THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 160.
7-he Governor of Trinidad to the Secretary of State.
Source :-Public Record Office. Stale Papers Colonial.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
12th April, 1802.
I have the honour to acknowledge Your Lordship's private
letter of I8th February and have in consequence considered
with every attention due to the importance of the subject,
the suggestion which Your Lordship has been pleased to make
respecting the cultivation of ungranted lands and of the
colonisation of the lands of the Island.
In considering this subject it is necessary in the first
instance, to ascertain the different articles of commerce which
may be advantageously cultivated here. These of any
consequence are but four ; sugar, coffee, cotton, and cacao.
Sugar requires a great capital, a number of hands and
unremitting assiduous cultivation; in my opinion it cannot
be advantageously cultivated or manufactured without slaves.
In forming new settlements, great assistance may be drawn
from the Spanish Free people of colour both of the Island
and of the neighboring Continent who may be usefully
employed in felling the woods and clearing the lands previous
to cultivation. This laborious part of the business is usually
done by them as jobbers. They are incapable however of any
regular continued labour. Nothing but want can stimulate
them to exertion aid their activity never fails to disappear
with the cause.
Cotton, the next article of importance, is cultivated with
much greater facility, requires fewer lands and but a trifling
capital laid out in buildings. This object may be produced
by white cultivators with very small proportion of slaves.
ill tl.h culti\ tion ofl coflcc, the general labour is very
light and easy only it requires many hands to gather in the
crop. This culture requiring great exposure in the wet
season, is the most unhealthy and deleterious of employment
in these climates and the mortality on these estates far
surpasses that of the others.
The cacao requires no capital in buildings, may easily be
cultivated by white people and requires little exposure or
intensive labour. This is the most desirable crop of any in
this country and once planted may flourish for too years.
It has also the character of being equal in quality to the fruit
of South America and is held in high esteem in Old Spain.
The mountains in 'this Island are by no means considered
as the most healthy situations. They generally produce hard
woods and the soil is of inferior quality. The dry plains when
once cleared will afford the best and most salubrious situation
for European settlers and as they would employ themselves in
the cultivation of coffee, cacao, ginger and articles of easy
transport, I would advise their being placed in the interior on
the higher parts of the River Caronie where they will have
every advantage of situation and soil.
I have purposely omitted cotton as it can only be
cultivated advantageously on the windward part of the
Island, the plant requiring in this country an exposure to
the sea air.
As an experiment the Colony may employ Spanish peons
to clear five or six hundred acres in the situation alluded to in
order that each family settling may have five or six acres
ready for cultivation contiguous to the grant to be made by
government. The Colony may also furnish them with a cow,
seed and the implements of cultivation. I would also
recommend the reservation of a small unchangeable rent, not
to become payable till the third year.
A number of free people from Barbados and from the
other Islands where they exist in a state bordering on misery,
may be easily induced to settle here by offers of land, etc.
The Spanish Government held out the great inducement of
30 acres to each white person in a family and 15 acres for each
of their slaves. I am of opinion that half of that amount
would be fully sufficient.
Men of the West Indian Regiments whose conduct and
faithful service entitle them to the protection of Government,
may also have encouragement to settle but the selection should
be made with much caution.
Nearly the whole of the Bahamas settlers (the lands having
become wholly unproductive) may be expected here with
their negroes and a very considerable emigration from all the
Windward and Leeward Islands.
A great accession to the population of this Island may be
expected confidently from all these causes but upon the whole
as a sugar colony, I doubt much whether it will be possible
to advance it to any higher degree of splendour without the
assistance of Africans from the Coast.
It is much to be wished that those who declaim so violently
against the inhumanity of the system would give themselves
the trouble to examine it more nearly and not wholly depend
for their information upon the representations of pretended
philanthropists whose humanity too frequently resides upon
the tongue without ever visiting the heart.
I came to this country nine years ago with a strong
impression against the system. Few I believe can pretend to
more experience or better opportunities of examining the
state of slavery in these Islands than I can and I shall not
hesitate to say that the slaves of this Island generally taken,
are in point of comfort and care, at least equal to a great
majority of the European peasantry. They are better clothed,
better fed and do less labour. A few masters blind to their
own interests probably do treat their slaves with less humanity.
The laws should in such cases take cognisance of such conduct
and punish it as they do here.
I have the honour to be,
Very faithful and humble servant,