..-- -- ,-- .
Editorial Comments and Notes 1
PRESERVATION OF NATIONAL MONUMENTS IN JAMAICA
T. A. L. Concannon .... 3
RECENT MARXIST INTERPRETATIONS OF LATIN AMERICAN
G. R. Coulthard 10
THE ASSESSMENT OF ERRORS OF MEASUREMENT
R. G. Gosling and P. J. Jutsum 16
THE SPANISH CEDULA OF DECEMBER 23, 1511, ON THE
SUBJECT OF THE CARIBS
Rev. C. Jesse 22
DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE GUIDED EDUCATIONAL POLICY
IN THE WEST INDIES (THE MITCHINSON REPORT,
Shirley Gordon 33
COLONIALISM IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
K. 0. Laurence 44
Jamaica, the Old and the New, by Mary Manning
Carley (Ken Ingram) 57
BOOK LIST 59
VOL. 9 NO. 3
NOTE ON MANUSCRIPTS
MSS. and Communications should be addressed to the Editor. Unsolicited MSS.
which are not accepted for publication will be returned if accompanied by a stamped
Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
Editor: HECTOR WYNTER, Substantive Director of Extra-Mural
Acting Director: G. E. MILLS, Acting Director of Extra-Mural Studies.
University of the West Indies, Mona,
The Editor is advised by an Editorial Board, consisting of
members of the University Staff.
Single copies can be obtained in the West Indies, from
booksellers or from the Extra-Mural Department in any territory.
HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Subscribers in the West Indies and the
United Kingdom (4 issues post free) .... $2.00 W.I. or 8/4d.
Subscribers in other countries .... $2.00 (U.S.) or equivalent
Fill in the form below and send with subscription to:
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
or to the local office of the Resident Tutor in any territory.
"Caribbean Quarterly" Subscription Form
N a m e : ..............................................................................................................................
A d d ress : ............................................................................... .........................................
I enclose .............................. in paym ent of........................... subscriptions)
Valid from Vol. ........ ........ for 4 issues.
Sign ed : ................... .....................................
D ate: ........... .............................. ....... ................
A SELECTION OF CONTENTS FROM PAST ISSUES
Vol. V, No. 3
An Anthology of West Indian Verse
Price: $1.00 (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 4/2 U.K. per issue
Vol. V, No. 4
Dorothy Payne-a Newcomer to Sculpture ... M. Sondmann
Rejection of European Culture as a Theme in Caribbean
Literature ...... ...... ..... G. R. Coulthard
Vegetation In the Caribbean Area ......G. F. Asprey
The Couronians and the West Indies-The First
Settlements ...... ..... ... ... ... Edgar Anderson
William Dampier (1652-1715)-Writer and Buccaneer
in the West Indies ..... John A. Ramsar
The Panon, an Afrobohion Religious Rite of Transition ......Melville J. Hersk
Dark Puritan, Part III ...... .. ..... M. G. Smith
Price: 60 cents (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 2/6 U K. per issue.
Vol. VI, Nos. 2 and 3
Canada's Federal Experience ...... ..... Alexander Brady
Australia Background to Federation ....F. W. Mahler
The Constitution of Australia ..... ....... S. Ramphal
Early Constitutional History of Jamaica .. C. V. Gocking
The Road Back-Jamaica After 1866 ... R. N. Murray
The Temporary Federal Mace ...... ...... ...... ...... Bruce Procope
Constitutional History of Trinidad and Tobago ..... 0. B. Woodin
Constitutional History of the Windwards .. ..Coleridge Harris
Constitutional History of the Leewards ...... .. Cecil A. Kjlsick
Federalism in the West Indies ....... S. S. Ramphal
Summary of Constitutional Advances-
Trinidad and Tobago
Jamaica ..... ... .... Harvey de Costa
Leeward and Windward Islands .... .... .. F. A. Phillips
Price: $1.50 (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 6/3 U.K. per issue.
Vol. VI, No. 4
Faculty of Agriculture-U.C.W.I. ...... .. C. Holman B.
Oriens Ex Occidente Lux ...... ....... Hugh W. Springs
A Theory of Small Society ............ ..... Kenneth E. Bould
An Economic Phenomenon ...... ...... ..... ..... Alfred P. Thorne
La Reconnaissance Estate, Lopinot Valley, Arouca ...... ...... Gertrude Carmich
Terre Bois Bols .... ..... .... ...... Harold F. C. Sim
Price: 60 cents (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 2/6 U.K., per issue.
Vol. VII, Nos. 1 and 2
Drums and Colours-an Epic Drama commissioned
for the Opening of the First Federal Parliament
of The West Indies, April 23rd, 1958 ..... .... Derek Walcott
Price: $1.20 (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 5/- U.K. per issue.
Vol. VII, No. 3
West Indian Culture ..... .... ...... .. M. G. Smith
West Indian Poetry ...... ...... ...... ...... J. Owens
The French West Indian Background of "Negritude" .... R. Coulthard
Du Tertro and Labat on 17th Century Slave Life In the
French Antilles ...... ..... ..... ..... Rev. C. Jesse
The Place of Radio in the West Indies ...... .... ... W. Richardson
The Turks and Caicos Islands-Some Impressions of an
English Visitor ..... .. ...... Doreen Collins
Price: 60 cents (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 2/6 U.K. per issue.
Vol. VII, No. 4
Education and Economic Development ...... .. .... W. Arthur Lewis
The University College of the West Indies .... T. W. J. Taylor
Drugs from the West Indies .. ...... Compton Seaforth
Political Education in the Developing Caribbean ... ..... Rex Nettleford
Frederic G. Cassidy, Jamaica Talk
Muntu, An Outline of Nee-African Culture,
A Home for Mr. Biswas
Price 60 cents (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 2/6 U.K. per issue.
Vol. VIII, No. 3
Fundamental Rights-The Need for a New Jurisprudence -
Rev. John Sterling's Report, May 1835 ...... ...
Othello and Race Prejudice .
The Foreign Service of a Small Independent Country
The Working of the Jamaica Constitution
Before Independence (A Commentary)
An Institute of Education ......
At the Death of a Young Poet's Wife (A Poem) ...... ..
Sources of West Indian History
S. S. Ramphal
Shirley C. Gordon
Fred A. Phillips
Reviewed by A. E. Burt
Editorial Comments and Notes
WE take this opportunity to congratulate his Excellency Mr. Hector
Wynter, substantive Director of Extra-Mural Studies and Editor of this
Journal, on his appointment as Jamaica's High Commissioner to
Trinidad and Tobago and to wish him a successful tour of duty in his
This issue of Caribbean Quarterly reflects, more than most, the
peculiar terms of reference under which we function as a publication.
It reflects, also, the special nature of the demands made on the Depart-
ment of Extra-Mural Studies by the Caribbean community.
Caribbean Quarterly has never, in the accepted sense of the term,
had a clearly defined editorial policy. We are not a specifically 'literary'
review such as Encounter, Partisan Review or some of the American
University reviews. These publications, while covering diverse territories
of inquiry, are designed exclusively for the highly educated reader and
have a decidedly humanist bias.
Nor are we a publication devoted only to deeply specialised studies
in one field such as the Journal of Social and Economic Studies.
In this issue may be seen contributions ranging from excellent
examples of popular, factual education, like Mr. Concannon's "National
Monuments in Jamaica" or the Reverend Jesse's piece on the "Spanish
Cedula of 1511," to essays such as Dr. Laurence's on "Colonialism in
Trinidad and Tobago," Miss Gordon's analysis of the Mitchinson Report,
Dr. Coulthard's review of Marxist interpretation of Latin American
literature and Dr. Gosling's paper on Errors of Measurement. Any of
the last four contributions are probably beyond either the scope or the
interest of the average, non-graduate reader. And we intend no
patronage when we say this: indeed any one or two of them may well
be outside the scope or interest of the average, graduate reader whose
special training has not included the terms used.
Any magazine that contains so wide a range of specialised material,
and that caters to such different levels of taste or understanding, is
obviously not an ideally unified production. It is, also, singularly
difficult to edit without serious lapses into mere 'grab-bag' untidiness.
But in the context of West Indian society and because of the
sort of work the Extra-Mural Department has had to perform in the
last fifteen years it seems to us that we have no alternative but to
continue in this way.
This is a society as yet too poor and too undeveloped to support a
variety of educational publications, popular and specialist. Caribbean
Quarterly is often the only outlet for serious contributions of either
nature, and until such time as other publications come into being we
shall have to continue to forage for our material in our own eclectic
Preservation Of National Monuments
T. A. L. CONCANNON.
THE architectural history of Jamaica since the British occupation
in 1655 may be conveniently divided into three main periods, following
the general pattern in what has been known as the British West Indies.
There are little or no remains of Spanish buildings, probably due
to lack of interest in preservation by the early settlers who made use
of the available stone and brickwork for their boiling houses and sugar
In the first period from 1655 to about 1750 there were few buildings
of consequence, although places such as Stoke's Hall and Colbeck Castle
have survived to indicate a special type of planter's house. The next
hundred years, however, produced a great amount of building, which
came to a halt with the decline of the sugar market.
From Georgian inspired beginnings Jamaican architecture, not only
in the typical estate great-house but in the humbler village building
developed in a distinct style of its own, and by the middle of the 19th
century a recognizable Jamaican 'vernacular' had emerged. Features
such as the louvred window, projecting louvred window 'cooler,' and
ingenious treatments of pitched shingled roofs became characteristic
all over the Island. Spanish Town, Falmouth, Black River, and many
other towns and villages fortunately still have charming examples of
this delightful and truly native style of honest and practical construc-
tion, embellished with simple but decorative fretwork to eaves, barge-
boards, and balcony railings, often adorned with graceful wrought
Great-houses in active use as homes today that are a reminder of
the good living enjoyed by early estate owners include Cardiff Hall,
built about 1790 in St. Ann, Marlborough in Manchester built at about
the same time and probably by the same architect, and Prospect In
St. Mary, to name only a few. Good Hope and Arcadia Pen in Trelawny,
and Roehampton near Montego Bay (now In use as a land settlement
property) are excellent examples of the successful adaptation of
Georgian elements to Jamaican conditions. There are of course other
old houses of historic interest or architectural merit dotted about the
Some churches of historical importance and architectural interest,
If of no great distinction, remain to bear witness of the past, particular-
ly the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega, and there are some fine
bridges such as Lethe, Bengal, and a delicate early cast-iron structure
over the Rio Cobre at Spanish Town. The square at Spanish Town
comprising the House of Assembly, Court House, the facade of old
King's House, and the Island Record Office, with the superb Rodney
memorial by John Bacon, forms what is undoubtedly one of the finest
civic groups in the entire Caribbean. Many of the buildings gracing
the scene in the 19th century have vanished, largely as a result of
damage by earthquake and hurricane, particularly the severe earth-
quake of 1907. Enough, however, still stands that merits preservation,
and a start has been made with the creation of a statutory Commission
to deal with this important work.
The need for preservation of historic sites and buildings in the
West Indies was recognized as early as 1908, when the West India Com-
mittee addressed the Colonial Office in a letter drawing attention to
the importance of this work.
In its issue of the 27th October, 1908 the Editor of the "West India
Committee Circular" in directing attention to the state of historic sites
and buildings in the West Indies, had written:-
"The appointment of a Royal Commission to enumerate and report
upon the historical monuments of England prompts us to ask, what
is being done to preserve historic sites and buildings in the West
Indies? The answer must, we fear, be: Very little. It is proverbial
that inhabitants of places rich in historical associations care far less
for them than visitors do. We are afraid that residents in the West
Indies form no exception to this rule."
The Colonial Office was sympathetic and co-operative, and sub-
sequently made representations on the subject to the governors of the
various Colonies, recommending them to consider some action before
it was too late to be effective.
In 1909 Frank Cundall, the eminent historian who was Secretary
and Librarian of the Institute of Jamaica, compiled a list of historic
buildings, sites, and monuments in the Island. His list was prepared
parish by parish and gave an account of the nature of the interest
and the name of the owner in each case. The list was published as a
supplement to the Jamaica Gazette on December 23, 1909. In November,
1912 the list was Incorporated as part of a report dealing with the
preservation of historic sites and ancient monuments in the West
Indian Colonies presented to Parliament.
Little or nothing of importance happened in the interim until the
founding of the Jamaica Historical Society, in 1943. The Society took
an active interest in drawing public attention to the need for preserv-
ing buildings and places of national interest, and an official committee
was formed in 1943 by the Governor "to draw up a list of monuments
and other objects for the preservation of which it is proposed to enact
legislation in due course."
As a result of interest shewn by the Georgian Group in England
and action by the Jamaica Historical Society and the British Council,
a visit was paid to Jamaica in 1946 by Mr. Angus Acworth, the Treasurer
and acting Secretary of the Georgian Group. This visit was primarily
to assist in the listing of buildings of architectural and historic import-
ance, in the preparation of suitable legislation and the commencement
of a photographic record. Acworth's subsequent report "Buildings of
Architectural or Historic Interest in the British West Indies" was
published in 1951 by His Majesty's Stationery Office as Colonial
Research Studies No. 2, and included draft legislation for "the Preserva-
tion of the National Buildings of Jamaica."
Jamaica National Trust Commission.
In 1958 the Jamaica National Trust Law No. 72 of 1958 was passed,
by which a Commission was established (in 1959) charged with the
duty of preserving the national monuments of Jamaica for the benefit
of the Island. The Jamaica National Trust Commission is composed of
nine members, of whom two are appointed by the Jamaica Historical
Society, one by the University of the West Indies, one by the Institute
of Jamaica, and three by the responsible Minister. The Government
Town Planner and the Commissioner of Lands are ex-officio members.
The Chairman is appointed by the Minister, and the chairman and
members hold office for three years. There is a small permanent
secretariat, and a technical director who advises the Commission on the
care and preservation of ancient buildings and on all technical aspects
of the Commission's activities. Recently the Commission have under-
taken some conservation work by direct labour, and recruited a small
work-force including a working foreman, masons and carpenters who
will travel around the country as a mobile 'force de secours' (somewhat
in the style of the ancient guilds), carrying out works of conservation
to national monuments.
Funds of the Commission consist of money provided annually for
the purpose in the official Estimates, and other money or property
which may become payable to or vested in the Commission.
By definition a "monument" includes any building, structure, object
or other work of man or of nature whether above or below the surface
of the land or the floor of the sea within the territorial waters of
Jamaica and any site, cave or excavation.
The definition of "national monument" includes any monument or
group of monuments and any part or remains of a monument or group
of monuments the preservation of which is, in the opinion of the Com-
mission, a matter of public interest by reason of the historic, archi-
tectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest attaching there-
to. This definition has in practice been deemed to include an area of
important botanic and scientific interest at North Mason River on the
borders of Clarendon and St. Ann.
The Commission may purchase, by agreement, any monument
which in their opinion is a national monument, and may also become
guardians of any national monument by arrangement with the owner
or by order of the Minister. A structure occupied as a dwelling-house
by a person other than the caretaker thereof or his family is not pro-
8 C- 3
tected by the Law (as it stands) and thus the Commission cannot
become guardians in s'-ch cases. Where the Commission decide that a
monument, the preservation of which is of national importance, is in
danger from neglect or injudicious treatment the Minister may serve
an interim preservation notice on the owner, or occupier, placing the
monument under the Minister's protection while the notice is in force.
The Minister has power to make a preservation order placing under
the more lasting protection of the Commission a monument in respect
to which an interim preservation notice is in force. While an interim
preservation notice or preservation order is in force no work to the
monument can be carried-out except with the written consent of the
Minister. This consent may be granted either unconditionally or
subject to conditions.
Where a person's interest is Injuriously affected by the terms of an
interim preservation notice or a preservation order, or he suffers
damage or is involved in expenditure consequent upon the refusal of
consent, or the granting of consent subject to conditions, he is entitled
to receive appropriate compensation.
The Minister may, where a monument is In danger of falling into
decay, constitute the Commission guardians of the monument under a
guardianship order, and preservation schemes for protecting the
amenities of a national monument may be prepared and confirmed by
the Commission after due publication in the Gazette and elsewhere,
and the hearing of any objections. A public enquiry may be held to
consider objections to the scheme.
Listing of monuments.
Although the Commission is a comparatively new body, an excellent
start has already been made to arouse public interest in this worth-
while work of preservation and restoration of national buildings.
The listing of monuments has been revised and brought up to date,
so far as has been possible with the staff at present available. A pro-
visional selection from the list will be published for public information,
and this may be added to or reduced as circumstances demand from
time to time. The public has been regularly informed of the Com-
mission's current works and future programme by articles and news
items in the press, by radio broadcasts, lectures, and by an exhibition
of drawings and photographs staged at Port Henderson as part of the
Independence Celebrations in 1962.
Gifts of national monuments to the Nation.
By the generosity and public spirit of the owners the nation has
recently been presented with the gift of some interesting and impressive
ruins. These include Stewart Castle in Trelawny near the coast east
of Falmouth, Colbeck Castle north of Old Harbour in St. Catherine,
Stokes Hall near Golden Grove in St. Thomas, and Rodney's 'Grass-
piece Lookout' on the Healthshire Hills above Port Henderson in St.
Catherine. Important sites presented to the nation Include Rio Nuevo,
the scene of the decisive battle in the English conquest of Jamaica in
1658 on the north coast near Ocho Rios, and White Marl on the Kingston
to Spanish Town Road, which is known to be one of the early settle-
ments likely to yield valuable evidence of Arawak civilization.
Restoration completed and in progress.
Various works already undertaken by the Jamaica National Trust
Commission include the complex of 18th and early 19th century stone
buildings at Port Henderson, St. Catherine. The work is continuing,
and is expected to be completed in 1964.
This unique village group, to which reference is frequently made in
the personal Journal written by Lady Nugent, wife of the governor who
held office from 1801 to 1805, is being restored for social use, and includes
an old warehouse to become a crafts-centre and workshop, an exhibi-
tion and assembly hall, a public restaurant, mineral bath, holiday
bungalows, and a shop. Thus the Commission are restoring something
of architectural and historic interest that had fallen into decay since
the days when Port Henderson was a prosperous and flourishing port,
at the same time putting the old buildings to a practical use for the
benefit of the people today.
One of the larger completed works of conservation has been a
structural survey of the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega in Spanish
Town, followed early this year by measures revealed on examination as
being necessary to ensure the safety of the fabric. This survey engaged
the technical director of the Commission over a period of six months,
including regular observation of numerous glass tell-tales placed over
cracks in the walls, to ascertain whether or not the building was in an
unstable or dangerous condition; the building works occupied some
The Baptist Church (circa 1827) also in Spanish Town, built in
faced brick-work is a good example in its style of Georgian architecture,
and is of some historic importance because of its associations with the
missionary James Murchell Phillippo. The Commission provided funds
for and supervised construction of a new platform and pulpit, and for
benches in the gallery to replace original work that had fallen into
Stewart Castle, built towards the end of the 18th century, is an
unusual type of stone fortified house with twin look-out towers on
diagonal corners and a large keep or compound attached to the main
rectangular block. The site has been cleared of bush and undergrowth,
and plans have been made to open the grounds to the public as early
as possible. It is believed that this site, and others on the north coast
and elsewhere in reasonably accessible positions, will prove to be of
interest and an attraction to Jamaicans and to visitors to the Island.
Stoke's Hall, originally built about 1685, is one of the oldest great-
houses in Jamaica. Until not many years ago it was in use as a
residence, but its sorry state today is a sad reminder of what can and
does happen to a building when it is not lived in or maintained. This
site also has been cleared and fenced, and will be preserved as a ruin,
both as an example of solid stone construction and an important early
house fortified to resist attack.
Colbeck Castle, built in stone and brick circa 1680, is a massive
group comprising a main building and four outbuildings, the latter
connected by a boundary wall enclosing an area of about two acres. It
is thought to have been, as was Stoke's Hall, a rallying point for the
militia in times of danger. With Rose Hall in St. James, it is outstand-
ing in Jamaica in size, architectural style and excellence of workman-
ship. Visitors will be able to drive to the site via an approach road
from the north connecting with Old Harbour, and parking facilities
will be available close to the Castle.
Other completed works include a structural survey of the dining
room at new King's House which had been severely attacked by
termites; replacing decayed coolers and shutters to the old Court-House
at Half Way Tree, Kingston; restoration of hoods to doorways and other
features at Roehampton Great House, St. James; provision of funds
for repairs to maintain the fabric of Bellevue Great House in Red Hills,
St. Andrew; the Baptist Church at Annotto Bay, St. Mary; coffee-house
at Clydesdale, St. Andrew; and conservation of the walls and ramparts
at Fort Augusta, St. Catherine. A scheme was prepared for the
preservation of Blue Hole, Portland, and preliminary reports have been
written after inspection of many other national monuments throughout
An unusual example of preserving an old building is the University
Chapel at Mona, St. Andrew. This stone structure, originally part of a
sugar factory built at Gayle's Valley in Trelawny in 1799, was taken
down stone-by-stone and rebuilt in 1957. The interior was designed
and furnished as a chapel for the University, and the porch added later.
Jamaica is fortunate that there remain some private owners of old
buildings of architectural distinction who take a pride and interest in
preserving their property. This is particularly true of owners residing
in former great-houses, and thus many of these fine buildings are
continuing to be maintained in good repair.
Plans have been prepared for restoring two 16th century brick
buildings within Fort Charles, for use as a museum to display exhibits
illustrating the chequered history of Port Royal, and a new museum
has been designed to be built at White Marl. It is proposed also that
a small Indian village will be reconstructed on the Arawak mound.
complete with objects and utensils as used by the early inhabitants.
Seville, near St. Ann's Bay, is the site of the first Spanish settlement
in Jamaica, where recent excavations by the Institute of Jamaica have
revealed important evidence of the Spanish occupation. Nearby stands
the old estate great-house, which it is planned to renovate for use as
a museum to display objects found by the archaeologists at Seville.
The Commission's mobile work force will, over a period, carry-out
restoration and preservation of those national monuments in various
sectors of the Island in the greatest need of maintenance.
National Buildings Record.
It is inevitable that, in the fulness of time, many buildings will
vanish. Whatever administrative and legal measures are taken for
protection, some wastage is bound to occur as a result of hurricane,
earthquake, fire, and lack of maintenance. The Commission has there-
fore decided to establish a National Buildings Record so that, whatever
happens, a photographic record will remain. The prints of Hakewill,
Duperly, and Kidd, which present a vivid picture of Jamaica in the early
and middle parts of the 19th century, shew only too strikingly what has
been lost. The national buildings record will provide for posterity what
these fine drawings provide for us.
Execution of work.
One of the problems facing the Jamaica National Trust Commission
is the dwindling supply of skilled workers in the traditional building
crafts of masonry, brickwork, and timber. Construction in Jamaica
today is mainly of reinforced concrete for the larger structures, and
precast concrete block, what is usually called 'block and steel,' with
flat or single-pitch roofs for smaller construction, including housing
which forms a high percentage of the total work executed. This has
resulted in the gradual disappearance of the traditional skills that were
necessary to the buildings of the past, particularly in dressed stone-
work, brickwork, and trussed timber roofs. Partly for this reason, and
partly for reasons of economy, the Commission decided to create its
own work force, which would be trained to understand and to employ
the traditional skills and techniques required for successful restoration
or preservation of old buildings. Most encouraging results have already
been achieved in a short period of four months by the small team
engaged in restoration of the complex at Port Henderson.
"It has been most truly said that these old buildings do not belong
to us only; that they belonged to our forefathers and that they will
belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not in
any sense our property, to do as we like with them. We are only
trustees for those that come after us."
These words were spoken by William Morris who, in England in
1877, founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. The
truth and challenge of his words could well be applied to Jamaica today,
with its wealth of buildings and places of architectural and historic
interest and Importance. Although restoration can never properly take
the place of preservation, much can be and is being done to restore and
to preserve, and to put to social use where practicable something of
value remaining from the past for the benefit of the people of today
and of those to come.
(The author is the Technical Director of the Jamaica National Trust
Commission. Any opinion expressed in this article is his own, and is
not necessarily the opinion of the Commission).
Recent Harxist Interpretations Of
Latin American Literature
G. R. COULTHARD
MARXIST interpretations of Latin American literature are not a
novelty. There exist, indeed, what may be described as classics In this
kind of exercise such as J. C. Mariategui's "Seven essays of interpreta-
tion of the reality of Peru" (1928), and Alvaro Yunque's Social literature
in the Argentine (1941).
While these and other studies can be consulted by anyone interested
in them, nowhere does Marist literary criticism exist as an embodiment
of official attitudes as in Cuba. It is the object of this study to
summarize and comment on two essays in Marxist interpretation
published recently in Cuba: Culture and the movement of national
liberation in Cuba (Santiago de Cuba, 1962) by Prof. Adalberto Dassau,
Director of the Institute of Romance Studies in Rostock, Russia, and
"Historical outline of Cuban literature" by Jos6 Antonio Portuondo,
I will discuss Professor Dassau's work first as it purports to deal
with the whole of Latin America whereas Portuondo confines himself
to a study of Cuban literature only.
Professor Dassau has little to say about the literature of the colonial
period except that in some countries (Mexico, Argentina and Brazil) the
beginnings of a national consciousness were laid among groups of liberal
landowners, liberal priests and "other liberal groups." The liberal in
the nineteenth century was the revolutionary and sought to analyse
national problems with the aim of developing nationhood. The only
specific reference is to the Argentinian Sarmiento's "Facundo, civiliza-
tion and barbarism" (1845), a discussion of the causes of backwardness
in the Argentine.
In many countries at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of
the nineteenth century, much literature is devoted to the "at times
idyllic" description of national reality. This is a literature of com-
paratively conservative groups of landowners, who nevertheless gave an
authentic description of the national scene, which for them was the
world of agriculture, the world of their own estates. Dassau sees the
liberal analysts of the national situation in contrast to the conservative
landowners turning out idealized descriptions of nature.
Liberal political and economic thinkers tended to draw comparisons
between the backward, underdeveloped state of Latin America and the
progress in the countries which they admired and from which they
derived their liberal ideas, notably France and the U.S.A. However
towards the end of the nineteenth century there was a sharp change
of attitude when the liberal intellectuals realized that those countries
which they admired so much, and which they took as models were
becoming exploiters of other countries on a world scale. There arose
at the end of the century a movement of cultural defence which found
its clearest expression in "Ariel" (1900) by the Uruguayan Enrique Rod6
and at an emotional level in some of the poems of Rubdn Dario. Briefly
this reaction took the form of a proclamation of the superiority of Latin
American cultural values, stated to be more idealistic and human, over
the materialism of the values the United States. In Rodo this theory
is based on the assumption that Latin America is the heir to the
idealism of Greece and Rome and the humanism of Catholic Christianity.
Professor Dassau's explanation for the feeling of human and spiritual
superiority is somewhat droll. He presents a picture of the American
type of exploiter manipulating the lives of thousands of people at long
range through his stocks and shares, whereas the Latin American semi-
feudal exploiter was on the spot, gun in belt and whip in hand. This
direct, personal form of exploitation is more human, and can account
for the Latin American feeling of cultural superiority in human terms.
To anyone acquainted with the literature of social protest in XIXth
century Latin America (which curiously Prof. Dassau does not refer to),
such a view of things must appear as naive if not indeed ludicrous. A
reading of the Cuban anti-slavery novels, Sukrez Romero's "Francisco,"
Villaverde's "Cecilia Valdds", or Clorinda Mattos de Turner's "Aves sin
nido" would rapidly dispel such delusions.
Professor Dassau goes on to refer to Ruben Dario's well known
"Ode to Roosvelt." This is essentially a poem of cultural defence, it is
also very anti-American. It states the existence of poetry, idealism
and heroism throughout the history of Latin America, even before the
conquest (although Dario's choice of Montezuma as a hero is somewhat
unfortunate) and warns the blustering, power drunk Americans of the
existence of the "pups of the Spanish lion." The poem ends with the
astonishing statement that America is "godless." Dario, we are told,
is not only the poet of fin de silcle decorativism and "pale princesses."
He is not either, fortunately, only the poet of the "Ode to Roosvelt."
There is however no reference to any other poems by Dario. In all
fairness to Dario it should be pointed out that in contrast to this over-
emotional, over-rhetorical outburst, there exist such poems as his "To
Columbus" a devastating picture of chaos, bloodshed and crude
materialism, in Latin America, which is a far cry from the rhetorical
arrogance of the "Ode to Roosvelt."
The return to a sense of pan-Latin American cultural unity after
almost a century of narrow nationalism which Prof. Dassau observes,
is a fact. He indicates however that the supporters of this idealogy
(spiritual superiority and Latin American cultural unity), belonged to
the ruling class and avoided reference to economic and social backward-
ness in Latin America.
The Mexican revolution in 1910 was the first bourgeois-democratic
revolution in Latin America and heralded a change of outlook. How-
ever the bourgeois writers, poets and novelists of Mexico failed to
understand the historical content of the revolution. The poets took
refuge in private lyricism and the novelists failed to recognize the
"popular masses as a decisive factor of historical development."
Mariano Azuela and Jos6 Rub6n Romero come under this condemnation.
The achievement of the novel of the Mexican revolution was to
thoroughly nationalize the Mexican novel.
Unlike the poets and novelists, some of the painters, notably David
Alfaro Siquieros, Diego Rivera and Jos6 Clements Orozeo did realize
that the masses were the decisive factor in history. Rivera in particular
is praised very highly by Prof. Dassau because his murals on public
buildings are "not only coloured, plastic decoration, but a history book
of revolutionary teaching and education," whose message is clear even
to the illiterate.
Folk art is fulsomly praised, as are writers who have borrowed
from folk art or stylised its techniques, such as Nicolas Guill6n in Cuba
and Jose Hernandez in the Argentine. Like most Marxist critics.
Professor Dassau eulogizes Hernandez's "Martin Fierro." Indeed this
work seems to have become the Marxist "piece de resistance" in Latin
American literature as it appears to fulfill certain conditions which
make it fit perfectly into the Marxist scheme of things. The hero Is
a man of the people, he speaks the dialect of the Argentine plains, and
he voices the bitterness of the underdog at being exploited, curiously
as a result of the policies of those liberal politicians, such as Alberdi
and Sarmiento, who Professor Dassau describes as "revolutionaries."
This view of "Martin Fierro" as the perfect proletarian literary pro-
duct is far from new and is to be found in Alvaro Yunque's "Social
literature in the Argentine," mentioned at the beginning of this study.
The other gaucho master-piece, Giiiraldes's "Don Segundo Sombra," in
which the author gives a very different interpretation of the life of
the Argentine gaucho, or plainsman, seeing his hard life as a school of
stoicism, a discipline in endurance, is dismissed by Yunque because
Giiiraldes was the son of an estate-owner. Needless to say, Don
Segundo Sombra is not mentioned by Professor Dassau, except that he
states that it is difficult for any but an Argentinian to understand.
Surely the charge of incomprehensibility, if true, applies equally to
Martin Fierro which Professor Dassau describes as "one of the most
widely sold books of all Latin American literature" and also as "one of
the master-pieces of Latin American literature.'
Professor Dassau then asks himself, as many historians and critics
of Latin American literature have done, whether one can speak of a
"Latin American literature" or merely of a collection of national
literatures. He thinks the background of such novels as the Mexican,
Azuela's "The underdogs," the Venezuelan Gallegos's "Doiia Bdrbara,"
or the Argentinian Giiiraldes's "Don Segundo Sombra" is so difficult
that these works are not readily understandable to readers without
direct experience of the particular conditions (and dialect) of each
country. A truly Hispano-American literature could arise however
which would express "the common hatred, the common bitterness and
common enthusiasm" of all the peoples of Latin America. The form
this may take could be the patriotic ode which has a deep-rooted tradi-
tion in Hispanic literature. There is mention of the Spanish poet
Quintana, and again Dario's "Ode to Roosevelt" is used as an example.
The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda's "Canto General de America" is com-
mended as it is "intensely attached to the people, and recognizes In the
masses the great force which shapes history." Neruda has also trans-
cended national limitations, and voices the feelings of the whole of
America. It should be pointed out here that Neruda's "Canto," which
aims at embracing every aspect of American life-the rivers, the
mountains, the vegetation, animals, birds, flowers, as well as the entire
history of America from pre-conquest days, is a very unequal composi-
tion. Excellent passages, like the "Heights of Macchu Picchu," an
impassioned evocation of the human existence and suffering of the
vanished, prehistoric inhabitants of the mountain city, framed in a
powerful, impressionistic description of ruined city and its dramatic
setting, alternate with passages of political rhetoric and spiteful
vituperation. One wonders what aspects of Neruda's "Canto," Pro-
fessor Dassau Is recommending.
From a scrutiny of Professor Dassau's account of Latin
American literature several points emerge:
1. The criterion for judging a work of literature appears to be
whether the writer has understood the historical role of the revolu-
tionary class of his period, and the extent to which he has associated
himself with the revolutionary trend.
2. Another criterion appears to be ease of understanding to the
masses (Rivera's painting, "Martin Fierra," Jos6 Guadalupe Posada's
3. Writers or phases in the work of a given writer are ignored or
dismissed if they do not conform to the above criteria, e.g., the per-
sistent reference to Dario's "Ode to Roosevelt" to the exclusion of any
of his other, and better compositions; the failure to mention Neruda's
work prior to his "Canto General de America" (Neruda was a Com-
munist when he wrote the "Canto", but not when he wrote his "Twenty
poems of love" or his first two "Residences on earth'r). There is no
mention of Jorge Luis Borges, possibly the most original prose-writer
in Spanish today. There are so many omissions and such an obvious
tendency to concentrate on only certain writers, that the non-Marxist
student of Latin American literature is disconcerted. This is not due
to any lack of consistency in Professor Dassau's approach, quite the
contrary, he dogmatically applies the criteria of judgment expressed
A final criticism is that his statement that novels from various
countries are not comprehensible out of their local context simply is
not true. One might as well say, and with more justification, that the
"Cantar del Mio Cid" or the plays of Lope de Vega are incomprehensible
to the contemporary Spaniard, or that William Faulkner's novels are
alien to the point on non-comprehension to the New York or British
reading public. The fact that the novels of Gallegos a Venezuelan,
Miguel Angel Asturias, a Guatemalan, or Ciro Alegria are sold all over
Latin America and in Spain should demolish this argument.
Jos6 Antonio Portuondo in the introduction to his "Historical Out-
line of Cuban Literature" explains that his study is based on the method
of generation, and the assumption that all literatures, deliberately or
unconsciously, reveal the position of the classes in the social struggle
at a particular historical moment. He also assumes that each genera-
tion picks out from all the various problems facing it, one problem in
particular, which becomes the "generational task," and as such the
main and constant "theme" of its literary production.
Unlike Professor Dassau, Portuondo displays some concern for
aesthetic considerations, and states that the aesthetic value of much
Latin American literature has not been strikingly high, which is due
to the "imitative, colonial" nature of Latin American letters, which he
describes as "literature without roots or strength, hanging on the latest
grimace of a Joyce or a Kafka." This dependent, colonial character of
the literature demonstrates unconsciously a political and social reality.
How can Latin America produce a great literature? Portuondo asks.
By dealing with immediate reality, the land and the men who live on
it, by a truly Latin American feeling of struggle against semi-colonial
status. It must produce a literature in accordance with "new situa-
tions," i.e. the hopes of the dispossessed classes, without nevertheless
scorning the discoveries of the "escapists" and the "virtuosos."
Without analysing Portuondo's handling of the whole of Cuban
literature, it might be useful to see how his system applies to the period
from independence in 1898 to the present day.
Here we find a generation, on the one hand indulging in
aestheticism and escapism. Their attitude, according to Portuondo,
represents a flight from the state of crisis in Cuban national life (war
against Spain, defeat of Spain and achievement of independence with
American assistance, beginning of an independent Cuba). This is part
of a generalized tendency in Latin America known as modernism. On
the other hand however, are writers like Jose Marti, who was a modern-
ist in form and sensibility but who had a sense of the historical destiny
of Cuba and did not turn away from collective problems. This genera-
tion then, appears as being divided between escapist writers, in flight
from political and social reality, and writers who were aware of the
generational task to be performed, that of "raising to people to the
conquest of freedom."
Frustration of nationalist hopes due to American interference, pro-
duced bitterness, irony, protest and further escapism. Portuondo sub-
divides this period into a second phase, 1930 1939 in which the struggle
against the dictator Gerardo Machado and the economic crisis acted as
a spur to writers and intellectuals to become concerned with the under-
privileged masses: the worker, the peasant, the Negro, became the main
theme of literature at this period. Portuondo singles out particularly
Nicolis Guill6n, Lino Novas Calvo, Enrique Serpa and Regino Pedroso.
1940-onwards up to the time of the triumph of Castro's revolution
appears under the sign of "formalism," which means a concern with
purely literary problems and an avoidance of the critical historical
circumstances. Eugenio Florit, it dismissed as one of the best
versifierss" in the language and Emilio Ballagas is described as having
gone into a backwater of religiousness a la John Donne and Gerard
Manly Hopkins, after the fresh ingenuous writing of his early period.
The dictatorship of Batista became harsher in the period 1952-58, and
the tendency to hermeticism and escapism was intensified, although
some writers continued the trend of social realism and criticism.
The generational task for writers imposed by the agrarian and
anti-imperialist revolution headed by Fidel Castro should be a reaffirma-
tion of national consciousness and dignity in a strongly populist litera-
ture, that is a literature with the working class and its problems, hopes
and aspirations as its "theme," although here again use can be made
of the experimentation of the formalists. Surrealist and "abstrac-
tionist" formulae, however, on the whole should be avoided as they are
"simple roads to escapism belonging to a reactionary tradition" and
are "impossible aesthetic instruments" for the new revolutionary spirit.
The final impression of Portuondo's account of Cuban literature is
that in spite of the apparently objective critical apparatus of the
generational method and generational task, no very original light has
been thrown on the subject. It is perfectly obvious to any student of
literature that in the 1880-1909 period some writers followed the art
for art's sake aestheticism of the modernists, while others concerned
themselves with political and social problems. Whether this situation
reflects "deliberately or unconsciously" the position of the class struggle
seems somewhat doubtful. There were so many other factors, parti-
cularly the need felt, both in Latin America and in Spain for a renova-
tion of the means of literary expression in Spanish. Again In the
period 1910-39, two tendencies at least are discernible, one to social
realism with a left-wing bias, and one towards a metaphysical pre-
occupation. Whether a writer followed one or the other must have
been a question of temperament, personal inclination and attitude to
life. The words "escapist" and "escapism," "formalist" which are con-
demnatory, are very much overworked. As in Professor Dassau's study
there is a very apparent tendency to omissions (Alfonso Hernandez
Cata, an excellent writer, is dismissed in a phrase "his excellent narra-
tive production had few contacts with the Island") and the playing
down of certain writers.
To the student of Latin American literature, both these studies are
lacking in depth and have a strong tendency to over-simplification.
This is particularly true in the case of Professor Dassau. They are
both pervaded by a spirit of partisanship and dogmatism which makes
the interpretations insensitive and unbalanced.
The Assessment Of Errors Of
R. G. GOSLING and P. J. JUTSUM,
(Dept. of Physics), U.W.I., Mona.
WE HAVE found, over the course of several years, that very few
of the students entering the Physics Department of the University of
the West Indies have been taught to give any consideration to the
accuracy of laboratory experiments. It is chiefly by the assessment of
the accuracy of a proposed experiment that a critical approach to the
subject can be developed, and for this reason a brief outline of the
principles of accuracy assessment in scientific measurements has been
prepared, and is issued to all students at the beginning of their
laboratory courses. We feel that more use of this approach could be
made in our schools. Nothing in this outline is in our opinion too
advanced, or too difficult, to be presented to sixth former studying
physics in schools, though some is perhaps rather of scholarship
standard. We therefore hope that by publishing what follows, more
students will be given the opportunity of considering this very important
aspect of experimental science earlier in their careers.
The assessment of the possible error in a measured quantity is of
fundamental importance, for we can never measure the actual value
of any physical property, in fact on a microscopic scale we are limited
by the Uncertainty Principle, and so we must enquire as to how we may
measure the "most accurate" value, and how its accuracy can be
One of the first points to realise is that we do not necessarily want
to make the error as small as possible. All we require is that the error
in our measurements is small enough not to affect the conclusions we
Errors may be grouped as -
B) Systematic (sometimes difficult to distinguish between A and B and
many errors are a combination of these two).
C) The error introduced by the process of observation.
(This can be neglected when observing macroscopic
At the 1st year University level we can limit our discussion to A and B
which we will discuss under the heading of "Simple Error Theory."
Simple Error Theory.
Suppose we are trying to measure some physical property of a
system which has the value xo. We record a value x, but all measure-
ments are inaccurate in some degree so that we must write Xo= x + Ax
where Ax is the error associated with our measurement.
The Evaluation of Ax:-
For Scale Reading or Single Event Type Observations
6 a rQ o
9 25 75
i) Consider a metre rule graduated in mm. We could easily read
this by eye to the nearest half mm, what then would be the error?
It would be + 0.25 mm. (Anything between 9.25 & 9.75 we would take
as 9.50). -
(ii) Consider a voltmeter.
The same argument applies, for we can easily imagine the
half-way line between the scale markings and if the full scale is in
Volts then we can record our observations to the nearest j volt which
means an error of + I volt.
So we see in general that for any scale readings type of measure-
ment (weighing to the nearest milligramme would also be included)
the error is + one half of the smallest interval we are reading.
N.B. If we are going to use the value x in any calculations it is con-
venient to express the associated error as a fraction i.e. Ax/x.
For the repeated Event
e.g. The Oscillation of a simple pendulum.
To obviate or reveal accidental errors, repeated measurements of the
same quantity should be made by the same observer.
Suppose we attempt to measure our quantity xK1, n times getting
the result x1, x, ........................ n.
Then xo = Xr + Axr where Axr is the error associated with the rth
observation and may be + ve or ve.
and nxo = Ixr + IAxr
Then xo = x + IAxr/n where x is the arithmetic mean of n
Now since some of the errors Ax,, Ax,............... Axn may be
+ve and some -ve, the value of
IAxr/n may be very small. Certainly it must be smaller, numerically
than the greatest value amongst the separate errors.
Thus if Ax is the largest numerical error in any of the measurements,
2Axr/n is less than or equal to Ax
Therefore xo x is less than or equal to Ax
Thus x is nearer to Xo than any single measurement, and in
general the larger the value of n the nearer x approaches to Xo.
Notice that we cannot find the value of Ax, or Ax., etc., or even
Ax because xo is not known. We therefore approximate and examine
the DISPERSION of the measurements about x.
We write x = Xr + dr where dr is defined as the residual of Xr.
Now d + d ................... dn nx [xi + x., + ............ Xn] = 0
Therefore we define the MEAN DEVIATION as the mean of the
numerical values of the deviations
i.e. Mean Dev. = d, + d2 + ................ + I dn
i.e. Mean Dev. = (I/n) | dr ] .
An alternative expression of the measure of dispersion in a set of results
is the standard deviation which is usually written as (T.
where 02 = S d2r/n toa2 is known as the VARIANCE of the data)
If we are going to use the value x in conjunction with other data i.e. in
some equation, we express cr (which is really the root mean square
deviation of the data) as a fractional value of a percent. This is
sometimes called the Coefficient of Variation = 100."1/,
Now let us suppose we desire to know the property of a quantity P
which is related to the observable quantities x, y and z by the ex-
N x yn
pression P = x (1)
where N is some integer or constant and x, y and z are observable
variables, to determine the fractional error in P we proceed as follows:-
From equation (1):- log P = log N 4- log x + n log y log z.
dP dx dy dz
= + n- -
P x y z
dy 1 dx dx
(N.B. If y = log x, then = -, i.e. dy -- -, i.e. d(log x) = -
dx x x x
dP dx dy dz
Hence +- +( + n + -)
P x y z (2)
Notice that the term in z is now positive.
Errors Associated with Straight Line Graphs
The general equation to a straight line graph is
y = mx +c
and it is often necessary to plot as y and x, simple functions of the
observed quantities rather than the quantities themselves.
e.g. (a) The time-period t of a simple pendulum is related to the
length L by t = 277 The observations of t and L must not
therefore be plotted directly, since the expected result would not be
a straight line, but t2 must be plotted against L.
(b) The current i in a diode is related to the voltage v by i = Av",
so in this case log i should be plotted against log v.
Each point on the graph represents two experimental observations
x and y, and since each of these observations is subject to experimental
error, the points will not all lie on a straight line. Now every experi-
mental value obtained really represents a range of possible values
because of the experimental errors. Therefore each point on the graph
should properly be an area of height representing the range of possible
y values, and width representing the range of possible x values. The
relationship can then be said to be satisfied within the limit of ex-
perimental error only if a straight line can be drawn through all the
areas plotted. If such a straight line cannot be 'drawn, then either
the relationship is not valid, or the accuracy of the individual observa-
tions has been wrongly assessed.
The constants m and c in the equation y = mx + c are given by
the gradient and the intercept on the y axis respectively, of the straight
line representing the equation. Since it is usually possible to draw
several lines through all the experimental areas, it is necessary to have
some means of finding the "best" estimates of m and c, and a means
of assessing their accuracies.
The Least Squares Method.
If the errors associated with the two variables are random, it can
be shewn that the best straight line is that for which the sum of the
squares of the distances of the observed points from the line is a
minimum, and the constants in the best straight line equation can be
calculated using this criterion. The calculation is considerably simpli-
fied if it is assumed that the errors in the observations of y are always
large compared with those in x, and the form of the calculation with a
brief outline of the theory is given below for this case. However, it is
not always justifiable to carry out the rather lengthy calculations, and
a more rapid but less reliable method is to draw the "best" straight
line by eye, bearing in mind the criterion mentioned above, and using
also the fact that the best straight line found by the least squares
method must go through the centroid of the experimental points.
The position of the centroid should be plotted and distinctly marked.
It has as y coordinate the arithmetic mean of all the values of y,
and similarly for x.
It is also possible to calculate the probable error of the constants
of the equation to the best straight line, and the method of doing so
is given in outline (without any theory) below, but the calculations are
even more tedious and need not often be used. It is rather difficult
however to devise a means of estimating the error of the gradient and
intercept comparable in simplicity and reliability with the "by eye"
method of drawing the line. One suggestion for making such an
estimate is to draw the two lines of greatest and least values of m
and c. Half the differences between these extremes will then be a
measure of the accuracy of the best values. The two extreme lines
mentioned can perhaps be best described as the limiting positions of
the "best straight line". This however is a very subjective estimate,
and many people prefer to have a more objective method. One such is
to draw the best straight line and then box in all the experimental
points with two lines parallel to, and two lines perpendicular to the
best straight line. The two diagonals of the rectangle so formed will
then be extreme lines found by an objective method. These however
will tend to overestimate the errors, and it is found that dividing the
error estimates so found by the square root of the total number of
points on the graph reduce them by about the right factor.
The Method of Least Squares for Finding the Best Straight Line when
the Errors Associated with the Observations of y are Large Com-
pared with those Associated with x.
If the line has the equation y = mx + c, then for each experi-
mental value of x there is a calculated value y* = mx + c. This
differs from the observed value of y by
y* y = d, where d is the residual.
In the case considered, the sum of the squares of the residuals is
to be made a minimum.
i.e. 1d2 = I (y* y )2 = S must be a minimum.
The summation is over all the observed points, and m and c must be
adjusted to make S a minimum.
i.e. the two equations
= 0 and - 0 are to be satisfied.
Therefore 2 ( mx + c y )2 = 0
and (mx + c y )2 = o
These give, on differentiation and simplification, the two normal
mJx2 + cix Jxy = O and mix + nc ly = 0
(n is the total number of points, and nc represents Xc.)
From the normal equations, the desired values of m and c can be found.
It can further be shown that if am is the standard error in m, and
ac is the standard error in c, then
m (n-2) (nix2-(Ex)2)
c (n-2) (n:x2-(IEx) 2)
The equation derived from the experiment should then be quoted as
y (m + am) x (c + ac)
It is essential in developing the critical approach in science to
attempt to estimate the accuracy of any results you may obtain in the
Whilst none of the foregoing should be considered as beyond
serious A-level or H.S.C. students, a simpler approach leaving out the
bulk of the mathematical sections, but retaining the essential principles,
could well be used in the lower forms of the school.
The Spanish Cedula Of December 23,
On The Subject Of The Caribs.
REV. C. JESSE, F.M.I.
The writer is indebted to Mrs. Harriet de Onis, of Puerto
Rico, for the translation of the Cedula into English. He is
also indebted to Dr. Beate Salz, of Puerto Rico University,
for obtaining a copy of the Cedula and its translation,
as for some very helpful notes.
THE CEDULA OR ROYAL LETTERS PATENT in question came
into force, very obviously, eighteen years or so after the Discovery of
the New World by Christopher Columbus. Cortez had not yet conquered
the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro had not yet conquered the Incas of Peru.
The Spaniards who had followed Columbus to the "Indies" were then
particularly preoccupied with the Islands of what is now called the
Caribbean Area. With the colonisation of those islands, and with the
lot of the natives who inhabited those islands, the Spanish Crown was
at that time especially interested. To put the Cedula of December 23,
1511, in its proper setting, itj may be well, then, to cast a glance at the
Spain of A.D. 1492 and the years which followed.
The unified Spain that saw the Fall of Granada and the Discovery
of the New World in A.D. 1492, was the Spain that had been colonized
by Phoenicians and Greeks about a thousand years before Christ; that
had been successively conquered by Carthaginians, Romans, Goths and
Arabs, from the seventh century B.C. to the eighth century A.D.; and
that had received Christianity under the Roman domination, which
means, according to tradition, in the first century A.D. It was the Spain
that a centuries-old defence of the soil and the preservation of the
Christian Faith against the Mohammedan conquerors had made a
warrior people. The last seven centuries of incessant warfare in
particular, as Ad. F. Bandelier has put it, had "neither fashioned a
very tender-hearted race nor contributed to enrich the country". From
the latter point of view, moreover, Spain had formerly been rich in
precious metals, but the Romans, from the third century B.C. to the
fifth century of our era, had drained its mines of their metallic wealth.
As the First Book of Macabees puts it, the Romans had done great
things in the land of Spain, and had "brought under their power the
mines of silver and gold that are there." When, then, after the fall
of Granada in January, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to finance
the expedition of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish Monarchs may
well have had the idea of replenishing the depleted coffers of the
Castille-Aragon-Navarre treasuries. That they had at heart the ex-
tension of Christ's Kingdom on earth seems undeniable; that they fore-
saw the possibility of vast wealth accruing to their country from, as
they supposed, more direct and more easy trade with the Far East,
seems highly probable.
Did, however, the idea of a vast colonial empire in the West occur
to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, when they gave their practical
patronage to the scheme of Columbus? One would like to know. It is
a fact, that some years before, they had authorised the continuation
of the conquest of the Canary Islands and, between 1478 and 1495,
Gran Canaria, Palma and Teneriffe were added to their Domains. But
the Spain of the Catholic Monarchs was far behind its neighbour
Portugal in the way of discovering new lands and new trade routes,
in the way of colonization. Since 1415, Portugal had been organizing
voyages which ultimately led to the discovery of the road to India
round the Cape of Good Hope. Between 1417 and 1484, the Papacy had
granted to Portugal all the lands its navigators had occupied in the
course of their long voyages. In fact, at the Treaty of Alcacoba, in
1479, Spain and Portugal had agreed that all the islands of the West,
except the Canaries, belonged to Portugal. If, then, Ferdinand and
Isabella did envisage the possibility of building up for Spain a vast
colonial empire, on the lines of that which Portugal was then building
up, they must have judged that a new situation had been created.
They must have judged that the lands which they hoped Columbus
would discover did not fall within the clauses of the Treaty of Alcacoba.
Columbus arrived at Palos, Spain, on the 15th March, 1493, with
the tremendous news of the Discovery of the New World. From the
New World he had brought back all manner of products of the newly
discovered countries, together with some of their natives. He also
brought back the news that the New World appeared to be rich in
precious metals. This latter information greatly fired the imagination
of the Spanish people, despoiled of their metallic wealth, by the Romans,
centuries before, as already stated. To quote Ad. F. Bandelier, "When
the discovery of the Antilles revealed the existence of gold, Spain
neglected the East, and turned her eyes to the West. The fever of gold
seized all who could emigrate, and the desire for gold and silver became
a powerful incentive to seek and grasp the wealth of the New World."
A rush to the new regions was inevitable. For the material good of
Spain, it may be concluded, as well as for the extension of Christ's
Kingdom on earth, the Catholic Monarchs did everything possible to
enable Columbus to continue his explorations.
It was obviously not all at once that Spain developed her colonial
empire in the West, the Americas. There were discoveries and there
were conquests. There were the islands of the Caribbean area to be
dealt with first, then there was the mainland. However, by 1521, Cortez
had finished the conquest of the Aztecs of Mexico, and New Spain
was an accomplished fact. By 1534, Pizarro had finished the conquest
of the Incas of Peru. The Spaniards had come to stay. For practically
three centuries, Spain was to apply her system of colonization in the
From the outset, Spanish America was a domain of the Spanish
Crown. As Ad. F. Bandelier has put it, discovery and colonization were
under the exclusive control of the Monarch: "Personal initiative was
thus placed ostensibly under a wholesome control, but it was also
unfavourably hampered in many instances". This happened, however,
not so much in the first century after Columbus as in the two following
centuries. Royal decrees for the "Indies", as the Spaniards called the
Americas for a long time, were promulgated rather profusely. A code
of laws for the American possessions became a fact at the end of the
seventeenth century. Both decrees and the code bear testimony to the
solicitous attention given by the Spanish Crown to the most minute
details in its possessions in the New World.
The earliest periods of Spanish colonization, says Ad. F. Bandelier,
were spent in attempts to establish a "modus vivendi" with the
aborigines. Doubts as to whether the natives were human beings or
not were soon disposed of by a royal decree asserting "their essential
human nature and certain rights necessarily flowing therefrom."
Whilst it cannot be denied that some of the "Conquistadores" were
guilty of excessive cruelty and of shameful massacres in dealing with
the natives, it must be said in all fairness that the Spanish Crown
adopted and maintained a Christian attitude towards them. The
Catholic Monarchs had the evangelisation of the New World at heart.
They took steps to obtain from the Holy See the nomination of a Vicar
Apostolic for the newly discovered lands across the ocean. This Vicar
Apostolic was authorised to arrange everything necessary for the
proper carrying out of the Divine Service in the Americas. Queen
Isabella made rich gifts to the future Church of the "Indies". Twelve
Religious, from different Orders, were to accompany the Vicar Apos-
tolic. All this for the second voyage of Columbus, on the 25th Septem-
ber, 1493. There was undoubtedly difficulties and disappointments at
the beginning, but in the course of time heroic Spanish Missionaries
followed in the steps of the "Conquistadores", ministered to the spirit-
ual needs of the soldiers and colonists, and christianized, educated, the
natives. The Gospel, the Mass, the Sacraments, were for the natives,
as well as for the half-breeds, the Creoles and the Spaniards. It is in
this setting that the Cedula of December 23, 1511, must be considered.
On his first voyage to the New World in 1492, Christopher Columbus
came across Indians of Arawak or Taino stock, on the island that he
called San Salvador (Watling's Island), and on the island that he
named Hispaniola (Haiti- Santo Domingo). They proved on the whole
to be peaceable and friendly. From the Arawaks, however, he learnt
of other Indians whom they considered their mortal enemies the
Caribs, as they were eventually called. These Caribs, he was told, were
ferocious people who had moved up through the southern islands,
making constant war upon the inhabitants. They raided the Greater
Antilles and the Bahamas. They carried off women and children into
captivity and practised cannibalism.
Returning to the West Indies at the end of 1493, Columbus went to
look for the Caribs of whom he had had such bad reports before.
Landing in Guadeloupe he found a Carib village but no Carib men;
the men had gone on a raid. But in Guadeloupe, and also in St. Martin,
he freed a number of women and boys who had been carried away
from Puerto Rico by Island Carib raiders. Some days later he had an
opportunity of seeing Indian warriors at St. Croix. They savagely
attacked his expedition on arrival there. It would seem lawful to con-
clude that those warriors were Caribs. One thing is certain, in the
course of time the Caribs of the Lesser Antilles were quick to oppose
the Spaniards when the latter tried to land.
Having eventually obtained conclusive evidence of the ferocious
customs of the Caribs, Columbus regarded them as dangerous to his
plans for settling amongst the Arawaks, as compromising the conver-
sion of the Arawaks, and he concluded they must be treated as
enemies. That meant, according to the custom of the day, their captors
had the right to reduce them to slavery. In fact, after the Spaniards
had captured a number of Caribs, Columbus sent some as prisoners
to Spain. He suggested to the Spanish monarchs that these Caribs
should be sold as slaves, so that they might be instructed in the
Christian Faith. But the Spanish monarchs did not adopt his sugges-
tion: the Caribs were treated as kindly In Spain as some friendly
Arawaks who had been previously sent over there. It was not very long,
however, before the Spanish Crown came to take other views of the
Caribs, and to make other decisions concerning them. On the 23rd
December, 1511, it published the following Cedula or Permit.
Text of The Royal Cedula
REAL CEDULA PARA QUE SE PUEDAN THOMAR POR ESCLAVOS, LOS CARIBES
DE LA TRINIDAD E DE OTRAS ISLAS; E LOS QUE LOS THOMAREN LOS PUEDAN
THERNER POR ESCLAVOS.
Burgos.-Diciembre 23 de 1511. (i).
Don Fernando etc.
Al Pryncipe Don Carlos Mi Muy Caro e Muy Amado nieto, c a los
infants, Prelados, Duques, Condes, Marqueses, Ricos-Omes, Maestres
de las 6rdenes, e a los del Mi Consexo, Oidores de las Mis Abdiencias,
Alcaldes de la de Ml Casa e Corte e Chancillerias; e a los Comenda-
deres e Subcomendadores, Alcaldes de los castillos e casas fuertes e
lianas, e a todos Consexos e Correxidores, Alcaldes, Alguaciles, Min-
istros e otras Xusticias e Xueces, qualesquier de todas las cibdades e
villas e lugares de los Mis Reynos e Sefiorios, e a cada uno e qualesquier
de vos; Salud e gracia: Sepades que Yo e la Serenysima Reyna Mi
muxer--que Sancta Gloria faya,-con celo que todas las personas que
vienen e estan en las Islas Indias e Tierra-Firme del Mar Oceano,
fueren crystianos e se rreduxesen a Nuestra Sancta F6e Cath6lica,
Obimos Mandado por una Nuestra Carta, que persona nin personas
algunas, que por Nuestro Mandado fuesen a las dichas Islas e Tierra-
Firme, non fuesen usados de prender nin cabtivar a nendguna nin algu-
nas personas nin personas de los yndios de las dichas Indias e Tierra-
Firme del Mar Oceano para los traer a estos Reyos, nin para los illevar
a otras parties algunas, nin les fyciesen otro mal nin dapflo en sus
personas nin en sus blenes, so clertas penas en la dicha Nuestra Carta
conthenidas; e a un por les facer merced, por algunas personas abian
traido de las dichas Indias e Islas algunos de los dichos yndios, los
Mandamos poner e fueron puestos en toda llbertad; e dempues de todo
esto fecho, por los mas convencer e animar a que fuesen crysthianos,
e porque vyviesen como ombres rrazonables. Obimos Mandado que
algunos capitanes Nuestros fuesen a la dicha Isla de Tierra-Firme del
Mar Oceano, e Imbiamos con ellos algunos rrelyxiosos que les predicasen
e dotrinasen en las cosas de Nuestra Sancta F6 Cath6lica, e para que
les rrequyriesen questhobiesen a Nuestro servycio; e como ques que de
algunas de las dichas Islas fueron, van acoxidos e rrescebidos en las
Islas de San Bernado, e Isla Fuerte; e en los puertos de Cartagena e
Isla de Varis e la Domynica e Mantenino e Sancta Lucia e Sant Vicente
e Concebcion, e la Isla de los Barbudos e Cabaco e Mayo, dondesta una
xente que se Hlaman los caribes, nunca los quysleron nin an querido
nin quieren oir, nin se quieren acoxer; antes se defendleron dellos con
sus armas e le rresystleron que non podiesen entrar, nin entren en la
dicha Isla dondellos estin, e aun en la dicha rresystencia, mataron
algunos crysthianos; e en esta dureza an perseverado los dichos yndios,
de las dichas Islas, e otros munchos de otras Islas que con ellos se an
xuntado, faciendo guerra a los yndios question a Nuestro servyclo, e
prendibndolos se los comen, como de fecho los comen; e ansi mesmo
le dan favor para que los dichos yndios fagan munchos males e
escesos, como a acaescldo de poco aca, quen la Isla de Sant Xoan, todos
los mas de los ynldos quen ella estaban, mataron a trayclon e
(1) Archivo de Indias.-E. 139. -C. 3.
Text of The Royal Cedula
ROYAL DECREE AUTHORISING THE TAKING AS SLAVES OF THE
CARIBS OF TRINIDAD AND OTHER ISLANDS, AND THOSE WHO
TAKE THEM TO HOLD THEM AS SLAVES.
Burgos, December 23, 1511.
Don Fernando etc.
To the Prince Don Carlos, My very dear and beloved grandson, and
to the Princes, Prelates, Dukes, Counts, Marquesses, Nobles, Masters of
Military Orders, Members of My Council, Magistrates of My Courts,
High Stewards of My Household and Court and Chancellories, Knight
Commanders and Subcommanders, Wardens of castles and strongholds
and posts, and to all Councillors, Corregidors, Mayors, Bailiffs, Ministers
and other Justices and Judges, in any of the cities and towns and
villages of My Kingdoms and Dominions, to each and every one of you,
Greetings and Grace: Know that I and the Most Serene Queen, My
consort may she be in Glory, zealous that all those persons who
come to and are in the Islands of the Indies and the Mainland of the
Ocean Sea should be Christians and accept Our Holy Catholic Faith,
had ordered by one of Our decrees that no person or persons whatso-
ever going to the aforesaid Islands and Mainland at Our orders be
permitted to seize or capture any person or persons of the Indians of
the aforesaid Indies, and Mainland of the Ocean Sea to bring them to
these Kingdoms or to take them elsewhere, or to do them harm or
hurt in their persons or belongings under penalties set forth in the
aforesaid Our Decree; and further to favour them, certain persons
having brought from the aforesaid Indies and Islands certain of the
aforesaid Indians, We ordered them set free and given complete liberty.
And after doing all this, to further persuade and encourage them to
become Christians, and to live like rational beings, We ordered certain
of our Captains to proceed to the aforesaid Island of the Mainland of
the Ocean Sea, and sent them certain friars to preach to them and
indoctrinate them in the precepts of Our Holy Catholic Faith, and to
exhort them to Our service. And whereas in certain of the aforesaid
Islands to which they went they were received and welcomed, in the
Islands of San Bernado, and Isla Fuerte; and in the ports of Cartagena
and Varis Island and Domynica and Mantenino and Sancta Lucia and
Sant Vicente and Concebcion, and the Island of Barbudos and Cabaco
and Mayo, where there is a people known as the Caribs, they never
wanted nor have wanted nor want to listen to them nor receive them;
on the contrary, they have held them off with their arms and have
resisted so they have not been able nor can they enter the aforesaid
Island where they are, and in the aforesaid resistance, they even killed
certain Christians; and in this contumacy these aforesaid Indians of
the aforesaid Islands have persisted, and many others of other Islands
who have joined them, making war on the Indians who are in Our
service, and taking them prisoners, they eat them, as they really do;
and they also incite the aforesaid Indians to commit many evils and
abuses, as has recently occurred, where in the Island of Sandt Xoan most
of the Indians there treacherously and perfidiously killed Don
alevosamente a Don Crist6bal de Sotomayor, Lugar-Thyniente de
Nuestro Capitan de la dicha Isla, e a Don Diego de Sotomayor, su
sobrino, e a otros munchos chrysthianos quen la dicha Isla estaban,
e ellos pydieron a voces los matar, e abrasaron un lugar de la dicha
Isla, de dos quen ella abia, e matando todos los crysthianos que
thomaron, dempues se alzaron e rrebelaron contra Nuestra servycio,
e a thernido forma, como todos los otros yndlos que quedaban en la
dicha Isla de Sant Xoan se rrebelaban como lo estan rrebelados, faci-
endo guerra a los crystianos; por lo qual los movieron e mataron. e
vynieron para lo poner en obras muncho numero de los dichos caribes
a la dicha Isla de Sant Xoan; e porque Yo e seydo Ynformado, que por
lo que convene al servycio de a Dios e Mio e a la paz e sosiego de
las xentes que viven en las dichas Islas e Tierra-Firme question a Mi
servycio, que los dichos caribes sean castigados por los delitos que an
cometido contra Mis sfibditos, convenia que Yo mandase proveer
sobrello, Yo Mando a los de Mi Consexo, que lo viesen e platicasen, e
por ellos visto e acatado, como vos con celo, que los dichos caribes
fuesen rreducidos a Nuestra Sancta Fee Catholica, an seydq rreque-
ridos que fusen crystianos e se convyrtiesen e esthobiesen yncor-
porados en union de los fleles e por Nuestra obydiencia, e vyviesen
syguramente, e tratasen bien a los otros sus vecinos de las dichas Islas,
non lo an querido facer como dicho es, antes an buscadol e buscan de
se defender para non ser dotrinados nin ensefiados en las cosas de
Nuestra Sancta Fee Catholica, e continuamente an fecho e facen
guerra a Nuestros subditos e naturales, e an muerto munchos crystianos
de los que an ydo a las dichas Islas: e por estar como estin en-
durecidos en su mal prop6sito, despedazando e comiendo los dichos
yndios, fu6 acordado que debia Mandar dar esta Mi carta en la dicha
rrazon, e Yo th6belo por bien; por ende, por la present Doy lycencia
e facultad a todos e qualesquier personas que con Mi mandado fuesen,
ansi a las Islas e Tierra-Firme del Mar Oceano que fast agora estan
descobiertas, como a los que fueren a descobrir otras qualesquier Islas,
porque faga guerra a los caribes de las Islas de la Trynidad, de Varis
e de la Domynica, e Mantenino e Sancta Lucia, e Sant Vicente e la
Concebcion, e los Barbudos, e Cabaco e Mayo, e los puedan cabtivar e
cabtiven, para llevar a las parties e yslas dondellos quysieren; e porque
los puedan vender e aprovecharse dellos sin que por ello caygan nin
yncurran en pena alguna, e sin que Nos paguen dello parte alguna,
contanto que non los vendan nin eleven fuera de las dichas Indias; e
Mandamos a vos las dichas Nuestras Xusticias e a cada uno de vos,
que ansi lo guard6des e complides, como en esta Mi carta se conthiene;
e quen contra el thenor e forma dello non vayades nin pasedes nin
consintides yr nin pasar; e porque lo susodicho sea notorio etc. Dada
en Burgos a veinte e tres de Diciembre de mil e quynientos e once
afios.-Yo el Rey.-Por Mandado de Su Alteza.-Lope Conchillo, etc.-
Lycenciado Zapata.-Lycenciado Muxica.-Dotor Carvajal.-Lycenci-
Cristobal de Sotomayor, Lieutenant of our Captain of the aforesaid
Island, and Don Diego de Sotomayor, his nephew, and many other
Christians who were in the aforesaid Island, and with loud shouts they
urged them to kill them, and burned one of the two villages that were
there, and killing all the Christians they took prisoners, afterwards
they rose and revolted against Our service, and as a result all the
other Indians in the aforesaid Island of Sant Xoan rebelled, as they
are now in rebellion, making war on the Christians; to this they were
incited and killed, and to put it into effect a great number of the
aforesaid Caribs came to the aforesaid Island of Sant Xoan; and be-
cause I have been informed that for the service of God and Myself
and the peace and tranquility of the people who live in the aforesaid
Islands and Mainland who are in My service the aforesaid Caribs
should be punished for the crimes they have committed against My
subjects, and I should take measures to this end, I ordered the members
of My Council to consider and discuss it, and considered and discussed
by them, as by you, with earnest zeal that the aforesaid Caribs be
brought to Our Holy Catholic Faith, they have been urged to become
Christians and become converted and incorporated in the union of
the faithful and to Our obedience, and to live in safety and friendship
with their other neighbours of the aforesaid Islands; and they have
not wanted to do as has been said, but rather have sought ,and seek
to keep themselves from being instructed and taught the matters of
Our Holy Catholic Faith, and they have continually made and make
war on Our subjects and natives, and have killed many Christians of
those who have gone to the aforesaid Islands; and because they are
so set in their evil ways, dismembering and eating the aforesaid Indians,
it was decided that I should issue this decree of Mine in the following
terms, and it seems to Me good. Therefore, by these presents, I give
permission and authorization to any and all persons going at My
orders to the Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea discovered up
to now, as well as to any other Islands that may be discovered, to
make war on the Caribs of the Islands of Trynidad, Varis, and Domy-
nica, and Mantenino, and Sancta Lucia, and Sant Vicente, and Con-
cebcion, and Barbudos, and Cabaco and Mayo, and they may make
prisoners of them, and take them to the places and islands they so
desire, and sell them and profit from them without on that account
incurring any penalty, and without having to pay Us any part, pro-
vided they do not sell them or take them outside the aforesaid Indies;
and We order you, Our Officers of Justice, each and every one of you,
to observe and comply with what is set forth in this My decree; and
that you are not to act or take measures contrary to its tenor and
content, nor permit this to be done. And that the foregoing may be
known, etc. Issued in Burgos on the twenty-third of December of the
year one thousand five hundred and eleven. I, the King. At the
Orders of His Highness. Lope Conchillo, etc. Licentiate Zapata.
Licentiate Muxica. Doctor Carvajal. Licentiate Santiago. (Translated
from Torres de Mendoza, Luis ed. Coleccion de Documentos ineditos,
Vol. XXXII, 304 309.)
Attempt At Certain Clarifications
Apart from its quaintness of style and punctuation, this Royal
Permit of the 23rd December, 1511, offers a number of difficulties,
particularly as to certain place names. Here is an attempt to solve
some of those difficulties. As mentioned at the beginning Dr. Beate
Salz has made helpful suggestions.
To begin with, the DON FERNANDO who issues the Cedula is
Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Aragon and Castille from 1468 to 1516.
Married to Isabella of Castille, he reduced the Moors at Grenada in
1492, and achieved Spanish unity. He and his Queen patronized
Christopher Columbus in the matter of his voyages of discovery.
At the beginning of the decree, Ferdinand makes an allusion to
a former document issued by himself and Isabella. This must have
been published before 1504, because Isabella died that year; it may
have been the "carta patented" of 1503 concerning the treatment to be
given to the Indians. Bartolom6 de las Casas comments upon this
document in his "Historia" (Bk. 11, ch. 12 19), but he seems to make
of it the Queen's order. If that were the case, one may conclude that
Ferdinand signed the decree as well. However, it is certain from the
1511 Cedula that the Spanish Crown had begun by insisting upon
respect for the person and the belongings of the Indians of the New
World; and by endeavouring to give them the benefits of Christianity
In some of the Islands of the New World, points out Ferdinand,
the Spanish Captains and Missionaries had been received and wel-
comed. That, however, had not been the case in several other Islands-
"where there is a people known as the Caribs". There follows the first
list in the Cedula of places where the Indians had shown hostility to
the Spaniards: "in the Islands of San Bernardo . It is here that
the difficulties begin.
For Dr. Salz, San Bernada, Fuerte and Varis, grouped together in
in the text with the port of Cartagena (the city of Cartagena was
founded somewhat later), are somewhat puzzling. Las Casas says that
the 1503 document of Isabella mentions the islands of "Sant Bernado
and the Isla Fudrte and the Islas de Baru (no doubt Varisbs) ". But
he adds that he does not know which they are-"except those of Barf
which are close to Cartagena". However, Dr. Salz points out that a
National Geographic Society map of 1939 shows a tiny S. Bernado
island off the coast of Colombia between modern Cartagena and the
Golfo de Morosquillo. One or the other of these tiny islands may
correspond to Bari or Varis, as may Fuerte.
Domynica, of course, offers no difficulty: Columbus had discovered
and named it in November, 1493. Mantenino, placed geographically as
we may presume, between Domynica and Sancta Lucia, must be
Martinique. The Carib name for Martinique is said to have been
"Madiana"; Fernando Columbus speaks of a stop at "Martinico" on
the 4th voyage of his father; but it may well be that the royal scribes
at Burgos in 1511 wrote Mantenino for the island in question. Sancta
Lucia, the Spanish name for Saint Lucia, is of particular interest here,
as it is the first definite mention of this island known at present. It
would seem to indicate that the Spaniards (if not Columbus himself)
had discovered and named it.
Next in the Caribbean Arc mentioned in the 1511 Cedula is Sant
Vicente-obviously Saint Vincent. Concebcion, the next named island,
has been the object of much discussion. It now seems proved beyond
doubt that Grenada is the island referred to: not only a very old
tradition but also historical data have thrown light on the question.
Isla de los Barbudos is another rather troublesome name in the
Spanish King's list. The Portuguese are said to have called Barbados
by this name in 1536. However, coming here, as it does after the Wind-
ward Islands of Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and
Grenada, it seems to postulate Barbados rather than Barbuda. This
is the opinion of Dr. Salz (cf. Sir Alan Burns, History of the British
West Indies, p. 179). Nevertheless, the two islands that follow: Cabaco
and Mayo would seem to take us to the Bahamas. Dr. Salz says that
Cabaco must be Abaco, and Mayo must be Mayaguana, both of that
group. However, Fr. Raymond Devas, in the "Bajan" of July 1961, says
Mayo was another name for Grenada.
In the second list of islands where the Caribs are to be found,
according to the 1511 Cedula, Trynidad is to be found. It is not in the
first list, but it is mentioned in the caption of the Cedula and pre-
sumably as the most important. On the other hand, San Bernado,
Fuerte and Cartagena occur in the first list, but not in the second.
An island that holds importance in the Cedula, without occurring
in either list, is that of Sant Xoan. This, says Dr. Salz, is San Juan de
Puerto Rico, that is Puerto Rico. The murder of the Sotomayors re-
ferred to in the document occurred in 1510 or 1511, not very long
before the publication of the decree.
The expression "Island of the Mainland of the Ocean Sea" which
occurs in the Cedula of 1511 is rather obscure. Particularly as the
word "aforesaid" is found before it. The previous reference in reality
is . the Islands of the Indies and the Mainland of the Ocean Sea."
Would "Island of the Mainland of the Ocean Sea" be a coypist's
mistake? Perhaps. Could it be a reference to Trinidad? As Trinidad
is specifically mentioned in the caption to the Cedula the expression
might possibly be understood in that sense.
With regard to certain obscurities in the text of the document,
Mr. Federico de Onis (the translator's husband and an authority on
Spanish literature and language) thought they might be errors on the
part of the person who made the Copy from the original document
in the Spanish archives. For Dr. Salz, the Cedula of 1511 may be based
on the 1503 Letter of Queen Isabella. In. which case, It would have
incorporated 1503 notions of the island world that Spain was then
opening up in the western hemisphere. It may also have incorporated
wordings of the 1503 document or very condensed records thereof.
The hostility shown by the Caribs to the Spaniards when they
attempted to settle in the New World that they had discovered brought
Ferdinand the Catholic to promulgate this Cedula of the 23rd Decem-
ber, 1511. It was undoubtedly drastic. Perhaps it was responsible for
the opposition that the Island Caribs of the New World offered, not
only the Spaniards but also the English, the French and others, for
nearly three centuries. Is it possible to justify this decree?
When the Spaniards discovered the New World in 1492 the Island
Caribs were practically in possession of the Lesser Antilles. From
there they were carrying out endless and devastating raids on the
islands of which they were not yet the masters. They were in the
Caribbean area as conquerors of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
According to the laws and customs of the times, they were the lawful
inhabitants of the area.
But was that area so restricted in size as to exclude the possibility
of other nations, peoples, races, settling there peaceably in view of
their own expansion and development? No. The area in question was
immense, and the Caribs in question were certainly not sufficiently
numerous to occupy it, settle it, cultivate and develop it. There was
room, then, for colonists from Europe-room for Caribs and Europeans
to live peaceably together, room for co-existence, room for mutual aid.
Were the first Spanish colonists ready to live peaceably with the
Island Caribs? It would seem so. Christopher Columbus definitely began
by trying to make friends of the Indians whom he found on San
Salvador and Hispaniola. He appears to have had plans for christian-
ising and civilising them. It is true that, as time went on some Spaniards
rendered themselves guilty of cruelty, oppression and atrocity towards
the natives of the New World. But the attitude towards the natives
in general, Arawaks, Caribs and others would seem to have been at
first the attitude manifested by Columbus at San Salvador and His-
paniola, the attitude which King Ferdinand attests had been that of
the Spanish Crown in the 1511 Cedula.
Were the Caribs themselves to be blamed, then, for the drastic
treatment meted out to them in that Cedula? Hard as it may appear
to say so, it would seem fair to say that they were at least partly
responsible. On many occasions they gave proof of peaceable dispositions.
It is on record that an English colony in St. Lucia managed to live on
good terms with the Caribs there for more than eighteen months:
that was around the year 1640. Several old writers pay tribute to the
good qualities of the Caribs. In spite of that, however, the general
opinion of those who have made a study of the Island Caribs in his-
toric times is unfavourable. It would seem to bear out the affirmation
of King Ferdinand speaking of their attitude towards the Captains
and Missionaries sent out to them by the Spanish Crown: "they never
wanted nor have wanted nor want to listen to them nor receive them;
on the contrary, they have held them off with their arms . they
even killed certain Christians".
Much as we must regret the disappearance of the Island Caribs
in the three centuries that followed the discovery of the New World,
and much as we must regret the barbarous treatment that they often
met with at the hands of the European settlers, we are forced to admit
that the European settlers generally acted in self defence against a
people that refused to live side by side with them, in an area large
enough for all.
Documents Which Have Guided
Educational Policy In The
The Mitchinson Report, Barbados, 1875
THE REPORT of the Mitchinson Commission proposed consolidation
of contemporary achievement, not innovation or extensive reform of
education in Barbados. The main purpose was to create a ladder,
however limited the chances of ascent, from existing primary schools
and to further education where it could be organised.
Unlike the Keenan Report, published six years earlier in Trinidad,'
the Mitchinson Report was produced on the order of the House of
Assembly by a commission of well-known persons in Barbados, most of
whom were members of the hardworking Education Committee which
administered both primary and secondary education. Bishop Mitchinson
was chairman of the special education commission; he was also chair-
man of the Education Committee, as was every Bishop of Barbados in
the nineteenth century.
In short this was a commission of the administrators of education
in Barbados giving consideration to their regular work with a view to
co-ordinating its parts into a progressive educational system for the
island. The report was not the recommendations of a visiting expert
appointed by the Colonial Office with a special commission, and the
Barbadian Assembly were proud of the fact.2
The Mitchinson Commissioners uncompromisingly equated primary
with working class education, and enunciated its universal value as
teaching the mass of the people their place as a labouring population.
at the same time as recognising that the outstandingly able should be
helped to rise from that class with opportunities of secondary educa-
tion. This in its turn was labelled middle class and its recipients were
regarded as middle class by virtue of attaining to secondary education,
whether by merit or by the ability to pay for it.
It was recommended that a Barbados Scholarship should be
instituted to take the ablest boy of the year to Oxford or Cambridge.
Codrington College should be extended to provide for the proxime
accesits, and negotiations were already in train with the University of
1 See Caribbean Quarterly. Vol. 8, No. 4, December 1962 and Vol. 9. No. 1, March 1963.
2 They indignantly resisted for two years all persuasion to pay the expenses of John
Savage, Inspector of Schools for Jamaica, sent by the colonial authorities, without the
consent of the Assembly, to report on Barbadian education in the following year. Only
the fear that refusal might jeopardize thetr successful resistance to Crown colony
government finally made them concede the lesser evil of payment to Savage.
Durham to allow candidates from Codrington to sit for degree examina-
tions in classics and natural sciences.
The nature and the quality of education at each stage was
thoroughly discussed and the class difference between primary and
secondary, although a small minority would experience both, was
emphasised by the proposals made for the teaching. For infant and
primary schools the system of payment by results, started in Barbados
twelve years previously, was not questioned. All proposals were rather
to make it more efficient by ensuring annual inspection, improved
training of teachers and higher salaries to attract a better educated
profession: these were improvements on a system, not even a query on
the merits of the system itself.
For secondary education there was similarly a reassertion of the
principle of first and second grade schools already put into practice in
the elevation of Harrison's Free School to first-grade status in 1870, and
the subsidising of other endowed schools in the island as second grade
schools enacted as policy since 1858. The Mitchinson Commissioners
simply endorsed the scheme by clearer definition and by recommend-
ing ways and means for starting more secondary schools mainly by re-
applying more existing endowments. It was emphasised that the
difference between first and second grade schools lay not in distinctions
of class but simply in the length of course that pupils proposed to
undertake. The courses proposed for the two types of secondary school
were thoroughly discussed and a special feature was the proposed choice
between classical and modern studies for boys who reached the higher
forms of the first-grade schools.
The report ended without peroration with a plea for better educa-
tion for girls. The Mitchinson commissioners, who obviously knew the
contemporary discussion on the subject in England did not commit
themselves to views on whether girls should receive indentically the
same education as boys or whether their capacities are the same. They
simply asserted that "if female education here is unsound and flimsy,
narrow in range and wanting in thoroughness; if moreover, the most
valuable part of a young child's education . depends mainly on
maternal training, it is idle to expect the boys in our first and second-
grade schools to go there well-prepared and receptive of culture till this
defect is remedied." The report ends with the simple conclusion that
"after all, perhaps the key to the problem of education is to be found
in the establishment, if possible, of thoroughly sound female education
in the Colony."
The concluding discussion is characteristic of the whole report.
The commissioners were confident and aware of achievement; already
the claims were being made that Harrison College was the leading
educational establishment in the West Indies and Barbados had the
institutions at three levels which could be connected as an educational
ladder. Reference to the English educational system and standards as
a model to be emulated were made at every stage of the report. 1 John
Savage in his unwelcome report a year later found the confidence over-
complacent and was particularly critical of so much expenditure of
public money and zeal on secondary education when in his view
Barbadian primary schools were in a rudimentary state of development.
1 Few of these are quoted in the following excerpts.
Above all the report was not contentious in tone. Unlike Keenan,
who wanted to upset the secular system in Trinidad, the Mitchinson
Commission were agreed on policy and so could concentrate on develop-
ment. They were not troubled by racial or denominational differences,
and the articulate were not yet ready to challenge their assumptions
on class differences. Moreover as the report advocated the use of the
educational ladder as a means of social mobility and specifically rejected
any colour bar in this process, there was nothing to offend the many
Barbadians of all classes who supported educational development In the
island precisely for the values that the report expressed.
EXCERPTS FROM THE MITCHINSON REPORT
A. Primary Education
1. The purpose of universal, publicly provided primary schooling is
enunciated as the first concern of a public education system.
The first department of Education claiming attention in any
country is Primary Education. Its importance is paramount, as, upon
the quality of such Education and its adequacy as regards extent of
diffusion, depends in a great degree the intelligence, industry, and self-
restraint of each rising generation of what must always numerically
form the great bulk of the population.
Financially also it must necessarily be the most important item in
the Public money expended on Education, as, from the nature of the
case, the classes in society for which this Education is designed, are
least able by efforts of their own to pay for it, and, even under the
most favourable circumstances, can be expected to defray but a small
portion of the expenditure required for it.
It is presumed to be needless to argue the question whether the
education of every child in the community is desirable or not. Opinion
may fairly vary as to the quality, extent, and nature of the education
given, and as to whether mental culture or purely industrial training
should preponderate. All, however, probably agree that education, if
by education is meant sound training and discipline, is desirable for
2. The existing short-comings of Barbadian primary education:
(a) The lack of interest amongst influential laymen. Besides
the absence of voluntary support to such Schools on any consider-
able scale, no one can fail to notice the entire want of interest in
their working and success evinced by the upper and middle classes
generally . Here it is the rarest thing for an influential
layman to interest himself in the Primary or Infant School of his
neighbourhood, and they are left, so far as supervision and
encouragement go, to the occasional professional visit of the
Inspector, or to the sometimes equally rare semi-professional visit
of the Ministers of Religion.
(b) The limitations of inspection and the need for annual
examination of schools.
The Inspector's visit must necessarily be rare. He is expected to
A -- ,3 "
be perpetually paying surprise visits of inspection to all the Schools
in the Island; and to be from time to time, after due notice to the
several Schools, conducting the examination of every child in each
and every subject with an exactness and accuracy which to some
might seem superfluous so that a school of 80 children usually
occupies him over two days in its examination ....
Of course, under these circumstances, it is Impossible for him to
examine and report upon each of these 161 Schools once a year,
if for no other reason, simply because during certain seasons of
the year it would be an injustice to the teacher to examine a thinly
attended school, and thus the time during which examinations
may properly be held narrows itself into eight or nine months
But it is very important that examinations should be annual .
It is important for the children, in order that they may be
encouraged to a healthy rivalry and desire to earn credit. It is
important for parents, that they may have some means (the only
means within their reach) of testing the value of the education
their children are receiving. It is important to the teachers as
furnishing that wholesome stimulus to systematic effort which
even the best need, and it is important to the State to be assured
that each year's payment in premiums &c. is really payment by
results, and not, as is sometimes and may often under the present
system be, payment of an incompetent or deteriorating teacher
for the results produced by his predecessor or by himself in better
and more zealous days.
(c) The inadequacies of the teaching profession are explained by
poor recruitment on the renumeration offered under the payment
by results system as operated, the over-reliance on the pupil
teacher system and the deficiencies of such teacher training as
Our payments here from the Education grant are, as has been
observed, by results. They consist of (1) a fixed allowance, (2)
Capitation money, (3) Examination Premiums. To these must be
added (4) allowances from Vestry grants, (5) School Fees, i.e.
The teacher of a good Primary School may at present expect to
earn about 50 a year, an Infant School teacher about 15.
These sums are exclusive of School Fees, which, as will hereafter
be shewn, are ordinarily a mere trifle. Such a salary as this is not
sufficient to attract really superior men and women to make
education their profession: hence it is that a considerable number
of pupil-teachers, from among whom our School Masters should
be recruited, diverge as soon as possible into other walks of life,
and become clerks in stores &c.; not finding Education as a
profession sufficiently remunerative to attract them to it in
preference to other openings in life.
The case is even worse with the Infant School teachers whose
pittance is considerably less. Until, however, education is elevated
into an honourable and fairly lucrative profession, it is idle to
expect those who have brains and energy to devote themselves to
it, unless they are animated by an exceptional spirit of self-
sacrifice. And until we get the pick of our really valuable and
promising young men and women to embark in this as their
profession in life, it is idle to expect the education given by them
to be of a really sterling value, and calculated to ennoble as well
as Inform our lower classes.
The teachers also labour under the disadvantage of deficient train-
ing. That they turn out as good and efficient as so many of them
do, says much for the Pupil-teacher system which prevails here.
But the utmost that such a system can do is to impart a bare
modicum of knowledge and to habituate by practice to teaching.
There never can be any study of education as a theory, no attempt
at analytical study of man's moral and intellectual nature with a
view to bringing this knowledge to bear on the formation of
children's character, above all no subjecting of the would-be
teacher to those refining and moulding influences which can alone
be got by instruction from and contact with superior minds. It is
true some of our masters have been trained at the Central Schools
in earlier days, and a few have brought up at the Mission House
of Codrington College; but on the one hand, the system there
pursued does not seem for some time back (if ever) to have been
the best for this purpose; while on the other, all the students there
have been educated under an avowed or tacit understanding that
they would, as soon as required, devote themselves to Mission work
in Africa. Hence a very limited number of young men have ever
offered themselves for such training.
(d) The evil of irregular and non-attendance at school is
accounted for by poverty, by the practice of child employment and
by attitudes resisting compulsory education.
Many reasons are assigned for it; poverty, want of clothes, in-
difference to education on the part of parents, especially in that
terribly large class of them who are united together in no lawful
or permanent wedlock. The general employment of child labour
too, as being cheaper than that of adults, on the part of agri-
culturists, has been alleged as a reason for deficient school
This last named cause of non-attendance, if widely prevalent,
is an undoubted evil from every point of view. Nor does there
seem any reason to hope that there will naturally grow up any
juster appreciation of the advantage of education on the part of
the lower classes. Something in the nature of compulsory educa-
tion will have to be resorted to. But, with a population morbidly
sensitive and suspicious of everything that suggests the idea of
servitude ever so remotely, direct compulsion would be unwise, if
not impossible; nor would it be advantageous to the community
to fill our gaols with neglectful or recalcitrant parents. There
seems no reason, however, why an indirect system such as is
recommended in the Report, should not work easily and satis-
factorily. Everything would depend on the co-operation of
planters and managers; but it is believed that very many of these
would be far-sighted enough to recognize the superior value of
the labourer who had been under teaching and discipline to the
1 0 _
entirely untaught child, and a few well selected examples would
secure general conformity to the law from the rest.
3. Employers' suspicion of educated labourers on the one hand, and,
on the other, parents' aspirations for higher employment as a result of
primary education must be countered; but, nevertheless, an avenue of
advancement for the very able of all classes must exist to recruit a
stable middle class, as in England, and to stimulate primary education.
A misgiving, no doubt, prevails that to teach the agricultural
labourers' children is to unfit them for such labour as must necessarily
be their lot in life. No doubt the few children who rise to the top of a
primary School will always look higher for their life-profession; and so,
if the community is to prosper, they ought; for the handicrafts and
trades require constantly recruiting from a lower social stratum; but
the rank and file of every School will naturally follow in the tract of
their parents. Their School learning may, probably will, soon be for-
gotten, unless kept up through the zeal of the ministers of religion by
night Schools, Sunday Schools, and the like; but the habit of obedience,
order, punctuality, honesty and the like, which a child ought insensibly
to acquire in his progress, be it ever so slow, through a well-disciplined
school, are likely to stick to him all through life, and make him a better
labourer than he would have been without this training.
It must be recollected that in previous years a comparatively small
fraction of the children of the poorer classes were being educated;
naturally therefore those who enjoyed this advantage did seek to better
themselves in life as they grew up. If, however, all or even a very large
majority of the population were under education, it is manifest that
the majority must return to field labour, for the simple reason that
other trades and employment will be over-stocked, nor can it be
reasonably doubted that they will be the better labourers for being
But it is not only desirable that the best stratum in each primary
school should gravitate upwards, i.e. should struggle into a more
advantageous position socially speaking; it will also conduce to the
Interests of the community and the stability of its Institutions, if the
very best units in that best stratum be placed, through means of access
to our highest type of education, within reach of the best social and
professional positions attainable in the Colony. The hereditary
aristocracy of England gains strength and influence by being frequently
recruited from the middle classes. There will probably be but very
few in each generation who are worth this exceptional treatment, and
even of these some will turn out failures after promise. It is, however,
an experiment worth trying, and the existence of even one such exhibi-
tion per annum from primary to first grade schools, will have a whole-
somely stimulating effect on primary education generally.
B. First and Second Grade Schools
1. Middle class education is random in provision and too ambitious
in aspiration; it should be systematised so that a second grade day
school could be reached from anywhere in the island.
Although, much requires to be done before the education of the
lower classes can be deemed to be in a thoroughly satisfactory state,
there is at present little if anything done by the state for the educa-
tion of the middle section of our community in this Colony. There is
a small foundation school called the Seminary in St. Andrew's parish,
where about a dozen boys are instructed by the Curate of St. Simon's
Chapel; there is also a foundation school in St. Lucy's taught in common
with a parochial white boys' school. The most successful school of this
stamp is one established in the first instance by private liberality on
the estate of "Pilgrim Place" in Christ Church, and subsequently aided
by an annual grant given in exhibitions to pupils, by the Education
Committee. In most cases, however, this type of education is left to
private adventure, and, independently of a large number of such
schools, of more or less repute, in Bridgetown and its suburbs, it seems
to be the case that generally the Clergy throughout the Island under-
take the tuition of a few pupils in addition to their regular professional
duties. To what extent this combination of amateur school-mastering
with Clerical work is satisfactory or the reverse, it is for the Church
authorities to decide. The Education, however, of an Important section
of the community ought not to be left thus to haphazard, nor should
a good day school of the second-grade type be absolutely out of the
reach of any resident In the Island.
Besides the scanty provision existing for such education, it does
not appear, that the quality of that which is at present Imparted Is
the most suitable possible to the requirement of the class for which it
generally designed. It is too ambitious. Every such school as has been
adverted to, from Christ Church downwards, aims at being a first-
grade school in miniature; and as many boys as possible, whatever be
their destination in life and however scanty the period they can devote
to education, are pushed on into higher subjects of study in which.
from the nature of the case, they can never make progress of any value.
2. The proper scope, content and qualities of second-grade educa-
tion are suggested.
The term second-grade education must not be confounded with
middle-class education. It has nothing necessarily to do with a child's
social rank or future prospects: it simply has reference to the amount
of time that can be allotted to instruction before entering on the
business of life, and to the estimated capacity of the pupil to profit
by instruction. Second-grade education signifies that which, under
ordinary circumstances, ends at the age of sixteen.
In a second-grade school, where a boy's education probably begins
at ten and should end at sixteen, the object proposed should be, over
and above the work of developing memory, attention, and intelligence,
which is the business of primary education, to train the pupil in power
of analysis, iri accuracy, in skilful command of language, and to teach
him to make use of his reasoning power and his faculty of observation.
To effect this, the course of study in a second-grade school should, in
addition to religious teaching, consist of Arithmetic, geometry, and
elementary mathematics to develop accuracy and reasoning power.
Latin, studied rather as a language than as containing a literature, and
English to develop analytical power and command of language as well
as to enforce accuracy, and some one of the natural sciences to develop
observation. In order to give a more intelligent grasp of English and
appreciation of its structure and idioms, a living modern language, such
as French, ought also, if possible, to be studied. The only cultivation of
tastes in such schools will ordinarily be found in the careful and
systematic teaching of vocal music and drawing, which are desirable,
though not necessary adjuncts to such a course.
3. The scope of first-grade education is defined as an extension of
second-grade education by further study in either classical or modern
subjects after a common course of general education for all pupils. The
modern course could be a special feature of Harrison College. 1
This kind of education presupposes the average of boys that avail
themselves of it not to leave School much before eighteen years of age.
And it proposes, in addition to the subject-matter of second-grade
education, to educate the boy's taste, to inform his mind, and to create
a desire for further information, and to impart to him that
indescribable something which we call 'culture'. It may effect these
objects by either classical or modern discipline. To some extent these
run in the same groove. That is to say, every boy sent to a first-grade
School ought during his earlier years to be trained in exactly the same
way up to a certain point in his mental growth. This general pre-
liminary training will consist of grammar, arithmetic, and general
knowledge, i.e. History, Geography, and the like, and for this purpose,
it is well that all boys intended for first-grade education should be well
drilled in Latin and Greek Grammar, with construing and exercises,
should master Arithmetic and the elements of Geometry, and should
have made at least a rudimentary acquaintance with the French
language. If they can also have rationally mastered the rudiments of
one of the less abstruse Sciences of Observation, say Botany or Zoology,
so much the better for the after superstructure.
Up to this point, all boys in such schools should be rigidly trained
alike, regardless of the whims or fancies of parents.
At about the age of fourteen or fifteen it ought not to be difficult
to discover what is the bias of the boy's mind, and whether he is likely
to profit most by 'classical' or 'modern' teaching. This will to some
extent be indicated by the profession or career chosen for him by his
parent. For some youths; perhaps for most, a classical education com-
bined with a modicum of mathematics and a modern language is the
most congenial and the most useful. In their case, taste is developed
by the careful study of the copious literature of Greece and Rome,
accuracy and thoroughness ensured by a deeper insight into grammar
and philology, and culture brought about by that mastery in a more or
less degree of the two classical languages, which is implied in gaining
skill in composition In them both, and by that wider collateral know-
ledge which every classical scholar is obliged to acquire in order to
comprehend the authors he is studying.
To other youths, however, Latin and Greek are a weariness and
Composition, especially verse in either language, a waste of time, for
1 The report had recommended that Lodge School should also be adopted as a first-
grade school by negotiation with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel which
the simple reason that they would never attain proficiency in it. For
these the modern side gives a solid and useful education if it be
thorough. In this department Greek is dropped, Latin merely kept up
(but nothing more) and anything like composition (except in English)
abandoned. The backbone of the work is mathematics. Accuracy and
observation, as well as the Inductive faculty, are trained by one or more
branches of Natural Science such as Chemistry, Physics, and the like,
while taste is cultivated by the critical study of some works of English
Literature and by the study of French or German (or both) not only
for the languages' sake, but also for their literature. If this idea of
high modern education is well worked out at Harrison's, it will, with-
out superseding the Classical and General Instruction given there, give
a distinctive character to the School, and not improbably commend it
to the consideration of those parents who either undervalue a Classical
education, or think modern education more likely to advance their
sons' Interests in life.
C. Higher Education
1. The general case for higher education as a desirable extension of
It would be a very desirable thing if every youth that proved to be
at all susceptible of culture could go through a course of higher
academical training before settling down to is life-work. Assuming him
to leave school at seventeen or eighteen, a two years' course at College
would complete his training at twenty. This academic finishing of
school education is very desirable for several reasons. In the first
place a youth embarks on actually fresh branches of learning at
College, which his school-work has fitted him to attempt with hope of
profit. Logic; moral and mental philosophy and metaphysics; theology
studied as a science more than for its practical value in inculcating
religious principles; history studied more philosophically; branches of
science followed out with greater accuracy and juster appreciation of
their theory than of their mere outward facts and pehnomena; all
of these ought to form a part of the system of an Academic Institution,
at least for those who go there with good school preparation and the
capacity and desire for high mental culture. Besides, the youth is
brought into closer contact and social intercourse with superior minds,
than is ever likely to be the case in his relations to his schoolmasters;
he lives in common with other youths of like intent and bias; he has
more leisure for self-culture, that is to say fewer tasks in the shape
of daily routine of lessons and excercises to be acquired and produced;
and (presumably) more facilities for study in the shape of a Library
always ready to his hand. If disposed to study and diligence, these
two years may be of incalculable benefit to any young man, whatever
be his destination.
2. Oxford and Cambridge should be available to the best candidates
only, and for this an annual scholarship is proposed based on external
examinations; a Barbados Scholarship will be a stimulus to education
even If the scholars do not return to the Island.
1 0 *
It is needless to ob ;erve that this education in its most perfect form
can best be had in the two great seats of learning in the Mother
Country, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It would indeed
be a great advantage to the Colony, if she could send her very best raw
material to be worked up there into a cultivated article. Few may be
worth the cost implied in so doing; of these still fewer perhaps would
return to the colony to enrich it with the fruits of their higher culture.
Yet the advantage to the cause of education in this island would be
great and worth the cost of the one or even two exhibitions per annum.
For it would be regarded as the great annual prize to which every boy
would look with hope, and towards which he would direct his best
efforts. Such a prize as this, however, ought rigorously to presuppose
not only competence, but excellence, on the part of the candidates for
it. It never ought to be the guerdon of the least indifferent of an
indifferent lot; and therefore it would be very desirable that the candi-
dates should be subjected to some extraneous test which may gauge
their merit by the standard of high English Education.
3. Codrington College, if negotiations with Durham University
succeed, can provide for a larger number to have further education at
home at less cost, and Codrington would develop from being simply a
Many of the rest who are far from attaining to the proposed
standard of excellence would nevertheless benefit greatly by academic
training in our own institution of Codrington College. Hitherto that
Institution, since its reconstitution as a College, has failed to take its
proper place in completing the education of our young men... Rightly
or wrongly, it has come to be considered a mere Theological Seminary,
or, if anything more, as a preparatory institution to an English Uni-
versity. There seems, however, no reason why, if well and adequately
officered, it should not itself supply this Academic Training to our
youth generally, at the termination of their School career. If, as is
hoped, the negotiations for affiliation to the University of Durham are
brought to a speedy and satisfactory close, our College Students will
secure the threefold advantage of an University degree without the
expense and difficulty of protracted absence from the Island, of an
extraneous test of the value of the teaching they have received, and
the way it has been assimilated by them, and of sufficiently wide choice
of the range of study or Faculty on which they will concentrate their
Most of the proposals for the Mitchinson Report were incorporated
in the Barbados Education Act of 1878. The negotiations with Durham
were successful and the Barbados legislature granted four scholarships
a year to Codrington College for students to prepare for Durham
degrees; mainly because of shortage of staff these were all classical
studies which continued at Codrington until 1952 when the Faculty of
Arts and Science opened at U.C.W.I. The Barbados Scholarship was
instituted. Harrison and Lodge both became first grade schools and,
in 1883, Queen's College was opened as a first-grade school for girls.
Before the end of the century several more second-grade schools were
started throughout the island both for boys and for girls; only at
Combermere in Bridgetown, however, was there ready support because
elsewhere, if parents aspired to secondary education at all, they sought
after the first grade.
Only in primary education was little achieved even in the limited
terms of the Mitchinson Report. The fees for teachers under the pay-
ment by results system were reduced, not Increased, in the financial
difficulties of the last decades of the century; the profession declined
further for the very reasons that the Mitchinson commissioners had
already advanced. The pupil teacher system perforce continued
because there was no money to establish a new training college.
Above all the principle emphasised in the opening of the report,
that primary education "must necessarily be the most important item
In the Public money expended on Education," was consistently neglect-
ed. Two-thirds of the funds for education were regularly spent on the
secondary education of about 600 pupils, while one-third was used for
the Instruction of over 23,000 primary school children. This was the
emphasis chosen by the House of Assembly. Primary school teachers
protested. Criticism grew in the liberal press. By 1890 the Governor
of Barbados was also himself querying the balance of the allocation
of funds. But this disproportionate expenditure continued largely
because the idea of an educational ladder had been established in
principle, and few were prepared to dilute the proud Barbadian achieve-
ment in secondary education because the rungs of the ladder were in
fact unattainable to about four-fifths of the school population. The
odd specially coached exception enabled the House of Assembly to abide
by their assertion that "it is possible, as has been already proved, for
children of the people to pass by progressive stages not only from the
elementary to the highest grade schools, but also to one of the English
Universities, at the expense of the Colony. 1 The Mitchinson Report
had provided an educational boost; neither the commissioners nor the
House of Assembly in fact did much to substantiate it in the following
1 Reply of the House of Assembly to the Governor's Speech openfag the Legldature,
2 February 1891.
Colonialism In Trinidad And Tobago
K. 0. LAURENCE
THE VOLUME of published writing on the history of the Caribbean
is so small that the appearance within a year of two works on the
history of a single country is a striking event. When one of those
works devotes the major part of its content to a critical analysis of
the operations of Crown Colony Government under British rule, which
despite its decisive influence on the development of the area has pre-
viously received very little appraisal, the event becomes one of the
greatest importance. When, further, this analysis is the work of a man
whose prominence in public life ensures that it will be far more widely
read, and exert a far more profound influence, than a normal academic
history, it deserves the most careful scrutiny.
Dr. Eric Williams' History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago,
is an astounding feat. It was written in exactly one month, during
which the author still discharged the duties of Prime Minister of his
country, yet it runs to 284 closely printed pages. This haste resulted
from a determination to have the 'book on sale in time to mark the
Independence of Trinidad and Tobago, on which occasion the author
wished to provide the people of those islands with a National History.
He acknowledges that, in the circumstances, and with a similar haste
in publication, the book inevitably contains a number of typographical
errors and he has overlooked some points. However, in the author's own
words, it is not conceived as a work of scholarship written according
to scholastic canons, but as "a manifesto of a subjugated people".
Judged as a national manifesto, Dr. Williams' work is excellent.
He writes with rare intensity and passion; while his deep involvement
with the people whose tale he tells rises vividly from every page, and
can hardly fail to infect his readers. He has a great deal to say of
past injustices to which his people were subject, of hardships suffered
and survived, of achievement engineered against great odds. Yet his
real purpose is concerned as much with the future as with the past.
He aims at giving to the people of Trinidad and Tobago not only a
knowledge of their history but also, through that knowledge, a greater
sense of unity and of purpose than they have hitherto known. He
makes a great appeal to them to forget their remaining differences
and rivalries and to unite in the effort to build a new nation-for, says
Dr. Williams in an adaptation of what is probably the most famous
remark ever made by a Governor of Trinidad, "two races have been
freed, but a society has not been formed". The author's emphasis on
the need for national unity in the future and the dangers of dual
loyalties among the national groups, the national tendency to intrigue
and individualism, and the desire of some to perpetuate colonial
standards and privileges which endanger the building of a nation
("social climbing has become the major industry of Trinidad and
Tobago") are extremely valuable reminders of the enormity of the task
which still lies ahead. If he sometimes over-estimates what has already
been accomplished, and the degree of national unity which has
already been achieved, this is entirely pardonable in a national
manifesto. Dr. Williams writes In an easy, fluent style which makes
for effortless reading-except that some of his quotations from con-
temporary sources are, unnecessarily, so long as to require much effort
in reading. His work should serve his purpose admirably as his people
proceed to form a society.
But how far has Dr. Williams reconciled manifesto with history?-
For despite his disclaimer this book is both history and a work of
scholarship. As such it is uneven, perhaps inevitably in the circumstan-
ces. Nevertheless, this book has much merit as a history. The author
takes great care always to set Trinidad and Tobago and their problems
in some sort of international perspective. Not everyone will always
agree with his precise setting, but the reader is always conscious of
the vital conditioning factor that these two islands did not exist in
a vacuum, that events and policies there were constantly affected by
what was happening in Europe, on the American continent, and the
neighboring West Indian islands.
But the book is conceived partly as an attack on colonial admin-
istration under both Britain and Spain, and in many contexts the
author overstates the case against them, while his sense of historical
perspective is sometimes otherwise distorted.
Dr. Williams opens with some of his best chapters. He draws an
excellent and most interesting picture of Amerindian society in the
fifteenth century. The reader is then introduced to Spanish Trinidad
with an excellent brief survey of the motives which led Columbus to
explore the Atlantic Ocean, and the general European background to
the sudden surge of maritime exploration in the fifteenth century.
The author analyses the nature and problems of Spanish colonialism
and exposes Its general inefficiency in administration, before consider-
ing; the total neglect to which it consigned Trinidad in particular. His
case is a strong one, and he has been careful to point out that the
failures of Spain were partly due to lack of resources. She had neither
the men nor the materials with which to develop so vast an empire
at all effectively. Yet the overall picture which emerges tends to under-
state the difficulties and drawbacks under which the Spanish admin-
istration laboured, and to stress rather too forcefully the general picture
of Incompetence. Phrases like "metropolitan ineptitude" are too fre-
quently used. The general picture of inefficiency, negligence, and some-
times even stupidity, relieved only by a well-deserved tribute to
Governor Chacon, is accurate enough; and Dr. Williams is quite right
to insist that Trinidad was among the most neglected and worst
administered of all Spanish colonies. But within the Spanish Empire,
Trinidad and its problems were, relatively, completely insignificant,
and if Spain was indifferent it must be remembered that she had other
things to think about.
Again, it needs to be stressed that the Exclusive trade policy which
Spain tried so stubbornly to enforce, and the complete subjugation of
colonial and metropolitan interests, were not peculiarly Spanish vices.
They were standard aspects of the economic and political thought of
Europeans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and no other
state of affairs was seriously envisaged, though Spain sometimes went
to unusual lengths of absurdity in attempting to translate theory
Dr. Williams shows the same tendency to overstate the case against
the colonial power when he writes on the British period. Beyond a
consideration of the problems facing Trinidad after the Capitulation,
which include the question of slave labour, and an excellent review
of the factors leading up to the introduction of a regular system of
Crown Colony Government in 1810 his account of the British period
lacks cohesiveness until he comes to deal with the years following
Emancipation. Thereafter, he rightly stresses, the former slaves did
not desert agriculture, but only plantation agriculture. He is justifiably
incensed at the extravagant emphasis always placed by the planters
and the British Government on regular labour for wages, which was
pictured as the only virtuous and wise course for the working classes
while difficulties were placed in the way of their acquiring lands of
their own and becoming farmers. Parliament says Dr. Williams was, in
1842 particularly, "unambiguously on the side of the planters and
against the farmers". But this attitude was due to the fact that a
large majority of its members were themselves wealthy landowners,
and neither to contempt for negroes nor to direct interest in sugar
planting. In 1842 it was not the case that Parliament was "itself full
of members who owned estates in the West Indies"; such members
amounted to less than 5% of the House of Commons.
Dr. Williams argues that the system of indentured immigration
benefitted only the planters who employed immigrants, principally
absentee English Interests, and that the colony as a whole would have
been better off without them, while the former slaves, who were forced
to contribute to the cost of their introduction through the general
taxes, were positively injured by their competition in the labour
market. Now it is true that by the end of the nineteenth century,
where Dr. Williams' survey of the question is concentrated, immigra-
tioqr had degenerated into a system by which the planters were artifi-
cially assisted at the expense, In part, of the rest of the community.
It is also true that by this time the colony as a whole was gaining
little if anything by the system, and that after the 1860's it served
seriously to depress agricultural wages, while there is a good case for
saying that by 1900 labour in Trinidad was no longer in short supply.
But the same picture cannot be applied indiscriminately to the whole
period of indentured immigration. In the 1840's and 1850's most of
the plantations would have collapsed without immigrants, and with
them the export trade in sugar. This would have been a most serious
matter, affecting ultimately the standard and pattern of life of the
whole population. The present reviewer believes that while indentured
Immigration was carried much too far in the last quarter of the nine-
teenth century the introduction of immigrants In the 1850's was of great
benefit to the Colony as a whole. Dr. Williams quotes Mr. Lechmere Guppy
as contradicting this view in 1888, and repeatedly castigates the attempt
to perpetuate the plantation economy by governmental action; but he
does not comment on Guppy's view and never really considers what
conditions would have ensued if the plantation economy had simply
been left to collapse overnight in 1848. The fact that the British Gov-
ernment went to absurd lengths in the end to assist the planters does
not mean that there was no case for helping them to keep their estates
going during the difficult 1840's and 1850's. Furthermore, indentured
immigration did bring certain benefits to the general population in the
earlier stages. The Government Medical Service, for example, which
was established in 1873 and attempted to cover the whole colony, was
set up entirely because the Government was determined to provide
more effective medical attention for the immigrants specifically; the
health of the native population worried it but little. And immigration
must surely be given some credit for the fact, not without advantages
to the colony as a whole, that sugar production increased from 10,334
tons in 1833 to 53,847 tons in 1896.
Dr. Williams gives a graphic picture of the conditions under which
the immigrants commonly worked, and his patent indignation is gen-
erally justified. Housing in particular was often horrible, and its effect on
health appalling; and the principal incentive to labour was very often
the jail. But the statement that indentured labour was "slavery plus
a constable" overlooks the fact that immigrants chose to accept
indenture voluntarily and were free of it in five years. Some immi-
grants did leave India under illusions deliberately created by the
recruiting agents, but a great deal of effort was put into official
attempts to prevent this, and it was never very widespread. How could
it be, with thousands of returned immigrants at hand to explain, at
least in the later years, what really happened in the West Indies?
The author is also very scathing about the 25 a day minimum
wage; but wages in the smaller islands were sometimes,as low as 16
a day, and in India they were much lower than this. The statement on
page 100 that the Trinidad Government regulated wages "to keep them
down in the interests of the planters" is seriously misleading; in fact,
after the permanent establishment of Indian immigration in 1850 no
attempt was ever made to prescribe more than a minimum wage, and
this was done essentially in order to protect the immigrant from un-
scrupulous employers. The fact that the minimum wage law was not-
strictly enforced and perhaps tended in the long run to prevent higher
maxima is another matter altogether. It needs to be stressed that the
immigrants were, on the whole, considerably better off in a material
sense in Trinidad than they had been in India, and an appreciable
number of those who returned subsequently re-emigrated. Dr. Williams
overlooks this, and makes much of the fact that one quarter of the
Immigrants ultimately returned to India. What is more surprising is
that three quarters of a class of people who had left India under a
promise of a free return passage ultimately chose to forego it-and
this was not merely the result of inducements in kind or in cash; even
before the commutation of return passages was allowed in 1869 a large
proportion of the immigrants did not return home.
Dr. Williams correctly stresses the essential inefficiency of the
indenture system so far as the incentive to malinger and idle is
concerned. He also attributes to it the failure of the planters to make
greater efforts to improve their methods of production by introducing
new machinery. But cheap indentured labour was not the only factor
in this; lack of capital was also very important, as may be seen in
the fact that Trinidad's sugar industry at the end of the nineteenth
century was more modern than that of any West Indian colony which
did not employ indentured labour. The use of railways to transport
cane was even more uncommon in Barbados or Jamaica than in
In promoting a system of immigration designed to provide more
abundant labour, and ultimately to reduce wages, Dr. Williams writes
that "no account was to be taken of the former slaves". In fact the
Colonial Office records are full of statements which indicate that at
least until the 1870's the Imperial Government required to be convinced
that immigration was not leading to any undue depression of wages,
and always tried to protect the interests of the negroes as it under-
stood them. It must not be accused of complete unconcern because its
concern was too easily allayed, and its conception of the welfare of
the negroes was inadequate. Nor is it fair to say that Trinidad was a
colony "forced by the British Crown" to import East Indians. The
Imperial Government in fact was markedly reluctant to embark on the
immigration scheme which the planters wanted, and eventually did so
only after intense pressure from the London West India Interest.
Dr. Williams' final point on immigration is important. He writes,
"the outstanding result of indentured Indian immigration was the
emergence for the first time in the history of Trinidad, of a class of
small farmers", among the many who took up lands in lieu of return
passages. This was an important step towards the evolution of a
balanced social structure, and it took place in spite of the planters'
age-old opposition because of the high cost of return passages. And
the Indian farmers were able successfully to enter the cane-growing
business and prove that cane growing could be divorced from sugar
Dr. Williams draws a quite devastating picture of Crown Colony
Government as it operated in Trinidad. It was, he says, "power without
responsibility", "power for the mere sake of power", and he tends to
blame it for all the ills ever experienced by Trinidad and Tobago while
it was in operation. He has a strong case, particularly as it emerges
from the Commission which investigated the Water Riots in 1903. The
Government in this instance failed to consult even the unofficial
members of the Legislative Council on a matter over which the public
was well known to feel very strongly-waterworks--and gave abundant
colour to the feeling that it cared nothing for public opinion. This
was in fact too often the case, and it led many into permanent oppo-
sition to the Government. There was a chronic lack of understanding,
or even of contact, between rulers and ruled; and when this situation
was brought to the notice of the Secretary of State, he refused to
take it seriously and fell back on the old platitude that "no other form
of Government is suited to the conditions of Trinidad". Meanwhile
official members of the Legislative Council were compelled willy nilly
to vote as directed from London, and unofficial nominated members
who took an independent line were liable not to secure renomination.
In terms of practical achievement the record of Crown Colony Gov-
ernment was equally dismal. It remained commonly Indifferent to
the recommendations of commissions of enquiry; it failed to educate
more than a small fraction of the people, and that indilerently; in
the twentieth century it failed completely to provide proper legisla-
tion to regulate the status of the trade unions which came with the
growth of industry, and permitted living conditions to deteriorate to
the point where in 1937 the working classes presented a violent and
united front against the employers and the government. Crown Colony
Government even failed to rescue the sugar industry which it protected
so largely. The Royal Commission of 1897 could bring itself u recom-
mend only the diversification of crops and the production of more
local food by small farmers-a striking departure from and condemna-
tion of past policy-while refusing to support the countervailing duties
on bountied beet sugar which would have done much to help the sugar
planters of the West Indies. As Dr. Williams writes, "The West Indies
found themselves in the position of a patient suffering from a mortal
disease, whose physician propounded all the reasons why he could
not perform the operation necessary to restore the patient to health".
For the idea of touching the Imperial pocket to assist the stricken
colony was unthinkable in that age so long as the colony, unaided,
could contrive to keep alive.
But strong as is the case against Crown Colony Government, Dr.
Williams again goes too far. One of his major theses is that "division
of the races was the policy of colonisation", indeed "the principal aim
of the policy". He argues that the metropolitan government deliberately
fostered the separation of the various racial groups, by such means as
separate schools for East Indians, in order to make the task of admin-
istration easier. He goes further, and almost suggests some sort of
Imperial conspiracy to prevent by this means the emergence of the
concept of national unity; and thus again he overstates his case. It
was generally believed both in England and in Trinidad that any
attempt to ignore racial differences and treat the whole population as
one unit would encounter grave difficulties; and so the British Govern-
ment adopted the seemingly easier course. This made it easier to
restrict the East Indians to agricultural labour for so long, and
generally to govern the colony as the Colonial Office desired. It also
served to hinder the development of a united national outlook, but
that in itself was not the prime intention.
In the context of the long agitation for an elective government
Dr. Williams devotes far too much attention to the opinions of J. A.
Froude, who in 1887 wrote that Crown Colony Government was the
only form of government suited to Trinidad, since it would be degrading
for the whites to be ruled by the blacks, and undesirable or impossible
for the blacks to be ruled by the white minority. Froude's book abounds
in other examples of grotesque myopia; but even if he represented
opinions widely held among Englishmen at the time, his absurdities
have long been generally recognized. The fact that Englishmen were
contemptuous of the non-European peoples of Trinidad and the world
can easily be demonstrated, as Dr. Williams shows, without resurrecting
in such detail a quite frightful book which was not a statement of
Dr. Williams is too harsh on Joseph Chamberlain, particularly over
his treatment of the Port of Spain Borough Council in 1896. There is
surely some justification, albeit small, for the British view that the
Council's repeated failure to balance its accounts was evidence of
mismanagement, and budget deficits were anathema to all British
officials. The Secretary of State's authoritarian treatment of the
Council may be criticised on many grounds, and his decision to suspend
it was retrograde and scarcely defensible, but it Is hardly fair to
describe him as entirely "adamant". In response to the Council's
representations he dropped his proposal for an official mayor, and
agreed that the Governor's control of the municipal budget should be
limited to ensuring that revenue balanced expenditure. Moreover, the
determination that government financial aid must be accompanied by
government control, to which the Council so strongly objected, was a
standing principle of British government at this time. No Secretary of
State would have been at all likely to grant the Council's request for
aid without imposing "guarantees". It was no peculiar idea of
Dr. Williams is likewise very hard in his strictures on individual
British governors, dismissing them generally, not without some justice,
as "metropolitan rubbish exported to the colonies". Sir Henry Irving
was admittedly full of "vulgar colonial prejudices", but the author
manages only a very grudging tribute to the extremely valuable work
of Sir Ralph Woodford, and gives Lord Harris little credit; while Sir
Sanford Freeling was 40 miles away and without any real realisation
of how the situation would develop, when he is said to have "sanctioned
the shooting down of Indian immigrants at the Hosea festival" in
A similar carelessness is evident in the reference to the period
between 1881 and 1903 as "twenty years of shooting" on the strength
of three isolated instances of firing by the police, and In the frequently
repeated half-truth that immigrants were imported "at public expense".
In the context primarily of the failure to produce an adequate
system of education, Dr. Williams sums up on Crown Colony Govern-
ment. "The Crown Colony system was based on sugar workers and
needed only sugar workers. It did not need citizens. If Trinidad aspired
to citizens instead of sugar workers it necessarily had to achieve the
destruction of the Crown Colony system". This he sees always as the
indispensable preliminary if Trinidad was to move forward at all. He
might have added that the system with which Crown Colony Govern-
ment was to be replaced would have to be broadly based. Representa-
tive government, combined with responsibility, would have done little
if any better unless the franchise were a liberal one. The problem was
not so much that power lay with the Secretary of State as that he
and his subordinates took so little account of the wishes and Interests
of the people at large. This is a failing not confined to Crown Colony
Governments, and Major Wood in 1922 was quite right to maintain
that Crown Colony Government was preferable to responsible govern-
ment with a narrow franchise which might give the sugar planters and
their friends a monopoly of power. Crown Colony Government, however
great its failures, did at least aspire to protect the people from self-
interested oligarchies in a way that the assemblies of colonies with
representative government often did not.
Nowhere does Dr. Williams mention the very real change in the
attitude of the Colonial Office towards self-government for the colonies
which has been evident in the last two decades. He sees the advance
of self-government and independence entirely in terms of pressure
from the people of Trinidad and Tobago on the one hand, and the
increasing desire of Britain to rid herself of colonies which had become
a nuisance on the other. In writing of recent years his theme is the
seemingly inevitable march towards full ministerial government based
on organized parties, and anything which appears to have militated
against this is seen as a retrograde and unfortunate step. Thus the
election of 1950, which produced a government composed of individuals
without party affiliations, and was quickly followed by the collapse
of such parties as had appeared. Mr. Albert Gomes, having some share
of responsibility for this situation is dismissed in one damning phrase,
although he was for several vital years the major figure in Trinidad
politics. On the other hand, Dr. Patrick Solomon's minority report on
constitutional development in 1948, which forecast later advances,
is lauded at some length.
After the People's National Movement makes its appearance the
book becomes frankly partisan. The author gives an excellent account
of the very real achievements of his party during its six years of
office, but does not mention the virulent criticisms of its record which
its political opponents have ventured, not all of which can be dismissed
out of hand. In dealing with the ill-fated Federation of the West
Indies the author is concerned to vindicate the conduct and decisions
of his Government.
In the course of three good chapters on Tobago, Dr. Williams
describes that island's position in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, when it was shunted from one European power to another
as a pawn in the game of power politics between rival colonialisms, as
"a state of betweenity". But his anger on behalf of the extremely small
population thus buffeted to and fro seems a little artificial-the more
so in view of the comparative unconcern with which they accepted
each successive change. His account of the metairie system and the
controversy in 1890 over the rights of the metayer is a striking
example of the hold of the property-owners over the Crown Colony
Government. One could wish however that he had made a greater
effort to explain why the economic decline in the later nineteenth
century was so much more serious in Tobago than in Trinidad. The
bankruptcy of Gillespie Brothers in 1884 can hardly be the whole
story, even though this firm provided supplies and advances for half
Tobago's estates. The unscrupulous way in which the Imperial
Government forced the union of Trinidad and Tobago In order to
shift the burden of succouring the latter on to Trinidad's shoulders
provides a major indictment of Imperial parsimony.
A most valuable section of this History is that on the Chaguaramas
dispute, no other review of which is accessible to the general public.
The author shows that since 1895 the United States has displayed in
the Caribbean a fair share of the arrogance and high-handedness
usually associated with older colonialisms. In 1941 American demands
for bases in the West Indies were far in excess of what Britain
thought necessary for military purposes. Dr. Williams credits Britain
with the desire to protect colonial interests more fully, but in 1941 she
was in no position to argue. Sir Winston Churchill himself viewed the
eventual Agreement over the bases almost as a British "capitulation"
to American demands, and the Governor of Trinidad, Sir Hubert Young
tried hard to prevent the signing away to the United States of such
extensive rights over Trinidad. The Americans themselves seem to
have given very little thought to the interests of Trinidadlans in their
As the author is aware, his book is not a complete History on his
subject. In part from lack of time, there are a number of important
questions, and a host of lesser ones, which receive too little attention
if any at all. From some points of view indeed it would be best to consider
his book as "essays in the history of Trinidad and Tobago", rather than as
a complete history. There is very little reference to the great efforts
made by the Abolitionists in England to secure the emancipation of
the slaves, which it is important for Trinidadians to appreciate. Nothing
at all is said about the success or otherwise of the Apprenticeship
system which preceded full Emancipation, or about the effect of the
Second World War on the islands after the Americans arrived. For all
the elaborate attack on Crown Colony Government the Moyne Report
is not mentioned, except for its attitude to proposals for Federa-
tion. And except for the abolition of the sugar duties there is
little attempt to set the activities of the Colonial Government in
the context of the development of the British Empire as a whole.
One could compile a long list of minor omissions. In the circumstances
it is quite understandable, but one hopes that Dr. Williams will produce
a completely revised, and enlarged edition of his History when he has
had time to review his first hasty achievement. As well as correcting
the fairly numerous misprints, and remedying some of the omissions,
perhaps he will then modify slightly the over-emphasis which detracts
from the overall value of a book that, apart from the power of its
language, contains some very good history.
In his Foreward Dr. Williams promises to produce in the near
future similar volumes on British Guiana, Jamaica, Cuba, Barbados,
and either Martinique or Guadeloupe. He considers it vitally important
that the peoples of these countries should know their past history. This
is true both in the context of the coming of Independence or other
significant landmarks in national achievement, and in the context
of what is taught to school-children in the guise of History, in an
area where "History" has until recently been synonymous with "Europe".
There is an urgent need for books such as Dr. Williams contemplates,
and if of native authorship they will undoubtedly be more vital and
authoritative than if written from outside. However it is obviously
desirable that the books which will dictate the view of their own history
which the peoples of the Caribbean will possess for the next generation
should be written as histories, not as nationalist manifestos. Other-
wise it will be necessary for later generations to unlearn, much of the
"history" which the first generation learned, just as in the United
States for example it has been necessary to rewrite the traditional
views of the emergence of that great country in the eighteenth century.
Dr. Williams of course is both politician and historian, and if it
be said that it Is the politician who gives his book its punch, it is
certainly the historian who gives it its authority. That authority needs
frequently to be challenged, for the nationalist politician has from
time to time led the historian to swerve dangerously; but the book
remains a great achievement. It will exert a very great influence and
if read critically should prove of lasting value as a history. As a
manifesto its endurance and success admit of no doubt.
It is to be hoped therefore that Dr. Williams will produce the
promised volumes. If he can hold in check his indignation at the
dismal records of the several colonial regimes they will be excellent.
And there is no need for him to write the national testimony of, say,
Barbados as he has done for his own people; he can therefore concen-
trate more thoroughly on history.
The chief value of Mrs. Gertrude Carmichael's History of the West
Indian Islands of Trinidad and Tobago lies in the enormous number
of facts therein recorded. She evinces an overwhelming enthusiasm for
trivial details, and her industriousness in collecting them deserves to
be commended. She even gives us, for instance, the names of the first
couple who chanced to be married in Trinidad's first Protestant church.
The structure of her book however leaves much to be desired, being
very largely a chronological table without the tabular format. The chapters
on Spanish Trinidad in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and
that on Tobago, in particular, could easily be converted Into tables
without changing their content or effect. The chapters are arranged
according to Governorships, and this pattern is entirely unsuitable to
the consideration of such topics as the amelioration and subsequent
abolition of slavery, the agitation for constitutional change in the
nineteenth century, the settlement and ownership of land, or the
system of indentured immigration, all of which Mrs. Carmichael
breaks up into sections, one for each Governor who was concerned with
And for all her attention to detail, the author overlooks some
important questions. For instance, she does not attempt to trace or
explain the rise and eventual success of the anti-slavery movement
in England; and she makes no mention of the Parliamentary enquiry
into the sugar industry in 1842, or of the financial crisis which faced
Lord Harris and the planters generally in 1847 8 and led to the
suspension of indentured immigration. She gives only the haziest
indication of the work of Sir Arthur Gordon, whose achievements as
governor were far above the ordinary, and on a number of other
matters, like the working of the Apprenticeship System and the effect
of the Sugar Duties Act of 1846, she is extremely cursory. Moreover,
Mrs. Carmichael's great collections of facts, both important and unim-
portant, are frequently left to stand with little or no comment or
analysis from the author, and small attempt to discover the motives
behind the actions recorded. Thus we are told that about 1600 Trinidad
was "a prosperous colony" with a healthy trade and an expanding
tobacco crop, that in 1611 Sir Thomas Roe was much impressed with
the wealth of the capital, but that in 1615 a new Governor reported on
his arrival "that the island was in extremely bad condition and the
inhabitants all seemed to be very poor" (pp. 26 7). Yet there is no
attempt to explain this apparently complete reversal of the island's
fortunes. And on pp. 291 -2 one reads that if the constitution had been
reformed in 1894 by the introduction of elected members into the
Legislative Council, immigration would have been "doomed". As to
why elected members would have been so strongly opposed to immi-
gration, the reader can only speculate.
Mrs. Carmichael treats the history of Trinidad and Tobago too
much in a vacuum, and makes little attempt to see it in its interna-
tional context, or even in relation to Britain's other West Indian
colonies. She does not attempt to analyse the motives which led
Columbus to explore the Atlantic and makes little mention of Spain's
other competing responsibilities in the New World. In a later age no
mention is made of the conditions of slavery, or apprenticeship, or
Crown Colony Government in other islands and this makes it difficult
sometimes to understand the views and actions of the Imperial
The treatment of the whole question of slavery and its abolition
betrays a quite disproportionate sympathy with the planters. Much
more attention is focused on the excesses of the anti-slavery crusaders
and their failure to make adequate allowances for the very real diffi-
culties of the planters than on the welfare and interests of the slaves
on whose behalf those excesses were committed. Mrs. Carmichael
writes, "The chief offence of the planter was that he had legally become
possessed of slaves, under a system which had been introduced into
the colony before he was born, in order to foster the commercial
Interests of the class of persona who now decided that for philanthro-
pic reasons he was to be ruined." The implication that slavery benefitted
the West India Interest in England but not the planter resident in
Trinidad, and the assumption that Abolition in any form necessarily
involved the ruin of the planter, are astonishing. But this is on par
with what follows: the overall effect of Abolition was that, "many
prosperous families had been swept away or reduced to a state of
penury", and was "rarely beneficial to the estate slaves." This view,
as Dr. Eric Williams shows, is quite insupportable.
Mrs. Carmichael deals very briefly with the immigration system
which was set up after Emancipation. She does nodt appear to have
made use of the writings of Miss I. M. Cumpston and commits errors
both of fact and of interpretation. On p.216 we are told that "East
Indian immigration was suspended until 1849, as mortality on the long
sea voyage was high in the small and badly ventilated ships". There
is complete confusion here. The India Government suspended emigra-
tion to the West Indies between 1838 and 1844 primarily because of
abuses in the Mauritius emigration, and before any major abuses had
been uncovered in the Caribbean. In 1848 the immigration was tem-
porarily suspended because the West Indian colonies could not meet
its cost, and on its resumption in 1851 it continued until 1917. rt was
in 1857/8 and 1864/5 that mortality on the voyage became so great
as to raise the question of suspending the immigration, but on neither
occasion was that course adopted. Mrs. Carmichael states more than
once that the establishment of village settlements with time-expired
immigrants began in the 1850's; in fact It began in 1869. Finally, the
statement on page 244 that before 1861 the British Government "were
bearing the cost of immigration" is a most serious error which betrays
little understanding of the ways of British Governments in the nine-
teenth century. In fact the only immigrants for whose introduction
the Imperial Government ever paid were Africans liberated from
captured slaving ships for whose subsequent disposal it was by inter-
national agreement responsible. All other immigration was financed in
varying shares by the Colonial Government, whose contribution some-
times severely strained its resources, and the employers themselves.
There is little attempt in this book to look critically at the attitude
of the Imperial Government towards the Colony, or to show how far
the Colonial Office was prepared to take account of local interests.
Over protection for sugar, we know, colonial interests were deliberately
subordinated to the desire of the British people for cheap food, but
what was the position otherwise? What, for instance, of the failure
even to notice Lord Harris's warnings in 1847 that his Government was
about to run out of funds, and the numerous other occasions when
Governors appealed to London for financial help only to be told that
the Colony must seek its own salvation? Conversely, what is one to
make of the Imperial attempt to help in 1848 9, when disaster seemed
imminent, by providing a loan and guaranteeing another? Mrs.
Carmichael is silent on these points, and her general attitude to Crown
Colony Government is surprisingly sympathetic. She shows that official
members of the Legislature Council were always, and unofficial ones
generally, required to support the views emanating from the Colonial
Office, but does not attempt to assess the shortcomings of the system
or to consider how far it achieved its ostensible aim to "safeguard the
interests of all sections of the community". And in claiming that it
was "patently impossible" to give negroes representative equality be-
cause of their educational backwardness (p. 270), while even limited
representative government for the whites and the former free coloureds
would have aroused negro resentment, and failing to point out that
there were limits to the extent to which Crown Colony Government
"solved" this problem, the author oversimplifies the issue. She does
however bring out sharply the way in which the coming of British
rule and British settlers accentuated feeling between the white and
free coloured communities. To blame this entirely on the British
attitude would be unfair, but the way in which Governor Hislop tried
to outmanoeuvre and ensnare the free coloured people when they
tried to express their fear of a constitution, modelled on those of the
older British colonies is both discreditable and enlightening.
Many of the deficiencies of this book stem from the author's
selection of source material. Mrs. Carmichael has relied heavily on the
documents published by the Trinidad and Tobago Historical Society,
supplemented at times by House of Commons Sessional Papers, and
on old secondary works. These provide a great deal of material on the
earlier half of the nineteenth century, but thereafter they become
increasingly thin as the century progresses, and need more and more
to be supplemented from other sources to which Mrs. Carmichael does
not appear to have had access. In consequence, while 197 pages are
devoted to the first 49 years of British rule, the Spanish period receives
only 32 and 54 years after 1846 only 60 pages. The last two chapters
are extremely thin, almost certainly because adequate material was
not available to the author. Yet nowhere does she explain these limita-
tions. The book ends in 1900 and so avoids completely the question of
the approach of self-government and the economic developments of
the twentieth century. Tobago receives, very much as an afterthought,
16 pages to itself.
There are too many small inconsistencies, and too much bad
Spanish in this book. It is difficult to believe that any Spaniard ever
used the form "San Philipe" (p. 25) or "La Cabo de la Galera" (p. 12).
The names "Gasper Grande" and "Gasparee" are both used, at
different times, and only in an obscure appendix is it explained that
they are interchangeable. The general standard of proof reading is
quite deplorable, permitting such howlers as "twelveth", twice, on
p. 274 and "Dominca" (p. 284).
The list of sources at the end of the book is grouped merely with
reference to chapters, and it is impossible accurately to trace many
of the numerous quotations which appear In the text. In fact, for a
book avowedly intended as a text for the teaching of history this one
contains too many, and too long, quotations from primary sources,
some of them quite unimportant. Some of them will defeat most
readers who are not professional historians.
The book contains five very interesting photographs of lithographs
by the local Trinidad artist Jean Michel Cazabon. There are also 78
pages of appendices. Some of these, like the text of the Royal Cedula
on Colonization of 1783, the Articles of Capitulation of 1787, and some
extracts from Governors' despatches and proclamations, are of con-
siderable value. It is difficult however to imagine who will make use
of the lists of the ships and military units with which Britain captured
This review has been largely critical, and the book's usefulness as
a teaching text is very limited. It should therefore be emphasised in
conclusion that Mrs. Carmichael's wealth of factual detail will make
her book a useful work of reference. A great deal of patient work has
obviously gone into it, anl there are valuable points in its overall
picture. So far as the eighteenth century is concerned the failures,
lost opportunities and indolence of the Spanish Administration are
fairly captured and provide a background against which the achieve-
ments of the last Spanish Governor, Chacon, can be appreciated. The
chaotic state of Trinidad's affairs under the Commission which suc-
ceeded Sir Thomas Picton is well is lengthily portrayed. The achieve-
ments of Sir Ralph Woodford are brought home to the reader. The
complex nature of the problem of disposing of Crown Lands and
dealing with squatters and landholders with defective titles is thoroughly
demonstrated. Finally, Mrs. Carmichael provides an excellent short
account of the origin and nature of the Hosea Festival.
JAMAICA, THE OLD AND THE NEW
By Mary Manning Carley
London, Allen & Unwin, 1963. Price 28/-
MRS. Carley has condensed, into 212 pages of legibly printed text
a most informative and knowledgeable account of Jamaica past and
present. Against the background of its Caribbean setting she deals
with her subject in a number of chapters comprising its varied aspects-
its history, both natural and civil, its topography, its economy and
the social life and customs of its people.
Her account is founded on an intimate and thorough knowledge
of Jamaica derived from many years of living here and from a keen
interest and participation in many phases of Jamaican life. She writes
in a terse informative style, enlivened by keenness of observation and
a wealth of detail, rather than in the clever conversational style of so
many who have written accounts of Jamaica, so often relying on the
brilliant if nonetheless superficial reporting of persons and events
encountered. Her account is the result of patient sifting of years of
close observation, reading and association in which the old and the
new, the past and the present, the historical and the topical are
closely and pleasingly woven together.
In an early chapter on our historical heritage she succinctly
reviews the main events of Jamaican history-its discovery and partial
settlement by the Spaniards, the English conquest, the rise and fall
of the plantation system and the abolition of slavery, the economic and
social decline of the 19th century culminating in the Morant Bay
riot, followed by the modest promise of better times with the emergence
of the banana trade to America in the late 19th century. Constitutional
and political developments are dealt with in a later chapter, the
emphasis being on the developments of the last two decades. Her
assessment of the two principal political parties is both factual and
The chapter on climate, topography and natural history which
follows, is full of interesting detail on the fauna and flora of the island,
and is a good example of her ability to convey with brevity a deal of
information without producing a mere catalogue of facts.
This is followed by a chapter on the economic framework dealing
with the main features of agriculture and industry, the tenure and use
of land, economic crops, the principal industries, their production and
economic benefits, recent industrial policy, and some interesting
comments on the growth of an internal marketing industry almost
entirely in fruit and vegetables.
1 1 *
Two chapters are devoted to the people of Jamaica, their ethnic
origins, physical appearance, dietary habits, family life, social behaviour,
religious customs and folklore. The treatment is brief but informed
and shot through with penetrating insight into the Jamaican character
and its roots in the past. Her characterization of the Jamaican
peasant-warm hearted, naturally courteous, humorous and intolerant
of 'high-hat' methods rings true to experience. There follows a round
tour of the parishes in which their principal historic personages, sights
and topographic features are described. The final chapter is devoted
to a brief survey of recent changes-economic, social and political-
brought about by the relatively quiet social revolution of the last
Mrs. Carley writes with such good sense and sound knowledge that
there are few things which she says that I would care to make issue
with. Her book is of course not a formal history and therefore it
cannot be expected to do more than sketch the historical outlines of
our past. The section on political and constitutional history, especially
of the pre-1865 period might just have been a little more detailed-
for instance there is no mention of the political manoeuvrings of the
Assembly in their fight against emancipation nor of the political
activities of the Jamaican patriot Edward Jordon in the pre- and post-
emancipation period. Even the Morant Bay disturbance and its
political sequel might have deserved an extra paragraph. In describing
the decay of the great houses she states that a great deal of the
furniture remains, though chipped and neglected, in the most unex-
pected and poorest of dwellings ... Very little however of the furniture
of the hey-day of the resident English proprietors is to be found in
Jamaica and most of what passes for antique furniture in the homes
of the lowly or less lowly is no more than the rather heavy mid- to
late Victorian Jamaican furniture which was to be found in the homes
or great houses of those who succeeded the more prosperous planters
of the past. Relatively few pieces of eighteenth century furniture of
unbroken Jamaican provenance are to be found in any but a few long
established old-fashioned homes in present day Jamaica.
Two factual errors, one obviously typographical, need to be corrected
in any later edition. On page 27 the Battle of Rio Nuevo is said to
have taken place in 1698 when the year ought to be 1658 and on page
179 the earthquake of March 1957 is incorrectly referred to as having
taken place in March 1956.
K. E. INGRAM.
SELECTED LIST OF BOOKS ON WEST INDIAN SUBJECTS
Katrin Norris: Jamaica-A Search for an Identity
John Figueroa: Love Leaps Here Price 10/6d
Jeanette Bethel: A National Accounts Study of the Economy
of Barbados. Special number of Social
and Economic Studies.
Institute of Social and Economic
Madeline Kerr: Personality and Conflict in Jamaica
Collins, London 26/- (New Edition)
Mary Manning Carley: Jamaica--New and Old
George Allen and Unwin Ltd. 28/-
Dennis Adams, Kenneth Poisonous Plants in Jamaica
Magnus and Compton Department of Extra-Mural Studies
Reptiles of the Eastern Caribbean
Department of Extra-Mural Studies