and he advised the poor
people to check up and try to save up as much as they can. 1912 he
tell them even the old cutlass and the old hoe they are throwing away,
to try and save it, because a little later they would not be able to get
it. And 1914 when the First World War broke out, the men used to look
for the old barrel-hoop to make knife, and any piece of old steel to make
cutlass, they couldn't get cutlass to buy. Some people had to take bags
to make pants to work in, because they couldn't get clothes for the War.
He predicted that in 1911, 1912. And during the first war, that was the time
when the change started, and they started to sell everything on the estates
to the labourers-bluggoes and everything. Before, they used to sell you
a bunch of bluggoes, didn't matter how big it is, for six pence, but during
the war they say five pounds they would sell for a penny. After, they would
sell five pounds for a fourpence, until presently they sell in the same way,
and sometimes they don't sell at all. And the money that they paid you,
instead of drawing the money, they would give you work, they would sell
you provisions and charge that to you, and when they call you for your
wages on Saturday you scarcely draw anything. That is how they does now.
Yes, if your cattle does some damage they would charge you ten shillings,
and if you work ten shillings they take the whole thing on Saturday. They
just call your name and they scratch it out-and they don't give you any
more work, sometimes. That is how the poorer class of people suffer the most,
because they take an advantage of them. Sometimes they give you a task,
ten rod, twelve rod, and they would look at it when you finished, if they
find a little bush standing in the task that was measured for you, sometimes
the overseer would claim the whole day's pay for that. When the driver find
a little bush he report to the overseer, the overseer report to the manager,
and they claim a whole day's pay for that-they don't go and see it them-
selves. Sometimes they give you a month holiday. Sometimes it is carelessly
done, but sometimes it is only a mistake, whereas you could rectify it. That
happen to me at Hampstead, when I used to work as labourer on the estate,
before I went away to Trinidad.
I worked with Cockburn for a time after Mr. White died, but afterward
I feel that I should not work in the house any more, because I am getting
to be a man that could manage on my own. So I left the house and I went
working in the fields-picking cocoa, pruning cocoa, digging drains, all sorts
of work. The size of a task was according, and they were paying a shilling
still, but you got the tools, everything, for yourself. When Mr. Ted White
was alive he used to get the forks; as soon as the season come in, he would
order for an amount and he would tell you you work and pay for it;
sometimes he would take two shillings, and sometimes he won't worry.
He would give the women each their hoe and their cutlass, the men their
fork and their cutlass. Sometimes you want an axe, you ask him and he
give it to you.
When I stop working for Mr. Cockburn in the house, I had my own
house; I used to get up six o'clock in the morning to go to work. They used
to ring three bells, one at six, one half-past six and one seven o'clock,
George Phillips was the driver, I get on very well with him because
I always obedient. Sometimes in measuring the tasks, he would call me
to assist him. I used to get on very well with him, until the people
start to get jealous and say things of me that wasn't true. They say
sometimes I don't measure tasks properly; sometimes they find I am not the
person to do that, because if anything happen I would be in possession of
the driver work. So they would tell Mr. Cockburn "Don't allow him to do
I had a garden and I used to plant bluggoes, and plenty of corn, peas
and (sweet) potatoes; sometimes I could make about eight barrels of corn.
Three-quarters of an acre, the garden at Hampstead. Then I had one on
the Bourgogne estate, one on the Tempe estate, and one where I used to
plant corn and peas at Dieppe above Levera. That was about a quarter of
an acre. I never had to pay rent, but at Dieppe Mr. Grey said we must
give him a share out of the corn whenever we plant, but I never give him.
I planted cane at Bourgogne, sometimes I get six kerosene tins of sugar,
sometimes eight. We would cut it and pull it to the mill, and the estate
would make it and give half and take half.
I had hernia at that time, it start when I was a young boy. Dr. Markland
gave me something called a truss to wear, and I wore that a long time
before I got operated on. I got operated on in 1937 when I went to Trinidad,
then it stop for a while, but it still come back sometimes. I had quite a
lot of trouble with it before, sometimes I couldn't do anything, when they
come and find me I cannot even talk. And then one night I was thinking
of going to get operated on again, and I saw as if a woman came and she
told me, "Don't go and I will settle you all right;" and she put me lie down
on the back and she settle her hands in my waist and stomach, and she
telling me "You all right now, don't worry your mind about anything."
And I don't understand how it don't trouble me now. It is a painful thing
in truth, I first remember having it about 1916 when I was young, and
I didn't know what it was. Then I went to Dr. Markland and he told me
it was hernia and gave me the truss to wear, and I got relief with it for
some time, I could do any hard work.
When I was working at Cockburn, my brother had a dog by the name
of Early, and sometimes it would leave him home and go and bark at a
manicou while he is far away, and I would take the other boys with me,
and we go and drag that manicou, and by the time we get that one, he
would go again and perhaps we catch five for the night. Sometimes if
I wanted to go and hunt, I would pass by the house and whistle. And later
I find there was a better dog, I bought him; from the time I bought him,
he start to hunt. And one day my brother Clarence take him, he went in
the mountain, and he hear the dog barking and when he go and see, it was
a tattoo-an animal big like hog, but having a shell on the back like tortoise.
And we used to hunt with this dog. I went to Trinidad, the first dog
I bought, we started to hunt tattoo again, goopie, the same thing. But when
I started to do this work, you cannot go and hunt, you cannot eat any of
these animals, so I stop as the work was beginning. You take a cutlass and
dagger for hunting; sometimes I would leave at night and get up in the
forest, and coming back five o'clock in the morning, sometimes seven o'clock
in the morning. We used to take a masanto to go hunting in the forest at
night, myself and a young man called Logi. He was living near me at
Trinidad. But in Grenada I used to go and hunt with my brothers Darkie
and Clarence, and sometimes we would go with a masanto in the river,
walking with the cutlass, and all the fish would come to the top and we
would catch that.
British Honduras and Anglo-American
Relations: A Correction
WHEN I prepared the lecture on British Honduras which was published in
Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. V No. 1 (June 1957), I had had no opportunity
of consulting relevant manuscript collections located in England. I have now
done this, and I find that my dependence on printed authorities and local
archives has in one case led me into a material error.
In my lecture I suggested that in 1854 the British seem to have been
prepared to. yield to American demands respecting British Honduras, by
abandoning the area South of the Sibun, and by returning to a strict
adherence to the limited rights conferred by the Spanish treaties. My authority
for this statement was a Memorandum printed by R. W. Van Alstyne in
American Historical Review, Vol. XLII from an original in the Clarendon
papers. This original is in the handwriting of Lord Clarendon, British Foreign
Secretary 1853-58, and reads as if it were his draft of a reply to a note from
the U.S. Minister, James Buchanan.
In examining the Clarendon papers, now deposited in the Bodleian
Library, Oxford (and evidently in much better order than when Professor
Van Alstyne made his extracts twenty years ago), I found another copy of
this Memorandum, in Buchanan's handwriting, and other documents which
made it clear that the Memorandum did not originate with Clarendon. On the
contrary, it was prepared by Buchanan and represented the answer he wanted
Clarendon to make, and not concessions Clarendon was considering. In fact
it was quite unacceptable to Clarendon.
Thus there remains no evidence to suggest that the British Government
ever considered yielding over British Honduras in 1854.
Again on the authority of the same Memorandum, I said in the lecture
that Clarendon regarded the colonisation of the Bay Islands as a temporary
measure. This was not the case.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, TRINIDAD, W.I.-1959