by Archie Lindo.
John Canoe Band
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15: ?' " si
famaica Journal is published Quarterly
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QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
DECEMBER '68 VOL. 2 NO. 4
HISTORY and the Institute . . . . . . . 2
Black Power and Us. . . . . ..... Mervyn Morris 2
The Rose Hall Legend . . . .... .. Glory Robertson 6
Discovery of Two Ships of Columbus . . Robert F. Marx 13
SCIENCE for the Layman . . . . . .... 18
Jamaican Birds. . . . . . . ... Roger Smith 18
ART LITERATURE MUSIC
Reflections on W.I. Writing and Criticism.
Henry Daley, the Artist . . . .
Less than a Man . . . . .
Post Horn Solo "Perrycum" (Music) .
Design in Jamaica . . . . .
Up Park Camp (Colour) . . . .
Extract from 'Islands' (Poetry) . .
Jamaica and the New Wave (Film) . .
. . Sylvia Wynter
. . Edna Manley
. . Hugh Martin
. . Keith Gordon
. Sergio dello Strologo
. . . .J.B. Kidd
. Edward Brathwaite
. . Harry Milner
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NEXT ISSUE will include:
Reflections on W.I. Writing and Criticism, Part Two. . Sylvia Wynter
Old King's House. . . . . . ... T.L.C. Concannon
Cults in Jamaica . . . . . .... Edward Seaga
"Duppy Plants" . . . . . . . .. Lilly Perkins
Cover Photo Amador Packer
History and the Institute
.iustrate4 y Eugene Hyde.
There has been a recent attempt to form a Black Power
Movement in Jamaica. Among the first indications has been a
cyclostyled sheet circulated at the University. A list of Hall
Representatives is preceded by a statement of aims:
"1. To create an awareness of what it means to be black.
2. To mobilize and unify Black people to act in their own
3. To reject white cultural imperialism.
4. To seek to ensure the rule of Blacks in a black
Among students at the university there has been, one
understands, considerable antipathy to the proposed movement.
But the opposition has not always been careful in its objections.
The proposed movement has frequently been attacked for
attitudes which its leaders will not defend and methods which
its leaders (so far) deplore. It is not true, some of them tell us,
that Black Power advocates violence; it foresees the need to
resist it. It is not true that those who accept the aims of
Black Power must necessarily abandon white friends and join
a general game of "Get the Whites". Personal, and sometimes
anonymous, nastiness to individual whites is unconnected with
the movement, its current leaders say. What the leaders say
may prove reliable on every count, though some of the attitudes
and actions disowned may nevertheless be the indirect result
of adopting the name of a movement elements of which have,
in the United States, used or condoned violence, advocated
black avoidance of white people, and actively played "Get
The black man who cannot accept all the stated aims of the
local Black Power movement feels challenged to detail and
examine the reasons for his rejection. It may be, as some of
the Movement's adherents say with irresponsible glibness, that
he is "psychologically white". (Any black man who rejects
the Black Power line is likely to be thus described.) And the
black man, eager not to shrink from the physical, emotional,
economic, political or any other implication of being black in
Jamaica today, may well agree that psychological whiteness (if
the term has any precise ineaning) is an undesirable state for a
man who is physically black. He may have read Sartre's
introduction to Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth a
favoured text of Black Power intellectuals and wondered
whether it applied to him:
"The European elite undertook to manufacture a native
elite. They picked out promising adolescents; they
branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles
of western culture; they stuffed their mouths full with
high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck
to the teeth. After a short stay in the mother country
they were sent home, whitewashed. "
Yet the black man, uncertain in commitment, may have
noticed (and, for his own comfort, treasured the observation)
that the Black Power advocates are as unembarrassed to quote
and even to lean on white European intellectuals of the left as
he has been to claim those individual moments of European
culture which speak to his experience, his needs as a person.
The black man who, in Jamaica now, questions the usefulness
of some of the movement's stated aims may feel that his
interest in and commitment to his own blackness are as real,
and at least as honest, as what he sees in Black Power advocates.
The first stated aim "to create an awareness of what it
means to be black" is likely to be attractive to all black
people in Jamaica, except the few who, naive or extraordinarily
sheltered, believe that blackness if no significance in human
relations here today. The aim is attractive partly because it
implies a question; suggests humility before experience, a
genuine seeking for an answer. (Contrast, in particular, aim
number four: "To seek to ensure the rule of Blacks in a black
In Jamaica, to be black (it is broadly true) is to be poor.
The observation can be widened to the whole non-white world:
there is a correlation, as Black Power advocates will demon-
strate as efficiently as anyone can, between whiteness and
wealth, non-whiteness and poverty. From this economic
analysis the second aim may seem to follow naturally: except
that the real point is presumably to mobilize the underprivileged
(who happen to be black), not the black (most of whom are
underprivileged). For the black middle-classes are, by and large,
as committed as the upper-class whites to The System which
perpetuates the conditions of the black underprivileged masses.
It seems tidier to make the analysis in this way than to talk of,
mobilising blacks and then have to exclude the black bourgeo-
isie as "psychologically white". If the movement is to unify
black people it will have a hard time with blacks who accept,
even welcome, their blackness but have economic class-interests
which will conflict with massive improvements for the black
working-class. What it means to be black varies from group to
social group. In the meaning of blackness there are important
differences between, for example, the class which employs
domestic servants and the class which provides them. Even
in their relation to each other. The black domestic may,
as sometimes happens, resent having a black (instead of a
white) employer. The sensitive black employer may
feel guilt about the terms on which she employs her black
sister, even when these terms are generous by the current
standards of the society. The domestic servant may like
or resent, or like and resent, some white persons with
whom she comes in contact; but her experience will be quite
different from that of the black middle-class man who finds
himself patronised by his white or fair-skinned economic and
professional peers. What it means to be black is in the end a
personal thing. But even at the level of generalisation there are
enormous differences between the experience of different
socio-economic groups. And there are, of course, further prob-
lems in our shade-conscious society if we attempt a simple
white-black division, conceding to the mulatto the right to
choose his side. With the current state of our tolerances and
our prejudices, there seems no reason to deny a white man a
similar choice: can he not be "psychologically black"?
One of the good things about considering what it means to
be black is that it forces the Jamaican or West Indian to respond
also in a larger context, in the context of the whole world.
Whatever the arguable Jamaican or West Indian subtleties, the
black in this area knows that at certain times in certain places
subtleties are irrelevant: the black university student is no
different from the black bus-conductor when the white gang
has him penned; in Memphis, Tennessee, a nigger is a nigger.
Part of what it means to be a black man in Jamaica is the
understanding that, however much one may prefer to insist on
the complexities of human personality and relationships, mere
blackness also matters. One identifies with the black victim of
an American lynching; one must; for he is lynched because he
is black. How can a black man fail to identify racially, not just
in human sympathy, with the victims of this sort of treatment:
"When we got inside the barn there were about a
hundred or more cops and patrolmen and they began to
to push us from one side to the other. They yelled,
"Get back, nigger, get back." They pushed us all into
each other. One of them pushed me across the back with
one of the blackjacks and said, 'Get on up there in the
line.' And they just beat up children, pushing them and
hitting them in the head. (The children were twelve
years and older.) "...It's a long story, but the saddest of
all it was a lady that weighed about three hundred
pounds.., and we didn't have no kind of privacy because
about twenty-five or thirty cops would be in there all
through the night. And this lady had rinsed out her
panties, and she was lying on a pallet. And they asked
her to get up. And they snatched the tick out from under.
And as she lied on the floor two cops taken her by her
feet, and they drug her about twenty-five feet across the
hall, and they kicked her all in her privates and beat her
(from The New Radicals
a Report with Documents, Penguin)
When, encouraged by Mr. Enoch Powell, white antagonism
to non-whites builds up in Britain, and white workers sing
"Bye-Bye Blackbird" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"
and support slogans such as "Keep Britain White" or "Nigger
Go Home", the distinctions which the West Indian negro may
find it natural to make in his own society seem irrelevant. To
the Keep Britain White men, he is only a black man, his other
distinguishing features personality, character, qualifications,
experience count for nothing. The brutal fact is a useful
corrective to the black West Indian who may have persuaded
himself that his blackness is never of simple significance.
Yet to think in terms of blackness and whiteness without
that discrimination of the individual person, the particular
situation, is as bad an error to make. Look for example, at this
account from The Manchester Guardian of an incident during
the 1958 racial tension in Britain:
"Long before trouble actually broke out in Bramley
Road yesterday afternoon there had been an unhealthy
mood in the streets of Notting Hill. It was not a normal
Monday, for there was hardly a black-skinned person to
be seen in the shops or on the pavements .. At the
street covers, knots of young men could be seen
gathering and occasionally being dispersed by constables
on foot patrol.
Into this ugly situation stepped an outsider who had no
inkling of what was in store for him. Mr. Seymour
Manning is a 26-year-oldAfrican student who is at present
living in Derby. He had come down for the day to see
friends in Notting Hill, and though he did not know it
he was under close observation from hostile eyes from
the moment he stepped out of the Latimer Road Under-
In the four hours that I had been in this area he was
only the third coloured person I had seen venture out of
doors. I watched him disappear up Bramley Road. A
few minutes later there was an outburst of screams and
I saw Mr. Manning sprinting back towards the Under-
ground, his tie and blazer streaming out behind him. As
his three pursuers closed in, he turned in desperation and
flung himself into the doorway of a green grocer's shop,
turned, and slammed it shut. A moment later the
shopkeeper's wife.. .appeared in the doorway, locked
the door behind her, and turned to face the trio of
toughs. She had two friends with her a housewife of
her own age and a boy in his teens.
She kept them at bay until the police arrived a few
minutes later. Soon after the first two constables came
to her rescue, a radio car arrived, and after that came full
reinforcements. It was during the interim period, before
it was clear that the police were on their way in
force, that people on the opposite pavement called
out for a lynching. I went up to one of the young
men, who looked to be about 25, and asked him what he
had against the African in the shop. "Just tell your
readers that little Rock learned us a lesson,' was the
reply. Another youth, who had also been calling for
a lynching, turned to me and said: 'Tell them we've got
a bad enough housing shortage around here without
them moving in. Keep Britain White.'
Half an hour after he had taken refuge in the store,
Mr. Manning was rescued by a squad of policemen who
held back the crowd and escorted him to a car. He was
taken off to the home of his friends, where he was
treated for bruises and shock. "
(Manchester Guardian, September 2, 1958;
quoted in Newcomers by Ruth Glass)
This is a very nasty incident. Mr. Manning was pursued by
hostile whites. But he was rescued also by whites; they may not
have cared about the particular person, the black Mr. Manning,
but they were protecting a human being beset by others. That
green-grocer's wife, her friend and the teenage boy who kept
the toughs at bay; they were all white. The white police who
came to do their job represented law in a predominantly white
community. The report appeared in a white newspaper. This
situation requires analysis that goes beyond seeing the white
people as the enemy en masse, it seems to imply varying
degrees of involvement.
Is an important gain for blacks likely if they think black
and unite to show a common front? In the United States the
case seems strong in favour of Black Power, a tough movement
to shake the economic interest of whites who seem incapable
of caring when faced with non-violent challenges to conscience.
For rapid effectiveness, Stokely Carmichael rather than Martin
Luther King. Black Power means the hard task of getting
Negroes registered and seeing that they vote, of persuading
them to use such economic power as they have to make the
crusted whites begin to care. Even in the United States,
violence (mainly arson and looting) is not a first step, though
blacks will not rule out violence any more than whites have
done throughout history. Stokely Carmichael said: "Black
power seems to me to mean nothing more than black people
coming together as a political, economic, and social force and
forcing their representatives or electing their representatives to
speak to their needs, and if that doesn't work, they then
decide what tactics they use to get the things they need in
this country." As methods of attack whether officially
sponsored by Black Power leaders or not arson and looting
are effectively forcing more white Americans to consider the
conditions of the negro ghetto. The Mayor of Chicago is
outraged that looters and arsonists are not being shot by the
police. The violent techniques of Black Power work because
the whites in authority dare not, in the present climate of
American and international conscience, counter them with the
ruthless violence which could virtually stamp them out.
Allowing for differences between the British public conscience
in India thirty years ago and the American public conscience
now, it seems possible that violence directed against property
in America may, more closely than Martin Luther King's
Christian non-violence, reproduce a crisis of conscience such as
Ghandi achieved. Ghandi's main point was not to suffer
nobly, it was to embarrass and make the British uncomfortable:
he saw to it that they could be effective only by shattering
their cherished image of public decency. America has not been
much embarrassed by Martin Luther King; it has, instead,
applauded his courage and claimed him as part of the Great
American Tradition. It is now that the crisis of conscience is
really developing: whites and blacks, as it happens are
being hurt by loss of property; but few Americans will agree
so far that a man should be shot for attacking property.
The techniques of Black Power in America would not
necessarily be effective everywhere or even anywhere -
else. Not in Britain, for example. The overwhelming majority
of blacks in America are black Americans, the overwhelming
majority of blacks in Britain are black foreigners. A country
that can, in spite of its previous solemn assurances, curb the
immigration of (Kenyan) British citizens to Britain could quite
possibly start massive deportation of blacks when it judged
this to be a partial solution to problems. The techniques
associated with American Black Power would scarcely work in
South Africa or Rhodesia, say, where the heavily armed whites
are more scared and therefore more ruthless than in the United
States and the black population is even more depressed. Here
in the West Indies, Black Power, if it is to make sense, involves
so much semantic juggling that a new slogan might seem pre-
ferable. For, we are told, black does not mean black, it means
non-white (so the mass of Indians can be included); and some
non-whites (such as the Chinese or the Syrians, some Indians,
many mulattoes and even a few blacks) are classed as local
What are the immediate priorities of the movement? From
the talk by leaders one would seem to be a sharp improvement
in the appalling conditions of the black masses. If this is so,
then, in a society which has universal adult suffrage, the first
attempt must be to persuade voters to support a democratic
leftwing movement which is serious about that priority. There
are difficult problems, of course: in particular, the wealth and
power of the entrenched ruling class, a power which includes
virtual control of mass media.
But will the black masses give their vote to those who seek
- aim number four simply "to ensure the rule of Blacks in a
black society"? The necessary question is: which Blacks?
Having the vote though not the powerful organs of persua-
sion there is an arguable sense in which the black masses
already rule. Would they gain by electing black capitalists
instead of white? Black middle-class whiskey-swilling politicians
with imported American cars and fat bank accounts, rather
than white? The important political factor here are economic
aims and attitudes. Should one vote for colour rather than
commitment? At its most cynical, this fourth stated aim may
be used to divert attention from the real purposes and attitudes
of black men intent on power but uninterested in any modifica-
tion of The System except the replacement of a white govern-
ing class by a black.
Aim the third "to reject white cultural imperialism" -
will command ready assent, until the assenters start discussing
what they think it means. It soon emerges that white cultural
imperialism means quite different things to different people.
To some it suggests preoccupation with foreign consumer goods
as status, the flashy car, foreign whiskey, dinner-jackets,
second-rate canned television; to others it implies Shakes-
peare, Dickens, Mozart and the Christian religion. Also, there
is a double standard at work: the left-wing New Statesman is
(or used to be) alright for blacks, the right-wing Sunday Times
is "White cultural imperialism". Blacks may quote or echo
Marx, Rousseau, even Edmund Burke; they must not enjoy
Jane Austen, Saki or E.B. White.
If the black Jamaican is to reject white cultural imperialism,
might he not do well to look with care at cultural imports of
whatever shade or origin? When a movement so thoroughly,
necessarily and effectively American as the Black Power
Movement is offered for Jamaican consumption, should he not
view it as suspiciously as he views coco-cola, Time Magazine or
the latest American investor? Should the objection really be
only to cultural imperialism which is white?
It is suggested that the black Jamaican should identify
more readily with Africa, of which (because of his British
white-washing) he knows so little. Because of our black skins,
our ancestral roots are in Africa and await their re-discovery.
But the British overlay is as much a part of the present Jamai-
can personality as important African inheritances (such as in
eating patterns, in marriage patterns, religious cults, our folk-
lore and so on). This is true even of some aspects which are,
sociologically, evidence of white bias in our social values. When
Jamaican women get their hair straightened, it is no longer
true in any very personal way that they do so out of an
anxious self-contempt; these days they do so because that is
one of the inherited fashions like men wearing trousers, or all
of us using our versions of the colonisers' language.
In many areas, however, Jamaica can use the Black Power
emphasis on the dignity of blackness; what Martin Luther
King welcomed as the positive side of the movement. The
self-contempt that slavery taught the Negro has not yet died.
But whether the black man who used to feel that being black
made him inferior is actually improved as a human being if he
thinks that it makes him superior, is a question difficult to
settle. Each attitude puts discriminating human response
aside, preferring to react by colour. "Black is beautiful" need
not imply "white is ugly".
One of the main problems posed by the Black Power
movement in Jamaica so far is that because of the emotional
charge of race, what the movement means to sympathisers
is not always what the leaders have defined. Fluent intellect-
uals define the aims as power commensurate with numbers, but
the message spreads simply as black supremacy. The leaders
imply that black is just as good as white, that all people are
human persons; the message spreads as black is better, white is
worse black prejudice replacing white. We do, in Jamaica,
need dramatically to improve the conditions of people who are
poor; which implies a social, probably a socialist, revolution for
a massive assault on poverty. But when (as a mobilising tactic)
the case is, on either side, made primarily in terms of colour,
human beings are diminished in the easy invitation to separate
by shade, in the easy avoidance of more complex relationships.
And we get an automatic response which those who stir it up
may prove quite unable to control.
Probably the best known story in
Jamaica is the legend of the beautiful but
evil mistress of Rose Hall who murdered
her husbands or lovers and tortured her
slaves, until at last she was strangled in
her own bed, by her slaves, say some
people, by a lover, according to others.
Most people will tell you that this woman
was Annie Palmer, who came to the estates
of Rose Hall and Palmyra as the wife of
John Rose Palmer in 1820, and is supposed
to have been murdered sometime in the
1830's at Palmyra or, in other versions of
the tale, at Rose Hall. One of the fascinat-
ing things about this legend is that in the
nineteenth century most people were
equally certain that the story was about
another Mrs. Palmer, and Annie was not
even thought of in this connection. I
would like to trace the development of
the story to its present form, and to
suggest that the villainess cannot have
been Annie, as there is reason to believe
that the wicked Mrs. Palmer must have
lived before Annie was born.
In 1868 John Castello, a Falmouth
newspaper editor, published a pamphlet
called "Legend of Rose Hall". This lurid
story begins with a description of a
1718 Birth of Rosa Kelly, who by her 4th
marriage became Rosa Palmer.
1746 Rosa's first marriage Husband died
6 months later in Jan. 1747.
1752/53 Rosa's second husband died.
1753 Rosa's third marriage to Norwood Witter.
1765 Witter, the third husband, died. Buried
24 or 25 May in Westmoreland, his own
1767 Rosa's fourth marriage to the Hon.
John Palmer (widower of Elizabeth
Vaughan of Bristol).
1772 Birth of Rebecca Ann James.
1786 or Dr. Moore's novel "Zeluco".
1790 Rosa died, aged 72. Buried in St. James
Parish churchyard at Montego Bay.
1792 Hon. John Palmer married Rebecca Ann
James, spinster, of well-known Jamaican
1795 Richard Hill born.
1797 Hon. John Palmer died.
1797 Rebecca Ann renounced claim to Rose
Hall and Palmyra and shortly after left
for England. Rose Hall and Palmyra
went to the 2 sons of Palmer's first wife,
1802 Annie Mary Paterson born.
1818 Rose Hall and Palmyra inherited by
Hon. John Palmer's greatnephew, John
1818 Hill's father died in England.
1820 John Rose Palmer married Annie Mary
1820's Eight or nine slaves at Rose Hall Great
House, according to the estate journal.
1827 John Rose Palmer died, aged 42.
1829-32 Only one slave left at Rose Hall Great
1830 Annie sold her claims to Rose Hall and
Palmyra for 200.
1830 Annie listed at Bellevue in the official
returns of slave-owners.
1830 Rose Hall unoccupied. Waddel held 3
1833 Shore's date for murder of Annie by a
1839 Annie's uncle by marriage made a will
leaving Bellevue to her. He died in 1842.
1846/7 Rebecca Ann, who had in the meantime
re-married, died in England.
1846 Anna Mary Palmer was buried in St.
James Parish churchyard.
1859 Broderick was overseer at Rose Hall in
April. The full length of his time there is
1863 Waddell's book published.
1868 Castello pamphlet, "The Legend of Rose
1868 Richard Hill wrote a letter saying that
the pamphlet was "altogether wrong".
1881 Handbook of Jamaica mentioned Rosa's
monument in Montego Bay Church.
1891) Guidebooks mentioned marks of strangl-
1893) ing and/or blood supposed to be visible
1891) Guidebooks mentioned marks ofstrangl-
1893) ing and/or blood supposed to be visible
on Rosa's monument.
1893? Death of Shore's informant, the old
or a ex-slave (see (1911 below).
1895 Gleaner correspondence: 1. Broderick;
2. Hill's 1868 letter published; 3. Plum-
mer; 4. T.S.C. All told stories they
had heard about Mrs. Palmer.
5. McLaughlin: 6. Alexander searched
the records at Spanish Town for evidence.
1911 Shore's book, "In old St. James". He
had got some details from an ex-slave
who died in or a little after 1893.
1929 DeLisser's novel, "The White Witch of
1965 Further search of the records by Yates.
monument supposedly in the Parish
Church of Montego Bay to Mrs. Ann
Palmer. It is described as "a small marble
monument of the purest white, without
a speck or blemish. A broken pillar, an
overturned lamp, a dead tree, a declining
head-stone, a setting sun, and a scull,
artistically grouped together..... The
supersfi~ition purports that it was erected
to the memory of Mrs. Ann Palmer, who
was exemplary in all the social relations
6&M-d.60r. ILra .t11,
Near this place
are deposited the Remains of
Mrs. ROSA PALMER
who died on the first day ofMay, 1790.
Her manners were open, cheerful and agreeable:
and being blessed with a plentiful fortune
hospitality dwelt with her, as long as health
permitted her to enjoy society.
Educated by the anxious care of a Reverent
She was warm in her attachment to her Friends,
and gave the most signal proof of it
in the last moments of her life.
This tribute of affection and respect
the Honourable JOHN PALMER
as a monument of her worth
and his gratitude.
of life; as a daughter dutiful; as a wife,
affectionate and living; as a parent, kind
and tender; and, that after a long and
lingering illness, which she bore with the
most Christian patience and resignation,
she was removed from this to a better and
happier world." The pamphlet then goes
on to describe the great house at Rose
Hall and the beauty of Ann Palmer when
she arrived there as a young bride. It tells
of the murder by Ann of two of her
husbands, one poisoned and smothered
with pillows, the other poisoned and
stabbed, a slave lover himself murdered to
close his mouth, a third husband "an
emigrant, a mechanic, a rude and un-
lettered man" who disappeared myster-
iously, "twas said he left the country",
and a fourth who married her for her
wealth but warned by the fate of his
predecessors "sought safety by flight."
An only daughter consigned to a dreadful
fate is mentioned in passing. After the
flight of the fourth husband "her nights
were spent amid drunken orgies.... while
her days were spent inflicting the most
tyrannical cruelties and dreadful tortures
on her slaves", who finally murdered her.
She was buried on the estate, and the
story ironically concludes, "This was the
end of that Mrs. Ann Palmer, whose
virtues are so conspicuously recorded in
the Parish Church, this was the long and
lingering illness which she bore with so
much fortitude and resignation."
Castello did not suggest any date for
these events, nor did he mention any es-
tate except Rose Hall.
In December 1870 the magazine "Lei-
sure Hour" printed an anonymous story
about two estates called Orange Hill and
Citronia. Although all the names and in-
cidents are different it is still recognisably
the Rose Hall story. The introduction of
the second estate, Citronia, is the only
change which showed knowledge of a gen-
uine detail of the legend not included by
Castello. All the other changes were mere
The story became linked with a real
monument in the Montego Bay Parish
Church which is quite unlike the one des-
cribed by Castello in both appearance and
inscription. This real monument is to
Mrs. Rosa (not Ann) Palmer, wife of the
Hon. John Palmer, Custos of St. James,
who died in 1790 aged 72, and the dis-
similarity between it and the monument
described in the pamphlet can be seen from
the photograph. In 1881 the earliest
"Handbook of Jamaica" mentioned the
"exquisite" monument to the memory of
Mrs. Palmer of Rose Hall estate, "of whom
tradition has said so much." De Souza's
"Tourist Guide" of 1891 was more ex-
plicit. Mrs. Palmer was reported to have
murdered five husbands and to have her-
self died by strangulation. 'After the sta-
tue had been erected there appeared round
its marble neck a mark such as would be
made by a hangman's rope.' This was re-
peated in the handbook prepared for the
Jamaican exhibit at the Chicago Exhibi-
tion of 1893. According to the "Tourist
Guide" published by Aston Gardner & Co.
in 1893 not only did marks of strangling
appear round the neck of the statue but
"the nostrils seem to exude blood." An
alternative location for the bloodstain was
the base of the monument the church
bellringer is said to have pointed it out in
that position to a "Gleaner" correspon-
dent in 1891.
So up to this time the legendary villain-
ness was publicly identified with the lady
of the monument, Mrs. Rosa Palmer, and
the identification had been made despite
some contradictions between the legend
and the known facts. Rosa was buried in
the churchyard of the Parish Church,
where a tombstone (separate from the
monument which is on a wall inside the
church) marks her grave, whereas it is part
of the legend that Mrs. Palmer received
a hasty burial in a nameless grave on her
estate. One may wonder a little, too,
too, at the orgies with lovers supposed to
have occurred up to the last days of her
life when she was 72. The monument's
inscription reveals that it was erected by
her husband the Hon. John, so that far
from having mysteriously disappeared or
been murdered he was still around after
her death spending a considerable sum
(3,000 guineas, it was said) on her monu-
In 1895 it became clear that there
were some people who disagreed with this
identification. In May of that year a letter
appeared in the "Gleaner" which referred
to the Palmer monument and to five mur-
dered husbands. This led to a long corres-
pondence in the "Gleaner's" columns, in
the course of which several people made
confident and conflicting assertions.1
There were four chief contributors in
what may be called the first round of this
controversy. Three of these writers
claimed to have heard the story from
people who were alive when it happened,
and the grandfather of one of them
(Plummer) was said to have been a
friend of one of the principal partici-
pators in the drama. A recital of their
differing accounts cannot help being a
little confusing but is an interesting study
in hearsay. John Broderick, once an
overseer at Rose Hall, had got his story
from "an old and respectable gentleman
on the adjoining estate where he could
hear every Sunday the lash of Mr. John
Cattle Whip on the slaves/Mrs. Palmer's/
only day of punishment." Broderick said
that there were four husbands, three of
whom were murdered, and the unlucky
trio were "a military officer, a barrister
and a clergyman". He did not know how
the first died, but the second had molten
lead poured in his ears and the third had
his throat cut. According to his letter,
"they say" that Palmer, the fourth hus-
band, instigated the slaves to murder her,
and this retribution took place at Palmyra
while she was actually punishing some
slaves for not cleaning the floor properly
- she had set a trap for them by spilling
drops of candle wax and alas! after the
floor had been cleaned the wax was still
there! She was smothered between
mattresses by female slaves. When her
Richard Hill (1795- 1872) WIRL
body was found she still held the horse-
whip. Her death occurred during the
Montego Bay races and the jurors had to
be called from the race course.
Two contributors, Richard Hill and
C. Plummer, introduced the idea that the
wicked Mrs. Palmer was not the woman
of the monument.
Richard Hill, the Stipendiary Magis-
trate and well-known amateur naturalist,
had heard stories from his parents who
lived at the time of Mr. & Mrs. Palmer.
Some of these stories had apparently
come to him second hand through his
sister, in particular an account of his
mother having actually met the wicked
Mrs. Palmer at Rose Hall. (Hill unfor-
tunately did not give her first name.)
Hill was dead by 1895 but a private letter
which he had written in 1868, immediate-
ly after the Castello pamphlet came out,
was sent to the "Gleaner" for publication.
Hill's contribution was the longest and is
noteworthy because, having been written
in 1868, it was 27 years nearer the
memories he was recalling than any of the
others. He wrote, he says, after reading
the Castello story which he found "al-
together wrong". The murdering. Mrs.
Palmer was not Rosa of the monument
who, he said, (incorrectly as it later turned
out) had had no other husbands before
Palmer and was an "estimable wife". The
villainess of the legend was an Irish
immigrant servant girl whom John Palmer
married "in his infatuation after the death
of Mrs. Rosa Palmer.. In her service as
the servant, I speak only of the pro-
bability of things, of the first Mrs. Palmer
she had successfully become the wife of
the several husbands whom she had
secretly got rid of." Palmer was the
fourth and she was said to have worn a
ring with the inscription "If I survive I
will have five." (Broderick had also
mentioned this ring.) Palmer suffered
from her "secret licentiousness" and the
slaves from her "ceaseless cruelties", and
Palmer on his deathbed disclosed to the
Reverend Mr. Ricord that he had indirect-
ly intimated that in his absence his slaves
would get rid of her. She was murdered
at Palmyra, not at Rose Hall.
Hill had an explanation for the con-
fusion of identities; there had been a
delay of several years in the erection of
Rosa's monument and thus by the time it
was up, one Mrs. Palmer was mistaken for
C. Plummer had heard stories of Rose
Hall from his grandfather, an intimate
friend of Rosa's husband, the Hon. John
Palmer. Plummer, like Hill, insisted that
there had been error in identifying the
monument with the legend. He agreed
1. See "Rose Hall papers" in the Institute of
Jamaica for a typed copy of this correspon-
that the wicked Mrs. Palmer was the Irish
immigrant who succeeded Rosa. Her
previous three husbands, far from being
the professional gentlemen described by
Broderick, were also immigrants on the
estate; the third was "a very illiterate and
violent man who suddenly disappeared..
and soon after this she became Mrs.
Palmer." "It is alleged" that she resorted
to obeah to remove Rosa by slow poison.
In a second letter he further identified her
as Rebecca Ann James, who had a "will
of iron and the temper of the devil," and
showed some doubt as to whether she
was legally married to John Palmer. He
provided Palmer and Rosa with two sons,
and Ann with a daughter by her first
A correspondent who signed himself
T.S.C. had heard the story from his
deceased grandmother, who heard it from
her husband, who used to visit Montego
Bay about 1830-1845. T.S.C. added
no further facts but wrote to support
Broderick against Plummer's attack; he
had never heard of any Mrs. Palmer
except Rosa in connection with these
traditions and he distinctly remembered
the story of candle grease on the floor.
So all these oral traditions passed on by
parents and grandparents agreed that the
wicked Mrs. Palmer's death took place at
Palmyra, not Rose Hall as the pamphlet
had said. Broderick was the only corres-
pondent to specify the methods used to
murder the husbands and his account
differed from the pamphlet. Hill and
Plummer disagreed with Broderick, T.S.C.
and the pamphlet in declaring that the
monument in the church was not to the
memory of the villainess. Hill and Plum-
mer also disagreed with Broderick and the
pamphlet on the social status of the
villainess and her previous husbands.
After this thorough recital of every-
one's memories, the second and more
professional round of the correspondence
began; a search of the records at Spanish
Town was made by E.N. McLaughlin and
Leslie Alexander, and several of those con-
fident memories were proved to be com-
pletely wrong. McLaughlin published his
findings in the "Gleaner" of June 17,
1895. John Palmer had indeed married,
two years after Rosa's death, a 20 year
old woman named Rebecca Ann James.
But far from being an Irish immigrant
servant of Rosa's, her baptismal record
showed her to be the daughter of
Richard Haughton James of Hanover and
Trelawny and of Mary his wife, "one of
the most respected families then in the
island." She was described as "spinster"
on her marriage certificate, therefore she
had had no previous husbands to murder.
Shortly after Palmer's death in 1797 she
2. by Geoffrey Yates in 1965.
gave up all claims on Rose Hall and Palmy-
ra and disposed of her own property,
declaring in one of the legal documents
that she was "shortly about to depart this
island for the kingdom of Great Britain."
Subsequent research2 has shown that Re-
becca Ann remarried in England and
died there in 1846 or 1847.
So she did not have numerous hus-
bands, she was not murdered by her slaves
and within months of Palmer's death she
had left Rose Hall and Palmyra forever
and is out of our story.
What of Rosa? As Rosa Witter she
she had married the Hon. John Palmer on
5 July 1767. McLaughlin could find no
absolute proof that she was a spinster but
was disposed to agree with Richard Hill
on that point. Therefore she had not
murdered any previous husbands either.
So McLaughlin acquitted both Rebecca
Ann and Rosa of all blame.
Leslie Alexander, by taking his resear-
ches farther back, proved that, despite the
opinions of Hill and McLaughlin, Rosa
had had three husbands before Palmer.
The first husband died about six
months after the marriage; the duration
of the second marriage is not certainly
known; the third lasted about twelve
years; this husband was in debt to her
when he died and Alexander suggested
that they may not have been on good
terms as she renounced the executor-
ship of his estate and refused to produce
certain slaves said to belong to him who
were with her at Rose Hall. Two years
after this man's death she married John
Palmer, with whom she lived for 23 years.
Both Hill and Plummer had stated
that Rosa's successor was Irish. Oddly
enough, it was Rosa herself who seems to
have had Irish connections, for in her will
she named relatives in Ireland and the
financial bequests made in her first hus-
band's will were all in Irish money. The
causes of death of the husbands are
unknown but there is nothing to suggest
murder, and on this record she does not
really seem to have run through marriages
with rapid zeal. So Alexander also
acquitted both women, and he and Mc-
Laughlin dismissed the whole story.
Now McLaughlin in the course of his
search had traced the subsequent history
of Rose Hall down to 1820. That estate
and Palmyra were left by the Hon. John
to his two sons, both resident in England,
who were the children of his first wife,
Elizabeth Vaughan of Bristol. By 1818
they had both died and the estates passed
to his greatnephew, John Rose Palmer
(Hill & Plummer were wrong in saying
that Rosa was the mother of John's sons,
for she was childless). McLaughlin
found the record of John Rose Palmer's
marriage to Annie Mary Paterson in 1820,
but neither he nor Alexander paid any
further attention to Annie. In McLaugh-
lin's opinion the startling events of the
legend could not have occurred to any
Mrs. Palmer later than Rebecca Ann with-
Rose Hall 1907- WIRL
out "supplying ample data.... to such
writers as the Hon. Richard Hill and
others who were comparatively old men
twenty-five or thirty years ago" and he
concluded that the whole tale was a myth
"aided by the threads of some forgotten
tale of the old blood shedding days of
Jamaica ... but I am quite convinced that
the legend has no more connection with
the Palmers of Rose Hall and Palmyra,
whose history I have tried to trace, than
it has with the man in the moon."
So there matters rested until 1911
when Joseph Shore's book "In old St.
James" was published. Shore reprinted
the 1868 pamphlet word for word, and
then gave his own version. He used the
facts that had been discovered about Rosa
and Rebecca Ann, represented them both
as blameless and attached the evil reputa-
tion to Ann the wife of John Rosa Palmer.
He told of a number of lovers but only
two husbands, Palmer and an unnamed
white cooper of Rose Hall estate who
married her and fled. In the last years of
her life she abandoned Rose Hall in
favour of Palmyra which offered more
seclusion for her crimes, and there she
was murdered in 1833, not by her slaves
in Shore's version but by a lover.
So it was not till 1911 that Annie
began to be considered the villainess.
Why did Shore pick her for the role? He
had not tried to find out anything more
about her from the records; quite liter-
ally, all he knew was that she married
John Rose Palmer in 1820. The only new
documents he consulted were the estate
books of Rose Hall which reveal that the
number of slaves in attendance at the
great house declined from eight or nine
in the early years of Annie's marriage to
one in 1829-32, during which time two
other slaves were recorded as being "with
Mrs. Palmer". He interpreted this as
meaning that they were with Mrs. Palmer
at Palmyra, and built it into his general
picture of her seclusion there, "an outcast
from society". But all that these books
prove is that Rose Hall great house was
closed and that two Rose Hall slaves were
with Mrs. Palmer at some other place.
Where she was, her manner of living
there, the total number of slaves she had
with her the estate books offer no
evidence on any of this. Shore had one
further source of information, an old
man who when quite young had been
waiting-boy and messenger to Mrs. Pal-
mer, and remembered an attempt to
poison her. According to this man, when
one of the female slaves was hanged for
this attempt Mrs. Palmer asked for the
head, and it was he who carried it part of
the way back to Palmyra. This man died
in 18933or shortly after. It is unlikely that
he could have been able to identify which
of the Mrs. Palmers he had known by giv-
ing her maiden name, and he certainly did
not do so by naming any of her relations,
for Shore explicitly said that nothing was
known of her family. Shore could of
course have made an estimate of the date
from the old man's probable age; he
would have had to be very old indeed to
remember Rosa or Rebecca Ann. Apart
from this date based on the estimated age
of the old ex-slave, Shore had no more
evidence against Annie than there is
against the other two. If they are acquitted
on the type of reasoning that has been
used, then she must be acquitted too. For
example, it has been said that there is no
evidence that Rosa or Rebecca Ann mur-
dered any husbands. Quite true; there is
no evidence at all about the deaths of any
of those men. But neither is there any-
thing to show that John Rose Palmer was
murdered. Shore said of him that no one
knew "whither he wended, where his
course lay, when he died", and this has
turned out to be nonsense. We do in fact
know when he died for it was recorded in
the burial register of the parish and pub-
licly announced in the newspapers, and
we are no more ignorant as to the cause of
death than we are in the cases of Rosa's
husbands. There is no evidence that Rosa
and Rebecca Ann were cruel to their
slaves; but what evidence would you
expect to find? None of the three can
3. See Shore's letter in "The Rose Hall papers"
really be cleared on that score. It can be
accepted that Rebecca Ann's death, 50
years later and thousands of miles away,
had nothing to do with Rose Hall and
Palmyra. Of Rosa's death, all we know
comes from the burial register and the
inscription on the monument, and there is
certainly nothing to suggest that she died
violently. Shore knew no real facts
concerning Annie's death. It seems that
he was not making a serious accusation
against Annie; he was simply retelling a
good story and since the work done by
Herbert George DeLisser (1878 1944)
McLaughlin and Alexander had cleared
the other two, Annie was the only Mrs.
Palmer left on whom to hang the evil
In his book Shore mentioned in passing
that Annie had the "powers of obeah"
behind her. DeLisser elaborated the
obeah theme in his novel, "The White
Witch of Rose Hall", published in 1929,
even giving Annie a Haitian background
to suggest voodoo. This novel put the
seal on public acceptance of Annie as the
villainess and of 1820-33 as the period of
the tale. Ever since, the whole thing has
been a gold mine for magazine writers
and publicity agents.
A few years ago when I read the 1895
"Gleaner" correspondence, I was very
much struck by certain phrases used by
Richard Hill. Hill said, "My father and
mother lived in the times of Mr. and Mrs.
Palmer and I have written down what they
had to say." Hill's father died in 1818,
two years before Annie married Palmer,
so if he had ever told his son stories of a
Mrs. Palmer, she could not have been
Annie. Hill went on, "My mother used to
tell my sister that riding down from the
back country road to Rose Hall she
sought shelter there from a coming shower
of rain, that the Mrs. Palmer of torturing
celebrity was seated superintending the
domestic concerns of the household, that
she found her affable and kind in her
demeanour, but that while she remained
sheltered in the house with Mrs. Palmer
who was unmistakably Irish, she heard the
infliction of punishment on the females
about her with a perforated patter that
draws blood, and she was then told that
wooden soles of shoes with blunted pegs
were kept at hand for the standing torture
of the girls sewing about her. . I think
my mother's recollection of Mrs. Palmer
the Irish immigrant was in 1793."
Hill was born in 1795 and so was 25
when Annie came to Rose Hall and 38
when Shore says she died. I find it easy
to believe that, writing long after he had
heard the story, he could say that Rosa
was a Miss instead of a Mrs. Witter before
she married Palmer; could mistake a date
by a few years either way; or could assign
Irish connections to the wrong one of
John Palmer's three wives. The story of
his mother's encounter with Mrs. Palmer
came to him through his sister, so the
possibilities of error are increased. But
could either he or his sister have been so
mistaken as to date his mother's meeting
with Mrs. Palmer before he was born, if it
really occurred when he was between the
ages of 25 and 38? In any case, the
approximate dating that Hill gave to the
story is established by his statement that
the husband of the bad Mrs. Palmer was
the same John Palmer who had previously
been married to Rosa. That shows that
he thought of Mrs. Palmer as a woman who
could have been married and managing
her household sometime between 1790,
when Rosa died, and 1797 when Palmer
died. Could he have been thinking of
Annie who was born in 1802?
Moreover, from 1830 to 1845 H.M.
Waddell, a Presbyterian missionary, lived
at an estate near Rose Hall. On three
Sunday in August 1830 he held services
in Rose Hall great house, which he des-
cribed as "unoccupied save by rats, bats
and owls", and without furniture except
for three or four portraits of husbands of
the last proprietress.4 He made all the
the arrangements with the attorney who
managed the estate, and in the two
paragraphs which he wrote about the
place there is nothing to suggest that the
owner was living nearby. He did not
mention a resident owner at Palmyra
either. In his account of the 1831-32
slave rebellion he wrote this passage about
Palmyra;s "It was long past my usual
time when I got back (home) and there, I
found confusion and dismay. The con-
gregation which had assembled was dis-
persing in affright and would not return
at my call. The only answer or explana-
tion that could be got was "Palmyra
on fire". It was not an ordinary estate
4. H.M. Waddell. Twenty-nine years in the
West Indies and Central Africa. 1863, p.43.
5. Waddell, p. 53
Portrait of a gentleman taken from Rose Hall. Now in the possession of A.M. Hender-
son, Esq. Reproduced by kind permission of the owner.
fire they spoke of, which neighboring
estates' people would hasten to put out
... It was the preconcerted signal for our
part of the country that the struggle for
freedom had begun, and the volumes of
lurid smoke rose over the hills into the
clear air. It was the response to "Kensing-
ton on fire", another sugar estate high up
the mountains towards the interior. Both
were visible to each other, and over a
great stretch of immediate country, richly
cultivated... The one hoisted the flaming
flag of liberty and the other saluted it,
calling on all between and around to
follow their example. And it was follow-
ed. These were grand beacon fires,
frightful conflagrations visible far and
wide, caused by the burning of the great
trash-houses, with their enormous piles of
dry crushed canes..." Waddell added the
following footnote: "This estate Palmyra
furnished scenes and characters for Dr.
Moore's novel 'Zeluco'. The iron collars
and spikes used by a lady owner there
for the necks of her slaves I have seen, and
also the bed on which she was found dead
one morning, having been strangled". The
novel "Zeluco" was published in the
1780's 6 so it seems that Waddell associated
the estate with some story of atrocity
going back at least to that date. Further-
more, as a missionary he was on the look-
out for stories of ill-treatment of slaves.
It is difficult to believe that this brief
passage would have been all he had to say
if those iron collars and spikes were in
use while he was living in the district.
This cannot be explained away by saying
6. I am indebted to Mr. H.P. Jacobs for bring-
ing this fact to my attention.
that he did not know about them because
the slaves were too terrified to talk;
obviously he did know that they had
once been used and had even seen them.
Shore quoted the first part of Waddell's
footnote but omitted the reference to
"Zeluco" which would have suggested an
earlier date than he was using for the
story. C.V. Black in his "Tales of old
Jamaica" said, "From nearby Cornwall
estate came a Scottish missionary once.
His stay was not welcomed. But, before
he left he saw the spikes and iron collars,
the stocks and flogging posts. He did not
see the cellars under the great house, or
sit in on a session there, but before he
left he saw the'wild and terrible look in
the eyes of the Rose Hall slaves. It was
enough". In fact, Waddell said nothing at
all about the looks or behaviour of the
slaves of either Rose Hall or Palmyra.
If "Zeluco" contained any detail im-
mediately identifiable as part of the Rose
Hall legend, then the existence of the story
before Annie's time would be proved
beyond doubt. I could cite that one
passage, and all these arguments based on
inference and implication would be un-
necessary. Unfortunately, the situation
is not so clear. Zeluco is a Sicilian of
capricious, violent and selfish disposition
who for a very short part of the two-
volume novel finds himself owner of an
estate in Cuba, inherited from an aging
widow whom he had married for her
wealth and then neglected, so that she
died of despondency. Several slaves expire
from harsh treatment, but it is all too
vague and generalised to be identified with
any part of the legend that we know. The
only detail that may correspond is that
Zeluco finds himself shunned by all and
lives isolation in on his estate, endeavour-
ing "to indemnify himself for the loss of
character and the want of respectable
society by an unbounded indulgence in
sensual pleasure and the company of a few
dependants". Eventually, having made a
great deal of money, he returns safely to
We don't know the grounds for Wad-
dell's statement that there was a connec-
tion between the novel and Palmyra. But
suppose he was wrong and the author of
"Zeluco" had never heard of Palmyra. It
remains true that Waddell considered the
stories he himself had heard to be com-
patible with the date of publication of
"Zeluco". That is, he had not formed
the impression that the events being re-
lated to him had occurred while he was in
the neighbourhood or immediately pre-
ceding his arrival his impression was
that they were so far back in time that
the connection with "Zeluco" was accept-
ed by him.
In an article in the Historical Society's
"Bulletin" I pointed out these arguments
against the 1820-33 dating for the wicked
*Mrs. Palmer. Geoffrey S. Yates, then
Assistant Archivist in Spanish Town,
became interested and began to search
the records for references to Annie, and it
turned out that every ascertainable detail
of her life differs from some aspect of the
legend.7 What of the mysterious origin
of Mrs. Palmer? Shore had said, "Of her
parentage, her family, her nationality,
fortunately we know nothing".8 Yates
discovered that Annie was the daughter
of John Paterson,9 owner of the Baulk
near Lucea and of his wife, Juliana, her-
self the daughter of the Custos of Hanover.
After her father's death her mother
married a retired naval officer and Annie's
wedding took place at her stepfather's
property. Her grandfather the Custos
died in 1817, her mother in 1832, her
stepfather in 1842, so that she was not
alone in the world and her family con-
nections,must have been well-known.(Even
today in Jamaica everyone knows who
your grandmother's husband's cousin
married, much more so in those days
when the community was smaller and
kinship more important.) What of the
mysterious fate of the husbands? She
had only one, and his death in November
1827, aged 42, was recorded in the burial
register of the parish and announced in the
newspapers. This of course does not
prove that he was not murdered, but the
legendary mystery the tale of secret
burial or secret disappearance, the whole
business of "we know not whither he
wended nor where his grave" evaporates.
Then there is the story of the slave girl
whose head was cut off and exhibited on
the estate. According to Shore this girl,
Princess, was tried and convicted in full
court in Montego Bay of an attempt to
poison Mrs. Palmer. Hill had a different
version; a slave remarkable for her beauty
had excited the anger of Mrs. Palmer and
was tried by a plantation court of two
neighboring magistrates and three free-
holders; Mrs. Palmer preserved the head
in spirits and showed it to visitors saying
"pretty creature". But Yates was not able
to find a record of any case involving
Annie in the slave courts, Quarter Sessions
Yates discovered that in 1830 Annie
sold her rights to Rose Hall and Palmyra
for 200. That Rose Hall was already
7. Mr. Yates published his discoveries in the
"Gleaner" of Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, 1965.
8. I keep mentioning Shore because it was he
who first put the finger on Annie. The person
really responsible for the hold her name now
has on the public mind was DeLisser, who used
a lot of imagination too. But DeLisser was
writing a novel, while Shore's book was not
presented as fiction.
9. Sometimes spelled Patterson. His daughter's
name is given as Annee, Anne and Anna in the
contemporary sources, but as Annie is the name
by which she is now generally known, I have
used this form.
unoccupied by August of that year was
attested by Waddell. Yates believes that
Palmyra was also empty except for a
slave caretaker. Where was Annie? In the
official returns of slave owners for March
1830 she was listed at Bellevue, St.
James. During the next few years she
was sometimes on the list and sometimes
not, and in 1839 her uncle by marriage
made a will leaving Bellevue to her. When
this man died in 1842 that bequest in his
will had not been altered, so Annie was
probably still alive at the time of his
death. These references don't prove that
Annie was actually resident at Bellevue
after 1830, but was she at Palmyra, where
she had sold her claims?
On 7 July 1846 Anna Mary Palmer of
St. James made a will, entered at the
Record Office on 30 July, leaving all she
possessed to her godchild, Giulia Alice
Spence. I think that it can be assumed
therefore that the Palmer, widow of
Palmer, Esq.", who was buried
on July 7 at Montego Bay was the same
Anna Mary Palmer who made the will.
Was she the Annie Palmer we have been
discussing? Unfortunately, the age in the
burial register is ten years too young for
our Annie; although I hesitate to add to
the suppositions with which the story
already abounds, I suggest that the clergy-
man who wrote the entry may not have
been well-informed about her age.
Whatever the date of her death, she
must have been living in 1839 when her
uncle's will was made, and there is really
no reason to believe she was at Palmyra
Rose Hall staircase WIRL
after 1830. So what becomes of her death
by murder at Palmyra in 1833? And if
the woman who died in 1846 was indeed
Annie, then she is buried in consecrated
ground in the same churchyard as Rosa,
and the story about a grave on Rose Hall
which the frightened slaves were unwilling
to dig also fades away into moonshine.
So who was the wicked Mrs. Palmer?
I don't know, for my witnesses Hill
and Waddell contradict each other. Hill
was positive it wasn't Rosa but someone
who succeeded her, thus putting the date
after 1790. Waddell referred to a book
published in the 1780's. In any case, it
has already been shown that there is no
evidence that either of these was a murder-
er, or was herself murdered. I can't help
noticing that of them all, Rosa was the
only one still connected with the estates
when she died, thus allowing the possibil-
ity that something could have happened
between her and her slaves to cause her
death, but Hill's opinion is against it.
There are other possibilities. One is that
although Rosa was mistress of Rose Hall
in the 1780's we cannot be certain she
was mistress of Palmyra, for we do not
yet know when John Palmer acquired
that estate or anything about previous
owners. Another possibility is this; Hill
and Plummer were so sure of the servant-
girl status of the bad Mrs. Palmer. Could
there have been a white servant who, in
the two-year interval between Rosa and
Rebecca Ann, was allowed by John Pal-
mer to use those collars and spikes on his
- -- c- -. '--u -c -
Cc -- nr ,. CY-i,
The Arms of Christopher Columbus.
In April of 1502, Columbus set sail
with four small caravels from Spain, on.
his fourth and last voyage of discovery.
It was to be his most dangerous and least
profitable voyage, and one that caused
him such anguish that he died soon after
the voyage came to its disastrous end.
His intentions were not only to search for
gold and other precious objects, but also
to search for a strait along the area of
Central America which he believed would
Contemporary Woodcut of Columbus' landing in the New World.
Two Ships of Columbus
Robert F. Marx
permit him to reach the vast riches of the
Orient. After reaching the Caribbean, he
spent almost a year cruising along the
Central American coasts, discovering very
little of importance. The sea teredo
worms caused such damage to the hulls of
his small ships, that two had to be stripped
Then with the two remaining ships -
Capitana and Santiago which were also
in very bad condition, he finally had to
throw in the towel and admit failure, and
start back for home. He headed for Santo
Domingo, where he hoped to repair both
ships before attempting to sail for Spain.
By the time he was between Cuba and
Jamaica, they were not only suffering
from a shortage of water and food, but
both ships were leaking so badly and near
sinking, that Columbus' son, Ferdinand,
who chronicled the voyage, wrote: "Day
and night we never ceased working three
pumps in each ship, and if any broke
down, we had to supply its place by bail-
ing with kettles while it was being patched
Excerpts from the diary of Ferdinand
Columbus, who, as a 13 year old, accom-
panied his father on the fourth voyage to
the New World, in 1502 4 show the end
of the journey.
"We were.... at anchor, 10 leagues far
from Cuba, in great hunger and travail,
because there was nothing left to eat but
biscuit, a little oil and vinegar; and we
had to work day and night with three
pumps to clear the bilges; because the
vessels were so worm-eaten that they were
on the point of foundering.... After a very
perilous voyage we reached a harbour in
Jamaica, which we named Dry Harbour,
as we found no water there.... On the day
after St. John's Day, we set out for another
harbour to the eastward called Santa
Gloria, which is protected by reefs. Hav-
ing got in, and no longer able to keep the
ships afloat, we ran them ashore as far in
as we could, grounding them close to-
gether, board to board, and shoring them
up on both sides, so they could not
budge In this position the tide rose
almost to the decks. Upon these, and the
fore and stem castles, cabins were built
where the people might lodge, intending
to make them so strong that the Indians
might do us no harm; for the island at
that time was not inhabited by or subject
to Christians. "
The day of the entry was 25 June 1503.
Columbus entered St. Ann's Bay, which
he called "Santa Gloria", on the north
coast of Jamaica, and ran both ships
aground, "about a bow shot distance from
shore." The bay was not new to Colum-
bus, as he had stopped there in 1494 on
his second voyage. The ships were run
aground close to two fresh water streams
and an Indian village, from which he
hoped to obtain a steady source of vic-
tuals, as there were 116 hungry mouths
to feed on both ships. With only the fore
and stem castles sticking above the surface
of the water, which didn't afford enough
accommodation for such a large number
of men, tents were erected on the main
decks, that at high tide were probably
Soon after their arrival, Columbus pur-
chased a dugout canoe from the Indians
and sent it to Santo Domingo to notify
the authorities there of his plight. How-
ever, due to the fact that the Governor of
Santo Domingo was his enemy, Columbus
and him men spent a year and five days
before being rescued.
Things went well during the beginning
of his enforced stay, as the Indians were
very happy to trade food for hawks bells,
glass beads, and other items of barter.
However, after the Indians had an accumu-
lation of these items, they began supplying
less and less food to the Spaniards. When
months passed and still no aid arrived,
several of the leaders of the expedition
enlisted the majority of the men in a
mutiny and to plot the assassination of
Columbus, blaming him for all of their
miseries. But Columbus, though bed-
ridded at the time with arthritis, was able
to quell the mutiny in its early stages.
When Columbus and his men finally
sailed from St. Ann's Bay for Santo
Domingo on 29 June 1504, leaving behind
the two worthless hulks, he was certainly
a very discouraged and heartbroken man
and not long after his arrival back in Spain
he died. Before dying, he had extracted a
promise from his son, Ferdinand, to found
a city near the spot of his enforced stay
in St. Ann's Bay. In 1509, Ferdinand had
a group of colonists sent there from Santo
Domingo, and the town of New Seville
was founded just several hundred yards
from where the two wrecks lay. How-
ever, due to the surrounding swamps, the
area was a very unhealthy one and the
town was moved to the south coast of
Jamaica twenty years later in 1529.
From the book by Ferdinand and
other contemporary documents, the loca-
tion of these two wrecks was pretty well
pin-pointed, unlike that of thousands of
other shipwrecks lost by the Spaniards in
the West Indies over the centuries.
In 1940, a Harvard University spon-
sored expedition led by Admiral Samuel
Eliot Morison, the leading expert in the
world on Columbus, used this same in-
formation and attempted to establish the
location of both wrecks. In Morison's
book, a Pulitzer Prize winner, entitled
"Admiral of the Ocean Sea", he had a
chart of St. Ann's Bay marked with the
locations where heestablishedboth wrecks.
lay. Morison was almost right on the
spot, as I found both wrecks within the
area where he estimated they should lie.
Aiding Morison at that time was a
Jamaican, Charles Cotter, who for the
past thirty years has been conducting land
excavations under the auspices of the
Institute of Jamaica on the site of New
Seville. Soon after my arrival in Jamaica,
I met Cotter.
I was especially interested in these two
wrecks, and I believe that unless someone
locates a Viking or Phoenician shipwreck
someday, these two shipwrecks are the
oldest that will ever be found in this
hemisphere. Although Columbus had
lost other ships during his four voyages,
they were lost under such circumstances
that nothing will ever be found of them.
A good example was the Santa Maria,
which was wrecked on his first voyage off
Cape Haitien, Haiti. This wreck was com-
pletely stripped and all of its timbers were
used to build a fort ashore for the men
from this wreck who were left behind
when Columbus sailed for home. In the
case of the two wrecks in St. Ann's Bay,
due to the fact that they were so heavy
from the vast amount of water in them,
most of the lower sections were pushed
deep into the silt and mud; preserving
them from the devastating effects of the
sea teredo worms, which usually com-
pletely eat up all wooden parts of old
wrecks in a short time. These two wrecks
I knew would be of immense interest to
history and archaeology, as the methods
used in their construction and a great deal
of other valuable information could be
obtained from them.
Our diving team: Coral Morgan, Robert Judd, Robert Marx and Alphanso Hall.
Yellow coring tube seen in the diving boat.
Diver underwater pounding the coring
tube into the bottom sediment.
My main employment in Jamaica was
to excavate the sunken city of Port Royal
and I was working against a deadline, as a
large section of the sunken city was
scheduled to be dredged for the construc-
tion of a deep water port, so I was trying
to excavate as much of this section before
the archaeological material was lost for-
ever. However, I considered the two
Columbus wrecks of equal, or even more
importance, so I asked and received per-
mission from Mr. Seaga to conduct an
expedition to prove the location of the
I then decided that I would devote
several Sundays, sort of on a busman's
holiday, to go after them. With my wife
and several other volunteers, we went up
on a Sunday in March of 1966.
As we were preparing for our first dive,
many local residents appeared, claiming
that this deep section of the bay was a
mating ground for large sharks and it was
suicide to swim or dive there. They
thought we were nuts when we just
laughed their warning off, especially since
just the night before a fourteen foot tiger
shark had been caught by some fishermen
who were then still in the process of
skinning it for its valuable hide.
With ten-foot long metal rods or
probes, we swam along in a line, forcing
the rod down into the bottom sediment,
trying to locate solid objects which might
reveal the presence of a wreck. Using
this method, in which we located several
large dead coral heads. It wasn't until our
fifth trip that we finally struck pay-dirt.
My wife motioned to me underwater that
she needed help. Her rod, which was
down about eight feet in the sediment,
was stuck in something solid and she
couldn't pull it out. After finally extract-
ing it, it took us six hours of excavating by
hand and buckets to reach the solid object.
It turned out to be a wooden beam and
when we relayed this information to
Cotter, who said that it was probably
a piling from an old wharf that had
sunk in a hurricane in that area over
twenty years ago. So I ordered everyone
to forget about it and continue the search.
However, my wife gave me a good bawling
out and said that I was making a mistake,
as it might be a part of the wreck. As
usual, she not only got her way, but was
right. Feeling around in the pitch black
hole in the sediment, I discovered that
there were treenails, or wooden pegs, in
the beam, which I knew was the method
of fastening ships together in the old days
and not one which would have been used
on a modern ship. The hole was only
large enough for one person to squeeze
down through, and because of the danger
of a cave-in, we began enlarging the hole.
One of the divers found several pieces of
obsidian, a type of volcanic glass, which
I knew was only found in Mexico and
Central America; and I knew then that we
had made the most important marine
archaeological discovery ever made to date
in the Western Hemisphere.
Cotter, who had been saving a bottle
of 75 year old rum for just this moment,
was so excited that before he even got a
chance to help us celebrate this great dis-
covery, we had polished it off; partially
to help combat our cold from over ten
hours of diving that day. Even though
dark was approaching, I decided to make
one last dive and was only able to con-
vince one of my divers to join me. We
found several more pieces of obsidian, as
well as Spanish ceramic sherds, which also
dated from the period of the two wrecks.
But before I had decided to call it a day,
our dive came to a rather dramatic end.
My diving buddy, Stan Judge, was bitten
on the neck by a two-foot long "sea
snake, reported to be deadly poisonous. In
twenty years of diving I had never seen
one, or knew of any other diver ever
having spotted any; yet as luck would
have it, we would have to meet up with
our first one during the most important
dive of my life. Stan was in considerable
pain and we quickly rushed him to a
hospital, where he was given an injection
of some kind of serum. A day later he
had completely recovered and was laugh-
ing about the whole experience.
During the period in which I was wait-
ing confirmation from experts concern-
ing the origin and date of the ceramic
sherds and of the obsidian, we made
several more trips to the site and
enlarged the hole, finding more ceramic
sherds and a few ballast stones. The
wooden beam certainly appeared to be a
ship's beam, but no other part of the ship
was found and we finally stopped finding
artifacts as well. I finally decided that
we had located a small section of one of
the Columbus wrecks which had broken
off from the main section of the wrecks
that probably lay close by.
When the confirmation finally arrived
that the obsidian was from Central Amer-
ica, where Columbus was coming from
when he entered St. Ann's Bay and the
sherds were Spanish and dated from the
right period, I was anxious to get back and
and locate the main sections of the wrecks.
However, almost two years were to pass
until I could break away from my work at
Port Royal to get back to the Columbus
In January of this year, I was fortunate
in getting Dr. Harold Edgerton, a famous
physicist from M.I.T., to come to Jamaica
with sonar equipment, of his own inven-
tion, which was designed especially for
locating archaeological material buried
beneath mud or other sediment. This
equipment had already successfully been
used in locating many shipwrecks and a
sunken city in the Mediterranean and
Doc, as Edgerton is called by his
friends, was as excited as I was about the
prospect of discovering these two wrecks.
However, we got off to a rather bad start;
it was pouring rain like hell and the boat
we had arranged to use was nowhere in
sight. Then after several hours of my
nervous chain smoking, the rain stopped;
the sun came out; and the boat appeared
with our drenched assistants. Within an
hour we had two positive sonar contacts
Prof Uremur and Dr. Harold Edgerton with Sonar Recorder.
and from the sonar graphs, we knew they
were shipwrecks. More important, they
were in the right area and about the size
that we knew both wrecks should be. To
be on the safe side, after marking both
sites with buoys, we made a complete
sonar survey of all of the other possible
areas in the bay where the wrecks could
lie and when no other sonar contacts
were found, I knew that we had the two
Returning to Kingston the following
day, as happy as though we had discovered
a million dollars in gold, I notified the
government of our discoveries; and al-
though no interest had been shown in the
past on these wrecks, I was ordered to
organize an expedition to excavate the
There were many things which I
had to take into consideration. First,
since these wrecks were of such great his-
torical importance, the most scientific
methods of excavation would have to be
used and I had neither the best equip-
ment and personnel, nor the funds at
the moment to obtain them. Further-
more, I knew that every sliver of wood
from these wrecks would be of immense
importance and without any proper pre-
servation laboratory on the island, I would
end up going down in history as "the guy
who destroyed the Columbus wrecks," as
wood, once exposed to air, if not properly
treated, would disintegrate and be lost
forever. I finally convinced the govern-
ment that it would take a large amount
of money to properly excavate the wrecks
and build a proper preservation laboratory,
and that we would have to seek help from
outside sources like UNESCO or the Ford
Foundation. I also knew that before any
foundation would advance a large amount
of money for this project, we would
have to establish beyond any doubt that
they positively were the right wrecks. To
do this, we would have to recover a sub-
stantial amount of material which could
be dated and identified scientifically.
On a project of such importance as
this was, I decided to enlist the assistance
of some of the leading experts in the field.
They all agreed with me that rather than
excavate a test hole on the site to recover
the sample material for testing, which
would not only disturb the archaeological
contexts of the wrecks, but might expose
the wooden sections of the wrecks to the
sea teredo from which they had been pro-
tected in their muddy grave, another
method of recovering sample material
should be found. Dr. George Bass of the
University of Pennsylvania, suggested that
we use a coring device, which would meet
all our requirements. He located one
which was invented by Dr. John Saunders
of Columbia University. Saunders not
only loaned it to us, but offered to send
down one of his assistants to show us how
to operate it.
Finally around the middle of March 68
we were ready to head for St. Ann's Bay.
My team consisted of my two divers from
the Port Royal Project Coral Morgan and
Alpanso Hall; and my assistant, Walter
MacFarlane. From the local Boy Scouts
in St.Ann's Bay I borrowed three tents and
decided that we would establish a camp
right on the beach off the wreck site.
This was a decision that I regretted from
the first minute we arrived there until we
left, as the mosquitos and sandflies were
so thick that half the time we had to wear
our rubber diving suits ashore to keep
from being eaten alive by the insects.
Our campsite at St. Anne's Bay, located right
two Columbus wrecks.
Some enterprising fisherman had de-
cided that he had better use for the
buoys marking the wrecks than we did, so
when we arrived both buoys were gone.
It was an easy task to relocate the site
with the metal rod, but on this first day
I lost the service of both divers. Morgan
had a bad case of the flu and Hall got
stung in the eye by a bee and neither were
able to dive. I phoned my wife and asked
her to locate some of my old volunteer
divers. None were available, so she and a
girl friend of hers decided to come up and
The following day Dr. Saunders' assist-
ant, Bob Judd, arrived with the coring
device. Not only was he a mechanical
genius, but an experienced diver as well.
Without him I couldn't have done much,
as women were of no use for this type of
work; it took two strong men to pound
the coring tube down into the sediment,
as it had to be driven down with a fifty
pound hammer. Extracting it was even
more difficult, until we finally devised a
way for the divers in the skiff to help pull
it up with lines. Although the normal
underwater visibility was about twenty
feet, the minute we started pounding the
coring tube into the bottom sediment,
visibility became nil and the hammer some-
times hit the hands of the diver holding
the tube more often than the anvil on the
top of the coring tube.
All of our problems were not just in
the water. Sometime before we had
arrived, a rumor had started that we were
after a large amount of gold on these
wrecks and there were always hundreds of
idle locals on our campsite; some hound-
ing us to death with questions and asking
for a part of the treasure, while others
decided that we had too much equipment
and supplies and liberated some for them-
selves. After several days of this, I finally
solved the problem. I hired a local planta-
tion guard who kept everyone away by
it on beach opposite the location of the
firing his shotgun into the air.
It took on the average three hours just
to pound the coring tube into the sediment,
half an hour to pull it out, and then
another hour to delicately extract the
samples from the coring tube as every-
thing had to be placed in water-filled jars
to prevent drying, and each sample tagged
with the location and stratigraphical depth
from which it was recovered. The girls,
I found, had more patience for this latter
Doc Edgerton's sonar sure proved its
worth. In every single core we found
artifacts from the wrecks. By the end of
the week we had recovered a piece of
Venetian glass, a coral-encrusted tack, a
small black bean, several ceramic sherds,
and many fragments of bone, charcoal,
wood, and ballast stone. On all but one of
the thirty odd cores that were made,
artifacts from the wrecks were recovered
from depths of eight to ten feet beneath
the surface of the sea floor. After re-
covering what I considered a sufficient
amount of material for testing, I decided
to make a small test hole in the one area
where we had hit ballast rock and oak
wood which was located at one of the
outer extremities of the wreck, at a depth
of only four feet beneath the sea floor.
From this small hole, which we later
covered over to prevent any destruction
from the sea teredo worms, we recovered
about 125 ballast stones of various sizes
and a small piece of an oak rib of the
Then the waiting game began, which
turned out to be longer than I had expect-
ed. All of the datable material we recover-
ed from the site had to be sent to experts
in England, Spain and the United States.
It took nearly three months until all of
the expected results were in. Most of the
ballast stones were found to have come
from Central America, the bean was a type
grown in Spain, the fragment of glass was
dated in the period, as well as the ceramic
sherds. However, when the result of the
last test came in, which was the radio
carbon-14 dating of the wood, I was at a
loss at first.
The wood was dated as 1200 years old.
Had I found a Viking ship? I ordered
another test conducted on other samples
of wood and again the same age of the
wood was obtained. After consulting with
various dendrologists (tree experts), the
mystery was solved. It isn't unusual for
oak trees to reach ages of one thousand
years, so it is perfectly conceivable that an
oak tree seven hundred years old was cut
down and used in building one of the two
ships lost by Columbus in St. Ann's Bay.
As a final test to the authenticity of
our discovery, I submitted all of my find-
ings to the two leading authorities on
Columbus; Admiral Morison and Sr.
Mauricio Obregon, a Colombian diplomat
and historian. Both agree that we had
found the right wrecks and are now aiding
us in trying to raise the necessary funds to
undertake a full-scale archaeological ex-
cavation of the site.
Replica of Columbus caravel Nina.
It is seldom realized that there are 24 species of birds which
can only be found in Jamaica and nowhere else in the world.
These endemic found in one place only birds can be truly
called Jamaica's own birds, and as such deserve the fullest
protection both as a heritage for generations of Jamaicans to
come and as a source of pleasure to the many scientists and
bird-watchers who come to Jamaica especially to study and
watch them. 24 is a very large number of endemics for such
a small island as ours, and is greater than on any other single
island in the Caribbean. Most of the other Caribbean islands
are arranged, geographically, in chains; each island being close
to its neighbour. As a result, adjacent islands both in the
Greater and Lesser Antilles have many species in common.
Jamaica is unique, in that its position is out-of-line with the
rest of the Greater Antilles and is thus relatively more isolated
than the other islands. The continental mass of Central and
South America (the neotropical zoogeographical zone) is the
world's richest area for birds, both in variety and numbers, and
its promixity to Jamaica has influenced the types of birds
which occur here. Of greater influence is the North American
(nearctic) area to our North, and recent studies have shown
that the avifauna bird life of Jamaica has an even greater
affinity with that of North America than with that of the
South. Jamaica also lies on one of the main bird migration
routes between the breeding grounds in the north and the
winter quarters in the south: the Island is both a place for
winter migrants to pause in their long journeys, and for others
to stay for a large part of the year. As a stepping stone, we
enjoy the visits of many species every year which would not
otherwise be seen here. In the evolutionary past, the ancestors
of such migrants have sometimes remained with us, and
evolved along independent lines giving rise to some of our
Compared with 1,500 species of birds in Colombia and
some 450 in the United Kingdom, Jamaica can only boast
252 species, including all the vagrants which have been recorded
here only on very rare occasions.
Jamaica's birds can be classified into groups on the basis of
their residential status.
Classification of Jamaican Birds on the basis of residential status. Approximate number
of species shown in brackets.
Total Number of Bird
Species in Jamaica
Transients ......(50) NON-ENDEMIC (92)
RESIDENT...(116) ENDEMIC ..........(24)
Only 4 species of birds have been successfully introduced
into Jamaica by man, and are now established as wild breeding
populations. These are the starling (Sterna vulgaris) which is
currently rapidly increasing in many parts of the island; the
Saffron Finch or 'canary' (Sicalis flaveola), now very common;
the House sparrow (Passer domesticus) of which a very small
population survives near Annotto Bay and the Guiana parrotlet
(Forpus passerinus) which is especially common along the south
coast. Attempts to establish the Bobwhite quail in the past, as
a game bird, have failed probably because of destruction of
their nests by the mongoose.
Very large numbers of- migrants arrive in Jamaica from
North America every year in late August to November. These
birds breed in the north, and migrate to the Southern States, the
Caribbean, and Central and South America during the winter
months. Many species spend the winter in Jamaica, spending
a far larger part of the year here than they do in their breeding
quarters. The well known and loved Wood Warblers (Parulidae),
including the 'Ants bird' or Black and White warbler (Mniotilta
varia) and the 'Butterfly bird' or American Redstart (Setophaga
ruticilla) are two of the best known examples. We have shown,
from marking individual birds with aluminium bands, that
these warblers will return in successive years to the very same
area of Jamaica. A Black and White warbler, for example, has
been trapped a total of 8 times over a period of 5 consecutive
years in the woods adjacent to the Mona reservoir. A worm-
eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) was trapped at Mona
in 1965, only 2 months after it was banded in Maryland, U.S.A.,
and this is the first and only record of a banded individual of
this species being recovered outside the U.S.A. The warblers
in Jamaica compared with those in the U.S.A. are very tame
and easily seen, and tourists from America are thrilled and
surprised at the ease with which they can observe these birds in
Jamaica. Other winter visitors include vireos, flycatchers,
thrushes and orioles: members of many diverse bird families.
A smaller number of species visit Jamaica in the summer
months. These birds come to Jamaica to breed, from their
winter homes further south. Easter is heralded in Jamaica by
the arrival of the Black-whiskered vireo (Vireo altiloquus),
whose loud and monotonous call of John-to-whit is as well
known as the call of the cuckoo in Britain. The 'Petchary',
(Tyrannus dominicensis) and the Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
also signify the arrival of summer in Jamaica. Birds which
spend most of the year far out in the oceans, also visit our
shores and cays during the summer to breed: Bridled, Sooty
and Noddy terns nest in large numbers and provide Kingston
with the welcome 'Booby Eggs' in June and July of each year.
The most familiar passage migrant, a bird which passes
through Jamaica on its journeys north and south, is the "Pink-
pink": the call of the flocks of Bobolinks (Dolichonyx
oryzivorus) as they fly overhead or feed in the pastures both in
early May and again in October. The Prothonotary warbler
(Protonotaria citrea) is another species which only passes
through Jamaica. Many individuals of the winter resident
species also pass through, making their winter home further
By far the largest part of the bird population is that which
spends its whole life in Jamaica. Many of these birds can also
be found resident in other Islands, in adjacent parts of the
continent, or even in parts of the world far away from Jamaica.
Among the resident species, however, are those 24 endemics:
birds which have evolved along independent lines in the past,
isolated,by virtue of our insular habitat,from related species
but originating from common ancestral stock. These 24
species are listed in the table. There is one other species which
is almost endemic, for it occurs only in the Cayman Islands
apart from Jamaica, and this is our "Auntie Katie", or
Jamaican Oriole (Icterus leucopteryx).
Jamaica's 24 endemic species of birds
Crested quail dove
Jamaican lizard cuckoo
Jam. Mango hummingbird
Jam. yellow-crowned elainia
Jam. white-chinned thrush
Jam. white-eyes thrush
Jam. white-eyed vireo
Blue mountain vireo
Old Man Bird
Old Woman Bird
Patoo: Brown Owl
Judy, Mountain Dick
Big-head Tom Fool
Wild pine sargent
Within historic times there have been 4 other species of
endemic birds in Jamaica which are now extinct, or believed
to be extinct. There could have been others, but records do
not specify whether the birds involved occurred in Jamaica or
on other Caribbean Islands. It is a tragedy that, as a result of
the development of Jamaica, the increase in human popula-
tion and man's activities, the loss of these species has occurred.
Jamaica had two species of macaw: the Jamaican Red Macaw
(Ara gossei) was last collected in 1765, but the skin has since
been lost, and the birds have not been seen since. The Green
and Yellow Macaw (Ara erythrocephala) survived longer, until
the early 19th century. Both of these large birds succumbed
to the hunting of the early settlers in Jamaica.
A third macaw possibly lived in Jamaica, but it is only
known from a description published in 1658, and recorded
'from one of the West Indian Islands'. More recently, the
'Blue Mountain Duck' or Jamaica race of the Black-capped
petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) has probably become extinct, for
it was last seen when a specimen was collected at Cinchona
in about 1880. A skin can be seen mounted in the natural
history museum at the Institute of Jamaica. The typical race
of this species was re-discovered breeding in Haiti only a few
years ago, and, who knows, our race many still persist, breeding
on high cliffs in the inaccessible parts of the blue mountain.
Shortly before this in 1859, the last specimen of the Jamaican
pauraque (Siphonoris brewsteri s.sp) a small nighthawk, was
collected, but this species might still survive in the Hellshire
Hills of St. Catherine. The latter two birds are both ground
nesting, and have probably fallen prey to the introduced mon-
To return to the list of existing endemic birds. Most of these
are fortunately common in Jamaica today, and none of them
is in imminent danger of becoming extinct, indeed most are so
1. Patoo. 2. Hopping Dick. 3. Jamaican Tody. 4. Old Man Bird. 5. Black Capped Petue (extinct). 6. Yellow Billed Parrott. 7. Brown
Owl. 8. Becard and nest. 7
Photographs by Dereck Jones and the Author. Illustrations by Audrey Wiles
Left to Right:
: Brown noddy
common that they are known by almost everyone, as is
evidenced by the large proportion of them which have been
given a local name by the rural population. The most familiar
of all is our National Bird, the Doctor Bird. As long as there
are gardens and flowers, these conspicuous hummingbirds will
continue to delight everyone, from the urban gardens to the
heights of the mountains. Jamaica's Christmas card 'Robin
redbreast', the Tody, is also common, though less conspicuous,
and although a ground-nester remains safe from the mongoose
as it nests deep inside a bank, at the end of a long tunnel. The
Tody is of particular interest, as all 5 members of the tody
family occur only in the West Indies: the family is endemic
to the region. Only one other family of birds is restricted to
the West Indies, and this is the family Dulidae: represented
only by one species, the Palm Chat of Hispaniola (Dulus
dominicus). Nearly all species in the list can and do live in the
inland mountain regions, and many are confined to this habitat.
There are vast areas of this habitat, barely explored and hardly
disturbed by man: and as long as this remains the case the
birds will continue to survive. It is strongly recommended,
however, that a National Park and nature reserve be created
in this habitat: a park where the natural forest is allowed to
remain, and not be replaced by a forest of Caribbean pine
which is rapidly invading large areas of the mountains, and
where hunting is prohibited, and our wild life can be perserved.
There are, however, a few endemic birds which are in
danger of becoming lost in the foreseeable future, unless
immediate steps are taken to modify and enforce the Wild
Life Protection Law. It is worth considering them.
The largest of Jamaica's pigeons, the Ring-tail, by virtue of
its size and thus its food value, is still shot in large numbers,
illegally, in the hills of Portland; its last remaining stronghold.
How long can it survive even in this little trod region? Perhaps
in greater danger is the Black-billed parrot which is now almost
a rare bird in comparison with its cousin, the Yellow-billed.
Black-billed parrots are only common in the Cockpit country,
and arre there shot, because of the damage they do to crops
such as corn. Parrots make good pets, but the wild population
is being decimated by the collectors. The law should be
enforced in respect of the collection and killing of both these
parrots. The only endemic bird which is not afforded complete
protection by the Wild Life Protection Law is the 'Jabbering
Crow': the only true crow in Jamaica, and a bird which is now
only common in restricted areas of the cockpit country and the
Portland hills. This bird does little damage to crops, and
should be removed from the list of noxious birds without
delay. A good case can be made for the creation of a large
national park in the Cockpit country for the perservation of
both the parrots and the crow.
All of our Jamaican endemics are of great interest for one
reason or another. The Becard, for example, is the only
member of the Cotinga family which occurs outside tropi-
cal South America, and the only Cotinga in the whole of the
Caribbean area. The male is strangely known as Judy, and the
female as Mountain Dick. They build a huge untidy nest from
grasses, suspended from the limb of a large tree in areas of
scrub and bush: not thick forests. The pair of birds return to
the nest each year, adding to it, until it becomes so large that
the tree cdn no longer support it and it falls to the ground.
Becards are not common, but can be seen in the hills of St.
James, St. Thomas, between Kingston and Yallahs, and in the
Red Hills of St. Catherine.
Among the endemic birds which can be found in the Blue
Mountains are the quail dove, the flycatchers and vireos, the
cuckoos, and the only endemic warbler, the arrow-headed
warbler. This warbler is the only warbler which occurs in
Jamaica through the year and breeds here, other than the
yellow warbler, a resident of the mangrove swamps. The
Arrow-headed warbler is somewhat similar to the Black and
White warbler, both in appearance and habits, and both have
the local name 'ants bird'. It is most usually seen hunting
insects up and down tree trunks in the mountain forests.
The least conspicuous, and least often seen of our endemic
birds is the Blue-mountain vireo: small, olive coloured and
devoid of any diagnostic markings. Few people have seen or
watched, or even heard this small bird, whose range, habits
and present status are largely unknown. The biology of most
of the local birds is in fact neither well known nor have the
birds been studied scientifically. There is a large field of
research open for those with the wish to learn more of the
birds and contribute to our knowledge: such work can only
be carried out in Jamaica.
Jamaica is fortunate in having an excellent Wild Life
Protection Law, and in having a Wild Life Protection Committee
to advise government in matters concerning the Island's Wild
Life. The law provides complete protection for all birds, their
nests, eggs and young with the exception of birds on two lists,
one being those birds regarded as noxious and thus pests, the
other those birds regarded as game and which may be hunted
during declared open seasons. Forest reserves are declared
game sancturies where hunting is prohibited at all times, and
private landholders may declare their properties game reserves
by arrangement with the relevant Ministry of Government.
This law in itself is not enough: for it is seldom enforced.
Small boys still kill grassquits with the sling-shot, the gunmen
still shoot down non-game birds both in and out of season.
Protected birds are still trapped, bought and sold, kept in
captivity and even exported as pets. These problems can only
be overcome hv awakening through education a realisation in
the public of the value of the birds; this must be backed by
the full support of the law and its enforcement.
Unlike most other countries, Jamaica is not conscious of
the need for bird protection, and does not have a developed
system of game reserves and national parks. The existing
reserves only cover a single forest habitat, and are not well
patrolled by efficient game wardens. Many areas of swamp
are being drained and there is a great need for some such areas
to be perserved, not only as feeding and breeding grounds for
many species of birds but also for the preservation of the
crocodiles and as breeding areas for fish. Another area currently
being developed is the Hellshire hills, but it is gratifying to
note that a large part is intended as a nature reserve. It is
hoped that this reserve will allow the Banana Mocking birds
(Mimus gundlachii) to continue to survive in this the only part
of Jamaica where they now live. The hills are also the only
known breeding place of the collarded swift, and mention has
already been made of the possibility of the parauque still
Many tourists come to Jamaica to see our 24 endemic
species, as it is only in Jamaica that they can be seen. The
establishment of national parks would be a great tourist
attraction, and would ensure the continued survival of our
birds, as part of the heritage we should pass on the generations
of Jamaicans to follow.
ART LITERATURE MUSIC
We must Learn to sit down together
talk about a Little Culture*
ON WEST INDIAN
WRITING & CRITICISM by Sylvia Wynter
IMPACT- A Publication of the Guild of Undergraduates, The Islands in Between Essays on West Indian Liter-
U.W.I. ature, Edited with an introduction by Louis James.
Oxford University Press, 1968.
Wayne Browne, The Novelist in an unsettled Culture.
CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY, Vol. 13, No. I. March 1967. T.W. ADORNO PRISMS 1967 (Trans Weber)
W.I. Carr, Roger Mais Design from a Legend. George Lamming, THE PLEASURES OF EXILE 1960
*Title from Fitzroy Fraser: Wounds in the Flesh.
1. John Heanic
3. Rogcr .11ais
4. Pitzro.v Fi-azer
5 Geotgc Lamming
0. V.S. A(lipaul
7. Vevillc 1)uvves
"For colonization is a reciprocal process; to be a coloni-
al is to be a man in a certain relation; and this rela-
tion is an example of exile"
(George Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile)
The article, The Novelist in an unsettled Culture, is written
by Wayne Browne, a Final year student of English at the
University of the West Indies. That on Roger Mais, published
in the Caribbean Quarterly, was written by W.I. Carr, a former
lecturer in English on the Mona Campus. The collection of
essays The Islands in Between is edited by Louis James,
also a former lecturer in English there. The essayists are for
the most part West Indian. Both Louis James and Carr are
Englishmen. All, West Indian or Englishmen, are connected,
in one way or the other, with the University of the West Indies.
John Hearne, a wirter who functions in this context as critic,
runs the University's recently built Creative Arts Centre. But
my concern is not with labels English or West Indian, writer
or critic. My concern is with connections. The first connection
to be made is that the critical writing of the English-speaking
Caribbean, as a body, is centred at and diffused from the
The second connection to be made is that this critical
exploration is conducted, for the most part, under the guidance
and within the perspectives of English criticism. This itself
reflects the fact, that the University, like the society, is a
'branch plant industry of a metropolitan system'.* In all such
systems, the creators of original models, i.e. the writers, must
cluster at the centre if they are to have the freedom and the
opportunity to create. The third connection follows from this
last that whilst the critics are safely 'home and dry' at the
university, the writers are scattered, in exile. Already, in 1960,
George Lamming foresaw the inevitability of his own exile.
He wrote then,
"I am still young by ordinary standards (thirty-two to be
exact) but already I feel that I have had it (as a writer) as
far as the British Caribbean is concerned. I have lost my
place or my place has deserted me.
Even more recently, C.L.R. James said in an interview, in
Paris, with the French newspaper Le Monde:
"The majority of us (writers in exile) keep on talking about
the only subject which really explodes in our hearts our
native land. But as it becomes more and more of a dream
its contours fade, and when our people at home read what
we have written about them, they cannot recognize them-
selves any more. They (the writers) will cut my throat for
having said this, but it is the truth, as much for me as it is
for them. I, who am old, have lived through this calvery,
but they who are young, are only now undergoing theirs.
Until my lastbreath, Ishall refuse to accept that this exile will
not have an end."
These are naked statements. They are statements to which
attention must be paid. To attend them, I must reveal my own
connection, declare my interest.
I write, and writing is the impulse of my life. I am neither
writer nor critic, neither playwright nor novelist. I am a
See New World Quarterly
Jamaican, a West Indian, an American. I write not to fulfil a
category, fill an order, supply a consumer, but to attempt to
define what is this thing to be a Jamaican, a West Indian, an
American. I believe that this definition is the beginning of
awareness; the 'taking of consciousness' of being, as modern
Latin American writers express it. Lamming, in the 'Pleasures
ofExile' worked towards this kind of awareness. He wrote,
".unawareness is the basic characteristic of a slave. Aware-
ness is the minimum condition for attaining freedom."
The Mexican writer Leopold Zea sees the importance of this
type of awareness at the national level. Up till now, he writes,
Mexico was involved in action. But in action that was not
aware of its origin or intention. Now Mexico had to enter into
an awareness of its reality. To be aware of reality means that,
"we shall have to make ourselves aware of the springs which
have moved hitherto irrational forces in order to direct
them better. In this way we shall not fall for yet another
I share in this intention. I therefore cannot regard what I
write as a fetish object called literature a being in itself to
be deified under the static concept of Art for Art's sake. I
cannot accept that culture is, to borrow the phrase of Roland
Barthes, "a piece of inexplicable magic", to be created by the
artist, unconsciously, as medium, with the critic as High Priest
and conscious interpreter. I accept Brecht's thesis that in
settled periods of history, culture and literature which is its
part, with criticism as its partner can reflect reality. But
that in traumatic times like ours, when reality itself is so dis-
torted as to have become impossible and abnormal, it is the
function of all culture, partaking of this abnormality, to be
aware of its own sickness. To be aware of the unreality of
the unauthenticity of the so called real, is to reinterpret this
reality. To reinterpret this reality is to commit oneself to a
constant revolutionary assault against it.
For me then, the play, the novel, the poem, the critical
essay, are means to this end not ends in themselves. Yet they
are means which are at one and the same time, self-contained
cells, and part of a dynamic living process. This process marks
the path for the West Indian from acquiescent bondage to the
painful beginning of freedom. Freedom means the rejection
of 'white lies' and the acceptance of the 'black truth' of his
condition. Our condition is one of uprootedness. Our uproot-
edness is the original model of the total twentieth century
disruption of man. It is not often appreciated that West Indian
man, qua African slave, and to a lesser extent, white inden-
tured labourer, was the first labour force that emergent
capitalism had totally at its disposal. We anticipated by a
century the dispossession that would begin in Europe with the
Industrial Revolution. We anticipated, by centuries, that exile,
which in our century is now common to all.
The exile of the writer, then, not only from the Caribbean,
but from Latin America and from many other neo-colonial
territories, is part of a general negation. It is part of a process
of negation in which culture itself has been dispossessed. The
Brazilian critic, Clarival do Pardo Valladares, writing on the
concept of Negritude, recently, commented:
"Whilst Western civilization considers art as a distinct
activity which tries to reflect in the object, the interiority
of the individual artist. .tribal art, according to William
Fagg, 'is completely integrated in tribal life and society'.
It is a functional element of the social machinery and not a
means of escape from the social machinery, as art is today,
in all the rest of the world." *
He went on to consider the present state of tribal art in Africa.
Now that the artist of Africa was drawn into 'the culture
industry' of the West, he had begun to lose the 'virility of his
motivation'. This motivation had been to create art which
expressed the collective thought and feeling of the tribe. Now
instead the artist turned out traditional models of fecundity as
'bibelots' for Europeans; and for the new European oriented
elite-bourgeoisie of Africa. Even when a group of traditional
craftsmen use old tools, and traditional musical instruments to
create traditional arts, its excellence was negatived, because,
". all this was being done through the motivation not of
tribal but of tourist art. The product, rightly called folk-
loric art was authentic up to a certain point. Beyond that
point it lost its motivation, its aesthethic reason, and became
marked with the travesty of the touristic object, which
recalls an exotic origin, but which at the same time, serves
the requirements of, and responds to the imposition of the
taste of the buyer."
Tribal art in Africa and elsewhere is merely undergoing the
dispossession of art and culture everywhere today. In the
West, and the 'free world' over which the West exercises
dominance, culture has become a mere appendage to the mar-
ket mechanism; another industry among others. In the Soviet
Union, and the 'fraternal' countries over which the Soviet
Union exercises dominance, culture is a mere appendage to the
mechanism of the established order. The Communist world
makes this emphatically clear. Hence the 'trial' of writers.
The 'free world' resorts to more subtle methods. It accepts its
writers, encourages their heresies, acclaims them; pays them.
It understands that the logic of the market mechanism tends to
make the writer, as it makes what he writes, irrelevant.
Like the tribal artist today, the writer writes not for the
tribe, but for the market. He produces not for man but for the
consumer. By accepting the part of the man as the whole, the
writer, and the artist, deny the humanity of man. In denying
the humanity of man, he denies his possible brotherhood; his
possible coming together as one. A multitude of consumers,
constitute not a group, to borrow Sartre's distinction, but a
series of consumers, each waiting in line at the supermarket for
their packaged cultural product. A multitude of consumers are
the negation of a multitude of men. Art which accepts man as
a consumer, belongs to what Malraux calls, 'the appeasing
arts'. These arts, as Malraux points out, are not inferior arts.
They are anti-art. Art is a vital and functional element of the
dynamics of a society, that which unites men; the more than
bread by which they live. Anti-art, whether expressed in the
James Bond novels, or the French anti-novel, the very latest
avant of the avant garde, helps men to escape from the reality
of a society which they have fashioned; which now fashions
them; and which they can no longer endure. "Good art",
said Tolstoy with prophetic insight, "is that which serves the
religious perception of our times that of the unity of man-
kind." 'Bad art' is that which disserves it. The appeasing arts,
says Malraux the cinema, the soap opera, the television serial,
invite men to an escape to an illusion.
The appeasing arts are not confined to the lowest possible
denominator. Just as there are consumers of all grades, Top
people take the Times and a bold new breed wears buffalo
jeans so there are 'appeasing arts' of different brands and
different quality. In art, as in other goods produced for the
market, the connoisseurs are those who recognize 'fine' art by
its delicate bouquet, its esoteric genealogy, its abstruse
rationale. The topgrade consumer-connoisseur is deadly
In Mundo Nuevo, October 1966 No. 4
opposed to the inferior brands of the appeasing arts which
constitute mass culture. He may have accepted James Bond,
because although the masses accepted him too, James Bond
was in his way a connoisseur, too. A lowbrow in ideas
but with highbrow consumer tastes in food, women and cars.
To accept James Bond was the most complex and U form of
inverted snobbery. The highbrow who slummed for a while
with Bond in high-class beds, could return to highbrow ideas in
volumes tooled for the anti-philistine. And of course, the
middlebrow consumer has his middlebrow brand and line, all
nicely catered for. The essential factor was that both high and
middlebrow could be made to feel that they belonged to an
elite. Nothing tops silvertop gin and only the elect of the
intellect could savour it without sin. The writer who conscious-
ly sets out to write for an elite is as much involved in the
appeasing arts as the writer, who, wanting to write 'for the
people' falls into the trap of writing for the consumer.
The concept of 'people', better expressed by the Spanish
'pueblo' is fast vanishing. The writer who returns from exile at
the metropolitan centre to 'write for his people'; to seek with
them to 'break out of identity imposed by alien circumstances',
and to find a new one, must come face to face with the fact
that his 'people' has become the 'public'. And the public in
the Caribbean, equally like the public in the great metropolitan
centres, are being conditioned through television, radio,
and advertising, to want what the great corporations of pro-
duction in the culture industry, as in all others, have condition-
ed them to want. Returning from exile at the metropolitan
centre, the writer all too often finds that he returns only to
another example, another facet of exile. Yet by not returning,
the writer continues to accept his irrelevance.
I returned. I returned because I had no choice. I could not
write, my talent did not suffice, except I could return to the
lived experience of my own corer of reality. I accepted that
writing would have to be done in the interstices of my time.
For my writing was not a marketable product in the 'branch
plant society' to which I returned. My interpretation of one
aspect of European literature could be sold; I had the Good
Housekeeping label of a metropolitan university. If the label
had been marked English literature rather than Spanish, I
would be able to function in my own society as an interpreter
of West Indian literature rather than of Spanish literature. But
within the 'branch plant' arrangement of my society and its
university, I (and others infinitely more gifted than I am)
would have no possibility to function as the creator of any
Given my particular position, I cannot pretend to object-
ivity nor impartiality in my approach to these critical essays.
Nor can I pretend to function purely as a critic in relation to
them. I prefer to bear witness to my own reaction on reading
what is after all a feed back report on the body of writing now
labelled West Indian. And my first reaction on reading these
essays was that this critical body of work confronted us with
a paradox at once so simple and so complex, that it staggers
the imagination; until one remembers that in the upside down
reality in which we have our being, paradoxes are 'normal'.
For what they show us, these essays, is that the books, as the
products of the writers, have a function, at least in academic
circles. There they are transformed into texts. West Indian
books have a function in West Indian society. West Indian
writers have none.
Since the texts are there, to be explained, interpreted,
accepted, dismissed, the interpreter replaces the writer; the
critic displaces the creator. Yet in displacing the creator, he
diminishes his own validity. Criticism is a part of culture and
not its instant powder substitute. When the creative instinct is
stifled or driven into exile, the critical faculty can survive only
as maggots do feeding on the decaying corpse of that which
gives it a brief predatory life. The exclusion of the West Indian
writer from West Indian life, has even more far reaching
implications than the agony of exile undergone by the writer
himself. It implies the acceptance by us of all of a 'bewitched
reality'. It implies our acceptance of an arrangement of society
in which the writer in order to find a way of functioning, must
go to the metropolitan centre. It implies our complicity with
the commissars of the market system. The Communist
commissars send their dissident writers to prison. The market
commissars by inducing writers to find outlet and function
only at the metropolitan centre, sends them into exile. We
come to terms with our 'branch plant' existence, our suburban
raison d' etre.
To be a colonial, says Lamming, is to be a man in a certain
relation. A suburban is a man without a being of his own; a
man in a dependent economic and cultural relation with the
metropolis. To be in that relation is an example of exile. The
air of inauthenticity which pervades the West Indian University,
springs from the fact that the university, like its society, only
much more so, is in exile from itself. Like Caliban, as Lamming
sees him in the 'Pleasures of Exile', the university has no self
which is not imposed on it by circumstances. Many of these
critical essays, which embody the University's criticism of
West Indian writing reflect, and parallel this inauthenticity.
Some do not.
"We have met before. Four centuries separate our first
meeting when Prospero was graced with the role of
thief, merchant and man of God."
(Lamming, 'The Pleasures of Exile')
In his long and detailed introduction to The Islands In
Between, Louis James, as editor has only this to say about the
exile of the West Indian writer:
"Seen against the various tensions of the area, it is not
surprising that many creative Caribbean writers moved
away from the West Indies to see their predicament in
perspective... VS. Naipaul who entitled an account of
his visit to his ancestral homeland 'An Area of Darkness
(1964)'- and Samuel Selvon, left permanently for England.
Into exile in London too, went many other creative West
Indian writers, including George Lamming, Wilson Harris,
Andrew Salkey and Edgar Mittelholzer."
Why does Louis James, accept and pass over, as a given
fact, a connection without which West Indian writing cannot
be properly explained? For James cannot be accused, as W.I.
Carr can be, of refusing to see literature in the context of a
given time and place. Indeed much of his introduction is
given over to a historical sketch of the area which produced
West Indian writing; and of the circumstances which helped
to define it. Yet this historical sketch is distorted by James'
essentially 'branch plant' perspective a perspective that
views the part for the whole; that adjusts new experience to
fit an imported model, with a shift here and a shift there;
that blinds its horizons in order not to perceive the logical and
ultimate connections, that would invalidate the original model
that had formed his being ahd distorted his way of seeing.
The 'branch plant' perspective is the perspective of all the
'appeasing arts'; and of their corollary, 'acquiescent criticism.'
What do we mean by this? James does not hesitate to
point out the colonial background to West Indian writing. No
West Indian, however passionate and anti-colonial could fault
him on this. He says all the right things, makes all the right
genuflections. If he praises the British presence in the Carib-
"Only an extremist would deny the positive contributions
to West Indian social and political life made by England.
They are ubiquitous, and deeply ingrained, far more so than
in India or Africa. English education opened up a cultural
heritage which reached beyond England to Europe, and
Asia and Africa. It provided a highly developed tool of
language with which a writer like Walcott could explore
his own unique predicament, just as the British liberal
traditions formed the basis for the struggle for independence
from England. ",
Louis James is quick to adjust the balance with this:
"At the same time the English traditions could be destruc-
tive. Petrified within the social structure as the standards of
respectability they could also, as we have noticed, divide
class from class, and constrict the evolution of national
ways of life."
If we examine both the praise and the dispraise, we shall
find that James has really evaded the issue. He has, to use a
just phrase of T.W. Adorno 'parried by not parrying.' No one,
in reading both accounts could fail to see on which side the
balance tilts-in favour of England and her 'positive contri-
butions'. Yet an English education provided Walcott with a
highly developed tool of language to explore a 'unique pre-
dicament' which England's economic interest had created; a
predicament which had profited her. If British liberal tradi-
tions formed the basis of the West Indian's struggle for inde-
pendence, it was the British anti-liberal tradition which by
making him colonial, caused him to have to struggle in the
first place. From this long and anti-liberal tradition England
also profited. Her 'destructive English traditions' which divided
class from class, were there to serve a purpose. To continue an
economic and political arrangement which profited her. The
more they profitted her, the less they profited the West Indies.
The end result is an arrangement by which, with independence
attained, the majority of the West Indians were illiterate. The
writer wanting market and audience had to go to England; as
the West Indian emigrant wanting a living wage had to go to
England. As the West Indian University, wanting skilled
personnel, had to turn to England. The presence of Louis
James in the Caribbean and the absence of the writer in
London are part of the same historical process.
The distortion of Louis James' perspective comes from his
avoidance of this connection. He sketches the history of the
Caribbean from an Archimedean point outside the historical pro-
cess. Yet it is a process in which he is as involved as is the West
Indian. This pretended objectivity and detachment is the
common stance of what I call, for convenience, the 'acquies-
cent critic.' In attempting to write from outside the process,
in pretending detachment, the 'acquiescent critic', accepts the
status quo, by accepting his own fixed point outside it. He
falls into the trap of which Adorno spoke:
"He, the cultural critic speaks as if he represented either
unadulterated nature or a higher historical stage. Yet he is
necessarily of the same essence as that to which he fancies
himself superior. The insufficiency of the subject... which..
passes judgement.. becomes intolerable when the subject
itself is mediated down to its innermost makeup by the
notion to which it opposes itself as independent and
James, as an English teacher teaching in a West Indian univer-
sity, passing judgement on West Indian writing, is mediated to
his bones by the colonial experience, by the colonial myth in
which he is as involved, though in a different role, as is the
It is Lamming the writer and the West Indian, and not
James the critic and the Englishman, who sees this vital
connection. James' criticism, in the final analysis, is there to
reinforce the status quo; Lamming's is there to question it.
Lamming, the questioning critic cannot take fixity as his
stance; he knows himself and his perspective moulded by a
historical process imposed on his being. He writes from a point
of view inside the process. He knows that he does. Awareness
is all. In the 'Pleasures of Exile' he begins his historical sketch
of the Caribbean quite differently from James. He speaks to
James, not at him. "We have met before". Lamming tells him.
"Four centuries separate our meeting.... "
"Behind everything is imperialism," Edgar said. "Forget
imperialism," Capleton snapped. "We don't have any
guns or planes."
"Why forget imperialism, Ramsay thought."
(Neville Dawes, The Last Enchantment.)
"History was built around achievement and creation
and nothing was created in the West Indies."
(V.S. Naipaul, The Middle Passage.)
"Mouche affirmed that there was nothing here worth
looking at or studying; that this country had neither
history nor character."
(Alejo Carpentier: The Lost Steps.)
In 'The Pleasures ofExile, Lamming performs the highest
function of criticism. He opens for us Shakespeare's play,
THE TEMPEST. He reveals extensions of meaning that have
hitherto avoided us. He does this by involving himself, a
twentieth century Barbadian Negro, within the context of the
play. He brings 'immanent criticism' to a new height, that is he
reveals the qualities that the play has as 'an end in itself by
paradoxically placing it firmly within the context of the
adventure of its time. He says:
"I see 'The Tempest'against the background of England's
experiment in colonization.... and it is Shakespeare's capa-
city for experience which lead me to feel that 'The Tempest'
was also prophetic of a political future which is our present."
Lamming places 'The Tempest' within the process of England's
creation of Empire. 'The Tempest', he shows us, was as much
the cultural expression of England's adventure; as were the
voyages of Drake and Hawkins, its economic expression. It is
the measure of Shakespeare's genius that at the height of
England Prospero's intoxication, he should have been aware
of the dimension of Caliban's tragedy "That when I waked,
I cried to dream once more".
It is the measure of Lamming's critical insight that he sees
this as the beginning of a Cultural connection that was not
separate from the economic, but lay at its very heart. To
elucidate this connection Lamming begins to chart for us "the
triangular course of that tremendous Voyage which swept
Caliban from his soil and introduced him to Heaven through
the long wet hell of the Middle Passage." This is the beginning
of an African's history as Caliban; and of Hawkin's as Pros-
pero. Both after that voyage had suffered a sea-change and had
been transmuted into something terrible and strange. The
history of neither Caliban nor Prospero can be understood
from now on, outside of that relationship.
Lamming points out that from the start it was a relation-
ship based on violence in the name of commerce. He does this
merely by quoting Hakluyt:
"... and got into his possession, partly by the sworde, and
partly by other means, to the number of 300 Negroes at the
least, besides other merchandizes which that country yield-
eth. With this prey he sailed over the Ocean Sea and unto
the Island of Hispaniola and arrived first at the port of
Thus we had 'the Middle Passage'. A triangular trade all spell-
ing profit for those of Prospero's race who survived the cross-
ing. And spelling loss for all of Caliban's for those who
died, in their millions, for those who survived to inhabit a
brave New World, for those who remained behind, to wage
internecine war, to trade their kith and kin in exchange for
Prospero's symbol of power, his magic wand the gun.
I have quoted Naipaul's statement about history in the
West Indies. It is an often quoted statement. Louis
James begins his historical introduction with this state-
ment. W.I. Carr, in his long and illuminating article on Roger
Mais, also quotes the statement, and comments:
"I used to feel that this summed it all up, and I partially
reject it now, because it seems to me too much of a
comment upon the present, or upon the effort possible in
the present. Naipaul seems to be inviting one just to get up
and go away."
The quotation by both these critics of a judgement made by
Naipaul in his travel book the 'Middle Passage' is a comment
as much on the critics as it is on Naipaul. But a distinction
must be made. Although James begins with this comment
which, when examined really implies a division pointed out
"Not so very long ago, the earth numbered two thousand
million inhabitants; five hundred million men, and one
thousand five hundred million natives. The former had the
Word; the others had the use of it."
Louis James contradicts this division later in the section headed
'Unconquerable Spirit', and in the quotation from C.L.R.
James which he uses:
"One has to hear with what warmth and with what volu-
bility and at the same time with what precision and
accuracy of judgement this creature, heavy and taciturn all
day, now squatting before the fire, tells stories, talks,
gesticulates, argues, passes opinions, approves and condemns
both his masters and everyone who surrounds him."
That is Louis James opposes to the dangerous division of
Naipaul Men make history; Natives don't a section in
which he sketches the development and the creation from
African beliefs and fragments of the 'coherent' culture which
at first the denies. What gave coherence to this culture was its
revolutionary intention. If in the day, Caliban laboured and
worked in order to create the economic base for the dazzling
progression of achievements" of Prospero at night he became
a man once more. His folk songs, his folk dances, his calypso
with its satiric intention, his dances, imitating the white
dances, transforming them with the heavy rhythm whose sur-
vival assured the existence of his being, constituted a nightly
revolution against the reality to which he was condemned.
One sees the acuteness of Adorno's comment that because
"culture arises in men's struggle to reproduce themselves. ."
it "contains an element of resistance to blind necessity."
This Caliban, transformed at night before the fire, talking,
singing, involved in ritual and religion which was still arranged
around a spiritual altar of African gods, created the culture
out of which the Haitian revolution, fused into an equally
revolutionary European cultural tradition, sprang. The night
gathering about the fire had tremendous relevance. Around
the fire the Native took hold of the Word. And it was His
Word in his own mouth, fired by his own dream. By making
use of the Word, as Lamming shows, Caliban had initiated his
first act of revolution against Prospero. He had appropriated
Prospero's language, as Prospero had appropriated his labour,
thinking to appropriate his being. But his being survived and
returned Prospero' language, changing for ever its meaning. The
cultural tradition out of which the West Indian, who is fed by
the Caliban culture of the West Indies writes, is an inherently
revolutionary one. That was always its intention.
Louis James, has glimpses of this. But by his arrangement
of his material, he sees as subsidiary that which is really
central. Because of this he misses certain implications. He
quotes Braithwaite at the head of his introduction:
who have cre-
He uses this to reinforceNaipaul's statement rather than seeing
it as an ironic comment on such a statement. For Naipaul's
statement, his concept of history, is nothing more than a
reflection of Naipaul's terrible enchantment by what Louis
James himself calls 'the brilliant myth of Europe'. Gordon
Rohlehr in his excellent essay on Naipaul, uses the critical
approach of a Lamming. He explains Naipaul in the context of
Trinidad. But he points out that this retrogression in sensibility
and interprets the connection between the man and his world.
He sees the 'Middle Passage' compared to 'Biswas', as "a
sensibility is itself a part of the colonial experience in which
Naipaul had been, and is still, involved.
"Naipaul is a Trinidad East Indian who has not come to
terms with the Negro-creole world in Trinidad, or with the
East Indian world in Trinidad, or with the greyness of
English life, or with life in India itself where he went in
search of his roots. "
The validity of Naipaul, even in a maimed book like the
'Middle Passage', comes from his own personal involvement in
the 'horrors' which he describes. His sense of unreality, his
revulsion in India as in Trinidad, is his intuitive and terrible
response to the colonial experience. The fact that India and
Trinidad and the rest of the Caribbean are now 'free'; that
they have a flag and an anthem, are not any proof to Naipaul
that things have changed. Indeed, in a sense, they have got
worse. Naipaul's value is his true and certain geiger response to
a situation. His danger lies in another facet of the colonial
experience his constant misinterpretation of this unreality
and its source. On his return to Trinidad, Naipaul was caught
up in an increasing 'poverty of culture' which Oscar Lewis has
recently shown is endemic to the early states of industrial capital-
ism. In this sense, although Trinidad had made more economic
progress since independence than in all her British years, she
too, like the rest of the Caribbean, like India,like England
herself, has entered a vast dispossession.
Naipaul's insights into this dispossession, whether in travel
book or in his novels are acute. His honesty impels him to
experience this dispossession through his own being; and not
alone describe it in others. Yet his animus against the Negro
sharpens his eye for the Negro's dispossession. In spite of
himself, this revelation has a revolutionary intention. His
portrait of Eden in 'The Mimic Men', takes us back to the
implications of Lamming's analysis of the relation between
Prospero and Caliban. In the 'MimicMen, Ralph Singh, a
Trinidadian Indian and failed politician, takes refuge in
London. His escape is merely the conclusion of a flight that
had begun, long ago in Trinidad when by changing his name,
- Ranjit Kripalsingh to Ralph Singh he had denied his being
and accepted a basement bargain status in the 'white-Christian
Anglo-Saxon-educated, rich' continuum of Prospero; his
flight conditioned by the cultural myth through which Pros-
pero exercises his domination. The cultural myth which had
taught Singh (and Naipaul) nothing but reverence for Western
power; and the psychological basis of Western power, referred
to by Sartre as "that other witchery of which I have already
spoken, Western culture". Now, refuged in his London hotel,
Singh recalls the past with a dry telling of the beads. The most
successful part of the book is this evocation of the past of
days at school when four boys, one of whom was Singh, had
tried to escape from the sterotrypes which the cultural myth of
Prospero had used to keep them in happy subjugation. One of
the four boys was Eden.
"Eden was something of a buffoon. He was the blackest
boy in the school and for some time was know as Spite...
His reputation as a buffoon and his special relationship with
Deschampsneuf had been established early.. .Eden had
fixed on Asia as the continent he wished to travel in; he
had been stirred by Lord Jim His deepest wish was for the
Negro race to be abolished; his intermediate dream was of
a remote land where he, the solitary Negro among an alien
pretty people, ruled as sort of a sexual king".
The myth, devised by Prospero, as the magic to prop up his
power, had sold to Eden the emasculation of his spirit. The
myth, by emasculating his spirit, conditions his compensatory
dreams and fantasies. Once his dreams have been conditioned,
Prospero grants him freedom of speech; Prospero grants him
the vote, a national flag, an anthem. He is sure now that
Caliban will speak only to deny himself; vote only to abolish
himself. Yet, the system breeds its contradictions. For Eden
leaving school, becomes envious when Deschampsneuf gets a
job in a bank; and he can't. The rage at not being able to
handle money, the new magic wand, the new gun, festers. It is
forgotten in the daily round. Until Ariel, in the person of
Naipaul, in the 'Mimic Men' returns Eden-Caliban to himself.
Eden, once made aware of his emasculation, will grope back to
his pristine dream of freedom. When he gives tongue to his
dream it will be the more terrible for having been denied so
long. Eden will speak then with the voice of the young black
American, Eldridge Cleaver,
"We shall have our manhood. We shall have it, or the earth
will be levelled by our attempts to gain it."
The Calibans, their past appropriated, their present dis-
torted are determined to have the future. They have a right to
it. The Cuban poet Retamar writes:
"You were right Tallet. We are men of transition.
Between the whites...
And the nocturnal blacks, blue at times, chosen through
Terrible proofs; only the best survived
The only superior race on the planet.
The history of the Caribbean is a history of survival.
It is only the 'racist humanism' of Europe as Sartre calls it,
that sees history in European terms only history as achieve-
ment and creation. Yet as Alejo Carpentier shows in his novel,
the 'Lost Steps', the creation of the Eroica Symphony is an
essential corollary of the negation of Auschwitz. Naipaul
accepts the racist definition of history with the part of his
intellect that is crippled by it. As Rohlehr says:
"It (Naipaul's Englishness) manifests itself, rather, in his
unsconcious acceptance of a typicalEuropean view of Third
World inferiority. .it shows itself in his contemptuous
rejection of all things West Indian.."
Naipaul's self-hatred, foisted by the cultural myth which he
has accepted, ugly in some of its manifestations, is yet an essen-
tial part of his talent. His own torment provides him with a
scalpel with which he dissects, with the precision of a Fanon,
if without his understanding and clear intention, the state of
Caliban's and Ariel's descendents. Biswas is essentially a tra-
gedy of dispossession. The disintegration of Hanuman House is
the disintegration of the last decaying remnants of Hindu cul-
ture. Distorted as Tulisdom is, struggling to survive in a new
world where the sole economic motive has made irrelevant all
the customs and traditions by which the Indian had affirmed
his being in his exile, it yet provided a shelter for many of the
others, who, unlike Biswas could not make the adjustment to
'creole' culture and the competitive ethic. Hanuman House,
stagnant and evil, is swept away, as Biswas enters his house. It
is not accidental that Naipaul kills him off. Like Don Quixote,
with his madness gone, Biswas might have woken up to find his
house a cage. With the house and the Perfect car, Biswas has
entered suburbia. The Tulsis, the human enemy, have been
replaced with the remote gnomes of Zurich; and the vast and
all embracing Hanuman Headquarters in which all the Biswases
are now imprisoned.
In this new Hanuman House, it is Caliban who is still sub-
versive. For Biswas has learnt to write. He is now a journalist,
and has the Word, even if that Word is conditioned by the
the consumer, Biswas has taken his place as the Ariel of the
system. Caliban cannot. Even in this new house, he is still
on its lowliest floor. He is the base on which the super-
structure is erected. His is the negation that makes possible
the dazzle of the culture industry. Lamming shows the
beginning of the myth and its reality in Shakespeare's 'Tempest'.
At the heart of the myth is what Adorno calls 'The original sin'
of all culture: the separation of mental from physical work.
It is the original sin at the heart of the relationship between
Prospero and Caliban. Caliban is not himself without guilt.
Caliban, a version of cannibal, was for Shakespeare, the
original Carib in the New World. Ariel was perhaps, the
Arawak, the innocence of the younger stages of a culture
when progress and advance is not bought at the expense of the
negation of others. The Caribs, on the other hand were pre-
dators. They kept young boys whom they captured from
other tribes, castrated them, and brought them up as slaves
until they were fat enough to be eaten. It is interesting to note
that some observers on Columbus's first voyage found the
Caribs, i.e. the cannibals, the predatory, warlike, warmongering
tribe to be
"in some ways more civilized than the inhabitants of other
islands even though they did not appear to possess any
gold. Their houses were better built, their weapons very
well made, and their cotton was just as skilfully woven as
the best Spanish cloth."
Caliban's mother had enslaved Ariel. The advanced culture
of Caliban, like the advanced culture of Greece and that of
Western civilization has been created at the expense of slaves
and helots of all times and all races. The more 'advanced' the
culture, the more its original sin. Prospero enslaves Caliban;
as the representative of a more powerful and advanced culture,
his enslavement of Caliban is more total. His culture depends
on Caliban's labour. To get Caliban to accept this conversion
of himself into brawn, muscle, body; to get him to consent to
this division of labour which gave brainwork and the fabrica-
tion of cultural myths to Prospero and manual work to
Caliban; even more, in order to rationalise to himself this
inherent injustice, Prospero creates a sterotype and sells this
sterotype to himself, Miranda and Caliban. Lamming notes
the constant sadism with which Prospero brain-washes Caliban.
He quotes: Prospero's speech:
"But as 'tis
We cannot miss him; he does make our fire
Fetch in our wood and serves in offices
That profit us. What ho! slave! Caliban
Thou earth, thou! Speak!
Prospero wants only answers to his summons, respectful
obedience to his orders.
By calling Caliban "earth", as Adorno shows in his analysis
of culture's guilt, Prospero, the anti-Philistine throws on
Caliban, the guilt of his own oppression. He distorts Caliban
into pure body. As pure body Caliban performs his first
revolutionary act. He attempts to rape Miranda. Mervyn
Morris, a West Indian and a writer, in one of the most 'acquie-
scent' and depressing essays in the collection 'The Islands in
Between' dismisses the 'Pleasures of Exile', in almost the
same tone and language with which the English critics destroy-
ed Lamming once he broke out of the pattern, analysed the
West Indian scene through its relationship with England; and
the English scene through its relationship with the West Indies.
It is the connection that is at the heart of the imperial myth.
Once the connection is clear, the myth is in danger.
Morris, mediated to his bones by the limiting pragmatism
of modern English criticism; by the pragmatism of 'decent'
modern English prose which accepts 'reality' and makes no
attempt to explore its contradictions, dismisses 'Pleasures of
Exile' as "a rag-bag collection of essays", and has this to say:
. the discussion of the Tempest scarcely illuminates the
assuming without evidence that Caliban is black, eagerly
play discussing whether he did try to lay Miranda, and inquir-
ing into the absence of Prospero's wife."
The discussion of Caliban's attempt to rape Miranda, is at the
heart of the racial myth which is shattering the world today.
Lamming discussed it in 1960 and was a precursor of what is
now a common place. But what particularly condemns Morris
and his easy dismissal, is the terms in which Lamming discusses
this rape. He points out that Caliban, still involved in his
dream of freedom, wants to rape Miranda with a positive in-
tention. His motive is not revenge.
"I had peopled else", and Lamming quotes, "this isle with
His issue would have been the reunion of body and brain -
the reunion of two stereotypes, the white man with his burden
and the black man with his minstrel song. The reunion would
have shattered the stereotypes, the division between mental
and physical work, the original sin at the heart of all society,
all culture. Caliban's dream impelled him towards wholeness.
'And when I waked, I cried to dream once more'. It is this
dream that Morris, locked in his too English, neat, not garish,
language and Weltanschauung, forgets. It is this forgetting that
inhibits Morris'exploration of his own talent.
Morris, like Naipaul comes to too quick terms with the
'brilliant myth of Europe'; with its concept of what is culture
and what is history. W.I. Carr, is perhaps the most subtle and
consistent propagator of the concept of culture through which
the cultural myth of Europe exercises its dominance. As we
shall see, Carr belongs to the kind of cultural critic, whom
"But the greatest fetish of cultural criticism is the notion of
culture as such. For no authentic work of art and no true
philosophy, according to their very meaning, has ever ex-
hausted itself in itself alone, in its being in itself They
have always stood in relation to the actual life process of
society from which they distinguish themselves. "
In his essay on Mais, Carr sets out to disassociate Mais 'from the
material processes of life'. By accepting culture as a deified
object, enthroned in ritual, whose communal sustaining belief
has long since vanished, except for a handful of the elite who
believe with their intellects, this kind of critic, like Spengler,
". severs culture from man's drive to survive. For him it
becomes a game in which the soul is its own playmate. "
Morris, although to a lesser extent than Carr, accepts this
concept of culture. So does Louis James, although with some
reservations; and so does Cameron King who is co-author with
James of the essay on Derek Walcott. Hearne, in his essay on
Wilson Harris, is a clear exponent of this concept, almost in
spite of himself. Wayne Browne in the Article in 'Impact'
shows himself a disciple of Carr, with the imagined conse-
quences; although here and there an original and thinking mind
tries to break through the 'witchery' called Western culture,
sold him by Carr. These are for me essentially 'acquiescent'
critics critics who reflect and parallel the inauthenticity of the
university and its society. Against these, Lammings 'Pleasures
of Exile,' Rohlehr on Naipaul, Creary on Mais, move towards
genuine criticism and therefore towards illumination rather
than that mystification which is at the heart of the "brilliant
myth of Europe."
The poem of Cesaire which is the manifesto of Negritude,
which Lamming quotes, and which Braithwaite echoes; and
James quotes without perceiving its implications, is an attack
on the concept of man as a producer-consumer. The Negro with
his stubborn holding on to a tribal integrated philosophy and
culture, through its fragments, rhythm, dance, song, would fit
in like the Catholic with his medieval memory, uneasily. We
who have created nothing is not a negative statement, as is
Naipaul's. It is the very negation of what Naipaul has said.
History is not a building, fixed in place and time, its bricks
the dates of each achievement, the records of things created,
its cement the blood of victims and victimizes; history is the
history of man's attempt to fulfil his being, his resistance to
being reduced to producer, consumer; producing finally the
atomic bomb which waits to consume him. "Eia for we who
have created nothing", like Caliban's attempted rape of Miran-
da, is an assault against all culture which accepts as the price
of its existence the negation of any part of man's being. It is,
like Caliban's attempted rape, a move towards wholeness.
Negritude, unlike its current yet necessary distortion, Black
Power, is essentially syncretic and inclusive and whole.
"White Power" is the trap that Prospero fell into, when, in
order to free Ariel, he enslaved Caliban; then found that free-
ing Ariel and enslaving Caliban paid off. Prospero's magic, his
culture, his poetry, soured into white power and imperialism.
Black Power is its negation. Negritude, in the sense in which
Caliban understood it, and the Brazilian Clarival do Prado
Valladares defines it contains their solution and resolution.
Commenting on the sculpture of the "Brazilian Agnaldo
Manoel dos Santos, which won first prize at Dakar, he points
out in the work, "the links of the ancient African art and
medieval Catholic art .. the syncretism of two cultures, African
and Iberian", and concludes:
"This ought to be the true path of negritude.... I think that
the character of a culture is more important than its racial
contingency. The universal presence and dimensions
recognizable in Negritude is the result of the first of these
Even more than the fusion of races or the fusion of cultures,
the task that faces Caliban, if he is to put an end to exile, is
the fusion once more of the body and the brain the refusal
to accept the separation between physical and mental work
which is culture's sin; the refusal to be an elite, the brain, to
a mass, the brawn. In accepting the consumer role for the
mass, we accept their separation in the same way as we accept-
ed and continue to accept that some men must be hewers of
wood and drawers of water. There is need for a cultural
revolution of this kind of magnitude. For its only with an end
to the division between body-brain; consumer mass techno-
crat elite that the world will have a chance to break out of the
Spenglerian rise and fall of civilizations. Adomo tells us that
the concept of Fate has always been the reflection of the
domination of one group of men over another. The end of
such domination is the end of the concept of Fate; and of its
more refined extensions in the cultural myths by which men of
all races, of all brilliant civilizations, have used to dominate
other men, whose negation underpropped their brilliance.
Adorno quotes James Shotwell:
"The civilizations that have come and gone have been
inherently lacking in equilibrium because they have been
built upon the injustice of exploitation. There is no reason
to suppose that modern civilizations must repeat this
There is no reason to believe this. Although there are many
indications that we will. The concept of culture as a fetish
object, justifying the negation of others; the concept of history
as something which excludes the 'natives'; the contempt
implicit in Naipaul's, his quoters, and Mouche, the Western
culture addict, whom Alejo Carpentier*shows in her sterility,
passing judgement on a culture more valid and more whole
than her tourist object d' art, are psychological barriers that
must be battered down if we are to survive. The 'appeasing
arts' come to terms with these concepts. 'Acquiescent
criticism' bolsters them. The imperial way of seeing has not
disappeared with the imperial flag. Its manifestations are
more subtle; because more subtle, they are more dangerous.
It was easier to fight 'manifest unfreedom' in 1938,.as Mais
fought; than to grapple with 'seeming freedom' as we must do
*In his novel The Lost Steps
BEA TIE:... "It does work, it's happening to me, I can
feel it's happened, I'm beginning on my own two feet-
(.... Beatie stands alone, articulate at last.)
ARNOLD WESKER, Roots.
"It is remarkable that the Negro ever writes at all.
In order to endure he must be cunning and silent. Jazz
Is a form of silence."
NEVILLE DAWES, The Last Enchantment.
"In Mexico, the word is used not to reveal but to con-
ceal.... the true use of language would commit us to a
daily and permanent revolution...."
To write at all was and is for the West Indian a revolution-
ary act. Any criticism that does not start from this very real
recognition is invalid. The hostility that Carr speaks of, in his
essay on Salkey in the 'Islands In Between, the hostility that
the writer meets with at the hands of the educated sections of
the West Indian public, springs from this fact. The hostility
that the West Indian writer meets with from University students,
for example, comes directly from the concept of literature
sold them by educators like Carr. These educators,the moulders
of generations of West Indians, are, in the large majority, as
English as they are West Indian. They are a cultural, not a
racial product. They worship at the shrine of a graven idol
called culture. They come out of the same all embracing
mould, the same formation. As Baldwin MacDonald**,the
rebel turned headmaster, discovered when he read up on the
etiquette of proper English and headmasteral behaviour, there's
no escaping the mould.
"It was indeed difficult to argue against six standard text-
books. But, obviously, all of them belonged to the same
school of thought, to the same stable of knowledge, and
fed on the same belief "
Lamming points out that the higher up the West Indian moves
in the social scale, the more educated he is, the more the
cultural myth indoctrinates him through these standard text
Naipaul's concept of history is the result of this indoctri-
nation. Yet Naipaul's novels, as Rohlehr points out, are an
assault on this concept. In 'Biswas', Rohlehr tells us,Naipaul
who says that the West Indies has no history, himself writes,
'in the history of West Indian underprivilege'. Biswas, safe
from too much education, like Lamming's Papa in the 'Castle
of my Skin', does not, as Carr would like him to do ("In his
essay on Mais Carr accuses the Jamaican of being unable "to
ponder his own limitations") ponder his limitations. These lim-
itations are imposed on him by colonial circumstances. He might
not know this; and certainly does not care. Both, Biswas and
Papa, assault these limitations. The assault on these limitations
is what gives meaning to their lives. They come within the
category of men who live their lives and fulfil their being. They
are men, to borrow Alejo Carpentier's terms, who "work out
a destiny for themselves" against all possible odds. In a world
where Carpentier sees" many faces and few destinies", they
are men, through their struggle against circumstances. Both,
in a profound sense, fail. Their failure is important. The
failure of the men and women in West Indian novels is a
witness to the impossible odds against which they are pitted.
** In Fitzroy Frazer's novel 'Wounds in the Flesh'
To see Roger Mais's 'Hills' and 'Brother Man' Carew's 'Black
Midas', Lamming's 'Castle' the way many reviewers do as 'the
triumph of the human spirit' is to deliberately and wilfully
misread the message. For what these books and others -
Ramsay's failure in the 'Last Enchantment', Baldwin Mac-
donald's failure in Wounds of the Flesh' and so many
more, all failures, attest to, is the total deprivation of all the
Caliban's by Prospero's machinery of power. The heroic
survival of the few, their heroic failures are only matched by
the squalid and inummerable failures of the many.Patterson's
'Children of Sisyphus' showed honestly and remorselessly the
failure of all. The West Indian writer, shows clearly a society
"What keeps the mechanism creaking along is human
deprivation under conditions of insane sacrifice and the
continual threat of catastrophe." *
In showing this society, however, ineptly; the struggle of Cali-
ban to realize himself against the brutality of Prospero's
arrangement of society, the West Indian writer attacks that
concept of culture by which
"The precarious and irrational self-preservation of society
is falsified and turned into an achievement of its immanent
justice and rationality." *
The West Indian writer is therefore involved in what Fuentes
calls "a daily revolution." This is the reason for his exile,
from Latin American and from here. Prospero's arrangement
sees to this. This is too, in many cases the reasons for his
failure as novelist, as poet, or what have you. In initiating his
revolution, Caliban takes language and tools and concepts
from the Prospero whom he must fight. All to often, his
writing is accorded, or not accorded, recognition by this very
Prospero. All to often in having to write for Prospero's
approval, he negates his own intention. The writer needs to
write, as Lamming does in 'The Pleasures of Exile' addressing
himself to his own audience. That at the same time he
addressed himself to Prospero too, is not irrelevant. The
relationship with Prospero has not come to end with the
physical departure of Prospero. As Lamming acutely realizes,
since colonization had been a reciprocal process, decoloniza-
tion must be equally so. Since it is Prospero who created the
myth and assigned the respective roles, the process of
demythologization must take place between himself and Cali-
ban. Caliban, must in a dialogue, re-invent, re-define the
relation. If Caliban is to become a man, Prospero must cease
being a myth of super-man. Once this dialogue has really
begun, the historical process which placed Louis James in the
Caribbean and Lamming in London can be meaningful.
Lamming, seeing the connection between colonizer and
colonized, examined the 'Tempest' against the experience of
England's early adventure in Empire. Louis James, in spite of
the many subsidiary excellencies of his comments, does not
see West Indian literature against its necessary background -
England's late adventure in the dissolution of Empire. What
do we mean by this? For James, unlike Carr, reveals the
connection between West Indian writing, the use of dialect
etc., and the upsurge, beginning in the thirties, against colonial
rule. But he keeps his analysis, with no more than a brief
reference, firmly in a West Indian compartment. He does not
see West Indian literature as the expression of the breaking out
of all the Calibans, not only all over the British Empire, but at
the heart of Empire itself.
That was what the English angry generation was about.
E.R. Braithwaites's To Sir with Love, was significant in that it
showed that Prospero had enslaved Caliban of his own race as
he had enslaved others. Since the enslavement rested on a
system which divided mental and physical work, body and
brain, Braithwaite's hero, black but educated, was a Prospero
representative to the Caliban East End children. His refusal
to accept that these children should be excluded from all the
props of Prospero's humanity; his struggle against the colonial
circumstances imposed on these East Enders, comes from his
own memory and still present experience (through his black
skin) of the Caliban torment. The book is valid because of
Arnold Wesker's 'Roots' is even more illuminating. What
Wesker shows us in Roots is a Beatie, a twentieth century
Caliban's mate, condemned to waitressing; bludgeoned, bruised
dehumanized like the rest of her family by the Telly, the
radio, the advertisements, slick and sick; by the shoddy pro-
grammes, the shoddy clothes, the shoddy amusements, shoddy
personal relationships, the shoddy ideas and evasions, the
shoddy view of the rest of the world what Wesker shows us
in 'Roots, is a Beatie, breaking out through pain and hurt, to
grasp the Word, the Word as liberator, and not as a prison cell.
Jimmy Porter in 'Look Back in Anger' breaks out from the
place of silence in which the imperial system, in which he was
at once colonizer and colonized, had imprisoned him. In
which he had aquiesced. His railing in 'Look back in Anger'
was the beginning of his revolt. What has happened to this
anger now? How was it stifled, channelled safely into avenues
In the 'Pleasures of Exile' Lamming, used 'The Tempest' to
show us the origin of Caliban's imprisonment by the word.
Miranda, reflecting her father's teaching, addresses Caliban
.... when thou didst not, savage
know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
a thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes
With words that made them known..
Each time Caliban writes, he reveals his purpose. His purpose,
by the nature of his enslavement, cannot be a purpose accept-
able to Miranda and Prospero by the very nature of their
domination and exercise of power. Caliban, by writing at all,
is groping towards his own choice of words. This is to grope-
towards his own purpose. To speak for himself is to make
Miranda's interpreter role irrelevant. Since this role is a key
guardian role in Prospero's system, then Miranda as inter-
preter, must defend it. To defend this role, she welcomes
Caliban's speech, encourages his purpose; and straining his
purpose through the spectrum of her own, ends up by confus-
ing his intention. In England, the angry generation having
rebelled, like Baldwin MacDonald in 'Wounds in the Flesh,
against the system, have been made headmasters, been
caressed by power and given upholstered places on a modern
chromium fence. They have come to acquiesce; their works
have begun to take their place within the appeasing arts.
Their anger provides a new thrill, a new frisson, a sort of
superior James Bond.
In his latest novel, 'Season ofAdventure, Lamming creates,
in the character of Charcot, an angry young Englishman, who
after anger experiences only a sense of futility. .Lamming
"The second achievement of England's corpse was the
effect of the pantomime on his generation. They were
angry, But it was not the potent anger of a man unfairly
dispossessed, (even when dispossessed in England, Charcot
felt himself the dispossessor in relation to the West Indian,
the African, and profited to however small a degree in his
role as dispossessor) a man whose silence might contain a
dangerous future. The anger of Charcot's generation had
no precise details. It was not about poverty or hunger or
waste.. Hunger and poverty and waste had equal urgency
with the activity they called the Arts. Literature among
the more attentive was an organism with all its parts com-
plete. They could dissect it like a knee, and put it up again.
They checked its pulse, charted the course of its veins, and
listened for the mortal pause of its heart like a patient far
gone in cancer. Their anger was an atmosphere in which
they moved; a burning faith which showed their futures
raped. In anger everyone, because they had been deceived,
not simply by parents and teachers. They had been deceived
by the very assumptions that had once made their country
When their anger "had started to pay off, when all their
intentions had assumed a different role", in spite of themselves;
when "without any change of heart without betrayal of the
heart, they had suddenly won the approval of their enemies",
Charcot packs his bag, and leaves for San Cristobal to teach
history. In doing this,
"He had wanted to undermine the monotonous strength of
his own inheritance. Europe had become the name of some
erratic growth of moss or weed which totally imprisoned
all his hopes. "
But San Cristobal puts an end "to all his notions of adventure'.
In his pupil Fola he sees "a perfect example of his own dis-
placement". In seeing Fola's displacement, a displacement
even more total than his; he is aware of his; she can scarcely
afford to be aware, lest her precarious being, fragilely catching,
be swept away; in accepting the blunting of his anger by the
power of England's myth, still potent in her corpse, Charcot
has only one reaction left:
"Guilt was their last privilege. Their sole atonement
became a daily exercise in the rebellious posture."
This penetrating analysis of Charcot, gives us an insight
into the critical attitudes of a W.I. Carr. These attitudes are
important and are worthy of attention. To discuss these
attitudes is to initiate the dialogue between Caliban and
Prospero West Indian and Englishman that we consistently
avoid. Fearing confrontations, we take refuge in claptrap
phrases like 'racial harmony'. Racial, and, even more important
cultural harmony, cultural fusion can only come out of a
high degree of awareness. Awareness calls for honesty of
intention and expression. To be aware of Prospero's attitudes
and of our own is to set in motion that demythologization
which for both is extremely difficult; and as Lamming insists,
painful. For both West Indian and Englishman,their critical
attitudes whether conforming to or reacting against, spring
from the seeds of their colonization,
"which has been richly infused with myth. We can change
laws overnight; we may reshape images of our feeling. But
this myth is most difficult to dislodge.. it is there as part
of the actual texture of behaviour itself *
Where, as in the faculty of Arts and particularly in the
Department of English, West Indian and English lecturers are
busily engaged in interpreting the literature of Prospero, the
cultural myth which at once enchains and at once holds out the
possibility of liberation: as well as the emerging literature of
Calibans which at once rebels against as Hector Murena puts it
"America is the child of Europe and we must assassinate her in
order to live" and at once fulfils the potential of freedom
that is implicit in Prospero's charms, then this degree of aware-
ness must be of a very high order indeed. The dangers of
aquiescent criticism spring not only from a lack of awareness
but from a deliberate rejection of such awareness.
George Lamming 'The Pleasures of Exile'
by Edna Manley
Confronting myself with Daley's work after a lapse of In contrast to Dunkley whose life and work were reviewed
nearly twenty years brings back the old sadness I have always in the previous issue of this Journal, Daley suffered very
felt at the memory of his early death and the very real suffering badly from having no settled home and no secure background.
that he had to endure.
SWhatever the problems Dunkley had to face there is no
t_ -1. i.f with his wife who was devoted to him and proud of his
)1 painting and sculpture. He had a safe income, small though
it might be from his little barber shop and a clientele who
followed his art with infinite interest and affection.
Daley on the contrary, as we say in Jamaica "belonged
nowhere"; born in St. Mary and coming to Kingston early, he
tried to earn his living as a plumber, when this failed, in any
way he could. He had not the discipline or training to do well
at sign painting which kept most of the early artists from
starving and he never found the sort of woman who could
understand this new type of man who was appearing in our
Jamaican society. So he drifted, staying wherever he could
get a cotch but becoming more and more involved with his
I do not think if Daley had been born in this generation he
would have died so young, the growing interest in the arts and
the growing number of patrons and galleries would somehow
have found him and supported him. There were people who
tried to help, but it was not enough and my sadness arises
00', from the fact that I know how he came to die.
We had all lost sight of him for some months he used to
disappear into the country and God knows how he lived there,
but one Sunday morning I was giving a talk to the Nurses
Association on the need for Art in our homes when a
message came through that Daley was dying at Kingston
Public Hospital and would I come at once.
We cut everything short and I dashed down, only to meet
the nurse leaving his bedside "It's too late, he's gone".
"What did he die of?" "Well strictly speaking T.B., but I
Above: "The Prophet"; Topright: "Self Portrait by Daley would call it starvation." At the age of about thirty-two!
Collection: Institute Collection: Dr. Leslie
He died around 1960 which means he must have been born
in St. Mary about 1918. He was black and very handsome.
His work falls roughly into two categories, he had a
passionate love of trees, he gave to his trees an almost human
quality perhaps one could say that he saw "men as trees
walking" and when he painted landscape it often seemed a
framework for his trees.
The other category was almost entirely composed of self
portraits, all handled symbolically the Prophet, the Artist,
I imagine that he used himself as a model because it was
simplest, but also because he was conscious of the fact that he
had a place in society that was unrecognized.
I often think that Dunkley could have lived in any age or
period and his place in the arts would have been always the
same a so-called, "primitive", living in a world within a
world and vastly untroubled by historic events.
Daley, however, was different; he was very conscious of
what went on around him and he became up to a point
involved, but when it came to his art he was just as indifferent
to criticism as Dunkley He refused tuition though I am not
sure that this was not emphasized by the fact that on the one
or two occasions that he did turn up at the Institute classes,
he was met by a lack of understanding on the part of the
students that amounted almost to ridicule it was quite
unjustified judged in the light of their own conventional
performances. Daley is remembered and some of the students
who sneered at his strange originality never made the grade.
His work, however, has suffered over the passing years,
more that Dunkley's and for the very reason that Dunkley
influenced no one, he stands alone and unique. Whereas
Daley's originality started a trend that in a sense has swamped
His freedom, his singleness of purpose even the simplicity
of his design, have echoed and re-echoed through the years
and you can still see the influence that he started.
by Henry Daley
Daley did not paint as an observer. Like the great Dutch
painter, Van Gogh, he painted from an inner vision, identifying
himself with his subject, giving it a passionate personal
poignancy and appeal.
And as a painter his work has a remarkably consistent level
of achievement and there are certain faults that he completely
escaped; for example, he never left jarringly unfinished details,
he never used colour crudely to force an effect, his paint
which he used heavily has not cracked and is standing up to the
test of time so, indeed, is his colour. That his work is
limited in range is due to his early death because he tended to
use and re-use a theme exhausting it finally before moving on.
Almost the last painting he did, the one that is reproduced
here in colour, was the beginning of a new style and a new
subject; here the trees sink back into the landscape and he
achieves a wholeness of house, mountains, trees and fore-
ground, something quite new for Daley.
That his work seems less original than it did twenty years
ago, is inevitable in an age that has gone individualistic and
originality mad. He loved nature but he never copy it, he
gave you with great economy a synthesis of what he felt and
And the four symbolic self portraits showed that he was a
philosopher in the true meaning of that term.
The Prophet reproduced here, not denouncing or expound-
ing but listening to catch the message. The Artist which I
have been unable to locate, a head with a nearby pallette, and
the brushes arranged as a crown of thorns.
The Thinker which is at the Press Club has a sculptural
quality and the eyes, much the same as in the Prophet, seem to
be in communion with another dimension.
I think it is true to say that Daley painted, both his
massive, majestic moving trees and his portraits more like a
sculptor than a painter, but the work is redeemed as painting
by his lovely and pleasing colour sense.
His love of personal freedom took original and striking
Landscape Henry Daley
Collection: Mrs. Manley
by Henry Daley
Collection: Dr. Leslie
forms. He would get up before dawn and walk the twenty
eight miles from Kingston to Linstead, arriving at dusk to see
his friend Dr. Leslie. There they would sit and talk of art and
the future and above all, the future of the Negro race.
People would pass him on the road, handsome and slim,
like some roving troubadour with canvases instead of music
and gaze at him with wonder.
The last time I saw him alive he was drifting quietly away
through the grass piece at Drumblair and I think that he was
whistling. It is not true as is commonly believed that he was
buried in a pauper's grave. I know young artists who contri-
buted and to this day I wonder how they spared the money
they gave and at the funeral we were all there, desperately
wondering how we had failed him and if his death could have
One of our finest poets, Phillip Sherlock, summed up what
we all felt when he wrote this poem.
Daley's dead; dust now, gone for good
Far over Jordan side
Left his body this side
Of the cold river.
Dead now, gone for good
Nobody see him till Kingdom come
And the trumpet call beyond the river
And the roll call.
Gone for good,
Lips greedy once for a woman's breast
Still now and silent
Pasture for the worm
Daley was a plumber,
Served his time to Hard Up,
Hungry Belly walked beside him
Never left him quiet
Through the slum he had for home
From door to door he asked
If they wanted toilets fixed
And they laughed for the toilet wasn't theirs anyway
Walked and tramped from door to door
Raising cash for peace of mind,
Pocket full is belly full
Belly full is peace of mind.
Hungry Belly never left him,
Grinned and gnawed and never left him
Who would mend what wasn't his anyway?
Plumber's dead now, gone for good
Hungry Belly restless talked
When he saw his Daley buy
Paint and canvas for a picture
For a picture when a plumber had to live
But the painter was a-seeking
For the something that he couldn't tell about
That he knew inside himself he must search and search and find.
Knock and knock until he find
Past the questions and divisions
Past the doubtings and the troubles
Past the doors and rows of doors
Till at last he saw it all in the trees.
They were quiet and at peace in the pastures
And beside the waters still
And upon the mountain side
Where the drought would parch the root
And the hurricane would walk in the Summer,
Trunks and roots were hard and torn
Branches broken short, and twisted,
Just to keep a footing there
Just to be a living tree.
Plumber's hand and painter's eye,
Plumber's dead and gone for good
Over now the search for silver
Gone away is Hungry Belly
Off to find a fresh companion;
Dust the feet that walked beside him,
Turned to dust the plumber's hands
But the trees still stand together
Like they're shouting over Jordan,
And, look see how cedar trees
Do shade a garden in that place.
And upon that skull-shaped hill top
When the eye of day is clean
Stand two trees with bitter bearing
And between the two a tree
One between the two that lifts
by Hugh Martin
Ilustations by Vernal Reuben
Lefty fastened the last button on his pants and tightened
the belt around his waist. He lifted his left hand and looked
intently at it. The trace of a smile flickered for an instant
across his face as he studied the three stubs that had once
been his fingers. Only the hard, bitter look in his eyes betrayed
the fact that there was no mirth in the smile; that there had
been no mirth in him for a long, long time.
He lowered his hand and released a long bitter sigh. In -
school he was known as "Lef-han'-crab". Now his left hand
was almost of no use to him. A thumb and an index finger are
quite useful but they can't do everything.
He had never liked the nickname. He had had many fights
on account of it. But it had grown on him. Later as he
approached manhood it had been shortened and everyone had
come to know him only as Lefty. He had grown accustomed
to it. He had even got to like it.
But now -. He shrugged and followed the warder into the
office of the Prison's Superintendent.
"Well, Brown," the Superintendent greeted him, "I see you
are ready to leave us. Let us hope you don't come back.
That might sound inhospitable but that's how it is here as you
should know. The more we like our guests the less we want
them to visit us. We like you, Brown, so rule that temper of
yours and don't let us have to play host to you again. You
have been well behaved and that is why you only spent six of
the nine months of your sentence."
"And one important thing, Brown. I know how you feel
about the loss of your fingers. Don't believe that you are a
cripple now. You may not be able to go back to cane-cutting
but there are a number of other things you can do. You have
only to look around and something will crop up in a short
Lefty listened quietly without really hearing. It was a
trick he had developed while with the other prisoners. Their
loud meaningless talk would be going on all around him and he
would sit there, thinking planning unreached by them.
He had come to realize that it was the only way to avoid being
influenced by another's thoughts. It was the only way to
retain one's own personality and not become an extension of
someone else's ideals.
A man must be strong within himself or he cannot survive.
In this place a man must have plans and goals or the life will
become unbearable. He must have something to hold on to or
he will become lost among the mass of mindless imbeciles who
live only from one moment to the other and act only at the
prompting of the strong. No, there is something outside for
For one man there was the golden opportunity awaiting
him to make a fresh go at life. For another there was that
woman, strong, loving and faithful, waiting, forever waiting for
his return. And to still another was the sweet thought of
revenge; revenge against the one responsible for his misery.
For Lefty there was no golden opportunity awaiting. There
was no strong, loving woman. But there was sweet revenge.
And it was this thought that had carried him through.
Half an hour later Lefty was on a bus bound for home. He
sat near a window looking out of unseeing eyes. He was
unaware of the person sitting next to him and of all the others
in the bus. He did not see the other vehicles on the road. He
paid no attention to the cattle grazing in the lush, verdant
pastures of pangola grass and when they stopped at Old Har-
bour he didn't notice the traditional vendors of fried-fish and
But he surfaced from his stupor as the bus bumped its way
along the twisting Vere roads which divided the hundreds of
acres of sugar cane. His eyes brightened as a surge of nostalgia
swept through him. How he longed to feel the sun on his
back as he grabbed the sweet stick, and swung his machet
again and again.
Grab, swish, slash. Grab, swish, slash. Grab, swish, slash.
Ah. But that was music to his ears and rhythm for his
Then the brightness faded from his eyes and the old
familiar hardness reappeared. Slowly he raised his left hand
and looked at the three stumps. A blind fury seized him. His
body shook and his eyes misted.
And through the mist he saw the stumps as they were seven
months ago. And he watched himself re-enact the scene that
had brought him to this:
Lefty crept stealthily up behind Harry. As he neared him
he dashed forward, grabbed his cap and made off with it
"Wha' de devil yuh nuh leave me alone man?" Harry
swore at him. "Bring back me cap, nuh. A big man like yuh
still a gwan like a bwoy."
Lefty doubled over with laughter as he stopped and pointed
"Look on him head man. Look on Harry head. Is a real
stay-home trim dat. Ha hoi bwoy. Everybody tek a look."
Harry had had his hair cut the day before by an amateur.
He was apparently conscious that a bad job had been done so
this morning he had worn a cap for the first time since he
started working on the estate.
Lefty had noticed it at lunch time and had been teasing
Harry about it all afternoon. However, Harry had been on his
guard so Lefty was unable to remove the cap. Now he had
succeeded and his play to torture Harry with ridicule had
Harry dashed after him but he was waiting for it. He
sprinted away with the cap in one hand and his machete in the
"Stop dat idiot fah me Herbie," Harry called to a colleague
ahead of them.
Herbie turned and held on to Lefty as the latter reached
him but the speed was too great and they both went tumbling
to the ground. :
Herbie was the first to get up. He grabbed the cap and
hurried to Harry with it. Then he turned and they both looked
pityingly at Lefty as he rose to his feet.
"Dat bwoy will nevah grow up," declared Harry. "Him
gwin gwan until one day him really get hurt - -. Wait!
What happen to yuh han' man?"
Lefty was holding his left hand out before him. On his
face was a dazed expression of disbelief. His hand was a
bloody mess. Two fingers were missing. A third was dangling
ludicrously by a thin strip of skin. As they looked the skin
slowly gave and it fell to join the other two. The machete, still
wet with blood was a few inches away from the severed
Lefty looked up and Harry and Herbie quailed before the
rage and hatred that filled his eyes. He stepped back a few
paces and stumbled over a stone. Still keeping his eyes on
them he stooped and his right hand closed over the stone. He
stood up, pulled his hand back and threw.
Now, Lefty was not exactly ambidextrous. But he was
very close to being so. He could use his less active hand
better than most right-handers can use their lefts. There were
times when, while cutting cane, he would shift his machete
from his left to his right hand and would go on cutting where
others would have stopped to rest.
Perhaps it was his lack of balance caused by his injury, or
maybe it was because of his great passion, but his aim on this
occasion was very bad indeed. He missed Herbie by a good
two feet. It was only a pity that Harry was standing exactly
two feet from Herbie.
Harry went down with the stone and when he sat up his
face was covered with blood.
A crowd had now gathered and everybody stood stupefied.
Then someone recovered and said:
"Better carry dem up to de clinic. Dem a lose a whole heap
All the way to the clinic Lefty kept looking at the remains
of his fingers without uttering a word. He said nothing while
it was dressed and when Corporal Kelly took him away he was
still silent. He kept glancing at the bandaged hand while the
Judge passed sentence on him and when the bandage was
eventually removed a month later he said nothing.
He only looked down at the stumps that were once the
instruments of his livelihood. His eyes misted and then cleared.
Then they brightened with calculation and then dulled. And
finally they hardened and remained so:
The bus came to a stop with a jolt and Lefty was brought
back to awareness of his surroundings. A man and a woman
got off. Lefty got up just as the conductor buzzed the bus off.
The driver swore at him but he got off without commenting.
He stood looking around for some time then he walked up the
parochial road leading to his home.
His mother came out of the kitchen with a spoon in her
hand and watched as he approached. As he neared her she
recognized him fully and ran to meet him.
"Caleb, me bwoy! Caleb, yuh come home?" She was the
only one who now called him by his proper name. She had
always frowned on any one she heard calling him "Lefty" and
had even promised to produce his "age paper" to show that she
had given him a good "Bible name".
She hugged him to her but he stood stiffly looking down at
her with his hands hanging uninterestedly at his sides.
"Yes, ah come," was all he said.
She released him and they walked up to the wattle-and-
daub kitchen. Dinner was ready so she dished some out for
him and watched him as he wolfed it down using his right
hand with as much dexterity as he once used his left. She
tried to make him talk but he said nothing. She avoided any
mention of his fingers.
He finished eating and took up the machete that was
leaning in a corner. He took a file from the top of the old
safe beside the fireplace and he honed at the machete for ten
minutes. Then he stepped out.
His mother watched him silently knowing it would make
no difference what she said. The tears flowed freely from her
eyes as he walked out of sight. She had failed both as mother
and father. She would be as guilty as he would be for whatever
he did today.
Lefty settled himself near the railway track. Herbie would
pass there soon on his way home from the Estate. He was
going to get a surprise this evening; one he would never forget
- or remember, for that matter.
Herbie wasn't long in coming. When he saw Lefty he
paused momentarily then hurried up to him.
"Wha' happen Lefty? Ah didn't know yuh was back.
Bwoy, ah really glad fe see yuh. Ah nevah did get de chance fe
tell yuh how sorry ah was about yuh hand."
"Ah going to kill yuh Herbie," Lefty said and Herbie saw
that he meant it. "And yuh know why? Because yuh mek me
less dan a man. Without me hand ah can't mek a living from
the one thing ah can do. An' you is de cause of it."
Herbie felt the beads of perspiration gathering on his brow.
He didn't want to die. Not in this way, at any rate. Yet if he
must, there was something he had to say.
"Wait Lefty, Yuh blaming me fah what yuh must blame
yuhself. I didn't mek yuh less dan a man. Yuh was nevah a
man. Every man pass through a number of stages in him life.
Him was a baby, den a boy then him reach a stage where
him is neither man nor boy den him become a man. Some
people go through the stages quick, some slow."
"You, Lefty, is in de stage where yuh is neither man nor
bwoy. Yuh nevah come out a dat stage for all yuh 35 years.
Yuh nevah grow up, Lefty, and dat is yuh main trouble .... "
But Lefty wasn't listening. He lunged at Herbie and swung
the machete. Herbie stepped back quickly and was spared. He
heard the sound of a train in the distance and thought irrele-
vantly that it was some ten minutes late.
Lefty swung again but this time Herbie wasn't quick
enough. He tripped and in going down the machete bit into
his thigh. Lefty towered over him. Herbie kicked out blindly
and saw Lefty go sprawling across the track. He got up and
tried to run but he fell again.
He looked back and saw that Lefty wasn't moving. The
train was less than fifteen feet away. He crawled frantically
towards the track but knew he could not make it. He watched
the train pass.
Yes, he thought. Lefty was less than a man. As a corpse
he didn't amount to much either.
I F I(rst;- I I 1 1,
if a m M --
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Designing in Jamaica
by Sergio dello Strologo
Designing new products in Jamaica, whether gift items, craft products, graphics, packag-
ing or interiors is essentially the same as doing so in any other place, save for the pleasant
fact that Jamaicans are especially appreciative and give one an immediate sense of belong-
ing; they share one's problems and are only too happy to share theirs with you. This
immediacy of communication is of extreme importance when one has a mandate to
create new designs and products within a limited time.
Photos International Labour Office
nd Jamaica Tourist Board.
"he author (left) with customer and
o-worker at Things Jamaican
The designs developed for "Things Jamaican" during my sojourn were the result of a
group rapport and a creative synthesis involving a diversified group of Jamaicans. Initiat-
ing this thinking pattern, the Hori. Edward Seaga, was responsible for the direction and
often detailed suggestions of many of the most successful products created by "Things
Jamaican". My design interpretation of these ideas was at a later stage augmented by the
Jamaican craftsmen who made the prototypes, thus most of the products were the fruit of
many people's suggestions, changing, enlarging, and improving on the original design.
The Port Royal Line was the result of such collaboration: after visiting the excavations
at Port Royal in 1966, 1 submitted a very casual sketch of several copper items which I
thought might be feasibly reproduced with 17th century marine motifs. I was not very
convinced of the possibilities of doing these here, but Mr. Seaga seized upon this sketch
from among many as an interesting point of departure and even showed it to the late
Prime Minister, Hon. Donald Sangster.
However much we liked this theme, it never really was launched until we were forced to
redirect a white metal casting machine designed to make costume jewelry, to reproduce
new items. When, for a second time, I visited Port Royal with Minister Seaga, he pointed
out some of the Pewter spoons which Robert Marx had brought up and cleaned;he sug-
gested that we try casting them in the machine in white metal (an alloy used in the manu-
facture of jewelry) to be sold as souvenirs. From this, we progressed to making them of
Pewter, (which is what spoons of the 17th century were generally made of) which could be
cast in this machine; thus the Port Royal line was created.
The suede leather case that holds the spoon was designed because of the limitations of
paper and packaging material available in Jamaica; using leather tanned in Jamaica and
putting another Jamaican material in use. This leather packaging method has been
acclaimed in the U.S. as one of the most attractive and original features of the Port Royal
The Ceramic line complimentary to the Port Royal Pewter was the outgrowth of co-
operation between "Things Jamaican" and Jamaica Porcelain Limited, which made the
blank plates as well as producing molds of some specific designs I submitted, such as the
17th century beer mugs, spanish jars, and a rum bottle patterned after 17th century
"onion" bottles found at Port Royal.
Ceramist Peter Cave, Chief of the Ceramic Department of "Things Jamaican", and his
staff were responsible for reinterpreting the Bristol Delft glazes used in the 17th century
and for creating the appropriate cobalt overglazed composition. His reproductions, with
their hand painted designs, have been acclaimed in no less a place than Williamsburg,
Virginia, as being better and closer to the originals, than those reproductions made in
Delft, Holland today! The portraits of Generals, Governors and other figures connected
with Jamaica such as Henry Morgan and Venables were designed by Mr. Cave after the
careful study of period paintings, using a style and brush-work superbly like that of 17th
The straw and jewelry design items are the result of long hours of trial and error. The
greater portion of the actual design and finalization was done in collaboration with Miss
Sally Lopez, as were the period costumes for the waiters and waitresses at the Port Royal
Grog Shoppe at Devon House. The alligator of banana straw created by Sally Lopez is in
my opinion one of the best designs for toys in the Caribbean.
The weaving section of "Things Jamaican Ltd." was established and trained by Marianne
Strengell, a well known Finnish weaver formerly a weaving instructor at Cranbrook, U.S.A.,
and her combination of materials and weaves promoted designs of a variety of products.
I found the utilization of such beautiful weaves natural elements for creating new sandals,
beach bags, belts and accessories. More of this type of fashion accessories should be devel-
oped in Jamaica especially in conjunction with Jamaican fashion efforts.
Mr. C. Monaghan, the Jamaican head of the weaving section has created some stunning
colour blends which cannot unfortunately be reproduced here in colour, but which have
unlimited possibilities in fashion application. His architectural modular panel weaves
created with Mr. Aaron Matalon have immediate application, combining decorative and
The woodwork items were planned with an eye on the sophisticated Jamaican con-
temporary market and avoided the antique. The great beauty of grain in Jamaican wood
such as yacca or breadfruit, gives a natural beauty to Jamaican woods. This to my mind is
more preferable than the common practice of black polishing, in imitation of ebony.
The majority of the wood products designed were transformed and interpreted by the
craftsmen who worked on the original designs. The excellence of quality and finish of
the wood products rested in the hands of a sensitive craftsman, Lloyd Reynolds, who was
head of the Woodwork Department, for the first year. His father, Mr. T. Reynolds, has
succeeded his son and maintains the high standards of his children. The elder Reynolds is
responsible for having fulfilled the new orders for the intricate antique furniture repro-
ductions.at Devon House.
The Devon House complex is a world unto itself and sprang from a conception of
Minister Seaga. He took me to see the great house in August of 1966. It was at that time
an empty mansion set in an overgrown park, with much of the interior fallen into dis-
repair, the brick stables, kitchen and other wood shacks in the back doing their best to re-
sist the elements which in the tropics have such a devastating effect on architecture. It
had an irresistable aura of long ago, it was in fact, built in 1881 by George Stiebel, one of
the first Negro Millionaires in Jamaica, if not in the entire Caribbean. It changed hands a
few times before becoming the property of Mr. Cecil Lindo, whose widow sold it to the
The job of reconstruction and repair was formidable; floors had to be replaced, beams
had to be reinforced and new wiring, plastering and painting had to be done without in
any way destroying the character of the place., Mr. Tom Concannon was entrusted with
the structural architectural repairs, and the redoing of the backgarden architectural design
in appropriate style. In May of 1967 Mr. Seaga suggested that the old coach house be re-
novated and made into a Port Royal Tavern.
I was assigned by the Minister, and the Chairman of "Things Jamaican Ltd." Mr. A.
Matalon, with the task of developing a theme and designing and executing the interiors,
the furniture and the accessories of Devon House itself, the Grog Shoppe and the Crafts
shops.. Fortunately "Things Jamaican Ltd.", was well equipped to furnish everything
needed: furniture, dishes, ceramic mugs, Pewter spoons and straw place mats.
The furniture I designed for the Grog Shoppe was the type used in Colonial 17th cen-
tury taverns which we modified, and we added leather cushions to the chairs. The
leather was goat skin tanned for us by Harty's Tannery. The lion rampant figurehead in
the Grog Shoppe was carved from a drawing I supplied using the Swedish Ship 'Vasa' as a
source. This superb piece of carving was done by a Jamaican, G. McKenzie.
Some of the elements in the Grog Shoppe have fascinating histories. One is the bronze
chains over the two doors. They were offered for sale to Mr. B. Lewis by some under-
water fishermen and bear the broad arrow mark which signifies that they were the property
of His Majesty's Navies. It is a mystery what this bronze anchor chain was used for. Was
it really for an anchor? If so, why were they made of bronze which was an expensive metal
to use for easily lost anchor chains.
The beautiful bronze Cannon loaned by the Institute of Jamaica is a genuine naval
piece as is the large cast iron cannon at the entrance which was donated by the Kingston
Harbour Master, Captain Tough and was reclaimed from Deanery Fort by the Jamaican
Defence Force. The ship lanterns are American antiques which I found in New York.
Throughout these efforts, Aaron Matalon was constantly on hand with practical and
creative suggestions which were invaluable to the overall design. The Craft Shops were
created from his original concept of using Jamaican Antique furniture and reproducing
the original Devon House shelving, found in the old Silver House.
The interior of Devon House was conceived as a means to depict a story; the story of
Jamaica throughout the past. Each room serves as a showcase of furniture and furnishing
in a particular period style. The furniture for the most part is a tribute to the skills of
Jamaican furniture makers of "Things Jamaican Ltd." of today, who have made these re-
productions. Paintings and special exhibits displayed are loaned from the fine collections
of the Institute of Jamaica.
In appropriate historical order the first room is the seventeenth century "Conquest
Room" which was designed to span the periods of Cromwell 1655 down to William and
Mary so that the furniture reproduced is in the styles of Charles II and William and Mary -
1701. The brocade curtains and upholstery material was selected to suit this period as
were the carpets which are 19th century reproductions of earlier ones.
For these rooms Mr. Bernard Lewis selected appropriate paintings of the period,
most of them painted in Jamaica of prominent personalities of the time.
For the upstairs Ballroom, "George Stiebel Salon" I selected an Adam type wallpaper
and we reproduced Adam settees to form a gallery around the large celadon. The colours
of the Stiebel Salon were kept in the celadon greens range overflowing into an adjoining
exhibit room. The Belisario Room was painted mauve to compliment a reproduction of a
seventeenth century Murano glass chandelier.
The Chippendale Room furniture was selected from Guide to Cabinet Making and
faithfully reproduced by "Things Jamaican Ltd." The wallpaper is of the same period re-
produced from an American Rhode Island Great House. The drapes and carpet were pur-
chased in New York to fit this period.
The Jamaican Victorian Bedroom is the only room which had real antique furniture
and deals with the pieces from the last century. Choosing the hand-blocked curtains in
Victorian style was easy enough once the magnificent bedstead set the tone. The bed has
been loaned by the National Trust, and was donated by Trevor Caryll.
Besides the Hon. Edward Seaga and Mr. Aaron Matalon who provided the original
ideas, the number of interested Jamaicans and foreign Consultants who have contributed
ideas is considerable, and I wish to record here those whose interest was strong enough to
come forward and contribute help and suggestions to make it a National Creative effort:
Mr. Bernard Lewis whose loans and selections from the Institute collections set the main
tone to the House.
Mr. Robert Marx, whose knowledge and enthusiasm about sunken Port Royal gave us
a lot of valuable information that we used in the Grog Shoppe.
Major Douglas Vaughn whose suggestions and tasteful advice helped in formulating
certain design ideas.
Mr. G. F. Holmquist, U.N. Advisor, and my two expert assistants Mr. David Muir,
responsible for the execution of all the upholstery and curtains, and Mr. H. Morrison,
whose expert assistance in every emergency saved us from innumerable small disasters.
Devon House and the Port Royal Grog Shoppe was a designer'sdream, since it was not
limited to interiors but involved designing of furniture and setting spanning 300 years.
Chandeliers, wallpaper, upholstery, curtains, arms, plates, pewterware, the total design
concept so much talked about in New York, was here developed without fanfare, hundreds
of workers involved, committed, proud of their achievements. Craftsmen, gardeners,
paper hangers, sound technicians, electricans all took pride as the work progressed, it
was their work, their country, it was their effort that was reflected. They understood
this, and the extra efforts and individual enthusiasm that they exercised was memorable.
How often this type of creative phenomenon can be repeated is not clear, but it is quite
evident that at present only the Government can take this kind of initiative in Jamaica.
The writer of the above article is an Italian born, Amer-
ican Industrial Designer, who has worked in New York City
and Milan. He was selected by the Jamaican Government and
the United Nations International Labour Office to coordinate
the design efforts in Jamaica in its development of small indus-
tries. After his twenty-one month assignment has come to an
end, he is transferring to a UN/ILO. Project in Indonesia.
In 1964 Mr. Dello Strologo was a judge for the Triennale
in Milan, and was the Design Coordinator for the USA Exhibit
which won the grand prize. He has also collaborated on special
projects with architects Walter Gropius for a project for the
new University of Baghdad and Spero Daltas in Iran and Burma.
He is a member of the Italian Industrial Design Society of
Up Park Camp
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by Edward Brathwaite
Nairobi's male elephants uncurl
their trumpets to heaven
Toot-Toot takes it up
bridges of sound curve
through the pale rigging
of saxophone stops
the ship sails, slips on banana
peel water, eating the dark men.
Has the quick drummer nerves
after the stink Sabbath's unleavened
cries in the hot hull? From the top
of the music, slack Bwana
Columbus rides out of the jungle's den.
With my blue note, my cracked note, full flatten-
ed fifth, my ten bebop fingers, my black bottom'd strut,
worksong, my cabin, my hut,
my new frigged-up mind and God's heaven,
heaven, gonna walk all over God's heaven
away from the trumpet
my bridge stops in the New York air
elevator speeds me to angels
heaven sways in the reinforced girders
God is glass with his type-
writer teeth, gospel
jumps and pings off the white
paper, higher and higher.
The eagle's crook neck
the vulture's talons clutching tight
as a blind baby's fist, still knows
the beat of the root blood
up through the rocks, up through the torn
hummingbird trees, guitar strings, eyrie;
the buffaloes' boom through the dust plains,
the antelope's sniff at the water, eland's sudden hurl
through the hurdle of fire, runnels upwards to them
through the hoof of the world.
But here God looks out over the river
yellow mix of the neon lights
high up over the crouching cotton wool green
and we float, high up over the sighs of the city,
like fish in a gold water world.
We float round and round
in the bright bubbled bowl
without hope of the hook
of the fisherman's tugging-in root
eyes without bait, snout
without words, teeth with nothing to kill
skill of fin for a child's wonder
pale scales for collectors to sell
and God, big eyes bulging
his glass house a-globe
floating floating in heaven
without feet without wind
without wing without thunder
no stone under him
no sound to carry earth up to his talons
no ground to keep him down near the gods.
He made chairs, tables, cabinets, balanced doors on, dug out
coffins, smoothing the white wood out
with plane and quick sandpaper until
it shone like his short-sighted glasses.
The knuckles of his hands were sil-
vered knobs of nails hit, hurt and flatt-
ened out with blast of heavy hammer. He was knock knee'd,
footed and his clip clop sandals slapped across the concrete
flooring of his little shop where canefield mulemen and a
of Bedford lorry drivers dropped in to scratch themselves and
There was no shock of wood, no beam
of light mahogany his saw teeth couldn't handle.
When shaping squares for locks, a key hole
care tapped rat tat tat upon the handle
of his humpbacked chisel. Cold
world of wood caught fire as he whittled: rectangle
window frames, the intersecting x of fold-
ing chairs, triangle
trellises, the donkey
box-cart in its squeaking square.
But he was poor and most days he was hungry.
Imported cabinets with mirrors, formica table
tops, spine curving chairs made up of tubes, with hollow
steel-like bird bones that sat on rubber ploughs;
thin beds, stretched not on boards, but blue high tensioned
were what the world preferred.
And yet he had a block of wood that would have baffledthem.
With knife and gimlet care he worked away at this on Sundays,
explored its knotted hurts, cutting his way
along its yellow whorls until his hands could feel
how it had swelled and shivered, breathing air,
its weathered green burning to rings of time,
its contoured grain still tuned to roots and water.
And as he cut, he heard the creak of forests:
green lizard faces gulped, grey memories with moth
eyes watched him from their shadows, soft
liquid tendrils leaked among the flowers
and a black rigid thunder he had never heard within his
came stomping up the trunks. And as he worked within his
Sunday shop, the wood took shape: dry shuttered
eyes, slack anciently everted lips, flat
ruined face, eaten by pox, ravaged by rat
and woodworm, dry cistern mouth, cracked
gullet crying for the desert, the heavy black
enduring jaw: lost pain, lost iron:
emerging wood work image of his lover.
Jamaica and "The New Wave"
You will see this little clicking con-
traption with the revolving handle will
make a revolution in our life.....It is much
better than the heavy, long-drawn-out
kind of writing to which we are accus-
tomed.... The cinema has divined the
mystery of motion. And this is greatness.
Leo Tolstoy in 1908.
Jamaicans, cinema-wise, have never had
it so good. In the Corporate Area alone
we have some sixteen theatres, whilst
many provincial towns in the U.K. of a
larger population have now only a couple.
There are quite a few reasons for our
good fortune, including the comparatively
late arrival of television in our midst and
because a large percentage of the popula-
tion cannot even as yet afford a set.
The phenomenon that the number of
Jamaican cinemas was actually expanding,
whilst theatres were closing down by the
dozen in the developed countries, follows
the general pattern in the developing
nations, save for the fact that many of
these other countries, such as India,
Taiwan, Hong Kong and Ceylon, as they
have their own language, produce their
own films on a massive scale, instead of
having to depend on imports for distribu-
tion. Though this is undoubtedly good
for the economy of those lands and for
the ultimate development of an indigen-
ous filmic art, it is not so good for the
audiences, who find that the variety and
number of films, which they are permitted
to view is severely limited both by quotas
and import restrictions.
Jamaica not so long ago was herself
very limited in the type of film that she
could see. This was due to the hegemony
of the Hollywood production up to the
end of the war. Save for the very
occasional film from the U.K., we were
restricted almost completely to American
productions, and so had practically no
first-hand knowledge of the high quality
films produced on the European con-
tinent. Happily this American strangle-
hold has been loosened all over the world,
and foreign films are regularly shown
these days even in the United States.
This situation is largely due to TV com-
petition and to the higher cost of film-
making. Hollywood studios can no longer
afford to churn out the vast quantities
of slick, well-made, but artistically in-
significant, star-studded commercial films
that filled world theatres throughout the
thirties, forties and even the early fifties.
And indeed this type of fare is already
fully channelled to the mass middlebrow
public both by packaged television and
run-throughs of film oldies, such as we
ourselves now enjoy and endure twice a
week on our Late Night Movies Shows.
The pressure of TV and of economics
had a double effect on America and in-
directly on us. US studios found them-
selves compelled to produce the type of
film that could not be shown on the
domestic screen. Hence the tremendous
development in colour techniques,wide
screens, "in depth" lenses and the less
spectacular, but equally admirable improve-
ment in sound. In addition films became
as a general rule much longer and thus
approached closer to the novel than the
drama. Moreover, the better run of films
became a great deal more intelligent, more
"daring", more violent, more imaginative
and at the same time closer to life. Films
had to appeal to those, who were bored
with TV mediocritiess, and the film dis-
tributors were, no doubt surprised to
discover that they had been underrating
their audiences. They soon found that
whilst the more educated people will not
patronize tripe, the masses, though they
will grumble and resist at first, can and
will be gradually raised in cultural taste
and appreciate new techniques, if they are
constantly exposed to better quality fare.
As a result of these conditions the standard
of the "middle-brow" commercial film
rose quite astonishingly.... and however
lacking most of them may have been in
genuine artistic depth, the sheer technical
quality, the brilliance of the director, the
CAMELOT 1967, Director Joshua Logan, Franco Nero.
CAMELOT1967, Director Joshua Logan, Franco Nero.
THE IRON HORSE, Director John Ford.
editor and the creative photographer, the
literacy of the script and the realism and
new subtlety of the acting, improved
movies considerably? Even some of
her spectacular epics, in particular "Spar-
tacus", "El Cid" "The War Lord" and
"Barabas" appealed at least in part to the
brain as well as the eye, and two of these
were scripted by such recognized authors
as Christopher Fry and Howard Fast.
Hollywood, throughout her story, had
always looked to the experimental direc-
HIGH NOON, Director Fred Zinnemann,
tors, actors and cameramen of Europe and
tried to absorb both them and their dis-
coveries usually by inviting them over.
In the twenties and thirties there was a
trek of Central European, French and
English talent to California. This flood
included amongst directors, Ernst Lu-
bitsch, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock,
Josef Von Sternberg and F.W. Murnau,
amongst performers, Greta Garbo, Emil
Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Conrad Veidt
Charles Laughton and Peter Lorre. In
post-war years the approach has been
yvi~ ~'I i
rather different. American companies,
partially through quota restrictions, par-
tially to save money as the American
industry was so featherbedded with union-
ist practice and also because it tended to
make better films, began to finance or
part-finance films produced abroad and
made with a mixed personnel both of cast
and crew on overseas locations. This,
despite the shrill and continuing outcry
of foreign cinema chauvinists with regional
obsessions, has had a most invigorating
effect on both the American and the local
film artists and industries.
SCARFACE, Paul Muni.
The general improvement oftheEnglish-
speaking film in the last decade and a half
is noticeable not only in prestige films but
also in thrillers, sex movies and westerns.
Indeed too much attention is often paid
by "serious" critics, recently characterized
not entirely unfairly by film director,
Tony Richardson, as "acidulous intellec-
tual eunuchs" to ambitious films with
high artistic intentions, but often jejune
technique rather than to those old
standbys, which have become the "Great
Tradition" of film-making. Westerns,
because they were genuinely American
with real roots in the country, had always
with gangster films, also with American
roots, been of a generally higher quality
(and a lot more sincere) than most Holly-
wood productions. Even in silent days
we had James Cruzes"The Covered Wagon"
and John Ford's "The Iron Horse", and
the latter had been making poetic westerns
with Harry Carey as far back as 1921, and
has kept up the practice until quite
recently. Gangster movies flourished from
the start of talkies with "The Perfect
Alibi" and "Broadway" and indeed reach-
ed their classical period quite early on with
"Quick Millions", "Little Caesar", "Scar-
face", "The Secret Six" and Public
Enemy". The first "adult" Western was
presumably Ford's "Stage Coach",adapted
from Guy De Maupassant's short story
"Boule de Suif", but generally, since the
war westerns became very much more
sophisticated with "High Noon", "The
Lefthanded Gun", "Red River", "Guns
in the Afternoon", "The Fastest Gun in
Town", "Shenandoah" "The Professional
Recently we have actually had a high-
brow or art gangster film "Point blank",
directed by John Boorman that used all
the advanced techniques of the French
and Italian "New Wave". And here
Jamaican audiences, unused to experi-
ments, which had become the ordinary
grammar of film-making on the Continent
for almost ten years, began to have trouble.
Many people, and quite sophisticated
people at that, complained that they
could not follow or understand the film;
for, save for the audiences at the two
Film Societies, Jamaicans have been little
exposed to such techniques as "jump
cutting", freezing, the imaginative use of
slow motion for lyrical effect, flashbacks
on the cut as opposed to the fade out,
and the use of non-synchronous sound in
an advanced manner to suggest memory,
emotions and thoughts. Admittedly,
"Pointblank"was a rather bravura example
ofthe "New Wave"-influenced commercial
film, but it should have offered little
difficulty to anybody, who had seen and
enjoyed LaTouche's "A Man and a
Woman", a French film that had been
shown with some success a few weeks_
previously at the Premier... An English
film of very much the same kind as "A
Man and a Woman", "Two for the Road",
also, offered local filmgoers some diffi-
culty. And yet there is hardly a single
one of these "new" effects that cannot be
traced back to the very early years of
movie-making. It is only the frequency
and the manner in which they are used
for expressive effect today that is novel
and confusing to those who meet them for
the first time.
THE PROFESSIONALS, Director Richard
Brooks, Maria Gomez, Jack Palance.
Jamaica is in a somewhat anomalous
situation. We have a vast semi-literate
public and a largish middlebrow one. The
standards of the latter are probably
reasonably well catered for by JBC/TV.
It is questionable though whether we have
as yet a sufficient audience really to
render even the better commercially-
designed films a money-making proposi-
tion, let alone the foreign (non-English)
and art ones, that have gained such a
reputation in the developed countries.
How much money did Antonioni's
"Eclipse" and "Blow Up", Fellini's
"Dolce Vita" and "8%" or Chekov's
"Lady and the Dog" or Tolstoy's
"Resurrection", all of which have been
shown here recently, make at the local
box-office? I should be surprised if any
of them paid their way.
The film has in its half century of
meaningful existence since Leo Tolstoy
prophesied such a future for it sixty years
ago, travelled through three phases
and has comparatively recently entered
into its third and probably final form.
The silent film was based entirely on
visual movement. This movement could
be either that of the actor, the camera or
the editor's scissors. It is not surprising
then that.silent cinema which had "divined
the mystery of motion" approximated to
L'ECLISSE, Director Michelangelo Antonioni.
LA DOLCE VITA, Director Fellini, Anita
the dance. This was noticeable almost
from the start of feature films in the
serials of Pearl White, the historical gyn
mastics of Douglas Fairbanks, the style of
acting at which that graceful tango dancer
Rudolph Valentino was such a master,
and above all in that fine series of slap-
stick comedies that stretched from the
Mack Sennett chases even to the Laurel
and Hardy talkies of Hal Roach. It was
indeed perspicacious of W.C. Fields, him-
self a film clown, when he said of Charlie
Chaplin; "He's the best ballet dancer that
ever lived" even if he did add some
what grumpily; "And, if I get a good
chance I'll kill him with my bare hands!"
With the arrival of sound, the domina-
tion of the dance yielded to that of the
stage. Artistically, for a time, this was a
quite definite set-back. At the start, the
"hundred per cent talkies" were almost
exclusively musicals and stage adaptations,
which relied mainly on the appeal of
spoken dialogue and songs, (interspersed,
sometimes it is true, with dance numbers)
and made the "visuals" a static almost
unimportant background for the sound
"Part of the trouble," as Karl Resz points
out in "The Technique of Film Editing",
"was undoubtedly that in the early days
of sound recording, the microphone had
to be kept static on the set; a scene which
would previously be shot from a large
number of set-ups, some with a panning
or tracking camera, now had to be shot
from one fixed position." In addition,
actors and actresses were largely imported
from the stage, whose projection and
style of performance only gradually ad-
justed themselves to the more intimate
demands of the camera. This at times led
to the sort of virtuoso triumphs of the
star system at its best... (viz. Laughton
Edward G. Robinson, Muni, Boyer, Jann-
ings... and even Garbo, who although
essentially a film product had all the vocal
control of a trained stage actress).
Talkies slowly learnt to move... espe-
cially and almost from the start in west-
erns, gangster films and musicals; but the
influence of the stage still remained strong
...with dramatic highlights,theatrical build-
up and timing, literary dialogue, (what
used to be known as Wardour Street
English) and curtain lines followed by a
fade-out. These mannerisms continued
in the work of all but the truly cinematic
directors, those who had always intimated
both in silent and sound films that the
true vein of the film should be closer to
of the continental "New Wave" directors;
and to some of us, brought up under the
old dispensation of Hollywood speed, the
work of Visconti in "The Leopard", Louis
Malle in "The Lovers" and Antonioni
practically all of his films seemed unbear-
This tendency to deliberation in move-
ment can be manneristic and has certainly
upset some local filmgoers, but it does
allow for moods of lyricism and con-
templation, time for thought and also for
subtlety. At its worst it leads to padding,
(especially and ironically in actionmovies),
but at its best it permits the film audience
to use its brain. This coupled with the
other "New Wave" techniques has brought
the film ever closer to the novel.
ector Sergei Einsenstein, Nikolai Cherkassov.
the novel than to the drama. Indeed even
in silent days, such Russian directors as
Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Dovjenko de-
monstrated how purposeful editing could
not only stir the emotions but bring the
intellect into play, making comments not
only through the crude manner of sub-
titles, but through adept juxtapositions
of the visuals... a technique which they
adapted from that first genius of movie-
making, D.W. Griffiths.
Some directors and indeed many
critics fought sound, when it first took
over, as they felt the silent film in the
hands of the right director was a perfect
medium for artistic expression... which
indeed it was, as was shown in the work
of Chaplin, the Russians, Griffith and a
German, G.W. Pabst ; but the possibilities
of sound, if properly used were infinite
and tremendous. Indeed some directors,
as the silent films became more subtle,
clearly felt confined by the lack of speech.
Especially was this so in the case of Karl
Dreyer in his monumentally beautiful
"Passion of Joan of Arc", which suffered
badly from the number of subtitles it
Even during the first few years of
sound, progressive directors such as Alfred
Hitchcock insisted on keeping the camera
moving. (Hitchcock's first talkie "Black-
mail", in fact was a silent movie to which
he "dubbed" the sound in a manner
which is now the orthodox way of film-
making). Admirable as was the more
mobile work of such directors as Hitch-
cock, Milestone, Anthony Asquith and
Ernst Lubitsch, the paralysis continued
for quite a period, to be followed by a
sudden reaction, especially in American
films, to an overemphasis on past action
and revealing in movement for movement's
sake. In post-war years this has been
one of the mannerisms attacked by some
STORM OVER ASIA, Director V.I. Pudovkin,
EARTH, Director Alexander Dovzhenko
In days gone by, the discriminating
filmgoer has objected to the adaptation
of novels to the screen, and he was so
often right, as they were usually a travesty
of the original work. This is no longer
necessarily so. Indeed, such cheap best-
sellers as "Peyton Place", "The Hotel"
and "The Carpetbaggers" actually gained
by transference to the screen and were
better movies than they ever were novels.
Many people, who liked Boris Pasternak's
"Dr. Zhivago" still enjoyed David Lean's
version and though Thomas Hardy's "Far
From the Madding Crowd" lost something
in intellectual depth, it gained in John
Slesinger's production by making his
earthy vision more concrete.., for Thomas
Hardy, like Dickens, besides being a
novelist was, as John Wain, writing about
"The Dyansts" a film director born at the
wrong time. But to turn to "pure" films,
Fellini's "8%" owed a great deal of its
inspiration and technique to the work of
both William Faulkner and James Joyce;
and now indeed two of Joyces's most
difficult works, "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's
Wake" have also been attempted for trans-
ference to the screen with some success...
a proposition which would have been
laughed to scorn only a few years back.
"Far From the Madding Crowd" used
"New Wave" techniques effectively and
with discretion, and although it did not
have the rave success at the box office of
a James Bond epic, it surprised the dis-
tributors here by its local popularity. It
clearly pleased quite a number of Jamai-
cans. This would suggest that the gram-
mar of the "New Wave" will in a fairly
short time be as accepted here as in other
countries. We merely need more exposure
But what Jamaican audiences, espe-
cially in upper St. Andrew will soon have
to realize is that the days of "no-think",
of just absorbing pre-digested and inoffen-
sive pap in the cinema, are largely over.
Even the middlebrow film is demanding
a more intelligent approach, and our
bourgeois Philistine's only alternative to
making an effort to like better quality
films, will be triple bills of fake Westerns
from Europe, the less imaginative Hammer
horrors and those historical effusions
turned out in the hundreds by Cinecitta
Roma for Italian rustici.
THE PASSION OF ST. JOAN, Director Carl-Theodor Dreyer, Falconetti.
ULYSSES, DirectorJoseph Strick,
FAR FROM THE ADDING CROWD, Directed by John Schlesinger,
Gabriel Oak and Julie Christie.
Designs in trees (above and below) by Archie Lindo.
Sorrel plant (right) by Errol Harvey.
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