* WAR AND PEACE WITH THE
MAROONS Philip Wright
* ESCAPISM IN THE NOVELS OF
* THE RIOTS OF 1856 IN BRITISH
GUIANA V. O. Chan
VOL. 16 NO. 1
Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden
5. WAR AND PEACE WITH THE MAROONS, 1730-1739
28. "ESCAPISM" IN THE NOVELS OF JOHN HEARNE
Frank M. Birbalsingh
39. THE RIOTS OF 1856 IN BRITISH GUIANA
V O. Chan
51. FERN GULLY
52. NICOLAS GUILLEN AND WEST INDIAN NEGRITUDE
G. R. Coulthard
58. A BRIEF ASSESSMENT OF THE CHIEF MILITARY MONUMENTS
OF: Grenada, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, Antigua
(8. Curacao: from colonial dependence to autonomy Dr J. Hartog
69. Adult Education in Developing Countries E. Townsend Coles
71. Poems of a Child's World Dudley R. B. Grant and Gloria Box
74. Publications of the Department
Notes On Contributors
Mr. PHILIP WRIGHT, M.A.(Oxon.), Jamaican Teacher.
Mr. FRANK M. Birbalsingh, Graduate of U.C.W.I. (Lond.); Asst.
Lecturer at University of Ontario.
Mr. V. O. CHAN, Graduate of McGill University.
Mr. STANLEY FRENCH, St. Lucian Engineer, working in Jamaica.
Prof. G. R. COULTHARD, Head of Department of Spanish, U.W.I.,
Dr. DAVID BUISSERET, Lecturer in Department of History, U.W.I.,
Mr. H. L. A. GORDON, Resident Tutor, Department of Extra-Mural
Studies, Kingston, Jamaica.
Mr. DENNIS CRAIG, Lecturer in Institute of Education, U.W.I.,
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War and Peace with the Maroons,
THE pacification of the Maroons in Jamaica in 1739 marked the
end of a conflict which had been going on intermittently for eighty
years. About the year 1730, the efforts of the colonial authorities to
"suppress" the Maroons developed a more serious phase, which is some-
times rather misleadingly referred to as the First Maroon War. More
or less active hostilities were persisted in for four or five years, after
which there was a comparative lull, with only sporadic minor encounters,
until, in a "miraculously anti-climactic manner," the conflict was
resolved by the famous treaty with Cudjoe. The official despatches of
the time contain frequent reports of somewhat parochial and amateurish
operations against the Maroons, and these have been drawn upon in
various recent summary accounts of the "war", and notably in a political
study of the period by George Metcalf. The present more pedestrian
excursion in this familiar territory is an attempt to give a connected
account of the actual hostilities in relation to their topographical
After the first generation of English colonists had failed to come
to terms with the freed slaves of the Spaniards, parties of unsubdued
Negroes continued to range the woods and mountains, descending from
time to time to raid outlying plantations and murder white settlers.
Small parties of settlers periodically conducted punitive expeditions
into the bush, which achieved nothing beyond the capture or killing of
a few individuals. LThe Maroons remained a deterrent to the advance
of settlement into the interior districts. They provided a refuge and
rallying-point for runaway slaves, and their successful defiance of
authority was a potential threat to the colonists' precarious ascendancy
over a slave population which outnumbered them ten to one.\
In a speech to the Assembly in 1722, Governor Nicholas Lawes
referred to the recent appearance of Maroons in many parts of the
country, particularly among the windward and northside settlements,
where they had seized some arms and ammunition. About this time,
the Government's rather desultory efforts to deal with them began
to be stepped up. Between 1699 and 1719 the Assembly had passed six
various Acts for raising parties to suppress the Maroons, but between
1723 and 1738 they passed no less than twenty-four: in 1734 the Acting
Governor, John Ayscough, claimed that the country had spent 105,000
for this purpose over the previous five years.2 The main operations
were directed against the windward Maroons in the Portland mountains.
According to Dallas, these windward parties were the true Maroons,
being descended from the freed or absconded slaves of the Spaniards,
whereas the western parties, under Cudjoe, had originated from a
rebellion of plantation slaves in 1690. "The term Maroon," says Dallas,
"had been hitherto confined to the body of original Spanish fugitives.
and it was not until about the year 1730, when Cudjoe became formid-
able...that he and his people were included in this appellation." But
no such distinction appears in the contemporary accounts. J. J.
Williams has pointed out that in the Assembly Journals the word
Maroon is never used until after 1739, and in the official correspond-
ence, likewise, the enemy whether to windward or leeward are always
referred to as rebellious and runaway Negroes, or rebels. 3
The total number of Maroons in Jamaica could only be guessed at.
The highest estimate was 2,000. In 1736 there were believed to be about
1,000 altogether in the two main groups, windward and leeward, and
perhaps another 300 skulkerss," small parties roaming the woods. At
the time of the treaty in 1739, the windward leader produced an account
of his people, "by notches on a stick," amounting to 490 persons, and
the leeward group was believed to number about the same; Cudjoe gave
the number of his men as 231, while women and children were not
accounted for. But by that time the numbers may have been some-
what reduced by hard times and desertion. The number of persons
registered in the four Maroon settlements established after the treaty
was only 664, of whom 273 were men. 4 This further decrease might be
partly accounted for by the fact that according to the treaty, the
windward Maroons were obliged to hand over any runaway slaves who
had joined them within the previous three years; but obviously all these
figures are very unreliable. Probably the Maroons as a whole could
at no time muster much above 500 fighting men, but they had two
valuable aids: the inefficiency of their adversaries, and the physical
nature of the country. In 1739 Governor Trelawny appraised the
All throughout the length of the island from one end to the
other the middle for some miles is full of thick woods, craggy
mountains and stony precipices, in these the rebels have their
settlements which are almost inaccessible and so posted that a
few can keep out fifty times their number. They have fastnesses
behind fastnesses, ambushes and narrow difficult passes one
behind the other, and when with great danger and loss of men
you beat them out of one they retire to another and so on. By
knowing the country and being nimbler they are often able to
surround our parties and attack them on every side hemmed In
within these streights. By these means parties have generally
been so unsuccessful that it is supposed that much the greatest
part of the arms which the rebels now have, have been taken
from those that have gone against them. s
"Our parties" were a mixed bunch. British army regulars were
used, in small numbers, when available. Up to 1731, the only regular
troops stationed in Jamaica were two Independent Companies, one at
the fort in Port Royal and the other as a town guard in Spanish Town.
Nominally each Company consisted of 100 men, officered by a captain
and two or three lieutenants, but every British unit in Jamaica was
quickly reduced by drink and disease, and local recruitment was
normally prohibited. In 1727, the Spanish Town Company had dwindled
to less than 40 men. Since much of the cost of subsisting and housing
the regulars fell on the island Government, it was only in extremis that
the Assembly could be prevailed on to apply for additional troops. In
1731, as a crisis measure, two regiments were sent to Jamaica. But
tactics and equipment suited to the plains of Flanders were of little use
in the tropical bush, and the one attempt to use these troops offensively
against the Maroons was a disastrous failure. Within a year the regi-
ments were withdrawn. But some of the men enlisted locally as
volunteers, and in 1734 six more Independent Companies were sent.
They were employed primarily in garrison duties, but small detach-
ments took part in operations against the Maroons.
The brunt of these operations was borne by the colonists, whose
military training, such as it was, was modelled on that of the regular
army. In early days the militia had done good service, notably in beat-
ing off the French invaders in 1694, but thirty years later it was no
longer such a sturdy citizen force. As the size of plantations grew,
the number of resident proprietors with a stake in the country diminish-
ed. The decrease in the proportion of white inhabitants to Negroes,
and evasion of the deficiency laws designed to correct this, were a con-
stant theme of official complaint, and in 1735 the number of white men
capable of bearing arms was said to be less than at any time during the
previous forty years. 7 In 1730 Governor Robert Hunter gave the
following estimate of population:
Masters and mistresses, 2,171
White men servants 3,009, women 984
White children, 1,484
Free Negroes, Indians and mulattoes, 765
Slaves, 74,525 (but "100,000 probably nearer the mark")
Effective militia, 3,000, mostly servants 8
A corrupt system made it easy for the better-off white men to evade
service in the militia. Many officers were of poor quality, and the in-
dentured servants and free Negroes who composed the rank and file
felt no great call to be valiant. Indiscipline and desertion were com-
mon, and the militia law provided inadequate penalties, "other than
such as their slaves and servants. .are inured to every day of their
lives, and value not." 9 In any case, the militia could not be effectively
mobilised without martial law, which disrupted the life and trade of
the colony and was only imposed as a last resort. After being in force
for six months during 1729, when there was a scare of a Spanish in-
vasion, martial law was not declared again until the end of 1734. In
the meantime, military parties were raised, as they always had been,
by hiring volunteers, or in default of volunteers, by drafting.
An Act "for raising parties to suppress rebellious and runaway
Negroes," passed in 1699, had empowered the Colonel of each parish
militia regiment to raise and send out a party or parties to remain out
until they had reduced the rebels, or been relieved by another party,
or for a month unless recalled; the commander of each party to have
6 a month, the sergeant 3, and the men 50/-, in addition to the
"plunder and encouragements" provided for in the Act for the better
government of slaves (1696), viz: to each free man or servant for taking
or killing a rebel slave, 5 reward, and to each slave for performing
the same service, 40/- reward and a serge coat with a red cross on the
right shoulder. An Act of 1718 commuted the pay and encouragements
of previous Acts into a reward of 50 to the party for every adult rebel
killed or taken, and permission to keep for themselves any children
under 14 and any plunder taken. 1o And so in 1729, after Maroons
had raided a plantation in Clarendon Parish, we hear of Simon Boothe
being commissioned to raise and lead a party to pursue the marauders;
the party contrived to kill five "rebels" (four of whom were women) and
tu capture four adults and seven children, for which they received a
reward of 450, and were allowed to keep the children. 11 During the
1730's several quasi-professional leaders of parties were active, tender-
ing their services on conditions which, after due negotiation, would be
embodied in an ad hoc Act. Some of these "partisans" seem to have
been small planters, and one of them, Ebenezer Lambe, was an in-
dentured servant; as a reward for good service the Assembly voted to
buy his freedom with public funds, compensating his master for the
unexpired portion of his contract. 12 Slaves were employed in the
parties, both freedom by killing a Maroon or otherwise "behaving well."
Owners of slaves who were killed or damaged in the service had of
course to be compensated. In 1724 the Assembly resolved to raise
6,000 or more per annum for the parties, and by 1730 they were said
tu be costing 1,000 a month. 13 Apart from being a serious drain on
the colonial finances, the system was a failure because it did not enable
the parties to be kept in the field long enough to exert a continuous
pressure on the enemy. In 1722 a committee of the Assembly, set up to
devise more effectual measures against the Maroons, reported: "The
only means entirely to destroy them, will be to keep outstanding parties
for years," 14 but under the semi-voluntary system this was not practic-
able; the men were not subject to military law, pay was almost always
in arrears, and there was much desertion.
The growing aggressiveness of the windward Maroons during the
1720's coincided with, and may have been partly provoked by, official
efforts to increase the white population of the north-east part of the
island. Settlement schemes were promoted under three successive
Governors, Lawes, Portland and Hunter. Land was to be made avail-
able by re-vesting in the Crown at least some part of 60,000 acres lying
idle in the possession of tenants who had neither planted nor paid quit
rent. 15 The first Act for encouraging the settling of the north-east,
passed in 1721, was a very limited measure, but within the next few
years its scoope was enlarged by three further Acts, including that of
1723 which established the Parish of Portland. Settlers were offered
up to 500 acres, as well as a town lot in the settlement of Titchfield.
for which 150 acres were reserved on the Port Antonio peninsula. 16
Lt.-Gen. Robert Hunter, Governor 1728-34, was a keen promoter of the
settlement and its fort (Fort George), whose construction he initiated
in the face of considerable apathy and opposition. James Knight, a
Kingston merchant and member of the Assembly, recorded that Hunter
and the Commodore, Admiral Stewart, aimed to make Port Antonio not
only a naval station but the chief port of trade, "and to encourage and
promote the interest of the place, it was made the rendezvous of the
parties fitted out against the rebellious Negroes 'though other parts
were nearer to their quarters and more convenient), as well as of the
men of war which were sent round to fit and careen. The construc-
tion of the fort and naval station ran into difficulties, and the develop-
ment of Titchfield lagged. At the time when Knight wrote, there were
still only 25 or 30 houses and warehouses. The place was damp and
malarial, and the Maroons uncomfortably close and menacing. "Few
people go to Port Antonio but are glad to escape with a severe fit of
sickness only," wrote another Kingston merchant in 1733. The hinter-
land remained uncleared, and in 1739 there was still not a single sugar
plantation in the Parish of Portland. 17
Immediately inland of Port Antonio were thickly wooded slopes,
deeply cleft by the Rio Grande and its tributaries. and rising steeply
to the rocky heights of the Blue Mountain ridge. Here the Maroons
had their "towns", or clusters of huts, and their provision grounds.
Armed parties advancing up the river valleys had to move in file,
scaling boulders and repeatedly fording the streams where keeping
one's powder dry was no joke, and the dense forest gave cover to in-
visible sharpshooters. "Our best woodsmen cannot march above five
miles a day," wrote a planter, "and when they come upon the towns
(unless by surprise which is very rare) they come fatigued with their
march, their arms and ammunition frequently wet or spoiled, with
their being obliged to lie nightly in those unsettled woods, exposed and
the usual excessive fogs, and when they come into their Ithe Maroons']
plantations, they find they are not only artfully but securely laid out,
and guarded by lanes of wood where the Negroes hide, and shoot the
men sent after them." 18 The principal Maroon encampment, which
came to be known as Nanny Town, was on a precipitous spur jutting
north from the Blue Mountain ridge, about 10 miles south-west of Port
Antonio as the crow flies, but about 7 days' march or more on foot. The
Government parties usually marched out from Port Antonio, or from
the Swift River district further west, these routes converging in the
areca of the Back Rio Grande. But the reports sent in by their captains
are far from clear. Some of them seem to have thrashed about all
directions, and when they speak of the rebel town, one cannot always
be sure whether Nanny Town or some other settlement is meant. Some
of the place-names are not to be found on extant maps, and estimates
of distance are vague. Thus the Breastwork, an advanced post, is
variously described as nearly half way, or a third of the way, from Port
Antonio to the Maroon town, and as seven miles from, or four to five
days' march from, the latter. 19
Between 1730 and 1734 we hear of at least nine expeditions, each
involving anything from 100 to 400 men. In March 1730 the Assembly,
disturbed by "the many obstructions given to the new settlement at
Port Antonio by the incursions of the rebellious Negroes," urged that a
party be sent to destroy their principal settlement. Accordingly in July
a party of 95 men, attended by 22 baggage Negroes, attacked the settle-
ment but were beaten out, losing 15 killed and many wounded. The
following October, a "grand party," possibly totalling 300 men, was
fitted out under the command of Thomas Brooks, a member of the
Assembly. It does not appear that this party even made contact with
the enemy. They lost their way in the bush, some died of hunger,
others were drowned in fording rivers, and it was estimated that about
a quarter of the whole did not return.20
Earlier that year, a resolution in the Assembly to apply for regular
troops or else make the militia more effective had been lost by the
Speaker's casting vote. Reporting this to Board of Trade, Hunter
painted a gloomy picture of the defenceless state of the island, and
repeated scarifying rumours of an understanding between the Jamaican
Maroons and the Spaniards in Cuba. These representations resulted in
the despatch of two regiments from Gibraltar, nearly 800 men, who
arrived in Jamaica in February 1731. Hunter posted six companies
directly to Port Antonio, and seems to have intended to use them
against the Maroons as soon as possible. But their disembarkation
coincided with the fitting out of another militia party under one Thomas
Peters, who had served in the abortive expedition under Brooks. In
view of the arrival of the regulars, the question was raised whether
this party should proceed, but the Assembly voted to let it go forward.
It was stipulated that three-quarters of the force should consist of free
coloured men. In default of volunteers, it was made up by drafting. 21
This party of 180 men "had the luck to surprise the chief Negro settle-
ment near Port Antonio." Peters got into the "town" with the loss of
two men and a few wounded, the Maroons having fired some of the
huts and dispersed to the hills. After staying there three days Peters
burned the rest of the town (106 huts) and retired, having neither
pursued the enemy nor taken a single prisoner; much to the disgust of
that veteran soldier, Governor Hunter.22
The barracks projected at Port Antonio had not been started, and
the troops from Gibraltar were housed in makeshift huts of thatch.
There were not sufficient barracks at Port Royal, and some of the
troops were quartered in Kingston, or scattered about the country in
small detachments. Soon they were dying fast, and the disgruntled
officers wrote complaining letters to influential friends in London. The
officers found Jamaica exceedingly hot and expensive, and questioned
the need for their continued presence there, especially after the news
of Peters' "success" Colonel Hayes, who commanded one of the regi-
ments, wrote: "The affair of the Blacks I look on as quite a bam [i.e. a
hoax, cf. "bamboozle"], for I can find nobody that has either seen or
felt them in a wrathful manner." This was not altogether surprising,
since he goes on: "I have taken a little house here at a place called
Ligony, the pleasantest part of the island." On learning of Peters'
capture of the Maroon town, he comments: "I believe we may now
naturally conclude the war is over in this country."23 Relations
between the commanding officers and the Governor were strained.
Colonels objected to having their regiments dispersed, and disdained
to take command of the small detachments which alone were suitable
for bush operations. 24
During the summer of 1731 the complaints of Hayes and his brother
officers reached London, and together with adverse reports from other
sources created a stir at the Board of Trade. After consulting various
experts on Jamaica, the Board presented the following recommenda-
tions to the Secretary of State, the Duke of Newcastle, to be laid before
1. Since the regular troops were reported to be useless for hunting
the Maroons, the two regiments should be withdrawn, but any soldiers
willing to settle in Jamaica should be disbanded there; the two In-
dependent Companies should also be brought up to strength with men
from the regiments.
2. The Government of Jamaica should be urged to employ Mosquito
Indians, as had been done in Lawes' time.
3. That Government should also be instructed "to try if by lenity
and good usage [the Maroons] may not be brought into Your Majesty's
obedience, in which case a proper tract of land may be allotted to them
in Jamaica for their habitation"; if this proved impracticable, the
Government should try to conclude a treaty with them for their settle-
ment in the Bahamas or elsewhere in America. 25
Thus the solution reached under Trelawny in 1739 was officially
proposed six years earlier.
The Governor's critics in the Assembly had added their voice to
those advocating the recall of the regiments. The Assembly was piqued
because the troops had been asked for without its sanction, and in July
a motion to continue paying their supplementary subsistence for a
further six months was carried by only one vote. By September, the
Governor had to admit that the regiments were "in a woeful state,
some companies having lost more than half their complement, chiefly
through drunkenness." Col. Hayes and several other officers had died
of fever. Nevertheless, needled by his critics and without much hope,
Hunter ordered the commanding officer at Port Antonio to make up
four companies for another "grand party," to be accompanied by 80
armed Negroes. When that officer wrote that he could find scarcely
twenty men fit to march, a reinforcement of thirty soldiers was sent
round by sea, and at the end of November the party finally moved off.
Four days' march beyond the Breastwork they walked into an ambush
where eight soldiers were killed; after which the party straggled back
to its base. The officers wrote to Hunter that the only remedy was to
cut roads through the bush where six men could march abreast, with
breastworks at intervals. To this he replied, with pardonable asperity,
that these were long-term measures, and if Peters could get to the
Negro town, why could not they? He ordered more troops to be con-
centrated at Port Antonio to keep the alarmed settlers from deserting
the place. 26 He had written to the Board to protest against the recall
cf the regiments, but it was already too late, and he hardly bothered to
argue the case. 27 Before the regiments left the island the two In-
dependent Companies were filled up from their ranks, and about a
hundred privates and some non-commissioned officers were induced by
bounties and the usual pay and rewards to "enlist in the country's
service" as volunteers. 28
Early in 1732, another volunteer party was fitted out on the basis
of a tender submitted by Thomas Peters and another partisan leader
called Edmond Lee. Both had served as guides and overseers of the
Negroes attached to the recently defeated military party. Each was to
command a party of 24 white men, 80 Negro shot and 20 baggage
Negroes. They engaged to enlist the white men themselves, to take the
chief Negro town and hold it for six months and "if possible" to take
other towns adjacent, and for this service, if duly accomplished, they
demanded a reward of 500 each (originally they asked 1,000). A law
embodying these terms was passed, and received the Governor's as sent
on February 3rd. 29 The regulars recently enlisted from the regiments
were also used. When Peters' force of volunteers and armed Negroes
marched off from the Swift River district on March 15th, it was followed
by a detachment of soldiers under an ex-sergeant, Morrison, while a
second detachment under another ex-sergeant, Allen, was already in
the field, having started from Liguanea two weeks earlier to make
rendezvous with Peters at the Maroon town. This is the first time that
we hear of a party approaching Nanny Town from the south. With
Allen was a guide who professed to know the Maroon country, and a
party of "choice armed Negroes" under Sambo, a free Negro who had
done good service. Allen seems to have gone up the Yallahs and Negro
river valleys to Portland ridge, crossing "the ridge of a damned iron-
bound mountain which was not five inches wide in some places." Work-
ing their way along the ridge, his party saw three Maroon "towns"
right beneath them, as it seemed, but it was only after two days more
on the march that they got within half a mile of the towns, having
followed what Allen calls the Back River but was probably the Stony
River which flows into the Back River from the east. On March 15th
they entered one of the towns and stayed there, exchanging sporadic
-hots with the Maroons; on the 20th, Peters' party appeared, having
forced their way through an ambush in which Lee, his second in com-
mand, was killed, and entered the lower town, consisting of about 120
huts which the Maroons fired before they retreated. 30
This time the Government parties seem to have remained in
occupation at least for some months. Peters incurred a reprimand for
inactivity, but parties under Allen, Morrison and others were in the
field. The Maroons were believed to have split up into three parties,
and in September Hunter wrote optimistically that the settlers in the
north-east were beginning to feel more secure. If so, it was not for
long. In his speech at the opening of the Assembly session in October,
the Governor spoke of the "continual desertion of the Negroes on this
service," and by the end of the year, if not earlier, the Maroons seem
to have re-occupied their town. No lasting advantage had been
In 1733 the situation took a definite turn for the worse. In March
and again in June, parties commanded by the ex-indentured servant,
Lambe, entered the Maroon settlement only to be beaten out. On the
second occasion, a detachment sent to storm a hilltop to which the
Maroons had retreated was
defeated by a stratagem the rebels had taken in piling up a vast
heap of stones against which they set up props until our party
came near, so soon as which, the hill being excessive steep, they
pulled away and the stones run down with great violence on
them, the rebels seeing the confusion this had put them to.
followed the stones close and destroyed several of the party and
took three alive.
After this the main party retreated, having, as the said, run out of
ammunition, or as seemed more likely, having lost their nerve. The
Maroons had assailed them chiefly with taunts, asking whether they
wanted more powder and ball, and asking the Negroes of the party why
they didn't come over and enjoy the free life. The repeated failure of
the parties to inflict any damage on the Maroons had plainly brought
the morale of the colonists to a very low ebb, and it badly needed a
boost. At the end of June. on receiving a report of wholesale desertions_
from the parties, the Governor applied to the Admiral, Sir Chaloner
Ogle, to send a warship to Port Antonio "to keep the people there in
countenance," and the Council and Assembly made a joint appeal to
him for 200 seamen. 32
Sir Chaloner promptly produced the required number of
"volunteers," with four or five young naval officers to command them.
The sailors formed the main body of a force made up with 100 soldiers
from the Independent Companies, 50 white shot and 50 black shot, with
150 baggage Negroes the most formidable effort yet mounted against
the Maroons. Hunter gave instructions for the force to be divided so
as to march by three different routes, but as usual there was nobody at
Port Antonio with authority to see that his orders were carried out,
and the main force, comprising the seamen and soldiers, advanced in
one column up the right branch of the Back River li.e. the Stony River)
About two miles from the Maroon town, where they were supposed to
make contact with Sambo and his black shot, the naval vanguard was
ambushed by Maroons. Supported by the main body of seamen they
pushed on, but one of the guides shouted to them to get back or they
would be trapped. The Maroons as usual knew all about the enemy's
plans. "You Buckras," they gibed, "what make you come today, you
wrong, Sambo no here till tomorrow." The sailors broke and ran,
spreading panic to the soldiers in rear. Together they fell on the
baggage train, broke up the stores, threw away the powder and ball.
the rations and medical supplies, drank all they could of the rum, and
emptied the rest. Several officers and men, trapped in the ambush,
took cover under a boulder on the river bank and lay there until night.
when they managed to get away during a heavy shower of rain. In the
morning they vainly tried to rally their men. Ten seamen had been
killed and one officer and thirteen men wounded. In the retreat they
lost 52 firelocks and cartouche boxes, a useful bonus for the Maroons
This humiliating rout of 300 men of the armed forces was the most
shocking reverse yet, and caused panic on the north coast. The out-
settlers all retreated into Port Antonio, where everyone expected an
attack. There was talk of building a wall across the Titchfield
isthmus, and the inhabitants demanded that a warship be kept in the
harbour. Hunter ordered "all hands" to be employed in building a
defensible barrack at the Breastwork, and parties of the Independent
Companies stationed there were kept out patrolling the woods. "No
master at the north side is now master of a slave," wrote a planter
at this time, "many of them not doing half the work they used to do,
nor dare their masters punish them, for the least disgust will probably
cause them to join the rebels." Nor was trouble confined to the north-
east. The preamble of a barracks law passed in October 1733 referred
to the increase of robberies and murders committed by the rebels in
the western parishes, which it was feared would "soon become the seat
of an intestine war, as well as the eastern." In January a party of
Maroons said to number more than 200 attacked the Breastwork, where
work on the barrack was in progress, but was beaten off.34
The Assembly had spent the previous summer in fractious disputes
with the Governor and Council, but was now shocked into joining them
in abject appeals to the British Government for aid.35 In petitions
addressed to the King, to the Secretary of State, to the Board of Trade,
the customary hyperbole took on a note of hysteria ("this may very
possibly be the last opportunity we have of applying for help," etc.).
The petitions stated that in spite of almost insupportable expense the
colonists had failed to suppress the rebels, and were now unable to
defend themselves. Owing to the cowardice and treachery of the
parties sent against them, the rebels were flushed with success and no
longer skulked in the woods and mountains, but were appearing openly
in arms, and had taken possession of three plantations within eight
miles of Port Antonio. More and more slaves were deserting to them,
and a "general defection" seemed imminent. 36 Meanwhile, wrote
Hunter to the Secretary of State, "the common cry is for martial law
as the only remedy." 37 But Hunter did not live to see it applied. He
was sixty-seven and ailing, and on 31st March, 1734 he died.
John Ayscough, a Jamaica-born planter who as President of the
Council now assumed the government, had been described by Hunter
as "far from being in any manner qualified for such a trust." 38 Never-
theless, within a year of his taking office the Maroons were dislodged
from Nanny Town for good, and this proved a turning point in the
windward campaign. Almost at once, Ayscough was able to give the
Board of Trade better news, and made the most of it. On 20th April,
1734 a party of 200 men commanded by Richard Swarton, proprietor of
an estate in St. Thomas-in-the-East, marched from Morant Bay, to
meet another party fitted out at Port Antonio. Swarton's party,
having cut a road through the woods, the seventh day about 8
o'clock in the morning.. .attacked the rebels in their chief town,
and beat them out, which consisted of 127 huts, and at the most
would hold 400 men, women and children (in this town is sup-
posed to be the body of the rebellious slaves), of which as near
as they could guess were 100 shot; after they were beat out of
the town they retired behind trees and bushes and fought our
men for five days, killed 8 of them and wounded 13; our party
killed a great many of the rebels, and amongst them one of their
head captains; a list of arms and other things taken out of the
town, I send enclosed to your Lordships.
The list of arms was somewhat trifling, and the "other things" con-
sisted of 41 iron pots, 3 large copper kettles, and other domestic items,
including "100 Negro men's loads of linen fit for Negroes' clothes"; but
after so much depressing news from Jamaica, perhaps even this homely
list of trophies made comfortable reading for their Lordships. More
significant was Ayscough's conclusion:
This is a route that never was taken before, and is now made so
good a road to the Negro town, that the parties may march to it
in a day and a half, and had not excessive rains, which brought
the rivers down, prevented the Port Antonio party from coming
to Capt. Swarton's assistance, with a supply of ammunition and
other necessaries, [we] should have taken or killed most of them,
but for want of which, Capt. Swarton was obliged to retire. 39
The old story, in fact, but not without some hope of a more pro-
sperous ending to the next chapter.
James Knight, as we have seen, blamed Hunter for persistently using
Port Antonio as a rendezvous for the parties in order to promote the
development of the settlement. Certainly Port Antonio had proved an
unsatisfactory base, and after Hunter's death its shortcomings were
freely aired before a committee of inquiry set up by the Assembly. A
law passed in 1733 had prohibited the retailing of liquor at Titchfield
because of its disastrous effect on the volunteers, but the local magis-
trates with few exceptions had failed to enforce it. The party men
had been bartering their guns and equipment to the tavern-keepers for
rum, and hiring themselves out to build houses for the settlers or so
it was alleged. More to the point was that Swarton's expedition had
shown the advantage of the southern approach to Nanny Town, which
was much shorter and did not involve the fording of rapid rivers. Port
Antonio was not given up as a base, but the major part of the next
expedition was again mounted on the southern side of the mountains,
at Morant Bay. 4
In October 1734, at last, the Assembly passed an Act for putting
martial law into force for six months. This made it possible to draw
on the militia as a whole. Hitherto, as Ayscough explained to Newcastle,
"gentlemen whose estates were not threatened sent only the worst of
their people to serve," but the parties now projected were to be "made
up of the flower of the country. Col. Brooks, Colonel of the regiment
of the Parish of St. Elizabeth, a man of good estate, a very discreet and
gallant officer, has sole command of the 600 men, 400 of which he
marches with himself from Morant. .with 4 captains and 20 subalterns,
besides several young gentlemen of good estates, volunteers; the other
200 men march from Port Antonio under the command of Major
Munbee. .in order to attack the rebels' town two ways." Ayscough
himself and some Council members went to Morant Bay, and others to
Port Antonio, to see that the men were properly fitted out. "This law,"
Ayscough added rather smugly, "has been endeavoured several times in
Mr. Hunter's government, but never could be obtained; your Grace is
sensible, how disagreeable martial law is to a free people, and nothing
but a person who is well liked could have brought them into it." 41 The
colonists could also draw comfort from the arrival of a reinforcement
of regular troops. In the previous spring, even before the appeal signed
by Governor, Council and Assembly, the Board of Trade had been getting
alarming reports in private letters from Jamaica, which they passed on
to Newcastle with the comment that the people of Jamaica seemed un-
willing to defend themselves: and in May they proposed that another
regiment be sent out. In the event it was decided to send six In-
dependent Companies, of 100 men each, drafted from the regiments in
Gibraltar. Arriving in Jamaica towards the end of the year, two of the
new companies were stationed at Port Antonio and the other four were
temporarily quartered on various plantations in the Parish of St.
Thomas. 42 Paradoxically, it was their function to secure the rear while
the militia took the field, for the normal objection to mobilising the
militia for a "general march" was that this left the plantations un-
The capture of Nanny Town in 1734 is the one incident of the wind-
ward campaign which is mentioned in most of the standard histories.
Long's account is an embroidered version of the story given in Charles
Leslie's New History of Jamaica (1740), which must have been written
within a few years of the event. This gives the credit for the operation
to a Captain Stoddart, who with a small party managed to scale the
heights above Nanny Town unseen by the Maroons, and brought up
some field pieces, or swivel guns, with which he bombarded the enemy
out of their huts. 43 The swivel guns were probably small cannon (such
as those often used to guard plantation houses), fitted with a pivot
which could be fixed in the ground. These would have a range of 200
or 300 yards, four or five times the effective range of a musket. The
loud bangs made by these weapons no doubt added to their effectiveness,
especially if, as seems to be the case, this was the first time they had
been used against the Maroons, owing to the extremely irksome labour
of humping them up on to the Blue Mountain ridge. 44 There is no
doubt that both Stoddart and the guns played a significant role in the
operation, though possibly it was not precisely the role described by
Leslie and Long. 45 Col. Brooks, the party commander, sent the follow-
ing report of the action to Ayscough.
From the Negro Town
On Monday the 16 1734 (sic) we marched from the Blue Mountain
ridge, from whence I wrote to your Honour last, and at night
got within a mile of the Negro Town after being the whole day
in the rain, was forced to sit up all night in our wet clothes with-
out either fire or candle, for fear of being discovered by the
rebels. The rains continued all night, that it was so dark, we
could not attempt them till ten o'clock the next day, at which
time I ordered Capt. Burbery, Capt. Stoddard, Capt. Wynder and
Mr. Dunston...to march into the Negro Town with their proper
officers and their companies. They got in sight of the town
before they were discovered, and as soon as the Negroes dis-
covered them they set most of their houses on fire and then fired
a volley at our people, which ours returned, and entered the
town, and took one of their ambuscades, but they kept the prin-
cipal one, and fired at our men all day. I stayed on the hill on
which I lay all night and guarded the ammunition and provisions
with the rest of the men, it being our whole dependance, did not
think proper to trust it to anyone else. I hearing them pretty
smartly engaged, sent a detachment of 50 men, under the com-
mand of Lieut. Garland, Lieut. Witter, and Ensign Allen, to their
assistance, who immediately joined them. Next morning Capt.
Stodderd sent to me to come to their assistance and bring the
swivel ("suivle") guns to drive them out of their ambush, and
immediately went, but before I got in, eight or ten of our men
run in with their guns or pistols, and came muzzle to muzzle and
beat them out, with only the damage of one man wounded; I got
in soon after, we had two men wounded in taking the town and
one by taking the ambuscade. They continued firing at us all
day from the top of the hills and do so still; we have killed
several, but have got none, for they carry all off.
I have not heard of Major Mumby yet [from Port Antonio]
Our provisions are all out, and spoiled, and having nothing for
the men to eat but the cocoas, and as we have no men to spare,
to send, desire your Honour will send a detachment, with some
rum, sugar, butter, rice, oatmeal and flour and other provisions
for our people, and some ammunition for ours grows scarce, and
if we are not speedily relieved with these things our men will all
come away .. I hope your Honour will send the soldiers to take
possession of the town as soon as possible for the most of our
men are very uneasy, as well as myself, to be at home to take
care of their private affairs. .The men are much in want of
shoes, stockings and warm clothing such as baize and ozenbrigg
for to make them frocks, also hats for we have rains continually
here. I think proper to acquaint you that our men are deserted
so from us, that we have not above three hundred shot white
and black left now, the pioneers have lost their bills and axes
most of them, and [I will] send them back as soon as I can afford
a guard to return them with safety, and this is from your
Honour's most obedient and most humble servt.,
George Brooks Dec. 19, 1734 46
The account given in James Knight's History, which like Leslie's
was nearly contemporary, agrees very closely with Brooks' report, adding
that Brooks, after entering the town, ordered the swivel guns to play
upon the Maroons in the surrounding hills, and effectively dispersed
them, not least from the frightening noise of the reverberations. 7 It
may be that the gallant and discreet Colonel deliberately underrated
the part played by his subordinate officer, and that Leslie and Knight.
both of whom could have talked to eye-witnesses, adopted the Stoddart
and Brooks versions respectively. At first the Assembly declined to
vote Brooks a reward, but four years later, in July 1738, in view of the
fact that he had a wife and eight children to support and was being
hard pressed by creditors, they voted him 600 for his services in taking
Nanny Town. A week later they voted 300 to Stoddart (who by now
was himself a member of the Assembly), having found that he 'engaged
voluntarily as a captain in that party. .that he commanded the detach-
ment that attacked the town and routed the rebels. .and had behaved
with great gallantry and readiness, on that and other similar
Nanny Town is supposed to have been called after the redoubtable
Nanny, variously described as wife or sister of Cudjoe, chief of the
western Maroons. When Peters, Morrison and Allen occupied the throwo
towns" in March 1732, these were referred to as the Great Town, Molly'
Town and Diana's Town, which sound like nicknames invented by the
British soldiers; one of Allen's reports, however, seems to have men-
tioned "an old witch they called Nancy" among the rebels in the Great
Town. 49 At other times the chief settlement is simply called the Negro
Town. But a Maroon taken at Port Antonio in August 1733 is reported
as saying that the "old town" formerly captured by the soldiers was
now known as Nanny Town, under a headman called Cuffee. When
first beaten out the Maroons had temporarily joined another settlement
on Carrion Crow Hill called Guy's or Gay's Town, but had later returned
to Nanny Town.50 An Ibo slave who had been with the windward
Maroons and was taken at Bendish's (Agualta Vale) in January 1737
had this to say about their movements after the capture of Nanny
Town: "Adou still keeps to windward. .with a great party, and amongst
them. .Nanny and her husband, who is a greater man than Adou, but
never went into their battles"; also "that he saw three white men, that
were taken in some of those parties, carried to the Negro Town and
there put to death by Nanny." s5
Nanny Town seems to have been occupied continuously by Govern-
ment forces, usually Independent Company troops, from its capture by
Brooks up to the end of hostilities in 1739.52 For a time, anyway, the
windward Maroons broke up into smaller groups, temporarily on the
run and short of ammunition and provisions. In May 1735 martial law
was re-introduced for a further three months, and flying parties were
sent out to intercept the roaming gangs; in August Ayscough claimed
that about fifty Maroons had been killed, wounded or taken during
martial law. 53 Some of the windward Maroons eventually joined Cudjoe
in the west, but others probably never moved far, or else drifted back.
Towards the end of 1737 they were reported to be reappearing in con-
siderable numbers in their old haunts, and "beginning to stir." 54 But
they never again menaced Port Antonio as in the winter of 1733-4. It
was now Cudjoe's parties in the cockpit country that seemed most likely
to give trouble.
We have seen that the possibility of coming to terms with the
Maroons had been raised by the Board of Trade in 1731. The chief
proponent of a treaty was probably Col. Martin Bladen, a member of
the Board, who in October 1734 repeated his arguments in a memoran-
dum to the Duke of Newcastle, with a copy to Sir Robert Walpole.
Bladen recommended military measures such as the building of a road
from one end of the island to the other, "in imitation of those made by
General Wade in Scotland," with defensible barracks at intervals. But
he went on to point out that it would be difficult to destroy the rebels
entirely, who in case of war would almost certainly get help from the
French or Spaniards. Therefore, directly some advantage over them
could be gained, they should be offered terms; the Spaniards, said
Bladen, had been most successful in taming their runaway Negroes by
offering them settlements in many parts of their American possessions. 55
Ayscough, in Jamaica, was already of like mind. On the morrow
of the advantage gained at Nanny Town, he commissioned a young
officer, Bevil Granville, to seek out the Maroon leaders and offer terms.
But for the moment nothing came of this. When Granville managed
lo encounter a party of Maroons, they told him they would never trust
the word of a white man, and warned him to be off and not come peace-
making again, on peril of his life. 56 As for building roads and block-
houses in the mountain country, this had been advocated by Hunter,
but so long as the policy of sending out "flying parties" from Port
Antonio was persisted in, nothing was done about it. 57 The first step
was an Act passed in October 1733 for building barracks and cutting
roads in the western half of the island; in the following years there was
a spate of barrack laws, providing for the construction of twelve
defensible barracks throughout the island, as near as possible to the
haunts of the Maroons. Long writes as if this programme was actually
completed before 1739. In each barrack was
a strong garrison, who were regularly subsisted, and roads of
communication were opened from one to the other. These
garrisons were composed of white and black shot and baggage
Negroes, who were all duly trained. .Their general plan of duty,
as directed by the law, was to make excursions from the barracks,
scour the woods and mountains, and destroy the provision
grounds and haunts of the Maroons. .This arrangement was the
most judicious hitherto contrived for their effectual reduction.
and in short, became the chief means of bringing on that treaty
which afterwards put an end to this tiresome war. s5
But most of this is simply a recital of the intentions stated in the 1733
Act. In fact, the building programme went forward only slowly, and
as for the garrisons of well trained white and black shot, it may be
doubted whether they were ever more than a pleasant thought. Address-
the Assembly in February 1738, John Gregory, who had succeeded
Ayscough in the government, said: "I must recommend to your atten-
tion the laws for building barracks, which will expire before that service
can be completed, it is a work of time and expense; and I am sorry to
say, those which are built have not answered their intended effect; and,
I fear, will not, unless some measures can be taken to keep out proper
marching parties, constantly traversing the woods, from each respective
barrack." 9 In the following June, the Assembly requested the newly
arrived Governor, Edward Trelawny, to garrison the barracks with
soldiers (from the Independent Companies), and this he agreed to do,
"as fast as they are in a condition to receive them." o
Long also says that about the year 1738 200 Indians from the
Mosquito Shore were brought over for service against the Maroons, that
they proved most useful, and after the pacification were rewarded and
sent back. In the contemporary records there seems to be no trace of
this transaction. Fifty Mosquito Indians had been temporarily employ-
ed in operations against the Maroons in 1720, and during the 1730's the
Board of Trade more than once suggested that they be called in again,
but both Ayscough and Gregory turned the proposal down, saying that
the Indians had proved useless in mountain warfare. This did not
prevent the Assembly from passing an occasional resolution to hire
Indians (Chicksaw Indians from Carolina and Georgia were proposed,
as well as Mosquitoes), but no Act to this effect was passed.61
After the termination of martial law in July 1735 we do not hear
of any significant clashes with the Maroons, or of any more large-scale
expeditions. But they were reported to be as numerous and as
threatening as ever, and even when things seemed comparatively quiet,
the authorities remained highly apprehensive of trouble to come.
Gregory talked about offering peace terms, but could find nobody will-
ing to approach the Maroons, until John Guthrie, Colonel of the West-
moreland Parish militia, undertook to make contact with Cudjoe, who
commanded the Maroons in the recesses of the inaccessible mountainous
tract in the west of the island known as the cockpits. 62 This was now
regarded as the most formidable party of Maroons in the island, and
Cudjoe as the leader most likely to be amenable to terms. A con-
temporary account describes him as "a very sensible prudent man,"
who had rebuked the windward Maroons for their "indiscretion" in
provoking the white men.63 Up to November 1736 the militia parties
had failed to locate Cudjoe's chief settlement, but shortly afterwards a
young slave woman, described as "wife to one Cudjoe, a rebel captain,
deserted the Maroons and gave information about their numbers and
settlements, and offered to act as a guide.64 However, when Edward
Trelawny arrived in Jamaica as Governor in March 1738, no contact
with Cudjoe had yet been made. The probability of war between Britain
and Spain made it more than ever desirable to put an end to the
"intestine war" in Jamaica, but in his first message to the Assembly the
new Governor merely expressed the hope that their wisdom would
suggest some means of doing so. In December he wrote to Newcastle
that the Maroons were troublesome in various parts of the country,
and that he had sent small detachments of troops here and there to
bolster the morale of the people in exposed plantations. 65 Meanwhile
he had authorised the fitting out of a party under Col. Guthrie, which
at Guthrie's own suggestion consisted of "120 choice shot" drafted from
the militia regiments of the western parishes, accompanied by a detach-
ment of 42 regulars. 6 In March 1739 Trelawny was able to report
that Guthrie had concluded an agreement with Cudjoe.
The official account of this famous encounter differs in certain
respects from the description of it given in Dallas' History, which was
written sixty years after the event and probably depended chiefly on
oral tradition. According to Dallas, Cudjoe knew beforehand of the
terms to be offered, and allowed Guthrie's party to advance unmolested
within shouting distance, whereupon, after due hesitations, a parley
took place.67 Trelawny's report to the Secretary of State was as
A party of the militia under the command of Col. Guthrie to-
gether with a detachment of Capt. Robinson's Independent Com-
pany under the command of Lieut. Sadler having with great
resolution and bravery forced their way through two dangerous
ambushes which were disputed and many narrow passes in-
expressibly difficult, and drove the most considerable party of
rebels in this island out of their town, the rebels sued for terms
which considering the difficulty and almost impossibility of
getting the better of them by force, by the advice of the Council
I empowered Col. Guthrie and Mr. Sadler to grant them.
After dilating on the difficulties of bush warfare and the failures
of previous parties, the despatch continues:
I therefore dreaded I must own the sending out this party, nor
should I have done it if I had not been well informed and entire-
ly satisfied of the courage, conduct and ability of Col. Guthrie.
It has long been the desire of the generality of the country to
treat with the rebels, I was convinced of the necessity of it, but
I thought it dangerous to offer them terms. I wished for such
an event as this, that the offer might come from them thanks
to the bravery of the party, that event is brought about, and I
think there is little doubt but if we pursue the blow we shall in
a little time rid the country of all its rebels.
Trelawny enclosed extracts of the reports of Guthrie and Sadler
Trelawny Town, 17 February 1739
It is with some pleasure that I am to acquaint your Excy.
that we are now masters of Cudjoe's town. We marched Tuesday
last from Mr. Hall's at Montego Bay and yesterday morning about
ten of the clock we came up to the open ground where several
Negroes were at work, but being discovered before we could get
nigh them there was only a child killed and a woman and child
taken; this occasioned a general alarm on which they retired in
considerable numbers to an ambush, through which we were un-
avoidably to pass on our way to this town. On our arrival at it
the Independents commanded by Mr. Sadler sustained a very
great fire, and in spite of our best endeavours were about fifteen
minutes before we could gain it, and where one soldier was killed
and two wounded. After having passed the first ambush we
came into a spacious opening where we halted, and the town
being about a mile from us we resolved to proceed no farther that
day, but this morning early we marched to it. It is impossible
for me to describe to your Excy. the difficult access to it, but
being resolved to make ourselves masters of it we made our way
through a strong ambush where three more of the soldiers were
wounded and I am afraid one of them mortally. We stayed
about two hours in the town and then burned it, we are now
returned to the provision ground where there is great store of it.
Tomorrow I purpose to destroy what provisions I can't con-
veniently guard and next day I intend to go about building a
Strong House. I wish it could be supported for a year by 70 or
80 men, which in my humble opinion would entirely put an end
to the great mischief done by the rebels in our parts.
The generality of the gentlemen here are volunteers, and I
am afraid their patience in this solitary place will soon be worn
out, but I will endeavour to keep them here until I have your
Excellency's farther orders.
After commending Sadler for his bravery, Guthrie goes on:
I am sensible your Excy. will be surprised when I mention the
resolution of the other gentlemen that composed this party when
we have done so little as to the affair of taking or killing the
Negroes, but if ever your Excy. visits this town (which now bears
your name) you will not attribute it to any remissness in us.
I had a long conference with Cudjoe this day before we burnt
his town, he seemed inclinable to come to terms, but I could not
prevail with him so far as to send one of his people to me, and
he and the rest of the rebels were in places impossible for us to
force any advantages...
The following day Guthrie wrote again:
Since mine to your Excy. last night we sustained a few shots
from Cudjoe which brought on a second conference with him.
Now, Sir, let me assure you that I dread telling you that it ended
in peace. I have had him by the hand although by doing so Mr
Sadler and myself ran some small risk, as did one or two olher
gentlemen. On our first conference they offered to assist against
any foreign enemy, and to take up for the future all runaway
Negroes, and I on my part have promised in your Excy.'s nam"
that they shall live unmolested in this place with all that they
now enjoy. It is likewise stipulated that I shall stay here in a
peaceable manner with them for ten days by which time I hope
to receive your Excy.'s commands. 6a
Guthrie also wrote a note to Gregory, as the person who had first
instructed him to offer terms, asking Gregory to stand by him if he
should now be censured for what he had done.69 The treaty, signed
by Guthrie, Sadler and Cudjoe "at the camp near Trelawny Town," was
dated March 1st.
The procedure advocated by Bladen had been to offer terms to the
Maroons directly some advantage over them could be gained. It seems
that Gregory had been willing to forgo the prerequisite "advantage,
but that Trelawny insisted on having negotiations prefaced by at least
a face-saving demonstration of force. Guthrie was out to kill some
Maroons, and has to apologise for having slaughtered only a child. He
may have exaggerated the amount of opposition encountered, but at
any rate some fighting was necessary, and the occupation of the town
could be represented as a victory. When his first parley with Cudjoe
(it must have been a long-distance shouting-match) proved inconclu-
sive, he evacuated the town as being too dangerous a position to hold
(this is made clear by Sadler's accompanying report), and fell back to
the provision ground, intending to stay there until relieved. Cudjoe's
request for a second conference which he signalled by firing "a few
shots" enabled Trelawny to represent the rebels had sued for terms.
Long relates that when he talked to Cudjoe years afterwards, the
latter told him that the Maroons had been reduced to desperate straits
by the destruction of their provision grounds and incessant attacks.
and had no choice but to treat. If this was so, the Government at th?
time did not know it; their reports do not give the impression that any
headway had been made against the Maroons since 1734. In any case.
once the Maroons could be convinced that the colonists could be trusted
to leave them in peace, they had no reason to go on fighting. By the
treaty, in addition to the all-important undertaking to deliver up all
runaway slaves in future, Cudjoe promised to assist if required in sup-
pressing any other parties of Maroons if they refused to submit on the
same terms as himself. This may have been a decisive factor in bring-
ing the windward Maroons to terms without further resistance. In
June 1739 a party of militia and regulars occupied their provision:
grounds, and the windward leader, Quao, signed a treaty similar to
The course of events, then, as reflected in the official correspondence
cf the years 1730 to 1739, may be summed up as follows: About 1730
the activities of the Maroons began to pose a serious threat to authority,
especially in the north-east. Under Governor Hunter, the tactics adopt-
ed against them were simply an intensified form of the time-honoured
method of sending out armed parties from a base in the plains. This
had the reverse of the intended effect; the Government parties suffered
a series of ignominious rebuffs which increased the Maroons' confidence
and led to growing insubordination among the plantation slaves and
alarm among the settlers, mounting to panic in the winter of 1733-4.
Up to this time, the main base of operations was Port Antonio, and
little or no use was made of the shorter approach to Nanny Town from
Brooks' capture of Nanny Town in December 1734 relieved the ten-
sion, and the windward Maroons were temporarily dispersed, though not
significantly reduced in numbers. For the time being, it was the
Maroons in the western part of the island who threatened to be the
most troublesome. The Government stopped sending out relatively
large parties, and a start was made with the plan of building of fortified
barracks in the interior districts, from which small patrols could be
sent out to destroy the Maroons' provision grounds; possibly by 1739
this was beginning to have more effect than was realized. The authori-
ties had become convinced of the necessity of coming to terms with the
Maroons, but this had to be done with a minimum loss of face, at least
with some show of negotiating from strength. The risk that a party
empowered to offer peace terms might meet with opposition and suffer
another humiliating repulse was one that Trelawny decided to take.
War and peace with the Maroons in the 1730's.
(AJ Journals of the Jamaican Assembly
Add Mss Additional Manuscripts, British Museum
BT Board of Trade
CO Colonial Office Papers in the Public Record Office
CSP Calendar of State Papers, Colonial (America and WI)
George Metcalf, Royal Government and Political Conflict in Jamaica, 1729-1783
2. AJ v.2, p. 410; CSP 1734-5, n. 345, Ayscough to Newcastle 21 Oct. 1734. My
legislative arithmetic does not square with the well-known statement in Long's
History of Jamaica, v. 2, p. 340, that between 1693 and 1739 the Assembly passed
44 Acts for suppressing the Maroons; I cannot explain the discrepancy.
3. R. C. Dallas, The History of the Maroons (London 1803), v. 1, p. 26 ff.; J. J.
Williams, The Maroons of Jamaica (Boston College Press 1938), p.401.
4. CO 137/22, Gregory to BT 10 Apl. 1736; CO 137/56, Trelawny to Newcastle 30
June 1739; AJ v. 3, p.470; Long, History of Jamaica, v.2, p. 350. Long gives Ihe
date of the census showing 664 persons in the settlements as 1749, but later cmen':led
this to 1739 (annotated text of the History, Add. Mss 12, 405).
CO 137/56, Trelawny to Newcastle 5 Mar. 1739.
6. CO 137/17, Ayscough to BT 1 Oct. 1727. Independent Companies were
assigned to duties considered too small for a regiment, chiefly in the colonies.
7. CSP 1735-6, n. 148, Privy Council to BT, referring a memorial of Jamaici
8. CSP 1730, n.627, Hunter to BT 24 Dec. 1730. Thie number of rice co
persons sounds like an under-estimate.
9. CSP 1733, n.75, Hunter to Newcastle 27 Mar. 1733. Trelawny put it more
humanely: it seemed "hardly equitable to punish them according to rules of war
since they never dreamed of such service when indenting themselves" (CO 137 56,
Trelawny to Newcastle 4 Dec. 1738).
10. Laws of Jamaica 1681-1737.
AJ v. 2, p. 682-3, quoted by Richard Hart, Cudjoe and the First Maroon War, in
Caribbean Historical Review No. 1 (December 1950).
AJ v. 3, p. 104.
AJ v.2, p. 494; CSP 1730, n. 309, John Stewart to Sir C. Wager 3 July 1730.
14. AJ v. p.412.
15. AJ v.2, p. 366.
16. Laws of Jamaica 1681-1737.
17. Knight's History, Add. Mss. 12,418, f.269, and 12,419, f.29 (Knight left Jamaic.
in 1737; on its printed title page his History is described as "to the year 1746"):
CSP 1733, n. 131, report of J. Telednor, Kingston, 27 Apl. 1733; Add. Mss. 12, 431,
f. 152, list of sugar plantations in 1739.
18. CSP 1730, n. 351, "A short state of Jamaica", paper read at BT 8 Oct. 1730.
19. It seems to have been on the Rio Grande, and certainly not in the district now
known as Breastworks, which is within a mile of the sea.
20. CO 137/18, Hunter to BT 18 Mar. 1730; CSP 1730, n. 311, 519, Hunter to BT 4
July, 7 Nov. 1730.
CSP 1730, n. 311, Hunter to BT 4 July 1730; AJ v.2, p. 748, 757, 759.
22. CSP 1731, n.92, Hunter to Newcastle 17 Mar. 1731.
CSP 1731, n. 79 and 249, letters from officers in Jamaica, Feb.- March.
24. CO 137 56, Trelawny to Newcastle 4 Dec. 1738.
CSP 1731, n.299, BT to Newcastle 15 July 1731.
26. CSP 1731, n.415, 433, 550, Hunter to Newcastle 24 Sept., 8 Oct., 15 Dec. 1731:
CO 137/53, ditto 20 Dec. 1731; CSP 1732, n. 6, ditto 5 Jan. 1732. An anonymous
letter to Hunter (Add. Mss 22, 677, f.21) sarcastically congratulates him on, among
other things, "sending for the two regiments and employing them so early after
their arrival and in so useful a manner against the rebellious negroes."
27. CSP 1731, n.486, Hunter to BT 13 Nov. 1731.
28. CSP 1732, n. 20, Hunter to BT 16 Jan. 1732; AJ v. p. 68.
29. AJ v. 3, p. 56 ff.
30. CSP n. 147, Hunter to Newcastle 28 Mar. enclosures.
CSP 1732, n. 250, 388, Hunter to BT 1 June, 20 Sept. AJ v. 3, p. 92.
CSP 1733, n. 232, 244, Hunter to BT 29 June, 7 July end.; AJ v. 3, 176.
CSP 1733, n.331, Hunter to BT 8 Sept. 1733; AJ v.3, p.211, 213. Seaman'-
Valley, on the road to Moore Town, is so marked on seventeenth-century maps, anti
has nothing to do with this engagement, which took place several miles further west.
14. CSP 1733, n. 331, 358, Hunter to BT 8 Sept., 13 Oct. 1733; CSP 1734-5, n. 35,
-Hunter to Newcastle 9 Feb. 1734; n. 54, report of John Smith, planter, 20 Feb. 1734.
Metcalf, Royal Government p. 47-8.
36. CSP 1734-5, n. 75, Hunter to BT 11 Mar. 1734 enl.; Add. Mss 12, 431,
37. CO 137 53, Hunter to Newcastle 11 Mar. 1734.
38. Metcalf, Royal Government..., p. 51
39. CSP 1734-5, n. 167, Ayscough to BT 11 May
40. CSP 1734-5, n.316, 346, Ayscough to BT 16 Sept. 1734.
41. CSP 1734-5, n.404, Ayscough to Newcastle 6 Dec. 1734.
CSP 1734-5, n. 58, BT to Newcastle 22 Feb. 1734; n.404, Ayscough to Newcastle
6 Dec. 1734. To describe the Board of Trade's recommendation to send more
troops as the outcome of "a bitter reappraisal of their policy" (Metcalf, op. cit..
p. 51) is surely too dramatic. In advocating the recall of the regiments in 1731.
they seem to have been swayed by the opinion of "experts" such as Ayscough, who
was then in London, and also by the fact that the Assembly were unwilling to con-
tinue contributing to the troops' subsistence.
Leslie, p. 278-9; Long, v. 2, p. 340.
-4. I am indebted to Mr. Howard L. Blackmore, of the Tower of London Armoury, for
formation about early-eighteenth-century swivel guns.
45. Metcalf, op. cit., p. 52n., confuses the Brooks-Stoddart with the
expedition under Swarton.
46. CSP 1734-5, n.437, Ayscough to BT 4 Jan.
Add. Mss 12, 418, f.287.
48. AJ v. p.448, 450.
49. CSP 1732, n. 147, Hunter to Newcastle 28 Mar. 1732 end.; Allen's report
to in Adm. 1/231, Admiral Stewart to Burchett 26 Mar. 1732.
50. CSP 1733, n. 358, Hunter BT 13 Oct. 1733 end.
CO 137 55, Ayscough to Newcastle 27 Feb. 1735 end. (CSP 173-1-5, n.484 prints
"put to death by hanging" by mistake for "by Nanny."). Possibly Adou is referred
to in the war song repeated to J. J. Williams (Maroons of Jamaica, p. 446) by the
Maroons of Charles Town: "Come we go to Aldoa country, ctc.
52. Add. Mss 12, 431, f. 69-74, "History of the Rebel Negroes
CO 137 Ayscough to BT 16 Aug. 1735.
54. CSP 1737, n. 558, Gregory to BT 2 Nov.
CSP 1734-5, n. 361, Col. M. Bladen to Newc: Oct.
56. CSP 1734-5, n.447, 484, Ayscough to BT 11 Jan., 27 Feb.
AJ v. 2, p. 709; v. 3, p. 47. Col. Christian Lilly, the engineer in charge of the
building of Fort George (who had quarrelled with Hunter) wrote: "Had the late
Governor adhered to what I frequently advised him on that subject, and not to
have been drawn away by parties (contrary to my opinion), they [the Maroons]
would noi have been so difficult to suppress" (Add. Mss. 12, 427, letter Book of
Christian Lilly, letter of 16 Apl. 1734).
58. Long, p. 342-3.
59. AJ v. p.422. Ayscough died 29 Sept. 1735, and "as succeeded by Gregory
Henry Cunningham arrived in Jamaica as Governor on December 18, bu' die.I 12
Feb. 1736, whereupon Gregory resumed office.
60. AJ v. 3, p. 445.
Long, v.2, p. 343-4; CSP 1734-5. n. 177, BT to Hunter 23 May 1734; n. 316,
Ayscough to BT 16 Sept. 1734; CO 137/22, Gregory to BT 23 Oct. 1735 postscript;
AJ v. 3, p. 339. In July 1738 an Act was passed "for rendering free negroes,
mulattoes and Indians [in Jamaica] more useful, and forming them into companies,"
but by November of that year only sixteen had volunteered to enlist (CO 140/29,
Council Minutes 7 Nov. 1738).
CSP 1737, n. 156, copy of letter from Gregory to Newcastle 23 Nov. 1736: Add.
Mss 12, 431, f. 90, undated letter from Guthrie to Gregory.
Add. Mss 12,431, f. 69-74.
64. CSP 1737, n. 156, Gregory to Newcastle 23 Nov. 1736; AJ v. p. 404. Later
Trelawny recommended purchasing the freedom of two Negro women whlo had
given information leading to the capture of Accompong's Town (CO 140/29.
Council Minutes 1 May 1739).
65. AJ v. 3, p.438; CO 137/56, Trelawny to Newcastle 4 Dec.
66. CO 140/29, Council Minutes 5 July 1738, 24 Feb. 1739.
Dallas, History of the Maroons, v. 1, p. 46 ff.
68. CO 137/56, Trelawny to Newcastle 5 Mar. 1739: CO 140 29, Council Minu:
69. Add. Mss 12,431, f.91, Guthrie to Gregory 21 Feb.
70. Long, v. 2, p. 344-5.
71. CO 137 56, Trelawny to Newcastle 30 June 1739.
'Escapism' in the Novels of
FRAZER'S Golden Bough and Freud's numerous works may have
given an extra fillip to the use of psychological and sociological concepts
in literary criticism in the early part of this century, but today most
literary critics rightly tend to be skeptical of the usefulness of such
terms as "social realism" or "escapism", to take the two which chiefly
concern this essay. Which aspect of a novel, after all, are we to regard
as purely "social", and how are we to decide whether they are
"realistic"? And since "social realism" is generally taken to be an asset,
are the novels of Zola-the "social realist" "par excellence", to be
accounted superior to those of Dostoevsky, say? It may not be easy to
answer these questions; nor is it any easier to understand the term
"escapism" which seems more problematical because it definitely
implies liability, that is to say, an "escapist" work is always regarded
as bad. But what does "escapism" mean and why is it necessarily bad?
The difficulty in these questions arises partly from the fact that "social
realism" and "escapism" have extra-literary connotations which, in
fact, have less to do with literature than with psychology and sociology.
But this does not prevent them from being effective tools of the literary
critic who defines and applies them consistently. "Social realism", as
in Zola's La Terre, refers to his treatment of the main interests, atti-
tudes and modes of judgment that appear in his novel and which are
largely fostered and stabilized by the social environment to which his
characters belong. The ribaldry, brutality and criminality which form
the focus of La Terre are also essential aspects of the novel's social
setting, while the equally important introverted criminality of
Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, for example, is not an un-
avoidable product of his social background. Because it belongs to a
type of writing more exclusively concerned with social manners and
mores. La Terre's "social realism" is naturally more substantial than
that of Crime and Punishment, although this does not automatically
mean that it is a better novel than the Russian one; for whereas the
peculiar characteristics of his social setting help Zola to clarify and
illustrate his theme more fully, social descriptions or references in
Dostoevsky's novel do not greatly illuminate his hero's mental and
psychological condition. The degree of "social realism" in a particular work
depends then on the nature of the author's theme, and since both
La Terre and Crime and Punishment are fine novels, cannot be said
to show any obvious connection with literary merit. Where the theme
is embedded in a local situation, however, where regional habits and
customs strongly condition the thoughts, feelings, and actions of major
characters, any distortion of the effect of these regional customs either
by omission, or by the introduction of alien interests into the
character's motives, could seriously impair the intrinsic quality
of a novel. Such distortion may then be described as "escapism" since
it represents evasion or "escape" from relevant features of the author's
manifest theme. In purely literary terms, therefore, "escapism" cannot
always be regarded as a canard. Where trouble comes is in the tempta-
tion to investigate its motives; for these properly fall within the
province of psychology or sociology, not literature, and they tell us
more about the artist himself than about his art.
The main theme of Mr. Hearne's five novels is race and colour
consciousness, his subject being West Indian society, Jamaica in
particular. Brief general remarks on the author's theme and subject
may prove helpful at this point before each novel is individually dis-
cussed. Although there are small groups of Asian, Semitic, and Euro-
pean people in Jamaica, the population consists mainly of Negroes,
the descendants of Africans brought as slave-labour for European-
owned sugar plantations during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nine-
teenth centuries. Over this long period of European colonialism, misce-
genation occurred, producing a new racial group of brown-skinned
people of mixed (mainly European and African) blood who are known
as "coloured" to be distinguished from black Negroes. (This is unlike
the U.S.A. where "Negro" signifies all persons of African descent re-
gardless of whether it is pure or partial,) Slavery was abolished in the
1830's, but by means of a system of social and economic apartheid based
on skin colour, the European ex-masters were able to maintain domin-
ance in Jamaican affairs until towards the end of the colonial era-
in the decades immediately following the Second World War, when the
action of Mr. Hearne's novels mostly take place.
The basis of apartheid, race and colour consciousness com-
prises a pernicious system of values, universally accepted as
blacks, browns and whites alike, and declares in practice that white is
equivalent to rich, black to poor, and intermediate shades of skin-
colour to corresponding rungs on upright, twin ladders of economic
opportunity and social acceptance. Accordingly Mr. Hearne's fictional
world is inhibited by three fairly distinct categories of people-a white,
rich upper class, a brown well-to-do middle class; and a squalid, black,
In selecting race and colour consciousness for his theme
Mr. Hearne deals with a fundamental principle of West Indian,
particularly Jamaican life, because he isolates the single factor
that animates and regulates the lives of young and old alike,
men and women both, from all classes, professions and trades.
The theme itself is divided into two parts: on the one hand we see its
pyschological aspects as represented by the spiritual problems of
"coloured" Jamaicans; and, on the other, we are shown its political
aspects embodied in social ferment and in impulse for revolt prevail-
ing among the black masses who seek to overthrow apartheid.
Voices Under the Window, Mr. Hearne's first novel, is set in
Jamaica and illustrates both aspects of his theme. Race and colour
consciousness engenders a morbid psychology in the "coloured" hero,
Mark Lattimer, a tragic figure, harrowed throughout his life by torment-
ing guilt and self-pity, Latimer, being almost white, receives privileges
duly assigned to a class of people who are high up on the economic and
social ladder because they are correspondingly high up on the colour
ladder; but the conscience-stricken hero feels trapped by these in-
"He was very lonely, and he sensed, in a new, disturbing way, that
he had sprung a trap on himself that would never quite let him
go. What he was in for had too suddenly involved him for any
hope of protection. He would have to go through with it to the
end. And he would have to go through with it because he had never
thought of himself as anything but white, and the world he knew
was only made for the values of being white."
The nub of the problem is that he cannot fully identify with either
side of his ancestry, the black or the white, and what worries him most
is a nagging sense of betraying one set of ancestors:
"All your l one's] training all your influences and most of the
education you get encourages you to value one side of what you
were born and despise the other. It becomes a reflex by the time
you're about five years old."
Meanwhile, the political effects of race and colour consciousness are
conveyed by a riot on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica's largest city,
where crowds of angry blacks mill about in comminatory protest against
the manifold injustices of apartheid. Lattimer, whose still unbowed
Orwellian instincts make him sympathetic to these disadvantaged
poor, finds himself amidst the unruly and dangerous crowds; without
warning, he is viciously attacked by an unknown assailant brandishing
a machete. It is while he lies mortally wounded awaiting medical
attention that he narrates, in flashback, the events that compose the
main action of the novel. Both parts of the theme converge in the
hero's death since political action (the riot) which can also ultimately
help to resolve his psychological problems, ironically destroys him.
There is no question of "escapism" in this first novel. Features of the
social background relevant to the characters' main interests, are amply
tilustrated so that the theme of the novel is comprehensively and bril-
liantly illuminated; and at the same time, Mark Lattimer's vivid
portrait of tortured self-examination is charged with a dramatic in-
tensity worthy of high tragedy.
Stranger at the Gate, Mr. Hearne's second novel, abruptly departs
from the noble (sic) preoccupations of his first. The setting is no longer
Jamaica, but an imaginary West Indian island called Cayuna. The
theme of race and colour consciousness survives, although it is
treated with awkward diffidence. Carl Brandt, the new protagonist and
narrator, is of the same racial origin as Lattimer and feels just as
emotionally insecure; but he does not suffer as greatly:
"At first he la friend] made me feel ashamed of recognizing
He made it seem contemptible. And then he made me feel it was
fatherr a good thing, all this mix-up of races."
Brandt's proclaimed equanimity is unconvincing not only because of
his hollow-sounding statement and almost magical influence of his
friend, but also because it is unsupported by subsequent action in-
dicating that his inhibitions have been truly overcome. If anything,
his continuing sexual relationship with two women, confirms promis-
cuity, one of the more insidious West Indian social problems faced
by the hero of the first novel. Lattimer had lacked the emotional dis-
c:pline required to sustain a monogamous marriage, and when divorce
became inevitable, resorted to less limiting liaisons. All Mr. Hearne's
major characters find marriage either intolerable or irrelevant, and
cohabit with mistresses, not wives. Thus Brandt's dubious claim to
emotional equipoise not only contradicts his own behaviour but con-
ceals one of commonest legacies of West Indian society
The political aspects of the theme are also covered up or, at least,
obscured from our full view. Brandt's friend who advises him above, is
Roy McKenzie, a Negro lawyer and dedicated socialist. McKenzie provides
illegal sanctuary for Henri Etienne. a left-wing political exile from a
r-eighbouring island; later he is attacked by police and killed when he
attempts, at dead of night, to smuggle Etienne out of Cayuna. His social-
ist leanings and clandestine activities admittedly suggest some measure
of social discontent and political agitation on Cayuna, but they lack the
sharp impact of radical unheaval produced by the spontaneous anti-
apartheid rising in the first novel. On the contrary, far from concen-
trating on the miserable conditions of Negroes in Cayuna or the re-
formist feelings which those conditions inspire in McKenzie, the author
largely ignores them in Stranger at the Gate and emphasizes instead
the delights and thrills of political subversion. Mr. Hearne asserts that
McKenzie is motivated by radical Cayunan political forces, but these
forces, basic to our understanding of his personality, are mostly left
in obscurity, with the result that McKenzie himself remains an obscure
portrait. Real preoccupations, namely, Brandt's emotional difficulties
and McKenzie's self-imposed task of social reform, are usurped by
"escapist" self-deception and evasive "cops and robbers" episodes which
confuse both the characters and the action so that we neither under-
stand nor believe in them. It is not surprising, therefore, that while
Lattimer's death in Voices under the Window is deeply moving and
profoundly sorrowful, McKenzie's death in Stranger at the Gate evokes
no stronger emotion than we feel for the faceless victims of commer-
cialised sado-masochism in standard works by Mickey Spillane and Ian
Abortive treatment of the theme in Stranger at the Gate is aided
by the self-deceptive fantasy of Brandt and McKenzie both of whom
ore seen to wilfully reject or ignore significant features of either their
private or public life-in Brandt's case, psychological confusion, and
in McKenzie's, zeal for social reform. This represents the start of a
process by which fantasy plays an increasing role in Mr. Hearne's
work, gradually pushing his writing out of the strictly "social realist"
category of "the novel of manners" towards that of thethriller or pure
romance; but the transfer is never fully successful, and so the action
of the later novels is in a curious mid-way category of fiction, set in
a twilit, nether world that is half reality and half fantasy without
corresponding satisfactorily to either description. This astonishing
mixture of "realistic" social documentation with "unrealistic" adven-
ture and romance may be seen in the third novel, The Faces of Love,
and may also bet partly attributed to the influence of popular mid-
century novelists. For instance, we detect suspense reminiscent of
Raymond Chandler, and "pseudo-realistic" romance in the manner of
Alec Waugh. Stronger by far, though, is the spirit of Hemingway, of
whom it has been said, with fairness and truth, that if he did not
create Hollywood he, at least, made it unnecessary.
Faces of Love embraces the typical Hemingway-cum-Hollywood
virtues of brittle courage, simulated toughness and self-dramatising pre-
tentiousness. The ambitious and sensual heroine Rachel Ascom, a jour-
nalist in whom the psychological aspects of race and colour conscious-
ness are represented, is cast in the fatalistic mould of Lady Brett Ashley
of The Sun Also Rises: Rachel's actions are no less mechanical, nor her
emotions any less wooden. But although fell ambition, self-sacrificing
zeal, and indiscriminate sexual indulgence achieve for Rachel a social
position of great power in Cayuna, the ambition is too calculating, the
zeal too mechanical, and passions too oestrual, to compose a balanced
portrait that is humanly credible. She is entirely conditioned by Cayunan
social drives as evidenced by her restless social climbing and insatiable
promiscuity, yet these features are blocked from our view by the more
attractive Hemingwayesque delights of crude violence, passionless
eroticism and reckless dipsomania. As Brandt denies the genuine psy-
chological effect of Cayunan society on him, so also does Rachel, her
self-contradictory behaviour improbably suggesting that race, colour,
apartheid or other Cayunan social characteristics play little or no
part in her phallic and dipsomaniac fantasies.
Political aspects of Mr. Hearne's theme are equally frustrated. One
of Rachel's lovers, Jojo Rygin, a Negro, strives desperately for the wealth
and social acceptance denied him on account of his colour, he is put In
jail by the white power structure, demoralized and finally destroyed; but
these ostensibly tragic events are Hollywood-processed chiefly to bring
out Rygin's dash and derring-do. The vital inter-relationship with apar-
theid that sustains his basic motives is hardly noticed and the political
significance of his actions, like the psychological basis of Rachel's almost
totally disregarded. Fantasy enters the action and frustrates both the
clear representation of characters as well as full development of the
novel's theme. In the end, we are left with a feeling of blank incom-
prehension, and the impression that we have been cheated, for the
action which underneath promises so much, eventually becomes utterly
frivolous; the deaths of Jojo Rygin and Rachel Ascom do not appear
sad, nor comic nor deserved: they simply happen without psychological,
political or other motivation-mere events in a void, and confirm the
sheer triviality that gradually comes to inhabit the author's last four
So far, Mr. Hearne's narrators have been "coloured" West Indians,
but in the fourth novel, The Autumn Equinox, Nicholas Stacey, the
chief narrator, is white, although still a native of Oayuna. In fact, all
the main characters, with one exception, are white, and are thereby
conditioned by the dominant features of race and colour consciousness
than the inwardly disturbed "coloured protagonists and political-
minded Negroes of the earlier books. To these whites, whether West
Indian or American, the exotic appeal of Cayuna seems appropriate,
and the romance of The Autumn Equinox perfectly natural, for their
aloofness from local society permits them to see only the exultant sun
and opulent landscape of Cayuna and the island, to them, is just a con-
venient tropical setting setting for sexual and vaguely insurrectionary
Stacey's daughter Eleanor loves Jim Diver, an American who is
secretly operating a printing press to aid Cuban rebels against the
regime of dictator Batista. When his press is destroyed by Cuban Gov-
ernment agents, Diver instinctively abandons Eleanor and flees Cayuna.
The terse description of one parting scene, in the manner of Heming-
way, illustrates the sterile and insipid quality of most of the action in
the novel. Eleanor tells Diver:
SThen you ask me if I'll wait! Of course I'll say yes. Now! I'll say
yes all the time you're in this car. And I'll say yes while I'nm tell-
ing you good-bye at Mrs. Delacroix. But from then on I'll say no.
I'll be able to say no so long as I don't see you anymore. I'm not
going to see you again, Jim Honey. Not after this afternoon."
This is authentic Hemingway-tough yet devitalized, at once, in-
credibly, combative and defeatist; but it is not entirely unconvincing
withinn the "non-realistic" romantic conventions of the novel.
This is not to say that "social realism" is completely eschewed, how-
ever. Diver's subversive activities although aimed at Cuba, form an
oblique reference to the local oppression caused by apartheid in Cayuna,
and this is reinforced by the seditious speeches of Pierre Auguste, an
ageing political exile from Haiti who openly incites the blacks of Cayuna
to rebel. Yet rebellion does not materialise, and the novel's fleeting politi-
cal reference merely serve to enhance a superficial embroidery of in-
trigue, suspense and daring adventure.
There is a regular pattern in the author's treatment of the
political aspects of race and colour consciousness in all four
novels following Voices Under the Window: revolution is en-
couraged or the conditions that encourage people to revolt are
provocatively displayed; but nothing happens, and the objection-
able social conditions remain tantalizingly unchanged. Mr. Hearne
evades the logical development of his plot and necessary clarification
of his theme in each of these novels, where social unrest merely sets
the stage for assorted acts of Hollywood gangsterism: McKenzie's
passionate social protest leads only to a police gun battle late at night
on a remote coast of Cayuna, and Rygin's frantic struggles against
apartheid lead only to a juicy "crime passionel" in which he shoots
Rachel Ascom; while all the talk of revolution against Batista or the
Cayunan authorities merely provokes a private fight between two
Americans and some Cubans in The Autumn Equinox. In each case
"escapist" fantasy frustrates "social realism" But "escapism" is less
harmful to The Autum Equinox than the other two novels because the
prevailing interests and attitudes of its chief characters are not so
obviously embodied in the local society that it reproduces. Apart from
Auguste's speeches, the action of The Autumn Equinox has little direct
connection with native Cayunan preoccupations, and fantasy, there-
fore, performs a more legitimate function than in the second and third
novels. This is why we can stomach Stacey's dreamy nostalgia, Diver's
silly pretentions, and Auguste's grotesque bombast with less dyspepsia
than similar concoctions in the preceding two books.
Land of the Living, Mr. Hearne's last novel, is a curious throw-back.
Having spurned "social realism" in his fourth novel, by largely evading
race and colour consciousness, he restores the theme to his fifth novel,
giving it the same grudging attention as he does in his second and
third. The hero, this time, is Stefan Mahler, a German Jewish zoologist
whose emotions have been neutered by his family's experiences in
Hitler's concentration camps. The setting, once more is Cayuna. Psycho-
logical aspects of the theme are not much in evidence since Mahler's
emotional condition is not produced by the local society and therefore
has no obvious social reference. What little we see of the psychological
features which are common in Cayuna, for example, the promiscuity of
Mahler's Negro mistress, Bernice Heneky. is of greater erotic than phy-
chological interest; but the political aspects of race and colour con-
sciousness are strongly emphasized by incipient insurrection. Marcus
Heneky, father of Bernice. leads a local protest group of black Cayunans,
but, as in the previous novels, local grievances are stated, the stage for
rebellion set, and the action suddenly curtailed. In this case, Heneky organ-
ises and leads his people to the point of open revolt, when he is mysteri-
ously murdered by one of his own followers and his group disbanded.
Premature curtailment of plot and the suspended development of his
theme are features common to all four Cayuna novels where the
author attributes to his characters either psychological confusion or an
outraged social conscience but does not follow through by showing us
the full effect these traits have on the subsequent action. Fantasy alters
the real circumstances in which the characters find themselves so that
they either do not look directly at these circumstances any more, or do
not express the feelings which, by birth, upbringing and inclination they
are moved to feel. Only Lattimer, of all Mr. Hearne's protagonists is
permitted to indulge his deepest emotions and genuinely act out the
socially-inspired tensions and preoccupations which are rooted in his
personality. Other characters, like Carl Brandt and Rachel Ascom, either
deceive themselves by failing to see specific self-evident problems, or,
like McKenzie and Heneky, die before they can implement the schemes
which fully express their deepest feelings and give psychological purpose
and artistic significance to their actions.
"The "escapist" subterfuge involved in both these gestures has,
at least, been suspected by foreign commentators on Mr. Hearne's
books; and a Jewish American critic has correctly observed that
Mahler seems less a German Jew than a Caribbean insider respond-
ing to the aspirations of the islanders and the tug of his own
"libido" The guise of Semitic victimisation is merely a device
which allows Mahler to sympathise with a persecuted group like
his own, but prevents him from feeling as aggrieved by Cayunan
apartheid as a native Cayunan would. It is an "escapist" device like
Brandt's self-deception, or McKenzie's premature death which' limits
these characters from fully acting out their basic concerns and anxieties,
and thereby restricts proper development of plot and theme. Since tht
only character whose underlying motives are truly fulfilled, Lattimer,
is a horrifying portrait of guilt and spiritual impotence, the main
effect of limiting the portraits of Lattimer's successors is to tone down
the horror of the author's theme and protect these later characters from
the total horror of race and colour consciousness. It is this desire to
protect that fosters "escapism" and leads to restrictive plot construction,
sketchy characterisation, a virtually sterile theme, and generally
nugatory action throughout the Cayuna novels.
Now two final points of general interest need to be made.
The first is suggested by the invention of Cayuna, which is
identical to Jamaica in everything but names of places; and
these even are not very different, for example, Eastmoreland,
Barricadoes, Port Christopher and Castleville of Cayuna, closely cor-
respond to Westmoreland, Palisadoes, Port Antonio, and Mandeville of
Jamaica. Since Cayuna is an exact replica of Jamaica we may wonder
why the author went to the trouble of inventing it. The answer is that
an imaginary island is better suited to "escapism" than actual
Jamaica: it aids the action of fantasy by restricting familiar (Jamaican)
associations and projecting instead a more exotic, remote and impersonal
It is significant that the only one of Mr. Hearne's novels
which is set in Jamaica is also the one that conforms most
strictly to "social realism", for the remoteness of Cayuna would no
more contribute to the "realism" of Voices Under the Window, than
Jamaica, with all its contemporary associations, would to the exotic
romanticism of the Cayuna novels. To give one example: the subversive
actions of McKenzie, Diver, Auguste and Heneky would appear less
credible in actual Jamaica than in imaginary Cayuna because our
knowledge of pro-Western Jamaican politics would tend to render these
actions implausible. By reducing familiar associations, Cayuna promotes
romance and enables Mr. Hearne to sterilize his theme more thoroughly.
We should dispel the possible implication here that an imaginary
setting automatically robs an author of opportunity for "social realism",
or compels him to invent "escapist" romance. Trollope's Barchester and
Hardy's Wessex are no less "realistic" for being imagined: nor is
Sarsaparilla, the Sydney suburb of Patrick White, any less Australian
for not appearing on a map of Australia. The point is that the imaginary
identity of Cayuna is exploited by Mr. Hearne to stagger his theme
and conceal the grimmer realities of a West Indian social setting. Other
West Indian novelists have invented imaginary islands without also
using them in an "escapist" way. George Lamming's Of Age and
Innocence and Season of Adventure are neither "escapist" nor romantic,
and the imaginary identity of San Cristobal, the island on which they
are set does not compromise a "realistic" presentation of his theme
of West Indian nationalism. Vidia Naipaul also creates an imaginary
island in his latest novel, The Mimic Men, without detracting from
theme or plot or the "social realism" of his writing. The difference
between Cayuna and both San Cristobal and Isabella is very clear: the
latter were created to aid greater "social realism" by incorporating
West Indian associations wider than those of one island only; while it
is the purpose of Cayuna to aid "escapism" by restricting such asso-
ciations and blurring even those existing similarities with Jamaica on
which it is based.
The second general point deals with the process by which the
'persona" in each of the Cayuna novels gradually changes its identity.
This process encourages fantasy by progressively reducing links in the
chain that connects the "persona" of the first novel to Jamaica. In
Voices under the Window, Mark Lattimer's whole consciousness is foster-
ed and conditioned by Jamaica, and he is connected to the island by
the binding relationships of birth and up-bringing, race, and psycho-
logical make-up. Carl Brandt, the second protagonist, loses the link
of birth and up-bringing, for he is born in Cayuna, not Jamaica, how-
ever slight the difference; Brandt, however, is still linked to Jamaica
by race, and on his own admission, by psychological factors identical
to those which influence Lattimer. In the third novel, Andrew
Fabricus, the narrator, retains the link of race like Brandt and
Lattimer; but he is born in Cayuna and feels none of the psychological
problems encountered by his predecessors. In the fourth novel, race,
the final link in the chain of Jamaican associations, is severed, and
Nicholas Stacey, a white Cayunan, is as remote from Jamaica as a
former Cuban grandee or creole seigneur. Thus, by the fourth novel,
the author's "persona" has lost all connection with Jamaica except its
misleading West Indian identity. If we contrast Lattimer with Stacey,
we shall see how misleading this identity is: for Lattimer it means
urgent concern; for Stacey, careless, disengaged fantasy. The process
of changing "personae" thus enables the author to transform the
nature of his narrator's West Indian experience from harsh com-
mitment in Voices under the Window to pleasant detachment in The
Autumn Equinox, and the transformation aids the action of fantasy in
obscuring the theme of race and colour consciousness; for Stacey,
although West Indian, knows nothing of Lattimer's emotional insecur-
ity or overpowering desire for social reform. We feel throughout the
Cayuna novels that the theme is regarded as a self-imposed duty to
be endured, resisted or, at best, circumvented.
The impression is unavoidable that Mr. Hearne believes he has to
write about race and colour consciousness without really wanting to; and
the best he can do, it seems, is to blot out the more distressing aspects of
his theme. But he cannot bring himself to reject the theme completely.
Accordingly, in his last novel, he does not retain a white, Cayunan nar-
rator, but introduces a Semitic outsider (who, in West Indian terms, is
considered white, anyway) and who, because of his shattering but alien
experience of racial discrimination, can plausibly claim sympathy for
as well as detachment from Cayunan racial problems. But contrast
with Lattimer again exposes the legerdemain employed by Mr. Hearne
once more to "escape" from a direct confrontation of his theme. Mahler
is not forced to involve himself in West Indian affairs and can ex-
tricate himself whenever he likes, while Lattimer is inextricably
bound to West Indian fears and tensions; and Mahler is, at any rate,
incapable of strong feeling, whereas Lattimer finds no solace from
ceaseless frustration. The contrast is between casual interest and
anxious concern, between faked sympathy and wholly compelling
moral responsibility, and the "persona" of Land of the Living climaxes
an "escapist" process that enables the author, in progressive degrees
of plausibility, to speak through narrators who confront West Indian
society while being artificially insulated from the more painful results
of this confrontation.
Any temptation to investigate the psycho-sociological motives
behind Mr. Hearne's "escapism" must be resisted, however interesting
they may prove; no doubt they will throw\ light on the psychology of
a whole flotsam of Empire, not only of "coloured" West Indians like
Mr. Hearne, but the Anglo-Irish, Eurasians, and those Anglo-Indians
now in remote parts of India whose only consolation against despair
is the pathetic fantasy that Victorian pomp and Edwardian splendour
somehow still dominate the Lok Sabha in New Delhi. But such an
investigation will not much illuminate the literary qualities of Mr.
Hearne's work, and in any case. should be undertaken by a trained
psychologist or sociologist.
The task of the literary critic has been, firstly, to show
that, in a purely literary sense, Mr. Hearne's work is "escapist",
and secondly, to prove that the effect of "escapism" has been
generally harmful. The hobbled plots, stunted theme, desultory
characterisation, exotic setting, and transformed West Indian identity of
"personae" of the Cayuna novels reveal an attempt to "escape" from
"social realism" by distorting the exaci consequences of a West Indian
social background on characters and events. That the effect of "escapism"
is harmful is emphasized by the fact that the one preceding
summarises and is further emphasized by the fact that the one
"non-escapist" novel, Voices Under the Window, is the only thoroughly
satisfactory feature of Mr. Hearne's entire work.
Vidia Naipaul, with characteristic perception, observes in his travel
book on the West Indies, that writing seriously about middle class West
Indians requires irony and perhaps malice, for "their lives have been
corrupted by a fantasy, that is their cross," and they cannot be readily
described as a real people with real responsibilities and affections while
also yielding themselves to fantasy. This observation points to the in-
trinsic nature of Mr. Hearne's subject and theme which partly accounts
for his failure, since his writing lacks both the irony and the malice
mentioned by Mr. Naipaul. Most West Indian novelists write about
black, lower class, West Indians, and the few like Mr. Hearne, who
have ventured into the coloured middle class invariably succumb to
built in difficulties of their subject. The Guyanese, Edgar Mittelholzer,
is a conspicuous example. "Escapist" fantasy is evident in his A Tale
of Three Places in which the coloured hero, Alfred Dessau, shows
psychological confusion similar to Lattimer's and sexual athleticism
exceeding that even of Carl Brandt. Yet Dessau wishfully declares that
emotional instability is not the problem that it seems and that, at
any rate, it doesn't affect him very much.
Whatever excuses we make for Mr. Hearne;, though, whether
it be the intractibility of his material or pressing commercial
reasons which encourage many Commonwealth writers to alter
native experience in the interest of foreign popularity, we cannot
avoid the conclusion that, as a whole, his work is exceedingly
trivial. The large majority of Commonwealth novelists in India,
Africa and the West Indies who trade in "social realism" with vary-
ing degrees of profit, often exaggerate Zolaesque social documentation
which, in turn, sometimes makes their writing tiresome; but never
trivial. The difference between Mr. Hearne and other "realistic" Com-
monwealth novelists such as Vidia Naipaul or Chinua Achebe is
paralleled by the difference between King Solomon's Mines and Mr.
Johnson: the first is glamorous, banal, titillating; the second unspar-
ing, serious and deeply satisfying-like Voices Under the Windoo.
FRANK M. BIRBALSINGH
The Riots of 1856 in British Guiana
JOHN SAYERS ORR was the instigator of the riots of 1856 in British
Guiana. He was born in Georgetown, where his father was Paymaster
up to his death' in 1804. 1 He himself was described as "a Creole"; and
his mother was "a respectable coloured woman" still living in
Georgetown. 2 Orr had a wide experience in provoking disturbances-
if we can believe his account of himself. 3 A probably honest, but
nevertheless deluded, man, he thought that the source of all social ills
was the Roman Catholic Church, and bending all his energies against
that Church. he expected that he would die a martyr to his cause in
Rome itself. In pursuit of his beliefs, he became known to the police
in Canada, the United States and Britain. On the 24th July, 1848, he
was apprehended on Clerkenwell Green in London as a Chartist, was
assaulted by the police, cast into prison, but later released on bail.4
He was known to the police in other parts of England, in Wales and in
Protestant Ireland. Nor did Scotland escape his attention. He was
arrested twenty times, and an attempt was made to declare him insane
and to assign him to a mental institution. s
Orr returned to British Guiana in December 1855.6 from Glasgow; 7
and he immediately made his presence felt in Georgetown. 8 On the 1st
January, 1856. he wrote a letter to the Governor, His Excellency Philip
Edmund Wodehouse. His object, he said. was "in every way possible
to get at the masses of the Poor, the ignorant and despised and to
publish to them the truth of my God, so that they 'be led to Honour
all men, to love the Brotherhood, to fear God and to honour the Queen.' "
He reminded the Governor that "the law of the Kingdom secures the
right of speech to every subject of the British Empire": but that he was
"fully aware that in the exercise of this glorious right, sedition is not
to be broached nor is the thoroughfare to be interrupted." He then
respectfully requested His Excellency 'may be pleased to direct that
I may be protected in this glorious right as long as I do not either in
letter or in spirit violate the law of our glorious constitution." 9
Orr received a letter from the Government Secretary, dated 2nd
January, 1856, saying that the Governor was "not aware of your having
any reason to apprehend insult or ill treatment so long as you con-
duct yourself in a legal and peaceable manner." 10 Immediately after
receiving this assurance, he commenced walking about Georgetown and
its vicinity, carrying a flag, wearing a badge. and spending an hour
occasionally at street corners, followed by small groups of "the rabble
of the place" and inviting all persons to attend at the harangues to
be delivered on Sundays, to hear him denounce "the abuses of Popery
and the profligacy of Popes, Bishops, Priests and Nuns." His long ex-
perience of collisions with: the police stood him in good stead: he dis-
played much talent in avoiding for some time the commission of any
act likely to bring him within the reach of the law. 11
It was the Portuguese settlers who had to bear the brunt of Orr's
attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. Some of them-probably the
majority-had come penniless from Madeira; 12 others came from the
the Azores. 13 Their immigration into British Guiana had begun before
1840;14 and by 1856, their number in the colony was estimated as
"thousands", 15 *though it was probably considerably less than another
estimate of 20,000.16 According to the Governor, their introduction into
the colony, like that of other immigrants, was designed to "fill the
vacuum caused by the deficiencies of the Creoles" By steady industry
and even too frugal habits, they had succeeded in earning in a very
short time sufficient funds to enable them to embark on the retail
trade of the colony, and to push their adventures into every place
which afforded the smallest opening to them. 17 They had settled mainly
in Georgetown and in the villages of Demerara and Essequebo, and
only to a small extent in Berbice. 1i Some were farmers, for example,
at Canal No. 1, on the Demerara River; 19 others worked as labourers
on the sugar estates.20
At this time, British Guiana was an easy-going little colony. Though
we do not know its total population, that of Georgetown was about
30,000.21 Nobody expected any trouble-even after the arrival of Orr.
Sensible people probably thought he was an amusing and harmless
crackpot. One of them did not think he would have much influence on
the people, and said, "We all had such confidence in the harmlessness
of our Creole population"; 22 and the Governor reported that "no
one entertained the slightest belief that evils of such magnitude
were likely to occur." 23 Also, the law, as it stood, was not over-harsh
with wrong-doers. The summary jurisdiction of a magistrate in many
cases of breaches of the peace, assaults, indecent language, etc., was
limited to the inflicting of six days' imprisonment at hard labour and
a fine not exceeding twenty-four dollars. Many acts, in themselves
objectionable, and in times of trouble highly dangerous, could be com-
mitted with impunity; and a general impression existed that the police
could not legally follow offenders from the streets into the yards and
houses.24 Probably also, law-breakers in Georgetown felt a certain
security in the construction of the town, which hampered the use of
mounted policemen against them; it was "a large town intercepted
throughout with deep and broad trenches full of mud, across which
horses cannot pass." 25 Furthermore, as the Governor and his advisers
had expected no trouble, there was in the colony only a "limited force"
of troops of the West India Regiment26- certainly not more than
300 27 which could be used against them.
By the middle of February, excitement in Georgetown had reached
a high point against the Portuguese, who were, with very few excep-
tions, Catholics.28 Over the years, they had unwittingly aroused the
hostility of the negroes. who not only regarded them as mean, but
more importantly as a threat to the level of wages they were demand-
ing after Emancipation for their labour on the sugar estates. 29 Now,
threats to burn down their church and convent were made; and they
could no longer walk the streets without being outraged at every step
by such cries as "Down with the Portuguese, Down with the Pope, Down
with Nunnery, Down with the Bishop, Down with the Roman Catholic
Church." Even the Roman Catholic Bishop, J. I. Hynes, was, on Friday
15th, assailed by such cries the whole length of his way to and from
the convent. It was probably an unbearable provocation to the Portu.
guese when, on the same day, Orr harangued a mob outside their
church, and invited them to meet him the following Sunday at the
market place to hear what he had to say of popes, bishops, monks,
priests and nuns. 30
Nor were the insults to the Portuguese unnoticed by the Govern-
ment. But what prevented the Government from taking any steps to
curb the activities of Orr and his followers was that, up to February
15th, when Bishop Hynes wrote a letter to the Governor, no formal
complaint had been made by any party supposed to have been in-
sulted, to the police magistrate, or to the inspector general, or to any
police officer, upon which legal proceedings could have been founded.
However, the Government had, by this time, put Orr under surveillance.
The Inspect.or General of Police was instructed to have notes taken by
a short-hand writer of the harangue delivered by him on Sunday 10th
February, and they were then placed in the hands of the Attorney
General, Robert Rutledge Craig. 31 Mr. Craig decided to proceed against
Orr for holding an unlawful assembly; and he was summoned to
appear before the police magistrate on Monday 18th. 32
Tension began to mount in Georgetown. On the 16th and 17th, the
coloured and black population became much excited. Unoffending
Portuguese, men, women and children were insulted, pelted and beaten
in different parts of the town. On Monday morning, it became clear
that the Government had to take to itself much greater powers for
the preservation of life and property than it previously possessed. Long
before Orr appeared before the magistrate, the streets were filled with
large bodies of men and still more of women, all in a most turbulent
state. The Portuguese had disappeared from the streets, the shops were
closed, it was reported that some had been plundered, and the whole
police force was fully employed. 33
When Orr appea-ed before the magistrate, he was remanded to the
Supreme Court on the same day. and as bail for 500 and two sureties
for 250 were not forthcoming, he was jailed. 34
Excitement reached fever pitch. Deprived of their leader, the mob
went wild. By the afternoon of the 18th, Georgetown was in almost
"open insurrection", according to the Governor. In his view, the riot-
ers had forgotten all about the Pope, the Bishop, the nuns: their minds
were moved only by their "long subsisting hatred and jealousy of the
Portuguese Immigrants from Madeira and the love of plunder, aggra-
vated by the gross and brutal character of the female population."
During the night all the Portuguese shops in the least accessible parts
of the town were broken and gutted; and about 10.00 p.m., the police
and special constables, who were hastily sworn in to assist the police,
were in one part completely over-powered, principally by showers of
broken bottles and brickbats. The troops were then sent for; and soon
after midnight, without their being called upon to fire, the mob was
completely beaten. The authority of the new Ordinance No. 4 (of which
we shall write later) showed itself at once. The rioters were astounded
when they found themselves unceremoniously dragged out of their
houses and yards in which they had taken refuge, and in which they
had fancied they could not be touched. 35
Behind the turbulence in Georgetown, there was a plan. In order
to emulate the Portuguese in the retail trade, some negroes in George-
town had, on two or three occasions, made efforts to establish by
means of associations some shops which individually they could not
conduct. But owing to fraud by their leaders, or through mismanage-
ment, failure had resulted. However, undaunted, they had formed a
Mutual Aid Society and were determined to try again. It was then
that Orr arrived. Under his influence and that of other "designing
characters", the plan was converted into one for "the general destruc-
tion of Portuguese property and the establishment of Creole shops upon
its ruins." According to the Governor, there was "no doubt" that the
riots originated in this "conspiracy" in Georgetown.36
As soon as the riots started in Georgetown, and in furtherance of
their conspiracy, emissaries left the city for the countryside in every
direction, raising the whole population as they proceeded, and giving
out artfully that they were acting on the orders of the Government,
which desired that the property of the Portuguese should be destroyed
in all places, that it was not desirable, to take their lives, and that
nothing was to be left in their possession.37 The result was a "most
general rising" in the colony, according to the Governor. 38 In all the
troubled areas, the Portuguese rural shops were with extremely few
exceptions, utterly ransacked. In some places, either by their own
firmness or by the assistance of well-disposed people, they were
enabled to preserve their property. 39
In the volumes at the Public Record Office in London are many
reports dealing with the riots in various villages and estates. We cannot
give a full account of them here. But from the official list of compen-
sation it is learnt that, of 615 claims received and admitted, few were
disallowed, and $267,204.39 was awarded to the rest. These figures did
not include claims of persons absent from the colony, or those who
failed to appear in obedience to summonses issued by the commission-
ers appointed to enquire into the losses. o4
The area of greatest damage was the West Coast Demerara. There,
on the estates a'one, from Plantations Best to Greenwich Park, com-
pensation amounted to $29,655.44. Next came Leguan Island in Esse-
quebo: there compensation amounted to $23,002.08. Compensation in
Georgetown and nearby Lodge Village amounted to only $6,432.56.41 In
Berbice, Portuguese shops in New Amsterdam and in the villages were
largely untouched: at Belladrum, the one and only Portuguese shop
was plundered and thrown off its pillars, and at Hopetown two of three
Portuguese shops were plundered. 42
Portuguese shops were not the only objects of attack. The houses
of the Portuguese farmers at Canal No. 1 were also sacked. 3 Some
East Indians and Chinese on the West Coast Demerara were intimi-
dated.44 And an attempt was made to burn down the house of the
Acting Attorney General, John Lucie Smith, a native Guianese: his
wife and infant children, he said, were saved only by "a watchful Provi-
dence" from a dreadful fate. 5
If we accept racial classification by the negroes, even the whites
were under pressure. The manager of La Bonne Intention reported
that the "black people" in the area had, said in effect that "When we
are done with the Portuguese we will attack the whites," and threatened
to sack his house.46 Thus the violence was becoming indiscriminate,
and a racial feeling was being introduced. Indeed, reports were flying
about in Wakenaam Island in Essequebo that "the Black troops re-
fused to act against their fellow Blacks" 47 This racialism was probably
inescapable in a society becoming multi-racial, and had already been
a feature of the West Indies area for the previous twenty years. 48 And
indeed, it was this aspect of the riots which impressed Governor Wode-
house most. "One thing is clear," he said, "namely, that it is a strife
of Races." 49
Malicious invention and ignorance played their part. Not only did
the rioters believe the assertion that the Government desired the
destruction and plunder of Portuguese property: on Wakenaam Island,
some even believed that they had the approval of the Queen! They be-
lieved that the Governor purposely withheld the aid which the local
authorities required to suppress their lawlessness. 50 On the East Coast
Demerara, they thought that the' absence of troops indicated that
the Governor countenanced their hooliganism. 51 And they were all
spurred on when Orr, taking advantage of the fact that the Portuguese
had refused to contribute to a Patriotic Fund, claimed that they had
joined the Russians-this in reference to the Crimean War. 52
To supress the riots, the Government took certain legislative and
other measures. It hastily issued a series of ordinances, proclamations
and government notices. We have space here to deal only with the
most important, namely, Ordinance No. 4, 1856.
Intitled "An Ordinance to make provision for more effectually
repressing disturbances and attempts to commit breaches of the peace",
it was enacted by an Extraordinary Assembly of the Court of Policy.
held at the Guiana Public Buildings, in Georgetown, on the 18th, the
rlaY the riots started. Its heart was in its first section, which read:
Any person who shall, within the City of Georgetown, or its
suburbs, commit any assault upon a person not of the same race as
himself, or who shall forcibly make his way into any shop, store
or dwelling-house, whether by day or night, or who shall throw
stones or other missiles at the same, or who, not being a Police
Officer or Constable, shall carry any arms or weapon on the public
streets; or who shall in the streets or public places, or in any place
adjacent thereto, make use of any abusive or insulting or provok-
ing language, or any language tending to a breach of the peace, or
who shall by any word, or act incite any person to commit any of
the acts hereinbefore mentioned, or otherwise to commit a breach
of the peace, shall be guilty of an offence, and on conviction shall
be liable to a fine of One Hundred Dollars, or to imprisonment with
hard labour for any period not exceeding six months, or to punish-
ment by flogging not exceeding thirty-nine lashes, or to any two
of the said punishments.
The other sections of the Ordinance defined other offences and pre-
scribed penalties for those committing them; declared that no flogging
was to be carried out until confirmed by the Governor; and empowered
the Governor to extend the provisions of the Ordinance to any part
of the colony by proclamation. 53 And, indeed on the 19th, they were
extended to all parts of the colony by this means. 54
The hand of the Government was clearly heavy. The Governor
admitted: "The provisions of the first section of the Ordinance are,
from the most absolute necessity, of a very stringent character. There
is hardly any disorderly act which could be committed, which could
not be brought to punishment under it and punished severely." 55 The
Acting Attorney General commented: "I feel convinced that nothing
but the summary and energetic steps taken could have prevented the
Rioters from proceeding to alarming extremities." 6 And at the
Colonial Office, advisers remarked on the severity of the Governor's
measures: H. Taylor regarded the Ordinance as "legislation of extreme
severity"; and, as an instance, pointed to the fact that seven years'
transportation for a second offence of using provoking language might
be legally inflicted under it: and J. Ball noted the "vigour and decision"
with which the Governor had suppressed "these barbarous and des-
picable outrages" against the Portuguese. 57
The attitude of the Colonial Office towards the Governor's policy
was one of general approval. Henry Labouchere, the Secretary of State
for the Colonies, wrote to Governor Wodehouse: "I am to convey to
you H. Maj's approval of the vigour & decision with which your measures
were taken for the suppressing of barbarous & disgraceful outrages
directed against a class of unoffending & industrious inhabitants of the
Colony." The "main object" of the Colonial Office was the re-establish-
ment of "peace & order"; and as the measures of the Governor were
'effective and successful" in its achievement, the Secretary had "no
disposition to criticize too closely the ordinances which were passed on
the spur of the moment." 58
In addition to the measures already mentioned, the Governor, with
the unanimous consent of the Court of Policy given on Thursday 21st,
sent for reinforcements. He despatched the warship "Tyne" to Barbados
with a request "for as many Troops as she can bring, to the extent
of 200, and to be partly white troops if possible." He also requested 300
light percussion muskets, with suitable ammunition. 59
From Barbados about 200 men of the 1st West India Regiment arrived:
and half of them were at once despatched to Berbice, for the relief
of the 2nd West India Regiment, in the Dutch war steamer "Aracoa"
which was obligingly placed at the disposal of His Excellency by the
Governor of Surinam,, as soon as he heard of the outbreak. The com-
mander of a French warship had also offered his services to the Gover-
ncr. and had taken part in the suppression of the riots in Essequebo.
The sudden appearance of these unlocked for auxiliaries in different
parts of the colony had a "beneficial effect" on the rioters: of that,
said the Governor, there could be "no doubt" 60
With a law-enforcement army consisting of the police, special con.
stables, troops of the West India Regiment, French and Dutch auxili-
aries, the magistrates and other public functionaries, and others-
including ministers of religion and even same negroes-who were well-
disposed towards the Portuguese, it was no surprise that the rioters
were defeated. Hundreds were jailed, and posed a problem for some
magistrates who hardly knew what to do with them: for instance,
Edward Carberry wrote from Essequebo, "I shall as soon as the Jail
begins to get full, release all prisoners who were under sentence for
offences against the Labour Laws and hope my doing so should it be
necessary will be approved by His Excellency the Governor." 61 The
ringleaders were tried at the sessions of the Supreme Criminal Court
at Suddie in Essequebo and in Georgetown during April and May. Orr
was charged among other things with having held an unlawful assembly.
His supporters subscribed a large sum of money to retain the services
of a Mr. Gilbert, a lawyer of considerable talent. The trial lasted two
days. After a patient investigation, the jury found him "guilty" He
was sent to the penal settlement, under sentence of imprisonment at
hard labour for three years.62 In Essequebo, twenty-nine were given
jail sentences: of them twelve were sentenced to transportation fur
ten years for burglary and house-breaking. In Demerara, one hundred
were fined and jailed for two or three years, "charged with having
been prominently concerned in the late Riots"; and three Portuguese,
who had armed themselves with sticks and horsewhips to waylay and
assault Orr, were each fined $250 and imprisoned for six months,
but without hard labour.63
Given the easy-going nature of the colony, the surprising thing
was that Orr succeeded in starting riots. And probably no one was as
surprised as the Governor. It seemed to him "scarcely possible" that a
race of people "living under our rule" should be "so ignorant" as to
believe the assertion that the Government desired the destruction 01
Portuguese property.64 But Orr's success was due to various factors.
There was his ability "skilfully and amazingly" as the Governor was
informed, to blend political and religious subjects in a manner "calcu-
lated to arouse the passions of the Black and Coloured Population
against the Portuguese Immigrants" 65 Then there was his use of
"ingenious falsehoods" to deceive the gullible. But perhaps the "best
reason" for his success, in the Governor's view, was the fact that Orr
and his friends "well understood the character of the Crcolei" in
particular, they knew that their call for the spoilation of Portuguese
property "harmonized so agreeably" with the "inclinations" of the
negro population. 66
The riots were thus a fine illustration of what a crafty demagogue
could achieve by taking advantage of the ignorance of his supporters
But they illustrate as well how dangerous a dull demagogue could be.
For Orr never explained-and it is difficult to see-how creole shops
could be established on the ruins of Portuguese property. This was
hardly a constructive attitude to take on social problems. Indeed, none
of the rioters, including Orr, attempted to study those problems and
their solution. Least of all were they aware that mindless violence and
racialism were the reaction of people with little understanding of those
problems, and that they offered no solutions to them. Nor can Orr be
given any credit for having started a political movement. He was not
fighting for freedom from colonial rule; or even for better social con-
ditions within the framework of that rule. Least of ail was he striking
a blow for socialism, about which he should have heard, had he been
less obsessed with the Roman Catholic Church, and more sensitive t.
the political thought of his time. Of such concepts, he knew nothing.
The riots of 1856 in British Guiana cannot therefore be considered
as anything other than an unnecessary and distressing episode in the
history of the colony. But then one may wonder why conditions were
allowed to exist in which they were possible.
V. 0. CHAN
In the writing of this essay, I must acknowledge the help I received from the
criticisms of a first draft sent to me by my friend and former teacher, Prof. J. I. Cooper,
of the Department of History, at McGill University, Montreal. Prof. Cooper is not
responsible for the opinions expressed; nor is he responsible for any defects that may
yet be detected. 1 wish to record my thanks to him for his help and encouragement.
The research for this essay was done at the Public Record Office in London, at the
Mitchell Library in Glasgow, and at the Public Library in Paisley. However, the bulk
o& the material was obtained from the PRO. The reference numbers given are those
of the PRO.
CO 111-309. Letter from J. S. Orr, dated January 1856, to Governor Philip
Account of the riots by an unknown writer, reprinted in "The Glasgow Herald"
March 26, 1856. The original letter was dated February 20, 1856, and printed in
the "Liverpool Post."
CO 111-309. Orr's account of himself is in of the Enclosures he sent
letter to Governor Wodehouse.
4. Ibid. Orr denied being a Chartist: he preferred to call himself "Loyalist"
according to his account of himself.
It appears that Orr paid no attention to the intellectual ferment of his lime. Not
only was Chartism ignored; but he also ignored the latest socialist thought. The
Communist Manifesto appeared in English translation for the first time in 1850.
He was certainly not influenced by this document.
It must be emphasised that the greater part of the material for this paragraph is
taken from Orr's account of himself an account which could be wholly mislead-
ing. I found no mention of Orr in Glasgow or Paisley newspapers, or in local
6. CO 111-309. Despatch No. 16 of Governor Wodehouse, dated 24th Febru.ry, 1856,
to Henry Labouchere, the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Account of the riots in "The Glasgow Herald, March 26, 1856.
8. CO 111-309. In his letter to Governor Wodehouse, of 1st January, 1856,
complained about "a malignant article in last Friday's paper.
Ibid. Orr's letter to Governor Wodehouse, January, 1856.
10. Ibid. This letter seems to be Enclosure No. attached to Wodehouse's Despatch
No. 16, of Febru.ry 24th, 1856.
Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, 24th February, 1856.
CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, dated March 10th,
CO 111-311. Letter dated 17th June, 1856, from Senor Joao Tertuliano Fernandes
Nobrega, Portuguese Consul in British Guiana, to Governor Wodehouse. This
letter was enclosed with Wodehouse's Despatch, No. 82, dated June 23rd, 1856.
Barton Premium: Eight Years in British Guiana; published 1850, by Longman,
Brown, Green, & Longmans, London; p. 38. Premium mentioned the Portuguese
from Madeira and the Azores in his journal, dated 1st March, 1840.
Senor Nobrega, the Portuguese Consul in British Guiana, created the erroneous
impression that the Portuguese began to arrive in British Guiana around 1850. This
is to be deduced from a statement in his letter to the Governor. The Consul wrote:
"Permit to state to Your Excellency that when Emigration lirst commenced from
the Islands of Madeira and the Azores the authorities there prophesied that what
has occurred would take place. To show that there existed that impression, the
Consul General of Great Britain at the Azores, Thomas Carew Hunt, Esq., requested
the Governor of St. Michaels in an official letter dated 13th August 1851 to allow
the Immigration to this Colony, making himself responsible for the impartial
administration of justice and the protection of the laws to such Portuguese, and
now 1 observe a great number of these unhappy people who have been robbed and
protected according to the promise made by Mr. Hunt." Letter dated June 17th,
1856, to Wodehouse: CO 111-311.
CO 111-314. Letter from Count Larradio, Portuguese Minister in London,
Earl of Clarendon, dated July 12, 1856.
16. This is the estimate of the writer of the letter on the riots reprinted in "The Glasgow
Herald," March 26, 1856. His estimate of the damage at $400,000 was also far in
excess of the official figure.
17. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th- 1856.
The industry of the Portuguese settlers in British Guiana was also noted by Count
Larradio. He wrote of the "industrious and peaceable Portuguese subjects, whose
residence in that part of the British Dominions has mainly contributed to its
prosperity a fact substantiated by the local Authorities and whose exertions,
habits of industry, and orderly conduct, appear to have excited
animosity of a few disorderly and riotous inhabitants of Demerara.
Count Larradio to the Earl of Clarendon, July 12, 1856: CO 111-314.
18. This conclusion is drawn from the list of Portuguese who were given compensation
for their losses suffered in the riots. CO 111-312: Enclosure to Wodchouse's
Despatch No. 115, 6th September, 1856.
CO 111-309. Report of Christopher Bagot, J.P., from Canal No. Vauxhall,
22nd February, 1856.
20. Barton Premium: op. cit., pp. 38, 91.
CO 114-19. British Guiana: Minutes of the Combined Court 1854 to 1857. This
is the estimate of the Lieutenant-Governor, His Excellency William Walker, given
in his address to the Combined Court on 20th January, 1854.
Letter on the riots reprinted in "The Glasgow Herald," March 26, <56.
CO 111-309. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, 24th February, 1856.
24. Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, 24th February, 1856.
Ibid. Wodehouse'& Despatch No. 16, 24th February, 1856.
Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, 24th February, 1856.
CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 24, March 9th, 1856.
28. CO 111-309. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, 24th February, 1856.
Barton Premium: op. p. 91.
30. CO 111-309. Letter of Bishop J. I. Hynes to Wodehouse, dated 15th February. 1856.
Ibid. Letter from Wodehouse to Bishop J. I. Hynes, dated February 15th, 1856.
This is Enclosure No. 3 of Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, of February 24th, 1856.
Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24lh, 1856.
Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
34. Letter on the riots reprinted in "The Glasgow Herald, March 1856.
35. CO 111-309. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
The Governor's account of the riots in Georgetown is substantiated in the
reprinted in "The Glasgow Herald," March 26, 1856. The writer said:
"(The rioters) commenced in town on Monday, but we soon turned out a lot of
special constables and stopped any great damage here. I turned out thirty-five
volunteers on horseback; i.e. thirty-five turned out and chose me captain. We were
ordered to a part of the town called Charlestown; and I assure you we sav; that
the Portuguese shops, of which there are some six or seven in each street. were
being plundered right and left. Bottles of all kinds, brickbats, &c, were flying in
crowds. The street was crowded...
36. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
See also Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856,
38. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
3;. CO 111-309. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
40. CO 111-312. Report of the commissioners appointed to enquire into the losses
occasioned by the riots. This document is enclosed with Wodehouse's Despatch
No. 115, dated September 6th, 1856.
41. Ibid. Enclosure Wodehouse's Despatch No. 115, September 6th, 1856.
42. CO 111-309. Report from W. J. Sandiford, Stipendiary Magistrate, to the Hon. Wm.
Walker, dated February 21, 1856.
CO 111-310. Report from E. P. Walcott, J.P., to the Hon. Wm. Walker, dated
February 24, 1855.
CO 111-310. Report from A. Grant, dated February 25, 1856. The report was
probably sent to the Hon. Wm. Walker.
43. CO 111-309. Report of Christopher Bagot, J.P., dated 22nd February, 1856, from
Canal No. 1, Vauxhall.
44. Ibid. Report from J. Brumell, Stipendiary Magistrate, District E, dated 19th
45. CO 111-311. Report from John Lucie Smith to Governor Wodehouse, dated
Georgetown, 9th May, 1856. By this date, Mr. Smith had replaced Mr. Craig, on
the latter's death, as Attorney General.
46. CO 111-309. Report from Robert Short, dated Georgetown, 19th February, 1856.
It may be noted that the negroes did not consider the Portuguese to be "white."
The reason for disbelieving the evidence of their eyes was nothing other than
prejudice. Their animosity against the Portuguese prevented them from consider-
ing them as anything other than the "bucks" of the "White contree." Barton
Premium, op. cit. p. 91.
It may perhaps be explained to readers not acquainted with Guyana that "bucks"
is a name locally given to the aboriginal Indians of that country.
47. CO 111-309. Report from C. Bishop of Plantation "Zorg," dated 22nd February,
1856. "Zorg" is an abbreviation for Meerzorg, Wakenaam Island, Essequebo.
48. The observation on West Indian history was made by Herman Merivale of the
Colonial Office in his remarks on Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, of February 24th,
1856, in CO 111-309.
49. CO 111-309. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
50. Ibid. Report from C. Bishop of Plantation "Zorg," dated 22nd February, 1856.
51. Ibid. Report from James E. Roney to the Governor from Belfield Lodge, dated
23rd February, 1856.
52. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
53. CO 111-309. This volume contains a copy of Ordinance No. 4, 1856, and the
report on it by the Acting Attorney General, John Lucie Smith.
54. CO 111-309. See "The Official Gazette" of British Guiana, published February 23,
1856, enclosed in this volume.
55. Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
56. Ibid. John Lucie Smith's report on Ordinance No. 4, 1856.
57. Ibid. See the minutes on Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
58. Ibid. Despatch No. 56 from H. Labouchere to Governor Wodehouse, dated April
1st, 1856. Labouchere was giving the views of the Colonial Office on Wodehouse's
Despatches Nos. 16 and 17, the latter dated 26th February, 1856, and announcing
that the riots were arrested.
59. CO 114-20. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Honorable the Court of Policy
the Colony of British Guiana, at an Extraordinary Assembly, held at the Gui:
Public Buildings, Georgetown, Demerara, Thursday, 21st February. 1856.
60. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
A letter from J. Ball to Lord Wodehouse, dated 18th April, 1856. referred
Dutch warship as being the "Curacao"; CO 111-310.
61. Ibid. Letter dated Affiance, 22nd February, 1856: enclosed with Wodeliouse
Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
62. CO 111-311. Report of the Attorney General, John Lucie Smith, to Go\ernor
Wodehouse, dated Georgetown, 9th May, 1856, on the trials in Georgetown.
63. Ibid. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 57, dated 9th May, 1856; and the report of the
Attorney General to the Governor, dated 9th May, 1856, on the trials in Geoige-
64. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
65. CO 111-309. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 16, February 24th, 1856.
66. CO 111-310. Wodehouse's Despatch No. 25, March 10th, 1856.
Above this tortuous trough
A river's abdicated bed
The sun sifts through a mitred
Canopy of lank arthritic trees
Clutching damp banks
In the braced wind-hushed silence
Touristic cameras click
Freezing deciduous beauty
Leaves' last shimmer
Shivering to a fall
While two ashen sweepers
By the wayside
Come and go
Come and go about their work
To keep pace with the perennial
Waste cascading down.
Nicolas Guillen and West
IN THESE DAYS of heavily charged "black" and "African" art
in the United States and the West Indies, it might be useful to take
a closer look at a movement in the arts (literature, music, ballet and
singing and painting) which though technically it may be said to
have started in Puerto Rico, came to full fruition in Cuba in the
1930's and 40's.
"Afro-Cubanism", as the movement was called, used the rhythms,
style of phrasing and the originally African words (whose meanings
had been largely forgotten) of the Afro-Cuban folksongs and folk-
dances. On one hand a considerable amount of this art was what one
might call pure art. Margot Arce wrote of the Puertorican Luis Pales
Matos: "Luis Pal6s Matos is a cultured, even a refined poet (culterano)
-He draws away from popular poetic forms and interprets the Negro
element as a civilized and sceptical white man). On the other, one
finds protests against racial prejudice and discrimination, and a con-
stant drawing on the manner of the art of the people. Looking back
with almost thirty years perspective, one figure stands out quite clearly,
not that of Pal6s Matos, Ram6n Guirao, Emilio Ballages but that of
the Cuban mulatto Nicholas Guill6n.
A great deal of Guill6n's poetry is poetry of protest and revolt,
but Guill6n never lost touch with his folk roots.
What distinguishes his attitude, and what is of undeniable signi-
ficance today is his rejection of black racialism. Neither did he find
it necessary to turn to Africa, or attempt to use features of African
writing. Africa, with its transplanted people, its art (a folk art) was
so much woven into the texture of Cuban life that a direct recourse
to Africa did not seem necessary, and, though coloured Cubans had
been treated worse in the present century than their fellows in the
British or French West Indies, the envenomed counter-racialism so
apparent in much West Indian and North American Negro writing is
totally absent from Cuban art, and indeed from Cuban life today.
As Salvador Bueno puts it, Afro-Cubanismo represented a "search for
what was typically Cuban through the Cuban Negro" and not a re-
jection of Western values, such as we find for example in these
Because we hate you and your reason, and we turn to
the precosious dementia of flaming madness
of persistent cannibalism.
(C6saire, Aim6, Cahier d'un retour
au pays natal. Pr6face d'Andr6
Breton, Paris 1947, pp. 50-1.)
An immense fire which my continuous suffering
and your sneers
and your inhumanity
and your scorn
and your disdain
have lighted in the depths of my heart
will swallow you all.
(Bernard, Regnor C., N6gre,
Port-au-Prince, 1931, p. 12.)
One can account for the lack of direct inspiration in Africa by
the vigour of the Afro-Cuban aspects of life in that country. After
all, why go running off to Africa, when a synthesis of Spanish-Cuban
and Afro-Cuban elements already exists? Also the search for African
roots and identity by West Indians can lead to strange aberrations,
due to the lack of full understanding. Indeed the pathetic effort to be
or become African in some mysterious way is a dangerous road leading
tc facile exhibitionism and often a basic falsification and distortion
of both African and West Indian culture.
As for aggressive racialism in reverse, i.e. black persecutes white,
this had no appeal, for Guillen, and indeed makes no sort of sense in
the West Indies. As Guill6n writes to his "Son Ntimero 6":
We have been together from way back,
old and young,
white and black, all mixed together.
and after saying "Tell the white man he is not going to leave" he winds
up with a coda the meaning of which is quite clear:
look and go on looking
listen and go on listening
drink and go on drinking
eat and go on eating
live and go on living
because the song for everybody will never end.
Counter racialism is not a West Indian phenomenon. Maybe in the
United States it makes some sort of sense, if it leads to a constructive
reappraisal although pushed too far, it could become self-destructive.
It is interesting that Aim6 C6saire, who coined the word "n6gri-
tude", In a recent interview (Casa de las Am&ricanas, July/August, 1968)
rejects charges of racialism: "Even in the moments of greatest anger,
we continued to be humanists-our particularism always lead to
universality". And he refers to the apparent racialism of some of the
n6gritude writers as "an irritated postulation of fraternity," and also
as "aggressive solidarity."
However not only in Cuba, but in all Latin American countries
which have a large coloured population (Brazil, coast of Colombia,
Venezuela, Ecuador), there has been no stimulation of racial antagonism
and comparatively little interest in Africa.
It should not be imagined however that Guill6n ignored or is in-
different to the black man in Cuba or in the world. However, as a
coloured man, he never denies his Cubanlsm. Again in thLe "Son
nfmero 6" he states:
I am a Yoruba, I weep in Yoruba,
As I am a Cuban Yoruba,
I want my Yoruba sorrow to rise up in Cuba,
the happy Yoruba weeping
which rises in me.
(El son entero, 1947).
and again in one of his best known poems "Ballad of my two grand-
fathers" after evoking the past of oppression and cruelty, he sees the
two figures joined by the bond of basic human anguish:
their strong heads;
both the same size,
under the high stars;
both the same size,
black anguish and white anguish,
both the same size,
and they shout and dream and weep and sing,
They dream and weep and sing,
they weep and sing,
(West Indies Ltd., 1934).
The following poem, "My name" (Elegias, 1958), makes quite clear
Gulll6r.- attitude of awareness of his African past, of the Negro ex-
perience in Cuba and in the world, but as in all his poems he transcends
any narrow racialism.
Ever since school
and even before-one dawn
when I was only a scrap of sleep and tears
they had given me a name. A saint and a point
of reference, so I could speak with the stars.
Your name is, will be-
- And then they handed me what you see on my visiting card,
what I write at the end of my poems,
which I carry around in the street,
and are always with me wherever I go,
But is it my name? Are you sure?
You know all about me.
You already know my navigable blood
my geography full of dark mountains
and deep and bitter valleys
which are not on the map?
Perhaps you have visited my abysses
my underground galleries
with their great wet stones
the islands emerging from the black ponds
where I hear a pure water-fall
of ancient water pouring from my high heart
with a fresh and deep sound in a place full of burning trees,
with tight-ropes walking monkeys
parrots like legislators and snakes?
Does my skin, I should say,
all my skin come from that statue
of Spanish marble? Also my cry of terror
the hard cry in my throat? Do my bones
come from there. The roots
and also the roots of the roots and also
the dark branches stirred by dreams
and these flowers open on my brow
and this sap which turns my bark bitter?
Are you sure?
Is there nothing more than what you have written
than what you have stamped?
with a seal of anger?
(Oh, I should have asked)
But now I do ask you:
Do you not see these drums in my eyes?
Do you not see the tight and beaten drums?
with two dry tears?
Do I not have perchance
a nocturnal grandfather
with a great black mark
(even darker than his skin)
a mark made by a whip?
Do I not have perhaps a Mandinga, Dahomeyan?
a Congolese grandfather.
What is his name? Oh, please, tell me.
Andr6s. Francisco, Amable?
How do you say Andr6s in Congolese?
How have you always said Francisco in Dahomeyan.
In Mandinga how do you say Amable?
No? Were they then other names?
Tell me the surname.
Do you know my other name, the one
that came with me from that enormous land,
the bloody, captured name that crossed the sea
which came in chains across the sea?
Oh, so you cannot remember.
You have dissolved it in immemorial ink..
What you have taken from a poor defenceless Negro,
you hid thinking
that he would lower his eyes in shame.
I really thank you.
Gentle people, I thank you.
But no-can you believe it, No.
I am clean
My voice shines like newly polished metal
Look at my coat of arms, it has
a baobob, a rhinoceros and a spear.
I am also the grand-son, great grand-son, great great
grandson of a slave.
(The shame is the master's)
Am I Yelofe?
Nicholas Yelofe perhaps?
Or Nicol&s Baganko?
Perhaps Nicolas Kumba?
Could I be Nicoli Kongu6?
Oh, who knows?
What an enigma in the waters of the sea.
I feel the immense night weighing
on deep beasts
on innocent punished souls;
but also on sharp pointed voices
which strip the sky of its suns,
its hardest suns
to decorate the fighting blood.
From some burning suns, perforated
by great equatorial arrow.
I know that remote cousins will come
my own remote anguish shot into the wind,
I know that pieces of my veins will come
my own remote blood
treading the startled grass with hard feet,
I know men of green leaves will come,
my distant jungle,
with their sorrow open like a cross and their hearts
red with flames,
Without knowing each other, we will recognize each other
in tuberculosis and syphilis,
in sweat bought on the black market
in fragments of chains still sticking to their skins
without knowing each other we will recognize each other
by our eyes loaded with dreams,
and even the Insults like stones, spat at us every day
by the four handed creatures of ink and paper.
Then what will it matter?
(What does it matter now?)
My little name with its 13 letters
Neither the Mandinga, Bantu,
Yoruba, Dahomeyan name
of the sad, grandfather drowned in lawyers ink?
What does it matter, my pure friends?
Yes, pure friends.
Come and see my name,
My endless name made up
of endless names.
my name, alien
free and mine, alien and yours,
alien and free as the air.
(First English translation)
The essencialist poetry of Nicholas Guill6n is a signal of man
discovering himself completely in his concrete American reality, and
at the same time transferring through his individuality the ethical
pathos of his people. Like any Afro-American and Indo-American
writers Guillen has found his national, American and universal
identity, his Cuban, American and profoundly humanist values, and
it is in this sense that he is acclaimed as one of the greatest writers
of America today.
G. R. COULTHARD
A Brief Assessment of the
Chief Military Monuments of:
GRENADA SAINT VINCENT SAINT LUCIA ANTIGUA
THE PURPOSE of this series of four short studies is not to reveal
new information about the monuments concerned; that must be the
work of local historians, aided by plans from European and North
American archives. Nor is it to list all the military monuments of each
island; that would be next to impossible, since on most of them almost
every headland was fortified at one time or another.
What these studies set out to do is to describe and evaluate some
of the major sites, bringing to the assessment a broader knowledge
of similar West Indian, North American and European structures than
is commonly found on any one island, and also using documents from
various archives which have never been pressed into service before.
The hope is that by thus studying and evaluating these sites, even
in a relatively perfunctory fashion, it will be easier to form judgements
about their historic value, and so aid decisions about their preservation
The military monuments of Grenada are concentrated around the
town of St. George's, and fall naturally into three main groups:
FORT GEORGE was constructed by the French about 1700,
probably from the designs of the engineer de Caillus. The whole of
the carenage, as well as the maritime approaches to St. George's, lay
within easy range of its guns, which were arranged on four main
platforms constituting a rather uneven square. The fort was well con-
structed of local stone, and survives almost intact. The guns remaining
on its platforms are of particular interest. Most of them date from
about 1800; they are well preserved and mounted on cast-iron
carriages. There are two 18-pounder. three 12-pounders and five
6-pounders. It is comparatively rare to see so many different calibres
of the same period in one place. There is also a 10-inch mortar on its
base, and a base lacking the mortar.
The design of the fort is very characteristic of the early eighteenth
century, with its small bastions and relatively small platforms. Each
would be able to hold about a dozen cannon, so that with the guns in
THE FORTIFICATIONS OF ST GEORGE'S
O West r
the corner bastions and in the northern outworks the fort would have
mounted about seventy weapons in all. An interesting feature of the
southern battery, covering the approaches to the harbour, is the line
of finely-executed 'sighting-marks', diamonds of dark green stone set
into the parapet so as to show the exact position of each gun.
Condition and access: Fort George is now a police barracks. The
public is allowed in, and the general fabric seems in good repair. But
the cleanliness of the ramparts leaves much to be desired, and there
i no information available to guide the visitor.
-- HOSPITAL HILL was fortified by the English after they captured
the island from the French in 1762. They constructed the three small
forts, or 'redoubts', called 'east', 'centre' and 'west', and it was from
these works that they were driven in the successful French assault of
1779. The 'east redoubt' has been built into a house, though its shape
is still clearly recognizable. The 'centre redoubt' houses a large water-
tank, and the 'west redoubt', rather overgrown, serves as a pigpen.
These little structures are of no great architectural significance, but
they deserve to be preserved as relics of the 1779 campaign, The 'west
redoubt', in particular, could easily be bushed out and perhaps trans-
formed into an observation-point for tourists; it enjoys a magnifi-
cent view over St. George's to the south and over the coast to the
Condition and access: the 'east redoubt' is well preserved, and
the owners of the house built on it welcome serious visitors. The other
two forts are easy to reach, but are semi-ruinous; it would be good if
they could be cleared of bush.
Road down to
Ent rance- bridge
- Officers' barracks
ScaIe and orientation
-RICHMOND HILL. After the French recaptured Grenada in 1779,
and before they returned It to the British in 1783, they began to work
on the fortification of Richmond Hill. The British continued this work,
which was substantially completed by 1779. There were then four forts
strung along the hill, with the largest in the north and the smallest in
the south. Fort Mathew was the largest and, as the plan shows, mount-
ed ten 24-pounders on its 'grand battery' The Fort now serves as a mental
home, but the features shown on the plan can still be' identified. Like
the rest of the works on the ridge, Fort Mathew was faced with stone
apparently dug from the quarry on the west side of 'parade'.
It was connected by a 'covered way' to Fort Frederick, which again
had a powerful battery facing the east, from which attack was expected
either by rebels or by the French. Fort Fredericlk mounted eight large
guns: four 32-pounders and four 24-pounders on its main battery, and
five 12-pounders on its lower platform. Like Fort Mathew, it could be
self-sufficient, with its own magazine, cistern and provision-store.
The secondary battery of Fort Frederick was designed to cover the
approaches to the other two works on the ridge, Forts Lucas and
Adolphus. These, again, were primarily desgined to harrass any enemy
occupying the heights to the east; Fort Lucas mounted seven, and Fort
Adolphus four, 24.pounders. The former had a cistern and the latter
a magazine. All in all, the Richmond Hill forts menaced the hills to
the east with over thirty large guns, arranged on the broad sloping
platforms characteristic of the period.
Condition and access: Ford Mathew is well preserved and access is
free, thanks to the kindness of the administrators of the mental home.
Fort Frederick is less well preserved, and indeed badly needs bushing
out. But it is well described by a sign erected by the local historical
society, and with a little more attention could be a delightful site.
Forts Lucas and Adolphus are both now on private property and more
or less covered by buildings and undergrowth; they are in any case
so ruinous as to be beyond repair..
2. ST. VINCENT
There are three main sites, all within easy reach of Kingstown:
FORT CHARLOTTE was probably begun about 1796, after the
Brigands' War; it was completed in 1806. It occupies a prominent ridge,
6U0 feet above the sea, to the north of Kingstown Bay, and it formerly
contained 34 guns. Most of these were mounted so as to cover the
easterly approaches to the fort; curiously enough, Fort Charlotte does
not seem to have mounted any guns on the Kingstown Harbour side,
even though it in fact commands the bay.
Passing over the former drawbridge, the road from Kingstown
climbs steeply up the hill, past various outworks, and then leads
through a tunnel into the main court. To the right is the main, upper
battery; this mounted ten or eleven 32-pounders, and three 6-pounders
are now to be seen there. To the north-west are the embrasures for four
more large guns; there was also a magazine at the corner of this
Some steps lead down from it to the west, where the barracks
formerly were; beyond them is a small fortified enclosure, in which
half a dozen guns formerly stood. Down below Fort Charlotte to the
south, on a bluff (Old Woman Point) overlooking the harbour, Is the
former garrison hospital. This was built about 1820, and is an early
example of the use of prefabricated cast-iron. It has recently been
damaged by fire, but remains an imposing example of 19th-century
architecture, with its splendid cut-stone walls and airy verandah.
Condition and access: Fort Charlotte is open to visitors, and its
fabric seems reasonably sound. The same, alas, cannot be said of the
former hospital, which is likely to deteriorate rapidly unless steps are
taken to save it. Similar structures in Jamaica (Port Royal naval
hospital) and in St. Lucia (the barracks on the Morne Fortun6) have
been most successfully restored and put to use; it would be a great
pity if St. Vincent lost this building.
-- CANE GARDEN BATTERY is located on the western tip of the
promontory which protects Kingstown Harbour to the south. It con-
Rood down to
Trock down to
the sea 0 50
sist: of a small square battery, which probably once mounted six
24-pounders for the defence of the harbour. Four of these guns remain
on their mounts at the site; the battery dates from the early 19th
Condition and access: the very simple structure is in good con-
dition, and is accessible once its position in the bush is known. How-
ever, Cane Garden Point is at the moment under development for
housing, and it would be good to ensure that the battery does not end
up on private property.
FORT DUVERNETTE was constructed about 1800 to cover
Calliaqua Bay, then an important anchorage. On a great mass of rock,
rising 260 feet out of the sea, two main platforms were built. The first,
halfway up the rock and on its south-west side, still contains a maga-
zine, a cistern, four 24-pounders on their carriages and one 8-inch
mortar on its bed. The second platform, on the summit of the rock,
holds the same armament.
Fort Duvernette is chiefly interesting because here the complete
armament survives intact from the early 19th century; no doubt the
inaccessibility of the site deterred the gunners from removing their
pieces when the rock was abandoned.
Condition and access: the weapons are in good shape and the
site is easily accessible by boat from Young's Island.
3. SAINT LUCIA
For many years now, the St. Lucia Archaeological and Historical
Society has kept alive local interest in the island's antiquities, including
its military monuments. The Morne Fortune has been the object not
only of a printed guide but also, recently, of a most skilful programme
of restoration; even a relatively insignificant structure like the Half-
Moon Battery has been carefully restored and publicized.
It is, therefore, unnecessary to comment on the significance of the
monuments around Castries. The only object of interest which seems
to have escaped the Society's attention is the large gun in the garden
of the house called "Ridgeway". This is an 11-inch breech-loader of
1872, mounted on its original carriage. Such large late-19th century
guns are not common in the West Indies, and nowhere else is one to
be seen on its original mounting.
Outside Castries the main object of interest is Fort Rodney, on
Pigeon Island. Here are the ruins of a small fort, originally mounting
three 24-pounders and two 11-inch mortars; the platform was greatly
altered during its recent occupation by the U.S. Navy, but its main
features are intact. It was from this fort that Rodney was able to
watch the French on Martinique, and from the bay behind that he
set out with his fleet for the battle of the Saints. It would certainly be
useful if the Society could provide a short guide to this historic site.
There are two main areas of interest in Antigua; around the
harbour of St. John's, and in the neighbourhood of English Harbour.
St. John's Harbour is guarded by two main defensive works, Forts
James and Barrington:
FORT JAMES guards the eastern entrance to St. John's Harbour.
It was built in 1704-5 by the English, and is thus contemporary with
Fort George at St. George's (Grenada) There are three main platforms:
the western, covering the maritime approaches, and the south-eastern,
which overlooks the harbour.
On the western platform are six 18-pounder guns on carriages;
they all date from about 1800, and form an impressive battery. The
north-western platform has three guns of the same size, and there is
a further one on the south-eastern battery. Close to the latter is a
small but well-preserved magazine; all in all, Fort James is an inter-
esting and rare example of an early English fort.
Condition and access: the main walls are sound even if there has
been some destruction of the interior buildings. The house inside
Fort James is apparently in private hands, which makes visiting diffi-
cult; general cleanliness leaves much to be desired.
FORT BARRINGTON commands the western side of the entrance
to St. John's Harbour. It was built by Admiral Sir Samuel Barrington
in 1779, and with its semi-circular platform is reminiscent of contem-
porary works in Jamaica (Forts Small and Johnston in the Hellshire
Hills). The visitor approaches up a steep track from the Deep Bay
side. There are two sets of steps up on to the platform, whose stones
are very cunningly cut so that there is an extensive sloping gun-deck.
No doubt the guns were hauled up from ships on the sea side, for there
is a ring in the exterior wall there, and a certain amount of corres-
ponding wear on the broad parapet which surrounds the gun-deck. It
perhaps held half a dozen 24.pounders.
Leaving the gun-deck, a flight of steps leads down to the magazine
and living quarters, built into the hill on the east side. This part of
the fort is again strongly constructed of local stone. From the exterior
it looks like a small two-ridged house with a platform around it, but
the plan is a very subtle one, since each of the two rooms has a brick
barrel-vault and these are at right-angles to each other.
Mg a zine
Condition and access: visitors are not welcomed to Fort Barrington,
but neither are they denied access. The fabric is in general sound, and
the view from the gun-platform so fine that it seems a pity that more
tourists are not encouraged to visit the site.
There are of course many forts and barracks in the vicinity of
English Harbour. Most of them have been labelled, and there is a good
guidebook called The Romance of English Harbour. The only monument
in this area which does not seem to have been justly appreciated is
the fort on Monk's Hill, which was constructed in the early 18th
century. It would be good if the track to this site could be kept open,
for the work is very early and the view from the works superb.
Dr. J. Hartog: Curacao : from colonial dependence to autonomy
Aruba De Wit, 1968.
THE HISTORY of Curacao constantly suggests comparisons with
the course of events in other West Indian islands, and especially in
Jamaica. Like most of the other small islands, Curacao was relatively
neglected by the Spaniards, one of whose viceroys in 1513 declared
that Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba were to be regarded as islas inutiles,
partly because they possessed no precious metals. The first Spanish
settlement seems to date from 1526, though Spaniards had visited the
island earlier in order to carry off Indians for work on the mainland.
The settlement did not prosper; like Jamaica, Curacao seems to have
been valued chiefly for its ranches, on which large numbers of cattle
were reared for their skins.
In 1634 the island fell into the hands of the Dutch who prized it
chiefly as a naval base for their offensive in the Caribbean, and also
as a source of salt. They intended to establish plantations but found
it hard to contend with the unpromising land and climate; the
famous bitter oranges remained Curacao's only remarkable agri-
cultural product. All the same, the island enjoyed a first period of great
prosperity between 1662 and 1700. when it was the largest slave-market
in the eastern Caribbean. The trade of Curacao, like that of all the
o.her islands, was largely determined by political conditions in Europe,
and the decline of privateering, together with the outbreak of the war
of American Independence, led to a further period of intense com-
mercial activity between 1766 and 1783.
Dr. Hartog devotes the seventh chapter of this book to a consider-
ation of the slave-trade and of slavery as an institution. If he seems
rather to play down the sufferings of the slaves, that may be because
labour on Curacao was much less arduous than on the islands with
large sugar-estates, and because the slaves formed a relatively small
proportion oi the whole population; the Catholic church seems also
to have exercised an early and beneficial influence among them. The
island did not, however, escape slave rebellions, and as on the othei
islands the uprising of 1795 was particularly severe. Emancipation came
late to Curacao, in 1863, and was followed by the familiar problems
of economic and social adjustment.
Like Trinidad and Jamaica, Curacao has been able in the twentieth
century to develop an industry of world-wide scale, by becoming the
great centre for the refining of Venezuelan oil. Production increased
rapidly after 1919; by 1926 the port of Curacao was more active than
that of Amsterdam. and by 1941 over 80% of the total supply of
aviation spirit for the Western allies came from the Netherlands
Antilles, much of it from Curaqao itself. As in some other islands, the
events of the second world war hastened the movement towards
autonomy, which came in 1954.
The reader will find little in this book to help him understand the
recent upheaval in Willcmstad; its general tone is rather complacent,
and its unrelieved narrative, as well as its absence of notes, are remin-
iscent of some of Cundall's work on Jamaican history. All the same,
it is a mine of information, whose accuracy can if necessary be checked
by reference to the annotated Dutch edition, and is very well produced,
apparently in Aruba. The maps and plans are particularly well done;
not many other West Indian islands can boast a recent history so
readable and so comprehensive.
E. Townsend Coles: Adult Education in Developing Countries
THIS BOOK purports to examine some of the principal requirements
and provisions for adult education in developing countries. It is im-
portant to note this carefully as throughout the book the emphasis is
on a consideration of the shape and form which adult education ought
to have in developing countries rather than an analysis of the exist-
ing provisions for adult education in such countries. In the pursuit of
this aim Mr. Towrsend Coles is perhaps very often idealistic-not that
there is much harm in this and he should not be condemned out of
hand for this reason. For example, he suggests that a Ministry of
Adult Education ought to be established to oversee the provisions for
adult education in each country concerned. One wonders at the possi-
bility of the establishment of such an institution bearing in mind, as
Mr. Coles himself admits, that in most countries of the world more
lip-service than tangible support is given by territorial governments to
the field of adult education.
It must be noted very early that the author's definition of "adult
education" is a very broad and comprehensive one which includes liter-
ary work at one end and advanced University work at the other and
includes some of what in some countries is more often regarded as
"Community Development" work. To oversee such a wide range of
activities Mr. Coles suggests not only the establishment of a Ministry of
Adult Education but also a Council of Adult Education charged with
assisting with the co-ordination of the adult education activities of a
variety of statutory and non-statutory organizations. However, in most
developing countries such organizations do not exist and however
desirable these may be they are not likely to be established in the
near future. Consequently, those organizations which are engaged in
adult education such as the Universities through their Department of
Extra-Mural Studies often encompass activities which should perhaps
more appropriately be done by other agencies. Thus Extra-Mural De-
partments often get involved in activities which are considered to be
"far below the University level" This offends most persons nurtured
in the British tradition and so it is perhaps not surprising that the
author endorses the Raybould thesis to which he makes explicit refer-
ence that Extra-Mural Department should only be involved in work at
the University level. This is surely untenable in most developing coun-
tries where in the absence of other institutions Extra-Mural Depart-
ments often feel obliged to meet the needs of the Adult Community
even where this results in thel Department getting involved in work at
a comparatively low education level.
On the whole the material in this book is well organised. One
cannot fault the classification and material in the various chapters
or the range of information included in each. Although one feels that
somewhere in this book there should be an inclusion of information
as to the range of current and past research activities in the field.
But admittedly there is not a very large amount of activity in this area.
One is conscious throughout most of this book that the author's
experience of work in the field of adult education has been in Southern
Africa with little direct language or experience of adult education
problems in the remainder of the "third world" to which one also ex-
pects reference to be made in view of the all-embracing title of this
book. But in the fairness to the author it must be noted that he
does admit that his suggestions would have to be adapted to meet
local circumstances before implementation in any particular country.
To adult education workers in the field much of what Mr. Coles
says will be familiar and many of the suggestions he makes will find
ready acceptance. Such workers will hope that this book will be read
by executives in the "providing agencies" For example, how pleasant
it would be If public officials in some of our local Ministries could read
about the value of adult education and its potential contribution to
national development. Also of the need for direct government finan-
cial contribution to adult education agencies such as University Extra-
Mural Departments by central and local government authorities in
addition, in this case, to any other grant which may be made to the
Universities for other University expenses. Then there are the appro-
priate remarks about the need for training of various types of adult
education of all levels. Also the need for the teachers of adults to be
trained in adult education methods, as so often do we find a class been
less than successful merely because the tutor persists in employing
teaching techniques which are unsuitable for making contact with
In all an interesting and useful book which should be read by all
THE CRITIC IN THE CHILD
Dudley R. B. Grant and Gloria Box. Poems of a Child's World
WHAT EXPERIENCES of language fill the intellectual interval
between "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall" and "Stone will not bleed;
nor shall this vizored prince, apotheosized ?
Normally, if our experiences stop at the former stage, we know
nothing about the latter and never worry; if, on the other hand, our
minds have lived sufficiently to reach the latter stage, the processes in-
volved in our getting there are usually too complex to tell us how, so
we simply know where we are and nothing more.
Only a teacher of sorts gives himself the conscious task of steering
a younger mind from the former to the latter stage; some teachers may
contribute to the desired end without knowing that they are doing so,
and sometimes without even arriving at that end themselves; some
teachers contribute nothing.
Poems of a Child's World displays a collection of material which,
if properly used, can contribute towards leading the mind of the child
from the bare perception of rhyme and rhythm to that sensitivity to-
wards emotive uses of language that constitutes the enjoyment of
poetry. The selections that comprise the text cover a wide range of
experiences, feelings and poetic treatments; they extend from the mere
imitation of sound and movement through words and the imagination
as in Louise Abney's
Pop pop pop
Says the pop-corn in the pan
Pop pop pop
You may catch me if you can
to that more complete transformation of reality example in this
collection by such pieces as H. D. Carberry's Nature, with its wonder-
fully effective last lines:
When the buttercups have paved the earth with yellow stars
And beauty comes suddenly and the rains have gone
or George Campbell's Litany, which communicates by means of a
delightfully amazing concatenation of images around the central
evocative term "daylight":
I hold the splendid daylight in my hands
Daylight like sea sparkling with white horses
Daylight like tropic hills
Daylight like a sacrament in my hands.
One important question is whether a majority of West Indian
teachers will use an anthology such as this in ways really beneficial
to children. The preface to the text indicates that this question was
very much present in the minds of the editors who there point out
some of the malpractices of teachers who induce children to dislike
poetry. The editors then proceed to give some guidelines for teaching
poetry at the primary level. The pity is however that the preface
(undoubtedly through necessity) is too short to give any amplification
to some of the suggestions and to show the alternatives which would
make for a flexible approach to teaching poetry. There is consequently
some danger that one or two of the guidelines such as, for example,
that "poetry should never be introduced as a 'set' period" and that
"children should be encouraged to recall words or phrases that they
particularly liked" may be interpreted by less-knowledgeable teachers
as invariable precepts, contrary though this is to the stated intention
of the editors, since no possible alternatives could be stated in a short
preface. However, this is probably a calculated risk.
There is another and possibly more important aspect, however, to
this question of how teachers might make poetry meaningful and
satisfying to children. The editors are stating a well known truth when
they say in the preface:
"Amongst our vigorous and often brilliant boys and girls the view
is current-particularly amongst the boys-that poetry is a waste
of money, that poetry is useless and sissy, if not downright
It is not often realized that the prevalence of this attitude in children
must be attributed not just to bad teaching and to selections of poetry
that are unsuitable for children in terms of content and complexity of
language. Unnoticed by many of us, many well-taught and technically
suitably selected poems indeed actively promote in children the un-
favourable attitudes stated above.
The stark truth is that much poetry which is "beautiful" (note the
quotes) in the fashion of Milton, the Romantics and Victorians, poetry
that invariably clothes reality with an all pervading glamour as fase as
it is pleasing to outworn literary tastes, must of necessity appear
"useless and sissy, if not downright detestable" to healthy young minds
in this age. About the selections of poetry that are usually fed to them,
our children in their own way are saying nothing more than what F. R.
Leavis said long ago about some poetic fashions between Donne and
In other words, it is all right for Polly Boyden to say:
I'd rather wade in wiggly mud
Than smell a yellow rose
and for Amelia J. Burr, talking about the morning after a rainy night
The roses will wear diamonds
Like kings and queens at court;
But the pansies get all muddy
Because they are so short.
I'll sail my boat tomorrow
In wonderful new places,
But first I'll take my watering-pot
And wash the pansies faces.
But a majority of our young children will be thinking of the mess
and discomfort that they (and their parents) associate with mud, in
life-situations where mud is a daily nuisance and not a rare type of
fun, and the very real hardships of a wet and rainy day. How will the
teacher teach the example selections so that the differently orientated
child does not reject them entirely in his mind? This, it seems, is a
crucial, but often neglected question in poetry teaching. The answer,
it seems, lies not just in "taking a poem with children" but rather
in taking each child's life-situation as the starting point, getting
the child to view the poem against this and then as far as possible
getting the child to see his own alternative poem. Poetry then becomes
an activity which the child cannot reject, though he may and indeed
should continue to reject individual poems.
The difficulty of the anthologist for children is that the vast
majority of existing technically suitable material is of a prevailing
literary fashion and of a particular kind of appeal, so the anthologist
can do no better than take selectively from what is there. Actually,
indeed, this is not the anthologist's problem, but the teacher's problem.
After the anthologist has finished his job, it is for the teacher to take
the finished product and interpret and transform it for the child's
benefit. Poems of a Child's World has brought together a set of
material that can be very useful if rightly used; the rest of the task
now has to be taken up by the teachers.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EXTRA-MURAL STUDIES
L. S. Grant: Training for Medicine in the West Indies 15c. J.
G. P. Chapman: A New Development in the Agronomy of Pimento 15c.
G. R. Coulthard: Spanish American Novel, 1940-1965 30c
M. G. Smith, Roy Augier, R. M. Nettleford: Report on the
Rastafari Movement in Kington, Jamaica 50c.
R. M. Nettleford: Trade Union and Industrial Relations Terms 35c.
H. R. Roberts: Job Evaluation 35c.
Carlyle Dunkley: Collective Bargaining 35c.
John Hearne, Rex Nettleford: Our Heritage 30c.
CARIBBEAN AFFAIRS NEW SERIES
2) Adams, Magnus and Seaforth: Poisonous Plants in Jamaica 30c.
3) George Cumter: Looking at Figures 50c.
Agricultural Research in Jamaica (Five Papers from
Seminar in 1965) 20c.
WEST INDIAN PLAYS:
Catalogue and Plays may be obtained on application to:
Mrs. Myra Hinkson (Publications),
University of the West Indies,
113 Frederick St.,
Port-of-Spain, TRINIDAD, W.I.
RADIO BROADCASTING SCRIPTS: Scripts of broadcast pro-
programmes are available from the Radio Education
Unit of the Department 5c.
Catalogues of back issues of C.Q. available (with list of contents)
may be obtained on request from the Editor.
Peter Simms: Trouble in Guyana People, Personalities, Politics -
Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1966 $3.00
Vera Rubin & Marisa Zavalloni: We Wish To Be Looked Upon
A study of the aspirations of youth in a developing society -
Teachers' College Press, Columbia 1969
Wilson Harris: Ascent to Omal -
Faber 1970 $2.50
G. D. Killam: The Novels of Chinua Achebe -
Heinemann 1969 $2.50 (paperback $1.00)
Poems of a Child's World an anthology for the Caribbean
ed. D. B. Grant & G. Box
Edward Brathwalte: Islands -
Derek Walcott: The Gulf -
Jonathan Cape ...... ......................................................... $2.10