VOLUME 6 : NUMBER 1
COVER ILLUSTRATION: The Font, University Chapel, U.C.W.I.-(By Karl
Reprinted from a copy in the collections of the
University of Florida Librairies
Reprinted by permission of
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES, Kingston, Jamaica
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A SELECTION OF CONTENTS FROM PAST ISSUES
Vol. III, No. 3
Citizenship in an Emergent Nation
The Archives of Jamaica ...
Research and the Lay Scholar
The Apprenticeship Period in Jamaica 1834-1838
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. 1
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. Gardiner
Clinton V. Black
M. WV. 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
Price : 50 cents (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 2/1 U.K. per issue.
TRINIDAD CARNIVAL RESEARCH DOUBLE ISSUE
Vol. IV, Nos. 3 and 4
Carnival in Nineteenth Century Trinidad Andrew Pearse
The Traditional Masques of Carnival ... Daniel J. Crowley
The Changing Attitude of the Coloured Middle Class
Towards Carnival Barbara E. Powrie
Carnival in New Orleans ... Munro S. Edmonson
Mitto Sampson on Calypso Legends of the Nineteenth
Century (Arranged and edited Ly
The Midnight Robbers ... Daniel J. Crowley
The Dragon Band or Devil Band Bruce Procope
Pierrot Grenade Andrew T. Carr
Price (Double Issue) $1.00 (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 4/2 U.K.
Vol. V, No. 1
The Development of the Idea of Federation of the British
Trees His Testament ...
British Honduras and Anglo-.4merican Relations
Vol. V, No. 2
Use and Disuse of Languages in the West Indies
Juan Gualberto Gomez, A Cuban Portrait
Words for Rent
Mermaids and Fairymaids or Water Gods and Goddesses
The Negro Writer and his World ... ...
British West Indian Immigration to Great Britain ...
Jesse H. Proctor, Jr
M. G. Smith
M. G. Smith
H. B. Moikle
THE EDITORS apo'ogise to subscribers and friends of Caribbean Quarterly for
the late appearance of this, the first Issue of Volume VI. Management changes,
and the unexpected publishing delays that beset magazines from time to time,
have led to this delay. However, the next three issues will be published shortly
and in the hands of our readers early in 1960.
This issue features vignettes from Caribbean History. D. A. G. Waddell's
"Queen Anne's Government and the Slave Trade" takes us to the seventeenth
century and studies the trade from aspects of industry and economy rather
than with the emotional emphasis usually dominating this theme. Joseph
Alfred Borome touches the "neglected period" and tells of the role played
by the Caribbean emigrant in the development of the various islands. His
vignette is framed around George Charles Falconer. Other snapshots from
history take us first to Venezuela with William M. Armstrong's story of
"British Representation in Venezuela in 1826" then to the Bahamas in 1882,
in an unusual travel diary edited by Samuel Proctor, and lastly to the French
Republic of Haiti for an account of a Royal Birthday in 1816, by Jean
Comhaire. Part III of M. G. Smith's "Dark Puritan" is continued in this
issue, and we close it, most appropriately we feel, with Lou Lichtveld's
enlightening article on "Cultural Relations within the Caribbean"
As a special Christmas note this year, we have re-produced on p.5
a line drawing by Karl Broodhagen, Art Master at Combermere College,
Barbados, with a Xmas poem by Frank Collymore, also of Barbados. This
poem is taken from his latest publication entitled "Collected Poems"
CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY is proud to present, as its cover picture, a photograph
of the Font at the Chapel of the University College of the West Indies. The
Font is made of coral limestone, taken from Chapel Plantation in St. Philips,
Barbados. The carved pattern at the top shows the ackee and the breadfruit,
the former in full and in section, the latter as the fruit surrounded by its
broad leaves (See relief on page 61). It is the work of Karl Broodhagen, who
was born in British Guiana in July, 1909, and went to Barbados with his
family as a lad. He is a self taught artist and sculptor, saving a two year
period in London from 1952 to 1954 on a British Council Scholarship which
took him to Goldsmith's College, London.
THE building of the Chapel began in April, 1956 and the first services were
held in it on 21st June, on the last Sunday of the Trinity Term, 1959. The
architects were Messrs. Norman & Dawbarn of London who designed the other
buildings of the College; construction was done by a local firm, A. D. Scott Ltd.
The pulpit, pews and panelling were the work of G. S. M. Lister of Gordon
Town Road; they are made of mahogany from British Guiana.
The major part of the cost of construction was met by a gift from a
Canadian who wishes to remain anonymous. The gift was made personally to
H.R.H Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone and Chancellor of the University
College, whose late husband, the Earl of Athlone, was once Governor-General
The main walls are those of an eighteenth-century sugar works building
which was given to the College by its owner, Mrs. C. M. Kelly-Lawson. The
building was pulled down and the stones transported to the College from the
original site in Gayle's Valley, Trelawny, over a hundred miles away. They
were then re-erected to form the outside walls of the Chapel.
On the north side the name of the owner of the sugar works can be seen
running the whole length of the wall just below the coping, "Edward Morant
Gayle Esquire" followed by the date "1799"
The coffered ceiling displays the Arms of the Chancellor, the Arms of the
Earl of Athlone who was Chancellor of the University of London (the "parent"
University of the College), the Arms of the College itself and the Arms and
Ancient Seals of all the territories of the British Caribbean which make annual
contributions to meet the expenses of the College.
The windows and the fittings are meant to be in keeping with the Georgian
character of the original structure and at the same time in harmony with the
simplicity and economy of the other College buildings.
The East Window, the gift of the Chancellor, was designed and constructed
by the Whitefriars Stained Glass Studios of London. The central figure in the
window is the Risen Christ Glorified. The Saints Thomas and Andrew in the
left-hand light, the Saints Catherine and James on the right, as well as
St. Elizabeth and St. Ann in the centre, were chosen because these are the
names of parishes in many islands in the Caribbean. St. Mona was suggested
by the old sugar estate, Mona, a part of which is included in the College lands.
The carved wooden lectern takes the form of a pelican, the bird that is
most common to the territories of the British Caribbean (and which appears in
the crest of the College). It is the work of Alvin T. Marriott of Jamaica who
is also responsible for the carving in relief of the medallions in the ceiling;
these were painted by Leslie's Art Service of Kingston.
The main floor is of terrazzo laid in a simple pattern of large squares of
dark grey and white with dividing strips of polished brass. The floor of the
gallery is of greenheart from British Guiana.
There is seating for 290 in the main body of the Chapel and for an
additional 170 in the gallery.
The Chapel is non-denominational. College services are held every Sunday
and, in addition, separate Communion services are held regularly by chaplains
assigned to the College by various denominations. The choir is a voluntary
body of students.
The present lighting fixtures are not for permanent use. The traditional
position in the West gallery is reserved for the organ which will be installed
as soon as funds become available. The West Door is to be graced by a portico
which should enhance the nobility of the solid stone structure and complete the
main entrance facing the Queen's Way.
(Notes on the Chapel by Cidric Lindo, Public Relations Officer, U.C.W.I.).
Font relief depicting ackee and breadfruit
In far off lands
The cold winds prick and blow
And the gaunt trees take on
Their canopy of snow;
But here the sun burns,
And upon the green lane
Poinsettia spills her rich bright blood
Impossible to think
Of cold winds and ice and snow
But for the frozen foam
Of the coralita hanging low
Along the wayside trellises,
Frail as frost; but springing
From warm earth while Christmas bells
Queen Anne's Government and the
D. A. G. WADDELL
BEFORE the Revolution of 1688 the Royal African Company held the
monopoly of English trade with Africa. The most important part of its
business was the delivery of slaves to the West Indian islands and the
southern colonies of the American mainland. Its trading was fairly successful,
and though there were occasional complaints, especially from Jamaica, that
the numbers of slaves delivered were insufficient, the prices it charged for its
slaves in the colonies were reasonable. But its financial position was never
sound. It had to sink a large amount of its capital in forts on the African
coast to protect its trade both from the warlike natives and from the rivalry
of the French and Dutch. More capital was tied up in credits to the planters,
who were seldom able to pay for their slaves in cash. Thus from an early
stage the Company had to borrow money to acquire stock with which to trade.
After 1688 the Company ran into two main difficulties which it lacked
the resources to surmount. England went to war with France, and it suffered
losses in ships from enemy privateers. The volume of its trade dropped off,
but its overhead costs remained as high as ever. Secondly, the supremacy of
Parliament established by the Glorious Revolution led to a questioning of its
charter of monopoly which had been granted by the Crown but not confirmed
Traders who were not in the Company seized their chance and fitted out
interloping ships which violated the monopoly. As they did not incur the cost
of maintaining forts, they were able to deliver slaves to the colonies in greater
numbers and at lower rates than the Company. The Company itself felt unable
to stop the interlopers without Parliamentary sanction, and unable to put its
finances in order while its monopoly was being openly violated. In 1697 it
therefore petitioned Parliament for confirmation of its charter. For the previous
ten years, however, its deliveries of slaves had been very small, and the
planters feared that if the interlopers, on whom they had mainly relied during
the war years, were excluded they might be starved of slaves. Many of the
colonies thus petitioned Parliament that the trade should be open to all and
the monopoly abolished. In July, 1698 Parliament passed an act, which was to
be in force for thirteen years, laying the trade open to all English subjects. But
the necessity of the forts in Africa, and the Company's rights to them, were
iecognised, and it was further enacted that the traders must pay 10 per cent.
of the value of their cargoes to the Company to assist them in the upkeep of
The 10 per cent. system did not prove satisfactory. Although the Company
received a contribution towards its expenses, this advantage was more than
outweighed by the fact that the position of the interlopers had been legalised.
The Company had hoped that the capital it so badly needed would flow in
when its monopoly was confirmed. But the monopoly was not confirmed, and
in the face of the competition of the separate traders the Company's prospects
of profits were insufficient to set its finances in order.
Nor were the separate traders happy. The 10 per cent. levy reduced their
profit margin, and they were not convinced of the usefulness of the forts in
Africa for the protection of their trading. The planters on the other hand were
equivocal. While the competition between the Company and the traders on
the African coast raised the price of slaves the numbers delivered were far more
satisfactory; and while the separate traders sold where there was most
immediate profit-at that time Jamaica and the southern states of the
American mainland-the Company tended to preserve its old contacts and
made the bulk of its deliveries to Barbados and the smaller islands.
By 1707 the Company could not withstand the competition any longer,
and petitioned the Queen for the restoration of its monopoly. It maintained
that the proceeds of the 10 per cent. imposition were insufficient to maintain
the forts; that the competition had forced up the price of slaves, and therefore
the cost of production of colonial commodities, which were now finding it
difficult to compete in European markets; and that the Dutch and the French
were taking advantage of the confusion to try to wreck the English interest
The Queen referred the petition to the Board of Trade, who called on
the Company to substantiate its complaints and on the separate traders for
their comments. The latter group naturally opposed the Company's plea for
the restoration of its joint-stock monopoly, and proposed that the trade should
be organised under a "regulated" company. All traders to Africa were to have
to join this company, which would, out of contributions from the members,
maintain common arrangements for warehousing and defence; but each
member would trade separately on his own capital.
The Board of Trade inquired into the existing Company's volume of
trade and deliveries of slaves, and found that since 1698 it had made a very
poor showing compared with the separate traders. The Board therefore
reported early in 1708 that the trade could not be carried on to its fullest
extent under a joint-stock monopoly, and that the 10 per cent, system was
unsatisfactory. It went on to recommend that the separate traders' proposal
of a "regulated" company should be adopted, provided that such an organisa-
tion could maintain the forts on the African coast, if these were considered
essential. In the face of this adverse report the Company then petitioned the
House of Commons. Several petitions in favour of open trade were presented,
but nothing was decided before Parliament was dissolved in April, 1708.
In the new Parliament the Company opened proceedings with a petition
to the Commons in January, 1709, and the Commons requested a further
report from the Board of Trade. This body had not been idle in the interval,
but had sent out a circular letter to the Governors of the various colonies
asking for an account of slaves imported by the Company and the separate
traders since 1698. The replies vindicated the conclusions of the report of the
previous year, and the Board once again was decisively against joint-stock
organisation, though this time it refrained from committing itself on the
advisability of a "regulate'" company.
Petitions poured into Parliament on both sides. Bristol, Liverpool, and
a number of Scottish ports were very much opposed to a monopoly, which
they felt would confine the trade to London. The colonies and the export
workers were equivocal; the petitions of the latter give the impression that
no matter what was decided-open trade or monopoly-hundreds of English
families would be thrown out of work. These however may not all have been
genuine for it is known that the Company met the expenses of at least one
of its supporting petitioners.
The Company was fortunate too in securing the services of Charles
Davenant, a skilful economic and political pamphleteer, and while the matter
was before Parliament he published his Reflections upon the Constitution and
Management of the Trade to Africa. Davenant's argument was that the African
trade was in the nature of a public utility, its main purpose being to supply
the colonies with labour. The regular performance of this function was too
vital to England's balance of trade for it to be safe to leave it to the workings
of the profit motive. But even if it were admitted that normal demand and
supply could achieve an adequate slave delivery, the primitive political
organisation of the African natives, and the presence of European rivals
(in particular the Dutch) made the maintenance of forts in Africa essential
to effect the main purpose. These would certainly not be kept up by con-
tributions varying with the vicissitudes of trading for pure profit. The only
known form of trading organisation capable of maintaining forts and preserv-
ing a steady volume of trade was the joint-stock company. Such a company
was already in existence, and in possession of forts; but it could not attract
necessary capital unless it enjoyed a monopoly. Therefore let it have its
Despite this powerful plea, in the purely economic sense the Company's
case was not strong. The small-scale unit of trade had vindicated itself in the
years of open trade from 1698. Whether the Company with a fresh start and
new capital could have succeeded must be a matter of doubt. Luck played a
considerable part in the trade. Individuals might either succeed or fail. Those
who failed bore their own losses and the trade in general did not suffer. But
a monopolistic company had to accept all the risks and absorb all the losses
from foreign rivalry, the appalling mortality among the human cargo on the
"middle passage", and bad debt in the colonies.
It is not therefore surprising that the Commons resolved in March, 1709
that the trade to Africa was advantageous to Great Britain and necessary to
her plantations, and that it should be free to all subjects, under "regulated"
company organisation to provide for the maintenance of such forts as were
necessary for its preservation. A bill was brought in to this effect, but did not
make much progress before the end of the session. The struggle was continued
in the Parliamentary sessions of 1710, 1711 and 1712. But the Company was
still unable to get any rearrangement of its trading rights effected before the
act of 1698 expired in 1713, and with it the 10 per cent. duty. Freed of this
burden the separate traders seem to have succeeded in expanding the trade
very well, but the Company was left to maintain the forts on its own resources.
The Company enjoyed a monetary burst of comparative solvency when it
sold slaves to the South Sea Company which had won the Assiento privilege
of supplying the Spanish American colonies with slaves. But by 1729 it had
to request Government assistance for the maintenance of forts, and 10,000
was voted from public funds and continued annually. In 1750 the Royal
African Company was dissolved and a "regulated" company set up which
took over the forts. These were later in Government hands (from 1764 to 1783),
but they finally returned to the "regulated" company. So although the profit
motive delivered the slaves for most of the eighteenth century, no organisation
other than a joint-stock was found to be able to keep up forts without
The controversy clearly shows how much the slave trade was regarded
as essential to England's economic well-being, and how much was expected
of the Government in arranging the organisation of so vital a branch of the
But it is interesting to note that when the separate trades proposed to the
Commons that the Government should intervene directly and take over the
forts, little notice was taken: and Davenant dismissed the idea of state owner-
ship of the forts in these brief and unsatisfactory words: "Who should pay
(for the forts) to the present company? Not the Government (I suppose) for
many reasons that I will not pretend to give an account of."
There is no trace in the literature of the controversy of any humanitarian
regard for the slaves as anything other than factors of production. This is not
surprising. The attitude of the political and economic writers of the time to
English industrial and agricultural workers was essentially the same, as
E. S. Furniss has convincingly shown in his book The Position of the Laborer
in a System of Nationalism. The Mercantilist state, like the totalitarian, had
scant respect for human life, whether slave or free.
Some material on the history of the Royal African Company is printed in
E. Donnan's Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America.
The Parliamentary proceedings relating to the African trade have been extracted
from the Journals of the House of Commons and conveniently reprinted in L. F.
Stock's indexed and annotated edition Proceedings and Debates in the British Parlia-
ments respecting North America. Some statistical information can be gleaned from
the Calendars of State Papers, Colonial Series and from the Colonial Ofice records in
the Public Record Office, London, where the records of the Royal African Company
are also preserved. In connection with the last category of material, I wish to
acknowledge the advice of Mr. K. G. Davies of New College, Oxford, to whom I am
also indebted for his kindness in allowing me to read parts of his forthcoming history
of the Company.
George Charles Falconer
JOSEPH ALFRED BOROME
MANY are the writers on British West Indian history who have concentrated their
attention on its first two hundred years on fierce pirates and buccaneers, colorful
clashes between the armed forces of the great European colonial powers, and the
denouement of slavery. Far smaller in number are the authors concerned exclusively
with events of the century following emancipation of the slaves. Indeed, until fairly
recently, one might almost have assumed, judging from the historical output, that
the West Indies had slumbered for twice times fifty years-save for the interlude of
Governor Eyre and Jamaica in 1865--until aroused rather suddenly by the question
of Federation. But the appearance lately of a stout history of the Islands, which
disappointingly telescoped the last half of the nineteenth century within a relatively
few pages and then relegated present century happenings to a bare six pages of
annals, may well stir productive efforts.
Among the fascinating topics of the "neglected period" that await narration is
the r61e played by the Caribbean emigrant in the development of the various islands.
And the history of Dominica offers at least one example of notable and influential
labors of an individual who was not a "native son"
Few facts are obtainable about the early years of George Charles Falconer.
Born in Barbados in 1819, he became apprentice first to a carpenter and then to a
printer. As a "devil" he was brought into contact with the world of books and
reading, and exploited opportunities for self-improvement. In 1839, seeking wider
scope for his initiative, he sailed from overpopulated Barbados and arrived at
The Colony was in a state of excitement. The colored people, who had exercised
polit*al privileges since 1832, had in 1838 attained a majority in the Assembly. But
their every liberal measure was being checked by the Council, fast in the iron grip
of the managers of the absentee planters and their allies: the leading attorneys,
merchants, and traders. The powerful groups of the Council were determined to
maintain the people of color and the newly enfranchised slaves in a subordinate
position, and even thought to hold back the tide. Their views were reflected in the
only newspaper of the day, the Colonist, under the editorship of Thomas Doyle.
Falconer took in the situation, and resolved to establish a newspaper. It would
set forth the views of those opposed to the "halt and hold" party, an4 rally public
opinion to the support of legislation promoting the public welfare. Employing all
sorts of ruses to deceive those who would have thwarted his plans, Falconer imported
a wooden press from Nevis. In October 1839, from a house in Long Lane (facing
the store later owned by A. C. Potter) there came the first issue of the Dominican. A
broadside of twelve columns, it carried the motto "Deo, Regina, et Populo" As
proprietor and editor (Francis Coquille was the printer and publisher), Falconer
sought a middle path, but not for long. The very existence of the Dominrcan, let
alone the political atmosphere of the day, brought an intense rivalry between the
Island's two newspapers. Stronger and stronger worded editorials soon flowed from
the pens of Falconer and Doyle, with Falconer not always coming off second best.
His name was thus given wide currency. In February 1842 he was appointed Printer
to the Dominica Legislature.
Since settling in Roseau, Falconer had found the leisure to occupy himself both
as Mico Charity school teacher and a local Preacher in the Methodist faith. In
March 1842 he accepted a position as the Mico Charity teacher on the Souffriere
Estate, towards the south of Dominica. Hardly had he landed, however, than the
attorney for the Estate, who had heretofore welcomed all Mico teachers, gave instant
notice that the small house, used as a schoolroom, was no longer for rent. Embar-
rassed school officials, attributing this rebuff to color prejudice, immediately
transferred Falconer to the Belfast Estate, North of Roseau. Here he devoted his
weekdays to teaching and his Sabbaths to conducting religious meetings at a
Methodist out-station near the Estate. When the Mico Charity school project ended
in Dominica after 1842, Falconer re-settled himself as an editor in Roseau.
Publishing led him more and more into the company of politicians. Meanwhile
he assiduously cultivated the arts of reading and oratory, and came to command
respect in the community. His entrance into the political arena was a foregone
conclusion, and in December, 1845 he stood successfully for election to the Assembly.
Two developed political parties now existed in Dominica: one, of the old guard,
seeking to curb the newer privileged representatives and aided by the Colonist; the
other, bent on wringing concessions and crushing its adversaries with the help of the
Dominican. To the liberal cause young Falconer rendered considerable service. He
tried scrupulously to avoid vituperation in the columns of the Dominican.3 Never-
theless, whether within or outside of the House, he acted and wrote on the principle
of "giving a Roland for an Oliver"-one of his favorite expressions. And he
advocated measures on the wide ground of concern for the interests of all
Dominicans. So shrewdly did he take his stand that the exasperated Colonist was
often pushed to the point of publishing excessive statements and violent personal
attacks on him.4 These attacks supplied him with unsolicited publicity, added
greatly to his popularity, and made his newspaper appear quite temperate in tone.
Indeed, in an official despatch of 1847, the Lieutenant Governor of Dominica stated
that the editorials of the Dominican contained "the most reasonable and impartial
account of matters connected with the Island".s Falconer also became an Ensign
of the Royal St. George's Militia (1848), a Marshal's bailiff (1848), and a Justice
of the Peace (1850)-the latter appointment bringing him likewise the honor of a
Judge of the Supreme Courts of Criminal Judicature (the Court of Queen's Bench
and Grand Sessions of the Peace). But his conduct on the bench left something to
be desired. On one occasion he was actually heard using the words "false" and
"not true" while upbraiding his colleague the senior presiding judge.
In April, 1853 Lieutenant Governor S. W. Blackall, whose political and social
thinking would scarcely be termed "advanced" issued a new Commission of the
Peace from which Falconer's name was conspicuously absent. The editor's enemies
chortled gleefully, believing that his sun had begun to set.
The new Commission bore the name of Joseph Fadelle, one of the first colored
men elected to the Assembly in 1832 and the acknowledged leader of the liberal
party. Confronted by Blackall with a choice of resigning his Assembly seat or his
Commission, Fadelle, after momentary hesitation, withdrew from the House. To
fill his stead, the liberals straightaway unanimously chose Falconer, who at last
came into his own.
While long aware of his abilities, the conservatives were now astounded at his
eloquence and political tactics. On the floor of the House he lashed them with scorn
and sarcasm; in the "objective" editorials of the Dominican he flayed them anew.
As party leader he whipped the liberal members into line, a task in which he was
unfailingly aided by personal ties.' In the 1854 Assembly sat his brother-in-law
(J. B. Fraser), three of his uncles-in-law (from the Bellot family), a half-brother
(C. Herbert), and Thomas Trail, nephew of one of Falconer's sisters and an assistant
editor of the Dominican. Also amenable to Falconer's desires were John Hopkins
Fillan and William Johnstone.7 As measure after measure passed the Legislature,
Falconer's opponents poured their wrath upon "the Family Party", "the Methodist
Clique" "the Mulatto Ascendancy", "the Destructives"; and vain attempts were
made to stigmatize Falconer as a "socialist" (a dread adjective even today). Of
course the Island was pictured as groaning under the weight of heavy taxation, in
addition to that of class legislation. By way of reply Falconer, in summarizing the
legislative accomplishments of a typical year, 1858, catalogued a new poor law,
an asylum for lunatics, a permanent grant to the Infirmary, an increased police
force, the completion of a Government House, and the repairing of the Custom
By 1862 people were slightly tired of Falconer, and a reaction set in against
all those who had been in power for years. Orators, moreover, rang the changes on
onerous taxation, and informed the blacks that the colored people looked down
upon them. In the June elections Falconer was roundly defeated. Two months later
Thomas Doyle of Colonist fame became Speaker of the House, and in September
Falconer's long-held printing contract with the Legislature was abolished. Fortune,
however, smiled again on Falconer.
Rumor soon had it that a bill was in the offing which would sweep away the
time-honored two house system (Council and Assembly), and substitute a single
chamber, whose members would be partly nominated by Government and partly
elected by the people. Falconer hastened to warn his countrymen of their danger
in print and on the stump. When, therefore, upon a technicality, the Lieutenant
Governor was forced to dissolve the Assembly that had barely sat for six months,
and elections were held in January, 1863, Falconer was triumphantly returned to
his seat for Roseau. At the same time, by a ruling of the Attorney General, his
contract as Legislative Printer was restored.
The next month the Single Chamber Bill was introduced into the Assembly.
On the very first day of the session Falconer thundered, "My mission is to crush
this House, and it shall be crushed" He proceeded to fight the Bill tooth and nail
at every step of the way. No matter the length of his discourses his vocabulary
seemed limitless and his effective voice unexhaustible. In the charged climate words
engendered passion, and tempers were openly displayed.
In March Falconer presented a petition against the Bill from the freeholders
of St. David's Parish, which he himself had signed as a petitioner. This was deemed
a highly questionable procedure, and a committee was appointed to look into the-
matter. Once its report had been made Falconer denounced it as a Star Chamber
committee, "a hole and corner thing" Called upon for an explanation, he said that
his words meant what they meant. When asked also to answer the charge that he
had added a signature to the petition without a certain petitioner's knowledge, he
replied, "All that I have to say is, that I have nothing to say" A movement for
his expulsion from the Assembly got quickly under way, but was eventually-
On 28th May, Falconer came to his feet to answer criticism of himself made by
Charles Leathem. Thomas Doyle, the Speaker, informed him he was out of order.
Falconer replied testily that it was Leathem who should have been ruled out of order.
In sharp verbal exchanges that followed, Falconer declared that Doyle was a disgrace
to his chair, and accused him, among other deeds, of having robbed Colony lumber
for private purposes. These words were written into the record, and the Assembly'
demanded that Falconer apologize. He refused, and was found in contempt. On
the advice of the Attorney General, Doyle ordered Falconer committed to prison
at the pleasure of the Assembly. The Sergeant-at-Arms was instructed to proceed
to his duty. Falconer's supporters, who were in large number outside the bar of the.
House, began a loud disturbance. Falconer seated himself. He took from beneath
his table a hat, which he placed on top of the table, and a large hunting whip which
he laid across his knees. As the Sergeant advanced toward him saying, "You are
my prisoner" Falconer warned, "You touch me at your peril" All of a sudden
John Palmer, the Treasurer, ran over and, collaring Falconer, attempted to seize
the whip. Falconer sprang from his chair, and a sharp struggle began. Falconer was
slight of stature but extremely agile. When the Sergeant grabbed him Falconer,
turning quickly from Palmer but still holding the whip, shot out his left hand and
gave Sergeant Johnson a "chuck" that sent him reeling. With a deplorable loss of
dignity, Johnson staggered back against the bar of the House and fell to the floor.
Animated patois expressions and the most "fearful" noises now broke forth
from Falconer's followers. Confusion and hub-bub reigned everywhere. While their
idol continued his scuffle with Palmer, the Speaker sent for police aid and sounded
his gavel for order as best he could. Advancing again on Falconer, the Sergeant was
again repulsed; but grasping Falconer's left hand, he bit the thumb to the bone.
The butt end of the whip, for which Palmer and Falconer were wrestling, struck
Johnson in the mouth, and the poor fellow let the thumb go. Falconer succeeded
in freeing the whip. His outstretched hand was about to bring it down on Palmer,
when J. F. Dupigny rushed up and caught his arm. Then, quite coolly, Falconer-
walked to the bar. He announced he would go to jail, but no one must lay a hand
on his person; and he begged the people in the room to behave in a quiet manner.
The police had hurried in. Whereupon the Sergeant shouldered the Mace, and
Falconer fell in behind him. Escorted by two friends, and the Inspector of Police
and a party of his men, Falconer walked to the prison. In the street he dissuaded
a number of townspeople who wished to "rescue" him, and a silent multitude
followed him to the doors of the jail.
But Falconer was not downed. He at once applied to the Chief Justice for a
writ of Habeas Corpus. Chief Justice Sholto Pemberton-whom, it is said, wrote
anonymous articles critical of Government for the Dominican-granted the writ,
without consulting the Assembly. After his release (his stay in jail totalled about two
days) Falconer not only calmly entered the Assembly and took his seat, to the
chagrin and dismay of the members. He brought action against Palmer for assault,
and against Doyle and those Assembly members who had ordered his committal,
for false arrest. The defendants, to their sorrow, had to pay damages and costs.8
Life thereafter was not all clear sailing for Falconer. Following the Assembly
incident, he was removed by Lieutenant Governor J. Price from his unpaid positions
as Poor Law Guardian and as Commissioner of House Tax-a petty action which
Falconer never forgave. And by December, 1863 the Single Chamber Bill passed
The Single Chamber system did not, however, satisfy certain Dominica interests,
and in 1865 a Bill to abolish the electoral franchise and establish a crown colony
was introduced. Horrified at what he regarded as an extinction of liberties and
breathing fire against its proponents, Falconer employed all his talents to prevent
its passage. Unable to kill it parliamentarily, he battled until he effected a com-
promise, whereby only one half of the members of the new Legislative Council were
to be government appointed. The actions of the mobs who favored his views gave
him a questionable support. Their hissing and shouting down of his adversaries in
the House failed to overawe the legislators, as did a rock hurled through a window
that fell on the large table in their midst. Such doings merely alienated fence-sitters,
convinced conservatives of the wisdom of crown colony government, and resulted
in several dramatic scenes which led to summonings of the police and even of a
party of marines from a warship. The Bill passed 26th April, a day, Falconer
lamented, that should be ever marked for mourning.
The following month, despite seizures of ill-health that had increased noticeably
in the previous three years, Falconer sailed for England, there to have an interview
with the Secretary for the Colonies, and to present a signed petition to Her Majesty
for suspension of the act. On 21st August the beating of drums in the Roseau Market
Place announced that the new act was in effect. Falconer's voyage, however, proved
a restorative to his health, and he returned to Dominica in October newly supplied
At this period of his life Falconer, who was "by far the most influential man
in the Island and in the Assembly"-as Administrator H. E. Bulwer put it, became
a restraining influence on intemperate opposition to Government. Such a change in
his approach to politics might be attributed to years of experience, a broader breadth
of view induced by travel, and the mellowing influence of age. Certainly, until the
unfortunate explosions of 1863-1865, Falconer had, during all his years in the
Legislature, rather faithfully though not blindly supported Government. After his
visit to England, however, he apparently came to cherish secret hopes of a govern-
ment appointment, although no intimation or promise had come his way.
In 1868 the Legislature seemed to be nearing an impasse, due to the irrecon-
cilable positions taken by elected and nominated members. It was feared, were
nothing soon done, that Falconer might abandon his moderate course and lead the
electives into uncompromising opposition to Government. Death removed an office
holder and Administrator Bulwer, a man of liberal leanings, nominated Falconer as
Colonial Registrar. The salary, modest enough, was welcomed by Falconer who,
though a good businessman, had remained relatively poor (the usual lot of news-
paper editors in the West Indies).'" Incompatibility of duties, official and journalistic,
moved him to resign from active participation in the fourth estate. On 10th February,
1869 he wrote in his farewell editorial: -
"We take our leave then of the public and the newspaper, firmly
persuaded that its principles will remain unchanged as- they were unchange-
able, and that the Dominican will continue to carry out the motto which
concluded its introductory article, by seeking to obtain the "greatest possible
good for the greatest number.
He continued as proprietor of the Island's only newspaper."
The following year saw Falconer caught up in a political swirl. In September
the Legislative Assembly passed resolutions in favor of the federation of the Leeward
Islands-to include Dominica. It was a thorny question, feelings had been much
aroused, and a split had opened among the electives. Falconer, who had not always
gone down the line with Government as Colonial Registrar, was one of two elected
members who voted for the union. Five other electives, including Alexander Charles
Potter, voted against passage of the resolutions.
In November the House was dissolved, and Falconer sought re-election for
Roseau. But Potter stoutly contested the seat on the score that a government official
could not conscientiously represent the people.12 Ideas in the minds of many were
more directly expressed, in later days, by Sholto Rawlins Pemberton, who accused
Falconer of having "sold his country for a berth under Government" Falconer
went down at the polls before his opponent. With emotions that may well be
imagined, he took leave of the seat he had held for twenty-five years.
Never of robust health, he confined himself largely to his duties as Colonial
Registrar, and as Commissioner of Education, of General Taxes and of House Tax."
His somewhat restricted sphere did not cause an eclipse of his general popularity;
nor did it bridle his tongue. Charles A. Fillan complained in 1871 that, "one would
think that Mr. Falconer's bitter experience of the fruits of abuse and the use of
coarse expressions had taught him in his maturer years a useful lesson, but we have
been deceived" Falconer remained a pillar of the Methodist Church and a member
of several societies, among them the Auxiliary British and Foreign Bible Society.
But one short year of life was left to him. A trip away from Dominica failed
to ease a severe liver complaint. Some two months after his return to the Island,
worn by prolonged suffering, he breathed his last.
Thus passed a notable editor of Dominica and the West Indies; a passionate
defender of freedom of speech and press, inspired by the ideals of education and
enlightenment; a fighting and liberal legislator who was a faithful servant to the
people he represented; a self-made man who disdained to discriminate among people
because of their class or color; an opponent of cant and hypocrisy; a Christian
gentleman. By no means without failings, he did not excuse his foibles with soft
smiles and weasel words.
Although his name still stirs vague memories, Falconer's labors are well-nigh
forgotten in Dominica, where there is not as yet so much as a lane named in his
honor. There is, happily, a lasting reminder of his existence: a modest stained-
glass window in the gallery of the Wesleyan Chapel in Roseau. It was unveiled in
1912 by Mary Falconer." As the northern light filters through the soft-colored glass,
one may read a simple and fitting inscription, "In loving memory of George Charles
Falconer who died March 29, 1872. Age, 53. Not lost but gone before."
'The first "colored" paper of Dominica started and failed in 1837. It was
entitled either the Dominican Standard or the Dominican Observer. No copy is known
-In 1844 he was chosen a member of the jury to try those who had rioted against
the census-taking, a much publicized affair in the Caribbean and in England.
'He had had to pay 300 because of a libel suit in the early days of the paper.
'In 1846 the Court of Common Pleas awarded him 65 for libel at the hands of
Thomas Doyle of the Colonist.
'In the same year (1847) Adrian Fadelle, Justice of the Peace, was given a copy
of the Dominican that characterized his conduct as "unwise, injudicious, and
suspicious" Arming himself with a stout cowskinn", Fadelle descended upon Falconer
in Hanover Street and demanded an explanation. When Falconer refused one, Fadelle
administered several well-aimed blows with unvarying rhythm:
"whack, whack, whack, unwise"
"whack, whack, whack, injudicious"
"whack, whack, whack, suspicious"
The cost to Fadelle was 4; the cost of Falconer a few sore ribs and much notoriety.
'Following the death of his wife target Caffyn in 1849, he had married Mary
Elizabeth Fraser, sister of John Bellot Fraser.
'There were nineteen members in the Assembly.
'Appeals to the local court failed, as did one to the Privy Council in England,
which decided that the Speaker had only the right to exclude Falconer by force, and
that the Assembly of Dominica did not have the power of punishing a contempt,
though committed in its presence. For years governors and lieutenant governors
tried to persuade the Dominica Legislature to vote a sum to pay the defendants'
damages. These efforts were finally successful in 1880, due to the work of Governor
Berkeley. The echoes of Falconer v. Palmer and Falconer v. Doyle et al. were long
'The new Assembly was inaugurated 25 October 1864.
"As early as 1843 he had imported an iron press from England to replace the
original wooden one of 1839.
"In 1868 the Colonist had passed from the scene. In July 1871 J. C. Fillan
started the New Dominican (an unfortunate title). It seemingly had little prestige and
folded up by March 1873 for want of support. The Dominican continued publication
"At the time Potter sat for the parishes of St. Paul, St. Joseph, and St. Peter.
"His interest in promoting education was well known, and had led Blackall to
name him Provisional Inspector of Schools and Secretary of the Commissioners of
Education in 1857. Among the projects he supported was one for the establishment
of a public library, as an adjunct to the educational system. It was not realized
until the twentieth century under Administrator Hpsketh Bell.
"Mrs. Falconer died 18 February 1917.
British Representation In Venezuela In 1826
WILLIAM M. ARMSTRONG
IN the ranks of that small army of British representatives who opened up
South America to commercial penetration after the Wars of Independence,
there is one who stands out from all the rest, Sir Robert Ker Porter. A man
of the most varied talents, five times knighted, a successful artist, author,
and world traveller, Porter remained in South America fifteen years, ultimately
becoming the first British diplomatic representative to Venezuela when that
country severed its connections with the Colombian Union. He died in
St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1842.'
On October 16, 1825, Porter was appointed British consul to La Guaira
and Caracas, port and chief city respectively, of Venezuela, then a part of
the Colombian Union. Gran Colombia, which had been projected in 1819 by
Simon Bolivar, had become a reality in 1822 when the last of the Spaniards
were driven from northern South America. It was the first of the revolutionary
South American states to win British recognition. Porter, whose nomination
as consul preceded by three weeks the actual ratification of a commercial
treaty with the fledgling state (November 7, 1825), was thus one of the first
British representatives to go to Latin America after the Wars of Independence.
When Porter went to South America late in 1825, the boundaries of
Gran Colombia embraced the present-day republics of Colombia (then
Cundinamarca), Ecuador (then Upper Peru), Venezuela and Panama.
Including Porter, there were seven British representatives in the area. Colonel
Patrick Campbell was charge d'affaires at BogotA. James Henderson, who
had represented Great Britain unofficially since 1818, was consul-general in
the same city. Colonel Gregor MacGregor, a former British legionnaire, was
consul at Panama City. Consul Wood was at Guayaquil, in Upper Peru,
until his death in August, 1826, when Charles Wooton succeeded him
temporarily. There were also consuls at Maracaibo and Cartagena.2
European representation other than British was at first conspicuously
lacking. When Porter arrived at La Guaira the only other foreign representa-
tive in that city was United States Consul John G. A. Williamson. Soon
thereafter, an officer in the Dutch navy named von Radders was accredited
as Dutch consul. In 1826 G. B. Sprotts, a merchant, was commissioned agent
of Bavaria. The following year merchant George Gramlich was named consul-
general representing the city of Bremen. Elsewhere in Venezuela foreign
representation was slight or nonexistent. (By 1828 United States Consul
Litchfield at Puerto Cabello was, except for agents at Maracaibo on the
eastern shore, the only foreign representative outside La Guaira and Caracas
in the area embraced by the old captaincy-general of Venezuela.)3
Although commercial agents of the other foreign powers usually lived in
La Guaira, shortly after his arrival Porter forsook that oppressively hot port
for the more salubrious mountain air of Caracas. Periodically, however, he
rode to La Guaira to perform funerals, baptisms or marriages, and to visit
the customhouse. Noting the absence of British consular representation in
other towns on the coast of Venezuela, he took immediate steps to have his
authority extended to them until his government could arrange for regular
representation. He bent a sympathetic ear to the troubles of the British
merchants of Caracas and La Guaira. Every request, no matter how trivial,
received his personal attention and was passed on to the government
Always cautious lest he overstep his authority, Porter continued to press
for British representation at other towns in the region. His salary was initially
fixed at one thousand pounds but was soon raised to fifteen hundred, a fact
which excited no little envy among his colleagues in the consular corps.
Some, like the American Williamson who was bitterly jealous of Porter, were
forced to depend on fees for their sole income5. But they failed to take into
account the fact that, unlike most of them, the British Consul was forbidden
by his government to engage in private business. He scrupulously adhered to
Porter's functions as consul were intended to be "purely commercial".'
But onrushing events now suddenly catapulted Bolivar's native state into
the arena of British policy. With recognition of her independence from Spain
finally achieved, Gran Colombia's ship-of-state had embarked uncertainly
upon her republican course. Beginning in 1826 the union was convulsed with
internal disorder In New Granada there were unsuccessful revolts against
the authority of Bolivar. In Venezuela General Paez, supreme military
chieftain of that country, led a revolt in 1826 that aimed at secession from
Within a few months of 1826 the disturbances in Venezuela had brought
her to the point of anarchy. There being no British diplomatic representative
present, Porter found himself obliged to "assume a little diplomacy", as he
somewhat apologetically explained to Foreign Secretary George Canning. He
remained calm, gathering information and making representations with the
local authorities for the protection of British life and property.8 Canning
congratulated him, August 17, 1826, on the "judicious reserve" he had
displayed and instructed him to
continue to preserve the same line of conduct, not interfering in
the political proceedings of the adverse parties, but reporting the
passing events for the information of His Majesty's Government,
and watching carefully over every matter which may affect the
commercial interest of Great Britain in Venezuela.9
The inhabitants meanwhile prayed for Bolivar to come and bring peace.
The Liberator President arrived in Caracas early in January, 1827, and
calm was restored. But by this time Venezuela, under the domination of
General PAez and his advisers, had severed practically all its ties with BogotA.
After making some futile gestures toward restoring confidence in the Union,
Bolivar abandoned his native state.
Historians believe that British influence in northern South America in
this period manifested itself in an ill-defined scheme to install Bolivar as
monarch over a large part of the continent-under British auspices and
control. The evidence on which this belief rests is considerable, though by
no means conclusive. Bolivar is known to have preferred the British political
system and to have desired British support in removing the last remnants
of Spanish authority from the New World. There is strong evidence that he
contemplated such a monarchy with himself at its head. Yet Canning, it
is known, was not a chronic meddler. Moreover, he knew fully the hazards
of such an operation in the face of the envy of France and the opposition
of the United States, not to mention the objections of the local populace.
That Canning did in fact toy with some such scheme seems established;
that he dropped it when its dangers became apparent is equally well established.
Actually, as the Porter-Canning correspondence shows, it made little difference
to Canning whether Gran Colombia remained a republic or became a
monarchy, or whether it remained a political union or split up, so long as
British commercial rights were protected and the claims of the British bond-
holders were paid.
In January, 1827, Porter held a series of conferences with Bolivar. The
reports of them which he transmitted to the Foreign Office shed some light
on the above-mentioned question. His report of the first interview follows
(To Canning) 2
City of Caracas January 15th 1827
It is with much gratification that I announce the arrival in Caracas of
the President Bolivar, accompanied by the Superior Cheif [sic] of Venezuela
The Liberator made his entry into his native city on the tenth instant,
amidst the most enthusiastic acclamations of the whole population
I waited on His Excellency the following morning, and was most kindly
and cordially received-He expressed himself in the highest terms of gratitude
to England for her unshaken freindship [sic] at all times toward Colombia,
adding, "he would rather face the result of ten commotions like that so
recent in Venezuela, than experience a second time, those feelings, which the
pecuniary relations, as they now stand between the two countries, have given
rise to in his breast. '" The president touched in no way further on the
present state of things, than by saying, that he trusted with moderation and
patience he should be enabled to reestablish confidence both at home and
abroad-on taking leave of him, he expressed a wish, in a few days to have
some conversation with me on public affairs-a report of which, I shall not
fail to make known to you.
The greatest freindship appears to exist between the President and
General Paez, and as the latter resides in the same house with His Excellency,
he [PAez] will not become so easily surrounded by those persons whose
counsels had of late driven him to issue such unpopular and repugnant decrees.
Indeed, ever since his quitting Caracas, and the establishment of martial law,
the peace and tranquility of the city became totally destroyed.-On several
occasions I was compelled to interfere, in order to prevent the houses of the
British subjects from being violated, and their horses, mules, and other
property taken forcibly away by the lawless soldiery; which had been already
the case with regard to those foreigners of other nations unprotected by treaty.
I have the honour to be
With the highest respect
Your most obedient Humble sert.
Robert Ker Porter
In his next conversation with Porter, January 22, 1827, Bolivar discoursed
at length on the need for authoritarian rule in Gran Colombia, arguing that
the people were unprepared for liberty." He then turned to the real purpose
of the interview. That part of the Porter dispatch follows
You cannot [Bolivar told me] but be aware of the ruinous state of our
finances I tell you frankly, we shall not be able to pay a single dollar
towards the interest due on the existing debt between Great Britain and
Colombia, unless Spain can be prevailed upon to acknowledge the
Independence of the South American States, or will grant a temporary peace
(unacknowledged) for a fixed period of years; by which the Republic would
then be enabled safely to reduce her army.
His Excellency [Bolivar] then urged me to express how sincerely
he felt grateful, (as did the whole nation,) for the unabating interest England
had at all times taken in the prosperity and well being of Colombia; [and]
at the same time, to endeavour to impress upon you, the deep sense of the
additional obligation every [Colombian] will feel, should you further exert
yourself by influencing the Spanish Cabinet to accede even to the latter point
[a truce]. Were this accomplished, there was not a doubt, (he added,) but
on the reformed system of finance, aided by the reduction of both the civil
and military department; the Republic would soon find herself in a situation,
to fulfill her pecuniary engagements with the utmost honor and fidelity.
The next and most significant of the meetings between Porter and
General Bolivar took place on January 27, five days later. Porter's letter to
Canning is self-explanatory :"
City of Caracas January 27th 1827
On the arrival of the mail from England this morning, I sent General
Bolivar a newspaper containing His Majesty's message to the House of
Commons, relative to the military preparations making in aid of Portugal
against Spain." Soon after [Bolivar] sent for me; when he said, that
he would address you on this interesting event, which he could not but
regard as of the greatest importance to Colombia. He requested me at the
same time to state to you, that in case hostilities between Great Britain and
Spain were actually commenced, and were likely to determine England on
extending her warlike efforts to the Spanish possession in these seas; that
he would with the greatest promptitude and energy, furnish a force of from
thirty to forty thousand men, and unite with her in wresting Cuba and
Puerta-Rica from the hands of the Spaniards.-That in thus acting, he had
no other wish, than that of seeing the inveterate enemies of Colombia
expelled from this hemisphere, and England, master of their possessions.-
But, should he find that Great Britain did not intend to extend her hostilities
to these colonies; he would then take every advantage of Spain's embarrass-
ment, in consequence of the war, and fit out without loss of time an
expedition for the purpose of freeing the above named islands from their
present yoke, and of extirpating entirely the last remains of that power, so
long exercised in the New World by its ancient oppressors.-He likewise
begged me to say, that the Republic had no wish, or ambition, to retain
any colonies whatever, so far removed from her; either as possessions, or
as separate states, dependent on Colombia; or, of establishing either Cuba,
or Puerta-Rica (like Haytie) as independent nations-on the contrary, as
he had before remarked, he would rather England should become possessed
of them; to accomplish which he was willing to lend every assistance in his
power, by furnishing troops; and would answer also, for the strenuous support
of the whole of the Colombian people.
How far, under the present circumstances, an expedition, (solely formed
by Colombia and Peru,) from its popularity, might call forth any extra-
ordinary exertions both in money, and men, I know not [said Bolivar].-but
if, in conjunction with England then some pecuniary stipulations would
be looked for, in order to cover those expenses the Republic consequently
must incur; in which case, such sums might go towards liquidating the
However premature this part of this dispatch may appear, I think it my
duty to mention all that was said by the President on the subject
With the highest respect
Your most obedient
Robert Ker Porter
From here on the Porter correspondence is singularly unrevealing,
although it is known that he saw General Bolivar on a number of occasions
thereafter." Bolivar decorated him in March, 1827, and Porter reciprocated
with an autographed copy of one of his travel works.20 He may also, as
several writers state, have painted the Liberator's portrait, but there is no
direct evidence that this is so.21
On April 24, 1827, His Britannic Majesty's minister Alexander Cockburn
arrived in Caracas. In the meantime Canning had succeeded to the Prime
Ministership; Lord Dudley was now Foreign Secretary, though only a cipher
in the post. With Cockburn's arrival, negotiations with Bolivar were taken
out of Porter's hands. Cockburn was by no means a stranger to the general.
One year previously he had been appointed envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary to Colombia, replacing charge d'affaires Patrick Campbell.
But on his way to the post in May, 1826, he became involved with Bolivar's
supposed schemes for monarchy and never reached Bogota."2
With Cockburn, the Liberator now took up in dead earnest the subject
of the future of northern South America. Porter's final entry on Bolivar is
his report of the joint departure of the general and Minister Cockburn from
Caracas on the British frigate H.M.S. Druid, July 5, 1827.23
'There is no biography of Porter. See sketch in Dictionary of National Biography
(London, 1896). He was a brother of Jane Porter, the popular novelist whose best work
The Scottish Chiefs is widely believed to have prompted Sir Walter Scott's Waverley
'British Foreign Office Correspondence, Venezuela (microfilm copy of correspondence
in the Public Records Office, London, in the possession of the department of history,
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 18/61,pp. 120, 260, 340; ibid.,
18/72, pp. 1, 134, 164, 172; ibid., 18/78, p. 1; ibid., 18/87, pp. 3, 103, 142, 271.
Cited hereafter as F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
'Ibid., 18/61, p. 56.
'In 1827 when a group of Scotch colonists became stranded in Venezuela without
funds, Porter went to great personal lengths to provide for their comfort and to
arrange passage for them to Canada. See F.O. Corres., Venezuela, 18/47, pp. 1, 114,
120, 129, 286.
'Williamson's yearly fees averaged about 1,200 dollars. von Radders enjoyed a
salary of 600 pounds. Sprotts and Gramlich were on a straight fee basis. Ibid., 18/61,
'F.O. Corres., Venezuela, 18/35, p. 50; ibid., 18/47, pp. 17, 241; ibid., 18/61,
'Porter to Canning, May 20, 1826, F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
'See F.O. Corres., Venezuela, correspondence between Porter and Canning during
the period May 3, 1826 to April 30, 1827.
'Canning to Porter, August 17, 1826, F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
"Yet Bolivar had sternly rebuked Paez earlier (1824) for proposing that a
monarchy be set up in northern South America. Victor A. Belaunde, Bolivar and the
Political Thought of the Spanish American Revolution (Baltimore, 1938), p. 279.
"Colombia's share of the revolutionary loans raised in England was by far the
largest of any of the Latin American countries. In 1826 the principal on Colombia's
debt alone amounted to nearly seven million dollars. C. K. Webster, ed., Britain and
the Independence of Latin America (London, 1938), I, 560.
"F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
'Rourke's description of the event is more colorful than Porter's: "The two
great heroes [Bolivar and Paez] rode bareheaded, side by side, through the familiar
streets. The coach could hardly move for the throngs that jammed the way and
clung to its sides. The bells clamored, the cannon roared, the flowers drifted down
from the windows Young people ran beside the coach to glimpse the living
face of the hero of all those tales they had heard in childhood." Thomas Rourke,
Man of Glory, Simdn Bolivar (New York, 1939), p. 326.
"A reference to the strained relations between Gran Colombia and Great Britain
as a result of Colombia's having defaulted on her payments to the British bond-holders.
"Gran Colombia was then under a federal form of government only slightly more
centralized than that of the United States. The agitation of Paez' adherents for a
"federal system" was directed both against the Bogota government and against
Bolivar's proposed Bolivian Code, an instrument of government which provided for
an executive with almost unlimited dictatorial powers. See Jos6 Gil Fortoul, Historia
Constitutional de Venezuela (Caracas, 1942), I, 566; Jos6 Manuel Restrepo, Historia
de la Revolucion de la Reptiblira de Colombia (Paris, 1858), III, 532; and Belaunde,
op. cit. p. 311.
Porter was convinced that the majority of the people of Venezuela preferred the
federal system to the Bolivian Code. On April 9, 1827, he wrote Canning: "Certainly
the great mass of the people in Venezuela do desire a change in the form of govern-
ment. The Ancient Nobles, Army, and Clergy, together with some of the richer
party, are vainly anxious for a sort of Hereditary Principality.
"The old patriots and reformers, express themselves in favour of the Bolivian
Code, whilst the Theorists and Gentlemen of the Robe, would have an independent
Federated State: the lower order, I am inclined to think, seem divided in their
wishes, some only hoping for that form of government that would insure them
tranquility being nearly altogether indifferent to its nature; others again, would
boldly behold a complete revolution in order to establish their colour in supreme
authority; nay, would be too happy in aiding in the extinction of the whites.
However these, thank God, are but very few. But taking the aggregate sense of what
seems now the idea, would be, that a supreme government ought to be given to
Venezuela; embracing her ancient limits; Federated with Cundinamarca, Quito, Peru,
and Bolivia; the whole being under the immediate auspices and protection of the
Liberator, as chief President." F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
"Porter to Canning, January 24, 1827, F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
"Ibid., January 27, 1827.
"This affair, as it turned out, had no military significance. The facts are these:
Great Britain landed 4,000 troops in Portugal December 26, 1826. The assigned
reason for the expedition was that Spain, by sheltering and arming the partisans
of would-be usurper of the Portuguese throne Dom Miguel, threatened the independent
existence of Portugal, which Britain was obligated by treaty to defend. The supporters
of Dom Miguel vanished with the coming of the British, and there were no hostilities.
Harold Temperley, The Foreign Policy of Canning, 1822-27 (London, 1925), p. 81.
"One of the later Porter dispatches is of interest only for the proof it offers of
the genuineness of the hostility which had come to exist between Vice-President
Santander and General Bolivar. On April 30, 1827, Porter wrote: "General Bolivar
assured me that, from both the public and private conduct of the Vice-President,
he was determined not to act longer with such a coadjutor; and should, on his reaching
Bogota, take steps that will oblige Santander to resign an office he had disgraced
by his corrupt and mal-administration. Porter to Canning, F.O. Corres., Venezuela.
"Porter to Bolivar, March 13, 1827; Porter to Bolivar, May 26, 1827. Daniel
F. O'Leary, ed., Correspondencia de Estranjeros Notables con el Libertador (Madrid,
1920), II, 31. The work Porter presented to Bolivar was his two volume Travels in
Georgia, Persia, Armenia, Ancient Babylonia, &-c. (London, 1821-22). Despite the
immoderate praise the Englishman's letters to Bolivar, the letters neither reveal
an acute political bias in favor of the general nor a close personal friendship. Probably
the romantic Porter sought only to add Bolivar to his collection of illustrious
"One authority on Bolivarian portraits apparently labored under the miscon-
ception that Jane Porter painted Bolivar. [Manuel Segundo Sanchez, Apuntes para la
Iconografia del Liberador (Caracas, 1916)] In a letter to the general Miss Porter spoke
of her "portrait" of him. It was undoubtedly a literary sketch, however. Porter's
portrait of General PAez hangs today in the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Relations.
'Webster, op. cit. I, 400. Colonel Campbell continued to exercise the diplomatic
authority at BogotA until replaced by William Turner in 1830.
"Porter to Lord Dudley, July 8, 1827, F.O. Corres. Venezuela.
A Trip to Nassau, 1882
A TRAVEL DIARY
Edited by SAMUEL PROCTOR
On the afternoon of January 24, 1882, William Gilbert Davies,' a
prominent New York attorney and insurance executive, and his family began
a sightseeing trip to Florida and the Bahama Islands. Included in the party
were Davies' wife, Lucie Rice Davies,2 his nine-year-old daughter Gussie,3
and Gussie's nurse, Annie. After stopovers in Washington, D.C., Rich-
mond, Virginia, and Augusta, Georgia, the travellers arrived by train in
Savannah, where they secured passage on a steamer sailing for Fernandina,
Florida. They proceeded to Jacksonville, where after a brief visit, they boarded
the Western Texas, on February 4, and sailed for Nassau. After a month in
the islands, the Davieses were back in Florida on March 4, and after touring
that state and visiting ten days in Norfolk, Virginia, they returned to their
home in New York, on May 2, 1882.
Throughout their travels, Davies faithfully noted in his diary the details
of the journey. He commented upon conditions of travel, hotels, climate,
people that they met, and the sights and scenery of the places they had visited.
His diary has been preserved by his daughter, the present Mrs. Louis Mans-
field Ogden. A typed copy of the diary is in the Library of the Florida State
Historical Society, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
The sea was still calm when we rose, and after our coffee (we) went out
to the bow of the boat where we were entertained by the gambols of a school
of porpoises, and saw a number of flying fish, which latter were very much
smaller than I had supposed, being apparently but little larger than good
sized locusts. They spring out of the water by twos and threes, sometimes by
dozens, and fly perhaps one hundred or one hundred and fifty feet before
dropping. The porpoise must be a very powerful fish, as I saw some quite
large ones throw themselves clean out of water, and repeat the performance as
if they enjoy it.
We all went down to breakfast, but Gussie did not remain long; Lucie
and I did very well. About ten o'clock we passed Jupiter Inlet, and then laid
our course for the Great Isaacs Light,' as a result of which we were soon
in the Gulf Stream, and getting further away from shore under the influence
of the sea, which the storm of yesterday had knocked up. We had no wind but
the sea was quite as bad as on the day before, and the boat was lively, in
consequence of which Gussie was soon on her three chairs again, and the rest
of the lady passengers very quiet.
We sat out on deck and talked with each other all day, and the time
passed without incident. Lucie did not care to go down to the saloon again,
but took her meals outside, while I went to the table and did the best I could.
The sea subsided again considerably at sunset and Gussie went to bed feeling
a little less forlorn. About eight o'clock we sighted the Great Isaacs Light
which is visible sixteen miles, and flashes apparently every half minute; soon
after the moon came out from behind the clouds, and gave us a magnificent
night. The boat rolled considerably towards morning, and Lucie felt so un-
comfortable that she got up about six o'clock and went out on deck. As
I could not sleep I soon followed her, and we enjoyed the morning
coffee together. The stirrup light was just visible off the starboard quarter
and we were again heading South by East direct for Nassau, which the Captain
expected to reach by eleven o'clock. The morning wore on quietly and I went
down to breakfast in due time, after which I went to look after Gussie, who
had not yet appeared.
About half past ten the island of New Providence5 hove in sight, and
we were soon occupied in making our preparations to go on shore. We had
heard some things about Custom House officers but did not anticipate much
trouble from them and gave ourselves no anxiety on the subject. The pilot
met us just outside the bar and by half past eleven we were moored at the
dock, and really at the South at last.
All the population of Nassau, mainly coloured, were on the wharf to
welcome us and a number of small negroes swam out to meet us, and professed
an anxiety to dive for small coins, some of which were thrown overboard by
the passengers and successfully brought up from the bottom of the clear water.
Captain Sampson Stamp, the crack boatman of the island, came on board
with others, and I introduced myself to him and was most cordially
received. The Captain took our small traps and escorted us to a carriage in
which we rode to the hotel about a quarter of a mile off. We were pleasantly
received and given two rooms on the first floor in the rear of the building with
the promise that we should be moved as soon as possible. Our trunks arrived
soon after not having [been] opened or looked at by the Customs officer, and
we were soon ready for dinner which was ready for us at two o'clock and
proved to be a bountiful meal, well cooked and well served. After dinner we
went out to the front of the hotel where under a large porch we found a number
of negroes assembled with the curiosities of the place for sale, such as shells,
baskets (of) fruit &c. Gussie bought a very pretty little basket full of the red
sea-beans for an English sixpence.
Lucie felt quite worn out and went upstairs to lie down. I had supposed
that Gussie would want to do likewise after her total prostration for the last
two days, but she was as lively as a cricket, and preferred to talk or walk, so
she and I wandered off through the quaint narrow streets, lined with the stone
houses and filled with smiling negroes. They all seem bright and cheerful and
almost without exception bow to and grin at us as we go by. We went along
Bay Street fronting on the harbour, and looked into several shops, all of
which seemed to be of a very miscellaneous character." I bought a small
bottle of writing ink as a necessity and some'pieces of sugar cane as a luxury,
as it appears to be the correct mode, certainly among the negroes at least, to
walk through the streets sucking a piece of that savory plant.
We were addressed on the street by a bright young darkey who told us
his name was "Chiquita", and that he hoped to be of service to us. I thought
he would be useful in showing us around, and so told him we would be glad
to avail ourselves of his good offices when necessary. After a short stroll we
returned to the hotel and rested until tea-time.
After supper we went out into the park again as that seems to be the
regular evening resort. We soon heard in the distance the strains of the "Red
White and Blue" and a negro band consisting of accordian, flute, guitar and
bones, marched up in great state, attended by an admiring throng of large and
small darkies who evidently took great pride in the performance. The fellows
played and sang for more than an hour and some of the party did some very
creditable clog dancing which reflected the more credit on them from the fact
that they danced barefooted on a stone pavement, but they did not seem to
mind it, and danced away with great energy. The hat was passed around after-
ward and we contributed our share; we did not care to sit up late as we were
pretty well tired out, and right glad we were to take off our clothing and get
into a regular bed at an early hour.
The dampness and cold of the steamer had affected my feet a little, and
I was glad to get out my gout shoes this morning and put them on. When
I came downstairs I found Chiquita waiting in the park with a lovely bunch
of fresh roses grown here in the open air, with which Lucie and Gussie were
delighted. After breakfast Gussie and Annie started off under Chiquita's
guidance for the beach in search of shells, and Lucie and I loafed, as I had
enough rheumatism to make me reluctant to move about much.
The departure of some of the visitors enabled the authorities to move us
and we were placed in two large front rooms with a broad piazza and a lovely
view of the harbour and sea. The day passed otherwise without incident and
we simply ate and rested. In the evening two little darkies came up and sang
to us for a while, but some of the guests commenced pitching coppers to be
scrambled for and in consequence the concert was soon broken up in disorder.
After breakfast I started Gussie and Annie off with Chiquita to row across
the bay to Hog Isand and pick up shells, which are said to be very numerous
there.7 They took their lunch, intending to spend the day and expecting to
have a very pleasant time. Lucie and I hired a carriage and went for a drive;
we drove along the beach to the Westward, passing the barracks, then the
Water Battery" and Fort Charlotte9, and so on into the open country
The coconut trees and bananas gave the scenery a very tropical appear-
ance, and the bright green of the grass and trees and the heat of the sun made
it very difficult for us to realize that we are still in the cold dreary month of
February. We went into a small sugar-cane plantation, and saw the whole
process of making the sugar, from grinding out the sap, to boiling it down in
a series of vats, until it is so far reduced that it can be shoveled into barrels
with loose sides, which are then placed over a tank to allow the molasses to
drain off. Only the coarse brown sugar is made here, and all the refined white
sugar used is imported, it was some gratification to our National pride to
observe that the press through which the cane was passed was made in Ohio.
The sugar-cane seems to supply all the elements for its own destruction as the
darkies and horses live on it, and the refuse after the sap has been pressed
out is used to feed the fires under the vats.
We found driving very pleasant as the roads are good, and the carriages
comfortable, although the horses are very poor. On our return we went
through the upper part of the city on the hill, past the Government House
so called, the official residence of the Governor General,10 and the numerous
churches and meeting houses, in which about every sect is represented.
After dinner we chatted with our friends in the park for a while, and then
rested and wrote, as we did not feel very energetic.
The extraordinary thing about this place is the singular conduct of the
roosters who commence to crow about ten o'clock in the evening; and crow
for the rest of the night, with the effect of setting off all the dogs in the
neighbourhood who are numerous, and interfering very seriously with our
slumbers. However we manage to obtain some sleep, and as we do not
work very hard during the day, do not suffer seriously
After breakfast we took a carriage and drove to the Eastward, past
Fort Montague" and over Fox Hill,'2 a towering eminence of perhaps
fifty feet on which stands a little church.
All the darkies bow and salute us as we pass, and all seem perfectly
happy and perfectly lazy. In fact, as sugar-cane grows spontaneously, and
supplies all they want to eat, and the climate is not exacting in respect to
clothing life seems to be supported here at a very moderate expense. It is
fortunate it is so, for there is very little business, and the winter visitors
give most of the employment to the darkies that they have. About the only
thing that a man can do who wants to work, is to go off to the Eiluthera
Islands'" after sponges," a business involving hard work and poor
pay, as none of the negroes have any capital, and the whites who furnish
the vessels and outfits naturally take the lion's share of the profits. The
little darkies however, and the big ones too for that matter, look happy
and contended and are always on the broad grin.
On our way back we stopped in at the circulating liberty, a
small round building in front of the hotel, and walked through it. We found
quite a collection of stuffed birds, a very good assortment of books, and
many of the English papers and magazines. We did not think it worth while
to become subscribers, although the subscription price for visitors like our-
selves is only two shillings sterling per month. Supper and our evening talk
followed in regular routine, and then we went to bed at our usual early
Today we felt lazy and tired, and unwilling to make any exertion. The
wind was still in the South when we arose, but before noon it chopped
around to the North, whence it blew hard and cold. I was sitting on our
piazza, feeling very warm in the dry sultry air, and suddenly became
thoroughly chilled. To my surprise I found the thermometer had sunk only
one or two degrees, and that out of the wind it was still quite warm. That
seems to be the peculiarity of this climate that the thermometer remains
always about the same and the winds have an effect only on those exposed
to them.. Since we have been here the thermometers in the porch have
not gone below seventy-three or above seventy-eight, yet to our feelings it
has been both much warmer and much colder.
We had quite a smart shower during the morning, but the sun came
out in half an hour, and everything was soon so dry that no traces of it
were visible. We took a little stroll in the afternoon and went into one of
the numerous shell stores to examine the work. Lucie has quite an idea that
she would like to purchase a tortoise shell to take home with her, but it
does not appear that it would be of any particular service, and we have
not made up our minds to the extravagance. We saw some very pretty
Conch pearls, so called from being found in the conch shells, which seem
to be as rare and valuable as the oyster pearls; as illustrating the difficulty
and uncertainty of finding them, the shop-keeper told us of one man who
broke up eleven thousand conch shells, which cost him twelve dollars per
thousand, and was rewarded in finding in all fourteen dollars worth of
Some of the tortoise shell work is quite pretty, but we were most
pleased with some turtles with the head and fins neatly varnished, so as
to make a very effective curiosity.
Gussie went off after dinner with one of the coloured women who visit
the hotel, to see her garden which was said to be full of flowers, and with
which she was delighted. She arranged with her friend to bring us a bunch
of bananas and a pawpaw. We have had some delicious coconuts and
have tried the grapefruit, but are not enthusiastic about it.
FEBRUARY 1 ITH
It was a beautiful day with a brisk easterly wind blowing, and after
breakfast we took Captain Sampson's boat just for ourselves and started for the
sea-garden in the channel, between Hog and Athol Islands." We had to
beat up against the wind and the spray flew in very lively fashion so that
we were all quite wet by the time we reached our destination and came to
an anchor. Gussie and Annie sat together on one side of the boat and
seemed to enjoy themselves very much, as they were entirely free from
nervousness and Gussie never thought of being seasick. When we got to
the sea-garden we looked through the sea-glass, so-called, which is only a
square wooden box with a pane of glass at one end, and by placing the
glass just below the surface, could see the bottom with the beautiful sponges
and plants growing on it, the variegated coral and the exquisitely coloured
fish." One of the boys on the boat, stripped to his trousers and dived down
to bring up whatever we fancied. We secured some beautiful fans, several
specimens of sponge and coral, and then started back, the sail before the
wind being much drier and also warmer. All the darkey boys about here
seem to be amphibious and as much at home in the water as on land. On
the way back we saw a cotton field in full growth, as Gussie was anxious
to secure some of the pods, we sent one of the boys on shore, who came
back with a number of branches containing pods filled with cotton to
bursting. The Captain landed us in fine style, and we reached home in time
for dinner with a good appetite.
After dinner we found in the porch Gussie's friend with the bananas
and pawpaws all of which looked very green, but we were assured they
would ripen, so we had them sent up to our room. Lucie and I wandered
off for a stroll and went up to Fort Fennicastle [Fincastle] on the hill
near the hotel, which is said to be built like a ship." It does not look unlike
one with its long bastion protruding to the eastward like the prow, while
the signal station on it completes the likeness by appearing like a pilot
house, The sergeant in charge of it was absent, and the door locked, so we
could not go up on the walls. We therefore contented ourselves by sitting
on the rocks and admiring the view. A little to the South and West lies the
prison which seems to be a large and commodious as well as a strong and
Another beautiful warm summer day, and after breakfast Lucie, Gussie
and I went to service at the Cathedral." We were given seats of honour in
the Bishop's pew, immediately opposite to the Governor General, the
Cathedral is a large spacious building with a handsome stained East
window, and as we sat there with the windows all open and the warm air
paying around us, we could hardly believe that we were not in church at
home in midsummer. All around on the walls were mural memorial tablets
so common in England and so rare with us, and while waiting for the service
to begin, we read as much of them as we could. As the clock struck eleven,
the organist, a lady by the way, who played splendidly, commenced a
voluntary and the ministers and clergy much to our surprise straggled in,
one after another and took their places in the stalls. The Bishop of course
came last, wearing his Episcopal robes and the red hood of a Doctor of
Divinity. He has a strong kindly face, but is a young looking man for such
a position. The service sounded familiar and yet strange, with its prayers
and supplications for the Queen and the Royal family, and the music was
quite good. The lessons were read by the Bishop's chaplain who is the most
nervous man I ever saw, and whose delivery is a funny sing-song voice which
is almost laughable. The litany was not read, and in its place we had the
prayers for Church All conditions of men, &c.
The Bishop read the Communion service, and preached us a short
sensible sermon from St. Paul's text "For as in Adam all men die, even so
in Christ shall all be made alive" The only unusual feature in the service
was that the entire congregation standing while the collection was taken up.
We remained for the Sacrament, with a very few others, and returned after
a delightful morning. Our dinner was enjoyed and the rest of the day we
spent quietly at home; I am very much relieved to be at last entirely free
from rheumatism, I hope permanently. I put away my gout shoes yesterday
and trust it will be a long time before I have to endue my feet with them'
The first news I had this morning when I went down stairs was that
the "Carondelet" the Mallory steamer which left New York on the 8th
inst. was in so that we may look to have some mail, and next that Gussie's
friend Chiquita is in trouble. It seems that he got into a fight with another
darkey on Saturday and was seized by the police and incarcerated in con-
sequence. Captain Sampson and Mr. Taft of Point Shirley fame, who is
staying here, went down to the police barracks yesterday and obtained his
release by becoming responsible for his appearance in the Police Court at
ten o'clock this morning for trial. So after breakfast Mr. Taft and I went
down to see what I could do for him. While waiting for the police magis-
trate to arrive, we met Inspector Sutton, the officer in command of the
police, who very courteously showed us over his barracks, which are well
adapted for their purpose and in apple pie order. He formerly had forty
men under his order but the force has now been reduced to sixteen, which
however seems to be amply sufficient, as he tells us the population is per-
fectly peaceful and docile and never gives any trouble. So true is this that
at the jail where large members of prisoners are confined, there is not a
weapon in the place. One frequently meets at work on the roads, gangs of six
or eight in charge of one man armed only with a cane.
Occasionally the soldiers become quarrelsome and last summer they
nearly killed a police sergeant, but with the exception of the annual fights
with them, the police have little to do. We interrogated the sergeant about
Chiquita's character, thinking perhaps it might be a good lesson to him to
spend a week in jail, but we were told a darkey who goes to jail generally
becomes demoralised and unfit for anything afterwards. The boy too, seems
to stand well with the police, the worst said against him that he is quick-
tempered and occasionally engaged in brawls, so we determined to stand by
The only evidence offered at his trial was that of the policeman who
made the arrest, from which it seemed both parties to the quarrel were about
equally to blame, and the magistrate sentenced the combatants to a fine of
fourteen shillings or fourteen days in jail. Chiquita had four shillings so
Mr. Taft and I made up the balance and he was free, but I fear the other
poor fellow who had no benevolent friends was forced to expiate his offence
by fourteen days work on the road. We took advantage of the occasion to
give our victim some good advice, and Captain Sampson promised to keep
him on his boat and out of the way of temptation hereafter.
This business being disposed of, we strolled into Her Majesty's Court
of Common Pleas, in which I found a judge, three officers, two lawyers and
a cloud of witnesses engaged in a contest over a sum of eight shillings and
sixpence. I waited long enough to see the plaintiff dismissed with costs, a
righteous judgment, as his claim was evidently trumped up, and then went
to the hotel where I found a large mail.
This being the festal day of the good Saint Valentine, Gussie was in a
great state of excitement, and I gave her some money to expend at the book-
store for what she could find. She made her purchases judiciously and
remembered both her mother and myself,
The General Assembly of the Island was to be opened by the Governor
General in State today, and I had obtained tickets, but poor Lucie was
feeling badly, and not up to excitement so I was forced to go alone. I found
the hall in which the ceremonies were to be held, already well filled with
ladies, with a fringe of prominent colored citizens behind them and as it was
very warm, remained out on the balcony, in front of which a colored band
was playing with great energy, but not much discretion.
The day is evidently a great one in the Colony, and everyone is out in
the best clothes, and a crowd of negroes wait about to see the ceremonies.
The company of black troops marched down from the barracks and took
up position in the road in front of the wall, while behind them a company
of artillery had placed their guns in battery, ready to give the salute. Precisely
at one o'clock His Excellency drove up in an open carriage accompanied by
the Commander of the Forces and his private secretary, to be received with
presented arms and "God save the Queen" to which national anthem no
one takes off his hat but himself. After reaching the Council Chamber he
sent his private secretary for the Assembly, and on their arrival headed by
their Speaker and Mace, delivered his address which possessed the great
merit under the circumstance of being short. The poor gentleman had on
his civil uniform, heavily braided with gold lace, and evidently found it
very warm. At the close of his address he declared the Parliament open, and
dismissed the Assembly to their deliberations, the artillery fired a salute of
twenty-one guns, the band again played "God save the Queen" and the
Governor drove off, evidently delighted to have it all over. He dined after-
wards at the hotel in plain clothes and looked much happier.
In the afternoon we took another drive and enjoyed it very much. We
went through Augusta Street which we had not yet been in, and from the
crest of the hill which we crossed, obtained the finest view of the city we
have yet had, including the first well-kept cemetery we have yet seen, the
so-called Potters Field. On our way out we drove through the grounds of
the Government House and admired the rear of the statue of Columbus of
which we have already seen the front.20
Lucie did not feel much like active exertion this morning, so Gussie
and I took a walk. We went first to the drug store where we had a
prescription made up and bought some candy, and then to the book store
Gussie had seen there a picture book of Kate Greenaway's to purchase and
illustrate, so I made her the proud possessor of that, and of a juvenile
paint box, so she was happy. We also purchased a valentine for Lucie
to show that we had remembered her, and then went into a store to weigh
ourselves where we discovered that she turned the scale at sixty-five pounds
and I at one hundred and forty-three. This exhausted the resources of
the place, and we returned to the hotel.
In the afternoon Gussie and I went to a little fair which was to be held
for the benefit of a church in one of the out parishes, and found it
offered nothing but articles quite as useless as those for sale in our church
fairs at home. However we succeeded in spending some money with
satisfaction to herself, and I trust with benefit to the object in view, and
then we returned to Lucie for whom we bought two photographs of groups
of children entitled "Good night" and "Good morning" and exhibiting the
expressions of countenance suitable to those two epochs. The evening
brought the usual steamer concert, the band on this occasion being
strengthened by a triangle and therefore being somewhat worse than usual;
we stood it as long as we could, and were glad to escape by retiring upstairs
and still more thankful when it was over.
The excursionists all started off this morning by carriage or boat to see
the sights, and after the coast was clear, Lucie and I took a carriage and
went for a drive. We drove out to the Eastward past Fort Montague and on
the beach. On the way we passed the famous Banyan tree of which all the
guidebooks speak and of which we had heard so much, and thought it
rather a humbug.2' We must have passed it before on our drives and not
noticed it. In the season when covered with leaves it may look impressive,
but it is altogether much smaller and insignificant than we expected. The
manner in which the branches droop is certainly singular and interesting,
but otherwise there is nothing noticeable about the tree.
Lucie and I climbed up to Fort Finnicastle (sic), and as the sergeant
was there, and the gate open, went up on the ramparts and watched the
steamer go out. She did not leave until four o'clock, and after she gained
the horizon we went down and talked with the sergeant, but did not get any
more information. In fact all the history of the Bahamas seems to be mainly
legendary and nothing is definitely known even about the building of the
forts. I suppose the islands have never occupied a sufficiently important
place in the eyes of the world to make their doings of much consequence,
and the pirates by whom they were mainly occupied up to a recent period,
probably did not keep records of their transactions. In the evening we sat
in the porch for a while, but we missed our friends and went to bed early.
After breakfast we started out to walk to Fort Charlotte, but the day
was very hot and we rather repented our rash action by the time we
reached there, especially as we climbed up the hill on which it is situated.
It is an old-fashioned work with a dry moat around it, the guns mounted
in barbette, and although the various bastions are connected by under-
ground passages, it would doubtless be utterly untenable against modern
artillery. In fact a single heavy shell landed in the middle of it would
probably dismount every gun and blow the whole thing to pieces.
We strolled slowly homewards and on our way passing the Cathedral
and seeing it open we went in and spent some time in reading the memorial
tablets of which there are many. We felt quite tired by the time we reached
the hotel and disinclined to further exertion, but I had engaged Chiquita
to take me fishing and did not like to disappoiont him; so after dinner Gussie
and I started off in a small boat with him and rowed to the other side of the
bay where we anchored and threw out our lines. The tide was coming in
and ran like a mill-race, so that our bait would not lie near the bottom.
Either for that reason or because the fish have a chronic disinclination to
bite, in two hours I caught two fish and Chiquita one, while Gussie amused
herself by admiring the bottom through a sea glass. After ending this amuse-
ment we went back to the hotel where the evening passed quietly for us as
usual. The townspeople tonight give a grand entertainment to the Governor,
and the hall in which the performance of the other day was held has been
quite elaborately decked for the occasion. Of course we did not attend, but
after we had gone to bed the music kept us awake for a long time. One
man had a coret or French horn into which he blew with an energy which
silenced even the dogs in the neighbourhood. This lasted until about three
o'clock, and then after the strains of "God save the Queen" had died out,
the guests began to come back somewhat noisily, and when they had sub-
sided, the waiters returned with the crockery and glassware, a considerable
amount of which, to judge from the sounds was smashed in transit. So
altogether the night was for us a somewhat restless one and we were not
grieved when it was time to rise.
We were tired and sleepy this morning not to say cross, and much
disinclined for any active exertion. So we sauntered about the hotel all the
morning, wrote a little, read a little and so whiled away time until dinner.
It is only fair to say that it is not necessary to make any special exertion to
get rid of time here, for I was never in a place in which the days passed so
rapidly and uneventfully. The climate is so pleasant and yet so enervating
that it is sufficient occupation to sit still on a piazza and watch the sea.
I was up bright and early and went for a bath which I obtained after
some delay and thoroughly enjoyed. Lucie and I attended service in the
Cathedral, the Bishop and his timid chaplain were absent today and we had
the regular service with the litany, except that in place of a sermon the
rector read a pastoral from the Bishop on the proper observance of the Lenten
season, which impressed me very deeply by its earnest spirit and sensible
advice, and of which I shall endeavour to obtain a copy. After dinner we
took a carriage and had a long drive toward the North side of the island,
and then along the beach to the Eastward, which we enjoyed very much
although the sky looked threatening and the wind blew strongly. In the
evening we were prepared to go to the "Shouters" who are apparently one
of the legitimate sights here, and we prepared to do so with Mr. and Mrs.
Worthington, and a Mrs. Ogden from Jersey City. As their carriage had not
arrived when it was time to start, we all got into the one which came for us,
and rode over a mile to a little thatched building in Grantstown,22 which we
found filled with an attentive congregation of negroes. If we came with any
expectation of being amused we were most properly disappointed and instead
edified with a most earnest, impassioned and on the whole, well conceived
sermon from the text "Behold the Lamb of God" The negro preacher
appeared to be a Methodist exhorter, and held the attention of his hearers
closest for about half an hour. Then a hymn was "lined" and sung atro-
ciously with a horrible nasal twang, afterward a collection was taken up
to the accompaniment of a song sung in endless repetition by a few of the
sisters and a chorus of "Zion Oh"! by the main body. One of the features
of this branch of the service was the parade of the small darkies, who when
they had any money to contribute, marched in single file up to the pulpit
to hand it in, and then marched on round the hall two or three times for
no apparent reason. A brief prayer concluded the exercises and we rode
home to talk in the porch until ten o'clock and then go quietly to bed.
Lucie was rather tired out this morning by her exertions of yesterday,
and did not care to get up early, so I was thrown upon my own resources.
By way of enjoying my own society thoroughly I went for a walk and
dropped in at the book store where I bought a Church of England prayer
book, handsomely printed and bound for the moderate sum of one dollar.
Then strolling down Bay Street met Chiquita and sent him to buy a pound
of figs, a luxury for which Lucie had expressed a desire.
Today turned out to be one of the great festivals of the year for Nassau,
it being the occasion of the Annual Races. We endeavored to secure a
carriage to go to them but found that effort hopeless, as everything in town
on wheels had been long engaged. So we decided to go by boat, as the track
is near the water, and started off with Sampson about half past eleven
o'clock. We had a pleasant sail down with a south wind on our quarter, and
when we reached the shore, had to be rowed to it in a small boat and
then carried through the surf by one of the boatmen, to the immense
delight of Lucie and Gussie. A short walk brought us to the grand stand
which we had been warned was somewhat insecure, but a cursory exami-
nation satisfied me that it was so braced as to be perfectly safe, and I took
my party up without hesitation.
The races were quite amusing being running tests between Bahama
bred ponies, and very exciting to the Negro population all of whom turned
out and speculated freely on the results. So freely as to cause a great deal
of bad feelings, and nearly every race was followed by at least one fight,
which we could see well from our comer of vantage, As the combatants only
banged each other about the head, they inflicted no serious injury and the
affairs were soon over. One little negro jockey rode admirably, on one
occasion, while coming down the home stretch with a good lead, his horse
bolted off the track, and he brought him back just in time to win after a
very exciting finish.
We had a nice lunch in our corner, and quite as good a time as the
Governor General and other friends who were at the other end of the stand.
The most amusing character was the Clerk of the Course who tore up and
down on horse back, driving the negroes back to the sides and making
himself as conspicuous as possible. I thought it a good illustration of the
brutal contempt with which the English treat the other races with whom
they are brought in contact in their colonies, that he carried a long horse-
whip and lashed the darkies as he rode by, to which they were as indifferent
as he. On one occasion he knocked down and rode over a negro crossing
the track, going calmly on without looking round, or apparently caring for
what he had done. We feared the man was killed or at least seriously
injured, but he picked himself up with a broad grin and seemed rather
amused at the accident than otherwise. We left about five o'clock, being
then pretty well tired out and without waiting for the donkey race, much
to Gussie's regret, as she was particularly anxious to see that. We re-
embarked without difficulty and had a pleasant sail back to the city. The
evening passed as usual in quiet conversation in the porch, and we went
early to bed being somewhat fatigued by the day's exertions and excite-
It being Ash Wednesday Lucie and I went to church, and for the first
time listened to the Consecration Service. I think we have reason to regret
that it was omitted from the ritual of the American Church for it seems to
me a very impressive reminder of the danger of the sins which we are all
liable to commit, and certainly no harm could come from an annual warning
of so solemn a character against them.
The wind which was in the North yesterday, hauled round to the West-
ward during the night, but Captain Sampson insisted that it was a good day
for the Coral Reef, and as that is one of the regular sights, we determined
to avail ourselves of the opportunity. So after breakfast we invited the
Worthingtons to go with us, and so started with a party of five in the
"Triton" We went off with a very fair wind, but soon after we passed
through the Sea-garden, it commenced to die out and when we were within
a half a mile or so of the reef, it fell dead calm, and we had to be sculled
and towed the rest of the way. The ground swell gave the boat a very
disagreeable motion, and Mrs. Worthington, Lucie and Gussie all felt some-
what uncomfortable, so when we reached our anchorage they all went
ashore in the small boat and sat on the beach while Worthington and I were
rowed about. We duly admired the coral trees and caves and the beautiful
parti-colored fish we saw swimming round among them, while our divers
brought up for us, so-called fans, and pieces of coral, one of which was
the largest single piece I ever saw, and declared by Sampson to be the
largest ever raised there. These boys are wonderfully at home in the water
and work away underneath it as calmly as if they were on dry land. About
an hour of this work satisfied us, so we recalled our women and started for
home. The calm continued until we were well out from Rose Island, and
then we had a fine Northwest breeze which lasted us home.
After breakfast this morning we were invited by the Stoddards (I find
the name should be written Stodders) to take a sail. Gussie is no longer
deterred by fears of sea-sickness and gladly joined the party; the wind was
Northerly and we had a lively run to the Eastward and as far out as the
end of Rose Island,23 and then came back on the port tack, so that we were
under the shadow of the sail both ways. We had a delightful time and the
wind held the boat so steadily that there was no perceptible motion, and no
excuse for seasickness. We were back just in time for dinner and with
excellent appetites for it.
The wind is still Northerly, and blowing hard so that it is not very
pleasant. Lucie took Gussie and Annie in the morning and went off for a
drive, while I stayed at home and wrote for a while. I have been very much
pleased with the manners and appearance of the Bishop, ahd thus I deter-
mined to make a call on him, thinking that he would not be likely to regard
it as an intrusion,
He has a very nice place on Shirley Street, and the house which is on
the top of the hill commands a magnificent view of the harbor and ocean.
When I first arrived at the house, I was puzzled how to make my presence
known, as although all the doors and windows stood wide open I could see
no one nor any means of announcing my presence. A patient search how-
ever revealed a hand-bell on the newell at the foot of the staircase leading
to the front door, and on ringing that, a servant appeared and took my
card. His lordship seemed much pleased at my call, and we had a very
pleasant conversation for about half an hour. He gave me a copy of the
pastoral letter which we heard read in the Cathedral and which pleased
so much, and I invited him to take an informal dinner with us at the hotel
on Monday. He hesitated a little at going out in Lent, but I reminded him
that we were in mourning ourselves, so we could not make a party, and
he then consented. He appeared a most agreeable gentleman, and I was
very glad that I had ventured to make the advance with which he seemed
to be pleased.
After my return home to report progress, Lucie and I walked down to
Bay Street and into the shell store, where she bought some tortoise shell
hairpins, and a pretty breast pin of the same material. In the afternoon we
took advantage of the cool weather to go out for a walk, she was anxious
to see the prison so we first went there, but were courteously informed by
the gatekeeper that we could not be admitted without a permit from the
prison inspector, a Mr. Cranford who is also the postmaster here. So we
abandoned that institution and went to the Public Hospital,2" where we were
informed by a board posted at the entrance that visitors were admitted
only on Wednesdays or Sundays. Whereupon we gave up our efforts to inspect
the public institutions, and strolled down to the Bay Street market, where
we admired the fish and bought some peanuts, and then went up George
Street through the Government House grounds, and so home.
In the evening the hotel gave a hop, and the various young women
staying here turned out in their best bibs and tuckers to fascinate the four
white officers and the shop-keepers of Nassau. They apparently enjoyed it
but Lucie and I did not care to join the giddy throng and remained in our
own room, where the Worthingtons joined us and we played Casino.
I had read in the guide book that the choral service in St. Mary's
Church was very attractive, so this morning Lucie and I drove there instead
of going to the Cathedral." I cannot say that we felt rewarded for the music
was not very good and the whole affair seemed cheap and tawdry. We had
a good sermon on the Gospel of the day (First Sunday in Lent) and then as
our carriage was waiting, drove along the beach to the Westward for a
short distance and then came home for dinner, In the afternoon we took
a drive with the Worthingtons on their invitation out to the Eastward on the
beach, and then back on the Fox Hill road.
As the Bishop is coming to dine with us today, I ordered my wine after
breakfast, and told our head waiter that I wjuld like to have our dinner
served in courses, so that we may be saved the annoyance of having to
order it. We stayed on our piazza all the morning, and the only excitement
we had was a visit from a young negro artist named Tiffany Findley who
had spent some time in America, and received his art education as a valet
to Louis Tiffany.2 He brought with him a portfolio of his studies, mainly
of native flowers, although he had some landscapes which were not so good
as the others. Lucie bought a pretty panel representing a bell, or trumpet
flower, a long white one which has an exquisite perfume by night, but very
little by day, and with which some of the trees in the neighborhood are
Soon after the artist left us, his Lordship appeared and we all went
down to dinner. Mason, a young colored boy with a great taste in flowers,
had prepared for us a beautiful piece for our table, and the waiters had
taken special pains to arrange it so as to be attractive. The dinner was good
and nicely served and the Bishop seemed to enjoy it, but he would not
take any wine, I suppose in view of its being Lent. He made himself very
agreeable and we were both much pleased with him. Some of the guests had
arranged a donkey race for the afternoon, and in consequence, there was
a great crowd and a tremendous clatter in front of our room when we went
up stairs, but it soon died away and we had a pleasant chat about every-
Gussie and I took a little walk in the morning to the bookstore, as
I wished to buy some more foolscap, and while there I found some novels
and purchased two, as I have about exhausted my supplies of literature.
Then we came home naturally and I read while Lucie amused herself with
"Angela's Angel" and Gussie painted.
We were rather lazy this morning and did not feel like doing anything
when we did get up. Lucie still hankered after coconuts, and as I had not
been very fortunate in my purchases yesterday. I thought it wiser to send
Chiquita to see what he could get for us. He returned with four splendid
looking nuts, but when we had one of them opened the meat turned out
to be soft and jelly-like, and Lucie was again disappointed. I was told after-
ward that most of the coconuts on the island are of this character, and that
the hard meat which we have in the North is rarely found here.
After supper Lucie and I went to the Cathedral for evening service.
The congregation was quite large, the Bishop was present but unofficially,
and in his pew. Service was read by the rector Mr. Swann, and the lessons
by the Bishop's chaplain Mr. Strange; the sermon was preached by Mr.
Wakefield of St. Mary's, whom we heard on Sunday last. The sermon was
well written and well delivered and we listened to it with interest. All the
clergy we have heard commit their discourses to memory and deliver them
without notes, much the more effective manner, with the exception of poor
Mr. Buckle who was obliged to read his,
As we came out of church, and were strolling slowly homeward through
the beautiful moonlight, we heard a long steam whistle. Lucie exclaimed
"There is the steamer" I hope she was mistaken, but we soon heard our
impression confirmed by others, and when we reached Parliament Street,
we met the Worthingtons going down to see her come in, so we turned
around and walked to the dock with them. The steamer was already there
and the usual miscellaneous crowd around her, so we returned to the hotel
and sat in the porch until the new arrivals came up.
There was no one among them we knew, and we were disgusted to
find that the mail would not be opened tonight and that we would have
to wait until tomorrow for our letters. We talked to the Worthingtons a
little while afterwards but they returned early and we went to bed for our
last night in Nassau.
Of course the first thing to be done this morning was to pack, as we
were notified that the steamer would sail at two o'clock sharp. and that we
must be on board by one. Chiquita took all our small traps and we walked
down to the dock with the Worthingtons. We had to wait for the mails
which had been promised for two o'clock, but it was half an hour later
before they were put on board. A few minutes [later] the whistle sounded,
those who intended to remain went on shore, the lines were cast off, and we
commenced to move from the wharf. Poor Chiquita sat on it crying as if
his heart would break, and I felt regret myself to leave a spot where I had
passed so many happy hours, and which in all probability I shall never see
If I have not before spoken of the climate of Nassau let me say here,
that I consider it a very unsafe one for persons suffering from pulmonary
affections, and I doubt very much if it is a good one for diseases of the
throat. It is true that the thermometer varies very little, its range during
our visit being from 680 to 78 Fahrenheit, but the winds changed suddenly
and those blowing from the North and North-east are very chilling to one
exposed to them. In fact, as was well remarked by a visitor to me, one
needs to watch the vane rather than the thermometer to know how to dress.
Several times we have gone to bed on a close sultry night with only a
sheet over us and awakened chilled through to find that a cold Northerly
wind was blowing on us. Then the air is constantly full of fine imper-
ceptible dust formed by the disintegration of the limestone roads, which is
very trying to the throat, But for those suffering from nervous prostration
of over work and in need of rest, nothing could be more desirable than the
perfect dolce far niente to which the unchanging blue skies, and the absence
of mails, telegrams and newspapers invite.
At three o'clock we had passed the bar, dropped our pilot and were
heading North by West, for the Stirrup Cay light.27 We had all come off
without our dinner, and thoroughly appreciated the lunch which the steward
provided for us soon after our departure. The day was magnificent, the water
perfectly still, and we crossed the North-east Providence channel where we
encountered such a rough sea coming down, as quietly as if we had been
going up the Hudson River. Even Gussie scorned to be seasick, and when
we sighted the light at seven o'clock, was as bright and well to anyone.
She and Lucie preferred however to take their dinner on deck, and so I went
down to mine alone. In the evening we sat out on deck, in the magnificent
moonlight until after ten o'clock, and then as the boat was gliding steadily
along, went to bed in the confident hope of a good night's rest.
'William Gilbert Davies, the son of Henry E. Davies, a justice of the New York
Court of Appeals and the State Supreme Court, was born in New York City on
March 21, 1842. He was graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, in 1860, and
then enrolled for a year's graduate work at the University of Leipsic, Germany.
Upon his return to the United States in 1861 he entered the law firm of Slossons,
Hutchins and Pratt, at the same time studying law at Columbia College Law
School. He was admitted to the bar in 1863 and shortly afterwards joined the
Twenty-Second Regiment of the New York State militia and participated in the
Gettysburg campaign. He was subsequently named adjutant of the Fourth Regiment.
He formed a law partnership in 1864, but two years later entered the service of
the Mutual Insurance Company. When that firm's law department was organized
in 1870 he was named assistant. He became head of the department and general
solicitor for the company in 1885. He was recognized as an expert in the field of
insurance law, and in 1891 he delivered a series of lectures on the subject at the
University of the City of New York. He was the author of Papers and Addresses,
a collection of historical essays and papers on life insurance law, published in 1907.
Davies died on July 26, 1910. (Brief sketches of Davies are found in The National
Cyclopaedia of American Biography, I (New York, 1898), 366-367; Who's Who In
America. 1910-1911, VI (Chicago, 1911), 482; Who Was Who in America, 1897-1942
(Chicago, 1942) 298-299.
'Lucie Rice Davies, a native of Boston, married William Gilbert Davies on
December 15, 1870. Her father, Alexander Hamilton Rice, was the twenty-sixth
Governor of Massachusetts. Before his election to that office he had served as mayor
of Boston, and had been elected to Congress for four consecutive terms.
'Gussie Davies is the present Mrs. Louis Mansfield Ogden of Tuxedo Park, New
York. Mrs. Ogden has a winter home in Sarasota, Florida.
'Great Isaacs Lighthouse, stands in the middle of Great Isaacs Island, a three-
quarter mile strip of land. Its great red and white striped tower, throwing a beam
some nineteen miles, was known locally as "Victoria Light" after Queen Victoria.
'New Providence Island is the main island and the capital city of Nassau is
built along its harbour front. The island is about twenty-one miles long and about
six or seven miles wide. It was named by Captain William Sayle, an English
navigator, whose ship found refuge there after it had been driven off course by an
'Bay Street, paralleling the water's edge, was the main business street in Nassau.
Stores, banks, public buildings, the Sponge Exchange, and Rawson Square are all
on Bay Street.
'Hog Island, famous for its Paradise Beach, forms the north side of Nassau
harbour, and the Nassau Lighthouse is on its West end.
'The Water Battery of four guns was on the short opposite Fort Charlotte.
'Fort Charlotte, began in 1787 and completed two years later by Lord Dunmore,
was named for the consort of George III. The middle and western portions, added
subsequently, were called Forts Stanley and D'Arcy respectively. The three are
connected by an extensive labyrinth of underground passes. Fort Charlotte guards
the western entrance to the harbour.
"Government House, the residence of the Colonial Governor, was erected in
1801 by Governor John Halkett. Located on Mount Fitzwilliam, it has a command-
ing view of the harbour. The gardens around Government House are extensive and
contain many fine old trees and beautiful native flowers and shrubs.
"Fort Montague, named in honour of the Duke of Montague, was completed in
1741 by Peter Henry Bruce, engineer commissioned by the British Government to
fortify Nassau. It guards the eastern entrance to the harbour.
"Fox Hill is also the name given to the native settlement in that area of the island.
"Eleuthera was one of the earliest Bahama islands to be colonized. In 1647, when
the Company of Eleutherian Adventurers in London received permission from Parlia-
ment to settle the island in the area, Eleuthera was the name applied to the whole group
"Sponge production, an important part of Bahama industry, began in the
islands early in the nineteenth century. The first major exportation started in 1841,
and today scores of vessels and hundreds of men are involved in the industry.
"Athol Island is just East of Hog Island. Except for the Quarantine Station it is
almost uninhabited. Between Athol and Hog Islands there is a small passage known
as "The Narrows" and alongside the cut are the sea gardens.
"The sea gardens have long been famous as one of Nassau's most popular tourist
attractions. On a calm day they are a beautiful sight, the water over them being clear
and less than a fathom deep.
"Fort Fincastle was constructed in 1793 after Lord Dunmore'decided that Fort
Charlotte was inadequate for the defense of Nassau. Built on Bennett's Hill, it covered
the road to the East as well as the battery on Hog Island. It is constructed in a queer
shape, resembling an old-time paddle-wheel steamer. The fort takes its name from one
of Lord Dunmore's titles, Viscount Fincastle.
"The prison was erected in 1865 during the administration of Governor R. W.
Rawson. The walls are of native stone and the iron work came from England. The old
gaol was turned into a public library, reading-room and museum in 1879.
"Christ Church, completed in 1840, stands on the site of an older church, erected
about a hundred years before. It is a plain stone building, consisting of a nave, two
aisles, and a western tower. In 1861 the See of Nassau was formed and Christ
Church was designated as the Cathedral of the diocese.
"The statue of Columbus was modelled in London under the direction of Washington
Irving, and was presented to the colony by Governor Sir James Carmichael Smyth.
"Probably Davies was referring to the famous silk cotton tree that is supposed to
be over two hundred years old. It stands just behind the Post Office.
"Grant's Town, just South of the city, was the largest native suburb. It was laid
out in 1829 by J. J. Burnside, Surveyor General, under the direction of the Colonial
Governor, General Sir Lewis Grant. Almost all the houses in Grant's Town are wooden
and many of them are almost imbedded in the tropical shrubbery.
"Rose Island, nine miles long and only about a hundred yards average width, is
one of the most popular of the outlying islands near Nassau. Its only good harbour,
on the south side of the island, is called "Little Harbour" or "Lower Harbour"
"The Bahamas General Hospital had its beginning in a legislative enactment,
passed in 1809, authorizing a "Poor House and Hospital" for the infirm and poor.
Later the institution was enlarged and was used both as an infirmary and as an asylum
for lunatics and lepers. The Public Dispensary which distributed medicines to the poor,
also operated out of the Hospital.
"St. Mary's Church was constructed in 1868-1869 on the site of an old building
that had been known as "Bray's School House." It was used for a while as a chapel
and was destroyed in a hurricane in 1866.
"Louis Comfort Tiffany, the well known American artist, art collector and patron,
was born in 1848 and died January 17, 1933. He was a member of the famous family
of jewellers and became the president and art director of the Tiffany Studios. In 1918
he established the Tiffany Foundation for art students at Oyster Bay, N.Y
"The light on Great Stirrup Cay was erected in 1863. The Cay lies northwest of
A Royal Birthday In Haiti (15th August, 1816)
THE BRITISH MUSEUM, among other priceless Haitian documents, has a copy
of the relation of a visit to Cape Henry, formerly Cape Frangais, and now
Cape Haitien, paid by King Henri Christophe (1811-1820) and by his Queen,
on the occasion of the latter's birthday.' It appears that the people in the
town granted a truly royal welcome to their sovereigns, whose popularity was
confirmed by an Englishman, who visited the island a few years after the
king's death, at a time when any feelings to the contrary would have been
most easily liberated.2 So, let us share in our official chronicler's enthusiasm,
and enjoy in his company what happened on the occasion.
Troops of the Royal Guard left the royal residence at Sans Souci early
on August 14, and marched all day long to Cape Henry. The people every-
where were busy erecting triumphal arches along the road, as is still the
custom in Haiti today, on the occasion of presidential visits. The king followed
in the afternoon, wearing the uniform of his Light Cavalry, all blue, with
white lapels and cuffs, and a blue-plumed shako.3 The royal retinue consisted
of sixteen carriages, with a military escort, followed by a caravan of junior
officers and of private individuals, all eager to take their share of the forth-
coming celebrations. The farmers shouted applause as they passed by, and
there was nothing to remind the traveller of the war which had been raging
there, less than thirteen years ago, until one reached the town, which had
been set on fire by Christophe himself, on the arrival of the French, in 1802,
and which was still half-reconstructed.
But even in town, the shouting crowd made everybody forget all about
the ruins. On the bridge at Haut-du-Cap, their Majesties were welcomed by
Prince Jean, the admiral of the Royal Navy, and by other naval officers.'
A little farther on, the king left his carriage, to receive the greetings of
Duke of Marmelade, governor of Cape Henry, and then proceeded on horse-
back. Along Rue Espagnole, he rode between two lines of infantrymen, and
the people kept shouting and throwing flowers, while salvoes were fired from
the forts around the town and from the ships in port. Archbishop Brelle, one
of the few French priests who had espoused the cause of Haitian freedom,5
welcomed the king at the corner of Place d'Armes, where the cathedral of
massive blue stone pillars stood in front of the royal residence, an indifferent
two-storied mansion hardly worthy of a king famous for his building genius.'
On August 15, the cannon again roared and Baron Dessalines called at
the royal lodge, accompanied by all the government officers, to present good
wishes to the Queen. Queen Marie Louise, born Coidavid, was a full-blooded
black lady, rather small and not pretty, but endowed with a charming smile
and a lot of wit. She stood in sharp contrast with her husband, a tall man
of dark but not black complexion, but both always were simple and dignified
in their attire, unlike many courtiers who wore much-decorated fancy dresses.
The royal pair's duty on such a morning was to thank God for so much
glory. So they walked to the cathedral, preceded by two lines of pages and
noblemen, and the archbishop sang the Te Deum. In the evening, dinner
was served to four hundred guests, in an extension to the palace built
especially for the occasion and lavishly decorated with paintings and mirrors.
Toasts were delivered and the company sang patriotic songs, while the crowd
danced and enjoyed fireworks on Place d'Armes. The king and queen took
selected guests to a show of "Zemire and Azore", the French opera, before
taking a walk among the crowd.
The next day, the Duke of Marmelade played host to his king. The
company included ten British merchants and three Americans, and everybody
drank to the rare friends Haiti then had among the powers, King George III,
President Madison of the United States, King William of the Netherlands,
King Frederic William of Prussia, the British Prince-Regent, and William
Wilberforce, the "Friend of Mankind" King Christophe was a great friend
of England, and the Annual Register for 1811 had commented on the occasion
of his coronation, "he will probably act the monarch with as much stage
dignity as any of those who have lately been elevated to that station in
Europe" At this dinner, a former British officer named White rose to tell
the Duke's guests, "In your position today, you must fear nobody, you are
invincible." Across the seas, an anonymous poet soon was going to promise
him the help of all Europe, in case of a French attack on the kingdom.'
Sunday the 18th was Army day, a big day. The Queen, after an early
mass, invited all the ladies in town for dinner at the Palace on the following
Sunday. She then joined the king on the balcony of their residence, where
he was receiving the salute of his troops. As some ladies were present,
Christophe made them promise to sew new standards for all the Cape
regiments. The afternoon gave the king an opportunity to revel in the military
exercises that he loved. Wearing the red coat of the Haitian Guard, he took
personal command of his colourful units, and made them ride all over the
square, in as many formations as provided for in army regulations. Gleaming
with excitement, his eyes wandered from the King's Own, in blue and white,
to the Queen's Own, in red and blue, and from the Prince Royal's Regiment,
in green and pink, to the Bodyguard, in white and red. Two of his sons
rode among the officers, the Prince Royal, a fat boy of twelve, and the Duke
of Mole, the apple of his father's eye, but an illegitimate child.
Affairs of State kept the king busy for the duration of the week that
followed. Baron Dupuy, his principal secretary, introduced the foreign
residents of Cape Henry, and Mr. John Schoolbred, an English merchant,
delivered a speech which was translated by Dupuy, an able man who had
been the Haitian agent in New York City at the time of Emperor Dessalines.
There was a rumour that the king understood the English language but that
he would never speak it, because translation gave him more time to think
about the matter.' However, there is no contemporary local confirmation of
the claim that he was born on some British island, as said in pamphlets
against him published at Port au Prince, the capital of the rival Haitian
Republic." Harvey claims that before the revolution Christophe had been
a successful cattle trader in Haiti."
Before departing, Queen Marie Louise distributed alms to the poor, and
the king pardoned a number of prisoners. On Wednesday the 21st, the palace
extension was turned into a ballroom which they visited. Christophe looked
thoroughly happy, chatting with every dancer, and also with the smaller fry,
who had come to look through the open windows. He promised the crowd
that on the following Sunday, the ballroom would be open to all, and his
statement was greeted with loud cheers. At dawn, the royal party rode back
to Sans Souci, their usual residence, but this did not mean that the festivities
had come to their end. On Saturday, the foreign merchants entertained the
Duke of Marmelade at "Le Caf6 des Etrangers", and the atmosphere was
very cordial. Wine was drunk in abundance and the band played "God
Save the King" and "Long Live Henry" before other national anthems.
Sunday, the 25th of August, was People's Day. In the courtyard of the
former French Government House, four tables were ready, each large enough
for two hundred guests, each presided over by some high officer of State,
Prince Jean, Archbishop Brelle, the Duke of Marmelade, and the Count of
Ouanaminthe. So, nearly eight hundred ladies were accommodated as the
Queen's guests and, though no husband was permitted to take a seat, about
as many men kept standing around the tables. It was a fascinating sight,
where all social differences were abolished, and it lasted for hours, because
the waiters had to proceed among the crowd with considerable difficulty.
Toasts were drunk, not only to the high in the land, but also to popular
heroes, such as the "Royal-Dahomets", or rural constables. After dinner,
the intellectually-minded repaired to the Theatre, where the Royal Company
played "The Barber of Seville", but most of the people rushed to the Palace,
where they danced all night long, as the king had promised to let them do.
I. ANON., Relation de la Fite de S.M. la REINE D'HAYTI, des Actes de
Gouvernement qui ont eu lieu durant cet Evdnement, et de tout ce qui s'est pass
d l'occasion de cette Fdte. Au Cap-Henry, chez P. ROUX, imprimeur du Roi. 51 pages.
2. HARVEY, W. W., Sketches of Hayti, London, 1827, p. 138.
3. Haitian uniforms described in, Edit du Roi, Sur l'Etablissement de la Maison
Militaire de Sa Majestd, Cap-Henry, 6 mai 1811.
4. Haitian Navy described by W. WALTON Jr., Present State of the Spanish
Colonies; including a particular report of Hispanola or the Spanish part of Santo
Domingo, London, 1810, Vol. 2, p. 26.
5. COMHAIRE, J., "The Haitian Schism, 1804-1860." Anthropological Quarterly,
Washington, D.C., January 1956, pp. 1-10.
6. Town and royal couple described by K. RITTER, Naturhistorische Reise nach
der westindischen Insel Hayti, Stuttgart, 1836, p. 23 and p. 74.
7. The Annual Register For the Year 1811, p. 164.
8. ANON., A Poetical Epistle to the King of Hayti, London, 1817.
9. MACKENZIE, C., Notes on Haiti, London, 1830, Vol. 1, p. 126.
10. ISAMBERT, A., "Christophe", in Biographic universelle ancienne et moderne,
Paris, 1844, Vol. 8, sub verbo.
11. HARVEY, W. W., Op. cit., p. 125.
PART III-WORK AND WOMAN TROUBLE-CONTINUED
M. G. SMITH
1 might have been about nineteen or twenty years, the first time that
1 ever made love to a girl, because my brother Popeson was very strict, I
couldn't talk to any young lady. He wasn't an Adventist yet, but in my
mother's home, the eldest children always control the younger ones. And he
was my eldest brother, he controlled every one of us, even though the mother
and father present, he could have chastised us; he could have said, he could
have done, anything. And as I was a coward, afraid of licks, I was very
obedient to them and my brother.
That girl was the same Gracie which I told you of; that was the first one,
then Anita, then Hilda. I was engaged to Gracie before I made love to her,
we used to talk, and I never made love until I got her to agree that she loved
me. I had left the Adventists then to go to Hampstead, and not really having
the right knowledge of the Bible, I think you could have had a chance and
then go back and repent and se on; and while having youth in the body
I knew it was a wrong thing, I thought I could have been forgiven. I knew
I was doing wrong, but I did not feel miserable about it, not so much, because
then the mind was not occupied so much spiritually. I did not have any vision
then as a result of it, only after a time. I did that with Gracie quite a lot,
then there was Hilda and Anita.
When I dissatisfied with Gracie, I left her, then there was another girl
by the name of Anita. She was working at an estate near Sauteurs, she was
a servant in the house and she used to live there. She was fair-looking enough,
my complexion, she wasn't tall, she was very short like my sister Dorothy.
I met her in a dance which I gave at Hampstead, having the St. George's
band, and we got in love with each other that night. It was the first time
I saw her, the first time I ever saw her. I invited her to the dance, through
the cook at the estate house. Myself and the cook were friends, we were
compere and macme-we was godparents for each other's children, that is
compere and macme. I invited the cook to the dance, and she told me there
is another girl who want an invitation for the dance, so I told her the one
could serve for the two of them, and they came the night and I saw her, and
dancing with her, I get to love her. She was Anita Edwards, lived near Verdun.
That is the first girl bring forth a baby for me. I didn't have any time to write
to her parents; the fact is, when I did get to know she was in pregnant for
me, the parents didn't know me, and the mother came one day to see me,
she told me, "Well, I come to you, you're Mr. Norman?" I told her yes.
She told me "I am Mrs. Edwards, she said, "you know my daughter Anita?"
I said, "Yes. "She told me certain things concerning you, and I come to
find out whether it is true. I told her, "Yes, I said, "I know her. Anita
told you so. I claim it to be the truth. She said, "What would you do, would
you responsible?" I said, "Yes, I would responsible." She said, "I am not
asking you to marry to her, I only want to know you are responsible, and
satisfy." I told her, "Yes, I responsible for it." She said, "Does your mother
know anything about it, I told her, "Yes, I told her." She said, "And what
does she say?" I said, "She didn't tell me anything, I told her what it is,
she didn't say anything." She said, "Well, I will be glad to see your mother."
I told her, "My mother will come some time, I will ask her to come and see
And my mother did went to see her and they both agreed, they knew one
another and there was no ill-feeling between both of them. They never feel
any trouble, Anita used to visit home as often as she could before she had the
baby. She would visit my mother when I wasn't home, I used to respect my
mother, if anybody concerning me home, I would not visit the home. Anita
would visit me at Hampstead, at my room, because according to how the
room situated, anybody could come and visit me and they would not know
in the house.
And when Anita was having the baby, my mother go to help; all our
children, my mother helped in everything, from the day the mother take up
in pain, the first thing, we go and get her, and she would come and she would
remain with them until eight or nine or sixteen days. The baby was a boy.
Anita left her job and it was born at her mother's. And after that she didn't
bother to go back to work again, she deliver the baby to me at ten months,
and she gone to Trinidad. He was Cecil. Now he is over at Trinidad, he worked
at the U.B.O.T. for some time, and afterward he join the Army. She gave me
the boy at ten months, but our mother used to wean her children at two years,
all of them, they used to walk and talk and everything before she weaned
At that time I was giddy-headed according to the people, because I was
in love with another girl, too. Before Anita had the baby I had met another
girl, she was on Hampstead estate-Hilda. When I was young I was beloved
by everybody, and the girls used to see me, and even if I hadn't talk to them,
they would tell another boy, "I really love-", and the boys would come and
tell me, and that's how I get in trouble with the girls. I never speak to them
first, but I get messages from some other friend. Hilda's elder brother, a fellow
by the name of James Phillips, brought the message; he was working on the
estate, in the field. She was just about sixteen and he was about eighteen-she
was younger than Anita, quite young. But Anita's child by me was her first
child, her first child and my first child too.
I always used to see Hilda, but it was not in my mind; but when I get
that message, it attract me. It was not very long before I actually fell in love
with her, about two months after. There was a man from Trinidad by the
name of Julian, and he used to play the bamboo-tamboo as a drum, they beat
two pieces of bamboo in a musical way, and singing. At night they msd to
play that in their own house, and everybody would meet up, and the children
would meet up, and they used to sing. He was at Trinidad a long time, Julian,
and he come to Grenada and he introduce it to his children. They played all
sorts of songs, Quelbe, Callenda, Belair. After they close down at Mr. White's
house I used to leave and go and meet them, all the other children would go
and play at night at Julian's, they would walk from one place to another on
the road, all about, playing and singing. That is the way I managed to meet
Hilda, but then afterwards the mother got to know, and I used to visit the
mother home just the same.
In the old days, if you hadn't written a letter you couldn't visit the
mother, but during this time that was not as frequent as it used to. During the
time I met Hilda it was dying out, because everybody would have their own
say, the children would meet and love anybody they like, the parents could
not do anything-the children would not listen. The people get fed up, they
couldn't do anything. They would say "I don't care what happen, but I would
only like to know if you like this person and agree. Tell it to me and don't
keep it a secret, that is all."
When I got this message I hadn't any idea of her, scarcely any idea-
never notice her before. But the mother used to say she liked me and the family
used to say they like me. I was meeting her at night where they used to play
this bamboo, and she speak to me and I speak to her, and I found it out in
her-the way she talk and the way she move with me and hold my hand,
and if she have anything she would give it to me. I did not want to make love
to her, but I did fall in with her and she had a baby for me, because the
brother and other friends used to tell me if I didn't make love with her after
a time she would think very bad of me, that though she love me, I never care
for her; so they would advise me to make love with her, even if I did not care,
then she would think I loved her. The girls in Grenada, if they care for you,
should you say you did not care, they would meet other people and say you
are foolish, and all sorts of things against you. That was the real reason why
I came to love her-not so much fond of her, because her training was not so
pleasant, she did not respect my mother or my sister, she didn't use to go to
my mother home. She used to see my mother and my sister Melita.
At this time Anita was visiting me, sometimes she would spend a week,
two weeks at my mother, she would come over to me in the night and go back
home in the day. And Hilda knew that, and Hilda used to have quarrels with
Anita. Just as Anita got to know even before I had said anything about Hilda,
Hilda got to know that I was in love with Anita, and she used to provoke her
on the road. She never mentioned me, but Anita got to know about it from
other people. She never spoke to me about it, she was very quiet and she had
some good training about her.
This was about six months before Anita's baby was born, because when
the baby was born, the first trouble I had with Hilda was at the christening.
My sisters Melita and Eliza went with it to church, because they were god-
mothers for the baby; we hired a motor car, and Hilda came and saw we had
all sorts of drink for the christening, and she had that in her, but she did not
say anything. At night when I returned, we had a fight. A terrible fight that
night, at Hilda's mother's. When I came from the christening I met her at
me, at Hampstead, and she told me she want to go home, so I accompany her
home, and in the road-of course I was a bit high up, I had had a lot of
rum-she started to beat me. She told me that I went and had good time,
and I went and spent a lot of money for the child, and not to do that. I told
her "Well, that is the first child I had, and I am supposed to spend that
amount of money." She said I would have to spend the same amount for her.
I couldn't remember what else I told her, and she started to box me up. And
that night I run after the mother, the brother, the father, the grandfather,
she herself, with a knife and the people had to hold me and take me away
from them, and I did give her some blows-the doctor had to visit her. She
started beating me in the road, the road was empty; she never took a stick,
she started to box me up with her hand. But it was a set-up between herself
and the mother, because when I went to the mother, telling the mother what
happened, Hilda started and she took bottles, and the mother never say not
to do it-when I call on her she never do anything. I run every one of them
from the home. The grandfather was living next door, he started to come to
me-I didn't want to fight. I running with a knife too. A fellow called P'tit
Joe held me, he was living just next door to them, he was her uncle. They
held me and they took me back home.
Hilda was just about one month in having a baby; she told me so, and
I knew, because whenever somebody was having a baby for me I always
dream I fishing and holding crayfish, and when I had this dream it was so
with Anita, and then with Hilda I had that dream and I told her so, and it
was. That was about five months after I first pick up with her, and she used
to come to my room. She never came when Anita came, but she always try
to find out and pick a quarrel. She feel that I should not have had anything
to do with Anita besides she. She was jealous at that, she never want me to
speak to anybody.
There was a woman who had a son and a daughter, and it was her
intention that I should engage that daughter of hers. She told many parties,
and she used to be very kind and nice towards me, and she invited me home
a Sunday and I told her yes, I would come. I was friendly with her son,
a young man by the name of Victor, and he told Hilda that I was going to
form an engagement with his sister, and Hilda waited when I got dressed-I
was going in a cream suit and a white shoes-Hilda follow me in the road
and she hold me by the back, when I turned she buried her feet in the mud
and she muddy me up. And that day she got another beating, and the doctor
had to visit her in the same place as she got that beating. It was a terrible
thing, because I get partly undressed in the road. I never get vexed like that
any more to this day; I beat her, I beat her and I kick her, I do a little of
everything and she started to lose the baby right away on the spot. It was
about three months, when they took her home she lost it. I was not going
to engage the other girl, but she had such a passion in her that she could not
understand. She was jealous of me that if she met me talking to you, a man,
she would fight me, unless she present to know what we are saying. If she
met me in conversation about anything, she think well, I am telling you of a
girl I love, and I wanting to be with her.
Hilda was not a virgin when I first knew her, she used to work with a
gentleman at Pointsfield and he used to be with her; he afterwards didn't want
to have anything to do with her family, it was not a public thing, and the
mother get to know and she against it; the mother satisfied that she should
be with me than that she should be with that gentleman. He was a coloured
man, a Grenadian. She was tall, tall and slim, very good-looking. Her relatives
belonged to Beausejour, Carriacou, and the grandmother was a great fighter;
Hilda was not a coward, she would fight anybody-before you say you ready,
she meet you. She would bite and she would kick. She is in Trinidad now,
and scarcely any body fight and beat her. She would fight and pay money in
the court. Some women, you can't fight them, and you couldn't fight Hilda
because she would not feel-the hardest blow she never bawl. All that you
could do is to defeat her, and sometimes she on the ground as if she dying,
she get up, and fight again. She did it with other women too, the biggest women
in the field, she fight them. But after a time she had come like a savage.
When Hilda was making the first baby for me I speak to her mother,
I did not write it. She told me if I love her daughter, she would be glad if
I would marry to her. I told her yes. She went to the uncle, Walter Roecastle,
and she told him. I told him yes, if she would behave herself I would marry
to her, and he told me I must write to him if I meant it. I wrote him, but
not a letter that could have stand, I knew what I was writing; I write and
tell him I love his niece, and I am not promising him to marry to her right
away, but if her behaviour meet my approval I would write him another letter
and let him know if I married and what time I marry. So that was not a legal
cne-"if her behaviour was good." That was the letter I write, and when
I found out that her behaviour was not pleasant or seemly, I went to him,
and he knew her behaviour because sometimes she was rude to him also. So
he told me he could not say anything.
At that time Hilda was coming to me at night, and sometimes I went to
her mother's house to sleep, when it is late. It was a two-roomed house, but
the mother hadn't many children, so we slept in one room and the mother
and children in the other. This was after her uncle had written to me, I start
to go and visit her in her mother house. She was fond of me very much, and
I got to love her afterwards, because she was brave and helpful. I had gardens,
and whatever I plant Hilda would go and work; she could work, she was
brave, and even though I did not want to go by the garden, she would
encourage me to go. I was with Mr. Cockburn then and I used to keep a cow
on Hampstead estate, and she would cut five bundle of grass and give the
cow every day. She would go and see to the cow, water it and everything,
morning and evening as she was going to work. Sometimes I would give her
dresses, sometimes I would give her shoes, sometimes when I get my wages
I would give her six shillings, eight shillings, according. If she tell me she
want ten shillings to get some things, I would give it to her, because I find
out that she had some good intentions towards me by helping, and I thought
I should be generous towards her.
After Anita had the baby, Cecil, she never came back, when the baby
had nine months she deliver him to me and she gone to Trinidad; she told
me she have some family at Trinidad, they sent to tell her if she come to
Trinidad she would get work, and she would be able to help her family. So
she would leave the baby with me, if I would take it. So I told her yes, my
sister would take the baby for me and care it. So we were on friendly terms
when she left and go to Trinidad. She knew about Hilda, but she never worried
to make a scandal or to ask me a question about that. I was supporting her
baby for the nine months before she went, I was not obligated to pay an
amount but sometimes I could give six shillings, sometimes eight shillings,
sometimes ten shillings, according; and I used to send provisions from the
garden. I used to go and visit her home, the mother was fond of me very
much. Her father was dead, and she had brothers; everybody move with me
on friendly terms.
After I and Hilda had quarrelled and her baby miscarry, we had fall out
and the mother had fall out with me; but afterward Hilda came back herself
to me again. It was not long, it was about three weeks before she sent a man
by the name of Bacchus to tell me she want to see me. I didn't go. She sent
the mother; I didn't go. She sent the brother and I did not. She came herself
one night, she came and she spoke to me and she shed tears, and she kneel
down and she beg my pardon, and she tell me she would not do those things
again, and then my feelings got broken and I spoke to her, and we get together
again. She said if I was to have anybody to speak to she would not interfere,
she would not disturb me anymore. At that time I did not have any other
girls, but just friendly with everybody, but as I come home she would see all
the girls, they was so closely attached to me, and she did not like that. She
had an imagination, and that caused her to get on in that way, but I was
not with any girls at that time. And later that is what break up the living of
myself and my wife, just thinking because I was seeing this person, I must
have something to do with that person.
When Hilda came back the second time I was about twenty-three and
still at Hampstead. She was coming for about seven to eight months before
she started the second baby, she would come every night, sometimes every
other night; sometimes she cook for me, sometimes she cook at the mother's
and she bring. She was almost keeping house for me, because she used to do
up my clothes. Sometimes she work on the estate, and sometimes she would
not work for today and she prepared my clothes for me, or sometimes one or
two weeks she would not do anything, she worked in the garden and prepare
my clothes and care the cow and such. Whether she want to make quarrel or
not, I don't worry with her. I don't take her on, she would get on and keep
quiet for herself, because the people start to talk and say, was I trying to be
a Christian?-it is a scandal, that thing, to be with this girl on the road,
and it is a rumour concerning me all the time, ruin and living this sort of
way; so whenever she threatened to make a quarrel I would not worry with
her. But she still used to threaten quite a lot. I remember one morning she
met me, I was talking to my mother, and when my mother was gone, well,
that was the biggest fight we ever had. She said I was talking her evil to my
mother, and it wasn't any such thing. Another time my sister Eliza came to
me, Hilda met us, we was talking, she did the same thing, and that caused
a fight inside the yard, the labourers had to come because I gave her one blow
and she fell, the labourers had to come and throw water on her and take her
up, and at that my mother said if I didn't finish with her, she through with
me. But when she get up, the very night she came back and she beg my
pardon and everything. I decided I am finished with her, I am going to
Trinidad. She decide she was going too. Well, I decide the best thing, I allow
her to come, and when I reached Trinidad I stayed three months, then I left
her there, I left her and come back. She was impregnated then. I leave her,
she was on Simplon estate, in care of nobody. I just leave and come back to
The trouble with Hilda, she was very jealous of me, she would not want
to hear somebody say "He is a nice man. He is a good-looking man and I like
to see him, especially when he dressed"-she will feel well, you have a
daughter, you will attract the daughter concerning me, and she would just
make trouble over that. So I never get much rest with her. I would try to
keep away from her, but she would come. Some women, you tell them you
finish, they make a scandal, and when they reach home they come back
again. Sometimes I say, "Don't worry with me, don't come where I am;"
and when I come in the house I meet her sit down on the step or inside the
room. Sometimes she would tell the mother she really want to see me, then
the mother will tell me, "She won't eat, she not sleeping, she won't take
anything-just come and listen and then you can go home." When I come
she would beg pardon, she would cry, she would shed tears and everything
and my heart is broken: And I attach to her again. Couple of days, she will
do the same thing again. The only rest I could have find is to take her to
Trinidad, leave her, and come back home.
I GET MARRIED
When I came back from Trinidad I worked-in Hampstead again with
Mr. Cockburn on the estate, and lived at my mother in her house there.
Cecil was with her too. The one that had my third child was a girl by the
name of Maize, at Hampstead too. I met her at my brother Clarence, he
was a watchman, living on the estate. She was about sixteen, she was not so
tall, but she was stout-having a full body. She was not doing any work, she
was living at her aunt's and her aunt worked as a labourer.
I was working as a labourer in the field, picking cocoa, and the aunt
used to gather cocoa after me; we were working task, and the aunt brought
Maize as a helper, and while the aunt bringing in the cocoa, she used to take
up the cocoa after me while I picking, and that is the way we get together.
And she made my child almost immediately. I never let the aunt know before,
but when she got into trouble I called the aunt and I told her about
it, I told her what had happened. She was dissatisfied, but anyway it had
gbne far already, she couldn't help it. And I didn't leave her in a careless
way, I tried my best to help in all manner, to keep her up, take care of her.
I used to give her some of my money, and she make the baby at her aunt's,
my mother went and help. And the christening, I had it in the Anglican church.
It was a girl, Emelda, and when she was about one year and six months
Maize gave her to my sister Eliza because she said she wanted to go and work
and she hadn't anybody to care the child for her when she is at work, but
when the child grew she took her back. Eliza wanted her, and she was caring
the child about two years when Maize took her back. And presently this child
is a Seventh Day Adventist too. After Maize had the child she took up with
another young man on Hampstead estate and they got married, they are both
Seventh Day Adventists presently. And now she is living at Woodleigh in her
own house, and the young man has his own property, but he works at
Hampstead as a driver.
At this time Elder Ash was the minister of the Seventh Day Adventists,
and I started to go to church; my aunt Eliza was the Deaconess of the church,
and somebody told her that this girl Maize was having a baby for me. Elder
Ash asked me whether it is so, I told him yes. He told me if I desired to be
in the Adventists again I had to be baptized. (I baptized once in church).
I told him yes. He told me if I mean it, he must go and see the girl with me
to find out whether I would not have anything to do with her again, and she
would not have anything to do with me again. So he took my aunt Eliza,
Mrs. Isaacs, as the Deaconess of the church, and I myself, and we went and
speak to her. The aunt agreed, as she did not want me to have anything to
do with Maize, but just mind the baby. And it happened in that way. I was
baptized again, then I saw my wife.
I left Mr. Cockburn some time about 1922, before I married, because
the labourers would tell him things against me and he would believe them,
and all through jealousy and ill-feeling. Some of them would find that I should
not be working there; I remember one night when I came back from Demarara
(I didn't remain, I was three weeks there, I went to work but it was my first
experience of travelling and I did not like it, it is a watery place, Georgetown)
-so when I reached back to St. George's, I ring up Cockburn and he tell me
well, not to go home, to come straight back, because since I left he had not
had a good time, because whoever was working had not got the experience
that I had. I went right back, I didn't pass at my mother. The cocoa engine
was working, they have an engine to dry cocoa, it blows a lot of hot air,
and the husband of my aunt was working that engine, he is supposed to be
in charge of the engine. My brother was the fireman, and the husband would
get together cocoa, and the cocoa used to be short, because they knew the
amount, when the barrel is full and when it is dry, what you are to get. So
the husband used to take out of it and give another man to sell. My brother
was the fireman, so when the husband was taking this cocoa to give this man
to sell, he told me to tell Mr. Cockburn. I told Mr. Cockburn and he spoke
to them about it, and he told them I told him the aunt's husband has stolen
the cocoa and given it to someone to sell.
When I came from Jemrarara I was working in the house; one morning
when I was in the bedroom making up Mr. Cockburn's bed, I saw where the
mattress had a little tear, and I feel it, I saw something as a lump, I open it.
When I open it I get a little parcel tied up in the mattress with some sort of
funny things in it, something like powder; it was grated with something like
cheese, and some other things I don't know. I showed Mr. Cockburn and
tell him, "This is what I found in your mattress;" and he pick it up and open
the matter to the hearing of the labourers. Well, because that report had gone
to him concerning the cocoa that was stolen, my aunt and other parties told
him that the thing he found in the mattress is what I went to Demarara to
get, and bring it to fool him-I want to have him as I want, I want to put
some obeah2 on him. He came and told me, and I ask him if he believe
that? He say yes, he believe it, because it was my aunt who told him so. So
I told him "Well, if you believe that I had better leave the work;" so I told
him I would work away from him. So that is the way I start working at
I left Cockburn, I went back to my mother for one or two days, then
I went to Flamstead estate. The Camerons owned Flamstead, it belonged to
them from their father, and when Ted White was alive one of the Camerons
was living at Flamstead, Walter. Charlie Dickson was the manager. When
Walter married he went to live at Chamboise because a brother who was in
charge there died. I did not know Charlie Dickson before, but I went to see
him. He knew me well when I was working at Hampstead estate, because
he used to send oranges and so on to Mr. Cockburn. So I went and asked
him for work, he asked me why I leave, I told him, and he said, "Well yes,
if you are an obeah-man I am glad, I like to have an obeah-man because
I am one for myself!" And he gave me work. I worked with him, he was
very kind and nice, until my brother came from Maracaibo in 1927 and he
going to Aruba and he took me, I left Flamstead and I went to Aruba with
When I was working on Flamstead estate, sometimes I used to do three
tasks in a day, forking, four by five,' and after that I went in the garden
and do as much work. Sometimes picking cocoa, they give seven baskets for
a task, I used to pick twenty-one baskets for a day and still go in the garden.
I used to work very very hard all the time, and I never had any help, as from
wife and children, because the children was small. The only time, at the
season for planting sweet potatoes, people will come to fork for me, to raise
the bed for me, and when they are planting they want me to go and help
them. That is the only time I get a help. Sometimes on Saturday I would ask
six or seven of them to come and help me, at that time I was not in the
Adventists again, so I would work Saturday, and I would cook food and
feed them and they would work for the day for me. I would give them rum,
too. We call that "Maroon"
2. Obeah: magic, soreery.
3. Four by five: four poles by five-the task measurements.
One Sunday evening, after my second baptism, I was going to the
Seventh Day Adventists meeting. I had a friend by the name of Sese, who
was living very near to my grandmother, and we used to go together, then
I used to be at them reading the Bible with them, and she tell me that Maggie
said she loved me. But I had no intention concerning that. On that Sunday
evening, I leave from choir practice in the church, and I met Maggie coming
up towards my way. As Maggie went, I suggested to Sese that I was not sure,
I wanted to find out whether what Sese told me was the truth. Sese told me
yes, Maggie loved me, and later Maggie told me too, but I never worry. But
afterwards, she after me all the time to say what I would do, and I promised
her yes, I would do it. She told my brother Popeson about it, she told my
sister Melita about it, she would always tell my brother about it, and I agreed
to marry to her. When I proposed to her, she told me to let her brother know.
I wrote to the brother; he said he would not agree, he don't want that
thing in the family at all. He said I am a Creole and they are East Indians
and he doesn't want Creole to be in his family. But she said she didn't care,
she would be glad that I should marry to her, because she loved me. She was
Isaacs' granddaughter, the old man was married to my aunt Eliza. My wife
is an Indian, full Indian. I knew her long, before I went and join the Seventh
Day Adventists I knew her, because her mother died and she grew up with
my aunt. She was Maggie Richardson, she was motherless and fatherless,
both had died. I was 27 when I married, in August, 1924, and she was about
eighteen. She was Seventh Day Adventist, too.
When I told my aunt, Mrs. Isaacs, she told me "My son, I would not
encourage you to do that, because I am in the family and suffering a lot, and
if you put yourself in it you will suffer like me, your life would be a little
hell." I did not tell her anything, but I said insomuch as she loved me, if two
parties love they are able to make life all right. At that time I did love her.
I did not sleep with her, she was a good Adventist person, and I loved her
in one sense because she was quite sensible, she was better read than I am,
and she had many things in her which I appreciated, such as home concern,
she could have done plenty of drawn work and sewing, as to make table-cloth
and so on; and she was well read. Not so pretty, but not ugly.
I wrote a letter for her, and Jacob Richardson, her brother, did not agree,
but she herself agreed because she said she haven't mother, she haven't father,
and he was the responsible one for her, and he was taking lots of advantage
of her, so she was satisfied to get married. He had property, and she had to
work for him as a labourer, she his sister; she had a little piece of garden for
herself. And she used to cut sometimes ten bundles of grass to feed his cattle,
to feed mule and donkey and so on, and it was terrible for her, and she told
me that is why she would like to marry, to free from it. She had a little bit
of land, quarter of an acre; he had about five acres then. He bought them
after his parents died, the parents left some money for them. And whatsoever
he had, when the first bit of land that was going to sell, he borrowed some
more on interest to make up, and he bought the first, and after he work for
that, and he open out a -little business, and through that he was able to
purchase the rest.
Jacob Richvrdson sid-he did not want to have anything to do with my
family, but when we did not stop, he called my mother and he told my mother
I wrote him a letter for his sister but he does not like it, I have not anything,
I am a Creole, and he does not like me to marry to his sister. My mother said
she doesn't know, she can't say anything because I did not tell her anything.
She did not want to carry on any conversation with me, because I had told
her from the beginning, and she told me that if it is in my mind she can't
say anything, because she have not to live in the house with my wife.
I was living with my grandmother then, and Maggie and I continue for
sometime, until it get to the church, and they said we can't continue, we had
better married. I married to her honest, I didn't make any love to her. We
would come from church together at night, we walk and we talk like friends,
but nothing else. There is one thing in me to believe the teaching of the
Seventh Day Adventists, and I thought it was better to be honest in every-
thing, and I was honest all the way; and when I suggested that we should
get married, we arranged between the two of us.
The deacon, the second leader after the minister, he said "You cannot
continue in this life, you both are young, the devil is busy and it might bring
shame, and you better settle down in life, whether the family willing or not,
you have your wife in the right, you settle down in life and things will go
better" He say so to me alone, after church. And sometimes on Sundays we
used to walk in the gardens together, myself and him, we would meet, we
always discuss about that. And I told my sister Melita about it, and she got
all the equipment, the dress and everything for the wedding, and she took
my wife to the church and Wilfred took me to the church, best man. We went
and lived by ourselves. I had no dance, no feast, my mother gave an evening
dinner for us, and we went home. Because the Adventist people don't believe
in having a dance or a fete or so.
I had a house on the estate at that time, rent free, two rooms. It had a
kitchen, it hadn't any lavatory but it had a place prepared. And we didn't
remain there very long on the estate. Her uncle Jacob Isaacs had some money
for her, and she made me write to him and ask him for the money, and as he
got the letter he sent to call her and he gave her 11 and she brought it home.
I enquired of a house, I got one at Dieppe for 7 and we bought it. The estate
had given me a spot, but Adam, her brother, called me, he had just bought
a piece of land at Belvidere, he told me instead of all going to live on the
estate, put the house on his land and I could live there, I wouldn't have any
trouble. I didn't want to go there because he did not care for me to marry
to his sister, but my wife told me, "if he wants us to come we had better go,
and perhaps later on he will do something good for us."
The land was in a very bad condition. I was working on the estate,
coming back and working the land, fork it up, manure it, and where the
cocoa had almost died it revived and get all pretty. When he saw that he
start to accuse my wife and say she taking up his nutmeg td mind me-that
she was stealing his nutmeg, and selling it to buy things to make me happy.
When I heard so, that was in 1927 when I was at Flamstead, I left home.
My brother Ralphie came from Maracaibo, he was going to Aruba, and
Popeson told him if he is able, to take me with him, because since I married
to my wife, Adam is saying a lot of ugly things concerning me, and if he
take me away I will be able to work and do things better. I went, and I
remained in Aruba ten months.
During that time, 1926, 1927, my wife and I kept a shop. I went to
Mr. Smith because I used to buy flour there, and we ask him if he would give
us the goods to sell, every time we sell and pay. And he did that. He always
used to give us, every time we sell, we pay. The shop was in the yard, Maggie
was in charge of the shop and I used to work on the estate. We never sold
rum, only flour, rice, sugar, biscuits, salt-fish and so. For about two years we
were doing very well, afterwards there was a falling away from the business
by crediting the people and they could not pay; things went on bad on the
estate with them, they were giving them only two days' work a fortnight,
so they could not pay and we run indebted. We were indebted about 5 and
I had to work to pay it off. When I was in Aruba my wife kept on the business,
and I sent her some money, first 11, afterwards 8, and afterward I sent 5
and then I didn't send any more. According to the money that I sent to her,
she was able to keep up the business.
Cultural Relations within the Caribbean
BY Lou LICHTVELD,
Chairman, Caribbean Research Council
[One of two feature addresses delivered before the Conference of Information
Officers and serving to introduce the second of the two main sections of the
Conference agenda Exchange of Information and Cultural Liaison.
EVERYWHERE, when people are discussing the topic of "culture" sooner or later they
start to do so in an emotional way. That is because all concepts of culture are
emotionally loaded. On the other hand, any topic a West Indian tries to discuss,
sooner or later will be treated in an emotional way. Such is our nature, and let us
be proud of it, because if we weren't proud of it, still it would remain our nature.
Now, when we have a West Indian discussing "Culture" there is a double
danger of his treating this subject-matter emotionally, and nothing would be easier
than to start a row, and quite a big one, about such a lofty theme as "Culture" is
generally considered to be. It would be wise to try to avoid that.
But how can we talk about cultural relations, without knowing what we mean
by the adjective "cultural"--that is to say, without being somehow in agreement
with each other about what we really understand by the august term "culture"?
Still I am inclined to avoid any definition, and the more so, because I fear an overt
exposure of my ignorance.
Fortunately, there is some elementary mathematics to help us out of the
difficulty. It is often quite possible to define exactly the relations between two
incommensurable magnitudes, e.g. between the surfaces of two circles, although we
cannot express their surface accurately in feet or in metres. If there is anything
such as "culture" in our several countries-and I assume it to be so-we should
be able to discover a relation, that is: a common denominator of all these Caribbean
cultures; and where we do not find a comparability at first sight, we may try to
analyse these cultures, in order to discover their common factors, so that we can
express the optimum relationship by reducing them to the same denominator. Please
admit, that I am at least trying hard to proceed unemotionally!
No doubt that there is a common denominator in all the culture of the Caribbean
islands and the Guianas, in spite of the fact that, as a geographical group, we are
using four different languages plus a number of vernaculars, often better understood
by a large part of the population than the official language itself. And language,
undoubtedly, is an important part of any culture, and moreover a very conspicuous
part. So it is obvious, that in establishing our cultural relations, language barriers
will prove to be very serious obstacles. Later on in our discussion we will have to
consider how these particular obstacles can be surmounted.
All culture is rooted in history, is founded on a complex of traditions. I do not
expect anyone to challenge this thesis. And if we take this historical determination
of culture for granted, if we venture to look hard at our background, our ethnical
composition, the adventures and procedures by which our populations amalgamated,
how they were emancipated, developed themselves and are striving to express their
own personalities, or even are trying to attain the supreme expression of collective
personality, which is Nationhood,-if further we overlook a few slight differences
and concentrate on the intrinsic features of our communities and societies, we are
struck by their likeness.
Indeed, all of us West Indians have the same roots, the same kind of history:
Arawak settlements, wiped out by Caribs: Spanish and other West European
conquerors who exterminated the Indians almost completely and replaced them by
numerous slaves from West Africa. Descendants of all these ethnic groups and of
all their interbreedings, who tried to construct a culture of their own-a West Indian
Culture-by the process of addition and subtraction, multiplication and division of
all the poor remainders of some culture in which they or their ancestors had partaken
in their land of origin. All culture, as far as we know, had such humble beginnings,
and in this respect we have nothing to be ashamed of.
A great many of our countries have also known a substantial Asiatic contribution.
Especially Chinese, East-Indians, and here in Surinam, Javanese, have enriched
and enlivened our cultural patterns. Some other countries in our area have known
a considerable influx of people from the Near East, such as the Lebanese who came
and stayed and became an essential part of our society.
All these groups adapted themselves to a new situation. They learned from each
other. They had to forget a great deal of their own cultural heritage, but they
acquired a wealth of new values and new attitudes from others. This process of
acculturation is in full swing in the Caribbean area, and it is everywhere almost
the same kind of performance, with the same ups and downs, the same problems
and the same gains.
You cannot expect me to dwell longer on this theme; neither on our kindred
dances and music, nor on our arts and native handicrafts, which display so many
common traits, that every time one meets an expression of artistic emotion in the
West Indies, one is amazed by its likeness to the expressions of the same kind in
one's own Caribbean country. There are innumerable examples to prove this, but
I am bound to be very brief.
I would like to summarize our whole common historical background in a simple
phrase: Consider our breadfruit trees and coconut palms, these important parts of
our surroundings. They were introduced from Oceania or Australia, and found their
natural place among the original plants and trees of our Central American countries.
In the countries of the real native, the Amerindian, the white Europeans and the
black Africans came to live, just as well as men and women from several parts of
Asia,-all quite different contributors to our milieu. The Caribbean area thus
representative of all the five parts of the world! This has been our destiny and this
is our main characteristic. Let us say: to be an immense garbage can, by its useful-
ness promoted to a chalice, to a holy Grail of extraordinary proportions. You may
put it as you like.
Our internal Caribbean relations, however, cannot possibly be more complicated
than our external ones-the relations with all the five parts of the world. What has
been accomplished in the West Indies cannot have been a greater task than the one
that is awaiting us and which we are discussing now: the task of strengthening a
relationship that already exists virtually, but that has not yet been made conscious
enough. We are all relatives, but still unconscious of our proper relationship, for
our cultures were born and bred without proper registration; our shifting cultural
fathers mostly abandoned us before we could recognize them well.
Am I too bold to say that establishing cultural relations among the Caribbean
Countries can only mean: establishing relations within one's own widely scattered
family-but still a family of very near relatives. Any promotion of such a relation-
ship has to be initiated by focusing our attention on the oneness of our common
culture, that is: on our common habits, aims and ideal, destiny and power, suffering
and hope, art and literature, wit and sentimentality, yes, on anything that makes
our life livable and colourful, in short, that makes us: West Indian? If it were too
bold to aim at the activation of this kind of relationship, why should there be any
discussion between us?
But our time is restricted, so let us try to be practical. We all believe that
something ought to be done, that it is good to have cultural relations, that they can
be extremely useful. The question is: how can they be established? How can we
operate a system of increasing knowledge and appreciation of each other? How can
we begin to influence and help each other to attain the higher cultural levels towards
which we all have set our goals and which we try to imagine as being very West
Indian and at the same time very much on a par with the best of other cultures?
Each one of us, according to his personal inclinations, probably will be thinking
of means and ways in the direction of his own activities. The writer and poet will
believe an inter-Caribbean periodical to be useful; and it can be produced, why not?
The journalist, especially in those countries where the standard of journalism still
are distressingly below zero, will be in favour of an exchange of articles, dealing
with the cultural achievements of other Caribbean countries, in order to raise the
standards of their reading public. An Inter-Caribbean news and feature service can
be established, and for all these purposes a translation bureau might be put into
operation, probably at a very low cost.
But here are your painters and sculptors, who will be thinking that the best
thing to do is: have a clearing house-for instance the coming Caribbean Organiza-
tion's Secretariat-to organize travelling exhibitions, with no language barriers at
all to hamper their free circulation in the whole area. And maybe all the customary
Custom's difficulties might be superseded in time to come.
Our musicians and dancers surely will reason-and hope-along the same lines.
Why not look at each others faces and movements? Many radio programmes,
documentary films and theatre pieces can be forwarded to the other countries of our
Caribbean family, in just the same way as actually some metropolitan organizations
are rendering these services within the national sphere. Why not? I know that some
of these organizations have already declared their willingness to co-operate with any
serious inter-Caribbean organisation that would intend to work on a broader,
international field, on behalf of our area.
So far, so good, you may say, but all this concerns only the arts and literature.
There is so much more to take into account when we speak about "Culture" It is
true, although we should not forget that literature and the arts are the principal
vehicles to spread an essential notion of all that lives in the souls of our populations
and finds its expression in their sayings and doings. Art and literature are the purest
and highest forms of cultural activity, so it would be wise to begin with an inter-
change of the very best that each of us has at his disposal. If well organized, this
interchange need not be very costly; in a sense it even brings immediate monetary
returns and in the long run can easily pay for itself. We only need to see the area
as a whole, and have to continue thinking and planning for the whole, and not for
some prosperous fractions only. In our relations let us not forget the poorer relatives.
Until now I have tried to argue along positive lines, and have purposely avoided
casting any doubts concerning our issue. Nevertheless we cannot altogether dismiss
certain doubts by quietly ignoring them. As they are bound to pop up sooner or
later, it is better to envisage them right away. In my opinion they culminate in the
one question: Why, up to now, has any cultural relationship hardly been spoken
about between the many relatives of the Caribbean family? Why did we not miss
the relations more intensively? If we know the causes, we may at the same time
know something about the cure. It is easy to find out quite a number of such causes
of neglect and delay.
First of all there was our unconsciousness. We had not discovered ourselves yet,
we always had a kind of dumb pride, complementary to our inferiority complex and
our wavering personality. But we did not yet possess the intelligent self-esteem that
could lead to a conscious appreciation of our proper culture. Such a lack of cultural
consciousness and self-esteem is one of the most stinging symptoms of under-
development. By trying to reduce our general underdevelopment we have also been
trying lately to create more cultural consciousness and self-esteem. And only when
there is self-esteem can we make an effort to gain mutual-esteem, which in its turn
is a first condition for establishing active and sincere cultural relations with others.
A second cause of our tardiness is connected with the general effort to reduce
our underdevelopment during the last twenty-five years. Underdevelopment was
mainly understood as economic underdevelopment. The welfare and development
institutions created to cope with the task of accelerating the development of the
West Indies and of putting our countries on their own feet, almost entirely concen-
trated their efforts in the economic field. Their relative success, the fact that their
success has been rather restricted, is partly due to such a onesideness.
In the Caribbean Commission, for example, almost from the beginning there
have existed special committees for education, for sociology and even for journalism.
But they never got a chance to do much or to do even a small part of what has
been achieved in the field of agriculture, or fisheries, or industrial development. Only
lately a dim notion has penetrated into the heads of the political bosses, that quite
unconsciously they have been following the same materialistic doctrine which con-
.ciously they repudiate, because they were believing that by solving economic
problems and by bettering material conditions, all other problems would be solved
by themselves, and all other conditions would be better in the meantime. Probably
these political wizards will be scared by now, when they see that they are to be
blamed for the stupidity of having put into practice an obsolete though orthodox
Marxist theory, that betterment of material conditions is the cure all for ever
Part of our increased consciousness is our intensified awareness of the hierarchy
of values, of an undeniable order and scale of values, and of the truth once more
stressed by the great French philosopher Jacques Maritain, that there is "la primaute
du spiritual", the primacy of the spirit and of all things spiritual, that is: of all
things belonging to the mind, to the social and moral conscience, to the heart,
to the mortality, in brief, to our culture. We have gained the insight to realise that
by saving our body we can easily lose our soul, and that we have to take care of
our spiritual needs at the same time when we are trying to better our material
conditions. It is more than time now to put this insight into practice.
A third reason why we have neglected the cultural relations is a consequence
of what I am inclined to call "international ignorance" Most people in the world,
who are concerned with cultural matters, hardly know the existence of a Caribbean
culture. Only lately our own authors, musicians and dancers have spread some
knowledge about our character and aims. Not even as recently as four years ago,
when at the University of Florida a scientific congress was held, entirely devoted
to the culture of the Caribbean area, the bulk of the papers presented there-and
a large bulk it was-hardly mentioned the French, British, and Dutch countries of
the area. Most of the papers very aptly treated the Latin-American countries of the
continent and the Spanish-speaking islands. And that was that. A few scholars made
an exception for the West Indies as such, but then they mainly spoke about our
music and dances, as if we had no other cultural expressions. They forgot the
I will not blame the outsiders too much; we ourselves have been muffling our
utterances too timidly. Seldom have we tried to raise our voices loud enough to be
heard at greater distances, beyond our beaches and boundaries. It is time to take
a deep breath and shout freely and well, and to express ourselves in a way that can
be transmitted to the rest of America, to Europe, to Africa and to everywhere we
may encounter kindred spirits.
Distance, in its blunt sense of miles and hours, has always been hampering our
relations. In space we are living far apart from each other. But this hindrance is
diminishing day by day; better and more frequent transportation facilities are
drawing us together. We are visiting each other more often than before and by
doing so, we will not only get better and better acquainted with each other, but we
are beginning to feel at home in each other's countries, while we discover our
common family traits by the more familiar treatment of each other. We so discover
the sameness of our culture, and that is the foundation of our relationship, our
This also will save us from suspicion that is now and then connected with
international cultural activity. Some people see the bogy of "pacific penetration"
behind the cultural exchange which they misname "cultural penetration" Such a
fear can only reasonably exist when a group of people would try systematically to
introduce in our countries something utterly foreign, utterly unacceptable for us.
This never can be the case when out of the oneness of a Caribbean Culture, one
country tries to make conscious its cultural ties with another country of the area,
or tries to activate or strengthen these ties. The profit will be mutual, for the result
will be an enrichment of the culture of both the countries concerned. In cultural
matters, by giving one is as much enriched as by receiving.
There is a last point I would like to make. Although Wilfredo Pareto has given
the very practical advice never to quarrel about words, I want to do so about one
single word, in order to avoid misunderstandings. In the official papers submitted
to this conference our theme is called "Cultural Liaison" As an admirer of that
great author Choderlos de Laclos, the author of the world famous novel "Les liaisons
dangeureuses" I cannot comfortably use the term "liaison" without the adjective
"dangerous" and in Dutch as well as in French, I suppose, liaison mostly has a
further connotation of unlawfulness and limitation 'in time,-something of an
ad hoc character. Our Spanish speaking friends even might question us, whether
by "promotion of liaison" we mean "establecer lazos" or "entablar lios" I am
decidedly against the latter interpretation. Let us keep the old-fashioned but trusted
terms of "establishing and strenghtening relations"
I know the combination "cultural relations" is not altogether a very happy
one, but why not accept the least awkward expression? A liaison is not very
comme-il-faut within one and the same family. On the other hand, how could
such a family ever exist without a set of vivid relations based upon an intrinsic
relationship? Only by ignorance can the members of a family overlook this
biological and historic fact.
For this same reason I have not used the old argument of "good neighbour
policy" We are more than neighbours; we belong to the same cultural stock and
we are headed towards the same economic, social, spiritual, cultural destiny.
-Reprinted with kind permission of the Editor, "The Caribbean"
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, TRINIDAD, W.I.-1960'