Group Title: The Trinidad Historical Society publication.
Title: Publication
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Publication
Physical Description: no. : ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Port-of-Spain
Publication Date: 1932?-52?
Frequency: irregular
completely irregular
Subject: History -- Periodicals -- Trinidad   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Trinidad and Tobago -- Trinidad
Dates or Sequential Designation: no. 1-1042.
Numbering Peculiarities: Ceased publication.
Issuing Body: Issued 1932-35 by the society under its earlier name: Trinidad Historical Society.
General Note: Reprints of documents relating to the history of Trinidad.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080962
Volume ID: VID00212
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 45882505

Full Text




Publication No. 224.

DLspatch of Picton to Li. General Cuyler.

Source :-Me'moirs of Lieulenant-General Sir Thomas Picton, G.C.B.,
sc., including his coiresponcence, from originals in possession oj
his family, &c., by H. B. Robinson. Second Edition revised,
with additions. In tweo volumes. London : Richard Bentley,
Newo Burlington Street, Publisher in Ordinary to His Majesty,
25th May, 1798.
Previous to your Excellency's departure for England, I
feel myself called upon to furnish you with such details and
information respecting this island and the neighboring
continent, as may enable his Majesty's ministers to judge of the
means necessary to be employed for the attainment of the
objects they may have in view.

This island, possessing the most extensive, and perhaps
one of the best and finest harbours in all America, wholly free
from hurricanes (the effects of which are so dreadful in all
the other West India ports), is so situated as to command the
commerce of an immense continent, extending from the banks
of the Rio dc los r\nazoncs to those of La Madalina,
including the rich provinces of Guiana, Barinas, Sante Fe,
Venexuela, Caraccas, and Cumana, with which there are
navigable communications by means of the different rivers,
which, traversing those extensive countries, at length lose
themselves in the great river Orinoque, which discharges
itself into the Gulf of Paria, by a number of small canals,
navigable by vessels drawing from ten to twelve feet water,
and by one large channel (capable of receiving frigates)
opposite the north-east point of Trinidad.

The island has also a communication with the interior of
the province of Cumana, by the navigable river of Guarapiche,
which also falls into the Gulf of Paria.

These provinces are inhabited by Spaniards from Europe,
who generally hold all offices and employment under
government ; Creoles, or such as are descendants of Spanish
settlers ; Indians, who are collected in missions, and kept in
the profoundest ignorance by their Capuchin governors;
Negroes, and a mixed race, resulting from the communication
of all the others the latter class and the Indians are by far
the most numerous.

Throughout these fine provinces the oppressions and
exactions of the persons entrusted with the government have
totally annihilated all enterprise and industry ; and the
inhabitants of all orders are reduced to the most pitiable state
of misery. They are entirely without manufactures of any
kind, and now wholly depend upon the stranger for every-
thing they wear. The usual intercourse between the mother-
country and the colonies being almost entirely cut off by the
war, the inhabitants of these countries are literally in want
of everything. I know a gentleman of the province of Cumana
who has 30,000 head of horned cattle, and is in absolute want
of a coat.

The government, possessing no public force to compel
obedience, and having entirely lost the confidence of the
people, keeps up its authority by arming every individual
against his neighbour, ordering every subject to seize another
carrying on a prohibited trade, and to kill him in case of
resistance; and authorising him to apply whatever he may
so seize to his own use, as a reward. Corrupted by these
means, every person is suspicious of his neighbour, and
regards him as a spy and informer ; so that they appear more
a set of insulated individuals than a nation. They however
agree, oppressors and oppressed, that nothing can be more
vexatious and corrupt than the government they live under,
or more deplorable than their own situation; and every
individual, with the exception only of those who, placed in
the highest offices of administration, have the means of
oppressing and plundering the inferior ones, looks forward to
a deliverance fi-om some foreign hand with a degree of
confident hope.

They have not yet been able to recover from the habitual
dread of a sanguinary government, and are of themselves
incapable of an independent, unassisted struggle to subvert it.
Conscious of a want of union and energy, weak and defenceless
as they know their government to be, they acknowledge
themselves incapable of any enterprise against it, unless
favoured by the countenance of some foreign power.

What I have the honour to propose is not in the nature of
a conquest difficult and expensive to be maintained. I have
to submit to your excellency, for the consideration of his
Majesty's ministers, a plan which has for its object the opening
of an immense commerce to the industry of his Majesty's
subjects, and securing them advantages of an incalculable
value, to be obtained by no other means.
The town of Cumana is centrically situated, so as to
easily communicate with the province of Guiana on the
one hand, and that of Caraccas on the other, with the
intermediate towns of Barcelona and Cariacco. The town
itself is capable of no defence, being open on all sides, and
will probably be evacuated on the first appearance of a
force ; at least, such was the determination some months ago.

If about three thousand troops could be collected, with
a sixty-four gun ship, a frigate, and some forty-four, or India
transports, to make an appearance or impression-for a
squadron would be no otherwise usefil-1 would propose
immediately taking possession of Cumana. The public mind
has long since been prepared, and the people in general look
forward to it as the most favourable event which can befall
them. The prejudices against the English nation, which tile
government had sedulously cultivated by every species of
misrepresentation and artifice, have happily been dissipated
by the extensive communication and intercourse they have
had with this island since the conquest. Tlie governor has
no regular force, and the militia have repeatedly signified
that they would not expose their families and property by an
unavailing resistance. I have also had an opportunity
latterly of learning tie spirit of tli Capluchins, who are
determined to keep their Indians entirely out of tie business,
and capitulate for other c missions. I have seen a letter from
one of the principals of that order, giving such advice to tile
missioners governing the dependant missions. The govern-
ment has latterly betrayed considerable jealousy of the

authority which this order has acquired among the Indians;
and the Fathers, recollecting the fate of the Jesuits in Paraguay,
appear a little suspicious of their intentions ; and this has in
a considerable degree loosened their attachment. A declara-
tion that the intentions of his Majesty arc to give the
inhabitants of South America an opportunity of asserting
their claim to an independent government and free trade,
will, I am convinced, decide them at once to forsake a
government which has energy only to oppress them; and
the situation of the neighboring provinces, long in a state of
revolt, affords reasonable grounds to think that it will become
the centre of a general movement, which might there be left
to itself, and would only require occasional supplies of arms
and ammunition. The expense of the expedition I propose
would, comparatively, be very inconsiderable. It will not
be necessary to employ horses or pioneers, and the ordnance
necessary would be a few light field-pieces only. The
principal objects to be attended to will be arms for infantry
and cavalry, for the purpose of arming the inhabitants, and
a liberal supply of ammunition.
There is a native of Caraccas, I understand, now in
London (Miranda), who might be useful on this occasion:
not that he possesses a great local knowledge, or has any
considerable connexions, being the son of a shopkeeper of
Caraccas who left the country at a very early period ; but
as a native of the country, who has made himself a good deal
talked of, he might fix the attention of those people, and
thereby make hiimelf serviceable. For reasons very obvious,
1 would advise his not being consulted on the business, or
acquainted with it, until the moment of execution. The
beginning of November will be the best time for an expedition
to that part of the Main : the dry weather sets in much
sooner there than ia the islands. The situation is remarkably
dry and healtlly.
The expedition should go down immediately to its object,
without stopping at Trinidad, which would in a certain
degree indicate the point menaced : but it will be necessary
to apprise me early of the intention, as the success will in a
great measure depend upon the previous steps I may take
to secure it.
I have a persolL perfectly master of tlic Spanish language,
who can prepare all the necessary declarations and papers.


A subordinate expedition might be undertaken from
Trinidad, with five or six hundred men, up the river
Guarapiche, which would essentially contribute to the
complete success of the undertaking ; and this might be
performed without any additional expense, as I should be
able to provide the vessels necessary for their transport on
the spot.

Having now sufficiently enlarged on this subject, and
furnished your excellency with materials to form your own
opinion from, I shall take my leave, with an assurance that
a doubt does not exist in my mind respecting the success of
the expedition I have the honour of recommending ; and
which, if trusted to the command of an officer of prudence
and conduct, cannot fail to produce the most extensive and
important advantages.

I have the honour to be, &c.,


To His Excellency
Lieutenant-general CUYLER,
Commander-in-chief, West Indies.

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