A soldier's sojourn in British Guiana, 1806-1808

Material Information

A soldier's sojourn in British Guiana, 1806-1808
Series Title:
The "Daily chronicle's" Guiana edition of reprints and original works dealing with all phases of life in British Guiana
St. Clair, Thomas Staunton
Place of Publication:
Georgetown British Guiana
Daily Chronicle,
Daily Chronicle
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
iii, 281, viii p. : illus. ; 21 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Description and travel -- Guyana ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:


General Note:
Selected from the author's A residence in the West Indies and America, published 1834.
Statement of Responsibility:
Edited by Vincent Roth.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
ADN5344 ( LTUF )
03504618 ( OCLC )
037033888 ( AlephBibNum )
50031403 ( LCCN )

Full Text


13Y -
'Y- BY / 1

S. 1806-1808 /



The "Daily Chronicle's"



No. 1.-"A VOYAGE TO THE DEMERARY," with an account
of the Settlements there and on the Berbice and
Essequibo by Henry Bolingbroke 1799-1S06
Price : $1.50.
No. 2.-"TRAVELS IN SOUTH AMERICA," mainly between
the Berbice and Essequibo Rivers, and in Surinam-
by Adriaan Van Berkel-1670-1686-Translated from
the Dutch by Walter E. Roth-1925. Price: $1.50.
a Popular Guide to Colonial Mammalia- By Vincent
Roth-1941. Price : $1.50.
a text-book for the use of the small farmer-by J.
Edgar Beckett, F.L.S.,-1905. Price : $1.50,
No 5.-"LETTERS FROM GUIANA," a detailed account of
Colonial life of the period, by Dr. George Pinckard,
1796-1797, .Priqe : $2.16.
No. 6--"THE DEMERARA MARTYR," Mefiiirs of the Rev.
John Smith, by Edwin A. Wallbridge-1l48. Price: $2.40
No. 7.-"OLD TIME STORY," Some old Guianese yarns
respun by "Pugagee P'uncuss"-1937:1988. Price : $1.44
Popular Guide to the Colonial Fishes, by Vincent
Roth-1943. Price : $2.40.
by Thomas Staunton St. Clair, 1806-1809. Price:
BRITISH GUIANA," 1838-1938, by Peter Ruhomon.
Price : $3.50.
Sir G. William Des Voeux, G.C.M.G.-1863-1869.

Published by

The Guiana Edition-No. 9


Lt. Thomas Staunton

Edited by


Georgetown, Demerara,
British Guiana.

St. Clair
3 / ^


1 have not been able to obtain any further biographical
particulars concerning the author of this work than those
.for*ained in the two volumes from which those portions
dealing with his sojourn in Guiana are extracted, viz "A
Residence in the West Indies and America, with a narrative
of the expedition to the Island of Walcheren", by Thomas
Staunton St. Clair, Lieut-Colonel, Unattached; published
in London in 1834 by Richard Bentley, New Burlington
From these it would appear that St. Clair was born
somewhere during the penultimate decade of the eighteenth
century in the garrison of Gibraltar, where his father,
a relation of the Earl of Rosslyn, held a military command
in the "25th." He was educated in Edinburgh at "Old
Laing's School" and subsequently by private tuition.
As he had two older brothers in the army and
another in the navy his parents considered this
"enough out of one family to get their heads broken
in the wars" and desired young Thomas to take up a
writership with the East India Company. But, as, in his
own words "my lungs had just begun to breathe the air of
life when a hard peal of drums and fifes almost destroyed
my organs of hearing, is it not natural that to my ears the
:rattling of a British drum and fife is the sweetest of
music?" St. Clair, senior, in the more polite language of
the period said, "You win", and secured an ensign's com-
mission for his son in the 1st or Royals, then under the com-
mnand of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent, who was
an old personal friend of his.
The following year, 1804, the young ensign was gaz-
etted a lieutenant in the 4th battalion of the regiment,
stationed at Hamilton, near Glasgow. In September, 1805,
he was transferred to the 1st battalion, stationed in the
West Indies, and appointed for service in Guiana, for
which country he left Greenock on 25th November 1805 in


the armed merchant'ship Brilliant. He landed in Demerara
on 3rd January 1806, and the story of his two and a third
years' sojourn in these colonies forms the subject-matter
of this volume.
From the fact that his own account of his experiences
was not published until 1834 and from certain evidence ir,
.the text showing that much of it was written from memory
it is apparent that he wrote these memoirs at some con-
siderable period of time after he had undergone the exper-
iences described. Thus, whilst his spelling of place-names
may not in every case be exact, and, whilst, on occasion, he
may confuse a jaguar with an ocelot and a labaria snake
with a boa constrictor, these minor defects detract little
from a book of very great interest as descriptive of the
life of the period not only on the settled coastlands but also
of that in the remoter sections of the great rivers of Gui-
ana. Throughout his pages he maintains what today is re-
ferred to as the "human interest", as witness his amusing
accounts of the Governor of Demerara tripping the light
fantastic with the Commandeur of Essequibo in camp dur-
ing their expedition up the Essequibo River, the story of
the young widow and the naughty squirrel and the wed-
ding anniversary celebrations at Plantation Vried-en-Stein:
also his description of "Old Glen," the Swedenborgian, the
eighty-year old Scotsmansuffering from religious mania.
On 9th June 1808 he finally left these shores on recall
to his own battalion, reaching Britain after a journey of
exactly two months. The following year he accompanied
Lord Chatham's expedition to Walcheren, "an expedition
worthy of a better fate". From 1810 to 1814 he served un-
der Wellington in Portugal and Spain and marched int.
France and "at the end of a long and bloody war I was
lucky in being one of those whom Providence permitted to
enjoy so many years of peace". But in 1827 he was again
quartered in Gibraltar and, in April, 1833, he was one of
the twelve lieutenant-colonels "whom the Irish facetiously
called the Twelve Apostles, sent by His Majesty's com-
mand to be employed upon a particular duty. .. for the
more effectual suppression of local disturbances in Ire-


St. Clair tells us that during his period of private
tuition his "considerable natural talent in sketching was
much improved by a good master, Mr. Stevenson, and the
drawings from which the engravings in these volumes
have been executed are the result of his instructions."

For enabling us to include this volume in the Guiana
Edition the thanks of the Publishers and myself are due to
the late Mr. Graham Cruickshank for placing the original
work (in two volumes) at our disposal and to the Honorary
Secretary of the Royal Agricultural and Commercial So-
ciety of British Guiana, for the temporary loan of Bry-
:ants "Account of an Insurrection of the Negro Slaves"
from which we were able to reproduce the copy of the en-
graving of the old military post at Mahaica.


Georgetown, 1946.


Signs of Approaching land-Land discovered-Mistake
of the Captain-The "Brilliant" strikes on the
Sugar Bank off Demerara-Appearance of the Coast
-The Author and his Companions go on Shore.
On New Year's Day, the 1st January 1806, we made
soundings in thirty-three fathom water, extremely muddy,
but no appearance of land.

On the 2nd. at 3 p.m. "Land ho" was sung out from
the mast-head; but it was late in the evening before we
could discover it from the deck; and then merely the tops
of lofty trees were visible.

Land, when first discovered from sea, has generally
the appearance of a dark line or spot close to the horizon,
which is frequently mistaken for a cloud; but we were now
in shallow, thick, and muddy water, without being able to
perceive any other sign of the immense continent of South
America, which lay before us, but the mere summits of
some trees.
By the ship's reckoning we supposed ourselves to be off
the mouth of the Corantine* River, which empties itself
into the Atlantic between the Surinam and Berbice
rivers. During the night we altered our course, and bear-
ing off before the wind, stood down the coast with easy
sail, keeping in five fathoms water.

January .rd. At 2 a.m. fell in with and boarded the
General Hunter, merchant ship, bound for Demerara; and
at 6 a.m. as day became perfectly clear, we stood in shore
and ran down in three fathoms water. We could now bare-
ly distinguish the low land, though we could plainly see

*The Courentyne River. The Author's spelling of place name
has been retained.-Editor,


the trees and now and then a staring white planter's
house, which had the appearance of being built on the
water, so imperceptible was the land. At 10 a.m. discover-
ed two wind-mills, which our captain mistook for the Kitty
and Thomas, the property of Mr. T. Cummings, on the
windward side of Demerara River, and which are general
landmarks for all vessels entering it; but, after bearing
down upon them for some time, he discovered his error,
and, finding that they were considerably to leeward of the
river, and that we had consequently passed the proper
channel to lead us in, he immediately hauled his wind, and
stood out again to regain the point of entrance, in trying
to do which our vessel struck hard and fast on an exten-
sive bank of clay and sand, which runs out to a consider-
able distance to leeward and is called the Sugar Bank.

The vessel being so suddenly stopped in her course by
this shock, all of us upon deck were thrown flat upon our
faces; and, after trying in vain every means in our power,
with boats, cables, and anchors, to move her from her per-
ilous position, the captain determined to go on shore and
solicit assistance.

I never saw distress more deeply marked on any man's
countenance than his. He certainly was wholly to blame
for having passed the Kitty and Thomas wind-mills with-
out seeing them, and mistaking two others which had not
the smallest resemblance; one of Mr. Cummings' mills
having a flag-staff, from which a flag is flying during the
day, as a guide to the shipping coming into this river;
whilst nothing of the sort was to be seen upon those which
were mistaken for them.

Of course the owners of the ship in such a case as this
would make him responsible for the cargo as well as the
vessel, and, fortunately for him, the weather was fine and
calm, otherwise he might have had our lives to answer for.

While the boat was preparing, he invited myself and
Ensigns Grant and Gordon to accompany him on shore;
and, after a tedious sail of three hours and a half through


high breakers, as we neared the shallow coast I at last
distinctly beheld the continent first discovered by that ex-
traordinary navigator, Columbus. The finest trees were
growing in wild luxuriance to the water's edge. The
plantain-tree, the cocoa-nut, and the beautiful cab-
bage-tree, were seen grouped among the stately wallaba,
the lofty mana and other magnificent forest-trees. The
tints of their foliage, with the clear ethereal sky, struck
us with astonishment. We at length safely jumped from
our boat on terra firma, after a voyage of thirty-nine
days, the Brilliant being a fast sailor.


Town of Stabroek-Impressions on Landing-Roads-
Houses Mode of Building Fire-flies -- The Barracks
-Picture of Ensign Grant in borrowed Clothes-Ham-
mocks--Crapauds-Mosquitoes-A Frightful Dream --
West India Uniform- Colonel Nicholson- Quarters as-
signed to New comers-Quarrelsome spirit among the
Officers of thet Royabs.

We found the streets exceedingly wet and muddy,
owing as we were informed, to the heavy rains which had
fallen for nearly a month without intermission; indeed
some parts of the town of Stabroek were overflowed to
such a degree that in many places the roads or streets
were covered with water.

I cannot well describe our sensations at finding our-
selves landed among a number of naked negroes. We all
stared at them with horror and disgust, so powerfully do
our European ideas of decency affect the imagination; and
we could hardly partake of a miserable dinner at the
wretched inn where we put up, because the attendant
had nothing to cover his herculean figure but a narrow
slip of light blue cotton, which was fastened between his
legs and tied round his waist.

After refreshing ourselves, we sallied forth with the
determination of finding our way to the barracks, and re-
porting our arrival to the commanding officer: and, with
due instructions from the landlord, we started, three
Johnny Newcomes in a new world.

We found the road exactly to resemble most of
those which I afterwards saw in Holland, straight
as a line, with a canal or trench full of water on


each side of it, behind the mud which had been
thrown out; and on both sides stood a row of stiff-
looking wooden houses, at irregular distances from
each other. Some were neat enough, others decayed, old
and rotten, all of them without a single pane of glass in
their windows, and raised from the humid earth by eight
or ten wooden or brick uprights, which supported the
.frames. of the building at different .heights. from tQhe
ground, so as to allow a space underneath, sufficient to
keep the flooring dry by the passage of the air.

Some of them were ornamented with beautiful trees
and shrubs planted round them, and most of the build-
ings were painted green, white, and yellow, each having a
wooden bridge, according in size with the circumstances
of the owner, to admit a carriage, horse, or foot passen-
ger, from the highway, to drive, ride, or walk, over the
canal up to the staircase of the dwelling. This staircase
was invariably placed on the outside of the building, lead-
ing up to the first floor, and forming a balcony or landing-
place at the doorway.

Every thing we saw amused and delighted us from its
novelty, being so different from what we had been accus-
tomed to in the Old World. It was some time before we
perceived that the road on which we were walking was an
excellent one, owing to its being rendered hard and
smooth by being covered with broken bricks, according to
the practice of the Dutch in Holland.

Before we reached Fort William Frederick, we dis-
covered the barracks standing at some distance back from
the high-road, and we now had to turn up a narrow road
leading to them with a canal on one side only.

The night, which comes on in this climate immediately
after sunset, was rather dark, and we found it difficult to
keep on the path, which was most dreadfully muddy, soft
gnd slippery; and the myriads of fireflies, which sparkled


around us, darting through the air, and resembling
the luminous meteor commonly called Will of the
Wisp, struck us with such astonishment that Ensign
Grant stepped up to his neck in the trench,
from which we extricated him with the greatest
difficulty. By keeping our eyes fixed on the lights in
the barrack-windows we at length reached it without fur-
ther accident, and found some few of our brother officers
smoking cigars and parading up and down a long gallery
in front of their rooms. Among these we soon intro-
duced ourselves, and, after undergoing a few questions
relative to England. and her prosperity, I found out where
the adjutant of the regiment was to be seen, and to him
I reported my arrival and that of my two companions.
He appointed the next morning to introduce us to our
commanding officer, Colonel Nicholson, who had arrived a
few days before from Berbice. As there were no spare
beds in the barrack, we were obliged to return in the dark'
to our miserable inn at Stabroek. Ensign Grant, having
by this time contrived to borrow a suit of clothes and
clean linen from a young officer, now cut a figure which
made us burst with laughter. The young man who had
rigged him out not being so thin or tall as my companion,
of course the sleeves of his jacket and shirt reached but
a short way below his elbows, and the trousers, by the
same rule, were up to his knees; fortunately for him he
was not to be put out of countenance, and, seeing us all
ready to drop with laughter, he drily exclaimed, with his
usual long and serious countenance, "Let him laugh that

We arrived without further accident at the house where
we were to sleep. Here, after ordering beds to be pre-
pared immediately, we seated ourselves in the wooden
dining-room; and were rather surprised to see two male
negroes enter with a bundle on each arm, which they laid
upon the floor. These bundles proved to be three clean-
looking white net cotton hammocks, destined for our re-
ception; and in a trice they were hung up high from the


floor by iron rings fastened into the sides of the room,
near the roof, opposite to each other.

The landlord now entered, and, putting his hand into each
t of them, to try if they were well and securely hung, and
turning round to us with a good-humoured broad Dutch
. countenance, he exclaimed: "It's good, mein herr." "Hoot
callant, dunna ca' them good, for I had rather sleep in a
trussle of strae than in such fleeing meshes as these," ex-
claimed Ensign Grant. The Dutchman, turning round to
us, evidently understanding the Scotch language, which
had a great affinity to his own, replied, that he had ac-
commodated many of our countrymen who were in the same
predicament as ourselves; and, opening one of them,
with an arm stretched out and a little spring from the
floor, he threw himself into the middle of it, exclaiming:
"It's good for sleep," to which my friend Grant replied:
S"'Tis an excellent contrivance," seeing our fat host swing-
ing in the air in a net and looking as cool as a cucumber.
The landlord now retiring and wishing us a good
night, we began to prepare ourselves for rest: and, al-
though he had already shown us how to enter these
swinging beds, we found great difficulty in making our-
selves comfortable in them. Our attempts caused a con-
siderable degree of merriment among us. We agreed to
leave the windows open and sleep in the air, as we were
nearly melting with heat; but when we had at length
stretched ourselves and felt tolerably comfortable in our
new beds, swinging like hams in the air, a resplendent
moon now throwing her pale lustre into our room, the
tranquillity of our first night on shore was suddenly dis-
turbed by the most horrid noises I ever heard. Millions
of enormous crapauds, a species of animal between a
toad and a frog, of tremendous size, some of them being
as large and round as a plate, put their heads out from their
holes on the land, and some from under the water, and
sent forth screams which rattled in their throats in all
the different keys of the gamut. Gordon, in his fright.
sprang from his hammock, and came on the floor at full


length, with such a thump as made our whole house
shake again upon its stumps. Ensign Grant and myself,
were seated in our hammocks, staring with astonishment,
while Gordon, after a few hearty curses, crept again into

Quadrillions of hungry mosquitoes now thrust their
lancets into us. The distressing noise which they made
about our heads and faces, and the continual slapping of
our bodies when we felt them biting, at last threw us
into fevers. It was now nearly daylight, and balmy sleep
had been denied us this first night in the New World,
when. from sheer fatigue and distress, we all three be-
-an to close our eyes.

A horrid dream now came upon me, with such vivid
force of representation, and so truly depicted on my
mind, that on waking I believed every circumstance to
have just taken place. Here it is.

My left arm had been placed under my head, in order
to keep it raised, as I felt the want of a pillow: and me-
thought I saw a naked black man of prodigious strength
put his head in at the doorway to examine us. I pretended
to be asleep. He advanced on tip-toe, with a drawn dagger
in his hand, and, passing the hammock in which Ensign
Gordon was sleeping, came to mine with extreme caution.
He stood for some time by my side, listening and putting
down his head close to my mouth to hear if I slept or not.
He raised the dagger, when I seized him, as I thought, by
the wrist, just as he was striking at me, and awoke, call-
ing out ''Murder, murder," still grasping, as I supposed,
his hand in mine: instead of which it was my own left
hand, that had lost all feeling, owing to the circulation of
the blood being impeded by the weight of my head resting
on it. I therefore kept pulling myself down in my ham-
mock, bawling out as loud as I could, "Murder, murder."
Poor Grant and Gordon, both frightened out of their
senses, sprang from their resting-places, and rushing up


to the side of my hammock, exclaimed: "For God's sake,
St. Clair, what is the matter?" On recognizing them I
now let go my left hand, which I still conceived to belong
to the Negro; and, lifting up my head, began to fancy it
was but a dream. Gordon, who had by this time reached
the door, found it still locked as we had left it the night
before; on which both my companions laughed at me for
being such a fool as to disturb them, and again retired to
rest.* But, the sun soon afterwards bursting forth in all
his vigour, it was now useless for us to attempt to gain
any further repose. This first night's trial of suspension
we all agreed to be abominable, and it became pleasant to
us by use and practice alone.
We were up early: and, dressing ourselves in the strict
uniform which at this time was used in the West Indies,
that is, a round hat, cockade, and small feather at the side,
a regimental jacket, Russia duck pantaloons, with sash and
a small dirk hanging by a waist-belt to our sides, away
we went to the adjutant of our corps for the purpose of
being introduced to our commanding officer.
He conducted us to the commandant's house, near Fort
William Frederick, and, on being introduced to him, we
were received with marked attention and kindness. Colonel
Nicholson was a stout, portly man, whom I supposed to be
nearly sixty years of age, having a good-humoured coun-
tenance, his hair cut strictly according to regimental
orders, and tied in a thick queue. After a few connmon
questions, he asked me if I was not acquainted with some
of his relations, mentioning their names, in Edinburgh,
and on my replying in the affirmative, question followed
question, until, shaking me by the hand, he turned round
to the adjutant, and desired him to order the quarter-
master to allot rooms in the officers' barracks for our ac-
* An almost precisely similar experience in recent times befell Mr.
Bovell-Jones when a Sub-Inspector of Police at Eve Leary. One
night his shouts for assistance awoke the whole Barracks and when
his brother officers went to his room they found him wrestling
with his own left wrist which, in his sleep, he had mistaken for
that of a thief.-Editor.


Our baggage, with my favourite dog, was now landed
from the Brilliant, a number of colonial schooners having
gone off to her early this morning to unload her cargo,
and I really expected that my poor friend Pincher would
have gone distracted with joy at seeing me after a night's
separation. A good-sized room was now assigned to me
on the first floor and another upstairs for the two en-
signs, as there was no accommodation in the barrack for
us all separately. We gave the upstairs room to Grant,
and Gordon with myself occupied the other; for, as the
colonel informed me, before quitting him, that I should
be appointed to a company then quartered in Berbice, I
thought that my stay in this colony would be short.

We now heard for the first time that a bad spirit of
quarrelling had been introduced among the officers of the
garrison, and that Lieutenant Arquimbo, of the Royals,
was at this moment not expected to live, having been
shot through the body by Lieutenant McBeth, only a few
days before we landed. Another duel had since taken
place; and I learned that the motive of Colonel Nichol-
son's visit was to make the necessary inquiries into the
causes of these disputes. At the mess-table I noticed a
great reserve among the officers, as if each considered
himself liable to a challenge for expressing his ideas upon
any subject whatever.

I followed the advice of my old colonel, to keep my-
self out of scrapes, which I did during the week I spent
here in making the following observations on the colony
of Demerara.


Demerara RiverFort William Frederick-The Town
Roads and Streets-Th e Government House_ Negro
gaol-The Court-house and Church-Deficiency of
Fresh Water_Stores or shopsProvisions -Native
Mistresses of Europeans_Creole Women_ Miss
Fann-yBoundaries of Demterara__Rivers-Colony
of Essequibo_-Rivers and Creeks_Fate of the
The three colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Ber-
bice surrendered to the British flag on the 23rd April,
1796, to an expedition under the orders of General White.

I found the Demerara River about two miles in
breadth at its entrance*, which is in latitude 6G 40' north
and longitude 57 45' west.
On the east bank of the Demerara, a little be-
low the entrance, is situated Fort William Frederick,t a
small fortification, composed of mud and fascines, formed
of two platforms, but so low that at high water a frigate
might fire directly into it. In the rear of the fort is the
General-Commandant's house0, with a few scattered
quarters of officers, called the Camp. In front of this
house is the Garrison parade, and about a quarter of a
mile from it 'stand the New Barracks, in which the king's
troops are stationed. These then consisted of the 1st Bat-
talion of Royals, and a detachment of a black corps of the
4th West India Regiment.
From Fort William Frederick the town, or settlement,
extends a considerable distance up the river, consisting of
a long row of scattered houses, intersected and divided
from each other by canals and dykes, or embankments,
*-From the Ferry Stelling to the Best Groyne is little more than
three-quarters of a mile.-Editor.
t-Owing to erosion of the coast the site of the fort is now
exactly at the river mouth.-Editor.
*-Camp House which originally stood on the site of the present
"Round House" on the Sea Wall.-Editor.


which, added to the flatness of the country, produce an
exact resemblance to Holland.

The houses are built of wood and painted in various
colours, according to the fancy of the owners. They are
raised from the ground upon supports, to prevent damps
from affecting them, and they chiefly consist of stores for
merchandise on sale, where goods of various countries are
vended. These buildings are placed without order or regu-
The most ancient part of this town, called Stabroek,
runs back from the river towards the forest, and consists
of two rows of houses, a full mile in length; and the road
between them is of considerable breadth. For the con-
venience of these houses a large canal is cut at the back
of them, which communicates with the river. In warm
weather this canal becomes a great nuisance, owing to the
stagnated mud, and the quantity of filth which is con-
stantly thrown into it.
The roads and streets throughout the town are cov-
ered with broken bricks, which becomes consolidated and
makes a dry pathway even in rainy weather; indeed they
would here be impassable in wet weather without this pre-
caution, as all the roads in this country are formed from
the contents of the trenches, which are emptied every
ten or twelve months.
The Government-house, small and inconvenient for the
representative of majesty, is situated in this street*, hav-
ing immediately opposite to it a large wooden building,
which the Dutch call the barracks or gaol, and which is
generally too well filled with unfortunate culprits.

In the rear is a dark shed or black hole, in which the
criminal Negroes are confined, without light and conse-
quently without air, many of them for years after having
been proved guilty of the crime with which they are charg-

*-Lot 6 Brickdam and Manget Place. After disposing of this
property about the middle of last century Government has re-
cently re-acquired it.-Editor.


ed; as the Dutch law, which is still retained in these ceded
colonies, does not permit a culprit to be executed until he
himself confesses his guilt. Owing to this law, many of
these wretches die miserably in close confinement; for, so
sweet is life, that they suffer every torment and distress
rather than yield it of their own record.

The Court-house, an old tottering building, supported
with poles, is near the river, and consists of two apartments,
the upper used for the court, the lower as a place of divine
worship, in which service is performed every Sunday and
prayers are read, first by a Dutch and afterwards by an
English clergyman.

From the church may be seen the decayed and rotten
condition of the flooring of the Court-house, which is a
perfect emblem of the state of the laws in this Colony.

The river Demerara is navigable for ships of burden
for a considerable distance from its entrance, and its banks
were at one time cultivated for above one hundred miles
into the interior; but the planters, finding the lower parts
of the river and the sea-coast more profitable and con-
genial for the cultivation of cotton, sugar, and coffee, have
deserted the upper parts and settled nearer to the sea.

As no springs are to be met with, except in the interior
of the country, many miles from Stabroek and the sea-
coast, each house is provided with vats or cisterns and pipes
to conduct the rain-water from the roof; but, as this sup-
ply is inadequate to the wants of families during the dry
season, they are obliged to send, at an enormous expense,
a considerable distance up the country for clear water:
but this is so strongly impregnated with vegetable matter
as to be of a yellowish tint, and it is very pernicious to
the stomach which is unaccustomed to it.

The inhabitants, particularly the Dutch, sleep in ham-
mocks slung from the roof, having a thin muslin curtain


suspended over them to keep off the mosquitoes, which
abound in this country; whilst the slaves employed in
domestic labour lie promiscuously, male and female, rolled
up in their blankets on the hoards, in the passages, or on
the stairs.
The stores or shops are tolerably well supplied with
English articles every four or five months by the arrival
of merchant-ships; but these are generally sold at a most
exorbitant rate by the storekeepers, who exact for some
commodities one hundred per cent above the prime cost.
Fresh meat and vegetables are scarce, as the market is
only held on Sunday, that being generally a holiday for the
plantation Negroes, who bring in poultry, vegetables, and
fruit but in very small quantities. I have known a negro
walk eight or ten miles to sell a starved fowl, together with
a small basket of ocros*, yams, or peas, which are the only
vegetables they cultivate: and these they raise merely to
obtain the means of procuring tobacco, to which they are
passionately addicted, or some cheap kind of ornament for
their favourite fair.
The troops in garrison are regularly supplied twice a
week with fresh beef, which is contracted for, but is fre-
quently so bad that the soldiers refuse to eat it. The con-
tractor imports all his cattle from North America. These
are slaughtered immediately after their arrival, in a
starved and bruised state from their voyage, and generally
in a high fever from the heat of the climate.
The creole beef is furnished by an animal born and
reared in the country and taken great care of by the pro-
prietor; it is fat and tender, but difficult to be procured,
as it is generally fed by a few comfortable planters, who
take the trouble of breeding these cattle for their own table.
The creole sheep, which is covered with hair in the place

*- The ocro grows upon a very small shrub with oblong leaves,
and consists of a pod of a slimy, mucilaginous nature, and,
though disgusting in appearance when boiled, yet, being of a
ropy or glutinous quality, it makes a rich sauce when properly
seasoned.-T.S. St.C.


of wool, and has long pendent ears, likewise furnishes ex-
cellent meat: but the generality of the planters and rich
merchants, with the exception of but few of the Dutch
families who breed these cattle, seem to entertain but one
idea, in which all their thoughts and feelings are concen-
trated, and money, that prime necessary of human com-
fort, is their only object. To amass this they abide for
years in unwholesome and miserable situations, sacrific-
ing health and the best years of their lives in discomfort
and wretchedness, in the hope of returning to their native
country with a fortune.
The first thing generally done by a European on his
arrival in this country is to provide himself with a mis-
tress from among the blacks, mulattoes, or mestees, for
here they are to be found of all the different shades of

'The Sambo black, and the mulatto brown,
"The mestee fair, and the well-limbed quadroon."

The price varies from 100 to 150. Many of these
girls read and write; and most of them are free. Some of
them are tasteful and extravagant in their dress, but in-
violable in their attachment, and scarcely a particle of
inconstancy can ever be established against them. They
perform all the duties of a wife except presiding at table,
and their utility in domestic affairs, their cleanliness, and
their politeness, are acknowledged by all. Two of our
officers were living in barracks with two of these girls;
one in Demerara, Lieutenant Myers, had a beautiful young
mulatto, and Lieutenant Clark, in Berbice, had with him
a fine handsome black woman. Though I disapproved of
this system, which, on my first arrival, appeared to me an
outrage on common decency and propriety, it being neces-
sary in the army to set a good example to the soldiers-
for how was Hannibal's army ruined but by women and
luxury?-yet I was at last obliged to alter my opinion, as
I saw both the above-mentioned officers saved from certain


death by the uncommon care and attention which these two
girls paid to them during a violent attack of fever. Their
attachment to their partners was strong and sincere.
The natives in Surinam, as Stedman says in his Journal,
published in 1796, conceive it to be a rite of hospitality to
offer their daughters to strangers; and the girls in this
colony exult in" living with a European, whom in general
they serve with the utmost tenderness and fidelity. Nay,
so little is the practice condemned, that, while they con-
tinue faithful and constant to the protectors by whom they
are chosen, they are always countenanced and encouraged
by their nearest relations and friends, who call this a law-
ful marriage for the time it lasts.

From the excesses of their husbands, the creole or
white native ladies generally appear in widows' weeds at
a very early period, with the agreeable privilege of making
another choice, which they are not long in doing. It has
frequently happened that a widow has buried four hus-
bands, but it is rare to meet with a man who has survived
one wife. For this reason a good proverb prevails, that
"tropical ladies and tropical mosquitoes have an instinc-
tive preference for newly arrived Europeans."

In one of my rambles through the town of Stabroek,
I was one evening amused at the extraordinary conversa-
tion carried on between three black women: one of them
a. stout impudent-looking hussy, was standing in the road;
the second seated in the balcony of her house, fanning her-
self; the other, and older woman, was mounting the stair-
case. I was just in time to hear the last speech of Miss
Fanny, who exclaimed, and not in the most delicate man-

"Ante Seri, me tell you true; Miss Fanny, (this was
herself) no care for buckra. She bab my tree chintz
gown, my four muslin gown, my fine shawls, that cost me
a joe apiece, my two nigger-wenches (meaning slaves-she
herself was as black as a coal) my house in Tabroek, my
two sows in pig, and my tree chests full of good fine
clothes. Buckra, me no care for you. Me, me- me--isa


Fanny. You think me tand like dem cra-era girls. Kabba,
kabba, me Miss Fanny."
This speech ended with a toss of her head in the air,
to show that Miss Fanny did pride herself a little upon
her wealth; and, tucking up her blue petticoat behind,
and showing a pair of legs stout enough to carry the body
of an ox, away she strutted to take her evening promenade,
opening a green parasol to shade her delicate complexion
from the sun.
Her dress was like that of most of the free black
women of this country. A clean white handkerchief is tied
round the head, something like a turban; on the top of
this is placed a little black, red, or yellow hat, so ex-
ceedingly small, as if made for a little infant, which is
stuck on in its place by means of a long pin, run through
it and the turban. A short white bedgown, without any
stay, was the only upper garment; a blue petticoat with
bright coloured borders, black legs, and coloured shoes,
of which they are as fond as the Spanish ladies, completed
her equipment.
This poor black creature thought as much of herself
as any princess in Europe could have done; and such is
ghe effect of riches all the world over: for, had they
consisted only in what she had just stated, it was enough
t,o make her a person of great consequence among her
tawny neighbours. I often say with Solomon:- "Vanity
of vanities all is vanity."
The colony of Demerara, which derives its name from
the river, is bounded on the east by the Albany creek*;
Ihis takes its course from the interior of the country, and,
running in a northerly direction, empties itself into the
Atlantic Ocean. The western limits are marked by the
small Bonnosique", a distance of twenty miles up the great

*-The Author is of course referring to the Abary River.-Editor.
*-Bonasika River, 16 miles up the Essequebo. Boesicay is of
course Boerasiri River. This is the first mention I have come
across of the shifting of the boundary between Demerara and
Essequibo. At the present day it has reverted back to Boe-


river Essequebo: formerly the Boesicay creek was the
western boundary, but by an act passed by Governor Ben-
tinck, in 1806, it was extended to the present limits.

The southerly limits are undetermined, being a bound-
less tract of almost impenetrable forest, thinly inhabited
by the wild Indians, through which innumerable small
creeks and rivers take their winding course, and empty
themselves, with a few exceptions into the larger streams,
such as the Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice, Corantine, and
Surinam. All these run in a northerly direction at a rate
of six or seven knots an hour, and in the rainy season even
at ten knots, entering the sea with such force as to dis-
colour the water of the ocean to an astonishing distance
from land. Owing to the strong current, of these rivers, a
bank of mud is generally formed across the channel, about
six or seven miles from its entrance, which circumstance
renders the navigation of these rivers difficult to those un-
acquainted with the nature of the coast. The bar of Dem-
erara has, at low water, eleven feet, and rises to eighteen.
The bottom, being soft, does not injure vessels, which fre-
quently run on it, and wait for the tide to float them off.

The Colony of Essequebo adjoins to Demerara, being
under the same Governor, and is our most leeward posses-
sion in this country. The creek or river, called Morocco*,
is the boundary line between this colony and the Spanish
Main, which is not far from the Pomeroon* creek.

*-Moruca and Pomeroon Rivers are referred to. The boundary
between the Colony and Venezuela as anally declined is as
follows* "From the summit of Mt. Roraima in a straight line
to the source of the Wenamu River, thence down the mid-
stream of the Wenamu River to the Cuyuni River, thence
down the thalweg of the Cuyuni River to the mouth of the
Akarabisi River thence up the Midstream of the Akarabisi
River to its source, thence along the watershed of the Barama
and Cuyuni Rivers, Barima and Cuyuni Rivers and Barama
and Aguirre Rivers to the source of the Amakura River,
thence down the midstream of the Amakura River, to the
mouth of the Haiowa Creek, thence in a straight line to the
source of the Mururuma Creek, thence down the midstream of
the Mururuma Creek to its mouth, thence in a straight line to
the coast at Punta Playa."-Editor.


Besides the four great rivers above-named, there are
numerous smaller ones, called, in this country, creeks, but
which in Europe would be considered large riverst

The principal of them is the Mahaica which runs about
twenty miles to windward of the Demerara, between that
river and the Albany creek. At the entrance of the Mahaica
is a small military post, with a battery of two guns, to
prevent a surprise from an enemy by sea, and it is at
present commanded by Lieutenant McBeth of the Royals.

From its being rather more openly situated to the
breeze of the trade-winds than any other place in these
colonies, it has been considered the most healthy spot in
this part of the country, and all the convalescents from
the garrison in Demerara, and sometimes Berbice, are sent
thither for recovery, and generally with good effect*.

The Mahaicony0 creek is likewise on the east or wind-
ward coast, and not very far from the Mahaica.

The Boesary is on the leeward coast, near the river
Essequibo. Others, too numerous to mention here, empty
themselves into the large rivers as tributary streams$.

I made frequent inquiries after our unfortunate ship
the Brilliant, and now heard that she had been emptied of
her cargo, which was landed in safety by colonial boats;
that every trial had been made to remove her from her

t-At the present day the official rule is to designate any stream
approximating ten miles or more a river, smaller ones, creeks-
*_ The salubrity of Mahaica is mentioned by Bolingbroke. See
-'A Voyage to the Demerary", Guiana Edition, Page 132.-Editor.
- The Mahaicony River enters the ocean thirteen miles east of
the Mahaica.-Editor.
z- "The Daily Chronicle's" Gazetteer of British Guiana names over
three hundred rivers, i.e. streams over ten miles in length.-

Mahaica Military Post in 1823
(From Bryant's "Account of an Insurrection of the Negro Slaves" the first book printed in Demerara).

~- qc~i

-~I -


perilous position, but without success, as she became each
day deeper embedded in the sand; and the crew, having
previously taken out her masts, spars, and rigging, left
the hull to its fate. The captain returned home a passenger
in the Ariadne, and what he lost for his want of fore-
sight I have never been able to ascertain.


Journey to Berbice with Colonel Nicholson-Mr. Cum-
mings' Estate._Mr. Heathcot's Description of the
House-Little Johnny-The Negro Huts-The
Plantain Tree-The Banana-The Peccary-
Cane-fields-Shooting Guinea-fowt-The Shaddock-
The Forbidden Fruit-The Grenadilla-The Marrow-
pear-Troop of Baboons-Description of a Sugar
Plantation-Sugar-mitls-Method of Planting the
Canes-Invasion of Sugar Estates by Wild Animals.

My name now appeared in regimental orders to proceed
to Berbice, to join the 7th Company, to which I was
appointed; and on the 9th January, 1806, I left Demerara
with our commanding officer, Colonel Nicholson, who was
kind enough to offer me a seat in his gig. No such things
as inns or public accommodation are to be met with on the
roads in this wild country, and we therefore stopped to
refresh ourselves and horses at such planters' houses as we
found most convenient, and they all received us with mark-
ed attention and liberal hospitality.

We halted the first day to refresh the horses at Mr.
Cummings' estate, upon which stood the fatal windmills
that the Brilliant was doomed to miss on her entrance
to the Demerara, and thence proceeded to Mr. Heathcot's
sugar plantation, on the Mahaica creek. Before reaching
it we got wet to the skin, which is a common occurrence
with travellers in the rainy season in this climate; for here
it never rains but it pours, and I will defy great-coats or
cloaks to resist it. We were detained for three days at
this plantation, owing to the heavy rains, which fell with-
out intermission; and nothing pleased me more, during my
sojourn here, than to observe the great attention and esteem
shewn by all the members of Mr. Heathcot's family to my
commanding officer. Immediately on our arrival, they hur-


ried us up to our rooms to change our wet clothes; and, after
partaking of a good dinner, with a few dishes which I had
never before seen or heard of, we concluded the evening with
a rubber at whist. The next morning I found my boots and
clothes placed in my room, and commenced dressing myself.
I had scarcely begun to pull on one of the boots, when, with
a loud crash, like the tearing of brown paper, the leg sep-
arated from the foot, and I found that Master Mungo, the
house attendant, having been over anxious to dry them well
for me to put on in the morning, had placed them so near a
large wood fire that he had completely burned them to a
cindei'. Fortunately I had a pair of shoes with me in the
gig, which supplied their place, nor would I mention for the
world what had happened, as I feared that the whip might
be applied to poor Mungo's back in recompense for his

As the sugar-cane will not thrive on the sea-coast, this
plantation was situated a few miles up the creek and buried
in the wood, a very large space of which had been cleared
ready for cultivation. The house was raised above the
damps of the earth, in the manner that I have already
stated all the buildings in the colony to be, on upright
posts fixed in the ground, upon which were laid strong
beams, and on these was built the dwelling-house, con-
sisting of a dining-room, withdrawing-room, and the
planter's own room, on the first floor; which all com-
municated with a central passage, running directly
through the building from the front entrance to the back
door. The floor above was laid out in six small bed-rooms:
and on descending from the back door there was a yard
bordered on three sides by low wooden buildings, one side
of which was occupied by the kitchen and offices, for some
Negro servants; a second, by the stables; and the third
side by storerooms. This day the rain never ceased pouring,
and I found it rather dull to be obliged to make up a
fourth at a whist table from breakfast-time till dinner.

The next morning set in with the usual accompaniment
of torrents of rain, which never ceased until the third


morning when we were at breakfast, the sun then making
his appearance through the dark clouds: but it was deter-
mined by our colonel not to start until the following morn-
ing, in order to give time to the waters to make their way
into the sea.
Whilst at breakfast, Mr. Heathcot sent for little 3
Johnny, and gave him orders to shoot two or three guinea-
fowl, in which sport I offered to accompany him. On our
way to the back of the plantation, with little Johnny's gun
in my hand, shortly after leaving the house, we passed
through rows of small Negro huts, among which I could
only observe a few emaciated, sick, and even pale-looking,
Negroes-I say pale, as it was easy to observe an unwhole-
some whiteness even through their thick black skins. A
number of fine children were gambolling along the road,
and, on seeing me approach, scampered off to hide them-
selves, just as wild animals do from their pursuer. All
the healthy Negroes were at work on the estate.
A few fine plantain trees completed the picture, as
they were seen now and then drooping their luxuriant
foliage over the humble huts, which were composed of the
palm-leaves from the manicolo tree, twisted and beautifully
worked together.
The plantain tree grows to the height of from sixteen
to twenty feet, throwing out its leaves in the form of an
umbrella from the top of its stem. They are of a shining
seagreen till they fade, when they hang down in tatters, as
their places are supplied by the young ones, which open and
expand from the top. From the centre of these grows a
strong stalk about three feet long, that bends downward
with the weight of its purple head, which exactly resembles
a calf's heart, and on this stalk grow the plantains in the
shape of cucumbers, to the number of one hundred more or
less, in what is usually called a bunch, each tree bearing
no more than one of these at a time.
This fruit, being divested of its husk, when green, has
in the inside a pale yellow farinaceous substance, which,


when either boiled or roasted, serves the Negroes as a
substitute for bread. It has an agreeable taste, and is
wholesome. When it is ripe the inside turns yellow and
soft, and may be eaten raw, having a rather agreeable
flaseur: but, when arrived at this degree of maturity, it
is only used by way of dessert.
There is another species of ,the plantain called banana,
which differs only in its fruit being smaller and more
oval. This is never eaten until it becomes ripe, when it
has the flavour of musk, and is, of course, considered by far
the more delicate, though not so useful as the first.
Near to some of their huts I perceived a few pig-sties.
In one of these I observed a young wild boar, of the kind
called, in this country, the peccary, or Mexican hog. This
species is supposed to be indigenous to Guiana, and will
not interim with either the wild or domestic hog; it is
remarkable for having an orifice on the back, from which
oozes a fetid liquor. Some compare it to musk, but in reality
it is so very disagreeable that the instant the animal is
killed the natives cut away the part with a knife, to pre-
vent its infecting the flesh and rendering it uneatable.
The length of this animal is about three feet when
full grown. It has no tail, exceedingly fine limbs, short
tusks, and whitish grey bristles, which on the back are
very long, whilst on the sides and belly they are both
short and thinly scattered. These creatures have a
light-coloured mark, which comes down from the should-
ers on each side of the breast somewhat like a horse-
ers on each side of the breast somewhat like a horse-
collar. They are frequently met with in the woods, where
they run in large droves, and when irritated they are
exceedingly vicious and mischievous. Their grunt is loud
and disagreeable.*
All the. Negro huts which I now passed through were
standing with doors or windows open, which proved to
SThe animal described by the author is the Collared Peccary or
Abouya (Dicotyles torquatus). See "Animal Life in British Gui-
pna" by Vincent Roth, Guiana Edition-Editor,


me that the practice of house-breaking was not known in
this country, or rather that they were not possessed of
anything worth stealing; as I afterwards found that theft is
one of the natural propensities of human nature, and
stronger in the savage than in the educated man.
We next passed through fields of sugar-canes, which
were growing in great luxuriance; and little Johnny,
directing me to keep on the straight road, dashed into one
of them, and, perceiving his movements by the shaking of
the canes, I followed parallel to him. The noise of guinea-
fowl on the wing soon attracted my attention, and observ-
ing them, flying across the road at a short distance in
front of me, I took aim and killed the last of them. Johnny
now returned to me, while loading the gun, to ascertain
my skill in using it: no sooner did he see the bird lying
on the road, then he exclaimed in rapture: "Buckra, him danr
well kill" and grinning, whilst he displayed a beautiful
set of white teeth, off he ran, laughing and clapping his
hands, to bring in the game. "Now, Johnny," said I, "you
must go after the birds and drive them back again," but
he, not liking the task, shook his head and answered,
"Massa, him gane." Pointing higher up, and further to
the left, he said : "Massa, him plenty dere". We proceeded
nearly to the forest, and, turning to the left, we now enter-
,sd groves of trees bearing the most delicious fruits. The
beautiful plantain and banana tree abounded here whilst
on each side of the road were rows of the shaddock, the
forbidden fruit, the grenadilla, the marrow-pear, etc.
The shaddock is supposed to have been transplanted
from Guinea by a Captain Shaddock, whose name it still
bears throughout the West Indies. The fruit has all the
appearance of belonging to the orange species, and ix
divided in the same manner by a thin skin into several
quarters: but it is as large as a melon, and of a most
algreeable and refreshing flavour between sweet and acid.
The outer coat, or skin, is extremely thick, of a bitterish
taste, and a pale yellow or citron colour, very like in
appearance to the skin of a lemon. There are two species
of the shaddock.The pulp or inside of one is white, that of


the other a beautiful pale red. The last is considered the
most wholesome. This fruit a European may indulge in
with safety and it is almost the only one in this climate,
excepting the orange, that will not injure him on his first
The forbidden fruit is a species of the shaddock, only
smaller and more delicate, while the outer skin is less
coarse. Its juice and the flavour of the outside are quite
delicious in a West Indian climate.

The grenadilla is another excellent fruit, contained in a
green soft husk, which is produced by a large passion-
flower. The husk is filled with a sweet and most agreeable
liquid, having the seeds in the centre; and the manner of
eating it is to cut off one of the ends, and mix up in it
Madeira wine and sugar, stirring it all up together; this
renders it safe and wholesome for the stomach. It is of the
size of a small melon.

The marrow-pear in this country is called the avogato,
or vegetable marrow, from its resemblance to this sub-
stance, and is produced on a tree about the size of the
European walnut-tree. The fruit is in form like an English
pear, of a light green colour, contained in a thin skin,
which, when cut open, exhibits a substance exactly resem-
bling marrow, having a kernel in its centre. The pulp is
generally eaten with pepper and salt, and is certainly a
delicious morsel.

The fine perfume from flowers and fruits now saluting
my senses made me loiter to examine their quality, when
Johnny exclaimed, "Massa, cookee want him". This hint
made me push on to a piece of ground covered with guinea-
corn, into which he again sprang, and soon started five or
six more guinea-fowl, one of which I easily shot. This
he seized by the head and started for home. I followed him
down a straight road leading back to Mr. Heathcot's house
when a loud and furious scream, from the top of one of
the trees, startled me, and induced me to stand still:


"Him dam macoco," said little. Johnny. "Heree, heree,
Massa, heree him run." I looked where he pointed, and saw
nearly fifty large baboons, scouring, from the tops of the
fruit-trees across the road, towards the forest, having
taken the alarm from their sentinel, who had been perched
on the top of a high tree to keep a look-out on the enemy
while the rest regaled themselves; and, not having loaded
my gun after the last shot, I now lost the opportunity of
bringing down one of these animals.*
The fourth morning was ushered in tolerably fine, the
rains having partially ceased; and the colonel determined
to pursue his journey on horseback; that is to say, that I
should ride his gig-horse, and himself his old bay charger;
leaving his servant, Ogilvie, with the gig, until the horse
should return for him.
Before leaving this estate I cannot help giving a short
account of a sugar plantation. Its mills were worked by the
waters of the Mahaica creek. On some few estates in this
country, where water is scarce, they are worked by mules
or cattle, while those in the West India islands are gener-
ally worked by the wind.
The machinery consists of three large rollers, either of
iron or stone; and so very dangerous is the work of those
Negroes who feed these rollers, that, should even one of
their fingers be caught between them, which happens some-
times from carelessness, the whole arm, and sometimes
even part of the body, is: instantly drawn in and shattered
to pieces. A hatchet is generally kept in readiness to chop
off the limb before the mill can be stopped.

When the juice is extracted from the cane, it is convey-
ed by wooden pipes, or grooved beams, to the boiling-
'h'ouse, where it is received in a cistern, and thence con-
ducted into the first copper cauldron, filtering through a
small grating, to keep back the trash which may have

* The so-called Baboon of Guiana is the Red Howling Monkey
(Mycetes seniculus) and not a true baboon at all. See "Animal
Life in British Guiana" by Vingent Roth, Guiana Edition-Eitor.


escaped from the mill. Here it is allowed to boil for some
time, and after being scummed it is ladled into the next
cauldron, and so on, till the fifth boils it sufficiently. Oppo-
site to these boilers are the coolers, which are large, square
flat-bottomed, wooden vessels, such as I have seen used in
Scotland for crystallizing salt: into these the liquid sugar
is now poured and left to cool.

Near these coolers are placed, in rows, hogsheads into
which the sugar, when perfectly cold, is thrown; they hav-
ing holes bored through their bottoms to permit the escape
of the molasses, which, as it drops from them, is conveyed
into a square cistern placed underneath the flooring to
receive it.
Adjoining this apartment is the distillery, in which the
dross or scum of the boilers, with molasses, is converted
into a kind of rum called kill-devil. Every estate in these
colonies keeps its own boats and other craft for the convey-
ance of its produce for embarkation to Europe, having a
covered dock to keep them under.

The sugar estates in these colonies generally consist of
six hundred to a thousand acres. The land is divided into
squares of considerable extent, where pieces of cane, about
one foot long, are stuck into the ground in rows. They
usually plant them in the rainy season, when the earth is
well soaked; and the shoots, that spring from their joints,
take about twelve or sixteen months to arrive at maturity,
when they turn yellow, are about the thickness of a man's
wrist, and from eight to fourteen feet in height, exhibiting
a beautiful appearance. Their leaves, of a pale green and
of considerable length, hang down and fade as the cane
becomes ready for cutting.
The principal work of the slaves after planting is
to keep the ground clear of weeds, which would other-
wise impoverish the produce. Some sugar estates have
four hundred and some a thousand Negroes employed
upon them, and derive an annual income from their
labour of from 8,000 to 20,000. The cultivation, the


grinding, and the boiling, of the sugarcane, are the most
harassing work required by any of the productions in
this climate; and, though the cotton and coffee estates
might, perhaps, be worked by white men accustomed
to the torrid zone, yet sugar can only be produced by
the Blacks.

All the sugar estates in these colonies are closely
surrounded by the uncultivated forest, whence herds of
wild deer, wild hogs, and monkeys, sally forth, and
commit such ravages, that frequently all the Negroes are
called out to hunt them off the property back into the


Road from Demerara to Berbice_SceneryThe Cotton
Plant_Method of Cultivation.-Spinaing Cotton-
Berbice River.-York RedoubtFort St. Andreiws
Reception of the Author and his dog Pincher-The
Garrison Boat-New Amsterdam.-Negro Girls
Bathing-Captain Yates Lieutenant Torrens-
Ensign Middleton, the Walking Army List-Sporting
Propensity of Captain Yates-Crab Island-Great
Height of the Trees-Anecdote of a Parrot-The
Egrette-The Red-headed Woodpecker-Vindication of
that Bird from the charge of injuring trees-The
Knife-grinder, or Rhinoceros beetle-Rat-hunting-
Extraordinary Method of Bagging this kind of Game

The road from Demerara to Berbice runs at no great
distance from the sea-shore in front of the plantations;
the owners of which are obliged to repair and keep in
order that part of which borders their own property.

It is the duty of the fiscal, who now and then visits
different parts of the colony for the purpose, to see that
the roads are kept in good repair; and such owners of
estates as neglect their portion he immediately fines,
reserving one-third of the amount as his own perquisite.*

In dry weather there cannot be finer roads in any
country; they are then smooth and level as a bowling-green,
without a stone or bill: but in the rainy season, owing to
the quantity of clay, they frequently become impassable,
which we now found to be the case, the horses sinking up to

*-For further details of this system see Dr. Pinckard's "Letters
from Guiana," Guiana Edition, page 328.-Editor.


their knees at every step.0 The scenery we passed through
on this journey, for a distance of eighty miles, had not the
least variety, being a continued line of cotton plantations
along the sea-coast, with here and there a stiff wooden
building, painted white and green, the forest in the back-
ground being the only relief.

The cotton shrub was first planted on this coast about
the year 1735; but it was not cultivated to any great
advantage until the year 1752. Though there are several
different species of this plant, I shall confine myself to
the one grown in this country, which is a tree about six
or eight feet high, and bears in the first twelvemonth after
planting, producing two crops annually. Its leaves in shape
much resemble those of the vine, and are of a bright green.
The flower was of a delicate yellow, and the cotton is form-
ed in a large round green pod, which opens when the seed
becomes ripe, and discloses the contents as white as flakes
of snow. In the middle of this are a quantity of small
black seeds, which are scattered by the wind, the cotton
being intended by nature to act as their support through
the air, as is the case with many of our European seeds.
This plant will prosper in any of the tropical climates,
and produce most profitable crops, if not injured by heavy
rains, being easily cultivated and with little expense. The
separation of the seed from the pulp, or cotton, is also no
qreat trouble; after this it is ready for packing into bales
of between three and four hundred pounds weight each
for transportation.

A good cotton estate will make about 25,000 pounds
weight at each crop, and the average price is from eight
pence to two shillings per pound; this variation in price
is of a course owing to the abundance or scarcity of the
season. The Indian women, natives of this country, and

In October 1833 Major-General Sir Benjamin D'Urban, K.C.B., who
had just returned from these colonies, informed me that these
roads are now excellent, being repaired with brick as the streets
were in Stabroek in my time.-T. S. St. .


the African slave, use a rock and spindle, with which they
work this substance into threads, just I have seen the
common Scotch lassie in Edinburgh working with hemp;
but, the use of linen not being known among them, they
have not the art of weaving it into sheets, table-cloths,
and bed-linen; though they contrive, with their rough
machinery, to form it into handsome, hammocks, which they
dispose of at high prices.

On this journey we passed the Mahaica creek, the
Mahaicony creek, and the Abary Creek, by means of a
large boat, pulled over by an old Negro. These small
rivers were uncommonly deep, and their waters all of a
dark brown colour, or almost black, owing to the quantity
of leaves from the trees, and other vegetable matter,
which fall into them. The Abary is the frontier of the
Demerara colony.

We did not reach the ferry-house, situate on the left
bank of the Berbice river, before the 15th of January;
and, finding the garrison-boat waiting for us, we
immediately crossed to Fort St. Andrews, in time for
We rode the colonel's horses into a small redoubt, con-
taining a party of artillerymen, and gave them in charge to
the serjeant who commanded. This is called York Re-
doubt, and was placed in this situation to defend the left
entrance to this river. The channel, on the right of Crab
island, which is the principal entrance for ships of burden,
is defended by Fort St. Andrews. A signal post to com-
municate down the coast with Demerara is erected on this
small redoubt, and the signals are carried on by means of
artillerymen stationed on different plantations, within
sight of each other.

Fort St. Andrews is situated on the right bank of the
river Berbice, nearly opposite the York Redoubt; and, on
our approaching it, we distinctly saw the officers of this

Visrr N~w AmsTEaDAM

garrison collecting near the landing place to welcome back
their commanding officer, who was a great favourite with
them all. I soon went through an introduction to my new
friends, some of whom appeared to be pleasant fellows; but
my poor dog Pincher who had followed me from the boat,
was not quite as well received by the garrison curs, who,
smelling him to be a stranger, made a bold and sudden
attack on him. The poor fellow defended himself bravely,
but was nearly overcome by numbers, when some of the
young officers rushed to his assistance, and separated the

I found a room in the barracks, which were situated
close to and on the outside of the fort, ready prepared for
my quarters; and my baggage, which had arrived two days
before in a colonial schooner, all arranged in it; so that
in half an hour after my arrival my bed was put up, and
I was as comfortable, with my things about me, as any of
my brother officers who had been for years in the same

Immediately after breakfast the next morning, the
colonel ordered the garrison boat, which was a complete
Dutch-built concern, to convey us to the settlement of New
Amsterdam, to wait upon the governor. This boat, though
large and commodious, was rapidly pulled against the
stream by six stout Negroes, who tugged very manfully at
the oar, all singing and keeping time with the splash of the
water. Their method of rowing was to stand up at each
pull and fall back again upon the seats, thus adding the
weight of their bodies to the strength of their arms.

On nearing the Government House, I observed a long
wooden pier, which ran out for some distance, supported
on stakes, and perceived a number of young women of col-
our jumping from it stark naked. They crowded round
the boat, dashing about us just like dolphins in all direc-
tions, some tumbling in the water like the porpoise, others,
floating on their backs and trying to splash us. Good


humour was so forcibly depicted on their countenances,
that I felt my own feature beginning to relax, which the
old colonel observing, burst into a laugh exclaiming:
"Well, Johnny Newcome, this sight makes the blacks
white in your eyes."

On gaining the top of the pier, we had to pass among
several of these girls, some taking off and others putting
on the only garment they wore, which was a petticoat. All
these young women were slaves belonging to government,
and inhabited huts a short distance in the rear of the
house, which is near the river, in the centre of the town.
After undergoing an introduction to the governor, General
Murray, we returned to the fort to dinner.

I soon formed an intimacy with my brother officers,
among whom I found three or four excellent companions:
Captain Yates, at present a general officer in our service,
a more extraordinary or amusing character never existed,
Lieut Torrens, related to the late Sir Henry of that name,
adjutant-general to the forces, an Irishman full of wit and
humour, but who unfortunately some years afterwards was
killed in North America; and Ensign Middleton or, as -we
then called him, the walking Army List, from his extraor-
dinary faculty of remembering the names, rank, and regi-
ments, of individuals, who at this moment is a lieutenant-
colonel at the Maidstone Cavalry depot, under the gallant
Colonel Brotherson.

Yates was, of all people I ever met with, the most
determined sportsman: his whole time and thoughts were
given up to the chase, and he soon enlisted me under his
banner, notwithstanding the advice of Colonel Nicholson,
who informed me that nothing was more pernicious to a
European constitution than exposure to the damps and
heats of this climate.

Crab island, which lay off the fort, was for a length of
time the scene of our sports. It abounded with green par-


rots, and all that we killed was given to the messman for the
purpose of making into a dish called here pepper-pot,
which supplied our breakfast.
In these expeditions we were frequently up to our
armpits in mud and water, under a vertical sun, and
constantly beset with a host of mosquitoes, which would
nearly devour us alive. Still we persevered in scrambling
through the wood, which consisted of very tall trees, but
absolutely valueless, owing to the softness of the timber,
caused by the lowness of the island. Of the height of
these trees some notion may be formed from the follow-
ing circumstance: Captain Yates, having fired at a
parrot, seated on a branch at the top of one of them, the
bird was a little surprised at the report of the gun. and,
cunningly putting his head on one side, looked down to
see what we were about; then, turning round, he com-
menced pluming his feathers as if nothing had happened.
This species is the common green and yellow parrot, or
papagui, of Guiana, which abounded on this island.
The snow-white egrette was another of the birds
which frequented it, and takes its name from the delicate
and beautiful plume on its breast, which adorns the heads
of the lovely females in all the courts of Europe. This
charming bird is rather smaller than a heron, which it
resembles in shape, the bill being black. They were so
abundant on this coast that at last we became tired of
firing at them, though they were so easily shot.*
Frequently the hammering of the red-headed wood-
pecker resounded through the stillness of the scene, so
loudly that we never could have supposed it to proceed
from the bill of a bird. We often met with it at all hours
of the day, as these birds have no particular time for
feeding, which must arise from the difficulty of their pro-
viding themselves with food. The noise they make against
the trunk of a tree exactly resembles the blow of a wood-
man's axe to ascertain its soundness. There are numerous
These birds are now strictly protected in the Colony.-Editor.


species of this bird, from the size of a pigeon down to that
of a wren. All of these are beautiful, and the heads of
some of them ornamented with a crest, which is movable
at pleasure.

This unfortunate bird has been most wrongfully
accused of injuring the precious and stately timber to be
met with on the estates of rich proprietors in Europe as
well as America; but, had he the power possessed by
Ovid's birds, in days of yore he would thus address them:

"Mighty lords of the earth, your cruelty to me is
great. Why hunt me to death? You bring me down head-
long from the trees in your forest, shot by the fire of
your guns. at the very moment that I am working in your
service. I have never injured a leaf of your property,
and much less damaged your wood. Watch me only for
one day, and you will find that I never wound a sound
tree; for, if I did so, I must perish from starvation,
as the healthy bark would occupy too much of my time to
force by bill through it, and, after succeeding, I should
find nothing suitable to my taste, or digestible for my
stomach. I sometimes visit them, it is true. but a knock
soon informs me if it is necessary or not to proceed; and
if you would but attentively listen to my labour, the
sound which my bill causes would infallibly inform you
whether I am working on a sound or an unhealthy tree.
Neither the wood nor the bark is my food. I live wholly
upon the insects which form a lodgment in the diseased
covering; and, when the sound tells that my prey is near
I labour to get at it, and by consuming it prevent further

"Thus it is that I discover for you your enemies, who,
hidden and unsuspected, destroy your timber in secrecy;
nor can you have the smallest suspicion of their being
"The hole which I make through the bark to get at
the pernicious vermin will be seen by you when passing


near the tree. Take it as a signal to inform you that your
timber has stood too long. It is past its prime; millions of
little insects, engendered by disease, are preying on its
vitals, and ere long it must fall a useless log. Cut down
the rest in time, and spare the inoffensive woodpecker.

"For, if there be in your breast a spark of that feeling
which, they say, man possesses, surely you cannot con-
demn a poor afflicted sufferer without inquiry into the
justice or injustice of the accusation which is preferred
against him."

The largest sized woodpecker which we generally met
with was bigger than a thrush, of a cinnamon colour,
speckled with dark brown and yellow; near the rump, it is
entirely yellow. The head is crested, having a fine crown
of small feathers: when erected, the under ones are
crimson. The tail is long and black, the bill straight, the
legs and iris of the eyes of a sea-green colour, under which,
on each side, are two beautiful spots of crimson.

The knife-grinder, or rhinoceros beetle, was an insect
which surprised me perhaps more than any other in this
country. A thousand knife-grinders at work at the same
moment could not equal their noise. I first heard them on
this island, and I never shall forget my astonishment.
They are generally upwards of two inches in length, and
move about in flocks. They exactly resemble a European
beetle, only they are larger and have an enormous horn
projecting from the end of the nose. With this and an un-
der one they contrive to seize the young branch of a tree,
and, by giving their bodies an impetus with their wings,
they soon get themselves into a circular motion, which
they continue with rapidity until the wood is completely
sawed through by means of their horns. During this
operation, the noise they make is exactly that of the
knife-grinder holding steel against the stone of his wheel.
They were so high among the branches of the trees that I
never could take one, or ascertain what they worked for.


We generally returned to Fort St. Andrews covered with
mud, but always in time to wash and dress ourselves for
the mess-dinner; and when we did not spend our morning
in the woods, or savannah, which surrounded our fort,
Yates would go rat-hunting in the trenches, where abun-
dance of these animals bury themselves in holes. One of his
quick little terriers, of which he kept twenty, would com-
mence almost immediately scraping and yelping, when his
master with a piece of stick would soon remove the clay
which covered the hole, until he succeeded in forcing his
hand into it, and I have frequently seen him pull out of
one nest two and sometimes three large water-rats. These
he would introduce between the frills of his shirt, which he
kept closed with his left hand to prevent their escaping.
After collecting a dozen of these disagreeable animals,
which were to be seen running round and round his naked
body, under his shirt, with their sharp claws sticking into
his skin, and one of them, perhaps, peeping up from behind
the collar of his shirt close under his ear, he would walk
leisurely into the middle of the parade-ground, where,
standing surrounded by his dogs, he contrived to take out
one rat after another, and throwing them on the ground,
would occasion a general hunt and scramble among the
dogs to the amusement of us all. Such was his nature for
handling animals, that I believe there was none, though
ever so venomous, that he would not seize; nor did I ever
see him receive an injury from any.


Fort St. Andrews-The Savannah-New Amsterdam
Boundaries of Berbice-Soil-Climate-Seasons-
Diseasei -Garrison-Lieutenant Dudgeon--Vice of
Drunkenness-Captain Campbell-The Berbice River-
Fort Myers-Aspect of the Country-Canje River-
Trade of Berbice-Captain Yates and the Rattlesnake
-Invasion of Red Ants-Death of a Pet Deer.

Fort St. Andrews, like Fort William Frederick, in the
Demerara River, is a small low fortification, consisting of
four bastions, surrounded by a ditch or fosse, and mounted
with eighteen twelve-pounders. It is nearly four miles
from the entrance of the river, and two miles from the
settlement of New Amsterdam.

In the rear of this fort is an extensive savannah, or
swamp, over which the trade-wind constantly blows, con-
veying with it, at particular seasons, a collection of putrid
and unwholesome vapours, which are exhaled by the heat
of the sun, and produce too frequently many dangerous
disorders among the garrison, which consisted at fhis time
of four companies of the Royals, and four companies of the
4th West India Regiment.

The town of New Amsterdam is two miles above the
fort, from which it is separated by the Canje river or creek,
which emptied itself into the Berbice.

As I have before stated, the northerly boundary of this
colony is the sea. The southerly, as in the rest of our
settlements in Guiana, is undetermined; as the Europeans
in this country seem to be afraid of leaving the sea-shore,

apparently anxious not to expose themselves to the fury
of the native Indians, or to the vengeance of their black


slaves, and therefore keeping within sight of their ship-
ping. Their general opinion is, that the land proper for
cultivation does not extend more than one hundred miles
from the sea.,

The westerly limit is marked by the Abary creek,
already described, which separates this colony from Dem-
erara. The easterly boundary extends to the western bank
of the Corantine river. The Surinam government claimed
on the part of Holland, the sea-coast as formerly, to
Devil's Creek, half-way between the Corantine and Ber-
bice rivers. An investigation has since taken place, and
decided in favour of the Berbice government*.

The distance of the sea-coast now within this colony
from the Abary creek to the Corantine river is about eighty

The soil throughout these colonies differs materially
in quality and nature, some parts of it being suitable for
the cultivation of sugar, others for coffee, and the sea-
coast is generally preferred for the growth of cotton, and
considered as good land for this production as any in the

Berbice lies in latitude 6.V25' North. The heat is not
cessive, though so near the line, as the sea-breeze arises
at ten o'clock in the morning, and generally refreshes, the
atmosphere till four in the afternoon, at which time it
ceases, and the heat becomes oppressive: at sunset it again
freshens up, and continues during the night, which sets in
as soon as the sun is down, for in this climate they have
no twilight.

*-Devil's Creek was a small stream a little beyond Pin. Port
Mourant and appears to have been canalized since. The moving
of the boundary was the result of an amicable settlement be-
tween Governor Van Battenburg of Berbice and Governor
Frederici of Surinam about the year 1800 which subsequently
was confirmed by the Home Government.-Editor.


The thermometer, which I kept in a shady part of my
room, was generally from 76' to 77' in the morning, and
from 82* to 84 at noon.

The seasons are divided into two rainy and two dry
ones. The short rainy season commences about the end of
November, and continues until the middle of February,
when the short dry season follows. This is by far the most
pleasant and healthy time of the year, but it is of short
duration, as in the month of May heavy falls of rain suc-
ceed till August, when the long dry season sets in and lasts
till November. From the month of June to that of Sep-
tember, this climate is very unfavourable to health; and
other parts of the year are tolerably good.

The yellow fever, which has so fatally raged in the
islands, has very rarely made its appearance in this part
of the South American continent.*

The garrison of Fort St. Andrews at present consists
of nearly tw~o hundred and fifty men, composed of detach-
ments of the Royals, and of the 4th West India Regiment
have nearly an equal number, who are generally healthy-
the greatest number of men being lost by their own intem-
perance, from indulging too freely in that vile beverage,
rum, which is here to be had so reasonable that there is no
possibility of keeping them from drinking it.

One of the officers whom I found here, Lieutenant
Dudgeon, 4th West India Regiment, used to turn out for
morning parade as drunk as when he tumbled into a sol-
dier's hammock in which he slept at night. At the end of
six months he killed himself by drinking rum; and I have
often heard him, when he could say nothing else, stammer
out: "Drunkenness is a bewitching devil, a pleasant
poison, and a sweet sin."

*-The Author is rather too optimistic in this respect. See Dr.
Pinckard's "Letters from Guian", Guiana Edition.-EitQ.


This unfortunate man served only in this garrison to
be held up as an example to the other individuals who had
then composed it, for any duty he was ever able to per-
form; and so disgusting was he in his intoxication, that
we all, with one inclination, cut him dead.

About six months after I left Demerara, we heard of
the death of Captain Campbell, Royal Regiment, caused by
the same kind of indulgence. His trip to Scotland had, in
some measure, restored a constitution broken by drinking;
but, on landing in Demerara, he again took to his precious
rum, which he swallowed in such abundance that he only
survived six months after his return. It was he who came
out at the same time with us as passenger in the Ariadne
merchant ship from Greenock.

The prevailing diseases in this country are flux, dysen-
tery, cholic, fevers, and liver complaints. They seldom
prove fatal if attended to in the commencement.

As I before mentioned, the River Berbice is divided
near its mouth into two channels by a small island, which
lies in the middle of it, and is three miles in length. The
passage for ships is by the windward channel, which Fort
St. Andrews commands; and a small redoubt on the west
bank of the river, called York Redoubt, protects the lee-
ward channel.

On the extreme point of the east bank, at the entrance
of the river, is another small battery, consisting of two
guns, which commands a very extensive sea-view, and is
called Fort Myers, named after the late commander-in-
chief of the Leeward and Caribbean Islands. Here signals
are made to Fort St. Andrews on the approach of vessels
to the mouth of the river; and, when they prove of con-
sequence, they are communicated to Demerara by means
of signal-posts, erected, as I have before stated, on the
planters' houses, at proper distances from each other.


A view which I took from the topmast-head of a vessel
lying at anchor at the very mouth of the river showed me
on the bank to my left hand, looking up, first, Fort Myers;
second, New Battery; third, Fort St. Andrews; each of
them distinguished by the British Colours flying; and
above this last fort stands the settlement of New Amster-
dam, in which is the Government-house. All the country
is low and swampy; and behind these three forts extends,
for a considerable distance, an unwholesome swampy
savannah, full of snakes and reptiles. The Canje river,
which comes down from the interior of the country,
empties itself into the Berbice between Fort St. Andrews
and New Amsterdam. In the distance nothing is to be
seen but bush, as it is termed in this country, or what
would be called in England forest.

In the centre of the river is Crab Island, rather thick-
ly wooded and inhabited only by parrots; while the oppo-
site bank of the river is covered with thick wood, with the
flag-staff pointing out the military post of York Redoubt:
and a little above it is seen a house, which is the ferry for
crossing on the way to Demerara. I doubt whether any
more suitable point of view could be chosen for showing
the extraordinary flatness of this part of the South
American continent.

As I have just mentioned, a little above Fort St.
Andrews, the Canje river runs into the Berbice. This
stream takes its source an immense distance back in the
country, and runs in a winding direction between the Cor-
antine and Berbice: its banks are cultivated only at a dis-
tance of twelve miles from its entrance. It is not known
precisely where this stream takes its rise: from the ac-
counts of some Indians it is supposed to come from a large
lake.* The source of the Berbice river has likewise never

*-A main branch of the Canje, the Ikuraka Creek, does flow
through a lake of that name.-Editor,


yet been discovered, which appears extraordinary, con-
siaering the enterprising spirit of my countrymen.

The Berbice river is navigable for vessels drawing
fourteen or fifteen feet water, and here they may ride
perfectly safe at all times of the year, as no hurricanes
have ever been experienced in these colonies, and con-
sequently they are well situated for commerce.

The trade of this colony consists of cotton, coffee,
and sugar. The first two of these articles are in the
greatest proportion, as most of the river estates pro-
duce coffee; those on the sea-coast cotton; while the
sugar estates are but few, though there is a great
quantity of uncultivated land well suited to this species
of produce.
About this time a most extraordinary circumstance
took place, which I will now relate, as affording evi-
dence of that fearless disposition in regard to animals
of all kinds which is inherent in some men to a most
wonderful degree, while others even tremble at the
sight of a frog. One morning early, Captain Yates and
myself started on a shooting expedition into the savan-
nah behind the fort, which contained abundance of
reptiles, birds, and animals, of various species, some
in water, others on dry land. We had proceeded some
distance up to the middle in water, and had just gained
a dry spot covered with long grass, when a large
rattlesnake raised his head at me as I approached, and,
throwing his tail high in the air, with a rattling noise,
defied me to advance. I immediately cocked my gun,
and was preparing to shoot this dangerous reptile
through the head, which was not more than four or
five feet distant from me. It had just raised itself to an
erect position, ready to spring at me, when Yates,
brushing past, advanced rapidly on it, and immediately
grasping it, to my horror and astonishment, with all
the strength of his hand and arm, close to the head,


held it from him until it expired, the poor animal
twisting its scaly body round his arm in the agonies of
death. This was a feat which but few men even among
the savage Africans or the South American Indians would

I dragged the snake home with me, skinned it, and
properly dried and preserved it for years afterwards,
with may other curiosities collected in these colonies;
but, while it hung from my window, stretched out to
dry, I had not observed that its tail touched the ground.
I went to bed as usual, and soon fell into my first
sleep. About twelve o'clock I awoke in tortures, and,
rubbing my hand over my body. I found it covered with
something rough, which caused the pains I was endur-
ing. Up I jumped, and, making for the door, sung out
in a man-of-war style for my servant, who, after some
time, made his appearance with a light in his hand. On
examining myself, I found my whole body covered with
small red ants, which were sticking to me like leeches
from my feet upward; and it took about half an hour
before I could entirely rid myself of these venomous
and troublesome insects: but, when we attempted to
enter my room again, what a sight was there
The whole floor and some parts of the walls of my
apartment were a mass of red ants. It puzzled me to
devise means of expelling the invaders; every thing
eatable in the room, my clothes, and all my property of
every kind, were in their possession; myself being
left with only one shirt on my back. I immediately
ordered kettles of water to be boiled: and, all the
servants in the barracks volunteering their assist-
ance, we soon put millions to death, and at length
completely routed the remainder. On examining how
they had stormed my room, I found the skin of the
rattlesnake covered with dense columns of those destruc-
tive insects marching upwards, and, immediately un-
hooking it from a nail I let this conductor to my
room drop to the earth before I again retired to my


bed. The next morning, on taking down a tin canister,
which held my tea and sugar for breakfast, I found it
emptied of very particle of sugar, which they had de-
voured, after getting through the key-hole, though it was
drawn up to the roof of my room for security against the
cockroaches. I next discovered that a little pet deer,
which I had purchased from a Negro, who had taken it
alive in the savannah, was extremely ill. I could not dis-
cover the cause of its malady, until, placing it on its legs,
I observed that it would not let one foot touch the ground,
and, on examining it, I found to my grief, that khe red
ants had absolutely eaten a hole into the bone. The poor
little animal pined all that day and died in the evening.
This insect is the most destructive and annoying in the


Trade of Berbice under the Dutch GovernmentTimber
the Only Natural Production of the Colony-Courts
of Justice History of the Colony Taken by a
Squadron of Frenh Privateers-Ransomed by Dutch
Merchants-They form an Association for bringing
the Lands into Cultivation Consequent Prosperity
of the Colony-The Directors place it under the Pro-
tection of the States-General Obtain Authority to
Levy Taxes-Nature of those Taxes-Insurrection
of the Negro Slaves-Mutiny of a Detachment of the
Troops Their March through the Woods They
fall in with the Rebel Negroes, who put almost all of
them to Death-Fate of the Survivors-Three of
them executed-Cruel punishment inflicted on the
Rebel NegroesDeficiency of Revenue on account of
this Rebellion-The Taxes doubled in consequence--
Mode of paying Taxes and Salaries.

Under the Dutch government in Berbice, no custom-
house existed. The ships that traded to this colony came
from Amsterdam, and returned thither with their cargoes
paying the custom-house duties before they departed from
home: but, since the colony has been in possession of the
English, a regular custom-house has been established.

Previously to the year 1795, no foreign vessels were
allowed to trade to the colonies, all necessary supplies
coming direct from Holland, and ail the produce, being, of
course, sent thither in return. As, however, lumber, salt
fish, and some other necessaries, could not be procured in
sufficient quantities from the Dutch republic, American
traders were occasionally allowed to dispose of their car-
goes in Berbice; but they received cash or bills in payment,
the exportation of goods by foreigners being, as I before
mentioned, prohibited,


At the above period, the trade with Holland being en-
tirely interrupted, the States-General granted permission
for neutrals to trade with the colony and to take away
produce in payment for the cargoes which they disposed of.
The commodities purchased by the inhabitants from these
neutrals were provisions, plantation stores, and materials
for building. It must be observed, that no more produce
than what actually paid for the articles imported wrs
allowed to be exported to neutral countries.

The local situation of the colony prevents illegal trade,
as every vessel entering the river must pass under the guns
of the different forts. No frigate can pass over the bar of
this river, as there is not water enough to admit ships of
war of a larger size than sloops. This shallowness of the
river is a fortunate circumstance, as the colony can never
be attacked but by vessels of very small force. It is so
safe for shipping, that no vessel lying in it has ever been
known to receive injury from violent winds.

The only natural production of these colonies is tim-
ber, of which there is great abundance: in the interior of
the country, on the high land the mill timber and other
hard woods abound. There are no manufactories in the
colony, except such as are necessary for the building of
houses. and boats, both of which are constructed entirely
of wood.
In this colony there are two courts of justice, charged
with the civil administration. The first is the court of
police and criminal justice: it regulates the police, pro-
vides for the maintenance of good order in the colony and
has authority to make laws for this purpose. All the fis-
cal's actions are tried before it.
The Governor is the president of this court, and all
matters are decided in it by a plurality of votes: it is com-
posed of six members besides the president. If, in the
absence of one member, the votes are equal on both sides


of the question, the Governor is allowed to have the weight
of two on the side on which he determines. On a vacancy
in the court two gentlemen are nominated by the counsellors,
and their names are presented to the governor, who elects
one of the two according to his pleasure.

The second court is that of civil justice. It decides all
law-suits for the recovery of debts and disputes about
property. In some cases suitors are allowed to appeal
from its decision to the chief court of criminal justice,
when the litigated object exceeds in value six hundred

The principal civil officers are the fiscal, the secretary,
the receiver-general, and the book-keeper of the salaries.
The principal part of the income of the fiscal is derived
from the penalties incurred by individuals, and allotted
to him by law. That of the secretary arises from the fees
paid on all transactions and deeds passed at his office.
The receiver has two and a half per cent. on the amount
paid into his office as taxes, besides a salary.

In the war of the succession, which ended in the Peace
of Utrecht, signed in 1713, the colony of Berbice was the
private property of a family in the province of Zealand,
named Van de Peire*. On the Sth of November, 1712, it
was attacked by the Baron de Movans, who commanded
some vessels belonging to a squadron of French privateers,
under the orders of Jacques Cosard'. This colony was
afterwards ransomed for the sum of 300,000 guilders,

*-The correct name appears to have been Van Peere. See Adriaan
Van Berkel's "Travels in South America", Guiana Edition. Page
--This squadron, which entered the River Surinam on the 10th
October, 1712, consisted of six sail of ships of war, accom-
panied by a number of small vessels, in which were embarked
three thousand men. The largest ship was Le Nentune of 74
guns, on board of which Cosard hoisted his flag as Admiral
of the Fleet. The other vessels under his command were:
Le Temeraire, 60 guns; La Rubis, 56; La Vestale, 48; La Par-


118,024 of which was paid in produce, and, for the remain-
ing balance of 281,976 guilders, six bills were given upon
the proprietors in Zealand, and drawn in favour of Baron
de Mouans. The bills were not paid, and the colony, in
consequence, was given up to the owners of the French
privateers by an act of the 13th September, 1713; though
the French commissioners appointed to conclude the peace
strongly insisted that the bills should be paid, as it
appears from the resolutions of Holland on the 20th June,
of the same year.

After the peace, the colony remained the property of
the association who fitted out the above privateers; and it
was not until the 22nd of October, 1714, that it was again
ransomed by the following gentlemen; Nicola Van Iloom,
Hendricke Van Hoom, Amald Dix, and Peitro Shurman,
all merchants of Amsterdam: the said merchants having
paid the amount of the protested bills.

Whilst in possession of the owners of the French
privateers, the colony was the property of individuals of
the French nation, but not of the nation itself; neither did
the French government take any measures towards obtain-
ing the sovereignty of the colony any more than had been
done by the Dutch government at the period when it was
the private property of the family of Van de Peire.

faite 48; and Le Meduse, 36. On the 20th of October the
French again summoned the colony to submit and pay con-
tribution; and, in case of refusal, the piratical admiral threat-
ened fire and destruction to the whole settlement. The
Dutch, aware that unless they should comply their ruin
would be inevitable, solicited a truce of three days to
deliberate; which being granted, they, at last, signified their
acquiescence in the commodore's demands; and paid a large
sum in sugar and negro slaves, having but little gold or
silver at the time in the colony. On the 6th ot December, the
commodore, with the whole fleet weighed anchor
and left the colony. From these dates it appears
that, after entering the river Surinam, he sent a detachment
of his squadron under Baron Mouens to Berbice where he
succeeded in bringing that colony also to terms.-T. S. St. C.


The colony being thus purchased from persons residing
in France, and paid for by private individuals in Holland,
the latter found it requisite to raise a sum of
money for the purpose of bringing the lands into
a greater degree of cultivation. This was effected,
in 1720, by an association which consisted of one
thousand six hundred subscribers. The colony then became
the private property of the members of this association.
who were represented by a certain number of directors.
elected by themselves.

This measure having been attended with the beneficial
effects that were expected from it, and the colony increas-
ing in prosperity, the directors found it to their interest
to open the navigation to it for the whole Dutch republic,
and granted, on certain conditions, lots of land for cul-
tivation to such persons as had an inclination to settle in
the colony.

The colony soon increased much in value, and the num-
ber of plantations augmented rapidly. The proprietors
then began to perceive that it was necessary to place the
colony under the protection of the States General, and that
the directors should be authorized to levy taxes for the
purpose of regular government. In consequence, they re-
quested and obtained from their HighMightinesses, in the
year 1732, a charter for an unlimited time, by which
the directors were authorized to make such regulations, in
the name of the sovereignty, as they might occasionally
find requisite for the good of the colony.

The taxes were raised by the directors, in their
capacity of representatives of the sovereignty, for the sup-
port of the colonial government; and they were levied
under the following heads: hoofgeld, waaggeld, and last-
Hoofgeld is a capitation of two guilders and ten
stivers. paid annually for every individual free person. or
slave above ten years of age; between ten and three years


of age, two heads counted for one; and under three years
of age nothing was charged.
Waaggeld is a duty of two and a half per cent. raised
on the value of the produce shipped from the colony; and
the same charge on all articles sold by public auction.

Lastgeld is a duty of three guilders tonnage, per last,
for all vessels navigating to and from this colony. The
Dutch vessels were not exempt from this tax.

A general insurrection of the Negroes in this colony,
which broke out in the year 1762 reduced it to the brink of
ruin. Many of the inhabitants were butchered by the
Blacks in the most inhuman manner, and all the planta-
tions either burned or destroyed. As soon as this fatal
event was known in Holland, a regiment of infantry and
some men -of-war were sent out to quell the mutiny which
they happily effected within a month after their arrival.
The ringleaders suffered death; the pardoned Negroes re-
turned to their work and renewed their labours on the
estates, which, by the great perseverance, industry, and
activity of the planters, in a few years recovered from the
losses they had sustained.

Besides the marine corps, conunanded by Colonel de
Salse, sent from Holland, some troops from the neighbour-
ing colonies were dispatched in order to subdue this revolt.
They soon succeeded in preventing the rebels front forming
settlements; and, after many had been shot and others
taken prisoners, the rest were forced to surrender, lest
they should perish for want of subsistence.

It happened during this disturbance that one officer
and seventy men, sent by the colony of Surinam, were
nosted on the banks of the Corantine river. This detach-
ment had with it a party of Indians, who, though natural
enemies to the Blacks, are on friendly terms with the
Europeans. They had one day beaten the rebels in a skir-


mish, having killed and wounded several of them, and re-
taken about the value of twenty pounds sterling in effects,
of which the revolted Negroes had plundered the neigh-
bouring estates. The officer, who commanded the detach-
ment, whether warrantably or unwarrantably it is too late
now to decide, distributed this booty wholly among
the Indians, without permitting one of his soldiers
to have the smallest share in the prize; which
disgusted them so much that this act alone
occasioned a mutiny in his ranks; and the soldiers
with one accord deserting their commanding officer
took their march from the Corantine river, on the
left bank of which they were encamped, towards the River
Oronoquo, thus turning their backs on Surinam, and going
in the direction of the Spanish Main. But, how miserably
were these poor deluded men disappointed in their desper-
ate undertaking. They had not only to encounter the diffi-
culty of making their way through a country covered with
an almost impervious wood, frequently intersected by deep
and rapid streams, and abounding in noxious animals,
snakes, and insects, but also the possibility of meeting
with the rebels or Bush Negroes, who, on account of the
cruelty exercised by their masters, had sought refuge in
the bush, and taken up arms to defend themselves against
their persecutors.
The first and second days of their march passed as
marches generally do in this difficult country; but the
third was destined to show them how absolutely in the dark
we mortals are as to futurity. On this day they were met
by an overwhelming force of Bush Negroes, who immediate-
ly surrounded them on all sides. In vain did the soldiers
protest that they were come without any evil intention
against them; swearing, in the most solemn manner that
they had also run away from their officers; and begging,
for God's sake, that they would let them pass unmolested.
The Negroes insisted that they should lay down their arms
at discretion, as they were suspected of being spies, sent
out to betray them. At length the deserters, conceiving it


to be the only way in which they could save their lives,
threw down their arms and surrendered themselves prison-
ers to their bitterest enemies. The Blacks immediately
secured. their muskets, and dressed them in one rank,
when, picking out ten or twelve, for rea-
sons which I shall hereafter mention, they
condemned all the others to instant execu-
tion; and, as a butcher seizes a sheep that shelters
itself among the flock, ties its legs, and immediately draw-
ing a knife across its throat, leaves the struggling animal
to bleed to death, so were above fifty of these unfortunate
men dragged forth, one by one, by their ruthless enemies,
and put to death on the spot.

The twelve men, whose lives they spared, were intend-
ed to assist their sick, and wounded, to repair their arms,
and to make gunpowder, which these ignorant people con-
cluded every white man was in the habit of preparing for
his own use: and they were rather astonished when they
discovered their mistake.

It may well be supposed that the wretches saved by the
Negroes must have led a most melancholy life amongst
them. In consequence of the harsh treatment which they
experienced, most of them died from misery and want,
after they had been a very few months in their power.

When these black rebels surrendered themselves to the
colonists, the few wretched Europeans who were still found
alive among them were immediately loaded with chains;
and, confessing that they belonged to a regiment in the
garrison of Surinam, they were tried, forthwith sent
thither from Berbice, and executed in the town of Para-
maribo; one being hanged and two broken alive on the

One of these two unfortunate wretches was a French-
man, named Renaul, who seemed to h a v e
imbibed the sentiments of the Negroes dur-


ing his residence among them. With a truly
heroic spirit, he comforted his comrade, who was a
German; and, when tied down by his side, just ready to t
receive the fatal blow, he exhorted him to preserve his
courage, adding that the journey of life would soon be
over. At this very moment the executioner was breaking
his bones with an iron bar.

Many of the ringleaders among the Negroes were
roasted alive in this colony by half dozens, being first
chained to a stake in the midst of surrounding flames, and
expired without uttering a sigh or a groan. The miserable
fate of so many poor wretches excited great commiseration;
and it is now quite impossible to reflect on punishments
so shocking to humanity without the strongest feelings of
indignation against the inflicters of them; more particu-
larly when we consider that these unfortunate individuals
were driven to insurrection by the tyranny and oppression
of their masters alone.

The total cessation of all labour and the cultivation
of the land during this mutiny having caused a great
diminution of the revenue, the directors in the intermediate
time found themselves destitute of the necessary supplies
from the above-mentioned taxes to defray the expenses of
government. In order to avoid contracting debts, which
they had no means of repaying, and, in the supposition
that it was but just that the inhabitants should assist
them with necessary support for the government of their
country, from which they reaped all the benefits, they
determined upon doubling the taxes.

This measure, however, was instantly opposed by the
colonists, who represented that the directors had no right
to impose taxes in addition to those which the States Gen-
eral had authorised the board to raise.

This difference was, however, soon afterwards amicably
arranged between the inhabitants and the directors, through


the interference of the sovereignty, and the colonists agreed
to pay annually double the original taxes, with the addition
of 1,250 guilders per annum, under the denomination of
plantation money, to be raised by a capitation-tax on the
slaves belonging to the plantations; but on special condi-
tion that, whenever it appeared that the double taxes had
exceeded the sum of 173,000 guilders in the year, the
additional charge should gradually be reduced every year
to the original amount.

Under the Dutch government, all the taxes were paid
in bills to the receiver-general, who remitted them to the
ooard of directors. This board supplied the government
.vith necessaries, and paid the salaries of the people in its
employ; and to this purpose alone the revenue was ap-

The salaries were paid in assignats upon the directors,
drawn by those to whom due, and with the additional
signatures of the governor and the book-keeper of the sal-
aries. These assignats are still in circulation, and keep
their full value.

It is a fortunate circumstance for the colony that the
value of these assignats has been confirmed by its capitu-
lation to England, as the colonists would be exceedingly
at a loss but for this circulating medium.

Since the surrender of Berbice to the English the taxes
are paid, as before, to the receiver-general, but not in bills:
he now receives the taxes in cash, or produce, or colonial
assignments; and they are appropriated to the same pur-
pose as heretofore, namely to defray the expenses of gov-

The bookkeeper of these salaries gives in a monthly
return of the amount due; and receives an order for this
amount from his excellency, upon the receiver-general. All


necessaries, that is, provisions for the rations of the peo-
ple in government employ, the materials for building and
repairing the different works, and other articles, which
were formerly sent out by the board of directors from Hol-
land, are now paid for and purchased in the colony by the
receiver-general, upon an order from the governor.

The expenses of the Government-house, at this period,
amount to 2,500 sterling per annum; and 500 per annum
is paid to the officers of the garrison, in addition to their
British pay, which I found, during my services in these
colonies, exactly doubled my pay and allowances.

Besides the taxes above-mentioned, a colonial rent of
one stiver per acre is imposed on the granted land, under
the name of church money; and there is another small duty
on liquor imported.

The colony still remains under the Ratavian laws; and
the estates belonging to the association are managed by
agents of their own appointment, who reside upon them.


Arrival of a Slave Ship at BerbiceReview of the Life
of the African Negro, in freedom and enslaved-
Appearance of the SlavesThe Captain's Seraglio_
_Reflections on Slavery-Reasons why the Cruelty
of the System had not before struck the Author_The
state of Slaves founded on a principle of humanity_
Slaves among the RomansOrigin of the African
Slave-tradeCauses of Slavery-Captives taken in
BattleThe Slave-trade has extinguished Canni-
balism in Africa_Slavery existing in Africa_The
Injustice of the Slave-trade more in name than
in reality-Benefits derived by Africans from the
trafficPunishment of the Negro for striking a
White-_History of Sampson, a Runaway Black__
Black LouisCruelty of the Dutch to their slaves.
Shortly after my arrival in Berbice, a fine schooner,
under American colours, came up the river, direct from
the Coast of Africa, with a cargo of slaves. I was among
the first to board her from the garrison, as soon as the
nature of her cargo was made known among us; and never
was I so horror-struck in my life as when, on gaining the
deck of the vessel, I found myself surrounded by a crowd
of ignorant and miserable beings, many of whom were.
in all probability, kidnapped in their own country, ship-
ped on board a strange vessel, and brought to a foreign
clime, to be sold and worked like cattle by people of dif-
ferent colour, manners, ideas, and constitution. It actually
made me sick at heart to imagine for a moment that an
Englishman could degrade himself so much as to traffic in
human flesh. This vessel was the*last permitted to enter
an English port with a similar cargo; the act for abolition
of slavery being put in force in this year (1806.)*
*-The Author means the abolition of the slave trade. Slavery itself
wPs not abolished in the British Empire until 1st August, 1838.


The whole party of Blacks were such a set of scarcely
animated automata, such a resurrection of skin and bone,
as forcibly to remind me of the last trumpet, they all
looked so like corpses just arisen from the grave: "And he
said unto me, Son of Man, can these bones live? and I
answered, 0, Lord God, thou knowest."-Ezekziel xxxvii,
ver, 3.
When I considered the state of these unfortunate
beings, and looked upon their misery, I could not help
moralizing upon the vicissitudes to which man is exposed;
and, following him through the checkered scenes of his
existence, I deeply impressed upon my own mind the con-
viction of our insignificance on the face of this earth.

I began with considering him a helpless infant,
depending on his mother's breast for support to cherish
that life which God had given him; to her this object of
affection is dearer than the whole world put together, for
even her own existence is not more precious to her than
that of her child. The wandering savage of Africa has the
same love for her offspring as the more enlightened moth-
er of Europe, and, in many instances, the scale of natural
affection is even in favour of the Black: as no African
mother ever trusts her tender offspring to the uncertain
kindness of another, during the days of infancy and help-
lessness. She feels that to her alone belongs the charge
of cherishing that being which she herself has been the
means of bringing into the world, and Nature points out
to her the parent's duty; but fashion has operated too
strongly to drive natural affection from the breast of
European mothers, and to substitute the hired tenderness
of a stranger in its place.

The African mother watches her offspring in his
growth until he can sport with children of his own years.
As he advances in life he feels more and more the native
passions of his soul stir within him, and he tries to rival
all the youths of his own tribe. If Nature has made him


strong 4nd active, which is the case with nineteen out of
twenty among these savages, he surpasses many of his
companions in their wild sports, and soon prides himself
on his superiority.
Having now reached the age of manhood, he is called
upon to enter the ranks of his tribe, to take part in battles
and in conquests. lie becomes esteemed for his courage
and prowess in the field, and, perhaps, is chosen to lead
his countrymen as their chief. Again he meets the
enemies of his race; a struggle ensues; and he, poor
wretch, receiving a desperate wound, is overcome by num-
bers, and falls a prisoner under their blows.

What a change has now taken place in his existence.
Confined in a loathsome cell, where he is allowed only
sufficient provision to keep body and soul together, until
some fellow creature arrives in the wilderness in which
he is detained a prisoner, and purchases him for the value
of a few pence; he is then marched, by his new master,
towards the sea-coast, and carried on board ship, where
he is stowed, with hundreds more in the hold, there to live
or die as chance directs. If he survives the horrors of lhe
voyage, he is landed in a distant country, where this pride
of the little world in- which he was known, and from
which lie has been so cruelly torn, is doomed to pass the
remainder of his days, "a bondsman, in the land of strang-
ers." Here everything is new and strange to him, and
from this time he is thought of and treated only as a slave.

It is frequently the lot of this life for youth to be
cut off, just when every expectation is about to be real-
ized, as well as when the perfection is acquired, which it
has taken years of application and study to attain; but,
in this case, the recollections and regrets of the survivors
are gradually soothed and softened by time, even though
it cannot wholly obliterate our feelings. Not so with this
unfortunate being. He is still doomed to live, with the
remembrance of what he has been more strongly and more
bitterly impressed upon his recollection by the perception


of what he is; and he is now new-born, a full-grown child
of civilized society.

Naked these poor wretches stood before me, dulness
and ignorance depicted on their countenances; and, even
though their skins were black, still a lustreless whiteness
was perceptible through them, which bespoke the
unhealthiness of their bodies.

Upwards of two hundred and fifty were crowded on
the deck; many of them smiled at me as I passed, and
jabbered like monkeys with unpleasant voices and in
unintelligible language. The odour proceeding from their
bodies was most unpleasant.

On the lower deck were some of these beings lying
stretched out in all directions, enjoying themselves in
their native indolence. I observed four or five black
holes, which the captain of this vessel informed me,
were absolutely necessary for 'confining violent and bad-
tempered men; and, in one of these, he showed me a
stout Negro, who had attempted to put an end to his
life by jumping overboard.

On reaching the cabin, which belonged to the cap-
tain and mate, in the stern of this vessel, I found
five or six young girls, as naked as they were born,
who formed the seraglio of these two sultans, and were
kept fat and in good condition. Some of them were
ugly, others by no means ill-looking and some were
really beautiful in their shapes and forms; but all of
them appeared disgusting to me as partaking largely
of the manner of our own prostitutes. I remained on
board until 1 saw the inner delivered out to these un-
fortunate creatures, and this consisted only of a small
portion to each of some ground Indian corn, boiled in
sea-water and mixed up with common fish-oil. I now
landed, determined to attend the sale the next morning.
This night, whilst reclining on my tent-bed and


tormented by the noise of a thousand mosquitoes, my
thoughts were engrossed by those miserable slaves
whom I had beheld in the morning; and it struck me
as singular, that, since my arrival in this country,
where I was living among slaves, the cruelty of this
system had never before occurred to my mind. I con-
sidered well, and found these to be the reasons:-

Firstly, it is the interest of white men to treat
their slaves well.
Secondly, all the slaves whom I have seen are now
comfortably established in this country, having each
his own hut with a portion of ground for the cultiva-
tion of vegetables.

Thirdly, so valuable are the Negroes now become,
and consequently high in price, that of course no plant-
er will work them beyond their strength, and will only
punish those who merit chastisement by negligence,
drunkenness, or some other fault. The cruel system
followed by the Dutch is now entirely done away with.

Fourthly, I never beheld a more happy race of
beings, enjoying comforts far beyond those which fall
to the lot of the poor labourer in Europe, who has not
only to supply himself, but too frequently, a wife nnd
family, with food and clothing. Here the slave is fed
and protected by his master; no distress, no poverty,
no starvation, is to be seen among them; here are no
law-suits to consign them to a prison, nor is there any-
thing but the term SLAVE which sounds disagreeable.

I am well aware that different individuals look
upon slavery in different points of view, and I believe
that in England the numbers who think of it .with
indignation, horror, and disgust, are, beyond comparison,
the greater number of the well-thinking class: with
them I sincerely hope that it will in due time be abolish-


ed, but it requires years to bring about a change so
great, and a century to complete the work as it should
be done.

Since this period I have read much, and find that
the very highest authorities agree in stating, that
slavery had its origin in a principle of humanity, to
avoid the shedding of blood. Justinian says, that slaves,
servi, are so called, because conquerors, instead of put-
ting their prisoners to death, were accustomed to sell
them, and by this means saved their lives: "Servi
autem ex eo appellati sunt, quod imperatores captives
vendere ac per hoc servare nee occidere solent."

The Romans, among their early customs, practised
that of destroying their prisoners, to avoid the further
inconvenience of providing for them, or to prevent the
possibility of their again becoming their opponents.
Their first step to civilisation was the relinquishment
of this inhuman practice, and the milder method of
selling captives for servants was adopted.

The traffic in Negro slaves between Europe and
Africa was first commenced by the Portuguese. and
afterwards adopted by England, during the reign of
Queen Elizabeth, in 1588. The slaves now sent from
Africa to the Brazils and other Portuguese settlements
(for none have been imported into our colonies since
the year 1306) consist, according to that persevering
traveller, Mungo Park, of the following classes:

1st. Prisoners taken in battle.
2nd Persons condemned to slavery for some crime.
3rd. Voluntary slaves.
4th. Persons born in bondage.

Authority still exists to prove that in former times
prisoners taken in battle were constantly sacrificed in


cold blood, with the most revolting cruelties; and, fre-
quently, the propensity of the cannibal gave an additional
horror to the scene..

A short time after the commencement of this trade,
the inhabitants of the coast found it more profitable to
preserve their prisoners than to sacrifice them to their
revenge; and, in. consequence of this selfish feeling, mil-
lions have been spared who would otherwise have been
immolated on the altar of blood.

My celebrated countryman, Bruce, observes, in his
interesting travels, that "the merchandise of slaves has con-
tributed much to abolish two savage African customs, the
eating of captives, and sacrificing them to idols, once univer-
sal in that whole continent."

Without considering the vile motives which induced
Europeans to commence this traffic, I will ask: Does not
Africa owe them something for saving generations of her

This benefit was soon extended from the coast to the
interior, spreading a comparative enlightenment among
these savages over the whole continent; and, at the present
moment, I believe it would be difficult to prove that one
tribe of cannibals exists throughout the country.

I will now advert to the other causes of slavery in
Africa, and devote a few remarks to them, in order to
demonstrate to the reader the justice or cruelty of these
The second of the causes of slavery which I have enum-
erated is punishment for offences against society. This
is an act made by the people themselves of the countries
where the practice prevails, by which any man committing
a crime becomes subject to a certain period of slavery,
according to the magnitude of the offence. This custom
is founded upon principles of justice as well as humanity,


The third cause, voluntary slavery, arises from a vari-
ety of circumstances, the principal of them being poverty
and hunger, when man laboring under these hardships to
avoid the wretchedness of the one and the pressing calls of
the other, will sell his liberty rather than perish; and the
poor afflicted Negro, when fainting for want of food,
thinks like Esau: "Behold, I am at the point to die, and
and what profit shall this birthright do to me?"

The fourth cause it is, perhaps, less easy to vindicate
than any of the foregoing, as it entails upon an unoffend-
ing being the punishment awarded for the crimes or follies
of another, and deprives him at once of that birthright to
which all the human race are equally entitled. Persons
born in slavery are children of natives, who have become
slaves from one or other of the above-mentioned causes.

Not only has a Negro in Africa the power to devote
himself and his heirs to perpetual bondage, but an offence
committed against the state in which he lives may also con-
demn him and his race to an heritage of slavery. From
these causes, and especially the latter, the great propor-
tion of the inhabitants of ATrica are at this moment in a
state of servitude, without the hope of redemption; and I
shall quote the words of Park in proof of this assertion:
"The slaves in Africa, I suppose, are nearly in the propor-
tion of three to one to the free men. They claim no reward
for their services, except food and clothing, and are treated
with kindness or severity according to the good or had
disposition of their masters; and, in this condition of life,
a great body of the Negro inhabitants of Africa have
continued from the earliest period of their history, with
this aggravation-that their children are born to no other

From these observations, supported by the above
authorities, it will appear that the injustice of the slave-
trade exists more in name than in reality; that, in fact,
when Europeans take inhabitants of Africa from their


native soil, they do not add to the number of slaves already
in the world, but merely transplant them from a land of
ignorance and superstition to one of civilization and im-

The intercourse between Africa and Europe was first
stimulated by cupidity. That Africa has derived benefit
from this intercourse cannot be doubted. The inactive
character of the Blacks would never have led them to
improvement in either their laws or customs, and centuries
would have elapsed without producing any apparent change
or advancement. "Their rude ignorance," says Gibbon,
"has never invented effectual weapons of defence or
destruction; they appear incapable of forming any exten-
sive plan of government or conquest; and the obvious
inferiority of their mental faculties has been discovered
and abused by the nations of the temperate zone." They
are, therefore, indebted to their intercourse with Europe
for much of the civilization which they have attained.

We are still frequently shocked by reading reports of
the barbarities of the African savage; and yet the modern
historian has a much brighter picture to delineate than that
drawn by Speed, the great geographer of the sixteenth
century, who, speaking of the natives of some parts of
Africa, says: "They have shambles of man's flesh as we
have for meats; they kill their own children in the birth,
to avoid the trouble of rearing them; and preserve their
nation with stolen brats from the neighboring countries."

I will now, before I conclude these observations, give
a slight sketch of the comparative comfort enjoyed by the
domestic slave in the West Indies and his brother of the
woods. The wild savage is the child of passion, unaided
by a single ray of religion or morality to direct his course;
in consequence of which his existence is stained with every
crime that can debase human nature to a level with the
brute creation. But who can say that the Negro slaves in
our colonies are such? Are they not, in comparison with
their still savage brethren, enlightened beings? Is not


the West India Negro, therefore, greatly indebted to his
master's kindness for making him what he is?-for having
raised him from the lowest state of debasement in which
he was born, and placed him in the scale of civilized soci-
ety? How can he sufficiently repay him? He is possessed
of nothing-the only return in his power is his servitude.
"As the ore gives forth the metal as a reward to man for
cleaning it of its dross, so the savage, a rude mass of
ignorance and vice, mixed with principles and capabilities
of improvement, would live and die in debasement, if the
hand of civilization did not step in and cleanse it of its
The man only who has seen the wild African roaming
in his native woods, and contrasted him with the well-fed,
comfortable-looking slave of the West Indies, can judge of
their comparative happiness. The former, in my opinion,
would be glad to change his state of boasted freedom, dis-
ease, and starvation, to become the servus, or slave, of sin-
ners and the commiseration of saints.
I shall conclude these remarks by stating that they
were begun in 1806 and finished in 1832. I have borrowed
some few observations from a well written survey of the
West Coast of Africa in 1825 and 1826, published in the
United Service Journal; and, however right or wrong we
may be upon this subject, there can be no doubt that the
misery of slavery has produced the blessing of enlighten-
ment among these unfortunate creatures, and that it has
been the means of furnishing another proof of the truth
of the old saying: "Evil is sometimes productive of good."

We shall now soon behold the effects of freedom upon
these unfortunate beings; and I sincerely hope that these
effects will answer the expectations of us all.

About the period that my thoughts were thus directed
to the subject of slavery, I heard of a punishment which
was to be inflicted on a Negro, for striking a white man;
and, being curious upon these matters, I followed the
subaltern's guard, which was sent to New Amsterdam, to


be present on this occasion. In the rear of the Govern-
ment-house, a small platform was raised, and, the guard
being drawn up near it, a serjeant, with two file of men,
was sent, by order of the fiscal, to conduct the prisoner
from the goal. The poor wretch mounted the platform,
where stood the fiscal, near a wooden block, by the side of
which was the executioner; and, when the prisoner,
a stout, handsome, well-made young man, came up to him,
I could not help remarking the difference between the
Black and this limb of the law, a pale-faced, enlaciated,
short-armed, bandy-legged, sickly looking being, in the
Windsor uniform; that is, a blue coat with red collar and
a cockade in his hat. One kick from this young gladiator
would have sufficed to send his soul to the infernal
About a thousand black people, as in Europe among
the whites at these public shows, most of them women,
were collected round the platform, when the executioner of
the law stepped forward and declared that this slave had
been convicted, before the Court of Police and Criminal
Justice, of the abominable, rebellious, and horrid crime of
striking a white man, for which he was sentenced to have
his right hand, with which he struck the blow, severed
fiom his body; and, turning round to the young prisoner,
he ordered him to lay his hand upon the block, No sooner
was this done than, with one stroke, the hand fell to the
ground. He then walked from the platform, his arm
streaming like a fountain with blood, and a surgeon,
standing at the foot of the steps, bound it up, and conduct-
ed him to the hospital. Whilst this operation was going
on I walked up to him, disgusted with the severity of the
Dutch law, and, putting a golden joe into his left hand, I
said to him: "I pity you." The poor fellow looked at the
joe, then at me; tears at length started from his eyes, and
he exclaimed: "Eh, massa-Him be good man."

I turned from him and walked back to Fort St.


Another unfortunate wretch, called Sampson, from the
enormous strength of his limbs and body, was a slave on a
Dutchman's property near the Essequibo River, on the
leeward coast. He had fled twice to the woods, and I saw
him a few months after his second capture shackled with
irons. The first time he ran to the bush in consequence of
having been threatened with punishment for neglect of
work. After a few days' absence, he returned at night to
see a favourite female, residing among the Negro huts;
but he rather overstayed his time, and was seen returning
to the forest by another slave, who gave information of
Sampson's motions. The necessary steps were taken to
have him secured on his next visit; and, in the dead of
night, the planter, his overseer, and four faithful Negroes,
hid themselves near to his charmer's hut. At length
Sampson was seen cautiously advancing: they lay close,
and allowed him to pass and enter her hut, when, rushing
in after him, they pinned him to the ground, and fastened
his arms and legs with cords. The next morning he
received a severe punishment with a heavy-thonged whip on
his naked back. His eyes rolled with fury, and he nmutter-
ed revenge against the Bucjras. Scarcely had his back
recovered from the wounds which it had received when he
took an opportunity of escaping a second time into the
forest. A twelve-month passed; no tidings were heard of
Sampson, and it was generally supposed that he had
escaped to the Spanish Main. At length a party, consist-
ing of twenty Negroes, with their overseer, entered the
woods to cut some hard trees which grow a considerable
distance back from the sea-coast, and which they required
to renew some worn-out posts in repairing their sluices.
The blows of their axes re-echoed through the forest. The
sound struck upon Sampson's ear; he listened and won-
dered, and at length cautiously approached. He then laid
himself flat on the earth, and, like a snake, drew his enor-
mous limbs along the ground. Covered by the bush, he
approached the sound nearest to him, and beheld two
Negroes, detached from the others, felling a tree. His


fierce black eyes now pierced through the dead leaves which
covered them; his heart beat quick; he raised his head to
observe that others were not near, and after one bound,
embraced them both, for Julius and Quaco were two of his
most intimate friends and brothers in affliction. At this
unfortunate moment the overseer turned round a bush,
with his gun on his shoulder, and, immediately recognis-
ing Sampson, cocked it and took aim at the Black, who,
with the rapidity of lightning, sprang at the white man,
and, raising the muzzle of his piece, caused it to explode
in the air; then, immediately seizing him round the waist
and swinging him round, he dashed him with force to the
earth. The overseer was followed at the distance of a few
paces by the whipper-in, also a stout athletic Negro, hav-
ing in his hand a large-thonged cutting whip, made of the
raw hide of a allock. He came up at the moment when
Sampson, throwing himself on the white man and grasping




his windpipe, must have dispatched him in the course of
a minute, had he not twisted the thong of his whip two or
three times round Sampson's neck, and placed his right
foot upon his head. The strangulation which immediately
followed forced him to loose his hold, and his hands were
secured behind him.

In this state he was conducted back to the plantation
and taken before his master, who sentenced him to receive
a severe flogging, and afterwards had an iron collar
fastened round his throat, which had three legs sticking
out from it, having, as represented in the sketch, hooks
at their ends, which render it impossible for any human
being to make his escape through the thick underwood in
this country. In addition to this, his left leg was chained
to an enormous heavy log of wood, which, when he walked,
was thrown over his left shoulder. In this state he was
obliged daily to perform as much work as any other Negro
on the estate*.

It is seldom, very seldom, that these people show the
courage which Sampson did in his attack on the overseer;
but he appeared to me to be a determined, sulky Negro,
burning with revenge against all of my own colour, and
for this reason I did not feel for him that commiseration
which I should otherwise have done.

Some. of the Negroes possess as good feelings as many
of us Europeans, and only want education to render them
as useful. To illustrate this assertion, I will now repeat
the story which I afterwards heard of a Negro called
Louis, residing in the Island of Martinique. This poor
fellow, having been christened after Louis XVI, held
republican and jacobinical principles in the utmost horror
and detestation; and the convulsions of the revolution,
though they scarcely reached the French West India

'-Dr. Pinkard mentions a similar spiked collar on a slave at
Mahaica. See "Letters from Guiana," Guiana Edition, Page 265


Islands, determined him to seek his livelihood elsewhere.
By some accident he found his way to New York. He had
always shewn an instinctive sagacity, which he now turned
to his own benefit, and finally set up a barber's shop,
where, being genteel and mild in manners, his customers
increased upon him. He had attended to the progress of
the French revolution and his feelings were excited to the
highest pitch when he heard of the execution of his name-
sake King; and, deliberately denouncing the French nation
with their canaille parvenu rulers, and filled with the
utmost indignation at their conduct, he took off his hat,
and swore never to put it on his head again until the
Bourbons should be restored to the throne. This little man
was thenceforward seen walking the streets of New' York.
carrying his old hat under his arm with the air of a
courtier, having his woolly locks filed with combs, scissors,
and other implements, until his black hair turned as white
as snow*.
At length, in the year 1814, a French vessel arrived in
New York, with the white flag flying, and bringing intelli-
gence that the Bourbons were returned, and Louis XVIII
replaced on the throne of his forefathers. The news spread
through the town like wildfire; and black Louis, who was
then in his little shop cutting the hair of a gentleman, was
struck with such astonishment, when an acquaintance of
customer's, passing along the street, repeated the news in
the doorway to his friend, that both scissors and comb fell
from his hands. He looked with anxious doubt in the face
of his informant, and, seizing his old hat, which he had
carried under his arm for upwards of twenty years, off he
started without saying a word, and "walked with hasty
strides down to the battery, muttering all the way to him-
self. He there beheld the white flag with his own eyes:
*-History repeated itself in an amusing manner in more recent
times in New Amsterdam. A certain head of one of the muni-
cipal departments had so little use for a certain Councillor
who was elected Mayor that, throughout the whole of his Mayor-
alty, he went about without a hat so that he should not be
under the necessity of touching it to the Mayor,-Editor


still he was not satisfied; till, going on board, he heard.
from the mouth ef the cook, the downfall of Napoleon and
the elevation of the Bourbons; and, immediately waving
his hat three times in the air, he replaced it on his head,
and, hastening to the shore, returned as fast as his legs
would carry him to complete his job. Could even Louis
XVIII have felt more pride or more sincere joy on placing
the crown of France upon his head, than this poor Negro
did in putting on his hat.

The cruelty of the Dutch to their unfortunate slaves
was equalled only by the abominations and horrors prac-
tised upon the aboriginal inhabitants of St. Domingo by
the first Spanish settlers in that island. Those con-
querors delighted in the exercise of strange and ingenious
cruelties, and mingled horrible levity with their thirst for
blood. They erected gibbets long and low, so that the feet
of the sufferers might reach the ground and their death be
lingering. They hanged thirteen together, in reference to
our Saviour and the twelve Apostles. While these victims
were suspended and still living, they hacked them with
their swords, to prove the strength of their arms and the
edge of their weapons. They wrapped them in dry straw,
and setting fire to it, terminated their existence by the
fiercest agony.

Such occurrences show the extremity to which human
nature may go when stimulated by avidity of gain, by a
thirst for vengeance, or even by a perverted zeal in the
holy cause of religion. Every nation has in turn furnished
proofs of this disgraceful truth, but they are generally the
crimes of individuals rather than of a nation to which
they belong.


Sale of Slaves-Prices-Mynheer Catz-A Negro's
Choice of a Wife-Indifference of the Slaves to their
Fate-State of the Female Slaves-Two Negro Boys
Purchased by Captain Yates-Their Training for
Domestic Servants-The Kishee-kishee Monkey-
Adventure in a Shooting Excursion-A Water-hare
caught alive by Captain Yates-Conduct of the
Animal in Confinement--Canje Creek and Mynheer
Catz' Plantation.
The morning after the arrival of the slave ship men-
tioned in the preceding chapter was ushered in as usual with
a brilliant sky; and, after partaking of an early breakfast,
Captain Yates, myself, and one or two other officers, pro-
ceeded early up to the town, in order to witness this traffic
in human flesh, of which some of my companions had fre-
quently before been spectators, although I had never yet
seen it. When we arrived, I found myself just in time to
hear the extravagant shouts of delight set up by thtse
poor wretches, and their loud halloos and clappings of
hands on again touching terra firma. As each boat landed
her cargo, they were immediately marched up by one of the
seamen from the schooner to an open space in the rear of
Government-house, where the sale was intended to take
place: and it struck me as a most extraordinary sight to
see a number of white planters examining these captives,
limb after limb, as they stood before them, just as the
dealers do with horses in our fairs in England.
The prices demanded for them were high, as this cargo
was the last that could be admitted, and a great number
of purchasers were present. It was curious to see, when
a bargain was concluded, the new slave jog off with a
eran from his master's plantation, without even bidding
farewell to any of his unfortunate companions, or shewing
the slightest feeling for his own situation. Some few
stout, young, able-bodied men sold for 150 each, others at ,
100, and boys at from 40 to 50. My friend Yates took


a fancy to two of the latter, whom he immediately
purchased. These little black urchins were about eleven
or twelve years of age-but more of them hereafter. Women
far advanced in pregnancy sold at nearly double price.

The extreme attachment which these unfortunate
people entertain for an attentive and kind master was,
upon this occasion, shown in a most extraordinary manner
to a good-natured little man, Mynheer Catz, who was
owner of a valuable coffee-plantation, at a short distance
up the Canje river. He had brought with him two of his
field Negroes, that they might please themselves in making
choice of two women out of this cargo, not having been able
to suit themselves with wives among those on the planta-

Old Catz, turning round to his Negroes, pointed out
two rather good-looking girls, and said: "Will these do for
you?" One of them immediately replied: "Si Massera,"
and took hold of one of the girl's hands. The other, who
was a stout, well-made, good-looking Black, answered his
master thus: "No, no, Massa, me no want wifee for hand-
some; me want him for workee for Massa and workee for
me." "Well, then," said his master, "make your choice."
In about five minutes the fellow strutted up to his master,
leading by the hand a well-made young woman, of exceed-
ly plain countenance: who afterwards turned out much
better than the other, through her superior in personal
strength and abilities.*

Among the crowd of bidders and purchasers was an
elderly Dutch lady of enormous size and corpulence.
who thoroughly disgusted me with her indecency in
examining the males who were for sale. She was, as I
understood, the owner of a plantation up the river above
the town, and arrived just in time to examine and pur-

Bolingbroke describes a similar incident in almost identical
words. See "A Voyage to the Demerary," Guiana Edition,
Page 69.-Editor,


chase a few of this cargo, whom she required on her
estate. We could not help cutting our jokes on her con-
duct, which had no effect in raising her wrath against
us. At last the whole of the slaves were sold and the
ground cleared of them; and be it recorded that, among
these numerous bargains, no mother was separated from
her child; nor did I see male or female manifest the
least sorrow on being parted from their companions.*

When seated in our boat, on our way back to Fort
St. Andrews, my ideas turned to the scene of which I
had just been a spectator; and again I felt all the dis-
gust and horror of slavery, which I had only the day
before experienced on board the schooner.

How different are the feelings of these ignorant
beings, whom I had just seen disposed of to the highest
bidder, from ours. They, poor wretches, danced and-
sang during the sale; cheerfulness was depicted on all
their countenances; and, when they became the property
of a stranger, they trotted off with all the demonstra-
tions of sincere pleasure. How fortunate that their
ignorance is so complete.

It has been asked by many: "Will you, for the
sake of drinking rum and sweetening your tea with
sugar, persevere in this unjust and execrable bar-
barity?" I say to you, my friends, take heed, lest
your humanity may at the expense of your neighbours,
and perhaps yourselves induce you to give up the advan-
tages which you now possess, without the smallest
chance of benefit or improvement to those unfortunate
beings, whom I most heartily join with you in calling
"our brethren."

Almost all the female slaves whom I observed in
these colonies appeared to me to be as happy as the day
was long. Early up in the morning, they accompanied their

*This was by no means always the case. Compare Pinckard's
account of a slave auction in New Amsterdam, twelve years
earlier. See "Letters from Guiana," Guiana Edition, Page 79


husbands to the field, at the signal given by the over-
seer; and were generally allowed to return a little before
them to prepare their meal, which had been left in
readiness. In the evening, at the conclusion of the
day's work, these poor creatures were seen running home
from the field in search of their little children, who were
too young to take part in their labours; and, placing
them astride, with their legs across their hips, away
they hurried off to the orchards, which were generally
situated at the back of the estate, and they were soon
seen returning with baskets on their heads filled with
all sorts of delicious fruit, etc., to refresh themselves
and their families in the cool of the evening.

I observed, throughout this country, that the women
had much more the appearance of happiness and vivacity
than the men: perhaps this cheerfulness of manner may
be peculiar to their sex.

On landing at Fort St. Andrews, the two Negro boys
followed us to our barracks, where Yates immediately
gave them Roman names. He called the ugliest of the
two Nero, and said to me, "I will keep him, and give you
Scipio to educate." I was delighted with the charge,
and also with the poor boy, whose face was expressive
of good nature and mildness, which I afterwards found
him to possess in a considerable degree. The next
morning, having made them bathe and wash themselves
well in the river, we dressed them in white canvass
trowsers and shirts, and, at the hour of mess, strutted
off with our two black boys behind us; they grinning
at each other, as pleased as my lord-mayor on a show-

The first, second and third days we kept them during
dinner standing behind our chairs. On the third day
we made them begin to wait upon us, and such ridicu-
lous scenes now took place as nearly killed us all at table
with laughter. Yates began with Nero. "Nero, the
mustard." Poor Nero knew nothing more than the
sound of his name, and ptood, staring at his master,


with his mouth open. "The mustard, Nero," he again
vociferated, pointing to the sideboard. Off flew Nero,
and the mess-waiter, who was near, pointed to the mus-
tard-pot; but, poor Nero, not giving himself time to
observe the direction of his finger, seized a bottle of
vinegar, and carried it to his master, who pretended to
be in a great passion, and sent him back with it, calling
out, "Mustard, mustard." This time the poor boy was
more fortunate in catching the direction of the waiter's
finger, and he succeeded in carrying back the article for
which he was sent; and Yates, with the determination of
impressing these ingredients more strongly on his
memory, made him open his mouth, and put into it a
spoonful of the contents, calling out, "Mustard, mus-
tard," while the poor boy was spitting and sputtering.
and dancing on the floor, from the effects of this hot
substance. I practised the same discipline with Scipio
who had made a similar mistake with the cayenne
pepper which I had called for. I, therefore gave him a
small portion of it for the same purpose of impressing
it on his memory; which it did so completely that he
never afterwards forgot its name.
These two boys, from being our constant companions
in boating, fishing, and shooting, soon became strongly
and faithfully attached to us; and it was wonderful to
see their readiness in finding out our wishes and the
rapidity with which they learned our language.

About this time I purchased from a Negro a young
monkey of the kishee-kishee species, which turned out
the most amusing pet I ever saw. Every night this
little animal slept with Scipio, rolled up in a blanket, at
my door; and, in the evening, he used to drink grog
with us seated on my knee, and sometimes got so ridicu-
lously drunk that it was the most amusing thing in the
world to see him laughing at us with all the good
humour of an intoxicated man.
This little animal took a great fancy for one of
Yates's terriers, little Fury, a strong, wiry-haired,
vicious, little devil, who never, by any chance, insulted


Jacko. In the morning, when we whistled the dogs to-
gether and prepared for the chase, little Jacko invari-
ably mounted astride on Fury's back, twisting his hand
in her hair; and in this attitude he would ride through
bushes, high grass, water, woods, or any other impedi-
ments, without letting go, until we returned home to the
Fort. Sometimes, when little Fury took to swimming,
poor Jacko, with his head just above the water, would
scream in an agony of fright, but nothing would make
him abandon his hold.

About this period, in one of our numerous shooting
excursions down the river, Captain Yates, with myself
and our two attendants, got into my boat, and, rowing
along the right bank of the river, we whistled the dogs
to follow us; this they did, hunting as they ran, though
out of sight, being covered by the low bush which
grows to the edge of the water. We had not proceeded
far, when the dogs gave tongue, as if in pursuit of
game; and we immediately pulled with all our might to
keep pace with them; when a sudden plunge into the
river, a little ahead of us, attracted our attention.

We immediately lay upon our oars, with guns pre
pared, waiting anxiously for the animal to put his nose
above the water again; and, after some time, we saw
him appear nearly half a mile in advance of us down
the stream, making towards the shore. After remark-
ing the spot where the animal landed, and collecting all
the dogs in the boat, we immediately pulled down after
him, and, on arriving at the place jumped on shore.
One of our dogs having soon found him and giving
tongue, the animal was surrounded by nearly twenty

It may not be amiss here to observe that, in this
place, the bush or shrubs grow in round masses of dif-
ferent sizes, the spaces between them being generally
soft mud, on the banks of the river; and it was in one
of these that the dogs were baiting.


I took one side of this bush and Yates the other,
with guns cocked ready for action. At this moment I
heard a sudden yelping of the dogs, as if in pursuit, and
almost immediately heard Yates calling to me from the
opposite side. Running round as fast as my legs would
carry me, I beheld my friend sprawling in the mud and
struggling with a powerful animal. "D-n him tie his
legs," he bellowed out to me, as the beast kept tossing
him up and down with his feet; and immediately taking
out my pocket-hankerchief, I caught hold of his two
hind legs, and tied them together so securely as to
render his escape impossible. Yates now withdrew
from the struggle, completely covered with mud.

We found the animal to be a species of the hippopo-
tamus, differing from those of Africa in shape, though
their habits are much the same, being called in this
country water-hare.* Its mouth exactly resembles that
of a hare, having long front teeth, very similar to those
of the same animal; and it was of the size of a large
English pig, the body being covered with stiff hair of a
muddy brown colour on the back, and of a dirty white
under the belly and down the inside of the legs. Its tail
was extremely short; the back was broad; the ears short
and erect; the head rather large. Most fortunately it
proved to be an herbivorous animal; otherwise my
friend Yates would have stood but a bad chance when in
its power.
On my asking him if he knew what animal it was
before he threw himself upon it, he answered, "No. The
beast would hardly give me time to see it, and rushed
past so near me that I could not point my gun; so the
only way I had of securing him was to throw him down,
with all my weight upon him." "My good fellow," said
I "do not expose your life against these animals. Sup-
pose it had been a jaguar or tiger, what would you have

* The Water Haas, or Capybara (Hydrochoerus capybara) is the
largest of the Rodent family and no relation of the Hippopota-
mus-see "Animal Life in British Guiana," Guiana Edition,
Page 157.-Editor.


done?" "The very same thing," he answered, "had he
even been one from Bengal." And such was his extra-
ordinary infatuation in the chase that, I have no doubt,
he would have been rash enough to make the attempt.
The two black boys were out of sight, and we could
not imagine what had become of them; but, as we
dragged our prize towards the boat, we discovered them
sprawling at the bottom, frightened to death at the
scuffle they had just witnessed. It is a most extraordin-
ary fact that these wild people are more afraid of savage
animals than we Europeans.
With a great deal of difficulty and trouble we at
last succeeded in getting this extraordinary animal into
the boat, and landed it safely in Yates's barrack-room,
where we all assembled that evening to take our cigars
and grog; and this singular beast the whole time kept
running round and round the room, uttering a faint and
plaintive cry whenever it was touched by any of us.
The next day we had it tied, near a pond of water
in the barrack-square, by a long rope fastened round
one of its hind legs; and it afforded us amusement for
two or three weeks in hunting it with the dogs. The
cunning animal, the moment, it heard their voices
approaching, instantly took to the water, and prepared
itself for the attack in the very centre of the pond, which
was a deep one. As they drew near, it would duck them
under the water with its fore paws, so quickly as to tire
them out, and oblige them to return to land half
One morning we found that this odd but amusing
creature had loosened the cord and escaped to his native
wilds, not much improved in politeness for its short
sojourn among us. The flesh of this beast is considered
excellent food, it being white and delicate like veal; but
we could not determine on cutting our captive's throat.
The Canje creek was very frequently the scene of
our sports where, among the thick branches of the beau-
tiful forest trees, we always found some species of love-
ly birds to shoot at.


One day we extended our excursion above fifteen
miles up this stream, and returned at night to sleep at
Mynheer Catz's coffee-plantation. This little man had
been formerly a Dutch Jew, who had arrived in this
colony with a pedlar's box hung round his neck; but,
from his excessive penury, he at last became possessed of
a good plantation, to which he soon added a second, and
finally, a third; upon this he was living when I became
acquainted with him. At this time he had a mestee
daughter, to whom he was particularly attached; and,
sending her to London for education, she was placed at
one of the most expensive schools in this capital, as he
intended her to inherit his whole property.

In these excursions we occasionally observed the
fine hard-wood trees of this country withered and
destroyed by the bush-rope, while nests of some of the
tropical birds were hanging over the water, but deserted
by the feathered tribe, who had sagacity enough to per-
ceive the decayed state of their support, which was
destined soon to be carried away by the force of the


Sickness in the Colony-Unpleasant Duty of visiting the
Hospital-Unhealthy Situation of the Fort-The
Author accepts an Invitation to the East Coast-His
reception at the Plantation of Geanes-The Vulture
-The Spoonbill-The Currie-currie-The Hammie-
hammie-The Viscissy Duck-The Muscovy Duck-
Abundance of Wild Fowl and Fish-Amusements of
the Negroes-Dance called the Brasiliero-Songs
sung to it-Preparations for a Visit to a Moravian
Missionary Settlement-Run along the Sea-coast-Mr.
Lawson's-Torment of Mosquitoes-Voyage up the
Corantine River-The Humming Bird-Islands in
the River-Monkeys-Macaws and Parrots-A Soli-
tary Bird-Prodigious Fish-Storm of Rain-
Unpleasant Situation of the Voyagers.
About the 8th of June, 1806, the colony became
uncommonly sickly; for, as I have before observed, from
the month of June to that of September, this climate is
very unfavourable to health: and now hardly a day passed
without some men in the garrison, as well as those upon
outpost duty, being carried to the hospital with dangerous
fevers and severe bowel complaints.
It proved the most unpleasant part of our duty, when
officer of the day, to be under the necessity of visiting
the hospital, which was now crowded with ghastly objects
lying in the agonies of death-for
Dread Pestilence, with her poisoned tongue,
Lurked in each breeze:"
and often did I shudder to behold a poor wretch whom,
only the day before, I had seen stout and in perfect
health, writhing in the grasp of death, with eyes fixed on
vacancy, his underjaw hanging in a most frightful
manner and swarms of flies already seizing the body as
their bodies in constant motion, jigged to each other in
putrid form.


The situation of the Fort, owing to the swampy
savannah in its rear, added much to the sickness; agues
were common and severe of their kind: in short, I believe,
there was not one of us in the garrison free from some
kind of complaint. From frequent attacks of ague I was
much reduced in health and spirits, and was most happy
on receiving a very kind invitation from Mr. Simon
Fraser, a friend of my good colonel's, residing on the east
coast, to spend some time with him, in order to shake off
my complaint.

On Sunday, Mr. Fraser's plantation-schooner, which
had been up to New Amsterdam with a cargo of cotton,
called for me in the evening, and with difficulty I crawled
on board of her. She immediately got under way; and,
after an agreeable sail, we landed in about four hours
at the plantation Geanes, on the east coast, and not very
far from the Corantine river. This property belonged to
Mr. McLeod, and Mr. E. Fraser had the charge and
resided on it.

On gaining the house, I found Mr. Fraser and a few
friends amusing themselves with a rubber at whist. He
received me with great kindness, and, during the time I
remained with him, treated me with the greatest

I soon derived benefit from the change of air, and,
as I recovered strength, frequently I amused myself with
my gun. As the beach, in front of the estate, yielded
abundance of birds at low water, I hardly ever returned
to the house without six or eight brace of exceedingly
fine specimens, consisting of spoonbills, currie-currie,
plover, and various kinds of ducks.

The first birds I observed on this property were the
vultures, the scavengers of these colonies, of which there
were great numbers hovering about in all directions; and,
from their being respected by the inhabitants of this
country, who never disturb them, they paid not the least


attention to me or my gun, but passed so close to my
head that I was tempted to fire at several of them. I
often saw one of these birds, elevated on the high dead
limb of some gigantic tree that command a wide view
of the neighboring coast, calmly contemplating the
motions of the various feathered tribes which busily
pursued their avocations below him-the snow-white
and grey gull, slowly winnowing the air; the beautiful
coloured spoonbill, intently watching and wading for his
prey; the lovely scarlet currie-currie, flying in flocks along
the beach; the clamorous muscovy-duck, and all the winged
multitudes that subsist by the bounty of this vast liquid
magazine of Nature.
He looked at them, and turned his head in silent con-
templation; for he never touches bird or animal while life
remains in it. For blood he has no taste; but, the mo-
ment the air brings to his keen nostrils the putrid scent
of a dead body, of fish, flesh, or fowl, his eye kindles,
he balances himself, with half-open wings, on the branch,
and levelling his bare neck for flight, he launches into the
air, following the odour which has struck his olfactory
nerves. High in air he mounts, his unincumbered wings
slowly and gracefully urging him through the upper
regions; and, arriving over the spot where the body which
attracted him is now decomposing with the heat of the
sun, he poises himself for a moment, and then descends
to feed upon this delicious morsel. In my whole residence
in these colonies, I never saw these birds attack a living
animal; but I observed that they always preferred a stink-
ing dead carcase to a living one. Hence their appellation
of "scavenger."
The spoonbill is larger than a goose and web-footed.
The bill, which is the most extraordinary part of the bird,
is straight, flat, and about six inches long, with a small
crook at the point, where it becomes broad and circular,
exactly resembling a spoon. The head is rather bald,
and of a whitish colour, and the body is covered with fea-
thers of a delicate pink. These birds, from their num-
bers, used frequently to put me in mind of a regiment


drawn up in line, as they stood along the beach close to
the water, catching the small fish brought up by the tide.

The currie-currie, or red curlew of Guiana* is a most
beautiful bird for colour and elegance of shape, the neck,
wings and body, being of a bright scarlet; the four prin-
cipal wing-feathers are tipped with black. The legs are
long and slender. This bird is larger than the common
curlew, and is excellent eating when young, at which time
it is of a black colour, not changing to red till it is a
twelvemonth old.
The hammie-hammie, as it is called by the natives, is
a large heron, which, when standing erect, measures about
six feet from its head to its feet. It has a long straight
bill terminating in a point of a flesh colour; the top of
the head is black, adorned with a small crest; the neck is
long and white; the wings are brown tipped with black; and
its back is covered with long hairy feathers.
The viscissy duck is smaller than our European bird
of that name, and much handsomer in shape and colour.
The bill, legs, and feet, are orange-coloured; and the fea-
thers on the top of the head brown, variegated with bars
of a light chestnut colour. The breast is an exceedingly
dark mahogany brown. These birds frequent the savan-
nahs, where they breed, and resort in large flocks to the
sea-coast, making a delicate sort of whistle, not in the
least resembling the notes of a duck in our country. They
are extremely timid, so much so that I have known them,
when fired at, to fall to the ground to all appearances
dead, even though the shot had never touched them, but
only through fright at the report. They are dexterous
at hiding themselves in the grass, and, if not mortally
struck, are scarcely ever to be discovered. Last year, I
saw some young ducks brought from a rock in the Bris-
tol Channel, not far from the small watering-place in which
I resided for the bathing-season, called Weston-super-mare.
They exactly resembled this bird in marks and colours.

This is the well-known Scarlet Ibis Editor


There are likewise immense flocks of the muscovy-
duck, but they were not near so delicate as the viscissy,
their flesh being hard and fishy.

There are numerous other species besides the above
birds which frequent the sea-coast to feed upon the small-
er fish; and a planter who employs a Negro to shoot
never need be at a loss for a dish of wild fowl. Fish are
also in abundance along this coast, and some of them
remarkably fine eating. The very trenches abound in good
mullet, so that there is no scarcity in the supply of food
for man even in this wild country. Indeed, I have some-
times seen a good Negro cook lay out a dinner equal to,
if not surpassing, any that could be set before you by
the famous Very at Paris.
The Negroes on this estate were the happiest set of
people I ever beheld: content and good humour were
expressed in all their countenances. Every evening, in this
clear climate, after their work was finished, they assem-
bled in different groups with their tom-toms. With the
exception of a calabash filled with stones, and rattled every
now and then, the tomtom is their only instrument, upon
which they beat in excellent time. The dancers keeping
their bodies in constant motion, jigged to each other in
the most extraordinary attitudes, singing verses in time
to the tomtoms, and slapping their arms and thighs.
They have in Portugal a similar dance, which is called
the Braziliero, taken from the Blacks in the country after
which it is named. This is danced with all the indecency
of these people, the performers singing the whole time
verses in their Negro language. I remember two verses
in two of their songs, which I heard used in Portugal by
the young common people during their dances.

Amor entrar pelhos olhos,
Vai o peito deretinho
Si nao achao resistancia
Vei seguindo sua caminho.

The following is a literal translation:
Love enters at the eyes,
And flies straight onward to the breast;
If it meets with no resistance
It still pursues its way.
A Pachao que sinto n'alma
A pachao que sinto n'alma
Pelos olhos bem se ve
Nao o devade mostrar
Bern sei a rezao por que.
Eu q'ro more juntinho a ve-ce
Congi de vo-ce has posso viver
Ay, Ay, Ay Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay,
Longi de vo-ce.
The passion I feel in my soul
By my eyes is plainly seen;
I ought not to show it,
For well I know the reason why.
I wish to die near thee,
Far from thee I cannot live.
Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh,
Far from thee.
The airs to which these songs were sung are sweet
and melancholy, and the subject of the Negro song was
much the same.
I served in Portugal from 1810 to 1820 under Marshal
General Lord Beresford, as major, lieutenant-colonel, and
full colonel, in the Portuguese army, and during this period
observed a great similarity between the lower class in that
country and the coloured people in the West Indies. The
climate is very similar, the sun being equally brilliant and
cause similarity of dispositions and feelings, whatever the
colour of the inhabitants may be.
On the 13th of June a large party of friends dined at
the Geanes plantation, and among them was a Doctor Gor-
don, who had arrived from Berbice for the purpose of
taking a party up the Corantine River. He was determined
to explore its unknown windings, and, if possible, to visit a


settlement of German missionaries, where, for years, they
had resided in these wild and impenetrable forests in the
hope of teaching Christianity to the savage and wandering
Indians. He now beat up for recruits, who were not slow
in coming forward, and we soon mustered six adventurers,
fit for any hazardous undertaking; and, when we consid-
ered the scanty accommodation we should have to put up
with in Mr. E. Fraser's colony schooner, we all thought
this number quite sufficient.

Having laid in a good stock of provisions, in case of
necessity, and a few trifling things to barter with the
Indians, we embarked in high spirits from Mr. McLeod's
plantation, on Sunday evening, the 15th of June, 1806, and
stood up the coast of the Corantine river, each of us being
full of the ardour of discovery, and determined to push on
as far as the season of the year would permit.

The coast here we found anything but agreeable to
sail along, and the numerous mudbanks rendered the navi-
gation exceedingly difficult. At last the helmsman,
Mungo, a slave on Mr. McLeod's plantation at Guedesm
stood directly out to sea. The breeze down this coast was
now rather stiff, attended with some heavy breakers,
which produced sea-sickness in some of our party.

Having run out to sea to a sufficient distance to gain
the mouth of the Corantine river on the next tack, we were
enabled to anchor the schooner off Mr. Lawson's plantation
at eleven o'clock at night. We landed, and went to our
hammocks in Mr. Lawson's house, which is the last in the
colony of Berbice, situated close to the Corantine. From
this place nothing is to be seen on either side but wild
impenetrable forest, and the placid stream of the Coran-
tine, which is about eighteen miles across at this spot, and
beautifully interspersed with richly wooded islands.

June 16. This morning I arose heated and
unrefreshed, not having been able to close my eyes during