THE1 TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 67.
Letter from Thomas Picton, Governor of Trinidad to the Right
Honourable H. Dundas, Secretary oJ State.
Source : Additional Mss. 36870. British Museum. Published
by the Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
3oth July, 1799.
In the present situation of affairs, I have thought it my
Duty to trouble you with the repetition of a few remarks
respecting the importance of this Island.
The Harbour is the most capacious, safe and healthy in all
these seas. The only one where a fleet can lay without
eminent danger, during the Hurricane. It affords convenient
and safe Anchorage for all the Rcyal as well as Mercantile
Marine of Great Britain.
The Island contains an inexhaustible Lake of excellent
Pitch, building timber in abundance and a favourable situation
for a Carenage with sufficient water for the largest ships. The
Commercial advantages it cannot fail to command, from its
situation at the Mouth of the great river Oronoque and its
numerous Navigable Canals, are not easily calculable
considering the extensive countries with which they
The Island itself after Cuba and Hispaniola is incontestably
the finest in all the Vest Indies, whether the general fertility
of the soil and the extent ofcultivatable lands be considered.
It is capable of producing more sugar, coffee, cotton, and
cocoa, than all the Leeward Islands together.
In the old Islands the Indian Cane, notwithstanding its
Produce is yet very considerable, has begun to show marks of
degeneration, and is already sensible of a declining soil which
will daily become less and less productive. Capitals which
make inadequate returns on these Islands may be advanta-
geously transferred to Trinidad. The unfortunate settlers at
the Bahamas and numbers from the Danish and Swedish
Islands, all English, have already turned their views this way
and some have made very considerable purchases.
Encouragement would induce the poor white Inhabitants
who exist in a state of extreme misery at Barbadoes, and many
of the old Islands, as well as numbers of free people of colour
to establish themselves here. Attention being paid to the
settlement and population of the Island it would rest on a
firm basis not easily shaken.
It may not here be improper to remark that it would not
be advisable in the present state of the population of this
Colony, to entrust any description of inhabitants with the
power of legislating, much partiality and ill consequence
would be apprehended, and it would be prudent to defer a
concession of that nature and consequence until the settlement
of the Island shall have acquired the necessary degree of
It would be of consequence to deprive the Spanish
Government of every pretext for sending Guarda Costas into
the Gulph by insisting upon the cession of the coast on the
Inside of the Gulph from the point of Pena, near the entrance
of the Bocas, to the River Guarapeche. This Country is
separated from the Interior by a chain of inaccessible mountains,
except on one point, where it has a road of communication
with Rio Caribe. It abounds with Guiacum, Mustick and
the most durable and most precious species of building timber.
There are but few settlers who exist wholly upon the Commerce
with Trinidad. The possession of this territory will likewise
facilitate the Commerce of Cattle and Mules, as well as the
profitable intercourse with the Continent.
It would be advisable that some interpretations were made
respecting the free navigation of the Oronoque.
By means of this River our Manufacturers might penetrate
as far as Lima, Quito and the South Sea.
I have the honour to be
etc : etc :
(signed) TH. PICTON.
The Rt Honble