Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
I would give many a sugar cane, Mat. Lewis were alive again.."
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET 1845.
THE following Journals of two residences in Jamaica, in 1815-16, and in 1817, were printed from the MS. of Mr. Lewis, who died at sea, on the voyage homewards from the West Indies, in the year 1818.
London: Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Stanford Street.
"Nunc alio patriam quaero sub sole jacentem." -- Virgil.
I LEFT London, and reached Gravesend at nine in the morning, having been taught to expect our sailing in a few hours. But although the vessel left the Docks on Saturday, she did not reach this place till three o'clock on Thursday the 9th. The Captain now-tells me, that we may expect to sail certainly in the afternoon of to-morrow the 10th. I expect the ship's cabin to gain greatly by my two days' residence at the "***** ****," which nothing can exceed for noise, dirt, and dulness. Eloisa would never have established "black melancholy,"-at the Paraclete as its favourite residence, if she had happened to pass three days at an inn at Gravesend: nowhere else did I ever see the Sky look so dingy, and the river so dirty: to be sure, the place has all the advantages of an English November to assist it in those particulars. Just now, too, a carriage passed my windows, conveying on board a cargo of passengers, who seemed sincerely afflicted at the thoughts of leaving their dear native land! The pigs squeaked, the ducks quacked, and the fowls screamed; and all so dolefully, as clearly to prove, that theirs was no dissembled sorrow! And after them (more affecting than all) came a
"Grief is for little wrongs; despair for mine!"As Miss O'Neil is to play "Elwina" for the first time to- morrow, it is a thousand pities that she had not the previous advantage of seeing the speechless despondency of this poor pig; it might have furnished her with some valuable hints, and enabled her to convey more perfectly to the audience the "expressive silence" of irremediable distress.
At four o'clock in the afternoon, I embarked on board the "Sir Godfrey Webster," Captain Boyes. On approaching the vessel, we heard the loudest of all possible shrieks proceeding from a boat lying near her: and who should prove to be the complainant, but my former acquaintance, the despairing pig. He had recovered his voice to protest against entering the ship: I had already declared against climbing up the accommodation ladder; the pig had precisely the very same objection. So a soi-disant chair, being a broken bucket, was let down for us, and the pig and myself entered the vessel by the same conveyance; only pig had the precedence, and was hoisted up first. The ship proceeded three miles, and then the darkness obliged us to come to an anchor. There are only two other cabin passengers, a Mr. J -- -- -A and a Mr. S -- -- -; the latter is a planter in the "May-Day Mountains," Jamaica: he wonders, considering how much benefit Great Britain derives from the West Indies, that government is not careful to build more churches in them, and is of opinion, that "hedicating the negroes is the only way to make them appy; indeed, in his umble hopinion, hedication his hall in hall!"
We sailed at six o'clock, passed through "Nob's Hole," the "Girdler's Hole," and "the Pan" (all very dangerous sands,
The wind was contrary, and we had to beat up the whole way. We did not reach the Downs till past four o'clock, and, as there were above sixty vessels arrived before us, we had some difficulty in finding a safe berth. At length we anchored in the Lower Roads, about four miles off Deal. We can see very clearly the double lights in the vessel moored off the Goodwin sands: it is constantly inhabited by two families, who reside there alternately every fortnight, except when the weather delays the exchange. The "Sir Godfrey Webster" is a vessel of 600 tons, and was formerly in the East India service. I have a very clean cabin, a place for my books, and every thing is much more comfortable than I expected; the wind, however, is completely west, the worst that we could have, and we must not even expect a change till the full moon. The captain pointed out a man to me today, who had been with him in a violent storm off the Bermudas. For six hours together, the flashes of lightning were so unintermitting that the eye could not sustain them: at one time, the ship seemed to be completely in a blaze; and the man in question (who was then standing at the wheel, near the captain) suddenly cried out, "I don't know what has happened to me, but I can neither see nor stand ;" and he fell down upon the deck. He was taken up and carried below; and it appeared that the lightning had affected his eyes and legs, in a degree to make him both blind and lame, though the captain, who was standing by his side had received no injury: in three or four days the man was quite well again.
In this storm no less than thirteen vessels were dismasted, or otherwise shattered by the lightning.
At six this morning came on a tremendous gale of wind; the captain says, that he never experienced a heavier. However, we rode it out with great success, although, at one time, it was bawled out that we were driving; and, at another, a brig which lay near us broke from her moorings, and came bearing down close upon us. The danger, indeed, from the difference of size, was all upon the side of the brig; but, luckily, the vessels cleared each other. This evening she has thought it as well to remove further from so dangerous a neighbourhood. There is a little cabin-boy on board, and Mr. J -- -- -has brought with him a black terrier; and these two at first sight swore to each other an eternal friendship, in the true German style. It is the boy's first voyage, and he is excessively sea-sick; so he has been obliged to creep into his hammock, and his friend, the little black terrier, has crept into the hammock with him. A boat came from the shore this evening, and reported that several vessels have been dismasted, lost their anchors, and injured in various ways. A brig, which was obliged to make for Ramsgate, missed the pier, and was dashed to pieces completely; the crew, however, were saved, all except the pilot; who, although he was brought on shore alive, what between bruises, drowning, and fright, had suffered so much that he died two hours afterwards. The weather has now again become calm; but the wind is still full west.
The wind altered sufficiently to allow us to escape from the Downs; and at dusk we were off Beachy Head. This morning the steward left the trap-door of the store-hole open; of course, I immediately contrived to step into it, and was on the point of being precipitated to the bottom, among innumerable boxes of grocery, bags of biscuit, and porter barrels;-where a broken limb was the least that I could expect. Luckily I fell across the corner of the trap, and managed to support myself, till I could effect my escape with a bruised knee, and the loss of a few inches of skin from my left arm.
At one this morning a violent gust of wind came on; and, at the rate of ten miles an hour, carried us through the Chops of the Channel, formed by the Scilly Rocks and the Isle of Ushant. But I thought that the advance was dearly purchased by the terrible night which the storm made us pass. The wind roaring, the waves dashing against the stern, till at last they beat in the quarter gallery; the ship, too, rolling from side to side, as if every moment she were going to roll over and over! Mr. J -- -- -- was heaved off one of the sofas, and rolled along, till he was stopped by the table. He then took his seat upon the floor, as the more secure position; and, half an hour afterwards, another heave chucked him back again upon the sofa. The captain snuffed out one of the candles, and both being tied to the table, could not relight it with the other: so the steward came to do it; when a sudden heel of the ship made him extinguish the second candle, tumbled him upon the sofa on which I was lying, and made the candle which he had brought with him fly out of the candlestick, through a cabin window at his elbow; and thus we were all left in the dark. Then the intolerable noise! The cracking of bulk-heads! the sawing of ropes! the screeching of the tiller! the trampling of the sailors! the clattering of the crockery! Every thing above deck, and below deck all in motion at once! Chairs, writing-desks, books, boxes, bundles, fire-irons and fenders, flying to one end of the room; and the next moment (as if they had made a mistake) flying back again to the other with the same hurry and confusion! "Confusion worse confounded!" Of all the inconveniences attached to a vessel, the incessant noise appears to me the most insupportable! As to our live stock, they seem to have made up their minds on the subject, and say with one of Ariosto's knights (when he was cloven from the head to the chine)," "or convien morire." Our fowls and ducks are screaming and quacking their last by dozens; and by Tuesday morning it is supposed that we shall not have an animal alive in the ship, except the black terrier-and my friend the squeaking pig, whose vocal powers are still audible, maugre the storm and the sailors, and who (I believe) only continues to survive out of spite, because he
Our live stock has received an increase; our fowls and ducks are dead to be sure, but a lark flew on board this morning, blown (as is supposed) from the coast of France. In five minutes it appeared to be quite at home, ate very readily whatever was given it, and hopped about the deck without fear of the sailors, or the more formidable black terrier, with all the ease and assurance imaginable.
The weather continues intolerable. Boisterous waves running mountains high, with no wind, or a foul one. Dead calms by day, which prevent our making any progress; and violent storms by night, which prevent our getting any sleep.
Everything is in a state of perpetual motion. We drink our tea exactly as Tantalus did in the infernal regions; we keep bobbing at the basin for half an hour together without being able to get a drop; and certainly nobody on ship-board can doubt the truth of the proverb, "Many things fall out between the cup and the lip."
PANDORA'S BOX. (Iliad A.)
Prometheus once (in Tooke the tale you'll see)
In one vast box enclosed all human evils;
But curious Woman needs the inside would see,
And out came twenty thousand million devils.
The story's spoil'd, and Tooke should well be chid:
The fact, sir, happen'd thus, and I've no doubt of it;
'T was not that Woman raised the coffer's lid,
But when the lid was raised, Woman popp'd out of it.
"But Hope remain'd"-true, sir, she did; but still
All saw of what Miss Hope gave intimation;
Her right hand grasp'd an undertaker's bill,
Her left conceal'd a deed of separation.
N.B. I was most horribly sea-sick when I took this view of the subject.
"Manibus date lilia plenis;
Purpureos spargam flores!"
The squeaking pig was killed this morning.
A complete and most violent storm, from twelve at night till seven the next morning. The fore-top-sail, though only put up for the first time yesterday, was rent from top to bottom; and several of the other sails are torn to pieces. The perpetual tempestuous weather which we have experienced has so shaken the, planks of the vessel, that the sea enters at all quarters. About one o'clock in the morning I was saluted by a stream of water, which poured down exactly upon my face, and obliged me to shift my lodgings. The carpenter had been made aware that there was a leak in my cabin, and ordered to caulk the seam; but, I suppose, he thought that during only a two months' voyage, the rain might very possibly never find out the hole, and that it would be quite time enough to apply the remedy when I should have felt the inconvenience. The best is, that the carpenter happening to be at work in the next cabin when the water came down upon me, I desired him to call my servant, in order that I might get up on account of the leak; on which he told me "that the leak could not be helped;" grumbled a good deal at calling up the servant; and seemed to think me not a little unreasonable for not lying quietly, and suffering my self to be pumped upon by this shower-bath of his own providing.
But if the water gets into the ship, on the other hand, last night the poor old steward was very near getting out of it. In the thick of the storm he was carrying some grog to the mate, when a gun, which drove against him, threw him off his balance, and he was just passing through one of the port-holes, when, luckily, he caught hold of a rope, and saved himself. A screech-owl flew on board this morning: I am sure we have no need of birds of ill omen; I could supply the place of a whole aviary of them myself.
The wind continues contrary, and the weather is as disagreeable and perverse as it can well be; indeed, I understand that in these latitudes nothing can be expected but heavy gales or dead calms, which makes them particularly pleasant for sailing, especially as the calms are by far the most disagreeable of the two: the wind steadies the ship; but when she creeps as slowly as she does at present (scarcely going a mile in four hours), she feels the whole effect of the sea breaking against her, and rolls backwards and forwards with every billow as it rises and falls. In the meanwhile, everything seems to be in a state of the most active motion, except the ship; while we are carrying a spoonful of soup to our mouths, the remainder takes the "glorious golden opportunity" to empty itself into our laps, and the glasses and salt-cellars carry on a perpetual domestic warfare during the whole time of dinner, like the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Nothing is so common as to see a roast goose suddenly jump out of its dish in the middle of dinner, and make a frisk from one end of the table to the other; and we are quite in the habit of laying wagers which of the two boiled fowls will arrive at the bottom first.
N.B. To-day the fowl without the liver wing was the favourite, but the knowing ones were taken in; the uncarved one carried it hollow.
The captain to-day pointed out to me a sailor-boy, who, about three years ago, was shaken from the mast-head, and fell through the scuttle into the hold: the distance was above eighty feet, yet the boy was taken up with only a few bruises.
The wind during the last two days has been more favourable and at nine this morning we were in the latitude of Madeira.
I had no idea of the expense of building and preserving a ship. That in which I am at present cost 30,000l. at its outset. Last year the repairs amounted to 14,0001.; and in a voyage to
Yesterday we had the satisfaction of falling in with the trade wind, and now we are proceeding both rapidly and steadily., The change of climate is very perceptible ; and the deep and beautiful blue which colours the sea is a certain intimation of our approach to the tropic. A few flying-fish have made their appearance; and the. spears are being put in order for the reception of their constant attendant, the dolphin. These spears have ropes affixed to them,. and at one end of the pole are five barbs, at the other a heavy ball of lead: then, when the fish is speared, the striker lets the staff fall, on which down goes the lead into the sea, and up goes the dolphin into the air, who is in the utmost astonishment to find itself all of a sudden turned into a flying-fish ; so determines to cultivate the art of flying for the future, and promises itself a great many pleasant airings. The dolphin and the flying-fish are beautifully colored, and both are very good food, particularly the latter, which move in shoals like the herring, and are about the size of that fish. They are supposed to feed on spawn and sea animalcul2e, and will not take the bait; but on the shores of Barbadoes, which they frequent in great multitudes, they are caught in wide nets, spread upon the surface of the sea; then, upon beating the waters around, the fish rise in clouds, and fly till, their fins getting dry, they fall down into the nets which have been spread to receive them. The dolphin is seldom above three feet long; the immense strength which he exerts in his struggles for liberty occasions the necessity of catching him with the spear in the way before described.
At three o'clock this afternoon we entered the tropic of Cancer ; and if the wind continues tolerably favourable, , we expect to see Antigua on Sunday se'nnight. On crossing line, it was formerly usual for ships to receive a visit from an old gentleman and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Cancer: the husband was, by profession, a barber; and, probably, the scullion, who
A dead centipes was found on the deck, supposed to have mad its way on board during the last voyage, among the logwood. This is not the only species of disagreeable passengers who are in the habit of introducing themselves into homeward-bound vessels without leave. While sleeping on deck last year the captain felt something run across his face, and supposing it to be a cockroach, he brushed off a scorpion; but not without its firs biting him upon the cheek: the pain for about four hours was excessive; but although he did no more than wash the wound with spirits, he was perfectly well again in a couple of days.
Since we entered the tropic the rains have been incessant and most violent; but the wind was brisk and favourable, and w, rapidly. Now we have lost the trade-wind, and move that it might almost be called standing still. On the other hand, the weather is now perfectly delicious; the ship makes, but little way, but she moves steadily; the sun is brilliant, the sky cloudless, the sea calm, and so smooth, that it looks like one extended sheet of blue glass; an awning is stretched over the deck ; although there is not wind enough to fill the there is sufficient to keep the air cool, and thus, even during the day, the weather is very pleasant: but the nights are quite heavenly, and so bright, that at ten o'clock yesterday evening
We caught a dolphin, but not with the spear: he gorged a line which was fastened to the stern and baited with salt pork; but being a very large and strong fish, his efforts to escape were so powerful, that it was feared he would break the line, and a grainse (as the dolphin-spear is technically termed) was thrown at him : he was struck, and three of the prongs were buried in his side ; yet with a violent effort be forced them out again, and threw the lance up into the air. I am not much used to take pleasure in the sight of animal suffering, but if Pythagoras him self bad been present, and "of opinion that the soul of his. grandam might haply inhabit" this dolphin, I think he must still have admired the force and agility displayed in his endeavours to escape. Imagination can picture nothing more beautiful than the colours of this fish: while covered by the waves be was entirely green ; and as the water gave him a case of transparent crystal, he really looked like one solid piece of living emerald; when he sprang into the air or swam fatigued upon the surface, his fins alone preserved their green, and the rest of his body appeared to be of the brightest yellow, his scales shining like
At noon to-day we found ourselves in the latitude of Jamaica. We were promised the sight of Antigua on Sunday next, but that is now quite out of the question. We made but eight miles in the whole of yesterday ; and as Jamaica is still at the distance of eighteen hundred miles, at this rate of proceeding we may expect to reach it about eight months hence. The sky this evening presented us with quite a new phenomenon, a rose colored moon : she is to be at her full to-morrow; and this afternoon, about half-past four, she rose like a disk of silver, perfectly white and colourless ; but as she was exactly opposite sun at the time of his setting, the reflection of his rays a kind of pale blush over her orb, which produced an t as beautiful as singular. Indeed, the size and inconceivable brilliance of the sun, the clearness of the atmosphere, which assumed a faint greenish line, and was entirely without a cloud, the smoothness of the ocean, and the aforesaid rose-coloured moon altogether rendered this sunset the most magical in effect that I ever beheld ; and it was with great reluctance
The wind has dwindled away to nothing. We are now so absolutely becalmed that I begin to suspect Neptune is amusing himself by making the ship take root in the ocean. I have got some locust plants on board in pots: if we get on as slowly as we have done for the last week, before we reach Jamaica my plants will be forest trees, little Jem, the cabin-boy, will have been obliged to shave, and the , black terrier will have died of old age. Great numbers of porpoises were playing about to day, and tumbling under the ship's very nose. When in their 9xambols they allow themselves to be seen above the surface, they are of a dirty blackish brown, and as ugly as heart can wish ; but in the waves they acquire a fine sea-green cast, and their spouting up water in the sunbeams is extremely ornamental.
What little wind there is blows so perversely, that we have been obliged to alter our course; and instead of Antigua, we are now told that the Summer Islands (Shakespeare's "still vexed. Bermoothes") are the first land that we must expect to see. I am greatly disappointed at finding such a scarcity of monsters ; I had flattered myself that as soon as we should enter the Atlantic ocean, or at least the tropic, we should have seen whole shoals of sharks, whales, and dolphins, wandering about as plenty as sheep upon the South Downs; instead of which, a brace of dolphins, and a f6w flying-fish and porpoises, are the only inhabitants of the ocean who have as yet taken the trouble of paying us the common civility of a visit. However, I am promised that as soon as we approach the islands I shall have as many sharks as heart can wish. As I am particularly fond of proofs of conjugal attachment
On this day, from a sense of propriety no doubt, as well as
During these last two days nothing very extraordinary, or of sufficient importance to deserve being handed down to the latest posterity, has occurred ; except that this morning a swinging rope knocked my hat into the sea, and away it sailed upon a voyage of discovery, like poor La Perouse, to return no more, I suppose; unless, indeed, like Polycrates, the fortunate tyrant of Samos, who threw his favourite ring into the ocean, and found it again in the stomach of the first fish that was served up at his table,-I should have the good luck (but I by no means reckon upon it) to catch a dolphin with my bat upon his bead: as to a porpoise, he never could squeeze his great numskull into it ; but our dolphin of last week was much about my own size, and I daresay such another would find my bat fit him to a miracle, and look very well in it.
The weather is excessively close and sultry; and in point of heat there is no difference between the days and the nights; or if it is that the nights are rather the hottest of the two. The lightning is incessant, and it does not show itself forked or in flashes, but in wide sheets of mild mild blue light which spread themselves at once over the sky and sea; and, for the moment during which they last, make all the objects around as distinct as in daylight. The moon now does not rise till late, and during her absence the size and brilliancy the of the stars are admirable. In England they always seemed to me to peep through the blanket of the dark;" but here the heaven,; appear to be studded with them on the outside, if they were chased with so many jewels: it is really Milton's "firmament of living sapphires;" and what with the lightning and the stars, and quantity of floating lights which just gleamed round the ship every moment, and then were gone again, to-night the sky had an effect so beautiful, that when at length the moon thought proper to show her great red drunken face, I thought that we did much better without her. The above-mentioned floating light' are a kind of sea-meteors, which, as I am told, are produced by the concussion of the waves, while eddying in whirlpools round the rudder ; but still
Our captain is quite out of patience with the tortoise-Pace of our progress; for my part I care very little about it. Whether we have sailed slowly or rapidly, when a day is once over, I am just as much nearer advanced towards April, the time fixed for my return to England; and, what is of much more consequence, whether we have sailed slowly or rapidly, when a day is once over, I am just as much nearer advanced towards "that bourne," to reach which, peaceably and harmlessly, is the only business of life, and towards which the whole of our existence forms but one continued journey.
We succeeded in catching another dolphin to-day; but he had not a hat on ; however, I just asked him whether he happened to have seen mine, but to little purpose ; for I found that he could tell me nothing at all about it; so, instead of bothering the poor animal with any more questions, we ate him.
The Captain told me that about three years ago lie had the ill luck to be captured by a French frigate. As she had already made prizes of two other merchantmen, it was determined to sink his ship; which, after removing the crew and everything in her that was valuable, was effected by firing her own guns down the hatchways. It was near three hours before she filled, then down she went with a single plunge, head foremost, with all her sails set and colours flying.
At length we have crawled into the Caribbean Sea, I was told that we were not to expect to see land to-day ; but on ship- board our not seeing a thing to-day by no means implies that we shall not see it before to-morrow; for the nautical day is supposed to conclude at noon, when the solar observation is taken; and, therefore, the making land to-day, or not, very often depends upon our making it before twelve o'clock, or after it. This was the case in the present instance ; for noon was scarcely passed when we saw Descada (a small island totally unprovided with water, and whose only produce consists in a little cotton), Guadaloupe, and Marie Galante, though the latter was at so great a distance as to be scarcely visible. At sunset Antigua was in sight.
The sun rose upon Montserrat and Nevis, with the Rodondo rock between them, "apricis natio gratissima mergis,"-for it is perpetually covered with innumerable flocks of gulls, boobies, pelicans, and other sea-birds. Then came St. Christopher's and St. Eustatia; and in the course of the afternoon we passed over the Aves bank, a collection of sand, rock, and mud, extending about two hundred miles, and terminated at each end by a small island: one of them inhabited by a few fishermen, the other only by sea-birds. Of all the Atlantic isles the soil of St. Christopher's is by some supposed to be the richest, the land frequently producing three hogsheads an acre. I rather think that this was the first island discovered by Columbus, and that it took its name from his patron-saint. Montserrat is so rocky, and the roads so steep and difficult, that the sugar is obliged to be brought down in bags upon the backs of mules, and not put into tasks till its arrival on the sea-shore.
The weather is now quite delicious; there is just wind enough to send us forward and keep the air cool : the sun is brilliant, without being overpowering: the swell of the waves is scarcely perceptible, and the ship moves along so steadily that the deck affords almost as firm footing as if we were walking on land. During the night we passed Santa Cruz,, an island which, from the perfection to which its cultivation has been carried, is called the Garden of the West Indies."
Having left Porto Rico behind us, at noon to-day we passed the insulated rock of Alcavella, lying about six miles from St. Domingo, which is now in sight, As this part of the Caribbean Sea is much infested by pirates from the Caraccas, all our muskets have been put in repair, and to-day the guns were loaded, of which we mount eight; but as one of them, during the last voyage, went overboard in a gale of wind, its place has been supplied by a Quaker, i. e. a sham gun of wood-so called, I suppose, because it would not fight if it were called upon. These pirate vessels are small schooners, armed with a single twenty- four pounder, which moves upon a swivel; and their crews are composed of negroes and outlaws of all nations, their numbers varying from one hundred to one hundred and fifty men. To- day we have been visited by several men-of-war birds and tropic birds; one is a species of gull, perfectly white, and distinguished by a single very long feather in its tail; its nautical name is the boatswain." As we sail along, the air is absolutely loaded with "Sabean odours from the spicy shores" of St. Domingo, which we were still coasting at sunset.
At day-break Jamaica was in sight, or rather it would have been in sight, only that we could not see it. The weather was gloomy, with much wind and rain. I remember my good friend, Walter Scott, asserts, that at the death of a poet the groans and tears of his heroes and heroines swell the blast and increase the river: perhaps something of the same kind takes. place at the arrival of a West India proprietor from Europe; and all this rain and wind proceed from the eyes and lungs of my agents and overseers, who, for the last twenty years, have been reigning in my dominions with despotic authority; but now
because, on the approach of the sovereign himself, they must evacuate the place and resign the deputed sceptre. "Hinc illae
"Whose groans in roaring winds complain,
Whose tears of rage impel the rain;"
We arrived at the east end of the island, passed Pedro Point and Starvegut Bay, and arrived before Black River Bay (our destined harbour) soon after two o'clock ; but here we were obliged to come to a standstill: the channel is very dangerous, extremely narrow, and full of sunken rocks; so that it can only be entered by a vessel drawing so much water as ours with particular wind, and when there is not any apprehension of a sudden squall. We were, therefore, obliged to drop anchor, and are now riding within a couple of miles of the shore, but with as utter an incapability of reaching it as if we were still at Gravesend. The north side of the island is said to be extremely beautiful and romantic; but the south, which we coasted to-day, is low, barren, and without any recommendation whatever. As yet I can only look at Jamaica as one does on a man who comes to pay money, and whom we are extremely well pleased to see, however little the fellow's appearance may be in his favour.
We passed the whole of the day in vain endeavours to work ourselves into the bay. At one time, indeed, we got very near the shore, but the consequence was, that we were within an ace of striking upon a rock, and very much obliged to a sudden gust of wind, which, blowing right off shore, blew us out of the channel, and left us at night in a much more perilous situation than we had occupied the evening before, though even that had been by Do means secure. At three o'clock, the other passengers went on shore in the jolly-boat, and proceeded to their destination ; but as I was still more than thirty miles distant from my estate, I preferred waiting on board till the Captain should have moored his vessel in safety, and be at liberty to take me in his
In the course of the afternoon, one of the sailors took up a fish of a very singular shape and most brilliant colours, as it -floated along upon the water. It seemed to be gasping, and lay with its belly upwards ; it was supposed to have eaten something poisonous, as whenever it was touched it appeared to be full of life, and squirted the water in our faces with great spirit and dexterity. But no sooner was he suffered to remain quiet in the tub , than be turned upon his back and again was gasping. He had a large round transparent globule, intersected with red veins, under the belly, which some imagined to proceed from a rupture, and to be the occasion of his disease. But I could not discover any vestige of a wound ; and the globule was quite solid to the touch ; neither did the fish appear to be sensible when it was pressed upon. No one on board had ever seen this kind of fish till then ; its name is the "Doctor Fish."
A black pilot came on board yesterday, in a canoe hollowed out of the cotton-tree ; and when it returned for him this morning it brought us a water-melon. I never met with a worse article in my life; the pulp is of a faint greenish yellow, stained here and there with spots of moist red, so that it looks exactly as if the servant in slicing it had cut his finger, and suffered it to bleed over the fruit. Then the seeds being of a dark purple, present the happiest imitation of drops of clotted gore; and altogether (prejudiced as I was by its appearance), when I had put a single bit into my mouth, it ho such a kind of Shylocky taste of raw flesh about it (not that I recollect having ever eaten a bit of raw flesh itself), that I sent away my plate, and was perfectly satisfied as to the merits of the fruit.
At length the ship has squeezed herself into this champagne bottle of a bay! Perhaps, the satisfaction attendant upon our having overcome the difficulty, added something to the illusion of its effect; but the beauty of the atmosphere, the dark purple mountains, the shores covered with mangroves of the liveliest green down to the very edge of the water, and the light-coloured houses with their lattices and piazzas completely embowered in
It was, as I understand, formerly one of some magnitude; but it now consists only of a few houses, owing to a spark from a tobacco-pipe or a candle having lodged upon a mosquito-net during dry weather; and although the conflagration took place at mid-day, the whole town was reduced to ashes The few streets (I believe there were not above two, but those were wide and regular, and the houses looked very neat) were now crowded with people, and it seemed to be allowed, upon all hands, that New-year's day had never been celebrated there with more expense and festivity.
It seems that, many years ago, an Admiral of the Red was superseded on the Jamaica station by an Admiral of the Blue ad both of them gave balls at Kingston to the " Brown Girls;" for the fair sex elsewhere are called the "Brown Girls" in Jamaica. In-consequence of these balls, all Kingston was divided into parties: from thence the division spread into other districts; and-ever since, the whole island, at Christmas, is sepa- rated into the rival factions of the Blues and the Reds (the Red representing also the English, the Blue the Scotch), who contend for setting, forth their processions with the greatest taste and magnificence. This year, several gentlemen in the neigbbourhood of Black River had subscribed very largely towards the expenses of the show; and certainly it produced the gayest and most amusing scene that I ever witnessed, to which the mutual jealousy and pique of the two parties against each other contributed in no slight degree. The champions of the rival Roses, of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, none of them could exceed the scornful animosity and spirit of depreciation with which the Blues and the Reds of Black River examined the efforts at display of each other. The Blues had the advantage beyond a doubt ; this a Red girl told us that she could Dot deny ; but still, " though the Reds were beaten, she would not be a Blue girl for the whole universe!" On the other hand , Miss Edwards.(the mistress of the hotel from whose window we saw the show) was rank Blue to the very tips of her fingers, and bad, indeed, contributed one of her female slaves to sustain a very important character in the show; for when the Blue procession was ready to set forward, there was evidently a hitch, something was wanting; and there seemed to be no possibility of getting on without it-when suddenly we saw a tall woman dressed in mourning (being Miss Edwards herself) rush out of our hotel, dragging along by the hand a strange uncouth kind of a glittering tawdry figure, all feathers, and pitchfork, and painted pasteboard, who moved most reluctantly, and turned out to be no less a personage than Britannia herself, with a pasteboard shield covered with the arms of Great-Britain, a trident in her hand, and a helmet made of pale-blue silk and silver. The poor girl, it seems, was bashful at appearing in this conspicuous manner before so many spectators, and hung back when it came to the point. But her mistress
The Blue girls call themselves the Blue girls of Waterloo." Their motto was the more patriotic that of the Red was the more gallant:-" Britannia rules the day! " streamed upon the Blue flag, ; " Red girls forever! " floated upon the Red. But, in point of taste and invention, the former carried it hollow. First marched Britannia; then came a band of music; then the flag; then the Blue King and Queen-the Queen splendidly dressed in white and silver (in scorn of the opposite party, her train was borne by a little girl in red) ; his Majesty wore a full British Admiral's uniform, with a-white satin sash, and a huge cocked hat with a gilt paper crown upon the top of it. These were immediately followed by " Nelson's car," being a kind of canoe decorated with blue and silver drapery, and with " Trafalgar " written on the front of it; and the procession was closed by a Ion., train of Blue grandees (the women dressed in uniforms of white, with robes of blue muslin), all Princes and Princesses, Dukes and Duchesses, every mother's child of them.
The Red girls were also dressed very gaily and prettily, but they had nothing in point of invention that could vie with Nelson's Car and Britannia; and when the Red throne made its appearance, language cannot express the contempt with which our landlady eyed it. " It was neither one thing nor t'other, " Miss Edwards was of opinion. "Nothing but a few yards, of calico stretched over planks-and look, look, only look at it behind ! you may see the bare boards! By way of a throne, indeed! Well, to be sure, Miss Edwards never saw a poorer thing in her life, that she must say! " And then she told me, that somebody had just snatched at a medal which Britannia wore round her neck, and had endeavoured to force it away. I asked her who had done so? " Oh, one of the Red party, of course ! " The Red party was evidently Miss Edwards's Mrs. Grundy. John-Canoe made no part of the procession; but he and his rival, John-Crayfish (a personage of whom I heard, but could not obtain a sight), seemed to apt upon quite an
A play was now proposed to us, and, o , f course, accepted. Three men and a girl accordingly made their appearance; the men dressed like the tumblers at Astley's, the lady very tastefully in white and silver, and all with their faces concealed by masks of thin blue silk; and they proceeded to perform the quarrel between Douglas and Glenalvon, and the fourth act of I The Fair Penitent.' They were all quite perfect, and bad no need of a prompter. As to Lothario, he was by far the most comical dog that I ever saw in my life, and his dying scene exceeded all description; Mr. Coates himself might have taken hints from him! As-soon as Lothario was fairly dead, and Calista bad made her exit in distraction, they all began dancing reels like so Many mad people, till they Were obliged to make way for the Waterloo procession, who came to collect money for the next year's festival ; one of them singing, another dancing to the tune, while she presented her money-box to the spectators, and the rest of the Blue girls filling up the chorus. I cannot say much in praise of the black Catalani ; but nothing could be more light, and playful, and graceful, than the extempore movements of the dancing-girl. Indeed, through the whole day I had been struck with the precision of their march, the ease and grace of their action, the elasticity of their step, and the lofty air with which they carried their heads-all, indeed, except poor Britannia, who hung down hers in the Most "goddess-dike manner imaginable The first song was the old Scotch air of-Logie of Buchan,' o which the 'girl sang one single stanza forty times over. Bu the second was in praise of the Hero of Heroes; so I gave the songstress a dollar to teach it to me, and drink the Duke's health It was not easy to make out what she said, but as well as I could understand them, the words ran as follows:-
"Come, rise up, our gentry,
And hear about Waterloo;
Ladies, take your spy-glass,
And attend to what we do;
For one and one makes two,
But one alone must be,
Then singee, singee Waterloo,
None so brave as he ! "
I never saw so many people who appeared to be so unaffectedly .happy. In England, at fairs and races, half the visitors at least seem to have been only brought there for the sake of traffic, and to be too busy to be amused ; but here nothing was thought of but real pleasure ; and that pleasure seemed to consist in singing, dancing, and laughing, in seeing and being Seen, in showing their own fine clothes, or in admiring those of others. There were no people selling or buying; no servants and landladies bustling and passing about; and at eight o'clock, as we passed through the market-place, where was the greatest illumination, and which, of course, was most thronged, I did not see a single person drunk, nor had I observed a single quarrel through the course of the day;, except, indeed, when some thoughtless fellow crossed the line of the procession, and received by the way a good box of the ear from the Queen or one of her attendant Duchesses. Everybody made the same remark to me; " Well, si r, what do you think Mr. Wilberforce would think of the state of the negroes, if he could see this scene? " and certainly, to judge by this one specimen, of all beings that I have yet seen, these were the happiest. As we were passing to our boat, through the market-place,-suddenly we saw Miss Edwards dart out of the crowd, and seize the Captain's arm-" Captain! Captain ! " cried she, " for the love of Heaven, only look at the Red lights ! Old iron hoops, nothing but old iron hoops, I declare ! Well! for my part 1 " and then, with a contemptuous toss of her head, away frisked Miss Edwards triumphantly.
The St. Elizabeth, which sailed from England at the same time with our vessel, was attacked by a pirate from Carthagena, near the rocks of Alcavella, who attempted three times to board her, though he was at length beaten off; so that our Piccaroon preparations were by no means taken without good reason.
At four o'clock this morning I embarked in the cutter for Savannah la Mar, lighted by the most beautiful of morning stars: certainly, if this star be really Lucifer, that " Son of the Morning," the Devil must be "an extremely pretty fellow." But, in spite of the fineness of the morning, our passage was a most disagreeable concern: there was a violent swell in the sea; and a strong north wind, though it carried us forward with great rapidity, overwhelmed us with whole sheets of foam so incessantly that I expected, as soon as the sun should have evaporated the moisture, to see the boat's crew covered with salt, and looking like so many Lot's wives after her metamorphosis.
The distance was about thirty miles, and soon after nine o'clock we reached Savannah la Mar, where I found my trustee and a whole cavalcade waiting to conduct me to my estate. He had brought-with him a curricle and pair for myself, a gig for my servant, two black boys upon mules, and a cart with eight oxen to convey my baggage. The road was excellent, and we bad no above five miles to travel; and as soon as the carriage entered, my gates, the uproar and confusion which ensued sets all description at defiance. 'The works were instantly all abandoned everything that bad life came flocking to the house from a quarters: and not only the men, and the women, and the children, but, " by a bland assimilation," the hogs, and the dogs, and the geese, and the fowls, and the turkeys, all came hurrying along by instinct, to see what could possibly be the matter, and seemed to be afraid of arriving too late. Whether the pleasure of the negroes was sincere may be doubted; but certainly it was the loudest that I ever witnessed : they all talked together, sat danced, shouted, and, in the violence of their gesticulations tumbled over each other, and rolled about upon the ground. Twenty voices at once inquired after uncles, and aunts, and grandfathers, and great-grandmothers of mine, who had been
The shouts, the gaiety, the wild laughter, the strange and sudden bursts of singing and dancing, and several old women, wrapped up in large cloaks, their heads bound round with different-coloured handkerchiefs, leaning on a staff, and standing motionless in the middle of the hubbub, with their eyes fixed upon the portico which I occupied, formed an exact counterpart of the festivity of the witches in Macbeth. Nothing could be more odd or more novel than the whole scene; and yet there was something in it by which I could not help being affected perhaps it was the consciousness that all these human beings were my slaves; to be sure, I never saw people look more happy in my life, and I believe their condition to be much more comfortable than that of the labourers of Great Britain; and after all, slavery, in their case, is but another name for servitude, now that no more negroes can be forcibly carried away from Africa, and subjected to the horrors of the voyage, and the seasoning after their arrival: but still I had already experienced that Juliet was wrong in saying, "What's in a name?" for soon after my reaching the lodging-house at Savannah la Mar, a remarkably clean-looking negro lad presented himself with some water and a towel: I concluded him to belong to the inn; and, on my returning the towel, as he found that I took no notice of him, he at length ventured to introduce himself by saying, " Massa not know me; me your slave! "-and really the sound made me feel a pang at the heart. The lad appeared all gaiety and good humour, and his whole countenance expressed anxiety to recommend himself to my notice; but the word "slave " seemed to imply that, although he did feel pleasure then in serving me, if he had detested me he must have served me still. I really felt quite humiliated at the moment, and was tempted to tell him,
Altogether, they shouted and sang me into a violent headache. It is now one in the morning, and I bear them still shouting and Singing. I gave them a holiday for Saturday next, and told them that I had brought them all presents from England; and so, I believe, we parted very good friends.
I have reached Jamaica in the best season for seeing my property in a favourable point of view ; it is crop time, when all the laborious work is over, and the negroes are the most healthy and merry. This morning I went to visit the hospital, and found there only eight patients out of three hundred negroes, and not one of them a serious case. Yesterday I had observed a remarkably handsome Creole girl, called Psyche, and she really deserved the name. This morning a little brown girl made her appearance at breakfast, with an orange bough, to flap away the flies, and, on inquiry, she proved to be an emanation of the aforesaid Psyche. It is evident, therefore, that Psyche has already visited the palace of Cupid; I heartily hope that she is not now upon her road to the infernal regions.
I passed the morning in driving about the estate: my house is frightful to look at, but very clean and comfortable in the in side; some of the scenery is very picturesque, from the lively green of the trees and shrubs, and the. hermitage-like appearance of the negro buildings, all situated in little gardens and embosomed in sweet-smelling shrubberies. Indeed, everything appears much better than I expected; the negroes seem healthy and contented, and so perfectly at their ease that our English squires would be mightily astonished at being accosted so familiarly by their farmers. This delightful north wind keeps the air temperate and agreeable. I live upon shaddocks and pine apples. The dreaded mosquitoes are not worse than gnats, nor as bad as the Sussex harvest-bugs; and, as yet, I never felt my self in more perfect health. There was a man once who fell from the top of a steeple, and perceiving no inconvenience in his passage through the air, " Come," said be to himself, while in the act of falling, " really this is well enough yet, if it would but
There were three things against which I was particularly cautioned, and which three things I was determined not to do,- to take exercise after ten in the day ; to be exposed to the dews after sun-down; and to sleep at a Jamaica lodging-house. So, yesterday, I set off for Montego Bay at eight o'clock in the morning, and travelled till three; walked home from a ball after midnight; and that home was a lodging-house at Montego Bay; but the lodging-house was such a cool, clean lodging-house, and the landlady was such an obliging, smiling landlady, with the whitest of all possible teeth, and the blackest of all possible eyes, that no harm. could happen to me from occupying, an apartment -which been prepared by her. She was called out of her bed to make my room read for me; Yet she did everything with so much good will and cordiality-no quick answers, no mutterings : inns would be bowers of Paradise if they were all rented by mulatto landladies like Judy James.
I was much pleased with the scenery of Montego Bay, and with the neatness and cleanliness of the town; indeed, what with the sea washing it, and the picturesque aspect of the piazzas and verandas, it is impossible for a West Indian town so situated, and in such a climate, not to present an agreeable appearance. But the first. part of the road exceeds in beauty all that I have ever seen; it wound through mountain-lands of my own, their summits of the boldest, and at the same time of the most beautiful shapes; their sides ornamented with bright green woods of bamboo, logwood, prickly-yellow, broad-leaf, and trumpet trees; and so completely covered with the most lively verdure, that once, when we found a piece of barren rock, Cubina pointed it out to me as a curiosity,-" Look, Massa, rock", quite naked!" The cotton-tree presented itself on all-sides; but as this is the season for its shedding its leaves, its wide-
We travelled the first ten miles (Montego Bay being about thirty from my estate of Cornwall) without seeing a human creature; nor, indeed, anything that had life in it, except a black snake basking in the sunshine, and a few John-Crows-a species of vulture, whose utility is so great that its destruction is prohibited by law, under a heavy penalty. In a country where putrefaction is so rapid, it is of infinite consequence to preserve an animal which, if a bullock or horse falls dead in the held, immediately flies to the carcass before it has time to corrupt, and gobbles it up before you can say " John Crow," much less " Jack Robinson.". The bite of the black snake is slightly venomous, but that is all-, as to the great yellow one, it-is perfectly innoxious, and so timid that it always runs away from you. The only dangerous species of serpent is the whip-snake, so called from its exactly resembling the lash of a whip, in length, thinness, pliability, and whiteness; but even the bite of this is not mortal) except from very great neglect, The most beautiful tree, c rather group of trees, all to nothing, is the bamboo, both from its Verdure and from its elegance of form : as to the-cotton-tree it answers no purpose, either of ornament or utility; or, rather it is not suffered to answer any, since it is forbidden by law to export its down, lest it should hurt the fur trade in the manufacture of hats: its only present use is to furnish the negroes, with canoes, which are hollowed out of its immense trunks. I am yet so much enchanted with the country, that it would require
" E bruna-si; ma il bruno il bel non toglie."
As I was returning this morning from Montego Bay, about a mile from my own estate, a figure presented itself before me, I really think the most picturesque that I ever beheld-it was a mulatto girl, born upon Cornwall, but whom the overseer of a neighbouring estate bad obtained my permission to exchange for another slave, as well as two little children, whom she had borne to him ; but, as yet, lie has been unable to procure a substitute, owing to the difficulty of purchasing single negroes, and Mary Wiggins is still my slave. However, as she is considered as being manumitted, she had not dared to present herself at Cornwall on my arrival, lest she should have been considered as an intruder; but she now threw herself in my way to tell me how glad she was to see me, for that she ; had always thought till now (which is the general complaint) that " she had no massa ;" and also to obtain a regular invitation to my negro festival tomorrow. By this universal complaint, it appears that, while Mr. Wilberforce is lamenting their hard fate in being subject to a master, their greatest fear is the not having a master whom they know ; and that to be told by the negroes of another estate that 41 they belong to no massa," is one of the most contemptuous reproaches that can be cast upon them. Poor creatures, when they happened to hear on Wednesday evening that my carriage was ordered for Montego Bay the next morning they fancied that I was going away for good and all, and came up to the house in such a hubbub, that my agent was obliged to speak to them, and pacify them with the assurance that I should come back on Friday without fail.
But to return to Mary Wiggins: she was much too pretty not to obtain her invitation to Cornwall; on the contrary, I insisted upon her coming, and bade her tell her husband that I admired his taste very much for having chosen her. I really think that her form and features were the most statue-like that I
On my arrival at home, my agent made me a very elegant little present of a scorpion and a couple of centipedes : the first was given to him, but the large centipede he had shaken out of a book last night, and having immediately covered her up in a phial of rum, he found this morning that she had produced a young one, which was lying drowned by her side.
I find that my negroe were called away from their attention to the works yesterday evening (for the crop is now making with the greatest activity), and kept us up all night by a fire at a neighbouring estate. On these occasions a fire-shell is blown, and all the negroes of the adjoining plantations hasten to give their assistance. On this occasion the fire was extinguished with the loss of only five negroe houses ; -but this is a heavy concern to the poor negro proprietors, who have lost in it their whole stock of clothes, and furniture, and finery, which they had been accumulating for years, and to which their attachment is excessive.
This was the day given to my negroes as a festival on my arrival. A couple of heifers were slaughtered for them : they were allowed as much rum and sugar, and noise, and dancing as they chose; and as to the two latter, certainly they profited by the permission. About two o'clock they began to assemble round the house, all dressed in their holiday clothes, which, both
The person who gave me this information was a young mulatto carpenter, called Nicholas, whom I had noticed in the crowd, on my first arrival, for his clean appearance and intelligent countenance; and he now begged me to notice the smaller of the two John-Canoe machines. " To be sure," be said, " it was not so large nor so showy as the other, but then it was much better proportioned (his own word), and altogether much prettier;" and lie said so much in praise of it, that I asked him whether lie knew the maker? and then out came the motive: " 0h, yes ! it was made by John Fuller, who lived in the next house to him, and worked in the same shop, and indeed they were just like brothers." So I desired to see his fidus Achates, and he brought me as smart and intelligent a little fellow as eye ever beheld, who came grinning from ear to par to tell me that lie had made every bit of the canoe with his own hands, and had set to work upon it the moment that he knew of massa's coming to Jamaica. And indeed it was as fine as paint, pasteboard, gilt paper, and looking-glass could make it ! Unluckily, the breeze being very strong blew off a fine glittering umbrella, surmounted
This Nicholas, whom I mentioned, is a very interesting person, both from his good looks and gentle manners, and from his story. He is the son of a white man, who on his death-bed charged his nephew and heir to purchase the freedom of this natural child. The nephew had promised to do so; I had consented; nothing was necessary but to find the substitute (which is no easy matter) ; when about six months ago the nephew broke his neck, and the property went to a distant relation. application on behalf of poor Nicholas has been made to the heir, and I heartily hope that he will enable me to release him . I felt strongly tempted to set him at liberty at once; but if I were to begin in that way, there would be no stopping; and it would be doing a kindness to an individual at the expense of all negroes-others would expect the same; and then I must either contrive to cultivate my estate with fewer hands, or must cease to cultivate it altogether-and, from inability to maintain them, send my negroes to seek bread for themselves -- which, as two-thirds of them have been born upon the estate, and many of them are lame, dropsical, and of great age, would, of all misfortunes that could happen to them, be the most cruel. even when Nicholas was speaking to me about his liberty, he said, "It is not that I wish to go away, sir; it is only for the name and honour of being free: but I would always stay here and be your servant; and I had rather be an under-workman on Cornwall, than a head carpenter anywhere else." Possibly this Was all palaver(in which the negroes are great dealers), but at least he seemed to be sincere ; and I was heartily grieved that I could not allow myself to say more to him than that I sincerely
Nor is this the only instance in which Nicholas has been unlucky. It seems that he was the first lover of the beautiful Psyche, whom I bad noticed on my arrival. This evening, after the performance of the John-Canoes, I desired to see some of the girls dance; and by general acclamation Psyche was brought forward to exhibit, she being avowedly the best dancer on the estate ; and certainly nothing could be more light, graceful, my, and spirited, than her performance. She perfectly answered the description of Sallust's Sempronia, who was said -" Saltare elegantius, quam necesse est probae, et cui cariora semper omnia, quam decus et pudicitia fuit." When her dance was over, I called her to me, and gave her a handful of silver. " Ah, Psyche," said Nicholas, who was standing at my elbow, 41 Massa no give you all that if massa know you so bad girl! she run away from me, massa 1 " Psyche gave him a kind of pouting look, half kind, and half reproachful, and turned away. And then he told me that Psyche had been his wife (one of his wives he should have said); that he had had a child by her, and , then she had left him for one of my " white people " (as they call the book-keepers), because he had a good salary, and could afford to give her more presents than a slave could. " Was there not another reason for your quarrelling? " said my agent. " Was there not a shade of colour too much ? "-" Oh, massa!" answered Nicholas, " the child is not my own, that is certain , it is a black man's child. But still I will always take care of the child. because it have no friends, and me wish make it good neger for massa-and she take good care of it too," he added, throwing his arm round the waist of a sickly-looking woman rather in years; " she my wife, too, massa, long ago ; old now and sick, but always good to me, so I still live with her, and will never leave her, never massa ; she Polly's mother, sir." Polly is a pretty, delicate looking girl, nursing a young child; she belongs to the mansion- house, and seems to think it as necessary a part of her duty to nurse me as the child. To be sure she has not as vet insisted
The difference of colour, which had offended Nicholas so much in Psyche's child, is a fault which no mulatto will pardon; nor can the separation of castes in India be more rigidly observed, than that of complexional shades among the Creoles. My black page, Cubina, is married: I told him that I hoped he had married a pretty woman ; why had he not married Mary Wiggins ? he seemed quite shocked at the very idea. " Oh, massa, me black, Mary Wiggins sambo; that not allowed."
The dances performed to-night seldom admitted more than three persons at a time : to me they appeared to be movements entirely dictated by the caprice of the moment ; but I am told that there is a regular figure, and that the, least mistake, or a single false step, is immediately noticed by the rest. I could indeed sometimes fancy that one story represented an old duenna guarding a girl from a lover; and another, the pursuit of a young woman by two suiters, the one young and the other old ; but this might be only fancy. However, I am told that they have dances which not only represent courtship and marriage, brought to bed. Their music consisted of nothing but Gambys (Eboe drums), Shaky-shekies, and Kitty-katties: the latter is nothing but any flat piece of board beat upon with two sticks, and the former is a bladder with a parcel of pebbles in it. But the principal part of the music to which they dance is vocal; one girl generally singing two lines by herself, and being answered by a chorus. To make out either the rhyme of the air, or meaning of the words, was out of the question. But one very long song was about the Duke of Wellington, every stanza being chorused with,
"Ay! hey-day! Waterloo!
Waterloo ! ho ! ho! ho !"
The singing began about six o'clock, and lasted, without a moment's pause, till two in the morning; and such a noise never did I hear till then. The whole of the floor which was not taken up by the dancers was, through every part of the house except the bed-rooms, occupied by men, women, and children, fast asleep. But although they were allowed rum and sugar by whole pailfuls, and were most of them merry in consequence, there was not one of them drunk; except, indeed, one person, and that was an old woman, who sang, and shouted, and tossed herself about in an elbow chair, till she tumbled it over, and rolled about the room in a manner which shocked the delicacy of even the least prudish part of the company. At twelve my agent wanted to dismiss them; but I would not suffer them to be interrupted on the first holiday that I had given them ; so they continued to dance and shout till two, when human nature could bear no more, and they left me to my bed, and a violent headache.
In spite of their exertions of last night, the negroes were again with me by two o'clock in the day, with their drums and their choruses. However, they found themselves unable to keep it up as they had done on the former night, and were content to withdraw to their own houses by ten in the evening. But first they requested to have to-morrow to themselves, in order that they might go to the mountains for provisions. For although ,, their cottages are always surrounded with trees and shrubs, their provision-grounds are kept quite distinct, and are at a distance among the mountains. Of course, I made no difficulty of acceding to their request, but upon condition that they should ask for no more holidays till the crop should be completed. For the purpose of cultivating their provision-grounds, they are allowed every Saturday ; but on' the occasion of my arrival, they obtained permission to have the Saturday to themselves, and to fetch their week's provisions from the mountains on the following Monday, All the slaves maintain themselves in this manner by their own labour; even the domestic attendants are not
I really believe that the negresses can produce children at pleasure; and where they are barren, it is just as hens will frequently not lay eggs on ship-board, because they do Dot like their situation. Cubina's wife is in the family way, and I told him that if the child should live I would christen it for him, if he wished it. " Tank you, kind massa, me like it very much: much oblige if massa do that for me too." So I promised to baptize the father and the baby on the same day, and said that I would be godfather to any children that might be born on the estate during my residence in Jamaica. This was soon spread about, and although I have not yet been here a week, two women we in the straw already, Jug Betty and Minerva: the first is wife to my bead driver, the Duke of Stilly; but my sense of propriety was much gratified at finding that Minerva's husband was called Captain.
In my evening' s drive I met the negroes returning from the mountains, with baskets of provisions sufficient to last them for the week. By law they are only allowed every other Saturday or the purpose of cultivating their own grounds, which, indeed, is sufficient ; but by giving them every alternate Saturday into the bargain, it enables them to perform their task with so much 61W as almost converts it into an amusement; and the frequent visiting their grounds makes them grow habitually as much attached to them as they are to their houses and gardens. It is also adviseable for them to bring home only a week's provisions at-is time, rather than a fortnight's ; for they are so thoughtless and improvident, that, when they find themselves in possession of a larger supply than is requisite for their immediate occasions, they will sell half to the wandering higglers, or at Savannah la Mar, in exchange for spirits ; and then, at the end of the week, they find themselves entirely unprovided with food, and come to beg a supply from the master's storehouse.
The sensitive plant is a great nuisance in Jamaica: it overruns, and, being armed with very strong sharp prickels it wounds the mouths of the cattle, and, in some places,
The houses here are generally built and arranged according to one and the same model. My own is of wood, partly raised upon pillars; it consists of a single floor: a long gallery, called a piazza, terminated at each end by a square room, runs the whole length of the house. Oil each side of the piazza is a range of bed-rooms, and the porticoes of the two fronts form two more rooms, with balustrades, and flights of steps descending to the lawn. The whole house is virandoed with shifting Venetian blinds to admit air ; except that one of the end rooms has sash-windows on account of the rains, which, when they arrive, are so heavy, and shift with the wind so suddenly from the one side to tile. other, that all the blinds are obliged to be kept closed ; consequently the whole house is in total darkness during their continuance, except the single sash-windowed room. There is nothing underneath except a few store-rooms and a kind of waiting-hall; but none of the domestic negroes sleep in tile house, all going home at night to their respective cottages and families.
Cornwall House stands on a dead flat, and the works are built in its immediate neighbourhood, for the convenience of their being the more under the agent's personal inspection (a point of material consequence with them all, but more particularly for the hospital).
This dead flat is only ornamented with a few scattered bread-fruit and cotton trees, a grove of mangoes, and the branch of a small river, which turns the mill. Several of these buildings are ugly enough; but the shops of the cooper, carpenter, and blacksmith, some of the trees in their vicinity,, and the negro-huts, embowered in shrubberies, and groves of oranges, plantains, cocoas, and pepper-trees, would be reek, picturesque in tile most ornamented grounds. A large spreading tamarind fronts me at this moment, and overshadows the stables, which are formed of open wickerwork; and an orangetree, loaded with fruit, grows against the window at which I am writing.
On three sides of the landscape the prospect is bounded by lofty purple mountains; and the variety of occupations going on all around me, and at the same time, give an inconceivable air of life and animation to the whole scene, especially as all those occupations look clean,-even those which in England look dirty. All the tradespeople are dressed in jackets and trousers, either white or of red and sky-blue stripe. One band of negroes an carrying the ripe canes on their heads to the mill; another set are conveying away the trash , after the juice has been extracted ; flocks of turkeys axe sheltering from the heat under the trees; the river is filled with ducks and geese; the coopers and carpenters are employed about the puncheons ; carts drawn some by six others by eight, oxen, are bringing loads of Indian corn from the fields; the black children are employed in gathering it into the granary, and in quarrelling with pigs as black as themselves, who are equally busy in stealing the corn whenever the children are looking another way: in short, a plantation possesses all the movement and interest of a farm, without its dung, and its stench, its dirty accompaniments.
I saw the whole process of sugar-making this morning. The ripe canes are brought in bundles to the mill, where the cleanest of the women are appointed, one to put them into tile machine for crushing them, and another to draw them out after the juice has been extracted, when she throws then into an opening in the floor close to her; another band of negroes collects them below, when, under the name of trash , they an carried away to serve for fuel. The juice, which is itself at first of a pale ash-colour, gushes out in great streams, quite white with foam, and passes through a wooden gutter into the boiling-house, where it is received into the siphon, or " cock-copper," where fire is applied to it, and it is slaked with lime, in order to make it granulate. The feculent parts of it rise to the top, while the purer and more fluid flow through another gutter into the second copper. When little but the impure scum on the surface remains to be drawn off, the first gutter communicating with the copper is stopped, and the grosser parts are obliged to find a new course through another gutter, which conveys them to the distillery, where,
Last night a poor man named Charles, who bad been coachman to my uncle ages ago, was brought into the hospital, having missed a step in the boiling-house, and plunged his foot into the siphon : fortunately, the fire had not long been kindled, and though the liquor was hot enough to scald him, it was not sufficiently
It was particularly agreeable to me to observe on Saturday, as a proof of the good treatment which they had experienced, so many old servants of the family, many of whom bad been born on the estate, and who, though turned of sixty and seventy, were still strong, healthy, and cheerful. Many manumitted negroes came from other parts of the country to this festival on hearing of my arrival, because, as they said-" if they did not come to see massa, they were afraid that it would look ungrateful, and as if they cared no longer about him and Cornwall now that they were free." So they stayed two or three days on the estate, coming up to the house for their dinners, and going to sleep at night among their friends in their own former habitations, the negro huts ; and when they went away they assured me that nothing should prevent their coming back to bid me farewell before I left the island.
All this may be palaver; but certainly they at least play their parts with such an air of truth, and warmth, and enthusiasm, that after the cold hearts and repulsive manners of England, the contrast is infinitely agreeable.
"Je ne vois que des yeux toujours pret a sourire."
I find it quite impossible to resist the fascination of the conscious pleasure of pleasing; and my heart, which I have so long been obliged to keep closed, seems to expand itself again in the
In the year '80, this parish of Westmoreland was kept in a perpetual state of alarm by a runaway negro called Plato, who had established himself among the Moreland mountains, and collected a troop of banditti, of which he was himself the chief. He robbed very often, and murdered occasionally; but gallantry was his every day occupation. Indeed, being a remarkably tall athletic young fellow, among the beauties of his own complexion he found but few Lucretias ; and his retreat in the mountains was as well furnished as the harem of Constantinople. Every handsome negress who had the slightest cause of complaint against her master, took the first opportunity of eloping to join Plato, where she found freedom, protection, and unbounded generosity ; for he spared no pains to secure their affections by gratifying their vanity. Indeed, no Creole lady could venture out on a visit without running the risk of having her bandbox run away with by Plato for the decoration of his sultanas; and if the maid who carried the bandbox happened to be well-looking, he ran away with the maid as well as the bandbox. Every endeavour to seize this desperado was long in vain : a large reward was, put upon his head, but no negro dared to approach him; for, besides his acknowledged courage, he was a professor of Obi, and had threatened that whoever dared to lay a finger upon him should suffer spiritual torments, as well as be physically shot through the head.
Unluckily for Plato, rum was an article with him of the first necessity; the look-out which was kept for him was too vigilant to admit of his purchasing spirituous liquors for himself; and once, when for that purpose he had ventured into the neighbourhood of Montego Bay, he was recognised by a slave, who immediately gave the alarm. Unfortunately for this poor fellow, whose name was Taffy, at that moment all his companions happened to be out of bearing; and, after the first moment's alarm, finding that no one approached the exasperated robber rushed upon him, and lifted the bill-hook with which he was armed,
After this Plato no longer dared to approach Montego town ; but still spirits must be had-how was he to obtain them ? There was an old watchman on the outskirts of the estate of Canaan, with whom he had contracted an acquaintance, and frequently had passed the night in his hut; the old man having been equally induced by his presents and by dread of his corporeal strength and supposed supernatural power, to profess the warmest attachment to the interests of his terrible friend To this man Plato at length resolved to entrust himself. He gave him money to purchase spirits, and appointed a particular day when he would come to receive them. The reward placed upon the robber'shead was more than either gratitude or terror could counterbalance; and on the same day when the watchman set out to purchase the rum, he apprised two of his friends at Canaan for whose use it was intended, and advised them to take the opportunity of obtaining the reward.
The two negroes posted themselves in proper time near the watchman's hut. Most unwisely, instead of sending down some of his gang, Plato, in his full confidence in the friendship of his confidant, himself entered the cabin. but so great was their
The belief in Obeah is now greatly weakened, but still exists in some degree. Not above ten months ago my agent was in- formed that a negro of very suspicious manners and appearance was harboured by some of my people on the mountain an ( He found means to have him surprised, and on examination there was found upon him a bag containing a great variety of strange materials for incantations ; such as thunder-stones, cat's ears, the feet of various animals, human hair, fish bones, the teeth of alligators, &c. He was conveyed to Montego Bay, and no sooner was it understood that this old African was in prison, than depositions were poured in from all quarters from n who testified to having seen him exercise his magical arts, and in particular, to his having sold such and such slaves medicines
Throughout the island many estates, formerly very flourishing and productive, have been thrown up for want of hands to cultivate them, and are now suffered to lie waste: four in my own immediate neighbourbood are in this situation. Finding their complement of negroes decrease, and having no means of recruiting them, proprietors of two estates have in numerous instances found themselves obliged to give up one of them, and draw off the negroes for the purpose of properly cultivating the other.
I have just had an instance strikingly convincing of the extreme care required in rearing negro children. Two have-been born since my arrival. Ally housekeeper was hardly ever out of the lying-in apartment; I always visited it myself once a day, and sometimes twice, in order that I might be certain of the women being well taken care of. Not a day passed without the inspection of a physician ; nothing of indulgence that was proper for them was denied ; and besides their ordinary food, the mothers received every day the most nourishing and palatable dish that was brought to my own table. Add to this, that the women themselves were kind-hearted creatures, and particularly anxious :to rear these children, because I had promised to be their god- father myself. Yet in spite of all this attention and indulgence, one of the mothers, during the nurse's absence for ten minutes, grew alarmed at her infant's apparent sleepiness.
To rouse it she began dancing and shaking it till it was in a strong perspiration, and then she stood with it for some minutes at an open window while a strong north wind was blowing. In consequence, it caught cold, and the next morning symptoms of a locked jaw showed themselves. The poor woman was the image grief itself: she sat on her bed, looking at the child which lay by h side with its little hands clasped, its teeth set, and its eyes writhing in the agony of the spasm, while she was herself
This woman was a tender mother, had borne ten children, and yet has now but one alive : another, at p. vent in the hospital, has-borne seven, and but one has lived to puberty ; and the instances of those who have had four, five, six children, without succeeding in bringing up one, in spite of the utmost attention and indulgence, are very numerous; so heedless and inattentive are the best intentioned mothers, and so subject in this climate are infants to dangerous complaints. The locked jaw is the common and most fatal one; so fatal, indeed, that the midwife (the graundee is her negro appellation) told me, the other day, " 0h, massa, till nine days over, we no hope of them." Certainly care and kindness, on the part of the planters, are not' adequate to save the children ; for the son of a sovereign could not have been more anxiously well treated than was the poor little negro who died this morning.
The negroes are always buried in their own gardens, and many' strange and fantastical ceremonies are observed on the occasion. If the corpse be that of a grown-tip person, they consult it as to which way it pleases to be-carried,; and they make attempts upon various roads without success, before they can bit upon the right one. Till that is accomplished, they stagger under the weight of the coffin, struggle against its force, which draws them in a different direction from that in which they bad settled to go; and sometimes in the contest the corpse and the coffin jump off the shoulders of the bearers. No if, as is frequently the case, any person is suspected of having hastened the catastrophe, the corpse will then refuse to go any road but the one which passes by the habitation of the suspected person, and as soon as it approaches his house, Do human power is equal to persuading it to pass. As the negroes are extremely superstitious, and very much afraid of ghosts (whom they call the duppy), I rather wonder at their choosing-to have their dead buried in their gardens; but I understand their argument to be, that they need only fear the duppies of their enemies, but have nothing to apprehend from those after death who loved them in their lifetime; but
Last Saturday a negro was brought into the hospital, having fallen into epileptic fits, with which till then he had never been troubled. As the faintings seized him at the slaughterhouse, and the fellow was an African, it was at first supposed by his companions, that the sight and smell of the meat had affected him; for many of the Africans cannot endure animal food of any kind, and most of the Ebres in particularcare are made ill by eating turtle, even although they can use any other food without injurt. However, upon inquiry among his shipmates, it ap- peared that he had frequently eaten beef without the slightest inconvenience. For my own part, the symptoms of his complaint were such as to make me suspect him of having tasted something poisonous, especially as, just before his first fit, he had been observed in the small grove of mangoes near the house; but I was assured by the negroes, one and all, that nothing could possibly have induced him to eat
an herb or fruit from that grove, as it had been used as a buryig-ground for " the white people." But although my idea of the poison was scouted, still the mention of the burying-ground suggested another cause for his illness to the negroes, and they had no sort of doubt, that in passing through the burying-ground he had been struck down by the duppy of a white person not long deceased, whom he had formerly offended, and that these repeated fainting-fits were the consequence of that ghostly blow. The negroes have in various publications been accused of a total want of religion, but this appears to me quite incompatible with the ideas of spirits existing after dissolution of the body, which necessarily implies a belief in a future state ; and although (as far as I can make out) they have no outward forms of religion, the most devout Christian cannot have " God bless you " oftener on his lips than the negro.
The Africans generally believe that there is a life beyond the present, and that they shall enjoy it by returning to their own country ; and this idea used frequently to induce them, soon after
I am told that there is one part of their business very laborious, digging holes for the receiving of cane-plants, which I have not as yet seen ; but this does not occupy above a month at the utmost, at two periods of the year ; and on my estate this service is chiefly performed by extra negroes, hired for the purpose ; which, although equally hard in the hired negroes(called a jobbing gang), at least relieves my own, and after all puts even the former on much the same footing with English day-labourers.
But if I could contend to live in Jamica, I am still more certain that it is the only agreeable place for me to die in ; for I have got a family mausoleum, which looks for all the world like the theatrical representation of the "tomb of all Capulets."
I gave a dinner to my " white people," as the book-keepers, &c., are called here, and who have a separate houses and establishment for themselves ; and certainly a man must be destitute of every spark of hospitality, and have had " Caucasus horrens" for his great-grandmother, if he can resist giving dinners in a country where Nature seems to have set up a superior kind of " London Tavern " of her own. They who are possessed by the "Ciborum ambitiosa fames, et lautaegloria mensae," ought to ship themselves off Jamaica out of hand ; and even the lord mayor himself need not blush to give his alderman such a dinner as is placed on my table, even when I dine alone. Land and sea turtle, quails, snipes, plovers, and pigeons and doves of all descriptions- of which the ring-tale has been allowed rank with the most exquisite of the winged species, by epicures of such distinction, that their opinion, in matters of this nature, almost carries with it the weight of a law,-excellent pork, barbecued pigs, pepper-pots, with numberless other excellent dishes, from the ordinary fare ; the poultry also is miraculously large and fine. Then our tarts are made of pine-apples, and pine-apples make the best tarts that I ever tasted ; there is no end to the variety of fruits, of which the shaddock is "in itself a host;" but the most singular and exquisite flavor, perhaps, is to be
As to fish, Savannah la Mar is reckoned , the best place in the island, both for variety and safety; for, in many parts, the fish feed upon copperas-banks, and cannot be used without much precaution ; here, none is necessary: and it is only to be wished that their names were somewhat more attractive ; for it must be owned, that nothing can be less tempting than the sound of Jew- fish, hog-fish, mud-fish, snappers, god-dammies, groupas, and grunts ! Of the sea-fish which I have hitherto met with, the Deepwater Silk appears to me the best ; and of river-fish, the mountain- mullet: but, indeed, the fish is generally so excellent, and in such profusion, that I never sit down to table without wishing for the company of Queen Atygatis of Scythia, who was so particularly fond of fish, that she prohibited all her subjects from eating it on pain of death, through fear that there might not be enough left for her majesty.
This fondness for fish seems to be a sort of royal passion : more than one of our English sovereigns died of eating too many lampreys ; though, to own the truth, it was suspected that the monks, in one or two instances, improved the same by the addition of a little ratsbane ; and Mirabeau assures us, that Frederick the Second of Prussia might have prolonged his existence, if he could but have resisted the fascination of an eel-pie ; but the charm was too strong for him, and, like the great-grandmother of us all, he ate and died-" All for eel-pye, or this world well lost!"
The provision-grounds of the negroes furnish them with plantains, bananas, cocoa-nuts, and yams : of the latter there is a regular harvest once a-year, and they remain in great perfection for many months, provided they are dug up carefully, but the slightest wound with the spade is sufficient to rot them. Catalue
The offspring of a white man and black woman is a mulatto; the mulatto, and black produce a sambo; from the mulatto and white comes the quadroon; from the quadroon and white the mustee ; the child of a mustee by a white man is called a mustee - fino ; and the children of a musteefinio are free by law, and rank as white persons to all intents and purposes. I think it is Long who asserts, that two mulattoes will never have children ; but, as far as the most positive assurances can go, since my arrival in Jamaica, I have reason to believe the contrary, and that mulattoes breed together just as well as blacks and whites; but they are almost universally weak and effeminate persons, and thus their children are very difficult to rear. On a sugar-estate one black is considered as more than equal to two mulattoes. Beautiful as are their forms in general, and easy and graceful as are their movements (which, indeed, appear to me so striking that they cannot fail to excite the admiration of any one who has ever looked with delight on statues), still the women of colour are deficient in one of the most requisite points of female beauty. Young or old, I have not yet seen such a thing as a bosom.
I never witnessed on the stage a scene so picturesque as a negro village. I walked through my own to-day, and visited the houses of the drivers, and other principal persons ; and if I were to decide according to my own taste, I should infinitely have preferred their habitations to my own. Each house is
It appears to me a strong proof of the good treatment which the negroes on Cornwall have been accustomed to receive, that there are many very old people upon it; I saw to-day a woman near a hundred years of age; and I am told that there are several of sixty, seventy, and eighty. I was glad also to find, that several negroes who have obtained their freedom, and possess little properties of their own in the mountains and at Savannah la Mar, look upon my estate so little as the scene of their former sufferings while slaves, that they frequently come down to pass a few days in their ancient habitations with their former companions, by way of relaxation. One woman in particular ex pressed her hopes that I should not be offended at her still coming to Cornwall now and then, although she belonged to it no longer; and begged me to give directions before my return to England, that her visits should not be hindered on the grounds of her having no business there.
My visit. to Jamaica has at least produced one advantage to myself. Several runaways, who had disappeared for some time
The negro houses are composed of wattles on the outside, with rafters of sweet-wood, and are plastered within and whitewashed ; they consist of two chambers, one for cooking and the other for sleeping, and are, in general, well furnished with chairs; tables, &c., and I saw none without a four-post bedstead and plenty of bed-clothes ; for, in spite of the warmth of the climate, when the sun is not above the horizon the negro always feels very chilly. I am assured that many of my slaves are very rich, and that they are never without salt provisions, porter, and even wine, to entertain their friends and their visiters from the bay or the mountains. As I passed though the grounds, many little requests were preferred to me : one wanted an additional supply of lime for the whitewashing of his house ; another was building a new house for a superannuated wife(or they have all so much decency as to call their tender attachments by a conjugal name), and wanted a little assistance towards the finishing it ; a third requested a new axe to work with ; and several entreated me to negotiate the purchase of some relation or friend belonging to another estate, and with whom they were anxious to be reunited : but all their requests were for additional indulgences ; not one complained of ill-treatment, or over-work.
Poor Nicholas gave me a fresh instance of his being one of those whom Fortune pitches upon to show her spite: he has had four children, none of whom are alive; the eldest of them, a fine little girl of four years old, fell into the mill-stream, and was drowned before any one was aware of her danger. His wife told me that she had had fifteen children, had taken the utmost care of them, and yet had now but two alive: she said, indeed, fifteen at first, but she afterwards corrected herself, and explained that she had " twelve whole children and three half ones;" by which she meant miscarriages.
Besides the profits arising from their superabundance of pro- visions, which the better sort of negroes are enabled to sell regularly once a week at Savannah la Afar to a considerable amount, they keep a large stock of poultry, and pigs without number ; which latter cost their owners but little, though they cost me a great, deal; for they generally make their way into the cane-pieces, and sometimes eat me up a hogshead of sugar in the course of the morning: but the most expensive of the planter's enemies are the rats, whose numbers are incredible ; they are so destructive that a reward is given for killing them.
During the last six months my agent has paid for three thousand rats killed upon Cornwall. Nor is the loss of the sugar they consume the greatest evil ; the worst mischief is, that if, through the carelessness of those whose business it is to supply the mill, one cane which has been gnawed by the rats is allowed admittance, that single damaged piece will produce acidity enough to spoil the whole sugar.
In this country there is scarcely any twilight, and all nature seems to wake at the same moment. About six o'clock the darkness disperses, the sun rises, and instantly everything is in motion : the negroes are going to the field, the cattle are driving to pasture, the pigs and the poultry are pouring out from their hutches, the old women are preparing food on the lawn for the pickaninnies , whom they keep feeding at all hours of the day ; and all seem to be going to their employments, none to their work, the men and the women just as quietly and leisurely as the pigs and the poultry. The sight is really quite gay and amusing,
A Galli-wasp, which is killed in the neighbouring morass, has just been brought to me. This is the alligator in miniature, and is even more dreaded by the negroes than its great elation : it is only to be found in swamps and morasses : that which was brought to me was about eighteen inches in length, and I understand that it is seldom longer, although it grows in years, its thickness and the size of its jaws and head become greatly increased. It runs away on being encountered, and conceals itself; and it is only dangerous if trampled upon by accident, or if attacked ; but then its bite is dreadful, not only from its tongue being armed with a sting (the venom of which is very powerful, although not mortal), but from its teeth being so brittle that they generally break in the wound, and as it is hardly possible to extract the pieces entirely, the wound corrupts, and becomes an incurable sore of the most offensive nature. Luckily these reptiles are very scarce ; but nothing can exceed the terror and aversion in which they are held by the negroes. This one had been lying dead in the room for several hours, yet, on my servants accidently stirring the board on which it was stretched for my inspection, my little negro servant George darted out of the room in terror, and was at the bottom of the staircase in a moment. the skin of this animal was like shagreen in appearance and strength, and was almost entirely composed of layers if very small scales ; the colours were brownish-yellow and olive-green, the teeth and piercing
A young mulatto carpenter, belonging to Horace Beckford's estate of Shrewsbury, came to beg my intercession with his overseer. le had been absent two days without leave, and on these occasions if is customary for the slaves to apply to some neighbouring gentleman. for a note in their behalf, which, as I Am told, never fails to obtain the pardon required, as the managers of estates are in general but too happy to find an excuse for passing over without punishment any offenses which are not very heinous. Indeed, what with the excellent laws already enacted for the protection a the slaves, and which are every year still further ameliorated, and what with the difficulty of procuring more negroes-which can now only be done by purchasing them from other estates,-making it absolutely necessary' for the managers to preserve the slaves, if, they mean to preserve their own situations,-1 am fully persuaded that instances of tyranny to negroes are now very rare, at least in this island. But I must still acknowledge, from my own sad experience, since my arrival, that unless a West Indian proprietor occasionally visits his estates himself, it is utterly impossible for him to be certain that his deputed authority is not abused, however good may be his intentions, and however vigilant his anxiety.
My father was one of the most humane and generous persons that ever existed ; there was no indulgence which he ever denied his negroes, and his letters were filled with the most positive injunctions for their good treatment. When his estates became mine, the one upon which I am now residing was managed by an attorney, considerably advanced in years, who had been long in our employment, and bore the highest character for probity and humanity. he was both attorney and overseer;
It seemed, that while I fancied my attorney to be resident on Cornwall, he was, in fact, generally attending to a property of his own, or looking after estates if which also he had the management in distant parts of the island. During his absence , an overseer of his own appointing, without my knowledge, was left in absolute possession of his ower, which he abused to such a degree, that almost every slave of respectability on the estate was compelled to become a runaway. The property was nearly ruined, and the slaves absolutely in a state of rebellion. At length he committed an act if such severity, that the negroes, one and all, fled to Savannah la Mar, and threw themselves upon the protection of the magistrates, who immediately came over to Cornwall and investigated the complaint ; and now, at length, the attorney, who had known numerous instances of the overseer's tyranny, had frequently rebuked him for them, and had redressed the suffers, but who still had dared to abuse my confidence so
I have made it my business to mix as much as possible among the negroes, and have given them every encouragement to repose confidence in me ; and I have uniformly found all those, upon whom any reliance can be placed, unite in praising the humanity of their present superintendent. Instantly on his arrival he took the whole power of punishment into his own hands: he forbade. the slightest interference in this respect of any person whatever on the estate, white or black; nor have I been able to find as yet any one negro who has any charge of harsh treatment to bring against him. However, having been already so grossly deceived, I will never again place implicit confidence in any person, whatever in a matter of such importance. Before my departure, I shall take every possible measure that may prevent any mis-conduct taking place without my being apprised of it as soon as possible ; and I have already exhorted my negroes to apply to the magistrates on the very first instance of ill-usage, should any occur during my absence.
I am indeed assured by every one about me, that to manage a West Indian estate without the occasional use of the cart-whip however rarely, is impossible; and they insist upon it, that it is absurd in me to call my slaves ill-treated because, when they act grossly wrong, they are treated like English soldiers and sailors.
All this may be very true; but there is something to me so shooking in the idea of this execrable cart-whip that I have positively forbidden the use of it on Cornwall ; and, if the estate must go to rack and ruin without its use, to rack and ruin the estate must go. Probably I should care less about this punishment if I had not been living among those on whom it may be inflicted ; but
*The negroes never distinguish between "him" and "her" in their conversation.
The hospital has been crowded, since my arrival, with patients who have nothing the matter with them. On Wednesday there were about thirty invalid , of whom only four were cases at all serious ; the rest had " a lilly pain here, massa," or " a bad pain me no know where, massa," and evidently only came to the hospital in order to sit idle and chat away the time with their friends. Four of them the doctor ordered into the field peremptorily: the next day there came into the sick-house six others; upon this I resolved to try my own hand at curing them ; and I directed the head-driver to announce that the presents which I had brought from England should be distributed to-day, that the new-born children should be christened, and that the negroes might take possession of my house, and amuse themselves till twelve at night. The effect of my prescription was magical; two-thirds of the sick were hale and, hearty, at work in the field, on Saturday morning, and to-day not a soul remained in the hospital except the four serious cases.
The christening took place about four o'clock. Sully's infant, which had been destined to perform, part of this occasion, had died in the hospital; but this morning the father came to complain of his disappointment, and to beg leave to substitute a child by another wife, which, which had been born about two months before my arrival ; and as the father is a very serviceable fellow, and the mother, besides having brought up three children of her own, had the additional merit of having reared an infant whose own mother had died in child-bed, I broke through the rule of
There ought to have been a third child, born at seven months, whom the graundee had reared with great difficulty, and dismissed, quite strong, from the hospital; the mother had taken great care of it till the tenth day, when she was entitled to an allowance of clothes provisions, &c. ; but no sooner had she received her reward than, on that very night, she suffered the to remain so long without food, while she went herself to dance on a neighbouring estate, that it was brought in an exhausted state back to the hospital ; and, in spite of every care, it expired within four and twenty hours after its return.
The ceremony, was performed with perfect gravity and propriety by all parties ; I thought it as well to cut the reading part it very short; but I read a couple of prayers, marked the foreheads of the children with the sign of the cross, and, instead of the concluding prayer, I substituted a wish " that God would bless the children, and make them live to be as good servants to me, as I prayed him to make me a kind massa to them:" upon which all present very gravely made me their lowest bows and courtesies, and then gave me a loud huzza ; so unusual a mode of approbation at a christening that it had nearly overturned my seriousness ; and I made haste to serve out Madeira to the pa- rents and assistants, that they might drink the healths of the new Christians and of each other. The mothers and the graunde were then called up to the table, and the ladies who were in the family-way were arranged behind them.
Their title in Jamaica is rather coarse, but very expressive. I asked Cubina one day " Who was that woman with a basket on her head? " " Massa," he answered, "that one belly-woman going to sell provisions at the Bay." As she was going to sell provisions , I supposed that belly -woman was the name of her trade ; but it afterwards appeared that she was one of those females who had given in their names as being in an interesting situation, and who, in consequence, were discharged from al severe labour. I then gave the graundee and the mothers a dollar each, and told them that for the future they might claim the same sum, in addition to their usual allowance of clothes and provisions, for every infant which should be brought to the overseer alive and well on the fourteenth day ; and I also gave each mother a present of a scarlet girdle with a silver medal in the centre, telling her always to wear it on feasts and holidays, when it should entitle her to marks of peculiar respect and attention-such as being one of those first served, and receiving a larger portion than the rest ; that the first fault which she might commit should be forgiven on the production of this girdle ; and that when she should have any favour to ask, she should always put it round her waist, and be assured that, on seeing it, the overseer would allow the wearer to be entitled to particular indulgence. On every additional child, an additional medal is to be affixed to the belt, and precedence is to follow the greater number of medals. I expected that this notion of an order of honour would have been treated as completely fanciful and romantic ; but, to, my great surprise, my manager told me that " he never knew a dollar better bestowed than the one which formed the medal of the girdle, and that he thought the institution likely to have a very good effect."
Immediately after the christening the Eboe drums were produced, and, in defiance of Sunday, the negroes had the irreverence to be gay and happy, while the presents were being put in order for distribution. All the men got jackets, the women seven yards of stuff each for petticoats, &c., and the children as much printed cotton as would make a couple of frocks. The Creoles were delighted beyond measure when some of the African male negroes exclaimed, "Tank, massa," and made a low coutesy in the estimation of their gratitude. as they were all called
While I was at dinner a tremendous uproar was heard below stairs. On inquiry, it proved to be Cubina quarrelling with his niece Phillis (a good-looking black girl employed about the house), about a broken pitcher ; and as her explanation did not appear satisfactory to him, he had thought proper to give her a few boxes on the ear. Upon hearing this, I read him such a lecture on the baseness of a man's striking a woman, and told with so much severity that his heart must be a bad one to commit such an offence, that poor Cubina, having never heard a word from me before, scarcely knew whether he stood upon his head or his heels. When he afterwards brought my coffee he expressed his sorrow for having offended me, and begged my pardon in the most humble manner. I told him, that obtain mine he must first obtain that of Phillis; and he immediately declared himself ready to make her any apology that I might dictate. So the girl was called in, and her uncle going up to her said, " I am very sorry, Phillis, that I gave way to high passion, and called you hard names, and struck you; which I ought not to have done while massa was in the house;" (here I was going interrupt him, but he was too clever not to perceive his blunder, and made haste to add) " nor if lie had not been here, nor at all ; so I hope you will have the kindness to forgive me this once, and I never will strike you again, and so I beg your pardon." And he then put out his hand to her in the frank and hearty matter imaginable ; and, on her accepting it, made three or four of his very lowest and most graceful bows. I furnished him with a piece of money to give her as a peace-offering : they left the room thoroughly reconciled, and in five minutes after they and the rest of the servants were all chattering, laughing, and singing together, in the most perfect harmony and good-humour. I suppose, if I had desired an upper servant in England to make the same submission, he would have
On the other hand, there are some choice ungrateful scoundrels among the negroes : on the night of their first dance, a couple of sheep disappeared from the pen, although they could not have been taken from want of food, as on that very morning there had been an ample distribution of fresh beef; and last night another sheep and a quantity of poultry followed them. Yesterday, too, a young rascal of a boy, called " massa Jackey," who is in the frequent habit of running away for months at a time, and whom I had distinguished from the cleverness of his countenance and buffoonery of his manners, came to beg my permission to go and purchase food with some money which I had just given him, " because he was almost starving; his parents were dead, be bad no provision-grounds, no allowance, and nobody ever gave him anything." Upon this I sent Cubina with the boy to the storekeeper, when it appeared. that he had always received a regular allowance of provisions twice a week, which he generally sold, as well as his clothes, at the Bay, for spirits; had received an additional portion only last Friday ; and, into the bargain, during the whole )of that week bad been fed from the house. What he could propose to himself by telling a lie which must be so soon detected, I cannot conceive; but I am assured that, unless a negro has an interest in telling the truth, he always lies-in order to keep his tongue in practice. One species of flattery (or of Congo-saw, as we call it here) amused me much this morning: an old woman who is in the hospital wanted to express her gratitude for some stewed fish which I had sent her for supper, and, instead of calling me " massa," she always said-" Tank him, my husband."
This was a day of incessant occupation. I rose at six o'clock and went down to the Bay to settle some business; on return I visited the hospital while breakfast was being got ready; and as soon as it was over, I went down to the negro-houses to
They were succeeded by no less a personage than Venus her- self-a poor little, sickly, timid soul, who had purchased her freedom from my father by substituting in her place a fine stout wench, who, being Venus's locum tenens , was, by courtesy, called Venus too, though her right name was "Big Joan;" but, by some neglect of the then attorney, Venus had never received any title, and she now came to beg " massa so good as give paper" otherwise she was still, to all intents and purposes, my slave, and I might still have compelled her to work, although, at the same time, her substitute was on the estate. Of course I promised the paper required, and engaged to act the part of a second Vulcan by releasing Venus from my chains : but the
Venus had scarcely evacuated the premises when her place was occupied by the minister of Savannah la Mar, with proposals for instructing the negroes in religion ; and the minister, in his turn, was replaced by one of the Sunday-night thieves, who had been caught while in the actual possession of one of my sheep and a great turkey-cock ; and, to make the matter worse, he depredator's name was Hercules! The demi-god had nothing to say in his excuse: he had just received a large allowance of beef :-therefore, hunger had no share in his transgression ; and the committing the offence during the very time that I was giving the negroes a festival, rendered his ingratitude the more flagrant.
I perfectly well understood that the man was sent to me by my agent, in order to show the absolute necessity of sometimes employing the cart-whip, and to see whether I would suffer the fellow to escape unpunished. But, as this was the first offender who had been brought before me, I took that for a pretext to absolve him: so I lectured him for half an hour with great severity, swore that on the very next offence I would order him to be sold; and that, if he would not do his fair proportion of work without being lashed, he should be sent to work somewhere else; for I would suffer no such worthless fellows on my estate and would not be at the expense of a cart-whip to correct him. Hercules promised most earnestly to behave better in future, and was suffered to depart: but I am told that no good can be, expected of him; that he is perpetually running away; and that he had been absent for five weeks together before my arrival
There was a great dinner and ball for the whole county given to-day at Montego Bay, to which I was invited ; but I begged leave to decline this and all other invitations, being determined to give up my whole time to my negroes during my stay in Jamaica.
Every morning my agent regales me with some fresh instance of insubordination : he says nothing plainly, but shakes his head, and evidently gives me to understand that the estate cannot be governed properly without the cart-whip. It seems that this morning the women, one and all, refused to carry away the trash (which is one of the easiest tasks that can be set), and that with- out the slightest pretence: in consequence the mill was obliged to be stopped ; and when the driver on that station insisted on their doing their duty, a little fierce young devil of a Miss Whaunica flew at his throat, and endeavoured to strangle him: the agent was obliged to be called in, and, at length, this petticoat rebellion was subdued, and every thing went on as usual I have, in consequence, assured the women that, since they will not be managed by fair treatment, I must have recourse to other measures ; and that, it any similar instance of misconduct should take place, I was determined, on my return from Kingston, to sell the most refractory, ship myself immediately for England never return to them and Jamaica more. This threat, at the time, seemed to produce a great effect; all hands were clasped and all voices were raised, imploring me not to leave them, and assuring me that in future they would do their work quietly and willingly. But whether the impression will last beyond the immediate moment is a point greatly to be doubted.
Another morning with the mill stopped, no liquor in the boiling-house and no work done. The driver brought the most
behave ill again, if I would but forgive them this present fault Whaunica, in particular, assuring me very earnestly, that I never should have cause to accuse her of " bad manners " again for, in negro dialect, ingratitude is always called " bad manners." My agent declares that they never conducted themselves so ill before; that they worked cheerfully and properly till my arrival; but now they think that I shall protect them against all punishment, and have made regularly ten hogsheads of sugar a week less than they did before my coming upon the estate. This is the more provoking, as, by delaying the conclusion of the crop, the latter part of it may be driven into the rainy season, and then the labour is infinitely more severe both for the slaves and the cattle, and more detrimental to their health.
The minister of Savannah la Mar has shown me a plan for the religious instruction of the negroes, which was sent to him by the ecclesiastical commissaries at Kingston. It consisted but of two points: against the first (which recommended the slaves being ordered to go to church on a Sunday) I positively declared myself. Sunday is now the absolute property of the negroes for their relaxation, as Saturday is for the cultivation of their grounds ; and I will not suffer a single hour of it to be taken from them for any purpose whatever. If my slaves choose to go to church on Sundays, so much the better but not one of them shall be ordered to do one earthly thing on Sundays, but that which be chooses himself. The second article recommended occasional pastoral visits of the minister to the different estates; and in this respect I promised to give him every facility-although I greatly doubt any good effect being produced by a few short visits, at considerable intervals, on the minds of ignorant creatures, to whom no palpable and immediate benefit is offered. It appears, indeed, to me, that the only means of giving the negroes morality and religion must be through the medium of education, and their being induced to read such books in the minister's absence as may recall to their thoughts what they have heard from him; otherwise, he may talk for an hour, and they will
I shall have enough to do in Jamiaca if I accepted all the offices that are pressed upon me. A large body of negroes from a neighbouring estate came over to Cornwall this morning to complain of hard treatment, various ways, from the overseer and drivers, and to request me to represent their injuries to their trustee here, and their proprietor in England. the charges were so strong, that I am certain that they must be fictious ; however, I listened to their story with patience ; promised that the trustee(whom I was to see in a few days) should know their complaint, and they went away apparently satisfied. then came a runaway negro who wanted to return home, and requested me to write a few lines to his master, to save him from the lash. He was succeeded by a poor creature named Bessie, who, although still a young woman, is exempt from labour, on account of her being afflicted with the cocoa-bay , one of the most horrible of negro diseases. it shows itself in large blotches and swellings, which generally moulder away, by degrees, the joints of the toes and fingers, till they rot and drop off ; sometimes as much as half a foot will go at once. As the disease is communicable by contact, the person so afflicted is necessarily shunned by society ; and this poor woman, who is married to John Fuller, one of the best young men on the estate, and by
She did not know ; she knew nothing about God ; had never heard of any such
Being, nor of any other world." I told her that God was a
great personage, " who lived up yonder above the blue, in a place full of pleasures and free from pains, where Adam and wicked people could not come; that her pickaninies were not dead for ever, but were only gone up to live with God, who was good, and would take care of them for her; and that if she were good, when she died she too would go up to God above the blue, and see all her four pickaninies again." The idea seemed so new and so agreeable to the poor creature, that she clapped her hands together and began laughing for joy; so I said to her
This Adam of whom she complained is a most dangerous fellow; he has been long suspected of being connected with Obeah men , and is the terror of all his companions with whom he lives in a constant state of warfare. He is a creole, born on my own property and has several sisters, who have obtained their freedom, and are in every respect creditable and praiseworthy ; and to one of them I consider myself particularly indebted, as she was the means of saving poor Richard's life when the tyranny of the overseer had brought him almost to the brink of the grave. But this brother is in everything the very reverse of his sisters. There is no doubt of his having (as Bessie stated) infused poison into the water-jars through spite against the late superintendent. I t was in this fellow's hut that the old Obeah man was found concealed, whom my attorney seized and transported last year. he is, unfortunately, clever and plausible ; and I am told that the mischief which he has already done, by working upon the folly and superstition of his fellows, is incalculable ; yet I cannot get rid of him; the law will not suffer any negro to be shipped off the island until he shall have been convicted of felony at the sessions. I cannot sell him, for nobody would buy him, nor except hi, if I would offer them so dangerous a present. If he were to go away the law would seize him and bring him back to me, and I should be obliged to pay heavily for his re-taking and his maintenance in the workhouse. In short, I know not what I can do with him.
There are certainly many excellent qualities in the negro character ; their worst faults appear to be this prejudice respecting obeah, and the facility with which they are frequently induced to poison to the right hand and to the left. A neighbouring
Next to this vile trick of poisoning people (arising, doubtless, in a great measure from their total want of religion and their ignorance of a future state, which makes them dread no punishment hereafter for themselves, and look with but little respect on human life in others), the greatest drawback upon one's comfort in a Jamaica existence seems to me to be the being obliged to live perpetually in public. Certainly, if a man was desirous of leading a life of vice here, be must have set himself totally above shame, for be may depend upon everything done by him being seen and known. The houses are absolutely transparent-the walls are nothing but windows, and all the doors stand wide, open. No servants are in waiting to announce arrivals: visitors, negroes, dogs, cats, poultry, all walk in and out, and up and down your rooms, without the slightest ceremony.
I find that Bessie's black doctor is really nothing more than a professor of medicine as to this particular disease ; and I have ordered her to be sent to him in the mountains immediately.
Several gentlemen of the of the country dined with me to-day. We
Some of the fruits here are excellent, such as shaddocks, oranges, granadilloes, forbidden fruit ; and one between an orange and a lemon, called 11 the grape or cluster-fruit," appears to me quite delicious. For the vegetables I cannot say so much: yams, plantains, cocoa-poyers, yam-poys, bananas, &c., look and taste all so much alike, that I scarcely know one from the other: they are all something between bread and potatoes, not so good as either, and I am quite tired of them all. The Lima bean is aid to be more like a pea than a bean ; but whatever it be like, it appeared to me very indifferent. As to the peas themselves, nothing can be worse. The achie fruit is a kind of vegetable, which generally is fried in butter; many people, I am told, are food of it, but I could find no merit in it. The palm-tree (or abba, as it is called here) produces a long scarlet or reddish brown cone, which separates into beads, each of which contains a roasting-nut surrounded by a kind of stringy husk, which being boiled in salt and water, upon being chewed has a taste of artichoke, but the consistence is very disagreeable. The only native vegetable which I like much is the ochra, which tastes like asparagus not with quite so delicate a flavour.
fish, the variety is endless; but I think it rather consists of names than of flavour. From this, however, I must except the silk-fish and mud-fish, and above all, the
mountain-mullet, which is almost the best fish I ever tasted. All the shell-fish that I have met with as yet have been excellent; oysters have not come in my way, but I am told that they are not only poor and insipid, but frequently are so poisonous that I had better not venture upon them ; and so ends this chapter of the "Almanach des Gourmands" for Jamaica.
There were above twenty ladies literally at my feet this morning. I went down to the negro-village to speak to Bessie about going to her black doctor; and all the refractory females of last week, hearing of my being there, came in a body to promise better conduct for the future, and implore Me not to go away.
The sight of my carriage getting ready to take me to Kingston, and the arrival of post-horses, bad alarmed them with the idea that I was really going to put into execution my threats of leaving them for ever. They had artfully enough prevailed on the wife of Clifford (the driver whom Whaunica bad collared) to be their spokeswoman ; and they begged, and lifted up their folded bands, and cried, and fell on the ground, and kissed my feet and, in short, acted their part so well, that they almost made me act mine to perfection, and fall to blubbering. I told them that I certainly should go to Kingston on Thursday; but if I had good accounts of them during my , absence, I should return in a few days; if, on the contrary, the idle negroes continued to refuse to work without compulsion, then, in justice to the good ones (who last week were obliged to do more than their share), those punishments which I bad stopped must be resumed; but that as Cornwall would be insupportable to me if I could not live there without hearing the crack of the abominable cart-whip, all (lay long, I would not return to it, but ship myself off for England, and never visit them or Jamaica any more. And then I talked very sternly and positively about " punishments,". and making-bad negroes do their work properly ;" and every third, word was tile cart-whip, till I almost 'fancied myself the princess' in the " Fairy Tale," who never opened her month but out came.. two toads and three couple of serpents. However, to sweeten, my oration a little at the end, I told them that, " having inquired closely into the characters of the present book-keepers, I had
This book-keeper, by his own account, bad made himself obnoxious to them, and on hearing of his discharge they one and all sprawled upon the ground in a rapture of joy and gratitude.
The man had denied positively the charge of striking the negroes, and ascribed in cutting out part of a boiling-house window, in order that he might pass out atolen sugar unperceived-for, to do the negroes justice, it is a doubt whether they are the greatest thieves or liars, and the quantity of sugar which they purloin during the crop, and dispose of at the Bay for a mere trifle, is enormous. However, whether the charge of strinking was true or not, it was sufficiently proved that this book-keeper was a passionate man, and he himself "that the negroes had conceived a spite against him. Indeed, I had less unwillingness to do this, because from the slight nature of this offence it will be easy for him to find another situation ; and I have besides desired a double salary on going away, which will free him from any charge of having been dismissed disgracefully.
I left Cornwall for Spanish Town at six in the morning, accompanies by a young naval officer, the son of my next neighbour, Mr. Hill, of Amity, who was good enough not only to lend me a kitteren with a canopy to perform my journey in, to send his son to be my cicerone on my tour. The road wound through mountain-passes, or else on a shelf of rock so narrow -- though without the slightest danger -- that one of the wheels was frequently in the sea, while the other side was fenced by a line
From Blue-fields we proceedeed at once to Lakovia ( a small village), a stage of thirty miles. Here we found a realy of horses, which conveyed us by seven o'clock to " the Gutturs," a house belonging to the proprietor of the post-horses, and situated at the very foot of the tremendous May-day Mountains. the house is an excellent one, and we found good beds, eatables, and, in short, everything that travellers could wish. The distance from lakovia to " the Gutturs" is sixteen miles.
Yesterday the only very striking point of view ( although the whole of the raod was piccturesque0 was "the Cove," situated between the Blue-fileds and Lakovia ; but our journey to-day was a succession of beautiful scenes from beginning to end. Instantly on leaving "the Gutturs" we began to ascend the May-daay mountains, and it was not till after travelling for five and twenty miles that we found ourselves at the foot of them on the other side, at a place called Williamsfield. To be sure, the road was so rough that it was enough to make one envy the Mahometan
A stage of twenty miles brought us to Old Harbour, and, passing through the Dry River, twelve more landed us at Spanish Town, otherwise called St. Jago de la Vega, and the seat of government in Jamaica, , although Kingston is much larger and more populous, and must be considered as the principal town. We found very clean and comfortable lodgings at Miss Cole's. Spanish Town has nothing to recommend it: the houses are mostly built of wood ; the streets are very irregular and narrow ; every alternate building is in a ruinous state, and the whole place wears an air of gloom and melancholy. The Government House is a large clumsy-looking brick building with a portico, the stucco of which has suffered by the weather, and it can advance no pretensions to architectural beauty. On one side of the square in which it stands there is a small temple protecting a statue of Lord Rodney, executed by Bacon : some of the bas-reliefs on the pedestal appeared to me very good ; but the old admiral is most absurdly dressed in the habit of a Roman general, and furbished
We breakfasted with the chief justice, who is my relation, and of my own name, and then went to the church, which is a very handsome one; the walls lined with fine mahogany, and ornamented with many monuments of white marble, in memory of the former governors and other principal inhabitants. It seems that my ancestors on both sides have always had a taste for being well lodged after their decease; for on admiring one of these tombs, it proved to be that of my maternal grandfather; but still this was not to be compared for a moment with my mausoleum at Cornwall. After church I went home with the rector, who is one of the ecclesiastical commissaries, and had a long conversation with him respecting a plan which is in agitation for giving the negroes something of a religious education. We afterwards dined with the member for Westmoreland; and as everybody in Jamaica is on foot by six in the morning, at ten in the evening we were quite ready to go to bed.
The chief justice went with me to Kingston, where I had appointed the agent for my other estate in St. Thomas's-in-the-East to meet me. The short time allotted for my stay in the island makes it impossible to attend properly both to this estate and to Cornwall at this first visit, and therefore I determined to confine my attention to the negroes on the latter estate till my return to Jamaica. I now contented myself by impressing on the mind my agent (who I am certain is a most humane and intelligent man), my extreme anxiety for the abolition of the cart-whip; and I had the satisfaction of hearing from him, that for a long time it had never been used, more than perhaps twice in the year and then only very slightly, and for, some offence so flaggrant that it was impossible tp pass over it ; and he assured me that whenever I visit Hordley I may depend upon its not being employed at all. on the other hand, I am told that a gentleman of the parish of Vere, who came over to Jamaica for the sole
There is not here that air of melancholy which pervades Spanish Town, but the place has no pretensions to beauty; and if any person will imagine a large town entirely composed of booths at a race-course, and the streets merely roads, without any sort of paving, he will have a perfect idea of Kingston.
The Jamaica canoes are hollowed cotton-trees. We embarked in one of them at six in the morning, and visited the ruins of Port Royal, which, last year, was destroyed by fire. Some of the houses were rebuilding ; but it was a melancholy sight, not only from the look of the half-burnt buildings, but the dejected countenances of the ruined inhabitants. I returned to breakfast with the rector and two other ecclesiastical commissaries ; had more conversation about their proposed plan, and became still more convinced of the difficulty of doing anything effectual without danger to the island and to the negroes themselves, and of the extreme delicacy requisite in whatever may be attempted. We afterwards visited the school of the children of the poor, who are educating upon Dr. Bell's system; and then saw the church, a very large and handsome one on the inside, but mean enough as to its exterior. I was shown the tombstone of Admiral Ben bow, who was killed in a naval engagement, and whose ship afterwards
admiral's Homer informs us.
"Bore down to Port Royal, where the people flocked very much
To see brave Admiral Benbow laid in Kingston Town Church,"
The church is a large one, but it is going to be still further extended ; the negroes in Kingston and its neighbourhood being (as the rector assured me) so anxious to obtain religious instruction, that on Sundays not only the church but the churchyard that it is so completely thronged with them as to make it difficult to traverse the crowd ; and those who are fortunate enough to obtain seats for the morning service never stir out of the church during the whole day, through fear of being excluded from that
One of the most intelligent of the negroes with whom I have yet conversed, was the coxswain of my Port Royal canoe. I asked him whether he had been christened? He answered, no; be did not yet think himself good enough, but he hoped to be so in time. Nor was he married; for he was still young, and afraid that he could not break off his bad habits, and be contented to live with no other woman than his wife; and so he thought it better not to become a Christian till he could feel certain of performing the duties of one. However, he said, he had at least cured himself of one bad custom, and never worked upon Sundays, except on some very urgent necessity. I asked what he did on Sundays, instead: did he go to church ?-No. Or employ himself in learning to read ?-Oh, no : though he thought being able to read was a great virtue (which was his constant expression for anything right, pleasant, or profitable) ; but he had no leisure to learn on week-days; and, as he had heard the parson say that Sunday ought to be a day of rest, he made a point of doing nothing at all on that day. He praised his former master, of whose son he was now the property ; and said that neither of them had ever occasion to lay a finger on him. He worked as a waterman, and paid his master ten shillings a-week, the rest of his earnings being his own profits; and when he owed wages for three months, if he brought two his master would always give him time for the remainder, and that in so kind a manner that he always fretted himself to think that so kind a master should wait for his rights, and worked twice as hard till the debt was discharged. He said that kindness was the only way to make good negroes ; and that, if that failed, flogging would never succeed : and he advised me, when I found a negro worthless, " to sell him at once, and not stay to flog him, and so, by spoiling his appearance, make him sell for less ; for blacks must not be treated now, massa, as they used to be ; they can think, and hear, and see, as well as white people : blacks are wiser, massa, than they were, and will soon be still wiser," I thought the fellow himself was a good proof of is assertion.
I left Kingston at two o'clock, in defiance of a broiling sun; reached Spanish Town in time to dine with the Attorney-General, and went afterwards to the play, where I found my acquaintance Mr. Hill, of Covent Garden Theatre. The theatre is neat enough; as to the performance, it was about equal to any provincial theatricals that I ever saw in England although the pieces represented were by no means well selected, being entirely musical , and the orchestra consisting of nothing more than a couple of fiddles.
We were to return by the North. Road, and set out at six in the morning. The first stage was to the West Tavern, nineteen miles; and nothing can be imagined more sublime or more beautiful than the scenery. Our road lay along the banks of the Rio Cobre, which runs up to Spanish Town, where its floods frequently commit dreadful ravages. Large masses of rock intercept its current at small intervals, which, as well as its shallowness, render it unnavigable. The cliffs and trees are of the most gigantic size; and the road goes so near the brink of a tremendous precipice that we were obliged always to send a servant forwards to warn any other carriage of our approach, in that it might stay in some broader part while we passed it. A bridge had been attempted to be built over the river, but a storm demolished it before its completion, and nothing was now left standing but a single enormous arch. In like manner, the " Dry River " sets all bridges at defiance: when we crossed it, between Old Harbour and Spanish Town, it was nothing but a waste of sand; but its floods frequently pour down with irresistible strength and rapidity, and sometimes render it impassable for weeks together. I was extremely delighted with the first ten miles of this stage: unluckily, a mist then arose, so thick that it was utterly impossible even to guess at the surrounding scenery, and the morning was so cold that I was very glad to wrap myself in my cloak as closely as if I had been travelling in an English December.
By the time of our leaving the West Tavern the mist had dispersed, and I was able to admire the extraordinary beauty of Mount Diavolo, which we were then crossing. Though we had
The road soon brought us down to the very brink of the sea, which we continued to skirt during the whole of the stage; and then to St. Anne's Bay, where we found an excellent breakfast at an inn, quite in the English fashion, for the landlady had been long resident in Great Britain. Everything was clean and comfortable, and the windows looked full upon the sea. Our road still lay by the sea-side till we began to ascend the mountain of Rio Bueno; from which we at length perceived the river itself running into the sea. It was at Porto Bueno that Columbus is said to have made his first landing on the island. Rio Bueno is a small town, with a fort, situated close to the sea. Here also we found a very good inn, kept by a Scotchman.
The landlady was a pretty brown girl, by name Eliza Thompson. She told me that she was only residing with her parents during her husband's absence; for she was (it seems) the soidisant wife of an English merchant in Kingston, and had a house on Tachy's Bridge. This kind of establishment is the highest object of the brown females in Jamaica ; they seldom marry men of their own colour, but lay themselves out to captivate some white person, who takes them for mistresses, under the appellation of housekeepers.
Soon afterwards after my arrival at Cornwall, I asked my attorney whether a clever-looking brown woman, who seemed to have great authority in the house, belonged to me? -- No ; she was a free woman. Was she in my service, then? -- No ; she was not in my service. I began to grow impatient. -- " But what does she do at Cornwall? of what use is she in the house?" -- "Why, sir, as to use..... of no great use , sir:" and then after a pause, he added in a lower voice, "It is custom, sir, in this country for unmarried men to have housekeepers, and Nancy is mine." But he was unjust in saying that Nancy is of no use on the estate ; for she is perpetually in the hospital, nurses the children, can bleed and mix medicines, and (as I am assured) is of more service to the sick than all the doctors. These brown housekeepers generally attach themselves sincerely to the interests of their protectors, and make themselves so useful, that they commonly retain their situation ; and their children (if slaves) are always honoured by their fellows with the title Miss. My mulatto housemaid is always called "Miss Polly" by her fellow-servant Phillis. This kind of connexion os considered by a brown girl in the same light as marriage. She will tell you, with an air of vanity, "I am Mr. Such-a-one's Love !" and always speaks of him as being her husband : and I am told that, except on these terms, it is extremely difficult to obtain the favours of a woman of colour.
A stage of eighteen miles brought us to the town of Falmouth, which I understand to be in size the second of the island.
We proceeded, for twenty-two miles, to Montego Bay, where I once more found myself under the protecting roof of Miss Judy James.
On our return from dinner at Mr. Dewer's we discovered a ball of brown ladies and gentlemen opposite them. No whites nor blacks were permitted to attend this assembly ; but, as out landlady had two nieces there, under her auspices we were allowed to be spectators. The females chiefly consisted of the natural daughters of attorneys and overseers, and the young men were mostly clerks and book-keepers. I saw nothing at all to be compared, either for form or feature, to many of the humbler
I reached Cornwall about three o'clock, after an excursion the most amusing and agreeable that I ever made in my life. Almost every step of the road presented some new and striking scene; and although we travelled at all hours, and with as little circumspection as if we bad been in England, I never felt a headache except for one half-hour. On my arrival, I found the satisfactory intelligence usually communicated to West Indian proprietors. My estate in the west is burnt up for want of moisture ; and my estate in the east has been so completely flooded, that I have lost a third of my crop. At Cornwall not a drop of rain has fallen since the l6th of November. Not a vestige of verdure is to be seen; and we begin to apprehend a famine among the negroes in consequence of the drought destroying their provision-grounds. This alone is wanting to complete the dangerous state of the island; where the higher classes are all in the utmost alarm at rumours of Wilberforce's intentions, to set the negroes entirely free; the next step to which would be, in all probability, a general massacre of the whites, and a, second edition of the bor rs of St Domingo : while, on the other hand, the negroes are impatient at the delay ; and such disturbances arose in St. Thomas's-in the-East, last Christmas, as required the interposition of the magistrates. They say that the negroes of that parish had taken it into their heads that the regent and Wilberforce had actually determined upon setting them all at liberty at once on the first day of the present year, but that the interference of the island had defeated the plan.
A Sir Charles price, who had an estate in this island infested by rats, imported, with much trouble, a very large and strong species for the purpose of extirpating the others. the newcomers answered his purpose to a miracle ; they attacked the native rats with such spirit, that in a short time they had the whole property to themselves ; but no sooner had they done their duty upon the rats, than they extended their exertions to the cats, of whom their strength and size at length enabled them completely to get the better ; and since that last victory, Sir Charles Price's rats, as they are called, have since increased so prodigiously, that this single species is now a greater nuisance to the island than all the others before them were together. The best mode of destroying rats here is with terrier. Those imported from England soon grow useless, being blinded by the sun ; but their puppoes, born in Jamaica, are provided by nature with a protecting film over their eyes, which effectually secures them against that calamity.
Poor Philippa, the woman who used to always to call me her "husband," and whom I left sick in the hospital, during my absences has gone out of her senses ; and there cannot well happen anything more distressing, as there is no separate place for
her confinement, and her ravings disturb the other invalids. There is, indeed, no kind of bedlam in the whole island of Jamaica: whether this proceeds from people being so very sedate and sensible, that they never go mad, or from their all being so mad, that no one person has a right to shut up another for being out of his senses, is a point which I will not pretend to decide. One of my domestic negroes, a boy of sixteen, named Prince was abandoned by his worthless mother in infancy, and reared by this Philippa; and since her illness he passes every moment of his leisure in her sick-room. On the other hand, there is a woman named Christian, attending two fevered children in the hospital; one her own, and the other an adopted infant, whom she reared upon the death of its mother in child-birth ; and there she sits, throwing her eyes from one to the other with such unceasing solicitude, that no one could discover which was her own child and which the orphan.
Two Jamaica nightingales have established themselves on the orange-tree which grows against my window, and their song is most beautiful. This bird is also called ' the mocking-bird," from its facility of imitating, not only the notes of every other animal, but -- I am told -- of catching every tune that may be played or sung two or three times in the house near which it resides, after which it will go through the air with the greatest taste and precision, throwing in cadences and ornaments that Catalani herself might envy.
But by far the most curious animal that I have yet seen in Jamaica is " the soldier," a species of crab, which inhabits a shell like a snail's, so small in proportion to its limbs, that nothing can be more curious or admirable than the machinery by which it is enabled to fold them up instantly on the slightest alarm. They inhabit the mountains, but regularly once a-year travel in large troops down to the sea-side to spawn and change their shells. They are seldom used in Jamaica except for soups, which are reckoned delicious : that which was brought to me was a very small ope, the shell being no bigger than a large snail's. although the animal itself , when marching with his house on his back, appears to be above thrice the size ; but I am told
To-day there was a shower of rain for the first time since my arrival ; indeed, not a drop has fallen since the 16th of November ; and in consequence my present crop has suffered terribly, our expectations for next season are still worse.
The rain has brought forth the fire-flies, and in the evening the hedges are all brilliant with them. In the day they seem to be torpid beetles of a dull reddish colour, but at night they become of a shining purple. The fire proceeds from two small spots in the back part of the head. It is yellow in the light, and requires motion to throw out its radiance in perfection ; but as soon as it is touched, the fly struggles violently, and bends itself together with a clicking noise like the snap of a spring ; and I understand that this effort is necessary to set it in motion. It is sufficiently strong to turn itself upwards with a single movement, if lying on its back. When confined in a glass, the light seems almost extinguished ; nothing can be discerned but two pale yellow spots; but on being pressed by the hand it becomes more brilliant than any emerald, and when on the wing it seems composed of the most beautifully coloured fire.
I attended the Slave Court, where a negro was tried for sheep stealing, and a black servant-girl for attempting to poison her master. The former was sentenced to be transported. The latter was a girl of fifteen, called Minetta : she acknowledged the having infused corrosive sublimate in some brandy-and-water; but asserted that she had taken it from the medicine-chest with- out knowing it to he poison, and had given it to her master at her grandmother's desire. This account was evidently a fabrication : there was no doubt of the grandmother's innocence,
although some suspicion attached to the mother's influence; but as to the girl herself, nothing could be more hardened than her conduct through the whole transaction. She stood by the bed to see her master drink the poison; witnessed his agonies without one expression of surprise or pity; and when she was ordered to leave the room, she pretended to be fast asleep, and not to hear what was said to her. Even since her imprisonment, she could never be prevailed upon to say that she was sorry for her master's having been poisoned ; and she told the people in the jail, that " they could do nothing to her, for she had turned king's evidence against her grandmother." She was condemned to die on Thursday next, the day after to-morrow: she heard the sentence pronounced without the least emotion; and I am told that, when she went down the steps of the court-house, she was seen to laugh.
The trial appeared to be conducted with all possible justice and propriety ; the jury consisted of nine respectable persons ; the bench of three magistrates, and a senior one to preside. There were no lawyers employed on either side ; consequently no appeals to passions, no false lights thrown out, no traps, no flaws, no quibbles, no artful cross-examinings, and no browbeatings of witnesses ; and I cannot say that the trial appeared to me to go at all the worse. Nobody appeared to be either for or against the prisoner ; the only object of all present was evidently to come at the truth, and I sincerely believe that they obtained their object. The only part of the trial of which I disapproved was the ordering the culprit to such immediate execution, that sufficient time was not allowed for the exercise of the royal prerogative, should the governor have been disposed to commute the punishment for that of transportation.
There are many pleasing and amusing parts of the character of negroes, that it seems to me scarcely possible not to like them. But when they are once disposed to evil, they seem tp set no bounds to the indulgence of their bad passions. a poor girl came into the hospital to-day, who had had some trifling dispute with two of her companions ; on which the two friends seized her together, and each fixing her teeth on one of the girl's
This happened about five years ago, when the mountains were
During many years the Moravians have been established upon the neighbouring estate of Mesopotamia. As the ecclesiastical commissaries had said so much to me respecting the great appetite of the negroes for religious instruction, I was desirous of learning what progress had been made in this quarter, and this morning I went over to see one of the teachers. He told me, that he and his wife had jointly used their best efforts to produce a sense of religion in the minds of the slaves ; that they were all permitted to attend his morning and evening lectures, if they chose it; but that he could not say that they showed any great avidity on the subject. It seems that there are at least three hundred negroes on the estate ; the number of believers has rather increased than diminished, to be sure, but still in a very small proportion. When this gentleman arrived there were not more than forty baptized persons; he has been here upwards of five years, and still the number of persons " belonging to his church " (as he expressed it) does not exceed fifty. Of these seldom more than ten or a dozen attend his lectures at a time. As to the remaining two hundred and fifty, they take no notice whatever of his lectures or his exhortations : they are very civil to him when they see him, but go on in their own old way, without suffering him to interfere in any shape. By the overseer of Greenwich's express desire, the Moravian has, however, agreed to give up an hour every day for the religious instruction of the negro children on that property: and I should certainly request him to extend his 1abours to Cornwall, if I did not think it right to give the Church of England clergymen full room for a trial of their intended periodical visitations ; which would not be the case if the negroes were to be interfered wit by the professors of any other communion : otherwise I am myself ready to give free inpress and egress upon my several estates to the teachers of any Christian sect whatever, the Methodists always
This morning my picture was drawn by a self-taught genius, a negro Apelles, belonging to Dr. Pope, the minister; and the picture was exactly such as a self-taught genius might be expected to produce. It was a straight hard outline, without shade or perspective: the hair was a large black patch, and the face covered with an uniform layer of flesh-colour, with a red spot in the centre of each cheek. As to likeness, there was not even an attempt to take any. But still, such as they were, there were eyes, nose, and mouth, to be sure. A long red nose supplied the place of my own snub; an enormous pair of whiskers. stretched themselves to the very corner of my mouth; and in place of three hairs and a half, the painter, in the superabundance of his generosity, bestowed upon me a pair of eye-brows more bushy than Dr. Johnson's, and which, being formed in an exact semicircle, made the eyes beneath them state with an expression of the utmost astonishment. The negroes, however, are in the highest admiration of the painter's skill, and consider the portrait as a striking resemblance; for there is a very blue coat with very yellow buttons, and white gaiters and trowsers, and an eyeglass so big and so blue, that it looks as if I had hung a pewter plate about my neck; and a bunch of watch-seals larger than those with which Pope has decorated Belinda's great-greatgrandsire. John Fuller (to whom, jointly with Nicholas, the charge of this inestimable treasure is to be entrusted) could not find words to express his satisfaction at the performance. " Dere massa coat! and dere him chair him sit in! and dere massa seals, all just de very same ting ! just all as one ! And oh! ki! dere massa pye-glass ! " In the midst of his raptures he dropped the picture and fractured the glass. His despair now equalled his former joy ; -- " Oh, now what for him do? Such a pity ! Just to break it after it was all done so well! All so pretty !" However, we stuck the broken glass together with wafers, and he carried it off, assuring me, " that when massa gone, he should talk to it every morning, all one as if massa still here." Indeed
There is an Eboe carpenter, named Strap, who was lately sick, and in great danger, and whom I nursed with particular care. he poor fellow thinks that be never can express his gratitude sufficiently ; and whenever he meets me in the public road, or n the streets of Savannah la Mar, he rushes towards the carriage, roars out to the postilion to stop, and if the boy does not obey instantly, he abuses him with all his power; " for why him nostop when him want talk to inassa? "-" But look, Strap, your beast is getting away ! "-" Oh ! damn beast, massa."-" But you should go to your mountain, or you will get no vittle."-" Oh, damn vittle, and damn mountain! me no want vittle, me want talk wid massa;" and then, all that he has got to say is, " Oh massa, massa! God bless you, massa! me quite, quite glad to see you come back, my own massa! " And then he bursts into a roar of laughter so wild and so loud, that the passers-by cannot help stopping to stare and laugh too.
To-day being a play-day, the gaiety of the negroes was promoted by a distribution of an additional quantity of salt-fish (which forms a most acceptable ingredient in their pepper-pots), and as much rum and sugar as they chose to drink. But there, was also a dinner prepared at the house where the "white people" reside, expressly for the pickaniny-mothers only ; that is, for the women who had children living. I had taken care, when this play day was announced by the head driver, to make him inform the negroes that they were indebted for it entirely to these mothers ; and to show them the more respect, I went to them after dinner myself, and drank their healths. The most respectable blacks on the estate were also assembled in the room ; and I then told them that clothes would wear out, and money would be spent, and that I wished to give them something
The poor creatures overflowed with gratitude; and the prospective indulgences which had just been announced gave them such an increase of spirits, that on returning to my own residence, they fell to singing and dancing again with as much violence as if they had been a pack of French furies at the Opera. The favourite song of the night was,
"Since massa come, we very well off;"which words they repeated in chorus, without intermission (dancing all the time), for 'hours together; till, at half-past three, I could endure it no longer, and was obliged to send them word that I wanted to go to bed, and could not sleep till the noise should cease. The idea of my going to bed seemed never to have occurred to them till that moment : but now at once the drums and gumbies were mute; the children left off singing;
Yesterday it was observed at George's Palin, an estate about four miles off, that the water-mill did not work properly, and it was concluded that the grating was clogged up with rubbish. To clear it away, a negro immediately jumped down into the trench upon a log of wood ; when he felt the log move under him, and, of course, jumped out again with all possible expedition. it was then discovered that the impediment in question proceeded from a larger aligator which had wandered from the morass, and , in the hope of finding his way to the river, had swum up the mill-trench till he found himself stopped by the grating ; and the banks being to high for him to gain them by leaping upwards, and the place of his confinement too narrow to admit of his turning round to go back again, his escape was impossible, and a ball, lodged near his eye, soon put an end to him. I went over to see him this morning ; but I was not contented at merely seeing him, so I begged to have a steak cut off for me, brought it home, and ordered it to be broiled for dinner. One of the negroes happened to see it in the kitchen ; the news spread through the estate like wildfire ; and I had immediately half-a-dozen different deputations, all hoping tha massa would not think of eating the alligator, for it was poisonous. however, I was obstinate, and found the taste of the flesh, when broiled with pepper and salt, and assisted by an onion
I had given the most positive orders that no person whatever should presume to strike a negro, or give him abusive language, or, however great the offence might be, should inflict any punishment, except by the sole direction of the trustee himself. Yet, although I had already discharged one book-keeper on ths account, this evening another of them had a dispute in the boiling-house with an African named Frank, because a pool of water was not removed fast enough ; upon which he called him a rascal, sluiced him with the dirty water, and finally knocked him down with a broom. The African came to me instantly ; four eye-witnesses, who were examined separately, proved the truth of his ill-usage ; and I immediately discharged the bookkeeper, who had contented himself with simply denying the blow having been given by him : but I told him that I could not possibly allow his single unsupported denial to outweigh five concordant witnesses to the assertion : that if he grounded his claim to being believed merely upon his having white skin, he would find that, on Cornwall estate at least, the claim wwould not be admitted ; and that, as the fact was clearly established, nothing should induce me to retain him on my property, except his finding some means of appeasing the injured negro, and prevailing on him to intercede in his behalf. This was an humiliation
The only horned cattle said to be fit for work in Jamaica are those which have a great deal of black in them. The white are terribly tormented by the insects, and they are weak and sluggish in proportion to the quantity of white. On the contrary, I am told that such a thing as a black horse is not to be found in the island ; those which may be imported black soon change their colour into bay; and colts are said to have been dropped perfectly black, which afterwards grew lighter and lighter till they arrived at being perfectly white.
Hearing that a manati (the sea-calf) bad been taken at the mouth of the Cabrita River, and was kept alive at the Hope Wharf, I got a sailing-boat and went about eight miles to see the animal. It was suffered to live in the sea, a rope being fastened round it, by which it could be landed at pleasure. It was a male, and a very young one, not more than nine feet in length, whereas they frequently exceed eighteen. The females yield a quart of milk at a time: a gentleman told me that he had tasted it, and could not have distinguished it from the sweetest cow's milk. Unlike the seal, it never comes on shore, although it ventures up rivers in the night to feed on the grass of their banks; but during the day it constantly inhabits the ocean where its chief enemy is the shark, whose attacks it beats off with its tail, the strength of which is prodigious. It was killed this morning, and the gentleman to whom it belonged was obliging enough to send me a part of it : we roasted it for dinner,
The wife of an old negro, on the neighbouring 'estate of Anchovy, had lately forsaken him for a younger lover. One night, when she happened to be alone, the incensed husband entered her hut unexpectedly, abused her with all the rage of jealousy, and demanded the clothes to be restored which he had formerly given her. On her refusal, he drew a knife and threatened to cut them off her back ; nor could she persuade him to depart till he had beaten her severely. He had but just left the hut when he encountered his successful rival, who was returning home : a quarrel instantly ensued; and the husband, having the knife still unsheathed in his hand, plunged it into the neck of his antagonist. It pierced the jugular vein -- of course the man fell dead on the spot ; and the murderer has been sent to Montego Day, to take his trial.
One of my house-boys, named Prince, is son to the Duke of Sully; and to-day his Grace came to beg that, when I shouldleave Jamaica, I would direct the boy to be made a tradesman, instead of being sent back to be a common field-negro: but my own shops are not only full at present, but loaded with future engagements., Sully then requested that I would send his son to learn some other trade (a tailor's, for instance) at Savannah la Mar, as had been frequently done in former times ; but this also I was obliged to refuse. I told him, that formerly a master could pay for the apprenticeship of a clever negro boy, and, instead of employing him afterwards on the estate, could content himself with being repaid by a share of the profits ; but that, since the Abolition bad made it impossible for the proprietor of an estate to supply the place of one negro by the purchase of another, it would be unjust to his companions to suffer any one in particular to be withdrawn from service; as in that case two hundred and ninety-nine would have to do the work which is now performed by three hundred ; and, therefore, I could allow my negroes to apply themselves to no trades but such as related
It seems the lad, who is about sixteen, and somewhat stupid, has a passion for playing the fiddle, and, among other trades, had suggested this to his father as one which would be extremely to his taste. We finally settled that, when the plough should be introduced on my estate (which I am very, anxious to accomplish, and substitute the labour of oxen for that of negroes, wherever it can possibly be done), Prince should be instructed in farming business; and, in the meanwhile, should officiate as a pen-keeper to look after the cattle.
Just now Prince came to me with a request of his own: Massa, please, me want one little coat."-" A little coat! for what?" " Massa, please, for wear when me go down to the Bay." "And why should you wear a little coat when you go to the Bay ? " -- " Massa, please, make me look eerie (buckish) when me go abroad." So I assured him that be looked quite eerie enough already ; and that, as I was going away too soon to admit of my seeing him in his little coat, there could not be the slightest occasion for his being a bit eerier than he was. A master in England would probably have been not a little astonished at receiving such a request from one of his groom-boys ; but here one gets quite accustomed to them ; and when they are refused, the petitioners themselves frequently laugh at their own unreasonableness.
Most of those negroes who are tolerably industrious, breed cattle on my estate, which are their own property, and by the sale of which they obtain considerable sums. The pasturage of a steer would amount, in this Muntry, to 12 1 . a-year; but the negroes get grass for their cattle from me without its costing them a farthing; and as they were very desirous that I should purchase the whole, I ordered them to agree among themselves
In this country it may be truly said that " it never rains but it pours." After a drought of three months it began to rain on Thursday morning, and has never stopped raining since, with thunder all the day, and lightning all the night. These incessant showers have brought out all sorts of insects and reptiles in crowds: the ground is covered with lizards; the air is filled with mosquitoes, and their bite is infinitely more envenomed than on my first arrival. A centipede was found squeezed to death under the door of my bed-room this morning. As to the cockroaches, they are absolutely in legions; every evening my negro-boys are set to hunt them, and they kill them by dozens, on the chairs and sofas, in the covers of my books, and among ' the leaves in my fruit-baskets.
Since my arrival in Jamaica I am not conscious of having omitted any means of satisfying my Negroes, and rendering them happy and secure from oppression. I have suffered no person to punished, except the two female demons who almost bit a xxx hands off (for which they received a slight Switching), and the most worthless rascal on the estate, whom for manifold offences I was compelled, for the sake of discipline, to allow to pass two days in the bilboes. I have never refused a favour that I could possibly grant. I have listened patiently to all com plaints. I have increased the number of negro holidays, and have given away money and presents of all kinds incessantly.
Now for my reward. On Saturday morning there were no fewer than forty-five persons (not including children) in the hospital which makes nearly a fifth of my whole gang. Of these the medical people assured me that not above seven had
The most worthless fellow on the whole property is one Nato -- a thief, a liar, a runaway, and one who has never been two days together out of the hospital since my arrival, although he has nothing the matter with him : indeed, when the other negroes abused him for his laziness, and leaving them to do his work for him, he told them plainly that he did not mean to work and that nobody should make him. The only real illness which brought him to the hospital, within my knowledge, was the consequence of a beating received from his own father, who had caught him in the act of robbing his house by the help of a false key. In the hospital lie found his wife, Philippa, the mad woman, with whom he instantly quarrelled, and she cut his head open with a plate; and as she might have served one of the children in the same way, we were obliged to confine her. Her husband was thought to be the fittest person to guard her; and, accordingly, they were locked up together in a separate room from the other invalids, till a strait waistcoat could be made. The husband was then restored to freedom, and desired to go to work, which he declared to be impossible from illness; yet he disapeared the whole of the next day, and on his return the
To sum up the whole, about three this morning an alarm was given that the pen-keeper had suffered the cattle to get among the canes, where they might do infinite mischief: the trustee was roused out of his bed-the drivers blew their shells to sum- mon the negroes to their assistance -- when it appeared that there was not a single watchman at his post; the watch-fires had all been suffered to expire ; not a single domestic was to be found, nor a horse to be procured; even the little servant-boys, whom the trustee had locked up in his own house, and had left fast asleep when he went to bed, had got up again, and made their escape to pass the night in play and rioting : and although they
Nato has kept his promise up to this time, and has actually passed a whole week in the field ; a thing which he was never known to do before within the memory of man.
So I sent him a piece of money to encourage him ; and told him that I sent him a maccarony for behaving well, and wished to know whether any one had ever given him a maccarony for behaving ill. I hear that he was highly delighted at my thinking him worthy to receive a present from me, and sent me in return the most positive assurances of perseverance in good conduct. On the other hand, Mackaroo has not only run away himself, but has carried his wife away with him. This is improving upon the profligacy of British manners with a vengeance. In England, a man only runs away with another person's wife: but to run away with his own-what depravity ! As to my ungrateful demigod of a sheep-stealer, Hercules, the poor wretch has brought down upon himself a full punishment for all his misdeeds. By running away; and sleeping in the woods, exposed to all the fury of the late heavy rains, he has been struck by the palsy.
Yesterday some of my negroes found him in the mountains, unable to raise himself from the ground, and brought him in a cart to the hospital ; where he now lies, having quite lost the use of one side, and in every other respect strong and healthy; so that he may look forward to a long and miserable existence.
The shaddock contains generally thirty-two seeds, two, of which only will reproduce shaddocks ; and these two it is impossible to distinguish : the rest will yield, some sweet oranges, others bitter ones, others again forbidden fruit, and, in short, all the varieties of the orange ; but until the trees actually are in bearing, no one can guess what the fruit is likely to prove ; and even then, the seeds which produce shaddocks, although taken from a tree remarkable for the excellence of its fruit, will frequently yield only such as are scarcely eatable. So also the varieties of the mango are infinite-the fruit of no two trees resembling each other ; and the seeds of the very finest mango (although sown and cultivated with the utmost care) seldom affording anything at all like the parent stock. The two first mangoes which I tasted were nothing but turpentine and sugar; the third was very delicious and yet I was told that it was by no means of a superior quality. The sweet cassava requires no preparation ; the bitter cassava, unless the juice is carefully pressed out of it, is a deadly poison ; there is a third kind, called the sweet-and-bitter cassava, which is perfectly wholesome till a certain age, when it acquires its deleterious qualities. Many persons have been poisoned by mistaking these various kinds of cassava for each other.
One of the best vegetable productions of the island is esteemed to be the Avogada pear, sometimes called " the vegetable marrow." It was not the proper season for them, and with great dfifficulty I procured a couple, which were said to be by no means in a state of perfection. Such as they were, I could find no great merit in them; they were to be eaten cold with pepper and salt, and seemed to be an insipid kind of melon, with no other resemblance to marrow than their softness.
As soon as the plantain has done bearing, it is cut down ; when four or five suckers spring from each root, which become plants themselves in their turn. Ratoons are suckers of the sugar-cane : they are far preferable to the original plants, where the soil is rich enough to support them ; but they are much better adapted to some estates than to others. Thus, on my estate in St. Thomas's in the East, they can allow of ten ratoons
I find that I have not done justice to the cotton-tree. Those I first saw were either withered by age, or struck by lightning, or happened to be ill-shaped of their kind ; but I have since met with others, than which nothing could be more noble or picturesque, from their gigantic height, the immense spread of their, arms, the colour of their steins and leaves, and the wild fantastic wreathings of their roots and branches.
Nothing can be larger and finer in appearance than the Jamaica poultry of all kinds, but nothing can be uniformly more tough and tasteless ; and the same is the case with all butcher's meat, pork excepted, which is much better here than in Europe. The fault is in the climate, which prevents any animal food from being kept sufficiently long to become tender; so that when a man sits down to a Jamaica dinner, he might almost fancy himself a guest at Macbeth's-Covent-Garden banquet, where the fowls, hams, and legs of mutton are all made of deal boards. I ordered a duck to be kept for two days ; but it was so completely spoiled, that there was no bearing it upon the table. Then I tried the expedient of boiling a fowl till it absolutely fell to pieces ; but even this violent process had not the power of rendering it tender. The only effect produced by it was, that instead of being helped to a wing of solid wood, I got a plateful of splinters. Perhaps, my having totally lost my appetite (from the climate Dot allowing me to take my usual exercise) makes the meat appear to me less palatable than it may to others ; but I have observed that most people here prefer living upon soups, stews, and salted provisions. For my own part, I have for the last few weeks eaten nothing except black crabs, than which I never met with a more delicious article for the table. I have also tried
To fill up my list of Jamaica delicacies, I must not forget to mention, that I did my best to procure a Cane-piece Cat roasted in the true African fashion. The Creole negroes, however, greatly disapproved of my venturing upon this dish, which they positively denied having tasted themselves ; and when, at length, the Cat was procured, last Saturday, instead of plainly boiling it with negro-pepper and salt, they made it into a high-seasoned stew, which rendered it impossible to judge of its real flavour. However, I tasted it, as did also several other people, and we were unanimous in opinion that it might have been mistaken for a very good game-soup, and that, when properly dressed, a Cane-piece Cat must be excellent food.
The most general of negro infirmities appears to be that of lameness. It is chiefly occasioned by the chiga, a diminutive fly which works itself into the feet to lay its eggs, and, if it be not carefully extracted in time, the flesh around it corrupts, and a sore ensues not easily to be cured. No vigilance can prevent the attacks of the chiga; and not only soldiers, but the very cleanest persons of the highest rank in society, are obliged to have their feet examined regularly. The negroes are all provided with small knives for the purpose of extracting them : but as no pain is felt till the sore is produced, their extreme laziness frequently makes them neglect that precaution, till all kinds of dirt getting into the wound, increases the difficulty of a cure ; and sometimes the consequence is lameness for life.
The Reporter of the African Institution asserts, in a late pamphlet, that in the West Indies the breeding system is to this day discouraged, and that the planters are still indifferent to the preservation of their present stock of negroes, from their confidence of getting fresh supplies from Africa. Certainly the negroes in Jamaica are by no means of this Reporter's opinion, but are thoroughly sensible of their intrinsic value in the eyes of the proprietor. On my arrival, every woman who had a child held it up to show me, exclaiming-," See, massa, see! here nice new neger me bring for work for massa;" and those who had more than one did not fail to boast of the number, and make it a claim to the greater merit with me. Last week, an old watchman was brought home from the mountains almost dead with fever ; he would neither move, nor speak, nor notice any one, for several days. For two nights I sent him soup from my own table ; but he could not even taste it, and always gave it to his daughter. On the third evening there happened to be no soup at dinner, and I sent other food instead ; but old Cudjoe had been accustomed to see the soup arrive, and the disappointment made him fancy himself hungry, and that he could have eaten the soup if it had been brought as usual : accordingly when I visited him the next morning, he bade the doctoress tell me that massa had sent him no soup the night before. This was the first notice that he had ever taken of me. I promised that some soup should be ordered for him on purpose, that evening. Could be fancy anything to eat then ?-" "Milk! milk !" So milk was sent to him, and he drank two full calabashes of it. I then tried him with an egg, which lie also got down and at night, by spoonfuls at a time, he finished the whole bason of soup ; but when I next came to see him, and he wished to thank me, the words in which he thought he could comprise most gratitude were bidding the doctoress tell me he would do his best not todie yet ; he promised to fight hard for it. He is now quite out of danger, and seems really to be grateful. When he was sometimes too weak to speak, on my leaving the room he would drag his hand to his mouth with difficulty, and kiss it three orfour times to bid me farewell ; and once, when the CHARGE TO THE C0RNWALL JURY. 111 doctoress mentioned his having charged her to tell me that he owed his recovery to the good food that I had sent him, he added, " And him kind words too, massa ; kind words do neger much good, much as good food."
In my visits to the old man, I observed a young woman nursing him with an infant in her arms, which (as they told me) was her own, by Cudjoe. I therefore supposed her to be his wife : but I found that she belonged to a brown man in the mountains ; and that Cudjoe hired her from her master, at the rate of thirty pounds a-year !
I hope this fact will convince the African Reporter that it is possible for some of this " oppressed race of human beings" -- " of these our most unfortunate fellow-creatures "-to enjoy at least some of the luxuries of civilized society; and I doubt whether even Mr. Wilberforce himself, with all his benevolence, would not allow a negro to be quite rich enough, who can afford thirty pounds a year for the hire of a kept mistress.
On opening the Assize-court for the county of Cornwall on March 4, Mr. Stewart, the Custos of Trelawny, and Presiding Judge, said, in his charge to the jury, he wished to direct their attention in a peculiar manner to the infringement of slave-laws in the island, in consequence of charges having been brought forward in England of slave-laws not being enforced in this country, and of their being in fact perfect dead letters. The charge was unfounded; but it became proper, in consequence, for the bench call in a strong manner on the grand jury to be particularly vigilant and attentive to the discharge of this part of their duty. The bench at the same time adverted to another subject connected with the above. Many out of the country, and some in it , had thought proper to interfere with our system, and by their insidious practices and dangerous doctrines to call the peace of the island into question, and to promote disorder and confusion. The jury were therefore enjoined, in every such case, to investigate it thoroughly, and to bring the parties concerned before the country, and not to suffer the systems of the island, as established by the laws of the land, to be overset or endangered. It was their bounden duty to watch over aud support
My opinion is most decided that they ought to be heard ; the jury, of course, always making proportionable abatements of belief, from, bearing in mind the bad habits of most negroes, their general want of probity and good faith in every respect, and their total ignorance of the nature of religious obligations At the same time, these defects may be counterbalanced by the respectable character of the particular negro ; by the strength of corroborating circumstances; and, finally, by the irresistible conviction which his evidence may leave upon the minds of the jury. They are not obliged to believe a negro witness, but I maintain that he ought to be heard, and then let the jury give their verdict according to their conscience. But this, in the opinion of the bench at Montego Bay, it seems, is " dangen doctrine ! " At least, the venom of my doctrines is circumscribed within very narrow limits; for, as I have made a point of never stirring off my own estate, nobody could possibly be corrupted by them except those who were at the trouble of walking into my house for the express purpose of being corrupted.
At all events, if I really am the person whom Mr. Stewart alluded, I must consider his speech as the most flattering compliment I ever received. if my presence in the island had made
It is to be wished, that the negroes would content themselves with their occasional amusements of poisoning, stabbing, thieving, &c., on a small scale ; but a plan has just been discovered in the adjoining parish of St. Elizabeth's, for giving, themselves a grand fete by murdering all the whites in the island. The focus of this meditated insurrection was on Martin's Penn, the property of Lord Balcarras, where the overseer is an old man of the mildest character, and the negroes had always been treated with peculiar indulgence. Above a thousand persons were engaged in the plot, three hundred of whom had been regularly sworn to assist in it with all the usual accompanying ceremonies of drinking human blood, eating earth from graves, &c. Luckily, the plot was discovered time enough to prevent any mischief; and yesterday the ringleaders were to be tried at Black River.
The 'Cornwall Chronicle' informs us, that, at the Montego Bay assizes, a man was tried on the Monday, for assaulting, while drunk, an officer who bad served with great distinction, and calling him a coward ; for which offence he was sentenced to a month's imprisonment and a fine of 100 1 . ; and on the Tuesday
Mr. Plummer came over from St. James's to-day, and told. me that the " insidious practices and dangerous doctrines " in Mr. Stewart's speech were intended for the Methodists, and that only the charge to the grand jury respecting " additional vigilance " was in allusion to myself ; but he added that it was the report at Montego Bay, that, in consequence of my over-indulgence to my negroes, a song had been made at Cornwall, declaring that I was come over to set them all free, and that this was now circulating through the neighbouring parishes. If there be any such song (which I do not believe), I certainly never heard it. However, my agent here says, that he has reason to believe that my negroes really hav~ spread the report that I intend to set them free in a few years ; and that they have done this merely out of vanity, in order to give themselves and their master the greater credit upon other estates. As to the truth of an assertion, that is a point which never enters into negro consideration.
The two ringleaders of the. proposed rebellion at St. Elizabeth's have been condemned, the one to be hanged, the other to be transported. the plot was discovered by the overseer of Lndhurst Penn ( a Frenchman from St. Domingo) observing an uncommon concourse of stranger negroes at a child's funeral, on which occasion a hog was roasted by the father. he stole softly down to the feasting-hut, and listened behind the hedge to the conversation of the supposed mourners ; when he heard the whole conspiracy detailed. it appears that above two-hunddren and fifty had been sworn in regularly, all of them Africans ; not a Creole was among them. But there was a black ascertained to have stolen over into the island from St. Domingo, and a brown Anabaptist missionary, both of whom had been very
The Eboe King said, that he certainly had made use of this song, and what harm was there in his doing so ? He had sung no songs but such as his brown priest had assured him were approved of by john the Baptist. " And who, then, was John the Baptist?" He did not very well know ; only he had been told by his brown priest, that John the Baptist was a friend to the negroes, and had got his head in a pan!
As to the Captain, he only said in his defence, that if the court would forgive him this once, he would not do so again, "as he found the whites did not like their plans;" which, it seems, till that moment the conspirators had never suspected! They had all along imagined, no doubt, that the whites would find as much amusement in having their throats cut, as the blacks would find in cutting them. I remember hearing a sportsman, who was defending the humanity of hunting, maintain,
Two negroes upon Amity estate quarrelled the other day about some trifle, when the one bit the other's nose off completely. Soon after his accident, the overseer meeting the sufferer -- -" Why, Sambo," he exclaimed, "where's your nose?" " I can't tell, massa," answered Sambo; " I looked everywhere about, but I could not find it."
Every Sunday since my return from Kingston I have read prayers to such of the negroes as chose to attend, preparatory to the intended visitations of the minister, Dr. Pope. About twenty or thirty of the most respectable among them generally attended and behaved with great attention and propriety. I read the Litany, and made them repeat the responses. I explained the Commandments and the Lord's Prayer to them teaching them to say each sentence of the latter after me, as I read it slowly, in hopes of impressing it upon their memory. Then came " the good Samaritan," or some such apologue; and, lastly, I related to them a portion of the life of Christ, and explained to them the object of his death and sufferings. The latter part of my service always seemed to interest them greatly ; but, indeed, they behaved throughout with much attention. Unluckily, the head driver, who was one of the most zealous of, my disciples, never could repeat the responses of the Litany without an appeal to myself, and always made a point of saying -- " Good Lord, deliver us; yes, sir! " and made me a low bow. Like my friend the Moravian, at Mesopotamia, I cannot boast of any increased audience; and if the negroes will not come to hear massa, I have little hope of their giving up their time to hear Dr. Pope, who inspires them with no; interest, and can exert no authority. Indeed, I am afraid that I am indebted for the chief part of my present auditory to my quality of massa rather than that of priest; and when I ask any of them why they did not come to prayers on the preceding Sunday, their excuse
The negroes certainly are perverse beings. They had been praying for a sight of their master year after year; they were in raptures at my arrival ; I have suffered no one to be punished, and shown them every possible indulgence during my residence amongst them; and one and all they declare themselves perfectly happy and well treated. Yet, previous to my arrival, they made thirty-three hogsheads a-week; in a fortnight after my landing, their product dwindled to twenty-three; during this last week they have managed to make but thirteen. Still they are not ungrateful; they are only selfish: they love me very well, but they love themselves a great deal better; and, to do them justice, I verily believe that every negro on the estate is ex- tremely anxious that all should do their full duty, except himself. My censure, although accompanied with the certainty of their not being punished, is by no means a matter of indifference. If I express myself to be displeased, the whole property is in an uproar; everybody is finding fault with everybody; there is nobody that does not represent the shame of neglecting my work, and the ingratitude of vexing me by their ill-conduct ; and then each individual-having said so much and said it so strongly, that he is convinced of its having its full effect in making the others do their duty-thinks himself quite safe and snug in skulking away from his own.
Young Hill was told at the Bay this morning, that I make a part of the,Eboe King's song ! According to this report, " good King George and good Mr. Wilberforce " are stated to have "given me a paper " ( i. e. an order ) to set the negroes free, but that the white people of Jamaica will not suffer me to show the paper, and that I am now going home to say so, and " to resume my place, which I have left during my absence to be filled by the Regent.
Since I heard the report of a rebellious song issuing from Cornwall, I have listened more attentively to the negro chants;
An alligator, crossing the morass at Bellisle, an estate but a few miles distant from Cornwall, fell into a water-trench, from which he struggled in vain to extricate himself, and was taken alive. Fontenelli says, that when Copernicus published his system, he foresaw the contradictions which he should have to undergo-" et il se tira d'affaire tres-habilement. Le jour qu'on lui presentoit le premier exemplaire, scavez-vous ce qu'il fit? Il mourut;" which was precisely the resource resorted to by the alligator. He died on the second morning of his captivity, and his proprietor, Mr. Storer, was obliging enough to order the skin to be stuffed, and to make me a present of him. Neptune was despatched to bring him (or rather her, for nineteen eggs wer found within her) over to Cornwall ; and at dinner to-day we were alarmed with a general hubbub. It proved to be the occasion by the arrival of Neptune with the alligator on his head. In a few minutes everything on the estate that was alive, without feathers, and with only two legs, flocked into the room, and requested to alloowed to take a bird's-eye view of the monster ; for as to
The negro-husband, who stabbed his rival in a fit of jealousy, has been tried at Montego Bay, and acquitted. On the other hand, the King of the Eboes has been hung at Black River, and died, declaring that he left enough of his countrymen to prosecute the design in hand, and revenge his death upon the whites. Such threats of a rescue were held out, that it was judged advisable to put the militia under arms, till the execution should have taken place; and also to remove the King's Captain to the jail at Savannah-la-Mar, till means can be found for transporting him from the island.
The Eboe captain has effected his escape by burning down the prison door. It is supposed that he has fled. towards the fastnesses in the interior of the mountains, where I am assured that many settlements of runaway slaves have been formed, and with which the inhabited part of the island has no communication. However, the chief of the Accompong Maroons, Captain Roe, is gone in pursuit of him, and has promised to bring him in, alive or dead. The latter is the only reasonable expectation, as the fugitive is represented as a complete desperado.
The negroes have at least given me one proof of their not being entirely selfish. When they beard that the boat was come to convey my baggage to the ship at Black river, they collected all their poultry and brought it to my agent, desiring him to add it to my sea-stores. Of course I refused to let it be received, and they were evidently much disappointed till I consented to accept the fowls and ducks, and then gave them back to them again, telling them to consider them as a present from my own
I have been positively assured that an attempt was made to persuade the grand jury at Montego Bay to present me for overindulgence tomy own negroes! It is a great pity that so reasonable an attempt should not have succeeded. The rebel captain who broke out of prison has been found concealed in the hut of a notorious Obeah-man, and has been lodged a second time in the jail of Savannah-la-Mar.
About two months ago, a runaway cooper belonging to Shrewsbury estate, by name Edward, applied to me to intercede for his not being punished on his return home. As soon as he got the paper, he gave up all idea of returning to the estate, and instead of it went about the country stealing everything upon which he could lay his hands; and whenever his proceedings were inquired into by the magistrates, he stated himself to be on the road to his trustee, and produced my letter as a proof of it. At length some one had the curiosity to open the letter, and found that it bad been written two months before.
This was the day appointed for the first " Royal play-day," when I bade farewell to my negroes. I expected to be besieged with petitions and complaints, as they must either make them on this occasion or not at all. I was, therefore, most agreeably surprised to find, that although they had opportunities of addressing me from nine in the morning till twelve at night the only favours asked of me were by a poor old man, who wanted an iron cookingpot, and by Adam, who begged me ot order a kittke daughter of his to be instructed in needle-work : and as to complaints, not a murmur of such a thing was heard ; they all expressed themselves to be wuite satisfied, and seemed to think that they could never say enough to mark their gratitude for my kindness, and their anxiety for my getting safe to England. we began our festival by the head driver's drinking the health of H. R. H. the
Then we had a christening of such persons as had been absent on the former occasion, one of whom was Adam, the repute Obeah-man. In the number was a new-born child, whom we called Sheakespeare, and whom Afra, the Eboe mother, had very earnestly begged me to make a Christian, as well as a daughter of hers about four or five years old, at the same time that she declined being christened herself ! In the same manner Cubina's wife, although her father and husband wer both baptized on the former occasion, objected to going through the ceremony herself ; amd the reason which she gave was, that " she did not know what change it might not produce upon herslef and the infant."
After the christening there was a general distribution of saltfish by the trustee ; and I also gave every man and woman half a dollar each, and every child a maccarony (fifteen pence) as a parting present, to show them that I parted with them in good humour. While the money was distributing young Hill arrived, and finding the house completely crowded, inquired what was the matter. " Oh, massa," said an old woman, " it is only my son , who is giving the negroes all something."
I also read to them a new code of laws, which I had ordered to be put in force at Cornwall for the better security of the negroes. The principal were, that " a new hospital for the lying-in women, and for those who might be seriously ill, shuld be built, and made as comfortable as possible ; while the present one should be reserved for those whom the physicians might declare to be slightly indisposed, or not ill at all ; -- -the doors being kept constantly locked, and the sexes placed in separate chambers, to prevent its being made a place of amusement by the azy and the lying, as is the case at present." -- " A book register of punishments to be kept, in which the name, offence, and nature and quantity of punishments inflicted must be carefully put down, and also a note of the same given to the negro, in order that, if he should think himself unjustly, or too severely punished, he may show his note to my other attorney on his next visit, ot to myslefon my return to Jamaica, and thus get redress if he has
The festival concluded with a grander ball than usual, as I sent for music from Savannah-la-Mar to play country-dances to them ; and at twelve o'clock at night. they left me apparently much pleased, only I heard them saying to each other, "When shall we have such a day of pleasure again, since massa goes to- morrow?"
With their usual levity the negroes were laughing and talkink as gaily as ever till the very moment of my departure ; but when , they saw my curricle actually at the door to convey me away, then their faces grew very long indeed. In particular, the women called me by every endearing name they could think of. " My son! my love ! my husband ! my father !" " You no my massa, you my tata!" said one old woman ; and when I came down the steps to depart, they crowded about me, kissing my feet and clasping my knees, so that it was with difficulty that I cold get into the carriage. And this was done with such
I dined with Mr. Allwood at Shaftstone, near Blue-fields, and half-past seven found myself once more on board the " Sir Godfrey Webster."
At eight this morning we weighed anchor on our return to England. The trade-winds, which facilitate the passage to Jamaica,
effectually prevent the return of vessels by the same road. The common passage is through the Gulf of Florida, but there is another between Cuba and St. Domingo, which is at least 1000 miles nearer. The first, however, affords almost a certainty of reaching Europe in a given time, while you may keep tacking in the attempt to make the windward passage (as it is called) for months together. Last pigbt, however, the wind was so favour- able for this attempt, that the captain determined upon risking it. Accordingly he altered his course; but had not done so for more than a few hours when the wind changed, and became as direct for the Gulf as till then it bad been contrary. The consequence was, that the Gulf passage was fixed once for all, and we are now steering towards it with all our might and main. Besides the distance saved there was another reason for preferring the windward passage, if it could have been effected. The Gulf of Florida has for some time past been infested by a pirate called Captain Mitchell, who, by all accounts, seems to be a gentleman of the very worst description. It is not long ago since, in company with another vessel of his own stamp, he landed on the small settlement of St. Andrew's, plundered it completely, and on his departure carried off the governor, whom he kept on board, for more than fourteen days, and then hung him at the yard-arm out of mere wanton devilry. His companion has been captured and brought into Kingston, and the conquering vessel is gone in search of Captain Mitchell. If it does not fall in with him, and we do, I fear that we shall stand but a bad chance ; for he has one hundred men on board according to report, while we have not above thirty. However, the captain has harangued them, represented the necessity of their fighting if attacked, as Captain Mitchell is known to spare no one, high or low, and has engaged. to give every man five guineas a-piece if a gun should be fired., The sailors promise bravery; what their promises will prove we must leave to be decided by time and Captain Mitchell. In the meanwhile, every sail that appears on the horizon is concluded to be this terrible pirate, and everything is immediately put in readiness for action.
At noon this day we found ourselves once more sailing on the
Our Captain told me that, tow or three years ago, whilst his vessel eas lying in Black River, for the purpose of loading, a negro contrived to secrete himself in the lower part of it, where the sugar hogsheads are stored, unknown to anyone. As soon as the carg was completed, the planks above it were caulked down, and raised no more till their ship reached Liverpool;
Many years ago, a new species of grass was imported into Jamaica, by Mr. Vassal (to whom an estate near my own then belonged), as he said " for the purpose of feeding his pigs and his book-keepers" Its seeds being soon scattered about by the birds, it has taken possession of the cane-pieces, whence to eradicate it is an utter impossibility, the roots being as strong as those of ginger, and insinuating themselves under ground to a great extent ; so that the only means of preventing it from entirely choking up the canes, is plucking it out with the hand, which is obliged to be done frequently, and has increased the labour of the plantation at least one third. This nuisance, which is called " Vassal's grass," from its original introducer, has now com- pletely overrun the parish of Westmoreland, has begun to show itself in the neighbouring parishes, and probably in time will get a footing throughout the island. St. Thomas's in the East has been inoculated with another self-inflicted plague, under the name of " the rifle-ant," which was imported for the purpose of eating up the ants of the country ; and so to be sure they did , but into the bargain they eat up every thing else which came in their way, a practice in which they persist to this hour; so that it may be doubted whether in Jamaica most execrations are bestowed in the course of the day upon Vassal's grass, the rifleants, Sir Charles Price's rats, or the Reporter of the African Society ; onl that the maledictions uttered against the first three are necessarily local, while the Reporter of the African' Society comes in for curses from all quarters.
A whole calendar month has elapsed since our quitting Jamaica, during which the wind has been favourable for somthing less than four-and-twenty hours; either it has blown precisely
A negro song. -- " Me take my cutacoo (i.e. a basket made of matting), and follow him to Lucea, and all for love of my bonny man-O -- My bonny man come home, come home ! Doctor no do you good. When neger fall into neger bands, buckra doctor no do him good more. Come home, my gold ring, come home ! " This is the song of a wife, whose husband had been Obeahed by another woman, in consequence of his rejecting her advances.
A negro riddle: " Pretty Miss Nancy was going to market, and she tore her fine yellow gown, and there was not a tailor in all the town who could mend it again." This is a ripe plantain with a broken skin.
The negroes are also very fond of what they call Nancy stories, part of which is related, and part sung. The heroine of one of them is an old woman named Mamma Luna, who having left a pot boiling in her hut, found it robbed on her return. Her suspicions were divided between two children whom she found at play near her door, and some negroes who had passed that way to market. The children denied the theft positively. It was necessary for the negroes, in order to reach their own estate, to
"My neger, my neger," cried the old woman, " me sure now you the thief ! me see the water wet you feet. Come back, my neger, come back." Still on went the woman, and still continued her song of
If da me cat Mammy Luna's pease-0,
Drowny me water, drowny, drowny!"
"If da me cat Mammy Luna's pease;" &e,.
My neger, my neger," repeated Mammy Luna, "me no want punish you ; my pot smell good, and you belly-woman. Come back, my neger, come back; me see now water above your knee! " But the woman was obstinate ; she continued to sing and to advance till she reached the middle of the river's bed, when down came a tremendous flood, swept her away, and she never was heard of more ; while Mammy Luna warned the other negroes never to take the property of another ; always to tell the truth; and, at least, if they should be betrayed into telling a lie, not to persist in it, otherwise they must expect to perish like their companion. Observe, that a moral is always an indispensable part of a Nancy-story.
Another is as follows:-" Two sisters had always lived together on the best terms; but, on the death of one of them, the other treated very harshly a little niece who had been left to her
" Still she travelled forwards, and began to feel faint through want of food; when, under a mahogany-tree, she not only saw a third old woman, but one who, to her great satisfaction, had got a head between her shoulders. She stopped and made her best courtesy, ' How day, grannie!' ' How day, my piccaniny ; what matter? you no look well.' , ' Grannie, me lilly hungry.' ' My piccanny, you see that hut, there's rice in the pot, take it, and yam-yamme ; but if you see one black puss, mind you give him him share.'
"The child hastened to profit by the permission the ' one black puss' failed not to make its appearance, and was served first to its portion of rice, after which it departed ; and the child had but just finished her meal when the mistress of the hut entered, and told her that she might help herself to three eggs out of the fowl-house, but that she must not take any of the talking ones : perhaps, too, she might find the black puss there also; but if she did, she was to take no notice of her. Unluckily all the eggs seemed to be as fond of talking as if they had been so many old
maids, and the moment that the child entered the fowl-house there was a cry of ' Take me! Take me!' from all quarters. However, she was punctual in her obedience; and although the conversable eggs were remarkably fine and large, she searched about till at length she bad collected three little dirty-looking eggs that had not a word to say for themselves.
"The old woman now dismissed her guest, bidding her to
"Stung by envy, the aunt lost no time in sending her own daughter to search for the same good fortune which had befallen her cousin. She found the cotton-tree and the headless old woman, and had the same question addressed to her ; but instead of returning the same answer-' What me see? ' said she ; ' me see one old woman without him head!' Now this reply was doubly offensive: it was rude, because it reminded the old lady of what might certainly be considered as a personal defect; and it was dangerous, as, if such a circumstance were to come to the ears of the buckras, it might bring her into trouble, women being seldom known to walk and talk without their heads, if ever, except by the assistance of Obeah. ' Bad child ! cried the old woman; ' bad child ! and bad will come to you!'
"Matters were no better managed near the cocoa-tree ; and even when she reached the mahogany, although she saw that the old woman had not only got her head on, but had a red docker besides, she could not prevail on herself to say more than a short ' How day ? ' without calling her ' grannie.' However, she received the permission to eat rice at the cottage, coupled with the injunction of giving a share to the black puss ; an injunction, however, which she totally disregarded, although she scrupled not to assure her hostess that she had suffered puss to eat till she could eat no more. The old lady in the red petticoat seemed to swallow the lie very glibly, and dispatched the girl to the fowlhouse for three eggs, as she had before done her cousin ; but having been cautioned against taking the talking eggs, she conceived that these must needs be the most valuable, and therefore made a point of selecting those three which seemed to be the greatest gossips. Then, lest their chattering should betray her disobedience, she thought it best not to return into the hut, and
At breakfast the captain was explaining to me the dangerous consequences of breaking the wheel-rope: two hours afterwards the wheel-rope broke, and round swung the vessel. However, as the accident fortunately took place in the day-time, and when the sea was perfectly calm, it was speedily remedied: but this was " talking of the devil and his imps" with a vengeance.
A gale of wind began to show itself on Monday night; it has continued to blow ever since with increasing violence, and is now become very serious. The captain says that he never experienced weather so severe at this season : this is only my usual luck. Certainly nothing can be more disagreeable than a ship on these occasions. The sea breaks over the vessel every minute, and it is really something awful to see the waves raised into the air by the force of the gale, hovering for a while over the ship, and then coming down upon us swop, to inundate everything below deck as well as upon it. The wind is piercingly cold ; the floors and walls are perpetually streaming. But a fire is quite out of the question; and, indeed, at one time to-day our eating appeared out of the question too ; for at four o'clock the
Though the gale was itself sufficiently serious, its effects at first were ludicrous enough ; but yesterday it produced a conse- quence truly shocking and alarming. Edward Sadler, the second mate, was at breakfast in the steerage : the boatswain had been cutting some beef with a large case-knife, which he had afterput down upon the chest on which they were sitting; a sudden heel of the ship threw them all to the other side of the cabin; the knife fell with its haft against the ladder; and poor Edward falling against it, at least three inches of the blade were forced into his right side. The wound was dressed without the loss of a moment : but from its depth, the jaggedness of the weapon with which it was made, and from a pain which immediately afterwards seized the poor fellow in his chest, the apothecary thinks that his recovery is very improbable : he says that he liver is certainly perforated, and so probably are the lungs. If the latter have exscaped, it must have been only by the breadth of a hair. every one in the ship is distressed beyond measure
Edward complains no longer of the pain in his chest; be sleeps well, eats enough, has no fever, and every symptom is so favourable, that Dr. Ashman encourages us to hope that he has received no material injury. Our ship-carpenter has always appeared to be the sulkiest and surliest of sea-bears: yet on the day of Edward's accident he passed every minute that he could command by the side of his sofa, kneeling and praying, and watching him as if he had been his son, and every now and then wiping away his " own tears " with the dirtiest of all possible pocket-bandkerchiefs. So that what Goldsmith said of Dr. Johnson may be applied to this old,man -- " He has nothing of a bear but his skin." After tearing every sail in the ship into shivers, and being as disagreeable as ever it could be, the gale has at length abated. Yesterday it was a storm, and we were going to Ireland, Lisbon, Brest -- in short, everywhere except to England; to-day it is a dead calm, and we are going nowhere at all.
The wounded mate is so much recovered as to come upon deck for a few hours to-day, and may now be considered as completely- out of danger; although Dr. Ashman is positive (from his difficulty of breathing at first, and the subsequent pain in his chest) that his lungs must actually have been wounded, however slightly. We are now nearly abreast of Scilly.
It seems to be an indispensable requisite for a Nancy-story, that it should contain a witch or a duppy, or in short, some marvellous personage or other. it is a kind of " piece a machines ." But the creole slavess are very fond of another species of tale, which they call " Neger-tricks," and which bear the same relation to a Nancy-story which a farce does to a tragedy. The following is a specimen :-
A Neger-trick. -- -"A man who had two wives divided his
A negro was brought to England, and the first point shown him being the chalky cliffs of Dover, " O ki! he said; " me know now what makes the buckras all so white!
We once more saw the " Lizard," and indeed was full time that we should. Besides that our provisions were nearly exhausted by the length of the voyage, our crew was in a great measure composed of fellows of the most worthless description ; and the captain lately discovered that some of them had contrived to break a secret passage into the hold, where they had
We took our river-pilot on board ; and on Wednesday the 5th, we reached Gravesend. I went on sbore at nine in the morning; and here I conclude my JAMAICA JOURNAL.
I LEFT London, and again embarked for Jamaica on board the same vessel which conveyed me thither in 1815, and with the same captain also. When we weighed our anchor at Gravesend, before it could be got on board the cable slipped, and down again went the anchor, carrying along with it one of the men who happened to be standing upon it at the moment, and who in conse- quence went plump to the bottom. Luckily the fellow could swim ; so in a few minutes he was on board again, and no harm done. W did not reach the Downs till Sunday the 9th, after experiencing in our passage a severe gale of wind, which broke the bowsprit of a vessel in our sight, but did us no mischief. On arriving in the Downs we found all the flags flying halfmast high, which is a signal of mourning; and we learnt that in a few hours after giving birth to a still-born son, the Princess Charlotte
of Wales had expired at half-past two on Thursday morning.
We left the Downs on the 19th ; the weather was fine, but the wind so perverse, that we did not arrive in sight of Ports- mouth till this evening.
This morning we quitted Portsmouth, and this evening we returned to it. The needle rocks were already in sight when the wind failed competely. There was no getting through the
I had often heard talk of " a hell upon earth," and now I have a perfect idea of " a hell upon water." It must be precisely our vessel during the last three weeks. On the 3rd we left the Motherbank, and on the 4th we passed Plymouth, and were actually in sight of the Lizard point,, when the wind suddenly became completely foul, and drove us back into the Channel. It continued to strengthen, and by the time that night arrived, we had a violent gale, which blew incessantly till the middle of Sunday, the 7th, when we were glad to find ourselves once more in sight of Plymoutb, and took advantage of a temporary abatement of the wind to seek refuge in the Sound. Here, however, we soon found that we had but little reason to rejoice at the change of our situation. The Sound was already crowded with vessels of all descriptions; and as we arrived so late, the only mooring still unoccupied placed us so near the rocks on one side, and another vessel astern, that the captain confessed that he should feet considerable anxiety if the gale should return with its former violence. So of course, about eleven at night, the gale did return; not, indeed, with its former violence, but increased tenfold ; and once we were in very imminent danger from our ship's swinging round by a sudden squall, and narrowly escaping coming in contact with the ship astern, which bad not, it seems, allowed itself sufficient cable. Luckily we just missed her ; and our cables (for both our anchors were down) being new and good, we rode out the storm without driving or meeting with any accident whatever. The next day was squally ; and in spite of the Breakwater, the rocking of the ship from the violent agitation of the waves by the late stormy weather was almost insup- portable. However, on the 9
th the wind took a more favourable turn, though in so slight a degree that the pilot expressed great doubts whether it would last long enough to do us any service. But the captain felt his situation in Plymouth Sound do uneasy, that he resolved at least to make the attempt, and so we crept
We are now in the latitudes commonly known by the name of " the Horse Latitudes." During the union of America and Great Britain, great numbers of' horses used to be exported to the cQjonies, and the winds in these latitudes are so capricious, squally, and troublesome-now a gale and then a dead calm, now a fair wind and the next moment a foul one-that more horses used to die in this portion of the passage than during all the remainder of it. These horse-killing latitudes extend from, 29O to 25 O or 241/2 O.
On Saturday, the 3rd, we managed to crawl over the line, and had no sooner got to the other side of it, than we were completely becalmed ; and even when we were able to resume our progress, it was at such a pace that a careless observer might have been pardoned foe mistaking our manner of moving for a downright standstill. Day after day produced nothing better for us than baffling winds, so light that we scarcely made tow miles and hour, and so variable that the sails could be scarcely set in one direction before it became necessay to shift them to another;
Yesterday morning a miniature shark chose to swallow the bait laid for dolphins, and in consequence soon made his appearance upon deck. It was a very young one, not above three feet long. I ordered a slice of him to be broiled at dinner, but he was ny no means so good as a dolphin ; still there was nothing in the taste so palatable as to prevent the flesh from being very acceptable in the absence of more delicate food. In the evening, a bird about the size of a large pigeon, flew on board, and was knocked down by the mate with his hat. It was sulky, and would not be persuaded to eat anything that was offered, so
Our favourable breeze lasted till Tuesday, the 20th; when, having brought us balf-way between St. Domingo and Jamaica it died away, and we dragged on at the rate of two or three miles an hour till Thursday afternoon, which placed us at the mouth of Black River. If we had arrived one hour earlier, we could have immediately entered the harbour; but, with our usual good fortune, we were just too late for the daylight. We therefore did not drop anchor till two o'clock on Friday, before the town of Black River; and on Saturday morning, at four o'clock, I embarked in the ship's cutter for Savannah la Mar. Every one assured us that we could not fail to have a favourable sea-breeze the whole way, and that we should be on land by eight: instead of which what little wind there was veered round from one point of the compass to the other with the most indefatigable caprice; and we were not on shore till eleven. Here I found Mr. T. Hill, who luckily had his phaeton ready, in which he conveyed me once more to Cornwall. The accounts of the general behaviour of my negroes are tolerably good, and they all express themselves satisfied with their situation and their superintendents. Yet, among upwards of three hundred and thirty negroes, and with a greater number of females than men, in spite of all indulgences and inducements, not more than twelve or thirteen children have been added annually to the list of the births. On the other hand, this last season has been generally unhealthy all over the island, and more particularly so in my parish; so that I have lost several negroes, some of them young, strong, and valuable labourers in every respect; and in consequence, my muster-roll is rather diminished than increased since my last visit. I had been so positively assured that the custom of plunging negro-infants, immediately upon their being born,
The joy of the negroes on my return was quite sufficiently voiciferous, and they were allowed to-day for a holiday. They set themselves to singing and dancing yesterday, in order to lose no time; and to show their gratitude for the indulgence, not one of the five pen-keepers chose to go to their watch last night ; the consequence was, that the cattle made their escape, and got into one of my very best cane-pieces. The alarm was given; my own servants and some of the head people had grace enough to run down to the scene of action ; but the greatest part remained quietly in the negro-houses, beating the gumby-drum, and sing- ing their joy for my arrival with the whole strength of their lungs, but without thinking it in the least necessary to move so much as a finger-joint in my service.
The cattle were at length replaced in their pen, but not till the cane-piece had been ruined irretrievably.
Such is negro gratitude, and such my reward for all that I have suffered on ship-board.
To be sure, as yet there could not be a more ill-starred expedition than my present one.
There is a popular negro song, the burden of which is-
This alludes to a transaction which took place some thirty years ago, on an estate in this neighbourhood, called Spring
"Take him to the Gulley! Take him to the Gulley!
But bringee back the frock and board."
Oh! massa, massa! me no deadee yet!
"Take him to the Gulley! Take biui to the Gulley!"
"Carry him along !"
A man has been tried at Kingston for cruel treatment of a Sambo female slave, called Amey. She dad no friends to support her cause, nor any other evidence tp prove her assertions than the
It appears to me that nothing could afford so much relief to the negroes, under the existing system, as the substituting the labour of animals for that of slaves in agriculture, wherever such a measure is practicable. On leaving the island I impressed this wish of mine upon the minds of my agents with all my power ; but the result has been the creating of a very considerable additional expense in the purchase of ploughs, oxen, and farming implements : the awkwardness, and still more the obstinancy, of the few negroes whose services were indispensible, was not to be overcome ; they broke plough after plough, and ruined beast after beast, till the attempy was abandoned in despair. However, it was made without the most essential ingrediaent for success -- the superintendence of an English ploughman : and such of the ploughs as were cast-iron could not be repaired when once broken, and therefore ought not to have been adopted ; but I am told that in several other parts of the island the plough has been introduced, and completely successful.
Another of my farming speculations answered no better : this was to improve the breed of cattle in the country, for which purpose Lord Holland and myself sent over four of the finest bulls that could be procurredin England. One of them got a trifling hurt in his passage from the vessel to the land ; but the remaining three were deposited in their respective pens without the least apparent damage. They were taken all possible care of -- houses approriated to shelter them from sun and rain -- and, in short, no means of preserving their health was neglected. Yet, shortly after their arrival in Jamaica, they evidently began to decline; they paid no sort of attention to the cows who were confined in the same paddock ; and at the end of a fortnight they were all dead. The injured one, having been bled the most copiously in consequence of his hurt, was that which survived the longest.
During my former visit to Jamaica I had interceded in behalf of a negro belonging to Greenwich estate, named Aberdeen, who had run away repeatedly, but who attributed his misconduct to the decay of his health, which rendered him unable to work as well as formerly, and to the fear of consequent punishment for not having performed the tasks assigned to him. The fellow while be spoke to me had tears running down his abeeks, looked feeble and ill, and indeed seemed to be quite heart-broken. On my speaking to the attorney, he readily promised to inquire into the truth of the man's statement, and to take care that he should be only allotted such labour as his strength might be fully equal to. This morning he came over to see me, and so altered that I could scarcely believe him to be the same man. He was cleanly dressed, walked with his head erect, and his eyes sparkled, and his mouth grinned from ear to ear, while he told me that during my absence everything had gone well with him, nobody had " put upon him;" he had been tasked no more than suited his strength ; as much as he was able to do, he had done willingly, and had never run away. Even his asthma was better in consequence of the depression being rdmoved from his spirits. So, he said, as soon as he heard of my return, be thought it his duty to come over and show himself to me, and tell me that he was well, and contented, and behaving properly ; for that " to be sure, if massa no speak that good word for me to trustee, me no livee now; me good massa ! " Gratitude made him absolutely eloquent: his whole manner, and the strong expression of his countenance, put his sincerity out of all doubt, and I never saw a man seem to feel more truly thankful. All negroes, therefore, are not absolutely without some remembrance of kindness shown them; and indeed I ought not, in justice to my own people, to allow myself to forget that, when I sent a reward to those who had roused themselves to drive the cattle out of the canes the other night, there was considerable difficulty in persuading them to accept the money: they sent me word, " that as they were all well treated on the estate, it was their business to take care that no mischief was done to it, and that they did not deserve to be rewarded for having merely done their duty by me."
One of the deadliest poisons used by the negroes (and a great variety is perfectly well known to most of them) is prepared from the root of the cassava. Its juice being expressed and allowed to ferment, a small worm is generated, the substance of which being received into the stomach is of a nature the most pernicious. A small portion of this worm is concealed under one of the thumb-nails, which are suffered to grow long for this purpose ; then, when the negro has contrived to persuade his intended victim to eat or drink with him, he takes an opportunity, while handing to him a dish or cup, to let the worm fall, which never fails to destroy the person who swallows it. Another means of destruction is to be found (as I am assured) in almost every negro-garden throughout the island: it is the arsenic-bean, neither useful for food nor ornamental in its appearance ; nor can the negroes, when questioned, give any reason for affording it a place in their gardens ; yet there it is always to be seen. The alligator's liver also possesses deleterious properties; and the gall is said to be still more dangerous.
Whether it be the climate not agreeing with their African blood (genuine or inherited), or whether it be from some defect in their general formation, certainly negroes seem to hold their lives upon a very precarious tenure. Some of my strongest workmen, the very servants too in my own house, are perpetually falling ill with little fevers, or colds, or pains in the head or limbs. However, the season is universally allowed to have been peculiarly unhealthy for negroes; and, indeed, even for white people, the deaths on board the shipping having been unusually numerous this year; and in the barracks, which are scarcely a couple of miles distant front my estate, the yellow fever has established itself, and, as I hear, is committing terrible ravages, particularly among the wives of the soldiers. This morning several negro mothers, belonging to Friendship and Greenwich, came to complain to their attorney (who happened to be at my house) that the overseer obliged them to wean their children too soon. Some-of these children were above twenty-two months
The violent gale of wind which persecuted us with so much pertinacity on our leaving the English Channel is supposed to have been the tail of a tremendous hurricane which has utterly laid waste Barbadoes and several other islands. No less than sixteen of the ships which sailed at the same time with us are reported to have perished upon the passage ; so that I ought to consider it at least as a negative piece of good luck to have reached Jamaica myself, " no bones broke, though sore peppered ;" but I am still trembling in uncertainty for the fate of the vessel which is bringing out all my Irish supplies, and the non-arrival of which would be a misfortune to me of serious magnitude. The negroes are so obstinate and so wilful in their general character, that if they do not receive the precise articles to which they have been accustomed, and which they expect as their right, no compensation, however ample, can satisfy them. Thus, at every Christmas it would go near to create a rebellion if they did not receive a certain proportion of salt fish ; but if, in the interveneing months, accident should prevent their receiving their usual allownace of herrings, the giving them salt fish, although double the value, would be considered by them as an act of the grossest injustice.
On Saturday about eight in the evening a large centipede dropped from the ceiling upon my dinner-table, and was immediatley cut in tw exact halves by one of the guests. As it isa reported in Jamaica that these reptiles when thus divided will re-unite again, or if separated will reproduce their missing members,
Mr. Lutford, the proprietor of a considerable estate in the parish if Clarendon, had frequently accused a particular negro of purloining coffee. About six months ago the slave was sent for, and charged with a fresh offence of the same nature, when he confessed having taken a small quantity ; upon which his master ordered him to fix his eyes on a particular cotton-tree, and then, without any further ceremony, shot him through the head. His mistress ws the coroners' natural daughter, and the coroner himself was similarly connected with the custos of Clarendon. In consequence of this family compact no inquest was held, no inquiry was made ; the whole business was allowed to be slurred over, and the murder would have remained unpunished if accident had not brought some rumours respecting it to the
My estate is greatly palgued by a negress named Catalina ; she is either mad or has long pretended to be so : never works, and always steals. About a week befor emy arrival she was found in the trash-house, which ahe had pitched upon as the very fittest place possible for her kitchen ; and there she was sitting, very quietly and comfortably, boiling her pot over an immense fire, and surrounded on all sides by dry canes, inlfammable as tinder. This vagary was of too dangerous a nature to allow of her being linger left in liberty, and she was put into the hospital. But her husband was by no means pleased with her detentin, as he never failed to appropriate to himself a share of her plunder, and when discovered the blame of the robbery was laid upon his wife's insanity. So, while the general joy at my first arrival drew the hospital attendants from their post, he took the opportunity to carry off his wife and conceal her. The consequence was , that this morning complaints poured upon me of gardens robbed by Catalina, who had carried off as much as she could, dug up and destroyed the rest, and had shown as little conscience in providing herself with poultry as in helping herself to vegetables. I immediately despatched on of the negro-govenors with a party in pursuit of her, who succeeded in lodging her once more in the hospital, where she must remain till I can get her sent to the asylum at Kingston, the only hospital for lunatics in the whole island.
On my former visit to Jamaica I found on my estate a poor woman nearly one hundred years old, and stone blind. She was too infirm to walk, but two young negroes brought her on their backs to the steps of my house, in order, as she said, that she might at least touch massa, although she could not see him.
I think that I really may now venture to hope that my plans for the management of my estate have succeeded beyond even my most sanguine expectations. I have now passed three weeks with my negroes, the doors of my house open all day long, and, full liberty allowed to every person to come and speak to me without witnesses or restraint; yet not one man or woman has come to me with a single complaint. On the contrary, all my inquiries have been answered by an assurance, that during the two years of my absence my regulations have been adhered to most implicitly, and that, " except for the pleasure of seeing massa," there was no difference. Many of them have come to tell me instances of kincluess which they have received from one or other of their superintendents ; others to describe some severe fit of illness in which they must have died but for the care taken of them in the hospital ; some, wko were weakly and low-spirited upon my former visit, to show me how much they are improved in health, and tell me " how they keep up heart now, because since massa come upon the property nobody put upon them, and all go well;" and some who had formerly complained of one trifle or other, withdraw their complaints, and say that they want no charge, and are willing to be employed in any way that might be thought most for the good of the estate. Although I have now at least seen every one of them, and have ; conversed with numbers, I have not yet been able to find one person who had so much as even an imaginary grievance to lay before me. Yet I find that it has been found necessary to punish with the I h, although only in a very few instances ; but then t
his only took place on the commission of absolute crimes, and in cases where its necessity and justice were so universally felt, not only by others, but by the sufferes themsleves, that instead of complaining, they seem only to be afraid of their offence coming to
On the other hand, although the lash has thus been in a manner utterly abolished, except in cases where a much severer punishement would have been inflicted by the police, and although they are aware if this unwillingness to chastise, my trustee acknowledged that during my absence the negroes have been wueit and tractable, and have not only laboured as well as they used to do, but have done much more work than the negroes on an adjoining property, where the number is considerably larger, and where, moreover, a considerable sum is paid for hired assistance. Having now waited three weeks to see how they would conduct themselves, and found no cause for dissatisfaction since the neglect of the watchmen to guard the cattle (and which they one and all attribute to their joy at seeing me again), I thought it time distribute the presents which I had brought for them from England.
During my absence I had ordered a new and additional hospital to be built, intented entirely for the use of lying-in women, nursing mothers, and cases of a serious nature, for which purpose it is to be provided with every possible comfort ; while the old hosptial is to be reserved for those who have little or nothing the matter with them, but who obstinately insist upon their being too ill to work, in defiance of the opinion of all their medical attendants. The new hospital is not quite finished ; but wishing to connect it as much as possible with pleasurable associations,
To-day divine service was performed at Savannah la Ma for the first time these five weeks. The rector has been indisposed lately with the lumbago: he has no curate ; and thus during five whole weeks there was a total cessation of public worship. I had told several of my female acquaintance that it was long since they had been to church, that I was afraid of their forgetting all about it, and that if there should be no service for a week longer I should think it my duty to come and hear them say their Catechism myself. Luckily the rector recovered, and saved me the trouble; but the long privation of public prayer did not seem to have annoyed them, and I have seldom witnessed a more meagre congregation. I cannot discover that the negroes have any external forms of worship, nor any priests in Jamaica, unless their Obeah-men should be considered as such; but still I cannot think that they ought to be considered as totally devoid of all natural religion. There is no phrase so common on their tips as " God bless"you! " and " God preserve you! " and " God will bless you wherever you go ! " phrases which they pronounce with every appearance of sincerity, and as if they came from the very bottom of their hearts. "God-A'mity! God-A'mity!" is their constant exclamation in pain and in sorrow. This proves their belief in a Supreme Being. But they have even got a step further : for they also allow the existnece of an evil principle.
The, proprietor of a neighbouring estate lately used all his influence to persuade his foster-sister to be christened, but it was all in vain ; she bad imbibed strong African prejudices from her mother, and frankly declared that she found nothing in the Christian system so alluring to her taste as the post-obit balls and banquets promised by the religion of Africa. I confess that this prejudice appears to me to be so strongly rooted, that I am sadly afraid the efforts of the curates who are expected to be sent out by the Bishop of London will avail but little ; and that the rewards after death which Christianity offers will be outweighed by the pleasures of eating fat hog, drinking raw rum, and dancing for centuries to the jam-jam and kitty-katty.
On my arrival I found that idle rogue Nato, as usual, an inmate of the hospital, where he regularly passes at least nine months out of the twelve. He was with infinite difficulty per- suaded at the end of a fortnight to employ himself about the carriage-horses for a couple of days; but on the third he re- turned to the hospital, although the medical attendants, one and all, declared nothing to be the matter with him, and the doctors even refused to insert his name in the sick-list. Still he persisted in declaring himseld to be too ill to do a single stroke of work : so on Thursday I put him into one of the sick-rooms by himself, and desired him to get well with the doors locked, which he would find to the full as easy as with the doors open ; at the same time assuring him that he should never come out till he should be sufficiently recovered to cut canes in the field. He held good all Friday; but Saturday being a holiday, he declared huself to be in a perfect state of health, and desired to be re- leased. However, I was determined to make him suffer a little his lying and obstinacy, and would not suffer the doors to be
Some of the free people of colour possess slaves, cattle, and other property left them by their fathers, and are in good circumstances; but few of them are industrious enough to increase their possessions by any honest exertions of their own. As to the free blacks, they are almost uniformly lazy and improvident, most of them half-starved, and only anxious to live from hand to mouth. Some lounge about the highways with pedlar-boxes stocked with various worthless baubles ; others keep miserable stalls provided with rancid butter, damaged salt pork, and other such articles: and these they are always willing to exchange for stolen rum and sugar, which they secretly tempt the negroes to pilfer from their proprietors ; but few of them ever endeavour to earn their livelihood creditably. Even those who profess to be tailors, carpenters, or coopers, are, for the most part, careless, drunken, and dissipated, and never take pains sufficient to attain any dexterity in their trade. As to a free negro hiring himself out for plantation-labour, no instance of such a thing was ever known in Jamaica; and probably no price, however great, would be considered by them as a sufficient temptation.
The Africans and Creoles hate each other most cordially. Yesterday, in the field, a girl who had taken some slight offence
Neptune came this morning to request that the name of his son, Oscar, might be changed to that of Julius, which (it seems) had been that of his own father. The child, he said, had always been weakly, and he was persuaded that its ill-health proceeded frin his deceased grand-father's being displeased, because it had not been called after him. The other day, too, a woman, who had a child sick in the hospital, begged me to change its name for any other which might please me best -- she cared not what ; but she was sure that it would never do well so long as it should be called Lucia. Perhaps, this prejudice respecting the power of names produces in some measure their unwillingness to be christened. They find no change produced in them, except the alteration if their namem and hence they conclude that this name contains in it some secret power ; while, on the other hand, theu conceive that the ghosts of their ancestors cannot fail to be offended at their abandoning an appellation, either hereditary in the family or given by themselves. It is another negro prejudice, that the eructation of the breath of a sucking child has something in it venomous ; and frequently nursing mothers, on showing the doctor a swelled breast, will very gravely and positively attribute it to the infant's having broken wind while hanging on the nipple.
The law-charges in Jamaica have lately been regulated by the House of Assembly ; and, by all accounts ( except that of the lawyers),
A negro, named Adam, has long been the terror of my whole estate. He was accused of being an Obeah-man ; and persons notorious for the practice of Obeah, and who were afterwards convicted and transported, had been found concealed in his house. He was strongly suspected of having poisoned more than twelve negroes, men and women; and, having been displaced by my former trustee from being principal governor, in revenge be put poison into his water-jar. Luckily he was observed by one of the house-servants, who impeached him, and prevented the intended mischief. For this offence he ought to have been given up to justice ; but being brother of the trustee's mistress, she found means to get him off, after undergoing a long confinement in the stocks. I found him, at my first visit, living in a state of utter excommunication : I tried what reasoning with him could effect, reconciled him to his companions, treated him with marked kindness, and he promised solemnly to behave well during my absence. However, instead in attributing my lenity to a wish to reform him, his pride and confidence in his own talents and powers of deception made him attribute the indulgence shown him to his having obtained an influence over my mind. This he determined to employ to his own purposes upon my return ; so he set about forming a conspiracy against Sully, the present chief governor, and boasted, on various estates in the neighbourhood, that on my arrival he would take care to get Sully broke, and himself substituted in his place. In the meanwhile he quarrelled and fought right and left ; and I now found the whole estate in an uproar about him. no less than three charges of assault, with intent to kill, were preferred against him. In a fit of jealousy he had endeavoured to strangle Marlborough with the thong of whip, and had nearly affected his purpose before
The terror thus produced was universal throughout the estate, abd Sully and several other principal negroes requested me to remove them to my property in St. Thomas', as their lives were not safe while breathing the same air with Adam. However, it
Now, among other suspicious articles found in Adam's hut, there was a string of beads, of various sizes, shapes, and colours arranged in a form peculiar to the performance of the Obeahman in the Myal dance. Their use was so well known, that Adam on his trial sis not even attempt to deny that they could serve for no purpose nut the practice of Obeah ; but he endeavoured to refure their being his own property, and with this view he began to narrate the means by which he had become possessed of them. He said that they belonged to Fox ( a negro who was lately transported ), from whom he had taken them at a Myal dance held on the estate of Dean's Valley ; but as the assistants at one of these dances are by law condemned to death equally with the principal performer, the court had the humanity to interrupt his confession of having been present on such an occasionm and thus saved him from criminating himself so deeply as to render a capital punishment inevitable. I understand that he was quite unabashed and at his ease the whole time ; upon hearing his sentence he only said very coolly, " Well ! I can't help it !" turned himself round and walked out of the court.
This fellow was a great hypocrite. When on my arrival he gave me a letter, filled with the grossest lies respecting the trustee, and every creditable negro on the estate, he took care to
Last night the negroes of Friendship took it into their ingenious heads to pay me a compliment of an extremely inconvenient nature. They thought that it would be highly proper to treat me with a nightly serenade, just by way of showing their enjoyment on my return ; and, accordingly, a large body of them arrived at my doors about midnight, dressed out in their best clotbes, and accompanied with drums, rattles, and their whole orchestra of abominable instruments, determined to pass the whole night in singing and dancing under my windows. Luckily, my negrogovernors heard what was going forwards, and knowing my taste a little better than my visitors, they hastened to asure them of my being in bed and asleep, and with much difficulty persuaded them to remve into my village. Here they contented themselves with making a noise for the greatest part of the night ; and the nest morning, after coming up to see me at breakfast, they went away quietly. One of them only remained, to inquire particularly after Lady H -- -, as her mother had been her nurse, and she was very particular in her inquiries as to her health, her children, their ages, and names. When she went away I gave her a plentiful provision of bread, butter, plantains, and cold ham from the breakfast-table, part of which she sat down to eat,
I set out to visit my estate in St. Thomas's in the East, called Hordley. It is at the very furthest extremity of the island, and never was there such a journey. Something disagreeable happened at every step. My accidents commenced before I had accomplished ten miles from my own house ; for in passing along a narrow shelf of rock which overhangs the sea near Blue-fields, a pair of young blood-horses in my carriage took fright at the roaring of the waves which dashed violently against them, and twice nearly overturned me. On the second occasion one of them actually fell down into the water, the the off-wheel flew up into the air, and the curricle remained suspended, balancing backwards and forwards, like Mahomet's coffin. Luckily, time was allowed the horse to recover his legs ; down came the whell once more on terra firma, and on we went again. We slept at Cashew ( an estate near Lacovia ), and the next morning at daylight proceeded to cllimb the Bogr. a mountain so difficult of ascent that everyone had pronounced the attempt to be hopeless
I resumed my journey; but my horses were so completely knocked up that I was obliged to hire an additional pair to convey me to Miss Hetley's inn, on the other side of the Yallacks River, which is nineteen miles from Kingston. This river, as well as that of Morant (which I passed about ten miles further), both in breadth and strength, sets all bridges at defiance ; and in the rainy season it is sometimes impassable for several weeks. On this occasion there was but little water in either, and I arrived without difficulty at Port Morant, where I found horses sent by my trustee to convey me to Hordley. The road led up to the mountains, and was one of the steepest, roughest, and most
At length I reached my journey's end, jaded and wearied to death: here I expected to find a perfect paradise, and I found a perfect bell. Report bad assured me that Hordley was the best-managed estate in the island ; and, as far as the soil was concerned, report appeared to have said true : but my trustee tiad also assured me that my negroes were the most contented and best-disposed, and here there was a lamentable incorrectness in the account. I found them in a perfect uproar; complaints of all kinds stunned me from all quarters : all the blacks accused all the whites, and all the whites accused all the blacks; and as far as I could make out, both parties were extremely in the right. There was no attachment to the soil to be found here ; the negroes declared, one and all, that if I went away and left them to groan under the-same system of oppression-without appeal or hope of redress, they would-follow my carriage and establish themselves at Cornwall. I had soon discovered enough to be certain that, although they told me plenty of falsehoods, many of their complains were but too well founded ; and yet how to protect them for the future, or satisfy them for the present was no easy matter to decide. Trusting to these fallacious reports of the Arcadian state of happiness upon Hordley, I had supposed that I should have nothing to do there but grant a few indul- gences and establish the regulations already adopted with suc- cess at Cornwall ; distribute a little money, and allow a couple of play-days for dancing : and under this persuasion I had made it quite impossible for me to remain above a week at Hordley, which I conceived to be fully sufficient for the above purpose. As to grievances to be redressed, I wa totally unprepared for any such neccessity ; yet now they poured in upon me incessantly, each more serious than the former ; and before twenty-four hours were elapsed I had been assured that, in order to produce any sort of tranquility upon the estate, I must begin be displacing the trustee, the physician, the four white book-keepers, and the four black governors ; all of whom I was modestly required to remove, and provide better substitutes, in the space of fice days and a morning. What with the general clamour, the assertions and denials, the tears and the passion, the odious falsehoods, and the
But to leave them was no such easy matter ; the weather had been bad from the time of my commencing my journey, but from the moment of my reaching Hordley it became abominable. -- the rain poured down in cataracts incessantly. The old crazy house stands on the top of a hill, and the north wind, howled round it night and day, shaking it from top to bottom, and threatening to become a hurricane. The storm was provided with a very suitable accompaniment of thunder and lightning : and, to complete the business, down came the mountain-torrents, and swelled Plantain-Garden River to such a degree that it broke down the dam-head, stopped the mill, and all work was at a stand-still for two days and nights. But the worst of all was that this same river lay between me and Kingston: bridge there was none, and it soon became utterly impassable. Thus it continued for four days ; on the fifth (the day which I had appointed for my departure, and on which I gave the negroes a parting holiday) the water appeared to be somewhat abated at a ford about four miles distant; for as to crossing at my own, that was quite out of the question for a week at least. A negro was despatched on horseback to ascertain the height of the water; his report was very unfavourable. However, as at worst I could but return, and had no better means of employing my time, I resolved to make the experiment. About forty of the youngest and stron gest negroes. left their-dancing and drinking and ran on foot to see me safe over the water. The few hours which had elapsed since my messenger's examination had operated very favourably towards the reduction of the water, although it was still very high. But, by a servant going before to ascertain the, least dangerous passage, and the negroes rushing all into river to break the force of the stream, and support the carriage on both sides, we were enabled to struggle to the opposite bank, and were landed in safety, amidst loud cheering from my sable attendants, who then left me, many with tears running down
Of all the points which had displeased me at Hordley, none had made me more angry for the time than the lie told me by the chief governor, which occasioned my displacing him. This fellow, who for the credit of our family (no doubt) had got himself christened by the name of John Lewis, had the impudence to walk into my parlour just as I was preparing to go to bed, and inform me that he could not get the business of the estate done. Why not? He could get nobody to come to the night- work at the mill, which be supposed was the consequence of my indulging the negroes so much. Indeed! and where were the people who ought to come to their night-work? In the negro village? No ; they were in the hospital, and refused to come out to work. Upon which I blazed up like a barrel of gunpowder, and asked him whether any person really had been inso- lent enough to select a whole night-party from the sick people
I found baptism in high vogue upon Hordley, but I am sorry to say, that I could not discover much effect produced upon their minds by having been made Christians, except in one particular : Whenever one of them told me a monstrous lie (and they told me whole dozens), he never failed to conclude his story by saying, " And now, massa, you know I've been christened, and if you do not believe what I say, I'm ready to buss the book to the truth of it." The whole advantages to be derived by negroes from becoming Christians seemed to consist with them in two points : being a superior species of magic itself, it preserved them from black Obeah ; and by enabling thein to take an oath upon the Bible to the truth of any lie which it might suit them to tell, they believed that it would give them the power of humbugging the white people with perfect ease and convenience. They had observed the importance attached by the whites to such an attestation, and the conviction which it always appeared to carry with it ; as to the crime or penalty of perjury, of that they were to- tally ignorant, or at least indifferent; therefore they were perfectly ready to "buss the book," which they considered as a piece of buckra superstition, mighty useful to the negroes, and cared nothing taking their oath upon the Bible to a lie.
Although I set out from Hordley at two o'clock, it was past seven before I reached an estate called " The Retreat," which was only twelve miles off, so abominable was the road. Here I stopped for the night, which I passed at supper with the musquitoes -- " not where I ate, but where I was eaten." Morant River had been swelled by the late heavy rains to a tremendous height, and its numerous quicksands render the passage in such a state extremely dangerous. However, a negro having been sent early to explore it, and having returned with a favourable report, we proceeded to encounter it. A Hordley negro well acquainted with these perilous rivers had accompanied me for the express purpose of pointing out the most practicable fords : but for some time his efforts to find a safe one were unavailing, his horse at the end of a minute or two plunging into a quick- sand or some deep hole, among the waters thrown up from which he totally disappeared for a moment, and then was seen to struggle out again with such an effort and leap, as were quite beyond the capability of any carriage's attempting. However, at the end of half an hour he was fortunate to find a place where he could cross (up to his horse's belly in the water, to be sure), but at least without tumbling into holes and quicksands-, and here we set out, conscious that our whole chance of reaching the opposite shore consisted in keeping precisely the path which he had gone already, and determined to stick as close as possible to his horse's tail. But no sooner were we fairly in the water than my young horses found themselves unable to resist the strength and rapidity of the torrent, which was rolling down huge stones as big as rocks from the mountain ; and to my utter consternation I perceived the curricle carried down the stream, and, the distance from my guide (who by swimming his horse had reached the destined landing-place in safety) growing wider and wider with every moment. We were now driving at all hazards ; every moment I expected to see a horse or a wheel sink down into some deep hole, the chaise overturned, and ourselves either swallowed up in a quicksand or dashed to pieces against the stones which were rolling around us. I never remember to have felt myself so completely convinced of approaching destruction, and
The Yallack River was less dangerous; but even this too had been sufficiently swelled to make the crossing it no easy matter ; so that what with one obstacle and another, when I reached Kingston at six o'clock with my bones and my vehicle unbroken, I was almost as much surprised as satisfied. I dined with the curate of Kingston, the Rev. G. Hill, where I met the admiral upon this station, Sir Home Popham, and a large party.
I reached Spanish Town in time to dine with the chief justice (Mr. Jackson), and intended to remain there two or three days longer ; but the next morning my landlady just hinted that " she thought it right to let me know, that to be sure there was a gentleman unwell in the house ; but she supposed that I should not care about it : however, if I particularly disliked the neighbourhood of a sick person, she would procure me lodgings." I asked " what was the complaint?" "Oh ! he was a little sick, that was all." To which I only could answer, that " in that case I hoped he would get better," and thought no more about it. However, when I went to visit the governor, I found that this "little sickness" of my landlady's was neither more nor less than the yellow fewver, of which the gentleman in question was now dying, of which a lady had died only two days before, and of which another European, newly arrived, had fallen ill in this very same hotel only a fortnight before, and had died, after throwing himself out of an upper window in a fit of delirium. Under all these circumstances I thought it to the full as prudent
I was very glad to find myself once more quietly established at Cornwall, fully determined to leave it no more till I leave it on my return to England. The lady who had died so lately at Kingston had arrived not long before in a vessel, both the crew and passengers of which landed, to all appearance, in perfect health, after a favourable passage from England. Of course, they soon dispersed in different directions ; yet almost all of them were attacked nearly at the same period by the fever, which seemed to have a particular commission to search out the persons that had arrived by that particular ship.
I am more and more convinced every day, that the best and easiest mode of governing negroes is not by the detestable lash,
Clearing their grounds by fire is a very expeditious proceeding, consequently in much practice among the negroes; but in this tindery country it is extremely dangerous, and is forbidden by the law. As I returned home to-day from church, I observed a large smoke at no great distance, and Cubina told me, he supposed that the negroes of the neighbouring estate of Amity were clearing their grounds. " Then they are doing a very wrong thing," said I; " I hope they will fire nothing else but their grounds, for with so strong a breeze a great deal of mischief might be done." However, in half an hour it proved that the smoke in question arose from my own negro-grounds, that the fire had spread itself, and I could see from my window the flames and smoke pouring themselves upwards in large volumes, while the crackling of the dry bushes and brush-wood was something perfectly terrific. The alarm was instantly given, and whites and blacks all hurried to the scene of action. Luckily, the breeze set the contrary way from the plantations ; a morass interposed itself between the blazing ground and one of my best cane-pieces : the flames were suffered to burn till they reached the brink of the water, and then the negroes managed to extinguish them without much difficulty. Thus we escaped without injury, but I own I was heartily frightened.
I had mentioned to Mr. Shand my having found a woman at Hordley, who had been crippled for life, in consequence of her having been kicked in the womb by one of the book-keepers. He writes to me on this subject : -- "I trust that conduct so savage occurs rarely in any country. I can only say, that in my long experience nothing of the kind has ever fallen under my observation." Now although I have passed six months in Jamaica, I have already found on one of my estates a woman who had been kicked in the womb by a white book-keeper, by which she was crippled, and on another of my estates another woman who had been similarly kicked by another white bookkeeper, by which he had crippled the child : and thus, as my two estates are at the two extremities of the island, I am entitled
Naturalists and physicians, philosophers and philanthropists, may argue and decide as they please ; but certainly, as far as mere observations admits of my judging, there does seem to be a very great difference between the brain of a black person and a white one. I should think that Voltaire would call a negro's reason " une raison tres-particuliere." Somehow or the other, they never can manage to do anything quite as it should be done. If they correct themselves in one respect to-day they are sure of making a blunder in some other manner to-morrow. Cubina is now twenty-five, and has all his life been employed about the stable ; he goes out with my carriage twice every day ; yet he has never been able to succeed in putting on the harness properly. Before we have proceeded a hundred yards we are certain of being obliged to stop, and put something or other to rights : and I once laboured for more than half an hour to make him understand that the Christmas-holidays came at Christmas ; when asked the question, he alwys hesitated, and answered, at hap-hazard " July " or " October." Yet, Cubina is far superior in intellect to most if the negroes who have fallen under my observation. The girl too, whose business it is to open the house each morning, has in vain been desired to unclose all the jalousies : she never fails to leave three or four closed, and when she is scolded for doing so, she takes care to open those three the next morning, and leaves shut the opposite side.
Indeed, the attempt to make them correct a fault is quite fruitless : they can never do the same thing a second time in the same manner ; and the cook if having succeeded in dressing a dish well is desired to dress just such another, she is certain of doing something which makes it quite different. On day I desired that there might be always a piece of salt meat at dinner, in oorder that I might be certain of always having enough to send to the sick in the hospital. In consequence of this there was nothing at dinnr but salt meat. I complained that there was not a single fresh dish, and the next day, there was nothing but fresh. Sometimes there is scarcely anything served up, and
For above a month Cubina and I had perpetual quarrels about the cats being shut into the gallery at nights, where they threw down plates, glasses, and crockery of all kinds, and made such a clatter that to get a wink of sleep was quite out of the question. Cubina, before he went to rest, hunted under all the beds and sofas, and laid about him with a long whip for half an hour together ; but in half an hour after his departure the cats were at work again. He was then told that although he had turned them out, he must certainly have left some window open : he promised to pay particular attention to this point, but that night the uproar was worse than ever ; yet he protested that he had carefully turned out all the cats, locked all the doors, and shut all the windows. He was told, that if he had really turned out all the cats, the cats must have got in again, and therefore that he must have left some one window open at least. "No," he said, " he had not left one ; but a pane in one of the windows had been broken two months before, and it was there that the cats got in whenever they pleased." Yet he had continued to turn the cats out of the door with the greatest care, although he was perfectly conscious that they could always walk in again at the window in five minutes after.
But the most curious of Cubina's modes of proceeding is when it is necessary for him to attack the pigeon-bouse. He steals up the ladder as slily and as softly as foot can fall; he opens the door, and steals in his head with the utmost caution ; on which, to his never-failing surprise and disappointment, all the pigeons make their escape through the open holes ; he has now no resource but entering the dove-cot, and remaining there with unwearied patience for the accidental return of the birds, which nine times out of ten does not take place till late for dinner, and Cubina returns empty-handed. Having observed this proceeding constantly during a fortnight, I took pity upon his embarrassment, and ordered two wooden sliders to be fitted to the holes. Cubina was delighted with this exquisite invention,
A few days ago, Nicholas, a mulatto carpenter, was ordered to make a box for the conveyance of four jars of sweetmeats, of which he took previous measure ; yet in the first instance he made a box so small that it would scarcely hold a single jar, and than another so large that it would have held twenty ; and when at length he produced one of a proper size, he brought it nailed up for travelling (although it was completely empty), and nailed up so effectually too, that on being directed to open it that the jars might be packed, he, split the cover to pieces in the attempt to take it off. Yet, among all my negroes, few are equal to Nicholas and Cubina in adroitness and intelligence. Judge then what must the remaining three hundred be!
In my medical capacity I sometimes perform cures so unexpected, that I stand lke Katterfelto, " with my hair standing on end at my wonders." Last night, Alexander, the second governor, who has been seriously ill for some days, sent me word, that he was suffering cruelly from a pain in his head, and could get no sleep. I knew not how to relieve him ; but having frequently observed a violent passion for perfumes in the house of negroes, for want of something else I gave the doctoress some oil of lavender, and told her to rub tow or three drops upon his nostrils. This morning, he told me that " to be sure what I had sent him was a grand medicine indeed," for it had no sooner touched his nose than he felt something cold run up to his forehead, over his head, and all the way down his neck to the backbone ; instantly, the headache left him, he fell fast asleep, nor had the pain returned in the morning. But I am afraid, that
A free mulatto of the name of Rolph had frequently been mentioned to me by different magistrates, as remarkable for the numerous complaints brought against him for cruel treatment of his negroes. He was the son of a white ploughman, who at his death left him six or seven slaves, with whom he resides in the heart of the mountains, where the remoteness of the situation secures him from observation or control. His slaves, indeed, every now and then contrive to escape, and come down to Savannah la Mar to lodge their complaints ; but the magistrates, hitherto, had never been able to get a legal hold upon him. However, a few days ago, he entered the house of a Mrs. Edgins, when she was from home, and behaving in an outrageous manner to her slaves he was desired by the head-man to go away. Highly incensed, be answered, " that if the fellow dared to speak another word, it should be the last that he should ever utter." The negro dared to make a rejoinder; upon which Rolph aimed a blow at him with a stick, which missed his intended victim, but struck another slave who was interposing to prevent a scuffle and killed him, upon the spot. The murder was committed in the presence of several negroes ; but negroes are not allowed to give evidence, and as no free person was present, there are not only doubts whether the murderer will be punished, but whether he can even be put upon his trial.
This morning I signed the manumission of Nicholas Cameron, the best of my mulatto carpenters. He had been so often on the very point of getting his liberty, and still the cup was dashed from his lips. that I had promised to set him free, whenever he could precure an able negro as his substitute ; although being a good workman, a single negro was by no means an adequate price in exchange. On my arrival this year I found that he had agreed to pay 150 l . for a female negro, and the woman was approved of by my trustee. But on inquiry it appeared that she had a child, from which she was unwilling to part ; and her owner refused to sell her child, except at a most unreasonable price. Here there was insurmountable objection, and Nicholas was told, to his great mortification, the he must look out for another substitute. The woman, on her part, was determined to belong to Cornwall estate and no other : so she told her owner, that if he attempted to sell her elsewhere she would make away with herself, and on his ordering her to prepare for a removal to a neighbouring proprietor's, she disappeared, and concealed herself so well, that for some time she was believed to have put her threats of suicide into execution. the idea of losing his 150 l . frightened her master so completely that he declared himself ready to let me have the child at a fair price, as well as the mother, if she should ever be found ; and her friends having conveyed this assurance to her, she thought proper to emerge from her hiding-place, and the bargain was arranged finally. The titles, however, were not yet made out, and as the time of my departure for Hordley was arrived, these were odered to be got ready against my return, when the negroes were to be delivered over to me, and Nicholas was to be set free. In the meanwhile the child was sent by her mistress ( a free mulatto ) to hide some stolen ducks upon a distant property, and on her return blabbed out the rrand : in consequence the mistress was committed to prison for the theft ; and no sooner was she released, than she revenged herself upon the poor girl by giving her thirty lashes with the cattle-whip, inflicted with all the severity of vindictive malice. This treatment of a child of such tender years reduced her to such a state, as made the
The conduct of the poor child's mulatto mistress in this case was more unpardonable, and is the only one of numerous instances of a similar description, which have been mentioned to me. Indeed, I have every reason to believe that nothing can be uniformly more wretched than the lives of the slaves of free people of colour in Jamaica ; nor would any thing contribute more to the relief of the black population than the prohibiting by law any mulatto to become the owner of a slave for the future. Why should not rich people of colour be served by poor people of colour, hiring them as domestics? It seldom happens that mulattoes are in possession of plantations ; but when a white man dies, who happens to possess twenty negroes, he will divide them among his brown family, leaving, perhaps, five to each of his four children. These are too few to be employed in plantation work ; they have, therefore, to maintain their owner by some means or other, and which means are frequently not the most honest, the most frequent being the travelling about as higglers, and exchanging the trumpery contents of their packs
Every man of humanity must wish that slavery, even in its best and most mitigated form, had never found legal sanction, and must regret that its system is now so incorporated with the welfare of Great Britain as well as of Jamaica, as to make its extirpation an absolute impossibility, without the certainty of producing worse mischiefs than the one which we annihilate. But certainly there can be no sort of occasion for continuing on the colonies the existence of domestic slavery , which neither contributes to the security of the colonies themselves, nor to the opulence of the mother-country, the revenue of which derived from colonial duties would suffer no defalcation what ever, even if neither the whites nor blacks in the West Indies were suffered to employ slaves, except in plantation labour.
I gave my negroes a farewell holiday, on which occasion each grown-up person received a present of a half-dollar, and every child a maccaroni. In return, they expressed their sorrow for my departure by eating and drinking, dancing and singing, with more vehemence and perserverance than on any other former occasion. As in all probability many years will elapse without my making them another visit, if indeed I should ever return at all, I have exerted myself while here to do everything which appeared likely to contribute to their welfare and security during my absence. In particular, my attorney has made out a list of all such offences as are most usually committed on plantations, to which proportionate punishments have been affixed by myself. From this code of internal regulations the overseer is not to be allowed to deviate, and the attorney has pledged himself in the most solemn manner to adhere strictly to the system laid down for him. By this means the negro will no longer be punished according to the momentary caprice of their superintendent, but by known and fixed laws, the one no more than the other, and without respect to partiality or prejudice. Hitherto, in everything which had not been previously determined by the public law, with a
I have, moreover, taken care to settle all disputes respecting property, having caused all negroes having claims upon others to bring them before me previous to my departure, and directed, that from that time forth no such claim should be inquired into, considered as definitively settled by my authority. It would have done the Lord Chancellor's heart good to see how many suits I determined in the course of a week, and with what expedition I made-a clear court of chancery. But perhaps the most astonishing part of the whole business was, that after judgement was pronounced, the losers as well as the gainers declared themselves perfectly satisfied with the justice of the sentence. I must acknowledge, however, that the negro principle that " massa can do no wrong," was of some little assistance to me on this occasion. " Oh! quite just, me good massa! what massa say, quite just ! me no say nothing more ; me good massa!" Then they thanked me " for massa's goodness in giving them so long talk!" and went away to tell all the others " how just massa had been in taking away what they wanted to keep, or not giving them what they asked for." It must be owned that this is not the usual mode of proceeding after the loss of a chancery suit in England. But to do the negroes mere justice, I must say, that I could not have wished to find a more tractable set of people on almost every occasion. Some lazy and obstinate persons, of course, there must inevitably be in so great a number ; but general I found them excellently disposed, and being once thoroughly convinced of my real good-will towards them, they took it for granted that my regulations must be right and beneficial, even in cases where they were in opposition to individual interests and popular prejudices.
My attorney bad mentioned to me several points which he
Again, mothers being allowed certain indulgences wile suckling, persist in continuing the operation for two years and upwards, to the great detriment both to themselves and their children. Complaint if this being made to me, I sent for the mothers, and told them that every child must be sent to the weaning-house on the first day of the fifteenth month, but that their indulgences should be continued to the mothers for two months longer, although the children would be no longer with them. All who had children of that age immediately gave them up ; the rest promised to do so when they should be old enough ; and they all thanked me for the continuance of their indulgences, which they considered as a boon newly granted them.
On my return from Hordley, I was told that the negroes suffered their pigs to infest the works and grounds in the immediate vicinity of the house in such numbers, that they were become a perfect nuisance ; nor could any remonstrance prevail on them to confine the animals within the village. An order was in consequence issued on a Saturday, that the first four pigs found rambling at large after two days should be put to death without mercy ; and accordingly on Monday morning at the negro breakfast-hour, the head governor made his appearance befor ethe house, armed cap-a-pee, with a lance in his hand and an enormous cutlass by his side. The news of this tremendous
From thenceforth not a pig except my own was to be seen about the place; yet instead of complaining of this restraint, several of the negroes came to assure me, that I might depend on the animals not being suffered to stray beyond the, village for the future, and to thank me, for having given them the warning two days before.
"With many a doleful grunt and piteous squeak,
Poor pigs ! as if their pretty hearts would break!
What other negroes may be, I will not pretend to gues ; but I am certain that there cannot be more tractable or better disposed persons (take them for all in all) than my negroes of Cornwall. I only wish, that in my future dealings with white persons, whether in Jamaica or out of it, I could but meet with half so much gratitude, affection, and good-will.
London : Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.