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2^ J./. 

\'J'he liitjht of TninxUition timl AV/'/« «/« /»V»m '•"' rrun ml ] 

♦ > 

• « 





My dear Sir Arthur Gordon, 

To whom should I dedicate this book, but to you, 

to whom I owe my visit to the West Indies ? I regret 

that I could not consult you about certain matters in 

Chapters XIV. and XV. : but you are away again over 

sea; and I can only send the book after you, such as it 

is, with the expression of my hearty belief that you will 

be to the people of Mauritius what you have been to the 

people of Trinidad. 

I could say much more. But it is wisest often to be 

most silent on the very points on which one longs most 

to speak. 

Ever yours, 



CHAPTER I. • *'^" 

orrwARi) Borxi) 1 



Ti:iNiDAn 67 





MOXOS 11() 




LA DREA 173 
















A provision ground 372 

nouEWARD bound 887 





J^EA-fifDE GRAPE 18 













K0X08 To face 138 

CACAO 155 


CUBA 172 




THE PITCH LAKE - To foce 184 





TORTUGA , . * To face 253 





A TROPIC BEACH 2'oface 304 


THE COOAL To face 328 





YAM 376 


GUAVA 886 

rim tifU tj Ikt Tniiux. rifjinOunla, SI. Joh I, t, I'urrola 



At last we, too, were crossing tiie Atlantic. At last tli« 
tlream of forty years, please God, would be fulfilled, and I 
should see (and happily, not aloiie) the West Indies and the 
Spanish Main, From childhood I liad studied their Natural 
History, their charts, their Koniancea, and alas! their Tragedies; 
and now, at last, I was about to compare books with facts, 
aod judge for myself of the reported wonders of the Earthly 
Paradise. We could scarce believe the evidence of our own 
senses when they told us that we were surely on board a 
West Indian steamer, and could by no possibility get off it 
again, save into the ocean, or on the further side of the 
bcesn ; and it M-as not till the morning of the second day, 


the 3d of December, that we began to be thoroughly awai*6 
that we were on the old route of Westward- Ho, and far 
out in the high seas, while the old world lay behind us 
like a dream. 

Like dreams seemed now the last farewells over tlie 
taft'rel, beneath the chili low December sun ; and the shining 
calm of Southampton water, and the pleasant and well- 
beloved old shores and woods and houses sliding by ; and the 
fisher-boats at anchor off Calshot, their brown and olive sails 
reflected in the dun water, with dun clouds overhead tipt 
witli dull red from otf the setting sun — a study for Vande- 
velde or Backhuysen in the tenderest moods. Like a dream 
seemed the twin lights of Hurst Castle and the Needles, 
glaring out of the gloom behind us, as if old England were 
watching us to the last with careful eyes, and bidding us 
good speed upon our way. Then had come — still like a 
dream — a day of pouring rain, of lounging on the main- 
deck, watching the engines, and watching, too (for it was 
calm at night), the water from the sponsou behind the 
paddle-boxes ; as the live flame-beads leaped and ran amid 
the swirling snow, while some fifteen feet beyond the un- 
touched oily black of the deep sea spread away into the 
endless dark. 

It took a couple of days to arrange our little cabin Penates; 
to discover who was on board ; and a couple of days, too, to 
become aware, in spite of sudden starts of anxiety, that there 
was no post, and could be none; that one could not be 
wanted, or, if one was wanted, found and caught ; and it was 
not tiU the fourth morning that the glorious sense of freedom 
dawned on the mind, as through the cabin port the sunrise 
shone in, yellow and wild through flying showers, and great 
north-eastern waves raced past us, their heads torn off in 
spmy, their broad backs laced with ripples, and each, as it 
passed, gave us a friendly onward lift away into the ** roaring 
forties," as the sailors call the stormy seas between 50 and 40 
degrees of latitude. 

These "roaring forties" seem all stiangely devoid of animal 
life — at least in a December north-east gale ; not a whale 
did we see— only a pair of porpoises; not a sea-bird, save 
a lonely little kittiwake or two, who swung round our stern 


in quest of food : but the seeming want of life was only 
owing to our want of eyes; each niglit the wake teemed more 
bright with ilame-atomies. One kind were little brilliant 
sparks, hurled helpless to and fro on the surface, probably 
Noctilucae ; the others (what they may be we could not guess 
at first) showed patches of soft diil'used light, paler than 
the sparks, yet of the same yellow-wliite hue, which floated 
quietly past, seeming a foot or two below the foam. And 
at the bottom, far beneath, deeper under our feet than the 
summit of tlie Peak of Teueritfe was above our heads, for we 
were now in more than two thousand fathoms water — what 
exquisite forms might there not be ? myriads on myriads, 
generations on generations, people the eternal darkness, seen 
only by Him to whom the darkness is as light as day ; and 
to be seen hereafter, a few of them — but how few — when 
future men of science shall do for this mid- Atlantic sea-floor 
what Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Wyville Thomson have done 
for the North Atlantic, and open one more page of tliat 
Wk which has, to us creatures of a day, though not to 
Him who wrote it as the Time-pattern of His timeless mind, 
neither beginning nor end. 

So, for want of animal life to study, we were driven to 
study the human life around us, pent up there in our little 
iron world. But to talk too much of fellow-passengers is 
fthough usual enough jnst now) neither altogether fair nor 
kind. We see in travel but the outside of people, and as we 
know nothing of their inner history, and little, usually, of 
their antecedents, the pictures which we might sketch of 
them woidd be probably as untruthfully as rashly drawn. 
Crushed together, too, perforce, against each other, people are 
apt on board ship to make little hasty confidences, to show 
unawares little weaknesses, which should be forgotten all 
n»uiid the moment they step on shore and return to some- 
thing like a normal state of society. The wisest and most 
humane rule for a traveller toward his companions is to 

** Be to thoir faults a little Mind ; 
Be to their virtues very kiud ;" 

and to consider all that is said and done on board, like what 



passes among the members of the same club, as on the 
whole private and confidential. So let it suftice that theie 
were on board the good steamship Shannon, ao was to be 
expected, plenty of kind, courteous, generous, intelligent 
people ; officials, travellers — one, happy man 1 away to dis- 
cover new birds on the yet unexplored Kio ilagdalena, in 
New Grenada; planters, merchants, what not, all ready, when 
once at St. Thomas's, to spread themselves over the islands, 
and the Spanish Main, and the Isthmus of Panama, and 
after that, some of them, down the Pacific shore to Callao 
and Valparaiso. The very names of their dili'erent destina- 
tions, and the imagination of the wonders they would see 
(though we were going to a spot as full of wonders as any), 
raised something like envy in our breasts, all the more 
because most of them persisted in tantalizing us, in the 
hospitable fashion of all West Indians, by fruitless invita- 
tions to islands and ports, which to have seen were "a 
joy for ever." 

But almost the most interesting group of all was one of 
Cornish miners, from the well-known old Itedruth and Cam- 
borne county, and the old sacred hill of Carn-brea, who were 
going to seek their fortunes awhile in silver mines among the 
Andes, leaving wives and children at home, and hoping, " if 
it please God, to do some good out there," and send their 
earnings home. Stout, bearded, high-cheek-boned men they 
were, dressed in the thick coats and rough caps, and, of 
coui-se, in the indispensable black cloth trousers, which make 
a miner's full dress ; and their faces lighted up at the old 
pass-word of " Down- Along ;" for whosoever knows Down- 
Along, and the speech thereof, is at once a friend and a 
brother. We had many a pleasant talk with them ere we 
parted at St, Thomas's. 

And on to St. Thomas's we were hurrying ; and, thanks to 
the north-east wind, as straight as a bee-lina On the third 
day we ran two hundred and fifty-four miles ; on the fourth 
two hundred and sixty ; and on the next day, at noon, where 
should we be? Nearing the Azores; and by midnight, run- 
ning past them, and away on the track of Columbus, towards 
the Sargasso Sea. 

We stayed up late on the night of December 7, in hopes 


of seeing, as we passed Terceim, even the loom of the land : 
but the moon was down ; and a glimpse of the " Pico " at 
dawn next morning was our only chance of seeing, at least 
for tliis voyage, those wondrous Isles of the Blest — Isles of 
the Blest of old ; and why not still ? They too are said to 
be eai-thly paradises in soil, climate, productions; and yet 
no English care to settle there, nor even to go thither for 
health, though the voyage from Lisbon is but a short one, 
and our own mail steamers, were it made worth their while, 
could as easily touch at Terceu-a now as they did a few 
yeai-s since. 

And as we looked out into the darkness, we could not but 
recollect, with a flush of pride, that yonder on the starboard 
beam lay Floi*es, and the scene of that great fight off the 
Azores, on August 30, 1591, made ever memorable by the 
pen of Walter Ealeigh — and of late by Mr. Froude ; in which 
the Revenge, with Sir Richard Grenville for her captain, 
endured for twelve hours, before she struck, the attack of 
eight great Spanish armadas, of which two (three times her 
own burden) sank at her side ; and after all her masts were 
gone, and she had been three times boarded without success, 
defied to the last the whole fleet of fifty-one sail, which lay 
around her, waiting, " like dogs around the dying forest- 
king," for the Englishman to strike or sink. Yonder away 
it was, that, wounded again and again, and shot through 
body and through head, Sir Richard Grenville was taken 
on board the Spanish Admiral's ship to die ; and gave up 
his gallant ghost with those once-famous woixis : " Here 
die I, Kichard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind; for 
that I have ended my life as a true soldier ought, fighting for 
his country, queen, religion and honour; my soul willingly 
departing from this body, leaving behind the lasting fame of 
having behaved as every valiant soldier is in his duty bound 
to do." 

Yes ; we were on the track of the old sea-heroes ; of Drake 
and Hawkins, Carlile and Cavendish, Cumberland and Raleigh, 
Preston and Sommers, Frobisher and Duddeley, Keymis and 
Whiddon, which last, in that same Flores fight, stood by Sir 
Richard Grenville all alone, and, in " a small ship called the 
Pilgrim, hovered all night to see the successe ; but in the 


morning, bearing with the Revenge, was hunted like a hare 
amongst many ravenous houndes, but escaped"^ — to leam, in 
after years, in company with hapless Keymis, only too much 
about that Trinidad and Gulf of Paria whither we were bound. 

Yes. There were heroes in England in those days. Are 
we, their descendants, degenerate from them ? I, for one, 
believe not. But they were taught — what we take pride in 
refusing to be taught — namely, to obey. 

The morning dawned: but Pico, some fifty miles away, was 
taking his morning bath among the clouds, and gave no 
glimpse of his eleven thousand feet crater cone, now capped, 
they said, with winter snow. Yet neither last night's out- 
look nor that morning's was without result. For as the 
steamer stopped last night to pack her engines, and slipped 
along under sail at some three knots an hour, we made out 
clearly that the larger diffused patches of phosphorescence 
were MedussB, slowly opening and shutting, and rolling over 
and over now and then, giving out their light, as they 
rolled, seemingly from the thin limb alone, and not from the 
crown of their bell. And as we watched, a fellow-passenger 
told how, between Ceylon and Singapore, he had once wit- 
nessed that most rare and unexplained phenomenon of a 
" milky sea," of which Dr. Collingwood writes (without, if I 
remember right, having seen it himself) in his charming 
book "A Naturalist's Eambles in^he China Seas." Our 
friend described the appearance as that of a sea of shining 
snow rather than of milk, heaving gently beneath a starlit 
but moonless sky. A bucket of water, when taken up, was 
filled with the same half-luminous whiteness, which stuck to 
its sides when the water was drained off. The captain of the 
Indiaman was well enough aware of the rarity of the sight 
to call all the passengers on deck to see what they would 
never see again ; and on asking our captain, he assured us 
that he had not only never seen, but never heard of the ap- 
pearance in the West Indies. One curious fact, then, was 
verified that night. 

The next morning gave us unmistakeable tokens that 
we were nearing the home of the summer and the sun. 
A north-east wind, which would in England keep the air 

^ Ralcigh'i) *' Heport of the Truth of the Fight about the lies of Azores.*' 


at least at freezing in the shade, gave here a temperatare 
just over 60"*; and gave clouds, too, which made us fancy 
for a moment that we were looking at an April thunder- 
sky, soft^ fantastic, barred, and feathered, bright white 
where they ballooned out above into cumuli, rich purple 
in their massive shadows, and dropping from their under 
edges long sheets of inky rain. Thanks to the bmve 
North-Easter, we had gained in five days thirty degrees 
of heat, and had slipped out of December into May. The 
North-Easter, too, was transforming itself more and more 
into the likeness of a south-west wind ; say, rather, renew- 
mg its own youth, and becoming once more what it w£is when 
it started on its long journey from the Tropics towards the 
Pole. As it rushes back across the ocean, thrilled and ex- 
panded by the heat, it opens its dry and thirety lips to suck 
in the damp from below, till, saturated once more with steam, 
it will reach the tropic as a grey rain-laden sky of Nortli- 
East Trade. 

So we slipped on, day after day, in a delicious repose which 
yet was not monotonous. Those, indeed, who complain of 
the monotony of a voyage must have either very few 
resources in their own minds, or much worse company than 
we had on board the Shannon. Here, every hour brought, 
or might bring, to those who wished, not merely agreeable 
conversation about the Old World behind us, but fresh 
valuable information about the New World before us. One 
morning, for instance, I stumbled on a merchant returning to 
Surinam, who had fifty things to tell of his own special 
business — of the woods, the drugs, the barks, the vegetable 
oils, which he was going back to procure — a whole new world 
of yet unknown wealth and use. Most cheering, too, and 
somewhat unexpected, were the facts we heard of the im- 
proving state of our West India Colonies, in which the tide 
of fortune seems to have turned at last, and the gallant race 
of planters and merchants, in spite of obstacle on obstacle, 
some of them unjust and undeserved, are winning their way 
back (in their own opinion) to a prosperity more sound and 
lasting than that which collapsed so suddenly at the end of 
the great French war. All spoke of the emancipation of the 
slaves in Cuba (an event certain to come to pass ere long) 


as the only condition which they required to put them on 
an equal footing with any producers whatsoever in the 
New World. 

However pleasant, though, the conversation might be, 
the smallest change in external circumstances, the least 
break in the perpetual — 

*' Quocuinque adspicins, nil est nisi pontus ^t aer," 

even a passing bird, if one would pass, which none would do 
save once or twice a stately tropic-bird, wheeling round aloft 
like an eagle, was hailed as an event in the day ; and, on the 
Dth of December, the appearance of the fii-st fragments of gulf- 
weed caused quite a little excitement, and set an enthusiastic 
pair of naturalists — a midland hunting squire, and a travelled 
scientific doctor who had been twelve years in the Eastern 
Archipelago — fishing eagerly over the bows, with an ex- 
temporised grapple of wire, for gulf-weed, a specimen of 
which they did not catch. However, more and more still 
would come in a day or two, perhaps whole acres, even 
whole leagues, and then (so we hoped, but hoped in 
vain) we should have our feast of zoophytes, Crustacea, and 
what not. 

Meanwhile, it nmst be remembered that this gulf-weed 
has not, as some of the uninitiated fancy from its name, 
anything to do with the gulf-stream, along the southern edge 
of which we were steaming. Thrust away to the south by 
that great ocean-river, it lies in a vast eddy, or central pool 
of the Atlantic, between the gulf-stream and the equatorial 
current, unmoved save by surface-drifts of wind, as floating 
weeds collect and range slowly round and round in the 
still comers of a tumbling-bay or salmon pool. One glance 
at a bit of the weed, as it floats past, showed that it is like no 
Fucus of our shores, or anything we ever saw before. The 
difference of look is undetinable in words, but clear enough. 
One sees in a moment that the Sargassos, of which there are 
several species on Tropical shores, are a genus of them- 
selves and by themselves; and a certain awe may, if the 
beholder be at once scientific and poetical, come over 
him at the first sight of this famous and unique variety 

nuTiTAiii) Bouyv. 

thereof, which has lost ages 
since the habit of growing on 
rock or sea-bottom, but propa- 
RBtes itself for ever floating : 
and feeds among its bi-aucbes 
a whole family of fish, crabs, 
cuttle-tish, zoophytes, mol- 
lusks, which, like the plant 
which shelters them, are tbund 
nowhere else in the world. 
And that awe, springing from 
" the scientitic use of the ima- 
gination," would be increased 
if he recollected the theory — 
not altogether impossible — 
tiiat this sargasso (and possibly 
some of the animals which 
ding to it) mnrks the site of < 
an Atlantic continent, suok 
long Rges since ; and that, g»vh««(. 

transformed by the necessities of life from a rooting to a 
floating plant, 

" still it remembera its august al)odc!i, " 

and wanders round and round as if in search of the rouks 
where it once grew. We looked eagerly day by day for more 
and more gtdf-weed, hoping that 

and thought of the memorable day when Columbus' "hip first 
plunged her bows into the tangled " ocean meadow," and 
tlie sailors, naturally enough, were ready to mutiny, fearing 
hidden shoals, iguoraut that they had four milt^s of blue 
water beneath their keel, and lialf recollecting old Greek 
and Phtenician legends of a weedy sea olf the const of Africa, 
where the vegetation stopped the ships and kept them 
entangled till all on board were starved. 
Day after day we passed more and more of it. often in 



long processions, ranged in the direction of the wind ; while, 
a few feet below the surface, here and there floated large 
fronds of a lettuce-like weed, seemingly an ulva, the bright 
green of which, as well as the rich orange hue of the sargasso, 
brought out by contrast the intense blue of the water. 

Very remarkable, meanwhile, and unexpected, was the 
opacity and seeming solidity of the ocean when looked down 
on from the bows. Whether sapphire under the sunlight, 
or all but black under the clouds, or laced and streaked with 
beads of foam, rising out of the nether darkness, it looks as 
if it could resist the hand ; as if one might almost walk on 
it ; so unlike any liquid, as seen near shore or inland, is this 
leaping, heaving plain, reminding one, by its innumerable 
conchoidal curves, not of water, not even of ice, but rather 
of obsidian. 

After all we got little of the sai^asso. Only in a sailing 
ship, and in calms or light breezes, can its treasures be ex- 
plored. Twelve knots an hour is a pace suflBcient to tear 
off the weed, as it is hauled alongside, all living things which 
are not rooted to it. We got, therefore, no Crustacea; neither 
did we get a single specimen of the Calamaries,^ which may 
be described as cuttle-fish carrying hooks on their arms 
as well as suckers, the lingering descendants of a most 
ancient form, which existed at least as far back as the era 
of the shallow oolitic seas, x or y thousand years ago. A 
tiny curled Spirorbis, a Lepraria, with its thousandfold 
cells, and a tiny polype belonging to the Campanularias, 
with a creeping stem, which sends up here and there a 
yellow-stalked bell, were all the parasites we saw. But 
the sargasso itself is a curious instance of the fashion in 
which one form so often mimics another of a quite different 
family. When fresh out of the water it resembles not a sea- 
weed so much as a sprig of some willow-leaved shrub, bur- 
dened with yellow berries, large and small ; for every broken 
bit of it seems growing, and throwing out ever new berries 
and leaves — or what, for want of a better word, must be 
called leaves in a sea-weed. For it must be remembered that 
the frond of a sea-weed is not merely leaf, but root also ; that 
it not only breathes air, but feeds on water ; and that even 

^ ChiroteuUd and ChiychoUulhi. 


the so-called root by which a sea-weed holds to the rock is 
really only an anchor, holding mechanically to the stone, but 
not deriving, as the root of a laud-plant would, any nourish- 
ment from it. Therefore it is, that to grow while uprooted 
and floating, though impossible to most land-plants, is etisy 
enough to many sea-weeds, and especially to the sargasso. 

The liying-fish now began to be a source of continual 
amusement, as they scuttled away from under the bows of 
the ship, mistaking her, probably, for some huge devouring 
whale. So strange are they when first seen, though long 
read of and long looked for, that it is difficult to recol- 
lect that they are actually fish. The first little one was mis- 
taken for a dragon-fly, the first big one for a grey plover. 
The flight is almost exactly like that of a quail or par- 
tridge — ^flight, I must say ; for, in spite of all that has been 
learnedly written to the contrary, it was too difficult as yet for 
the English sportsmen on board to believe that their motion 
was not a true flight, aided by the vibration of the wings, and 
not a mere impulse given (as in the leap of the salmon) by a 
rush under water. That they can change their course at will 
is plain to one who looks down on them from the lofty deck, 
and still more from the paddle-box. The length of the flight 
seems too great to be attributed to a few strokes of the tail ; 
while the plain fact that they renew their flight after touch- 
ing, and only touching, the surface, would seem to show that 
it was not due only to the original impetus, for that would 
be retarded, instead of being quickened, every time they 
touched. Such were our first impressions: and they were 
confirmed by what we saw on the voyage home. 

The nights as yet, we will not say disappointed us, — for to 
see new stars, like Canopus and Fomalhaut, shining in the far 
south, even to see Sirius, in his ever-changing blaze of red and 
blue, riding high in a December heaven, is interesting enough; 
but the brilliance of the stars is not, at least at this season, 
equal to that of a frosty sky in England. Nevertheless, to 
make np for the deficiency, the clouds were glorious; so 
glorious, that I longed again and again, as I did afterwards in 
the West Indies, that Mr. Euskin were by my side, to see and 
to describe, as none but he can do. The evening skies are fit 
weeds for widowed Eos weeping over the dying Sun; thin, 


formless, rent — in carelessness, not in rage ; and of all the 
hues of early autumn leaves, purple and brown, with green 
and primrose lakes of air between: but all hues weakened, 
mingled, chastened into loneliness, tenderness, regretfulness, 
through which still shines, in endless vistas of clear western 
light, the hope of the returning day. More and more faint, 
the pageant fades below towards the whit-e haze of the hori- 
zon, where, in sharpest contrast, leaps and welters against it 
the black jagged sea; and richer and richer it glows upwaixis, 
till it cuts the azure overhead : until, only too soon — 

" Tbe sun's rim dips, the stars rush out, 
At ouo stride comes the dark," 

to be succeeded, after the long balmy night, by a sunrise 
which repeats the colours of the sunset, but this time 
gaudy, dazzling, triumphant, as befits the season of faith 
and hope. Such imagery, it may be said, is hackneyed now, 
and trite even to impertinence. It might be so at home ; 
but here, in presence of the magnificent pageant of tropic 
sunlight, it is natural, almost inevitable ; and the old myth 
of the daily birth and death of Helios, and the bridal joys 
and widowed tears of Eos, re-invents itself in the human 
mind, as soon as it asserts its power — it may be, its sacred 
right — to translate nature into the language of the feelings. 

And, meanwhile, may we not ask — have we not a right — 
founded on that common sense of the heart which often is 
the deepest reason — to ask, If we, gross and purblind mortals, 
can perceive and sympathise with so much beauty in the 
universe, then how much must not He perceive, with how 
much must not He sympathise, for whose pleasure all things 
are, and were created ? Who that believes (and rightly) the 
sense of beauty to be among the noblest faculties of man, 
will deny that faculty to God, who conceived man and all 
besides ? 

Wednesday, the 15th, was a really tropic day ; blazing heat 
in the forenoon, with the thermometer at 82° in the shade, 
and in the afternoon stifling clouds from the south-west, where 
a dark band of rain showed, according to the planters' dictum, 
showers over the islands, which we were nearing fast. At 
noon we were only two hundred and ten miles from Sombrero, 


" the Spanish Hat," a lonely island, which is here the fiwt 
outlier of the New World We ouj^ht to have passed it by 
sunrise on the 16th, and by the afternoon reached St Thomas's, 
where our pleasant party would burst like a shell in all direc- 
tions, and scatter its fragments about all coasts and isles — 
from Demerara to Panama, from Mexico to the Bahamas. So 
that day was to the crew a day of hard hot work — of liftinj^ 
and sorting goods on the main-deck, in readiness for the 
arrival at St Thomas's, and of moving forwards two hui^e 
empty boilers which had graced our spar-deck, filled with 
barrels of onions and potatoes, all the way from Southampton. 
But in the soft hot evening hours, time was found for the 
usual dance on the quarter-deck, with the band under 
the awning, and lamps throwing fantastic shadows, and 
waltzing couples, and the crew clustering aft to see, while 
we old folks looked on, with our " Ludite dum lubet, pueri," 
till the captain bade the sergeant-at-arms leave the lights 
burning for an extra half-hour ; and " Sir Roger de Coverley" 
was danced out, to the great amusement of the foreigners, 
at actually half-past eleven. After which unexampled dis- 
sipation, all went off to rest, promising to themselves and 
their partners that they would get up at sunrise to sight 

But, as it befel, morning's waking brought only darkness, 
the heavy pattering of a tropic shower, and the absence of 
the everlasting roll of the paddle-wheels. We were crawling 
slowly along, in thick haze and heavy rain, having passed 
Sombrero unseen ; and were away in a grey shoreless world 
of waters, looking out for Virgin Gorda; the first of those 
numberless isles which Columbus, so goes the tale, dis- 
«^)vered on St Ursula's day, and name<l them after the Saint 
and her eleven thousand mythical virgins. Unfortunately, 
English buccaneers have since then given to most of them 
le:*s poetic names. The Dutchman's Cap, Broken Jerusalem, 
The Dead Man's Chest, Hum Island, and so forth, mark a 
time and a race more prosaic, but still more terrible, though 
not one whit more wicked and brutal, than the Spanish Con- 
qiiistadores, whose descendants, in the seventeenth century, 
they smote hip and thigh with great destruction. 

The furtliest of these Virgin Islands is St Thomas's. 


And there ended the first and longer part of a vuyage 
unmaired by the least discomfort, discourtesy, or dulness, 
and full of enjoyment, for which thanks are due alike to 
captain, officers, crew, and passengers, and also to our 
much-maligned friend the Noith-East wind, who caught us 
up in the chops of the Channel, helped us graciously on 
neaily to the tropic of Cancer, giving us a more prosperous 
passage than the oldest hands recollect at this season, and 
then left us for a while to the delicious calms of the edg6 of 
the tropic, to catch us up again as the North-East Trade. 

Truly, this voyage had already given us much for which 
to thank God. If safety and returning health, in an atmo- 
sphere in which the mere act of breathing is a pleasure, be 
tilings for which to be thankful, then we had reason to say iu 
our hearts that which is sometimes best unsaid on paper. 

Our first day in a tropic harbour was spent in what 
might be taken at moments for a dream, did not shells and 
flowers remain to bear witness to its reality. It was on 
Friday morning, December 17th, that we first sighted the New 
World ; a rounded hill some fifteen hundred feet high, which 
was the end of Virgin Gorda. That resolved itself, as we ran 
on, into a cluster of long, low islands ; St. John's appearing next 
on the horizon, then Tortola, and last of all St. Thomas's ; all 
pink and purple in the sun, and warm-gr«y in the shadow, 
which again became, as we neared them one after the other, 
richest green, of scrub and down, with bright yellow and 
rusty rocks, plainly lava, in low cliffs along the shore. The 
upjter outline of the hills reminded me, with its multitudinous 
little coves and dry gullies, of the Vivarais or Auvergne Hills; 
and still more of the sketches of the Chinese Tea-mountains 
in Fortune's book. Their water-line has been exposed, evi- 
dently for many ages, to the gnawing of the sea at the present 
level. Eveiywhei-e the lava cliffs are freshly broken, toppling 
down in dust and boulders, and leaving detached stacks and 
skerries, like that called the "Indians," from its supposed 
likeness to a group of red-brown savages afloat in a canoe. 
But, as far as I could see, there has been no upheaval 
since the land took its present shape. There is no trace of 
i-aised beaches, or of the terraces which would have inevitably 
been formed by upheaval on the soft sides of the lava hills. 


Tlie numberless deep channels which part the isles and islets 
would rather mark depression still going on. Most beautiful 
meanwhile are the winding channels of blue water, like land- 
locked lakes, which part the Virgins from each other ; and 
beautiful the white triangular sails of the canoe-rigged craft, 
which beat up and down them through strong currents and 
cockling seas. The clear air, the still soft outlines, the rich 
and yet delicate colouring, stir up a sense of purity and fresh- 
ness, and peace and cheerfulness, such as is stirred up by 
certain views of the Mediterranean and its shores; only 
broken by one ghastly sight — ^the lonely mast of the ill-fated 
lihune, standing up still where she sank with all her crew, in 
the hurricane of 1867. 

At length, in the afternoon, we neared the last point, 
and turning inside an isolated and crumbling hummock, 
the Dutchman's Cap, saw before us, at the head of a little 
narrow harbour, the scarlet and purple roofs of St. Thomas's, 
piled up among orange-trees, at the foot of a gr<ien corrie, 
fir rather couple of corries, some eight hundred feet high. 
There it was, as veritable a Dutch-oven for cooking 
fever in, with as veritable a dripping-pan for the poison 
when concocted in the tideless basin below the town, as man 
ever invented. And we were not sorry when the superin- 
tendent, coming on board, bade us steam back again out of 
the port, and round a certain Water- island, at the back of 
which is a second and healthier harbour, the Gri-gri channel. 
In the port close to the town we could discern another token 
of the late famous hurricane, the funnels and masts of the 
hapless Columbia, which lies still on the top of the sunken 
floating dock, immoveable, as yet, by the art of man. 

But some hundred yards on our right was a low cliff, which 
was even more interesting to some of us than either the town 
or the wreck ; for it was covered with the first tropic vege- 
tation which we had ever seen. Already on a sandy beach 
outside, we had caught sight of unmistakeable coco-nut trees ; 
some of them, however, dying, dead, even snapped short off, 
either by the force of the hurricane, or by the ravages of the 
beetle, which seems minded of late years to exterminate the 
coco-nut throughout the West Indies ; belonging, we are told, 
to the Elaters — fire-fly, or skip-jack beetles. His grub, like 


that of his cousin, our Enj^lish wire-worm, and his nearer 
cousin, the great wire-worm of the sugar-cane, eats into the 
pith aiid marrow of grooving shoots ; and as the palm, being 
ah endogen, increases from within by one bud, and tlierefoie 
Viy one shoot only, when that is eaten out nothing remains 
for the tree but to die. And so it happens that almost every 
coco-nut grove which we have seen has a sad and shabby look 
as if it existed (which it really does) merely on sufferance. 

But on this cliff* we could see. even with the naked eye, 
tall Aloes, grey-blue Cerei like huge branching candelabra, 
and bushes tiie foliage of which was utterly unlike anything 
in Northern Europe; while above the bright deep green of 
a patch of Guinea-grass marked cultivation, and a few fniit 
trees rr)und a cottage told, by their dark baylike foliage, of 
fruits whose names alone were known to us. 

Round Water-island we went, into a naiTow channel between 
steep ^reen hills, covered to their tops, as late as 1845, with 
sugar-cane, but now only with scrub, among which the ruins 
of mills and buildings stood sad and lonely. But Nature in 
this land of perpetual summer hides with a kind of eagerness 
every scar which man in his clumsiness leaves on the earth's 
surface; and all, though relapsing into primaeval wildness, 
was green, soft, luxuriant, as if the hoe had never torn 
the ground, contrasting strangely with the water-scene ; ' 
with the black steamers snorting in their sleep ; the wrecks 
and condemned hulks, in process of breaking up, strewing the 
shoi'es with their timbers ; the boatfuls of Negros gliding to 
and fro; and all the signs of our hasty, irreverent, wasteful, 
semi-barbarous mercantile system, which we call (for the 
time being only, it is to be hoped) civilization. The engine 
had hardly stopped, when we were boarded from a fleet of 
negro boats, and huge bunches of plantains, yams, green 
oranges, junks of sugar-cane, were displayed upon the deck ; 
and more than one of the ladies went through the cere- 
mony of initiation into West Indian ways, which consisted in 
sucking sugar-cane, first pared for the sake of their teeth. 
The Negro's stronger incisors tear it without paring. Two 
amusing figures, meanwhile, had taken up their station close 
to the companion. Evidently privileged personages, they felt 
hemselves on their own ground, and looked round patrouiz- 


iiigly on the passengers, as ignorant foreigners who were too 
certain to be tempted by the treasures which they displayed 
to need any solicitations. One went by the name of Jamaica 
Joe, a Negro blacker than the night, in smart white coat and 
smart black trousers; a tall courtly gentleman, with the organ 
of self-interest, to judge from his physiognomy, very highly 
developed. But he was thrown into the shade by a stately 
brown lady, who was still very handsome — beautiful, 
if you will — and knew it, and had put on her gorgeous 
turban with grace, and plaited her short locks under it 
with care; and ignored the very existence of a mere 
Negro like Jamaica Joe, as she sat by her cigars, and slow- 
match, and eau-de-cologne at four times the right price, and 
mats, necklaces, bracelets, made of mimosa-seeds, white negro 
liats, nests of Gurafoa baskets, and so forth. They drove a 
thriving trade among all new-comers : but were somewhat 
disgusted to find that we, though new to the West Indies, 
were by no means new to West Indian wares, and 
therefore not of the same mind as a gentleman and 
lady who came fresh from the town next day, with nearly 
a bushel of white branching madrepores, which they were 
going to cany as coals to Newcasfle, six hundred miles 
down the islands. Poor Joe tried to sell us a nest of 
Cura^oa baskets for seven shillings ; retired after a firm re- 
fusal ; came up again to R , after a cctfiple of hours, 

and said, in a melancholy and reproachful voice, "Da 

take dem for four shillings and sixpence. I give dera you." 

But now . Would we go on shore ? To the town ? 

Not we, who came to see Nature, not towns. Some went 
off on honest business ; some on such pleasure as can be 
found in baking streets, hotel bars, and billiard-rooms : but 
the one place on which our eyes were set was a little 
cove a quarter of a mile off, under the steep hill, where a 
white line of sand shone between blue water and green 
wood. A few yards broad of sand, and then impene- 
trable jungle, among which we could see, below, the curved 
yellow stems of the coco-nuts ; and higher up the straight 
grey stems and broad fan-leaves of Carat palms; which I 
regret to say we did not reach. Oh for a boat to get 
into that paradise I There was three-quarters of an hour 



left, betwHen dinner and dark; and iu three-quarters of an 
hour what might not be seen in a world where all waa new ? 
The kind chief officer, bidding us not trust negro boats on 
such a trip, lent us one of tlie ship's, with four honest 
fellows, thankful enouch to escape from heat and smoke ; ami 
away we went witli two select companions — the sportsmuji 
and our scientific Mend — to land, for the first time, iu the 
New World. 

As we leaped on shore on that white sand, what ft^eliiigs 
passed throuf^h the heart of at least one of us, who found the 
dream of forty years translated into fact at last, are best, per- 
haps, left untold here. ISut it must be eoufessed that ere we 
had stood for two minutes staring at the green wall opposite 
us, astonishment soon swallowed up, for the time, all other 
emotions. Astonishment, not at the vast size of anything, 
Jbi- the scrub was not thirty feet high ; nor at the goigeous 
colours, for very few plauts or trees were in flower ; but at the 
wonderful wealth of life. The massiveness, the strangeness, 
the variety, the very length of the yoim;? and still growing 
shoots was a wonder. We tried, at first in vain, to fix our 
eyes on some one dominant or typical form, while every 
form was clamouring, as it were, 
tJi be looked at, and a fresh Dryail 
pazed out of every bush, and with 
wooing eyes asked to be wooeil 
a^ain. The first two plants, per- 
hHps, we looked steadily at were 
tile Ipomcea pes caprse, lying along 
the sand in straight shoots thirty 
feet long, and growing longer, we 
fancied, while we looked at it, 
with large bilobed green leaves at 
every joint, and here and there a 
great purple convolvulus flower; 
and next, what we knew at once 
for the " shore-grape." ' We had 
fiincied it (and correctly) to be a 
!ua.,^u (.-aft. mere low bu.'fhy tree with round- 

ish leaves. But what a hush t with drooping boughs, arched 
' Cocuoloba ovifem. 

outwaud bound. la 

over &Qd through each otiier, shoota already six feet 
long, leaves as big as the hand shining like dRik velvet, 
a crimson mid-rib down each, and tiled over each other, — 
* imbricated," as the botanists would say, in that fashion 
which gives its pecu- 
liar solidity and rich- 
ness of light and shade 
to the foliage of an old 
sycamore ; and among 
these noble shoots and . 
noble leaves, pendent ' 
e verywh ere.longtaper 
ing spires of green 
grapes. This shore- 
grape, which the West 
Indians esteem as we 
might a bramble, we 
found to be, without 
exception, the most 
beautiful broad-l«ifed 
plant which we had 
everseen. Theowead- 
mired the Frangipani ,' 
a Ull and almost leaf- 
less shrub with thick 
fleshy shoots, bearing, 
ID this species, white 

flowers, which have the fragrance peculiar to cert^ii white 
blossoms, to the jeaaaraine, the tuberose, the orange, the <jur- 
denia, the night-flowering Cereus ; then the Cacti and Aloes ; 
then the first coco-nut, with its last year's leaves pale yellow, 
its new leaves deep green, and its trunk ringing, when stnick, 
like metal ; then the sensitive plants ; then creeping lianes of 
a dozen different kinds. Then we shrank back from oor first 
ghmpse of a little swamp of foul brown water, backed up 
by the sand-brush, with trees in every stage of decay, 
fallen and tangled into a doleful thicket, through which the 
fpider-lesged Mangroves rose on stilted roots. We turned, 
111 wholesome dread, to the white beach outside, and 
» Phimieri». 


j)icked up — amid, alas ! wreck, everywhere wreck — shells — 
old friends in the cabinets at home — as earnests to ourselves 
that all was not a dream : delicate prickly Pinnae ; ** Noah's- 
arks" in abundance ; great Strombi, their lips and outer shell 
broken away, disclosing the rosy cameo within, and looking 
on the rough beach pitifully tender and flesh-like ; lumps and 
fragments of coral innumerable, reminding us by their worn 
and rounded shapes of those which abound in so many 
secondary strata ; and then hastened on board the boat ; for 
the sun had already fallen, the purple night set in, and from 
the woods on shore a chorus of frogs had commenced chatter- 
ing, quacking, squealing, whistling, not to cease till sunrise. 

So ended our first trip in the New World; and we got 
back to the ship, but not to sleep. Already a coal-baige lay 
on either side of her, and over the coals we scrambled, 
through a scene which we would fain forget. Black women 
on one side were doing men's work, with hesivy coal-baskets 
on their heads, amid screaming, chattering, and language of 
which, happily, we understood little or nothing. On the 
other, a gang of men and boys, who, as the night feU, worked, 
many of them, altogether naked, their glossy bronze figures 
gleaming in the red lamp-light, and both men and women 
singing over their work in wild choruses, which, when the 
screaming cracked voices of the women were silent, and the 
really rich tenors of the men had it to themselves, were not 
unpleasant A lad, seeming the poet of the gang, stood on the 
8[)onson, and in the momentary intervals of work improvised 
some story, while the men below took up and finished each 
verse with a refrain, piercing, sad, running up and down large 
and easy intervals. The tunes were many and seemingly 
familiar, all barbaric, often ending in the minor key, and 
reminding us much, perhaps too much, of the old Gregorian 
tones. The words were all but unintelligible. In one son^,' 
we caught " New York " again and again, and then, " Captain 
he heard it, he was troubled in him mind." 

" Ya-he-ho-o-hu " — followed the chorus. 

"Captain he go to him cabin, he drink him wine and 
whisky — " 


» » • • » 


" You go to America ? You as well go to heaven." 

« Ya-he," &c 
These were all the scraps of negro poetry which we could 
overhear; while on deck the band was playing quadrilles 
and waltzes, setting the Negro shoveller dancing in the black 
water at the barge- bottom, shovel in hand; and pleasant 
white folks danced under the awning, till the contrast be- 
tween the refinement wdthin, and the brutality without, 
became very painful For brutality it was, not merely in the 
eyes of the sentimentalist, but in that of the moralist; 
still more in the eyes of those who try to believe that 
all God's human children may be somewhen, somewhere, 
somehow, reformed into His likeness. We were shocked 
to hear that at another island the evils of coaling are 
still worse ; and that the white authorities have tried in 
vain to keep them down. The coaling system is, no 
doubt, demoralizing in itself, as it enables Kegros of 
the lowest class to earn enough in one day to keep them 
in idleness, even in luxury, for a week or more, till the 
arrival of the next steamer. But what we saw proceeded 
rather irom the mere excitability and coarseness of half- 
civilized creatures than from any deliberate depravity ; and 
we were told that, in the island just mentioned, the Negros, 
when forced to coal on Sunday, or on Christmas-day, always 
abstain from noise or foul language, and, if they sing, sing 
nothing but hymns. It is easy to sneer at such a fashion 
as formalism. It would be wiser to consider whether the 
first step in religious training must not be obedience to 
some such external positive law ; whether the savage must 
not be taught that there are cei*tain things which he ought 
never to do, by being taught that there is one day at least on 
which he shall not do them. How else is man to learn that 
the Laws of Right and Wrong, like the laws of the physical 
world, are entirely independent of him, his likes or dislikes. 
knowledge or ignorance of them ; that by Law he is environed 
from his cradle to his grave, and that it is at his own peril that 
he disobeys the Law ? A higher religion may, and ought to, 
follow, one in which the Law becomes a Law of Liberty, and 
a Gospel, because it is loved, and obeyed for its own sake ; 
but even he who has attained to that must be reminded again 


and again, alas! that the Law which he loves does not depend 
for its sanction on his love of it, on his passing frames or 
feelings ; but is as awfully independent of him as it is of 
the veriest heathen. And that lesson the Sabbath does teach 
as few or no other institutions can. The man who says, and 
says rightly, that to the Christian all days ought to be 
sjibbaths, may be answered, and answered rightly, "All 
tlie more reason for keeping one day which shall be a 
siibbath whether you are in a sabbatical mood or not. 
All the more reason for keeping one day holy, as a pattern 
of what all days should be." So we will be glad if the 
Negro has got thus far, as an earnest that he may some day 
get further still. 

That night, however, he kept no Sabbath, and we got no 
sleep ; and were glad enough, before sunrise, to escape once 
more to the cove we had visited the evening before ; not that 
it was prettier or more curious than others, but simply because 
it is better, for those who wish to learn accurately, to see one 
thing twice than many things once. A lesson is never learnt 
till it is learnt over many times, and a spot is best understood 
by staying in it and mastering it In natural history the old 
scholar's saw of " Cave hominem unius libri," may be para- 
phrased by " He is a thoroughly good naturalist who knows 
one parish thoroughly.** 

So back to our little beach we went, and walked it all over 
again, finding, of course, many things which had escaped us 
the night before. We saw our first Melocactus, and our 
first night-blowing Cereus creeping over the rocks. We 
found our first tropic orchid, with white, lilac, and purple 
flowers on a stalk three feet high. We saw our first wild 
pines (Tillandsias, &c.) clinging parasitic on the boughs of 
strange trees, or nestling among the angular limb-like shoots 
of the columnar Cereus. We learnt to distinguish the 
poisonous Manchineel ; and were thankful, in serious earnest, 
that we had happily plucked none the night before, when 
we were snatching at every new leaf ; for its milky juice, by 
mere dropping on the skin, bums like the poisoned tunic 
of Nessus, and will even, when the head is injured by it, 
cause blindness and death. We gathered a nosegay of the 
loveliest flowers, under a burning sun, within ten days ol 


ChrL«ttnas ; and then wandered off the shore up a little 
path in the red lava, toward a farm where we expected to 
see fresh curiosities, and not in vain. On one side of the 
path a hecipe of Pinguin (Bromelia) — the plants like huge 
pineapple plants without the fruit — was but three feet high, 
but from its prickles utterly impenetrable to man or beast ; 
and inside the hedge, a tree like a straggling pear, with huge 
green calabashes growing out of its bark — here was actually 
Crescentia Cujete — the phiything of one's childhood — alive 
and growing. The other side was low scrub^prickly shrubs 
like acacias and mimosas, covered with a creeping vine 
with brilliant yeUow hair (we had seen it already from the 
ship, gilding large patches of the slopes), most like European 
dodder. Among it rose the tall Calotropis procera, with its 
fleshy grey stems and leaves, and its azure of lovely lilac 
flowers, with curious columns of stamens in each — an Ascle- 
piad introduced from the Old World, where it ranges from 
tropical Africa to Afi'ghanistan ; and so on, and so on, up to a 
little farmyard, very like a Highland one in most things, want 
of neatness included, save that huge spotted Trochi were 
scattered before the door, instead of buckies or periwinkles ; 
and in the midst of the yard grew, side by side, the common 
accompaniment of a West India kitchen door, the magic 
trees, whose leaves rubbed on the tangliest meat make it 
tender on the spot, and whose fruit makes the best of sauce 
or pickle to be eaten therewith — namely, a male and female 
Papaw (Carica Papaya), their stems some fifteen feet high, 
with a flat crown of mallow-like leaves, just beneath which, 
in the male, grew clusters of fragrant flowerets, in the female, 
clusters of unripe fruit. On through the farmyard, picking 
fresh flowers at every step, and down to a sliady cove (for the 
sun, even at eight o'clock in December, was becoming uncom- 
fortably fierce), and again into the shore-grape w^ood. We 
had already discovered, to our pain, that almost everything in 
the bush had prickles, of all imaginable shapes and sizes ; 
and now, touching a low tree, one of our party was seized as 
by a briar, through clothes and into skin, and, in escaping, 
found on the tree (Guilandina P>onducella) rounded prickly 
pods, which, being opened, proved to contain the grey horse- 
nicker-beads of our childhood. 


Up and down the white sand we wandered, collecting 
shells, .as did the sailors, gladly enough, and then rowed back, 
over a bottom of white sand, bedded here and there with 
the short manati-grass (Thalassia Testudinum), one of the few 
flowering plants which, like our Zostera, or grasswrack, grows 
at the bottom of the sea. But, wherever the bottom was 
stony, we could see huge prickly sea-urchins, huger brainstone 
corals, round and grey, and branching corals likewise, such 
as, when cleaned, may be seen in any curiosity shop. These, 
and a flock of brown and grey pelicans, sailing over our head, 
were fresli tokens to us of where we were. 

As we were displaying our nosegay on deck, on our return, 
to some who had stayed stifling on board, and who were 
inclined (as West Indians are) at once to envy and to pooh- 
pooh the superfluous energy of new-come Europeans, E 

drew out a large and lovely flower, pale yellow, with a tiny 
green apple or two, and leaves like those of an Oleander. 
The brown lady, who was again at her post on deck, walked 
up to her in silence, uninvited, and with a commanding air 
waved the thing away. "Dat raanchineel. Dat poison. 

Throw dat overboard." E , who knew it was not man- 

chineel, whispered to a bystander, " Ce n'est pas vrai." But the 
brown lady was a linguist " Ah ! mais c'est vrai," cried she, 
with flashing teeth ; and retired, muttering her contempt of 
English ignorance and impertinence. 

And, as it befel, she was, if not quite right, at least not 
quite wrong. For when we went into the cabin, we and our 
unlucky yellow flower were flown at by another brown lady, 
in another gorgeous turban, who had become, on the voyage, 
a friend and an intimate ; for she was the nurse of the baby 
who had been the light of the eyes of the whole quai*ter-deck 
ever since we left Southampton — God bless it, and its mother, 
and beautiful Mon Nid, where she dwells beneath the rock, 
as exquisite as one of her own humming-birds. We were so 
scolded about this poor little green apple, that we set to work 
to find out what it was, after promising at least not to eat it 
And it proved to be Thevetia neriifolia, and a very deadly 

This Avas the first (thouirh by no mean? the last) WRming 
which we got no*- to meddle rashly with '* poison-bush," lest 


that should befal ns which befel % scientific West Indian of 
old. For hearing much of the edible properties of certain Euro- 
pean toad-stools, he resolved to try a few experiments in hia 
own person on West Indian ones ; during the course of which 
he found himself one evening, after a good toad-stool dinner, 
raving mad. The doctor was sent for, and brought him 
round, a humbled man. But a heavier humiliation awaited 
him, when his negro butler, who had long looked down on 
him for liis botanical studies, entered with his morning cup 
of coffee. " Now, Massa," said he, in a tone of triumphant 
pity, "I think you no go out any more cut bush and eat him.*' 
If we had wanted any further proof that we were in the 
Tropics^ we might have had it in the fearful heat of the 
next few hours, when the Shannon lay with a steamer on 
each side, one destined for " The Gulf," the other for " The 
Islands;" and not a breath of air was to be got till late in 
the afternoon, when (amid shaking of hands, and waving of 
handkerchiefs, as hearty as if we the " Island-bound " and 
they the " Gulf-bound," and the officers of the Shannon, had 
known each other fourteen years instead of fourteen days) 
we steamed out, past the Little Saba rock, which was said 
(but it seems incorrectly) to have burst into smoke and flame 
daring the earthquake, and then away to the south and east 
for the Islands : having had our first taste, but, thank God, 
not our last^ of the joys of the *' Earthly Paradise.** 



I HAD heard and read much, from boyhood, about these 
"lesser Antilles." I had pictured them to myself a thousnnd 
times : but I was altogether unprepared for their beauty 
aud grandeur. For hundreds of miles, day after day, the 
steamer carried us past a shifting diorama of scenery, wJiich 
may be likened to Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, repeated 
again and £^Jai^, with every possible variation of the same 
type of delicate loveliness. 

Under a cloudless sky, upon a sea, lively yet not un- 
pleasantly rough, we thrashed and leaped along. Ahead of 
us, one after another, rose high on the southern horizon banks 
of grey cloud, from under each of which, as we necred it, 
descended the shoulder of a mighty mountain, dim and 
grey. Nearer still the grey changed to purple; lowlands 
rose out of the sea, sloping upwards with those grand and 
simple concave curves, which betoken, almost always, vol- 
canic land Nearer still, the purple changed to green. Tall 
palm-trees and engine-houses stood out against the sky ; the 
■turf gleamed white around tJie hnse of isolated rocks. A 


little nearer, and we were under the lee, or western side, of 
the island. The sea grew smooth as ghiss ; we entered the 
shade of the island-cloud, and slid aloug in still unfathomable 
blue water, close under the shore of what should have been 
one of the Islands of the lilest. 

It was easy, in presence of such scenery, to conceive the 
exaltation which possessed the souls of the tirst discoverers of 
the West Indies. What wonder if they seemed to themselves 
to have burst into Fairy-land — to be at the gates of The 
lurthly Paradise 1 With such a climate, such a soil, such 
v^etation, such fruits, what luxury must not have seemed 
possible to the dwellers along those shores? What riches 
too, of gold and jewels, might not be hidden among those 
forest-shrouded glens and peaks ? And beyond, and beyond 
again, ever new islands, new continents perhaps, an in- 
exhaustible wealth of yet undiscovered worlds. 

No wonder that the men rose above themselves, for good 
and for evil ; that having, as it seemed to them, found in- 
finitely, they hoped infinitely, and dared infinitely. They 
Were a diunb generation and an unlettered, those old Con- 
quistadores. They did not, as we do now, analyse and 
describe their own impressions: but they felt them never- 
theless; and felt them, it may be, all the more intensely, 
because they could not utter them ; and so went, half intoxi- 
cate, by day and night, with the beauty and the wonder 
round them, till the excitement overpowered alike their reason 
aud their conscience; and, frenzied with superstition and 
greed, with contempt and hatred of the heathen Indians, and 
often with mere drink and sunshine, they did deeds which^ 
like all wicked deeds, avenge themselves, and are avenging 
themselves, from Mexico to Chili, unto this very day. 

I said that these islands resembled Vesuvius and the Bay 
of Naples. like causes have produced like effects ; and 
each island is little but the peak of a volcano, down whose 
shoulders lava and ash have slidden toward the sea. Some 
carry several crater cones, complicating at once the structure 
and scenery of the island; but the majority carry but a 
single cone, like that little island, or rather rock, of Saba, 
which is the first of the Antilles under the lee of which 
the steamer passes. Santa Cruz, which is left to leeward, is 


a long, low, ragged island, of the same form as St. Thomas's 
and the Virgins, and belonging, I should suppose, to the 
same formation. But Saba rises sheer out of the sea some 
1,500 feet or more, without flat ground, or even harbour. 
From a little landing-place to leeward a stair runs up 800 
feet into the bosom of the old volcano ; and in that hollow 
live some 1,200 honest Dutch, and some 800 Negros, who 
were, till of late years, their slaves, at least in law. But in 
Saba, it is said, the whites were really the slaves, and the 
Negros the masters. For they went off whither and when 
they liked ; earned money about the islands, and brought it 
home; expected their masters to keep them when out of 
work : and not in vain. The island was, happily for it, too 
poor for sugar-growing and the "Grande Culture;" the Dutch 
were never tempted to increase the number of their slaves ; 
looked upon the few they had as friends and children ; 
and when emancipation came, no change whatsoever ensued, 
it is said, in the semi-feudal relation between the black 
men and the white. So these good Dutch live peace- 
fully aloft in their volcano, which it is to be hoped will not 
explode again. They grow garden crops ; among which, I 
understand, are several products of the temperate zone, the 
air being, at that height, pleasantly cooL They sell their 
produce about the islands. They build boats up in the crater 
— ^the best boats in all the West Indies — and lower them down 
the cliff to the sea. They hire themselves out too, not having 
lost their forefathers' sea-going instincts, as sailors about all 
those seas, and are, like their boats, the best in those parts. 
They all speak English; and though they are nominally 
Lutherans, are glad of the services of the excellent Bishop of 
Antigua, who pays them periodical visits. He described 
them as virtuous, shrewd, simple, healthy folk, retaining, in 
spite of the tropic sun, the same clear white and red com- 
plexions which their ancestors brought from Holland two 
hundred years ago — a proof, among many, that the white 
man need not degenerate in these isles. 

Saba has, like most of these islands, its " Somma " like that 
of Vesuvius ; an outer ring of lava, the product of older erup- 
tions, surrounding a central cone, the product of some newer 
one. But even this latter, as far as I could judge by the 


(•Inas, is very ancient. Little, more tlian the core of the 
central cone is left The rest has been long since destroy^ni 
by rains and winda A white cliff at the south end of the 
island should be examined by geologista. It beIoD(^ pro- 
bably to that formation of tertiary calcareous marl so often 
leen in the West Indies, especially at Barbados : hut if 
<o, it must, to judge from the scar which it makes sea- 
wanl, have been nphcaved long n^, and like the whole 
island— and indeed all the klauds — betokens an immense 

Much more recent — in appearance at least — is the little 
isle o( St. Eustatius, or at least the crater-cone, with its lip 
hroken down at one spot, which makes up five-sixths of the 
island. St, Eustatiua may have been in eruption, thouiih 
there is no record of it, daring historic times, and looks more 
unrepentant and capable of misbehavinf; itself again than 
does any other crater-cone in the Antilles; far more so than 
Ihe Souffri^re in St Vincent which exploded in 1812. 

But these two are mere rocks. It is not till the traveller 
amves at St Jutts that be sees wiuit a West Indian 
island is. - 

The " Mother of the Antilles," as she is called, is worthy of 
her name. Kverywhere from the shore the land sweeps up, 
slowly at first, then rapidly, toward the central mass, the 


nigged peak whereof goes by the name of Mount Misery. 
Only once, and tlien but for a moment, did we succeed in 
getting a sight of the actual summit, so pertinaciously did 
the clouds crawl round it 3,700 feet aloft a pyramid of 
black lava rises above the broken w^alls of an older crater, 
and is, to judge from its knife-edge, flat top, and concave 
eastern side, the last remnant of an inner cone which has 
been washed, or more probably blasted, away. Beneath it, 
according to the report of an islander to Dr. Davy (and what 
I heard was to the same effect), is a deep hollow, longer than 
it is wide, without an outlet, walled in by precipices and 
steep declivities, from fissures in wliich steam and the fumes 
of sulphur are emitted. Sulphur in crystals abounds, en- 
crusting the rocks and loose stones; and a stagnant pool 
of rain-water occupies the bottom of the Souffriere. A 
dangerous neighbour — but as long as he keeps his temper, 
as he has done for three hundred years at least, a most 
beneficent one — is this great hill, which took, in Columbus' 
imagination, the form of the giant St. Christopher bearing on 
bis shoulder the infant Christ, and so gave a name to the 
whole island. 

From the lava and ash ejected from this focus, the whole 
soils of the island have been formed ; soils of still unexhausted 
fertility, save when — as must needs be in a volanic region — 
patches of mere rapilli and scoriae occur. The mountain has 
hurled these out; and everywhere, as a glance of the eye 
shows, the tropic rains are carrying them yearly down to 
the lowland, exposing fresh surfaces to the action of the air, 
and, by continual denudation and degradation, remanuring the 
soil. Everywhere, too, are gullies sawn in the slopes, which 
terminate above in deep and narrow glens, giving, especially 
when alternated with long lava-streams, a ridge-and-furrow 
look to this and most other of the Antilles. Dr. Daw, with 
his usual acuteness of eye and soundness of judgment, 
attributes them rather to " water acting on loose volcanic 
ashes " than to " rents and fissures, the residt of sudden and 
violent force." Doubtless he is in the right. Thus, and thus 
only, has been formed the greater part of the most beautiful 
scenery in the West Indies ; and I longed again and again, 
as I looked at it, for the company of my friend and teacher. 


Colonel George Greenwood, that I might show him, on island 
after island, such manifold corroborations of his theories in 
" liain and Rivers." 

But our eyes were drawn off, at almost the second glance, 
from mountain-peaks and glens, to the slopes of cultivated 
lowland, sheeted with bright green cane, and guinea-gra^s, 
and pigeon pea; and thut not for their own sakes, but 
for the sake of objects so utterly unlike anything which 
we had ever seen, that it was not easy, at first, to discover 
what they were. Grey pillars, which seemed taller than the 
tallest poplars, smooth and cylindrical as those of a Doric 
temple, each carrying a flat head of darkest green, were 
ranged along roadsides and round fields, or stood, in groups or 
singly, near engine-works, or towered above rich shrubberies 
which shrouded comfortable country-houses. It was not easy, 
as I have said, to believe that these strange and noble things 
were trees : but such they were. At last we beheld, with wonder 
and delight, the pride of the West Indies, the Cabbage Palms 
— Palmistes of the French settlers — which botanists have well 
named Oreodoxa, the " glory of the mountains." We saw them 
afterwards a hundred times in their own native forests ; and 
when they rose through tangled masses of richest vegeta- 
tion, mixed with other and smaller species of palms, their 
form, fantastic though it was, harmonized well with hundreds 
of forms equally fantastic. But here they seemed, at first sight, 
out of place, incongruous, and artificial, standing amid no 
kindred forms, and towering over a cultivation and civilization 
which might have been mistaken, seen from the sea, for 
wealthy farms along some English shore. Gladly would we 
have gone on shore, were it but to have stood awhile under 
those Palmistes ; and an invitation was not wanting to a pretty 
Iree-shrouded house on alow cliff a mile off, where, doubtless, 
eyery courtesy and many a luxury would have awaited us. 
But it could not be. We watched kind folk rowed to shore 
without us ; and then turned to watch the black flotilla under 
our quarter. 

The first thing that caught our eye on board the negro boats 
which were alongside was, of course, the baskets of fruits and 
v^etables, of which one of us at least had been hearing all 
his life. At St Thomas's we had been introduced to bananas 


(.figs, as they are miscalled in the West Indies) ; to the great 
green oranges, thick-skinned and fragrant ; to those junks of 
sugar-cane, some two feet long, which Cuffy, and Cuft'y's ladies, 
deUght to gnaw, walking, sitting, and standing; increasing 
thereby the size of their lips, and breaking out, often enough, 
their upper front te^th. We had seen, and eaten too, the sweet 
sop^— a passable fruit, or rather congeries of fruits, looking 
like a green and purple strawberry, of the bigness of an 
orange. It is the cousin of the prickly sour-sop ; * of the 
really delicious, but to me unknown, Chirimoya,^ and of the 
custard apple,* containing a pulp which (as those who re- 
member the delectable pages of Tom Cringle know) bears a 
startling likeness to brains. Bunches of giapes, at St. Kitts, 
lay among these ; and at St. Lucia we saw with them, for 
the first time. Avocado, or Alligator pears, alias midshipman's 
butter ;* lai-ge round brown fruits, to be eaten with pepper 
and salt by those who list With these, in open baskets, lay 
bright scarlet capsicums, green coco-nuts tinged with orange, 
great root« of yam^ and cush-cush,'^ with strange pulse of 
various kinds and hues. The contents of these vegetable 
baskets were often as gay-coloured as the gaudy gowns, 
and still gaudier turbans, of the women who offered them 
for sale. 

Screaming and jabbering, the Negros and Negresses thrust 
each other's boats about, scrambled from one to the other 
with gestures of wrath and defiance, and seemed at every 
moment about both to fall to fisticuffs and to upset themselves 
among the sharks. But they did neither. Their excitement 
evaporated in noise. To their " ladies," to do them justice, 
the men were always civil, while the said " ladies " bullied 
them and ordered them about without mercy. The Negro 
women are, without doubt, on a more thorough footing of 
equality with the men than the women of any w^hite- race. 
The causes, 1 believe, are two. In the first place, there is less 
difference between the sexes in mere physical strength and 
courage 5 and watching the average Negresses, one can well 
believe the stories of those terrible Amazonian guards of the 
King of Dahomey, whose boast is, that they are no longer 

*■ Anonn squamosa. * ' A. mnricata. ' A. cherimolia. * A. reticulata 
^ Fersea gratJMinia. ' Dioscorea. ' Coloca«iA eeculenta. 


women, but men. There is no doubt that, in case of a 
rebellion, the black women of the West Indies would be as 
formidable, cutlass in hand, as the men. The other cause is 
tlie exceeding ease with which, not merely food, but f»ay 
clothes and ornaments, can be procured by light labour. The 
Negro woman has no need to marry and make herself the 
slave of a man, in order to get a home and subsistence. 
Independent she is, for good and evil ; and independent she 
takes care to remain ; and no schemes for civilizing the Negro 
will have any deep or permanent good effect which do not 
take note of, and legislate for, this singular fact. 

Meanwhile, it was a comfort to one fresh from the cities 
of the Qld World, and the short and stunted figures, tlie 
mesquin and scrofulous visages, which crowd our alleys and 
tMck wynds, to see everywhere health, strength, and goodly 
stature, especially among women. Nowhere in the West 
Indies are to be seen those haggard down-trodden mothers, 
grown old before their time, too common in England, and 
commoner still in France. Health, " rude " in every sense of 
the word, is the mark of the Negro woman, and of the Negro 
man likewise. Their faces shine with fatness ; they seem to 
enjoy, they do enjoy, the mere act of living, like the lizard 
on the wall It may be said — it must be said — that, if they be 
human beings (as they are), they are meant for something 
more than mere enjoyment of life. Well and good : but are 
they not meant for enjoyment likewise ? Let us take the 
beam out of our own eye, before we take the mote out of 
theirs ; let us, before we complain of them for being too 
healthv and comfortable, remember that we have at home here 
tens of thousands of paupers, rogues, whatnot, who are not 
a whit more civilized, intellectual, virtuous, or spiritual than 
the Negro, and are meanwhile neither healthy nor com- 
fortable. The Negro may have the corpus sanum without 
the mens sana. But what of those whose souls and bodies 
are alike unsound? 

Away south, along the low spit at the south end of the island, 
where are salt-pans which, I suspect, lie in now extinguished 
craters ; and past little Nevis, the conical ruin, as it were, of 
a volcanic island. It was probably joined to the low end of 
St. Kitts not many years ago. It is separated from it now 



only by a channel called the Narrows, some four to six miles 
across, and very shallow, there being not more than four 
fathoms in many places, and infested with I'eefs, whether of 
true coral or of volcanic rock I should be glad to know. A 
single peak, with its Souffrifere, rises to some 2,000 feet; right 
and left of it are tuo lower hills, fragment*?, apparently, of a 
Somma, or older and larger crater. The lava and ash slide in 
concave slopes of fertile soil down to the sea, forming an 
island some four miles by three, which was in the seven- 
letnth century a little paradise, containing 4,000 white, 
citizens, who had dwindled down in 1805, under the baneful 
influences of slavery, to 1,300 ; in 1832 (the period of 
emancipation) to 600; and in 1854, to only 170.^ A happy 
place, however, it is said still to be, with a population of more 
than 10,000, who, as there is happily no crown land in the 
island, cannot squat, and so return to their original savagery ; 
but are well-ordered and peaceable, industrious, and well- 
taught, and need, it is said, not only no soldiers, but no police. 

One spot on the little island we should have liked much 
to have seen: the house where Nelson, aft«r his marriage 
w4th Mrs. Nisbet, a lady of Nevis, dwelt awhile in peace and 
])urity. Happier for him, perhaps, though not for England, 
had he never left that quiet nest. 

And now, on the leeward bow, another grey mountain 
island rose; and on the windward another, lower and 
longer. The former was Montserrat, which I should have 
gladly visited, as I had been invited to do. For little Mont- 
serrat is just now the scene of a very hopeful and important 
experiment.* The Messrs. Sturge have established there a 
large plantation of limes, and a manufactory of lime-juice, 
which promises to be able to supply, in good time, vast 
quantities of that most useful of all sea-medicines. 

Their connection with the Society of Friends, and indeed 
the very name of Sturge, is a guarantee that such a work will 
1)0 carried on fur the benefit, not merely of the capitalists, but 
of the coloured people who are employed. Already, 1 am 
assured, a marked improvement has taken place among 

1 Dr. Davy's ** Wc.^ Indies." 

■ An Bcconnt of the Souflfridre of Monts'^rrat is given by Dr. Nugent ; 
CtM*tifgiaiX Society's Tr^nsactionii, vol. i., Ibll. 


them ; and I, for one, heartily bid God-speed to the enterprise : 
to any enterprise, indeed, which tends to divert labour and 
capital from that exclusive sugar-growing which has been 
most injurious, 1 verily believe the bane, of the West Inciies. 
On that subject, I may have to say more in a future chapter. 
I ask the reader, meanwhile, to follow, as the ship's head 
goes round to windward toward Antigua. 

Antigua is lower, longer, and flatter than the other 
islands. It carries no central peak : but its wildness of 
ragged uplands forms, it is said, a natural fortress, which 
ought to be impregnable ; and its loyal and industrious 
jieople boast, that, were every other West Indian island lost, 
the English might make a stand in Antigua long enough to 
enable them to reconquer the whole. I should have feared, 
from the look of the island, that no large force could hold 
out long in a country so destitute of water as those volcanic 
hills, rusty, ragged, treeless, almost sad and desolate — if any 
land could be sad and desolate with such a blue sea leaping 
around, and such a blue sky blazing above. Those who 
wish to know the agricidtural capabilities of Antigua and 
to know, too, the good sense and courage, the justice and 
humanity, which have enabled the Antiguans to struggle on 
and upward through all their difficulties, in spite of drought, 
hurricane, and earthquake, till permanent prosperity seems 
now become certain, should read Dr. Davy's excellent book, 
Mhich I cannot too often recommend. For us, we could only 
pive a hasty look at its southern volcanic cliffs; while we 
i-egretted that we could not inspect the marine strata of the 
f^nstem parts of the island, with their calcareous marls and 
limestones, hardened clays and cherts, and famous silicified 
trees, which offer important problems to the geologist, as yet 
not worked out.^ 

We could well believe, as the steamer ran into English 
Harbour, that Antigua was still subject to earthquakes ; and 
liad been shaken, with great loss of property though not 
of life, in the Guadaloupe earthquake of 1843, when 5,000 
lives were lost in the town of Point-i-Pitre alone. The 

* P«ir what is known of these, consult Dr. Xn^nt's "Memoir on th« 
Genlo^' of Antigua," Transactions of Geological Society, vol. v., 1821. Seo 
also Humboldt, "Personal Narrative," book v. cap. 14. 

D 2 


only well-marked effect which Dr. Davy could hear of, 
apart from damage to artificial structures, was the partial 
sinking of a causeway leading to Kat Island, in the harbour 
of St John. No wonder : if St. John's harbour be — ^as from 
its shape on the map it probably is — simply an extinct crater, 
or group of craters, like English Harbour. A more picturesque, 
or more uncanny little hole than that latter we had never yet 
seen : but there are many such harbours about these islands, 
which nature, for the time being at least, has handed over 
from the dominion of fire to that of water. Past low clifis of 
ash and volcanic boulder, sloping westward to the sea, which 
is eating them fast away, the steamer runs in through a deep 
crack, a pistol-shot in width. On the east side a strange 
section of grey lava and ash is guawn into caves. On the 
right, a bluff rock of black lava dips sheer into water several 
fathoms deep; and you anchor at once inside an irregular group 
of craters, having passed through a gap in one of their sides, 
which has probably been torn out by a lava flow. Whether 
the land, at the time of the flow, was higher or lower than at 
present, who can tell ? This is certain, that the first basin is 
for half of its circumference circular, and walled with ash 
beds, wliich seem to slope outward from it. To the left it 
leads away into a long creek, up which, somewhat to our sur- 
prise, we saw neat government-houses and quays; and be- 
tween them and us, a noble iron-clad and other ships-of-war 
at anchor close against lava and ash cliffs. But right ahead, the 
dusty sides of the crater are covered with strange bushes, its 
glaring shingle spotted with bright green Manchineels ; while 
on the cliffs around aloes innumerable, seemingly the im- 
ported American Agave, send up their groups of huge fat 
pointed leaves from crannies so arid, that one would fancy 
a moss would wither in them. A strange place it is, and 
strangely hot likewise ; and one could not but fear a day — it 
is to be hoped long distant — when it will be hotter stilL 

Out of English Harbour, after taking on board fruit and 
bargaining for beads, for which Antigua is famous, we passed 
the lonely rock of Redonda, toward a mighty mountain 
wliich lay under a sheet of clouds of corresponding vastness. 
That was Guadaloupa The dark undersides of the rolling 
clouds mingled with the dark peaks and ridges, till we 


could not see where earth ended and vapour began ; and 
the clouds from far to ihe eastward up the wind massed 
themselves on the island, and then ceased suddenly to leeward, 
leaving the sky clear and the sea brilliant. 

I should be glad to know the cause of this phenomenon, 
which we saw several times among the islands, but never in 
greater perfection than on nearing Nevis from the south on 
our return. In that case, however, the cloud continued to 
leeward It came up from the east for full ten miles, an 
advancing column of tall ghostly cumuli, leaden, above a 
leaden sea ; and slid toward the island, whose lines seemed 
to leap up once to meet them ; fail ; then, in a second leap, 
to plunge the crater-peak high into the mist ; and then to sink 
down again into the western sea, so gently that the line 
oi shore and sea was indistinguishable. But above, the 
cloud-procession passed on, shattered by its contact with 
the mountain, and transfigured as it neared the setting 
sun into long upward streaming lines of rack, purple and 
primrose against a saffron sky, while Venus lingered low 
between cloud and sea, a spark of fire glittering through 
dull red haze. 

And now the steamer ran due south, across the vast 
basin which is ringed round by Antigua, Montserrat, and 
Guadaloupe, with St. Kitts and Nevis showing like tall grey 
ghosts to the north-west. Higher and higher ahead rose the 
great mountain mass of Guadaloupe, its head in its own canopy 
of cloud. The island falls into the sea sharply to leeward. 
But it stretches out to windward in a long line of flat land 
edged with low cliff, and studded with large farms and engine- 
iiouses. It might be a bit of the Isle of Thanet, or of the 
Lothians, were it not for those umbrella-like Palmistes, a 
hundred feet high, which stand out everywhere against the 
sky. At its northern end, a furious surf was beating on 
a sandy beach ; and beyond that, dim and distant, loomed up 
the low flat further island, known by the name of Grande 

Guadaloupe, as some of my readers may know, consists, 
properly speakinj^, of two islands, divided by a swamp and 
a narrow salt-water river. The eastward half, or Grande 
Tene, which is composed of marine strata, is hardly si^n 


in the island voyage, and then only at a distance, first 
behind the westward Basse Teire, and then behind other 
little islands, the Saintes and Mariegalante. But the west- 
ward island, rising in one lofty volcanic mass which hides 
tlie eastern island from view, is perhaps, for mere gran- 
deur, the grandest in the Archipelago. The mountains — 
among which are, it is said, fourteen extinct craters — range 
upward higher and higher toward the southern end, with 
corries and glens, which must be, when seen near, hanging 
gardens of stupendous size. The forests seem to be as mag- 
nificent as they were in the days of Pere Labat. Tiny knots on 
distant clifTs-tops, when looked at through the glass, are found 
to be single trees of enormous height and breadth. Gullies 
hundreds of feet in depth, rushing downwards toward the sea, 
represent the rush of the torrents which have helped, through 
thousands of rainy seasons, to scoop them out and down. 

But all this grandeur and richness culminates, toward the 
southern end, in one great crater-peak 5,000 feet in height, 
at the foot of which Ues the Port of Basse Terre, or Bourg 
St. FranQois. 

We never were so fortunate as to see the Souffribre entirely 
free from cloud. The lower, wider, and more ancient crater 
was generally clear : but out of the midst of it rose a^ second 
cone buried in darkness and mist. Once only we caught 
sight of part of its lip, and the sight was one not to be 
tbrgotten. The sun was rising behind the hills. The purple 
mountain was backed by clear blue sky. High above it hung 
sheets of orange cloud lighted from underneath ; lower down, 
and close upon the hUl-tops, curved sheets of bright white 

** Stooped from heaven, and took the shape, 
With fold on fold, of mountain and of cupe." 

And under them, again, the crater seethed with grey mist, 
among which, at one moment, we could discern portions of its 
lip ; not smooth, like that of Vesuvius, but broken into awful 
peaks and chasms hundreds of feet in height. As the sun 
rose, level lights of golden green streamed round the peak 
right and left over the downs : but only for a while. As the 
sky-clouds vanished in his blazing rays, earth-clouds rolled 
up below from the valleys behind; wreathed and weltered 


about the great black teeth of the crater ; and then siDkiug 
among them, and below them, shrouded the whole cone in 
purple darkness for the day ; while in the foreground blazed 
in the sunshine broad slopes of cane-field ; below them 
again the town, with handsome houses and old-fashioned 
churches and convents, dating possibly from the seventeenth 
century, embowered in mangos, tamarinds, and palmistes; 
and along the beach a market beneath a row of trees, with 
canoes drawn up to be unladen, and gay dresses of every 
hue. The surf whispered softly on the beach. The cheerful 
murmur of voices came off the shore, and above it the 
tinkling of some little bell, calling good folks to early mass. 
A cheery, brilliant picture as man could wish to see : but 
marred by two ugly elements. A mile away on the low northern 
cli£r, marked with many a cross, was the lonely cholem 
cemetery, a remembrance of the fearful pestilence which a 
few years since swept away thousands of the people: and 
above frowned that black giant, now asleep: but for how 

In 1797 an eruption hurled out pumice, ashes, and sul- 
phureous vapours. In the great crisis of 1812, indeed, the 
volcano was quiet, leaving the Soutfrifere of St. Vincent to 
do the^work; but since then he has shown an ugly and 
uncertain humour. Smoke by day, and flame by night — or 
probably that light reflected from below which is often mis- 
taken for flame in volcanic eruptions — ^have been seen again 
and again above the crater ; and the awful earthquake of 
1843 proves that his capacity for mischief is unabated. The 
whole island, indeed, is somewhat unsafe ; for the hapless 
town of Point-i-Pitre, destroyed by that earthquake, stands 
not on the volcanic Basse Terre, but on the edge of the marine 
Grande Terre, near the southern mouth of the salt-water 
river. Heaven grant these good people of Guadaloupe a 
long respite ; for they are said to deserve it, as fai^ as human 
industry and enterprise goes. They have, as well, I under- 
stand, as the gentlemen of Martinique, discovered the worth 
of the " division of labour." Throughout the West Indies 
the planter is usually, not merely a sugar-grower, but a 
sugar maker also. He requires, therefore, two capitals, and 
two intellects likewise, one for his cane-fields, the other for 


his " ingenio," engine-house, or sugar-works. But he does 
not gain thereby two profits. Having two things to do, 
neither, usually, is done well. The cane-farming is bad, 
the sugar-making bad ; and the sugar, when made, disposed 
of through merchants by a cumbrous, antiquated, and ex- 
pensive system. These shrewd Frenchmen, and, 1 am 
told, even small proprietors among the Negros, not being 
crippled, happily for them, by those absurd sugar-duties 
which, till Mr. Lowe's budget, put a premium on the making 
of bad sugar, are confining themselves to growing the canes, 
and sell them raw to " Usines Centrales," at which they ai-e 
manufactured into sugar. They thus devote their own ca])ital 
and intellect to increasing the yield of their estate.** ; while 
the central factories, it is said, pay dividends ranging fi'om 
20 to 40 per cent. I regretted much that I was unable to 
visit in crop-time one of these factories, and see the 
working of a system which seems to contain one of the 
best elements of the co-operative principle. 

But (and this is at present a serious inconvenience to a 
traveller in the Antilles) the steamer passes each island only 
once a fortnight ; so that to land in an island is equivalent 
to staying there at least that time, unless one chooses to take 
the chances of a coasting scliooner, and bad food, bugs, cock- 
roaches, and a bunk which — ^but I will not describe. " Non 
ragionam di lor, ma guarda" (down the comptinion) "e 

I must therefore content myself with describing, as honestly 
as I can, what little we saw from the sea, of islands at each 
of which we would gladly have stayed several days. 

As the traveller neai-s each of them — Guadaloupe, Domi- 
nica, Martinique — of which two last we had only one passing 
glance — St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Grenada — he will be 
impressed, not only by the peculiarity of their form, but by 
the richness of their colour. 

All of them do not, like St Kitts, Guadaloupe, and St. 
Vincent, slope up to one central peak. In Martinique, for 
instance, there are three separate peaks, or groups of peaks — 
the Mont Pel^e,- the Pitons du Carbet, and the Piton du 
Vauclain. But all have that peculiar jagged outline which 
is noticed first at the Virgin Islands. 


Flat "vans" or hog-backed hills, and broad sweeps of 
moorland, so common in Scotland, are as rare as are steep 
walls of clifT, so common in the Alps. Pyramid is piled on 
pyramid, the sides of each at a slope of about 45"^, till the 
whole range is a congeries of multitudinous peaks and peak- 
lets, round the base of which spreads out, with a sudden 
sweep, the smooth lowland of volcanic ash and lava. This 
extreme raggedness of outline is easily explained. The 
mountains have never been, as in Scotland, planed smooth 
by ice. They have been gouged out, in every direction, by 
the furious tropic rains and tropic rain-torrents. Had the 
Tocks been stratified and tolerably horizontal, these rains 
would have cut them out into tablelands divided by deep 
gullies, such as may be seen in Abyssinia, and in certain parts 
of the western United States. But these rocks are altogether 
amorphous and unstratified, and have been poured or 
spouted out as lunjpjs, dykes, and sheets of lava, of every 
degree of hardness ; so that the rain, in degrading them, has 
worn them, not into tables and ranges, but into innumerable 
cones. And the process of degradation is still going on 
rapidly. Though a cliff, or sheet of bare rock, is hardly 
visible among the glens, yet here and there a bright 
brown patch tells of a recent landslip ; and the masses of 
debris and banks of shingle, backed by a pestilential little 
swamp at the mouth of each torrent, show how furious must 
be the. down-pour and down-roll before the force of a sudden 
flood, along so headlong an incline. 

But in strange contrast with the ragged outline, and with 
the wild devastation of the rainy season, is the richness of 
the verdure which clothes the islands, up to their highest 
peaks, in what seems a coat of green fur ; but when looked 
at through the glasses, proves to be, in most cases, gigantic 
timber. Not a rock is seen. If there be a cliff here and 
there, it is as green as an English lawn. Steep slopes 
are grey with groo-groo palras,^ or yellow with unknown 
flowering trees. High against the sky-line, tir.y knots and 
lumps are found to be gigantic trees. Each glen has buried 
its streamlet a hundred feet in vegetation, above which, here 
and there, the grey stem and dark crown of some palmiste 

^ Acrocomio. 


towers up like the mast of some great admiral The eye and 
the fancy strain vainly into the green abysses, and wander 
up and down over the wealth of depths and heights, com- 
pared with which European parks and woodlands are but 
paltry scrub and shaugh. No books are needed to tell 
that. The eye discovers it for itself, even before it has learnt 
to judge of the great size of the vegetation, from the endless 
variety of form and colour. For the islands, though green 
intensely, are not of one, but of every conceivable green, or 
rather of hues ranging from pale yellow through all greens 
into cobalt blue ; and as the wind stirs the leaves, and sweeps 
the lights and shadows over hill and glen, all is evei- 
clianging, iridescent, like a peacock's neck; till the whole 
island, from peak to sliore, seems some glorious jewel — an 
emerald with tints of sapphire and topaz, hanging between 
blue sea and white surf below, and blue sky and white 
cloud above. 

If the reader fancies that I exaggerate, let him' go and 
see. Let him lie for one hour off the Eosseau at Dominica. 
Let him sail down the leeward side of Guadaloupe, down 
the leeward side of what island he will, and judge for him- 
self how poor, and yet how tawdry, my words are, com- 
pared with the luscious yet magnificent colouring of the 

The traveller, at least so I think, would remark also, with 
some surprise, the seeming smallness of these islands. The 
Basse Terre of Guadaloupe, for instance, is forty miles in length. 
As you lie off it, it does not look half, or even a quarter, of 
that length ; and that, not merely because the distances north 
and south are foreshortened, or shut in by nearer headlands. 
The causes, I believe, are more subtle and more complex. 
First, the novel clearness of the air, which makes the tra- 
veller, fresh from misty England, fancy every object far nearer, 
and therefore far smaller, than it actually is. Next the 
simplicity of form. Each outer line trends upward so surely 
toward a single focus; each whole is so sharply defined 
between its base-line of sea and its background of sky, that, 
like a statue, each island is compact and complete in itself, 
an isolated and self-dependent organism; and therefore, 
like every beautiful statue, it looks much smaller than it ia. 


So perfect this isolation seems, that one fancies, at moments, 
that the island does not rise out of the sea, but floats upon 
it; that it is held in place, not by the roots of the mountains, 
and deep miles of lava-wall below, but by the cloud which 
has caught it by the top, and will not let it go. Let that 
cloud but rise, and vanish, and the whole beautiful thing will 
be cast adrift ; ready to fetch way before the wind, and (as 
it will seem often enough to do when viewed through a 
cabin-port) to slide silently past you, while you are sliding 
past it. 

And yet, to him who knows the past, a dark shadow 
hangs over all this beauty ; and the air — even in clearest 
blaze of sunshine-^is full of ghosts. I do not speak of the 
shadow of N<^ro slavery, nor of the shadow which, though 
abolished, it has left behind, not to be cleared off for gene- 
rations to come. I speak of the shadow of war, and the 
ghosts of gallant soldiers and sailors. Truly here 

'*The spirits of our fathers 

Might start from every wave ; 
For the deck it was their field of fame, 
And ocean was their grave," 

and ask us : What have you done with these islands, which 
we won for you with precious blood ? What could we answer ? 
We have misused them, neglected them ; till now, ashamed of 
the slavery of the past, and too ignorant and helpless to 
govern them now slavery is gone, we are half-minded to 
throw them away again, or to allow them to annex themselves, 
in sheer weariness at our imbecility, to the Americans, wh(^ 
far too wise to throw them away in their turn, will accept 
them gladly as an instalment of that great development of 
their empire, when "The stars and stripes shall float upon 
Cape Horn." 

But was it for this that these islands were taken and re- 
taken, till every gully held the skeleton of an Englishman ? 
Was it for this that these seas were reddened with blood year 
after year, till the sharks learnt to gather to a sea-fight, as 
eagle, kite, and wolf gathered of old to fights on land ? Did 
all those gallant souls go dovm to Hades in vain, and leave 
nothing for the Englishman but the sad and proud memory of 
their useless valour ? That at least they have left. 


However we may deplore those old wars as unnecessary ; 
however much we may hate war in itself, as perhaps the worst 
of all the superfluous curses with which man continues to 
deface himself and this fair earth of God, yet one must be 
less than Englishman, less, it may be, than man, if one does 
not feel a thrill of pride at entering waters where one says to 
oneself, — Here Rodney, on the glorious 12th of April, 1782, 
broke Count de Grasse's line (teaching thereby Nelson to do the 
same in like case), took and destroyed seven French ships of 
the line and scattered the rest, preventing the French fleet 
from joining the Spaniards at Hispaniola; thus saving Jamaica 
and the whole West Indies, and brought about by that single 
tremendous blow the honourable peace of 1783. On what a 
scene of crippled and sinking, shattered and triumphant 
ships, in what a sea, must the conquerors have looked round 
from the Formidable's poop, with De Grasse at luncheon 
with Rodney in the cabin below, and not, as he had boastfully 
promised, on board his own Ville de Paris. Truly, though 
cynically, wrote Sir Giltert Blane, " If superior beings make 
a sport of the quarrels of mortals, they could not have chosen 
a better theatre for this magnificent exhibition, nor could they 
ever have better entertainment than this day afiforded." 

Yon lovely roadstead of Dominica — there it was that 
Rodney first caught up the French on the 9th of April, three 
days before, and would have beaten them there and then, had 
not a great part of his fleet lain becalmed under these very 
highlands, past which we are steaming through water 
smooth as glass. You glance, again, running down the coast 
of Martinique, into a deep bay, ringed round with gay houses 
embowered in mango and cocoa-nut, with the Piton du 
Vauclain rising into the clouds behind it. That is the Cul- 
de-sac Royal, for years the rendezvous and stronghold of the 
French fleets. From it Count de Grasse sailed out on the 
fatal 8th of April ; and there, beyond it, opens an isolated rock, 
of the shape, but double the size, of one of the great Pyramids, 
which was once the British sloop of war Diamond Rock. 

For, in the end of 1803, Sir Samuel Hood saw that French 
ships passing to Fort Royal harbour in Martinique escaped 
him by running through the deep channel between Pointe du 
Diamante and this same rock, which rises sheer out of the water 


600 feet, and is about a mile Touud, and only accessible at a 
point to the leeward, and even then only when there is no surf. 
He who lands, it is said, has then to creep through crannies 
and dangerous steeps, round to the windward side, where the 
eye is suddenly relieved by a sloping grove of wild fig-trees, 
clinging by innumerable air-roots to the cracks of the stone. 
So Hood, with that inspiration of genius so common then 
among sailors, laid his seventy-four, the Centaur, close along- 
side the Diamond ; made a hawser, with a traveller on it, fast 
to the ship and to the top of the rock ; and in January 1804 
got three long 24's and two IS's hauled up far above his 
luast-head by sailors who, as they "hung like clusters," 
appeared " like mice hauling a little sausage. Scarcely could 
we hear the Governor on the top directing them with his 
trumpet ; the Centaur lying close under, like a cocoa-nut shell, 
to which the hawsers are affixed."^ In this strange fortress, 
Lieutenant James Wilkie Maurice (let his name be recol- 
lected as one of England's forgotten worthies), was established, 
with 120 men and boys, and ammunition, provisions, and 
water, for four months ; and the rock was borne on the 
books of the Admiralty as His Majesty's ship Diamond Kock, 
and swept the seas with her guns till the 1st of June, 1805, 
when she had to surrender, for want of powder, to a French 
equadron of two 74'8, a frigate, a corvette,a schooner, and eleven 
gunlx)at8, after killing and wounding some seventy men ou 
the rock alone, and destroying three gunboats, with a lo^s to 
herself of two men killed and one wounded. Remembering 
which story, who will blame the traveller if he takes off 
his hat to His Majesty's quondam corvette, as he sees for 
the first time its pink and yellow sides shining in the sun, 
above the sparkling seas over which it domineered of old ? 
You run onwards toward St. Lucia. Across that channel 
Kodney's line of frigates watched for the expected rein- 
forcement of the French fleet. The first bay in St. Lucia is 
Gros islet ; and there is the Gros islet itself — Pigeon Kock, as 
the English call it — ^behind which Kodney's fleet lay waiting 
at anchor, while he himself sat on the top of the rock, day 
after day, spy-glass in hand, watching for the signals from 
his frigates that the French fleet was on the move. 

1 " Naval Chronicles," vol. xii. p. 206. 


And those glens and forests of St. Lucia — over them and 
through them Sir John Moore and Sir Ilalf)h Abercronibie 
fought, week after week, month after month, not merely 
against French soldiers, but against worse enemies; "Brigands," 
aa the poor fellows were called; Negros liberated by the 
Kevolution of 1792. With their heads full (and who can 
blame them ?) of the Eights of Man, and the democratic teach- 
ings of that valiant and able friend of Robespierre, Victor 
Ungues, they had destroyed their masters, man, woman, and 
child, horribly enough, and then helped to drive out of the 
island the invading English, who were already half destroyed, 
not with fighting, but with fever. And now " St. Lucia the 
faithful," as the Convention had named her, was swarming 
with fresh English ; and the remaining French and the 
drilled Negros made a desperate stand in the earthworks 
of yonder Morne Fortun^e, above the harbour, and had 
to surrender, with 100 guns and all their stores; and then 
the poor black fellows, who only knew that they were 
free, and intended to remain free, took to the bush, and 
fed on the wild cushcush roots and the plunder of the 
plantations, man-hunting, murdering French and English 
alike, and being put to death in return whenever caught. 
Gentle Abercrombie could not coax them into peace : stem 
Moore could not shoot and hang them into it; and the 
" Brigand war " dragged hideously on, till Moore — who was 
nearly caught by them in a six-oared boat off the Pitons, and 
had to row for Ids life to St. Vincent, so saving himself for 
the glory of Corunna — was all but dead of fever ; and Colonel 
flames Drummond had to carry on the miserable work, till the 
^^hole " Armee Fran9aise dans les bois ** laid down their rusty 
muskets, on the one condition, that free they had been, and 
free they should remain. So they were formed into an 
English regiment, and sent to fight on the coast of Africa; 
and in more senses than one "went to their own place." Then 
St. Lucia was ours till the peace of 1802 ; then French again, 
under the good and wise Nogues ; to be retaken by us in 1803 
once and for alL 

I tell this little story at sonje length, as an insta,nce of what 
these islands have cost us in blood and treasure. I have 
heard it regretted that we restored Mai-tinique to the French, 


and kept St. Lucia instead. But in so doing, the British 
Government acted at least on the advice which R>dney had 
given as early as the year 1778. St. Lucia, he held, would 
render Martinique and the other islands of little use in war, 
owing to its windward situation and its good harbours ; for 
from St. Lucia every other British island might receive 
speedy succour. He advised that the Little Carenage shouhl 
1x3 made a permanent naval station, with dockyard and 
fortifications, and a town built there by Government, which 
would, in his opinion, have become a metropolis for the other 
islands. And indeed, Nature had done her part to make such a 
project easy of accomplishment. But Rodney's advice was not 
taken — any more than his advice to people the island, by 
having a considerable quantity of land in each parish allotted 
to ten-acre men (i.e. white yeomen), under penalty of for- 
feiting it to the Crown should it be ever converted to any 
other use than provision ground (i.e. thrown into sugar estates). 
This advice shows that Rodney's genius, though, with the pre- 
judices of his time, he supported not only slavery, but the slave 
trade itself, had perceived one of the most fatal weaknesses of 
the slaveholding and sugar-growing system. And well it 
would have been for St. Lucia if his advice had been taken. 
But neither ten-acre men nor dockyards were ever established 
in St. Lucia. The mail-steamers, if they need to go into 
dock, have, I am ashamed to say, to go to Martinique, where 
the French manage matters better. The admirable Carenage 
harbour is empty ; Castries remains a little town, small, dirty, 
dilapidated, and unwholesome ; and St. Lucia itself is hardly 
to be called a colony, but rather the nucleus of a colony, which 
may become hereafter, by energy and good government, a rich 
and thickly-peopled garden up to the very mountain-tops. 

We went up eight humlred feet of steep hill, to pay a visit 
on that Mome Fortunee which Moore and Abercrombie took, 
with terrible loss of life, in May 1796 ; and wondered at the 
courage and the tenacity of pui'pose which could have con- 
trived to invest, and much more to assault, such a stronghold, 
*' dragging the guns across ravines and up the acclivities of 
the mountains and rocks," and then attacking the works only 
along one narrow neck of down, which must be fat, to this 
day, with English blood. 


All was peaceful enough now. The forts were crumbling, 
the barracks empty, and the "neat cottages, smiling flower 
gardens, smooth grass-plats and gravel-walks," which were 
once the pride of the citadel, replaced for the most part with 
Guava-scrub and sensitive plants. But nothing can destroy the 
beauty of the panomma. To the north and east a wilderness 
of mountain peaks; to the west the Grand Cul-de-sac and 
the Carenage, mapped out in sheets of blue between high pro- 
montories ; and, beyond all, the open sea. What a land : and 
in what a climate: and all lying well-nigli as it has been 
since the making of the world, waiting fur man to come and 
take possession. But there, as elsewiiere, matters are mend- 
ing steadily ; and in another hundred years JSt Lucia may be 
an honour to the English race. 

We were, of course, anxious to obtain at St. Lucia s[iecimens 
of that abominable reptile, the F*^r-de-lance, or rat-tailed 
snake,^ which is the pest of this island, as well as of the 
neighbouring island of Martinique, and, in Pfere Labat's 
time, of lesser Martinique in the Grenadines, from which, 
according to Davy, it seems to have disappeared. It 
occurs also in Guadaloupe. In great Martinique— so the 
French say — it is dangerous to travel through certain 
woodlands on account of the Fer-de-lance, who lies along 
a bough, and strikes, without provocation, at horse or 
man. I suspect this statement, however, to be an ex- 
aggei-ation. I was assured that this was not the case in 
St. Lucia ; that the snake attacks no oftener than other 
venomous snakes, — that is, when trodden on, or when his re- 
treat is cut off. At all events, it seems easy enough to kill 
him : so easy, that I hope yet it may be possible to catch 
him alive, and that the Zoological Gardens may at last 
possess — what they have long coveted in vain — the hideous 
attraction of a live Fer-de-lance. The specimens which we 
brought home are curious enough, even from this aesthetic point 
of view. Why are these poisonous snakes so repulsive in 
appearance, some of them at least, and that not in propor- 
tion to their dangerous properties ? For no one who puts the 
mere dread out of his mind will call the Cobras ugly, even 
anything but beautiful ; nor, again, the deadly Coral snake 

^ Craspcdocephalus lanceolatus. 


of Trinidad, whose beauty tempts children, and even 
grown people, to play with it, or make a necklace of it, 
sometimes to their own destruction. But who will call the 
Puff Adder of the Cape, or this very Fer-de-lance, anything 
but ugly and horrible : not only from the brutality signified, 
to us at least, by the flat triangular head and the heavy jaw, 
but by the look of malevolence, and craft signified, to us at 
least, by the eye and the lip ? " To us at least,** I say. For 
it is an open question, and will be one, as long as the 
nominalist and the realist schools of thought keep up their 
controversy — which they will do to the world's end — ^whether 
this seeming hideousness be a real fact : whether we do not 
attribute to the snake the same passions which we should 
expect to find — and to abhor — in a human countenance of 
somewhat the same shape, and then justify our assumption 
to ourselves by the creature's bites, which are actually no 
more the result of craft and malevolence than the bite of a 
frightened mouse or squirrel I should be glad to believe 
that the latter theory were the true one; that nothing ia 
created really ugly, that the Fer-de-lance looks an hideous 
fiend, the Ocelot a beautiful fiend, merely because the out* 
lines of the Ocelot approach more nearly to those which we 
consider beautiful in a human being : but I confess myself not 
yet convinced. " There is a great deal of human nature in 
man," said the wise Yankee ; and one's human nature, per- 
haps one's common-sense also, will peraist in considering 
beauty and ugliness as absolute realities, in spite of one's 
efforts to be fair to the weighty arguments on the other side. 
Tliese Fer-de-lances, be that as it may, are a great pest in 
St. Lucia. Dr. Davy says that he " was told by the Lieutenant- 
Governor, that as many as thirty rat-tailed snakes were killed 
in clearing a piece of land, of no great extent, near Govern- 
ment House." I can well believe this, for about the same 
number were kiUed only two years ago in clearing, probably, 
the same piece of ground, which is infested with that creep- 
ing pest of the West Indies, the wild Guava-bush, from which 
guava-jeUy is made. The present Lieutenant-Governor has 
offered a small reward for the head of every Fer-de-lance 
killed : and the number brought in, in the first month, was 
BO large, that I do not like to quote it merely from memory. 



Certainly, it was high time to make a crusade against these 
imwelcome denizens. Dr. Davy, judging from a Govern- 
ment report, says that nineteen persons were killed by them 
in one small parish in the year 1849 ; and the death, though 
by no means certain, is, when it befals, a hideous death 
enough. If any one wishes to know what h is like, let him 
read the traj^edy which Sir Eichard Schom'burgk tells — with 
his usual brilliance and pathos, for he is a poet as well as a 
man of science — in his " Travels in British Guiana," vol. ii. 
p. 255 — how the Craspedocephalus, coiled on a stone 
in the ford, let fourteen people walk over him without 
stirring, or allowing himself to be seen : and at last rose, and, 
missing Schomburgk himself, struck the beautiful Indian 
bride, the " liebling der ganzen Gesellschaft ; " and how she 
died in her bridegroom's arms, with horrors which I do not 

Strangely enough, this snake, so fatal to man, has no power 
against another West Indian snake, almost equally common, 
namely, the Cribo.^ This brave animal, closely connected 
with our common water-snake, is perfectly harmless, and 
a welcome guest in West Indian houses, because he clears 
them of rats. He is some six or eight feet long, black, 
with more or less bright yellow about the tail and under the 
stomach. He not only faces the Fer-de-lance, who is often 
as big as he, but kills and eats him. It was but last year, I 
tliink, that the population of Carenage turned out to see a 
fight in a tree between a Cribo and a Fer-de-lance, of about 
equal size, which, after a two hours' struggle, ended in the 
Cribo swallowing the Fer-de-lance, head foremost. But 
when he had got his adversary about one-third down, the 
Creoles — just as so many Englishmen would have done — 
seeing that all the sport was over, rewarded the brave Cribo 
by killing both, and preserving them as a curiosity in spirits. 
How the Fer-de-lance came into the Antilles is a puzzle. 
The black American scorpion— whose bite is more dreaded 
by the Negros than even the snake's — ^may have been 
easily brought by ship in luggage or in cargo. But the 
Fer-de-lance, whose nearest home is in Guiana, is not likely 
to have come on board ship. It is difficult to believe that he 

' Coluber Tambilis. 


travelled northward by land at the epoch — if such a one there 
ever was — when these islands were joined to South America : 
for if so, he would surely be found in St. Vincent, in Grenada, 
and most surely of all in Trinidad. So far from that being 
the case, he will not live, it is said, in St Vincent. For (so 
eoes the story) during the Carib war of 1795-6, the savages 
imported Fernde-lances from St. Lucia or Martinique, and 
turned them loose, in hopes of their destroying the white men : 
but they did not breed, dwindled away, and were soon extinct. 
It is possible that they, or their eggs, came in floating 
timber from the Orinoco • but if so, how is it that they have 
never been stranded on the east coast of Trinidad, whither 
timber without end drifts from that river? In a word, I 
have no explanation whatsoever to give ; as I am not minded 
to fall back on the mediaeval one, that the devil must have 
brought them thither, to plague the inhabitants for their sins. 
Among all these beautiful islands, St. Lucia is, I thmk, 
the most beautiful ; not indeed on account of the size or form 
of its central mass, which is surpassed by that of several 
others, but on account of those two extraordinary mountains 
at its south-western end, which, while all conical hills in 
the French islands are called Pitons, bear the name of llie 
Htons par excellence. From most elevated points in the 
island their twin peaks may be seen jutting up over the 
other hills, like, according to irreverent Engfish sailors, the 
tips of a donkey's ears. But, as the steamer runs southward 
along the shore, these two peaks open out, and you find 
yourself in deep water close to the base of two obelisks, 
rather than mountains, which rise sheer out of the sea, 
one to the height of 2,710, the other to that of 2,680 feet, 
about a mile from each other. Between them is tiie 
loveliest little bay ; and behind them green wooded 
slopes rise toward the rearward mountain of the Souffri^re. 
The whole glitters clear and keen in blazing sunshine : but 
behind, black depths of cloud and grey sheets of rain 
shroud all the central highlands in mystery and sadness. 
Beyond them, without a shore, spreads open sea. But 
the iantastic grandeur of the place cannot be described in 
words. The pencil of the artist must be trusted. I 
can vouch that he has not in the least exa<x'jerated 

r 2 


the slendemess and steepness of the rock-masses. One of 
them, it is said, has never been climbed; unless a myth 
which hangs about it is true. Certain English sailors, pro- 
bably of Eodney's men — and numbering, according to the 
pleasure of the narrator, three hundred, thirty, or three — ai-e 
said to have warped themselves up it by lianes and scrub : 
but they found the rock-ledges garrisoned by an enemy more 
terrible than any French. Beneath the bites of the Fer-de- 
lances, and it may be beneath the blaze of the sun, man 
after man dropped ; and lay, or rolled down the difFs. A 
single survivor was seen to reach the summit, to wave the 
union-jack in triumph over his head, and then to fall a 
corpse. So runs the tale, wliich, if not true, has yet its value, 
as a token of what, in those old days, English sailors were 
believed capable of daring and of doing. 

At the back of these two Pitons is the Soufirifere, prob- 
ably the remains of the old crater, now fallen in, and only 
1,000 feet above the sea : a golden egg to the islanders, were 
it but used. In case of war, and any difficulty occurring 
in obtaining sulphur from Sicily, a supply of the article 
to almost any amount might be obtained from this and the 
other like Solfaterras of the British Antilles ; they being, so 
long as the natural distillation of the substance continues 
active as at present, inexhaustible. But to work them pro- 
fitably will require a little more common-sense than the good 
folks of St. Lucia have as yet shown. In 1836, two gentle- 
men of Antigua,^ Mr. Bennett and Mr. Wood, set up sulphur 
works at the Soufirifere of St. Lucia, and began prosperously 
enough, exporting 540 tons the first year. " But, in 1840," 
says Mr. Breen, " the sugar-growers took the alarm," fearing, 
it is to be presumed, that labour would be diverted from the 
cane-estates, " and at their instigation the Legislative Council 
imposed a tax of 16s. sterling on every ton of purified sulphur 
exported from the colony." The consequence was that "Messrs. 
Bennett and Wood, after incurring a heavy loss of time and 
treasure, had to break up their establishment and retire 
from the colony." One has heard of the man who killed 
the goose to get the golden egg. In this case the goose, to 
avoid the trouble of laying, seems to have killed the man. 

^ Breen*s "St Luda," p. 295. 


The next link in the chain, as the steamer runs southward, 
is St Vincent ; a single volcano peak, like St Kitts, or the 
Basse Terre of Guadaloupa Very grand are the vast sheets, 
probably of lava covej^d with ash, which pour down from 
between two rounded mountains just above the town. Rich 
with green canes, they contrast strongly with the brown 
ragged cliffs right and left of them, and still more with 
the awful depths beyond and above, where, underneath a 
canopy of bright white clouds, scowls a purple darkness of 
cliffs and glens, among which lies, imseen, the Souffri^re. 

In vain, both going and coming, by sunlight, and again by 
moonlight, when the cane-fields gleamed white below and the 
hills were pitch-black above, did we try to catch a sight of this 
crater-peak. One fact alone we ascertained, that like all, as far 
as I have seen, of the West Indian volcanoes, it does not 
terminate in an ash-cone, but in ragged cliffs of blasted rock. 
The explosion of April 27, 1812, must have been too violent, 
and too short, to allow of any accumulation round the crater. 
And no wonder ; for that single explosion relieved an interior 
pressure upon the crust of the earth, which had agitated sea 
and land ^m the Azores to the West Indian islands, the 
coasts of Venezuela, the Cordillera of New Grenada, and 
the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio. For nearly two 
years the earthquakes had continued, when they culminated 
in one great tragedy, which should be read at length in the 
pages of Humboldt^ On March 26, 1812, when the people 
of Caraccas were assembled in the churches, beneath a still 
and blazing sky, one minute of earthquake sufficed to bury, 
amid the ruins of churches and houses, nearly 10,000 souls. 
The same earthquake wrought terrible destruction along 
the whole line of the northern Cordilleras, and was felt 
even at Santa F^ de Bogota, and Honda, 180 leagues from 
Caraccas. But the end was not yet While the wretched 
survivors of Caraccas were dying of fever and starvation, and 
wandering inland to escape from ever-renewed earthquake 
shocks, among villages and farms, which, ruined like their 
own city, could give them no shelter, the almost forgotten 
volcano of St Vincent was muttering in suppressed wrath. 
It had thrown out no lava since 1718 ; if, at least, the eruption 

^ PeiBonal Narratlye, book ▼. cap. 14. 


s|)oken of by Moreau de Jonni^s took place in the Souflfri^re. 
According to him, with a tenific earthquake, clouds of ashes 
were driven into the air with violent detonations from a 
mountain situated at the eastern end of the island. When 
tlie eruption had ceased, it was found that the whole moun- 
tain had disappeared. Now there is no eastern end to St. 
Vincent, nor any mountain on the east coast; and the 
Souffrifere is at the northern end. It is impossible, mean- 
while, that the wreck of such a mountain should not have 
left traces visible and notorious to this day. May not the 
truth be, that the Souffrifere had once a lofty cone, which was 
blasted away in 1718, leaving the present crater-ring of clifls 
and peaks ; and that thus may be explained the discrepancies 
in the accounts of its height, which Mr. Scrope gives as 4,940 
feet, and Humboldt and Dr. Davy at 3,000, a measurement 
which seems to me to be more probably correct ? The moun- 
tain is said to have been slightly active in 1785. In 1812 its 
old crater had been for some years (and is now) a deep blue 
lake, with walls of rock aroimd 800 feet in height, reminding 
one traveller of the Lake of Albano.^ But for twelve months 
it had given warning, by frequent earthquake shocks, that it 
had its part to play in the great subterranean battle between 
rock and steam ; and on the 27th of April, 1812, the battle 

A Negro boy— he is said to be still alive in St, Vincent — 
was herding cattle on the mountain side. A stone fell near 
him; and then another. He fancied that other boys were 
pelting him from the cliffs above, and began throwing stones 
in return. But the stones fell thicker : and among them one, 
and then another, too large to have been thrown by human 
hand. And the poor little fellow woke up to the fact 
that not a boy, but the moimtaiu, was throwing stones at hini ; 
and that the column of black cloud which was rising from 
the crater above was not harmless vapour, but dust, and ash, 
and stone. He turned, and ran for his life, leaving the cattle 
to their fate, while the steam mitrailleuse of the Titans — ^to 
which all man's engines of destruction are but pop-guns — 
roared on for three days and nights, covering the greater part 
of the island in ashes, burying crops, breaking branches off 

» Dr. Davy. 


the trees, and spreading ruin from which several estates never 
recovered ; and so the 30th of April dawned in darkness which 
might be felt. 

Meanwhile, on that same day, to change the scene of the 
campaign two hundred and ten leagues, "a distance," as 
Humboldt says, " equal to that between Vesuvius and Paris," 
" the inhabitants, not only of Caraccas, but of Calabozo, situate 
in the midst of the Uanos, over a space of four thousand square 
leagues, were terrified by a subterranean noise, which ;resem- 
bled firequent discharges of the loudest cannon. It was accom- 
panied by no shock : and, what is very remarkable, was as 
loud on the coast as at eighty leagues' distance inland ; and at 
Caraccas, as well as at Calabozo, preparations were made to 
put the place in defence against an enemy who seemed to be 
advancing with heavy artillery." They might as well have 
copied the St. Vincent herd-boy, and thrown their stones, too, 
at the Titans; for the noise was, there can be no doubt, 
nothing else than the final explosion in St. Vincent far 
away. The same explosion was heard in Venezuela, the 
same at Martinique and Guadaloupe: but there, too, there 
were no earthquake shocks. The volcanoes of the two 
French islands lay quiet, and left their English brother to 
do the work. On the same day, a stream of lava rushed 
down from the mountain, reached the sea in four hours, 
and then all was over. The earthquakes which had 
shaken for two years a sheet of the earth's surface larger 
than half Europe, were stilled by the eruption of this single 

No wonder if, with such facts on my memory since my 
childhood, I looked up at that Souffri^re with awe, as at a 
giant, obedient though clumsy, beneficent though terrible, 
reposing aloft among the clouds when his appointed work 
was done. 

The strangest fact about this eruption was, that the moun- 
tain did not make use of its old crater. The original 
vent must have become so jammed and consolidated, in 
the few years between 1785 and 1812, that it could not 
be re-opened, even by a steam-force the vastness of which 
may be guessed at from the vastness of the area which it 
udd shaken for two years. So when the eruption was 


over, it was found that the old crater-lake, incredible as it 
may seem, remained imdisturbed, as far as has been ascer- 
tained. But close to it, and separated only by a knife-edge 
of rock some 700 feet in height, and so narrow that, as I was 
assured by one who had seen it, it is dangerous to crawl 
along it, a second crater, nearly as large as the first, had been 
blasted out, the bottom of which, in like manner, is now 
filled with water. I r^retted much that I could not visit it 
Three points I longed to ascertain carefully — the relative 
heights of the water in the two craters; the height and 
nature of the spot where the lava stream issued ; and lastly, if 
possible, the actual causes of the locally famous Babacca, or 
**Dry River," one of the largest streams in the island, which 
was swallowed up during the eruption, at a short distance 
from its source, leaving its bed an arid gully to this day. But 
it could not be, and I owe what little I know of the summit of 
the SouSri^ro principally to a most intelligent and gentleman- 
like young Wesleyan minister, whose name has escaped me. He 
described vividly, as we stood together on the deck, looking 
up at the volcano, the awful beauty of the twin lakes, and of 
the clouds which, for months together, whirl in and out of the 
cups in fantastic shapes before the eddies of the trade-wind. 
• The day after the explosion, " Black Sunday," gave a proof 
of, though no measure of, the enormous force which had been 
exerted. Eighty miles to windward lies Barbados. All 
Saturday a heavy cannonading had been heard to the eastward. 
The English and French fleets were surely engaged. The 
soldiers were called out; the batteries manned: but the 
cannonade died away, and all went to bed in wonder. On 
the 1st of May the clocks struck six : but the sun did not, 
as usual m the tropics, answer to the call. The darkness was 
still intense, and grew more intense as the morning wore 
on. A slow and silent rain of impalpable dust was falling 
over the whole island. The Negros rushed shrieking into 
the streets. Surely the last day was come. The white folk 
caught (and little blame to them) the panic ; and some began 
to pray who had not prayed for years. The pious and the 
educated (and there were plenty of both in Barbados) were 
not proof against the infection. Old letters describe the 
scene in the churches that morning as hideous — ^prayer?^ sobs^ 


and dies, in Stygian darkness, from trembling crowds. And 
still the darkness continued, and the dust felL 

I have a letter, written by one long since dead, who had at 
least powers of description of no common order, telling how, 
when he tried to go out of his house upon the east coast, 
he could not find the trees on his own lawn, save by feel- 
ing for their stems. He stood amazed not only in utter 
darkness, but in utter silence. For the trade-wind had fallen 
dead ; the everlasting roar of the surf was gone ; and the only 
noise was the crashing of branches, snapped by the weight of 
the clammy dust. He went in again, and waited. About one 
o'clock the veil b^an to lift ; a lurid sunlight stared in from 
the horizon: but all was black overhead. Gradually the dust- 
cloud drifted away ; the island saw the sun once more ; and 
saw itself inches deep in black, and in this case fertilizing, 
dust The trade-wind blew suddenly once more out of the 
clear east, and the suri' roared again along the shore. 

Meanwhile, a heavy earthqus^e-wave had struck part at 
least of the shores of Barbados. The gentleman on the east 
coast, going out, found traces of the sea, and boats and 
k^ washed up, some 10 to 20 feet above high-tide mark : a 
convulsion which seems to have gone immai'ked during the 
general dismay. 

One man at least, an old friend of John Hunter, Sir 
Joseph Banks, and others their compeers, was above the 
dismay, and the superstitious panic which accompanied it. 
Finding it still dark when he rose to dress, he opened (so the 
story used to run) his window; found it stick, and felt 
upon the sill a coat of soft powder. "The volcano in St. 
Concent has broken out at last," said the wise man, "and 
this is the dust of it." So he quieted his household and his 
Kegros, lighted lus candles, and went to his scientific books, 
in that delight, mingled with an awe not the less deep 
because it is rational and self-possessed, with which he, like 
other men of science, looked at the wonders of this wondrous 

Those who will recollect that Barbados is eighty miles to 
windward of St. Vincent, and that a strong breeze from E.N.E. 
is usually blowing from the former island to the latter, will 
be able to imagine, not to measure, the force of an explosion 


which must have blown this dust several miles into the air, 
above the region of the trade-wind, whether into a totally 
calm stratum, or into t^at still higher one in which the heated 
south-west wind is hurrying continually from the tropics 
toward the pole. As for the cessation of the trade-wind 
itself during the fall of the dust, I leave the fact to be ex- 
plained by more learned men : the authority whom I have 
quoted leaves no doubt in my mind as to the fact. 

On leaving St. Vincent, the track lies past the Grenadines. 
For sixty miles, long low islands of quaint forms and eupho- 
nious names — Becqiiia, Mustique, Canonau, Carriacou, Isle de 
Ehone — ^rise a few hundred feet out of the unfathomable sea, 
bare of wood, edged with cliffs and streaks of red and grey 
lock, resembling, says Dr. Davy, the Cyclades of the Grecian 
Archipelago : their number is counted at three hundred. The 
largest of them all is not 8,000 acres in extent ; the smallest 
about 600. A quiet prosperous race of little yeomen, beside 
a few planters, dwell there; the latter feeding and ex- 
porting much stock, the former much provisions, and both 
troubling themselves less than of yore with sugar and cotton. 
They biiild coasting vessels, and trade with them to the larger 
islands ; and they might be, it is said, if they chose, much 
richer than they are, — if that be any good to them. 

The steamer does not stop at any of these little sea-her- 
mitages ; so that we could only watch their shores : and they 
were worth watching. They had been, plainly, sea-gnawn for 
countless ages ; and may, at some remote time, have been all 
joined in one long ragged chine of hills, the highest about 
1,000 feet They seem to be for the most part made up 
of marls and limestones, with trap-dykes and other igneous 
matters here and there. And one could not help entertaining 
the fancy that they were a specimen of what the other islands 
were once, or at least would have been now, had not each of 
them had its volcanic vents, to pQe up hard lavas thousands 
of feet aloft, above the marine strata, and so consolidate each 
ragged chine of submerged mountain into one solid conical 
island, like St. Vincent at their northern end, and at their 
southern end that beautiful Grenada to which we were 
fast approaching, and which we reached, on our outward 
voyage, at nightfall; running in toward a narrow gap of 


moonlit cliffs, beyond which we could discern the lights 
of a town. We did not enter the harbour : but lay close off 
its gateway in safe deep water ; fired our gun, and waited 
for the swarm of negro boats, which began to splash out to us 
through the darkness, the jabbering of their crews heard long 
before the flash of their oars was seen. 

Most weird and fantastic are these nightly visits to West 
Indian harbours. Above, the black mountain-depths, with 
their canopy of cloud, bright white against the purple night, 
htmg with keen stars. The moon, it may be on her back in 
the west, sinking like a golden goblet behind some rock- 
fort, half shrouded in black ti-ees. Below, a line of bright 
mist over a swamp, wdth the coco-palms standing up 
through it, dark, and yet gbatering in the moon. A light 
here and there in a house : another here and there in a 
vessel, unseen in the dark. The echo of the gun from hill to 
hill. Wild voices from shore and sea. The snorting of the 
steamer, the rattling of the chain through the hawse-hole; 
and on deck, and under the quarter, strange gleams of 
red light amid pitchy darkness, from engines, galley fires, 
laiithoms ; and black folk and white folk flitting restlessly 
across them. 

The strangest show: "like a thing in a play," says every 
one when they see it for the first time. And when at the 
gun-fire one tumbles out of one's berth, and up on deck, to 
see the new island, one has need to rub one's eyes, and 
pinch oneself — as I was minded to do again and again during 
the next few weeks — to make sure that it is not all a 
dream. It is always worth the trouble, meanwhile, to 
tumble up on deck, not merely for the show, but for the 
episodes of West Indian life and manners, which, quaint 
enough by day, are sure to be even more quaint at night, 
in the confusion and bustle of the darkness. One such I 
witnessed in that same harbour of Grenada, not eajsily to 
be forgotten, 

A tall and very handsome middle-aged brown woman, in a 
limp print gown and a gorgeous turban, stood at the gangway 
in a glare of light, which made her look like some splendid 
witch by a Walpurgis night-tire. "Tell your boatman to go 
round to the other side," quoth the officer in charge. 


"Fanqnal (Fran9ois) You go round oder side of de 
ship 1 " 

Fanqua, who seemed to be her son, being sleepy, tipsy, 
stupid, or lazy, did not stir. 

" Fanqua 1 You hear what de officer say ? You go round." 

No move. 

"Fanqua! You not ashamed of youself? You not hear 
de officer say he turn a steam-pipe over you ? " 

No move. 

"Fanqua!" (authoritative.) 

"Fanqua!" (indignant.) 

" Fanqua ! " (argumentative.) 

•* Fanqua!" (astonished.) 

" Fanqua ! " (majestic.) 

" Fanqua ! " (confidentially alluring.) 

" Fanqua 1 " (regretful.) 
And so on, through every conceivable tone of expression. 

But Fanqua did not move ; and the officer and bystanders 

She summoned all her talents, and uttered one last 
** Fanqua ! " which was a triumph of art. 

Shame and surprise were blended in her voice with tender- 
ness and pity, and they again with meek despair. To have been 
betrayed, disgraced, and so unexpectedly, by one whom she 
loved, and must love still, in spite of this, his fearful fall I — It 
was more than heart could bear. Breathing his name but 
that once more, she stood a moment, like a queen of tragedy, 
one long arm drawing her garments round her, the other out- 
stretched, as if to cast off — had she the heart to do it — the 
rebel ; and th6n stalked away into the darkness of the paddle- 
boxes — for ever and a day to brood speechless over her 
great sorrow ? Not in the least To begin chattering away 
to her acquaintances, as if no Fanqua existed in the world. 

It was a piece of admiiuble play-acting ; and was meant to 
be. She had been conscious all the while that she was an 
object of attention — possibly of admiration — ^to a group of 
men; and she knew what was right to be done and said under 
the circumstances, and did it perfectly, even to the smallest 
change of voice. She was, doubtless, quite sincere the whole 
time, and felt everything which her voice expressed : but she 


felt it, because it was proper to feel it ; and deceived herself 
probably more than she deceived any one about her. 

A curious phase of human nature is that same play-acting, 
effect-studying, temperament, which ends, if indulged in too 
much, in hopeless self-deception, and "the h3^crisy which," as 
Mr. Carlyle says, "is honestly indignant that you should think 
it hypocritical" It is common enough among Negresses, and 
among coloured people too : but is it so very uncommon among 
whites 1 Is it not the bane of too many Irish ? of too many 
modem French ? of certain English, for that matter, whom I 
have known, whe probably had no drop of French or Irish 
blood in their veins ? But it is all the more baneful the 
higher the organization is ; because, the more brilliant the 
intellect, the moro noblo the inntincts, the more able its 
victim is to say — " See : I feel what I ought> I say what I 
ought, I do what I ought : and what more would you have ? 
Why do you Philistines persist in regarding me with distrust 
and ridicule? What is this common honesty, and what is 
this ' single eye/ which you suspect me of not possessing ? " 

Very beautiful was that harbour of George Town, seen by day. 
In the centre an entrance some two hundred yards across : on 
the right, a cliH' of volcanic sand, interspersed with larj-e 
boulders hurled from some volcano now silent, where black 
women, with baskets on their heads, were filling a barge with 
gravel On the left, rocks of hard lava, surmounted by a well- 
lined old fort, strong enough in the days of 32-pounders. 
Beyond it, still on the leit, the little city, scrambling uj) 
the hillside, with its red roofs and church spires, among 
cocoa-nut and bread-fruit trees, looking just like a German 
toy town. In front, at the bottom of the harbour, villa over | 

villa, garden over garden, up to the large and handsome j 

Government House, one of the most delectable spots of all this \ 

delectable land ; and piled above it, green hill upon green hill, 
which, the eye soon discovers, are the Sommas of old craters, I 

one inside the other towards the central peak of Mount 
Maitland, 1,700 feet high. On the right bow, low sharp clitf- 
points of volcanic ash ; and on the right again, a circular lake 
a quarter of a mile across and 40 feet in depth, with a coral [ 

leet, almost awash, stretching from it to the ash-cliff on the ! 

loath aide of the harbour mouth A glance shows that thi^ 



is none other than an old crater, like that inside £nglish 
Harbour in Antigua, probably that which has hurled out 
the boulders and the ash; and one whose temper is still 
uncertain, and to be watched anxiously in earthquake times. 
The Etang du Vieux Bourg is its name ; for, so tradition tells, 
in the beginning of the seventeenth century the old French 
town stood where the white coral-reef gleams under water; 
in fact, upon the northern lip of the crater. One day, how- 
ever, the Enceladus below turned over in his sleep, and 
the whole town was swallowed up, or washed away. The 
sole survivor was a certain blacksmith, who thereupon was 
made — or as sole survivor made himself — Governor of the 
island of Grenada. So runs the tale ; and so it seemed likely 
to run again, during the late earthquake at St. Thomas's. For 
on the very same day, and before any earthquake-wave from 
St. Thomas's had reached Grenada — if any ever reached it, 
which I could not clearly ascertain — ^this Etang du Vieux 
Bourg boiled up suddenly, hurling masses of water into tho 
lower part of the town, washing away a stage, and doine 
much damage. The people were, and with good reason, in 
much anxiety for some hours after: but the little fit of 
ill-temper went off, having vented itself, as is well known, in 
the sea between St. Thomas's and Santa Cruz, many miles 

The bottom of the crater, I was assured, was not perma- 
nently altered: but the same informant — an eye-witness on 
whom I can fully depend — shared the popular opinion that it 
had opened, sucked in sea-water, and spouted it out again. 
If so, the good folks of George Town are quite right in holding 
that they had a very narrow escape of utter destruction. 

An animated and picturesque spot, as the steamer runs 
alongside, is the wooden wharf where passengers are to land 
and the ship to coaL The coaling Negros and Negresses, 
dressed or undressed, in their dingiest rags, contrast with the 
country Negresses, in gaudy prints and gaudier turbans, who 
carry on their heads baskets of fruit even more gaudy than their 
dresses. Both country and town Negros, meanwhile, look — 
as they are said to be — comfortable and prosperous ; and I can 
well believe the story that beggars are unknown in the island. 
The coalers, indeed, are only too well off, for they earn enough, 


by one day of violent and degrading toil, to live in reckless 
shiftless comfort, and, I am assured, something very like 
debauchery, till the next steamer comes in. 

No sooner is the plank down, than a struggling line getting 
on board meets a struggling line getting on shore ; and it is 
well if the passenger, on landing, is not besmirched with coal- 
dust, after a narrow escape of being shoved into the sea off 
the stage. But, after all, civility pays in Grenada, as in the 
rest of the world ; and the Negro, like the Frenchman, though 
surly and rude enough if treated with the least haughtiness, 
will generally, like the Frenchman, melt at once at a touch of 
the hat, and an appeal to " Laissez passer Mademoiselle." On 
shore we got, tlurough be-coaled Negros, men and women, 
safe and not very much be-coaled ourselves ; and were driven 
up steep streets of black porous lava, between lava houses 
and walls, and past lava gardens, in which jutted up every- 
where, amid the loveliest vegetation, black knots and lumps 
scorched by the nether fires. 

The situation of the house — ^the principal one of the 
island — to which we drove, is beautifii beyond description. 
It stands on a knoll some 300 feet in height, commanded 
only by a slight rise to the north ; and the wind of the eastern 
mountains sweeps fresh and cool through a wide hall and lofty 
rooms. Outside, a pleasure-ground and garden, with the same 
flowers as we plant out in summer at home; and behind, 
tier on tier of green wooded hill, with cottages and farms in 
the hollows, might have made us fancy ourselves for a moment 
in some charming country house in Wales. But opposite the 
drawing-room window rose a Candelabra Cereus, thirty feet 
high. On the lawn in front great shrubs of red Frangipani 
carried rose-coloured flowers which filled the air with 
fragrance, at the end of thick and all but leafless branches. 
Trees hung over them with smooth greajsy stems of bright 
copper— which has gained them the name of "Indian 
skin," at least in Trinidad, where we often saw them wild : 
another glance showed us that every tree and shrub around 
was different from those at home : and we recollected where 
we were; and recollected, too, as we looked at the wealth 
of flower and fruit and verdure, that it was sharp winter 
at home. We admired this and that: especially a most 


lovely Convolvulus — I know not whether we have it in our 
hothouses ^ — with purple maroon flowers ; and an old ho<?- 
plum* — Momhin of the French — a huge tree, which was 
striking, not so much from its size as from its shape. Growing 
among blocks on lava, it had assumed the exact shape of an 
English oak in a poor soil and exposed situation ; globular- 
headed, gnarled, stunted, and most unlike to its giant brethren 
of the primaeval woods, which range upward 60 or 80 feet 
without a branch. We walked up to see the old fort, com- 
manding the harbour from a height of 800 feet. We sat and 
rested by the road-side under a great cotton-wood tree, and 
looked down on gorges of richest green, on Negro gardens, 
and groo-groo palms, and here and there a cabbage-palm, or a 
huge tree at whose name %e could not guess; then turned 
through an arch cut in the rock into the interior of the fort, 
which now holds neither guns nor soldiers, to see at our feet 
the triple harbour, the steep town, and a very paradise of 
garden and orchard ; and then down again, with the regretful 
thought, which haunted me throughout the islands — ^What 
might the West Indies not have been by now, had it not 
been for slavery, rum, and sugar ? 

We got down to the steamer again just in time, happily, 
not to see a great fight in the water between two Negros; to 
watch which all the women had stopped their work, and 
cheered the combatants with savage shouts and laughter. 
At last the coaling and the cursing were over; and we 
steamed out again to sea. 

I have antedated this little episode — delightful for more 
reasons than I set down here — because I do not wish to 
trouble my readers with two descriptions of the same island — 
and those mere passing glimpses. 

There are two craters, I should say, in Grenada, beside the 
harbour. One, the Grand Etang, lies high in the central 
group of mountains, which rise to 3,700 feet, and is itself 
about 1,740 feet above the sea. Dr. Davy describes it as a 
lake of great beauty, surrounded by bamboos and tree-ferns. 
The other crater-lake lies on the north-east coast, and nearer 
to the sea-level : and I more than suspect that more would be 

^ IpomuBa Horsfallii. * Spondias lutea. 


lecognized, up and down the island, by the eye of a practised 

The southern end of Grenada — of whatsoever rock it may 
be composted — shows evidence of the same wave-destruction 
as do the Gi^nadines. Arches and stacks, and low horizontal 
strata laid bare along the clifif, in some places white with 
guano, prove that the sea has been at work for ages, which 
must be many and long, considering that the surf, on 
that leeward side of the island, is little or none the whole 
year round. With these low cliff's, in strongest contrast to 
the stately and precipitous southern point of St. Lucia, the 
southern point of Grenada slides into the sea, the last of the 
true Antilles. For Tobago, Eobinson Crusoe's island, which 
lies away unseen to windward, is seemingly a fragment of 
South America, like the island of Trinidad, to which the 
steamer now ran dead south for seventy miles. 

It was on the shortest day of the year — St. Thomas's-day 
— at seven in the morning (half-past eleven of English time, 
just as the old women at Eversley would have been going 
round the parish for their "goodying"), that we became aware 
of the blue mountains of Korth Trinidad ahead of us; to the 
west of them the island of the Dragon's Mouth ; and west- 
ward again, a cloud among the clouds, the last spur of the 
Cordilleras of the Spanish Main. There was South America 
at last ; and as a witness that this, too, was no dream, the 
blue water of the Windward Islands changed suddenly into 
foul bottle-green. The waters of the Orinoco, waters from the 
peaks of the Andes far away, were staining the sea around 
us. With thoughts full of three great names, connected, as 
long as civilized man shall remain, with those waters — 
Columbus, Baleigh, Humboldt — we steamed on, to see hills 
not standing out, like those of the isles which we had 
passed, in intense clearness of green and yellow, purple 
and blue, but all shrouded in haze, like those of the 
Hebrides or the West of Ireland. Onward through a 
narrow channel in the mountain-wall, not a rifle-shot across, 
which goes by the name of the Ape's Mouth, banked by 
high cliffs of dark Silurian rock — not bare, though, as in 
Britain, but furred with timber, festooned with lianes, down 
to the very spray of the gnawing surf. One little stack 


66 no WJSr THE ISL A NDS. 

of rocks, not thirty feet high, and as many broad, sti^od 
almost in the midst of the channel, and in the very northern 
mouth of it, exposed to the full cut of surf and trade-wind. 
But the plants on it, even seen through the glasses, told 
us where we were. One huge low tree covered the top 
with shining foliage, like that of a Portugal laurel; all 
around it upright Cerei reared their grey candelabra, and 
below them, hanging down the rock to the very surf, deep 
green night-blowing Cereus twined and waved, looking just 
like a curtain of gigantic stag's-horn moss. We ran through 
the channel ; then amid more low wooded islands, it may be 
for a mile, before a strong back current rushing in from the 
sea; and then saw before us a vast plain of muddy water. 
No shore was visible to the westward ; to the eastward the 
northern hills of Trinidad, forest clad, sank to the water ; to 
the south lay a long line of coast, generally level with the 
water's edge, and green with mangroves, or dotted with coco- 
palms. That was the Gulf of Paria, and Trinidad beyond. 

Shipping at anchor, and buildings along the flat shore, 
marked Port of Spain, destined hereafter to stand, not on the 
sea-side, but, like Lynn in Norfolk, and other fen-land towns, 
in the midst of some of the richest reclaimed alluvial in 
the world. 

As the steamer stopped at last, her screw whirled up from 
the bottom clouds of yellow mud, the mingled deposits of the 
Caroni and the Orinoco. In half an hour more we were on 
shore, amid Negros, Coolies, Chinese, French, Spaniards, short- 
legged Guaraon dogs, and black vultures. 



It may be worth while to spend a few pages in telling 
something of the history of this lovely island since the 31st 
of July, 1499, when Columbus, on Ids third voyage, sighted 
the three hills in the south-eastern part. Ue had deter- 
mined, it is said, to name the first land which he should 
see after the Blessed Trinity ; the triple peaks seemed to 
him a heaven-sent confirmation of his intent, and he named 
the island Trinidad : but the Indians called it lere. 

He ran from Punta Galera, at the north-eastern extremity 
— so named from the likeness of a certain rock to a galley 
under sail — along the east and south of the island ; turned 
'eastward at Punta Galeota; and then northward, round Punta 
Icacque, through the Boca Sierpe, or serpent's mouth, 
into the Gulf of Paria, which he named " Golfo de Balena," 
the Gulf of the Whale, and "Golfo Triste," the Sad Gulf; 
and went out by the northern passage of the Boca Drago. 
The names which he gave to the island and its surroundings 
remain, with few alterations, to this day. 

He was surprised, says Washington Irving, at the verdure 

and fertility of the country, having expected to find it more 

parched and stenle as he approached the equator ; whereas he 

beheld groves of palm-trees, and luxuriant forests sweeping 

down to the sea-side, with fountains and running streams 

beneath the shade. The shore was low and uninhabited : but 

the country rose in the interior, and was cultivated in many 

places, and enlivened by hamlets and scattered habitations. 

in a word, the softness and purity of the climate, and the 

verdure, freshness, and sweetness of the country, appeared to 

equal the delights of early spring in the beautiful province 

of Valencia in Spain, 

^ 2 


He found the island peopled by a race of Indians with' 
fairer complexions than any he had hitherto seen ; " people all 
of good stature, well made, and of very graceful bearing, with 
much and smooth hair." They wore, the chiefs at least, 
tunics of coloured cotton, and on their heads beautiful 
worked handkerchiefs, which looked in the distance as if 
they were made of silk. The women, meanwhile, according 
to the report of Columbus' son, seem, some of them at least, 
to have gone utterly without clothing. 

They carried square bucklers, the first Columbus had seen 
in the New World ; and bows and arrows, with which they 
made feeble eflbrts to drive off the Spaniards who landed at 
Punta Arenal, near Icacque, and who, linding no streams, sank 
holes in the sand, and so filled their casks with fresh water, 
as may be done, it is said, at the same spot even now. 

And there — the source of endless misery to these happy 
harmless creatures — a certain Cacique, so goes the tale, took 
off Columbus' cap of crimson velvet, and replaced it with a 
circle of gold which he wore. 

Alas for them ! That fatal present of gold brought down 
on them enemies far more ruthless than the Caribs of the 
northern islands, who had a habit of coming down in their 
canoes and carrying off the gentle Arrawaks to eat them 
at their leisure, after the fashion which Defoe, always accu- 
rate, has immortalized in " Robinson Crusoe." Crusoe's island 
is, almost certainly, meant for Tobago ; Man Friday had been 
stolen in Trinidad. 

Columbus came no more to Trinidad. But the Spaniards 
had got into their wicked heads that there must be gold 
somewhere in the island ; and they came again and again. 
Gold they could not get ; for it does not exist in Trinidari. 
But slaves they could get ; and the history of the Indians of 
Trinidad for the next century is the same as that of the rest 
of the West Indies : a history of mere rapine and crueltv. 
The Arrawaks, to do them justice, defended themselves mair^ 
valiantly than the still gentler people of Hayti, Cuba, Jamaioa. 
Porto Kico, and the Lucayas : but not so valiantly as tVi^ 
fierce cannibal Caribs of the Lesser Antilles, whom bl^e 
Spaniards were never able w) Subdue. 

It was in 1595, nearly a century after Columbus discovex^^^j 


the island, that "Sir Bobert Duddeley, in the Bear, with 
Captain Munck, in the Beare's Whelpe, with two small pin- 
nesses, called the Frisking and the Earwig," ran across from 
Cape Blanco in Africa, straight for Trinidad, and anchored in 
Cedros Bay, which he calls Curiapan, inside Punta Icacque 
and Los Gallos — a bay which was then, as now, " very full 
of pelicans." The existence of the island was known to the 
English : but I am not aware that any Englishman had ex- 
plored it. Two years before, an English ship, whose exploits 
are written in Hakluyt by one Henry May, had run in, 
probably to San Fernando, " to get refreshing ; but could not, 
by reason the Spaniards had taken it So that for want of 
victuals the company would have forsaken the ship." How 
diiferent might have been the history of Trinidad, if at that 
early period, while the Indians were still powerful, a little 
colony of English had joined them, and intermarried with 
them. But it was not to be. The ship got away through the 
Boca Drago. The year after, seemingly. Captain Whiddon, 
Baleigh's faithful follower, lost eight men in the island in a 
Spanish ambush. But Duddeley was the first Englishman, as 
far as I am aware, who marched " for his experience and plea- 
sure, four long marches through the island ; the last fifty miles 
going and coming through a most monstrous thicke wood, 
for so is most part of the island; and lodging myself in 
Indian townes." Poor Sir Robert — ^"larding the lean earth 
as he stalked along" — ^in ruff and trunk hose, possibly too in 
burning steel breastplate, most probably along the old Indian 
path from San Fernando past Savannah Grande, and down the 
Ortoire to Mayaro on the east coast. How hot he must 
have been. How often, we will hope, he must have bathed 
on the journey in those crystal brooks, beneath the balisiers 
and the bamboos. He found "a fine-shaped and a gentle 
people, all naked and painted red" (with roucou), "their 
commanders wearing crowns of feathers," and a country 
" fertile and fuU of fruits, strange beasts and fowls, whereof 
mankeis, babions, and parats were in great abundance." His 
'*niunkeis" were, of course, the little Sapajous ; his ''babions" 
no true Baboons ; for America disdains that degraded and 
dog-like form ; but the great red Howlers. He was much 
delighted with the island ; and " inskonced himself " — Le, built 


B, fort : but he fonnd the Spanish governor, Berreo, not well 
pleased at his presence ; " and no gold in the island save 
Marcasite " (iron pyrites) ; considered that Berreo and his 
three hundred Spaniards were " both poore and strong, and so 
he had no reason to assault them." He had but fifty men 
himself, and, moreover, was tired of waiting in vain for Sir 
Walter Baleigh. So he sailed away northward, on the 12th 
of March, to plunder Spanish ships, with his brains full of 
stories of El Dorado, and the wonders of the Orinoco — 
among them " four golden haK-moons weighing a noble each, 
and two bracelets of silver," which a boat's crew of his had 
picked up from the Indians on the other side of the Gulf of 

He left somewhat too soon. For on the 22nd of March 
Raleigh sailed into Cedros Bay, and then went up to La Brea 
and the Pitch Lake. There he noted, as Columbus had done 
before him, oysters growing on the mangrove roots; and 
noted, too " that abundance of stone pitch, that all the ships 
of the world might be therewith laden from thence ; and we 
made trial of it in trimming our shippcs, to be most excellent 
good, and melteth not with the sun as the pitch of Norway." 
From thence he ran up the west coast to " the mountain of 
Annaparima" (St. Fernando hill), and passing the mouth of 
the Caroni, anchored at what was then the village of Port 
of Spain. 

There some Spaniards boarded him, to buy linen and other 
things, a]l which he " entertained kindly, and feasted after 
our manner, by means whereof I learned as much of the 
estate of Guiana as I could, or as they knew, for those poore 
souldiers having been many years without wine, a few 
draughts made them merrie, in which mood they vaunted of 
Guiana and the riches thereof," — ^much which it had been 
better for Raleigh had he never heard. 

Meanwhile the Indians came to him every night with 
lamentable complaints of Berreo*s cruelty. " He had divided 
the island and given to every soldier a part. He made the 
ancient Caciques that were lords of the court, to be their 
slaves. He kept them in chains ; he dropped their naked 
bodies with burning bacon, and such other torments, which " 
(continues Raleigh) " I found afterward to be trua For in the 


city" (San Josef), " when I entered it, there were five lords, or 
little kings, in one chain, almost dead of famine, and wasted 
with torments." Considering whicli; considering Berreo's 
treachery to Whiddon's men ; and considering also that as 
Berreo himself, like Kaleigh, was just ahout to cross the gulf 
to Guiana in search of £1 Dorado, and expected supplies from 
Spain; "to leave a garrison in my back, interested in the 
same enterprise, I should have savoured very much of the 
asse." bo Baleigh fell upon the " Corps du Guard " in the 
evening, put them to the sword, sent Captain Caulfield with 
sixty soldiers onward, following himself with forty more, up 
the Caroni river, which was then navigable by boats; and 
took the little town of San Josef. 

It is not clear whether the Corps du Guard which he 
attacked was at Port of Spain itself, or at the little mud fort 
at the confluence of the Caroni and San Josef rivers, which 
was to be seen, with some old pieces of artillery in it, in the 
memory of old men now living. But that he came up past 
that fort, through the then primaeval forest, tradition reports ; 
and tells, too, how the prickly climbing palni,^ the Croc-chien, 
or Hook-dog, pest of the forests, got its present name upon 
that memorable day. For, as the Spanish soldiers ran from 
the English, one of them was caught in the innumerable hooks 
of the Croc-chien, and never looking behind him in his terror, 
b^an shouting, "Suelta mi, Ingles!" Let me go. English- 
man! — or, as others have it, "Valga mi, Ingles!" Take ransom 
for me, Englishman ! — which name the palm bears unto this 

So Baleigh, having, as one historian of Trinidad says, 
" acted like a tiger, lest he should savour of the ass," went 
his way to find £1 Dorado, and be filled with the fruit of his 
own devices : and may God have mercy on him ; and on all 
who, like him, spoil the noblest instincts, and the noblest 
plans, for want of the " single eye." 

But before he went, he ** called all the Caciques who were 
enemies to the Spaniard, for there were some that Berreo had 
brought out of other countreys and planted there, to eat out 
and waste those that were natural of the place ; and, by his 
Indian interpreter that he had brought out of England, made 

^ Desmoncus. 


them understand that he was the servant of a Queene, who 
was the great Cacique of the North, and a virgin, and had 
more Caciques under her than there were trees in that 
island ; and that she was an enemy to the Castellani in respect 
of their tyranny and oppression, and that she delivered all 
such nations about her as were by them oppressed, and, 
having freed all the northern world from their servitude, had 
sent me to free them also, and withal to defend the country 
of Guiana from their invasion and conquest. I showed them 
her Majesty's picture" (doubtless in ruff, farthingale, and 
stomacher laden with jewels), " which they so admired and 
honoured, as it had been easy to make them idolatrous 

And so Baleigh, with Berreo as prisoner, "hasted away 
\oward his proposed discovery," leaving the poor Indians of 
Trinidad to be eaten up by fresh inroads of the Spaniards. 

There were, in his time, he says, five nations of Indians 
in the island, — "Jaios," "Arwacas," "Salvayos," (Salivas?) 
** Nepoios " and round San Josef " Carinepagotes ;" and there 
were others, he confesses, which he does not name. Evil 
times were come upon them. Two years after, the Indians 
at Punta Galera (the north-east point of the island) told poor 
Keymis that they intended to escape to Tobago when they 
could no longer keep Trinidad, though the Caribs of Dominica 
were " such evil neighbours to it " that it was quite unin- 
habited. Their only fear was lest the Spaniards, worse 
neighbours than even the Caribs, should follow them 

But as Baleigh and such as he went their way, Berreo and 
such as he seem to have gone their way also. The " Con- 
quistadores," the offscourings not only of Spain but of South 
Germany, and indeed of every Koman Catholic country in 
Europe, met the same fate as befel, if monk chroniclers are 
to be trusted, the great majority of the Normans who fought 
at Hastings. "The bloodthirsty and deceitful men did not 
live out half their days." By their own passions, and by no 
miraculous Nemesis, they civilized themselves off the face of 
tlie earth; and to them succeeded, as to the conquerors at 
Hastings, a nobler and gentler type of invaders. During 
the first half of the seventeenth century, Spaniards of 


ancient blood and high civilization came to Trinidad, and 
re-settled the island: especially the family of Farfan — 
" Faifan de los Godos/' once famous in mediaeval chivaliy 
— ^if they will allow me the pleasure of for once breaking 
a role of mine, and mentioning a name — who seem to 
have inherited for some centuries the old blessings of Paalm 
xxxviL — 

" Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good ; 
dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 

''The Lord knoweth the days of the godly: and their in- 
heritance shall endure for ever. 

" They shaU not be confounded in perilous times ; and in 
the days of dearth they shall have enough." 

Toward the end of the seventeenth century the Indians sum- 
moned up courage to revolt, after a foolish ineffectual fashion. 
According to tradition, and an old '* romance muy doloroso," 
which might have been heard sung within the last hundred 
years, the governors, the Cabildo, and the clergy went to 
witness an annual feast of the Indians at Arena^ a sandy 
spot (as its name signifies) near the central mountain of 
Tamana. In the middle of one of their warlike dances, the 
Indians, at a given signal, discharged a flight of arrows, which 
killed the governor, all the priests, and almost all the rest of 
the whites. Only a Farfan escaped, not without suspicion 
of forewarning by the rebels He may have been a merciful 
man and just; while considering the gentle nature of the 
Indians^ it is possible that some at least of their victims 
deserved their fate, and that the poor savages had wrongs to 
avenge which had become intolerable. As for the murder 
of the priests, we must remember always, that the Inquisition 
was then in strength throughout Spanish America ; and could 
be, if it chose, aggressive and ruthless enough. 

By the end of the seventeenth century there were but 
fifteen pueblos, or Indian towns, in the island; and the small- 
pox had made fearful ravages among them. Though they 
were not forced to work as slaves, a heavy capitation tax^ 
amounting, over most of the island, to two dollars ahead, was 
laid on them almost to the end of the last century. There 
seems to have been no reason in the nature of things why 
they should not have kept up their numbers ; for the island 


was still, nineteen-twentieths of it, rich primseval forest. It 
may have been that they could not endure the confined life in 
the pueblos, or villages, to which they were restricted by law. 
But, from some cause or other, they died out, and that before 
far inferior numbers of invaders. In 1783, when the numbers 
of the whites were only 126, of the free coloured 295, and of 
the slaves 310, the Indians numbered only 2,032. In 1798, 
after the great immigration from the French West Indies, 
there were but 1,082 Indians in the island. It is true, that 
the white population had increeised meanwhile to 2,151, the 
free coloured to 4,476, and the slaves to 10,000. But there 
was still room in plenty for 2,000 Indians. Probably many 
of them had been absorbed by intermarriage with the in- 
vaders. At present, there is hardly an Indian of ceitainly 
pure blood in the island, and that only in the northern 

Trinidad ought to have been, at least for those who were 
not Indians, a happy place from the seventeenth almost to 
the nineteenth century, if it be true that happy is the people 
who have no history. Certain Dutchmen, whether men of 
war or pirates is not known, attacked it some time toward 
the end of the seventeenth century, and, trying to imitate 
lialeigh, were well beaten in the jungles between the Caroni 
and San Josef. The Indians, it is said, joined the Spaniards 
in the battle ; and the little town of San Josef was rewarded 
for its valour by being raised to the rank of a city by the 
King of Spain. 

The next important event which I find recorded is after the 
treaty of 27th August, 1701, between " His Most Christian" 
and " His Most Catholic Majesty," by which the Royal Com- 
pany of Guinea, established in France, was allowed to supply 
the Spanish colonies with 4,800 Negros per annum for ten 
years; of whom Trinidad took some share, and used them in 
planting cacao. So much the worse for it. 

Next Captain Teach, better known as " Blackbeard," made 
his appearance, about 1716, off Port of Spain ; plundered and 
burnt a brig laden with cacao; and when a Spanish frigate 
came in, and cautiously cannonaded him at a distance, sailed 
leisurely out of the Boca Grande. Little would any Spanish 
Guarda Costa trouble the soul of the valiant Captain Teach, 


with Ms six pistols slung in bandoliers down his breast, lighted 
matches stack underneath the brim of his hat, and his fiBLmous 
black beard, the terror of all merchant captains from Trinidad 
to Guinea River, twisted into tails, and tied up with 
ribbons behind his ears. How he behaved himself for some 
years as a " ferocious human pig," like Ignatius Loyola before 
his conversion, with the one virtue of courage ; how he would 
blow out the candle in the cabin, and fire at random into his 
crew, on the ground " that if he did not kill one of them now 
and then they would forget who he was;" how he would shut 
down the hatches, and fill the ship with the smoke of brimstone 
and what not, to see how long he and his could endure a 
certain place, — to which they are, some of them, but too 
probably gone ; how he has buried his money, or said that 
he had, "where none but he and Satan could find it, and 
the longest liver should take all ;" how, out of some such 
tradition, Edgar Poe built up the wonderful tale of the Gold 
Bug ; how the planters of certain Southern States, and even 
the Governor of North Carolina, paid him black-mail, and 
received black-mail from him likewise ; and lastly, how he 
met a man as brave as he, but with a clear conscience and 
a clear sense of duty, in the person of Mr. Eobert Maynard, 
fii-st lieutenant of the Pearl, who found him after endless 
difficulties, and fought him hand-to-hand in Oberecock river, 
in Virginia, " the lieutenant and twelve men against Black- 
beard and fourteen, till the sea was tinctured with blood 
around the vessel ; " and how Maynard sailed into Bathtown 
with the gory head, black beard and all, hung at his jibboom 
end ; all this is written — ^in the books in which it is written ; 
which need not be read now, however sensational, by the 
British public. 

The next important event which I find recorded in the 
annals of Trinidad is, that in 1725 the cacao crop failed. Some 
perhaps would have attributed the phenomenon to a comet, 
like that Sir William Beeston who, writing in 1664, says — 
" About this time appeared first the comet, which was the 
forerunner of the blasting of the cacao-trees, when they 
generally failed in Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola." But no 
comet seems to have appeared in 1725 whereon to lay the 
blame ; and therefore Father Gumilla, the Jesuit, may have 


been excused for saying that the failure of the trees was owing 
to the planters not paying their tithes ; and for fortifying his 
statement by the fact, that one planter alone, named Babelo, 
who paid his tithes duly, saved his trees and his crop. 

The wicked (according to Dauxion Lavaysse, a French- 
man inoculated somewhat with scientific and revolutionarj'^ 
notions, who wrote a very clever book, unfortunately very 
rare now) said that the Trinidad cacao was then, as now, very 
excellent ; that therefore it was sold before it was gathered ; 
and that thus the planters were able to evade the payment of 
tithes. But Senor Eabelo had planted another variety, called 
Forestero, from the Brazils, which was at once of hardier 
habit, inferior quality, and slower ripening. Hence his trees 
withstood the blight : but, en reva^iche, hence also, merchants 
would not buy his crop before it was picked : thus his duty 
became his necessity, and he could not help paying his tithes. 

Be that as it may, the good folk of Trinidad (and, to judge 
from their descendants, there must have been good folk among 
them) grew, from the failure of the cacao plantations, exceeding 
poor ; so that in 1733 they had to call a meeting at San Josef^ 
in order to tax the inhabitants, according to their means, toward 
thatching the Cabildo hall with palm-leaves. Nay, so poor 
did they become, that in 1740, the year after the small-pox 
had again devastated the island and the very monkeys had 
died of it, — as the hapless creatures died of cholera in hun- 
dreds a few years since, and of yellow fever the year before 
last, sensibly diminishing their numbers near the towns — let 
the conceit of human nature wince under the fact as it will, 
it cannot wince from under the fact — in 1740, 1 say, the war 
between Spain and England — that about Jenkins* ear — ^forced 
them to send a curious petition to his Majesty of Spain ; and 
to ask — Would he be pleased to commiserate their situation ? 
The failure of the cacao had reduced them to such a state 
of destitution that they could not go to Mass save once a 
year, to fulfil their " annual precepts ; " when they appeared 
in clothes borrowed from each other. 

Nay, it is said by those who should know best, that in those 
days the whole august body of the Cabildo had but one pair 
of smallclothes, which did duty among all the members. 

Let no one be shocked. The smallclothes desiderated 


would have been of black satin, probably embroidered ; and 
fit, tbouf^h somewhat threadbare, for the thigh of a magis- 
trate and gentleman of Spain. But he would not have gone 
on ordinary days in a sansculottic state. He would have 
worn that most comfortable of loose nether garments, which 
may be seen on sailors in prints of the great war, and which 
came in again a while among the cunningest Highland sporte- 
men, namely, slops. Let no one laugh, either, at least in 
contempt, as the average British Philistine will think himself 
bound to do, at the fact that these men had not only no balance 
at their bankers, but no bankers with whom to have a balance. 
No men are more capable of supporting poverty with content 
and dignity than the Spaniards of the old school For none 
are more perfect gentlemen, or more free from the base 
modem belief that money makes the man ; and I doubt not 
that a member of the old Cabildo of San Josef in slops was far 
better company than an average British Philistine in trousers. 

So slumbered on, only awakening to an occasional gentle 
revolt against their Priests, or the Governor sent to them 
from the Spanish Court, the good Spaniards of Trinidad ; till 
the peace of 1783 woke them up, and they found themselves 
suddenly in a new, and an unpleasantly lively, world. 

Rodney's victories had crippled Spain utterly ; and crippled, 
too, the French West Indian islands, though not France 
itself : but the shrewd eye of a M. Home de St Laiu*ent had 
already seen in Trinidad a mine of wealth, which might set 
up again, not the Spanish West Indians merely, but those 
of the French West Indians who had exhausted, as they 
fancied, by bad cultivation, the soils of Guadaloupe, Mar- 
tinique, and St Lucia He laid before the Inteudant at 
Caraccas, on whom Trinidad then depended, a scheme of 
colonization, which was accepted, and carried out in 1783, 
by a man who, as far as I can discover, possessed in a pre- 
eminent degree that instinct of ruling justly, wisely, gently, 
and firmly, which is just as rare in this age as it was under 
the ancien regime. Don Josef Maria Chacon was his 
name, — a man, it would seem, like poor Kaiser Joseph of 
Austria, bom before his time. Among his many honourable 
deeds, let this one at least be remembered ; that he turned 
out of Trinidad the last Inquisitor who ever entered it 


Foreigners, who must be Boman Catholics (though on 
this point Chacon was as liberal as public opinion allowed 
him to be), were invited to settle on grants of Crown land. 
Each white person of either sex was to have some thirty-two 
acres, and half that quantity for every slave that he should 
bring. Free people of colour were to have half the quantity ; 
and a long list of conditions was annexed, which, consi- 
dering that they were tainted with the original sin of slave- 
holding, seem wise and just enough. Two articles especially 
prevented, as far as possible, absenteeism. Settlers who 
retired from the island might take away their property; 
but they must pay 10 per cent, on all which they had accu- 
mulated ; and their lands reverted to the Crown. Similarly, 
if the heirs of a deceased settler should not reside in the 
colony, 15 per cent, was to be levied on the inheritance. 
Well had it been for every West Indian island, British or 
other, if similar laws had been in force in them for the last 
hundred years. 

So into Trinidad poured, for good and evil, a mixed popu- 
lation, principally French, to the number of some 12,000 ; till 
within a year or two the island was Spanish only in name. 
The old Spaniards, who held, many of them, large sheets of 
the forests which they had never cleared, had to give them 
up, with grumblings and heart-burmngs, to the new comers. 
The boundaries of these lands were uncertain. The island 
had never been surveyed : and no wonder. The survey has 
been only completed during the last few years ; and it is a 
mystery, to the non-scientific eye, how it has ever got done. 
One can well believe the story of the northern engineer 
who, when brought over to plan out a railroad, shook his head 
at the first sight of the " high woods." " At home," quoth he, 
" one works outside one's work : here one works inside it." 
Considering the density of the forests, one may as easily 
take a general sketch of a room from underneath the carpet 
as of Trinidad from the ground. However, thanks to the 
energy of a few gentlemen, who found occasional holes in 
the carpet through which they could peep, the survey of 
Trinidad is now about complete. 

But in those days ignorance of the island, as well as the 
battle between old and new interests, brought lawsuits, and all 


bat civil war. Many of the French settlers were no better 
than they should be ; many had debts in other islands ; 
many of the Negros had been sent thither because they were 
too great ruffians to be allowed at home; and, what was 
worse, the premium of sixteen acres of land for every slave 
imported called up a system of stealing slaves, and sometimes 
even free coloured people, from other islands, especially from 
Grenada, by means of " artful Negros and Mulatto slaves," 
who were sent over as crimps. I shall not record the woixis 
in which certain old Spaniards describe the new population 
of Trinidad ninety years ago. They, of course, saw everything 
in the blackest light ; and the colony has long since weeded 
and settled itself under a course of good government. But 
poor Don Josef Maria Chacon must have had a hard time 
of it, while he tried to break into something like order such 
a motley crew. 

He never broke them in, poor man. For just as matters 
were beginning to right themselves, the French Revolution 
broke out ; and every French West Indian island burst into 
flame, — physical, alas I as well as moral. Then hurried 
into Trinidad, to make confusion worse confounded, French 
Hoyalist families, escaping from the horrors in Hayti; and 
brought with them, it is ^aid, many still faithful house- 
slaves bom on their estates. But the Republican French, 
being nearly ten to one, were practical masters of the island ; 
and Don Chacon, whenever he did anything unpopular, had to 
submit to " manifestations," with tricolour flag, Marseillaise, 
and 9^ Ira, about the streets of Port of Spain ; and to be 
privately informed by Admiral Artizabal that a guillotine 
was getting ready to cut off the heads of all loyal Spaniards, 
French, and British. This may have been an exaggeration : 
but wild deeds were possible enough in those wild days. 
Artizabal, the story goes, threatened to hang a certain ring- 
leader (name not given) at his yard-arm. Chacon begged the 
man's life ; and the fellow was " spared to become the per- 
secutor of his preserver, even to banishment, and death from 
a broken heart" ^ 

At last the explosion came. The English sloop Zebra 

^ M. Jonepb, ''History of Trinidad/' from which most of these facts are 


was sent down into the Gulf of Paria to clear it of French 
privateers, manned by the defeated maroons and brigands 
of the French islands, who were paying respect to no flag, 
but pirating indiscriminately. Chacon confessed himself 
glad enough to have them exterminated. He himself could 
not protect his own trade. But the neutrality of the island 
must be respected. Skinner, the Zebra's captain, sailed away 
toward the Boca, and found, to his grim delight, that the 
privateers had mistaken him for a certain English merchant- 
man whom tbey had blockaded in Port of Spain, and 
were giving him chase. He let them come up and try to 
board ; and what followed may be easily guessed. In three 
quarters of an hour they were all burnt, sunk, or driven on 
shore ; the remnant of their crews escaped to Port of Spain, 
to join the French Republicans and vow vengeance. 

Then, in an hapless hour, Captain Vaughan came into Port 
of Spain in the Alarm frigate. His intention was, of course, 
to protect the British and Spanish. They received him with 
open arms. But the privateers' men attacked a boat's crew 
of the Alarm, were beaten, raised a riot, and attacked a Welsh 
lady's house where English officers were at a party; after 
which, with pistol shots and climbing over back walls, the 
English, by help of a few Spanish gentlemen, escaped, leav- 
ing behind them their surgeon severely wounded. 

Next morning, at sunrise, almost the whole of the frigate's 
crew landed in Port of Spain, fully armed, with Captain 
Vaughan at their head ; the hot Welsh blood boiling in him. 
He unfurled the British flag, and marched into the town to 
take vengeance on the mob. A Spanish officer, with two or 
three men, came forward. What did a British captain mean 
by violating the law of nations ? Vaughan would chastise the 
rascally French who had attacked his men. Then he must 
either kill the Spaniard or take him prisoner : and the officer 
tendered his sword. 

" I will not accept the arms of a brave man who is doing 
his duty," quoth poor over-valiant Vaughan, and put him 
aside. The hot Welsh blood was, nevertheless, the blood of 
a gentleman. They struck up " Britons, Strike Home," and 
marched on. The British and Spanish came out to entreat 
him. If a fight began, they would be all massacred. Still 


he marched on. The French, with three or four thousand 
slaves, armed, and mountincr the tricolour cockade, were 
awaiting them, seemingly on the Savannah north of the 
town. Chacon was at his wits' end. He had but eighty 
soldiers, who said openly they would not fire on the English, 
bnt on the French. But the English were but 240, and the 
French twelve times that number. By deft cutting through 
cross streets Chacon got between the two bodies of mad- 
men, and pleaded the indignity to Spain and the violation 
of neutral ground. The English must fight him before 
they fought the French. They would beat him : but as 
soon as the first shot was fired, the French would attack 
them likewise, and both parties alike would be massacred 
in the streets. 

The hot Welsh blood cooled down before reason and 
courage. Vaughan saluted Chacon ; and marched back, hooted 
by the Republicans, who nevertheless kept at a safe distance. 
The French hunted every English and Irish person out of 
the town, some escaping barely with their lives. Only one 
man, however, was killed ; and he, poor faithful slave, was an 
English negro. 

Vaughan saw that he had done wrong; that he had 
possibly provoked a war; and made for his error the most 
terrible reparation which man can make. 

His fears were not without foundation. His conduct 
formed the principal count in the list of petty complaints 
against England, on the strength of which, five months 
after, in October 1796, Spain declared war against England, 
and, in conjunction with France and Holland, determined 
once more to dispute the empire of the seas. 

The moment was well chosen. England looked, to those 
who did not know her pluck, to have sunk very low. France 
was rising fast ; and Buonaparte had just begun his Italian 
victories. So the Spanish Court — or at least Godoy, " Prince 
of Peace *' — sought to make profit out of the French Kepublic. 
About the first profit which it made was the battle of St 
Vincent ; about the second, the loss of Trinidad. 

On February 14, while Jervis and Nelson were fighting off 
Cape St Vincent, Harvey and Abercrombie came into Car- 
riacou in the Grenadines, with a gallant armada; seven 



ships of the line, thirteen other men-of-war, and nigh 8,000 
men, including 1,500 German jagers, on board. 

On the 16th they were struggling with currents of the 
Bocas, piloted by a Mandingo negro, Alfred Sharper, who 
died in 1836, 105 years of age. The line-of-battle ships 
anchored in the magnificent landlocked harbour of Chagua- 
ramas, just inside the Boca de Monos. The frigates and 
transports went up within five miles of Port of Spain. 

Poor Chacon had, to oppose this great armament, 5,000 
Spanish troops, 300 of them just recovering from yellow 
fever; a few old Spanish militia, who loved the English 
better than the French ; and what Republican volunteers he 
could get together. They of course clamoured for arms, and 
demanded to be led against the enemy, as to this day ; for- 
getting, as to this day, that all the fiery valour of Frenchmen 
is of no avail without ofScers, and without respect for those 
officers. Beside them, there lay under a little fort on Caspar 
Grande island, in Ohaguaramas harbour — ah, what a Para- 
dise to be defiled by war — four Spanish line-of-battle ships 
and a frigate. Their admiral, Apodaca, was a foolish old 
devotee. Their crews numbered 1,600 men, 400 of whom 
w^ere in hospital with yellow fever, and many only con- 
valescent. The terrible Victor Hugues, it is said, offered 
a band of Bepublican sympathisers from Guadaloupe : but 
ChEicon had no mind to take that Trojan horse within 
his fortress. " We have too many lawless Republicans here 
already. Should the King send me aid, I will do my duty to 
preserve his colony for the crown : if not, it must fall into the 
hands of the English, whom I believe to be generous ene- 
mies, and more to be trusted than treacherous friends.'' 

What was to be done? Perhaps only that which was 
done. Apodaca set fire to his ships, either in honest despair, 
or by orders from the Prince of Peace. At least, he would 
nut let them fall into English hands. At three in the morn- 
ing Port of Spain woke up, all aglare with the blaze six miles 
away to the north-west Negros ran and shrieked, carrying 
this and that up and down upon their heads. Spaniards 
looked out, aghast Frenchmen cried, "Aux armes!" and 
sang the Marseillaise. And still, over the Five Islands, 
rose the glare. But the night was calm; the ships burnt 


slowly; and the San Damaso was saved by English sailors. 
So goes the tale ; which, if it be, as I believe, correct, ought 
to be known to those adventurous Yankees who have talked, 
more than once, of setting up a company to recover the 
Spanish ships and treasure sunk in Chaguaramas. For the 
ships burned before they sunk ; and Apodaca, being a prudent 
man, landed, or is said to have landed, all the treasure on the 
Spanish Main opposite. 

He met Chacon in Port of Spain at daybreak. The good 
governor, they say, wept, but did not reproach. ITie admiral 
crossed himself; and, when Chacon said "All is lost," an- 
swered (or did not answer, for the story, like most good stories, 
is said not to be quite true), ** Not aU ; I saved tihe image of 
St Jago de Compostella, my patron and my ship's." His 
chip's patron, however, says M. Joseph, was St Vincent 
Why tell the rest of the story? It may well be guessed. 
The English landed in force. The French Eepublicans (how 
does history repeat itself!) broke open the arsenal, over- 
powering the Spanish guard, seized some 3,000 to 5,000 
stand of arms, and then never used them, but retired into 
the woods. They had, many of them, fought like tigers in 
other islands; some, it may be, under Victor Hugues him- 
self. But here they had no leaders. The Spanish, over- 
powered by numbers, fell back across the Dry Eiver to the 
east of the town, and got on a height The German jagers 
climbed the beautiful Laventille hills, and commanded tlie 
Spanish and the two paltry mud forts on the slopes : and 
all was over^ happily with almost no loss of life. 

Chacon was received by Abercrombie and Harvey with 
every courtesy ; a capitulation was signed which secured the 
honours of war to the military, and law and safety to the 
civil inhabitants ; and Chacon was sent home to Spain to be 
tried by a court-martial; honourably acquitted; and then, 
by French Eepublican intrigues, calumniated, memorialised 
against, subscribed against, and hunted (Buonaparte having 
with his usual meanness, a hand in the persecution) into 
exile and penury in Portugal At last his case was heard a 
fiecond time, and tardy justice done, not by popular clamour, 
but by fair and deliberate law. BUs nephew set out to bring 
the good man home in triumph. He found him dying in a 

G 2 


wretched Portuguese iun. Chacon heard that his honour was 
cleared at last, and so gave up the ghost 

Thus ended — as Earth's best men have too often ended 
— ^the good Don Alonzo Chacon. His only monument in 
the island is one, after all, "sere perennius;" namely, that 
most beautiful flowering shrub which bears his name; 
Warsewiczia, some call it ; others, Calycophyllum : but the 
botanists of the island continue loyally the name of 
Chaconia to those blazing crimson spikes which every 
Christmas-tide renew throughout the wild forests, of which 
he would have made a civilized garden, the memory of the 
last and best of the Spanish Governors. 

So Trinidad became English; and Picton ruled it, for a 
while, with a rod of iron. 

I shall not be foolish enough to enter here into the 
merits or demerits of the Picton case, which once made 
such a noise in England. His enemies' side of the story will 
be found in M'Callum's "Travels in Trinidad ;" his friends' side 
in Eobinson's " Life of Picton," two books, each of which 
will seem, I think, to liim who will read them alternately, 
father less wise than the other. But those who may choose 
to read the two books must remember, that questions of 
this sort have not two sides merely, but more; being not 
superficies, but solids; and that the most important side is 
that on which the question stands, namely, its bottom; 
which is just the side which neither party like to be tui-ned 
up, because under it (at least in the West Indies) all the 
beetles and cockroaches, centipedes and scorpions, are nestled 
away out of sight : and there, as long since decayed, they, or 
their exuviae and dead bodies, may remain. The good people 
of Trinidad have long since agreed to let bygones be bygones ; 
and it speaks well for the common sense and good feeling 
of the islanders, as well as for the mildness and justice of 
British rule, that in two generations such a community as 
that of modem Trinidad should have formed itself out of 
materials so discordant That British rule has been a solid 
blessing to Trinidad, all honest folk know well Even in 
Picton's time, the population incrt^aied, in six years, from 
17,700 to 28,400; in 1851 it was 69,600; and it is now far 


But Triaidad has gained, by becoming English, more than 
mere numbers. Had it continued Spanish, it would probably 
now be, like Cuba, a slave-holding and slave-trading island, 
wealthy, luxurious, profligate ; and Port of Spain would be 
such another wen upon the face of God's earth as that magni- 
ficent abomination, the city of Havanna. Or, as an almost 
more ugly alternative, it might have played its part in that 
great triumph of Bliss by Act of Parliament, which set man- 
kind to rights for ever, when Mr. Canning did the universe the 
honour of " calling the new world into existence to redress 
the balance of the old." It might have been— probably would 
have been — conquered by a band of " sympathisers " from the 
neighbouring Bepublic of Venezuela, and have been " called 
into existence" by the massacre of the respectable folk, the ex- 
pulsion of capital, and the establishment (with a pronuncia- 
mento and a revolution every few years) of a Republic such as 
those of Spanish America, combining every vice of civilization 
with every vice of savagery. From that fate, as every honest 
man in Trinidad knows wdl, England has saved the island ; 
and therefore every honest man in Trinidad is loyal (with 
occasional grumblings, of course, as is the. right of free-born 
Britons, at home and abroad) to the British flag. 



The first thing notable, on landing in Port of Spain at 
the low quay which has been just reclaimed from the mud 
of the gulf, is the multitude of people who are doing 
nothing. It is not that they have taken an hour's holiday 
to see the packet come in. You will find them, or their 
brown duplicates, in the same places to-morrow and next day. 
They stand idle in the market-place, not because they have 
not been hired, but because they do not want to be hired ; 
being able to live like the Lazzaroni of Naples, on "Mid- 
shipman's half-pay — ^nothing a day, and find yourself." You 
are told that there are 8,000 human beings in Port of Spain 
alone without visible means of subsistence, and you congratu-^ 
late Port of Spain on being such an Elysium that people can 
live there — not without eating, for every child, and most 
women you pass, are eating something or other all day 
long — ^but without working. The fact is, that though they 
will eat as much and more than a European, if they can 
get it, they can do well without food ; and feed, as do the 
Lazzaroni, on mere heat and light The best substitute for a 
dinner is a sleep under a south wall in the blazing sun ; and 
there are plenty of south walls in Port of Spain. In the 
French islands, I am told, such Lazzaroni are caught up and 
set to Government work, as *' strong rogues and masterless 
men," after the ancient English fashion. But is such a course 
fair? If a poor man neither steals, begs, nor rebels (and these 
people do not do the two latter), has he not as much right to 
be idle as a rich man ? To say that neither has a right to be 
idle is, of course, sheer socialism, and a heresy not to be 

Next, the stranger will remark, here as at Grenada, that 



every one he passes looks strong, healthy, and well-fed. 
One uieets few or none of those figures and faces, small, 
scrofulous, squinny, and haggard, which disgrace the so-called 
civilization of a British city. Nowhere in Port of Spain will 
you see such human beings as in certain streets of London, 
Liverpool, or Glasgow. Every one, plainly, can live and 
thrive if they choose ; and very pleasant it is to know that. 

The road leads on past the Custom-house; and past, I 
am sorry to say, evil smells, which are too common still in 
Port of Spain, though fresh water is laid on from the moun- 
tains. I have no wish to complain, especially on first landing, 
of these kind and hospitable citizens. But as long as Port of 
Spain — the suburbs especially — smells as it does after sun- 
down every evening, so long will an occasional outbreak of 
cholera or yellow iever hint that there are laws of cleanliness 
and decency which are both able and ready to avenge them- 
selves. You cross the pretty "Marine Square," with its 
fountain and flowering trees, and bej^ond them on the right 
the Eoman Catholic Cathedral, a stately building, with 
Palmistes standing as tall sentries round; soon you go up 
a straight street, with a glimpse of a large English church, 
which must have been still more handsome than now before 
its taU steeple was shaken down by an earthquake. The 
then authorities, I have been told, applied to the Colonial 
Office for money to rebuild it : but the request was refused ; 
on the ground, it may be presumed, that whatever ills 
Downing Street might have inflicted on the West Indies, 
it bad not, as yet, gone so far as to play the part of 
Poseidon Ennosigseus. 

Next comes a glimpse, too, of large — even too large — 
Government buildings, brick-built, pretentious, without 
beauty of form. But, however ugly in itself a building 
may be in Trinidad, it is certain, at least after a few years, 
to look beautiful, because embowered among noble flower- 
ing timber trees, like those that fill " Brunswick Square,** 
and surround the great church on its south side. 

Under cool porticoes and through tall doorways are seen 
dark "stores," filled with all manner of good things, from 
Britain or from the United States. These older-fashioned 
houses, built, I presume, on the Spanish model, are not 


without a certain stateliness, from the depth and breadth 
of their chiaroscuro. Their doors and windows reach almost 
to the ceiling, and ought to be plain proofs, in the eyes 
of certain discoverers of the "giant cities of Bashan," that 
the old Spanish and French colonists were nine or ten feet 
high apiece. On the door-steps sit Negresses in gaudy 
print dresses, with stiff turbans ^ (which are, according 
to this year's fashion, of chocolate and yellow silk plai<£ 
painted with thick yellow paint, and cost in all some four 
dollars), all aiding in the general work of doing nothing : 
save where here and there a hugely fat Negress, possibly with 
her " head tied across" in a white turban (sign of mourning), 
sells, or tries to sell, abominable sweetmeats, strange fruits, 
and junks of sugar-cane, to be gnawed by the dawdlers in 
mid-street, while they carry on their heads everything and 
anything, ifrom half a barrow-load of yams to a saucer or a 
beer-bottle. We never, however, saw, as Tom Cringle did, a 
Negro carrying a burden on his chin. 

I fear that a stranger would feel a shock — and that not 
a slight one — at the first sight of the average Negro women 
of Port of Spain, especially the younger. Their masculine 
figures, their ungainly gestures, their loud and sudden 
laughter, even when walking alone, and their general coarse- 
ness, shocks, and must shock. It must be remembered 
that this is a seaport town ; and one in which the licence 
usual in such places on both sides of the Atlantic is aggra- 
vated by the superabundant animal vigour and the perfect 
independence of the younger women. It is a painful sub- 
ject. I shall touch it in these pages as seldom and as 
lightly as I can. Thei'e is, I verily believe, a large class 
of Negresses in Port of Spain and in the country, both 
Catholic and Protestant, who try their best to be respectable, 
after their standard : but unfortunately, here, as elsewhere 
over the world, the scum rises naturally to the top, and 
intrudes itself on the eye. The men are civil fellows enough, 
if you will, as in duty bound, be civil to them. If you are 
not, ugly capacities will flash out fast enough, and too fast. 
If any one says of the Negro, as of the Russian, " He is but 
a savage polished over : you have only to scratch him, and 
the barbarian shows underneath:'* the only answer to be 



made is — Theo do not scratch liim. It will be better for ;ou, 
and for him. 

When you have ceased looking — even staring — at the 
black women and their ways, you become aware of the 
strange variety of races which people the city. Here passes 
an old Coolie Hindoo, with notbiug on but his lungee round 
his loins, and a scarf over his head ; a white-bearded, delicate- 
featured old gentleman, with probably some caste-mark of 

red paint on his forehead ; his thin limbs, and small hands and 
feet, contrasting strangely with the brawny Wegros round 
There comes a bright-eyed young lady, probably hia daugbter- 
in-law, hung all over with bangles, in a white muslin petticoat, 
crimson cotton-velvet jacket, and green gauze veil, with her 
naked brown baby astride on her hip ; a clever, smiling, deli- 
cate little woman, who is quite aware of the brightness of 
her own eyes. And who are these three boys in dark blue 
eoatees and trousers, one of whom carries, hanging at one 


end of a long bamboo, a couple of sweet potatoes; at the 
other, possibly, a pebble to balance them ? As they approach, 
their doleful visage betrays them. Chinese they are, without 
a doubt : but whether old or young, men or women, you cannot 
tell, till the initiated point otLt that the women have chignons 
and no hats, the men hats with their pig-tails coiled up under 
them. Beyond this distinction, I know none visible. Cer- 
tainly none in those sad visages — " 0£fas, non facies," as old 
Ammianus Marcellinus has it 

But why do Chinese never smile ? Why do they look as 
if some one had sat upon their noses as soon as they were 
}x)TR, and they had been weeping bitterly over the calamity 
ever since ? They, too, must have their moments of relax- 
ation : but when ? Once, and once only, in Port of Spain, 
we saw a Chinese woman, nursing her baby, burst into an 
audible laugh : and we looked at each other, as much asto- 
nished as if our horses had begun to talk. 

There again is a group of coloured men of all ranks, talking 
eagerly, business, or even politics ; some of them as well 
dressed as if they were fresh from Europe ; some of them, 
too, six feet high, and broad in proportion ; as fine a race, 
physically, as one would wish to look upon; and with no 
want of shrewdness either, or determination, in their faces : 
a race who ought, if they will be wise and virtuous, to have 
before them a great future. Here come home from the 
convent school two coloured young ladies, probably pretty, 
possibly lovely, certainly gentle, modest, and well-dressed 
according to the fashions of Paris or New York; and 
here comes the unmistakeable Englishman, tall, fair, dose 
shaven, arm-in-arm with another man, whose more delicate 
features, more sallow complexion, and little moustache, mark 
him as some Frenchman or Spaniard of old family. Both 
are dressed as if they were going to walk up Pall Mall or 
the Rue de Rivoli ; for "go-to-meeting clothes " are somewhat 
too much de rigueur here; a shooting-jacket and wide- 
awake betrays the newly-landed Englishman. Both take 
off their hats with a grand air to a lady in a carriage; 
for they are very fine gentlemen indeed, and intend to 
remain such : and well that is for the civilization of the 
island; for it is from such men as these, and from their 


families, that the good manners for which West Indians 
are, or ought to be, famous, have permeated down, slowly 
but surely, through all classes of society save the very 

The straight and level street, swarming with dogs, vultures, 
chickens and goats, passes now out of the old into the newer 
part of the city; and the type of the houses changes at onca 
Some are mere wooden sheds of one or two rooms, com- 
fortable enough in that climate, where a sleepiug-place is 
all that is needed — if the occupiers would but keep them 
clean. Other houses, wooden too, belong to well-to-do 
folk. Over high walls you catch sight of jalousies and 
verandahs, inside which must be most delightful darkness 
and coolnesa Indeed, one cannot fancy more pleasant 
nests than some of the little gaily-painted wooden houses, 
standing on stilts to let the air under the floors, and all 
embowered in trees and flowers, which line the roads in the 
suburbs ; and which are inhabited, we were told, by people 
engaged in business. 

But what would — or at least ought to — strike the new 
comer's eye with most pleasurable surprise, and make him 
realize into what a new world he has been suddenly trans- 
lated—even more than the Negros, and the black vultures 
sitting on roof-ridges, or stalking about in mid-street — are 
the flowers which show over the walls on each side of the 
street. In that little garden, not thirty feet broad, what 
treasures there are ! A taU palm — ^whether Palmiste or Oil- 
palm — ^has its smooth tnmk hung all over with orchids, tied 
on with wire. Close to it stands a purple Dracsena, such as 
are put on English dinner-tables in pots : but this one is twenty 
feet high ; and next to it is that strange tree the Clavija, of 
which the Creoles are justly fond. A single straiglit stem, 
flfbeen feet high, carries huge oblong leaves atop, and beneath 
them, growing out of the stem itself, delicate panicles of 
little white flowers, fragrant exceedingly. A double blue 
pea^ and a purple Bignonia are scrambling over shrubs 
and walls. And what is this which hangs over into the 
road, some fifteen feet in height — long, bare, curving sticks, 
carrying each at its end a flat blaze of scarlet? What 

1 Clitoria Teniat4>a : which should be in all our hothouses. 


but the Poinsettia, paltry scions of which, like the Dracaena, 
adorn our hothouses and dinner-tables. The street is on fire 
with it all the way up, now in mid-winter ; while at the street 
end opens out a green park, fringed with noble trees all in 
full leaf; underneath them more pleasant little suburban 
villas ; and behind all, again, a background of steep wooded 
mountain a thousand feet in height. That is the Savannah, 
the public park and race-ground; such as neither London 
nor Paris can boast 

One may be allowed to regret that the exuberant loyalty 
of the citizens of Port of Spain has somewhat defaced one 
end at least of their Savannah ; for in expectation of a visit 
from the Duke of Edinburgh, they erected for his reception 
a pile of brick, of which the best that can be said is that 
it holds a really large and stately ball-room, and the best 
that can be hoped is, tliat the authorities will hide it as 
quickly as possible with a ring of Palmistes, Gasuarinas, 
Sandboxes, and every quick-growing tree. Meanwhile, as 
his Royal Highness did not come, the citizens wisely thought 
that they might as well enjoy their new building themselves. 
So there, on set high days, the Governor and the Lady 
of the Governor hold their court. There, when the 
squadron comes in, officers in imiform dance at desperate 
sailors' pace with delicate Creoles ; some of them, coloured 
as well as white, so beautiful in face and figure that 
one could almost pardon the jolly tars if they enacted a 
second Mutiny of the Bounty, and refused one and aU to 
leave the island and the fair dames thereof. And all the 
while the warm night wind rushes in through the high open 
windows ; and the fire-flies flicker up and down, in and out, 
and you slip away on to the balcony to enjoy — for after all 
it is very hot — the purple star-spangled night ; and see aloft 
the saw of the mountain ridges against the black-blue sky; 
and below — what a contrast ! — the crowd of white eyeballs 
and white teeth — Negros, Coolies, Chinese— all grinning and 
peeping upward against the railing, in the hope of seeing — 
through the walls — the " buccra quality " enjoy themselves. 

An even pleasanter sight we saw once in that large room, a 
sort of agricultural and horticultural show, which augured well 
for the future of the colony. The flowers were not remark- 

PORT OF SPAiy. 93 

able, save for the taste shown in their arrangement, till one 
recollected that they were not brought from hothouses, but 
grown in mid-winter in the open air. The roses, of which 
West Indians are very fond, as they are of all " home," i.e, 
European, flowers, were not as good as those of Europe. 
The rose in Trinidad, though it flowers three times a year, yet, 
from the great heat and moisture, runs too much to wood. But 
the roots, especially the different varieties of yam, were very 
curious ; and their size proved the wonderful food-producing 
powers of the land when properly cultivated. The poultry, 
too, were worthy of an English show. Indeed, the fowl seems 
to take to tropical America as the horse has to Australia, 
as to a second native-land; and Trinidad alone might 
send an endless supply to the fowl-market of the Northern 
States, even if that should not be quite true which 
some one said, that you might turn an old cock loose in 
the bush, and he, without further help, would lay more 
eggs, and bring up more chickens, than you could either 
eat 01 sell. 

But the most interesting element of that exhibition was 
the coco-nut fibre products of Messrs. Uhrich and Gerold, of 
«rhich more in another place. In them lies a source of 
further wealth to the colony, which may stand her in good 
stead when Port of Spain becomes, as it must become, one of 
the great emporiums of the West 

Since our visit the great ball-room has seen^-even now is 
seeing — strange vicissitudes. For the new Koyal College, 
having as yet no buildings of its own, now keeps school, it is 
said, therein — alas for the inkstains on that beautiful floor I 
And by last advices, a " troupe of artistes " from Martinique, 
there being no theatre in Port of Spain, have been doing their 
play-acting in it ; and Terpsichore and Thalia (Melpo- 
mene, I fear, haunts not the stage of Martinique) have been 
hustling all the other Muses downstairs at sunset, and joining 
their jinglings to the chorus of tom-toms and chac-chacs 
which resounds across the Savannah, at least till 10 p.m., 
from all the suburbs. 

The road — ^and all the roads round Port of Spain, thanks 
to Sir Balph Woodford, are as good as English roads — ^runs 
between the Savannah and the mountain spurs, and past the 

94 PORT OF 8P J IN. 

Botanic Gardens, which are a credit, in more senses than one, 
to the Grovernors of the island. For in them, amid trees 
from every quarter of the globe, and gardens kept up in 
the English fashion, with fountains, too, so necessary in 
this tropical clime, stood a large "Government House." 
This house was some years ago destroyed; and the then 
Governor took refuge in a cottage just outside the 
garden. A sum of money was voted to rebuild the big 
house : but the Governors, to their honour, have preferred 
living in the cottage, adding to it from time to time what 
was necessary for mere comfort; and have given the old 
gardens to the city, as a public pleasure-ground, kept up at 
Government expense. 

This Paradise — ^for such it is — ^is somewhat too far from 
the city; and one passes in it few people, save an occa- 
sional brown nurse. But when Port of Spain becomes, as 
it surely will, a great commercial city, and the slopes of 
LaventiUe, Belmont, and St. Ann's, just above the gardens, 
are studded, as they surely will be, with the villas of rich 
merchants, then will the generous gift of English Governors 
be appreciated and used; and the Botanic Gardens will 
become a Tropic Garden of the Tuileries, alive, at five 
o'clock every evening, with human flowers of every hue. 



December 80, 1869. 

My DEAR , 

We are actually settled in a West Indian country- 
house, amid a multitude of sights and sounds so utterly new 
and strange, that the mind is stupified by the continual 
effort to take in, or (to confess the truth) to gorge without 
hope of digestion, food of every conceivable variety. The whole 
day long new objects and their new names have jostled each 
other in the brain, in dreams as well as in waking thoughts. 
Amid such a confusion, to describe this place as a whole is as 
yet impossibla It must suffice if you find in this letter a 
sketch or two— not worthy to be called a study— of parti- 
cular spots which seem typical, beginning with my bath- 
room window, as the scene which first proved to me, at leasts 
that we were verily in the Tropics. 

You look out — ^would that you did look in fact ! — over the 
low silL The gravel outside, at least, is an old friend; it 
consists of broken bits of grey Silurian rock, and white quartz 
among it ; and one touch of Siluria makes the whole world 
kin. But there the kindred ends. A few green weeds, look- 
ing just like English ones, peep up through the gravel Weeds, 
all over the world, are mostly like each other ; poor, thin, pale 
in leaf, small and meagre in stem and flower : meaner forms 
which fill up for good, and sometimes, too, for harm, the gaps 
left by Nature's aristocracy of grander and, in these tropics^ 
more tyrannous and destroying forms. So like home weeds 
they look : but pick one, and you find it unlike anything at 
home. That one happens to be, as you may see by its little 
green mouse-tails, a pepper-weed,^ first cousin to the great 

' Peperomia. 


black-pepper bush in the gardens near by, with the berries 
of which you may bum your mouth gratis. 

So it is, you would find, with every weed in the little cleared 
dell, some "fifteen feet deep, beyond the gravel. You could 
not — I certainly cannot — guess at the name, seldom at the 
family, of a single plant But I am going on too fast. 
What are those sticks of wood which keep the gravel bank 
up ? Veritable bamboos ; and a bamboo-pipe, too, is carrying 
the trickling cool water into the bath close by. Surely we 
are in the Tropics. You hear a sudden rattle, as of boards 
and brown paper, overhead, and find that it is the clashing 
of the huge leaves of a young fan palm,^ growing not ten 
feet from the window. It has no stem as yet ; and the lower 
leaves have to be trimmed off or they would close up the path, 
so that only the great forked green butts of them are left, 
bound to each other by natural matting : but overhead they 
range out nobly in leaf-stalks ten feet long, and fans full twelve 
feet broad ; and this is but a baby, a three years' old thing. 
Surely, again, we are in the Tropics. Ten feet further, thrust 
all awry by the huge palm leaves, grows a young tree, unknown 
to me, looking like a walnut Next to it an orange, covered 
with long prickles and small green fruit, its roots propped up 
by a semi-cylindrical balk of timber, furry inside, which 
would puzzle a Hampshire woodsman; for it is, plainly, a 
groo-groo or a coco-palm, split down the middle. Surely, 
again, we are in the Tropics. Beyond it, again, blaze great 
orange and yellow flowers, with long stamens, and pistil 
curving upwards out of them. They belong to a twining, 
scrambling bush, with finely-pinnated mimosa leaves. That 
is the " Flower-fence,"^ so often heard of in past years ; and 
round it hurries to and fro a great orange butterfly, larger 
seemingly than any English kind. Next to it is a row of 
Hibiscus shrubs, with broad crimson flowers ; then a row of 
young Screw-pines,* from the East Indian Islands, like spiral 
pineapple plants twenty feet high standing on stilts. Yes : 
surely we are in the Tropics. Over the low roof (for the 
cottage is all of one storey) of purple and brown and white 
shingles, baking in the sun, rises a tall tree, which looks (as 
so many do here) like a walnut, but is not one. It is the 

* SabaL ^Poinziana. ' Pundaima. 


"Poui" of the Indians/ and will be covered shortly with 
brilliant saffron flowers. 

I turn my chair and look into the weedy delL The ground 
on the opposite slope (slopes are, you must remember, here 
as steep as house roofs, the last spurs of true mountains) is 
covered with a grass like tall rye-grass, but growing in tufts. 
That is the famous Guinea-grass^ which, introduced from 
Africa, has spread over the whole West Indies. Dark lithe 
Coolie prisoners, one a gentle young fellow, with soft beseech- 
injT eyes, and " Felon " printed on the back of his shirt, are 
cutting it for the horses, under the guard of a Mulatto turnkey, 
a tall, steadfast, dignified man ; and between us and them are 
growing along the edge of the gutter, veritable pineapple-s 
in the open air, and a low green tree just like an apple, 
which is a Guava ; and a tall stick, thirty feet high, with a 
fiafc top of gigantic curly horse-chestnut leaves, which is a 
Trumpet-tree.* There are hundreds of them in the mountains 
round: but most of them dead, from the intense drought 
and fires of last year. Beyond it, again, is a round-headed 
tree, looking like a huge Portugal laurel, covered with racemes 
of purple buds. That is an " Angelim ; " * when full-grown, 
one of the finest timbers in the world. And what are 
those at the top of the brow, risinc» out of the rich green 
scrub? Verily, again, we are in the Tropics. They are palms, 
doubtless, some thirty feet high each, with here and thei-e a 
young one springing up like a gigantic crown of male-fern. 
The old ones have straight grey stems, often prickly enou<2h, 
and thickened in the middle ; grey last year's leaves hanging 
down ; and feathering round the top, a circular plume of pale 
green leaves, like those of a coco-nut. But these are not 
c^xK)s. The last year's leaves of the coco are rich yellow, and 
its stem is curved. These ure groo-ji^oos ; ^ they stand as fresh 
proofs that we are indeed in the 'Tropics, and as " a thing of 
beauty and a joy for ever.'* 

For it is a joy for ever, a sight never to be forgotten, to 
have once seen palms, breaking through and, as it were, 
defying, the soft rounded forms of the broad-leaved vegeta- 
tion by the stem grace of their simple lines ; the immoveable 

* Tecoma (serratifolia ?). • Panicnm jumentorum. ' Cecropia. 

* Andira inermis. • Acrocomia selerocarpa. 



pillar-stem looking the more immoveable beneath the toss 
und lash and flicker of the long leaves, an they awake out 
of their sunlit sleep, and rage impatiently for a while before 
the mountain gusts, and fall asleep again. Like a Greek 
statue in a luxurions drawing-room, sharp cut, cold, 
virginal; shaming, by the grandeur of mere form, the 
voluptuousness of mere colour, however rich and har- 
uioniotis; so stands the palm in the forest; to be wor- 
shipped rather than to be loved. Look at the dmwingR 

of the Oreodoxa-a venue at Rio, in M. Agasaiz's charming 
book. Would that you could see actuaUy such avenues, 
even from the sea, as we have seen them in St. Vincent 
and Guadaloupe : but look at the mere pictures of them ia 
that book, and you will sympathise, surely, with our uhw 
palm -worship. 


And lastly, what is that giant tree which almost fills the 
centre of the glen, towering with upright but branching 
limbs, and huge crown, thinly leaved, double the height of all 
the trees around ? An ash ? Something like an ash in growth ; 
but when you look at it through the glasses (indispensable 
in the tropic forest), you see that the foliage is more like 
that of the yellow horse-chestnut. And no British ash, not 
even the Altyre giants, ever reached to half that bulk It is 
a Silk-cotton tree ; a Ceiba^ — say, rather, the Ceiba of the 
glen ; for these glens have a habit of holding each one great 
Ceiba, which has taken its stand at the upper end, just where 
the mountain-spurs run together in an amphitheatre; and 
l)eing favoured (it may be supposed) by the special richness 
of the down-washed soil at that spot, grows to one of those 
vast air-gardens of creepers and parasites of which we have 
80 often read, and dreamed. Such a one is this : but we will 
not go up to it now. This sketch shall be completed by the 
background of green and grey, fading aloft into tender 
cobalt : the background of mountain, ribbed and gullied into 
sharpest slopes by the tropic rains, yet showing, even where 
steepest, never a face of rock, or a crag peeping through 
the trees. Up to the sky-line, a thousand feet aloft, all is 
green ; and that, instead of being, as in Europe, stone or 
moor, is jagged and feathered with gigantic trees. How rich ! 
you would say. Yet these West Indians only mourn over 
its desolation and disfigurement; and point to the sheets 
of grey stems, which hang like mist along the upper slopes. 
They look to us, on this 30th of December, only as April 
signs that the woodlands have not quite burst into full leaf. 
But to the inhabitants they ai-e tokens of those fearful fires 
which raged over the island during the long drought of this 
summer ; when the forests were burning for a whole month, 
and this house scarcely saved ; when whole cane-fields, mills, 
dwelling-houses, went up as tinder and flame in a moment, 
and the smoky haze from the burning island spread far out 
to sea. And yet, where the fire passed six months ago, all 
is now a freA impenetrable undergrowth of green ; creepers 
covering the land, climbing up and shrouding the charred 
stumps; young palms, like Prince of Wales's feathers, break- 

* Ericxlendrnn anfractaosum. 



ing up, aix or eight feet liigh, among a wilderness of 
sensitive plunts, scarlet-tiowered dwarf Balisiers,^ elimbiug 
fern,* convolvuluses of every hue, and nn endless variety 
of outlandish leaves, over which flutter troops of butterflies. 
How the seeds of the plants, and the eggs of the insects, 
have been preserved, who can tell ? But there their cliildi'en 
are, in myriads ; and ere a generation has passed, every deml 
grey stem will have disappcaied before the auts and beetles 

and great wood-boring bees who rumble rouud in bhio-blatk 
armour; the young plants will have grown into great trees 
beneath the immeasurable vital force which pours all the year 
round from the blazing sun above, and all be as it was 
once mora In verity we are in the Tropics, where the so- 
called "powers of nature" are in perpetual health and 
strength, and as much stronger and swifter, for good and evil, 
than in our chilly clime, as is the young man in the heat of 
youth compared with the old man shivering to lils gravu. 
ThinV over that last simile. If vmi think of it in the light 
which physiolt^' gives, you will find that it is not merely 
> Hdiuoiiia Curiliei. * L;;^lmm vci.ii-Mii.. 


a simile, but a true analogy; another manifestation of a 
gi-eat physical law. 

Thus much for the view at the back — a chance scene, with- 
out the least pretensions to what average people would call 
beauty of landscape. But, oh that we could show you the 
view in front! The lawn with its flowering shrubs, tiny 
specimens of which we admire in hothouses at home ; the 
grass as green (for it is now the end of the rainy season) as 
that of England in May, winding away into the cool shade of 
strange evergreens ; the yellow coco-nut palms on the nearest 
spur of hill throwing back the tender blue of the higher moun- 
tains; the huge central group of trees — Saman,^ Sandbox,* 
and Fig, with the bright ostrich plumes of a climbing palm 
towering through the mimosa-like foliage of the Saman ; and 
Er3rthrinas' (Bois immortelles, as they call them here), their 
all but leafless boughs now blazing against the blue sky 
with vermilion flowers, trees of red coral sixty feet in height. 
Ah that we could show you the avenue on the right, 
composed of palms from every quarter of the tropics — palms 
with smooth stems, or with prickly ones, with fan leaves, 
feather leaves, leaves (as^ in the wine-palm*) like Venus's 
hair fern ; some, again, like the Cocorite,^ almost stemless, 
rising in a huge ostrich plume which tosses in the land 
breeze, till the long stiff leaflets seem to whirl like the spokes 
of a green glass wheel Ah that we could wander with you 
through the botanic garden beyond, amid fruits and flowers 
brought together from all the lands of the perpetual summer ; 
or even give you, through the great arches of the bamboo 
clumps, as they creak and rattle sadly in the wind, and the 
liauhinias, like tall and ancient whitethorns, which shade 
the road, one glance of the flat green Savannah, with its 
herds of kine, beyond which lies, buried in flowering trees, 
and backed by mountain woods, the city of Port of Spain. 
One glance, too, under the boughs of the great Cotton-tree at 
the gate, at the still sleeping sea, with one tall Coolie-ship 
at anchor, seen above green cane-fields and Coolie gardens, 
gay with yellow Croton and purple Dracaena, and crimson 
Poinsettia, and the grand leaves of the grandest of all plants^ 

' Inga Saraan ; "Caraccas tree." ' Hnra cropitans. 

* ErythriiiA umbrosa. * Caryota. ' Maximiliaua. 


the Banana, food of paradise. Or, ngain, far away to the ex- 
treme right, between the flat tops of the great Saman-avenue 
at the barracks, and the wooded mountain-spurs which rush 
down into the sea, the islands of the Bocas floating in the 
shilling water; and beyond them, a cloud among the clouds, 
the peak of a mighty mountain, with one white tuft 
of miht upon its top. Ah that we could show you but 
that, and tell you that you were looking at the "Spanish 
Main;*' at South America itself, at the last point of the 
Venezuelan Cordillera, and the hills where jaguars lie. If 
you could but see what we see daily ; if you could see 
with us the strange combination of rich and luscious 
beauty, with vastness and repose, you would understand, 
and excuse, the tendency to somewhat grandiose langua*re 
wliich tempts perpetually those who try to describe the 
Tropics, and know well that they can only fail. 

In presence of such forms and such colouring as this, one 
becomes painfully sensible of the poverty of words, and the 
futility, therefore, of all word-painting; of the inability, too, 
of the senses to discern and define objects of such vast variety ; 
of our esthetic barbarism, in fact, which has no choice of 
epithets save between such as "gi*eat," and "vast," and 
"gigantic ;" between such as "beautiful," and "lovely," an«J 
" exquisite," and so forth ; which are, after all, intellectually 
only one stage higher than the half- brute Wah ! wah ! with 
which the savage grunts his astonishment — call it not ad- 
miration ; epithets which are not, perhaps, intellectually as 
high as the "God is great" of the Mussulman, who is wise 
enough not to attempt any analysis, either of Nature or oi 
his feelings about her ; and wise enough also (not having the 
fear of Spinoza before his eyes) to " in omni ignoto confugere 
ad Deum " — in presence of the unknown, to take refuge in 

To describe to you, therefore, the botanic garden (in which 
the cottage stands), would take a week's work of words, which 
would convey no images to your mind. Let it be enough to 
say, that our favourite haunt in all the gardens is a little dry 
valley, beneath the loftiest group of trees. At its entrance 
rises a great Tamarind, and a still greater Saman ; both have 
leaves like a Mimosa — as the engraving shows. Up 


its truuk a Cereus has reared itself, for soma thirty feet 
nt least; a climbing Seguine' twines up it with leaves 
like " lords and ladies : " but the glory of the tree is that 
climbing palm, the feathers of wliich we saw crowning it 
from a distance. Up into the highest branches and down 
again, and up again into the lower branches, and rolling 

along the gronnd in curves as tlmt of a Boa bedecked 
with huge ferns and prickly spikes, six feet and more long 
each, the Rattan* hangs in mid-air, one hardly sees how, 
beautiful and wonderful, beyond what clumsy words can 
telL Beneath the great trees (for here great trees grow 
freely beneath greater trees, and beneath greater trees again, 
delighting in the shade) is a group of young Mangosteens,^ 

' Philodendron. 

* C^mus RoUii)^, from the BbhI In.Hpi. 

' Cardnia HanicngUiia, from t1iilHFc:u. Tho really Inaciocs and (unous 
vuist; hiu unt ]-ot itnitej in TrluiiliuL 


looking, to describe the unknown by the known, like walnuts 
with leaflets eight inches long, their boughs clustered with 
yellow and green sour fi-uit ; and beyond them stretches up 
the lawn a dense grove of nutmegs, like Portugal laurels, 
hung about with olive-yellow apples. Here and there a 
nutmeg-apple has split, and shows within the delicate crim- 
son caul of mace ; or the nutmegs, the mace still clinging 
round them, lie scattered on the grass. Under the per- 
petual shade of the evergreens haunt Heliconias, and other 
delicate buttei-flies, who seem to dread the blaze outside, 
and flutter gently from leaf to leaf, their colouring — which 
is usually black with markings of orange, crimson, or blue 
— coming into strongest contrast with the uniform green of 
leaf and grass. This is our favourite spot for entomolo- 
gizing, when the sun outside altogether forbids the least 
exertion. Turn with us — alas ! only in fancy — out of 
the grove into a neighbouring path, between tea-shrubs, 
looking like privets with large myrtle flowers, and young 
clove-trees, covered with the groups of green buds which 
are the cloves of commerce; and among fruit-trees from 
every part of the tropics, with the names of which I will 
not buiden you. Glance at that beautiful and most 
poisonous shrub, which we foimd wild at St. Thomas's.' 
Glance, too— -but, again, why burden you with names which 
you will not recollect, much more with descriptions which do 
not describe? Look, though, down that Allspice avenue, 
at the clear warm light which is reflected off the smooth 
yellow ever-peeling stems; and then, if you can fix your 
eye steadily on any object, where all are equally new and 
strange, look at this stately tree. A bough has been broken 
off high up, and from the wounded spot two plants are already 
contending. One is a parasitic Orchis ; the other a parasite 
of a more dangerous family. It looks like a straggling 
Magnolia, some two feet high. In fifty years it will be a 
stately tree. Look at the single long straight air-root which 
it is letting down by the side of the tree bole. That root, if 
left, will be the destroyer of the whole tree. It will touch 
the earth, take root below, send out side-fibres above, call down 
younger roots to help it, till the whole bole, clasped and stifleil 

^ Thevetia Nerriifolia. 


in their embraces, dies, and rots out, and the Matapalo (or 
Scotch Attorney,^ as it is rudely called here) stands alone on 
stilted roots, and board walls of young wood, slowly coalescing 
into one great trunk ; master of the soil once owned by the 
patron on whose vitals he has fed : a treacherous tyrant ; 
and yet, like many another treacherous tyrant, beautiful to 
see, with his shining evergreen foliage, and grand labyrinth 
of smooth roots, standing high in air, or dangling from the 
boughs in search of soil below ; and last, but not least, his 
Magnolia-like flowers, rosy or snowy-white, and green. egg- 
shaped fruits. 

Now turn homewards, past the Eosa del monte* bush 
(bushes, you must recollect, are twenty feet high here), covered 
with crimson roses, full of long silky crimson stamens : and 
then try — as we do daily in vain — to recollect and arrange 
one-tenth of the things which you have seen. 

One look round at the smaller wild animals and flowers. 
Butterflies swarm round us, of every hue. Beetles, you may 
remark, are few ; they do not run in swarms about these arid 
paths as they do at home. But the wasps and bees, black 
and brown, are innumerable. That huge bee in steel-blue 
armour, booming straight at you — ^whom some one com- 
pared to the Lord Mayor's man in armour turned into 
a cherub, and broken loose — (Get out of his way, for he 
is absorbed in business) — is probably a wood-borer,* of whose 
work you may read in Mr. Wood's " Homes without Hands." 
That long black wasp, commonly called a Jack Spaniard, builds 
pensile paper nests under every roof and shed. Watch, now, 
this more delicate brown wasp, probably one of the Pelopoei 
of whom we have read in Mr. Gosse's " Naturalist in Jamaica," 
and Mr. Bates's *' Travels on the Amazons." She has made 
under a shelf a mud nest of three long cells, and filled them 
one by one with small spiders, and the precious egg which, 
when hatched, is to feed on them. One hundred and eight 
spiders we have counted in a single nest like this ; and the 
wasp, much of the same shape as the Jack Spaniard, but 
smaller, works, unlike him, alone, or at least only with her 
husband's help. The long mud nest is built ux>right, often in 
the angle of a doorpost or panel ; and always added to, and 

^ Cluflia. ' firownea. ' Xyloco|>a. 



entered from, below. With a joyful hum she flies back to it 
all day long with her pellets of mud, and spreads them out 
with her mouth into pointed arches, one laid on the other, 
making one side of the arch out of each pellet, and singing 
low but cheerily over her work. As she works downward, 
she parts oflf the tube of the nest with horizontal floors of a 
finer and harder mud, and inside each storey places some fiv(» 
spiders, and among them the precious q^, or eggs, which is 
to feed on them when hatched. If we open the uppermost 
rhamber, we shall find every vestige of the spiders gone, and 
the cavity filled (and, strange to say, exactly filled) by a 
brown-coated wasp-pupa, enveloped in a fine silken shroud. 
In the chamber below, perhaps we shall find the prub full- 
grown and finishing his last spider; and so on, down six or 
eight storeys, till the lowest holds nothing but spiders, packed 
close, but not yet sealed up. These spiders, be it remembered, 
are not dead. By some strange craft, the wasp knows exactly 
where to pierce them with her sting, so as to stuoify, but not 
to kill, just as the sand-wasps of our banks at home stupify 
the large weevils which they store in their burrows as food 
for their grubs. 

There are wasps too, here, who make pretty little jar- 
shaped nests, round, with a neatly lined round lip. Paper- 
nests, too, more like those of our tree-wasps at home, hang 
from the trees in the woods. Ants' nests, too, hang some- 
times from the stronger boughs, looking like huge hard lumps 
of clay. And, onc'e at least, we have found silken ne«ts 
of butterflies or moths, containing many chrysalids each. 
Meanwhile, dismiss from your mind the stories of insect 
plagues. If good care is taken to close the mosquito cur- 
tains at night, the flies about the house are not nearly iis 
troublesome as we have often found the midges in Scotland. 
As for snakes, we have seen none ; centipedes are, certainly, 
apt to get into the bath, but can be fished out dead, and 
thrown to the chickens. The wasps and bees do not sting, or in 
any wise interfere with our comfort, save by building on the 
books. The only ants who come into the house are the 
minute, harmless, and most useful "crazy ants," who run 
up and down wildly all day, till they find some eatable 
thing, an atom of bread or a disabled cockroach, of which 


last, by the bye, we have seen hardly any here. They then 
prove themselves in their sound senses by uniting to cany 
oft' their prey, some pulling, some pushing, with a steady 
combination of effort which puts to shame an average Negro 
crew. And these are all we have to fear, unless it be now 
and then a huge spider, which it is not the fashion here to 
kill, as they feed on flies. So comfort yourself with the 
thought that, as regards insect pests, we are quite as com- 
fortable as in an English country house, and infinitely more 
comfortable than in a Scotch shooting lodge, let alone an 
Alpine chalet 

Lizards run about the walks in plenty, about the same size 
a? the green lizard of the South of Europe, but of more sober 
colours. The parasol ants — of whom 1 could tell you mucjh, 
save that you will read far more than I can tell you in half- 
a-dozen books at home — walk in triumphal processions, each 
with a bit of green leaf borne over its head, and probably, 
when you look closely, with a little ant or two riding 
on it, and getting a lift home after work on their stronger 
sistei^s back, — and these are all the monsters which you are 
likely to meet. 

Would that there were more birds to be seen and heard ! 
But of late years the free Negro, like the French peasant 
during the first half of this century, has held it to be one of 
the indefeasible rights of a free man to carry a rusty gun, and 
to shoot every winged thing. He has been tempted, too, by 
orders from London shops for gaudy birds — humming-birds 
e8])eeially. And when a single house, it is said, advertises for 
20,000 bird-skins at a time, no wonder if birds grow scarce ; 
and no wonder, too, if the wholesale destruction of these in- 
sect-killers should avenge itself by a plague of vermin, cater- 
pillar, and grubs innumerable. Already the turf of the 
Savannah or public park, close by, is being destroyed by 
hordes of mole-crickets, strange to say, almost exactly like 
those of our old English meadows ; and unless somethinjr is 
done to save the birds, the cane and other crops will surely 
suffer in their turn. A gun-licence would be, it seems, both 
unpopular and easily evaded in a wild forest country. A 
heavy export tax on bird- skins has been proposed. May it 
soon be laid on, and the vegetable wealth of the island saved, 


at the expense of a little less useless finery in young ladies* 

So we shall see and hear but few biids round Port of 
Spain, save the black vultures ^ — Corbeaux, as they call them 
here ; and the black " tick birds," * a little larger than our 
English blackbird, with a long tail and a thick-booked bill, 
who perforin for the cattle here the same friendly office as is 
performed by starlings at home. Privileged creatures, they 
cluster about on rails and shrubs within ten feet of the 
passer, while overhead in the tree- tops the " Qu'est ce qu*il 
dit,"' a brown and yellow bird, who seems almost equally 
privileged and insolent, inquires perpetually what you 
say. Besides these, swallows of various kinds, little wi^us,* 
almost exactly like our English ones, and night-hawking 
goat-suckers, few birds are seen. But, unseen, in the depths 
of every wood, a songster breaks out ever and anon in notes 
equal for purity and liveliness to those of our English 
thrush, and belies the vulgar calumny that tropic birds, 
lest they should grow too pi-oud of their gay feathers, are 
denied the gift of song. 

One look, lastly, at the animals which live, either in 
cages or at liberty, about the housa The queen of all the 
pets is a black and grey spider monkey ^ from Guiana — con- 
sisting of a tail which has developed, at one end, a body 
about t\(ice as big as a hare's ; four arms (call them not legs), 
of which the front ones have no thumbs, nor rudiments of 
thumbs ; and a head of black hair, brushed forward over the 
foolish, kindly, greedy, sad face, with its wide, suspicious, 
beseeching eyes, and mouth wliich, as in all these American 
monkeys, as far as we have seen, can have no expression, 
not even that of sensuality, because it has no lips. Others 
have described the spider monkey as four legs and a tail, tied 
in a knot in the middle : but the tail is, without doubt, the 
most important of the five limbs. Wherever the monkey 
goes, whatever she does, the tail is the standing-point, or rather 
hanging-point. It takes one turn at least round something 
or other, provisionally, and in case it should be wantt'd ; 
often, as she swings, every other limb hangs in the most ridi- 

^ Catharten Urubu. ' Crotnnhaga Ani. ^ Lanius Pitanga. 

* Troglodytes Eudon. * Atvlea (undescribed species). 


culous iHpose, and the tail alone supports. Sometimes it 
carries, by way of ornament, a bunch of flowers or a live 
kitten. Sometimes it is curled round the neck, or carried 
over the head in the hands, out of harm's way; or when 
she comes silently up behind you, puts her cold hand in 
yours, and walks by your side like a child, she steadies 
herself by taking a half-turn of her tail round your wi-isc. 
Her relative Jack, of whom hereafter, walks about carrying 
his chain, to ease his neck, in a loop of his tail Tho 
spider monkey's easiest attitude in walking, and in running 
also, is, strangely, upright, like a human being : but as 
for her antics, nothing could represent them to you, save 
a series of photographs, and those instantaneous ones ; 
for they change, every moment, not by starts, but with 
a deliberate ease which would be grace in anything less 
horribly ugly, into postures such as Callot or Breughel 
never fancied for the ugliest imps who ever tormented 
St Anthony. All absurd efforts of agility which you ever 
saw at a stance of the Hylobates Lar Club at Cambridge are 
quiet and clumsy compared to the rope-dancing which goes on 
in the boughs of the Poui tree, or, to their great detriment, 
of the Bougainvillea and the Gardenia on the lawn. But 
with all this, Spider is the gentlest, most obedient, and most 
domestic of beasts. Her creed is, that yellow bananas are 
the summum bonum ; and that she must not come into the 
dining-room, or even into the verandah ; whither, neverthe- 
less, she slips, in fear and trembling, every morning, to steal 
the little green parrot's breakfast out of his cage, or the 
baby's milk, or fruit off the side-board ; in which case she 
makes her appearance suddenly and silently, sitting on the 
threshold like a distorted fiend; and begins scratching 
herself, looking at everything except the fruit, and pre- 
tending total absence of mind, till the proper moment comes 
for unwinding her lengthy ugliness, and making a snatch 
at the table. Poor weak-headed thing, full of foolish 
cunning ; always doing wrong, and knowing that it is wrong, 
but quite unable to resist temptation ; and then profuse iu 
futile explanations, gesticulations, mouthings of an " Oh ! — 
oh ! — oh ! " so pitiably human, that you can only punish 
litT bv laughing at her, which she does not at all lika 


One cannot resist the fancy, while watching her, either 
that she was once a human being, or that she is trying 
to become one. But, at present, she has more than one 
habit to learn, or to recollect, ere she become as fit for 
human society as the dog or the cat.^ Her friends are, 
every human being who will take notice of her, and a 
beautiful little Guazupita, or native deer, a little larger 
than a roe, with great black melting eyes, and a heart as 
soft as its eyes, who comes to lick one's hand ; believes in 
bananas as firmly as the monkey ; and when she can get no 
hand to lick, licks the hairy monkey for mere love's sake, 
and lets it ride on her back, and kicks it off, and lets it get 
on again and take a half-turn of its tail round her neck, 
and throttle her with its arms, and pull her nose out of the 
way when a banana is coming : and all out of pure love ; 
for the two have never been introduced to each other by 
man; and the intimacy between them, like that famous 
one between the horse and the hen, is of Nature's own 
making up. 

Very different from the spider monkey in temper is her 
cousin Jack, who sits, sullen and unrepentant, at the end of a 
long chain, having an ugly liking for the calves of passers-by, 
and ugly teeth to employ on them. Sad at heart he is, and 
testifies his sadness sometimes by standing bolt upright, with 
his long arms in postures oratorio, almost prophetic, or, when 
duly pitied and moaned to, lying down on his side, covering 
his hairy eyes with one hairy arm, and weeping and sobbing 
bitterly. He seems, speaking scientifically, to be some sort 
of Mycetes or Howler, from the flat globular throat, \^ hich 
indicates the great development of the hyoid bone ; but, hap- 
])ily for the sleep of the neighbourhood, he never utteis in 
captivity any sound beyond a chuckle ; and he is supposed, by 
some here, from his burly thick-set figure, vast bi'eadth be- 
tween the ears, short neck, and general cast of countenance, 
to have been, in a prior state of existence, a man and a 
brother — and that by no means of Negro blood — who has 
gained, in this his purgatorial stage of existence, nothing 
save a well-earned tail. At all events, more than one of 

^ Alafl for spider ? She came to the Zoological Gardens last summer, only 
to die 2>iti.ully. 


us was impressed, at the first sight, with the coirviction 
that we had seen him before. 

Poor Jack ! and it is come to this : and all from the indul- 
gence of his five senses, phis "the sixth sense of vanity." 
His only recreation save eating is being led about by the 
Mulatto turnkey, the one human being with whom he, dimly 
understanding what is fit for him, will at all consort ; and 
having wild pines thrown down to him from the Poui-tree 
above, by the spider monkey, whose gambols he watches with 
pardonable envy. Like the great Mr. Barry Lyndon (the 
acutest sketch of human nature dear Thackeray ever made), 
he cannot understand why the world is so unjust and foolish 
as to have taken a prejudice against him. After all, he is 
nothing but a strong nasty brute ; and his only reason for 
being here is that he is a new and undescribed species, never 
seen before, and, it is to be hoped, never to be seen again. 

In a cage near by (for there is quite a little menagerie here) 
are three small Sapajous,^ two of which belong to the 
island ; as abject and seltish as monkeys usually are, and as 
unintei-esting ; save for the plain signs which they give of 
being actuated by more than instinct,— -by a "reasoning" 
])ower exactly like in kind, though not equal in degree, to that 
of man. If, as people are now too much induced to believe, 
the brain makes the man, and not some higher Season con- 
nected intimately with the Moral Sense, which will endure 
after the brain has turned to dust ; if to foresee consequences 
from experience, and to adapt means to ends, be the highest 
efforts of the intellect : then who can deny that the Sapajou 
proves himself a man and a brother, plus a tail, when he puts 
out a lighted cigar-end before he chews it, by dipping it into 
the water-pan; and that he may, therefore, by long and steady 
calculations about the conveniences of virtue and inconveni- 
ences of vice, gradually cure himself and his children of those 
evil passions which are defined as " the works of the flesh,*' 
and rise to the supremest heights of justice, benevolence, and 
purity ? We, who have been brought up in an older, and as 
we were taught to think, a more rational creed, may not be 
able yet to allow our imao^nations so daringly hopeful a 
range : but the world travels fast, and seems travelling on 

1 Cebiu. 


into some such theory just now ; leaving behind, as anti- 
quated bigots, those who dare still to believe in the eternal and 
immutable essence of Goodness, and in the divine origin of 
man, created in the likeness of Qod, that he might be perfect 
even as his Father in heaven is perfect. 

But to return to the animala The cage next to the 
monkeys holds a more pleasant beast ; a Toucan out of 
the primaeval forest, as gorgeous in colour as he is ridiculous 
in shape. His general plumage is black, set off by a snow- 
white gorget fringed with crimson; crimson and green tail 
coverts, and a crimson and green beak, with blue cere about 
his face and throat His enormous and weak bill seems 
made for the purpose of swallowing bananas whole ; how he 
feeds himself with it in the forest it is difficult to guess : and 
when he hops up and down on his great clattering feet — 
two toes turned forward, and two back — twisting head and 
beak righi; and left ^for he cannot see well straight before 
him) to see whence the bananas are coming ; or when again, 
after gorging a couple, he sits gulping and winking, digest- 
ing them in serene satisfaction, he is as good a specimen 
as can be seen of the ludicrous— dare I say the intentionally 
ludicrous ? — element in natura 

Next to him is a Kinkajou ;i a beautiful little furry bear — 
or racoon — who has found it necessary for his welfare in this 
world of trees to grow a long prehensile tail, as the monkeys 
of the New World have done. He sleeps by day ; save when 
woke up to eat a banana, or to scoop the inside out of an egg 
with his long lithe tongue: but by night he remembers his 
forest-life, and performs strange dances by the hour together, 
availing himself not only of his tail, which he uses just as the 
spider monkey does, but of his hind feet, which he can turn 
completely round at will, till the claws point forward like 
like those of a bat. But with him, too, the tail is the sheet- 
anchor, by which he can hold on, and bring all his four feet 
to bear on his food. So it is with the little Anteater,^ who 
must needs climb here, to feed on the tree ants. So it is, too, 
with the Tree Porcupine,* or Cocndou, who (in strange conti-asi 

1 Cercoleptes. 

2 Myrmocophaga Didactyla. I owe to the pencil of a girted ladj this 
sketcli of the animal in repose, which is sls pcir^^ct as it is, I believe, uai(j[ue. 

' Synetheres. 


to the well-known classic Porcupine of the rocks of Southern 
Europe) climbs trees after leaves, and swings about like the 
monkeys. For the life of animals in the primieval forest is. 

as one glance would show you, principally arboreal. The 
flowers, the birds, the insects, are all a hundred feet over 
your head aa you walk along in the all but lifeless shade ; 
and half an hour therein would make you feel how true u-as 
Mr. Wallace's simile — that a walk in the tropic forest was 
like one in an empty cathedral while the service wns being 
celtibrated upon the root 



In the next two cages, however, are animals who need 
no prehensile tails ; for they are cats, furnished with those 
far more useful and potent engines, retractile claws ; a form 
of beast at which the thoughtful man will never look without 
wonder ; so unique, so strange, and yet so peifect, that it suits 
every r-ircumstance of every clime ; as does that equally unique 
form the dragon-fly. We found the dragon-flies here, to our 
surprise, exactly similar to, and as abundant as, the dragon- 
flies at home, and remembering that there were dragon-flies of 
exactly the same type ages and ages ago, in the days of the 
CEiiingen and Solenhofen slates, said — Here is indeed a perfect 
work of God, which, as far as man can see, has needed no 
improvement (if such an expression be allowable) throughout 
epochs in which the whole shape of continents and seas, and 
the whole climate of the planet, has changed again and again. 
The cats are : an ocelot, a beautiful spotted and striped fiend, 
who hisses like a snake; a young jaguar, a clumsy, happy 
kitten, about as big as a pug dog, with a puny kitten's tail ; 
who plays with the spider monkey, and only shows by the 
fast-iucreasing bulk of his square lumbering head, that in six 
months he wUi be ready to eat the monkey, and in twelve to 
eat the keeper. 

Tliere are strange birds, too. One, whom you may see in 
the Zoological Gardens, like a plover with a straight beak 
and bittern's plumage, from *' The Main," whose business is to 
walk about the table at meals uttering sad metallic noises 
and catching flies. His name is Sun-bird,^ " Sun-fowlo " of the 
Surinam Negros, according to dear old Stedman, "because, 
when it extends its wings, which it often does, there appears 
on the interior part of each wing a most beautiful representa- 
tion of a sun. This bird," he continues very truly, "might 
be styled the perpetual motion, its body making a continual 
movement, and its tail keeping time like the pendulum ot a 
clock." ^ A game-bird, olive, with a bare red throat, also fi-oia 

^ Helias Eurypyj^. 

• SUxlman'K Sui-iuam, vol. i. p. 118. What a genius was Stedman. Wliat 
an eye and what a uen he had for all natural objects. His denunciations of 
tlif. brutalities of old Dutch slavery are fuU of genuine eloquence and of sound 
sense likewise ; and the loves of Stedinan and his brown Joanna are one ol 
the sweetest idylls in the English tongue. 


The Main, called a Chacaracha,* who is impudently brave, 
and considers the house his own ; and a great black Curas- 
8ow,^ also from The Main, who patronizes the turkeys and 
guinea-fowl ; stalks in dignity before them ; and when they 
do not obey, enforces his authority by pecking them to death. 
There is thus plenty of amusement here, and instraction too, 
for those to whom the ways of dumb animals during life are 
more interesting than their stuffed skins after death. 

But there is the signal-gun, announcing the arrival of the 
Mail from home. And till it departs again there will be no 
time to add to this hasty, but not unfaithful, sketch of first 
impressions in a tropic island. 

* Penelope (f). • Crax. 

! 2 



Early in January, T started with my host and his little suite 
on an expedition to the islands of the Bocas. Our object was 
twofold : to see tropical coast scenery, and to get, if possible, 
some Guacharo birds (pronounced Huacharo), of whom 
more hereafter. Our chance of getting them depended on the 
sea being calm outside the Bocas, as well as inside. The calm 
inside was no proof of the calm out. Port of Spain is under 
the lee of the mountains ; and the surf might be thundering 
along the northern shore, tearing out stone after stone from 
the soft cliffs, and shrouding all the distant points in salt haze, 
though the gulf along which we were rowing was perfectly 
smooth, and the shipping and the mangrove scrub and the 
coco-palms hung double, reflected as in a mirror, not of glass 
but of mud ; and on the swamps of the Caroni the malarious 
fog hung motionless in long straight lines, waiting for the first 
blaze of sunrise to sublime it and its invisible poisons into 
the upper air, where it would be swept off, harmless, by the 
trade-wind which rushed along half a mile above our heads. 

So away we rowed, or rather were rowed by four stalwart 
Negros, along the northern shore of the gulf, while the sun 
leapt up straight astern, and made the awning, or rather the 
curtains of the awning, needful enough. For the perpendicular 
rays of the sun in the tropics are not so much dreaded as the 
horizontal one-s, which strike on the forehead, or, still more 
dangerous, on the back of the head ; and in the West Indies, 
as in the United States, the early morning and the latter part 
of the afternoon are the times for sunstrokes. Some sort of 
shade for the back of the head is necessary for an European, 
unless (which is not altogether to be recommended) he 
adopts the La Platan fashion of wearing the natural, and 


therefore surest, sunshade of bis own hair hanging down to 
his shoulders after the manner of our old cavahers. 

The firat islands which we made — The Five Islands, as they 
are called — are curious enough. Isolated remnants of lime- 
stone, the biggest perhaps .one hundred yards long by one 
hundred feet high, channelled and honeycombed into strange 
shapes by rain and waves, they are covered — that at least 
on which we landed — almost exclusively by Matapalos, 
which seem to have strangled the original trees and established 
themselves in every cranny of the rocks, sending out arms, 
legs, fingers, ropes, pillars, and what-not, of live holdfasts over 
every rock and over each other, till little but the ubiquitous 
Seguine * and Pinguins * find room or sustenance among 
them. The island on which we landed is used, from time to 
time, as a depdt for Coolie immigrants when first landed. 
There they remain to rest after the voyage, till they can be 
apportioned by the Government officers to the estates which 
need them. Of this admirable system of satisfying the great 
need of the West Indies, free labourers, I may be allowed 
to say a little here. 

"Immigrants" are brought over from Hindostan at the 
expense of the colony. The Indian Government jealously 
watches the emigration, and through agents of its own 
rigidly tests the bonS, fide "voluntary" character of the 
engagement. That they are well treated on the voyage is 
sufficiently proved, that on 2,264 souls imported last year 
the death-rate during the voyage was only 2*7 per cent., 
although cholera attacked the crew of one of the ships before 
it left the Hooghly. During the last three years ships with 
over 300 emigrants have arrived several times in Trinidad 
without a single death. On their arrival in Trinidad, those 
who ara sick are sent at once to the hospital ; those unfit for 
immediate labour are sent to the depdt. The healthy are 
** indentured" — ^in plain English, apprenticed — for five years, 
and distributed among the estates which have applied for them. 
Husbands and wives are not allowed to be separated, nor 
are children under fifteen parted from their parents or 
natural protectors. They are expected by the law to work for 
280 days in the year, nine hours a day; and receive the same 

' Philodendron. * Bromelia. 

118 MONOS. 

wages as the free labourers : but for this system task-work is 
by consent universally substituted ; and (as in the case of an 
English apprentice) the law, by various provisions, at once 
punishes them for wilful idleness, and protects them from 
tyranny or fraud on the part of their employers. Till the last 
two years the new comers received their wages entirely in 
money. But it was found better to give them for the first year 
(and now for the two first years) part payment in daily 
rations : a pound of rice, 4 oz. of dhoU, a kind of pea, an oz. 
of coco-nut oil, or ghee, and 2 oz. of sugar to each adult ; and 
half the same to each chUd between five and ten years old. 

This plan has been found necessary, in order to protect the 
Coolies both from themselves and from each other. They 
themselves prefer receiving the whole of their wages in cash. 
With that fondness for mere hard money, which marks a 
half educated Oriental, they will, as a rule, hoard their wages ; 
and stint themselves of food, injuring their powers of work, 
and even endangering their own lives ; as is proved by the 
broad fact that the death-rate among them has much de- 
creased, especially during the first year of residence, since 
the plan of giving them rations has been at work The new 
comers need, too, protection from their own countrymen. 
Old Coolies who have served their time and saved money 
find it convenient to turn rice-sellers or money-lenders. They 
have powerful connections on many estates ; they first ad- 
vance money or luxuries to a new comer, and when he is once 
entrapped, they sell him the necessaries of life at famine 
prices. Thus the practical effect of rations has been to lessen 
the number of those little roadside shops, which were a curse 
to Trinidad, and are still a curse to the English workman. 
Moreover — for all men are not perfect, even in Trinidad — the 
Coolie required protection, in certain cases, against a covetous 
and short-sighted employer, who might fancy it to be his 
interest to let the man idle during his first year, while weak, 
and so save up an arrear of " lost days " to be added at the 
end of the five years, when he was a strong skilled labourer. 
An employer will have, of course, far less temptation to do this, 
while, as now, he is bound to feed the Coolie for the first two 
years. Meanwhile, be it remembered, the very fact that such 
a policy was tempting, goes to prove that the average Coolie 


grew, during his five years' apprenticeship, a stronger, and not 
a weaker, man. 

There is thorough provision — as far as the law can provide — 
for the Coolies in case of sickness. No estate is allowed to 
employ indentured Coolies, which has not a duly " certified" 
Hospital, capable of holding ^ at least of the Coolies on 
the estate, with an allowance of 800 cubic feet to each person ; 
and these hospitals are under the care of district mediciil 
visitors, appointed by the Governor, and under the inspection 
(as are the labour-books, indeed every document and arrange- 
ment connected with the Coolies) of the Agent-general of 
Immigrants or his deputies. One of these officers, the 
Inspector, is always on the move, and daily visits, without 
warning, one or more estates, reporting every week to the 
Agent-generaL The Governor may at any time, without as- 
signing any cause, cancel the indenture of any immigrant, or 
remove any part or the whole of the indentured immigrant 
labourers from any estate ; and this has been done ere now. 

I know but too well, that, whether in Europe or in the 
Indies, no mere laws, however wisely devised, will fully pro- 
tect the employed from the employer : or, again, the employer 
from the employed. What is needed is a moral bond be- 
tween them ; a bond above, or rather beneath, that of mere 
wages, however fairly paid, for work, however fairly done. 
The patriarchal system had such a bond ; so had the feudal : 
but they are both dead and gone, having done, I presume, 
all that it was in them to do, and done it like all human 
institutions not over well. And meanwhile, that nobler bond, 
after which Socialists so-called have sought, and after which 
I trust they will go on seeking stdl — a bond which shall com- 
bine all that was best in patriarchism and feudalism, with that 
freedom of the employed, which those forms of society failed to 
give — has not been found as yet ; and, for a generation or two 
to eome, " cash-payment seems likely to be the only nexus 
between man and man." Because that is the meanest 
and weakest of all bonds, it must be watched jealously 
and severely by any Government worthy of the name; for to 
leave it to be taken care of by the mere brute tendencies 
of supply and demand, and the so-called necessities of the 
labour market, is simply to leave the poor man who cannut 

wait, to be blockaded and starved out by the ricli who can. 
Therefore all colonial governments are but doing their 
plain duty in keeping a clear eye, and a strong hand, on this 
whole immigration movemeut ; and In fencing it round, as in 
Trinidad, with such regulations as shall make it most ditUcuit 
fur a Coolie to be seriously or permanently wronged without 
direct infraction of the law, and connivance of Government 
officers ; which last supposition ia, in the case of Trinidad, 
absurd, as long as Dr. Mitchell, whom I am proud to call my 
friend, holds a post for which he is equally fitted by his talents 
and his virtues. 

I am well aware that some benevolent persona, to whom 
humanity owes much, regard Coolie immigration to the West 
Indies with some jealousy, fearing, and not unnaturally, that 
it may degenerate into a sort of slave-trade. I think, that if 
they will study the last immigration ordinance enacted by the 
Governor of Trinidad, June 24, 1870, and the report of the 
Agent-general of Immigrants for the year ending Sept, 30, 
1869, their fears will be set at rest as far as this colony is 
concerned. Of other colonies I say nothing, simply because 


I know nothing : save that, if there are defects and abuses 
elsewhere, the remedy is simple : namely, to adopt the system 
of Trinidad, and work it as it is worked there. 

After he has served his five years* apprenticeship, the 
Coolie has two courses before him. Either he can re-indenture 
himself to an employer, for not more than twelve months, 
which as a rule he does ; or he can seek employment where 
he likes. At the end of a continuous residence of ten years 
in all, and at any period after that, he is entitled to a free pass- 
age back to Hindostan ; or he may exchange his right to a free 
passage for a Government grant of ten acres of land. He has 
meanwhile, if he has been thrifty, grown rich. His wife walks 
about, at least on high-days, bedizened with jewels : nay, you 
may see her, even on work-days, hoeing in the cane-piece 
with heavy silver bangles hanging down over her little brown 
feet: and what wealth she does not carry on her arms, 
ankles, neck, and nostril, her husband has in the savings' bank. 
The ship Arima, as an instance, took back 320 Coolies last 
year, of whom seven died on the voyage. These people c;ir- 
ried with them 65,585 dollars; and one man, Heerah, handed 
over 6,000 dollars for transmission through the Treasury, and 
was known to have about him 4,000 more. This man, origi- 
nally allotted to an estate, had, after serving out his indus- 
trial contract, resided in the neighbouring village of Savannah 
Grande as a shopkeeper and money-lender for the last ten 
years. Most of this money, doubtless, had been squeezed out 
of other Coolies by means not unknown to Europeans, as well 
as to Hindoos : but it must have been there to be squeezed 
out. And the new " feeding ordinance" will, it is to be hoped, 
pare the claws of Hindoo and Chinese usurers. 

The newly offered grant of Government land has, as yet, been 
accepted only in a few cases. "It was not to be expected," 
says the report, " that the Indian, whose habits have been 
iixed in special grooves for tens of centuries, should hurriedly 
embrace an ofier which must strike at all his prejudices of 
country, and creed, and kin." Still, about 60 had settled in 
1869 near the estates in Savonetta, where I saw them, and 
at Point ^ Pierre ; other settlements have been made since, 
of which more hereafter. And, as a significant fact, many 
Coolies who have returned to India, are now coming back 

J 22 MONOS. 

a second time to Trinidad, Wringing their kinsfolk and feliuw- 
villagers with them, to a land where violence is unknown, and 
famine impossible. Moreover, numerous Coolies from the 
French Islands are now immigrating, and buying land. These 
are chiefly Madrassees, who are, it is said, stronger and healthier 
than the Calcutta Coolies. In any case, there seems good hope 
that a race of Hindoo peasant-proprietors will spring up in 
the colony, whose voluntary labour will be available at crop- 
time ; and who will teach the Negro thrift and industry, not 
only by their example, but by competing against him in the 
till lately understocked labour-market. 

Very interesting was the first glimpse of Hindoos ; and still 
more of Hindoos in the West Indies — ^the surplus of one of 
the oldest civilizations of the old world, come hither to 
replenish the new ; novel was the sight of the dusky limbs 
swarming up and down among the rocks beneath the Mata- 
palo shade ; the group in the water as we landed, bathing and 
dressing themselves at the same time, after the modest and 
gracefid Hindoo fashion ; the visit to the wooden barracks, 
where a row of men was ranged on one side of the room, with 
their women and children on the other, having their name, 
caste, native village, and so forth, taken down before they 
were sent ofi' to the estates io which they were indentured. 
Three things were noteworthy ; first, the healthy cheerful look 
of all, speaking well for the care and good feeding which they 
had had on board ship ; next, the great variety in their faces 
and complexions. Almost all of them were low-caste peopla 
Indeed few high-caste Hindoos, except some Sepoys who 
found it pnident to emigrate after the rebellion, have con- 
descended, or dared, to cross the " dark water ; " and only a 
very few of those who come west are Mussulmauns. But 
among the multitude of inferior castes who do come there 
is a greater variety of feature and shape of skull than in 
an average multitude, as far as I have seen, of any Euro- 
pean nation. Caste, the physiognomist soon sees, began 
in a natural fact. It meant difference, not of rank, but 
of tribe and language ; and India is not, as we are apt to 
fancy, a nation : it is a world. One must therefore regard 
this emigration of the Coolies, like anything else which tends 
to break down caste, as a probable step forward in theii 


civilization. For it must tend to utidenmae in tbem, aod still 
Diore in their children, the petty superstitions of old tribul 
distinctions; and must foitse them to take their stand on 
wider and sonnder gronnd, and seo that " a man's a man for 
a' that." 

The third thin^r noteworthy in the crowd which cooked, 
chatted, lounjied, sauntered idly to and fro under the Mat«- 
palos — the pillared air-roots of which must have put them iu 


mind of their own Banyans at home — was their ^ood ii 
One saw in a moment that one was among gentlemen and 
ladies. The dress of many of the men was nought hut 
a scarf wrapped round the loins ; that of most of the women 
noughtbutthelouger scarf which the Hindoo woman contrives 
to arrange in a moat graceful, as well as a perfectly modest 
covering, even for her feet and head. These garments, anl 
perhaps a brass pot, were probably all the worldly goods of 
most of them just then. But eveiy attitude, gesture, tone, was 

124 M0N08, 

full of grace ; of ease, courtesy, self-restraint, dignity — of that 
" sweetness and light," at least in externals, which Mr. Matthew 
Arnold desiderates. I am well aware that these people are 
not perfect ; that like most heathen folk and some Christian, 
their morals are by no means spotless, their passions by no 
means trampled out. But they have acquired — let Hindoo 
scholars tell how and where — a civilization which shows in 
them all day long ; which draws the European to them and 
them to the European, whenever the latter is worthy of the 
name of a civilized man, instinctively, and by the mere 
interchange of glances; a civilization which must make it 
easy for the Englishman, if he will but do his duty, not only 
to make use of these people, but to purify and ennoble them. 
Another thing was noteworthy about the Coolies, at the 
very first glance, and all we saw afterwards proved that that 
first glance was correct ; I mean their fondness for children. 
If you took notice of a child, not only the mother smiled 
thanks and delight, but the men around likewise, as if a 
compliment had been paid to their whole company. We saw 
afterwards almost daily proofs of the Coolie men's fondness 
for their children ; of their fondness also — ^an excellent sign 
that the morale is not destroyed at the root — for dimib 
animals. A Coolie cow or donkey is petted, led about 
tenderly, tempted with tit-bits. Pet animals, where they 
can be got, are the Coolie's delight, as they are the delight of 
the wild Indian. I wish I could say the same of the Negro. 
His treatment of his children and of his beasts of burden is, 
but too often, as exactly opposed to that of the Coolie as are 
his manners. No wonder that the two races do not, and it is 
to be feared never will, amalgamate ; that the Coolie, shocked 
by the unfortunate awkwardness of gesture, and vulgarity of 
manners of the average Negro, and still more of the Negress, 
looks on them as savages ; while the Negro, in his turn, hates 
the Coolie as a hard-working interloper, and despises him as a 
heathen ; or that heavy fights between the two races arise 
now and then, in which the Coolie, in spite of his slender 
limbs, has generally the advantage over the burly Negro, by 
dint of his greater courage, and the terrible quickness with 
which he wields his beloved weapon, the long hardwood 


But to return: we rowed away with a hundred confused, 
but most pleasant new impressions, amid innumerable salaams 
to the Governor by these kindly courteous people, and then 
passed between the larger limestone islands into the roadstead 
of Chaguaramas, which ought to be, and some day may be, the 
harbour for the British West India fleet ; and for the shipping, 
too, of that commerce which, as Humboldt prophesied, must 
some day spring up between Europe and the boundless wealth 
of the Upper Orinoco, as yet lying waste. Already gold 
discoveries in the Sierra de Parima (of which more hereafter) 
are indicating the honesty of poor murdered Ealeigh. Already 
the good President of Ciudad Bolivar (Angostura) has dis- 
banded the ruffian army, which is the usual curse of a Spanish 
American republic, and has inaugurated, it is to be hoped, a 
reign of peace and commerce. Already an American line of 
steamers runs as far as Nutrias, some eight himdi^d miles up 
the Orinoco and Apure ; while a second will soon run up the 
Aleta, almost to Santa F& de Bogota, and bring down the 
Orinoco the wealth, not only of Southern Venezuela, but of 
central New Grenada ; and then a day may come when the 
admirable harbour of Chaguaramas may be one of the entrepots 
of the world; if a certain swamp to windward, which now 
makes the place pestilential, could but be drained. The usual 
luethod of so doing now, is to lay the swamp as dry as 
possible by open ditches, and then plant it with coco-nuts, 
whose roots have some mysterious power both of drying and 
purifying the soil ; but were Chaguaramas ever needed as an 
entrepot, it would not be worth while to wait for coco-nuts to 
grow. A dyke across the mouth, and a steam-pump. on it, as 
in the fens of Norfolk and of Guiana, to throw the land- water 
over into the sea, would probably expel the evil spirit of 
malaria at once and for ever. 

We rowed on past the Boca de Monos, by which we had 
entered the gulf at first, and looked out eagerly enough for 
sliarks, which are said to swarm at Chaguaramas. But no 
warning fin appeared above the ripple ; only, more than once, 
close to the stern of the boat, a heavy fish broke water with 
a sharp splash and swirl, which was said to be a Barracouta, 
following us up in mere bold curiosity, but perfectly ready to 
have attacked any one who fell overboard. These baria- 

12a Moyos, 

coutas — Sph> nenas as the learned, or " pike " as the sailors, 
call them, though they are no kin to our pike at home — are 
when large, nearly as dangerous as a shark In some parts of 
the West Indies, folk dare not bathe for fear of them ; for they 
lie close in shore, amid the heaviest surf; and woe to any 
living thing which they come across. Moreover, they have 
this somewhat mean advantage over you, that while, if they 
eat you, you will agree with them perfectly, you cannot eat 
them, at least at certain or uncertain seasons of the year, 
without their dipagreeing with you, without sickness, 
trembling pains in all joints, falling off of nails and hair for 
years to come, and possible death. Those who may wish to 
know more of the poisonous fishes of the West Indies, may 
profitably consult a paper in the proceedings of the Scientific 
Association of Trinidad, by that admirable naturalist, and — let 
me say of him (though I have not the honour of knowing him) 
what has long been said by all who have that honour — admir-r 
able man, the Hon. Richard Hill of Jamaica. He mentions some 
thirteen species which are more or less poisonous, at all events 
at times : but on the cause of their unwholesomeness he throws 
little light ; and still less on the extraoixlinary, but undoubted 
fact that the same species may be poisonous in one island, 
and harmless in another ; and that of two species so close as 
to be often considered as the same, one may be poisonous, the 
other harmless. The yellow-billiBd sprat,^ for instance, is 
usually so poisonous that " death has occurred from eating it 
in many cases immediately, and in some recorded instances 
even before the fish was swallowed." Yet a species caught with 
this, and only diflfering from it (if indeed it be distinct) by 
having a yellow spot, instead of a black one, on the gill-cover, 
is harmless. Mr. Hill attributes the poisonous quality, in 
many cases, to the foul food which the fish get from coral 
reefs, such as the Formigas bank, midway between Cuba, 
Hayti, and Jamaica, where, as you " approach it from the east, 
you find the cheering blandness of the sea-breeze suddenly 
changing to the nauseating smell of a fish-market." There, 
as off similar reefs in the Bahamas and round Anegada, as 
well as at one end of St. Kitts, the fish are said to be ail 

^ Alosa Bishopi 


poisonous. If this theory be correct, the absence of coral 
reefs round Trinidad may help to account for the fact stated 
by Mr. Joseph, that poisonous lish are unknown in that 
island. The statement, however, is somewhat too broadly 
made; for the Chouf-chouf,^ a prickly fish which blows 
itself out like a bladder, and which may be seen hanging in 
many a sailor's cottage in England, is as evil-disposed in 
Trinidad as elsewhere. The very vultures will not eat it; and 
while I was in the island a family of Coolies, in spite of 
warning, contrived to kill themselves with the nasty vermin : 
the only one who had wit enough to refuse it being an 
idiot boy. 

These islands of the Bocas, tliree in number, are some two 
miles long each, and some eight hundred to one thousand feet 
in height ; at least, so say the surveyors. To the eye, as is usual 
in the Tropics, they look much lower. One is inclined here to 
estimate hills at half, or less than half, their actual height ; and 
that from causes simple enough. Not only does the intense 
clearness of the atmosphere make the summits appear much 
nearer than in England ; but the trees on the summit increase 
the deception. The mind, from home association, supposes 
them to be of the same height as average English trees on 
a hill-top — say fifty feet — and estimates, rapidly and uncon- 
sciously, the height of the mountain by that standard. The 
trees are actually nearer a hundred and fifty than fifty 
feet high ; and the mountain is two or three times as big 
as it looks. 

But it is not their height, nor the beauty of their outline, 
nor the size of the trunks which still linger on them here and 
there, which give these islands their special charm. It is 
their exquisite little land-locked southern coves — places to live 
and die in — 

" The world foi^getting, by the world foi^ot *• 

Take as an example that into which we rowed that day in 
Monos, as the old Spaniards named it, from monkeys long 
since extinct ; a curved shingle beach some fifty yards across^ 

^ Tetraodon. 

128 AFOyOS. 

shut in right and left by steep rocks wooded down almost 
to the sea, and worn into black caves and crannies, festooned 
with the niglit-blowing Cereus, which crawls about with 
hairy green legs, like a tangle of giant spiders. Among 
it, in the cracks, upright Cerei, like candelabra twenty and 
thirty feet high, thrust themselves aloft into the brushwood. 
An Aroid^ rides parasitic on roots and stems, sending down- 
ward long air-roots, and upward brown rat-tails of tiower, 
and broad leaves, four feet by two, which wither into whitey- 
brown paper, and are used, being tough and librous, to 
wrap round the rowlocks of the oars. Tufts of Karataa, 
too, spread their long prickly leaves among the bush of 
*'rastrajo," or second growth after the primueval forest has 
been cleared, which dips suddenly right and left to the beach. 
It, and the little strip of Hat ground behind it, hold a three- 
roomed cottage — of course on stilts ; a shed which serves as a 
kitchen ; a third ruined building, which is tenanted mostly by 
lizaixis and creeping flowers ; some twenty or thirty coco-nut 
trees ; and on the very edge of the sea an almond-tree, its roots 
built up to seaward with great stones, its trunk hung with tish- 
ing lines; and around it, scattered on the shingle, strange sliells, 
bits of coral, coco-nuts and their fragments ; almonds from 
the tree ; the round scaly fruit of the Mauritia palm, which has 
probably floated across the gulf from the forests of the Orinoco 
or the Caroni ; and the long seeds of the mangrove, in shape 
like a roach-fisher's float, and already germinating, their leaves 
showing at the upper end, a tiny root at the lower. In that 
shingle they will not take root: but they are quite ready "to 
go to sea again next tide, and wander on for weeks, and for 
hundreds of miles, till they run ashore at last on a congenial 
bed of mud, throw out spider legs right and left, and hide 
the foul mire with their gay green leaves. 

The almond tree,'^ with its flat stages of large smooth leaves, 
and oily eatable seeds in an almond-like husk, is not an 
almond at all, or any kin thereto. It has been named, as so 
many West Indian plants have, after some known plant to 
which it boi-e a likeness, and introduced hither, and indeed to 

* Anthurinm Hnecrelii ?— Orisebach, "Flora of the "West iDdiea*** 

* Tenninalia Catappa. 


all shores from Cuba to Guiana, from the East Indies, through 
Arabia and tropical Africa, having begun its westward journey, 
probably, in the pocket of some Portuguese follower of Vasco 
de Gama. 

We beached the boat close to the almond-tree, and were 
welcomed on shore by the lord of the cove, a gallant red- 
bearded Scotsman, with a head and a heart; a handsome 
Creole wife, and lovely brownish children, with no more 
clothes on than they could Iielp. An old sailor, and much- 
wandering Ulysses, he is now coast-guardman, water-bailiff, 
policeman, practical warden, and indeed practical viceroy of 
the island, and an easy life of it he must have. 

The sea gives him fish enough for his family, and for a 
brawny brown servant. His coco-nut palms yield him a little 
revenue ; he has poultry, kids, and goats' milk more than he 
needs ; his patch of provision-ground in the place gives him 
com and roots, sweet potatoes, yam, tania, cassava, and fruit 
too, all the year round. He needs nothing, owes nothing, 
fears nothing. News and politics are to him like the distant 
murmur of the surf at the back of the island ; a noise which 
is nought to him. His Bible, his alman£u;, and three or four 
old books on a shelf, are his whole library. He has aU that 
man needs, more than man deserves, and is far too wise to 
wish to bett'Cr himself 

I sat down on the beach beneath the amber shade of the 
palms ; and watched my white friends rushing into the clear 
sea, and disporting themselves there like so many otters, 
while the policeman's little boy launched a log canoe, not 
much longer than himself, and paddled out into the midst of 
them, and then jumped upright in it, a little naked brown 
Cupidon ; whereon he and his canoe were of course upset, and 
pushed imder water, and scrambled over, and the whole cove 
rang with shouts and splashing, enough to scare away the 
boldest shark, had one been on watch off the point I looked 
at the natural beauty and repose ; at the human vigour and 
happiness : and I said to myself, and said it often afterwards 
in the West Indies : Why do not other people copy this wise 
Scot ? Why should not many a yoimg couple, who have edu- 
cation, refinement, resources in themselves, but are, happily or 
unhappily for them, unable to keep a brougham and go to 

130 MO.\OS. 

London balls, retreat to some such paradise as this (and 
there are hundreds like it to be found in the West Indies), 
leaving behind them false civilization, and vam desires, 
and useless show ; and there live in simplicity and content 
"The Gentle Life"? It is not true that the climate is too 
enervating. It is not true that nature is here too strong for 
man. I have seen enough in Trinidad, I saw enough even in 
little Monos, to be able to deny that ; and to say, that in the 
West Indies, as elsewhere, a young man can be pure, able, 
high-minded, industrious, athletic : and I see no reason why 
a woman should not be likewise all that she need be. 

A cultivated man and wife, with a few hundreds a year — ^just 
enough, in fact, to enable them to keep a Coolie servant or two, 
might be really wealthy in all which constitutes true wealth ; 
and might be useful also in their place ; for each such couple 
would be a little centre of civilization for the Negro, the Coolie ; 
and it may be for certain young adventurers who, coming 
out merely to make money and return as soon as possible, are 
but too apt to lose, under the double temptations of gain and 
of drink, what elements of the " Gentle Life " they have 
gained from their mothers at home. 

The following morning early we rowed away again, full 
of longing, but not of hope, of reaching one or other of the 
Guacharo caves. Keeping along under the lee of the 
island, we crossed the " Umbrella Mouth," between it and 
lluevos, or Egg Island. On our right were the islands ; on 
our left the shoreless gulf; and ahead the great mountain of 
the mainland, with a wreath of white fleece near its summit, 
and the shadows of clouds moving in dark patches up its 
sides. As we crossed, the tumbling swell which came in from 
the outer sea, and the columns of white spray which rose right 
and left against the two door-posts of that mighty gateway, 
augured ill for our chances of entering a cave. But on we 
^vent, with a warning not to be upset if we could avoid it, in 
the shape of a shark's back fin above the oily swell ; and under 
lluevos, and round into a lonely cove, with high crumbling 
cliffs bedecked with Cereus and Aloes in flower, their tall 
spikes of green flowers standing out against the sky, twenty or 
thirty feet in height, and beds of short wild pine-apples,^ like 

* riicaimia? 

HUEVOS. 131 

amber-yellow fur, and here and there hanging leaves trailing 
down to the water ; and on into a nook, the sight of which 
made us give up all hopes of the cave, but which in itself 
was worth coming from Europe to see. The work of ages of 
trade-surf had cut the island clean through, with a rocky 
gully between soft rocks some hundred feet in width. It was 
just passable at high tide ; and through it we were to have 
rowed, and turned to the left to the cave in the windward 
cliffs. But ere we reached it the war outside said " No " in a 
voice which would take no denial, and when we beached tlie 
boat behind a high rock, and scrambled up to look out, we 
saw a sight, one half of which was not unworthy of the Cliffs 
of Hartland or Bude. On the further side of the knife-edge 
of rock, crumbling fast into the sea, a waste of breakers rolled 
through the chasm, though there was scarcely any wind to 
drive them, leaping, spouting, crashing, hammering down 
the soft cUffs which seemed to crumble, and did doubtless 
crumble at every blow ; and beyond that the open blue sea, 
without a rock or a sail, hazy, in spite of the blazing sunlight, 
beneath the clouds of spray. But there ceased the likeness to 
a rock scene on the Cornish coast ; for at the other foot of the 
rock, not twenty yards from that wild uproar, the lanil- 
locked cove up which we had come, lay still as glass, and 
the rocks were richer with foliage than an English orchard. 
Everywhere down into the very sea, the Matapalos held and 
hung ; their air-roots dangled into the very water ; many of 
them had fallen into it, but grew on still, and blossomed with 
great white fragrant flowei-s, somewhat like those of a 
Magnolia, each with a shining cake of amber wax as big 
as a shilling in the centre; and over the Matapalos, tree 
on tree, hane on liane, up to a Negro garden, with its 
strange huge-leaved vegetables and glossy fruit-trees, and 
its black owner standing on the cliff, and peering down out 
of his little nest with grinning teeth and white wondering 
eyes, at the white men who were gathering, off a few yards 
of beach, among the great fallen leaves of the Matapalos, 
such shells as delighted our childhood in the West India 
cabinet at home. 

We lingered long, filling our eyes with beauty : and then 
rowed away. What more was to be done ? Through that very 


132 M0N08. 

chasm we were to have passed out to the cave. And yet 
tt)e sight of this delicious nook repaid us — so more than one 
of the party thought — for our disappointment. There was 
another Guacharo cave in the Mouos channel, more under 
the lee. We would try that to-morrow. 

As the sun sank that evening, we sat ourselves upon 
the eastern rocks, and gazed away into the pale, sad, 
boundless west; while Venus hung high, not a point, as 
here, but a broad disc of light, throwing a long gleam 
over the sea. Fish skipped over the clear calm water; 
and above, pelicans — the younger brown, the older grey — 
wheeled round and roimd in lordly flight, paused, gave a 
sudden half-turn, then fell into the water with wide-spread 
wings, and after a splash, rose with another skipjack in their 
pouchL As it grew dark, dark things came trooping over the 
sea, by twos and threes, then twenty at a time, all past us 
toward a cave near by. Birds we fancied them at first, of the 
colour and size of starlings ; but they proved to be bats, and 
bats, too, which have the reputation of catching fish. So 
goes the tale, believed by some who see them continually, 
and have a keen eye for nature ; and who say tliat the bat 
sweeps the fish up off the top of the water with the scoop- 
like membrane of his hind-legs and tail For this last fact I 
will not vouch. But I am assured that fish scales were found, 
after I left the island, in the stomachs of these bats; and that 
of the fact of their picking up small fish, there can be no doubt. 
" You could not," says a friend, " be out at night in a boat, 
and hear their continual swish, swish, in the water, without 
believing it" If so, the habit is a quaint change of nature in 
them ; for they belong, I am assured by my triend Professor 
Newton, not to the insect-eating, but to the truit-eating family 
of bats, who, in the West as in the East Indies, may be seen 
at night hovering round the Mango- trees, and destroying 
much more fruit than they eat 

So we sat watching the little dark things flit by, like the 
gibbering ghosts of the suitors in the Odyssey, into the 
darkness of the cave ; and then turned to long talk of things 
concerning which it is best nowadays not to write ; till it was 
time to feel our way in-doors, by such light as Venus gave, 
over the slippery rocks, and then, cautiously enough, past the 


Manchineel^ bush, a broken sprig of which would have raised 
an instant blister on the face or hand. 

Our night, as often happens in the Tropics, was not altogether 
undisturbed ; for, shortly after I had become unconscious of 
the chorus of toads and cicadas, my hammock came down by 
the head. Then I was woke by a sudden bark close outside, 
exactly like that of a clicketting fox : but as the dogs did not 
reply or give chase, 1 predumed it to be the cry of a bird, 
possibly a little owL Next there rushed down the mountain 
a storm of wind and rain, which made the coco-leaves flap 
and creak, and rattle against the gable of the house; and 
set every door and window banging, till they were caught 
and brought to reason. And between the howls of the wind 1 
became aware of a strange noise from sea-ward — a booming. 
or rather humming, most like that which a locomotive some- 
times makes when blowing off steam. It was faint and distant, 
but deep and strong enough to set one guessing its cause. The 
sea beating into caves seemed, at first, the simplest answer. 
But the water was so still on our side of the island, that I 
could barely hear the lap of the ripple on the shingle twenty 
yards off ; and the nearest surf was a mile or two away, over a 
mountain a thousand feet high. So puzzling vainly, I fell 
asleep, to awake, in the grey dawn, to the prettiest idyllic 
picture, through the half-open door, of two kids dancing on a 
stone at the foot of a coco-nut tree, with a background of 
sea and dark rocks. 

As we went to bathe we heard again, in perfect calm, the 
same mysterious booming sound, and were assured by those 
who ought to have known, that it came from under the 
water, and was most probably made by none other than the 
famous musical or drum fish ; of whom one had heard, and 
hardly believed, much in past years. 

Mr. Joseph, author of the History of Trinidad from which 
I have so often quoted, reports that the first time he heard 
this singular fish was on board a schooner, at anchor off 

" Immediately under the vessel I heard a deep and not 
unpleasant sound, similar to those one might imagine to 
proceed from a thousand .dEloliau harps; this ceased, and deep 

^ Hippomane Mauciuella. 

134 MONOS. 

twanging notes succeeded; these gradually swelled into an un- 
interrupted stream of singular sounds like the booming of a 
number of Chinese gongs under the water; to these succeeded 
notes that had a faint resemblance to a wild chorus of a 
hundred human voices singing out of tune in deep bass." 

" In White's ' Voyage to Cochin China/ " adds Mr. Joseph, 
" there is as good a description of this, or a similar submarine 
concert, as mere words can convey : this the voyager heard in 
the Eastern seas. He was told the singers were a flat kind of 
iish; he, however, did not see them." 

" Might not this fish," he asks, " or one resembling it in 
vocal qualities, have given rise to the fable of the Sirens ?" 

It might, ceitainly, if the fact be true. Moreover, Mr. 
Joseph does not seem to be aware that the old Spanish 
Conquistadores had a myth that music was to be heard in 
this very Gulf of Paria, and that at certain seasons the 
Nymphs and Tritons assembled therein, and with ravishing 
strains sang their watery loves. The story of the music has 
been usually treated as a sailor's fable, and the Sirens and 
Tritons supposed to be mere stupid manatis, or sea-cows, 
coming in as they do still now and then to browse on man- 
grove shoots and turtle-grass : ^ but if the story of the music 
be true, the myth may have had a double root 

Meanwhile I see Hardwicke*s " Science Gossip " for March 
gives an extract from a letter of M. 0. de Thoron, communi- 
cated by him to the Academic des Sciences, December, 1861, 
which confirms Mr. Joseph's story. He asserts that in the 
I>ay of Pailon, in Esmeraldos, Ecuador, i.e, on the Pacific Coast, 
and also up more than one of the rivers, he has heard a similar 
sound, attributed by the natives to a fish which they call " The 
Siren," or " Musico." At first, he says, he thought it was 
produced by a fly, or hornet of extraordinary size ; but after- 
wards, having advanced a little further, he heard a multi- 
tude of different voices, which harmonized together, imitating 
a church organ to great perfection. The good people of 
Trinidad believe that the fish which makes this noise is the 
trumpet-fish, or Fistularia, — a beast strange enough in shape 
to be credited with strange actions : but ichthyologists say 
positively no : that the noise (at least along the coast of the 

^ Thalassia testadiaum. 


United States) is made by a Pogoniaa, a fish somewhat like 
a great bearded perch, and cousin of the Maigre of the 
Mediterranean, which is accused of making a similar purr- 
ing or grunting noise, which can be hoard from a depth of 
one hundred and twenty feet, and guides the fishermen tr 
tiieir whereabouts. 

How the noise is made is a question. Cuvier was of 
opinion that it was made by the air-bladder, though he 
could noc explain how : but the truth, if truth it be, seems 
stranger stilL These fish, it seems, have strong bony 
palates and throat-teeth for crushing shells and crabs, and 
make this wonderful noise simply by grinding their teeth 

I vouch for nothing, save that I heard this strange humming 
more than onca As for the cause of it, I can only say, as was 
said of yore, that " I hold it for rashness to determine aught 
amid such fertility of Nature's wonders." 

One . afternoon we made an attempt on the other Guacharo 
cave, which lies in the elifif on the landward side of the 
Monos Boca. But tdas 1 the wind had chopped a little to the 
northwEird ; a swell was rolling in through the Boca ; and 
when we got within twenty yards of the low-browed arch our 
crew lay on their oars and held a consultation, of which there 
could but be one result. They being white gentlemen, and 
not Negros, could trust themselves and each other, and were 
ready, as I know well, to "dare all that became a man." 
But every now and then a swell rolled in high enough to 
have cracked our sculls against the top, and out again deep 
enough to have staved the boat against the rocks. If we 
went to wreck, the current was setting strongly out to sea ; 
and the Boca was haunted by sharks, and (according to the 
late Colonel Hamilton Smith), by a worse monster still, namely, 
the giant ray,^ which goes by the name of devil-fish on the 
Carolina shores. He saw, he says, one of these monsters rise 
in this very Boca, at a sailor who had fallen overboard, cover 
him with one of his broad wings, and sweep him down into 
the depths. And, on the whole, if Guacharos are precious, so 
is life. So, like Gyges of old, we " elected to survive," and 
rowed away with wistful eyes, determining to get Guacharos 

^ Cephaloptenu 

136 M0N08. 

— a determination which was never carried out — from one of 
the limestone caverns of the northern mountains. 

And now it may be asked, and reasonably enough, what 
Guacharos ^ are ; and why five English gentlemen and a canny 
Scots coastguard-man should think it worth while to imperil 
their lives to obtain them. 

I cannot answer better than by giving Humboldt's account 
of the Cave of Caripe, on the Spanish main hard by, where he 
discovered them, or rather described them to civilized Europe, 
for the first time. 

" The Cueva del Guachaio is pierced in the vertical profile 
of a rock. The entrance is towards the south, and forms 
a vault eighty feet broad and seventy-two feet high. This 
elevation is but a fifth less than the colonnade of the 
Louvre. The rock that surmounts the grotto is covered 
Mnth trees of gigantic height. The Mammee-tree and the 
Geuipa, with large and shining leaves, raise their branches 
vertically towards the sky; while those of the Courbaril 
and the Erythrina form, as they extend themselves, a thick 
vault of verdure. Plants of the family of Pothos with 
succulent stems, Oxalises, and Orchidese of a singular con- 
struction, rise in the driest clefts of the rocks ; while creeping 
plants waving in the winds are interwoven in festoons 
before the opening of the cavern. We distinguished in 
these festoons a Bignonia of a violet blue, the purple 
Dolichos, and, for the first time, that magnificent Solandbra, 
the orange flower of which has a fleshy tube more than 
four inches long. The entrance of grottos, like the view 
of cascades, derive their principal charm from the situation, 
more or less majestic, in which they are placed, and which 
in some sort determines the character of the landscape. 
What a contrast between the Cueva of Caripe and those 
caverns of the north crowned with oaks and gloomy larch- 
trees 1 

"But this luxury of vegetation embellishes not only 
the outside of the vault, it appears even in the vestibule 
of the grotto. We saw with astonishment plantain-leaved 
Heliconias, eighteen feet high, the Prs^ja palm-trees, and 
arborescent Arums follow the banks of the hver, even to 

^ SteatomiB Caripensia. 


those subterranean places. The vegetation continues in 
the cave of Caripe, as in the deep crevices of the Andes, 
half excluded from the light of day ; and does not disappear 
till, advancing in the interior, we reach thirty or forty 
paces from the entrance 

'*Tbe Guacharo quits the cavern at nightfall, especially 
when the moon shines. It is almost the only frugiferous 
noctnrnal bird that is yet known; the conformation of 
its feet sufficiently shows that it does not hunt like our 
owla It feeds on very hard fruits, as the Nutcracker and 
the Pyrrhocorax. The latter nestles also in clefts of 
rocks, and is known under the name of night^srow. The 
Indians assured us that the Guacharo does not pursue 
either the lamellicom insects, or those phalsenae which 
serve as food to the goat-suckers. It is sufficient to 
compare the beaks of the Guacharo and goat-sucker to 
conjecture how much their manners must differ. It is 
difficult to form an idea of the horrible noise occasioned 
by thousands of these birds in the dark part of the cavern, 
and which can only be compared to the croaking of our 
crows, which in the pine forests of the north live in 
society, and construct their nests upon trees, the tops 
of which touch each other. The shrill and piercing cries 
of the Guacharos strike upon the vaults of the rocks, and 
are repeated by the echo in the depth of the cavern. The 
Indians showed us the nests of these birds by fixing 
torches to the end of a long pole. These nests were 
fifty or sixty feet high above our heads, in holes in the shape 
of funnels, with which the roof of the grotto is pierced 
like a sieve. The noise increased as we advanced, and the 
birds were aflfrighted by the light of the torches of copaL 
When this noise ceased a few minutes around us we heard 
at a distance the plaintive cries of the birds roosting in 
other ramifications of the cavern. It seemed as if these 
bands answered each other alternately. 

" The Indians enter into the Cueva del Guacharo once a 
year, near midsummer, armed with poles, by means of which 
they destroy the greater part of the nests. At this season 
several thousands of birds are killed; and the old ones, as 
if to defend their brood, hover over the heads of the 

138 MONOS. 

Indians, utteiring terrible cries. The young, which fall to 
the ground, are opened on the spot. Their peritoneum is 
extremely loaded with fat, and a layer of fat reaches from 
the abdomen to the anus, forming a kind of cushion 
between the legs of the bird. This quantity of fat in 
frugivorous animals, not exposed to the light, and exerting 
very little muscular motion, reminds us of what has been 
Ikmg sinoe observed in the fattening of geese and oxen. 
It is well-known how &voiiTable darknffls and lepose are 
to this process. The nocturnal birds of Europe are lean, 
because, instead of feeding on fruits, like the Guacharo, 
they live on the scanty produce of their prey. At the period 
which is commonly called at Caripe the "oil harvest," the 
Indians build huts with palm-leaves near the entrance, 
and even in the porch of the cavern. Of these we still 
saw some remains. There, with a fire of brushwood, they 
melt in pots of clay the fat of the young birds just 
killed. This fat is known by the name of butter or oil 
{manteca or aceite) of the Guacharo. It is half liquid, 
transparent, without smell, and so pure that it may be 
kept above a year without becoming rancid. At the 
convent of Caripe no other oil is used in the kitchen 
of the monks but that of the cavern; and we never 
observed that it gave the aliments a disagreeable taste 
or smelL 

"Young Guacharos have been sent to the port of 
Cumana, and lived there several days without taking any 
nourishmpnt; the seeds offered to them not suiting their 
taste. When the crops and gizzards of the young birds 
are opened in the cavern, they are found to contain all 
sorts of hard and dry fruits, which furnish, under the 
singular name of Guacharo seed (semilla dd Guaeluxro) a 
very celebrated remedy against intermittent fevers. The 
old birds carry these seeds to their young. They are 
carefully collected and sent to the sick at Cariaco, and 
other places of the low regions, where fevers are pre- 

"The natives connect mystic ideas with this cave, 
inhabited by nocturnal birds ; they belisve that the souls 
of their ancestors sojourn in the deep recesses of the 


cavem. 'Man', say they, 'ahould avcnd places which are 
enlightened neither by the sun' {Zis) 'nor by the moon' 
(Nuna). To go and join the Guacharos is to rejoiii their 
fathers, is to dia The magicians ('piaches) and the poiaoneis 
(iTruyrons) perform their nocturnal tricks at the entrance of the 
cavem, to conjure the chief of the evil spirits (ivorokiamo). 
Thus in every climate the .first fiction of nations resemble 
each other, those especially which relate to two principles 
governing the world, the abode of souls after death, the 
happiness of the virtuous, and the punishment of the guilty. 
The most different and barbarous languages present a certain 
number of images which are the same, because they have 
their source in the nature of our intellect and our 
sensations. Darkness is everywhere connected with the 
idea of death. The Grotto of Caripe is the Tartarus of 
the Greeks ; and the Guacharos, which hover over the 
rivulet, uttering plaintive cries, remind us of the Stygian 


" The missionaries, with all their authority, could not 
prevail on the Indians to penetrate further into the cavera 
As the vault grew lower, the cries of the Guacharos 
became more shrilL We were obliged to yield to the 
pusillanimity of our guides, and trace back our steps. 
The appearance of the cavem was indeed very uniform. 
We find that a bishop of St. Thomas of Guiana had gone 
further than ourselves. He had measured nearly two thousand 
five hundred feet from the mouth to the spot where he 
stopped, though the cavem reached further. The remembrance 
of this fact was preserved in the convent of Caripe, 
without the exact period being noted The bishop had 
provided himself with great torches of white wax of 
Castille. We had torches composed only of the bark of 
trees and native resin. The thick smoke which issues from 
these torches, in a narrow subterranean passage, hurts 
the eyes and obstructs the respiration. 

" We followed the course of the torrent to go out of the 
cavern. Before our eyes were dazzled by the light of day, 
we saw, without the grotto, the water of the river sparkling 
amid the foliage of the trees that concealed it. It was 
like a picture placed in the distance, and to which the 

140 MONOS. 

mouth of the cavern served as a frame. Having at length 
reached the entrance, and seated ourselves on the banks 
of the rivulet, we rested after our fatigue. We were glad 
to be beyond the hoarse cries of the birds, and to leave a 
place where darkness does not offer even the charm of 
silence and tranquillity. We could scarcely persuade our- 
selves that the name of the grotto of Caripe had hitherto 
remained unknown in Europa The Guacharos alone 
would have been sufficient to render it celebrated. These 
nocturnal birds have been nowhere yet discovered except 
in the mountains of Caripe and Cumanacoa." 

So much from the great master, who was not aware (never 
having visited Trinidad) that the Guacharo was well-known 
there under the name of Diablotin. But his account of Caripe 
was fully corroborated by my host, who had gone there 
last year, and, by the help of the magnesium light, had 
penetrated further into the cave than either the Bishop or 
Humboldt, He had brought home also several Guacharos 
from the Trinidad cayes, all of which died on the passage, 
for want, seemingly, of the oily nuts on which they feed. 
A live Guacharo has, as yet, never been seen in Europe; 
and to get one safe to the Zoological Gardens, as well as 
to get one or two corpses for the Cambridge Museum, was 
our hope — a hope still, alas ! unfulfilled. A nest, however, 
of the Guacharo has been brought to England by my host 
since my departure ; a round lump of mud, of the size and 
shape of a large cheese, with a shallow depression on the 
top, in which the eggs are laid. A list of the seeds found in 
the stomachs of Guacharos by my friend Mr. Prestoe of 
the Botanical Gardens, Port of Spain, will be found in an 

We rowed away, toward our island paradise. But instead 
of going straight home, we turned into a deep cove called 
Ance Maurice — all coves in the French islands are called 
Ances — where was something to be seen, and not to be 
forgotten again. We grated in, over a shallow bottom of 
pebbles interspersed with grey lumps of coral pulp, and 
of Botrylli, azure, crimson, and all the hues of the flower- 
lorarden; and landed on the bank of a mangrove swamp, 
bored everywhere with the holes of landcrabs. One 


glance showed bow these swamps are formed : by that want 
of tide which is the curse of the West Indies. 

At every valley mouth the beating of the waves 
tends all the year round to throw up a bank of sand and 
shingle, dam Jng the land-water Jck to form a lagoon. 
This might indeed empty itself during the floods of the 
rainy season : but during the dry season it must remain a 
stagnant pond, filling gradually with festering vegetable 
matter from the hills, beer-coloured, and as hideous to look 
at as it is to smeU. Were there a tide, as in England, 
of from ten to twenty feet, that swamp would be drained 
twice a day to nearly that depth; and healthy vegetation, 
as in England, establish itself down to the very beach. 
A tide of a foot or eighteen inches only, as is too common 
in the West Indies, will only drain the swamp to that 
depth ; and probably, if there be any strong pebble-bearing 
surf outside, not Ht all. So there it all lies, festering in 
the sun, and cooking poison day and night; while the 
mangroves and graceful white roseaux^ (tall canes) kindly 
do their best to lessen the mischief, by rooting in the 
slush, and ateorbing the poison with their leaves. A 
wliite man, sleeping one night on the edge of that pestilen- 
tial little triangle, half an acre in size, would be in danger 
of catching a fever and ague, which would make a weaker 
man of him for the rest of his life. And yet so thoroughly 
fitted for the climate is the Negro, that not ten yards from 
the edge of the mud stood a comfortable negro-house, 
with stout healthy folk therein, evidently well to do in 
the world, to judge from the poultry, and the fruit-trees 
and provision-ground which stretched up the glen. 

Tlu"ough the provision-ground we struggled up, among 
weeds as high as our shoulders; so that it was difficult, 
as usual, to distinguish garden from forest. But no 
matter to the black owner. The weeds were probably of 
only six weeks' growth ; and when they got so high that he 
actually could not find his tanias^ among them, he would 
take cutlass and hoe, and make a lazy raid upon them, or 
rather upon a quarter of them, certain of two tacts ; that in 

^ Oynerinm saccharoidea. 

' Xanthosoma ; a huge plant like our Arums, with an edible root 

142 MONOS, 

SIX weeks more they would be all as high as ever; and 
that if they were, it did not matter; for so fertile is the 
soil, so genial the climate, that he would get in spite of 
them more crop off the ground than he needed. " Pity 
the poor weeds. Is there not room enough in the world 
for them and for us?" seems the Negro's motto. But he 
knows his own business well enough ; and can exert himself 
when he really needs to do so; and if the weeds harmed 
him seriously he would make short work with them. 
Still this soil, and this climate, put a premium on bad 
farming, as they do on much eUe that is bad. 

Up we pushed along the narrow path, past curious spiral 
flags ^ just throwing out their heads of delicate white or purple 
flower, and under the shade of great Balisiers or wild plan- 
tains,* with leaves six or eight feet long ; and many another 
curious plant unknown to me ; and then through a little copse, 
of which we had to beware, for it was all black Boseau • — a 
sort of dwarf palm some fifteen feet high, whose stems are 
covered with black steel needles, which, on being touched, 
run right through your finger, or your hand, if you press hard 
enough, and then break off ; on which you cut them out 
if you can. K you cannot, they are apt, like needles, to 
make voyages about among the muscles, and reappear at 
some unexpected spot, causing serious harm. Of all the 
vegetable pests of the forest, none, not even the croc-chien, 
is so ugly a neighbour as certain varieties of black Boseau. 

All this while — I fear I may be prolix : but one must .write 
as one walked, stopping every moment to seize something 
new, and longing for as many pair of eyes as a spider — 
all this while, I say, we heard the roar of the trade-surf 
growing louder and louder in front ; and pushing cautiously 
through the Boseau, found ourselves on a cliff thirty feet 
high, and on the other side of the island. 

Now it was plain how the Bocas had been made ; for 
here was one making. 

Before us seethed a shallow horse-shoe bay, almost a 
lake, some two hundred yards across inside, but far nar- 
rower at the mouth. Into it, between two lofty points of 
hard rock, worn into caves and pillars and natural arches. 

^ Costus. * Heliconia. * Bactri& 


the trade-surf came raging in from the north, hurling 
columns of foam right and left, and then whirling round 
and round beneath us upon a narrow shore of black sand 
with such fury, that one seemed to see the land torn 
away by each wave. The cliffs, some thirty feet high where 
we stood, rose to some hundred at the mouth, in intense black 
and copper and olive shadows, with one bright green tree 
in front of a cave's mouth, on which, it seemed, the sua had 
never shone ; while a thousand feet overhead were glimpses 
of the wooded mountain-tops, with tender slanting lights, 
for the sun was growing low, through blue-grey mist on 
copse and lawn high above. A huge dark-headed Balata/ 
like a storm-torn Scotch pine, crowned the left-hand cliff ; two 
or three younj? Fan-palms^^ just ready to topple headlong, 
the right-hand one; and beyond all, through the great 
gateway gleamed, as elsewhere, the foam-flecked hazy blue 
of the Caribbean Sea. 

We stood spell-bound for a minute at the sudden change 
of scene and of feeling. From the still choking blazing 
steam of the leeward glen, we had stepped in a moment into 
coolness and darkness, pervaded by the delicious rush of 
the north-eastern wind ; into a hidden sahctuary of Nature 
where one would have liked to build, and live and die: 
had not a second glance warned ns that to die was the 
easiest of the three. For the whole cliff was falling daily into 
the sea, and it was hardly safe to venture to the beach 
for fear of falling stones and earth. 

Down, however, we went, by a natural ladder of Matapalo 
roots, and saw at once how the cove was being formed. 
The rocks are probably Silurian ; and if so, of quite im- 
measurable antiquity. But instead of being hard, as Silu- 
rian rocks are wont to be, they are mere loose beds of dark 
sand and shale, yellow with sulphur, or black with carbon- 
aceous matter, amid which strange flakes and nodules of 
white quartz lie loose, ready to drop out at the blow of 
every wave. The strata, too, sloped upward and outward 
toward the sea, which is therefore able to undermine them 
perpetually; and thus the searching surge, having once 

^ Mimu»op9 Ralatn. 

' Probably Thtiuax radiata (Gxisebach, p. 515). 

144 M0N08 

formed an entrance in the clifif-face, between what are 
now the two outer points, has had nought to do but 
to gnaw inward; and will gnaw, till the Isle of Monos 
is cut sheer in two, and the "Ance Biscayen," as the 
wonderful little bay is called, will join itself to the 
Ance Maurice and the GuK of Paria. In two or three 
generations hence the little palm-wood will have fallen 
into the sea. In two or three more, the Negro house and 
garden and the mangrove swamp will be gone likewise: 
and in their place the tmde-surf will be battering into the 
Gulf of Paria from the Northern Sea, through just such 
a mountain chasm as we saw at Huevos; and a new 
Boca will have been opened. 

But not, understand, a deep and navigable one, as long as 
the land retains its present leveL To make that, there 
must be a general subsidence of the land and sea bottom 
around. For surf, when eating into land, gnaws to little 
deeper than low water-mark: no deeper, probably, than 
the bottoms of the troughs between the waves. Its tendency 
is — as one may see along the Bamsgate cUflfs — ^to pare the 
land away into a flat plain, just covered by a shaUow sea. 
No surf or currents could have carved out the smaller 
Bocas to a depth of between twenty and eighty fathoms; 
much less the great Boca of the Dragon's Mouth, between 
Chacachacarra and the Spanish Main, to a depth of more 
than seventy fathoms. They are sunken mountain passes, 
whose sides have been since carved into upright cliffs by the 
gnawing of the sea ; and, as Mr. Wall well observes,^ " the 
situation of the Bocas is in a depression of the range, per- 
ha])s of the highest antiquity." 

We wandered along the beach, looking up at a cliff 
clothed, wherever it was not actually falling away, with rich- 
est verdure down to the water's edge ; but 'in general utterly 
bare, falling away too fast to give root-hold to any plant. 
We lay down on the black sand, and gazed, and gazed, and 
picked up quartz crystals fallen from above, and wondered how 
the cove had got its name. Had some old Biscayan whaler, 
from Biarritz or St Jean de l^uz, wandered into these seas in 
search of fish, when, m the bt^ginning of the seventeenth 

^ Geological Survey of Trinidad. 


rentury, he and his fellows had killed out all the Right 
Whales of the Bay of Biscay? And had he, missing the 
Bocas, been wrecked and perished, as he may well have done, 
against those awful walls ? At last we turned to re-ascend 
: — for the tide was rising — after our leader had congmtiilated 
US on being, perhaps, the only white men who had ever seen 
Ance Biscayen — a congratulation which was premature ; for, 
as we went to climb up the Matapalo-root ladder, we were 
stopped by several pairs of legs coining down it, which 
l)elonged, it seemed, to a bathing party of pleasant French 
people, " marooning '* (as picnic-ing is called here) on the 
island ; and after them descended the yellow frock of a 
Dominican monk, who, when landed, was discovered to 
be an old friend, now working hard among the Roman 
Catholic Negros of Port of Spain. 

On the way back to our island paradise we found along 
the shore two plants worth notice — one, a low tree, with 
leaves somewhat like box, but obovate (larger at the tip 
than at the stalk), and racemes of little white flowers 
of a delicious honey-scent.^ It ought to be, if it be 
not yet, introduced into England, as a charming addition 
to the winter hothouse. As for the other plant, would 
that it could be introduced likewise, or rather that, if 
introduced, it would flower in a house ; for it is a glorious 
climber, second only to that which poor Dr. Krueger 
calls "the wonderful Norantea," which shall be described 
in its place. You see a tree blazing with dark gold, 
passing into orange, and that to red ; and on nearing it 
find it tiled all over with the flowers of a creeper,^ arranged 
in flat rows of spreading brushes, some foot or two long, 
and holding each hundreds of flowers, growing on one 
side only of the twig, and turning their multitudinous 
golden and orange stamens upright to the sun. There— 
I cannot describe it. It must be seen first afar off, and 
then close, to understand the vagaries of splendour in 
which Nature indulges here. And yet the Nomntea, com- 
mon in the high woods, is even more splendid, and, in a 
botanist's eyes, a stranger vagary stilL 

On past the whaling quay. It was deserted ; for the whales 

* Jacq'iiuia armillaris. ' Combretum (laxifolium?). 


1 IC M0N08. 

bad not yet come in, and theio was no chance of seeing a 
night scene which is described as horribly beautiful — the 
sharks around a whale while flensing is going on, each monster 
bathed in phosphorescent light, which makes his whole 
outline, and every fin, even his evil eyes and teeth, visible far 
under water, as the glittering fiend comes up from below, snaps 
his lump out of the whale's side, and is shouldered out of the 
way by his fellows. We were unlucky indeed, in the matter 
of sharks ; for, with the exception of a problematical back-tin 
or two, we saw none in the West Indies, though they were 
swarming round us. 

The next day the boat's head was turned homewards. 
And what had been learnt at the little bay of Ance Biscayen 
suggested, as we went on, a fresh geological question. 
How the outer islands of the Bocas had been formed, or 
were bein<; formed, was clear enough. But what about 
the inner islands ? Gaspar Grande, and Diego, and the Five 
Islands, and the peninsula — or island — of Punta Grande ? 
How were these isolated lumps of limestone hewn out into 
high points, witli steep clilfs, not to the windward, but to the 
leeward ? What made the steep cliff at the south end 
of Punta Grande, on which a mangrove swamp now abuts ? 
No trade-surf, no current capable of doing that work, has dis- 
turbed the dull waters of the " Golfo Triste," as the Spani- 
ards named the Gulf of Paria, since the land was of anything 
like its present shape. And gradually we began to dream 
of a time when the Bocas did not exist; when the Spanish 
Main was joined to the northern mountains of the island 
by dry land, now submerged or eaten away by the trade- 
surf; when the northern currents of the Orinoco, instead 
of escaping through the Bocas as now, were turned eastward, 
past these very islands, and along the foot of the northern 
mountains, over what is now the great lowland of Trinidad, 
depositinjT those rich semi-alluvial strata which have been 
since upheaved, and sawing down along the southern slope 
of the mountains those vast beds of shingle and quartz 
})oulders which now form as it were a gigantic ancient sea- 
beach right across the island. A dream it may be : but one 
which seemed reasonable enough to more than one in the 
boat, and which subsequent observations tended to verify. 



I HAVE seen them at last. I have been at last in the 
High Woods, as the primaeval forest is called here ; and they 
are not less, but more, wonderful than I had imagined them. 
But they must wait awhUe ; for in reaching them, though they 
were only ten miles oflf, I passed through scenes so various, 
and so characteristic of the Tropics, that I cannot do better 
than sketch them one by one. 

I drove out in the darkness of the dawn, under the bamboos, 
and Bauhinias, and palms which shade the road between the 
Botanic Gardens and the savannah, toward Port of SpaiiL 
The frogs and cicalas had nearly finished their nightly music. 
The fire-flies had been in bed since midnight. The air was hea\'y 
with the fragrance of the Bauhinias, and after I passed the 
great Australian Blue-gum which overhangs the road, and the 
Wallaba-tree,^ with its thin curved pods dangling from in- 
numerable bootlaces six feet long, almost too heavy with tho 
fragrance of the "white Ixora."* A flush of rose was rising 
above the eastern mountains, and it was just light enough 
to see overhead the great flowers of the " Bois chataigne," ^ 
among its horse-chestnut-like leaves; red flowers as big 
as a child*s two hands, with petals as long as its fingers 
Children of Mylitta the moon goddess, they cannot abide the 
day ; and will fall, brown and shrivelled, before the sun grows 
high, after one night of beauty and life, and probably of en- 
joyment. Even more swiftly fades an even more delicate 
child of the moon, the Ipomcea Bona-nox, whose snow-wliito 
patines, as broad as the hand, open at nightfall on every 
hedge, and shrivel up with the fiist rays of dawn. 

On through the long silent street of Port of Spain, where 

^ Eperaa falcata. ' Poaoqueria. * Carolinea. 

L 2 


the air was heavy with everytliing but the fragrance of Ixoras, 
and the dogs and vultures sat about the streets, and were all 
but driven over every few yards, till I picked up a guide — will 
he let me say a friend ? — an Aberdeenshire Scot, who hurried 
out fresh from his bath, his trusty cutlass on his hip, and in 
heavy shooting-boots and gaiters ; for no clothing, be it re- 
membered, is too strong for the bush ; and those who enter it 
in the white calico garments, in which West-India planters 
figure on the stage, are like to leave in it, not only their 
clothes, but their skin besides. 

In five minutes more we were on board the gig, and rowing 
away south over the muddy miiTor; and in ten minutes more 
the sun was up, and blazing so fiercely, that we were glad 
to cool ourselves in fancy, by talking over salmon-fishings in 
Scotland and New Brunswick, and wadings in icy streams 
beneath the black pine-woods. 

Behind us were the blue mountains, streaked with broad 
lights and shades by the level sun. On our left the inter- 
minable low line of bright green mangrove danced and 
quivered in the mirage, and loomed up in front, miles away, 
till single trees seemed to hang in air far out at sea. On our 
right, hot mists wandered over the water, blotting out the 
horizon, till the coasting craft, with distorted sails and masts, 
seemed afloat in smoke. One might have fancied oneself in 
the Wash oflF Sandringham on a burning summer's noon. 

Soon logs and stumps, standing out of the water, marked 
the mouth of the Caroni ; and we had to take a sweep out 
seaward to avoid its mud-banks. Over that very spot, 
now unnavigable, Kaleigh and his men sailed in to conquer 

On one log a huge black and white heron moped all alone, 
looking in the mist as tail as a man ; and would not move for 
all our shouts. Schools offish dimpled the water; and brown 
pelicans fell upon them, dashing up fountains of silver. The 
trade-breeze, as it rose, brought off the swamps a sickly smell, 
suggestive of the need of coffee, quinine, Angostura bitters, 
or some other febrifuge. In spite of the glorious sunshine, 
the whole scene was sad, desolate, almost depressing, fi*om 
its monotony, vastness, silence ; and we were glad, when we 
neared the high tree which marks the entrance of the 


Cbaguanas Creek, and turned at last into a recess in the 
mangrove bushes ; a desolate pool, round which the mangrove 
roots foimed an impenetrable net. As far as the eye could 
pierce into the tangled thicket, the roots interlaced with each 
other, and arched down into the water in innumerable curves, 
by no means devoid of grace, but hideous just because they 
were impenetrable. Who could get over those roots, or 
through the scrub which stood stilted on them, letting down 
at every yard or two fresh air-roots from off its boughs, 
to add fresh tangle, as they struck into the mud, to the 
horrible imbroglio? If one had got in among them, I 
fancied, one would never have got out again. Struggling 
over and under endless trap-work, without footing on it or 
on the mud below, one must have sunk exhausted in an hour 
or two, to die of fatigue and heat, or chill and fever. 

Let the mangrove foliage be as gay and green as it may — 
and it is gay and green — a mangrove swamp is a sad, ugly, 
evil place ; and so I felt that one to be that day. 

The only moving things were some large fish, who were 
leaping high out of water close to the bushes, glittering in 
the sun. They stopped as we came up : and then all was 
still, till a slate-blue heron ^ rose lazily off a dead bough. 
Happed fifty yards up the creek, and then sat down again. 
The only sound beside the rattle of our oars was the me^lic 
note of a pigeon in tlie high tree, which I mistook then and 
afterwards for the sound of a horn. 

On we rowed, looking out sharply right and left for an 
alligator basking on the mud among the mangrove roots. But 
none appeared, though more than one, probably, was watching 
us, with nothing of him above water but his homy eyes. 
The heron flapped on ahead, and settled once more, as if 
leading us on up the ugly creek, which grew narrower and 
fouler, till the oars touched the bank on each side, and drove 
out of the water shoals of four-eyed fish, ridiculous little 
things about as long as your hand, who, instead of diving to 
the bottom like reasonable fish, seemed possessed with the 
fancy that they could succeed better in the air, or on land ; 
and accordingly jumped over* each other's backs, scrambled 
out upon the mud, swam about with their goggle-eyes pro- 

^ Ardea l^ucogastnr.- 


jecting above the surface of the water, aud, in fact, did 
anything but behave like fish. 

This little creature (Star-gazer,^ as some call him), is, you 
must understand, one of the curiosities of Trinidad, and oi 
the Guiana Coast. He looks, on the whole, like a grey mullet, 
with a large blunt head, out of which stand, almost like horns, 
the eyes, from which he takes his name. You may see in 
Wood's ** Illustrated Natural History," a drawing of him, which 
is — I am sorry to say — one of the very few bad ones in the 
book ; and read how, *' at a first glance, the fish appears to 
possess four distinct eyes, each of these organs being divided 
across the middle, and apparently separated into two distinct 
portions. In fact an opaque band runs transversely across the 
corner of the eye, and the iris, or coloured portion, sends out 
two processes, which meet each other under the transverse 
band of the cornea, so that the fish appears to possess even 
a double pupil. Still, on closer investigation, the connection 
between the divisions of the pupil are apparent, and can 
readily be seen in the young fish. The lens is shaped 
something like a jargonelle pear, and so arranged that its 
broad extremity is placed under the large segment of the 


These strangely specialized eyes — so folk? believe here — 
the fish uses by halves. With the lower halves he sees 
through the water, with the upper halves through the air ; 
and, elevated by this quaint privilege, he aspires to be a 
terrestrial animal, emulating, I presume, the alligators around, 
and tries to take his walks upon the mud. You may see, as 
you go down to bathe on the east coast, a group of black dots, 
in pairs, peering up out of the sand, at the very highest verge 
of the surf line. As you approach them, they leap up, and 
prove themselves to belong to a party of four-eyes, who 
run — there is no other word — down the beach, dash into the 
roaring surf, and the moment they see you safe in the sea 
run back again on the next wave, and begin staring at the 
sky once more. He who sees four-eyes for the first time 
without laughing must be much wiser, or much stupider, than 
any man has a right to be. 

Suddenly the mangroves opened, and the creek ended in a 

^ Anableps tetropthalmua. 


wharf, with barges alongside. Baulks of strange timbers lay 
on shore. Sheds were full of empty sugar-casks, ready for 
the approaching crop-tima A truck was waiting for us on 
a tramway ; and we scrambled on shore on a bed of rich 
black mud, to be received, of course, in true West Indian 
fashion, with all sorts of courtesies and kindnesses. 

And here let me say, that those travellers who complain ot 
discourtesy in the West Indies can have only themselves to 
thank for it. The West Indian has self-respect, and will not 
endure people who give themselves airs. He has prudence 
too, and will not endure people whom he expects to betray 
his hospitality by insulting him afterwards in print. But he 
ilelights in pleasing, in giving, in showing his lovely islands 
to all who will come and see them; Creole, immigrant, 
coloured or white man, Spaniard, Frenchman, Englishman, or 
Scotchman, each and all, will prove themselves thoughtful 
hosts and agreeable companions, if they be only treated as 
gentlemen usually expect to be treated elsewhere. On board 
a certain steamer, it was once proposed that the Royal Mail 
Steam Packet Company should issue cheap six-montli season 
tickets to the West Indies, available for those who wished to 
spend the winter in wandering from island to island. The 
want of hotels was objected, naturally enough, by an 
Englishman present. But he answered at once, that one 
or two good introductions to a single island would insure 
hospitality throughout the whole archipelago. 

A long-legged mule, after gibbing enough to satisfy his 
own self-respect, condescended to trot oflf with us up the 
tramway, which lay along a green drove strangely like one 
in the Cambridgeshire feus. But in the ditches grew a pea 
with large yellow flower-spikes, which reminded us that we 
were not in England ; and beyond the ditches rose on either 
side, not wheat and beans, but sugar-cane ten and twelve 
feet high. And a noble grass it is, with its stems as thick as 
one*s wrist, tillering out below in bold curves over the well-* 
hoed dark soil, and its broad bright leaves falling and folding 
above in curves as bold as those of the stems : handsome 
enough thus, but more handsome still, I am told, when the 
" arrow," as the flower is called, spreads over the cane-piece a 
purple haze, which flickers in long shining waves before the 


breeze. One only fault it has ; that from the luxuriance of its 
growth, no wind can pass through it ; and that therefore the 
heat of a cane-field trace is utterly stifling. Here and there 
we passed a still uncultivated spot ; a desolate reedy swamp, 
with pools, and stunted alder-like trees, reminding us again of 
the Deep Fens, while the tall chimneys of the sugar-works, 
and the high woods beyond, completed the illusion. One 
might have been looking over Holm Fen toward Caistor 
Hanglands; or over Deeping toward the remnants of the 
ancient Bnineswald. 

Soon, however, we had a broad hint that we were not in the 
Fens, but in a Tropic island. A window in heaven above was 
suddenly opened ; out of it, without the warning cry of 
Gardyloo — ^well-known in Edinburgh of old — a bucket of 
warm water, happily clean, was emptied on each of our heads ; 
and the next moment all was bright again. A thunder shower, 
without a warning thunder-clap, was to me a new phenomenon, 
which was repeated several times that day. The suddenness 
and the heaviness of the tropic showers at this season is as 
amusing, as it is trying. The umbrella or the waterproof must 
be always ready, or you will get wet through. And getting 
wet here is a much more serious matter than in a temperate 
climate, where you may ride or walk all day in wet clothes 
and take no harm ; for the rapid radiation, produced by the 
intense sunshine, causes a chill which may beget, only too 
easily, fever and ague not to be as easily shaken off. 

The cause of these rapid and heavy showers is simple 
enough. The trade-wind, at this season of the year, is saturated 
with steam from the ocean which it has crossed ; and the 
least disturbance in its temperature, from ascending hot air 
or descending cold, precipitates the steam in a sudden splash 
of water, out of a cloud, if there happens to be one near ; if 
not, out of the clear air. Therefore it is that these showers, 
when they occur in the day time, are most common about 
noon ; simply because then the streams of hot air rise most 
frequently and rapidly, to struggle with the cooler layers aloft. 
There is thunder, of course, in the West Indies, continuous 
and terrible. But it occurs after midsummer, at the 
breaking up of the dry season and coming on of the wet. 

At last the truck stopped at a manager's house with 

CEIBA8. 153 

a Palniiste,' or cabbage-palm, on each side of the garden 
gate, a pair of columns which any prince would have longed 
tor as ornaments for his lawn. It is the fashion here, and a 
good fashion it is, to leave the Palmistes, a few at least, when 
the land is cleared ; or to plant them near the house, mereJy 
on account of their wonderful beauty. One Palmiste was 
pointed out to me, in a field near the road, which had been 
measured by its shadow at noon, and found to be one hundred 
and fifty-three feet in height. For more than a hundred feet 
the stem rose straight, smooth, and grey. Then three or four 
spathes of flowers, four or five feet long each, jutted out and 
upward like ; while from below them, as usual, one dead leaf, 
twenty feet long or more, dangled head downwards in the 
breeze. Above them rose, as always, the green portion of 
the stem for some twenty feet; and then the flat crown 
of feathers, as dark as yew, spread out against the blue sky, 
looking small enough up there, though forty feet at least in 
breadth. No wonder if the man who possessed such a glorious 
object dared not destroy it, though he spared it for a different 
reason from that for which the Negros spare, whenever they 
can, the gigantic Ceibas, or silk cotton trees. These latter are 
useless as tiniber ; and their roots are, of course, hurtful to 
the canes. But the Negro is shy of felling the Ceiba. It 
is a magic tree, haunted by spirits. There are " too much 
jumbles in him," the Negro says ; and of those who dare to cut 
him down some one will die, or come to harm, within the 
year. In Jamaica, says my friend Mr. Gosse, "they believe 
that if a person throws a stone at the trunk, he will be 
visited with sickness, or other misfortune. When they 
intend to cut one down, they first pour rum at the root as a 
propitiatory offering." The Jamaica Negro, however, fells 
them for canoes, the wood being soft, and easily hollowed. 
But here, as in Denierara, the trees are left standing about 
in cane-pieces and pastures to decay into awful and fantastic 
shapes, with prickly spurs and board-walls of roots, high 
enough to make a house among them simply by roofing 
them in ; and a flat crown of boughs, some seventy or 
eighty feet above the ground, each bough as big as an 
average English tree, from which dangles a whole world 

^ Oreodoxa olerac«a. 


of lianes, matapalos, orchids, wild pines, with long air-roots 
or grey beards ; and last, but not least, that strange and 
lovely parasite, the Ehipsalis cassytha, which you mistake 
first for a plume of green sea-weed, or a tress of Mer- 
maid's hair which has got up there by mischance, and then 
for some delicate kind of pendent mistletoe; till you are 
told, to your astonishment, that it is an abnormal form of 
Cactus — a family which it resembles, save in its tiny flowers 
and fruit, no more than it resembles the Ceiba-tree on 
which it growls ; and told, too, that, strangely enough, it has 
been discovered in Angola — the only species of the Cactus 
tribe in the Old World. 

And now we set ourselves to walk up to the Depot, where 
the Government timber was being felled, and the real " High 
Woods " to be seen at last. Our path lay, along the half- 
finished tramway, through the first Cacao plantation I had 
ever seen, though, I am happy to say, not the last by many 
a one. 

Imagine an orchard of nut-trees, with very large long 
leaves. Each tree is trained to a single stem. Among them, 
especially near the path, giow plants of the common hothouse 
Datura, its long white flowers perfuming all the air. They 
have been planted as landmarks, to prevent the young Cacao- 
trees being cut over wh^u the weeds are cleared. Among 
them, too, at some twenty yards apart, are the stems of 
a tree looking much like an ash, save that it is inclined to 
throw out broad spurs, like a Ceiba. You look up, and see 
that they are Bois immortelles,^ fifty or sixty feet high, 
one blaze of vermQion against the blue sky. TJiose wlio 
have stood under a Lombardy poplar in early spring, and 
looked up at its buds and twigs, showing like pink coral 
against the blue sky, and have felt the beauty of the sight, 
can imagine faintly — but only faintly — the beauty of these 
" Madres de Cacao," Cacao-mothers as they call them here 
because their shade is supposed to shelter the Cacao-trees, 
while the dew collected by their leaves keeps the groimd 
below always damp. 

I turned my dazzled eyes down again, and looked into the 
delicious darkness under the bushes. The ground was brown 

' Erythrina umbroaa. 


with fallen leaves, or green with ferns ; and here and there a 
slant ray of sunlight pierced through the shade, and flashed on 
the browa leaves, and on a grey stem, aud on a crimson jewel 
which hung on the stem — and there, again, on a bright orange 
one ; and as my eye became accustomed to the darkness, I 
saw that the stems and larger boughs, far away into the wood, 
were dotted with pods, crimson or yellow or green, of the size 
and shape of a small hand closed with the fingers straight out. 
They were the Cacao-pods, full of what are called at home 
coco-nibs. And there lay a heap of them, looking like a 
heap of gay flowers ; and by them sat their brown owner, 
picking them to pieces and laying the seeds to dry on a 
cloth. I went up and told him that I came from England 

and never saw Cacao before, though I had been eating and 
drinking it aU my life ; at which news he grinned amusement 
till liis white teeth and eyeballs made a light in that dark 
place, and offered me a fresh broken pod, that I might 
taste the pink sour-sweet pidp in which the rows of nibs 
lie packed, a pulp which I found very pleasant and 

He dries his Cacao- nibs in the sun, and, if he be a well-to-do 
and careful man, on a stage with wheels, which can be run 
into a little shed on the slightest shower of rain; picks them 
over and over, separating the better quality from the worse ; 
and at last sends them down on mule-back to the sea, to be 


sold in London as Trinidad cocoa, or perhaps sold in Paris 
to the chocolate makers, who convert them into chocolate, 
"Menier" or other, by mixing them with sugar and vanilla, 
both, possibly, from this very island. This latter fact once 
inspired an adventurous German with the thought that he 
could make chocolate in Trinidad just as well as in Paris. 
And (so goes the story) he succeeded. But the fair Creoles 
would not buy it. It could not be good ; it could not be the 
real article, unless it had crossed the Atlantic twice to 
and from that centre of fashion, Paris. So the manufacture, 
which might have added greatly to the wealth of Trinidad, 
was given up, and the ladies of the island eat nought but 
French chocolate, costing, it is said, nearly four times as 
much as home-made chocolate need cost. 

As we walked on through the trace (for the tramway here 
was still unfinished) one of my kind companions pointed out 
a little plant, which bears in the island the ominous name 
of the Brinvilliers.^ It is one of those deadly poisons too 
common in the bush, and too well known to the Negro 
Obi-men and Obi- women. And as I looked at the insig- 
nificant weed I wondered how the name of that wretched 
woman should have spread to this remote island, and have 
become famous enough to be applied to a plant French 
Negros may have brought the name with them: but then 
arose another wonder. How were the terrible properties 
of the plant discovered? How eaj^er and ingenious must 
the human mind be about the deviVs work, and what long 
practice — considering its usual slowness and dulness — must it 
have had at the said work, ever to have picked out this paltry 
thing among the thousand weeds of the forest as a tool for 
its jealousy and revenge. It may have taken ages to discover 
the Brinvilliers, and ages more to make its poison generally 
known. Why not ? As the Spaniards say, " The devil 
knows many things, because he is old." Surely this is one 
of the many facts which point toward some immensely 
ancient civilization in the l^pics, and a civilization which 
may have had its ugly vices, and have been destroyed thereby. 

Now we left the Cacao grove : and I was aware, on each 
side of the trace, of a wall of green, such as I had never seen 

^ Spigelia anthelxnia. 


before on earth, not even in my dreams ; strange colossal 
shapes towering up, a hundred feet and more in height, 
which, alas ! it was impossible to reach ; for on either side of 
the trace were fifty yards of half-cleared ground, fallen logs, 
withes, huge stumps ten feet high, charred and crumbling ; 
and among them and over them a wilderness of creepers and 
shrubs, and all the luxuriant young growth of the " rastrajo," 
which springs up at once whenever the primaeval forest is 
cleared — all utterly impassable. These rastrajo forms, of 
course, were all new to me. I might have spent weeks in 
botanizing merely at them : but all I could remark, or cared 
to remark, there as in other places, was the tendency in the 
rastrajo toward growing enormous rounded leaves. How to 
get at the giants behind was the only question to one who for 
forty years had been longing for one peep at Flora's fairy 
palace, and saw its portals open at last. There was a deep 
gully before us, where a gang of convicts was working at a 
wooden bridge for the tramway, amid the usual abysmal 
mud of the tropic wet season. And on the other side of it 
there was no rastrajo right and left of the trace. T hurried 
down it like any schoolboy, dashing through mud and water, 
hopping from log to log, regardless of warnings and offers of 
help from good-natured Negros, who expected the respectable 
elderly "buccra" to come to grief; stmsgled perspiring iip 
the other side of the gully ; and then dashed away to the 
left, and stopped short, breathless with awe, in the pri- 
maeval forest at last. 

In the primaeval forest ; looking upon that upon which my 
teachers and masters, Humboldt, Spix, Martins, Schomburgk, 
Waterton, Bates, Wallace, Gosse, and the rest, had looked 
already, with far wiser eyes than mine, comprehending 
somewhat at least of its wonders, while I could only stare 
in ignorance. There was actually, then, such a sight to be 
seen on earth : and it was not less, but far more wonderful 
than they had said. 

My first feeling on entering the high woods was helpless- 
ness, confusion, awe, all but terror. One is afraid at first to 
venture in fifty yards. Without a compass or the landmark of 
some opening to or from which he can look, a man must be 
lost in the first ten minutes, such a sameness is there in the 


infinite variety. That sameness and variety make it impossible 
to give any general sketch of a forest. Once inside, "you 
cannot see the wood for the trees." Yon can only wander on 
as far as you dare, letting each object impress itself on your 
mind as it may, and carrying away a confused recollection ot 
innumerable perpendicular lines, all straining upwards, in 
fierce competition, towards the light-food far above ; and next 
of a gi«on cloud, or rather mist, which hovers round your head, 
and rises, thickening and thickening to an unknown height. 
The upward lines are of every possible thickness, and of 
almost every possible hue ; what leaves they bear, being for 
most part on the tips of the twigs, give a scattered, mist-like 
a^jpeai ance to tlie under-foliage. For the first moment, there- 
fore, the forest seems more open than an English wood. 
But try to walk through it, and ten steps undeceive you. 
Around your knees are probably Mamures,^ with creeping 
stems and fan-shaped leaves, something like those of a young 
coco-nut palm. You try to brush through them, and are 
caught up instantly by a string or wire belonging to some 
other plant. You look up and round : and then you find that 
the air is full of wires — that you are hung up in a network 
of fine branches belonging to half-a-dozen different sorts ot 
young trees, and intertwined with as many different species 
of slender creepers. You thought at your first glance among 
the tree-stems that you were looking through open air ; you 
find that you are looking through a labyrinth of wire-rigging, 
and must use the cutlass right and left at every five st-eps. You 
push on into a bed of strong sedge-like Sclerias, with cutting 
edges to their leaves. It is- well for you if they are only three, 
and not six feet high. In the midst of them you run against 
a horizontal stick, triangular, rounded, smooth, green. You 
take a glance along it right and left, and see no end to it 
either way, but gradually discover that it is the leaf-stalk ot 
a young Cocorite palm.* The leaf is five-and-twenty feet long, 
and springs from a huge ostrich plume, which is sprawling out 
of the ground and up above your head a few yards off. You 
cut the leaf-stalk through right and left, and walk on, to be 
stopped suddenly (for you get so confused by the multitude of 
objects that you never see anything till you run against it) 

* Carludovica. * Maximiliana Caribsea. 


by a grey liclien-covered bar, as thick as your ankle. You 
follow it up with your eye, and find it entwine itself with 
three or four other bars, and roll over with them in great 
knots and festoons and loops twenty feet high, and then go up 
with them into the green cloud over your head, and vanish, 
as if a giant had thrown a ship's cables into the tree-tops. One 
of them, so grand that its form strikes even the Negro and 
the Indian, is a Liantasse.^ You see that at once by the form 
of its cable — six or eight inches across in one direction, and 
three or four in another, furbelowed aU down the middle into 
regular knots, and looking like a chain cable between two 
flexible iron bars. At another of the loops, about as thick as 
your arm, your companion, if you have a forester with you, 
will spring joyfully. With a few blows of his cutlass he will 
sever it as high up as he can reach, and again below, some 
three feet down ; and, while you are wondering at this 
seemingly wanton destruction, he lifts the bar on high, throws 
his head back, and pours down his thirsty throat a pint or 
more of pure cold water. This hidden treasure is, stranj^e as it 
may seeui, the ascending sap, or rather the ascending pure rain- 
water which has been taken up by the roots, and is hurrying 
aloft, to be elaboi-ated into sap, and leaf, and flower, and 
f mit, and fresh tissue for the very stem up which it oiiginally 
climbed ; and therefore it is that the woodman cuts the Water- 
vine through first at the top of the piece which he wants, and 
not at the bottom ; for so rapid is the ascent of the sap that if 
he cut the stem below, the water would have all fled upwards 
before he coidd cut it off above. Meanwhile, the old story of 
Jack and the Bean-stalk comes into your mind. In such a 
forest was the old dame's hut ; and up such a bean-stalk Jack 
climbed, to find a giant and a castle high above. Why not? 
What may not be up there ? You look up into the green 
cloud, and long for a moment to be a monkey. Tliere may 
be monkeys up there over your head, burly red Howler,* or 
tiny peevish Sapajou,* peering down at you ; but you cannot 
peer up at them. The monkeys, and the parrots, and the 
humming-birds, and the flowers, and all the beauty, arf 
upstairs— up above the green cloud. You are in "the empty 

^ Sohnella excisa. * Mycetes. ' Cebus. 


nave of the cathedral," and " the service is being celebrated 
aloft in the blazing roof." 

We will hope that as you look up, you have not been careless 
enough to walk on ; for if you have you will be tripped up at 
once : nor to put your hand out incautiously to rest it against 
a tree, or what not, for fear of sharp thorns, ants, and wasps' 
nests. If you are all safe, your next steps, probably, as you 
struggle through the bush between tree-trunks of every 
possible size, will bring you face to face with huge upright 
walls of seeming boards, whose rounded edgt s slope upward 
till, as your eye follows them, you find them enter an enormous 
stem, perhaps round, like one of the Norman ]>iJlar.s of 
Durham nave, and just as huge ; perhaps fluted, like one of 
William of Wykeham's columns at Winchester. There is the 
stem : but where is the tree ? Above the green cloud. You 
struggle up to it, between two of the board walls, but find it 
not so easy to reach. Between you and it, are half-a-dozen 
tough strings which you had not noticed at first — the eye 
cannot focus itself rapidly enough in this confusion of 
distances — which have to be cut through ere you can pass. 
Some of them are rooted in the ground, straight and tense ; 
some of them dangle and wave in the wind at every height. 
What are they? Air-roots of wild Pines,^ or of Matapalos, 
or of Figs, or of Seguines,^ or of some other parasite ? 
Probably : but you cannot see. All you can see is, as you 
put your chin close against the trunk of the tree and look 
up, as if you were looking up against the side of a great 
ship s(ft on end, that some sixty or eighty feet up in the 
green cloud, arms as big as English forest trees branch oft' ; 
and that out of their forks a whole green garden of vegetation 
has tumbled dowu twenty or thirty feet, and half climbed up 
again. You scramble round the tree to find whence this 
aerial garden has sprung : you cannot tell. The tree-tnink is 
smooth and free from climbers ; and that mass of verdure may 
belong possibly to the very cables which you met ascending 
into the green cloud twenty or thirty yards back, or to that 
impenetrable tangle, a dozen yards on, which has climbed a 
small tree, and then a taller one again, and then a taller still, 
till it has climbed out of sight and possibly into the lower 

' Tillandsia. ^ Philodendron, Anthiiriiun, Ac. 


branches of the big tree. And what are their species ? what 
are their families? Who knows? Not even the most ex- 
perienced woodman or botanist can tell you the names of 
plants of which he only sees the stems. The leaves, the 
flowers, the fruit, can only be examined by felling the tree; 
and not even always then, for sometimes the tree when cut 
refuses to fall, linked as it is by chains of liane to all the trees 
around. Even that wonderful water- vine wliich we cut through 
just now may be one of three or even four different plants.^ 

Soon, you will be struck by the variety of the vegetation ; 
and will recollect what you have often heard, that social plants 
are rare in the tropic forests. Certainly they are rare in 
Trinidad; where the only instances of social trees are the 
Moras (which I have ntiver seen growing wild) and the 
Moriche palms. In Europe, a forest is usually made up of 
one dominant plant — of firs or of pines, of oaks or of beeches, 
of birch or of heather. Here no two plants seem alike. There 
are more species on an acre here than in all the New Forest, 
Savemake, or Sherwood. Stems rough, smooth, prickly, 
round, fluted, stilted, upright, sloping, branched, arched, 
jointed, Qi)posite-leaved, alternate-leaved, leafless, or covered 
with leaves of every conceivable pattern, are jumbled together, 
till the eye and brain are tired of continually asking " What 
next ? " The stems are of every colour — copper, pink, grey, 
green, brown, black as if burnt, marbled with lichens, many 
of them silvery white, gleaming afar in the bush, furred with 
mosses and delicate creeping film-ferns, or laced with the 
air-roots of some parasite aloft. Up this stem scrambles a 
climbing Seguine^ with entire leaves; up the next another 
quite different, with deeply-cut leaves;^ up the next the 
Ceriman* spreads its huge leaves, latticed and forked again 

^ It may he a true vine, Vitis Caribsea, or Cissus Sicyoides (I owe the 
iianieH of these water-viues, as I do numberless facte and courtesies, to my 
friend Mr. Prcstoo, of the Botanic Gardens, Port of Spain) ; or, again, a 
Cinchonaceous plant, allied to the Quinine trees, Uncaria Guianensis ; or pos- 
sibly Boiiicthiiig else ; for the botanic treasures of these forests are yet 
unexhausted, in .spite of the labours of Krueger, Lockhart, Purdie, and 
Do SiJiHch. 

2 Philodendrou. ' Philodendron laccrum. A noble plant. 

* Moustera jxrtnsa ; a still nobler one : which may bo seen, with Philo- 
deDdroUH, in great beauty at Kow. 



and again. So fast do they grow, that they have not time 
to fill up the spaces between their nerves, and are con- 
sequently full of oval holes ; and so fast does its spadix of 
flowers expand, that (as indeed do some other Aroids) an 
actual genial heat, and tire of passion, which may be tested by 
the thermometer, or even by the hand, is given off during fruc- 
tification. Beware of breaking it, or the Seguines. They will 
probably give off an evil smell, and as probably a blistering 
milk. Look on at the next stem. Up it, and down again, 
a climbing fem^ which is often seen in hothouses has tangled 
its finely-cut fronds. Up the next, a quite different fern is 
crawling, by pressing tightly to the rough bark its creeping 
root-stalks, furred like a hare's leg. Up the next, the prim 
little Griffe-chatte^ plant has walked, by numberless clusters 
of small cats'-claws, which lay hold of the bark. And what 
is this delicious scent about the air ? Vanille ? Of course it is ; 
and up that stem zigzags the green fleshy chain of the Vanille 
Orchis. The scented pod is far above, out of your reach ; but . 
not out of the reach of the next parrot, or monkey, or Negro 
hunter, who winds the treasure. And the stems themselves : 
to what trees do they belong ? It would be absurd for one to 
try to tell you who cannot tell one-twentieth of them himself.* 
Suffice it to say, that over your head are perhaps a dozen 
kinds of admirable timber, which might be turned to a hun- 
dred uses in Europe, were it possible to get them thither : your 
guide (who here will be a second hospitable and cultivated 
Scot) will point with pride to one colunm after another, 
straight as those of a cathedral, and sixty to eighty feet 
without branch or knob. That, he will say, is Fiddlewood ;* that 
a Carapo,^ that a Cedar/ that a Eoble ^ (oak) ; that, larger 
than all you have seen yet, a Locust;^ that, a Poui ;® that, a 
Guatecare,^® that an Olivier,^^ woods which, he will tell you, 
are all but incorruptible, defying weather and insects. He 
will show you, as curiosities, the smaller but intensely 

^ Lygodhim. ^ ( ?) 

* To know tnoro of them, the reader should consult Dr. Kmeger's list of 
woods sent from Trinidad to the Exhibition of 1S62 ; or look at the collection 
itself (now at Kew), which was made by that excellent forester — if he will 
allow me to name him — Sylvester Dcyenish, Esquire, Crown Surveyor. 

"* Vitex. * Carana Guianensis. • Cedrela. ' Machflprium. 

* Uymensea Courbarii. • Tecom* serratifolia. ^® Lecythis. ^ Bucida. 


tard Letter wood,^ Lignum vitae,' and Purple heart.' He 
will pass by as useless weeds, Ceibas* and Sandbox-trees,* 
whose bulk appals you. He will look up, with something 
like a malediction, at the Matapalos, which, every fifty yards, 
have seized on mighty trees, and are enjoying, I presume, 
every different stage of the strangling art, from the baby 
Matapalo, who, like the one which you saw in the Botanic 
Garden, has let down his first air-root along his victim's stem, 
to the old sinner whose dark crown of leaves is supported, 
eighty feet in air, on innumerable branching columns of every 
size, cross-clasped to each other by transverse bars. The giant 
tree on which his seed first fell has rotted away utterly, and he 
stands in its place, prospering in his wickedness, like certain 
folk whom David knew too well. Your guide walks on with 
a sneer. But he stops with a smile of satisfaction as he sees 
lying on the ground dark green glossy leaves, which are fading 
into a bright crimson; for overhead somewhere there must be 
a Balata,® the king of the forest ; and there, close by, is his 
stem — a madder-brown column, whose head may be a hundred 
and fifty feet or more aloft. The forester pats the sides of his 
favourite tree, as a breeder might that of his favourite race- 
horse. He goes on to evince his affection, in the fashion of West 
Indians, by giving it a chop with his cutlass ; but not in wan- 
tonness. He wishes to show you the hidden virtues of this (in 
his eyes) noblest of trees — how there issues out swiftly from the 
wound a flow of thick white milk, which will congeal, in an 
hour's time, into a gum intermediate in its properties between 
caoutchouc and gutta-percha. He talks of a time when the 
English gutta-percha market shall be supplied from the 
Balatas of the northern hills, which cannot be shipped 
away as timber. He tells you how the tree is a tree of a 
generous, virtuous and elaborate race — " a tree of God, which 
is full of sap," as one said of old of such — and what could he 
say better, less or more ? For it is a Sapota, cousin to the 
Sapodilla, and other excellent fruit-trees, itself most excellent 
even in its fruit-bearing power; for every five years it is 
covered with such a crop of delicious plums, that the lazy Negro 

^ Brosiraum Aublctii. * Guaiacum. 

' Copaifera. * Eriodendron. 

• Hura crepitans. • Mimusopa Balata. 



thinks it worth his while to spend days of hard work, besides 
incurring the penalty of the law (for the trees are Government 
property), in cutting it down for the sake of its fruit. Bat this 
tree your guide will cut himself. There is no gully between 
it and the Government station ; and he can carry it away ; 
and it is worth his while to do so; for it will square, he thinks, 
into a log more than three feet in diameter, and eighty, ninety — 
he hopes almost a hundred — feet in length of hard, heavy wood, 
incorruptible, save in salt water ; better than oak, as good as 
teak, and only surpassed in this island by the PouL He will 
raalce a stage round it, some eight feet high, and cut it above 
the spurs. It will take his convict gang (for convicts are 
turned to some real use in Trinidad) several days to get it 
down, and many more days to square it with the axe. A 
trace must be made to it through the wood, clearing away 
vegetation for which an European millionaire, could he keep 
it in his park, would gladly pay a hundred pounds a yard. The 
cleared stems, especially those of the palms, must be cut into 
rollers ; and the dragging of the huge lug over them will be a 
work of weeks, especially in the wet season. But it can be 
done, and it shall be ; so he leaves a significant mark on his 
new-found treasure, and leads you on through the bush, 
hewing his way with light strokes right and left, so care- 
lessly that you are inclined to beg him to hold his hand, 
and not destroy in a moment things so beautiful, so curious, 
things which would be invaluable in an English hothouse. 

And where are the famous Orchids ? They perch on every 
bough and stem: but they are not, with three or foui 
exceptions, in flower in the winter; and if they were, I 
know nothing about them — at least, I know enough to 
know how little I know. Whosoever has read Darwin's 
" Fertilization of Orchids," and finds in his own reason that 
the book is true, had best say notlung about the beautiful 
monsters till he has seen with his own eyes more than his 

And yet even the three or four that are in flower are 
worth going many a mtie to see. In the hothouse, they 
seem almost artificial from their strangcjiess : but to see 
them "natural," on natural bout^hs, gives a sense of their 
reality, which no unnatural situation can give. Even to 


look up at them perched on bough and stem, as one rides by ; 
and to guess what exquisite and fantastic form may issue, in 
a few months or weeks, out of those fleshy, often unsightly, 
leaves, is a strange pleasure; a spur to the fancy which w 
surely wholesome, if we will but believe that all these things 
were invented by A Fancy, which desires to call out in us, 
by contemplating them, such small fancy as we possess ; and 
to make us poets, each according to his power, by showing a 
world in which, if rightly looked at, all is poetry. 

Another fact will soon force itself on your attention, unless 
you wish to tumble down and get wet up to your knees. 
The soil is furrowed everywhere by holes ; by graves, some 
two or three feet wide and deep, and of uncertain length and 
shape, often wandering about for thirty or forty feet, and run- 
ning confusedly into each other. They are not the work of 
man, nor of an animal; for no earth seems to have been 
thrown out of them. In the bottom of the dry graves you 
sometimes see a decaying root: but most of them just now 
are full of water, and of tiny fish also, who burrow in the 
mud and sleep during the dry season, to come out and swim 
during the wet. Tliese graves are, some of them, plainly 
quite new. Some, again, are very old ; for trees of all sizes 
are growing in them and over them. 

What makes them ? A question not easily answered. But 
the shrewdest forestere say that they have held the roots of 
trees now dead. Either the tree has fallen and torn its roots 
out of the ground, or the roots and stumps have rotted in their 
place, and the soil above them has fallen in. 

But they must decay very quickly, these roots, to leave 
their quite fresh graves thus empty : and — now one thinks of 
it — ^how few fallen trees, or even dead sticks, there are about. 
An Enjrlish wood, if left to itself, would be cumbered with 
fallen timber ; and one has heard of forests in North America, 
through which it is all but impossible to make way, so high 
are piled up, among the still-growing trees, dead logs in every 
stage of decay. Such a bight may be seen in Europe, among 
the high Silver-fir forests of the Pyrenees. How is it not so 
here ? How indeed ? And how comes it — if you will look 
again — that there are few or no fallen leaves, and actually no 
leaf-mould 7 In an English wood there would be a foot — 


perhaps two feet — of black soil, renewed hy eveiy autuniD 
leaf falL Two feet ? One has heard often enough of bison- 
hunting in Himalayan forests among Deodaras one hundred 
and fifty feet high, and scarlet Rhododendrons thirty feet 
high, growing in fifteen or twenty feet of leaf-and-timber 
mould. And here in a forest equally ancient, every plant is 
growing out of the bare yellow loam, as it might in a well- 
hoed garden bed. Is it not strange ? 

Most strange ; till you remember where you are — in one of 
Nature's hottest and dampest laboratories. Nearly eighty 
inches of yearly rain and more than eighty degrees of per- 
•)etual heat make swift work with vegetable fibre, which, in 
our cold and sluggard clime, would curdle into leaf-mould, 
perhaps into peat. Far to the north, in poor old Ireland, 
and far to the south, in Patagonia, begin the zones of peat, 
where dead vegetable fibre, its treasures of light and heat 
locked up, lies all but useless age after age. But this is the 
zone of illimitable sun-force, which destroys as swiftly as 
it generates, and generates again as swiftly as it destroys. 
Here, when the forest giant falls, as some tell me that they 
have heard him fall, on silent nights, when the cracking of the 
roots below and the lianes aloft rattles like musketry through 
the woods, till the gi*eat trunk comes down, with a boom as 
of a heavy gun, re-echoing on from mountain-side to moun- 
tain-side ; then — 

" Nothing in bim that dotb fade. 
But doth snffer an air-change 
Into something rich and strange." 

Under the genial rain and genial heat the timber tree 
itself, all its tangled ruin of lianes and parasites, and 
the boughs and leaves snapped off not only by the blow, 
but by the very wind, of the falling tree — all melt away 
swiftly and peacefully in a few months — say almost a few 
days — ^into the water, and carbonic acid, and sunlight, out 
of which they were created at first, to be absorbed instantly 
by the green leaves around, and, transmuted into fresh forms 
of beauty, leave not a wrack behind. Explained thus — and 
this I believe to be the true explanation — the absence of 
leaf-mould is one of the grandest, sks it is one of the most 
startling, phsenomena of the forest 


liOok here at a fresli wonder. Away in front of us a 
smooth grey pillar glistens on high. You can see neither the 
top nor the bottom of it. But its colour, and its perfectly 
cylindrical shape, tell you what it is — a glorious Palmiste ; one 
of those queens of the forest which you saw standing in the 
fields ; with its capital buried in the green cloud and its base 
buried in that bank of green velvet plumes, which you must 
skirt carefully round, for they are a prickly dwarf pahn, called 
here Black Koseau.^ Close to it rises another pillar, as straight 
and smooth, but one-fourth of the diameter — a giant's walk- 
ing cane. Its head, too, is in the green cloud. But near 
are two or three younger ones only forty or fifty feet high, 
and you see their delicate feather heads, and are told that 
they are Manacques ; ^ the slender nymphs which attend 
upon the forest queen, as beautiful, though not as grand, 
as she. 

The land slopes down fast now. You are tramping 
through stiff mud, and those Eoseaux are a sign of water. 
There is a stream or gully near : and now for the first time 
you can see clear sunshine through the stems ; and see, too, 
something of the bank of foliage on the other side of the 
brook. You catch sight, it may be, of the head of a tree aloft, 
blazing with golden trumpet flowxrs, which is a Poui ; and of 
another lower one covered with hoar-frost, perhaps a Croton ;* 
and of another, a giant covered with purple tassels. That is 
an Angelim. Another giant overtops even him. His dark 
glossy leaves toss off sheets of silver light as they flicker in 
the breeze ; for it blows hard aloft outside while you are in 
stifling calm. That is a Balata. And what is that on high ? — 
Twenty or thirty square yards of rich crimson a hundred feet 
above the ground. The flow^ers may belong to the tree itself. 
It may be a Mountain-mangrove,* which I have never seen in 
flower: but take the glasses and decide. No.. The flowers 
belong to a liane. The " wonderful " Prince of Wales's feather^ 
has taktn possession of the head of a huge Mombin,* and 
tiled it all over with crimson combs which crawl out to the 
ends of the branches, and dangle twenty or thirty feet down, 

* BactrU. • Euterpe olcraceo. ' Croton gossypifolium. * Moronobea coccinea. 
* Noraiitea. * Spondias lutes (Hog-plum). 


waving and leaping in the breeze. And over all blazes the 
cloudless blue. 

You gaze astounded. Ten steps downward, and the vision 
is gone. The green cloud has closed again over your head, 
and you are stumbling in the darkness of the bush, half 
blinded by the sudden change from the blaze to the shade. 
Beware. " Take care of the Croc-chieii ! " shouts your com- 
panion : and you are aware of, not a foot from your face, a 
long, green, curved whip, armed with pairs of barbs some four 
inches apart ; and are aware also, at the same moment, that 
another has seized you by the arm, another by the knees, and 
that you must back out, unless you are willing to part with 
your clothes first, and your flesh afterwards. You back out, 
and find that you have walked into the tips — luckiiy only into 
the tips — of the fern-like fronds of a trailing and climbing 
palm such as you see in the Botanic Gardens. That came 
from the East, and furnishes the rattan-canes. This^ 
furnishes the gri-gri-canes, and is rather worse to meet, if 
possible, than the rattan. Your companion, while he helps 
you to pick the barbs out, calls the palm laughingly by 
another name," Suelta-mi-lngles;" and tells you the old story 
of the Spanisli soldier at San Josef. You are near the water 
now; for here is a thicket of Balisiera.* Push througli, under 
tlieir great plantain-like leaves. Slip down the muddy bank 
to that patch of gravel. See first, though, that it is not 
tenanted already by a deadly Mapepire, or rattlesnake, which 
has not the grace, as his cousin in North America has, to use 
his rattle. 

Tlie brooklet, muddy with last night's rain, is dammed and 
bridged by winding roots, in shape like the jointed wooden 
snakes which we used to play with as children. They belong 
probably to a fig, whose trunk is somewhere up in the green 
cloud. Sit down on one, and look, around and aloft. From 
the soil to the sky, which peeps through here and there, 
the air is packed with green leaves of every imaginable hue 
and shape. iJound our feet are Arums,^ with snow-white 
spadixps and hoods, one instance among many here of 
brilliant colour developing itself in deep shade. But is the 

1 Desmoucos. ' HeUconia. ' Spathiphyllum cauufolium. 


darkness of the forest actually as great as it seems ? Or are 
our eyes, accustomed to the hlaze outside, unable to expand 
rapidly enough, and so liable to mistake for darkness air 
really full of light reflected downward, again and again, at 
every angle, from the glossy surfaces of a million leaves ? At 
least we may be excused ; for a bat has made the same mistake, 
and flits past us at noonday. And there is another — No ; as 
it turns, a blaze of metallic azure off the upper side of the 
wings proves this one to be no bat, but a Morpho — a moth 
as big as a bat. And what was that second larger flash of 
golden green, which dashed at the moth, and back to yonder 
branch not ten feet off? A Jacamar' — kingfisher, as they 
miscall her here, sitting fearless of man, with the moth in her 
long beak. Her throat is snowy white, her under-parts rich 
red brown. Her breast, and all her upper plumage and long . 
tail, glitter with golden green. ITiere is light enough in this 
darkness, it seems. But now a look again at the plants. 
Among the white-flowered Arums are other Arums, stalked 
and spotted, of which beware; for they are the poisonous 
Seguine-diable,* the dumb-cane, of which evil tales were told 
in the days of slavery. A few drops of its milk, put into the 
mouth of a refractory slave, or again into the food of a cruel 
master, could cause swelling, choking, and burning agony for 
many hours. 

Over our heads bend the great arrow leaves and purple 
leaf-stalks of the Tanias ; ^ and mingled with them, leaves 
often largiir still: o/al, glossy, bright, ribbed, reflecting from 
their underside a silver light They belong to Arumas;* 
and from their ribs are woven the Indian baskets and packs. 
Above these, again, the Balisiers bend their long leaves, 
eight or ten feet long apiece; and under the shade of the 
loaves their gay flower-spikes, like double rows of orange 
and black birds' beaks upside down. Above them, and 
among them, rise stiff upright shrubs, with pairs of pointed 
leaves, a foot long some of them, pale green above, and 
yellow or fawn-coloured beneath. You may see, by the 
three longitudinal ner\TS in each leaf, that they are Melas- 

1 Galhula. 

* Dleffenbnchia, of which yarieties are not now uncommon in hothouses. 

* Xauthosoma. ^ Calathea. 


tomas of different kinds — a sure token they that you are 
in the Tropics — a probable token that you are in Tropical 

And over them, and among them, what a strange variety 
of foliage ; Look at the contrast between the Balisicrs and that 
branch which has thrust itself among them, which you take 
for a dark copper-coloured fern, so finely divided are its 
glossy leaves. It is really a Mimosa — Bois Mulatre^ as they 
call it here. What a contrast again, the huge feathery fronds 
of the Cocorite palms which stretch right away hither 
over our heads, twenty and thirty feet in length. And what 
is that spot of crimson flame hanging in the darkest spot 
of all from an under-bough of tliat low w^eeping tree ? A 
flower-head of the Eosa del Monte.^ And what that bright 
straw-coloured fox's brush above . it, with a brown hood 
like that of an Arum, brush and hood nigh three feet long 
each? Look — for you require to look more than once, 
sometimes more than twice — here, up the stem of that 
Cocorite, or as much of it as you can see in the thicket. It 
is all jagged with the brown butts of its old fallen leaves; 
and among the butts perch broad-leaved ferns, and fleshy 
Orchids, and above them, just below the plume of mighty 
fronds, the yellow fox's brush, which is its spathe of flower. 

What next ? Above the Cocorites dangle, amid a dozen dif- 
ferent kinds of leaves, festoons of a liane, or of two, for one has 
purple flowers, the other yellow — Bignonias, Bauhinias — what 
not? And through them a Carat* palm has thrust its thin 
bending stem, and spread out its flat head of fan-shaped leaves 
twenty feet long each : while over it, I verily believe, hangs 
eighty feet aloft the head of the very tree upon whose roots 
we are sitting. For amid the green cloud you may see sprigs 
of leaf somewhat like that of a weeping willow ;* and there, 
probably, is the trunk to which they belong, or mther what 
will be a trunk at last. At present it is like a number of 
round-edged boards of every size, set on end, and slow^ly 
coalescing at their edges. There is a slit down the middle of 
the trunk, twenty or thirty feet long. You may see the green 
light of the forest shining through it. Yes. That is probably 
the fig ; or, if not, then something else. For who am I, that T 

Pentaclethra filaznentoaa. ' Brownea. ' SabaL * Ficua salicifolia f 


should know the hundredth part of the forms on which we look ? 
— And above all you catch a glimpse of that crim- 
son mass of Norantea which we admired just now; and, 
black as yew against the blue sky and white cloud, the 
plumes of one Palmiste, who has climbed toward the 
light, it may be for centuries, through the green cloud; and 
now, weary and yet triumphant, rests her dark head among the 
bright foliage of a Ceiba, and feeds unhindered on the sun. 

There, take your tired eyes down again ; and turn them right, 
or left, or where you will, to see the same scene, and yet never 
the sama New forms, new combinations ; a wealth of crea- 
tive Genius — let us use the wise old word in its true sense — 
incomprehensible by the human intellect or the human eye, 
even as He is who makes it all, Whose garment, or rather 
Whose speech, it is. The eye is not tilled with seeing, or the 
ear with hearing ; and never would be, did you roam these 
forests flSr a hundred years. How many years would you 
need merely to examine and discriminate the different species ? 
And when you had done that, how many more to learn their 
action and reaction on each other ? How many more to learn 
their virtues, properties, uses ? How many more to answer 
the perhaps ever unanswerable question — How they exist 
and grow at all? By what miracle they are compacted 
out of light, air, and water, each after its kind? How, 
again, those kinds began to be, and what they were like at 
first ? Whether those crowded, struggling, competing shapes 
are stable or variable? Whether or not they are vary- 
ing still? Whether even now, as we sit here, the great 
God may not be creating, slowly but surely, new forms 
of beauty round us? Why not? If He chose to do it, 
could He not do it? And even had you answered that 
question, which would require whole centuries of observa- 
tion as patient and accurate as that which Mr. Darwin 
employed on Orchids and climbing plants, how much nearer 
would you be to the deepest question <5f all — Do these things 
exist, or only appear? Are they solid realities, or a mere 
phantasmagoria, orderly indeed, and law-ruLed. but a 
phantasmagoria still; a picture-book by which God speaks 
to rational essences, created in His own likeness ? And 
even had you solved that old problem, and decided fox 


Berkeley oi against him, you would still have to learn 
from these foreste a knowledge which enters into man 
not through the head, but through the heart ; which (let 
some modem philosophers say what they will) defies all 
analysis, aud can be no more defined or explained by woids 
than a mother's love. I mean, the causes and the effects 
of their beauty ; that " Jisthetic of plants," of which 
Schleiden has spoken so well in that charming book oi 
his, " The Plant," which all should read who wish to know 
somewhat of " The Open Secret." 

But wheu they read it, let them read with open hearts. 
For that same "Open Secret" is, I suspect, one of those 
which God may hide from the wise and prudent, and yet 
reveal to babes. 

At least, so it seemed to me, the first day that t went, awe- 
struck, into the High Woods ; and so it seemed to me, the 
last day that I came, even more awe-struck, out of them. 



Wb were, of course, desirous to visit tliat famous Lake of 
Pitch, wliich our old nursery literature described as one of 
the " Wonders of the World." It is not that ; it is merely 
a very odd, quaint, unexpected, and only half-explained 
phsenomenon : but no wonder. That epithet should be kept 
for such matters as the growth of a crystal, the formation of 
a cell, the germination of a seed, the coming true of a plant, 
whether from a fruit or from a cutting : in a word, for any 
and all those hourly and momentary miracles which were 
attributed of old to some Vis Formatrix of nature ; and are 
now attributed to some other abstract formula, as they will 
be to some fresh one, and to a dozen more, before the century 
is out ; because the more accurately and deeply they are in- 
vestigated, the more inexplicable they will be found. 

So it is ; but the " public " are not inclined to believe that 
so it is, and will not see, till their minds get somewhat of a 
truly scientific training. 

If any average educated person were asked — Which 
seemed to him more wonderful, that a hen's egg should 
always produce a chicken, or that it should now and then 
produce a sparrow or a duckling?— can it be doubted what 
answer he would give ? or that it would be the wrong 
answer? What answer, again, would he make to tlie 
question — Which is more wonderful, that dwarfs and 
giants — i.e. people under four feet six or over six feet 
six — should be exceedingly rare? — or that the human race 
is not of all possible heights from three inches to thirty 
feet? Can it be doubted that in this case, as in the last, 
the wrong answer would be given ? He would defend him- 
self, probably, if he had a smattering of science, by saying 

174 LA BREA. 

that experience teaches us that Nature works by " invariable 
laws ;" by which he would mean, usually unbroken customs ; 
and that he has, therefore, a right to be astonished if they 
are broken. But he would be wrong. The just cause of 
astonishment is, that the laws are, on the whole, invariable ; 
that the customs are so seldom broken ; that sun and moon, 
plants and animals, grains of dust and vesicles of vapour, 
are not perpetually committing some vagary or other, and 
making as great fools of themselves as human beings are 
wont to do. Happily for the existence of the universe, they 
do not. But how, and still more why, things in general 
behave so respectably and loyally, is a wonder which is either 
utterly inexplicable, or explicable, I hold, only on the old 
theory that they obey Some One — whom we obey to a very 
limited extent indeed. Not that this latter theory gets rid of 
the perpetual and omnipresent element of wondrousness. If 
matter alone, exists, it is a wonder and a mystery how it 
obeys itself If A Spirit exists, it is a wonder and a mystery 
how He makes matter obey Him. All that the scientific 
man can do is, to confess the presence of mystery all day 
long ; and to live in that wholesome and calm attitude of 
wonder which we call awe and reverence ; that so he may be 
delivered from the unwholesome and passionate fits of wonder 
which we call astonishment, the child of ignorance and fear, 
and the parent of rashness and superstition. So will he 
keep his mind in the attitude most fit for seizing new facts, 
whenever they are presented to him. So he will be able, 
when he doubts of a new fact, to examine himself whether 
he doubts it on just grounds ; whether his doubt may not 
proceed from mere self-conceit, because the fact does not suit 
his preconceived theories ; whether it may not proceed from 
an even lower passion, which he shares (being human) with 
the most uneducated ; namely, from dread of the two great 
bogies, Novelty and Size — novelty, which makes it hard 
to convince the country fellow that in the tropics great 
flowers grow on tall trees, as they do here on herbs ; size, 
which makes it hard to convince him that in far lands trees 
are often two and three hundred feet high, simply because he 
has never seen one here a hundred feet high. It is not 
surprising, but saddening, to watch what power these two 


phantoms have over the minds of those who would be angry 
if tliey were supposed to be uneducated. How often has one 
heard the existence of the sea-serpent declared impossible 
and absurd, on these very grounds, by people who thought 
they were arguing scientifically : the sea-serpent could tiot 
exist, firstly because — because it was so odd, strange, new, 
in a word, and unlike anything that they had ever seen or 
fancied; and, secondly, because it was so big. Tlie first 
argument would apply to a thousand new facts, which phy- 
sical science is daily proving to be true; and the second, 
when the reputed size of the sea-serpent is compared with the 
known size of the ocean, rather more silly than the assertion 
that a ten-pound pike could not live in a half-acre pond, 
because it was too small to hold him. The true arguments 
against the existence of a sea-serpent, namely, that no 
Ophidian could live long under water, and that therefore 
the sea-serpent, if he existed, would be seen continually 
at the surface ; and again, that the appearance taken 
for a sea-serpent has been proved, again and again, to 
be merely a long line of rolling porpoises — these really 
sound arguments would be nothing to such people, or only be 
accepted as supplementing and corroborating their dislike 
to believe in anything new, or anything a little bigger 
than usual. 

Bujb so works the average, i.e. the uneducated and barbaric 
intellect, afraid of the New and the Big, whether in space or 
in time. How the fear of those two phantoms has hindered 
our knowledge of this planet, the geologist knows only 
too well. 

It was excusable, therefore, that this Pitch Lake should be 
counted among the wonders of the world ; for it is, certainly, 
tolerably big. It covers ninety-nine acres, and contains 
millions of tons of so-called pitch. 

Its first discoverers, of course, were not bound to see that 
a pitch lake of ninety-nine acres was no more wonderful 
than any of the little pitch wells — " spues " or " galls," as 
we should call them in Hampshire — a yard across ; or any 
one of the tiny veins and lumps of pitch which abound in 
the surrounding forests ; and no less wonderful than if it had 
covered ninety-nine thousand acres instead of ninety-nine. 

176 LA BREA. 

Moreover, it was a novelty. People were not aware of the 
vast quantity of similar deposits which exist up and down 
the hotter regions of the globe. And being new and big 
too, its genesis demanded, for the comfort of the barbaric 
intellect, a cataclysm, and a convulsion, and some sort of 
prodigious birth, which was till lately referred, like many 
another strange object, to volcanic action. The explanation 
savoured somewhat of a "bull;" for what a volcano could 
do to pitch, save to bum it up into coke and gases, it is 
difficult to see. 

It now turns out that the Pitch Lake, like most other 
things, owes its appearance on the surface to no convulsion 
or vagary at all, but to a most slow, orderly, and respectable 
process of nature, by which buried vegetable matter, which 
would have become peat, and finally brown coal, in a tem- 
perate climate, becomes, under the hot tropic soil, asphalt 
and oil, continually oozing up beneath the pressure of the 
strata above it. Such, at least, is the opinion of Messrs. 
Wall and Sawkins, the geological surveyors of Trinidad, and 
of several chemists whom they quote ; and I am bound to 
say, that all I saw at the lake and elsewhere, during two 
separate visits, can be easily explained on their hypothesis, 
and that no other possible cause suggests itself as yet. The 
same cause, it may be, has produced the submarine spiing of 
petroleum, off the shore near Point Rouge, where men can at 
times skim the floating oil off the surface of the sea; the 
petroleum and asphalt of the Windward Islands and of 
Cuba, especially the well-known Barbados tar; and the 
petroleum springs of the mainland, described by Hum- 
boldt, at Truxillo, in the Gulf of Cumana; and "the 
inexhaustible deposits of mineral pitch in the provinces 
of Merida and Coro, and, above all, in that of Maracaybo. 
In the latter, it is employed for caulking the ships which 
navigate the lake."^ But the reader shall hear what the 
famous lake is like, and judge for himself. Why not ? He 
may not be "scientific," but, as Professor Huxley well 

^ Quoted from Codazzl, by Messrs. Wall and Sawkins, in an Appendix on 
Asphalt Deposits, an excellent monograph which first pointed out, as far m I 
am aware, the fact tliat asphalt, at leocit at the surface, is found almost exclu- 
sirely in the wanner parts of the globe. 

TBOIS. 177 

«ays, what is scientific thought bat common-sense well 
regulated ? 

Kiinmng down, then, by steamer, some thirty-six miles 
south from Port of Spain, along a flat mangrove shore, 
broken only at one spot by the conical hill of San Fernando, 
we arrived off a peninsula, whose flat top is somewhat higher 
than the lowland right and left. The uplands are rich with 
primaeval forest, and perhaps always have been. The lower 
land, right and left, was, I believe, cultivated for sugar, till 
the disastrous epoch of 1846 : but it is now furred over with 
rastrajo woods. 

We ran, on our first visit, past the pitch point of La Brea, 
south westward to Trois, where an industrial farm for convicts 
had been established by my host the Governor. We were 
lifted on shore through a tumbling surf; and welcomed by 
an intelligent and courteous German gentleman, who showed 
us all that was to be seen ; and what we salw was satisfactory 
enough. The estate was paying, though this was only its 
third year. An average number of 77 convicts* had already 
cleared 195 acres, of which 182 were under cultivation. 
Part of this had just been reclaimed from pestilential swamp : 
a permanent benefit to the health of the island. In spite of 
the exceptional drought of the year before, and the sub- 
sequent plague of caterpillars, 83,000 pounds of rice had 
been grown; and the success of the rice crop, it must be 
remembered, will become more and more important to the 
island, as the increase of Coolie labourers increases the 
demand for the grain. More than half the plantains put in 
(22,000) were growing, and other vegetables in abundance. 
But, above all, there were more than 7,000 young coco-palms 
doing well, and promising a perpetual source of wealth for 
the future. For as the trees grow, and the crops raised 
between tbem diminish, the coco-palms will require little or 
no care, but yield fruit the whole year round without further 
expense ; and the establishment can then be removed else- 
where, to reclaim a fresh sheet of land. 

Altogether, the place was a satisfactory specimen of what 
can be effected in a tropical country by a Government which 
will govern. Since then, another source of profitable em- 
ployment for West Indian convicts has been suggested to me. 


178 LA BREA. 

Baml)oo, it is now found, will supply an admirable material 
for paper ; and I have been assured by paper-makers 
that those who will plant the West Indian wet lands with 
bamboo for their use, may realize enormous profits. 

We scrambled back into the boat — had, of course, a heap 
of fruit, bananas, oranges, pine-apples, tossed in after us — and 
ran back again in the steamer to the famous La Brea. 

As we neared the shore, we perceived that the beach was 
black with pitch ; and the breeze being oft* the land, the 
asphalt smell (not unpleasant) came oft' to welcome us We 
rowed in, and saw in front of a little row of wooden houses 
a tall mulatto, in blue policeman's dress, gesticulating and 
shouting to us. He was the ward-policeman, and I found 
him (as I did all the coloured police) able and courteous, 
shrewd and trusty. These police are excellent specimens of 
what can be made of the Negro, or Half-negro, if he be but 
first diilled, and then given a responsibility which calls out 
his self-respect. He was warning our ciew not to run 
aground on one or other of the pitch reefs, which here take 
the place of rocks. A large one, a hundred yards oft* on the 
left, has been almost all dug away, and carried to New York 
or to Paris to make asphalt pavement. 

The boat was run ashore, under his directions, on a spit of 
sand between the pitch ; and when she ceased bumping up 
and down in the muddy surf, we scrambled out into a world 
exactly the hue of its inhabitants — of every shade, from 
jet-black to copper-brown. The pebbles on the shore were 
l)itch. A tide-pool close by was enclosed in pitch : a four-eyes 
was swimming about in it, staring up at us; and when we 
hunted him, tried to escape, not by diving, but by jumping 
on shore on the pitch, and scrambling oft" between our legs. 
While the policeman, after profoundest courtesies, was gone 
to get a mule-cart to take us up to the lake, and planks to 
bridge its water-channels, we took a look round at this oddest 
of corners of the earth. 

In front of us was the unit of civilization — the police- 
station, vooden, on w'ooden stilts (as all well-built houses 
are here), to ensure a draught of air beneath them. We 
were, of course, asked to come in and sit down, but prefeiTed 
^ -coking about, under our umbrellas ; for the heat was intense. 

EOUOOir. 173 

The soil is half pitch, half brown earth, among which the 
pitch sweals in and out, as tallow sweals from a candle. It 
IS always in slow motion under the heat of the tropic sun : 
and no wonder if some of the cottages have sunk right and 
left in such a treacherous foundation. A stone or brick 
house could not stand here: but wood and palm-thatch are 
both light and tough enough to be safe, let the ground give 
way as it will. 

The soil, however, is very rich. The pitch certainly does 
not injure vegetation, though plants will not grow actually in 
it. The first plants which caught our eyes were pine-apples ; 
for which La Brea is famous. The heat of the soil, as well 
as of the air, brings them to special perfection. They grow 
about anywhere, unprotected by hedge or fence ; for the 
Negros here seem honest enough, at least towards each 
other. And at the corner of the house was a bush worth 
looking at, for we had heard of it for many a year. It bore 
prickly, heart-shaped pods an inch long, filled with seeds 
coated with a red waxy pulp. 

This was a famous plant — Bixa Orellana, lloucou ; and 
that pulp was the well-known Arnotta dye of commerce. In 
England and Holland, it is used merely, I believe, to colour 
cheeses ; but in the Spanish Main, to colour human beings. 
The Indian of the Orinoco prefers paint to clothes ; and 
when he has " roucoued" himself from head to foot, considers 
himself in full dress, whether for war or dancing. Doubtless 
he knows his own business best from long experienca In- 
deed, as we stood broiling on the shore, we began somewhat 
to regret that European manners and customs prevented our 
adopting the Guaraon and Arawak fashion. 

The mule-cart arrived ; the lady of the party was put into 
it on a chair, and slowly bumped and rattled past the corner 
of Dundonald Street — so named after the old sea-hero, who 
was, in his lifetime, full of projects for utilizing this same 
pitch — and up a pitch road, with a pitch gutter on each side. 

The pitch in the road has been, most of it; laid down by 
hand, and is slowly working down the slight incline, leaving 
pools and ruts full of water, often invisible, because covered 
with a film of brown pitcli-dust, and so letting in the unwaiy 
walker over his shoes. The pitnh in the gutter-bank is in its 

N 2 

native place, and as it spues slowly out of the soil into the 
ditch in odd wreaths and lumps, we could watch, in little, 
the process which has produced the whole deposit — probably 
the whole lake itself. 

A bullock-cart, laden with pitch, came jolting down past 
U3 ; and we observed that the lumps, when the fracture is 
fresh, have all a drawn-out look; that the very air-bubbles in 
them, v'hicb are oftHU very numerous, are all drawn out like- 
wise. Ion;; and oval, like the air-bubbles in some ductile lavas. 
On our left, as w« went on, the bush was low, all of yellow 
*1 Cassia and white Hibiscus, and 

tangled with lovely convolvulus-like 
creepers, Ipomtea and Echitea, with 
, white, purple, or yellow flowers. On 
1, 1/ the right were Negro huts and gai'- 
/ dens, fewer and fewer as we went on 
— all rich with fruit-trees, especially 
with oranges, hung with fruit of every 
hue; and beuealh them, of course, 
the pine-apples of La Brea. Every- 
where along the road grew, seem- 
ingly wild hei'e, that pretty low tree, 
the Cashew, with rounded yellow- 
veined leaves and little green flowers, 
followed by a quaint pink and red- 
striped pear, from which hangs, at 
the larger and lower end, a kidney- 
crwiuTT aki. shaped beau.which bold folk eat when 

roasted : but woe to those who try it when raw ; for the acrid 
oil blisters the lips, and even while the beans are roasting 
the fumes of the oil will blister the cook's face if she holds 
it too near the fire. 

As we went onward up the gentle slope (the rise is one 
hundred and thirty-eight feet in rather more than & mile), 
the ground became more and more full of pitch, and the 
vegetation poorer and more rashy, till it resembled, on the 
whole, that of an English fen. An Ipomcea or two, and a 
scarlet-flowered dwarf Heliconia, kept up the tropic type, as 
does s stiff brittle fern about two feet high.' We picked 
> BUchuatu MiTuUnun. 


the weeds, which looked like English mint or basil, and 
found that most of them had three longitudinal nerves in 
each leaf, and were really Melastomas, though dwarfed into a 
(ar meaner habit than that of the noble forms we saw at 
Chaguanas, and again on the other side of the lake. On the 
right, too, in a hollow, was a whole wood of Groo-groo palms, 
grey stemmed, grey leaved ; and here and there a patch of 
white or black roseau rose gracefully eight or ten feet high 
among the reeds. 

The plateau of pitch now widened out, and the whole 
ground looked like an asphalt pavement, half overgrown 
with marsh-loving weeds, whose roots feed in the sloppy 
water which overlies the pitch. But, as yet, there was no 
sign of the lake. The incline, thongh gentle, shuts off the 
view of what is beyond. This last lip of the lake has surely 
overflowed, and is overflowing still, though very slowly. Its 
furrows all curve downward ; and it is, in fact, as one of our 
party said, "a black glacier." The pitch, expanding undei 
the burning sun of day, must needs expand most towards the 
line of least resistance, that is, downhill ; and when it con- 
tracts ^ain under the coolness of night, it contracts, surely 
from the same cause, more downhill than it does uphill; 
and so each particle never returns to the spot whence it 
started, but rather drags the particles above it downward 
toward itself. At least, so it seemed to us. Thus may 
be explained the common mistake which is noticed by 
Messrs. Wall and Sawkins' in their admirable description 
of the lake. 

"All previous descriptions refer the bituminous matter 
scattered over the La Brea district, and especially that 
between the village and the lake, to streams which have 
issued at some former epoch from the lake, and extended 
into the sea. This supposition is totally incorrect, as solidifi- 
cation would have probably ensued before it had proceeded 
one-tenth of the distance; and such of the asphalt as has 
undoubtedly escaped from the lake has not advanced more 
than a few yards, and always presents the curved surfaces 
already described, and never appears as an extended 

*' Geological Sanrey of Trinidad ;*' Appendix G, on Asphaltic Dej^oiuU. 

'82 LA BREA. 

Agreeing with this statement as a whole, I nevertheless 
cannot but think it probable that a great deal of the asphalt, 
whether it be in large masses or in scattered veins, may be 
moving very slowly downhill, from the lake to the sea, by 
the process of expansion by day, and contraction by night ; 
and may be likened to a caterpillar, or rather caterpillars in- 
numerable, progressing by expanding and contracting their 
rinj-s, having strength enough to crawl downhill, but not 
strength enough to back uphill again. 

At last we surmounted the last rise, and before us lay the 
famous lake — not at the bottom of a depression, as we ex- 
pected, but at the top of a rise, whence the ground slopes 
away from it on two sides, and rises from it very slightly on 
the two others. The black pool glared and glittered in the 
sun, A group of islands, some twenty yards wide, were 
scattered about the middle of it. Beyond it rose a nobie 
forest of Moriche fan-palms ; ^ and to the right of them high 
wood with giant Mombins and undergrowth of Cocorite— a 
paradise on the other side of the Stygian pool. 

We walked, with some misgivings, on to the asphalt, and 
found it perfectly hard. In a few yards we were stopped by 
a channel of clear water, with tiny fish and water-Deetles in 
it; and, looking round, saw that the whole lake was intersected 
with channels, so unlike anything which can be seen else- 
where, that it is not easy to describe them. 

Conceive a crowd of mushrooms, of all shapes, from ten to 
fifty feet across, close together side by side, their tops being 
kept at exactly the same level, their rounded rims squeezed 
tight against each other ; then conceive water poured on them 
so as to fill the parting seams, and in the wet season, during 
which we visited it, to overflow the tops somewhat. Thus 
would each mushroom represent, tolerably well, one of the 
innumerable fiat asphalt bosses, which seem to have sprung up 
each from a separate centre, while the parting seams would 
be of much the same shape as those in the asphalt, broad and 
shallow atop, and rolling downward in a smooth curve, till 
they aie at bottom mere crocks, from two to ten feet deep. 
Whether these cracks actually close up below, and the two 
contiguous masses of pitch become one, cannot be seen. As 

^ Mauiitia flezuosa. 


far as the eye goes down, they ai'e two, though pressed close 
to each other. Messrs. Wall and Sawkins explain the odd 
fact clearly and simply. The oil, they say, which the asphalt 
contains when it rises first, evaporates in the sun, of course 
most on the outside of the heap, leaving a tough coat of 
asphalt, which has. generally, no power to unite with the cor- 
responding coat of the next mass. Meanwhile, Mr. Manross, 
an American gentleman, who has written a very clever and 
interesting account of the lake,^ seems to have been so far 
deceived by the curved and squeezed edges of these masses, 
that he attributes to each of them a revolving motion, and sup- 
poses that the material is continually passing from the centre 
to the edges, when it " rolls under," and rises again in the 
middle. Certainly the strange stuff looks, at the firat glance, 
as if it were behaving in this way ; and certainly, also, his 
theory would explain the appearance of sticks and logs in the 
pitch. But Messrs. Wall and Sawkins say that they observed 
no such motion ; nor did we : and I agree with them, that it 
is not very obvious to what force, or w^hat influence, it could 
be attributable. We must, therefore, seek for some other way 
of accounting for the sticks — which utterly puzzled us, and 
which Mr. Manross well describes as "numerous pieces of 
wood which, being involved in the pitch, are constantly 
coming to the surface. They are often several feet in length, 
and five or six inches in diameter. On reaching the surface 
they generally assume an upright position, one end being 
detained in the pitch, while the other is elevated by the lift- 
ing of the middle. They may be seen at frequent intervals 
over the lake, standing up to the height of two or even three 
feet. They look like stumps of trees protruding through the 
pitch ; but their parvenu character is curiously betrayed by a 
ragged cap of pitch which invariably covers the top, and 
hangs down like hounds' ears on either sida" 

Whence do they come ? Have they been blown on to the 
lake, or left behind by man ? or are they fossil trees, integral 
parts of the vegetable stratum below which is continually 
i-olling upward ? or are they of both kinds ? I do not know. 
Only this is certain, aB Messrs. Wall and Sawkins have 
pointed out, that not only " the purer varieties of asphalt, 

* "American Joirual of Science," Sept 1855. 

184 LA BHEA. 

such as appi-uuch oj* are identical with asphalt glance, have 
been observed " (though not, I think, in the lake itself) " in 
isolated masses, where there was little doubt of their proceed-^ 
ing from ligneous substances of larger dimensions, such as 
roots and pieces of trunks and branches ; " but moreover, that 
" it is also necessary to admit a species of conversion by con- 
tact ; since pieces of wood included accidentally in the 
asphalt, for example, by dropping from overhanging vegeta- 
tion, are often found partially transformed into the material." 
This is a statement which we veritied again and again : as we 
did the one which follows, namely, that the hollow bubbles 
which abound on the surface of the pitch " generally contain 
traces of the lighter portions of vegetation," and " are mani- 
festly derived from leaves, &c., which are blown about the 
lake by the wind, and are covered with asphalt, and as they 
become asphalt themselves, give off gases, which form bubbles 
it)und them." 

But how is it that those logs stand up out of the asphalt, 
with asphalt caps and hounds' ears (as Mr. Manross well 
phrases it) on the tops of them ? 

We pushed ou across the lake, over the planks which the 
Negros laid dovsrn from island to island.- Some, meanwhile, 
pi-eferred a steeple-chase with water-jumps, after the fashion 
of the midshipmen on a certain second visit to the lake. 
How the Negros grinned delight and surprise at the vagaries 
of English lads — a species of animal altogether new to them. 
And how they grinned still more when certain staid and 
portly dignitaries caught the infection, and proved, by more 
than one good leap, that they too had been English school- 
boys — alas ! long, long ago. 

So, whether by bridging, leaping, or wading, we arrived at 
last at the little islands, and found them covered with a thick 
low scrub ; deep sedge, and among them Pinguins, like huge 
pine apples without the apple ; grey wild Pines— parasites 
on Matapalos, which of course have established themselves, 
like robbers and vagrants as they are, everywhere^ a true 
Holly, with box-like leaves ; and a rare Cocoa-plum,^ very 
like the hoUy in habit, which seems to be all but confined to 
these little patcl^es of red earth, afloat ou the pitch. Out of 

1 ChrysobalanuB PeUocarpus. 


the scrub, when we were there, flew off two or three 
night-jars, very like our English species, save that they 
had white in the wings; and on the second visit, one of 
the midshipmen, true to the English boy's birds'-nesting 
instinct, found one of their eggs, white-spotted, in a grass 

Passing these little islands, which are said (I know not 
how truly) to change their places and number, we came to 
the very fountains of Styx, to that part of the lake where the 
asphalt is still oozing up. 

As the wind set toward us, we soon became aware of an 
evil smell — petroleum and sulphuretted hydrogen at once — 
which gave some of us a headache. The pitch here is 
yellow and white with sulphur foam ; so are the water- 
channels ; and out of both water and pitch innumerable 
bubbles of gas arise, loathsome to the smelL We became 
aware also that the pitch was soft under our feet. We left the 
impression of our boots ; and if we had stood still awhile, we 
should soon have been ankle-deep. No doubt there are spots 
where, if a man stayed long enough, he would be slowly and 
horribly engulfed. " But," as Mr. Manross says tmly, " in no 
place is it possible to form those bowl-like depressions round 
the observer described by former travellers." What we did 
see is, that the fresh pitch oozes out at the lines of least re- 
sistance, namely, in the channels between the older and more 
hardened masses, usually at the upper ends of them ; so that 
one may stand on pitch comparatively hard, and put one's 
hand into pitch quite liquid, which is flowing softly out, like 
some ugly fungoid growth, such as may be seen in old wine- 
cellars, into the water. One such pitch-fungus had grown 
scverai yards in length in the three weeks between our first 
and second visit; and on another, some of our party per- 
formed exactly the same feat as Mr. Manross 

" In one of the star-shaped pools of water, some five feet 
deep, a column of pitch had been forced perpendicularly up 
from the bottom. On re^aching the surface of the water it 
had formed a sort of centre table, about four feet in diameter, 
but without touching the sides of the pool. The stem 
was about a foot in diameter. I leaped out on this 
table, and found that it not onlv sustained mv weight but 

186 LA BREA 

that the elasticity of the stem enabled me to rock it from 
side to side. Pieces torn from the edges of this table sank 
readily, showing that it had been raised by pressure, and not 
by its buoyancy." 

True, though strange : but stranger still did it seem to us, 
when we did at last what the Negros asked us, and dipped 
our hands into the liquid pitch, to find that it did not soil the 
fingers. The old proverb, that one cannot touch pitch with- 
out being defiled, happily does not stand true here, or the 
place would be intolerably loathsome. It can be scraped up, 
moulded into any shape you will ; wound in a string (as was 
done by one of the midshipmen) round a stick, and carried 
off : but nothing is left on the hand save clean grey mud 
and water. It may be kneaded for an hour before the mud 
be sufficiently driven out of it to make it sticky. This very 
abundance of earthy matter it is wliich, while it keeps the 
pitch from soiling, makes it far less valuable than it would 
be were it pure. 

It is easy to understand whence this earthy matter (twenty 
or thirty per cent.) comes. Throughout the neighbourhood 
the ground is full, to the depth of hundreds of feet, of coaly 
and asphaltic matter. Layei's of sandstone or of shale con- 
taining this decayed vegetable, alternate with layers which 
contain none. And if, as seems probable, the coaly matter is 
continually changing into asphalt and oil, and then working 
its way upward through every crack and pore, to escape from 
the enormous pressure of the superincumbent soil, it must 
needs carry up with it innumerable particles of the soils 
through which it passes. 

In five minutes we had seen, handled, and smelt enough to 
satisfy us with this very odd and very nasty vagary of tropic 
nature ; and as we did not wish to become faint and ill, be- 
tween the sulphuretted hydrogen and the blaze of the sun 
reflected ofiT the hot black pitch, we hurried on over the 
water- furrows, and through the sedge-beds to the further 
shore — to find ourselves in a single step out of an Inferno 
into a Paradiso. 

We looked back at the foul place, and agreed that it is well 

*'or the human mind that the Pitch Lake was still unknown 

hen Dante wrote that hideous poem of his — the opprobrium 


(as I hold) of the Middle Age. For if such were the dreams 
of its noblest and purest genius, what must have been the 
dreams of the ignoble and impure multitude ? But liad be 
seen this lake, how easy, how tempting too, it would have 
been to him to embody in imagery the surmise of a certain 
" Father," and heighten the torments of the lost beings, sink- 
ing slowly into that black Bolge beneath the baking rays of 
the tropic sun, by the sight of the saved, walking where we 
walked, beneath cool fragrant shade, among the pillars of a 
temple to which the Parthenon is mean and small. 

Sixty feet an<i more aloft, the short smooth columns of the 
Moriches ^ towered around us, till, as we looked through the 
" pillared shade," the eye was lost in the green abysses of the 
forest. Overhead, their great fan-leaves form a groined roof, 
compared witli which that of St. M ary Redcliff, or even of King's 
College, is as clumsy as all. man's works are beside the wurks 
of (jod ; and beyond the Moriche wood, ostrich plumes packed 
close round madder-brown stems, formed a wall to our temple, 
which bore such tracery, carving,* painting, as would have 
stricken dumb with awe and delight him who ornamented the 
Loggie of the Vatican. Tnie, all is " still-life " here : no 
human forms, hardly even that of a bird, is mixed with the 
vegetable arabesques. A higher state of civilization, ages 
after we are dead, may introduce them, and complete the 
scene by peopling it with a race worthy of it. But the 
Creator, at least, has done His part toward producing perfect 
beauty, all the more beautiful from its contrast with the ugli- 
ness outside. For the w^ant of human beings fit for all that 
beauty, man is alone to blame ; and when we saw approach 
us, as the only priest of such a temple, a wild brown man, 
who feeds his hogs on Moriche fruit and Mombin plums, 
and whose only object was to sell us an ant eater's skin, we 
thought to ourselves — knowing the sad history of the West 
Indies — what might this place have become, during the three 
hundred and fifty years which have elapsed since Columbus 
first sailed round it, had men — calling themselves Christian, 
calling themselves civilized — possessed any tincture of real 
Christianity, of real civilization? What a i-ace, of mingled 
Spaniard and Indian, might have grown up throughout the 

^ MauritiA flexuca. 

183 LA BR£S^. 

West Indies. What a life, what a society, what an art, what 
a science it might have developed ere now, equalling, even 
surpassini?, that of Ionia, Athens, and Sicily, till the fametl 
isles and coasts of Greece should have been almost forgotten 
in the new fame of the isles and coasts of the Carribaeau 

What might not have happened, had men but tried to copy 
their Father in heaven ? What has happened is but too well 
known, since, in July 1498, Columbus, coming hither, fancied 
(and not so wrongly) that he had come to the " base of the 
Earthly Paradise.'* 

What might not have been made, with something of jus- 
tice and mercy, common sense and humanity, of these gentle 
Arawaks and Guaraons. What was made of them, almost 
ere Columbus was dead, may be judged from this one story, 
taken from Las Casas.^ 

" There was a certain man named Juan Bono, who was 
employed by the members of the Audiencia of St. Domingo 
to go and obtain Indians. He and his men, to the number of 
fifty or sixty, landed on the Island of Tnnidad. Now the 
Indians of Trinidad were a mild, loving, credulous race, the 
enemies of the Caribs, who ate human flesh. On Juan Bono's 
landing, the Indians, armed with bows and arrows, went to 
meet the Spaniards, and to ask them who they were, and 
what they wanted. Juan Bono replied, that his crew were 
good and peaceful people, who had come to live with the 
Indians ; upon which, as the commencement of good fellow- 
ship, the natives offered to build houses for the Spaniards. 
Ihe Spanish captain expressed a wish to have one large house 
built. The accommodating Indians set about building it. It 
was to be in the form of a bell, and to be large enough for a 
hundred persons to live in. On any great occasion it would 
hold many more. Every day, while this house was being 
buUt, the Spaniards were fed with fish, bread, and fruit by 
their good-natured hosts. Juan Bono was very anxious to see 
the roof on, and the Indians continued to work at the build- 
ing with alacrity. At last it was completed, being two storeys 
high, and so constructed that those within could not see those 
without. Upon a certain day, Juan Bono collected the 

* See Mr. Helps' "Spanish Conquest in America," vol. ii. p. 10, 


Indians together — men, women, and children — in the building, 
•to see,' as he told them, * what was to be done.' 

" Whether they thought they were coming to some festival, 
or that they were to do something more for the great house, 
does not appear. However, there they all were, four hundred 
of them, looking with much delight at their own handiwork. 
Meanwhile, Juan Bono brought his men round the building, 
with drawn swords in their hands ; then, having thoroughly 
entrapped his Indian friends, he entered with a party of 
armed men, and bade the Indians keep still, or he would kill 
them. They did not listen to him, but rushed to the door. 
A horrible massacre ensued. Some of the Indians forced 
their way out ; but many of them, stupified at what they 
saw, and losing heart, were captured and bound. A hundred, 
however, escaped, and snatching up their arms, assembled in 
one of their own houses, and prepared to defend themselves. 
Juan Bono summoned them to surrender: they would not 
hear of it ; and then, as Las Casas says, ' he resolved to pay 
ihem completely for the hospitality and kind treatment he 
had received,' and so, setting fire to the house, the whole 
hundred men, together with some women and children, were 
burnt alive. The Spanish captain and his men retired to the 
ships with their captives ; and his vessel happening to touch 
at Porto Eico, when the Jeronimite Fathers were there, gave 
occasion to Las Casas to complain of this proceeding to the 
Fathers, who, however, did nothing in the way of remedy or 
punishment. The reader will be surprised to hear the Clerigo*s 
authority for this deplorable narrative. It is Juan Bono him- 
self 'From his own mouth I heard th^t which I write.* 
Juan Bono acknowledged that never in his life had he met 
with the kindness of father or mother but in the island of 
Trinidad. 'Well, then, man of perdition, why did you re- 
ward them with such ungrateful wickedness and cruelty ? ' 
' On my faith, padre, because they (he meant the Auditors) 
gave me for destruction (he meant instruction) to take them 
in peace, if I could not by war.' " 

Such was the fate of the poor gentle folk who for unknown 
ages had swung their hammocks to the stems of these 
Moriches, spinning the skin of the yoimg leaves into twine, 
and making sago from the pith, and thin wine from the sap 


^^'•r*' I:i l.r^ ^^iikz !> Hz- w'l^z X =• •l-r^^ wla: an art, what 
A n r.-«l: la.'** OrT^L ^trti rre- n-rT. riinalliii!:, even 
^'iri&iiiiic ti-i:: .c I '^-^ A:lTr>. .ki:i S::iIt, tU the famed 
iile* AT..! .*.:a.<i ■:: t_rTv^:tr - -.^ i . i' e Itrra almost forpotteu 
it: tj>± n-r»- itzifr id lie ii^rs Ai.-i o:*ais of xhe Cairibeeau 

Wta: r:'^ rt r^:c Lit« birr«rn-r»l hii L-rn bet tried to copy 

tr.-rir FiiifrT in bsiTes^ ? \V:.a: Lis LarT-^rD^d is but too well 

k-'iwn. siLeZ^^ in JiIt 14 >S, Cl'^nil -5. cc-miuji hither, fancied 

ani E.:: s*^ wt»:ci^1v t>,tr Le Lii o.-ine to the *' base of ibe 

Eaitt-T Pira^iise. 

WLi: ic:^-L: n-:C Live r«e^n ii^ie, with something of jus- 
tio* an-i iE.T:r.T. oim^.n 5^--^ ani LumanitT, of these gentle 
Araw^ks Ani GuArA.>=.5L WLi: was made of them, almost 
ere Colun-tus wjts •iei-i, n^ay i^ ju«i^ed from this one story, 
taken irrni Las Cas;*?*.* 

*- Th-ere was a certain can named Jnan Bono, who was 
emr*'.o}ed Iv the mei::b^rs of the Audiencia of St Domingo 
to CO acd f.b:jin Iciians^ He and his men, to the number of 
fifty or sixtv, landei on the Island of Tnnidad. Now the 
Indians of Trinidad were a miid, loving, credulous race, the 
enemies of the Canl>5^ who ate human ti»-sh. On Juan Bono's 
landini:, the Indians, armed with bows and arrows, went to 
mt^n the Si^miarvis, and to ask them who they were, and 
w hat they wanted. Juan Rmo replied, that his crew were 
good and" peaceftd people, who had come to live with the 
Indians ; ujion which, as the commencement of good fellow- 
ship, the natives offered to build houses for the Spaniards. 
The Sixmish captain expressed a wish to have one laige house 
built. The accommodating Indians set about building it. It 
was to be in the form of a bell and to be large enough for a 
hundred persons to live in. On any great occasion it would 
hold manv more Every day, while this house was being 
built^ the^Spanianls were fed with lish, bread, and fruit by 
their good nat ured hosts. Juan Bono was very anxious to see 
the itK>f on, and the Indians continued to work at the build- 
ing with alacrity. At last it was completed, being two storeys 
high, and so constructed that those within could not see those 
without TInon a certain day, Juan Bono collected the 

~*iyM|p«liftsh Conqni^ in America," toI. iL p. 10. 


Indians together — men, women, and children— in the bufldin 
•to see/ as he told them, ' what was to be done.' 

" Whether they thought they were coming to some festival, 
or that they were to do something more for the great i.otue, 
does not appear However, there they all were, four hirAnd 
of them, looking with much deli^'ht at their own h^JLiiTrork. 
Meanwhile, Joan Bono brought his men rocnd the tz^ iiii -, 
withdrawn swords in their hands; then, havin^r tlL-.To-i^'r 
entrapped his Indian friends, he entered with a pany cf 
armed men, and bade the Indians keep still, or he wc^ i k^ll 
them. They did not IL^ten to him, but msh'^i to zsjt di»r. 
A horrible massacre ensued. Some of the Iz-iiJtz.* f:r:>r*i 
their way out ; but many of them, stip:f rti a; w':.^ zt^j 
saw, and losing heart, were captured ami'i A i^zzx-rritr:^ 
however, escaped, and snatching up th^ir arn:.*. *«t=rn:!rti -jz. 
one of their own house?, and prepared to dnirzd 'c.^'^^j^^a. 
Jnan Bono snmmone*! th^m to surre&irf : ZLr:j ▼:rLi ZdX 
hear of it : and then, as Las Ca«as 3av», * he r^.l-^^i v. zfir 
ihem completely for the Lo««p:*.al:sy and fcr^i ':rA^:zr:iz zp: 
had leceiTed,' and so, s^r.inz fire tt> tb^ b:i.*r:. : ji -vii.jr 
hundred men, t.v:e:Ler with s^-rne woie«i anii m- : 'rrr., -w-irro: 
burnt alive: The SpanUh captain ai/i Li:* =*2i rrrjr-i *:.: -li-ji 
ships with their captive ; an'l hL« Te?*rl bKces^nc -: vrnia 
at Porto Kco, when ;L« JeTr.::ir:::--e Fitb^ V« -.^r* zn-^^ 
occasion to las Caaas to crriixliin of :cu inoieiJic v, --lii- 
Fathers, who, however, .ii-i n:\L:nz in :d» Vij :c ^^-^^1:7 ;p 
punishment. Tht reader w;'^ !>> ^-r.r-'iai v, h«ir iiK l^r.c: » 
authorityfor this depl^ri'i >, iiari^tiV^ b a ^' -o^ -^y- -^-'^- 
sell 'FioiB hs own e>'.c:c I L*»rd •i^t: •nu-a * -wrr^ 
JiianBoDo adiwwfeio*^ tL^ kt^t hi Li^j ::^ ^l^u: in: 3i*ir 
^ith the kindaeai of ^:i^ or c::cl-r :n2 21 '-i»? >^^i :c 
Trmidai 'Wdl, tfasn. ciaa of i>-r:.-.'-iL ^"^ c.- T'^ ^' 
ward them wish «h -.zr^Zr^:. w-y.i-:^^ i^- -^^-^ 

Snd WIS the Sec of -1^ '•.-'' ^"> '^-^ ^' '''^ til£Zi^-vt 

^^^nchtt,ipj^.j;^ ,-^_ ,/ .^ TrniT >4-^ ^'^^ ■^^- 

190 LA £REJ, 

and fruit, wliile they warned their children not to touch 
the nests of the humming-birds, which even till lately 
swarmed around the lake. For — so the Indian story ran — 
once on a time a tribe of Chaymas built their palm-leaf 
ajoupas upon the very spot where the lake now lies, and 
lived a merry life. The sea swarmed with shell-fish and 
turtle, and the land with pine-apples; the springs were 
haunted by countless flocks of flamingoes and horned 
screamers, pajuis and blue ramiers ; and, above all, by hum- 
ming-birds. But the foolish Chaymas were blind to the 
mystery and the beauty of the humming-birds, and would 
not understand how they were no other than the souls of dead 
Indians, translated into living jewels ; and so they killed 
them in wantonness, and angered " The Good Spirit." But 
one morning, when the Guaraons came by, the Chayma vil- 
lage had sunk deep into the earth, and in ite place had risen 
this lake of pitch. So runs the tale, told some forty years 
since to M. Joseph, author of a clever little history of 
Trinidad, by an old half-caste Indian, Senor Trinidada by 
name, who was said then to be nigh one hundred years 
of age. 

Surely the people among whom such a myth could spring 
up, were worthy of a nobler fate. Surely there were in them 
elements of " sweetness and light," which might have been 
cultivated to some fine fruit, had there been anything like 
sweetness and light in their first conquerors — the offscourings 
not of Spain and Portugal only, but of Germany, Italy, and, 
indeed, almost every country in Europe. The present Spanish 
landowners of Trinidad, be it remembered always, do not 
derive from those old ruffians, but from noble and ancient 
families, who settled in the island during the seventeenth cen- 
tury, bringing with them a Spanish grace, Spanish simplicity, 
and Spanish hospitality, which their descendants have cer- 
tainly not lost. Were it my habit to " put people into books," 
I would gladly tell in these pages of charming days spent in 
the company of Spanish ladies and gentlemen. But I shall 
only hint here at the special aflection and respect with which 
they — and, indeed, the French Creoles likewise — are regarded 
by Negro and by Indian. 

For there are a few Indians remaining in the northern 


mountains, and specially at Arima — simple hamlet-folk, whom 
you can distinguish, at a glance, from mulattoes or quadroons, 
by the tawny complexion, and by a shape of eye, and length 
between the eye and the moutli, difficult to draw, impossible 
to describe, but discerned instantly by anyone accustomed to 
observe human features. Many of them, doubtless, have 
some touch of Negro blood, and are the offspring of " Cima- 
rons " — ** Maroons," as they are still called in Jamaica. These 
Cimarons were Negros who, even in the latter half of the 
sixteenth century (as may be read in the trasrical tale of John 
Oxenham, given in Hakluyt's Voyages), had begun to flee 
from their cniel masters into the forests, both in the Islands 
and in the Main. There they took to themselves Indian 
wives, who preferred them, it is said, to men of their own 
race, and lived a jolly hunter's life, slaying with tortures 
every Spaniard who fell into their hands. Such, doubtless, 
haunted the northern Cerros of Tocuche, Aripo, and Oro- 
puche, and left some trace of themselves among the Guaraons. 
Spanish blood, too, runs notoriously in the veins of some of 
the Indians of the island ; and the pure race here is all but 
vanished. But out of these three elements has arisen a race 
of cacao-growing mountaineers as simple and gentle, as loyal 
and peaceable, as any in her Majesty's dominions. Dignified, 
courteous, hospitable, according to their little means, they 
salute the white Senor without defiance and without servility, 
and are delighted if he will sit in their clay and pabn 
ajoupas, and eat oranges and Malacca apples^ from their own 
trees, on their own freehold land. 

They preserve, too, the old Guaraon arts of weaving baskets 
and other utensils, pretty enough, from the strips of the Aruma 
leaves. From them the Negro, who will not, or cannot, equal 
them in handicraft, buys the pack in which wares are carried 
on the back, and the curious strainer in which the Cassava is 
deprived of its poisonous juice. So cleverly are the fibres 
twisted, that when the strainer is hung up, with a stone 
weight at the lower end, the diameter of the strainer de- 
creases as its length increases, and the juice is squeezed out 
through the pores to drip into a calabash, and, nowadays, to 
^^e thrown carefully away, lest children or goats should drink 

* .Tnml)osa 'Malaccunsis. 

192 LA BREA. 

it. Of old, it was kept with care and dried down to a gum, 
and used to poison arrows, as it is still used, I believe, on the 
Orinoco ; now, its poisonous properties are expeUed by boil- 
ing it down into Cassaripe, which has a singular power of 
precer\dng meat, and is the foundation of the "pepperpot" 
of the colonists. 

And this is all that remains of the once beautiful, deft, 
and happy Indians of Trinidad, unless, indeed, some of them, 
warned by the fate of the Indians of San Josef and the 
Northern Mountains, fled from such tyrants as Juan Bono 
and Berreo across the Gulf of Paria, and, rejoining their 
kinsmen on the mainland, gladly forgot the sight of that 
Cross which was to them the emblem, not of salvation, but of 

For once a year till of late — I know not whether the thing 
may be seen still — a strange phantom used to appear at San 
Fernando, twenty miles to the north. Canoes of Indians 
came mysteriously across the Gulf of Paria from the vast 
swamps of the Orinoco ; and the naked folk landed, and went 
up through the town, after the Naparima ladies (so runs the 
tale) had sent down to the shore garments for the women, 
which were worn only through the streets, and laid by again 
as soon as they entered the forest. Silent, modest, dejected^ 
the gentle savages used to vanish into the woods by paths 
known to their kinsfolk centuries ago — paths which run^ 
wherever possible, along the vantage-ground of the topmost 
chines and ridges of the hills. The smoke of their fires rose 
out of lonely glens, as they collected the fruit of trees known 
only to themselves. In a few weeks their wild harvest was 
over ; they came back through San Fernando ; made, almost 
in silence, their little purchases in the town, and paddled 
away across the gulf towards the unknown wildernesses from 
whence they came. 

And now — as if sent to drive away sad thoughts and vain re- 
grets — before our feet lay a jest of Nature's, almost as absurd 
as a " four-eyed fish," or " calling-crab." A rough stick, ol 
the size of your little finger, lay on the pitch. We watched 
it a moment, and saw that it was crawling — that it was a 
huge Caddis, like those in English ponds and streams, though 
of a very different family. They are the larvie of Phry- 


ganeas — this of a true moth.^ The male of this moth will 
come out, as a moth should, and fly about on four handsome 
wings. The female will never develop her wings, but remain 
to her life's end a crawling grab, like the female of our own 
Vapourer moth, and that of our English Glow-worm. But 
more, she will never (at least, in some species of this family) 
leave her silk and bark case, but live and die, an anchoritess 
in narrow cell, leaving behind her more than one puzzle for 
physiologists. The case is fitted close to the body of the 
caterpillar, save at the mouth, whQre it hangs loose in two 
ragged silken curtains. We all looked at the creature, and it 
looked at us, with its last two or three joints and its head 
thrast out of its house. Suddenly, disgusted at our impor- 
tunity, it laid hold of its curtains with two hands, right and 
left, Hke a human being, folded them modestly over its head, 
held them tight together, and so retired to bed, amid the 
inextiDguishable laughter of the whole party. 

The noble Moriche palm delights in wet, at least in 
Trinidad and on the lower Oroonoco : but Schombui^k de- 
scribes forests of them — if, indeed, it be the same species — as 
growing in the mountains of Guiana }ip to an altitude of four 
thousand feet. The soil in which they grow here is half 
pitch pavement, half loose brown earth, and over both, shallow 
pools of water, which will become much deeper in the wet 
season ; and all about float or lie their pretty fmit, the size of 
an apple, and scaled like a fir-cone. They are last year's, 
empty and decayed. The ripe fruit contains first a rich 
pulpy nut, and at last a hard cone, something like that of the 
vegetable ivory palm,^ which grows in the mainland, but not 
here. Delicious they are, and precious, to monkeys and 
parrots, as well as to the Oroonoco Indians, among whom the 
Tamanacs, according to Humboldt, say, that when a man and 
woman survived that great deluge, which the Mexicans call 
the age of water, they cast behind them, over their heads, the 
fruits of the Moriche palm, as Deucalion and Pyrrha cast 
titones, and saw the seeds in them produce men and women, 
who repeopled the earth. No wonder, indeed, that certain 
tribes look on this tree as sacred, or that the missionaries 
sliould have named it the tree of life. 

1 OiketicuB. ' Phytelephas macrocarpa. 

194 LA BREA. 

" In the season of inundations these clumps of Mauritia, 
with their leaves in the form of a fan, have the appearance of 
a forest rising from the bosom of the waters. The navigator 
in proceeding along the channels of the delta of the Oroonoco 
at night, sees with surprise the summit of the palm-trees 
illumined by large fires. These are the habitations of the 
Guaraons (Tivitivas and Waraweties of Ealeigh). which are 
suspended from the trunks of the trees. These tribes hang 
up mats in the air, which they fill with earth, and kindle on 
a layer of moist clay the fire necessaiy for their household 
wants. They have owed their liberty and their political in- 
dependence for ages to the quaking and swampy soil, which 
they pass over in the time of drought, and on which they 
alone know how to walk in security to their solitude in the 
delta of the Oroonoco, to their abode on the trees, where 
religious enthusiasm will probably never lead any American 

Stylites The Mauritia palm-tree, the tree of life of the 

missionaries, not only afiTords the Guaraons a safe dwelling 
during the risings of the Oroonoco, but its shelly fruit, its 
farinaceous pith, its juice, abounding in saccharine matter, 
and the fibres of its petioles, furnish them with food, wine, 
and thread proper for niaking cords and weaving hammocks. 
These customs of the Indians of the delta of the Oroonoco 
were found formerly in the Gulf of Darien (Uraba), and in 
the "greater part of the inundated lands between the Guenu 
piche and the mouths of the Amazon. It is curious to 
observe in the lowest degree of human civilization the exist- 
ence of a whole tribe depending on one single species of palm- 
tree, similar to those insects which feed on one and the same 
flower, or on one and the same part of a plant." ^ 

In a hundred yards more we were on dry ground, and the 
vegetation changed at once. The Mauritias stopped short at 
the edge of the swamp ; and around us towered the smooth 
stems of giant Mombins, which the English West Indians 
call hog-plums, according to the unfortunate habit of the 
early settlers of discarding the sonorous and graceful Indian 
and Spanish names of plants, and replacing them by names 
English, or corruptions of the original, always ugly, and often 

» Humboldt, " PerHoiial Narrative," vol. v. pp. 728-29, of Helen Maria 
WUliama's Translatiun. 


silly and vulgar. So the English call yon noble tree a hog- 
plnm ; the botanist (who must, of course, use his world-wide 
Latin designation), Spondias lutea; I shall, with the reader's 
leave, call it a Mombin, by which name it is, happUy, known 
here, as it was in the French West Indies in the days of 
good Pire Labat. Under the Mombins the undergrowth is, 
for the most part, huge fans of Cocorite palm, thirty or forty 
feet high, their short rugged trunks, as usual, loaded with 
creepers, orchids, birds'-nests, and huge round black lumps, 
which are the nests of ants ; all lodged among the butts of 
old leaves and the spathes of old flowers. Here, as at 
Chaguanas, grand Cerimans and Seguinea scrambled twenty 
feet up the Cocorite trunks, delighting us by the luscious life 
in the fat stem and fat leaves, and the brilliant, yet tender 
green, which literally shone in the darkness of the Cocorite 
bower ; and all, it may be, the growth of the last six months ; 
for, as was plain from the charred stems of many Cocorites 
and Moriches, the fire had swept through the wood last 
summer, destroying all that would bum. And at the foot of 
the Cocorites, weltering up among and over their roots, 
was pitch again; and here and there along the side of 
the path were pitch springs, round bosses a yard or two 
across and a foot or two high, each with a crater atop a 
few inches across, filled either with water, or with liquid 
and oozing pitch ; and yet not interfering, as far as could 
be seen, with the health of the vegetation which springs 
out of it. 

We followed the trace which led downhill, to the shore of 
the peninsula furthest from the village. As we proceeded we 
entered forest RtiU unbumt, and a tangle of beauty such as 
we saw at Chaguanas. There rose, once more, the tall cane- 
like Manacque palms, which we christened the forest nymphs. 
The path was lined, as there, with the great leaves of the 
Melastomas, throwing russet and golden light down from 
their undersides. Here, as there. Mimosa leaflets, as fine as 
fern or sea-weed, shiver in the breeze. A species of Balisier, 
which we did not see there, carried crimson and black par- 
rot beaks with blue seed-vessels ; a Canne de Rivifere,^ with 
a stem eight feet high, wreathed round with pale green 

> Costofl. 


196 LA BBEA, 

leaves in spiral twists, unfolded hooded flowers of thinnest 
transparent white wax, with each a blush of pink inside. 
Bunches of bright yellow Cassia blossoms dangled close to 
our heads ; white Ipomoeas scrambled over them again ; and 
broad-leaved sedges, five feet high, carrying on bright brown 
flower-heads, like those of our Wood-rush, blue, black, and 
white shot for seeds. ^ Overhead, sprawled and dangled the 
common Vine-bamboo,* ugly and unsatisfactory in form, be- 
<^.ause it has not yet, seemingly, made up its mind whether it 
will become an arborescent or a climbing grass ; and, mean- 
while, tries to stand upright on stems quite unable to support 
it, and tumbles helplessly into the neighbouring copsewood, 
taking every one's arm without asking leave. A few ages 
hence, its ablest descendants will probably have made their 
choice, if they have constitution enough to survive in the 
battle of life — which, from the commonness of the plant, 
they seem likely to have. And what their choice will be, 
there is little doubt There are trees here of a truly noble 
nature, whose ancestors have conquered ages since; it may 
l^e by selfish and questionable means. But their descendants, 
secure in their own power, can afibrd to be generous, and 
allow a whole world of lesser plants to nestle in their 
branches, another world to fatten round their feet. There 
are humble and modest plants, too, here — and those some 
of the loveliest — which have long since cast away all am- 
bition, and are content to crouch or perch anywhere, if only 
they may be allowed a chance ray of light, and a chance 
drop of water wherewith to perfect their flowers and seed. 
But, throughout the great republic of the forest, the motto 
of the majority is — as it is, and always has been, with human 
beings — " Every one for himself, and the devil take the hind- 
most." Selfish competition, overreaching tyranny, the temper 
which fawns and clings as long as it is down, and when it 
has risen, kicks over the stool by which it climbed — these 
and the other "works of the flesh" are the works of the 
average plant, as far as it can practise them. So by the time 
the Bamboo- vine makes up its mind, it will have discovered, 
by the experience of many generations, the value of the pro- 
"b, " Never do for yourself what you can get another to do/ 

' Selena latif Jiiu. ' Ponicuin divarirattim. 


for you/' and will have developed into a true high climber, 
selfish and insolent, choking and strangling, like yonder beau- 
tiful green pest, of which beware ; namely, a tangle of Razor- 
grass.^ The brother, in old times, of that broad-leaved sedge 
which carries the shot-seeds, it has long since found it more 
profitable to lean on others than to stand on its own legs, and 
has developed itself accordingly. It has climbed up the 
shrubs some fifteen feet, and is now tumbling down again in 
masses of the purest deep green, which are always softly 
rounded, because each slender leaf is sabre-shaped, and 
always curves inward and downward into the mass, presenting 
to the paper thousands of minute saw-edges, hard enough and 
sharp enough to cut clothes, skin, and flesh to ribands, if it is 
brushed in the direction of the leaves. For shape and colour, 
few plants would look more lovely in a hothouse; but it 
would soon need to be confined in a den by itself, like a 
jaguar or an alligator. 

Here, too, we saw a beautiful object, which was seen 
again more than once about the high woods ; a Ijirge flower,* 
spreading its five flat orange-scarlet lobes round yellow bells. 
It grows in little bunches, in the axils of pairs of fleshy 
leaves, on a climbing vine. When plucked, a milky sap 
exudes from it. It is a cousin of our periwinkles, and 
cousin, too, of the Thevetia, which we saw at St. Thomas', 
and of the yellow AUamandas which ornament hothouses at 
home, as this, and others of its family, especially the yellow 
Odontadenia, surely ought to do. There are many species of 
the family about, and all beautiful 

We passed too, in the path, an object curious enough, if 
not beautiful Up a smooth stem ran a little rib, seemingly 
of earth and dead wood, almost straight, and about half an 
inch across, leading to a great brown lump among the 
branches, as big as a bushel basket We broke it open, and 
found it a covered gallery, swarming with life. Brown, ant- 
like creatures, white, maggot-like creatures, of several shapes 
and sizes, were hurrying up and down, as busy as human 
lieings in Cheapside. They were Termites, "white ants" — 
of which of the many species I know not — and the lump 
above was their nest. But why they should find* it wisest to 

^ Sclciia flagellam. ' Echitea symphytocarpa (?)• 

198 LA BREA. 

perch their nest aloft is as difficult to guess, as to guess why 
they take the trouble to build this gallery up to it, instead of 
walking up the stem in the open air. It may be that they 
are afraid of birds. It may be, too, that they actually dislike 
the light. At all events, the majority of them — ^the workers 
and soldiers, I believe, without exception, are blind, and do 
all their work by an intensely developed sense of touch — and 
it may be of smell and hearing also. Be that as it may, we 
should have seen them, had we had time to wait, repair the 
breach in their gallery, with as much discipline and division 
of labour as average human workers in a manufactory, before 
the business of food-getting was resumed. 

We hurried on along the trace, which now sloped rapidly 
downhill. Suddenly, a loathsome smell defiled the air. Was 
there a gas-house in the wilderness ? Or had the pales of 
Paradise been just smeared with bad coal-tar? Not exactly : 
but across the path crept, festering in the sun, a black runnel 
of petroleum and water ; and twenty yards to our lefb stood, 
under a fast-crumbling trunk, what was a year or two ago a 
little engine-house. Now roof, beams, machinery, were all 
tumbled and tangled in hideous and somewhat dangerous 
ruin, over a shaft, in the midst of which a rusty pump- 
cylinder gurgled, and clicked, and bubbled, and spued, with 
black oil and nasty gas ; a foul ulcer in Dame Nature's side, 
which happily was healing fast beneath the tropic rain and 
sun. The creepers were climbinjr over it, the earth crumbling; 
into it, and in few years more the whole would be engulfed 
in forest, and the oil-spring, it is to be hoped, choked up 
with mud. 

This is the remnant of one of the many rash speculations 
connected with the Pitch Lake. At a depth of some two 
hundred and fifty feet "oil was struck," as the American 
saying is. But (so we were told) it would not rise in the 
boring, and had to be pumped up. It could not, therefore, 
compete in price with the Pennsylvanicm oil, which, when 
tapped, springs out of the ground of itself, to a height some- 
times of many feet, under the pressure of the superincumbent 
rocks, yielding enormous profits, and turning needy adven- 
turers into millionaires, though full half of the oil is 
sometimes wasted for the want of means to secure it 


We passed the doleful spot with a double regret — for the 
nook of Paradise which had been defiled, and for the good* 
money which had been wasted : but with a hearty hope, too, 
that, whaterer natural beauty may be spoilt thereby, the wealth 
of these asphalt deposits may at last be utilized. Whether 
it be good that a few dozen men should "make their fortunes" 
thereby, depends on what use the said men make of the said 
" fortunes ;" and certainly it will not be good for them if they 
believe, as too many do, that their dollars, and not their 
characters, constitute their fortunes. But it is good, and 
must be, that these treasures of heat and light should not 
remain for ever locked up and idle in the wilderness ; and we 
wished all success to the enterprising American who had just 
completed a bargain with the Government for a large supply 
of asphalt, which he hoped by his chemical knowledge to 
turn to some profitable usa 

Another turn brought us into a fresh nook of Paradise ; 
and this time to one still undefiled. We hurried down a narrow 
grass path, the Cannes de Bivi^re and the fialisiers brushing 
our heads as we passed ; while round us danced brilliant 
butterflies, bright orange, sulphur-yellow, black and crimson, 
black and lilac, and half a dozen hues more, till we stopped, 
surprised and delighted. For beneath us lay the sea, seen 
through a narrow gap of richest verdure. 

On the left, low palms feathered over the path, and over the 
cliff. On the rigbt^ — when shall we see it again? — rose a 
young " Bois flot,"^ of which boys make their fishing floats, 
with long, straight, upright shoots, and huge crumpled, 
rounded leaves, pale rusty underneath — a noble rastrajo 
plant, already, in its six months* growth, some twenty feet 
high. Its broad pale sulphur flowers were yet unopened; 
but, instead, an ivy-leaved Ipomoea had climbed up it, and 
shrouded it from head to foot with hundreds of white con- 
volvulus-flowers ; while underneath it grew a tuft of that 
delicate silver-backed fern, which is admired so much in hot- 
houses at home. Between it and the palms we saw the 
still, shining sea ; muddy inshore, and a few hundred yards 
out changing suddenly to bright green ; and the point of the 
cove, which seemed built up of bright red brick, fast crumb- 

^ Ochroroa. 


ling into the sea, with all its palms and cactuses, lianes and 
trees. Bed stacks and skerries stood isolated and ready to 
fall at the end of the point, showing thai the laud has, even 
lately, extended far out to sea ; and that Point Eouge, like 
Point Courbaril and Point Galba, so named one from some 
great Locust-tree, the other from some great Galba, must 
have .once stood there as landmarks. Indeed all the 
points of the peninsula are but remnants of a far larger 
sheet of land, which has been slowly eaten up by the surges 
of the gulf; which has perhaps actually sunk bodily beneath 
them, even as the remnant, I suspect, is sinking now. We 
scrambled twenty feet down to the beach, and lay down, 
tired, under a low cliff, feathei^d with richest vegetation. 
The pebbles on which we sat were some of pitch, some of 
hard sandstone, but most of them of brick; pale, dark, 
yellow, lavender, spotted, clouded, and half-a-dozen more 
delicate hues ; some coarse, some fine as Samian ware ; the 
rocks themselves were composed of an almost glassy sub* 
stance, strangely jumbled, even intercalated now and then 
with soft sand. This, we were told, is a bit of the porcel- 
lanite formation of Trinidad, curious to geologists, which re- 
appears at several points in Erin, Trois, and Cedros, in the 
extreme south-western horn of the island. 

How was it formed, and when ? That it was formed by 
the action of fire, any child would agree who had ever seen a 
brickkiln. It is simply clay and sand baked, and often 
almost vitrified into porcelain-jasper. The stratification is 
gone ; the porcellanite has run together into irregular masses, 
or fallen into them by the burning away of strata beneath ; 
and the cracks in it are often lined with bubbled slag. 

But whence came the fire? We must be wary about 
calling in the Deus e machina of a volcano. There is no 
volcanic rock in the neighbourhood, nor anywhere in the 
island ; and the porcellanite, says Mr. Wall, " is identically 
the same with the substances produced immediately above or 
below seams of coal, which have taken fii*e, and burnt for a 
length of time." There is lignite and other coaly matter 
enough in the rocks to have burnt like coal, if it had once 
been ignited ; and the cause of ignition may be, as Mr. Wall 
suggests^ the decomposition of pyrites, of which also there is 


enough aioiifi4- 'i^^X the heat did not come from below, as 
volcanic heat ^ould have done, is proved by the fact that the 
lignite beds underneath the' porceUanite are unbumt We 
found asphalt under the porceUanite. We found even one 
bit of red porceUanite with unburnt asplialt included in it. 

May not this strange formation of natural brick and 
China-ware be of immense age— humanly, not geologically, 
speaking? May it not be far older than the Pitch Lake 
above — older possibly, than the formation of any asphalt at 
alii And may not tiie asphalt mingled with it have been 
squeezed into it and round it, as it is being squeezed into and 
through the imbumt strata at so many points in Guapo, La 
Brea, Oropuche, and San Fernando ? At least, so it seemed 
to us, as we sat on the shore, waiting for the boat to take us 
round to La Brea, and drank m dreanuly with our eyes the 
beauty of that strange lonely place. The only Uving things, 
save ourselves, which were visible were a few peUcans sleep- 
ing on a skeny, and a shoal of dolphins rolling sUently in 
threes — husband, wife,' and Uttle child — as they fished their 
way along the tide mark between the yellow water and the 
green. The sky blazed overhead, the sea below; the red 
rocks and green forests blazed around ; and we sat enjoying 
the genial silence, not of darkness, but of light, not of death, 
but of Ufe, as the noble heat permeated every nerve, and 
made us feel young, and strong, and bUthe once more. 

_--"---.. -d/M'&M. 




^^3PylfPflW'""?>). ■* 1 

OhAk and Htgro- 


The rood to tlie ancient capital of the island is pleasant 
enough, and chaiiicteristic of the M^est Indiea Not, indeed, 
as to its breadth, make, and material, for they, contrary to 
the wont of West India roods, are as good as they would be 
ia England, but on account of the quaint travellers along it, 
and the quaint sights which are to be seen over every hedge. 
You pass all the races of the island going to and from town 
or fieldwork, or washing clothes in some clear brook, beside 
which a solemn Chinaman sits catching for his dinner strange 
fishes, known to my learned friend. Dr. Giinther, and perhaps 
to one or two other men in Europe : but certainly not to me. 
Always somebody or something new and strange is to be seeii, 
for eight most pleasant miles. 

VEOAS. 203 

The road runs at first along a low cliff foot, with an ugly 
Mangrove swamp, looking just like an alder-bed at home, 
between you and the sea ; a swamp which it would be worth 
while to drain by a steam-pump, and then plant with coco- 
nuts or bamboos ; for its miasma makes the southern comer of 
Port of Spain utterly pestilential You cross a railroad, the 
only one in the island, which goes to a limestone quarry, and 
BO out along a wide straight road, with Negro cottages right 
and left, embowered in fruit and flowers. They grow fewer 
and finer as you ride on ; and soon you are in open country, 
principally of large paddocks. These paddocks, like all West 
Indian ones, are apt to be ragged with weeds and scrub. But , 
the coarse broad-leaved grasses seem to keep the mules in 
good condition enough, at least in the rainy season. Most of 
these paddocks have, I believe, been under cane cultivation 
at some time or other; and have been thrown into grass 
during the period of depression dating from 1845. It has 
not been worth while, as yet, to break them up again, though 
the profits of sugar-farming are now, or at least ought to be, 
very large. But the soil along this line is originally poor and 
sandy; and it is far more profitable to break up the rich 
vegas, or low alluvial lands, even at the trouble of clearing 
them of forest. So these paddocks are left, often with noble 
trees standing about in them, putting one in mind — if it were 
not for the Palmistes and Bamboos and the crowd of black 
vultures over an occasional dead animal — of English parks. 

But few English parks have such backgrounds. To the 
right, the vast southern flat, with its smoking engine-house 
chimneys and bright green cane-pieces, and, beyond all, the 
black waU of the primaeval forest; and to the left, some 
half mile oiT, the steep slopes of the green northern moun- 
tains blazing in the sun, and sending down, every two or 
three miles, out of some charming glen, a clear pebbly brook, 
each winding through its narrow strip of vega. The vega is 
usually a highly cultivated cane-piece, where great lizards 
sit in the mouths of their burrows, and watch the passer- 
by with intense interest Coolies and Negros are at 
work in it: but only a few; for the strength of the 
hands is away at the engine-house, making sugar day and 
night There is a piece of cane in act of being cut The 

204 8AN JOSEF. 

men are hewing down the giant grass with cutlasses; the 
women stripping off the k^ves, and then piling the cane in 
carts dmwn by mules, the leaders of which draw by rope 
traces two or three times as long as themselves. You wonder 
why such a seeming waste of power is allowed, till you see 
one of the carts stick fast in a mud-hole, and discover that 
even in the West Indies there is a good reason for every- 
thing, and that the Creoles know their own business best. 
For the wheelers, being in the slough with the cait, are power- 
less : but the leaders, who have scrambled through, are safe 
on dry land at the end of their long traces, and haul out 
« their brethren, cart and all^ amid the yells, and, I am sorry 
to say blows, of the black gentlemen in attendance. But 
cane-cutting is altogether a busy, happy scene. The heat 
is awful, and all limbs rain perspiration : yet no one seems 
to mind the heat; all look fat and jolly; and they have 
cause to do so, for all, at every spare moment, are sucking 

You pull up, and take off your hat to the party. The 
Negros shout, " Marnin', sa 1" The Coolies salaam gracefully, 
hand to forehead. You return the salaam, hand to heart, 
which is considered the correct thing on the part of a 
superior in rank; whereat the Coolies look exceedingly 
pleased ; and then the whole party, without visible reason, 
burst into shouts of laughter. 

The manager rides up, probably under an umbrella, as you 
are, and a pleasant and instructive chat follows, wound up, 
usually, if the house be not far off, by an invitation to come 
in and have a light drink ; an invitation which, considering 
the state of the thermometer, you will be tempted to accept^ 
especially as you know that the claret and water will be 
excellent And so you dawdle on, looking at this and that 
new and odd sight, but most of all feasting your eyes on the 
beauty of the northern mountains, till you reach the gentle 
rise on which stands, eight miles from Port of Spain, the little 
city of San Josef. We should call it, here in England, a 
villas : still, it is not every village in England which has 
fought the Dutch, and earned its right to be called a city by 
b(^ating some of the bravest sailors of the seventeenth 
century. True, there is not a single shop in it with plate- 

DAAOA. 205 

glass windows : but what matters that, if its citizens have all 
that civilized people need, and more, and will heap what 
they have on the stranger so hospitably that they almost pain 
him by the trouble which they take ? True, no carriages and 
pairs, with powdered footmeu, roll about the streets ; and the 
most splendid vehicles you are likely to meet are American 
buggies — four-wheeled gigs with heads, and aprons through 
which the reins can be passed in wet weather. But what 
matters that, as long as the buggies keep out sun anJ rain 
effectually, and as long as those who sit in them be real 
gentlemen, and those who wait for them at home, whether 
in the city or the estates around, be real ladies ? As for the 
rest — peace, plenty, perpetual summer, time to think and read 
— (for there are no daily papers in San Josef) — and what 
can man want more on earth ? So I thought more than 
once, as I looked at San Josef nestling at the mouth of its 
noble glen, and said to myself, — If the telegraph cable were 
but laid down the islands, as it will be in another year or 
two, and one could hear a little more swiftly and loudly 
the beating of the Great Mother's heart at home, then would 
San Josef be about the most delectable spot which I have 
ever seen for a cultivated and civilized man to live« and 
work, and think, a,nd die in. 

San Josef has had, nevertheless, its troubles and excite- 
ments more than once since it defeated the Dutch. Even as 
late as 1837, it was, for a few hours, in utter terror and 
danger from a mutiny of free black recruits. No one in the 
island, civil or military, seems to have been to blame for the 
mishap. It was altogether owing to the unwisdom of mili- 
tary authorities at home, who seem to have fancied that 
they could transform, by a magical spurt of the pen, heathen 
savages into British soldiers. 

The whole tragedy — for tragedy it was— is so curious, and 
80 illustrative of the Negro character, and of the effects of 
the slave trade, that I shall give it at length, as it stands in 
that clever little History of Trinidad, by M. Thomas, which I 
have quoted more than once : — 

" Donald Stewart, or rather DAaga,^ was the adopted son of 
Madershee, the old and childless king of the tribe called 

^ Pronounced like the Spanish noun Da>{». 

206 8 J N JOSEF. 

Paupaiis, a race that inhabit a tract of country bordering on 
that of the Yarrabas. These races are constantly at war 
with each other. 

" Daaga was just the man whom a savage, warlike, and 
depredatory tribe would select for their chieftain, as the 
African Negros choose their leaders with reference to their 
personal prowess. Daaga stood six feet six inches without 
shoes. Although scarcely muscular in proportion, yet his 
frame indicated in a singular degree the union of irresistible 
strength and activity. His head was large ; his features had 
all the peculiar traits which distinguish the Negro in a 
remarkable degree; his jaw was long, eyes large and pro- 
truded, high cheek-bones, and flat nose : his teeth were 
laj:ge and regular. He had a singular cast in his eyes, not 
quite amounting to that obliquity of the visual organs deno- 
minated a squint, but sufficient to give his features a pecu- 
liarly forbidding appearance ; — his forehead, however, although 
small in proportion to his enormous head, was remarkably 
compact and well formed. The whole head was dispro- 
portioned, having the greater part of the brain behind the 
ears ; but the greatest peculiarity of this singular being was 
his voica In the course of my life I never heard such sounds 
uttered by human organs as those formed by D&aga. In 
ordinary conversation he appeared to me to endeavour to 
soften hi3 voice — it was a deep tenor; but when a little 
excited by any passion (and this savage was the child of 
passion) his voice sounded like the low growl of a lion, but 
when much excited it could be compared to nothing so aptly 
as the notes of a gigantic brazen trumpet. 

" I repeatedly questioned this man respecting the religion 
of his tribe. The result of his answers led me to infer that the 
Paupaus believed in the existence of a future state ; that they 
have a confused notion of several powers, good and evil, but 
these are ruled by one supreme being called HoUoloo. This 
account of the religion of D&aga was confirmed by the mili- 
tary chaplain who attended him in his last moments. He 
also informed me that he believed in predestination; — at 
least he said that HoUoloo, he knew, had ordained that he 
should come to white man's country and be shot. 

'' D&aga having made a successful predatory expedition 


into the country of the Yarrabas, returned with a number 
of prisoners of that nation. These he, as usual, took, bound 
and guarded, towards the coast to sell to the Portuguese' 
The interpreter, his countryman, called these Portuguese 
WHITE GENTLEMEN. The white gentlemen proved themselves 
more than a match for the black gentlemen ; and the whole 
transaction between the Portuguese and Paupaus does credit 
to all concerned in this gentlemanly traffic in human flesh. 

** Dftaga sold his prisoners ; and imder pretence of paying 
him, he and his Paupau guards were enticed on board a Por- 
tuguese vessel ; — they were treacherously overpowered by the 
Christians, who bound them beside their late prisoners, and 
the vessel sailed over ' the great salt water.' 

** This transaction caused in the breast of the savage a deep 
hatred against all white men — a hatred so intense that he 
frequently, during and subsequent to the mutiny, declared he 
would eat the first white man he killed ; yet this cannibal 
was made to swear allegiance to our Sovereign on the Holy 
Evangelists, and was then called a British soldier. 

'' On the voyage the vessel on boaixl which Dftaga had been 
entrapped was captured by the British. He could not com- 
prehend that his new captors liberated him: he had been 
over-reached and trepanned by one set of white men, and he 
naturally looked on his second captors as more successful 
rivals in the human, or rather inhuman, Guinea trade ; there- 
fore this event lessened not his hatred for white men in 
the abstract. 

" I was informed by several of the Africans who came with 
him that when, during the voyage, they upbraided DIUiga 
with being the cause of their capture, he pacified them by 
promising that when they shoiild arrive in white maiVs 
country, he would repay their perfidy by attacking them in 
the night. He further promised that if the Paupaus and 
Yarrabas would follow him, he would fight his way back to 
Guinea. This account was fully corroborated by many of the 
mutineers, especially those who were shot with Dftaga : they 
all said the revolt never would have happened but for Donald 
Stewart, as he was called by the officers ; but Africans who 
were not of his tribe called him Longa-longa, on account of 
his height 

208 8AN JOSEF. 

" Such was this extraordinary man, who led the mutiny i 
am about to relata 

"A quantity of captured Africans having been brought 
hither from the islands of Grenada and Dominica, they were 
most imprudently induced to enlist as recruits in the 1st West 
India R^ment. True it is, we have been told they did this 
voluntarily : but, it may be asked, if they had any will in the 
matter, how could they understand the duties to be imposed 
on them by becoming soldiers, or how compi*ehend the nature 
of an oath of allegiance? without which they could not, 
legally speaking, be considered as soldiers. I attended the 
whole of the trials of these men, and well know how difficult 
it was to make them comprehend any idea which was at 
all new to them by means of the best interpreters procurable. 

'' It has been said that by making those captured Negros 
soldiers, a service was rendered them : this I doubt. Formerly 
it was most true that a soldier in a black regiment was better 
off than a slave ; but certainly a free African in the West 
Indies now is infinitely in a better situation than a soldier, 
not only in a pecuniaiy point of view, but in almost every 
other respect 

" To the African savage, while being drilled into the duties 
of a soldier, many things seem absolute tymnny which 
would appear to a civilized man a mere necessary restraint. 
To keep the restless body of an African Kegro in a position to 
which he has not been accustomed — to cramp his splay-feet, 
with his great toes standing out, into £uropean shoes made 
for feet of a different form — to place a collar round his neck, 
which is called a stock, and which to him is cruel torture — 
above all, to confine him every night to his barracks — are 
almost insupportable. One uuacquauited with the habits of 
the Negro cannot conceive with what abhoiTence he looks 
on having his disposition to nocturnal rambles checked by 
barrack regulations.^ 

•' Formerly the * King's man,' as the black soldier loved 
to call himself, looked (not without reason) contemptuously 
on the planter's slave, although he himself was after all but 
a slave to the State : but these recruits were enlisted short I v 

^ See Bryan Edwards on the character of the African Negros ; abo Chan- 
relon's Histoire de la Martinique. 


after a number of their recently imported countrymen were' 
wandering freely over the country, working either as free 
labourers, or settling, to use an apt American phrase, as 
squatters ; and to assert that the recruit, while under military 
probation, is better off than the free Trinidad labourer, who 
goes where he lists and earns as much in one day as will keep 
him for three days, is an absurdity. Accordingly 'v^^e find 
that Lieutenant-Colonel Bush, who commanded the Ist West 
India Regiment, thought that the nmtiny was mainly owing 
to the ill-advice of their civil, or, we should rather say, un- 
military counti-ymen. This, to a certain degree, was the 
fact : but, by the declaration of Daaga and many of his 
countrymen, it is evident the seeds of mutiny were sown on 
the passage from Africa. 

" It has been asserted that the recruits were driven to mu- 
tiny by hard treatment of their commanding oflScers. There 
seems not the slightest truth in this assertion; they were 
treated with fully as much kindness as their situation would 
admit of, and their chief was peculiarly a favourite of Colonel 
Bush and the officers, notwithstanding Daaga's violent and 
ferocious temper often caused complaints to be brought 
against him. 

*' A correspondent of the Naval and Military Gazette was 
under an apprehension that the mutineers would be joined by 
the prsedial apprentices of the circumjacent estates : not the 
slightest foundation existed for this apprehension. Some 
months previous to this D^ga had planned a mutiny, but 
this was interrupted by sending a part of the Paupau and 
farraba recruits to St. Lucia. The object of all those con- 
spiracies was to get back to Guinea, which they thought they 
could accomplish by marching to eastward. 

" On the night of the 17th of June, 1837, the people of 
San Josef were kept awake by the recruits, about 280 in num- 
ber, singing the war-song of the Paupaus. This wild song con- 
sisted of a short air and chorus. The tone was, although wild, 
not inharmonious, and the words rather euphonious. As near 
as our alphabet can convey them, they ran thus : — 

' Dangkarrde 
An fey, 
Oluu werrei, 
Au lay.' ; 

P ' 


which may be rendered ahnost literally by the following 
couplet : — 

Air by the chief : ' Come to plander, come to slay ;* 
Chorus of followers ; * We are ready to obey.' 

"About three o'clock in the morning their wai^song 
(highly characteristic of a predatory tribe) became very loud, 
and they commenced uttering their war-cry. This is dif- 
ferent from what we conceive the Indian war-whoop to be: it 
seems to be a kind of imitation of the growl of wild beasts, 
and has a most thrilling effect. 

" Fire now was set to a quantity of huts built for the 
accommodation of African soldiers to the northward of the 
baiTacks, as well as to the house of a poor black woman 
called Dalrymple. These burnt briskly, throwing a dismal 
gtflere over the barracks and picturesque town of San Josei, 
and overpowering the light of the lull moon, which illu- 
mined a cloudless sky. The mutineei*s made a i-ush at the 
barrack-room, and seized on the muskets and fusees in the 
racks. Their leader, D&aga, and a daring Yarraba named 
Ogston, instantly charged their pieces ; the former of these 
had a quantity of ball-cartridges, loose powder, and ounce 
and pistol-balls, in a kind of grey worsted cap. He must 
have provided himself with these before the mutiny. How 
he became possessed of them, especially the pistol-balls, I 
never could learn; probably he was supplied by his un- 
military countrymen : pistol-balls are never given to in- 
fantry. Previous to this Daaga and three others made a rush 
at the regimental store-room, in which was deposited a 
quantity of powder. An old African soldier, named Charles 
Dixon, interfered to stop them, on which Maurice Ogston, the 
Yarraba chief, who had armed himself with a sergeant's sword, 
cut down the faithful African. When down Daaga ssud, iu 
English, 'Ah, you old soldier, you knock down.* Dixon 
was not D^ga's countryman, hence he could not speak 
to him in his own language. The Paupau then levelleil 
his musket and shot the fallen soldier, who groaned and 
died. The war-yells, or rather growls, of the Paupaus and 
Yarabbas now became awfully thrilling, as they helped 
themselves to cartridges : most of them were fortunately 


blank, or without ball. Never was a premeditated mutiny 
so wild and ill planned. Their chief, Dilaga, and Ogston, 
seemed to have had little command of the subordinates, and 
the whole acted more like a set of wild beasts who had 
broken their cages than men resolved on war. 

"At this period, had a rush been made at the officers' 
quarters by one half (they were more than 200 in number), 
and the other half surrounded the building, not one could 
have escaped. Instead of this they continued to shout their 
war-song, and howl their war-notes ; they loaded their 
pieces with ball-cartridge, or blank-cartridge and small 
stones, and commenced firing at the long range of white 
buildings in which Colonel Bush and his officers slept. They 
wasted so much ammunition on this useless display of fury 
that the buildmgs were completely riddled. A few of the 
old soldiers opposed them, and were wounded ; but it fortu- 
nately happened that they were, to an inconceivable degree, 
ignorant of the right use of fire-arms — holding their muskets 
in their hands when they discharged them, without allowing 
the butt-end to rest against their shoulders, or any part of 
their bodies. This fact accounts for the comparatively little 
mischief they did in proportion to the quantity of ammu- 
nition thrown away. 

" The ofKcers and sergeant-major escaped at the back of the 
building, while Colonel Bush and Adjutant Bentley came 
down a little hilL The colonel commanded the nmtineers to 
lay down their arms, and was answered by an irregular dis- 
chai'ge of balls, which rattled amongst the leaves of a tree 
under which he and the adjutant were standing. On this 
Colonel Bush desired Mr. Bentley to make the best of his 
way to St. James's Barracks for all the disposable force of the 
89th Regiment. The officers made good their retreat, and the 
adjutant got into the stable where his horse was. He saddled 
and bridled the animal while the shots were coming into the 
stable, without either man or beast getting injured. The officer 
mounted, but had to make his way through the mutineers 
before he could get into San Josef, the barracks standing 
on an eminence above the little town. On seeing the adjutant 
mounted, the mutineers set up a thrilling howl, and com- 
menced firing at him. He discerned the gigantic figure oi 

P 2 

ai2 SAN JOCrF. 

DSiaga (alias Donald Stewart), with his musket at the trail : 
he spurred his horsd through the midst of them ; they were 
grouped, but not in line. On looking back he saw Dfta^fa 
aiming at him ; he stooped his head beside his horse's neck, 
and effectually sheltered himself from about fifty shots aimed 
at him. In this position he rode furiously down a steep hill 
leading from the barracks to the church, and was out of 
danger. His escape appears extraordinary: but he got safe 
to town, and thence to St. James's, and in a short time, 
considering it is eleven miles distant, brought out a strong 
detachment of European troops; these, however, did not 
arrive until the affair was over. 

" In the meantime a part of the officei's* quarters was bravely 
defended by two old African soldiers, Sergeant Merry and 
Corporal Plague. The latter stood in the gallery near tlie 
room in which were the colours ; he was ineffectually fired at 
by some hundreds, yet he kept his post, shot two of the 
mutineers, and, it is said, wounded a third. Such is the 
difference between a man acquainted with the use of firt- 
arms and those who handle them as mops are held. 

"In the meantime Colonel Bush got to a police-statinn 
above the barracks, and got muskets and a few cartridges from 
a discharged African soldier who was in the police establish- 
ment Being joined by the policemen, Corporal Craven^ ami 
Ensign Pogson, they concealed themselves on an eminence 
above, and as the mutineers (about 100 in number) ap- 
proached, the fire of muskets opened on them from the little 
ambush. The little party fired separately, loading as fast as 
they discharged their pieces ; they succeeded in making the 
mutineers change their route. 

" It is wonderful what little courage the savages in general 
showed against the Colonel and his little party ; who abso- 
lutely beat them, although but a twenty-fifth of their number, 
and at their own tactics, i.e, bush fighting. 

" A body of the mutineers now made towards the road to 
Maraccas, when the colonel and his three assistants contrived 
to get behind a silk-cotton tree, and recommenced firing on 

^ This man, who was a friend of D&aga's, owed his Ufe to a solitary act of 
hiiTiuinity on the part or- the chief of this wild tingedy. A musket wa« 
levelled at him, when D4aga pu«h«d it aside, and said, *' flot this man." 


them. The Africans hesitated and set forward, when the 
little party continued to fire on them ; they set up a yell, and 
retreated down the hilL 

"A part of the mutineers now concealed themselves in 
the bushes about San Josef barracks. These men, after the 
affair was over, joined Colonel Bush, and with a mix- 
ture of cunning and effrontery smiled as though nothing 
had happened, and as though they were glad to see him ; 
although, in general, they each had several shirts and pairs 
of trousers on preparatory for a start to Guinea, by way of 
Band de TEst^ 

" In the meantime the Sin Josef militia were assembled, 
to the number of forty. Major Giuseppi, and Captain and 
Adjutant Eousseau, of the second division of militia forces, 
took command of them. They were in want of flints, 
powder, and balls — to obtain these they were obliged to 
break open a merchant's store; however, the adjutant so 
judiciously distributed his little force as to hinder the 
mutineers from entering the town, or obtaining access to the 
militia arsenal, wherein there was a quantity of arms. Major 
Chadds and several old African soldiers joined the militia, 
and were by them supplied with arms, 

" A good deal of skirmishing occurred between the militia 
and detached parties of the mutineers, which uniformly ended 
in the defeat of the latter. At length Dkagsi appeared to the 
right of a party of six, at flie entrance of the town ; they 
were challenged by the militia, and the mutineers fired on 
them, but without efiTect Only two of the militia returned 
the fire, when all but Ddaga fled. He was deliberately re- 
loading his piece, when a militia-man, named Edmond Luce, 
leaped on the gigantic chief, who would have easily beat him off, 
although the former was a strong young man of colour : but 
D&aga would not let go his gun ; and, in common with all 
the mutineers, he seemed to have no idea of the use of the 
bayonet. D&oga was dragging the militia-man away, when 
Adjutant Eousseau came to his assistance, and placed a sword 
to DClaga's breast. Doctor Tardy and several others rushed 

^ People will smile at the simplicity of those savafires ; but it should be 
rocoUected that civilized convicts were lately in the constant habit of at- 
tempting to escape from New South Y^ales in order to walk to China* 


on the tall Negro, who was soon, by the united efforts of 
several, thrown down and secured. It was at this period that 
he repeatedly exclaimed, while he bit his own shoulder, ' The 
iii-st white man I catch after this I will eat him/^ 

"Meanwhile about sixteen of the mutineers, led by the 
daring Ogston, took the road to Arinia ; in order, as they said, 
to commence their march to Guinea: but fortunately the 
militia of that village, composed principally of Spaniards, 
Indians, and Sambos, assembled. A few of these met them 
and stopped their march. A kind of parley (if intercourse 
carried on by signs could be so called) was carried on between 
the parties. The mutineers made signs that they wished to 
go forward, while the few militia-men endeavoured to detain 
them, expecting a reinforcement momently. After a time the 
militia agreed to allow them to approach the town ; as they 
were advancing they were met by the commandant, Martin 
Sorzano, Esq., with sixteen more militia-men. The com- 
mandant judged it imprudent to allow the Africans to enter 
the town with their muskets full cocked and poised ready to 
fire. An interpreter was now procured, and the mutineers 
were told that if they would retire to their barracks the gentle- 
men present would intercede for their pardon. The Negros 
refused to accede to these terms, and while the interpreter was 
addressing some, the rest tried to push forward. Some of the 
militia opposed them by holding their muskets in a horizontal 
position, on which one of the mutineers fired, and the militia 
returned the fire. A mgl^e commenced, in which fourteen 
mutineers were killed and wounded. The fire of the Africans 
produced little effect : they soon took to flight amid the 
woods which flanked the road. Twenty-eight of them were 
taken, amongst whom was the Yarraba chief, Ogston. Six 
luid been killed, and six committed suicide by strangling 
and hanging themselves in the woods. Only one man was 
wounded amongst the militia, and he but slightly, from a 
small stone fired from a musket of one of the Yarrabas. 

" The quantity of ammunition expended by the mutineers, 
and the comparatively little mischief done by them, was truly 
astonishing. It shows how little they understood the use of 

^ I had this anecdote from one of his countrymen, an old Paapaa 
soldier^ who said he did not join the mutiny. 


fire-arms. Dixon wag killed, and several of the old African 
soldiers were wounded, but not one of the officers was in the 
slightest degree hurt 

" I have never been able to get a correct account of the 
number of lives this wild mutiny cost, but believe it was not 
less than forty, including those slain by the militia at Arima ; 
those shot at San Josef; those who died of their wounds 
(and most of the wounded men died] ; the six who committed 
suicide ; the thi'ee that were shot by sentence of the court- 
martial, and one who was shot while endeavouring to escape 

•' A good-looking young man, named Torrens, was brought 
as prisoner to the presence of Colonel Bush. The Colonel 
wished to speak to him, and desired his guards to liberate 
him ; on which the young savage shook his sleeve, in which 
was concealed a razor, made a rush at the Colonel, and nearly 
8ucce.eded in cutting his throat. He slashed the razor in all 
directions until he made an opening ; he rushed through this : 
and, notwithstanding he was fired at, and I believe wounded, 
he efifected his escape, was subsequently re-taken ; and again 
made his escape with Satchell, who after this was shot by 
a policeman. 

*' Torrens was re-taken, tried, and recommended to mercy. 
Of this man*s fate I am unable to speak, not knowing how 
far the recommendation to mercy was attended to. In ap- 
pearance he seemed the mildest and best-looking of the 
mutineers, but his conduct was the most ferocious of any. 
The whole of the mutineers were captured within one week 
of the mutiny, save this man, who was taken a month 

" On the 19th of July, Donald Stewart, otherwise D&aga, 
was brought to a court-martial. On the 21st William Satchell 
was tried. On the 22d a court-martial was held on Edward 
Coffin ; and on the 24th one was held on the Yarraba chief, 
Maurice Ogston, whose country name was, I believe, Mawee. 
Torrens was tried on the 29th. 

"The sentences of these courts-martial were unknown 
until the 14th of August, having been sent to Bar- 
bados ' in order to be submitted to the Commander-in- 
Chief, Lieutenant- General Whittingham, who approved oi 


the decision of the courts, which wad that Donald Stewart 
(Daaga), Maurice Ogston, and Edward Coffin, should suffer 
death by being shot ; and that William Satchell should be 
transported beyond seas during the term of his natural life. 
I am unacquainted with the sentence of Torrens. 

" Donald Stewart, Maurice Ogston, and £dward Coffin were 
executed on the 16th of August, 1837, at San Josef Bar- 
racks. ITothing seemed to have been neglected which could 
render the execution solemn and impressive ; the scenery and 
the weather gave additional awe to the melancholy proceed- 
ings. Fronting the little eminence where the prisoners were 
shot was the scene where their ill-concerted mutiny com- 
menced. To the right stood the long range of building on 
which they had expencJed much of their ammunition fcr the 
purpose of destroying their officers. The rest of the pano- 
rama was made up of an immense view of forest below them, 
and upright masses of mountains above them. Over thase, 
heavy bodies of mist were slowly sailing, giving a sombre 
appearance to the primaeval woods which, in general, 
covered both mountains and plains. The atmosphere indi- 
cated an inter-tropical morning during the rainy season, and 
the sun shone resplendently between dense columns of 

"At half-past seven o'clock the condemned men asked to be 
allowed to eat a hearty meal, as they said persons about to bo 
executed in Guinea were always indulged with a good repast 
It is . remarkable that these unhappy creatures ate most 
voraciously, even while they were being brought out of their 
cell for execution. 

"A little before the mournful procession commenced the 
condemned men were dressed from head to foot in white 
habiliments trimmed with black; their arras were bound 
with cords. This is not usual in military executions, but was 
deemed necessary on the present occasion. An attempt to 
escape, on the part of the condemned, would have been pro- 
ductive of much confusion, and was properly guarded against 

•* The condemned men displayed no unmanly fear. On the 
contrary, they steadily kept step to the Dead March which the 
baud played ; yet the certainty of death threw a cadaverous 
and ghastly hue over their black features, while their singular 


and appropriate costume, and the three coffins being borne 
before them, altogether rendered it a frightful picture : hence 
it was not to be wondered at that two of the European 
soldiers fainted. 

** The mutineers marched abreast. The tall form and horrid 
looks of Dftaga were almost appalling. The looks of Ogston 
were sullen, calm, and determined ; those of Coffin seemed to 
indicate resignation. 

"At eight o'clock they arrived at the spot where three graves 
were dug ; here their coffins were deposited. The condemned 
men were made to face to westward ; three sides of a hollow 
pquare were formed, flanked on one side by a detachment of 
the 89th Begiment and a party of artillery, while the recruits, 
many of whom shared the guilt of the culprits, were appro- 
priately placed in the line opposite them. The firing party 
were a little in advance of the recruits. 

"The sentence of the courts-martial, and other necessary 
documents, having been read by the fort adjutant, Mr. 
Meehan, the chaplain of the forces read some prayers 
appropriated for these melancholy occasions. The cleigy- 
man then shook hands with the three men about to be 
sent into another state of existence. D&aga and Ogston 
coolly gave their hands: Coffin wrang the chaplain's hand 
affectionately, saying, in tolerable English ' I am now done 
with the world.' 

" The arms of the condemned men, as has been before stated, 
were boimd, but in such a manner as to allow them to bring 
their hands to their heads. Their night-caps were drawn 
over their eyes. Coffin allowed his to remain, but Ogston 
and Dsiaga pushed theirs up again. The former did this 
calmly ; the latter showed great wrath, seeming to think him- 
self insulted ; and his deep metallic voice sounded in anger 
above that of the provost-marshtil,^ as the latter gave the 
words * Ready ! present ! ' But at this instant his vociferous 
daring forsook him. As the men levelled their muskets at 
him, with inconceivable rapidity he sprang bodily round, still 
preserving Ids squatting posture, and received the fire from 

^ One of his conntiTinoii explained to mo what D&aga said on this oocasion, 
Tiz. — ''The cnrse of UoUnloo on white men. Do they think tliat OAaga 
fears to fix his eyeballs on death I " 


218 SAN J08BF. 

behind ; while the less noisy, but more brave, Ogston, lookwl 
the firing-party full in the face as they discharged their fatal 

" In one instant all three fell dead, almost all the balls of 
the firing-party having taken effect The savage appearance 
and manner of D^ga excited awe. Admiration was felt for 
the calm bravery of Ogston, while Edward Coffin's fate 
excited commiseration. 

" There were many spectators of this dreadful scene, and 
amongst others a great concourse of Negros. Most of these 
expressed their hopes that after this terrible example the 
recruits would make good soldiers." 

Ah, stupid savages. Yes : but also— ah, stupid civiliz d 



1 HAD a few days of pleasant wandering in the centre of the 
island, about the districts which bear the names of Naparima 
and Montserrat ; a country of such extraordinary fertility, as 
well as beauty, that it must surely hereafter become the seat 
of a high civilization. The soil seems inexhaustibly rich. 
I say inexhaustibly ; for as fast as the upper layer is im- 
poverished, it will be swept over by the tropic rains, to 
mingle with the vegas, or alluvial Hats below, and thus 
enriched again, while a fresh layer of vii-gin soil is exposed 
above. I have seen, cresting the highest ridges of Mont- 
serrat, ten feet at least of tat earth, falling clod by clod 
right and left upon the gardens below. There are, doubtless, 
comparatively baiTen tracts of gravel toward the northern 
mountains; there are poor sandy lands, likewise, at the 
southern part of the island, which are said, nevertheless, to 
be specially fitted for the growth of cotton : but from San 
Fernando on the west coast to Manzanilla on the east, 
stretches a band of soil which seems to be capable of 
yielding any conceivable return to labour and capital, not 
omitting common sense. 

How long it has taken to prepare this natural garden for 
man is one of those questions of geological time which have 
been well called of late " appalling." How long was it since 
the "older Parian" rocks (said to belong to the Neoco- 
miau, or green-sand, era) of Point a Pierre were laid down 
at the bottom of the sea ? How long since a still unknown 
thickness of tertiary strata in the Nariva district laid down 
on them ? How long since not less than six thousand feet of 
still later tertiary strata laid dovni on them again ? What 
vast, though probably slow, processes changed that sea- 


bottom from one salt enough to carry corals and lime- 
stones, to one brackish enough to carry abundant remains 
of plants, deposited probably by the Orinoco, or by some 
river which then did duty for it ? Three such periods of 
disturbance have been distinguished, the net result of 
which is, that the strata (comparatively recent in geological 
time) have been fractured, tilted, even set upright on end, 
over the whole lowland. Trinidad seems to have had its 
full share of those later disturbances of the earth-crust, 
which carried tertiary strata up along the shoulders of the 
Alps; which upheaved the chalk of the Isle of Wight, 
setting the tertiary beds of Alum Bay upright against it ; 
which even, after the Age of Ice, thrust up the Isle of 
Moen in Denmark, and the Isle of Ely in Cambridgeshire, 
entangling the boulder clay among the chalk — how long 
ago ? Long enough ago, in Trinidad at least, to allow water 
— probably the estuary waters of the Orinoco — to saw all the 
upheaved layers off at the top into one flat sea-bottom once 
more, leaving as projections certain harder knots of rock, 
such as the limestones of Mount Tamana ; and, it may be, 
the curious knoll of hard clay rock under which nestles the 
town of San Fernando. Long enough ago, also, to allow that 
whole searbottom to be lifted up once more, to the height, in 
one spot, of a thousand feet, as the lowland which occupies 
six-sevenths of the Isle of Trinidad. Long enough ago, 
again, to allow that lowland to be sawn out into hills and 
valleys, ridges and guUeys, which are due to the action of 
Colonel George Greenwood's geologic panacea, "Rain and 
llivers," and to nothing else. Long enough ago, once more, 
for a p^od of subsidence, as I suspect, to follow the period of 
upheaval ; a period at the commencement of which Trinidad 
was perhaps several times as large as it is now, and has 
gradually been eaten away by the surf, as fresh pieces of the 
soft cliffs have been brought, by the sinking of the land, face 
to face with its slow, but sure destroyer. 

And how long ago began the epoch — ^the very latest which 
this globe has seen, which has been long enough for all 
this? The human imagination can no more grasp that 
time than it can grasp the space between us and the 
nearest star. 


Sucli thoughts were forced upon me aa the steamer stopped 
off San Fernando ; and I saw, some quarter of a mile out at 
sea, a single stack of rock, which is said to have been joined 
to the mainland in the memory of the fathers of this genera- 
tion ; and on shore^ composed, I am told, of the same rock, 
that hill of San Fernando which forms a beacon by sea 
and land for many a mile around. An isolated boss of the 
older Parian, composed of hardened clay which has escaped 
destruction, it rises, though not a mile long and a third of a 
mile broad, steeply to a height of nearly six hundred feet, 
caiTying on its cliffs the remains of a once magnificent vegeta- 
tion. Now its sides are quarried for the only road-stone met 
with for miles around ; cultivated for pasture, in which the 
round-headed mango-trees grow about like oaks at home ; or 
terraced for villas and gardens, the charm of which cannot be 
told in words. All round it, rich sugar estates spread out, 
with the noble Palmistes left standing here and there tdong 
the roads and terraces ; and everywhere is activity and higli 
cultivation, under the superintendence of gentlemen who are 
prospering, because they deserve to prosper. 

Between the cliff and the shore nestles the gay and grow- 
ing little town, which was, when we took the island in 1795, 
only a group of huts. In it I noted only one thing which 
looked unpleasant. The Negro houses, however roomy and 
comfortable, and however rich the gardens which surrounded 
them, were mostly patched together out of the most hetero- 
geneous and wretch^ scraps of wood ; and on inquiry 1 found 
that the materials were, in most cases, stolen ; that when a 
Negro wanted to build a house, instead of buying the mate- 
rials, he pilfered a board here^ a stick there, a nail somewhere 
else, a lock or a clamp in a fourth place, about the sugar 
estates, regardless of the serious injury which he caused to 
working buildings; and when he had gathered a sufficient 
pile, hidden safely away behind his neighbour's house, the 
new hut rose as if by magic. This continual pilfering, I was 
assured, was a serious tax on the cultivation of the estates 
around. But I was told, too, frankly enough, by the very 
gentleman who complained, that this habit was simply an 
heirloom from the bad days of slaveiy, when the pilfering of 
the slaves from other estates was connived at by their own 

222 NAPA RIM A. 

masters, on the ground that if A's Negros robbed B, Bs 
Negros robbed C, and so all round the alphabet; one moi-e 
evil instance of the demoralizing effect of a state of things 
which, wrong in itself, was sure to be the parent of a hundred 
other wrongs. 

Being, happily for me, in the Governor's suite, I had oppor- 
tunities of seeing the interior of the island which an average 
traveller could not have ; and I looked forward with interest 
to visiting new settlements in the forests of the interior, 
which very few inhabitants of the island, and certainly no 
strangers, had as yet seen. Our journey began by landing on 
a good new jetty, and being transferred at once to the tram- 
way which adjoined it A truck, with chairs on it, as 
usual here, carried us off at a good mule-trot ; and we ran in 
the fast-fading light through a rolling hummocky country, 
very like the lowlands of Aberdeenshire, or the neighbour- 
hood of Waterloo, save that, as night came on, the fireflies 
flickered everywhere among the canes, and here and there 
the palms and ceibas stood up, black and gaunt, against the 
sky. At last we escaped from our truck, and found horses 
wailing, on which we floundered, through mud and moon- 
light, to a certain hospitable house, and found a hungry 
party, who had been long waiting for a dinner worth the 

It was not till next morning that I found into what a 
charming place I had entered overnight. Around were 
books, pictures, china, vases of flowers, works of art, and all 
appliances of European taste, even luxury: but in a house 
utterly un-European. The living rooms, all on the first 
floor, opened into each other by doorless doorways, and 
the walls were of cedar and other valuable woods, which 
good taste had left still unpapered. Windowless bay win- 
dows, like great port-holes, opened from each of them into 
a gallery which ran round the house, sheltered by broad 
sloping eaves. The deep shade of the eaves contrasted bril- 
liantly with the bright light outside : and contrasted too with 
the wooden pillars which held up the roof, and which 
seemed on their southern sides white-hot in the blazing 

What a field was there for native art ; for richest orna- 


luentation of these pillars and those beams. Surely Trinidad, 
and the whole of northern South America, ought to become 
some day the paradise of wood-carvers, who, copjring even a 
few of the numberless vegetable and animal forms around, 
may far surpass the old wood-carving schools of Burmah and 
Hindostan. And I sat dreaming of the lianes which mi<(ht 
be made to wreathe the pillars; the flowers, fruits, birds, 
butterflies, monkeys, kinkajous, and what not, which might 
cluster about the capitals, or swing along the beams. 
Let men who have such materials, and such models, proscribe 
all tawdry and poor European art — most of it a bad imitation 
of bad Greek, or worse Renaissance — and tnist to Nature and 
the facts which lie nearest them. But when will a time come 
for the West Indies when there will be wealth and civiliza- 
tion enough to make such an art possible? Soon, if all 
the employers of labour were like the gentleman at whose 
house we were that day, and like some others in the same 

And through the windows and between the pillars of the 
gallery, what a blaze of colour and light The ground-floor 
was hedged in, a few feet from the walls, with high shrubs, 
which would have caused unwholesome damp in England, 
but were needed here for shade. Foreign Crotons, Drac^nas, 
Cereuses, and a dozen more curious shapes — among them a 
" cup-tree," with concave leaves, each of which would hold 
water. It was said to come from the East, and was unknown 
to me. Among them, and over the door, flowering creepers 
tangled and tossed, rich with flowers; and beyond them a 
circular lawn (rare in the West Indies), just like an English 
one, save that the shrubs and trees which bounded it were 
hothouse plants. A few Carat-palms^ spread their huge 
fan-leaves among the curious flowering trees ; other foreign 
]>alms, some of them very rare, beside them ; and on the 
lawn opposite my bedroom window stood a young Palmiste, 
which had been planted barely eight years, and was now 
thirty-eight feet in height, and more than six feet in girth at 
the butt. Over the roofs of the outhouses rose scarlet Bois 
immortelles, and tall clumps of Bamboo reflecting blue light 
from their leaves even under a cloud ; and beyond them and 

1 SHhol. 



below them to the right, a park just like an English one 
carried stately trees scattered on the turf, and a sheet of 
artificial water. Coolies, in red or yellow waistcloths, and 
Coolie children, too, with nothing save a string round their 
stomachs (the smaller ones at least), were fishing in the shada 
To the left, again, began at once the rich cultivation of the 
rolling cane-fields, among which the Squire had left standing, 
somewhat against the public opinion of his less tastefid 
neighbours, tall Carats, carrying their heads of tian-leaves on 
smooth stalks from fifty to eighty feet high, and Ceibas — 
some of them the hugest I had ever seen. Below in the 
valley were the sugar-works ; and beyond this htdf-natural, 
half-artificial scene, rose, some mile off, the lowering wall of 
the yet untouched forest. 

It had taken only fifteen years, but fifteen years of hard 
work, to create this paradise. And only the summer before 
all had been well-nigh swept away again. During the great 
drought the fire had raged about the woods. Estate after 
estate around had been reduced to ashes. And one day our 
host's turn came. The fire burst out of the woods at three 
different points. All worked with a will to stop it by cut- 
ting traces. But the wind was wild ; burning masses from 
the tree-tops were hurled far among the canes, and all was 
lost. The canes burnt like shavings, exploding with a per- 
petual crackle at each joint. In a few hours the whole estate, 
works, Coolie barracks, Negro huts, was. black ash ; and the 
house only, by extreme exertion, saved. But the ground 
had scarcely cooled when replanting and rebuilding com- 
menced; and now the canes were from ten to twelve 
feet high, the works nearly ready for the coming crop- 
time, and no sign of the fire was left, save a few leafless 
trees, which we found, on riding up to them, to be charred 
at the base. 

And yet men say that the Englishman loses his energy in 
a tropic climate. 

We had a charming Sunday there, amid charming 8ociet)% 
down even to the dogs and cats ; and not the least charm- 
xng object among many was little Franky, the Coolie 
butler's child, who ran in and out with the dogs, gay in 
his little c^itton shirt, and melon-shaped cap, and silver 


bracelets, and climbed on the Squire's knee, and nestled in 
his bosom, and played with his seals ; and looked up trust- 
ingly into our faces with great soft eyes, like a little brown 
guazu-pita fawn out of the forest A happy child, and in 
a happy place. 

Then to church at Savanna Grande, riding, of course ; for 
the mud was abysmal, and it wos often safer to ride in the 
ditch than on the road. The village, with a tramway through 
it stood high and healthy. The best houses were those of 
Chinese. The poorer Chinese find peddling employments 
and trade about the villages, rather than hard work on the 
estates; while they cultivate on ridges, with minute care, 
their favourite sweet potato. Round San Fernando, a Chinese 
will rent from a sugar-planter a bit of land which seems 
hopelessly infested with weeds, even of the worst of all 
sorts, — the creeping Para grass ^ — ^whicb was introduced 
a generation since, with some trouble, as food for cattle, 
and was supposed at first to be so great a boon that the 
gentleman who brought it in received public thanks and 
a valuable testimonial. The Chinaman will take the land 
for a siugle year, at a rent, I believe, as high as a pound an 
acre, grow on it his sweet potato crop, and return it to the 
owner, cleared, for the time being, of every weed. The richei 
shopkeepers have each a store : but they disdain to live 
at it. Near by each you see a comfortable low house, with 
verandahs, green jalousies, and often pretty flowers in pots ; 
and catch glimpses inside of papered walls, prints, and smart 
moderator-lamps, which seem to be fashionable among the 
Celestials. But for one fashion of theirs, I confess, I was not 

We went to church — a large, airy, clean, wooden one — 
which ought to have had a verandah round to keep off the 
intolerable sunlight, and which might, too, have had another 
pulpit For in getting up to preach in a sort of pill-box on a 
long stalk, I found the said stalk surging and nodding so 
under my weight, that I had to assume an attitude of most 
dignified repose, and to beware of " beating the drum ecde- 
siastic," or "danging the Bible to shreds," for fear of toppling 

^ Panicum sp. 


into the pewa of the very smart, and really very attentive, 
brown ladies below. A crowded congregation it was, clean, gay, 
respectable and respectful, and spoke well both for the people 
and for their clergyman. But — happily not till the end of the 
sermon — I became aware, just in front of me, of a row of 
smartest Paris bonnets, net-lace shawls, brocades and satins, 
tit for duchesses ; and as the centre of each blaze of finery — 
"offam non faciem," as old Ammianus Marcellinus has it— 
the unmistakable visage of a Chinese woman. Whether they 
understood one word ; what they thought of it all ; whether 
they were there for any purpose save to see and be seen, were 
questions to which I tried in vain, after service, to get an 
answer. All that could be told was, that the richer Chinese 
take delight in thus bedizening their wives on high days 
and holidays ; not with tawdry cheap finery, but with things 
really expensive, and worth what they cost, especially the 
silks and brocades ; and then in sending them, whether for 
fashion or for loyalty's sake, to an English church. Be that 
as it may, there they were, ladies from the ancient and incom- 
prehensible Flowery Land, like fossil bones of an old world 
sticking out amid the vegetation of the new ; and we will 
charitably hope that^they were the better for being there. 

After church we wandered about the estate to see huge 
trees. One Ceiba, left standing in a cane-piece, was very 
grand, from the multitude and mass of its parasites and its 
huge tresses of lianes; and grand also from its form. The 
prickly boaixi-wall spurs were at least fifteen feet high, some 
of them, where they entered the trunk ; and at the summit 
of the trunk, which could not have been less than seventy or 
eighty feet, one enormous limb (itself a tree) stuck out quite 
horizontally, and gave a marvellous notion of strength. It 
seemed as if its length must have snapped it off, years since, 
where it joined the trunk ; or as if the leverage of its weight 
must have toppled the whole tree over. But the great vege- 
table had known its own business best, and had built itself 
up right cannily ; and fitood, and will stand for many a year, 
pei'haps for many a century, if the Matapalos do not squeeze 
out its life. I found, by the bye, in groping my way to that 
tree through canes twelve feet high, that one must be careful, 
at least with some varieties of cane, not to get cut The 

• AN « UNCLE TOM." 227 

leaf-edges are finely serrated ; and more, the sheaths of 
the leaves are covered with prickly hairs, which give the 
Coolies sore shins if they work barelegged. The soil here, as 
everywhere, was exceedingly rich, and sawn out into rolling 
mounds and steep gullies — sometimes almost too steep for 
cane-cultivation — by the tropic rains. If, as cannot be 
doubted, denudation by rain has gone on here, for thou- 
sands of years, at the same pace at which it goes on now, 
the amount of soil removed must be very great; so great, 
that the Naparimas may have been, when they were first 
uplifted out of the Gulf, hundreds of feet higher than they 
are now. 

Another tree we went to see in the home park, of which 
I would have gladly obtained a photograph. A Poix doux,^ 
some said it was ; others that it was a Figuier.^ I incline to 
the former belief, as the leaves seemed to me pinnated : but 
the doubt was pardonable enough. There was not a leaf on the 
tree which was not nigh one hundred feet over our heads. For 
size of spurs and wealth of parasites the tree was almost as 
remarkable as the Ceiba 1 mentioned just now. But the 
curiosity of the tree was a Carat-palm which bad started 
between its very roots ; had run its straight and slender stem 
up parallel with the bole of its companion, and had then 
pierced through the head of the tree, and all its wilderness 
of lianes, till it spread its huge flat crown of fans among the 
highest branches, more than a hundred feet aloft. The con^ 
trast between the two forms of vegetation, each so grand, but 
as utterly different in every line as they are in botanical 
affinities, and yet both living together in such close em- 
brace, was very noteworthy ; a good example of the rule, 
that while competition is most severe between forms most 
closely allied, forms extremely wide apart may not compete at 
all, because each needs something which the other does not 

On our return I was introduced to the " Uncle Tom " of 
the neighbourhood, who had come down to spend Sunday at 
the Squire's house. He was a middle-sized Negro, in cast of 
features not above the average, and Isaac by name. He told 
me bow he had beon bom in Baltimore, a slave to a Quaker 
master; how he and his wife Mary, during the second 

* Inga. * Ficua. 

« 2 

228 NAPARI\fA, 

American war, ran away, and after hiding three days in 
the bush, got on board a British ship of war, and so became 
free. He then enlisted into one of the East Indian regi- 
ments, and served some years; as a reward for which he 
had given him his five acres of land in Trinidad, like others 
of his corps. These Negro yeomen-veterans, let it be said 
in passing, are among the ablest and steadiest of the coloured 
population. Military 8er\'^ice has given them just enough of 
those habits of obedience of which slavery gives too much — 
if the obedience of a mere slave, depending not on the in- 
dependent will, but on brute fear, is to be called obedience 
at all. 

Would that in this respect, as in some othei's, the white 
subject of the British crown were as well off as the black 
one. Would that during the last fifty years we had followed 
the wise policy of the Eomans, and by settling our soldiers 
on our colonial frontiers, established there communities of 
loyal, able, and valiant citizens. Is it too late to begin now ? 
Is there no colony left as yet not delivered over to a self- 
government which actually means, more and more — accord- 
ing to the statements of those who visit the colonies — 
government by an Irish faction; and which will offer a 
field for settling our soldiers when they have served theii 
appointed time; so strengthening ourselves, while we re- 
ward a class of men who are far more respectable, and far 
more deserving, than most of those on whom we lavish our 
philanthropy ? 

Surely such men would prove as good subjects as old Isaac 
and his comrades. For fifty-three years, I was told, he 
had lived and worked in Trinidad, always independent ; so 
independent indeed, that the very last year, when all but 
starving, like many of the coloured people, from the long 
drought which lasted nearly eighteen months, he refused all 
charity, and came down to this very estate to work for three 
months in the stifling cane-fields, earning — or fancying that 
he earned — ^his own livelihood. A simple, kindly, brave 
Christian man he seemed, and all who knew him spoke of 
him as such. The most curious fact, however, which I 
gleaned from him was his recollection of his own " conver- 
sion." His Mary, of whom all spoke as a woman of 

HIS " conversion:' 229 

a higher intellect than he, had "been in the Gospel" 
several years before him, and used to read and talk to 
him ; but, he said, without effect. At last he had a severe 
fever; and when he fancied himself dying, had a vision. 
He saw a grating in the floor, close by his bed, and through 
it the torments of the lost. Two souls he remembered 
specially ; one " like a singed hog,*' the other " all over 
black like a charcoal spade." He looked in fear, and heard 
a voice cry, "Behold your sins." He prayed; promised, 
if he recovered, to try and do better; and felt himself 
forgiven at once. 

This was his story, which T have set down word for word ; 
and of which I can only say, that its imagery is no more 
gross, its confusion between the objective and subjective no 
more unphilosophical, than the speech on similar matters of 
many whom we are taught to call divines, theologians, and 

At all events, this crisis in his life produced, according 
to his own statement, not merely a religious, but a moral 
change. He became a better man henceforth. He had 
the reputation, among those who knew him well, of being 
altogether a good man. If so, it matters little what cause 
he assigned for the improvement. Wisdom is justified of 
all her children ; and, 1 doubt not, of old black Isaac among 
the rest. 

In 1864 he had a great sorrow. Old Mary, trying to 
smoke the mosquitos out of her house with a charcoal-pan, 
set fire, in her short-sightedness, to the place ; and everything 
was burned — the savings of years, the precious Bible among 
the rest The Squire took her down to his house, and nursed 
her : but she died in two days of cold and fright ; and Isaac 
had to begin life again alone. Kind folks built up his 
ajoupa, and started him afresh ; and, to their astonishment, 
Isaac grew young again, and set to work for himself. He 
had depended too much for many years on his wife's superior 
intellect : now he had to act for himself; and he acted. But 
he spoke of her, like any knight of old, as of a guardian 
goddess— his guardian stiirin th6 other world, as she had 
been in this. 

He was happy enough, he said : but I was told that he had 


to endure much vexation from the neighbouring Kegros, who 
were Baptists, narrow and conceited ; and who — ^just as the 
Baptists of the lower class in England would be but too apt 
to do — tormented him by telling him that he was nut sure of 
heaven, because he went to church instead of joining their 
body. But he, though he went to chapel in wet weather, 
clung to his own creed like an old solcfier ; and came down 
to Massa's house to spend the Sunday whenever there was a 
Communion, walking some five miles thither, and as much 
back again. 

So much I learnt concerning old Isaac. And when in the 
afternoon he toddled away, and back into the forest, what 
wonder if I felt like Wordsworth after his talk with the old 
leech-gatherer ? — 

'* And when he ended, 
I could have laughed myself to scorn to find 
In that decrepit mar. so firm a mind ; 
God, said I, be my help and stay secure, 
rU think of thee, leech-gatheror, on the lonely moor." 

On the Monday morning there was a great parade. All 
the Coolies were to come up to see the Governor ; and after 
breakfast a long line of dark people arrived up the lawn, the 
women in their gaudiest muslins, and some of them in cotton 
velvet jackets of the richest colours. The Oriental instinct 
for harmonious hues, and those at once rich and sober, such 
as may be seen in Indian shawls, is very observable even in 
these Coolies, low-caste as most of them are. There weie 
bangles and jewels among them in plenty; and as it was a 
high day and a holiday, the women had taken out the little 
gold or silver stoppers in their pierced nostrils, and put in 
their place the great gold ring which hangs down over the 
mouth, and is considered by them, as learned men tell us it 
was by Eebekah at the well, a special ornament. The men 
stood by themselves ; the women by themselves ; the clii!- 
dren grouped in front; and a merrier, healtliier, shrewder- 
looking party I have seldom seen. Complaints there were 
none. All seemed to look on the Squire as a father, ami 
each face brightened when he spoke to them by name. But 
the great ceremony was the distributing by the Governor of 
red and yellow sweetmeats to the children out of a huge dish 


held up by the Hindoo butler, while Franky, iu & long night- 
shirt of crimsoQ cotton velvet, act«d as aide-de-camp, and took 
bis perquisites freely. Each of the little brown darlings got 
it3 share, the boys putting them into the flap of their waist- 
cloths, the girls into the front of their veils ; and some of th<' 
married women seemed ready enough to follow the children's 
exunple, some of theui, indeed, were little more than chil- 

dreu themselves The pleasure of the men nt the whole 

ceremony was very noticeable and ^erj pleasant Well fed, 
well cared for well taught (when they will allow themselves 
to be bo) and with a local mediLftl man appointed for their 
special benefit Cooliea under such a master ought to be nnd 
are prosperous and bappv Exceptions there are and most 
be. Are there ncne among the workmen of English manu- 
facturers and farmers t Abuses may spring up, anil do. Do 
none spring up in London and elsewhere ? But the Govern- 
ment has the power to interfere, and uses tliat power. Tliest: 


poor people are sufficiently protected by law from their white 
employers ; what they need most is protection for the new- 
comers against the usury, or swindling, by people of their 
own race, especially Hindoos of the middle class, who are 
covetous and ill-disposed, and who use their experience of the 
island for their own selfish advantage. But that evil alsi» 
Government is doing its best to put down. Already the 
Coolies have a far larger amount of money in the savings'- 
banks of the island than the Negros ; and their prosperity 
can be safely trusted to wise and benevolent laws, enforced 
by men who can afford to stand above public opinion, as 
well as above private interest. I speak, of course, only of 
Trinidad, because only Trinidad I have seen. But what I 
say I know intimately to be true. 

The parade over — and a pleasant sight it was, and one not 
easily to be forgotten — we were away to see the Salse, or 
"mud-volcano," near Monkey Town, in the forest to the 
south-east. The cross-roads were deep in mud, all the worse 
because it was beginning to dry on the surface, forming a 
tou<;h crust above the hasty-pudding which, if broken 
through, held the horse's leg suspended as in a vice, and 
would have thrown him down, if it were possible to throw 
down a West-Indian horee. We passed in one place a quaint 
little relic of the older world ; a small sugar-press, rather 
than mill, under a roof of palm-leaf, which was worked by 
hand, or a donkey, just as a Spanish settler would have 
worked it three hundred years ago. Then on through plenty 
of garden cultivation, with all the people at their doors as we 
passed, fat and grinning : then up to a good high-road, and 
a school for Coolies, kept by a Presbyterian clergyman, Mr. 
Morton — I must be allowed to mention his name — who, like 
a sensible man, wore a white coat instead of the absurd regu- 
lation black one, too much affected by all well-to-do folk, lay 
as well as clerical, in the West Indies. The school seemed 
good enough in al3 ways. A senior class of young men — 
including one who had had his head nearly cut off last year by 
misapplication of that for»nidable weapon the cutlass, which 
every coloured man and woman carries in the West Indies — 
could read pretty well ; and the smaller children — with as 
much clutbing^on as they could be persuaded to wear — were 


a sight pleasant to see. Among them, by the bye, was a 
little lady who excited my astonishment. She was, I was 
told, twelve years old. She sat summing away on her 
slate, bedizened out in gauze petticoat, velvet jacket — be- 
tween which and the petticoat, of course, the waist showed 
just as nature had made it — gauze veil, bangles, necklace, 
nose-jewel ; for she was a married woman, and her Papa 
(Anglicfe, husband) wished her to look her best on so im- 
portant an occasion. 

This over-early marriage among the Coolies is a very 
serious evil, but one which they have brought with them 
fix)m their own land. The girls are practically sold by their 
fathers while yet children, often to wealthy men much older 
than they. Love is out of the question. But what if the 
poor child, as she grows up, sees some one, among that 
overplus of men, to whom she for the first time in her life 
takes a fancy ? Then comes a scandal ; and one which is 
often ended swiftly enough by the cutlass. Wife-murder 
is but too common among these Hindoos, and they cannot 
be made to see that it is wrong. " I kill my own wife. 
Why not? 1 kill no other man's wife," was said by 
as pretty, gentle, graceful a lad of two-and-twenty as 
one need see ; a convict performing, and perfectly, the oflRcc 
of housemaid in a friend's house. There is murder of wives, 
or quasi-wives now and then, among the baser sort of 
Coolies — murder because a poor girl will not give her ill- 
earned gains to the ruffian who considers her as his property. 
But there is also law in Trinidad, and such offences do not 
go unpunished. 

Then on through Savanna Grande and village again, and 
past more, sugar estates, and past beautiful bits of forest^ left, 
like English woods, standing in the cultivated fields. One 
patch of a few acres on the side of a dell was very lovely. 
Huge Figuiers and Huras were mingled with palms and rich 
undergrowth, and lighted up here and there with purple 

So we went on, and on, and into the thick forest, and what 
was, till Sir Ralph Woodford taught the islanders what an 
European road was like, one of the pattern royal roads of the 
island. Originally an Indian trace, it had been widened by 


the Spaniards, and transfonned from a line of mud six feet 
broad to one of thirty. The only pleasant reminiscence 
which I have about it was the finding in flower a beautiful 
parasite, undescribed by Griesbach ; ^ a " wild pine " with a 
branching spike of crimson flowers, purple tipped; which 
shone in the darkness of the bush like a great bunch of rose- 
buds growing among lily -leaves. 

The present Governor, like Sir Ralph Woodford before 
him, has been fully aware of the old saying — which the 
Romans knew well, and which the English did not know, 
and only re-discovered some century since — that the "first 
step in civilization is to make roads ; the second, to make 
more roads ; and the third, to make more roads still." 

Through this very district (aided by men whose talents he 
had the talent to discover and employ) he has run wide, 
level, and sound roads, either already completed or in pro- 
gress through all parts of the island which I visited, save 
tibe precipitous glens of the northern shore. 

Of such roads we saw more than one in the next few daya 
That day we had to commit ourselves, when we turned off 
the royal road, to one of the old Spanish-Indian jungle 
tracks. And here is a recipe for making one : — Take a rail- 
way embankment of average steepness, strew it freely with 
wTcck, rigging and all, to imitate the fallen timber, roots, and 
lianes — a few flagstones and boulders here and there will be 
quite in place ; plant the whole with the thickest pheaaant- 
cover; set a field of huntsmen to find their way through 
it at the points of least resistance three times a week during 
a wet winter ; and if you dare follow their footsteps, you 
will find a very accurate imitation of a forest-track in the 
wet season. 

At one place we seemed to be fairly stopped. We plunged 
and slid down into a muddy brook, luckily with a gravel bar 
on which the horses could stand, at least one by one ; and 
found opposite us a bank of smooth clay, bound with slippery 
roots, some ten feet high. We stood and looked at it, and 
the longer we looked — in hunting phrase — the less we liked 
it. But there was no alteniative. Some one jumped oft', 
and scrambled up on his hands and knees ; his horse was 

^ iEchmica Augusta. 


driven tip the bank to him — on its knees, likewise, more 
than once — ^and caught staggering among boughs and 
mud ; and by the time the whole cavalcade was over, 
horses and men looked as if they had been brick-making 
for a week. 

But here again the cunning of these horses surprised me. 
On one very steep pitch, for instance, I saw before me two 
logs across the path, two feet and more in diameter, and what 
was worse, not two feet apart. How the brown cob meant to 
get over I could not guess : but as he seemed not to falter or 
turn tail, as an English horse would have done, I laid the 
reins on his neck and watched his legs. To my astonishment, 
he lifted a fore-leg out of the abyss of mud, put it between 
the logs, where I expected to hear it snap ; clawed in 
front, and shuttled behind ; put the other over the second 
log, the mud and water splashing into my face, and then 
brought the first freely out from between the logs, and — 
horrible to see — put a hind one in. Thus did he fairly walk 
through the whole ; stopped a moment to get his breath ; 
and then staggered and semmbled upward again, as if he had 
done nothing remarkable. Coming back, by the bye, those 
two logs lay heavy on my heart for a mile ere I neared them. 
He might get up over them : but how would he get down 
again ? And I was not surprised to hear more than one 
behind me say, " I think I shall lead over." But being in 
front, if I fell, I could only fall into the mud, and not on the 
top of a friend. So I let the brown cob do what he would, 
determined to see how far a tropic horse's lej^s could keep 
him up : and, to my great amusement, he quietly leapt the 
whole, descending five or six feet into a pool of mud, which 
shot out over him and me, half blinding us for the 
moment ; then slid away on his haunches downward ; picked 
himself up ; and went on as usual, solemn, patient, and seem- 
ingly stupid as any donkey. 

We had some difficulty in finding our quest, the Salse, or 
mud volcano. But at last, out of a hut half buried in ver- 
dure on the edge of a little clearing, there tumbled the 
quaintest little old black man, cutlass in hand, and, with- 
out being asked, went on ahead as our guide. Crook-backed, 
round-shouldered, his only dress a ragged shirt and ragged 

236 NAP A RIM A, 

pair of drawei-s, he had evidently thriven upon tlie forest 
life for many a year. He did not walk nor run, but tumbled 
along in front of us, his bare feet plashing from Jog to log 
and mud-heap to mud-heap, his grey woolly head wagging 
riglit and left, and his cutlass brushing almost instinctively 
at every bough he passed, while he turned round every 
moment to jabber something, usually in Creole French, 
whicli of course I could not understand. 

He led us well, up and down, and at last over a flat of 
rich muddy ground, full of huge trees, and of their roots 
likewise, where there was no path at alL The solitude was 
awful ; so was the darkness of the shade ; so was the stifling 
heat ; and right glad we were when we saw an opening in 
the trees, and the little man quickened his pace, and stopped 
with an air of triumph not unmixed with awe on the edge of 
a circular pool of mud and water some two or three acres 
in extent. 

*' Dere de debbil's woodyard," said he, with somewhat bated 
breath. And no wonder ; for a more doleful, uncanny, half- 
made spot I never saw. The sad forest ringed it round with 
a green wall, feathered down to the ugly mud, on which, 
partly perhaps from its saltness, partly from the changeable- 
ness of the surface, no plant would grow, save a few herbs and 
creepers which love the brackish water. Only here and there 
an Echites had crawled out of the wood and lay along the 
ground, its long shoots gay with large cream-coloured flowers 
and pairs of glossy leaves ; and on it, and on some dead 
brushwood, grew a lovely little parasitic Orchis, an Oncidium, 
with tiny fans of leaves, and flowers like swarms of yellow 

There was no track of man, not even a hunter's footprint ; 
but instead, tracks of beasts in plenty. Deer, quenco^ and 
lapo,* with smaller animals, had been treading up and 
down, probably attracted by the salt-water. They were safe 
enough, the old man said. No hunter dare approach the 
spot. There were "too much jumbies" here; and when 
one of the party expressed a wish to lie out there some 
night, in the hope of good shooting, the Negro shook his 
head. He would " not do that for all the world. De debbil 

* Dicoteles (Peccary hog). • CoBlnp?nys paca. 


come out here at night, and walk about ; " and he was much 
scandalized when the young gentleman rejoined, that the 
chance of such a sight would be an additional reason for 
bivouacking there. 

So we walked out upon the mud, which was mostly hard 
enough, past shallow pools of brackish water, smelling of 
asphalt, toward a group of little mud-volcanos on the further 
side. These curious openings into the nether- world are not 
permanent. They choke up after awhile, and fresh ones 
appear in another part of the area, thus keeping the whole 
clear of plants. 

They are each some two or three feet high, of the very 
finest mud, which leaves no feeling of grit on the fingers or 
tongue, and dries, of course, rapidly in the sun. On the top, 
or near the top, of each, is a round hole, a finger's-breadth, 
polished to exceeding smoothness, and nmning down through 
the cone as far as we could dig. From each oozes perpetually, 
with a clicking noise of gas-bubbles, water and mud ; and 
now and then, losing their temper, they spirt out their du't 
to a considerable height; a feat which we did not see per- 
formed, but w^hich is so common that we were in some- 
thing like fear and trembling, while we opened a cone with 
our cutlasses. For though we could hardly have been made 
dirtier than we were, an explosion in our faces of mud with 
" a faint bituminous smell," and impregnated with " common 
salt, a notable proportion of iodine, and a trace of carbonate 
of soda and carbonate of lime,"^ would have been both 
unpleasant and humiliating. But the most puzzling thing 
about the place is, that out of the nmd comes up — not 
jumbies, but — a multitude of small stones, like no stones 
in the neighbourhood; we found concretions of iron sand, 
and scales which seemed to have peeled off them; and 
pebbles, quartzose, or jasper, or like in appearance to flint ; 
but all evidently long rolled on a sea-beach. Messrs. Wall 
and Sawkins mention pyrites and gypsum as being found : 
but we saw none, as far as I recollect All these must 
have been carried up from a considerable depth by the 
force of the same gases which make the little mud 

' Dp. Davy (Wwit Indies, art. Trinidad), 


Now and then this " Salse," so quiet when we saw it, is 
said to be seized with a violent paroxysm. Explosions are 
heard, and large discharges of mud, and even flame, are said 
to appear. Some seventeen years ago (according to Messrs. 
Wall and Sawkins) such an explosion was heaiTl six miles 
off; and next morning the surface was found quite altered, 
and trees had disappeared, or been thrown down« But — as 
they wisely say — the reports of the inhabitants must be 
received with extreme caution. In the autumn of last year, 
some such explosion is said to have taken place at the Cedros 
Salse, a place so remote, unfortunately, that I could not visit 
it. The Negros and Coolies, the story goes, came running to 
the overseer at the noise, assuring him that something terrible 
had happened ; and when he, in defiance of their fears, went 
off to the Salse, he found that many tons of mud — I was told 
thousands — had been thrown out How true this may be, I 
cannot say. But Messrs. Wall and Sawkins saw with their 
own eyes, in 1856, about two miles from this Cedros Salse, 
the results of an explosion which had happened only two 
months before, and of which they give a drawing. A surface 
two hundred feet round had been upheaved fifteen feet, 
throwing the trees in every direction ; and the sliani earth- 
quake had shaken the ground for two hundred or three 
hundred yards round, till the natives fancied that their 
huts were going to fall. 

There is a third Salse near Poole river, on the Upper 
Ortoire, which is extinct, or at least quiescent ; but this, also, 
I could not visit. It is about seventeen miles from the sea, 
and about two hundred feet above it. As for the causes of 
these Salses, I fear the reader must be content, for the present, 
with a somewhat muddy explanation of the muddy mystery. 
Messrs. Wall and Sawkins are inclined to connect it with 
asphalt springs and pitch lakes. "There is," they say, 
"easy gradation from the smaller Salses to the ordinary 
naphtha or petroleum springs." It is certain that in the 
production of asphalt, carbonic acid, carburetted hydrogen, 
and water are given off. "May not," they ask, "these 
orifices be the vents by which such gases escape ? And in 
forcing their way to the surface, is it not natural that the 
liquid asphalt and slimy water should be drawn up and 


expelled?" I hey point out the fact, that wherever such 
volcHDOS exist, asphalt or petroleum is found hard by. The 
mud volcanos ot Turbaco, in New Granada, famous from 
Humboldt's description of them, lie in an asphaltic country. 
They are much larger than those of Trinidad, the cones being, 
some of them, twenty feet high. When Humboldt visited 
them in 1801, they gave off hardly anything save nitrogen 
gas. But in the year 1850, a " bituminous odour " had begun 
to be diffused; asphaltic oil swam on tlie surface of the 
small openings ; and the gas issuing from any of the cones 
could be ignited. Dr. Daubeuy found the mud volcanos of 
^lacaluba giving out bitiimen, and bubbles of carbonic acid 
and carburetted hydrogen. The mud-volcano of Sanian, in the 
Western Caucasus, gives oif, with a continual stream of thick 
mud, ignited gases, accompanied with mimic eaithquakes like 
those of the Trinidad Salses ; and this out of a soil said to be 
full of bituminous springs, and where (as in Trinidad) the * 
tertiary strata carry veins ot asphalt, or are saturated with 
naphtha, ^t the famous sacred Fire wells of Baku, in the 
Eastern Caucasus, the ejections of mud and inflammable gas 
are so mixed with asphaltic products, that Eichwald says 
" they should be rather called naphtha volcanos than mud 
volcanos, as the eruptions aiways terminate in a large emis- 
sion of naphtha." 

It is reasonable enough, then, to suppose a similar con- 
nection in Trinidad. But whence come, either in Trinidad or 
at Turbaco, the sea-salts and liie iodine ? Certainly not from 
the sea itself, which is distauc, in the case of the Trinidad 
Salses, from two to seventeen miles. It must exist already 
in the strata below. And Ifte ejected pebbles, which are 
evidently sea- worn, must form part of a tertiary sea-beach, 
covered by sands, and covering, perhaps, in its turn, vege- 
table debris which, as it is converted into asphalt, thrusts 
the pebbles up to the ,surtace. 

We had to hurry away from the strange place ; for night 
was falling fast, or rather ready to fall, as always here, in a 
moment, without twilight, and we were scarce out of the forest 
before it was dark. The wild game was already moving, and 
a deer crossed our line of march, close before one of the 
horses. However, we were not benighted ; for the sim was 



hardly down ere the moon rose, brifjht and full ; and we 
foundered home through the mud, to start again next tnora- 
ing into mud a^ain. 

Through rich rolling land covered with cane ; past lai^ 
Bugar-works, where crop-time and all its bustle was just 
beginning ; along a tramway, which made an excellent horse- 
road, and then along one of the new nnuis, which are opening 
up the yet untouched riches of this island. In this district 
alone, thirty-six miles of gofxl road and thirty bridges have 
been made, where formerly there were only two abominable 
bi'idle -paths. It was a solid pleasure to see good engineering 
round the hill-sidfS; gullies which but a year or two 
before were break-ueck scrambles into fords often impassable 
after all, bridged with baulks of in- 
corruptible timber, on piers sunk, to 
give a hold in that sea of hasty- 
pudding, sixteen feet below the 
liver-bed ; and side supports sunk 
as far into the banks ; a solid plea- 
sure to congratulate the warden 
(who had joined ns) on his triumphs, 
and to hear how he had sought for 
miles around in the hasty-pudding 
sea, ere he could find eitlier gravel 
or stone for road metal, and hud 
found it after all ; or how in places. 
finding no stone at all, he had 
been forced to metal the way with 
burnt clay, which, as I can testify, 
is an excellent substitute ; or how 
again he had coaxed and patted 
""""""■ the t-oo-comfortable natives into 

being well paid for doing the very road-making which, if 
they had any notion of their own interests, they would 
combine to do for themeelvea. And so we rode on chatting, 

"Wliilo all tha land. 
Beneath a broad and eqiial-blowiDg brnote. 
Smelt of the coming Bamnicr ;" 

for it was winter then, and only 80° in the shade, till the 


road entered the virgin forest, through which it has been 
driven, on the American principle of making land valuable 
by b^inning with a road, and expecting settlers to follow it. 
Some such settlers we found, clearing right and left ; among 
them a most satis£eu)tory sight ; namely, moi*e than one Coolie 
family, who had served their apprenticeship, saved money, 
bought Government land, and set up as yeomen ; the founda- 
tion, it is to be hoped, of a class of intelligent and civilized 
peasant proprietors. 

These men, as soon as they have cleared as much land as 
their wives and children, with theii* help, can keep in order, 
go off, usually, in gangs of ten to fifteen, to work, in many 
instances, on the estates from which they originally came. 
This fact practically refutes the opinion wliich was at first 
held by some attorneys and managers of sugar-estates, that 
the settling of free Indian immigrants woiild materially affect 
the labour supply of the colony. I must express an earnest 
hope that neither will any planters be short-sighted enough 
to urge such a theory on the present Governor, nor will the 
present Governor give ear to it. The colony at large must 
gain by the settlement of Crown lands by civilized people 
like the Hindoos, if it be only through the increased exports 
and imports ; while the sugar estates will become more and 
more sure of a constant supply of labour, without the heavy 
expense of importing fresh immigrants. I am assui-ed, that 
the only expense to the colony is the fee for survey, amount- 
ing to eighteen dollars for a ten-acre allotment, as the Coolie 
prefers the thinly-wooded and comparatively poor lands, 
from the greater facility of clearing them ; and these lands 
are quite unsaleable to other customers. Therefore, for less 
than 4/., an acclimatized Indian labourer with his family (and 
it must be remembered, that, while the Negro families increase 
very slowly, the Coolies increase very rapidly, being more 
kind and careful parents') are permanently settled in the 
colony, the man to work five days a week on sugar estates, 
the family to grow provisions lor the market, instead of 
lieing shipped back to India at a cost, including gratuities 
and etceteras, of not less than 50/. 

One clearing we reached — were I five-and-twenty, I should 
like to make just such another next to it — of a higher class 


still, A cultivated Scotchman, now no longer young, but 
hale and mighty, had taken up three hundred acres, and 
already cleared a hundred and fifty ; and there he intended to 
pnss the rest of a busy life, not under his own vine and 
fig-tree, but under his own castor-oil and cacao-tree. We 
were welcomed by as noble a Scot's face as I ever saw, 
and as keen a Scot's eye; and taken in and fed, horses 
and men, even too sumptuously, in a palm and timber 
house. Then we wandered out to see the site of his intended 
mansion, with the rich wooded hills of the Latagual to the 
north, and all around the unbroken forest, where, he told 
us, the howling monkeys shouted defiance morning and 
evening at him who did 

"Invade their ancient solitary reign." 

Then we went down to see the Coolie barracks, where the 
folk seemed as happy and well cared for as they were certain 
to be under such a master; then down a rocky pool in 
the river, jammed with bare white logs (as in some North 
American forest), which had been stopped in flood by one 
enormous trunk across the stream ; then back past the site 
of the ajoupa, which had been our host's first shelter, and 
which had disappeared by a cause strange enough to English 
ears. An enormous silk-cotton near by was felled, in spite 
of the Negros' feai's. Its boughs, when it fell, did not reach 
the ajoupa by twenty feet or more ; but the wind of its fall 
did, and blew the hut clean away. This may sound like a 
stoiy out of Munchausen : but there was no doubt of the 
fact ; and to us who saw the size of the tree which did the 
deed it seemed probable enough. 

We rode away again, and into the " Morichal," the hills 
trhere Moriche palms are found ; to see certain springs and 
a certain tree ; and well worth seeing they were. Out of the 
b tse of a limestone hill, amid delicate ferns, under the shade 
of enormous trees, a clear pool bubbled up and ran away, 
a stream from its very birth, as is the wont of limestone 
springs. It was a spot fit for a Greek nymph ; at least for 
an Indian damsel : but the nymph who came to draw water 
in a tin bucket, and stared stupidly and saucily at us, wa> 
anything but Greek, or even Indian, eit^her in costume or 


manners. Be it so. White men are responsible for her being 
there ; so white men must not complain. Then we went in 
search of the tree. We had passed as we rode up some 
Huras (Sandbox trees), which w^ould have been considered 
giants in England ; and I had been laughed at more than 
once for asking, " Is that the tree ? or that ?" I soon knew 
why. We scrambled up a steep bank of broken limestone, 
through ferns and Balisiers, for perhaps a hundred feet ; and 
then were suddenly aware of a bole which justified the saying 
of one of our party — that, when surveying for a road he 
had come suddenly on it, he *' felt as if he had run against 
a church tower." It was a Hura, seemingly healthy, un- 
decayed, and gi-owing vigorously. Its girth — we measured 
it carefully — was forty-four feet, six feet from the ground, 
and as I laid my face against it and looked up, I seemed to 
be looking up a ship's side. It was perfectly cylindrical, 
branchless, and smooth, save, of course, the tiny prickles 
which beset the bark, for a height at which we could not 
guess, but which we luckily had an opportunity of measur- 
ing. A wild pine grew in the lowest fork, and had kindly 
let down an air-root into the soil We tightened the root, 
set it perpendicular, cut it off exactly where it touched the 
ground, and then pulled carefully till we brought the plant, 
and half-a-dozen more strange vegetables, down on our heads. 
The length of the air-root was just seventy-five feet. Some 
twenty feet or more above that first fork was a second fork ; 
and then the tree began. Where its head was we could not 
see. We could only by laying our faces against the bole, 
and looking up, discern a wilderness of boughs carrying a 
green cloud of leaves, most of them too high for us to dis- 
cern their shape without the glasses. We walked up the 
slope, and round about, in hopes of seeing the head of the 
tree clear enough to guess at its total height : but in vain. 
It was only when we had ridden some half mile up the hill 
that we could discern its masses rising, a bright green 
mound, above the darker foliage of the forest. It looked 
of any height, from one hundred and fifty to two himdred 
feet ; less it could hartlly be. " It made," says a note by one 
of our party, "other huge trees look like shrubs." I am 
not surprised that my friend Mr. St. Luce D'Abadie, who 

B 2 


measured the tree since my departure, found it to be one 
hundred and ninety-two feet in height. 

I was assured that there were still laiger trees in the 
island. A certain Locust-tree and a Ceiba were mentioned. 
The Moras, too, of the southern hiUs, were said to be far 
taller. And I can well believe it; for if huge trees were as 
shrubs beside that Sandbox, it would be a shrub by the side 
of those Locusts figured by Spix and Martins, which fifteen 
Indians with outstretched arms could just embrace. At 
the bottom they were eighty-four feet round, and sixty 
where the boles became cylindrical By counting the rings 
of such parts as could be reached, they arrived at the con- 
clusion liiat they were of the age of Homer, and 332 years 
old in the days of Pythagoras. One estimate, indeed, reduced 
their antiquity to 2,052 years old ; while another (counting, 
I presume, two rings of fresh wood for every year) carried 
it up to 4,104. 

So we rode on and up the hills, by green and floweiy 
paths, with here and there a cottage and a garden, and groups 
of enormous Palmistes towering over the tree-tops in every 
glen, talking over that wondrous weed, whose head we saw 
still far below. For weed it is, and nothing more. The wood 
is soft and almost useless, save for firing; and the tree it- 
self, botanists tell us, is neither more nor less than a gigantic 
Spurge, the cousin-german of the milky garden weeds with 
which boys bum away their warts. But if the modem theoiy 
be true, that when we speak (as we are forced to speak) of 
the relationships of plants, we use no metaphor, but state 
an actual fact ; that the groups into which we are forced to 
arrange them indicate not merely similarity of type, but 
community of descent — then how wonderful is the kindred 
between the Spurge and the Hura — indeed, between all the 
members of the Euphorbiaceous group, so fantastically various 
in outward form ; so abundant, often huge, in the Tropics, 
while in our remote northern island their only representa- 
tives are a few weedy Spurges, two Dog*s Mercuries — weeds 
likewise — and the Box. Wonderful it is if only these last 
have had the same parentage — still more if they have had the 
same parentage, too, with forms so utterly different from them 
as the prickly-stemmed scarlet-flowered Euphorbia common 


in our hothouses ; as the huge succulent cactus-like Euphor- 
bia of the Canary Islands; as the gale-like Phyllanthus; 
the many-formed Crotons, which in the West Indies alone 
comprise, according to Griesbach, at least twelve genera and 
thirty species; the hemp-like Maniocs, Physic-nuts, Castor 
oils; the scarlet Foinsettia which adorns dinner-tables in 
winter; the pretty little pink and yellow Dalechampia, 
now common in hothouses ; the Manchineel, with its glossy 
poplar-like leaves ; and this very Hura, with leaves still 
more like a poplar, and a fruit which differs from most of 
its family in having not three but many divisions, usually a 
multiple of three, up to fifteen ; a fruit which it is difficult to 
obtain, even where the tree is plentiful : for hanging at the 
end of long branches, it bursts when ripe with a crack like a 
pistol, scattering its seeds far and wide; from whence its 
name of Hura crepitans. 

But what if all these forms are the descendants of one 
original form? Would that be one whit more wonderful, 
more inexplicable, than the theory that they were each and 
all, with their minute and often imaginary shades of dif- 
ference, created separately and at once? But if it be — 
which I cannot allow — what can the theologian say, save 
that Grod's works are even more wonderful than we always 
believed them to be ? As for the theory being impossible : 
who are we, that we should limit the power of God ? " Is 
anything too hard for the Lord ? " asked the prophet of old ; 
and we have a right to ask it as long as time shall last. 
If it be said that natural selection is too simple a cause 
to produce such fantastic variety : we always knew that God 
works by very simple, or seemingly simple, means ; that the 
universe, as far as we could discern it, was one organization 
of the most simple means; it was wonderful (or ought to 
have bean) in our eyes, that a shower of rain should make 
the grass grow, and that the grass should become flesh, and 
the flesh food for the thinking brain of man ; it was (or 
ought to have been) yet more wonderful in our eyes, that 
a child should resemble its parents, or even a butterfly 
resemble — if not always, still usually — its parents like- 
wise. Ought God to appear less or more august in our 
eyes if we discover that His means are even simpler than 


we supposed? We held Him to be almighty and allwisa 
Are we to reverence Hirii less or more if we find that 
His might is greater, His wisdom deeper, than we had ever 
dreamed? We believed that His care was over all His 
works ; that His providence watched perpetually over the 
universe. We were taught, some of us at least, by Holy 
Scripture, to believe that the whole history of the imiverse 
was made up of special providences : if, then, that should be 
true which Mr. Dai'win says — " It may be metaphorically said 
that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, through- 
out the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting 
that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good ; 
silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever 
opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being 
in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life," — 
if this, I say, were proved to be true, ought God's care, God's 
providence, to seem less or more magnificent in our eyes ? Of 
old it was said by Him without whom nothing is made — 
" My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Shall we quarrel 
with physical science, if she gives us evidence that these 
words are true ? And if it should be proven that the gigantic 
Hura and the lowly Spurge sprang from one common 
ancestor, what would the orthodox theologian have to say 
to it, saving — *' I always knew that God was great : and I 
am not surprised to find Him greater than I thought 
Him ? " 

So much for the giant weed of the Morichal, from which 
we rode on and up through rolling country growing love- 
lier at every step, and turned out of our way to see wild 
pine-apples in a sandy spot, or "Arenal" in a valley 
beneath. The meeting of the stiff marl and the fine sand 
was abrupt, and well marked by the vegetation. On one 
side of the ravine the tall fan-leaved Carats marked the rich 
soil; on the other, the sand and gravel loving Cocorites 
appeared at once, crowding their ostrich plumes together. 
Most of them were the common species of the island^ in 
which the pinnse of the leaves grow in fours and fives, 
and at different angles from the leaf-stalk, giving the whole 
a brushy appearance, which takes off somewhat from the 

^ MaximUiana Caribiea. 


|)erfectne88 of its beauty. But among them we saw — for 
the tirst and last time in the forest — a few of a far more 
beautiful species,^ common on the mainland. In it» the 
pinnaB'are set on all at the same distance apart, and all 
in the same plane, in opposite sides of the stalk, giving to 
the whole foliage a grand simplicity ; and producing, when the 
carving leaf-points toss in the breeze, that curious appearance 
which I mentioned in an earlier chapter, of green glass wheels 
with rapidly revolving spokes. At their feet grew the pine- 
apples, only in flower or unripe fruit, so that we could not 
quench our thirst with them, and only looked with curiosity 
at the small wild type of so famous a plant. But close by, 
and happily nearly ripe, we found a fair substitute for pine- 
apples in the fruit of the Karatas. This form of Bromelia, 
closely allied to the Pinguin of which hedges are made, bears a 
straggling plume of prickly leaves, six or eight feet long each, 
close to the ground. The forester looks for a plant in which 
the leaves droop outwards — a sign that the fruit is ripe. 
After beating it cautiously (for snakes are veiy fond of coil- 
ing under its shade) he opens the centre, and finds, close to 
the ground, a group of whitish fruits, nearly two inches 
long ; peels carefully off the skin, which is beset with innu- 
merable sharp hairs, and eats the sour-sweet refi-eshing pulp : 
but not too often, for there are always hairs enough left to 
make the tongue bleed if more than one or two are eaten. 

With lips somewhat less parched, we rode away again to 
see the sight of the day ; and a right pleasant sight it was. 
These Montserrat hills had been, within the last three 
years, almost the most lawless and neglected part of the 
island. Principally by the energy and tact of one man, 
the wild inhabitants had been conciliated, brought under 
law, and made to pay their light taxes, in return for a 
safety and comfort enjoyed perhaps by no other peasants 
on earth. 

A few words on the excellent system, which bids fair to 
establish in (his colony a thriving and loyal peasant pro- 
prietary. Up to 1847 crown-lands were seldom alienated. 
In that year a price was set upon them, and persons in 
illegal occupation ordered to petition for their holdings. Un« 

^ M. regia. 


fortunately, though a time was fixed for petitioning, no time 
>va8 fixed for paying; and consequently the vast majority 
of petitioners never took any further steps in the matter. 
Unfortunately, too, the price fixed — 21. per acre — wfes too 
high ; and squatting went on much as before. 

It appeared to the late Governor that this evil would best 
be dealt with experimentally and locally ; and he accordingly 
erected the chief squatting district, Montserrat, into a ward, 
giving the warden large discretionary powers as Commissioner 
of crown-lands. The price of crown-lands was reduced, in 
1869, to 1/. per acre ; and the Montsenut system extended, as 
far as possible, to other wards ; a movement which the results 
fully justified. 

In 1867 there were in Montserrat 400 squatters, holdincr 
lands of from three to 120 acres, planted with cacao, coffee, 
or provisions. Some of the cacao plantations were valued at 
1,000/. These people lived without paying taxes, and almost 
without law or religion. The Crown woods had been, of course, 
sadly plundered by squatters, and by others who should 
have known better. At every turn magnificent cedars might 
have been seen levelled by the axe, only a few feet of the trunk 
being used to make bounds and shingles, while the greater 
part was left to rot or bum. These irregularities have been 
now almost stopped ; and 266 persons, in Montserrat alone, 
liave taken out grants of land, some of 400 acres. But this 
by no means represents the number of purchasers, as neaijy 
an equal number have paid for their estates though they 
have not yet received their grants, and nearly 600 moi^ have 
made application. Two villages have been formed; one of 
Mhich is that where we rested, containing the church. The 
other contains the warden's residence and office, the police- 
station, and a numerously attended school. 

The squatters are of many races, and of many hues of 
black and brown. The half-breeds from the neighbouring 
coast of Venezuela, a mixture, probably of Spanish, Negro, 
tmd Indian, are among the most industrious ; and their cacao 
plantations, in some cases, hold 8,000 to 10,000 trees. The 
south-west comer of Montserrat^ is almost entirely settled 

* I qdot« mostly from a report of my friend Mr. Robert Mitchell, who,.aImo4(t 
Alone, did this good work, and who has, since my departure, been 8«nt u» 

WILD WORK. fi4» 

by Africans of various tribes — ^Mandingos, Foulahs, Homas, 
Yarribas, Ashantees, and Congo& The last occiipy the lowest 
position in the social scale. They lead, for the most part, a 
semi-barbarous life, dwelling in miserable huts, and subsisting 
on the produce of an acre or two of badly cultivated land, 
eked out with the pay of an occasional day's labour on some 
neighbouring estate. The social portion of some of the Tar- 
ribas forms a marked contrast to that of the Congos. They 
inhabit houses of cedar, or other substantial materials. Their 
gardens are, for the most part, well stocked and kept They 
raise crops of yam, cassava, Indian com, &c. ; and some of 
them subscribe to a fund on which they may draw in case of 
illness or misfortune. They are, however (as is to be ex- 
pected from superior intellect while still uncivilized), more 
difficult to manage than the Congos, and highly impatient of 

These Africans, Mr. Mitchell says, all belong nominally to 
some denomination of Christianitv : but their lives are more 
influenced by their belief in Obeah. While the precepts of 
religion are little regarded, they stand in mortal dread of 
those who practise this mischievous imposture. Well might 
the Commissioner say, in 1867, that several years must 
elapse before the chaos which reigned could be reduced to 
order. The wonder is, that in three years so much has been 
done. It was very difficult, at first, even to find the where- 
abouts of many of the squatters. The Commissioner had to 
work by compass through the pathless forest. Getting little 
or no food but cassava cakes and "guango" of maize, and now 
and then a little coffee and salt fish, without time to hunt the 
game which passed him, and continually wet through, he 
stumbled in suddenly on one squatting after another, to the 
astonishment of its owner, who could not conceive how he 
liad been found out, and had never before seen a white man 
alone in the forest. Sometimes he was in considerable danger 
of a rough reception from people who could not at first 
understand what they had to gain by getting legal titles, and 
buying the lands the fruit of which they hiS enjoyed either 

penieran to anitt at the investigation into the allegni ill-usage of the Coolie 
immigrants there No more just or experienced public servant could have 
been employed-on such an errand. 


Tor nothing, or for payment of a small annual assessment for 
the cultivated portion. In another quarter — Toco — a noto- 
riously lawless squatter had expressed his intention of 
shooting the Government oflScial. The white gentleman 
walked straight up to the little forest fortress hidden in bush, 
and confronted the Negro, who had gun in hand. 

'* I could have shot you if I had liked, buccra." 

" No, you could not I should have cut you down first : so 
don't play the fool," answered the official quietly, hand on 

The wild man gave in ; paid his rates ; received the crown 
title for his land ; and became (as have all these sons of the 
forest) fast friends with one whom they have learnt at once 
to love and fear. 

But among the Montserrat hills, the Governor had struck 
on a spot so fit for a new settlement, that he determined to 
found one forthwith. The quick-eyed Jesuits had founded a 
Mission on the same spot many years before. But all had 
lapsed again into forest. A group of enormous Palmistes 
stand on a plateau, flat, and yet lofty and healthy. The soil 
is exceeding fertile. There are wells and brooks of pure 
water all around. The land slopes down fo^ hundreds of 
feet in wooded gorges, full of cedar and other admirable 
timber, with Palmistes towering over them everywhere. 
Far away lies the lowland ; and every breeze of heaven 
sweeps over the crests of the hills. So one peculiarly tall 
palm was chosen for a central land-mark, an ornament to 
the town square such as no capital in Europe can boast. 
Traces were cut, streets laid out, lots of crown-lands 
put up for sale, and settlers invited in the name of the 

Scarcely eighteen months had passed since then, and 
ilready there Mitchell Street, Violin Street, Duboulay Street, 
Farfan Street, had each its new houses built of cedar and 
thatched with palm. Two Chinese shops had celestials 
with pig-tails and thick-soled shoes grinning behind cedar 
counters, among stores of Bryant's safety matches, Huntley 
and Palmer's biscuits, and Allsopp's pale ale. A church had 
been buUt, the shell at least, and partly floored, with a very 
simple, but not tasteless, altar ; the Abbe had a good house» 

A NEW TOWN. 251 

with a gallery, jalousies, and white china handles to the doors. 
The mighty palm in the centre of Gordon Square had a neat 
railing round it, as befitted the Palladium of the village. 
Behind the houses, among the stumps of huge trees, maize 
and cassava, pigeon-peas and sweet potatoes, fattened in the 
sun, on ground which till then had been shrouded by vege- 
tation a hundred feet thick ; and as we sat at the head man's 
house, with French and English prints upon the walls, and 
drank beer from a Chinese shop, and looked out upon the 
loyal, thriving little settlement, I envied the two young men 
who could say, "At least, we have not lived in vain; for 
we have made this out of the primaeval forest" Then on 
again. " We mounted " (I quote now from the notes of one 
to whom the existence of the settlement was due) "to the 
crest of the hills, and had a noble view southwards, looking 
over the rich mass of dark wood, flecked here and there with 
a scarlet stain of Bois Immortelle, to the great sea of bright 
green sugar cultivation in the Naparimas, studded by white 
works and villages, and backed far off by a hazy line of forest, 
out of which rose the peaks of the Moruga Mountains. More 
to the west lay San Fernando hill, the calm gulf, and the 

coast toward La Brea and Cedros melting into mist. M 

thought we should get a better view of the northern 
mountains by riding up to old Nicano's house ; so we went 
thither, under the cacao rich with yellow and purple pods. 
The view was fine: but the northern range, though visible, 
was rather too indistinct, and the mainland was not to be 
seen at all." 

Nevertheless, the panorama from the top of Montserrat is 
at once the most vast, and the most lovv>ly, which I have 
ever seen. And whosoever chooses to go and live there may 
buy any reasonable quantity of the richeijt soil at one pound 
per acra 

Then down ofif the ridge toward the northern lowland, lay 
a headlong old Indian path, by which we travelled, at last, 
across a rocky brook, and into a fresh paradise. 

I must be excused for using this word so often : but I use 
it in the original Persian sense, as a place in which natural 
beauty has been helped by art. An English park or garden 
woidd have been called of old a paradise ; and the enceinte 

262 M0NT8BRRAT. 

of a West Indian house, even in its present half- wild con- 
dition, well deserves the same title. That Art can help Nature 
there can be no doubt " The perfection of Nature ** exists 
only in the minds of sentimentalists, and of certain well- 
meaning persons, who assert the perfection of Nature when 
they wish to controvert science, and deny it when they 
wish to prove this earth fallen and accursed. Mr. Ncsfield 
can make landscapes, by obedience to certain laws which 
Nature is apt to disregard in the struggle for existence, more 
beautiful than they are already by Nature ; and that without 
introducing foreign forms of vegetation. But if foreign forms, 
wisely chosen for their shapes and colours, be added, the 
beauty may be indefinitely increased. For the plants most 
capable of beautifying any given spot do not always grow 
therein, simply because they have not yet arrived there ; as 
may be seen by comparing any wood planted with Rhodo- 
dendrons and Azaleas with the neighbouring wood in its 
native state. Thus may be obtained somewhat of that variety 
and richness which is wanting everywhere, mure or less, in 
the vegetation of our northern zone, only just recovering 
slowly from the destructive catastrophe of the glacial epoch ; 
a richness which, small as it is, vanishes as we travel north- 
ward, till the drear landscape is sheeted more and more with 
monotonous multitudes of heather, grass, fir, or other social 

But even in the Tropics the virgin forest, beautiful as it 
is, is without doubt much less beautiful, both in form and 
colours, than it might be mada Without doubt, also, a mere 
clearing, after a few years, is a more beautiful place than 
the forest; because by it distance is given, and you are 
enabled to see the sky, and the forest itself beside ; because 
new plants, and some of them very handsome ones, are intro- 
duced by cultivation, or spring up in the rastrajo; and 
lastly, but not least, because the forest on the edge of the 
clearing is able to feather down to the ground, and change 
what is at first a bare tangle of stems and boughs into a 
softly rounded bank of verdure and flowers. When, in some 
future civilization, the art which has produced, not merely a 
Chatsworth or a Dropmore, but an average English shrubbery 
or park, is brought to bear on tropic vegetation, then Nature^ 

A F0BB8T HOUSE, 263 

always willing to obey when conquered by fiEiir means, wiL 
produce such effects of form and colour around tropic estates 
and cities as we cannot fancy for ourselves. 

Mr. Wallace laments (and rightly) the absence in the tropic 
forests of such grand masses of colour as are supplied by a 
heather moor, a fiirze or broom-croft, a field of yellow char- 
lock, blue bugloss, or scarlet poppy. Tropic landscape gar- 
dening will supply that defect; and a hundred plants of 
yellow Allamanda, or purple Dolichos, or blue CUtoria, or 
crimson Norantea, set side by side, as we might use a hun- 
dred Calceolarias or Geraniums, will carry up the forest walls, 
and over the tree-tops, not square yards, but I had almost 
said square acres of richest positive colour. I can conceive 
no limit to the eflfects — always heightened by the intense 
sunlight and the peculiar tenderness of the distances — which 
landscape gardening will produce when once it is brought to 
bear on such matenal as it has never yet attempted to touch, 
at least in the West Indies, save in the Botanic Garden at 
Port of Spain. 

And thus the little paradise at Tortuga to which w« 
descended to sleep, though cleared out without any regard to 
art, was far more beautiful than the forest out of which it had 
been hewn three years before. The two first settlers regretted 
the days when the house was a mere palm-thatched hut, 
where they sat on stumps which would not balance, and ate 
potted meat with their pocket-knives. But it had grown 
now into a grand place, fit to receive ladies : such a house, or 
rather shed, as those South Sea Island ones which may be 
seen in Hodges' Illustrations to Cook's Voyages, save that a 
couple of bedrooms have been boarded off at the back, a 
little office on one side, and a bulwark, like that of a ship, 
put roimd the gallery. And as we looked down through 
the purple gorges, and up at the mountain woods, over which 
the stars were flashing out bright and fast, and listened 
to the soft strange notes of the forest birds going to roost, 
again the thought came over me — ^Why should not gentlemen 
and ladies come to such spots as these to live " the Gentle 

We slept that night, some in beds, some in hammocks, 
some ou the floor, with the rich warm night wind rushing 


down through all the house ; and then were up once more in 
the darkness of the dawn, to go down and bathe at a little 
cascade, where a feeble stream dribbled under ferns and bali- 
siers over soft square limestone rocks like the artificial rocks 
of the Serpentine, and those — copied probably from the rocks 
of Fontainebleau — which one sees in old French landscapes. 
But a bathe was hardly necessary. So drenched was the 
vegetation with night dew, that if one had taken off one's 
clothes at the house, and simply walked under the banana-s, 
and through the tanias and maize which grew among them, 
one would have been well washed ere one reached the stream. 
As it was, the bathers came back with their clothes wet 
through. No matter. The sun was up, and half an hour 
would dry all again. 

One object, on the edge of the forest, was worth noticing, 
and was watched long, through the glasses ; namely, two or 
three large trees, from which dangled a multitude of the pen- 
dant nests of the Merles : ^ birds of the size of a jackdaw, 
brown and yellow, and mocking-bird*' too, ot no small ability. 
The pouches, two feet long and more, swayed in the breeze, 
fastened to the end of the boughs with a few threads. 
Each had, about half-way down, an opening into the rouncl 
sac below, in and out of which the Merles crept and fluttered, 
talking all the while in twenty different notes. Most tropic 
birds hide their nests carefully in the bush : the Merles 
hang theirs fearlessly in the most exposed situations. They 
find, I presume, that they are protected enough from monkeys, 
wild cats, and gato-melaos (a sort of ferret), by being hung 
at the extremity of the bough. So thinks M. L6otaud, the 
accomplished describer of the birds of Trinidad. But he 
adds with good reason : " I do not, however, understand how 
birds can protect their nestlings against ants ; for so large is 
the number of these insects in our climes, that it would seem 
as if everything would become their prey." 

And so everything will, unless the bird-murder be stopped- 
Already the parasol-ants have formed a warren close to Port 
of Spain, in what was forty years ago highly cultivated 
ground, from which they devastate at night the northern 
gardens. The forests seem as empty of birds as the neigh- 

^ Caasicus. 


bourbood of the city ; and a sad answer will soon have to be 
given to M. L^otaud's question : — 

"The insectivorous tribes are the true representatives of 
our ornithology. There are so many which feed on insects 
and their larvae, that it may be asked with much reason, 
What would become of our vegetation, of ouraelves, should 
these insect destroyers disappear ? Everywhere may be seen *' 
(M. L speaks, I presume, of five-and-twenty yeai-s ago : my 
experience would make me substitute for his words, " Hardly 
anywhere can be seen,") " one of these insectivora in pursuit 
or seizure of its prey, either on the wing or on the trunks of 
trees ; in the coverts of thickets, or in the calices of flowers. 
Whenever called to witness one of those frequent migrations 
from one point to another, so often practised by ants, not 
only can the Dendrocolaptes (connected with our Creepers) 
be seen following the moving trail, and preying on the ants 
and the eggs themselves, but even the black Tanager aban- 
dons his usual fruits for this more tempting delicacy. Our 
frugivorous and bacdvorous genera are also pretty numerous, 
and most of them are so fond of insect food that they unite, 
as occasion offers, with the insectivorous tribes." 

So it was once. Now a traveller, accustomed to the swarms 
of birds which, not counting the game, inhabit an average 
English cover, would be surprised and pained by the scarcity 
of birds in the forests of this island. 

We rode down toward the northern lowland, along a broad 
new road of last year's making, terraced, with great labour, 
along the hill, and stopped to visit one of those excellent 
Government schools which do honour, first to that wise legis- 
lator, Lord Harris, and next to the late Governor. Here, 
in the depths of the forest, where never policeman or school- 
master had been before, was a house of satin-wood and cedar 
not two years old, used at once as police-station and school, 
with a shrewd Spanish-speaking schoolmaster, and fifty-two 
decent little brown children on the school-books, and getting, 
when their lazy parents will send them, as good an education 
as they would get in England. I shnll have more to say on 
the education system of Trinidad. All it seems to me to 
want, with its late modifications, is compulsoiy attendance. 

Soon, turning down an old Indian path> we saw the Gulf 


oQce more, and between ua and it the sheet of caoe cultiva- 
tion, of which one estate ran up to our feet, " like a bright 
green bay entered by a narrow strait among the dark forest" 
Just before we came to it we passed another pleasant sight ; 
more Coolie settlers, who had had lands granted them in 
lieu of the i-eturn passage to which they were entitled, 
were all busily felling wood, putting up bamboo and palm- 
leaf cabins, nnd scttlinji themselves down each one hia own 

master, yet near enou<;h to the sugar-estates below to get 
remunerative work whenever needful 

Then on. over alow miles {you must not trot beneath the 
burning midday sue) of sandy stifling flat, between high 
cauea, till we saw with joy, through long vistas of straight 
traces, the Mangrove slirubbery which marked the sea. 
We turned into large sugar-works, to be cooled with sherry 
and ice by a hospitable man^rer, whose rooms were bung 
with good prints, and stored with good books and knick- 


knacks from Europe, showing the signs of a lady's hand. 
And here our party broke up. The rest carried their mud 
back to Port of Spain ; I in the opposite direction back to 
San Fernando, down a little creek which served as a port 
to the estata 

Plastered up to the middle like the rest of the party, 
besides splashes over face and hat, I could get no dirtier than 
I was already. I got without compunction into a canoe some 
three feet wide; and was shoved by three Negros down a 
long winding ditch of mingled mud, water, and mangrove- 
roots. To keep one's self and one's luggage from falling out 
during the journey was no easy matter; at one moment, 
indeed, it threatened to become impossible. For where 
the mangroves opened on the sea, the creek itself turned 
sharply northward along shore, leaving (as usual) a bed 
of mud between it and the sea some quarter of a mile 
broad; across which we had to pass as a short-cut to the 
boat, which lay far out. The difiBculty was, of course, to 
jret the canoe out of the creek up the steep mud-bauk. 
To that end she was turned on her side, with me on 
board. I could just manage, by jamming my luggage under 
my knees, and myself against the two gunwales, to keep in, 
holding on chiefly by my heels and the back of my neck. 
But it befel, that in the very agony of the steepest slope, 
when the Negros (who worked like really good fellows) were 
nigh waist-deep in mud, my eye fell, for the first time in my 
life, on a party of Calling Crabs, who had been down to the 
water to fish, and were now scuttling up to their burrows 
among the mangrove-roots ; and at the sight of the pairs of 
long-stalked eyes, standing upright like a pair of opera- 
glasses, and the long single arms which each brandished, 
with frightful menaces, as of infuriated Nelsons, I burst into 
such a fit of laughter that I nearly fell out into the mud. 
The Negros thought for the instant that the " buccra parson " 
had gone mad : but when I pointed with my head (I dare not 
move a finger) to the crabs, ofif they went in a true Negro 
guffaw, which, when once begun, goes on and on, like thunder 
echoing round the mountains, and can no more stop itself 
than a Blackcap's song. So all the way across the mud the 
jolly fellows, working meanwhile like horses, laughed for 



tlie mere pleasure of laughing ; and when we got to the boat 
tlie Negro in charge of her saw us laughing, and laughed too 
for company, without waiting to hear the joke ; and as two 
of them took the. canoe home, we could hear them laughing 
still in the distance, till the lonely loathsome place rang 
again. I plead guilty to having given the men, as payment, 
not only for their work but for their jollity, just twice what 
they asked, which, after all, was very little. 

But what are Calling Crabs ? I must ask the reader to 
conceive a moderate-sized crab, the front of whose carapace is 
very broad and almost straight, with a channel along it, in 
which lie, right and left, his two eyes, each on a footstalk half 
as long as the breadth of his body ; so that the crab, when at 
rest, carries his eyes as epaulettes, and peeps out at the joint 
of each shoulder. But when business is to be done, the eye- 
stalks jump bolt upright side by side, like a pair of little 
lighthouses, and survey the field of battle in a fashion utterly 
ludicrous. Moreover, as if he were not ridiculous enough even 
thus, he is (as Mr. Wood well puts it) like a small man gifted 
with one arm of Hercules, and another of Tom Thumb. One 
of his claw arms, generally the left, has dwindled to a mere 
nothing, and is not seen ; while along the whole front of his 
shell lies folded one mighty right arm, on which he trusts ; 
and with that arm, when danger appears, he beckons the enemy 
to come on, with such wild defiance, that he has gained there- 
from the name of Gelasimus Vocans — " The Calling Laugh- 
able:" and it were well if all scientific names were as well 
fitted. He is, as might be guessed, a shrewd fighter, and uses 
the true old " Bristol guard " in boxing, holding his long arm 
across his body, and fencing and biting therewith swiftly 
and sharply enough. Moreover, he is a respectable animal, 
and has a wife, and takes care of her ; and to see him in his 
glory, it is said, he should be watched sitting in the mouth of 
his burrow, his spouse packed safe behind him inside, while 
he beckons and brandishes, proclaiming to all passers-by the 
treasure which he protects, while he defies them to touch it. 

Such is the " Calling Crab," of whom I must say, that if 
he was not made on purpose to be laughed at, then I should 
be induced to suspect that nothing was made for any purpose 


After which sight, and weary of waiting, not without some 
fear that — as the Negros would have put it — " If I tap da wan 
niomant ma, I catch da confection/' while of course a bucket 
or two of hot water was emptied on us out of a passing cloud, 
I got on board the steamer, and away to San Fernando, to wash 
away dirt and forget fatigue, amid the hospitality of educated 
and high-minded men, and of even more charming women. 




I HAD heard and read miicli of the beauty of mountain 
scenery in the Tropics. What I had heard and read is not 
exaggerated. I saw, it is true, in this little island no Andes, 
with such a scenery among them and below them as Hum- 
boldt alone can describe — a type of the great and varied 
tropical world as utterly different from that of Trinidad as 
it is from that of Kent — or Siberia. I had not even the 
chance of such a view as that from the Silla of Caraccas 
described by Humboldt, from which you look down at a 
height of nearly six thousand feet, through layer after layer 
of floating cloud, which increases the seeming distance to an 
awful depth, upon the blazing shores of the Northern Sea. 

That view our host and his suite had seen themselves the 
year before; and they assured me that Humboldt had not 
overstated its grandeur. The mountains of Trinidad do 
not much exceed 3,000 feet in height, and I could hope 
at most to see among them what my fancy had pictured 
among the serrated chines and green gorges of St. Vincent, 
Guadaloupe, and St, Lucia, hanging gardens compared with 
which those of Babylon of old must have been Cockney 
mounds. The rock among these moimtains, as I have said 
already, is very seldom laid bare. Decomposed rapidly by 
the tropic rain and heat, it forms, even on the steepest slopes^ 
a mass of soil many feet in depth, ever increasing, and ever 
sliding into the valleys, mingled with blocks and slabs of 
rock still undecomposed. Tiie waste must be enormous now. 
Were the forests cleared, and the soil no longer protected by 
the leaves and bound together by the roots, it would increase 
at a pace of which we in this temperate zone can form no 
notion, and the whole mountain-range slide down in deluges 

NO LAKES. 261 

of mud, as, even in the temperate zone, the Mont Ventoux 
and other hills in Provence are sliding now, since they have 
been rashly cleared of their primaeval coat of wood[land. 

To this degradiDg influence of mere min and air must be 
attributed, I think, those vast deposits of boulder which, 
encumber the mouths of all the southern glens, sometimes to 
a height of several hundred feet. Did one meet them in 
Scotland, one would pronounce them at once to be old glacier- 
moraines. But Messrs. Wall and Sawkins, in their geological 
survey of this island, have abstained from expi-essing any such 
opinion; and I think wisely. They are more simply explained 
as the mere leavings of the old sea-worn mountain wall, at a 
time when the Orinoco, or the sea, lay along their southern, as. 
it now does along their northern, side. The t€n*aces in which 
they rise mark successive periods of upheaval ; and how long 
these periods were, no reasonable man dare guess. But as for 
traces of ice-action, none, as far as I can ascertain, have yet 
been met with. He would be a bold man who should deny 
that, during the abyss of ages, a cold epoch may have spread 
ice over part of that wide land which certainly once existed 
to the north of Trinidad and the Spanish Main : but if so, its 
traces are utterly obliterated The commencement of the 
glacial epoch, as far as Trinidad is concerned, may be safely 
referred to the discovery of Wenham Lake ice, and the effects 
thereof sought solely in the human stomach and the increase 
of Messrs. Haley's well-earned profits. Is it owing to this 
absence of any ice-action that there are no lakes, not even a 
tarn, in the northern mountains ? Far be it from me to thrust 
my somewhat empty head into the Imttle which has raged for 
some time past between those who attribute all lakes to the 
scooping action of glaciers and those who attribute them to 
original depressions in the earth's surface : but it was im- 
possible not to contrast the lakeless mountains of Trinidad 
with the mountains of Kerry, resembling them so nearly in 
shape and size, but swarming with lakes and tarns. There 
are no lakes throughout the West Indies, save such as are 
extinct craters, or otherwise plainly attributable to volcanic 
action, as I presume are the lakes of Tropical Mexico and 
Peru. Be that as it may, the want of water, or rather of 
visible water, takes away much from the beauty of these 


mountains, in which the eye gix)W8 tired toward the end of 
a day's journey with the monotonous surges of green wood- 
land; and hails with relief, in going northward, the first 
glimpse of the sea horizon ; in going south, the first glimpse 
of the hazy lowland, in which the very roofs and chimney- 
stalks of the sugar estates are pleasant to the eye from the 
repose of their perpendicular and horizontal lines after the 
perpetual unrest of rolling hills and tangled vegetation. 

We started, then (to begin my story), a little after five one 
morning, from a solid old mansion in the cane-fields, which 
bears the name of Paradise, and which has all the right 
to the name which beauty of situation and goodness of in- 
habitants can bestow. 

As we got into our saddles the humming-birds were 
whirring round the tree-tops; the Qu'est-ce qu'il dits inquiring 
the subject of our talk. The black vultures sat about looking 
on in sUence, hoping that something to their advantage might 
be dropped or left behind — possibly that one of our horses 
might dia 

Ere the last farewell was given, one of our party pointed 
to a sight which I never saw before, and perhaps shall never 
see again. It was the Southern Cross. Just visible in that 
winter season on the extreme southern horizon in early morn- 
ing, it hung upright amid the dim haze of the lowland and the 
smoke of the sugar-works. Impressive as was, and always 
must be, the first sight of that famous constellation, I could 
not but agree with those who say that they are disappointed 
by its inequality, both in shape and in the size of its stars. 
However, I had but little time to make up my mind about 
it ; for in five minutes more it had melted away into a blaze 
of sunlight, which reminded us that we ought to have been 
on foot half an hour before. 

So away we went over the dewy paddocks, through broad- 
leaved grasses, and the pink bsdls of the sensitive-plants 
and blue Commelyna, and the upright Negro Ipecacuanha,^ 
with its scarlet and yellow flowers, gayest and commonest 
of weeds; then down into a bamboo copse, and across a 
pebbly brook, and away toward the mountains. 

Our party consisted of a b&t-mule, with food and clothes^ 

^ Asdepiaa caruBayica. 

CAURA. 863 

two or thr«e Xegros, a horse for me, another for general use 
in case of break-down ; and four gentlemen who preferred 
walking to riding. It seemed at first a serious undertaking 
on their part ; but one had only to see them begin to move, 
long, lithe, and light as deer-hounds, in their flannel shirts 
and tix>iisers, with cutlass and pouch at their waists, to be 
sure that they could both go and stay, and were as well 
able to get to Blanchisseuse as the horses beside which they 

Tlie ward of Blanchisseuse, on the north coast, whither we 
were bound, was of old, I understand, called Blanchi Sali, or 
something to that effect, signifying the white cliffs. The 
French settlers degraded the name to its present form, and 
that so hopelessly, that the other day an old Negress in Port 
of Spain puzzled the officer of Crown property by informing 
him that she wanted to buy " a carre in what you call de 
washerwoman's." It had been described to me as possibly 
the remotest, loneliest, and unhealthiest spot in her Majesty's 
tropical dominions. No white man can live there for more 
than two or three years without ruin to his health. In spite 
of the perpetual trade-wind, and the steepness of the hill-sides, 
malaria hangs for ever at the mouth of each little mountain 
torrent, and crawls up inland to leeward to a considemble 
height above the sea. 

But we did not intend to stay there long enough to catch 
fever and ague. We had plenty of quinine with us ; and 
cheerily we went up the valley of Caura, first over the great 
boulder and pebble ridges, not bare like those of the Moor of 
Dinnet, or other Dee-side stone heap, but clothed with cane- 
pieces and richest rastrajo copses; and then entered the 
narrow gorge, which we had to follow into the heart of the 
hills, as our leader, taking one parting look at the broad 
green lowland behind us, reminded us of Shelley's lines about 
the plains of Lombardy seen from the Euganean hills : — 

'* Beneath me lies like a neen sea 
The waveless plain of Lombardy, 

4t * 4t * 

Where a soft and pnrple mist, 
Like a raporous ametnyst, 


Or an air-dissoWkl stone, 
Mingling light and fragrance, far 
From the curved horizon's bound 
To the point of heaven's profound. 
Fills the overflowing sky ; 
And the plains tiiat silent lie 
Underneath, the leaves iinsoddcn 
Where the infant Irost has trodden 
With his momin^-wing^d feet. 
Whose bright fruit is gleaming yet ; 
And the r^ and golden vines 
Piercing with their trellised lines 
The rough dark-skirted wilderness.'* 

But there the analogy stopped. It hardly applied even so far. 
Between us and the rough dark-skirted wilderness of the high 
f rests on Mont^errat the infant frost had never trodden ; all 
basked in the equal heat of the perpetual summer ; awaiting, 
it may be, in ages to come, a civilization higher even than 
that whose decay Shelley deplored as he looked down on 
fallen Italy. 

No clumsy words of mine can give an adequate picture of 
the beauty of the streams and glens which run down from 
either slope of the Northern Mountain. The reader must fancy 
for himself the loveliest brook which he ever saw in Devon- 
shire or Yorkshire, Ireland or Scotland ; crystal-clear, bedded 
with grey pebbles, broken into rapids by rock-ledges or great 
white quartz boulders, swirling under steep cliffs, winding 
through flats of natural meadow and copse. Then let him 
transport his stream into the great Palm-house at Kew, stretch 
out the house up hiU and down dale, five miles in length and 
two thousand feet in height ; pour down on it from above a 
blaze which lights up every leaf into a gem, and deepens 
every shadow into blackness, and yet that very blackness full 
of inner light — and if his fancy can do as much as that, he 
can imagine to himself the stream up which we rode or 
walked, now winding along the narrow track a hundred feet 
or two above, looking down on the upper surface of the forest, 
on the crests of palms, and the broad sheets of the balisier 
copse, and often on the statelier fronds of true bananas, which 
had run wild along the stream-side, flowering and fruiting in 
the wilderaess for the benefit of the parrots and agoutis ; or 
on hucre dark clumps of bamboo, which (probably not in- 


digenous to the island) have in like manner spread iliemselves 
along all the streams in the lapse of ap:es. 

Now we scrambled down into the brook, and waded 
our hordes through, amid shoals of the little spotted 
sardine,^ who are too fearless, or too unaccustomed to 
man, to get out of the way more than a foot or two. 
But near akin as they are to the trout, they are still nearer 
to the terrible Pirai,* of the Orinocquan waters, the larger 
of which snap off the legs of swimming ducks and the 
fingers of unwary boatmen, while the smaller surround 
the rash bather, and devour him piecemeal till he drowns, 
torn by a thousand tiny wounds, in water purpled with his 
own blood. These little fellows prove their kindred with the 
Pirai by merely nibbling at the bather's skin, making him 
tingle from head to foot, while he thanks Heaven that his 
visitors are but two inches, and not a foot in length. 

At last we stopped for breakfast. The horses were tethered 
to a tree, the food got out, and we sat down on a pebbly 
beach after a bathe in a deep pool, so clear that it looked but 
four feet deep, though the bathers soon found it to be eight 
and more. A few dark logs, as usual, were lodged at the 
bottom, looking suspiciously like alligators or boa-constrictors. 
The alligator, however, does not come up the mountain 
streams ; and the boa-constrictors are mre, save on the east 
coast : but it is as well, ere you jump into a pool, to look 
whether there be not a snake in it, of any length from 
tliree to twenty feet 

Over the pool rose a rock, carrying a mass of vegetation, to 
be seen, doubtless, in every such spot in the island, but of a 
richness and variety beyond description. Nearest to the 
water the primaeval garden began with ferns and creeping 
Selaginella. Next, of coui'se, the common zirum,^ with snow- 
white spathe and spadix, mingled with the larger leaves of 
Balisier, wild Tania, and Seguine, some of the latter upborne 
on crooked fleshy stalks as thick as a man's leg, and six feet 
high. Above them was a tangle of twenty different bushes, 
with leaves of every shape; above them again, the arching 
shoots of a bamboo clump, forty feet high, threw a deep 
shade over pool and rock and heibage ; while above it again 

^ Hydrocvon. ' Serras*1mo. ' SpathiphyUum eanni folium. 


enonnous timber trees were packed, one behind the other, up 
the steep mountain-side. On the more level ground were the 
usual weeds ; Ipomoeas with white and purple flowers, Big- 
nonias, Echites and AUamandas, with yellow ones, scrambled 
and tumbled everywhere; and, if not just there, then often 
enough elsewhere, might be seen a single Aristolochia 
scrambling up a low tree, from which hung, amid round 
leaves, huge flowers shaped like a great helmet with a ladle 
at the lower lip, a foot or more across, of purplish colour, 
spotted like a toad, and about as fragrant as a dead dog. 

But the plants which would strike a botanist most, I 
think, the first time he found himself on a tropic bum-side, 
are the peppers, groves of tall herbs some ten feet high or 
more, utterly unlike any European plants I have ever seen. 
Some^ have round leaves, peltate, that is, with the footstalk 
springing from inside the circumference, like a one-sided 
umbrella. They catch the eye at once, from the great size 
of their leaves, each a full foot across ; but they are hardly 
as odd and foreign-looking as the more abundant forms of 
peppers,* usually so soft and green that they look as if you 
might make them into salad, stalks and all, yet with a quaint 
stiffness and primness, given by the regular jointing of their 
knotted stalks, and the regular tiling of their pointed, droop- 
ing, strong-nerved leaves, which are usually, to add to the 
odd look of the plant, all crooked, one side of the base (and 
that in each species always the same side) being much larger 
than the other, so that the whole head of the bush seems to 
have got a twist from right to left, or left to right. Nothing 
can look more unlike than they to the climbing true peppers, 
or even to the creeping pepper- weeds, which abound in all 
waste land. But their rat-tails of small green flowers prove 
them to be peppers nevertheless. 

On we went, upward ever, past Cacao and Bois Immortelle 
orchards, and comfortable settlers' hamlets ; and now and 
then through a strip of virgin forest, in which we began to 
see, for the first time, though not for the last, that "re- 
splendent Calycophyllum " as Dr. Krueger calls it, Chaconia, 
as it is commonly called here, after poor Alonzo de Chacon, 
the last Spanish governor of this island. It is indeed 

1 Pothoniorphe. * £nckea and Aruuithe. 

A WILD WAY UP. 2ffl 

the jewel of these woods. A low straggling tree carries, 
on long pendent branches, leaves like a Spanish chestnut, a 
toot and more in length ; and at the ends of the branches, 
long corymbs of yellow flowers. But it is not the flowers 
themselves which make the glory of the tree. As the flower 
opens, one calyx-lobe, by a rich vagary of nature, grows into 
a leaf three inches long, of a splendid scarlet ; and the whole 
end of each branch, for two feet or more in length, blazes 
among the green foliage till you can see it and wonder at it 
a quarter of a mile away. This is '* the resplendent Caly- 
cophyllum," elaborated, most probably, by long physical 
processes of variation and natural selection into a form 
equally monstrous and beautiful There are those who will 
smile at my superstition, if I state my belief that He who 
makes all things make themselves may have used those very 
processes of variation and natural selection for a final cause ; 
and that the final cause was, that He might delight Himself 
in the beauty of one more strange and new creation. Be it 
so. I can only assume that their minds are, for the present 
at least, differently constituted from mine. 

We reached the head of the glen at last, and outlet from 
the amphitheatre of wood there seemed none. But now I be- 
gan to find out what a tropic mountain-path can be, and what a 
West Indian horse can do. We arrived at the lower end of a 
narrow ditch full of rocks and mud, which wandered up the 
face of a hill as steep as the roofs of the Louvre or Ch&teau 
Chambord. Accustomed only to English horses, I confess I 
paused in dismay : but as men and horses seemed to take the 
hill as a matter of course, the only thing to be done was to 
give the stout little cob his head, and not to slip over his tail 
So up we went, splashing, clawing, slipping, stumbling, but 
never falling down ; pausing every now and then to get 
breath for a fresh rush, and then on again, up a place as 
steep as a Devonshire furze-bank for twenty or thirty feet, 
till we had risen a thousand feet, as I suppose, and were on 
a long and more level chine, in the midst of ghastly dead 
forests, the remains of last year's fires. Much was burnt to 
tinder and ash ; much more was simply killed and scorched, 
and stood or hung in an infinite tangle of lianes and 
boughs, all grey and rara Here and there some huge 


tree had burnt as it stood, and rose .like a soot-grimed 
tower; here another had fallen right across the path, and 
we had to cut our way round it step by step, amid a 
mass of fallen biunches sometimes much higher than our 
heads, or to lead the horses underneath boughs which 
were too large to cut through, and just high enough tc» let 
them pass. An English horse would have lost his neive, 
and become restive from confusion and terror; but these 
wise brutes, like the pack-mule, seemed to imderstand the 
matter as well as we ; waited patiently till a passage was 
cut ; and then struggled gallantly through, often among logs 
where I expected to see their leg-bones snapt in two. But 
my fears were needless; the deft gallant animals got safe 
through without a scratch. However, for them, as for us, the 
work was very warm. The burnt forest was utterly without 
shade ; and wood-cutting under a perpendicular noon-day sun 
would have been trying enough had not our spirits been kept 
up by the excitement, the sense of freedom and of power, 
and also by the magnificent scenery which began to break upon 
us. From one clift, off which the whole forest had been burnt 
away, we caught, at last a sight westward of Tocuche, from 
summit to base, rising out of a green sea of wood — for the 
fire, coming from the eastward, had stopped half-way down 
the cliff ; and to the right of the picture the blue Northern Sea 
shone through a gap in the hills. What a view that was ! To 
conceive it, the reader must fancy himself at Clovelly, on 
the north coast of Devon, if he ever has had the good for- 
tune to see that most beautiful of English cliff- woodlands ; 
he must magnify the whole scene four or five times ; and then 
pour down on it a tropic sunshine and a tropic haze. 

Soon we felt, and thankful we were to feel it, a rush 
of air, soft and yet bracing, cool, yet not chilly; the 
"champagne atmosphere," as some one called it, of the 
trade-wind : and all, even the very horses plucked up heart ; 
for that told us that we were at the summit of the pass, 
and that the worst of our day's work was over. In five 
minutes more we were aware, between the tree- stems, of 
a green misty gulf beneath our very feet, which seemed at 
the first glance boundless, but which gradually resolved 
itself into mile after mile of forest, rushing down into the 


the sea. The hues of the distant woodlands, twenty miles 
away, seen through a veil of ultramarine, mingled with the 
pale greens and blues of the water : and they again with the 
pale sky, till the eye could hardly discern where land and 
sea and air parted from each other. 

We stopped to gaze, and breathe ; and then downward again 
for nigh two thousand feet toward Blanchisseuse. And so, 
leading our tired horses, we went cheerily down the mountain 
side in Indian file, hopping and slipping from ledge to mud 
and mud to ledge, and calling a halt every five minutes to 
look at some fresh curiosity : now a tree-fern, now a climbing 
fern ; now some huge tree-trunk, whose name was only to be 
guessed at; now a fresh armadillo-burrow; now a parasol- 
ants' warren, which had to be avoided lest horse and man 
should sink in it knee-deep, and come out sorely bitten ; now 
some glimpse of sea and forest far below; now we cut a 
water- vine, and had a long cool drink; now a great moth 
had to be hunted, if not caught ; or a toucan or some other 
strange bird listened to ; or an eagle watched as he soared 
high over the green gulf. Now all stopped together; for the 
ground was sprinkled thick with great beads, scarlet, with a 
black eye, which had fallen from some tree high overhead ; 
and we all set to work like schoolboys, filling our pockets with 
»hem for the ladies at home. Now the path was lost, having 
vanished in the six months* growth of weeds ; and we had 
to beat about for it over fallen logs, through tangles of lianc 
and thickets of the tall Arouma,^ a cane with a flat tuft of 
leaves atop, which is plentiful in these dark, damp, northern 
slopes. Now we struggled and hopped, horse and man, down 
and roimd a comer, at the head of a glen, where a few flag- 
stones fallen across a gully gave an uncertain foothold, and 
paused, under damp rocks covered with white and pink 
Begonias and ferns of innumerable forms, to drink .the clear 
mountain water out of cups extemporised from a Calathea 
leaf; and then struggled up again over roots and ledges, and 
round the next spur, in cool green darkness, on which it 
seemed the sun had never shone; and in a silence whiclu 
when our own voices ceased, was saddening, all but appalling. 

At last, striking into a broader trace which came from the 

^ ledmosiphoii. 


westward, we found ourselves some six or eight hundred feet 
above the sea, in scenery still like a magnified Clovelly, 
but amid a vegetation which — how can I describe ? SuflBce it 
to say, that right and left of the path, and arching together 
overhead, rose a natural avenue of Cocorite palms, beneath 
whose shade I rode for miles, enjoying the fresh trade- 
wind, the perfume of the Vanilla flowers, and last, but 
not least, the conversation of one who used his high post 
to acquaint himself thoroughly with the beauties, the pro- 
ductions, the capabilities of the island which he governed ; 
and his high culture to make such journeys as this a 
continuous stream of instruction and pleasure to those who 
accompanied him. Under his guidance we stopped at one 
point, silent with delight and awe. 

Through an arch of Cocorite boughs — ah that English 
painters would go to paint such pictures, set in such natural 
frames — ^we saw, nearly a thousand feet below us, the little 
bay of Fillette. The height of the horizon line told us how 
high we were ourselves ; for the blue of the Caribbean Sea 
rose fax above a point which stretched out on our right, 
covered with noble wood; while the dark olive cliffs along 
its base were gnawed by snowy surf. On our left, the nearer 
mountain woods rushed into the sea, cutting off the view ; 
and under our very feet, in the centre of an amphitheatre 
of wood, as the eye of the whole picture, was a group — such 
as I cannot hope to see again. Out of a group of scarlet 
Bois Immortelles rose three Palmistes, and close to them a 
single Balata, whose height I hardly dare to estimate. So 
tall they were, that though they were perhaps a thousand 
feet below us, they st^od out against the blue sea, far up 
toward the horizon line; the central palm a hundred and 
fifty feet at least, the two others, as we guessed, a hundred 
and twenty feet or more. Their stems were perfectly straight 
and motionless, while their dark crowns, even at that dis- 
tance, could be seen to toss and rage impatiently before the 
rush of the strong tmde-wind. The black glossy head of 
the Balata, almost as high aloft as they, threw off sheets of 
spangled light, which mingled with the spangles of the 
waves ; and, above the tree-tops, as if poised in a blue hazy 
sky, one tiny white sail danced before the breeze. The 


whole scene swam in soft sea-air; and such combined 
grandeur and delicacy of form and of colour I never 
beheld before. 

We rode on and downward, toward a spot where we 
expected to find water. Our Negros had la^ed behind with 
the provisions ; and, hungry and thirsty, we t«thered our 
horses to the trees at the bottom of a gully, and went down 
through the bush toward a low cliff. As we went, if I I'ccol- 
lect, we found on the ground many curious pods.^ curled two 
or three times round, something hke those of a Medic, and 
when they split, bright red inside, setting off prettily enough 
the bright blue seeds. Some animal or other, however, 
admired these seeds as much as we; for they had been 
stripped a3 soou as they opened, and out of hundreds of 
pods we only secured one or two heads. 

We got to the cliff — a smugglers' cracik in the rock, and 
peered down, with some dis- 
gust There should liave been 
a pole or two there, to get 
down by: but they were washed 
away ; a canoe also : but it 
bad been carried off, prol)ably 
nut of the way of the sur£ To i 
get down the crack, for active \ 
men, was easy enough: but to 
get jip again seemed, the longer 
we looked at it, the more im- 
possible, at leMt for me. So 
aft«r scrambling down, holding 
on by wild pines, as far as we 
dare — during which process onp 
of ua was stung (not bitten) | 
by a great hnnting-ant, causi 

much pain and swelling — i _ 

turned away; for the heat of 

the little comer was intolerable. But wistful eyes did we 
cast back at the next point of rock, behind which broke out 
the tantalizing spring, which we could just not reach. 

We rode on, sick and sorry, to find unexpected relief We 
• PitbKolobiam (t). 


entered a clearing, with Bananas and Tanias, Cacao and Bois 
Immortelle, and better still, Avocado pears and orange-tree, 
with fruit. A tall and stately dame was there ; her only 
garment a long cotton-print gown, which covered her tall 
ligure from throat to ankle and wrist, showing brown 
feet and hands which had once been delicate, and a brown 
face, half Spanish, half Indian, modest and serious enough. 
We pointed to a tall orange-tree overhead, laden with fruit 
of every hue from bright green to gold. She, on being 
appealed to in Spanish, answered with a courteous smile, and 
then a piercing scream of — "Candelaria, come hither, and 
get oranges for the Governor and other sefiors ! " Can- 
delaria, who might have been eighteen or twenty, came 
sliding down under the Banana-leaves, all modest smiles, and 
blushes through her whitey-brown skin. But having no more 
clothes on than her mother, she naturally hesitated at climb- 
ing the tree ; and after inefiPectual attempts to knock down 
oranges with a bamboo, screamed in her turn for some Jose 
or Juan. Jos6 or Juan made his appearance, in a itigged 
shirt A lanky lad, about seventeen years old, he was evi- 
dently the oaf or hobbedehoy of the family, just as he would 
have been on this side of the sea ; was treated as such ; and 
was accustomed to be so treated In a tone of angry con- 
tempt (the poor boy had done and said nothing) the two 
women hounded him up the tree. He obeyed in meek resig- 
nation, and in a couple of minutes we had moi^ oranges than 
we could eat. And such oranges : golden-green, but rather 
more green than gold, which cannot be (as at home) bitten or 
sucked ; for so strong is the fragrant essential-oil in the skin, 
that it would blister the lips and disorder the stomach ; and 
the orange must be carefully stripped of the outer coat before 
you attack a pulp compared with which, for flavour, the 
orange of our shops is but bad sugar and water. 

As I tethered my horse to a cacao-stem, and sat on a 
log among hothouse ferns, peeling oranges with a bowie-knife 
beneath the burning mid-day sun, the quaintest fancy came 
over me that it was all a dream, a phantasmagoria, a Christ- 
mas pantomime got up by my host for my special amuse- 
ment ; and that if I only winked my eyes hard enough, 
when I opened them again it would be all gone» and I shoulJ 


find myself walking with hira on Ascot Heath, while the 
snow whirled over the heather, and the black fir-trees 
groaned in the north-east wind. 

We soon rode on, with blessings on fair Candelaria and her 
stately mother, while the noise of the surf grew louder and 
Jouder in front of us. We took (if I remember right) a 
sudden turn to the left, to get our horses to the shore. Our 
pedestrians held straight on ; there was a Mangrove swamp 
and a lagoon in front, for which they, bold lads, cared 

We passed over a sort of open down, from which all vege- 
tation had been cleared, save tlie Palmistes^such a wood of 
them as I had never seen before. A hundred or more, 
averaging at least a hundred feet in height, stood motionless 
in the full cut of the strong trade-wind. One would have 
expected them, when the wood round was felled, to feel the 
sudden nakedness. One would have expected the inrush of 
salt air and foam to have injured their foliage. But, seem- 
ingly, it was not so. They stood utterly unharmed ; save 
some half-do^en who had had their tops snapped off by a 
gale — there are no hurricanes in Trinidad — and remained as 
enormous unmeaning pikes, or posts, fifty to eighty feet 
high, tiansformed, by that one blast, from one of the loveliest 
to one of the ugliest natural objects. 

Through the Palmiste pillars; through the usual Black 
Koseau scrub ; then under tangled boughs down a steep 
stony bank ; and we were on a long beach of deep sand and 
quartz gravel On our right the Shore-grapes with their 
green bunches of fruit, the Mahauts ^ with their poplar-like 
leaves and great yellow flowers, and the ubiquitous Matapalos, 
fringed the shore. On our left weltered a broad waste of 
plunging foam ; in front green mountains were piled on moun- 
tains, blazing in sunlight, yet softened and shrouded by an air 
saturated with steam and salt. We waded our horses over 
the mouth of the little Yarra^ which hurried down through 
the sand, brown and foul from the It^oon above. We sat 
down on bare polished logs, which floods bad carried from 
the hills above, and ate and drank — for our Negros had by 
uow rejoined us; and then scrambled np the shore back 

^ Paritium and Thespcsia, 



agaiD, and into a trace running along the low clifT, even mon 
beantiful, if possible, than that which we had followed in tbe 
morning. Along the cliff tall Balatas and Palmistes, with 
here and there an equally tall Cedar, and on the inside bank 
a green wall of Balisiers, with leaves full fifteen feet lon« 
and heads of scarlet flowers, marked the richness of the soil 
Here and there, too, a Cannon-ball tree rose, grand and 
strange, among the Balatas ; and in one place the ground was 
strewn with lai^e white flowers, whose peculiar shape told us 
at once of some other Lecythid tree high overhead. These 
Lecythids are peculiar to the hottest parts of South America ; 
to the valleys of the Oroonoco and Amazon ; to Trinidad, as a 
fragment of the old Oroonocquan land, and possibly to some of 
the southern Antilles. So now, 
as we are in their home, it may 
be worth our while to pause a 
little round these strange and 
noble forms. 

Botanists tell us that they 
are, or rather may have been 
I in old times, akin to myrtles. 
i If so, they have taken a 
grand and original line of their 
own, and persevered in it for 
ages, till they have specialized 
. themselves to a condition far 
1 advance of most myrtles, in 
size, bebuty, and use. They 
may be known from all other 
trees by one mark — their large 
handsome flowers, A group 
of the innumerable stamens 
have grown together on one 
side of the flower into a hood, 
which bends over the stigma 
and the other stamens. Tall 
_!orioua to behold, when in full 
flower ; but they are notorious mostly for their huge fruita 
and delicious uuts. One of their finest forms, and the 
only one which the traveller is likely to see often in Trinidad, 

trees they 



is the Cannon-ball tree.^ There is a grand specimen 
in the Botanic Garden; and several may be met with in 
any day's ride through the high woods, and distinguished 
at once from any other tree. The stem rises, without a 
fork, for sixty feet or more, and rolls out at the top into a 
head very like that of an elm trimmed up, and like an elm 
too in its lateral water-boughs. For the whole of the stem, 
from the very ground to the forks, and the larger fork- 
branches likewise, are feathered all over with numberless 
short prickly pendent branchlets, which roll outward, and 
then down, and then up again in graceful curves, and carry 
large pale crimson flowers, each with a pink hood in the 
middle, looking like a new-bom baby's fist. Those flowers, 
when torn, turn blue on exposure to the light ; and when 
they fall, leave behind them the cannon-ball, a rough brown 
globe, as big as a thii-ty-two-pound shot, which you must get 
down with a certain caution, lest that befal you which befel 
a certain gallant officer on the mainland of America. For, 
fired with a post-prandial ambition to obtain a cannon-ball, 
he took to himself a long bamboo, and poked at the tree. 
He succeeded : but not altogether as he had hoped. For the 
cannon-ball, in coming down, avenged itself by dropping 
exactly on the bridge of his nose, felling him to the ground, 
and giving him such a pair of black eyes that he was not 
seen on parade for a fortnight 

The pulp of this Cannon-ball is, they say, " vinous and 
pleasant " when fresh ; but those who are mindful of what 
befel our forefather Adam from eating strange fruits, will 
avoid it, as they will many more fruits eaten in the Tropics, 
but digestible only by the dura ilia of Indians and Negros. 
Whatever virtue it may have when fresh, it begins, as soon 
as stale, to give out an odour too abominable to be even 
recollected with comfort. 

More useful, and the fruit of an even grander tree, are 
those " Brazil nuts " which are sold in every sweet-shop at 
home. They belong to Bertholletia excelsa, a tree which 
grows sparingly — I have never seen it wild — in the 
southern part of the island, but plentifully in the forests 
of Guiana^ and which is said to be one of the tallest 

^ Couronpita OuianensiA. 
T 2 


of all the forest giants. The fruit, round like the cannon- 
ball, and about the size of a twenty-four pounder, is 
harder than the hardest wood, and has to be battered to 
pieces with the back of a hatchet to disclose the nuts, 
which lie packed close inside. Any one who haa ham- 
mered at a Bertholletia fruit will be ready to believe the 
story that the Indians, fond as they are of the nuts, avoid 
the "totocke" trees till the fruit has all fallen, for fear 
of fractured skulls ; and the older story which Humboldt 
gives out of old Laet,^ that the Indians dared not enter the 
forests, when the trees were fruiting, without having their 
heads and shoulders covered with buckhirs of hard wood. 
These "Almendras de Peru," Peru alruonds, as they were 
called, were known in Europe as early as the sixteenth 
century, the seeds being carried up the Maragnon, and by 
the Cordilleras to Peru, men kpew not from whence. To 
Humboldt himself, I believe, is due the re-discovery of 
the tree itself and its enormous fruit; and the name of 
Bertholletia excejsa was given by him. The tree, he says, 
" is not more than two or three feet in diameter, but attains 
one hundred or one hundred and tweniiy feet in height. It 
does not r^seniible the Mammee, the star-apple, and several 
other trees of the Tropics, of which the branches, as in the 
laurels of the tejaiperat^ JKOue, rise straight toward the 
sky. The branches of the Bertholletia are open, very 
long, almost entirely bare toward the base, and loaded 
at their summits with, tufts of very close foliage. This 
disposition of the serai-coriacey^us leaves, a little silvery 
beneath and more than two feet long, makes the branches 
bend down toward the ground, like the fronds of the 

"The Capuchin monkeys," he continues, "are singularly- 
fond of these ' chestnuts of Brazil,* and the noise made by 
the seeds, when the fruit is shaken as it fell from the tree, 
excites their appetency in the highest degree." He does not. 
however, believe the " tale, very current on the lowei 
Oroonoko, that the monkeys place themselves in a circle, and 
by striking the shell with a stone succeed in opening it.** 
That they may try is possible enough ; for there is no doubt, 

* " Personal Narrative," vol. v. p. 537. 


I believe, tliat monkeys — at least the South AmericaD — do 
use stoues to crack nuts ; and I have seen myself a monkey, 
untaught, use a stick to rake his food up to him when put 
beyond the reach of his chain. The impossibility iji this case 
would Ke, not in want of wits, but want of strength ; and the 
monkeys must have too often to wait for these feasts till the 
i-ainy season, when the woody shell rots of itself, and amuse 
themselves meanwhile, as Humboldt describes them, in 
i-oUing the fruit about, vainly longing to get their paws in 
through the one little hole at its base. The Agoutis, however, 
and Pacas. and other rodents, says Humboldt, have teeth and 
perseverance to gnaw through the shell ; and when the seeds 
are once out " all the animals of the forest, the monkeys, the 
ijianaviris, the squirrels, the agoutis, the parrots, the macaws, 
hasten thither to dispute the prey. They have all strength 
enough to break the woody covering of the seeds ; they get 
out the keroel and carry it to the tops of the trees. * It is 
their festival also,' said the Indians who had returned from 
the nut-harvest; and on- hearing their complaints of the 
animals you perceive that they thittk themselves alone the 
legitimate nmsters of the forest." 

But if nature has played the poor monkeys a somewhat 
tantalizing trick about Brazil nuts, she has been more 
generous to them in the case of some other Lecythids,^ which 
go by the name of monkey-pota. Huge trees like their kins- 
lolk, they are clothed in bark layers so delicate that tht; 
Indians beat them out till they are as thin as satin-paper, 
and use them as cigarette wmppers. They carry gi^eat urn- 
shaped fruits, big enough to serve for drinking- vessels, each 
kindly provided with a round wooden cover, which becomes 
loose and lets out the. savoury sapucaya nuts inside, to the 
comfort of all our " poor relations." Ah, when will there 
arise a Tropic Landseer to di-aw for us some of the strange 
fashions of the strange birds and beasts of these lands? — to 
dmw, for instance, the cunning, selfish, greedy grin of delight 
on the face of some burly, hairy, goitred old red Howler, as lie 
lifts ofl' a " tapa del cacao de monos," a monkey-cacao cover, 
and looks defiance out of the corners of his winking eyes at 
his wives and children, cousins and grandchildren, who sit 

^ Lccythis Ollaris, &c. 


round jabbering and screecliing, and, monkey fashion, 
twisting their heads upside down, as they put their arms 
i-ound each other s waists to peer over each other's shoulders 
at the great bully, who must feed himself first as his fee 
for having roared to them for an hour at sunrise on a tree- 
top, while they sat on the lower branches and looked up, 
trembling and delighted at the sound and fury of the idiot 

What an untried world is here for the artist of every kind, 
not merely for the animal painter, for the landscape painter, 
for the student of human form and attitude, if he chose to 
live awhile among the still untrained Indians of the Main, or 
among the graceful Coolies of Trinidad and Deraerara ; but 
also for the botanical artist, for the man who should study 
long and carefully the more striking and beautiful of these 
Avonderful leaves and stems, flowers and fruits, and introduce 
them into ornamentation, architectural or other. 

And so I end my little episode about these Lecythids, only 
adding that the reader must not confound with their nuts the 
butter-nuts, ^aryocar, or Souari, which may be bought, I 
believe, at Fortnum and Mason's, and which are of all nuts 
the laigest and the njost delicious. They have not been 
found as yet in Trinidad, though they abound in Guiana. 
They are the fruit also of an enormous tree ^ — there is a young 
one fruiting finely in the Botanic Garden at Port of Spain — 
of a quite different order ; a cousin of the Matapalos and of 
the Soap-berries. It carries large threefold leaves on pointed 
stalks; spikes of flowers with innumerable stamens; and here 
and there a fruit something like the Cannon-ball, though not 
quite as large. On breaking the soft rind you find it full of 
white meal, probably eatable, and in the meal three or four 
^reat hard wrinkled nuts, rounded on one side, wedge-shaped 
on the other, which, cracked, are found full of almond-like 
white jelly, so delicious that one can well believe travellers 
M'hen they tell us that the Indian tribes wage war against 
each other for the possession of the trees which bear these 
precious vagaries of bounteous Nature. 

And now we began to near the village, two scattered rows 
of clay and timber bowers right and left of the trace, each 

* Caiyocar butyrosam. 


half-buried in fruit-trees and vegetables, and fenced in with 
hedges of scarlet Hibiscus; the wooded mountains shading 
them to the south, the sea thundering behind them to the 
north. As we came up we heard a bell, and soon were aware 
of a brown mob running, with somewhat mysterious in the 
midst. Was it the Host ? or a funeral? or a fight ? Soon the 
mob came up with profound salutations, and smiles of self- 
satisfaction, evidently thinking that they had done a fine thing; 
and disclosed, hanging on a long bamboo, their one church- 
bell. Their old church (a clay and timber thing of their own 
handywork) had become ruinous ; and they dared not leave 
their bell aloft in it. But now they were going to build 
themselves a new and larger church, Government giving them 
the site ; and the bell, being on furlough, was put into requisi- 
tion to ring in His Excellency the Governor and his muddy 
and quaintly attired — or unattired — suite. 

Ah, that 1 could have given a detailed picture of the scene 
before the police court-house — the coloured folk, of all hues 
of skin, all types of feature, and all gay colours of dress, 
crowding round, the tall stately brown policeman, Thompson, 
called forward and receiving with a military salute the 
Governor's commendations for having saved, at the risk of 
liis life, some shipwrecked folk out of the surf close by; 
and the flash of his eye when he heard that he was to receive 
the Humane Society's medal from England, and to have his 
name mentioned, probably to the Queen herself; the greet- 
ings, too, of almost filial respect which were bestowed by 
the coloured people on one who, though still young, had been 
to them a father ; who, indeed, had set the policeman the 
example of gallantry by saving, in another cove near by, 
other shipwrecked folk out of a still worse surf, by swimming 
out l)eyond a ledge of rock swarming with sharks, at the risk 
every moment of a hideous death. There, as in other places 
since, he had worked, like his elder brother at Montserrat, as 
a true civilizer in every sense of the word ; and, when his 
health broke down from the noxious climate, had moved else- 
where to still harder and more extensive work, belying, like 
his father and his brothers, the common story that the climate 
forbids exertion, and that the Creole gentleman cannot or will 
not, when he has a chance, do as good work as the English 


gontlcman at home. I do not mention these men's names. 
In England it matters little ; in Trinidad there is no need to 
mention those whom all know; all 1 shall say is, Heaven 
send the Queen many more such public servants, and me 
many more such friends. 

Then up hurried the good little priest, and set forth in 
French — he was very indignant, by the bye, at being taken 
for a Frenchman, and begged it to be understood that he wa-s 
Belgian born and bred — setting forth how His Excellency had 
not been expected till next day, or he would have had ready 
an address from the loyal inhabitants of Blanchisseuse 
testifying their delight at the honour of, &c. &c. ; which he 
begged leave to present in due form next day ; and all the 
M'hile the brown crowd surged mund and in and out, and the 
naked brown children got between eyery one's legs, and everj' 
one was in a fume of curiosity and delight — anything being 
an event in Blanchisseuse — save the one Chinaman, if I 
recollect right, wIk) stood in his blue jacket and trousers, his 
hands behind his back, with visage uaiimpassioned, dolorous, 
seemingly stolid, a creature of the earth, earthy, — say rather 
of the dirt, dirty, — but doubtless by no means as stolid as 
he looked. And all the while the palms and bananas rustled 
above, and the surf thundered, and long streams of light 
poured down through the glens in the black northern wall, 
and flooded the glossy foliage of the mangos and sapodillas, 
and rose fast up the palm-stems, and to their very heads, and 
then vanished ; for the sun was sinking, and, in half an hour 
more darkness would have fallen on the most remote little 
paradise in Her Majesty's dominions. 

But where was the warden, who was by office, as well as 
by courtesy, to have received us? He too had not expected 
us, and was gone home after his day's work to his new 
clearing inland : but a man had been sent on to him over the 
mountain; and over the mountain we must go, and on foot 
too, for the horses could do no more, and there was no 
stabling for them further on. How far was the new clearing ? 
Oh, perhaps a couple of miles — perhaps a league. And how 
high up ? Oh, nothing — only a hundred feet or two. One 
knew what that meant ; and, with a sigh, resigned oneself to 
a four or five miles' mountain walk at the end of a long day, 

A roc A. 28] 

and started up the steep zigzag, ttrough cacao gi*oves, past 
the loveliest gardens — I recollect in one an agave in flower, 
nigh thirty feet high, its spike all primrose and golden yellow 
in the fading sunlight— then up into rastrajo ; and then into 
high wood, and a wovld of ferns — tree ferns, climbing ferns, 
and all other ferns which ever delighted the eye in an 
English hothouse. For along these northern slopes, sheltered 
from the sun for the greater part of the year, and tor ever 
watered by the steam of the trade-wind, ferns are far more 
lu3curiant and varied than in any other part of the island. 

Soon it grew dark, and we strode on up liill and down dale, 
at one time for a mile or more through burnt forest, with 
its ghasily spider-work of leafless decaying branches and 
creepers against the moonlit sky— a sad sight : but music 
enough we had to cheer us on our way. We did not hear 
the howl of a monkey, nor the yell of a tiger-cat, common 
enough on the mountains which lay in front of us : but of 
harping, fiddling, humming, drumming, croaking, clacking, 
snoring, screaming, hooting, from cicadas, toads, birds, and 
what not, there was a concert at every step, which made the 
glens ring again, as the Brocken might ring on a Walpurgis- 

At last, pausing on the top of a hill, we could hear voices 
on the opposite side of the glen. Shouts and " cooeys " soon 
brought us to the party which were awaiting us. We hurried 
joyfully down a steep hill-side, across a shallow ford, and 
then up another hill-side — this time with care, for the jfelled 
logs and brushwood lay all about a path full of stumps, and 
we needed a guide to show us our way in the moonlight up 
to the hospitable house above. And a right hospitable house 
it was. Its owner, a French gentleman of ancient Irish 
family — whose ancestors probably had gone to France as one 
of the valiant " Irish Brigade ; " whose children may have 
emigrated thence to St. Domingo, and their children or 
grandchildren again to Trinidad — had prepared for us in 
the wilderness a right sumptuous feast : " nor did any 
soul lack aught of the equal banquet*' 

We went to bed : or rather I did. For here, as else- 
where before and after, I was compelled, by the courtesy 
of the Governor, to occupy the one bed of the house, as 


being the oldest, least acclimatized, and alas ! weakliest of the 
party; while he, his little suite, and the owner of the house, 
slept anywhere upon the floor; on which, between fatigue 
and enjoyment of the wild life, I would have gladly slept 

When we turned out before sunrise next morning, I found 
myself in perhaps the most charming of all the charming 
" camps " of these forests. Its owner, the warden, fearing the 
unhedthy air of the sea-coast, had bought some hundreds 
of acres up here in the hills, cleared them, and built, or rather 
was building, in the midst As yet the house was rudimen- 
tary. A cottage of precious woods cut off the clearing, stand- 
ing of course on stilts, contained two rooms, an inner and an 
outer. There was no glass in the windows, which occupied 
half the walls. Door or shutters, to be closed if the wind 
and rain were too violent, are all that is needed in a climate 
where the tempemture changes but little, day or night, 
throughout the year. - A table, unpolished, like the wooden 
walls, but like them of some precious wood; a few cliaii"s 
or benches, not forgetting, of course, an American rocking- 
chair ; a shelf or two, with books of law and medicine; and 
beside them a few good books of devotion; a press; a 
" perch" for hanging clothes — for they mildew when kept in 
drawers — just such as would have been seen in a mediaeval 
house in England ; a covered four- post bed, with gauze 
curtains, indispensable for fear of vampires, mosquitos, and 
other forest plagues ; these make up the furniture of such a 
bachelor's camp as, to the man who lives doing good work all 
day out of doors, leaves nothing to be desired. Where is the 
kitchen ? It consists of half-a-dozen great stones under yonder 
shed, where as good meals are cooked as in any London 
kitchen. Other sheds hold the servants and hangers-on, the 
horses and mules ; and as the establishment grows more will 
be addfed, and the house itself will probably expand laterally, 
like a peripheral Greek temple, by rows of posts, probably 
of palm-stems thatched over with wooden shingle or with the 
leaves of the Timit^ palm. If ladies come to inhabit the 
camp, fresh rooms will be partitioned off by boardings as high 
as the eaves, leaving the roof within open and common, for 

^ Manicaria. 

AVOCA. 283 

the sake of air. Soon, no regular garden, but beautiful flower- 
ing shrubs — Crotons, Dracaenas, and Cereuses, will be planted ; 
great bushes of Bauhinia and blue Petraea will roll their long 
curved shoots over and over each other; Gardenias fill the 
air with fragrance; and the Bougainvillia or the Clerodendron 
cover some arbour with lilac or white racemes. 

But this camp had not yet arrived at so high a state of 
civilization. All round it, almost up to the very doon?, a 
tangle of logs, stumps, branches, dead ropes and nets of 
liane, lay still in the process of clearing; and the ground 
was seemingly as waste, as it was difficult — often impossible 
— to cross. A second glance, however, showed that, amongst 
the stumps and logs, Indian corn was planted everywhere ; 
and that a few months would give a crop which would 
richly repay the clearing, over and above the fact that the 
whole materials of the house had been cut on the spot, 
and cost nothing. 

As for the situation of the little oasis in the wilder- 
ness, it bespoke good sense and good taste. The owner 
had stumbled, in his foiest wanderings, on a spot where 
two mountain streams, after nearly meeting, parted again, 
and enclosed in a ring a hill some hundred feet high, before 
they finally joined each other below. That ring was his 
estate ; which was formally christened on the occasion of 
our visit, Avoca — the meeting of the waters; a name, 
as all agreed, full of remembrances of the Old World and 
the land of his remote ancestors ; and yet like enough 
to one of the graceful and sonorous Indian names of the 
island not to seem barbarous and out of placa Round 
the clearing the mountain woods siurged up a thousand feet 
aloft: but so gradually, and so far off, as to allow free 
circulation of air and a broad sheet of sky overhead ; and as 
the camp stood on the highest point of the rise, it did not 
give that choking and crushing sensation of being in a ditch, 
which makes houses in most mountain valleys — to me at 
least — intolerabla Up one glen, toward the south, we had a 
full view of the green Cerro of Arima, three thousand feet 
in height ; and down another, to the north-east, was a great 
gate in the mountains, through which we could hear — though 
not see — the surf rolling upon the rocks three miles away. ^ 


I was woke that morning, as often before and afterwards, 
by a clacking oY stones; and, looking out, saw in the dusk a 
Negro squatting, and hammering, with a round stone on a flat 
one, the coffee which we were to drink in a quarter of an 
hour. It was turned into a tin saucepan ; put to boil over a 
firestick between two more great stones ; clarified, by some 
cunning island trick, with a few drops of cold water; and then 
served up, bearing, in fragrance and taste, the same relation 
to average English coffee as fresh things usually do to stale 
ones, or live to dead. After which " maftana," and a little 
quinine for fear of fever, we lounged about waiting for break- 
fast, and for the arrival of the horses from the village. 

Then we inspected a Coolie's great toe, which had been 
severely bitten by a vampire in the night. And here let me 
say, that the popular disbelief of vampire stories is only 
owing to English ignorance, and disinclination to believe any 
of the many quaint tlungs which John Bull has not seen, 
because he does not care to see them. If he comes to these 
parts, he must be careful not to leave his feet or hands out 
of bed without mosquito curtains; if he has good horses, 
he ought not to leave them exposed at night without wire- 
gauze round the stable-shed — a plan which, to my surprise, 
I never saw used in the West Indies. Otherwise, he will be 
but too likely to find in the morning a triangular bit cut out 
of his own flesh, or even worse, out of his horse's withers or 
throat, where twisting and lashing cannot shake the tor- 
mentor off; and must be content to have himself lamed, 
or his horses weakened to staggering and thrown out of 
collar-work for a week, as I have seen happen more than 
once or twice. The only method of keeping off the vampire 
yet employed in stables is light ; and a lamp is usually kept 
burning there. But the Negro— not the most careful of men 
— is apt not to fill and trim it; and if it goes out in the 
small hours, the horses are pretty sure to be sucked, if there 
is a forest near. So numerous and troublesome, indeed, 
are the vampires, that there are pastures in Trinidad in 
which, at least till the adjoining woods were cleared, the 
cattle would not fatten, or even thrive ; being found, mornin<j 
after morning, weak and sick from the bleedings which they 
had endured at night. 


After looking at the Coolie's toe, of which he made light, 
though the bleeding from the triangulai' hole would not stop, 
any more than that from the bite of a horse-leech, we felted 
our ears on the notes of delicate songsters, and our eyes on the 
colours and shapes of the forest, which, rising on the opposite 
side of the streams right and left, could be seen here more 
thoroughly than at any spot 1 yet visited. Again and 
again were the opera-glasses in requisition, to make out, 
or try to make out, what this or that tree might be. Here 
and there a Norautea, a mile or two miles oflf, showed like a 
whole crimson flower-bed in the tr(3e-tops ; or a Poui, just 
coming into flower, made a spot of golden yellow— r*" a guinea 
stuck against the mountain-side/' as some one said; or the 
head of a palm broke the monotony x)f the bfOftd-leaved 
foliage with its huge stsjr of green. 

-Near us we descried several tree.s covered with pale yellow 
flowers, conspicuous enough on the hill-side. No one knew 
what they were; and a couple of Negros (who are admir- 
able woodmen) were sent off to cut one down and see. 
What mattered a tree or two less amid a world of trees? 
It was a quaint sight, — the two stalwart black figures 
struggling down over the fallen logs, and with them an 
Englishman, who thought he discerned which tree the 
flowers belonged to; while we at the house guided them 
by our shouts, and scanned the trunks through the glasses 
to make out in our turn which tree should be felled. From 
the moment that they entered under the green cloud, they 
of course could see little or nothing over their heads. Ani- 
mated were the arguments — almost the bets — as to which 
tree-top belonged to which tree-trunk. Many were the mis- 
takes made ; and had it not been for the head of a certain 
palm, which served as a fixed point which there was no mis- 
taking, three or four trees would have been cut before the 
right one was hit upon. At last the right tree came crash- 
ing down, and a branch of the flowers M'as brought up, to be 
carried home, and verified at Port of Spain ; and meanwhile, 
disturbed by the axe-strokes, pair after pair of birds flew 
screaming over the tree-tops, which looked like rooks, till, as 
they turned in the sun, their colour — brilliant even at that 
distance — showed them to be great green parrots. 


After breakfast — which among French and Spanish West 
Indians means a solid and elaborate luncheon— our party 
broke up. ... I must be excused if I am almost prolix over 
the events of a day memorable to me. 

The majority went down, on horse and foot, to Blanchis- 
seuse again on official business. The site of the new church, 
an address from the inhabitants to the Governor, inspection 
of roads, examination of disputed claims, squatter questions, 
enclosure questions, and so forth, would occupy some hours in 
hard work. But the " pifece de resistance " of the day was to 
.be the examination and probable committal of the Obeah-man 
of those parts. That worthy, not being satisfied with the 
official conduct of our host the warden, had advised himself 
to bribe, with certain dollars, a Coolie servant of his to " put 
Obeah upon him ; " and had, with that intent, entrusted to 
him a Charm to be buried at his door, consisting, as usual, of 
a bottle containing toad, spider, rusty nails, dirty water, and 
other terrible jumbiferous articles. In addition to which 
attempt on the life and fortunes of the warden, he was said 
to have promised the Coolie forty dollars if he would do the 
business thoroughly for him. Now the Coolie well under- 
stood what doing the business thoroughly for an Obeah- 
man involved; namely, the putting Brinvilliers or other 
bush-poison into his food ; or at least administering to him 
sundry doses of ground glass, in hopes of producing that 
"dysentery of the country" which proceeds in the West 
Indies, I am sorry to say, now and then, from other causes 
than that of climate. But having an affection for his master, 
and a conscience likewise, though he was but a heathen, he 
brought the bottle straight to the intended victim ; and the 
Obeah-man was now in durance vile, awaiting further 
examination, and probably on his way to a felon's celL 

A sort of petition, or testimonial, had been sent up to the 
Governor, composed apparently by the hapless wizard himself, 
who seemed to be no mean penman, and signed by a dozen 
or more of the coloured inhabitants : setting forth how he 
was known by all to be far too virtuous a personage to 
dabble in that unlawful practice of Obeah, of which both he 
and his friends testified the deepest abhorrence. But there 
was the bottle, safe under lock and key; and as for the 

OBEAH, 287 

testimonial, those who read it said that it was not worth the 
paper it was written on. Most probably every one of these 
poor fellows had either employed the Obeah-man them- 
selves to avert thieves or evil eye from a particularly fine 
fruit-tree, by banging up thereon a somewhat similar bottle 
— such as may be seen, and more than one of them, in any 
long day's march. It was said again, that if asked by an 
Obeiedi-man to swear to his good character, they could not 
well refuse, imder penalty of finding some fine morning a 
white cock's head — sign of all supernatural plagues — ^in their 
garden path, the beak pointing to their door; or an Obeah 
bottle under their door-step ; and either Brinvilliers in their 
pottage, or such an expectation of it, and of plague and ruin 
to them and all their worldly belongings, in their foolish 
souls, as would be likely enough to kill them, in a few 
months, of simple mortal fear. 

Here perhaps I may be allowed to tell what I know about 
this curious question of Obeah, or Fetish-worship. It ap- 
pears to me, on closer examination, that it is not a worship of 
natural objects ; not a primteval worship ; scarcely a worship 
at all : but simply a system of incantation, carried on by a 
priesthood, or rather a sorcerer class ; and this being the case, 
it seems to me unfortunate that the term Fetish-worship 
should have been adopted by so many learned men, as the 
general name for the supposed primaeval Nature-worship. 
The Negro does not, as the primaeval man is supposed to have 
done, regard as divine (and therefore as Fetish, or Obeah) 
any object which excites his imagination; anything peculiarly 
beautiful, noble, or powerful; anything even which causes 
curiosity or fear. In fact, a Fetish is no natural object at 
all ; it is a spirit, an Obeah, Jumby, Dnppy, like the 
" Duwels " or spirits of the air, which are the only deities 
of which our Gipsies have a conception left. That spirit 
belongs to the Obeah, or Fetish-man; and he puts it, by 
magic ceremonies, into any object which he chooses. Thus 
anything may become Obeah, as far as I have ascertained. In 
a case which happened very lately, an Obeah-man came into 
the country, put the Obeah into a fresh monkey's jaw-bone, 
and made the people ofier to it fowls and plantains, which of 
course he himself ate. Such is Obeah now; and such it was, 


ns may be seen by De Biy'e plates, when the Portuguese first 
met with it on the African coast four hiindred vears a«;o. 

But surely it is an idolatry, and not a nature-worship. Just 
so does the priest of Southern India, after having made his 
idol, enchant his God into it by due ceremonial It may be a 
very ancient system : but as for its beUjg a primaeval one, as 
neither I, nor any one else, ever had the pleasure of meeting 
a primaeval man, it seems to me somewhat rash to imc^ne 
what primaeval man's creeds and worships must have been 
like ; more rash still to conclude that they must have been 
like those of the modem Negro. For if, as is probable, 
the Negro is one of the most ancient varieties of the 
human race; if, as is probable, he has remained — ^to his 
great misfortune-^— till the last three hundred yiears isolated 
on that vast island of Central Africa, which has probably 
continued as dry land during ages which have seen the 
whole of Europe, and Eastern and Southern Asia, sink more 
than once beneath the sea : then it is possible, and even 
probable, that during these long ages of the Negro's history, 
creed after creed, ceremonial after ceremonial, may have 
grown up and died out among the different tribes ; and that 
any worship, or quasi-worship, which may linger among the 
Negros now, are likely to be the mere dregs and iragmeni« 
of those older superstitions. 

As a fact, Obeah is rather to be ranked, it seems to me, 
with those ancient Eastern mysteries, at once magical aiul 
profligate, which troubled society and morals in later Borne, 

** In Tiberim defluxit Orontes." 

If so, we shall not be surprised to find that a very important, 
indeed the most practically important element of Obeah, is 
poisoning. This habit of poisoning has not (as one might 
well suppose) sprung up among the slaves desirous of re- 
venge against their white masters. It has been imported, 
like the rest of the system, from Africa Travellers of late 
have told us enough — and too nmch for our comfort of 
mind — of that prevailing dread of poison as well as of magic 
which urges the African Negros to deeds of horrible cruelty ; 
and the fact that these African Negros, up to the very latent 


impcrtations, are the special practisers of Obeah, is notorious 
through the West Indies. The existence of this trick of 
poisoning is denied, often enough. Sometimes Europeans, 
willing to believe the best of their fellow-men — and who shall 
blame them ? — simply disbelieve it because it is unplea- 
sant to believe. Sometimes, again, white West Indians will 
deny it, and the existence of Obeah beside, simply because 
they believe in it a little too much, and are afraid of the 
Negros knowing that they believe in it. Not two generations 
a^^o there might be found, up and down the islands, respect- 
able white men and women who had the same half-belief in 
the powers of an Obeah-man, as our own ancestors, especially 
in the Highlands and in Devonshire, had in those of witches : 
while as to poisoning, it was, in some islands, a matter on 
which the less said the safer. It was but a few years ago 
that in a West Indian city an old and faithful free ser- 
vant, in a family well known to me, astonished her master, 
on her death-bed, by a voluntary confession of more than a 
dozen murders. 

" You remember such and such a party, when every one 
was ill ? Well, I put something in the soup." 

As another instance ; a woman who died respectable, 
a Christian and a communicant, told this to her clergy- 
man : — She had lived from youth, for many years, happily 
and faithiully with a white gentleman who considered her as 
his wnfe. She saw him pine away and die from slow poison, 
administered, she knew, by another woman whom he had 
wronged. But she dared not speak. She had not courage 
enough to be poisoned herself likewise. 

It is easy to conceive the terrorism, and the exactions in 
the shape of fowls, plantains, rum, and so forth, which are at 
the command of an Obeah practitioner, who is believed by the 
Negro to be invulnerable himself, while he is both able and 
"willing to destroy them. Nothing but the strong arm of 
English law can put down the sorcerer; and that seldom 
enough, owing to the poor folks' dread of giving evidence. 
Thus a woman, Madame Phyllis by name, ruled in a 
certain forest-hamlet of Trinidad. Like Deborah of old, 
she sat under her own palm-tree, and judged her little Israel 
— by the Devil's law instead of God's, Her muj'ders (or 



supposed murders) were notorious : but no evidence could be 
obtained; Madame Phyllis dealt in poisons, charms, and 
philtres ; and waxed fat on her trade for many a year. The 
first shock her reputation received was from a friend of mine, 
who, in his Government duty, planned out a road which ran 
somewhat nearer her dwelling than was pleasant or safe for 
her privacy. She came out denouncing, threatening. Tlie 
coloured workmen dared not proceed. My friend persevered 
coolly ; and Madame, finding that the Government official 
considered himself Obeah-proof, tried to bribe him off, with 
the foolish cunning of a savage, with a present of — bottled 
beer. To the horror of his workmen, he accepted — for the 
day was hot, as usual — a single bottle ; and drank it there 
and then. The Negros looked — like the honest Maltese 
at St. Paul — "when he should have swollen, or fallen 
down dead suddenly:" but nothing happened; and they 
went on with their work, secure under a leader whom 
even Madame Phyllis dared not poison. But he ran a 
great risk; and knew it. 

" I took care," said he, " to see that the cork had not been 
drawn and put back again ; and then, to draw it myself" 

At last Madame Phyllis's cup was full, and she fell into 
the snare which she had set for others. For a certain 
coloured policeman went off to her one night; and having 
poured out his love-lorn heart, and the agonies which he 
endured from the cruelty of a neighbouring fair, he begged 
for, got, and paid for a philtre to win her affections. On 
which, saying with Danton — " Que mon nom soit fl^tri, 
niais que la patrie soit libre," he carried the philtre to the 
magistrate ; laid his information ; and Madame Phyllis and 
her male accomplice were sent to gaol as rogues and 

Her coloured victims looked on aghast at the audacity of 
English lawyers. But when they found that Madame was 
actually going to prison, they rose — ^,just as if they had been 
French Eepublicans — deposed their despot after she had 
been taken prisoner, sacked her magic castle, and levelled 
it with the ground. Wliether they did, or did not, find 
skeletons of children buried imder the floor, or what thev 
found at all, I could not discover; and should be very careful 


iiGw 1 believed any statement about the matter. But what 
they wanted specially to find was, the skeleton of a certain 
rival Obeah-man, who having, some years before, rashly 
challenged Madame to a trial of skill, had gone to visit her 
one night, and never left her cottage again. 

The chief centre of this detestable system is St. Vincent, 
wnere — so I was told by one who knows that island well — 
some sort of secret College, or School of the Prophets Diabolic, 
exists. Its emissaries spread over the islands, fattenin*^ 
themselves at the expense of their dupes, and exercising no 
small political authority, which has been ere now, and may 
be again, dangerous to society. In Jamaica, I was assured liy 
a Nonconformist Missionary who had long lived there, Obeah 
is by no means on the decrease ; and in Hayti it is probably 
on the increase, and taking — at least until the fall and death 
of Salnave — shapes which, when made public in the civilized 
worid, will excite more than mere disgust. But of Hayti I 
shall be silent ; having heard more of the state of society in 
that unhappy place than it is prudent, for the sake of the 
few white residents, to tell at present. 

The same Missionary told me that in Sierra Leone, also, 
Obeah and poisoning go hand in hand Airiving home one 
night, he said, with two friends, he heard hideous screams 
from the house of a Portuguese Negro, a known Obeah-mnn. 
Fearing that murder was being done, they burst open his 
door, and found that he had tied up his wife hand and foot, 
and was flogging her horribly. They cut the poor creature 
down, and placed her in safety. 

A day or two after, the Missionary's servant came in at 
sunrise with a mysterious air. 

" You no go out just now, massa." 

There was something in the road : but what, he would not 
tell. My friend went out, of course, in spite of the faithful 
fellow's entreaties ; and found, as he expected, a bottle con- 
taining the usual charms, and round it — sight of horror to 
all Negros of the old scliool — three white cocks' heads — au 
old remnant, it is said, of a worship "de quo sileat musa" — 
pointing their beaks, one to his door, one to the door of each 
of his friends. He picked them up, laughing, and threw them 
away, to the horror of his servant. 

U 2 


But the Obeah-man was not so easily beaten. Iii a fiw 
days the servant came in again with a wise visaga 

" You no drink a milk to-day, massa." 

"Why not?" 

'•' Oh, perhaps something bad in it. You give it a cat* 

" But I don't want to poison the cat ?" 

" Oh, dere a strange cat in a stable ; me give it her." 

He did so ; and the cat was dead in half an hour. 

Again the fellow tried, watching when the three white 
men, as was their custom, should dine together, that lie 
might poison them all. And again the black servant foiled 
him, though afraid to accuse him openly. This time it 
was — " You no drink a water in a filter." And when the 
filter was searched, it was full of poison-leaves. 

A third attempt the rascal made with no more success; 
and then vanished fromi Sierra Leone ; considering — as the 
Obeah-men in the West Indies are said to hold of the 
Catholic priests — that " Buccra Padre's Obeah was too strong 
for his Obeah." 

I know not how true the prevailing belief is, that some 
of these Obeah-men carry a drop of snake's poison under a 
sharpened finger-nail, a scratch from which is death. A 
similar story was told to Humboldt of a tribe of Indians 
on the Orinoco; and the thing is possible enough. One 
story, which seemingly corroborates it, I heard, so curi- 
ously illustrative of Negro manners in Trinidad during the 
last generation, that 1 shall give it at length. I owe it 
— as I do many curious facts — to the kindness of Mr. Lionel 
Fraser, chief of police of the Port of Spain, to whom it was 

told, as it here stands, by the late Mr. E , stipendiary 

magistrate ; himself a Creole and a man of colour : — 

" When I was a lad of about seventeen years of age, I was 
very frequently on a sugar estate belonging to a relation of 
mine ; and during crop-time particularly I took good care to 
be there. 

" Owing to my connection with the owner of the estate, 
I naturally had some authority with the people ; and I did 
my best to preserve order amongst them, particularly in the 
boiling-house, where there used to be a good deal of petty 
ilieft, especially at night; for we had not then the power- 


ful machinery which enables the planter to commence his 
grinding late and finish it early. 

" There was one African on the estate who was the terror 
of the Negros, owing to his reputed supernatural powera as 
an Obeah-man. 

" This man, whom I will call Martin, was a tall powerful 
Negro, who, even apart from the mysterious powers with 
which he was supposed to be invested, was a formidable 
opponent from his mere size and strength. 

" I very soon found that Martin was determined to try hi? 
authority and influence against mine ; and I resolved to give 
him the earliest possible oppoitunity for doing so. 

" I remember the occasion when we first came into contact 
perfectly welL It was a Saturday night, and we were boiling 
off. Hie boiling-house was but very dimly lighted by two 
murky oil-lamps, the rays from which could scarcely pene- 
trate through the dense atmosphere of steam which rose from 
the seething coppers. Occasionally a bright glow from the 
furnace-mouths lighted up the scene for a single instant, 
only to leave it the next moment darker than ever. 

" It was during one of these flashes of light that I distuictly 
saw Martin deliberately filling a large tin pan with sugar 
from one of tlie coolers. 

" I called out to him to desist : but he never deigned to take 
the slightest notice of ma I repeated my order in a louder 
and more angry tone ; whereupon he turned his eyes upon 
me, and said, in a most contemptuous tone, * Chut, ti beque : 
quitt^ mou6 tranquille, ou 'tende sinon malheur ka rive 
ou.' (Pshaw, little white boy : leave me alone, or worse will 
happen to you.) 

''It was the tone more than the words themselves that 
enraged me ; and without for one moment reflecting on the 
great disparity between us, I made a spring from the sort of 
raised platform on which I stood, and snatching the panful 
of sugar from his hand, I flung it, sugar and all, into the 
tache, from which I knew nothing short of a miracle 
coidd recover it 

" For a moment only did Martin hesitate ; and then, after 
fumbling for one instant with his right hand in his girdle, he 
made a rush at me. Fortunately for me, I was prepared ; and 


springing back to the spot where I had before been standinji:, 
I took up a light cutlass, which I always carried about with 
me, and stood on the defensive. 

" I had, however, no occasion to use the weapon ; for, in 
running towards me, Martin's foot slipped in some molasses 
which had been spilt on the ground, and he fell heavily to 
the floor, striking his head against the comer of one of the 
large wooden sugar-coolers. 

" The blow stunned him for the time, and before he re- 
covered I had left the boiling-house. 

"The next day, to my surprise, I found him excessively 
civil, and almost obsequious : but I noticed that he had taken 
a violent dislike to our head overseer, whom I shall call Jean 
Marie, and whom he seemed to suspect as the person who 
had betrayed him to me when stealing the sugar, 

"Things went on pretty quietly for some weeks, till the 
crop was nearly over. 

" One afternoon Jean Marie toid me there was to be a 
Jumby-dance amongst the Africans on the estate that 
very night. Now Jumby-dances were even then becoming 
less frequent, and I was extremely anxious to see one ; and 
after a good deal of difficulty, I succeeded in pereuading 
Jean Marie to accompany me to the hut wherein it was 
to be held. 

" It was a miserable kind of an ajoupa near the river-side ; 
and we had some difficulty in making our way to it through 
the tangled dank grass and brushwood which surrounded it. 
Nor was the journey rendered more pleasant by the constant 
rustling among this undergrowth, that reminded us that there 
were such things as snakes and other ugly creatures to be 
met with on our road. 

" Curiosity, however, urged us on ; and at length we 
reached the ajoupa, which was built on a small open space 
near the river, beneath a gigantic silk-cotton tree. 

" Here we found assembled some thirty Africans, men and 
women, very scantily dressed, and with necklaces of beads, 
sharks'-teeth, dried frogs, &c., hung round their necks. They 
were all squatted on their haunches outside the hut, appa- 
rently waiting for a signal to go in. 

" They did not seem particularly pleased at seeing us ; and 


one of the men said something in African, apparently ad- 
dressed tc» some one inside the house ; for an instant after 
the door was flung open, and Martin, almost naked, and with 
his body painted to represent a skeleton, stalked forth to 

meet us. 

** He asked us very angrily what we wanted there, and 
seemed particularly annoyed at seeing Jean Marie. However, 
on my repeated assurances that we only came to see what 
was going on, he at last consented to our remaining to see the 
dance ; only cautioning us that we must keep perfect silence, 
and that a word, much more a laugh, would entail most 
serious consequences. 

" As long as I live I shall never forget that scene. The hut 
was lighted by some eight or ten candles or lamps ; and in the 
centre, dimly visible, was a Fetish, somewhat of the appear- 
ance of a man, but with the head of a cock. Everj^thing 
that the coarsest fancy could invent had been done to make 
thifl image horrible ; and yet it appeared to be the object of 
special adoration to the devotees assembled. 

" Jean Marie, to be out of the way, clambered on to one 
of the cross-beams that suppoited the roof, whilst I leaned 
against the side wall, as near as I could get to the aperture 
that served for a window, to avoid the smells, which were 

" Martin took his seat astride of an African tomtom or 
drum ; and I noticed at the time that Jean Marie's naked 
foot hung down from the cross-beam almost directly over 
Martin's head. 

*' Martin now began to chant a monotonous African song, 
accompanying with the tom-tom. 

" Gradually he began to quicken the measure ; quicker 
went the words ; quicker beat the drum ; and suddenly one 
of the women sprang into the open space in front of the 
Fetish. Eoimd and round she went, keeping admirable time 
with the music. 

" Quicker still went the drunt And now the whole of the 
woman's body seemed electrified by it ; and, as if catching 
the infection, a man now joined her in the mad dance. Couple 
after couple entered the arena, and a true sorcerers' sabbath 
began ; while light after light was extinguished, till at last 


but one remaiued ; by whose dim ray I could just perceive 
the faint outlines of the remaining persons. 

" At this moment, from some cause or other, Jean Marie 
burst into a loud laugh. 

" Instantly the drum stopped ; and I distinctly saw Martin 
raise his right hand, and, as it appeared to me, seize Jean 
Marie's naked foot between his linger and thumb. 

" As he did so, Jean Marie, with a terrible scream, which 
I shall never forget, fell to the ground in strong convulsions. 

"We succeeded in getting him outside. But he never 
spoke again; and died two hours afterwards, his body 
having swollen up like that of a drowned man. 

" In those days there were no inquests ; and but little 
interest was created by the affair. Martin himself soon 
after died." 

But enough of these abominations, of which I am forced 
to omit the worst. 

That day — to go on with my own story — I left the rest of 
the party to go down to the court-house, while I stayed at 
the camp, sorry to lose so curious a scene, but too tired to 
face a crowded tropic coilrt, and an atmosphere of perspira- 
tion and perjury. 

Moreover, that had befallen me which might never befall 
me again — I had a chance of being alone in the forests; 
and into them I would wander, and meditate on them in 

So, when all had departed, I lounged awhile in the rocking- 
chair, watching two Negros astride on the roof of a shed, on 
which they were nailing shingles. Their heads were bare; 
the sun was intense ; the roof on which tliey sat must have 
been of the temperature of an average frying-pan on an 
English fire : but the good fellows worked on, steadily and 
carefully, though not fast, chattering and singing, evidently 
enjoying the very act of living, and fattening in the genisd 
heat. Lucky dogs : who had probably never known hunger, 
certainly never known cold ; never known, possibly, a single 
animal want which they could not satisfy. I could not but 
compare their lot with that of an average English artisan. 
Ah, well : there is no use in fruitless comparisons ; and it is 
no reason that one should grudge the Negro what he has 


because others, wl: :«isi&rr«r it cerLiinlr as inx:.h as l:«\ hA» 
it noL Alter alL ti-i- Azi-es^t-zis tf ihr^e Xe^r.«s h.*ve Kxn, 
for centuries pa^t, ?•■ Liri-vorkei, ill-frAi, ill-u><'d ;o*>— ^^r«*^ 
times worse tLan ill-:i««»i — cLa: it is haiU if :;.e desot-Uvijuits 
may not have a L-:l:isy, ani Like the vorld e^v for * 
generation or two. 

The perpetuai >sa:iimilia in which the Xe-^rrvx in TnnkUil 
at least, lives, will suit'v irlve pbv<:L\U str^uuth aiui Iu\-il:h 
to the body, and s< merLinj of ei.etrrfulResJs self-help. iuvU^ 
pendence to the s^>inL If the Saturnalia be pi\>ion^j>Hi tiX> 
tar, and run, as tLtrv seem inclined to run, into brutiility and 
licence, those stem laws of Nature which men call jh^H- 
tical economy will pull the Negro up short, and waken hiui 
out of his dream, soon enough and sharply enough — a 
"judgment " by which the wise will pD>tit and be presorvtHl, 
while the fools only will be destioyeiL And nioanwhiK\ 
what if in these Saturnalia (as in Konie of old^ the now 
sense of independence manifests itself in somewhat of Si»lf« 
assertion and rudeness, often in insolence, espivially dis- 
agreeable, because deliberate ? What if " You call me black 
fellow ? I mash you white face in," were the lirst woixls ono 
heard at St. Thomas's from a Negro, on being nsked, civilly 
enough, by a sailor to cast off from a boat to which ho luui 
no right to be holding on ? What if a Negro now and then 
addresses you as simple " Buccra," while he exinnt^s you to 
call him '* Sir ; " or if a Negro woman, on being begijed by an 
English lady to call to another Negro woman » answers at 
laat> after long pretences not to hear, " You ct)loiuvd lady t 
you hear die white woman a wanting of you ? " Lot it bo. 
We white people bullied these black people quite enough for 
three hundred years, to be able to allow them to i)lay (for it 
is no more) at bullying us. As long as the Negros are 
decently loyal and peaceable, and do not nuuHler their 
magistrates and drink their bmins mixed with rum, nor Hend 
delegates to the President of Hayti to ask if ho will aHHint 
them, in case of a general rising, to exterminate the whites- 
tricks which the haimless Negros of Trinidad, to do them 
justice, never have played, or had a thought of i)laying— we 
must remember that we are very seriously in debt to the 
Negro, and must allow him to take out instalments of his 


debt, now and then, in his own fashion. After all, we 
brought him here, and we have no right to complain of our 
own work. If, like Frankenstein, we have tried to make a 
man, and made him badly; we must, like Frankenstein, 
pay the penalty. 

So much for the Negro. As for the coloured population — 
especially the educated and civilized coloured population of 
the towns — ^they stand to us in an altogether different 
relation. They claim to be, and are, our kinsfolk, on another 
ground than that of common humanity. We are bound tx) 
them by a tie more sacred, I had almost said more stern, 
than we are to the mere Negro. They claim, and justly, to 
be considered as our kinsfolk and equals ; and I believe, from 
what I have seen of them, that they will prove themselves 
such, whenever they are treated as they are in Trinidad. 
What faults some of them have, proceed mainly from a not 
dishonourable ambition, mixed with uncertainty of their own 
position. Let them be made to feel that they are now not 
a class ; to forget, if possible, that they ever were one. Let 
any allusion to the painful past be treated, not merely as an 
offence against good manners, but as what it piuctically is, 
an offence against the British Government ; and that Govern- 
ment will find in them, I * believe, loyal citizens and able 

But to go back to the forest. I sauntered forth with cutlass 
and collecting-box, careless whither I went, and careless of 
what I saw ; for everything that I could see would be worth 
seeing. I know not that I found many rare or new things 
that day. I recollect, amid the endless variety of objects, 
Film-ferns of various delicate species, some growing in the 
moss tree-trunks, some clasping the tmnk itself by horizontal 
lateral fronds, while the main rachis climbed straight up many 
feet, thus embracing the stem in a network of semi-trans- 
parent green Guipure lace. I recollect, too, a coarse low fem^ 
on stream-gravel which was remarkable, because its stem was 
set with thick green prickles. I recollect, too, a dead giant 
tree, the ruins of which struck me with awe. The stump 
stood some thirty feet high, crumbling into tinder and dust, 
though its death was so recent that the creepers and parasites 

^ PterU podophylla. 


had not yet had time to lay hold of it ; and around its great 
spur-roots lay what had been its trunk and head, piled in 
stacks of rotten wood, over which I scrambled with some 
caution, for fear my leg, on breaking through, might be 
saluted from the inside by some deadly snake. The only 
sign of animal life, however, I found about the tree, save a 
few millipedes and land snails, were some lizard-eggs in a 
crack, about the size of those of a humming-bird. 

I scrambled down on grdvelly beaches, and gazed up the 
green avenues of the brooks. I sat amid the Balisiera and 
Aroumas, above still blue pools, bridged by huge fallen 
trunks, or with wild Pines of half-a-dozen kinds set in rows : 
I watched the shoals of fish play in and out of the black 
logs at the bottom : I gave myself up to the simple enjoy- 
ment of looking, careless of what 1 looked at, or what I 
thought about it all. There are times when the mind, like 
the body, had best feed, gorge if you will, and leave the 
digestion of its food to the unconscious alchemy of nature. 
It is as unwise to be always saying to oneself, " Into what 
pigeon-hole of my brain ought I to put this fact, and what 
conclusion ought I to draw from it?" as to ask your teeth 
how they intend to chew, and your gastric juice how it 
intends to convert your three courses and a dessert into 
chyle. Whether on a Scotch moor or in a Tropic forest, it 
is well at times to have full faith in Nature ; to resign your- 
self to her, as a child upon a holiday; to be still and let 
her speak. She knows best what to say. 

And yet I could not altogether do it that day. There was 
one class of objects in the forest which I had set my heart on 
examining, with all my eyes and soul ; and after a while, I 
scrambled and hewed my way to them, and was well repaid 
for a quarter of an hour's very hard work. 

I had remarked, from the camp, palms unlike any I had 
seen before, starring the opposite forest with pale grey-green 
leaves. Long and earnestly I had scanned them through the 
glasses. Now was the time to see them close, and from 
beneath, I soon guessed (and rightly) that I was looking at 
that Palma de Jagua,* which excited — and no wonder — the 
enthusiasm of the usually unimpassioned Humboldt. Magni- 

^ Jessenia. 


ficent as the tree is when its radiating leaves are viewed from 
above, it is even more magnificent when you stand beneath 
it The stem, like that of the Coco-nut, usually curves the 
height of a man ere it rises in a shaft for fi.ty or sixty feet 
more. From tlie summit of that shaft springs a crown — I 
had rather say, a fountain — of pinnated leaver ; only eight or 
ten of them ; but five-and-twenty feet long each. For three- 
fourths of their length they rise at an angle of 45° or more ; 
for the last Iburth they fall over, till the point hangs straight 
down ; and each leaflet, which is about two feet and a half 
long, falls over in a similar curve, completing the likeness of 
the whole to a fountain of water, or a gush of rockets. I 
stood and looked up, watching the innumerable curled leaflets, 
pale green above and silver-grey below, shiver and rattle 
amid the denser foliage of the broad-leaved trees ; and then 
went on to another and to another, to st-are up again, and 
enjoy the mere shape of the most beautiful plant 1 had ever 
beheld, excepting always the Musa Eusete, from Abyssinia, 
in the Palm-house at Kew. Truly spoke Humboldt, of this 
or a closely allied species, " Nature has lavished every beauty 
of form on the Jagua Palm." 

But here, as elsewhere to my great regret, I looked in vain 
for that famous and beautiful tree, the Piriajo,^ or "Peach 
Palm," which is described in Mr. Bates's book, voL ii p. 218, 
under the name of Pupunha. It grows here and there in 
the island, and always marks the site of an ancient Indian 
settlement. This is probable enough, for "it grows," says 
Mr. Bates, "wild nowhere on the Amazons. It is one of 
those few vegetable productions (including three kinds of 
Manioe and the American species of Banana) which the 
Indians have cultivated from time immemorial, and brought 
with them in their original migration to Brazil." From 
whence ? It has never . yet been found wild ; " its native 
home may possibly," Mr. Bates thinks, " be in some still 
unexplored tract on the eastern slopes of the ^Equatorial 
Andes." Possibly so : and possibly, again, on tracts long sunk 
beneath the sea. He describes the tree as " a noble ornament, 
from fifty to sixty feet in height, and often as straight as a 
scaffold-pole. The taste of the fruit may be compared to a 

^ Gulielma speciosa. 


mixture of chestnuts and cheese. Vultures devour it greedily, 
and come in quarrelsome flocks to the trees when it is ripe. 
Dogs will also eat it. I do not recollect seeing cats do the 
same, though they will go into the woods to eat Tucuma, 
another kind of palm fruit" 

" It is only the more advanced tribes," says Mr. Bates, 

" who have kept up the cultivation Bunches of sterile 

or seedless fruits " — a mark of very long cultivation, as in the 
case of the Plantain — " occur It is one of the prin- 
cipal articles of food at Ega when in season, and is boiled 
and eaten with treacle or salt. A dozen of the seedless fruits 
make a good nourishing meal for a full-grown person. It is 
the general belief that there is more nutriment in Pupunha 
than in fish, or Vacca Marina (Manati)." 

My friend Mr. Bates will, I am sure, excuse ray borrowing 
so much from him about a tree which must be as significant 
in his eyes as it is in mine. 

So passed many hours, till I began to be tired of — I may 
almost say, pained by — the appalling silence and loneliness ; 
and I was glad to get back to a point where I could hear 
the click of the axes in the clearing. I welcomed it just as, 
after a long night on a calm sea, when one neara the harbour 
again, one welcomes- the sound of the children's voices and 
the stir of life about the quay, as a relief from the utter 
blank, and feels oneself no longer a bubble afloat on an 
infinity which knows one not, and cares nothing for ones 
existence. For in the dead stillness of mid-day, when not 
only the deer, and the agoutis, and the armadillos, but the 
birds and insects likewise, are all asleep, the crack of a fall- 
ing branch was all that struck my ear, as I tried in vain to 
verify the truth of that beautiful passage of Humboldt's — 
true, doubtless, in other forests, or for ears more acute than 
mine. " In the mid-day," he says,^ *' the larger animals 
seek shelter in the recesses of the forest, and the birds hide 
themselves under the thick foliage of the trees, or in the 
clefts of the rocks : but if, in this apparent entire stillness (^f 
nature, one listens for the faintest tones which an attentive 
ear can seize, there is perceived an all-pervading rustling 
sound, a humming and fluttering of insects close to the 

* " Aspects of Nature," vol. ii. p. 272. 


ground, and in the lower strata of the atmosphere. Every- 
thing announces a world of organic activity and life. In 
every bush, in the cracked bark of the trees, in the earth 
undermined by hynienopterous insects, life stirs audibly. 
It is, as it were, one of the many voices of Nature, and 
can only be heard by the sensitive and reverent ear of her 
true votaries." 

Be not too severe, great master. A man's ear may be 
reverent enough : but you must forgive its not beinsj sensitive 
while it is recovering from that most deafening of plagues, 
a tropic cold in the head. 

Would that I had space to tell at length of our long and 
delightful journey back the next day, which lay for several 
miles along the path by which we came, and then, after we 
had looked down once more on the exquisite bay of Fillett^, 
kept along the northern wall of the mountains, instead of 
turning up to the slope which we came over out of Caum. 
For miles we paced a mule-path, narrow, but well-kept — as it 
had need to be ; for a fall would have involved a roll into 
green abysses, from which we should probably not have 
re-ascended. Again the surf rolled softly far below; and 
here and there a vista through the trees showed us some 
view of the sea and woodlands almost as beautiful as that 
at Fillette. Ever and anon some fresh valuable tree or plant, 
wasting in the wilderness, was pointed out. More than once 
we became aware of a keen and dreadful scent, as of a con- 
centrated essence of unwashed tropic humanity, which pro- 
ceeded from that strange animal, the porcupine with a 
prehensile tail,^ who prowls in the tree-tops all night, and 
sleeps in them all day, spending his idle hours in making 
this hideous smell. Probably he or his ancestor have found 
it pay as a protection ; for no jaguar or tiger-cat, it is to be 
presumed, would care to meddle with anything so exquisitely 
nasty, especially when it is all over sharp prickles. 

Once — I should know the spot again among a thousand — 
where we scrambled over a stony brook just like one in a 
Devonshire wood, the boulders and the little pools between 
them swarmed with things like scarlet and orange fingers, or 
sticks of sealing-wax, which we recognized, and, looking up, 

^ Synetheied.^ 


saw a map:nificent Bois Chataigue,^ — Pachira, as the Indians 
call it, — ^like a great horse-chestnut, spreading its heavy 
boughs overhead. And these were the fallen petals of its 
last-night's crop of flowers, which had opened there, under 
the moonlight, unseen and alone. Unseen and alone ? How 
do we know that? 

Then we emerged upon a beach, the very perfection of 
typical tropic shore, with little rocky coves, from one to 
another of which we had to ride through rolling surf, beneath 
the welcome shade of low shrub-fringed cliffs; while over 
the little mangrove-swamp at the mouth of the glen, Tocuche 
rose sheer, like McGilbicuddy's Eeeks transfigured into one 
hufje emerald. 

We turned inland again, and stopped for luncheon at 
a clear brook, running through a grove of Cacao and 
Bois Immortelles. We sat beneath the shade of a huge 
Bamboo clump ; cut ourselves pint-stoups out of the joints ; 
and then, like great boys, got, some of us at least, very wet 
in fruitless attempts to catch a huge cray-fish nigh eighteen 
inches long, blue and grey, and of a shape sometliinj^ between 
a gnat and a spider, who, with a wife and child, had taken 
up his abode in a pool among the spurs of a great Bois Im- 
mortelle. However, he was too nimble for us ; and we went 
on, and inland once more, luckily not leaving our bamboo 
stoups behind. 

We descended, I remember, to the sea-shore again, at a 
certain Maraccas bay, and had a long ride along bright sands, 
between surf and scnib; in which ride, by the bye, the 
civilizer of Montserrat and I, to avoid the blinding glare ot 
the sand, rode along the firm sand between the sea and the 
lagoon, through the low wood of Shore Grape and Mahaut, 
Pinguin and Swamp Seguine ^ — which last is an Arum with 
a knotted stem, from three to twelve feet high. We brushed 
our way along with our cutlasses, as we sat on our saddles, 
enjoying the cool shade ; till my companion's mule found 
herself jammed tight in scrub, and unable to forge either 
ahead or astern. Her rider was jammed too, and unable to 
get off; and the two had to be cut out of the bush by fair 
hewing, amid much laughter, while the wise old mule, 

* CaroUaea iusignis. ^ Montrichardia. 


as the cutlasses flashed close to her nose, never moved a 
muscle, perfectly well aware of what had happened, and how 
she was to be got out of the scmpe, as she had been probably 
fifty times before. 

We stopped at the end of the long beach, thoroughly 
tired and hungry, for we had been on the march many 
hours ; and discovered for the first time that we had nothing 
left to eat. Luckily, a certain little pot of " Kamornie " essence 
of soup was recollected and brought out The kettle was 
boiling in five minutes, and half a teaspoonful per man of the 
essence put on a knife's point, and stirred with a cutlass, to 
the astonishment of the grinning and unbelieving Negros, 
who were told that we were going to make Obeah soup, and 
were more than half of that opinion themselves. Meanwhile, 
I saw the wise mule led up into the bush ; and, on asking 
its owner why, was told that she was to be fed — on what, I 
could not see. But, much to my amusement, he cut down a 
quantity of the young leaves of the Cocorite palm ; and she 
began to eat them greedily, as did my police-horse. And, 
when the bamboo stoups were brought out, and three-quarters 
of a pint of good soup was served round — not forgetting the 
Negros, one of whom, after sucking it down, rubbed his 
stomach, and declared, with a grin, that it was very good 
Obeah — the oddness of the scene came over me. The blazing 
beach, the misty mountains, the hot trade- wind, the fantastic 
leaves overhead, the black limbs and faces, the horses eating 
palm-leaves, and we sitting on logs among the strange un- 
gainly Montrichardias, drinking " Kamornie " out of bamboo, 
and w^ashing it down with milk from green coco-nuts — 
was this, too, a scene in a pantomime? Would it, too, 
vanish if one only shut one's eyes and shook one's head ? 

We turned up into the loveliest green trace, where, I know 
not how, the mountain vegetation had, some of it, come 
down to the sea-level. Nowhere did I see the Melastomas 
more luxuriant ; and among them, arching over our heads 
like parasols of green lace, between us and the. sky, were 
tall tree-ferns, as fine as those on the mountain-slopes. 

In fiont of us opened a flat meadow of a few acres ; and 
beyond it, spur upon spur, rose a noble mountain, in so steep 
a wall that it was difficult to see how we were to ascend. 


Ere we got to the mountain foot, some of our party 
had nigh come to grief. For across the Savanna wandered 
a deep lagoon-brook. The only bridge had been washed 
away by rains ; and we had to get the horses through as we 
could, all but swimming them, two men on each horse ; and 
then to drive the poor creatures back for a fresh double load, 
with fallings, splashings, much laughter, and a qualm or two 
at the recollection that there might be unpleasant animals in 
the water. Electric eels, happily, were not invented at the 
time when Trinidad parted from the Main, or at least had 
not spread so far east : but alligators had been by that time 
fully developed, and had arrived here in plenty; and to be 
laid hold of by one, would have been undesirable : though 
our party was stix)ng enough to have made very short work 
with the monster. 

So over we got, and through much mud, and up mountains 
some fifteen hundred feet high, on which the vegetation was 
even richer tliaji apy we had seen before ; and down the 
other side, with the great lowland and the Gulf of Paria 
opening before us. \Ve rested at a police-station— always 
a pleasant sight in Trinidad, for the sake of the stal- 
wart soldier-liice brown policemen and their buxom wives, 
and neat houses and gardens, a focus of discipline and 
civilization amid what would otherwise relapse too soon 
into anarchy and barbarism; we whiled away the time by 
inspecting the ward police-repoj-ts, which were kept as 
neatly, and worded as ^^•ell, as they would have been in 
P^gland ; and then rolled comfoitably in the carriage down 
to Port of Spain, tired and happy, after three such dayd 
as had made old blood and old brains young again. 



The last of my pleasant rides, and one which would have 
been perhaps the pleasantest of all, had I had (as on other 
occasions) the company of ^y host, was to the Cocal, or 
Coco-palm grove, of the east coast, taking on my way the 
Savanna of Aripo. It had been our wish to go up the 
Oroonoco, as far as Ciudad Bolivar (the Angostura of Hum- 
boldt's travels), to see the new capital of Southern Venezuela, 
fast rising into wealth and importance under the wise and 
pacific policy of its president, Seiior Dalla Costa, a man 
said to possess a genius and an integrity far superior to the 
average of South American republicans — of which latter the 
less said the better; to push back, if possible, across those 
Llanos which Humboldt describes in his "Personal Narra- 
tive," voL iv. p. 295 ; it may be to visit the Falls of the 
Caroni. But that had to be done by others, after we were 
gone. My days in the- island were growing short; and the 
most I could do was to see at Aripo a small specimen of 
that peculiar Savanna vegetation, which occupies thou- 
sands of square miles on the mainland. 

If therefore the reader cares nothing for botanical and 
geological speculations, he will be wise to skip this chapter. 
But those who are interested in the vast changes of level 
and distribution of land which have taken place all over the 
world since the present forms of animals and vegetables 
were established on it, may possibly find a valuable fact or 
two in what I thought I saw at the Savanna of Aripo. 

My first point was, of course, the little city of San Josef. 
To an Englishman, the place will be always interesting as 
the scene of Ealeigh's exploit, and the capture of Berreos; 
and, to one who has received the kindness which I have 


received from the Spanish gentlemen of the neighbourhood, 
a spot full of most grateful memories. It lies pleasantly 
enough, on a rise at the southern foot of the mountains, and 
at the mouth of a torrent which comes down from the famous 
"Chorro," or waterfall, of Maraccas. In going up to that 
waterfall, just at the back of the town, I found buried, in 
several feet of earth, a great number of seemingly recent 
but very ancient shells. Whether they be remnants of an 
elevated sea-beach, or of some Indian "kitchen-midden," I 
dare not decide. But the question is well worth the atten- 
tion of any geologist who may go that way. The waterfall, 
and the road up to it, are best described by one who, after 
fourteen years of hard scientific work in the island, now lies 
lonely in San Fernando churchyard, far from his beloved 
Fatherland — ^he, or at least all of him that could die. I 
wonder whether that of him which can never die, knows 
what his Fatherland is doing now? But to the waterfall 
of Maraccas, or rather to poor Dr. Krueger's description 
of it : — 

" The northern chain of mountains, covered nearly every- 
where with dense forests, is intersected at various angles by 
nimibers of valleys presenting the most lovely character, 
(Generally each valley is watered by a silvery stream, tumbling 
here and there over rocks and natural dams, ministering in 
a continuous rain to the strange-looking river-canes, dumb- 
canes, and balisiers, that voluptuously bend their heads to 
the drizzly shower which plays incessantly on their glisten- 
ing leaves, off which the globules roll in a thousand pearls, 
as from the glossy plumage of a stately swan. 

" One of these falls deserves particular notice — ^the Cascade 
of Maraccas — in the valley of that name. The high road 
leads up the valley a few miles, over hiUs, and along the 
windings of the river, exhibiting the varying scenery of our 
mountain district in the fairest style. There, on the river 
side, you may admire the gigantic pepper-trees, or the silvery 
leaves of the Calathea, the lofty bamboo, or the fragrant 
Pothos, the curiouG Cyclanthus, or frowning nettles, some 
of the latter from ten to twelve feet high. But how to 
describe the numberless treasures which everywhere strike 
the eye of the wandering naturalist? 

X 2 


"^ To reach the Chorro, or Cascade, you strike to the right 
into a 'path* that brings you first to a cacao plantation, 
through a few rice or maize fields, and then you enter the 
shade of the virgin forest. Thousands of interesting objects 
now attract your attention: here, the wonderful Norantea or the 
resplendent Calycophyllum, a Tabernaemontana or a Faramea 
filling the air afar off with the fragrance of their blossoms ; 
there, a graceful Heliconia winking at you from out some 
dark ravine. That shrubbery above is composed of a species 
of Bojhmeria or Ardisia, and that scarlet tiower belongs to 
our native Aphelandra, In the rear are one or two Philo- 
dendrons — disagreeable guests, for their smell is bad enough, 
and they blister when imprudently touched. There also you 
may see a tree-fern, though a small one. Nearer to us, and 
low down beneath our feet, that rich panicle of flowers belongs 
to a Begonia ; and here also is an assemblage of ferns of the 
genera Asplenium, Hymenophyllum, and Trichomanes, as 
well as of Hepaticae and Mosses. But what are those 
yellow and purple flowers hanging above our heads ? They 
are Bignonias and Mucunas — creepers straying from afar 
which have selected this spot, where they may, under the 
influence of the sun's beams, propagate their race. Those 
chain-like, fantastic, strange-looking lianes, resembling a 
family of boas, are Bauhinias; and beyond, through the 
opening you see, in the abandoned ground of some squatter's 
garden, the trumpet-tree (Cecropia) and the groo-groo, the 
characteristic plants of the rastrajo. 

" Now, let us proceed on our walk ; we mean the cascade : 
— Here it is, opposite to you, a grand spectacle indeed! 
From a perpendicular wall of solid rock, of more than three 
hundred feet, down rushes a stream of water, splitting in the 
air and producing a constant shower, which renders this 
lovely spot singularly and deliciously cool. Nearly the whole 
extent of this natural wall is covered with plants, among 
which you can easily discern numbers of ferns and mosses, 
two species of Pitcaimia with beautiful red flowers, some 
Aroids, various nettles, and here and there a Begonia. How 
different such a spot would look in cold Europe ! Below, in 
the midst of a never-failing drizzle, grow luxuriant Ardisias, 
Aroids, Ferns, Costas, Heliconias, Centropogons, Hydroco- 



tyles, Gyperoids, and Grasses of various geuera, Trades- 
cantias and Commeljmas, Billbei^as, and, occasionally, sl 
few small Bubiacese and Melastomacese." 

The cascade, when I saw it, was somewhat disfigured 
above and below. Above, the forest-fires of last year had 
swept the edge of the cliff, and had even crawled half-way 
down, leaving blackened rocks and grey stems ; and below, 
loyal zeal had cut away only too much of the rich vegetation, 
to make a shed, or stable, in anticipation of a visit from the 
Duke of Edinburgh, who did not come. A year or two, 
however, in this climate, will heal these temporary scars, 
and all will be as luxuriant as ever. Indeed such scars heal 
only too fast here. For the paths become impassable from 
brush and weeds every six months, and have to be cutlassed 
out afresh ; and when it was known that we were going up 
to the waterfall, a gang had to be set to work to save 
the lady of the party being wetted through by leaf-dew 
up to her shoulders, as she sat upon her horse. Pretty it 
was — a bit out of an older and more simple world— to see 
the yeoman-gentleman who had contracted for the mend- 
ing of the road, and who counts among his ancestors the 
famous Ponce de Leon, meeting us half-way on our return ; 
dressed more simply, and probably much poorer, than an 
average English yeoman: but keeping untainted the stately 
Castilian courtesy, as with hat in hand — I hope I need not 
say that my hat was at my saddle-bow all the while — ^he 
inquired whether La Senorita had found the path free from 
all obstructions, and so forth. 

** The old order clinnges, giving place to the new : 
Lest one good cufitom should corrupt the world." 


But when, two hundred years hence, there are no more 
such gentlemen of the old school left in the world, what 
higher form of true civilization shall we have invented to 
put in its place? None as yet. All our best civilization^ 
in every class, is derived from that; from the true self- 
respect which is founded on respect for others. 

From San Josef, I was taken on in the carriage of a 
Spanish gentleman through Arima, a large village wheie 


an Indian colony makes those baskets and other wares from 
the Arouma-leaf for which Trinidad is noted; and on to 
Ms estate at Guanapo, a pleasant lowland place, with wide 
plantations of Cacao, only fourteen years old, but in full 
and most profitable bearing; rich meadows with huge 
clumps of bamboo; and a roomy timber-house, beauti- 
fully thatched with palm, which serves as a retreat, in the 
dry season, for him and his ladies, when baked out of 
dusty San Josef. On my way there, by the bye, I espied, 
and gathered for the first and last time, a flower very 
dear to me — a crimson Passion-flower, rambling wild over 
the bush. 

When we arrived, the sun was still so high in heaven that 
the kind owner oflered to push on that very afternoon to the 
Savanna of Aripo, some five miles off. Police-horses had 
arrived from Arima, in one of which I recognized my trusty 
old brown cob of the Northern Mountains, and laid hands 
on him at once; and away three or four of us went, the 
sc^uire leading the way on his mule, with cutlass and 
umbrella, both needful enough. 

We went along a sandy high road, bordered by a vege- 
tation new to me. Low trees, with wiry branches and 
shining ever-green leaves, which belonged, I was told, prin- 
cipally to the myrtle tribe, were overtopped by Jagua palms, 
and packed below with Pinguins; with wild pine-apples, 
whose rose and purple flower-heads were very beautiful; 
and with a species of palm of which I had otten heard, but 
which I had never seen before, at least in any abundance, 
namely, the Timit,^ the leaves of which are used as thatch. 
A low tree, seldom rising more than twenty or thirty 
feet, it throws out wedge-shaped leaves some ten or twelve 
feet long, sometimes all but entire, sometimes irregularly 
pinnate, . because the space between the straight and 
parallel side ner\'es has not been filled up. These flat 
wedge-shaped sheets, often six feet across, and the oblong 
pinnae, some three feet long by six inches to a foot in 
breadth, make admirable thatch; and on emergency, as we 
often saw that day, good umbrellas. Bundles of them lay 
along the road-side, tied up, ready' for cariying awav, and 

^ Mauicaria. 


pach Negro or Xegress whom we passed carried a Timit- 
leaf, and hooked it on to his head when a gush of rain 
came down. 

After a while we turned off the high road into a forest 
path, which was sound enough, the soil being one sheet 
of poor sand and white quartz gravel, which would in 
Scotland, or even Devonshire, have carried nothing taller 
than heath, but was here covered with impenetrable jungle. 
The luxuriance of this jungle, be it remembered, must not 
delude a stranger, as it has too many ere now, into fancying 
that the land would be profitable under cultivation. As 
long as the soil is shaded and kept damp, it will bear an 
abundant crop of woody fibre, which, composed almost en- 
tirely of carbon and water, drains hardly any mineral con- 
stituents from the soil. But if that jungle be once cleared 
off, the slow and careful work of ages has been undone 
in a moment. The burning sun bakes up everything ; and 
the soil, having no mineral staple wherewith to support 
a fresh crop if planted, is reduced to aridity and sterility 
for years to come. Timber, therefore, I believe, and timber 
only, is the proper crop for these poor soils, unless medicinal 
or otherwise useful trees should be discovered hereafter 
worth the planting. To thin out the useless timbers — but 
cautiously, for fear of letting in the sun's rays — and to replace 
them by young plants of useful timbers, is all that Govern- 
ment can do with the poorer bits of these Crown lands, 
beyond protecting (as it does now to the best of its power) 
the natural crop of Timit-leaves from waste and destruction. 
So much it ought to do ; and so much it can and will do 
in Trinidad, which — ^happily for it — possesses a Government 
which governs, instead of leaving every man, as in the 
Irishman's paradise, to " do what is right in the sight of his 
own eyes, and what is wrong too, av he likes." Without 
such wise regulation, and even restraint, of the ignorant 
greediness of human toil, intent only (as in the too exclusive 
cultivation of the sugar-cane and of the .cotton-plant) on 
present profits, without foresight or care for the future, 
the lands of warmer climates will surely fall under that curse, 
so well described by the venerable Elias Fries, of Lund,^ 

* Schleidcn's " Plftnt : a Biography." End of Lecture xi 


** A broad belt of waste land follows gradually in the steps 
of cultivation. If it expands, its centre and its cradle dies, 
and on the outer borders only do we find green shoots. 
But it is not impossible, only difficult, for man, without 
renouncing the advantage of culture itself, one day to make 
reparation for the injury which he has inflicted; he is the 
appointed lord of creation. Tnie it is that thorns and thistles, 
ill-favoured and poisonous plants, well named by botanists 
' rubbish-plants/ mark the track which man has proudly 
traversed through the earth. Before him lay original Nature 
in her wild but sublime beauty. Behind him he leaves the 
desert, a deformed and ruined land ; for childish desire of 
destruction or thoughtless squandering of vegetable treasures 
have destroyed the character of Nature ; and, terrified, man 
himself flies from the arena of his actions, leaving the 
impoverished earth to barbarous races or to animals, so 
long as yet another spot in vii^n beauty smiles before him. 
Here, again, in selfish pursuit of profit, and, consciously or 
unconsciously, following the abominable principle oi the 
great moral vileness which one man has expressed — ' Aprfes 
nous le d(51uge,' he begins anew the work of destruction. 
Thus did cultivation, driven out, leave the East, and perhaps 
the Deserts formerly robbed of their coverings : like the wild 
hordes of old over beautiful Greece, thus rolls the conquest 
with fearful rapidity from east to west through America ; and 
the planter now often leaves the already exhausted land, the 
eastern climate becomes infertile through the demolition of the 
forests, to introduce a similar revolution into the far West." 

For a couple of miles or more we trotted on through 
this jungle, till suddenly we saw light ahead ; and in five 
minutes the forest ended, and a scene opened before us 
which made me understand the admiration which Hum- 
boldt and other travellers have expressed at the far vaster 
Savannas of the Oroonoco. 

A large sheet of grey-green grass, bordered by the forest 
wall, as far as the eye could see, and dotted with low bushes, 
weltered in mirage ; while stretching out into it, some half a 
mile off, a grey promontory into a green sea, was an object 
which filled me with more awe and admiration than any 
thing which I had seen in the island. 


It was a wood of Moriche palms ; like a Greek temple, 
many hundred yards in length, and, as I guessed, nearly 
a hundred feet in height ; and, like a Greek temple, ending 
abruptly at its full height. The grey columns, perfectly 
straight and parallel, supported a dark roof of leaves, grey 
underneath, and reflecting above, from their broad fkns, 
sheets of pale glittering light. Such serenity of grandeur 
I never saw in any group of trees ; and when we rode up 
to it, and tethered our horses in its shade, it seemed to 
me almost irreverent not to kneel and worship in that 
temple not made with hands. 

When we had gazed our fill, we set hastily to work to 
collect plants, as many as the lateness of the hour and 
the scalding heat would allow, A glance showed the truth 
of Dr. Krueger's words : — 

*' It is impossible to describe the feelings of the botanist 
when arriving at a field like this, so much unlike anything 
he has seen before. Here are full-blowing large Orchids, 
with red, white, and yellow flowers ; and among the grasses, 
smaller ones of great variety, and as great scientific interest — 
Melastomaceous plants of various genera ; Utricularias, Dro- 
seras, rare and various grasses, and Cyperoids of small sizes 
and fine kinds, with a species of Cassytha; in the water, 
Ceratophyllum (the well-known hornwort of the English 
ponds) and bog-mosses. Such a variety of forms and colours 
is nowhere else to be met with in the island" 

Of the Orchids, we only found one in flower ; and of the 
rest, of course, we had time only to gather a very few of 
the more remarkable, among which was that lovely cousin 
of the Clerodendrons, the crimson Amasonia, which ought 
to be in all hothouses. The low bushes, I found, were that 
curious tree the Chaparro,^ but not the Chaparro* so often 
mentioned by Humboldt as abounding on the Llanos. This 
Chaparro is remarkable, first, for the queer little Natural 
Order to which it belongs ; secondly, for its tanning pro- 
perties ; thirdly, for the very nasty smell of its flowers ; 
fourthly, for the roughness of its leaves, which make one's 
flesh creep, and are used, I believe, for polishing steel ; and 
lastly, for its wide geographical range, from Isla de Pinos, 

^ Curatclla Americana. ' Rhopala. 


near Cuba — ^where Columbus, to his surprise, saw true pines 
growing in the Tropics — all over the Llanos, and down to 
Brazil; an ancient, ugly, sturdy form of vegetation, able to 
get a scanty living out of the poorest soils, and consequently 
triumphant, as yet, in the battle of life. 

The soil of the Savanna was a poor sandy clay, treacherous, 
and often impassable for horses, being half dried above and 
wet beneath. The vegetation grew, not over the whole, but 
in innumerable tussocks, which made walking very difficult. 
The type of the rushes and grasses was very English : but 
among them grew, here and there, plants which excited my 
astonishment; above all, certain Bladder- worts,^ which I 
had expected to find, but which, when found, were so utterly 
unlike any English ones, that I did not recognize at first 
what they 'were. Our English Bladder- worts, as every- 
body knows, float in stagnant water on tangles of hair-like 
leaves, something like those of the Water-Banunculus, but 
furnished with innumerable tiny bladders; and this raft 
supports the little scape of yellow snapdragon-like flowers. 
There are in Trinidad and other parts of South America 
Bladder-worts of this type. But those which we found to- 
day, growing out of the damp clay, were more like in habit 
to a delicate stalk of flax, or even a bent of grass, upright, 
leafless or all but leafless, with heads of small blue or yellow 
flowers, and carrying, in one species, a few very minute 
bladders about the roots, in another none at alL A strange 
variation from the normal type of the family; yet not so 
strange, after all, as that of another variety in the high 
mountain woods, which, finding neither ponds to float in or 
swamp to root in, has taken to lodging as a parasite among 
the wet moss on tree-trunks ; not so strange, either, as that oi 
yet another, which floats, but in the most unexpected spots, 
namely, in the water which lodges between the leaf-sheaths 
of the wild pines, perched on the tree-boughs, a paitisite on 
parasites ; and sends out long runners, as it grows, along the 
bough, in search of the next wild pine and its tiny realervoirs. 

In the face of such strange facts, is it very absurd t«j 
guess that these Utricularias, so like each other in their 
singular and highly specialized flowers, so unlike each other 

* Utricularia. 


Id the habit of the rest of the plant, have started firom 
some one original type, perhaps long since extinct; and 
that, carried by birds into quite new situations, they have 
adapted themselves, by natural selection, to new circum- 
stances, changing the parts which required change — the 
leaves and stalks; but keeping comparatively unchanged 
those which needed no change — the flowers? 

But I was not prepared, as I should have been had I 
studied my " Griesbach's West Indian Flora " carefully 
enough beforehand, for the next proof of the wide distri- 
bution of water-plants. For as I scratched and stumbled 
among the tussocks, " larding the lean earth as I stalked 
along," my kind guide put into my hand, with something 
of an air of triumph, a little plant, which was— there was 
no denying it — none other than the long-leaved Sundew,^ 
with its clammy-haired paws full of dead flies, just as 
they would have been in any bog in Devonshire or in 
Hampshire, in Wales or in Scotland. But how came it 
here? And more, how has it spread, not only over the 
whole of Northern Europe, Canada, and the United States, 
but even as far south as Brazil? Its being common to 
North America and Europe is not surprising. It may 
belong to that comparatively ancient Flora which existed 
when there was landway between the two continents by way 
of Greenland, and the bison ranged from Eussia to the 
Eocky Mountains. But its presence within the Tropics is 
more probably explained by supposing that it, like the 
Bladder-worts, has been carried on the feet or in the 
crop of birds. 

The Savanna itself, like those of Caroni and Piarco, 
offers, I suspect, a fresh proof that a branch of the Oroonoco 
once ran edong the foot of the northern mountains of 

" It is impossible," says Humboldt,* " to cross the burning 
plains " (of the Oroonocquan Savannas) " without inquiring 
whether they have always been in the same state; or 
whether they have been stripped of their vegetation by some 
revolution of nature. The stratum of mould now found on 

1 Drosera loiunfolia, 

t •• reisonal Narrative, •• vol iv. r- 336 of H. M. Wniiams's translation. 


them is very thin. The plains were, doubtless, less 

bare in the fifteenth century than they are now ; yet the first 
Conquistadores, who came from Coro, described them then as 
Savannas, where nothing could be perceived save the sky and 
the turf; which were generally destitute of trees, ^d difficult 
to traverse on account of the reverberation of heat from the 
soil Why does not the great forest of the Oroonoco extend 
to the north, or the left bank of that river ? Why does it 
not fill that vast space that reaches as far as the Cordillera of 
the coast, and which is fertilized by various rivers? This 
question is connected with all that relates to the history of 
our planet. If, indulging ill geological reveries, we suppose 
that the Steppes. of America and the desert of Sahara have 
been stripped of their vegetation by an irruption of the 
ocean, or that they formed the bottom of an inland 
lake" — (the Sahara, as is now well known, is the quite 
recently elevated bed of a great sea continuous with the 
Atlantic)—" we may conceive that thousands of years have 
not sufficed for the trees and shrubs to advance toward the 
centre from the borders of the forests, from the skirts of the 
plains either naked or covered with turf, and darken so vast 
a space with their shade. It is more difficult to explain the 
origin of bare savannas enclosed in forests, than to recognize 
the causes which maintain forests and savannas within their 
ancient limits like continents and seas." 

With these words in my mind, I could not but look on the 
Savanna of Aripo as one of the last-made bits of dry land 
in Trinidad, still unfurnished with the common vegetation of 
the island. The two invading armies of tropical plants— one 
advancing from the north, off the now almost destroyed 
land which connected Trinidad and the Cordillera with the 
Antilles; the other from the south-west, off the utterly 
destroyed land which connected Trinidad with Guiana — met, 
as I fancy, ages since, on the opposite banks of a mighty 
river, or estuary, by which the Oroonoco entered the ocean 
along the foot of the northern mountains. As that river- 
bed rose and became dry land, the two Floras crossed and 
intermingled. Only here and there, as at Aripo, are left 
patches, as it were, of a third Mora, which once spread unin- 
terruptedly along the southern base of the Coidillera and 


over the lowland which is now the Gulf of Paria, along tho 
alluvial flats of the mighty stream ; and the Morichc palms 
of Aripo may be the lineal descendants of those which now 
inhabit the Llanos of the main ; as those again may be the 
lineal descendants of the Moriches which Schombuigk found 
forming forests among the mountains of Guiana, up to 4,000 
feet above the sea. Age after age the Moriche apples floated 
down the stream, settling themselves on every damp spot not 
yet occupied by the richer vegetation of the forests, and 
ennobled, with their solitary grandeur, what without them 
would have been a dreary waste of mud and sand. 

These Savannas of Trinidad stand, it must be remem- 
bered, in the very line where, on such a theory, they might 
be expected to stand, along the newest deposit; the great 
band of sand, gravel, and clay rubbish which stretches' acix)ss 
the island at the mountain-foot, its highest point in thirty-six 
mUes being only 220 feet — an elevation far less than the cor- 
responding depression of the Bocas, which has parted Trinidad 
from the main Cordillera. That the rubbish on this line was 
deposited by a river or estuary is as clear to me as that the 
river was either a very rapid one, or subject to violent and 
lofty floods, as the Oroonoco is now. For so are best ex- 
plained not merely the sheets of gravel, but the huge piles of 
boidder which have accumulated at the mouth of the moun- 
tain gorges on the northern side. 

As for the southern shore of this supposed channel of the 
Oroonoco, it at once catches the eye of any one standing on 
the northern range. He must see that he is on one shore of 
a vast channel, the other shore of which is formed by the 
Montserrat, Tamana, and Manzanilla hills; far lower now 
than the northern range, Tamana only being over a thousand 
feet, but doubtless, in past ages, far higher than now. No 
one can doubt this who has seen the extraordinary degra- 
dation going on still about the sommits, or who remembers 
that the strata, whether tertiary (yc lower chalk, have been, 
over the greater parfc of the island, upheaved, faulted, set 
on end, by the convulsions seemingly so common during the 
Miocene epoch, and since then sawn away by water and air 
into one rolling outline, quite independent of the dip of the 
strata. The whole southern two-thirds of Trinidad repre- 


Rent a wear and tear which is not to be counted by thousands, 
or hundreds of thousands, of years ; and yet which, I verily 
believe, has taken place since the average plants, trees, and 
animals of the island dwelt therein. 

This elevation may have well coincided with the de- 
pression of the neighbouring GuK of Paria. That the 
southern portion of that gulf was once dry land ; that the 
Serpent's Mouth did not exist when the present varieties 
of plants and animals were created, is matter of fact, 
proven by the identity of the majority of plants and 
animals on both shores. How else — io give a few instances 
out of hundreds — did the Mora, the Brazil-nut, the Cannon- 
ball tree: how else did the Ant-eater, the Coendou, the 
two Cuencos, the Guazupita deer, enter Trinidad? Hum- 
boldt — though, unfortunately, he never visited the island- 
saw this at a glance. While he perceived that the Indian 
story, how the Boca Drago to the north had been only 
lately broken through, had a foundation of truth, ** It cannot 
be doubted," he says, "that the Gxilf of Paria was once 
an inland basin, and the Punta Icacque (its south-western 
extremity) united to the Punta Toleto, east of the Boca de 
Pedemales."^ In which case there may well have been — 
one may almost say there must have been — an outlet for 
that vast body of water which pours, often in tremendous 
floods, from the Pedemales' mouth of the Oroonoco, as well 
as from those of the Tigre, Guanipa, Caroli, and other streams 
between it and the Cordillera on the north ; and this outlet 
probably lay along the line now occupied by the northern 
Savannas of Trinidad. 

So much this little natural park of Aripo taught, or seemed 
to teach me. But I did not learn the whole of the lesson that 
afternoon, or indeed till long after. There was no time then 
to work out such theories. The sun was getting low, and 
more intolerable as he sank; and to escape a sunstroke on 
the spot, or at least a dark ride home, we hurried off into 
the forest shade, after one last look at the never-to-be-forgotten 
Morichal, and trotted home to luxury and sleep. 

^ "Personal Narrative," yoL v. p. 726. 



Kext day, like the "Young Muleteers of Grenada," a good 
song which often haunted me in those days, 

** With morning's earliest twinkle 
Again we are up and gone," 

with two horses, two mules, and a Negro jand a Coolie carry- 
ing our scanty luggage in Arima baskets : but not without 
an expression of pity from the Negro who cleaned my boots. 
" Where were we going ? " To the east coast. Cuflfy turned 
up what little nose he had. He plainly considered the east 
coast, and indeed Trinidad itself, as not worth looking at. 
" Ah ! you should go Barbados, sa. Dat de country to see. 
I Barbadian, sa." No doubt. It is very quaint, this self- 
satisfaction of tihe Barbadian Negro. Whether or not he 
belonged originally to some higher race — for there are as 
great differences of race among Negros as among any 
white men — he looks down on the Negros, and indeed on 
the white men, of other islands, as beings of an inferior 
grade ; and takes care to inform you in the lirst five minutes 
that he is " neider Crab nor Creole, but true Barbadian 
barn." This self-conceit of his, meanwhile, is apt to make 
him unruly, and the cause of unruliness in others when he 
emigrates. The Barbadian Negros are, I believe, the only 
ones who give, or ever have given, any trouble in Trinidad ; 
and in Barbados itself, though the agricultural Negros work 
hard and well, who that knows the West Indies knows not 
the insubordination of the Bridgetown boatmen, among whose 
hands a traveller and his luggage are, it is said, likely enough 
to be pulled in pieces? However,* they are rather more quiet 
just now ; for not a thousand years ago a certain steamer's 


captain, utterly uuable to clear his quai'ter of the fleet of 
fighting jabbering brown people, turned the steam-pipe op 
them. At which quite unexpected artillery they fled preci- 
pitately ; and Have had some rational respect for a steamer s 
quarter ever since. After all, I do not deny that this 
man*s being a Barbadian opened my heart to him at once, 
for old sakes* sake. 

Another specimen of Negro character T was to have analysed, 

or tried to analyse, at the estate where I had slept. M. F 

had lately caught a black servant at the brook-side busily wash- 
ing something in a calabash, and asked him what was he 'doing 
there? The conversation would have been held, of course 
in French-Spanish-African— Creole patois, a language whicli 
is becoming fixed, with its own grammar and declensions, &c. 
A curious book on it has lately been published in Trinidad 
by Mr. Thomas, a -coloured gentleman, who seems to be at 
once no mean phUologer and no mean humorist. The 
substance of the Negro's answer was, " Why, sir, you sent 
me to the town to buy a packet of sugar and a packet of 
salt; and coming back it rained so hard, the packets burst, 
and the salt was all washed into the sugar. And so — I am 
washing it out again." .... 

This worthy was to have been brought to me, that I might 
discover, if possible, by what processes of " that which lie 
was pleajsed to call his mind " he had arrived at the conclu- 
sion that such a thing could be dona Clearly, he could not 
plead unavoidable ignorance of the subject-matter, as migh<^ 
the old cook at San Josef, who, the first time her master 
brought home Wen ham Lake ice from Port of Spain, wad 
scandalized at the dirtiness of the " American water ;" washed 
off the sawdust, and dried the ice in the sun. His was a case of 
Handy- Andy-ism, as that intellectual disease may be named, 
after Mr. Lover's hero ; like that of the Obeah-woman, when 
she tried to bribe the white gentleman with half-a-dozen of 
bottled beer ; a case of muddle-headed craft and elaborate 
silliness, which keeps no proportion between the means and 
the end;* so common in insane persons; frequent, too, among 
the lower Irish, such as Handy Andy ; and very frequent, I 
am afraid, among the Negros. But — as might have been 
expected — ^the poor boy's moral sense had proved as shaky as 


hh intellectual powers. He had just taken a fancy to some 
goods of his master's ; and had retreated, to enjoy them the 
more securely, into the southern forests, with a couple 
of brown policemen on his track. So he was likely to 
undergo a more simple investigation than that which was 
submitted to my analysis, viz. how he proposed to wash the 
salt out of the su^^ar. 

We arrived after a while at Valencia, a scattered hamlet m 
the- woods, with a good shop or " store " upon a village green, 
under the verandah whereof lay, side by side with bottled ale 
and biscuit tins, bags of Carapo ^ nuts ; trapezoidal brown 
nuts — enclosed originally in a round fruit — which ought some 
day to form a valuable article of export. Their bitter anthel- 
minthic oil is said to have medicinal uses ; but it will be still 
more useful for machinery, as it has — like that curious flat 
gourd the Sequa^ — the property of keeping iron from rust. 
The tree itself, common here and in Guiana, is one of the 
true Forest Giants ; we saw many a noble specimen of it in 
our rides. Its timber is tough, not over heavy, and exten- 
sively used already in the island ; while its bark is a febri- 
fuge and tonic. In fact, it possesses all those qualities which 
make its brethren, the Meliacese, valuable throughout the 
Tropics. But it is not the only tree of South America whose 
bark may be used as a substitute for quinina They may 
be counted possibly by dozens. A glance at the excellent 
enumerations of the uses of vegetable products to be found 
in Lindley's " Vegetable Kingdom " (a monument of learning), 
will show how God provides, how man neglects and wastes. 
As a single instance, the Laurels alone are known already to 
contain several valuable febrifuges, among which the Deme- 
rara Greenheart, or Bibiri,* claims perhaps the highest rank. 
" Dr. Maclagan has shown," says Dr. Lindley, " that sulphate 
of Bibiri acts with rapid and complete success in arresting 
ague." This tree spreads from Jamaica to the Spanish 
Main. It is plentiful in Trinidad; still more plentiful in 
Guiana ; and yet all of it which reaches Europe is a little 
of its hard beautiful wood for the use of cabinet-makers; 
while in Demerara, I am assured by an eye-witness, many 

^ Carapa Guianenms. > Feoillea cordifolia. 

' Kectandra Rodisi. 


tons of this precious Greenheart bark are thrown away year 
by year. So goes the world ; and man meanwhile at once 
boasts of his civilization, and complains of the niggardliness 
of Nature. • 

But if I once begin on this subject I shall not know where 
to end. 

Our way lay now for miles along a path which justified all 
that I had fancied about the magnificent possibilities of land- 
scape gardening in the Tropics, A grass drive, as we should 
call it in England — a "trace," as it is called in the West 
Indies — some sixty feet in width, and generally carpeted 
with short turf, led up hill and down dale; for the land, 
though low, is much ridged and gullied, and there has 
been as yet no time to cut down the hills, or to metal the 
centre of the road. It led, as the land became richer, through 
a natural avenue even grander than those which I had already 
seen. The light and air, entering the trace, had called into 
life the undergrowth and lower boughs, till from the very 
turf to a hundred and fifty feet in height rose one solid 
green wall, spangled here and there with flowers. Below 
was Mamure, Eoseau, Timit, Aroumas, and Tulumas,^ mixed 
with Myrtles and Melastomas ; then the copper Bois Mtilatres 
among the Cocorite and Jagua palms ; above them the heads 
of enormous broad-leaved trees of I know not how many 
species ; and the lianes festooning all from cope to base. 
The crimson masses of Norantea on the highest tree-tops were 
here most gorgeous; but we had to beware of staring aloft 
too long, for fear of riding into mud-holes ; for the wet season 
would not end as yet, though dry weather was due — or, even 
worse, into the great Parasol-ant warrens, which threatened, 
besides a heavy fall, stings innumerable. At one point, I 
recollect, a gold-green Jacamar sat on a log and looked at 
me, till I was within five yards of her. At another, we 
heard the screams of Parrots ; at another the double note 
of the Toucan ; at another the metallic clank of the Bell- 
bird, or what was said to be the Bell-bird. But this note was 
not that solemn and sonorous toll of the Campanese of the 
mainland which is described by Waterton and others. It 

' Manna. 


resembled rather the less poetical sound of a woman beating 
a saucepan to make a swarm of bees settle. 

At oae point we met a gang of Negros felling timber to 
widen the road. Fresh fallen trees, tied together with lianes, 
lay everywhere. What a harvest for the botanist was among 
tliem ! I longed to stay there a week to examine and collect. 
But titHB pressed ; and, indeed, collecting plants in the wet 
season is a difficult and disappointing work. In an air 
saturated with moisture specimens turn black and mouldy, 
and drop to pieces ; and unless turned over and exposed to 
every chance burst of sunshine, the labour of weeks is lost, 
if indeed meanwhile the ants, and other creeping things, 
have not eaten the whole into rags. 

Among these Negros was one who excited my astonish- 
ment ; not merely for his size, though he was perhaps the 
tallest man whom I saw among the usually tall Negros of 
Trinidad ; but for his features, which were altogether European 
of the highest type ; the forehead high and broad, the cheek- 
bones flat, the masque long and oval, and the nose aquiline 
and thin enough for any prince. Conscious of his own 
beauty and strength, he stood up among the rest as an old 
Macedonian might have stood up among the Egyptians he 
had conquered. We tried to find out his parentage. My 
companions presumed he was an "African," i.e. imported 
during the times of slavery. He said, No: that he was 
a Creole, island bom ; but his father, it appeared, had been 
in one of our Negro regiments, and had been settled after- 
wards on a Government grant of land. Whether his beauty 
was the result of 'atavism* — of the reappearance, under 
the black skin and wooUy hair, of some old stain of white 
blood ; or whether, which is more probable, he came of some 
higher African race; one could not look at him without 
hopeful surmises as to the possible rise of the Negro, and as 
to the way in which it will come about, — the only way in 
which any race has permanently risen, as far as I can ascer- 
tain ; namely, by the appearance among them of sudden sports 
of nature ; individuals of an altogether higher type ; such a 
man as that terrible D&aga, whose story has been told. If I 
am any judge of physiognomy, such a man as that, having — 
what the Negio has not yet had — " la carrifere ouverte uos 



talents," might raise, not himself merely, but a whole tribe, to 
an altogether new level in culture and ability. 

Just after passing this gang we found, lying by the road, 
two large snakes, just killed, which I would gladly have 
preserved had it been possibla They were, the Xegros told 
us, " Dormillons," or " Mangrove Cascabel," a species as yet, T 
believe, undescribed ; and, of course, here considered as very 
poisonous, owing to their likeness to the true Cascabel,* 
whose deadly fangs are justly dreaded by the Lapo hunter. 
For the Cascabel has a fancy for living in the Lapo's burrow, 
as does the rattle-snake in that of the prairie dog in the 
Western United States, and in the same friendly and harmless 
fashion ; and is apt, when dug out, to avenge liimself and 
his host by a bite which is fatal in a few hours. But these 
did not seem to me to have the heads of poisonous snakes ; 
and, in spite of the entreaties of the terrified Negros, I opened 
their mouths to judge for myself, and found them, as I ex- 
pected, utterly fangless and harmless. I was not aware then 
that Dr. De Verteuil had stated the same fact in print; but 
I am glad to corroborate it, for the benefit of at least the 
rjational people in Trinidad : for snakes, even poisonous ones, 
should be killed as seldom as possible. They feed on rats 
and vermin, and are the farmer's good friend, whether in the 
Tropics or in England ; and to kill a snake, or even an adder 
— who never bites any one if he is allowed to run away — is, 
in nineteen cases out of twenty, mere wanton mischief. 

The way was beguiled, if I recollect rightly, for some miles 
on, by stories about Cuba and Cuban slavery from one of our 
party. He described the political morality of Cuba as utterly 
dissolute ; told stories of great sums of money voted for roads 
which are not made to this day, while the money had found 
its way into the pockets of Government officials ; and, on the 
whole, said enough to explain the determination of the Cubans 
to shake off Spanish misrule, and try what they could do for 
themselves on this earth. He described Cuban slaverv as, 
on the whole, mild; corporal punishment being restricted 
by law to a few blows, and very seldom employed : but the 
mildness seemed dictated rather by self-interest than by 
humanity. " Ill-use our slaves ?" said a Cuban to him. " We 

^ Trigonocepbalus Jararaca. 


cannot aflFord it. You take good care of your four-legged 
mules : we of our two-legged ones." The children, it seems, 
are taken away from the mothers, not merely because the 
mothers are needed for work, but because they neglect their 
offspring so much that the children have more chance of 
living— and therefore of paying — if brought up by hand. 
So each estate has, or had, its creche, as the French would 
call it — a great nursery, in which the little black things are 
reared, kindly enough, by the elder ladies of the estate. To 
one old lady, who wearied herself all day long in washing, 
doctoring, and cramming the babies, my friend expressed pity 
for all the trouble she took about her human brood. "Oh 
dear no," answered she ; " they are a great deal easier to rear 
than chickens." The system, however, is nearly at an end. 
Already the Cuban Kevolution has produced measures of 
half-emancipation ; and in seven years* time probably there 
will not be a slave in Cuba. 

We waded stream after stream under the bamboo clumps, 
and in one of them we saw swimming a green rigoise, or 
whip-snake, which must have been nearly ten feet long. It 
swam with its head and the first two Jeet of its body curved 
aloft like a swan, while the rest of the body lay along the 
surface of the water in many curves— a most graceful object 
as it glided away into dark shadow along an oily pool 
At last we reached an outlying camp, belonging to one of 
our party who was superintending the making of new roads 
in that quarter, and there rested our weary limbs, some in 
hammock, some on the tables, some, again, on the clay floor. 
Here I saw, as I saw every ten minutes, something new — 
that quaint vegetable plaything .described by Humboldt and 
others ; namely, the spathe of the Timit palm. It encloses, 
as in most palms, a branched spadix covered with in- 
numerable round buds, most like a head of millet, two feet 
and a half long: but the spathe, instead of splitting and 
forming a hood over the flowers, as in the Cocorite and most 
palms, remains entire, and slips off like the finger of a glove. 
AVhen slipt off, it is found to be made of two transverse 
layers of fibre — a bit of veritable natural lace, similar t), 
though far less delicate than, the famous lace-bark of the La- 
getta-tree, peculiar, I believe, to one district in the Jamaica 


mountains. And as it is elastic and easily stretched, what 
hinders the brown child from pulling it out till it makes an 
admirable fool's-cap, some two feet high, and exactly the 
colour of his own skin, and dancing about therein, the fat 
oily little Cupidon, without a particle of clotliing beside ? 
And what wonder if we grown-up whites made fools' 
caps too, for children on the other side of the Atlantic? 
During which process we foimd — what all said they had 
never seen before — that one of the spadices carried 
two caps, one inside the other, and one exactly like the 
other; a wanton superfluity of Nature, which I should 
like to hear explained by some morphologist 

We rode away from that hospitable group of huts, whither 
we were to return in two or three days ; and along the green 

trace once more. As we rode, M the civilizer of 

Montserrat and I side by side, talking of Cuba, and staring 
at the Noranteas overhead, a dull sound was heard, as if 
the earth had opened : as indeed it had, engulfing in the 

mud the whole forehand of M 's mule; and there he 

knelt, his beard outspread upon the clay, while the mule's 
visage looked patiently, out from under his left arm. How- 
ever, it was soft falling there. The mule was hauled out 
by main force. As for cleaning either her or the rider, that 
was not thought of in a country where they were sure to 
be as dirty as ever in an hour; and so we rode on, after 
taking a note of the spot, and, as it happened, forgetting 
it again— one of us at least. 

On again, along the green trace, which rose now to a 
ridge, with charming glimpses of wooded hills and glens 
to right and left ; past comfortable squatters' cottages, with 
cacao drying on sheets at the doors oi under sheds ; with 
hedges of dwarf Erythrina, dotted with red jumby beads, and 
here and there that pretty climbing vetch, the Overlook.* 
I forgot, by the bye, to ask whether it is planted here, as 
in Jamaica, to keep off the evil eye, or " overlook ;" whence 
its name. Nor can I guess what peculiarity about the plant 
can have first made the Negro fix on it as a fetish. The 
genesis of folly is as difficult to analyse as the genesis of 
most other things. 

^ Canavalia. 

coco PALMS. 327 

All this while the dull thunder of the surf was growing 
louder and louder; till, not as in England over a bare down, 
but through thickest foliage down to the high-tide mark, 
we rode out upon the shore, and saw before us a right noble 
sight; a Hat, sandy, surf-beaten shore, along which stretched, 
iu one grand curve, lost at last in the haze of spray, 
tonrteen miles of Coco palms. 

This was the Cocal ; and it was worth coming all the way 
from England to see it alone. I at once felt the truth of 
my host's saying, that if I went to the Cocal I should find 
myself transported suddenly from the West Indies to the 
East Just such must be the shore of a Coral island in 
the Pacific. 

Yn-tit CtwpnlnL 

These Cocos, be it understood, are probably not indi- 
genous, Tbey spread, it is said, from an East Indian vessel 
which was wrecked here. Be that as it may, they have 
thoroughly naturalized themselves. Every nut which falls 
and lies, throws out, during the wet season, its lootfi into 


the sand; and is ready to take the place of its parent 
when the old tree dies down. 

About thirty to fifty feet is the average height of these 
Coco palms, which have all, without exception, a peculiarity 
which I have noticed to a less degree in another sand- and 
shore-growing tree, the Pinaster of the French Landes. They 
never spring upright from the ground. The butt curves, 
indeed lies almost horizontal in some cases^ for the lowest 
two or three yards; and the whole stem, up to the top, 
is inclined to lean; it matters not toward which quarter, 
for they lean as often toward the wind as from it, crossing 
each other very gracefully. I am not mechanician enough 
to say how this curve of the stem increases their security 
amid loose sands and furious winds. But that it does so 
I can hardly doubt, when I see a similar habit in the 
Pinaster. Another peculiarity was noteworthy : their innu- 
merable roots, long, fleshy, about the thickness of a large 
string, piercing the sand in every direction, and running 
down to high-tide mark, apparently enjoying the salt water, 
and often piercing through bivalve shells, which remained 
strung upon the roots. Have they a fondness for carbonate 
of lime, as well as for salt? 

The most remarkable, and to me unexpected, pecu- 
liarity of a Cecal, is one which I am not aware whether 
any writer has .mentioned ; namely, the prevalence of that 
amber hue which we remarked in the very first specimens 
seen at St. Thomas's. But this is, certainly, the mark which 
distinguishes the Coco palm not merely from the cold 
dark green of the Palmiste, or the silvery grey of the Jagua, 
but from any other tree which I have ever seea 

When inside the Cecal, the air is full of this amber light 
Gradually the eye analyses the cause of it, and finds it to be 
the resultant of many other hues, from bright vermilion to 
bright green. Above, the latticed light which breaks between 
and over the innumerable leaflets of the fruit fronds comes 
down in warmest green. It passes not over merely, but 
through, the semi-transparent straw and amber of the older 
leaves. It falls on yellow spadices and flowers, and rich brown 
spathes, and on great bunches of green nuts, to acquire from 
them more yellow yet ; for each fruit-stalk and each flower- 


scale at the base of the nut is veined and tipped with bright 
orange. It pours down the stems, semi-grey on one side, 
then yellow, and then, on the opposite side, covered with 
a powdery lichen varying in colour from orange up to clear 
vermilion, and spreads itself over a floor of yellow sand and 
brown fallen nuts, and the only vegetation of which, in gene- 
ral, is a long crawling Echites, with pairs of large cream-white 
flowers. Thus the transparent shade is flooded with gold. 
One looks out through it at the chequer-work of blue sky, 
all the more intense from its contrast; or at a long whirl 
of white surf and grey spray; or, turning the eyes inland 
toward the lagoon, at dark masses of mangrove, above which 
rise, black and awful, the dying balatas, stag-headed, blasted, 
tottering to their fall ; and all as through an atmosphere of 
Khine wine, or from the inside of a topaz. 

We rode along, mile after mile, wondering at many things. 
First, the innumerable dry fruits of Timit palm, which 
lay everywhere ; mostly single, some double, a few treble, 
from coalition, I suppose, of the three carpels which every 
female palm flower ought to have, but of which it usually 
develops only one. They may have been brought down the 
lagoon from inland by floods ; but the common belief is, that 
most of them come from the Oroonoco itself, as do also the 
mighty logs which lie about the beach in every stage of wear 
and tear ; and which, as fast as they are cut up and carried 
away, are replaced by fresh ones. Some of these trees may 
actually come from the mainland, and, drifting into this curv- 
ing bay, be driven on shore by the incessant trade- wind. But 
I suspect that many of them are the produce of the island 
itself; and more, that they have grown, some of them, on 
the very spot where they now lie. For there are, I think, 
evidences of subsidence going on along this coast. Inside 
the Cocal, two hundred yards to the westward, stretches 
inland a labyrinth of lagoons and mangrove swamps, impass- 
able to most creatures save alligators and boa-constrictors. 
But amid this labyrinth grow everywhere mighty trees — 
balatas in plenty among them, in every stage of decay ; 
dying, seemingly, by gradual submei-gence of their roots, 
and giving a ghastly and ragged appearance to the forest. 
At the mouth of the little river Nariva, a few miles down. 


is proof positive, unless I am much mistaken, of similar 
subsidence. For there I found trees of all sizes — roseau 
scrub among them — standing rooted below high-tide niark ; 
and killed where they grew. 

So we rode on, stopping now and then to pick up shells ; 
chip-chips,^ which are said to be excellent eating; a beautiful 
purple bivalve,^ to which, in almost every case, a coralline * 
had attached itself, of a form quite new to me. A lash some 
eighteen inches long, single or forked ; purplish as long as 
its coat of lime — holding the polypes — still remained, but 
when that was rubbed off a mere round strip of dark horn ; 
and in both cases flexible and elastic, so that it can be coiled 
up and tied in knots ; a very curious and graceful piece of 
Nature's workmanship. Among them were curious flat cake- 
urchins, with oval holes punched in them, so brittle that, in 
spite of all our care, they resolved themselves into the loose 
sand of which they had been originally compact; and I 
could therefore verify neither their genus nor their species. 

These were all, if I recollect, that we found that day. 
The next day we came on hundreds of a most beautiful 
bivalve,* their purple colour quite fresh, their long spines 
often quite uninjured. Some change of the sandy bottom had 
unearthed a whole warren of the lovely things; and mixed 
with chip-chips innumerable, and with a great bivalve^ 
with a thin wing along the anterior line of the shell, they 
strewed the shore for a quarter of a mile and more. 

We came at last to a little river, or rather tideway, lead- 
ing from the lagoon to the sea, which goes by the name 
of Doubloon River. Some adventurous Spaniard, the story 
goes, contracted to make a cutting which would let off the 
lagoon water in time of flood for the sum of one doubloon — 
some three-pound five — spent six times the money on it ; and 
found his cutting, when once the sea had entered, enlarge 
into a roaring tideway, dangerous, often impassable, and 
eating away the Cocal rapidly toward the south ; Mother 
Earth, in this case at least, having known her own business 
better than the Spaniard. 

How we took off our saddles, sat down on the sand, 

* Trigonia. ' Tellina rosea. ' Xiphogorgia setacea (Milne-GdwardB). 
^ Cytherea Dioue. > Mactrella alata. 


hallooed, waited ; how a black policeman — whose house was 
just being carried away by the sea — appeared at last with 
a canoe; how we and our baggage got over one by one 
in the hollow log without^ — ^by seeming miracle — being swept 
out to sea or upset ; how some horses would swim, and others 
would not ; how the Negros held on by the horses till they 
all went head-over-ears under the surf; and how, at last, 
breathless with laughter and anxiety for our scanty ward- 
robes, we scrambled ashore one by one into prickly roseau, 
re-saddled our horses in an atmosphere of long thorns, and 
then cut our way and theirs out through scrub into the 
Cocal; — all this should not be written in these pages, but 
drawn for the benefit of " Punch," by him who drew the egg- 
stealing frog — ^whose pencil 1 longed for again and again 
amid the delightful mishaps of those forest rambles, in all 
of which I never heard a single grumble, or saw temper lost 
for a moment. We should have been rather more serious, 
though, than we were, had we been aware that the river-god, 
or presiding Jumby, of the Doubloon, was probably watching 
us the whole time, with the intention of eating any one 
whom he could catch, and only kept in wholesome awe by 
our noise and splashing. 

At last, after the sun had gone down, and it was ill 
picking our way among logs and ground-creepers, we were 
aware of lights ; and soon found ourselves again in civili- 
zation, and that of no mean kind. A large and comfortable 
house, only just rebuilt after a fire, stood among the palm- 
trees, between the sea and the lagoon ; and behind it the 
bams, sheds, and engine-houses of the coco- works; and 
inside it a hearty welcome from a most agreeable German 
gentleman and his German engineer. A lady's hand — I am 
sorry to say the lady was not at home — was evident enough 
in the arrangements of the central room. Pretty things, a 
piano, and good books, especially Longfellow and Tennyson, 
told of cultivation and taste in that remotest wilderness. 
The material hospitality was what it always is in the 
West Indies; and we sat up long into the night around 
the open door, while the surf roared, and the palm-trees 
sighed, and the fire-flies twinkled, talking of dear old 
Germany, and German unity, and the possibility of many 


thiDgs which have since proved themselves unexpectedly 
most possible. I went to bed, and to somewhat intermittent 
sleep. First, my comrades, going to bed romping, like 
English schoolboys, and not in the least like the effeminate 
and luxurious Creoles who figure in the English imagination, 
broke a four-post bedstead down among them with hideous 
roar and ruin ; and had to be picked up and called to order 
by their elders. Next, the wind, which ranged freely through 
the open roof, blew my bedclothes off Then the dogs ex- 
ploded outside, probably at some henroost-robbing opossum, 
and had a chevy through the cocos till they tree'd their game, 
and bayed it to their hearts' content. Then something else 
exploded — and I do not deny it set me more aghast than 
I had been for many a day — exploded, I say, under the 
window, with a shriek of Hut-hut-tut-tut, hut-tut, such as 
I hope never to hear again. After which, dead silence ; save 
of the surf to the east and the toads to the west. I fell 
asleep, wondering what animal could own so detestable a 
voice; and in half an hour was awoke again by another 
explosion : after which, happily, the thing, I suppose, went 
its wicked way, for I heard it no more. 

I found out the next morning that the obnoxious bird 
was not an owl, but a large goat-sucker, a Nycteribius, 
I believe, who goes by the name of jumby-bird among the 
English Negros: and no wonder; for most ghostly and 
horrible is his cry. But worse: he has but one eye, and 
a glance from that glaring eye, as from the basilisk of 
old, is certain death : and worse still, he can turn ofif its 
light as a policeman does his lantern, and become instantly 
invisible : opinions which, if verified by experiment, are not 
always found to be in accordance with facts. But that is 
no reason why they should not be believed. 

In St Vincent, for instance, the Negros one evening rushed 
shrieking out of a boiling-house, '*0h! Massa Eobert, we 
all killed. Dar one great juraby-bird come in a hole a-top 
a roof. Oh 1 Massa Eobert, you no go in ; you kiUed, wo 
killed:" &c. &c. Massa Eobert went in, and could see no 
bird. " Ah, Massa Eobert, him darky him eye, but him see 
you all da same. You killed, we killed," &c. Da capo. 

Massa Eobert was not killed : but lives still, to the great 


benefit of his fellow-creatures, Negros especially. Neverthe- 
less, the Negros held to their opinion. He might, could, 
would, or should have been killed ; and was not that clear 
proof that they were right? 

After this, who can deny that the Negro is a man and a 
brother, possessing the same reasoning faculties, and exer- 
cising them in exactly the same way, as three out of four 
white persons? 

But if the night was disturbed, pleasant was the waking 
next morning; pleasant the surprise at finding that the 
whistling and howling air-bath of the night had not given 
one a severe cold, or any cold at all : pleasant to slip on 
flannel shirt and trousers — shoes and stockings were needless 
— and hurry down through a stampede of kicking squealing 
mules, who were being watered ere their day's work began, 
under the palms to the sea; pleasant to bathe in warm 
surf, into which the four-eyes squattered in shoals as one ran 
down, and the moment they saw one safe in the water, ran up 
with the next wave to lie staring at the sky : pleasant to sit and 
read one's book upon a log, and listen to the soft rush of the 
breeze in the palm-leaves, and look at a sunrise of green and 
gold, pink and orange, and away over the great ocean, and to 
recollect, with a feeling of mingled nearness and loneliness, 
that there was nothing save that watery void between oneself 
and England, and all that England held; and then, when 
driven in to breakfast by the morning shower, to begin a new 
day of seeing, and seeing, and seeing, certain that one would 
learn more in it than in a whole week of book-reading at 

We spent the next morning in inspecting the works. We 
watched the Negros splitting the coco-nuts with a single 
blow of that all-useful cutlass, which they handle with sur- 
prising dexterity and force, throwing the thick husk on one 
side, the fruit on the other. We saw the husk carded out by 
machinery into its component fibres, for coco-rope matting, 
coir-rope, saddle-stuffing, brushes, and a dozen other uses ; 
while the fruit was crushed down for the sake of its oil ; 
and could but wish all success to an industry which 
would be most profitable, both to the projectors and to 
the island itself, were it not for the uncertainty, rather 


than the scarcity, of labour. Almost everything is done, of 
course, by piece-work. The Negro has the price of his labour 
almost at his own command; and when, by working really 
hard and well for a while, he has earned a little money, he 
throws up his job and goes off, careless whether the whole 
works stand still or not However, all prosperity to the 
coco-works of Messrs. Uhrich and Gerold ; and may the day 
soon come when the English of Trinidad, like the Ceylonese 
and the Dutch of Java, shall count by millions the coco- 
palms which they have planted along their shores, and by 
thousands of pounds, the profit which accrues from them. 

After breakfast — call it luncheon rather — ^we started for 
the lagoon. We had set our hearts on seeing Manatis — " sea- 
cows" — which are still not uncommon on the east coast of 
this island, though they have been exterminated through 
the rest of the West Indies since the days of Pfere Labat. 
That good Missionary speaks of them in his delightful journal 
as already rare in the year 1695 ; and now, as far as I am 
aware, none are to be found north of Trinidad and the 
Spanish Main, save a few round Cuba and Jamaica. We 
were anxious, too, to see, if not to get, a boa-constrictor of 
one kind or other. For there are two kinds in the island, 
which may be seen alive at the Zoological Gardens in the 
same cage. The true Boa,^ which is here called Mahajuel, is 
striped as well as spotted with two patterns, one over the 
other. The Huillia, Anaconda, or Water-boa,* bears only a 
few large round spots. Both are fond of the water, the 
Huillia living almost entirely in it; both grow to a very 
large size ; and both are dangerous, at least to children and 
small animals. That there were Huillias about the place, 
possibly within fifty yards of the house, there was no doubt. 
One of our party had seen with his own eyes one of seven- 
and-twenty feet long killed, with a whole kid inside it, only a 
few miles off. The brown policeman, crossing an arm of the 
Guanapo only a month or two before, had been frightened by 
meeting one in the ford, which his excited imagination mag- 
nified so much that its head was on the one bank while its 
tail was on the other, — a measurement which must, I think, 
be divided at least by three. But in the very spot in which 

* Boa-constrictor. * Eonec nrnus. 


we stood, some four years since happened what might have 
been a painful tragedy. Four young ladies, whose names 
were mentioned to me, preferred, not wisely, a bathe in the 
still lagoon to one in the surf outside ; and as they disported 
themselves, one of them felt herself seized from behind. 
Fancying that one of her sisters was playing tricks, she 
called out to her to let her alone ; and looking up, saw, to her 
astonishment, her three sisters sitting on the bank, and herself 
alone. She looked back, and shrieked for help : and only just 
in time ; for the Huillia had her. The other three girls, to 
their honour, dashed in to her assistance. The brute had 
luckily got hold, not of her poor little body, but of her 
bathing-dress ; and held on stupidly. The girls pulled ; the 
bathing dress, which was luckily of thin cotton, was torn off: 
the Huillia slid back again with it in his mouth into the 
dark labyrinth of the mangrove-roots ; and the girl was saved. 
Two minutes* delay, and his coils would have been round her ; 
and all would have been over. 

The sudden daring of these lazy and stupid animals is very 
great. Their brain seems to act like that of the alligator or 
the pike, paroxysmally, and by rare fits and starts, after lying 
for hours motionless as if asleep. But when excited, they 
will attempt great deeds. Dr. De Verteuil tells a story — and 
if he t«lls it, it must be believed — of some hunters who 
wounded a deer. The deer ran for the stream down a bank : 
but the hunters had no sooner heard it splash into the water 
than they heard it scream. They leapt down to the place, 
and found it in the coils of a Huillia, which they killed with 
the deer. And yet this snake, which had dared to seize a 
full-grown deer, could have had no hope of eating her ; for 
it was only seven feet long. 

We set out down a foul porter-coloured creek, which soon 
opened out into a river, reminding us, in spite of all dif- 
ferences, of certain alder and willow-fringed reaches of the 
Thames. But here the wood which hid the margin was 
altogether of mangrove ; the common Rhizophoras, or black 
mangroves, being, of course, the most abundant. Over them, 
however, rose the statelier Avicennias, or white mangroves, to 
a height of fifty or sixty feet, and poured down from their 
upper branches whole streams of air-roots, which waved au i 


creaked dolefully in the breeze overhead But on the water 
was no breeze at alL The lagoon was still as glass ; the sun 
was sickening ; and we were glcul to put up our umbrellas and 
look out from under them for Manatis and Boas. But the 
Manatis usually only come in at night, to put their heads 
out of water and browse on the lowest mangrove leaves ; and 
the Boas hide themselves so cunningly, either altogether 
under water, or with only the head above, that we might 
have i^assed half-a-dozen without seeing them. The only 
cliance, indeed, of coming across them, is when they are 
travelling from lagoon to lagoon, or basking on the mud at 
low tide. 

So all the game which we saw was a lovely white Egret,^ 
its back covered with those stiff pinnated plumes which 
young ladies — when they can obtain them — are only too happy 
to wear in their hats. He, after being civil enough to wait 
on a bough till one of us got a sitting shot at him, heard the 
cap snap, thought it as well not to wait till a fresh one was 
put on, and flapped away. He need not have troubled 
himself. The Negros — but too apt to forget something or 
other — ^had forgotten to bring a spare supply; and the gun 
was useless. 

As we descended, the left bank of the river was entirely 
occupied with cocos ; and the contrast between them and the 
mangroves on the right was made all the more striking by the 
afternoon sun, which, as it sank behind the forest, left the 
mangrove wall in black shadow, while it bathed the palm- 
groves opposite with yellow light. In one of these palm- 
groves we landed, for we were right thirsty; and to drink 
lagoon water would be to drink cholem or fever. But there 
was plenty of pure water in the coco-trees, and we soon had 
our fill. A Negro walked — not climbed — up a stem like a 
four-footed animal, his legs and arms straight, his feet pressed 
flat against it, his hands clinging round it — a feat impossible, 
as far as I have seen, to an Eiux)pean — ^tossed us down plenty 
of green nuts ; and our feast began. 

Two or three blows with the cutlass, at the small end of 
the nut, cut off not only the pith-coat, but the point of the 
shell; and disclose — the nut being held carefully upright 

^ Ardea Garzetta. 


meanwhile — a cavity full of perfectly clear water, slightly 
sweet, and so cold (the pith-coat heing a good non-conductoi 
of heat) that you are advised, for fear of cholera, to flavour it 
with a little brandy. After draining this natural cup, you 
are presented with a natural spoon of rind, green outside and 
white within, and told to scoop out and eat the cream which 
lines the inside of the shell, a very delicious food in the 
opinion of Creoles. After which, if you are as curious as 
some of us were, you will sit down imder the amber shade, 
and examine at leisure the construction and germination of 
these famous and royal nuts. Let me explain it, even at 
the risk of prolixity. The coat of white pith outside, with 
its green skin, will gradually develop and harden into that 
brown fibre of which matting is made. The clear water 
inside will gradually harden into that sweetmeat which little 
boys eat off stalls and barrows in the street ; the first delicate 
deposit of which is the cream in the green nut. This is 
albumen, intended to nourish the yoimg palm till it has 
giown leaves enough to feed on the air, jmd roots enough to 
feed on the soil ; and the birth of that young palm is in itself 
a mystery and a miracle, well worth considering. Much has 
been written on it, of which I, unfortunately, have read 
very little : but I can at least tell what I have seen with 
my own eyes. 

If you search among the cream-layer at the larger end of 
the nut, you will find, gradually separating itself from the 
mass, a little white lump, like the stalk of a very young 
mushroom. That is the ovule. In that lies the life, the 
** forma formativa," of the future tree. How that life works, 
according to its kind, who can tell ? What it does, is this : it 
is locked up inside a hard woody shell, and outside that shell 
are several inches of tough tangled fibre. How can it get out, 
as soft and seemingly helpless as a baby's finger? 

All know that there are three eyes in the monkey's face, as 
the children call it, at the butt of the nut. Two of these eyes 
are blind, and filled up with hard wood. They are rudiments- 
hints — that the nut ought to have, perhaps had uncounted 
ages since, not one ovule, but three, the type-number in 
palms. One ovule alone is left; and that is opposite the 
one eye which is less blind than the rest ; the eye which a 



schoolboy feels for with his knife, when he wants to 
get out the milk. 

As the nut lies upon the sand, in shade, and rain, and heat, 
that baby's finger begins boring its way, with unerring aim, 
,out of the weakest eye. Soft itself, yet with immense wedg- 
ing power, from the gradual accretion of tiny cells, it pierces 
the wood, and then rends right and left the tough fibrous 
coat. Just so may be seen — I have seen — a large flagstone 
lifted in a night by a crop of tiny soft toadstools which have 
suddenly blossomed up beneath it. The baby's finger pro- 
trudes at last, and curves upward toward the light, to com- 
mence the campaign of life : but it has meanwhile established, 
like a good strategist, a safe base of operations in its rear, 
from which it intends to draw supplies. Into the albuminous 
cream which lines the shell, and into the cavity where the 
milk once was, it throws out white fibrous vessels, which eat 
up the albumen for it, and at last line the whole inside of 
the shell with a white pith. The albumen gives it food 
wherewith to grow, upward and downward. Upward, the 
white plumule hardens into what will be a stem ; the one 
white cotyledon which sheaths it develops into a flat, ribbed, 
forked, green leaf, sheathing it still ; and above it fresh leaves, 
sheathing always at their bases, begin to form a tiny crown; 
and assume each, more and more, the pinnate form of the 
usual coco-leaf. But long ere this, from the butt of the 
white plumule, just outside the nut, white threads of root 
have struck down into the sand ; and so the nut lies, chained 
to the ground by a bridge-like chord, which drains its albu- 
men, thi-ough the monkey's eye, into the young plant After 
a while — a few months, I believe— the draining of the nut is 
complete ; the chord dries up — I know not how, for I had 
neither microscope nor time wherewith to examine — and 
parts ; and the little plant, having got all it can out of its 
poor wet-nurse, casts her ungratefully off to wither on the 
sand ; while it grows up into a stately tree, which will begin 
to bear fruit in six or seven years, and thenceforth continue, 
flowering and fruiting the whole year round without a pause, 
for sixty years and more. 

I think I have described this — to me — ** miraculum " simply 
enough to be understood by the non-scientific reader, if only 


he or she have first learned the undoubted fact — known, I 
find, to very few " educated " English people — tliat the coco- 
palm which produces coir-rope, and coco-nuts, and a hundred 
other useful things, is not the same plant as the cacao-bush 
which produces chocolate, nor anything like it. I am sorry 
to have to insist upon this fact : but till Professor Huxley's 
dream — and mine — is fulfilled; and our schools deign 
to teach, in the intervals of Latin and Greek, some slight 
knowledge of this planet, and of those of its productions 
whicli are most commonly in use, even this fact may need 
to be re-stated more than once. 

We re-embarked again, and rowed down to the river-mouth 
to pick up shells, and drink in the rich roaring trade breeze, 
after the choking atmosphere of the lagoon ; and then rowed 
up home, tired, and infinitely amused, though neither Manati 
or Boa-constrictor had been seen ; and then we fell to siesta ; 
(luiing w^hich — with Mr. Tennyson's forgiveness — I read 
myself to sleep with one of his best poems ; and then went to 
dinner, not without a little anxiety. 

For M (the civilizer of Montserrat) had gone off* early, 

with mule, cutlass, and haversack, back over the Doubloon 
and into the wilds of Manzanilla, to settle certain disputed 
squatter claims, and otherwise enforce the law ; and now tlie 
night had fallen, and he was not yet home. However, he rode 
up at last,dead beat, with a strong touch of his old swamp-fever, 
and having had an adventure, which had like to have proved 
his last For as he rode through the Doubloon at low tide in 
the morning, he espied in the surf that river-god, or Jumby, 
of which I spoke just now; namely, the grey back-fin of a 
shark ; and his mule espied it too, and laid back her ears, 

knowing well what it was. M rode close up to the brute. 

He seemed full seven feet long, and eyed him surlily, dis- 
inclined to move off; so they parted, and M went on 

liis way. But his business detained him longer than he 
expected; when he got back to the river-mouth it was quite 
(lark, and the tide was full high. He must either &leep on 
the sands, which with fever upon him would not have been 
over safe, or tr)" the passage. So he stripped, swam the mule 
over, tied her up, and then went back, up to* his shoulders in 
surf; and cutlass in hand too, for that same shark might be 

z 2 


within two yards of him. But on his second journey he had 
to pile on his head first his saddle, and then his clothes and 
other goods ; few indeed, but enough to require both hands 
to steady them : and so walked helpless through the surf, 
expecting every moment to be accosted by a set of teeth, 
from which he would hardly have escaped with life. 

To have faced such a danger, alone and in the dark, and 
thoroughly well aware, as an experienced man, of its ex- 
tremity, was good proof (if any had been needed) of the 
indomitable Scots* courage of the man. Nevertheless, he 
said, he never felt so cold down his hack as he did during 
that last wade. By God's blessing the shark was not therp, 
or did not see him; and he got safe home, thankful for 
dinner and quinine. 

Going back the next morning at low tide, we kept a good 

look-out for M *s shark, spreading out, walkers and riders, 

in hopes of surrounding him and cutting him up. There 
were half-a-dozen weapons among us, of which my heavy 
bowie-knife was not the worst; and we should have given 
good account of him had we met him, and got between him 
and the deep water. But our valour was superfiuoua The 
enemy was nowhere to be seen; and we rode on, looking 
back wistfully, but in vain, for a grey fin among the 

So we rode back, along the Coc^ and along that won- 
derful green glade, where I, staring at Noranteas in tree-tops, 
instead of at the ground beneath my horse's feet, had the 
pleasure of being swallowed up — my horse's hind-quarters 
at least — in the very same slough which had engulfed 

M 's mule three days before, and got a roll in much 

soft mud. Then up to 's camp, where we expected 

breakfast, not with greediness, though we had been nigh 
six hours in the saddle, but with curiosity. For he had 
promised to send out the hunters for all game that could 
l)e found, and give us a true forest meal; and we were 
curious to taste what lapo, quenco, guazupita-deer, and other 
strange meats might be like. Nay, some of us agreed, that 
if the hunters had but brought in a tender young red inon- 
key,i we would surely eat him too, if it were but to say that 

» Mycetes nrsinus. 


we had done it. But the hunters had had no lucL They 
had brought in only a Pajui,^ an excellent game bird ; an 
Ant-eater,^ and a great Cachicame, or nine-banded Armadillo. 
The ant-eat«r tlie foolish fellows had eaten themselves — I 
would have given them what they asked for his skeleton; 
but the Armadillo was cut up and hashed for us, and was 
eaten to the last scrap, being about the best game I ever 
tasted. I fear he is a foul feeder at times, who by no means 
confines himself to roots, or even worms. If what I was 
told be true, there is but too much probability for Captaiu 
Mayne Keid's statement, that he will eat his way into the 
soft parts of a dead horse, and stay there until lie has eaten 
his way out again. But, to do him justice, I never heard 
him accused, like the giant Armadillo^ of the Main, of digging 
dead bodies out of their gi*aves, as he is doing in a very clever 
drawing in Mr. Wood's " Homes without Hands." Be that 
as it may, the Armadillo, whatever he feeds on, has the power 
of transmuting it into most delicate and wholesome flesh. 

Meanwhile — and hereby hangs a tale — I was interested, 
not merely in the Armadillo, but in the excellent taste with 
which it, and everything else, was cooked, in a little open 
shed over a few stones and firesticks. And complimenting 
my host thereon, I found that he had, there in the primaeval 
forest, an admirable French cook, to whom I begged to be 
introduced at once. Poor fellow ! A little lithe Parisian, not 
thirty years old, he had got thither by a wild road. Cook 
to some good bourgeois family in I^aris, he had fallen in love 
with his master's daughter, and she with him. And when 
their love was hopeless, and discovered, the two young foolish 
things, not having — as is too common in France — the fear ot 
God before their eyes, could think of no better resource than 
to shut themselves up with a pan of lighted charcoal, and so 
go they knew not whither. The poor girl went — and was 
found dead But the boj'' recovered ; and was punished with 
twenty years of Cayenne ; and here he was now, on a sort of 
ticket-of-leave, cooking for his livelihood. I talked a while 
with him, cheered him with some compliments about the 
Parisians, and so forth, dear to the Frenchman's heart — what 
else was there to say ? — and so left him, not without the fancy 

^ Penelope. * Myrmecophaga tridactyla. ' Priodonta g<p& 

342 T^E COCAL. 

that, if he had had but such an education as the middle 
classes in Paris have not, there were the makings of a man in 
that keen eye, large jaw, sharp chin. " The very fellow," said 
st)me one, " to have been a first-rate Zouava" Well : perhaps 
he was a better man, even as he was, than as a Zouave. 

And so we rode away again, and tlirough Valencia, and 
through San Josef, weary and happy, back to Port of 

I would gladly, had I been able, have gone further duo 
westward, into the forests which hide the river Oropuche, that 
I might have visited the scene of a certain two years* Idyll, 
which was enacted in them some forty years and more ago. 

In 1827, cacao fell to so low a price (two dollars per cwt.) 
that it was no longer worth cultivating; and the head of the 

F family, leaving his slaves to live at ease on his estates, 

retreated, with a household of twelve pereons, to a small 
])roperty of his own, which was buried in the primaeval 
forests of Oropuche. With them went his second son, 

Monsignor F , then and afterwards cun5 of San Josef, 

who died shortly before my visit to the island. I always 
heard him spoken of as a gentleman and a scholar, a 
saintly and cultivated priest of the old French School, re- 
spected and beloved by men of all denominations. His 
church of San Josef, though still unfinished, had been taxed, 
as well as all the Eoman Catholic churches of the island, 
to build the fioman Catholic Cathedral at Port of Spain; 
and he, refusing to obey an order which he considered un- 
just, threw up his 'cure, and retreated with the rest of the 
family to the palm-leaf ajoupas in the forest. 

M. F chose three of his finest Negros as companions. 

Melchior was to go out every day to shoot wild pigeons, 
coming every morning to ask how many were needed, so 
as not to squander powder and shot. The immber ordered 
wei-e always punctually brought in, besides sometimes a wild 
turkey — Pajui— or other fine birds. Alejos, who is now a 
cacao proprietor, and owner of a house in Arima, was chosen 
to go out every day, except Sundays, with the dogs ; and 
scarcely ever failed to bring in a lapo or quenco. Aristobal 
was chosen for the fishing, and brought in good loads of 
river fish, some sixteen pounds weight : and thus the little 

" EL RIPOBOr 343 

party of cultivated gentlemen and ladies were able to live, 
though in poverty, yet sumptuously. 

The Bishop had given Monsignor F permission to 

perform service on any of his father's estates. So a little 
chapel was built; the family and servants attended every 
Sunday, and many days in the week ; and the country folk 
from great distances found their way through the woods to 
hear Mass in the palm-thatched sanctuary of " El Eiposo." 

So did that happy family live " the gentle life " for some 
two years; till cacao rose again in price, the tax on the 

churches was taken off, and the F s returned again to 

the world: but not to civilization and Christianity. Those 
they had carried with them into the wilderness ; and those 
they brought back with them unstained. 



When I arrived in Trinidad, the little island was somewhat 
excited about changes in the system of education, wliich 
ended in a compromise like that at home, though starting 
from almost the opposite point 

Among the many good deeds which Lord Harris did for 
the colony was the establishment throughout it of secular 
elementary ward schools, helped by Government grants, 
on a system wliich had, I think, but two defects. First, 
that attendance was not compulsory ; and next, that it was 
too advanced for the state of society in the island. 

In an ideal system, secular and religious education ought, 
I believe, to be strictly separate, and given, as far as possible, 
by different classes of men. The first is the business of 
scientific men and their pupils ; the second, of the clergy and 
their pupils : and the less either invades the domain of the 
other, the better for the community. But, like all ideals, it 
requires not only first-rate workmen, but first-rate material to 
work on ; an intelligent and high-minded populace, who can 
and will think for themselves upon religious questions ; and 
who have, moreover, a thirst for truth and knowledge of every 
kind. With such a populace, secular and religious education 
can be safely parted. But can they be safely parted in the 
case of a populace either degraded or still savage ; given up 
to the " lusts of the flesh ;" with no desire for improvement, and 
ignorant of that " moral ideal," without the influence of which, 
as my friend Professor Huxley well says, there can be no true 
education ? It is well if such a people can be made to submit 
to one system of education. Is it wise to trj' to burden 
them with two at once ? But if one system is to give way 
to the other, which is most important : to teach them the 
elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic ; or the elements 


of duty and morals ? And how these latter can be taught 
without religion is a problem as yet unsolved. 

So argued some of the Protestant, and the whole of the 
Roman Catholic clergy of Trinidad, and withdrew their 
support from the Government schools, to such an extent that 
at least three-fourths of the children, I imderstand, went to 
no school at all. 

The Koman Catholic clergy had, certainly, much to urge 
on their own behalf The great majority of the coloured 
population of the island, besides a large proportion of the 
white, belonged to their creed. Their influence was the 
chief (I had almost said the only) civilizing and Christianizing 
influence at work on the lower orders of their own coloured 
people. They knew, none so well, how much the Negro 
required, not merely to be instructed, but to be reclaimed 
from gross and ruinous vices. It was not a question in Port 
of Spain, any more than it is in Martinique, of whether 
the Negros should be able to read and write, but of whether 
they should exist on the earth at all for a few generations 
longer. I say this openly and deliberately; and clergy- 
men and police magistrates know but too well what I mean. 
The Priesthood were, and are, doing their best to save 
the Negro ; and they naturally wished to do their work, on 
behalf of society and of the colony, in their own way ; and 
to subordinate all teaching to that of Religion, which includes, 
with them, morality and decency. They therefore opposed the 
Government schools ; because they tended, it was thought, to 
withdraw the Negro from his Priest's iiitiuenca 

I am not likely, I presume, to be suspected of any leaning 
toward Romanism. But I think a Roman Catholic priest 
would have a right to a fair and respectful hearing, if he 
said : — 

" You have set these people free, without letting them go 
through that intermediate stage of feudalism, by which, and by 
which alone, the white races of Europe were educated into 
true freedom. I do not blame you. You could do no other- 
wise. But will you hinder their passing through that process 
of religious education under a priesthood, by which, and by 
which alone, the white races of Europe were educated up to 
something like obedience, virtue, and purity ? 


" These last, you know, we teach in the interest of the State, 
as well as of the Negro : and if we should ask the State for aid, 
in order that we may teach them, over and above a little refid- 
ing and writing — which will not be taught save by us, for we 
only shall be listened to— are we asking too much, or anything 
which the State will not be wise in granting us ? We can 
liave no temptation to abuse our power for political purposes. 
It would not suit us — ^to put the matter on its lowest ground 
— to become demagogues. For our congregations include 
persons of every rank and occupation ; and therefore it is our 
interest, as much as that of the British Government, that all 
classes should be loyal, peaceable, and wealthy. 

" As for our peculiar creed, with its vivid appeals to the 
senses: is it not a question whether the utterly unimaginative 
and illogical Negro can be taught the facts of Christianity, 
or indeed any religion at all, save through his senses? Is 
it not a question whether we do not, on the whole, give 
him a juster and clearer notion of the very truths which 
you hold in common with us, than an average Protestant 
Missionary does? 

" Your Church of England " — it must be understood that 
the relations between the Anglican and the Bomish cleigy 
in Trinidad are, as far as I have seen, friendly and tolerant 
— "does good work among its coloured members. But 
it does so by speaking, as we speak, with authority. It, 
too, finds it prudent to keep up in its services somewhat 
at least of that dignity, even pomp, which is as neces- 
sary for the Negro as it was for the half-savage European of 
the early Middle Age, if he is to be raised above his mere 
natural dread of spells, witches, and other harmful powers, to 
somewhat of admiration and reverence. 

" As for the merely dogmatic teaching of the Dissenters : we 
do not believe that the mere Negro really comprehends one of 
those propositions, whether true or false. Catholic or Cal- 
vinist, which have been elaborated by the intellect and the 
emotions of races who have gone through a training un- 
known to the Negro. With all respect for those who dis- 
seminate such books, we think that the Negro can no more 
conceive the true meaning of an average Dissenting Hymn- 
book, than a Sclavonian of the German Marches a thousand 


years ago could have conceived the meaning of St. Augus- 
tine's Confessions. For what we see is this — that when the 
personal influence of the white Missionary is withdrawn, 
#ind the Negro left to perpetuate his sect on democratic 
principles, his creed merely feeds his inordinate natural 
vanity with the notion that everybody who differs from him 
is going to hell, while he is going to heaven whatever his 
morals may be." 

If a Eoman Catholic priest should say all this, he 
would at least have a riglit, I believe, to a respectful 

Nay, more. If he were to say, "You are afraid of our 
having too much to do with the education of the Negro, 
because we use the Confessional as an instrument of educa- 
tion. Now how far the Confessional is needful, or useful, or 
prudent, in a highly civilized and generally virtuous com- 
munity, may be an open matter. But in spite of all your 
English dislike of it, hear our side of the question, as far as 
Negros and races in a similar condition are concerned. Do 
you know why and how the Confessional arose ? Have you 
looked, for instance, into the old middle-age Penitentials ? 
If so, you must be aware that it arose in an age of coarseness, 
which seems now inconceivable ; in those barbaroiis times 
when the lower classes of Europe, slaves or serfs, especially 
in remote country districts, lived lives little better than those 
of the monkeys in the forest, and committed habitually the 
most fearful crimes, without any clear notion that they were 
doing wrong: w^hile the upper classes, to judge from the 
literature which they have left, were so coarse, and often so 
profligate, in spite of nobler instincts and a higher sense of 
duty, that the purest and justest spirits among them had 
again and again to flee from their own class into the cloister 
or the hermit's cell. 

" In those days, it was found necessary to ask Christian 
people perpetually — Have you been doing this, or that? 
For if you have, you are not only unfit to be called a Chris- 
tian ; you are unfit to be called a decent human being. And 
this, because there was every reason to siippose that they had 
been doing it ; and that they would not tell of themselves, if 
they could possibly avoid it So the Confessional arose, as 


a necessary element for educating savages into common 
morality and decency. And for the same reasons we employ 
it among the Negros of Trinidad. Have no fears lest we 
should corrupt the minds of the young. They see and hear 
more harm daily than we could ever teach them, were we so 
devilishly minded. There is vice now, rampant and noto- 
rious, in Port of Spain, which eludes even our Confessional. 
Let us alone to do our best. God knows we are trying to do 
it, according to our light." 

If any Eoman Catholic clergyman in Port of Spain 
spoke thus to me— and I have been spoken to in woixls 
not unlike these — I could only answer, *' God's blessing on 
you, and all your eftbrts, whether I agree with you in detail 
or not." 

The Eoman Catholic inhabitants of the island are to the 
Protestant as about 2^ to 1.^ The whole of the more 
educated portion of them, as far as I could ascertain, are 
willing to entrust the education of their children to the 
clergy. The Archbishop of Trinidad, Monsignor Gonin, 
who has jurisdiction also in St. Lucia, St Vincent, Gre- 
nada, and Tobago, is a man not only of great energy and 
devotion, but of cultivation and knowledge of the world ; 
having, I was told, attained distinction as a barrister else- 
where before he took Holy Orders. A group of clergy 
is working under him — among them a personal friend of 
mine — able and ready to do their best to mend a state of 
things in which most of the children in the island, 
born nominal Roman Catholics, but the majority illegi- 
timate, were growing up not only in ignorance, but in hea- 
thendom and brutality. Meanwhile, the clergy were in want 
of funds. There were no funds at all, indeed, which would 
enable them to set up in remote forest districts a religious 

1 In 1858 they were computed as : — 

IJoman Catholics 44,576 

Church of Knglaud 16,360 

Presbyterians 2,570 

BaT)tists 449 

Independents, &c 239 

From *• Trinidad, its Geography, &c." by L. A. De Verteuil, M.D.P., a very 
able and interesting book. I regret much that its accomplished author 
resists the solicitations of his friends, and declines to bring out a fresh edition 
of one of the most complete monographs of a colony which I have yet seen. 


school side by side with the secular ward school ; and 
the colony could not well be asked for Government j^rants 
to two sets of schools at once. In face of these circum- 
stances, the late Governor thought fit to take action on 
the very able and interesting report of Mr. J. P. Keenan, 
one of the chiefs of inspection of the Irish National 
Board of Education, wlio had been sent out as special 
commissioner to inquire into the state of education in the 
island ; to modify Lord Harris's plan, however excellent in 
itself; and to pass an Ordinance by which Government aid 
was extended to private elementary schools, of whatever 
denomination, provided they had duly certificated teachers ; 
were accessible to all children of the neighbourhood without 
distinction of religion or race ; and " offered solid guarantees 
for abstinence from proselytism and intolerance, by subjecting 
their rules and course of teaching to the Board of Education, 
and empowering that Board at any moment to cancel the 
certificate of the teacher," In the wards in which such 
schools were founded, and proved to be working satisfactorily, 
the secular ward schools were to be discontinued. But the 
Government reserved to itself the power of re-opening a 
secular school in the ward, in case the private school turned 
out a failiire. 

Such is a short sketch of an Ordinance which seems, to 
me at least, a rational and fair compromise, identical, mutatis 
mutandis, with that embodied in Mr. Forster's new Education 
Act ; and the only one by which the lower orders of Trinidad 
were likely to get any education whatever. It was received, 
of course, with applause by the Roman Catholics, and by a 
great number of the Protestants of the colony. But, as 
was to be expected, it met with strong expressions of dissent 
from some of the Protestant gentry and clergy; especially 
from one gentleman, who attacked the new scheme with an 
acuteness and humour which made even those who differed 
from him regret that such remarkable talents had no wider 
sphere than a little island of 45 miles by 60. An accession 
of power to the Roman Catholic clergy was, of course, 
dreaded ; and all the more because it was known that the 
scheme met with the approval of the Archbishop; that it was, 
indeed, a compromise with the requests made in a petition 


which that prelate had lately sent in to the Governor; a 
petition which seems to me most rational and temperate. It 
was argued, too, that though the existing Act — that of 1851 — 
had more or less failed, it might still succeed, if Lord Harris's 
plan was fully carried out, and the choice of the ward 
schoolmaster, the selection of ward school-books, and the 
direction of the course of instruction, was vested in local 
committees. The simple answer was, that eighteen years had 
elapsed, and the colony had done nothing in that direc- 
tion ; that the great majority of children in the island did not 
go to school at all, while those who did attended most irregu- 
larly, and learnt little or nothing ; ^ that the secular system 
of education had not attracted, as it was hoped, the children 
of the Hindoo immigrants, of whom scarcely one was to be 
found in a ward school ; that the ward schoolmasters were gene- 
rally inefficient, and the Central Board of Education inactive ; 
that there was no rigorous local supervision, and no local in- 
terest felt in the schools ; that there were fewer children in the 
ward schools in 1868 than there had been in 1863, in spite 
of the rapid increase of population : and all this for the simple 
reason which the Archbishop had pointed out — the want of 
religious instruction. As was to be expected, the good people 
of the island, being most of them religious people also, felt 
po enthusiasm about schools where little was likely to be 
taught beyond the three royal R's. 

I believe they were wrong. Any teaching which involves 
moral discipline is better than mere anarchy and idleness. 
But they had a right to their opinion ; and a right too, being 
the great majority of the islanders, to have that opinion 
respected by the Governor. Even now, it will bo but too 
likely, I think, that the establishment and superintendence 
of schools in remote districts will devolve — as it did in 
Europe during the Middle Age — entirely on the different 
clergies, simply by default of laymen of sufficient zeal for 
the welfare of the coloured people. Be that as it may, 
the Ordinance has become Law ; and I have faith enoujjjh 
in the loyalty of the good folk of Trinidad to believe 
that they will do their best to make it work. 

1 See Mr. Eeenan's Report, and other papers, printed by or^ler of the 
House of Commons^ lOtli August, 1870. 


If indeed the present Ordinance does not work, it is difficult 
to conceive any that will. It seems exactly fitted for the 
needs of Trinidad. I do not say that it is fitted for the needs 
of any and every country. In Ireland, for instance, such a 
system would be, in my opinion, simply retrograde. The 
Irishman, to his honour, has passed, centuries since, beyond 
the stage at which he requires to be educated by a priesthood 
in the primary laws of religion and morality. His morality 
is — on certain important points — superior to that of almost 
any people. What he needs is to be trained to loyalty and 
order; to be brought more in contact with the secular 
science and civilization of the rest of Europe: and that 
must be done by a secular, and not by an ecclesiastical 
system of education. 

The higher education, in Trinidad, seems in a more satis- 
factory state than the elementary. The young ladies, many 
of them, go " home " — i.e, to England or France — for their 
schooling ; and some of the young men to Oxford, Cambridge, 
London, or Edinburgh. The Gilchrist Trust of the University 
of London has lately offered annually a Scholarship of 100/. 
a year for three years, to lads from the West India colonies, 
the examinations for it to be held in Jamaica, Barbados, 
Trinidad, and Demerara ; and in Trinidad itself two Exhibi- 
tions of 150t a year each, tenable for three years, are attain- 
able by lads of the Queen's Collegiate School, to help them 
toward their studies at a British University. 

The Collegiate School received aid from the State to the 
amount of 3,000/. per annum— less by the students' fees ; and 
was open to all denominations. But in it, again, the secular 
system would not work. The great majority of Eoman 
Catholic lads were educated at St. Mary's College, which 
received no State aid at alL 417 Catholic pupils at the 
former school, as against 111 at the latter, were — as Air. 
Keenan says — "a poor expression of confidence or favour on 
the part of the colonists." The Roman Catholic religion 
was the creed of the great majority of the islanders, 
and especially of the wealthier and better educated of 
the coloured families. Justice seemed to demand that if 
State aid were given, it should be given to all creeds alike ; 
and prudence certainly demanded that the respectable 


young men of Trinidad should not be arrayed in two alien 
camps, in which the differences of creed were intensified by 
those of race, and — in one camp at least — by a sense of 
something very like injustice on the part of a Protestant, 
and, it must always be remembered, originally conquering, 
Government. * To give the lads as much as possible the same 
interests, the same views ; to make them all alike feel that 
they were growing up not merely English subjects, but 
English men, was one of the most important social problems 
in Trinidad. And the simplest way of solving it was, to 
educate them as much as possible side by side in the same 
school, on terms of perfect equality. ♦ 

The late Governor, therefore, with the advice and 
consent of his Council, determined to develop the Queen's 
Collegiate School into a new Royal College, which was to be 
open to all creeds and races without distinction : but upon 
such terms as will, it is hoped, secure the willing attendance 
of Roman Catholic scholars.^ Not only it, but schools duly 
affiliated to it, are to receive Government aid; and four 
Exhibitions of 150/. a year each, instead of two, are granted 
to young men going home to a British University. The 
College was inaugurated — I am sorry to say after I had left 
the island — in June 1870, by the Governor, in the pre- 
sence of (to quote the Port of Spain Gazette) the Council, 
consisting of 

The Honourable the Chief Judge Needham. 

J. Scott Bushe (Colonial Secretaiy). 

Charles W. Warner, C.B. 

E. J. Eagles. 

F. Warner. 

Dr. L. A. A. VerteuiL 

Henry Court. 

M. Maxwell Philip. 

His Honour Mr. »Justice Fitzgerald. 

Andre Bernard, Esq. 
The last five of these gentlemen being, I believe, Roman 
Catholics. Most of the Board of Education were also pre- 
sent ; the Principal and Masters of the Collegiate School, the 
Superiors and Reverend Professors of St. Mary's College, 

^ See Papera on the State of Kducation in Trinidad, p. 187 et seq. 


the Clergy of the Church of England in the island; the 
leading professional men, and merchants, &c., and especially 
a large uunjber of the l^rnan Catholic gentry of the island ; 
"MM. Ambard, O'Connor, Giuseppi, Laney, Farfan. Gillineau, 
Eat, Pantin, Leotaud, Besson, Fraser, Patill, Hobson, Garcia, 
Dr. Padron," Ac. I quote their names from the Gazette, in 
the order in which they occur. Many of them 1 have not 
the honour of knowing: but judging of those whom I do not 
know by those whom I do, I should say that their presence 
at the inauguration was a solid proof that the foundation 
of the new CoUetre was a just and politic measure, opening, 
as the Gazette well says, a great futui;e. to the youth of all 
.creeds in the colony. 

The late Governor's speech on the occasion I shall print 
entire. It will explain the circumstances of the case far 
better than I can do ; and it may possibly meet with 
interest and approval from those who like to hear sound 
sense spoken, even in a small colony. 

" We are met here to-day to inaugurate the Royal College, 
an institution in which the benefits of a sound education, I 
trust, will be secured to Protestants and Homan Catholics 
alike, without the slightest compromise of their respective 

" The Queen's Collegiate School, of which this College is, 
in some sort, an out-growth and development, was founded 
with the same object : but, successful as it has been in 
other respects, it cannot be said to have altogether attained 

"St. Mary's College was founded by private enterprise 
with a different view, and to meet the wants of those who 
objected to the Collegiate School. 

"It has long been felt the existence of two Colleges — one, 
the smaller, almost entirely supported by the State, the 
other, the larger, wholly without State aid — ^\*'as objectionable ; 
and that the whole question of secondary education presented 
a most difficult problem. 

" Some saw its solution in the withdrawal of all State aid 
from higher education; others in the establishment by the 
State of two distinct Denominational Colleges. 

^ I have elsewhere explained the reason why I consider 

A A 


both these suggestions faulty, and their probable effect bad ; 
the one being certain to check and discourage superior 
education altogether, the other likely to substitute inefficient 
for efficient teaching, and small exclusive schools for a wide 
national institution. 

" I knew that, whilst insuperable objections existed to a 
combined education in all subjects, that objection had its 
limits : that in America and in Germany I had seen Pro-' 
testants and Catholics learning side by side ; that in 
Mauritius, a College numbering 700 pupils, partly Pro- 
testants, partly Soman Catholics, existed ; and that similar 
establishments were not uncommon elsewhere. 

" I therefore determined to endeavour to effect the estab- 
lishment of a College where combined study might be 
carried on in those branches of education with respect to 
which no objection to such a course was felt, and to sup- 
port with Government aid, and bring under Government super- 
vision, those establishments where those branches in which a 
separate education was deemed necessary were taught. 

" I had, when last at home, some anxious conferences with 
the highest ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Catholic 
Church in England on the subject, and came to a complete 
understanding with him in respect to it. That distinguished 
prelate, himself a man of the highest University eminence, 
is not one to be indifferent to the interests of learning. His 
position, his known opinions, afford a guarantee that nothing 
sanctioned by him could, even by the most scrupulous, be 
considered in the least degree inconsistent with the interests 
of his church or his religion. 

" He expressed a strong preference for a totally separate 
education: but candidly admitted the objections to such a 
course in a small and not very wealthy island, and drew a 
wide distinction between combination for all purposes, and 
for some only. 

" There were ceitain courses of instruction in which com- 
bined instruction could not possibly be given consistently 
with due regard to the faith of the pupils ; there were other? 
where it was difficult to decide whether it could or could not 
properly be given ; there were othera again where it might be 
certainly given without objection. 


"On this understanding the plan carried into effect is 
based : but the Legislature have gone far beyond what was 
then agreed; and whilst Archbishop Manning would have 
assent^ to an arrangement which would have excluded 
certain branches only of education from the common course, 
the law, as now in force, allows exemption from attendance 
oh all, provided competent instruction is given to the pupils 
in the same branches elsewhere ; till, in fact, all that remains 
obligatory is attendance at examinations, and at the course of 
instruction in one or more of four given branches of educa- 
tion, if it should so happen that no adequate teaching in that 
particular branch is given in the pupil's own school. 

"A scheme more liberal — a bond more elastic — could 
hardly have been devised, capable of effecting, if desired, 
the closest union — capable of being stretched to almost any 
degree of slight connection ; and even if some Catholics 
would still prefer a wholly separate system, they must, if 
candid men, admit that the Protestant population here have 
a right to demand that they should not be called on to 
surrender, in order to satisfy a mere preference, the great 
advantages they derive from a united College under State 
control, with its efficient staff and national character. 

''If religious difficulties are met, and conscientious scru- 
ples are not wounded, a sacrifice of preferences must often 
be made. Private wishes must often yield to the public 

" In the first instance, all the boys of the former Collegiate 
School have become students of the College : but probably 
a school of a similar character, but afiSliated to the College, 
will shortly be formed, in which a large number of those 
boys will be included. 

" That the headship of the College should be entrusted to 
the Principal of the Queen's Collegiate School will, I am 
sure, be universally felt to be only a just tribute to the zeal, 
efl&ciency, and success with which he has hitherto lalioured 
in his office, whilst, in addition to these qualifications, he 
possesses the no less important one for the post he is about 
to fill, of a mind singularly impartial, just, liberal and candid. 

" I hope that the other Professors of the College may be 
taken from afiiliated schools indiscriminately, the lectures 

A A 2 


}}eing given as may be most convenient, and as may be 
arranged by the College Council 

" It is intended by the College Coancil that the fees 
charged for attendance at the Boyal College should be much 
lower than those heretofore charged at the Queen's Collegiate 
School. I do not believe that the mere financial loss wiU be 
great, whilst I believe a good education will, by this means, be 
placed within the reach of many who cannot now afford it. 
^ '• I hope — but I express only my own personal wish, not 
that of the Council, which, as yet, has pronounced no 
opinion — that some of the changes introduced in most states 
of modem education will be made here, and that especial 
attention will be given to the teaching of some of the Eastern 

" It is almost impossible to overrate the importance of this 
both to the Government and the community ;— to the Govern- 
ment^ as enabling it to avail itself of the services of honest, 
competent, and trust)vbrthy interpreters ; and to the general 
community, as relieving both employer and employed from 
the necessity of depending on the interpretation of men not 
always very competent, nor always very scrupulous, whose 
mistakes or errors, whether wilful, or accidental, may often 
effect much injustice, and on whose fidelity life may not 
unfrequently depend. 

" I thank the members of the College Council for having 
accepted a task which will, at first, involve much delicate 
tact, forbearance, caution, and firmness, and the exercise 
of talents I know them to possess, and which I am con- 
fident will be freely bestowed in working out the success of 
the institution committed to their care. 

" I thank the Principal and his staff for their past exer- 
tions, and I count with confidence on their future labours. 

" T thank the parents who, by their presence, have mani- 
fested their interest in our undertaking and their wishes for 
its success, and I especially thank the ladies who have been 
drawn within these walls by graver attractions than those 
which generally bring us together at this building. 

" I rejoice to see here the Superior of St. Mary's College, 
and the goodly array of those under his charge^ and I do so 
foi many reasons. 


'* I rejoice, because being not as yet affiliated or in anj^ 
way officially connected with the Eoyal College, their pre- 
sence is a spontaneous evidence of their goodwill and kindly 
feeling, and of the spirit in which they have been disposed 
to meet the efforts made to consult their feelings in the 
arrangements of this institution ; a spirit yet further evinced 
by the fact that the Superior has informed me that he is 
about voluntarily to alter the course of study pursued in St. 
Mary's CoUege, so as more nearly to assimilate it to that 
pursued here. 

" I rejoice, because in their presence I hail a sign that the 
affiliation which is, I believe, desired by the great body of the 
Roman Catholic community in this island, and to which it 
has been shown no insuperable religious obstacle exists, will 
take place at no more distant day than is necessary to secure 
the approval, the naturally requisite approval, of ecclesiastical 
authority elsewhere. 

" I rejoice at their presence, because it enables me before 
this company to express my high sense of the courage and 
liberality which have maintained their College for yeirs past 
without any aid whatever from the State, and, in spite of 
manifold obstacles and discouragements, have caused it to 
increase in numbers and efficiency. 

" I rejoice at their presence, because I desire to see the 
youth of Trinidad of every race, without indifference to their 
respective creeds, brought together on all possible occasions, 
whether for recreation or for work : because I wish to see 
them engaged in friendly rivalry 'in their studies now, as they 
will hereafter be in the world, which I desire to see them 
enter, not as strangers to each other, but as friends and 

" I rejoice, because their presence enables me to take a 
personal farewell of so many of those who will in the next 
generation be the planters, the merchants, the official and 
professional men of Trinidad. By the time that you are 
men all the petty jealousies, all the mean resentments of 
this our day, will have faded into the oblivion which is their 
proper bourn. But the work now accomplished will not, I 
trust, so fade. They will melt and perish as the snow of the,, 
north would before our tropical sun: but the Cpllege^ will, 


I trust, remain as the rock on which the snow rests, and 
which remains uninjured by the heat, unmoved by the 
passing stoim. May it endure and strengthen as it passes 
from the first feeble beginnings of this its infancy to a 
vigorous youth and maturity. You will sometimes in days 
to come recall the inauguration of your College, and perhaps 
not forget that its founder prayed you to bear in mind the 
truth that you will find, even now, the truest satisfaction in 
the strict discharge of duty , that he urged you to form high 
aud unselfish aims — to seek noble and worthy objects ; and 
as you enter on the world and all its tossing sea of jealousies, 
strife, division and distrust, to heed the lesson which an 
Apostle, whose words we all alike revere, has taught us, 
' If ye bite and devour one another, take ye heed that ye 
be not consumed one of another.' 

'' Here, we hope, a point of union has been found which 
may last through life, and that whilst every man cherishes a 
love for his own peculiar School, all alike will have an 
interest in their common College, all alike be proud of a 
national institution, jealous of its honour, and eager to 
advance its welfare. 

'* It is a common thing to hear the bitterness of religious 
discord here deplored. I for one, looking back on the history 
of past years, cannot think, as some seem to do, that it has 
increased. On the contrary, it seems to me that it has greatly 
diminished in violence when displayed, and that its displays 
are far less frequent. Such, I believe, will be more and more 
the case ; and that whilst religious distinctions will remain 
the same, and conscientious convictions unaltered, social and 
party differences consequent on those distinctions and con- 
victions will daily diminish ; that all alike will more and 
more feel in how many things they can think and act to- 
gether for the benefit of their common country, and of the 
community of which they all are members ; how they can 
be glad together in her prosperity, and be sad together in the 
day of her distress ; and work together at all times to pro- 
mote her good That this College is calculated to aid in a 
great degree in efiecting this happy result, I for one cannot 
entertain the shadow of a doubt. ' Esto perpetua !' " 

" Esto perpetua." But there remains, I believe, more yet 


to be done for edueation in the West Indies ; and that is 
to cany out Mr. Keenan*s scheme for a Central University 
for the whole of the West Indian Colonies,^ as a focus of 
higher education; and a focus, also, of cultivated public 
opinion, round which all that is shrewdest and noblest in the 
islands shall rally, and find strength in moral and intellectual 
union. I earnestly recommend all West Indians to ponder 
Mr. Eeenan's weighty words on this matter ; believing that, 
as they do so, even stronger reasons than he has given for 
establishing such an institution will suggest themselves to 
West Indian minds. 

I am not aware, nor would the reader care much to know 
what schools there may be in Port of Spain for Protestant 
young ladies. I can only say that, to judge from the young 
ladies themselves, the schools must be excellent. But one 
school in Port of Spain I am bound in honour, as a clergy- 
man of the Church of England, not to pass by without earnest 
approval ; namely, " The Convent," as it is usually called. It 
was established in 1836, under the patronage of the Boman 
Catholic Bishop, the Eiglit Rev. Dr. Macdonnel, and was 
founded by the ladies of St. Joseph, a religious Sisterhood 
which originated in France a few years since, for the special 
purpose of diflfusing instruction through the colonies.* This 
institution, which Dr. De Verteuil says is " unique in the West 
Indies," besides keeping up two large girls' schools for poor 
children, gave in 1857 a higher education to 120 girls of the 
middle and upper classes, and the number has much in- 
creased since then. It is impossible to doubt that this 
Convent has been " a blessing to the colony." At the very 
time when, just after slavery was abolished, society through- 
out the island was in the greatest peril, these good ladies 
came to supply a want which, under the peculiar circum- 
stances of Trinidad, could only have been supplied by the 
self-sacrifice of devoted women. The Convent has not only 
spread instruction and religion among the wealthier coloured 
class : but it has done more ; it has been a centre of true 
civilization, purity, virtue, whei'e one was but too much 
needed; and has preserved, doubtless, hundreds of young 

1 Mr. Keenan^s Report, pp. 63 — 67. 
« Dr. Do Verteuil's " Tnnidad." 


creatures from serious barm ; and that without interfering in 
any wise, I should think, with their duty to their parents. 
On the contrary, many a mother in Port of Spain must have 
found in the Convent a protection for her daughters, better 
than she herself could give, against influences to which she 
hei-self had been but too much exposed during the evil days 
of slavery; influences which are not yet, alas! extinct in 
Port of Spain. Creoles will understand my words ; and will 
understand too, why I, Protestant though 1 am, bid heartily 
God speed to the good ladies of St. Joseph. 

To the Anglican clergy, meanwhile, whom I met in the 
West Indies, I am bound to offer my thanks, not for courtesies 
shown to me — that is a slight matter — but for the worthy 
fashion in which they seem to be upholding the honour of 
the good old Church in the colonies. In Port of Spain I 
heard and saw enough of their work to believe that they are 
in nowise less active — more active they cannot be — ^than if 
they were sea-port clergymen in England. The services were 
performed thoroughly well ; with a certain stateliness, which 
is not only allowable but necessary, in a colony where the 
majority of the congregation are coloured; but without the 
lieast foppery or extravagance. The very best sermon, perhaps, 
for matter and manner, which I ever heard preached to unlet- 
t-ered folk, was preached by a young clergyman — a West 
Indian born — in the Great Church of Port of Spain; and 
he had no lack of hearers, and those attentive ones. The 
Great Church was always a pleasant sight, with its crowded 
congregation of every hue, all well dressed, and with the 
universal West Indian look of comfort ; and its noble span 
of roof overhead, all cut from island timber — another proof 
of what the wood-carver may effect in. the island hereafter. 
Certainly distractions were frequent and troublesome, at 
least to a new-comer. A large centipede would come out 
and take a hurried turn round the Governor's seat; or a 
bat would settle in broad daylight in the curate's hood; or 
one had to turn away one's eyes lest they should behold — 
not vanity, but — the magnificent head of a Cabbage-palm just 
outside the opposite window, with the black vultures tryin*^ 
to sit on the footstalks in a high wind, and slipping down, anil 
flopping up again, half the service through, l^at one soon 


got accustomed to the strange sights; though it was, ta 
say the least, somewhat startling to find, on Christmas l)ay, 
the altar and pulpit decked with exquisite tropic flowers ; 
and each doorway arched over with a single pair of coco- 
nut leaves, fifteen feet high. 

The Christmas Day Communion, too, was one not easily 
to be forgotten. At least 250 persons, mostly coloured, many 
as black as jet, attended ; and were, I must say for them, 
most devout in manner. Pleasant it was to see the lar^e 
proportion of men among them, many young white men of 
the middle and upper- class ; and still more pleasant, too, to 
see that all hues and ranks knelt side by side without the 
least distinction. One trio touched me deeply. An old lady 
— I know not who she was — with the unmistakeable long,* 
delicate, once beautiful features of a high-bred West Indian of' 
the "Ancien E^gime," came and knelt reverently, feebly, sadly, 
between two old Negro women. One of them seemed her maid.i 
Both of them might have been once her slaves. Here at. 
least they were equals. Time Equcdity — the consecration of 
humility, not the consecration of envy — first appeared on earth 
in the house of God, and at the altar of Christ : and I ques- 
tion much whether it will linger long in any spot on earth 
where that house and that altar are despised. It is easy to* 
propose an equality without Christianity ; as easy as to propose . 
to kick down the ladder by which you have climbed, or to saw 
off the bough on which you sit. As easy ; and as safe. 

But I must not forget, while speaking of education in 
Trinidad, one truly "educational" establishment which I 
visited at Tacarigua ; namely, a Coolie Orphan Home, assisted* 
by the State, but set up and kept up almost entirely by 

the zeal of one man; — the fiev. Eichards, brother of 

the excellent Hector of Trinity Church, Port of Spain. 
This good man, having no children of his own, has taken 
for his children the little brown immigrants, who, losing, 
father and mother, are but too apt io be neglected by^ 
their own folk. At the foot of the mountains, beside a- 
clear swift stream, amid scenery and vegetation which an' 
European millionaire might envy, he has built a smart- 
little quadrangle, with a long low house, on one side for 
the girls, on the other for the boys; a schoolroom, which 



was as well supplied with books, maps, and pictures 
as any average National School in England ; and, adjoining 
the buildings, a garden where the boys are taught to 
work. A matron — who seemed thoroughly worthy of her 
post — conducts the whole; and comfort, cleanliness, and 
order were visible everywhere. A pleasant sight: but the 
pleasantest sight of all was to see the little bright-eyed brown 
darlings clustering round him who was indeed their father in 
God ; who had delivered them from misery and loneliness, 
and — in the case of the girls — too probably vice likewise ; 
and drawn them, by love, to civilization and Christianity. 
The cliildren, as fast as they grow up, are put out to domestic 
service, and the great majority of the boys at least turn 
out well. The girls, I was told, are curiously inferior to 
the boys m intellect and force of character; an inferiority 
which is certainly not to be found in Negros, among whom 
the two sexes are more on a par, not only intellectually, 
but physically also, than among any race which I have seen. 
One instance, indeed, we saw of the success of the school. 
A young creature, brought up there, and well married near 
by, came in during our visit to show off* her first baby to the 
matron and the children ; as pretty a mother and babe as one 
could well see. Only we regretted, that, in obedience to the 
supposed demands of civilization, and of a rise in life, she 
had discarded the graceful and modest Hindoo dress of her 
ancestresses, for a French bonnet and all that accompanies 
it. The transfiguration added, one must charitably suppose, 
to her self-respect ; if so, it must be condoned on moral 
grounds: but in an sesthetic view, she had made a great 

In remembrance of our visit, a little brown child, some 
three or four years old, who had been christened that day, was 
named after me ; and I was glad to have my name connected, 
even in so minute an item, with an institution which at all 
events delivers children from the fancy that they can, without 
being good or doing good, conciliate the upper powers by 
hanging garlands on a trident inside a hut, or putting red 
dust on a stump of wood outside it, while they stare in and 
mumble prayers to they know not what of gilded wood. 

''^he Coolie temples are curious places to those who 


have never before been face to face with real heathendom, 
llieir mark is, generally, a long bamboo with a pennon 
atop, outside a low dark hut, with a broad flat verandah, 
or rather shed, outside the. door. Under the latter, oppo- 
site each door, if I recollect rightly, is a stone or small 
stump, on which offerings are made of red dust and flowers. 
From it the worshippers can see the images within. The 
white man, stooping, enters the temple. The attendant 
priest, so far from forbidding him, seems highly honoured, 
especially if the visitor give him a shilling ; and points out, 
in the darkness — for there is no light save through the low 
doors — three or four squatting abominations, usually gilded. 
Sometimes these have been carved in the island. Sometimes 
the poor folk have taken the trouble to bring them all the 
way from India on board ship. Hung beside them on the 
walls are little pictures, often very well executed in the 
miniature-like Hindoo style by native artists in the island. 
Large brass pots, which have some sacred meaning, stand 
about, and with them a curious trident-shaped stand, about 
four feet high, on the horns of which garlands of flowers are 
hung as offerings. The visitor is told that the male figures 
are Mahadeva, and the female Kali: we could hear of no 
other deities. I leave it to those who know Indian mythology 
better than I do, to interpret the meaning — or rather the past 
meaning, for I suspect it means very little now — of all this 
trumpery and nonsense, on which the poor folk seem to 
spend much money. It was impossible, of course, even if one 
had understood their language, to find out what notions they 
attached to it all ; and all I could do, on looking at these 
heathen idol chapels, in the midst of a Christian and civilized 
land, was to ponder, in sadness and astonishment, over a 
puzzle as yet to me inexplicable : namely, how human beings 
first got into their heads the vagary of worshipping images. 
I fully allow the cleverness and apparent reasonableness 
of M. Comte's now famous theory of the development 
of religions. I blame no one for holding it But I can- 
not agree with it. The more of a " saine appi'^ciaiion," as 
M. Comte calls it, I bring to bear on the known facts; 
the more I "let my thought play freely around them," 
the more it is inconceivable to me, according to any laws of 


the human intellect which I have seen at work, that savage 
or half-savage folk should have invented idolatries. I do 
not believe that Fetishism is the parent of idolatry ; but rather 
— as I have said elsewhere — that it is the dregs and remnant*^ 
of idolatry. The idolatrous nations now, as always, are not 
the savage nations : but those who profess a very ancient aii<l 
decaying ciWlization. The Hebrew Scriptures uniformly 
represent the non-idolatrous and monotheistic peoples, from 
Abraham to Cyrus, as lower in what we now call the sc€ile 
of civilization, than the idolatrous and polytheistic peoples 
about them. May not the contrast between the Patriarchs 
and the Pharaohs, David and the Philistines, the Persians 
and the Babylonians, mark a law of history of wider applica- 
tion than we are wont to suspect ? But if so, what was the 
parent of idolatry ? For a natural genesis it must have had, 
whether it be a healthy and necessary development of the 
human mind— as some hold, not without weighty arguments 
on their side; or whether it be a diseased and merely 
fungoid growth, as I believe it to be. I cannot hold that it 
originated in Nature-worship, simply because I can find no 
evidence of such an origin. There is rather evidence, if the 
statements of the idolaters themselves are to be taken, that it 
originated in the worship of superior races by inferior races ; 
possibly also in the worship of works of art which those 
races, dying out, had left behind them, and which the lower 
race, while unable to copy them, believed to be possessed of 
magical powers derived from a civilization which they 
had lost. After a while the priesthood, which has usually, in 
all ages and countries, proclaimed itself the depository of i\ 
knowledge and a civilization lost to the mass of the people, may 
have gained courage to imitate these old works of art, witli 
proper improvements for the worse, and have persuaded the 
people that the new idols would do as well as the old ones. 
Would that some truly learned man would " let his thoughts 
play freely ** round this view of the mystery, and see what 
can be made out of it. But whatever is made out, on either 
view, it will still remain a mystery — to me at least, as much 
jis to Isaiah of old — how this utterly abnormal and astonish- 
ing animal called man first got into his foolish head that he 
could cut a thing out of wood or stone which would listen 


to him and answer his prayers. Yet eo it is ; so it has be«n 
tor unamnbered ages. Man may be defined as a speaking 
animal, or a cooking animal He is best, I fear, defined as 
an idolatrous animal ; and so much the worse lor him. But 
what if that very fact, diseased as it is. should be a sura 
proof that be is nioiv than an animal ? 



Dear , 

I have been to the races : not to bet, nor to see the 
horses run : not even to see the fair ladies on the Grand Stand, 
iu all the newest fashions of Paris vid New York : but to wander 
en mufti among the crowd outside, and behold the humours of 
mea And I must say that their humours were very good 
humours ; far better, it seemed to me, than those of an English 
race-ground. Not that I have set foot on one for thirty years : 
but at railway stations, and elsewhere, one cannot help seeing 
what manner of folk, beside mere holiday folk, rich or poor, 
affect English races; or help pronouncing them, if physio- 
gnomy be any test of character, the most degraded beings, even 
some of those smart-dressed men who carry bags with their 
names on them, which our pseudo-civilization has yet done 
itself the dishonour of producing. Now, of that class I saw 
absolutely none. I do not suppose that the brown fellows 
who hung about the horses, whether Barbadians or Trinidad 
men, were of very angelic morals : but they looked like 
heroes compai*ed with the bloated hangdog roughs and quasi- 
grooms of English races. As for the sporting gentlemen, not 
having the honour to know them, 1 can only say that they 
looked like gentlemen, and that I wish, in all courtesy, that 
they had been more wisely employed. 

But the Negro, or the coloured man of the lower class, was 
in his glory. He was smart, clean, shiny, happy, according 
to his light. He got up into trees, and clustered there, 
grinning from ear to ear. He bawled about island horses 
and Barbadian horses — for the Barbadians mustered strong, 
and a fight was expected, which, however, never came off; he 
sang songs, possibly some of them extempore, like that which 

LIVE flower-beds. 367 

amused orc's childhood concerning a once notable event in a 
certain island — 

** I went to da Place 
To 8ee da horse-race, 
I see Mr. Barton 
A-wipin' ob his face. 

Fun, Allwiight, 
Bnn for your life ; 
See Mr. barton 
A-corain' wid a knife. 

Oh, Mr. Barton, 
I sarry for your loss ; 
If you no believe me, 
I tie my head across." 

That is — go into moumiiig. But no one seemed inclined 
to tie their heads across that day. The Coolies seemed 
as merry as the Negros ; even about the face of the Chinese 
there flickered, at times, a feeble ray of interest. 

The coloured women wandered about, in showy prints, great 
crinolines, and gorgeous turbans. The Coolie women sat in 
groups on the grass — ah Isle of the Blest, where people can 
sit on the grass in January — like live flower-beds of the 
most splendid and yet harmonious huea As for jewels, of 
gold as well as silver, there were many there, on arms, ankles, 
necks and noses, which made white ladies fresh from England 
break the tenth commandment. 

I wandered about, looking at the live flower-beds, and 
giving passing glances into booths, which I longed to enter, 
and hear what sort of human speech might be going on 
therein: but I was deterred, first by the thought that much of 
the speech might not be over-edifying, and next by the smells, 
especially by that most hideous of all smells — new rum. 

At last I came to a crowd ; and in the midst of it, one of 
those great French merry-go-rounds, turned by machinery, 
with pictures of languishing ladies round the central column. 
All the way from the Champs Elysees the huge piece of fools' 
tackle had lumbered and creaked hither across the sea to 
Martinique, and was now making the round of the islands ; 
jind a very profitable round, to judge from the number of its 
customers. The hobby-horses swarmed with Negresses and 
Hindoos of the lower order. The Negresses, I am sorry to 

-368 THE RACES, 

say, forgot themselves, kicked up their legs, shouted to th«* 
bvstanders, and were alto;i:ether incondite. The Hindoo 
women, though showing much more of their limbs than the 
Negresses, kept them gracefully together, drew their veils 
round their heads, and sat coyly, half frightened, half amust*d, 
to the delight of their " papas," or husbands, who had in some 
cases to urge them to get up and ride, while they stood by, as 
on guard, with the long hardwood quarter-staff in hand. 

As I looked on, considered what a strange creature man 
is, and wondered what possible pleasure these women couhl 
derive from being whirled round till they were giddy and 
stupid, I saw an old gentleman seemingly absorbed in the very 
same reflection. He was dressed in dark blue, with a straw 
fhati He stood with his hands behind his back, his knees 
: a little bent, and a sort of wise, half-sad, half-humorous smile 
.upon his aquiline high-cheek -boned features. I took hiiu 
for an old Scot ; a canny, austere man — a man, too, who bad 
known sorrow, and profited thereby; and I drew near to him. 
But as he turned his head deliberately round to me, I beheld 
to my astonishment the unmistakeable features of a Chinese. 
He and I looked each other full in the face, without a word ; 
and I fancied that we understood each other al)Out the merry- 
go-round, and many things besides. And then we both walked 
off different ways, as having seen enough, and more than 
enough. Was he, after all, an honest man and true ? Or had 
;he, like Ah Sin, in Mr. Bret Harte's delectable ballad, with 
"the smile that was child-like and bland" — 

" In his sleeves, which were large, 
Twenty-four packs of cai-ds. 
And— On his nails, wliich were taper, 
What's comiuou in tapers — that's wax I 


I know not ; for the Chinese visage is unfathomable. But I 
incline to this day to the more charitable judgment ; for the 
man's face haunted me, and haunts me still ; and I am weak 
enough to believe that I should know the man and like him, 
if I met him in another planet, a thousand years hence. 

Then I walked back under the blazing sun across the 
Savanna, over the sensitive plants and the mole-crickets' 
aests, while the great locusts wliirred up before me at every 



step ; toward the archway between the bamboo-clumps, and 
the red sentry shining like a spark of fire beneath its deep 
shadow; and found on my way a dying racehorse, with a 
fjToup of coloured men round him, whom I advised in vain to 
do the one thing needful — put a blanket over hiTn to ,keep off 
the sun, for the poor thing had fallen from sunstroke; so I 
left them to jabber and do nothing : asking myself — Is the 
human race, in the matter of amusements, as civilized as it 
was — say three thousand years ago? People have, certainly 
— quite of late years — given up going to see cocks light, or 
heretics burnt : but that is mainly because the heretics just 
now make the laws— in favour of themselves and the cocks. 
But are our amusements to be compared with those of the 
old Greeks, with the one exception of liking to hear really 
good music ? Yet that fruit of civilization is barely twenty 
years old ; and we owe its introduction, be it always remem- 
bered, to the Germans. French civilization signifies practi- 
cally, certainly in the New World, little save ballet-girls, 
bilUaxd-tables, and thin boots: English civilization, little save 
horse-racing and cricket. The latter sport is certainly blame- 
less ; nay, in the West Indies, laudable and even heroic, when 
played, as on the Savanna here, under a noon- day sun which 
feels hot enough to cook a mutton-chop. But with all respect 
for cricket, one cannot help looking back at the old games of 
Greece, and questioning whether man has advanced much in 
the art of amusing himself rationally and wholesomely. 

I had reason to ask the same question that evening, as we 
sat in the cool verandah, watching the fire-flies flicker about 
the tree-tops, and listening to the weary din of the tom- 
toms which came from all sides of the Savanna save our own, 
drowning the screeching and snoring of the toads, and even, 
at times, the screams of an European band, which was playing 
a " combination tune," near the Grand Stand, half a mile off. 

To the music of tom-tom and chac-chac, the coloured folk 
would dance perpetually till ten o'clock, after which time the 
rites of Mylitta are silenced by the policeman, for the sake of 
quiet folk in bed. They are but too apt, however, to break 
out again with fresh din about one in the morning, under 
the excuse — ** Dis am not last night, Policeman. Dis am 
'nother day." 

B B 


Well : but is the .nightly tom-tom dance so much more 
absul'd than the nightly ball, which is now considered an 
integral element of white civilization? A few centuries 
hence may not both of them be looked back on as equally 
sheer barbarisms? 

These tom-tom dances are not easily seen. The only glance 
I ever had of them was from the steep slope of once beautiful 
Belmont. "Sitting on a hill apart," my host and I were 
discoursing, not " of fate, free-will, free-knowledge absolute," 
but of a question almost as mysterious — the doings of the 
Parasol-ants who marched up and down their trackways past 
us, and whether these doings were guided by an intellect 
differing from ours, only in degree, but not in kind. A hun- 
dred yards below we espied a dance in a Negro garden ; a few 
couples, mostly of women, pousetting to each other with 
violent and ungainly stampings, to the music of tom-tom and 
chac-chac, if music it can be called. Some power over the 
emotions it must have ; for the Negros are said to be gradually 
maddened by it ; and white people have told me that its very 
monotony, if listened to long, is strangely excitin<r, like the 
monotony of a bagpipe drone, or of a drum. What more 
went on at the dance we could not see ; and if we had tried, 
we should probably not have been allowed to see. The Negro 
is chary of admitting white men to his amusements ; and no 
wonder. If a London ball-room were suddenly invaded by 
Phcp.bus, Ares, and Hermes, such as Homer drew them, they 
would probably be unwelcome guests ; at least in the eyes of 
the gentlemen. The latter would, I suspect, thoroughly 
sympathise with the Negro in the old story, intelligible 
enough to those who know what is the favourite food of a 
West Indian chicken. 

" Well, John, so they gave a dignity ball on the estate 
last night?" 

" Yes, massa, very nice ball. Plenty of pretty ladies, 


" Why did you not ask me, John ? I like to look at pretty 
ladies as well as you." 

" Ah, massa : when cockroach give a ball, him no ask 
da fowls." 

Great and worthy exertions are made, every London Season. 


for the couveraion of the Negro and the Heathen, and the 
abolition of their barbarous customs and dances. It is to be 
hoped that the Negro and the Heathen will some day show 
their gratitude to us, by sending Missionaries hither to 
convert the London Season itself, dances and all; and 
assist it to take the beam out of its own eye, in return for 
having taken the mote out of theirs. 

B B 



The " provision grounds " of the Negros were very inter- 
esting. I had longed to behold, alive and growing, fruits and 
plants which I had heard so often named, and seen so 
often figured, that I had expected to recognize many of 
them at first sight ; and found, in nine cases out of ten, that 
I could not Again, I had longed to gather some hints as to 
the possibility of carrying out in the West Indian islands that 
system of " Petite Culture" — of small spade farming — ^which 
I have long regarded, with Mr. John Stuart Mill and otheir^ 
as not only the ideal form of agriculture, but perhaps the 
basis of any ideal rustic civilization. And what scanty and 
imperfect facts I could collect I set down here. 

It was a pleasant sensation to have, day after day, old 
names translated for me into new facts. Pleasant, at least to 
me : not so pleasant, I fear, to my kind companions, whose 
courtesy I taxed to the uttermost by stopping to look over 
every fence, and ask, " What is that ? And that ?" Let the 
reader who has a taste for the beautiful as well as the useful 
in horticulture, do the same, and look in fancy over the 
hedge of the nearest provision ground. 

There are orange-trees laden with fruit: who knows not 
them? and .that awkward-boughed tree, with huge green 
fniit, and deeply-cut leaves a foot or more across — leaves so 
grand that, as one of our party often suggested, their form 
ought to be introduced into architectural ornamentation, ann 
to take the place of the Greek acanthus, which they surpass 
in beauty — that is, of course, a Bread-fruit tree. 

That round-headed tree, with dark rich Portugal lauro.j 
foliage, arranged in stars at the end of each twig, is the 
Mango, always a beautiful object, w^hether in orchard or in opeii 


park. In the West Indies, as Ear as I have seen, the Mango has 
not yet reached the huge size of its ancestors in Hindostan. 
There — to judge, at least, from photographs — the Mango 
must be indeed the queen of trees ; growing to the size of 
the largest English o^, and keeping always the round o^- 
like form. Rich in resplendent foliage, and still more rich 
in fruit, the tree ea.=ily became en- 
circled with an atmosphere of myth 
in the fancy of the imi^ native 

That tree with upright branches, 
and lai^, dark, glossy leaves tiled 
upwards along them, is the Mam- , ^ 
meeSapota,' beautiful likewise. And i/^k 
what is the next, like an evergreen //,* 
peach, shedding from the underside 
of every leaf a golden light — call it 
not shade ? A t^tar-apple \* and that 
young thing which you may often 
see grown into a great timber-tree, 
with leaves like a Spanish chest- 
nut, is the Avocado," or, as some 

call it, alligator, pear. This with ^ 

the glossy leaves, somewhat like 

the Alaminee Sapota, is a Sapodilla,* and that with leaves 
like a great myrile, and bright flesh-coloured fruit, a 
Malacca-apple, or perhaps a Rose-apple.' Its neighbour, 
with large leaves, grey and rough underneath, flowers as 
big as your two hands, with greenish petals and a purple 
eye, followed by fat scaly yellow apples, is the Sweet-BOp ;• 
and that privet-like bush with little flowers and greep 
berries a Guava,' of which you may eat if you will, as you 
may of the rest. 

The truth, however, must be told. These West Indian 
fruits are, most of them, still so little improved by careful 
culture and selection of kinds, that not one of them (as far 

' Laemnft mammon. ' ClirysaphTllnm cainito. 

' I'ersea gratisiiniiL ' SB|>uta acnnia. 

* Jambosa malacceiuis sni] Tulgtris. * Auoiia «q 
' Paidiun) Giuta. 


as we have tried them) is to be compared with an average 
strawberry, plum, or pear. 

But how beautiful they are all and each, after their kinds ! 
What a joy for a man to stand at his door and simply look 
at them growing, leafing, blossoming, fruiting, without pause, 
through the perpetual summer, in his little garden of the 
Hesperides, where, as in those of the Phoenicians of old, 
" pear grows ripe on pear, and fig on fig," for ever and 
for ever ! 

Now look at the vegetables. At the Bananas and Plantains 
first of all. A stranger's eye would not distinguish them. 
The practical difference between them is, that the Plantain^ 
bears large fruits which require cooking; the Banana^ smaller 
and sweeter fruits, which are eaten raw. As for the plant 
on which they grow, no mere words can picture the simple 
grandeur and grace of a form which startles me whenever I 
look steadily at it. For however common it is — ^none com- 
moner here — it is so unlike aught else, so perfect in itself, 
that, like a palm, it might well have become, in early ages, 
an object of worship. 

And who knows that it has not? Who knows that there 
have not been races who looked on it as the Eed Indians 
looked on Mondamin, the maize-plant ; as a gift of a god — 
perhaps the incarnation of a god ? Who knows ? Whence 
did the ancestors of that plant come? What was its wild 
stock like ages ago? It is wild nowhere now on earth. It 
stands alone and unique in the vegetable kingdom, with 
distant cousins, but no brother kinds. It has been cul- 
tivated so long that though it flowers and fruits, it seldom 
or never seeds, and is propagated entirely by cuttings. 
Tlie only spot, as far as I am aware, in which it seeds 
regularly and plentifully, is the remote, and till of late 
barbarous Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal^ 

There it regularly springs up in the second growth, after 
the forest is cleared, and bears fruits full of seed as close 
together as they can be pressed. How did the plant get 

^ Musa paradisiaca. * M. sapieutum. 

' I owe these curious facts, aud specimens of the seeds, to the courtesy of 
Dr. King, of tlie Bengal army. The seeds ure now in the hands of Dr. Hooker, 
at Kcw. 


there ? Was it once cultivated there by a race superior to 
the now utterly savage islanders, and at an epoch so remote 
that it had not yet lost the power of seeding? Are the 
Andamans its original home ? or ratlier, was its original 
home that great southern continent of which the Andamans 
are perhaps a remnant ? Does not this fact, as well as. the 
broader fact that different varieties of the Plantain and 
Banana girdle the earth round at the Tropics, and have 
girdled it as long as records go back, hint at a time when 
there was a tropic continent or archipelago round the whole 
equator, and at a civilization and a horticulture to which 
those of old Egypt are upstarts of yesterday? There are 
those who never can look at the Banana without a feeling of 
awe, as at a token of how ancient the race of man may be, 
and how little we know, of his history. 

Most beautiful it is. The lush fat green stem; the 
crown of huge leaves, falling over in cur\'es like those of 
human limbs; and below, the whorls of green or golden fruit, 
with the purple heart of flowers dangling below them ; and 
all so full of life, that this splendid object is the product of 
a few months. I am told, that if you cut the stem off at 
certain seasons, you may see the young leaf — remember that 
it is an endogen, and grows frpm- within, like a palm, or a 
lily, or a grass — actually move upward from within and grow 
before your eyes ; and that each stem of Plantain will bear 
from thirty to sixty pounds of rich food during the year of 
its short life. 

But, beside the grand Plantains and. Bananas, there are 
other interesting plants, whose names . you have often 
heard. The tall plant with stem unbranched, but knotty 
and zigzag, and leaves atop like hemp, but of a cold purplish 
tinge, is the famous Cassava,^ or Manioc, the old food of the 
Indians, poisonous till its juice is squeezed out in a curious 
spiral grass basket. The young Laburnums (as they seem), 
with purple flowers, are Pigeon-peas,'^ right good to eat. The 
creeping vines, like our Tamus, or Black Bryony, are Yams,* — 
best of all roots. 

The branching broad-leaved canes, with strange white 

^ Janipha Manihot. ' Cajnnus Indicus. 

' ' Dioscorea. 


flowers, is Arrow-root.> The tall mallow-like shrub, with lai^ 
paleyellowi8h-whit«flnwers,Cottoii. Thehugegrasawith beads 
on it* is covered with the Job's tears, 
which are precious in children's eyes, 
and will be used as beads for neck- 
laces. The castor-oil j>laDts, and the 
maize — that last always beautiful — 
are of course well known. The ar- 
row leaves, three feet long, on stalks 
three feet high, like gigantic Arums, 
are Tanias,^ whose roots are excel- 
[v lent. The plot of creeping convol- 
I vulus-like plants, with purple flowers, 
I ia the Sweet, or true. Potato.' 

And we must not overlook the 
French Phyaic-nut,* with its hemp- 
like leaves, and a little bunch of red 
coral in the midst, with which the 
Negro loves to adorn his garden, 
and uses it also as medicine ; or tlie 
Indian Shot," which may be seen 
planted out now in summer gardens in England. The 
Negro grows it, not for its pretty crimson tiowets, bnt 
because its hard seed put into a bladder furnishes him with 
that detestable musical instrument the chae-chac, wherewith 
he accompanies nightly that equally detestable instrument the 

The list of vegetables is already long: but there are a few 
more to be added to it. For there, in a comer, creep some 
plants of the Earth-nut,' a little vetch which buries its pods 
in the earth. Tlie owner will roast and eat their oily 
seeds. There is also a tall bunch of Ochro* — a purple- 
stemmed mallow-flowered plant — whose mucilaginous seeds 
will thicken his soup. Up a tree, and round the house-eaves, 
scramble a large coarse Pumpkin, and a more delicate Grana- 
dilla,' whose large yellow fruits hang ready to be plucked, 
and eaten principally for a few seeds of the shape and colour 

' MtkniDtii. ' Coil Inciyran. ' XanthogoDn. * Iponnea Batataa. 

' Jntropha mulHGdiL * Cnnna. ' AnKhiti hjpugna. 

* Abcliaoscbus fsculenlua. * Paiisiflon. 


of young cockroachea If he be a prudent man (especial)y 

if he lives in Jamaica), he will have a plant of the pretty 

Overlook pea,' trailing aloft somewhere, to prevent hja garden 

being " overlooked," i.e. bewitched by an evil eye, in case the 

Obeah-bottte which hangs from the Mango-tree, charged with 

toad and spider, dirty water, and so forth, has no tetrors for 

hia secret, enemy. He will have a Libidibi * tree, too, for 

aatiingent medicine; and his hedge will be compoaed, if he 

be a man of taste — as he often seems to be — of Hibiscus 

bushes, whose magnificent crimson flowers contrast with 

the bright yellow bunches of 

the common Cassia, and the 

scarlet flowers of the Jumby- 

bead bush,' and blue and white 

and pink Convolvuluses. The 

sulphur and purple Neerem- 

bei^ia of our hothouses, which 

is here one mass of flower at 

Christmas, and the creeping 

Crab's-eyeVine,* will scramble 

over the fence ; while, as a 

finish to his little Paradise, he 

will have planted at each of 

its four corners an upright 

Dragon's-blood'' bush, whose 

violet and red leaves bedeck 

our dinner-tables in winter ; 

and-are here used, from their 

unlikeness to any other plant 

in the island, to mark bound- smircnuo. 


I have not dared — for fear of prolixity — to make this 
catalogue as complete as I could have done. But it must 
be remembered that, over and above all this, every hedge 
and wood furnishes wild fruit more or less eatable; the 
high forests plenty of oily seeds, in which the tropic 

' CaiMTiilik. 

* libidibia uirincea, now tarj^; imported into Lireqioal for turning. 
' Erythrinn cOTaUodilulmQ. * Abnu piecatoriiu. 

I)nc!eii& lenuJDatiB. 


man delights; and woods, forests, and fields medicinal 
plants uncounted. "There is more medicine in the bush, 
and hetter, than in all the shops in Port of Spain," said 
a wise medical man to me ; and to the Exhibition of 1862 
Mr. M'Clintock alone contributed, from British Guianc^ 140 
species of barks used as medicine by the Indians. There 
is therefore no fear that the tropical small farmer should 
suffer, either from want, or from monotony of food; and 
equally small fear lest, when his children have eaten 
themselves sick — as they are likely to do if, like the 
Negro children, they are eating all day long — he should he 
unable to find something in the hedge which will set them 
all right again. 

At the amount of food which a man can get ofif this 
little patch I dare not guess. Well says Humboldt, that 
an European lately arrived in the torrid zone is struck 
with nothing so much as the extreme smallness of the 
spots under cultivatitm round a cabin which contains a 
numerous family. The plantains alone ought, according 
to Humboldt, to give 133 times as much food as the 
same space of ground sown with wheat, and 44 times 
as much as if it grew potatoes. True, the plantain is by no 
means as nourishing as wheat: which reduces the actual 
difference between their value per acre to twenty-five to 
one. But under his plantains he can grow other vegetables. 
He has no winter, and therefore some crop or other is always 
coming forward. From whence it comes, that, as I just 
hinted, his wife and children seem to have always some- 
thing to eat in their mouths, if it be only the berries and 
nuts which abound in every hedge and wood. Neither dare 
I guess at the profit which he might make, and I hope 
will some day make, out of his land, if he would cultivate 
somewhat more for exportation, and not merely for home 
consumption. If any one wishes to know more on this 
matter, let him consult the catalogue of contributions from 
British Guiana to the London Exhibition of 1862 ; especially 
the pages from lix. to Ixviii. on the starch-producing plants 
of the West Indies. 

Beyond the facts which T have given as to the Plantain. 
I have no statistics of fh^ .•^n^ount of produce which is 


usually raised on a West Indian provision ground. Nor 
would any be of use; for a glance shows that the limit 
of production has not been nearly reached. Were the fork 
used instead of the hoe ; were the weeds kept down ; were 
the manure returned to the soil, instead of festering about 
ever3rwhere in sun and rain: in a word, were even as 
much done for the land as an English labourer does for 
his garden ; still more, if as much were done for it as for 
a suburban market-garden, the produce might be doubled 
or trebled, and that without exhausting the soil. 

The West Indian peasant can, if he will, carry " la petite 
culture" to a perfection and a wealth which it has not yet 
attained even in China, Japan, and Hindostan, and make every 
rood of ground not merely maintain its man, but its civilized 
man. This, however, will require a skill and a thoughtful- 
ness which the Negro does not as yet possess. If he ever 
had them, he lost them under slavery, from the brutalizing 
effects of a rough and unscientific "grande culture;" and 
it will need several generations of training ere he recovers 
them. Garden-tillage and spade-farming are not learnt in 
a day, especially when they depend — as they always must in 
temperate climates — for their main profit on some article 
which requires skilled labour to prepare it for the market — 
on flax, for instance, silk, wine, or fruits. An average 
English labourer, I fear, if put in possession of half a 
dozen acres of land, would fare as badly as the poor 
Chartists who, some twenty years ago, joined in Peargus 
O'Connor's land scheme, unless he knew half-a-dozen 
ways of eking out a livelihood which even our squatters 
around Windsor and the New Forest are, alas! for- 
getting, under the money-making and man-unmaking 
influences of the " division of labour." He is vanishing 
fast, the old bee-keeping, apple-growing, basket-making, 
copse-cutting, many-counselled Ulysses of our youth, as 
handy as a sailor : and we know too well what he leaves 
behind him; grandchildren better fed, better clothed, 
better taught than he, but his inferiors in intellect and 
in manhood, because — whatever they may be taught — they 
cannot be taught by schooling to use their Angers and 
their wits. I fear, therefore, that the average English 


labourer would not prosper here. He has not stamina 
enough for the hard work of the sugar plantation. He 
has not wit and handiness enough for the more delicate 
work of a little spade-farm: and he would sink, as the 
Negro seems inclined to sink, into a mere grower of 
food for himself; or take to drink — as too many of the 
white immigrants to certain West Indian colonies did 
thirty years ago — and burn the life out of himself witli 
new rum. The Hindoo immigrant, on the other hand, 
has been trained by long ages to a somewhat scientific 
agriculture, and civilized into the want of many luxuries 
for which the Negro cares nothing; and it is to him 
that we must look, I think, for a " petite culture " which 
will do justice to the inexhaustible wealth of the West 
Indian soil and climate. 

As for the house, which is embowered in the little Paradise 
which I have been describing, I am sorry to say that it 
is, in general, the merest wooden hut on stilts; the front 
half altogether open and unwalled ; the back half boarded 
up to form a single room, a passing glance into which 
will not make the stranger wish to enter, if he has any 
nose, or any dislike of vermin. The group at the door, 
meanwhile, will do anything but invite him to enter; and 
he will ride on, with something like a sigh at what man 
might be, and what he is. 

Doubtless, there are great excuses for the inmates. A 

house in this climate is only needed for a sleeping or loung- 

i ing place. The cooking is carried on between a few stones 

in the garden ; the washing at the neighbouring brook. No 
store-rooms are needed, where there is no winter, and every- 
thing grows fresh and fresh, save the saltfish, which can be 
easily kept — and I understand usually is kept — underneath 
the bed. As for separate bedrooms for boys and girls, 
and all those decencies and moralities for which those who 
build model cottages strive, and with good cause — of such 
things none dream. But it is not so very long ago that 
the British Isles were not perfect in such matters; some 
think that they are not quite perfect yet. So we will take 
the beam out of our own eye, before we try to take the mote 
rom the Negro's. The latter, however, no man can do For 


the Negro, being a freeholder and the owner of his own 
cottage, must take the mote out of his own eye, having' 
no landlord to build cottages for him ; in the meanwhile, 
however, the less said about his lodging the better. 

In the villages, however, in Maraval, for instance, you see 
houses of a far better stamp, belonging, I believe, to coloured 
people employed in trades ; long and low wooden buildings 
with jalousies instead of windows — for no glass is needed 
here ; divided into rooms, and smart with paint, which is 
not as pretty as the native wood. You catch sight as 
you pass of prints, usually devotionaj, on the walls, com- 
fortable furniture, looking-glasses, and sideboards, and other 
pleasant signs that a civilization of the middle classes is 
springing up; and springing, to judge from the number 
of new houses building everywhere, very rapidly, as befits 
a colony whose revenue has risen, since 1855, from 72,300/. 
to 240,000/., beside the local taxation of the wai'ds, some 
30,000/. or 40,000/. more. 

What will be the future of agriculture in the West Indian 
colonies I of course dare not guess. The profits of sugar- 
growing, in spite of all drawbacks, have been of late 
very great. They will be greater still under the improved 
methods of manufacture which will be employed now that 
the sugar duties have been at least rationally reformed by 
Mr. Lowe. And therefore, for some time to come, capital 
will naturally How towards sugar-planting ; and great sheets 
of the forest will be, too probably, ruthlessly and wastefully 
swept away to make room for canes. And yet one must 
ask, regretfully, are there no other cultures save that of cane 
which will yield a fair, even an ample, return, to men of 
small capital and energetic habits ? What of the culture of 
bamboo for paper-fibre, of which I have spoken already ? It 
has been, I understand, taken up successfully in Jamaica, to 
supply the United States* paper market. Why should it not 
be taken up in Trinidad? Why should not Plantain-meal^ 
be hereafter largely exported for the nse of the English 
working classes ? Why should not Trinidad, and other 

1 Directions for preparing it may be found in the catalogue of contribu- 
tions from British Giiiuna to the international Exhibition of 1862. Preface, 
pp. lix. Ixiii. 


islands, export fruits — preserved fruits especially? Surely 
such a trade might be profitable, if only a quarter as much 
care were taken in the West Indies as is taken in fjigland 
to improve the varieties by selection and culture ; and care 
taken also not to spoil the preserves, as now, for the English 
market, by swamping them with sugar or sling. Can nothing 
be done in growing the oil-producing seeds with which the 
Tropics abound, and for which a demand is rising in England, 
if it be only for use about machinery ? Nothing, too, toward 
growing drugs for the home market ? Nothing toward using 
the treasures of gutta-percha which are now wasting in the 
Balatas? Above all, can nothing be done to increase the 
yield of the cacao-farms, and the quality of Trinidad cacao ? 

For this latter industry, at least, I have hope. My friend — 
if he will allow me to call him so — Mr. John Law, has shown 
what extraordinary returns may be obtained from improved 
cacao-growing ; at least, so far to his own satisfaction that 
he is himself trying the experiment. He calculates * that 200 
acres, at a maximum outlay of about 11,000 dollars spread 
over six years, and diminishing from that time till the end of 
the tenth year, should give, for fifty years after that, a net 
income of 6,800 dollars; and then "the industrious planter 
may sit down," as I heartily hope Mr. Law will do, "and 
enjoy the fruits of his labour." 

Mr. Law is of opinion that, to give such a return, the cacao 
must be farmed in a very different way from the usual plan ; 
that the trees must not be left shaded, as now, by Bois Im- 
mortelles, sixty to eighty feet high, during their whole lifa 
The trees, he says with reason, impoverish the soil by their 
roots. The shade causes excess of moisture, chills, weakens 
and retards the plants ; encourages parasitic moss and insects ; 
and, moreover, is least useful in the very months in which 
the sun is hottest, viz. February, March, and April, which are 
just the months in which the Bois Immortelles shed their 
leaves. He believes that the cacao needs no shade after the 
third year ; and that, till then, shade would be amply given 
by plantains and maize set between the trees, which would, 
in the very first year, repay the planter some 6,500 dollars 

^ "How to Establish and Cultivate an Estate of One Square Mile in 
Cacao : " a Paper read to the Scientific Association of Trinidad, 1865. 


Oil his first outlay of some 8,000. It is not for me to give an 
opinion upon the correctness of his estimates : but the past 
history of Trinidad shows so many failures of the cacao 
crop, that even a practically ignorant man may be excused 
for guessing that there is something wrong in the old Spanish 
system ; and that with cacao, as with wheat and every other 
known crop, improved culture means improved produce and 
steadier profits. 

As an advocate of "petite culture," I heartily hope that 
such may be the case. I have hinted m these volumes my 
belief that exclusive sugar cultivation, oji the large scale, has 
been the bane of the West Indies. 

I went out thither with a somewhat foregone conclusion 
in that direction. But it was at least founded on what I 
believed to be facts. And it was, certainly, verified by the 
fresh facts which I saw there. I returned with a belief 
stronger than ever, that exclusive sugar cultivation had put 
a premium on unskilled slave-labour, to the disadvantage of 
skilled white-labour ; and to the disadvantage, also, of any 
attempt to educate and raise the Kegro, whom it was not 
worth while to civilize, as long as he was needed merely as 
an instrument exerting brute strength. It seems to me, also, 
that to the exclusive cultivation of sugar is owing, more than 
to any other cause, that frightful decrease throughout the 
islands of the white population, of which most English people 
are, I believe, quite unaware. Do they know, for instance, 
that Barbados could in Cromwell's time send three thousand 
white volunteers, and St. Kitts and Nevis a thousand, to help 
in the gallant conquest of Jamaica ? Do they know that in 
1676 Barbados was reported to maintain, as against 80,000 
black, 70,000 free whites ; while in 1851 the island con- 
tained more than 120,000 Negros and people of colour, as 
against only 15,824 whites ? That St. Kitts held, even as 
late as 1761, 7,000 whites ; but in 1826 — before emancipa- 
tion — only 1,600? Or that little Montserrat, which held, 
about 1648, 1,000 white families, and had a militia of 360 
effective men, held in 1787 only 1,300 whites, in 1828 only 
315, and in 1851 only 150 ? 

It will be said that this ugly decrease in the white popu- 
lation is owing to the unfitness of the climate. I believe it 


to liave been produced rather by the introduction of sugar 
cultivation, at which the white man cannot work. These 
early settlers had grants of ten acres apiece ; at least in Bar- 
bados. They grew not only provisions enough for themselves, 
but tobacco, cotton, and indigo — products now all but oblite- 
rated out of the British islands. They made cotton hammocks, 
and sold them abroad as well as in the island. They might, 
had they been wisely educated to perceive and use the 
natural wealth around them, have made money out of many 
other wild products. But the profits of sugar-growing were 
so enormous, in spite of their uncertainty, that, during the 
greater part of the eighteenth century, their little freeholds 
were bought up, and converted into cane-pieces by their 
wealthier neighbours, who could afford to buy slaves and 
sugar-mills. They sought their fortunes in other lands: 
and so was exterminated a race of yeomen, who might 
have been at this day a source of strength and honour, 
not only to tlie colonies, but to England herself. 

It may be that the extermination was not altogether un- 
deserved ; that they were not sufficiently educated or skilful 
to carry out that " petite culture " which requires — as I have 
said already — not only intellect and practical education, but 
a hereditary and traditional experience, such as is possessed 
by the Belgians, the Piedmontese, and, above all, by the 
charming peasantry of Provence and Languedoc, the fathers 
(as far as Western Europe is concerned) of all our agricul- 
ture. It may be, too, that as the sugar cultivation increased, 
they were tempted more and more, in the old hard drinking 
days, by the special poison of the West Indies — new rum, to 
the destruction both of soul and body. Be that as it may, 
their extirpation helped to make inevitable the vicious 
system of large estates cultivated by slaves ; a system which 
is judged by its own results; for it was ruinate before 
emancipation ; and emancipation only gave the coup de 
grace. The " Latifundia perdidere " the Antilles, as they did 
Italy of old. The vicious system brought its own Nemesis. 
The ruin of the West Indies at the end of the great French 
war was principally owing to that exclusive cultivation of 
the cane, which forced the planter to depend on a single 
arcicle of produce, and left him embarrassed every time prices 


fell suddenly, or the canes failed from drought or hurri- 
cane. We all know what would be thought of an European 
farmer who thus staked his capital on one venture. " He is a 
bad farmer," says the proverb, " who does not stand on four 
legs, and, if he can, on five." If his wheat fails, he has his 
barley — if his barley, he has his sheep — if his sheep, he has 
his fatting oxen. The Provencal, the model farmer, can re- 
treat on his almonds if his mulberrie>s fail; on his olives, 
if his vines fail; on his maize, if his wheat fails. The 
West Indian might have had — the Cuban has — his tobacco ; 
his indigo too ; his coffee, or— as in Trinidad — his cacao and 
his arrow-root; and half-a-dozen crops more: indeed, had 
his intellect — and he had intellect in plenty — been diverted 
from the fatal fixed idea of making money as fast as possible 
by sugar, he might have ere now discovered in America, of 
imported from the East, plants for cultivation far more 
valuable than that Bread-fruit tree, of which such high hopes 
were once entertained, as a food for the Negro. As it was, 
his very green crops were neglected, till, in some islands at 
least, he could not feed his cattle and mules with certainty ; 
while the sugar-cane, to which everything else had been 
sacrificed, proved sometimes, indeed, a valuable servant ; but 
too often a tyrannous and capricious master. 

But those days are past ; and better ones have dawned, 
with better education, and a wider knowledge of the world 
and of science. What West Indians have to learn — 
some of them have learnt it already — is that if they can 
compete with other coimtries only by improved and more 
scientific cultivation and manufacture, as they themselves 
confess, then they can carry out the new methods only by 
more skilful labour. They therefore require now, as they 
never required before, to give the labouring classes a prac- 
tical education ; to quicken their intellect, and to teach them 
habits of self-dependent and originative action, which are — as 
in the case of the Prussian soldier, and of the English sailor 
and railway servant — perfectly compatible with strict disci- 
])line. Let them take warning from the English manufacturing 
system, which condemns a human intellect to waste itself in 
perpetually heading pins, or opening and shutting trap-doors, 
and punishes itself by producing a class of workpeople who 



altflmate between reckless comfort and mooily discontent 
Let them be sure that they will help rather than injure the 
labour-market of the colony, by making the labourer also a 
small free-holding peasant. He will learn more in his own 
provision ground^proporly tilled — than he will in the cane- 
piece 1 and he will take to the cane-piece and use for \m 
employer the self- helpfulness which he has learnt in the pro- 
vision ground. It is so in England, Our best agricultural 
day-labourers are, without exception, those who cultiv:iti' 
some scrap of ground, or follow some petty oocupatitm, whicti 
prevents their depending entirely on wage-labour. And so I 
believe it will be in the West Indies. Let the land-policv 
of the late Governor be followed 
up. Ler squatting be rigidlv 
forbidden. Let no man hold 
possession of land without hav- 
ing earned, or inherited, money 
enough to purchase it, as a 
guarantee of his ability antl re- 
spectability, or— as in the ciLse 
of Coolies past their indenture; 
— as a commutation for rigliL; 
which he has earned in likewiw. 
But let the coloured man of everj' 
1 race be encouraged to become :i 
' landholder and a producer in hi* 
own small way. He will thus, 
\ not only by what he product'^. 
F but by what he consumes, aAA 
' largely to the wealth of the co- 
lony ; while his increased wants, 
and those of his children, till they 
i;„s„ too can purchase land, will draw 

him and his sons and daughters to 
the sugar-estates, as intelligent and helpful day-labourers. 

So it may be : and I cannot but trust, from what I have 
seen of the temper of the gentlemen of Trinidad, that so it 
will be. 



At Itost we were homeward bound. We had been seven 
weeks in the island. We had promised to be back in Eng- 
land, if possible, within the three months ; and we had a 
certain pride in keeping our promise, not only for its own 
sake, but for the sake of the dear West Indies. We wished 
to show those at home how easy it was to get there ; how 
easy to get home again. Moreover, though going to sea in 
the Shannon was not quite the same " as going to sea in a 
sieve," our stay-at-home friends were of the same mind as 
those of the dear little Jumblies, whom Mr. Lear has made 
immortal in his "New Book of Nonsense"; and we were 
bound to come back as soon as possible, and not "in 
twenty years or more," if we wished them to say : 

** If we live, 
We too will go to sea in a sieve, 
To the Hills of the Chankly bore." 

So we left But it was sore leaving. People had been very 
kind ; and were ready to be kinder still ; while we, busy — 
perhaps too busy — over our Natural History collections, 
had seen very little of our neighbours; had been able 
to accept very few of the invitations which were showered 
on us, and which would, I doubt not, have given us 
opportunities for liking the islanders still more than we 
liked them already. 

Another cause made our leaving sore to us. The hunger 
for travel had been aroused — above all for travel westward — 
and would not be satisfied. Up the Oroonoco we longed to 
go : but could not. To La Guayra and Caraccas we longed 
to go: but dared not. Thanks to Spanish Eepublican bar- 
barism, the only regular communication with that once 
magnificent capital of Northern Venezuela was by a filthy 

c 2 


steamer, the Regos Ferreos, which had become, from her 
very looks, a byword in the port. On board of her some 
friends of ours had lately been glad to sleep in a dog-hutch 
on deck, to escape the filth and vermin of the berths ; and 
went hungry for want of decent food. Caraccas itself was 
going through one of its periodic revolutions — it has not 
got through the fever fit yet — ^and neither life nor property 
were safe. 

But the longing to go westward was on us nevertheless. 
It seemed hard to turn back after getting so far along the 
great path of the human race ; and one had to reason with 
oneself — Foolish soul, whither would you go ? You cannot 
go westward for ever. If you go up the Oroonoco, you will 
long to go up the Meta. If you get to Stu. Fe de Bogota, 
you will not be content till you cross the Andes and see 
Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. When you look down on the 
Pacific, you will be craving to go to the Gallapao;os, after 
Darwin ; and then to the Marquesas, after Herman Melville ; 
and then to the Fijis, after Seeman; and then to Borneo, 
after Brooke ; and then to the Archipelago, after Wallace ; 
and then to Hindostan, and round the world. And when 
you get home, the westward fever will be stronger on you 
than ever, and you will crave to start again. Go home at 
once, like a reasonable man, and do your duty, and thank 
God for what you have been allowed to see; and try to 
become of the same mind as that most brilliant of old ladies, 
who boasted that she had not been abroad since she saw the 
Apotheosis of Voltaire, before the French Eevolution ; and did 
not care to go, as long as all manner of clever people were 
kind enough to go instead, and write charming books about 
what they had seen for her. 

But the westward fever was slow to cool : and with wistful 
eyes we watched the sun by day, and Venus and the moon 
by night, sink down into the gulf, to lighten lands which we 
should never see. A few days more, and we were steaming 
out to the Bocas — which we had begim to love as the gat*^s 
of a new home — ^heaped with presents to the last minute, 
some of them from persons we hardly knew. Behind us Port 
of Spain sank into haze : before us Monos rose, tall, dark, 
and grim — if Mpnos could be grim — in moonless night. We 
ran ou, and past the island; this time we were going, not 


through the Boca de Monos, but through the next, the Um- 
brella Bocas. It was too dark to see houses, palm-trees, 
aught but the ragged outline of the hills against the northern 
sky, and beneath, sparks of light in sheltered coves, some of 
which were already, to one of us, well-beloved nooks. There 
was the great gulf of the Boca de Monos. There was Mor- 
rison's — our good Scotch host of seven weeks since ; and the 
glasses were turned on it, to see, if possible, through the 
dusk, the almond-tree and the coco-grove for the last time. 
Ah, well — When we next meet, what will he be, and where ? 
And where the handsome Creole wife, and the little brown 
Cupid who danced all naked in the log canoe, till the white 
gentlemen, swimming round, upset him ; and canoe, and boy, 
and men rolled and splashed about like a shoal of seals at 
play, beneath the cliff with the Seguines and Cei'euses; 
while the ripple lapped the Moriche-nuts about the roots 
of the Manchineel bush, and the skippers leaped and flashed 
outside, like silver splinters ? And here, where we steamed 
along, was the very spot where we had seen the shark's back- 
fin when we rowed back from the first Guacharo cave. And 
it was all over. 

We are such stuff as dreams are made of. And as in a 
dream, or rather as part of a dream, and myself a phantom 
and a play-actor, I looked out over the side, and saw on the 
right the black walls of Monos, on the left the black walls 
of Huevos — a gate even grander, though not as. narrow, as 
that of Monos ; and the Umbrella Rock, capped with Mata- 
palo and Cactus, and night-blowing Cereus, dim in the dusk. 
And now we were outside. The roar of the surf, the tumble 
of the sea, the rush of the trade-wind, told us that at once. 
Out in the great sea, with Grenada, and kind friends 
in it, ahead; not to be seen or reached till morning light 
But we looked astern and not ahead. We could see into 
and through the gap in Huevos, through which we had 
tried to reach the Guacharo cave. Inside that notch in 
the cliffs must be the wooded bay, whence we picked up 
the shells among the fallen leaves and flowers. From under 
that dark wall beyond it the Guacharos must be just trooping 
out for their nightly forage, as they had trooped out since — 
He alone who made them knows how long. The outline of 
Huevos, the outline of Monos, were growing lower and greyer 


astern. A long, ragged haze, far loftier than that on the 
starboard quarter, signified the Northern Mountains ; and far 
off on the port quarter lay a flat bank of cloud, amid which 
rose, or seemed to rise, the Cordillera of the Main, and the 
hills where jaguai*s lie. Canopus blazed high astern, and 
Fomalhaut below him to the west, as if bidding us a kind 
farewell. Orion and Aldebaran spangled the zenith. The 
yoimg moon lay on her back in the far west, thin and pale, 
over Cumana and the Cordillera, with Venus, ragged and 
red with earth mist, just beneath. And low ahead, with the 
pointers horizontal, glimmered the cold pole-star, for which 
we were steering, out of the summer into the winter onc^ 
more. We grew chill as we looked at him ; and shuddered, it 
may be, cowered for a moment, at the thought of '* Nifel- 
heira," the home of frosts and fogs, towards wliich we were 

However, we were not yet out of the Tropics. We had 
stUl nearly a fortnight before us in which to feel sure there 
was a sun in heaven ; a fortnight more of the " warm 
champagne" atmosphere which was giving fresh life and 
health to us both. And up the islands we went, wiser, but 
not sadder, than when we went down them ; casting wistful 
eyes, though, to windward, for there away — and scarcely out 
of sight — ^lay Tobago, to which we had a most kind invi- 
tation; and gladly would we have looked at that beautiful 
and fertile little spot, and have pictured to ourselves Robinson 
Crusoe and Man Friday pacing along the coral beach in one 
of its little southern coves. More wistfully still did we look 
to windward when we thought of Barbados, and of the kind 
people who were ready to welcome us into that prospe'^ous and 
(iivilized little cane-garden, which deserves — and has deserved 
for now two hundred years, far more than poor old Ireland — 
the name of " The Emerald Gem of the Western World" 

But it could not be. A few hours at Grenada, and a few 
hours at St. Lucia, were all the stoppages possible to us. The 
steamer only passes once a fortnight, and it is necessary to 
spend that time on each island which is visited, unless the 
traveller commits himself — which he cannot well do if he 
has a lady with him — ^to the chances and changes of coasting 
schooners. M^ore frequent and easy intercommunication is 
needed throughout the Antilles. The good people, whetht^r 


white or coloured, need to see more of each other, and more 
of visitors from home. Whether a small weekly steamer 
between the islands would pay in money I know not That 
it would pay morally and socially, I am sure. Perhaps, when 
the telegraph is laid down along the islands, the need of more 
steamers will be felt and supplied. 

Very pleasant was the run up to St. Thomas's, not merely 
on account of the scenery, but because we had once more — 
contrary to our expectation — the most agreeable of captains. 
His Prench cultivation — he had been brought up in Provence 
— joined to brilliant natural talents, had made him as good a 
talker as he doubtless is a sailor; and the chai-m of his 
conversation, about all matters on earth, and some above the 
earth, will not be soon forgotten by those who went up with 
him to St. Thomas's, and left him there with regi*et. 

We transhipped to the Neva, Captain Wool ward — to 
whom I must tender my thanks, as I do to Captain Bax, of 
the Shannon, for all kinds of civility. We slept a night in 
the harbour, the town having just then a clean bill of health ; 
and were very glad to find ourselves, during the next few 
days, none the worse for having done so. On remarking, the 
first evening, that I did not smell the harbour after all, I 
was comforted by the answer that — " When a man did, he 
had better go below and make his will." It is a pity that 
the most important harbour in the Caribbean sea should be so 
unhealthy. No doubt it offers advantages for traffic which 
can be found nowhere else : and there the steamers must 
continue to assemble, yellow fever or none. But why should 
not an hotel be built for the passengers in some healthy and 
airy spot outside the basin — on the south slope of Water 
Island, for instance, or on Buck Island — where they might 
land at once, and sleep in pure fresh air and sea-breeze? 
The establishment of such an hotel would surely, when once 
known, attract to the West Indies many travellers to whom 
St. Thomas's is now as much a name of fear as Colon or the 

We left St. Thomas's by a different track from that by 
which we came to it. We ran northward up the magnificent 
landlocked channel between Tortola and Virgin Gorda, to 
pass to leeward of Virgin Gorda and Anegada, and so north- 
ward toward the gulf-stream. 


This channel has borne the name of Dmke, I presume, 
ever since the year 1575. For in the account of that 
fatal, though successful voyage, which cost the lives both 
of Sir John Hawkins, who died off Porto Rico, and Sir 
Francis Drake, who died off Porto Bello, where Hosier and 
the greater part of the crews of a noble British fleet perished 
a hundred and fifty years afterward, it is written in Hakluyt 
how — after running up N. and N.W. past Saba — the fleet 
•'stood away S.W., and on the 8th of November, being a 
Saturday, wc came to an anker some 7 or 8 leagues off 
among certain broken Hands called Las Yirgines, which have 
bene accounted dangerous : but we found there a very good 
rode, had it bene for a thousand sails of ships in 7 & 8 
fadomes, fine sand, good ankorage, high Hands on either 
side, but no fresh water that we could find : here is much fish 
to be taken with nets and hookes : also we stayed on shore 
and fowled. Here Sir John Hawkins was extreme sick ** (he 
died within ten days), " which his sickness began upon 
newes of the taking of the Francis " (his stemmost vessel). 
"The 18th day wee weied and stood north and by east into 
a lesser sound, which Sir Francis in his barge discovered 
the night before; and ankored in 13 fadomes, having hie 
steepe hiles on either side^ some league distant from our 
first riding. 

" The 12 in the morning we weied and set sayle into the 
Sea due south through a small streit but without danger,'* 
— ^possibly the very gap in which the Rhone's wreck now 
lies — " and then stode west and by north for S. Juan de 
Puerto Rico." 

This northerly course is, plainly, the most advantageous for 
a homeward-bound ship, as it strikes the gulf-stream soonest, 
and keeps in it longest Conversely, the southerly route 
by the Azores is beat for outward-bound ships ; as it escapes 
most of the gulf-stream, and traverses the still Sargasso Sea, 
and even the extremity of the westward equatorial current 

Strange as these Virgin Isles had looked when seen from 
the south, outside, and at the distance of a few miles, they 
looked still more strange when we were fairly threading our 
way between tliera, sometimes not a rifle-shot from the clifis, 
with the white coral banks gleaming under our keel. Had 
they ever carried a Tropic vegetation? Had the hills of 


Tortola and Virgin Gorda, in shape and size much like those 
which surround a sea-loch in the Western Islands, ever been 
furred with forests like those of Guadaloupe or St Lucia? 
The loftier were now mere mounds of almost barren earth ; 
the lower were often, like "Fallen Jerusalem," mere long 
earthless moles, as of minute Cyclopean masonry. But what 
had destroyed their vegetation, if it ever existed? Were 
they not, too, the mere remnants of a submerged and 
destroyed land, connected now only by the coral shoals? 
So it seemed to us, as we ran out past the magnificent harbour 
at the back of Virgin Gorda, where, in the old war times, the 
merchantmen of ail the West Indies used to collect, to be 
conveyed homeward by the naval squadron, and across a 
shallow sea white with coral beds. We passed to leeward of 
the island, or rather reef, of Anegada, so low that it could 
only be discerned, at a few miles' distance, by the breaking 
surf and a few bushes ; and then plunged, as it were, suddenly 
out of shallow white water into deep azure ocean. An 
upheaval of only forty fathoms would, I believe, join all these 
islands to each other, and to the great mountain island of 
Porto Eico to the west. The same upheaval would connect 
with each other Anguilla, St Martin, and St Bartholomew, 
to the east But Santa Ciniz, though so near St Thomas's, and 
the Virgin Gordas to the south, would still be parted from 
them by a gulf nearly 2,000 fathoms deep — a gulf which 
marks still, probably, the separation of two ancient con- 
tinents, or at least two archipelagos. 

Much light has been thrown on this curious problem 
since our return, by an American naturalist, Mr. Bland, in a 
paper read before the American Philosophical Society, on 
" The Geology and Physical Geography of the West Indies, 
with reference to the distribution of Mollusca." It is plain 
that of all animals, land-shells and reptiles give the surest 
tokens of any former connection of islands, being neither able 
to swim or fly from one to another, and very unlikely to be 
carried by birds or currents. Judging, therefore, as he has a 
right to do, by the similarity of the land-shells, Mr. Bland is 
of opinion that Porto Rico, the Virgins, and the Anguilla 
group, once formed continuous dry land, connected with 
Cuba, the Bahamas, and Hayti ; and that their shell-fauna 
is of a Mexican and Central American tjrpe. The shell- 


fauna of the islands to the south, on the contrary, from 
Barbuda and St. Kitts down to Trinidad, is South American : 
but of two types, one Venezuelan, the other Guianan. It 
seems, from Mr. Bland's researches, that there must have 
existed once not merely an extension of the North American 
Continent south-eastward, but that very extension of the 
South American Continent northward, at which I have 
hinted more than once in these pages. Moreover — a fact 
which I certainly did not expect — the western side of this 
supposed land, namely Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, the Grena- 
dines, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia, have, as far as land-shells 
are concerned, a Venezuelan fauna ; while the eastern side 
of it, namely Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Guadaloupe, 
Antigua, &c., have, most strangely, the fauna of Guiana. 

If this be so, a glance at the map wiU show the vast 
destruction of Tropic land during almost the very latest 
geological epoch ; and show, too, how little, in the present 
imperfect state of our knowledge, we ought to dare any 
speculations as to the absence of man, as well as of other 
creatures, on those great lands now destro3^ed. For, to supply 
the dry land which Mr. Blands theory needs, we shall have 
to conceive a junction, reaching over at least five degrees of 
latitude, between the north of British Guiana and Barbados ; 
and may freely indulge in the dream that the waters of the 
Oroonoco, when they ran over the lowlands of Trinidad, 
passed east of Tobago ; then northward between Barbados and 
St. Lucia ; then turned westward between the latter island 
and Martinique ; and that the mighty estuary formed — for a 
great part at least of that line — the original barrier which 
kept the land-shells of Venezuela apart from those of 
Guiana. A " stretch of the imagination," doubtless : but no 
greater stretch than will be required by any explanation of 
the facts whatsoever. 

And so, thanking Mr. Bland heartily for his valuable 
contribution to the infant science of Bio-Geology — I take 
leave, in these pages at least, of the Earthly Paradise. 

Our run homeward was quite as successful as our run 
out. The magnificent Neva, her captain and her officers, 
were what these Eoyal Mail steamers and their crews are — 
without, I believe, an exception — all that we could wisK 
Our passengers, certainly, were neither so numerous nor so 


agreeable as when going out ; and the most notable personage 
among them was a keen-eyed strong-jawed little Coreican, 
who had been lately hired — so ran his story — by the coloured 
insurgents of Hayti, to put down the President — alias (as 
usual in such Repjiblics) Tyrant — Salnave. 

He seemed, by his own account, to have done his work 
effectually. Seven thousand lives were lost in the attack 
on Salnave's quarters in Port au Prince. AVhole families 
were bayonetted, to save the trouble of judging and shoot- 
ing thera. Women were not spared: and — if all that I 
have heard of Hayti be true — some of them did not deserve 
to be spared. The noble old French buildings of the city 
were ruined — the Corsican said, not by his artillery, but by 
Salnave's. He had slain Salnave himself; and was now 
going back to France, to claim his rights as a French citizen, 
carrying with him Salnave's sword, which was wrapped in 
a newspaper, save when taken out to be brandished on the 
main deck. One could not but be interested in the valiant 
adventurer. He seemed a man such as Eed Republics and 
Revolutions breed, and need; very capable of doing rough 
work, and not likely to be hampered by scruples as to the 
manner of doing it. If he is, as I take for granted, busy 
In France just now, he will leave his mark behind. 

The voyage, however, seemed likely to be a dull one ; and 
to relieve the monotony, a wild-beast show was determined 
on, ere the weather grew too cold. So one day all the new 
curiosities were brought on deck at noon ; and if some great 
zoologist had been on board, he would have found materials 
in our show for more than one interesting lecture. The 
doctor contributed an Alligator, some 2ft. Gin. long ; another 
officer, a curiously-marked Ant-eater — of a species unknown 
to me. It was common, he said, in the Isthmus of Panama ; 
and seemed the most foolish and helpless of beasts. As no 
ants were procurable, it was fed on raw yolk of egg, which 
it contrived to suck in with its long tongue — not enough, 
however, to keep it alive during the voyage. 

The chief engineer exhibited a live " Tarantula," or bird- 
catching spider, who was very safely barred into its box 
with strips of iron, as a bite from it is rather worse than that 
of an Enj^lish adder. 

We showed a Vulturine Parrot and a Kinkajou. The 


Kinkajou, by the bye, got loose one night, and displayed his 
natural inclination, by instantly catching a rat, and dancing 
between decks with it in his mouth : but was so tame withal, 
that he let the stewardess stroke him in passing. The good 
lady mistook him for a cat ; and when she discovered next 
morning that she had been handling a "loose wild beast/' her 
horror was as great as her thankfulness for the supposed 
escape. In curious contrast to the natural tameness of the 
Kinkajou was the natural untameness of a beautiful little 
Night-Monkey, belonging to the Purser. Its great owl's eyes 
were instinct with nothing but abject terror of evei^'body and 
everything ; and it was a miracle that ere the voyage was 
over it did not die of mere fright. How is it, en passant, 
that some animals are naturally fearless and tameable, others 
not ; and that even in the same family ? Among the South 
American monkeys the Howlers are untameable ; the Sapa- 
jous less so ; while the Spider Monkeys are instinctively 
gentle and fond of man : as may be seen in the case of the 
very fine Morimonda (Ateles Beelzebub) now dying, I fear, 
in the Zoological Gardens at Bristol. 

As we got into colder latitudes, we began to lose our pets. 
The Ant-eater departed first : then the doctor, who kept his 
alligator in a tub on his cabin floor, was awoke by doleful 
wails, as of a babe. Being pretty sure that there was not 
likely to be one on board, and certainly not in his cabin, he 
naturally struck a light, and discovered the alligator, who had 
never uttered a sound before, outside his tub on the floor, 
bewailing bitterly his fate. Whether he "wept crocodile 
tears " besides the doctor could not discover ; but it was at 
least clear, that if swans sing before they die, alligators do so 
likewise : for the poor thing was dead next morning. 

It was time, after this, to stow the pets warm between 
decks, and as near the galley-fires as they could be put For 
now, as we neared the " roaring forties," there fell on us a 
gale from the north-west, and would not cease. 

The wind was, of course, right a-beam ; the sea soou ran 
very high. The Neva, being a long screw, was lively enough, 
and too lively ; for she soon showed a chronic inclination to 
roll, and that suddenly, by fits and starts. The fiddles were 
on the tables for nearly a week : but they did not prevent 
more than one of us finding his dinner suddenly in his lap 


instead of his stomach. However, no one was hurt, nor even 
frightened: save two poor ladies — not from Trinidad — who 
spent their doleful days and nights in screaming, telling their 
beads, drinking weak brandy-and-water, and informing the 
hunted stewardess that if they had known what horrors they 
were about to endure, they would have gone to Europe in — a 
sailing vessel The foreigners — who are usually, I know not 
why, bad sailors — soon vanished to their berths : so did the 
ladies : even those who were not ill jammed themselves into 
their berths, and lay there, for fear of falls and bruises ; while 
the Englishmen, and a coloured man or two — the coloured 
men usually stand the sea well — had the deck all to them- 
selves; and slopped about, holding on, and longing for a 
monkey's tail; but on the whole rather liking it. 

For, after all, it is a glorious pastime to find oneself in a 
real gale of wind, in a big ship, with not a rock to run against 
within a thousand miles. One seems in such danger ; and one 
is so safe. And gradually the sense of security grows, and 
grows into a sense of victory, as with the boy who fears his 
first fence, plucks up heart for the second, is rather pleased 
at the third, and craves for the triumph of the fourth and of 
all the rest, sorr}' at last when the run is over. And when a 
man — not being sea-sick — has once discovered that the appa- 
rent heel of the ship in rolling is at least four times less than 
it looks, and that she will jump upright again in a quarter of 
a minute like a fisher's float ; has learnt to get his trunk out 
from under his berth, and put it back again, by jamming his 
forehead against the berth-side and his heels against the ship's 
wall ; has learnt — if he sleep aft — to sleep through the firing 
of the screw, though it does shake all the marrow in his 
backbone ; and has, above all, made a solemn vow to shave 
and bathe every morning, let the ship be as lively as she will : 
then he will find a full j^ale a finer tonic, and a finer stirrer 
of wholesome appetite, than aU the drugs of Apothecaries 

This particular gale, however, began to get a little too 
strong. We had a sail or two set to steady the ship: on 
the second night one split with a crack like a cannon ; and 
was tied up in an instant, cordage and strips, into inex- 
tricable knots. 

The next night I was woke by a slap which shook the Neva 


from stem to stern, and made her stagger and writhe like a 
live thing struck across the loins. Then a dull rush of water 
which there was no mistaking. We had shipped a green 
sea. Well, I could not bale it out again; and there was 
plenty of room lor it on board. So, after ascertaining that 

R was not frightened, I went back to my berth and slejit 

again, somewhat wondering that the roll of the screw was 
all but silent. 

Next morning we found that a sea had walked in over 
the bridge, breaking it, and washing off it the first offict-r 
and the look-out man — luckily they fell into a sail and nor 
overboard ; put out the galley-fires, so that we got* a cold 
breakfast; and eased the ship; for the shock turned tL-- 
indicator in the engine-room to '* Ease her." The engineer, 
thinking that the captain had given the order, obeyed it. 
The captain turned out into the wet to know who had eased 
his ship, and then returned to bed, wisely remarking, that 
the ship knew her own business best ; and as she had 
chosen to ease the engines herself, eased she should be, hi^ 
orders being "not to prosecute a voyage so as to endanger 
the lives of the passengers or tlie property of the Company.' 

So we went on easily for sixteen hours, the wise 
captain judging — and his judgment proved true — that the 
centre of the storm was crossing our course ahead; and 
that if we waited, it would pass us. So, as he expected 
we came after a day or two into an almost windle>N 
sea, where smooth mountainous waves, the relics of th*^ 
storm, were weltering aimlessly up and down under a dark 
sad sky. 

Soon we began to sight ship after ship, and found oiurselvts 
on the great south-western high-road of the Atlantic; and 
found ourselves, too, nearing Niftheim day by day. Colder 
and colder grew the wind, lower the sun, darker the cloud- 
world overhead ; and we went on deck each morning, with 
some additional garment on, sorely against our wills. Onlv 
on the very day on which we sighted land, we had one of 
those treacherously beautiful days which occur, now and 
then, in an English February, mild, still, and shining, if not 
with keen joyful blaze, at least with a cheerful and tender 
gleam from sea and sky. 

The Land's End was visible at a great distance ; and as we 


11 eared the Lizard, we could see not only the lighthouses on 
the Cliff, and every well-known cove and rock from Mullion 
and Kynance round to St. Keveme, but far inland likewise. 
Breage Church, and the great tin- works of Wheal Vor, stood 
out hard against the sky. We could see up the Looe Pool to 
Helston Church, and away beyond it, till we fancied that we 
could almost discern, across the isthmus, the sacred hill of 

Along the Cornish shore we ran, through a sea swarming 
with sails : an exciting contrast to the loneliness of the wide 
ocean which we had left^ — and so on to Plymouth Sound. 

The last time I* had been on that water, I was looking 
up in awe at Sir Edward Codrington's fleet just home 
from the battle of Navarino. Even then, as a mere boy, I 
was struck by the grand symmetry of that ample basin : the 
breakwater — then unfinished — lying across the centre; the 
heights of Bovisand and Cawsand, and those again of Mount 
Batten and Mount Edgecumbe, left and right ; the citadel and 
the Hoe across the bottom of the Sound, the southern sun 
full on their walls, with the twin harbours and their forests of 
masts, winding away into dim distance on each side ; and 
behind all and above all, the purple range of Dartmoor, with 
the black rain-clouds crawling along its top. And now, after 
nearly forty years, the place looked to me even more grand 
than my recollection had pictured it. The newer fortifications 
have added to the moral effect of the scene, without taking 
away from its physical beauty: and I heard without sur- 
prise — though not without pride — the foreigners express 
their admiration of this, their first specimen of an English 

We steamed away again, after landing our letters, close past 
the dear old Mewstone. The warrener's hut stood on it still : 
and I wondered whether the old he-goat, who used to terrify 
me as a boy, had left any long-bearded descendants. Then 
under the Eevelstoke and Bolt Head cliffs, with just one 
flying glance up into the hidden nooks of delicious little 
Salcombe, and away south-west into the night, bound for 
Cherbourg, and a very different scene. 

We were awakened soon after midnight by the stopping of 
the steamer. Then a gun. After awhile another; and presently 
a third : but there was no reply, though our coming had been 


telegraphed from England ; and for nearly six hours we lav 
iu the heart of the most important French arsenal^ with all 
our mails and passengers waiting to get ashore ; and nobody 
deigning to notice us. True, we could do no harm there : 
but our delay, and other things which happened, were 
proofs — and I was told not uncommon ones — of that 
carelessness, imreadiness, and general indiscipline of French 
arrangements, which has helped to bring about, since then, 
an utter ruin. 

As the day dawned through fog, we went on deck to find 
the ship lying inside a long breakwater bristling with cannon, 
which looked formidable enough : but the whole thing, I was 
told, was useless against modern artillery and ironclads : and 
there was more than one jest on board as to the possibility of 
running the Channel Squadron across, and smashing Cherboui^ 
in a single night, unless the French learnt to keep a better 
look-out in time of war than they did in time of peace. 

Just inside us lay two or three ironclads ; strong and ugly : 
untidy, too, to a degree shocking to English eyes. All sorts 
of odds and ends were hanging over the side, and about the 
rigging; the yards were not properly squared, and so forth; 
till — as old sailors would say — the ships had no more decency 
about them than so many collier-brigs. 

Beyond them were arsenals; docks, fortifications, of which 
of course we could not judge; and backing all, a cliff, some 
200 feet high, much quarried for building- stone. An ugly 
place it is to look at ; and, I shoidd think, an ugly place to 
get into, with the wind anywhere between N.W. and N.E. ; 
an artificial and expensive luxury, built originally as a mere 
menace to England, in days when France, which has had too 
long a moral mission to fight some one, thought of fighting 
us, who only wished to live in peace with our neighbours. 
Alas ! alas ! " Tu I'a voulu, George Dandin.'* She has fought 
at last : but not us. 

Out of Cherbourg we steamed again, sulky enough; for 
the delay would cause us to get home on the Sunday eveninir 
instead of the Sunday morning ; and ran northward for the 
Needles. With what joy we saw at last the white wall of 
the island glooming dim ahead. With what joy we first 
discerned that huge outline of a visage on Freshwater Cliflf, so 
well known to sailors, which, as the eye catches it in one 


direction, is a ridiculous caricature ; in another, really noble, 
and even beautiful With what joy did we round the 
old Needles, and run past Hurst Castle; and with what 
shivering, too. For the wind, though dead south, came to us 
as a continental wind, harsh and keen from off the frozen 
land of France, and chilled us to the very marrow all the 
way up to Southampton. 

But there were warm hearts and kind faces waiting us on 
the quay, and good news too. The gentlemen at the Custom- 
house courteously declined the least inspection of our lug- 
gage; and we were at once away in the train home. At 
first, I must confess, an English winter was a change for 
the worse. Fine old oaks and beeches looked to us, fresh 
from ceibas and balatas, like leafless brooms stuck into 
the ground by their handles ; while the want of light was 
for some days painful and depressing. But we had done it ; 
and within the three months, as we promised. As the 
king in the old play says, "What has been, has been, 
and IVe had my hour." At last we had seen it.; and 
we could not unsee it. We could not not have been in 
the Tropics. 


D D 

X.0VDON : 



October^ 1871. 

Bedford Street, Covent Garden, 
London, W.C. 




published by * 


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. By Lewis 

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HivolutioH.'^—luiTJLKAKY Churchman. "/«// of the most exciting 
incidents and ably portrayed characters, abounding in beautifully 
attractive legends, and relieved by descriptions fresh, vivid, and truthlikey 
— Westminster Review. 

Barker.— Works by lady barker :— 

Edition. Extra fcap. 8vo. 3^. 6d, 

" We have never read a more truthfid or a pleasanter little book.*^- — 
ATHENiEUM. " The best, pleasantest, and most encouraging narrative of 
colonial life to be found among the abundant literature of emigration, " — 
Chambers's Journal. 


Contents : — A Wedding Story — A Stupid Story — A Scotch Story 
— A Man's Story. Crown 8vo. ys, 6d, 

**Lady Barker is endowed with a rare and delicate gift for narrating 
stories, — she has the faculty of throwing even into her printed narrative a 
soft and pleasant tone, which goes far to matte the reader think the subject 
or the matter immaterial, so long as the author will go on telling stories for 
his benefit" — Athenaeum . 

STORIES ABOUT :— With Six Illustrations. Second Edition. Extra 
fcap. 8vo. 4r. 6d. 

Contents : — Monkeys — ^Jamaica — Camp Life — Dogs — Boys, &c. 

" The most entertaining book for children that has been published this 
season. . . . There is not a tale in the book which can fail to please 
children as well as their elders." — Pall Mall Gazette. * * We wager that 
the book is one a child will read till Nurse comes for the fourth time, and 
will then beg to have it put under its pillow." — TiMES. 

tions by Jellicoe. Extra fcap. 8vo. cloth gilt. \s. (>d. 

Behind the Looking-Glass, and what Alice Saw 

THERE. By Lewis Carroll, Author of "Alice's Adventures in 
Wonderland." With Fifty Illustrations by Tenniel. Crown 8vo. 6j. 

B 2 


Clemency Franklyn. By the Author of "Janet's Home." 
Globe 8vo. 2s. dd, 

** Full of wisdom and goodness, simple, truth/ulf and artistic 

It is capital as a story ; better still in its pure tone and zvholesome in- 
fluence, " — Globe. 

CluneS. — THE STORY OF PAULINE: an Autobiography. 
By G. C. Clunes. Crown 8vo. 6j. 

" Both for vivid ddineation of character and fluent lucidity of style, 
* The Story of Pauline^ is in the first rank of modern fiction.** — Globe. 
** Told with delightful vivcuify, thorough appreciation of life, and a complete 
knowledge of character,** — Manchester Examiner. 


late Esquire Bedel and Coroner in the University of Oxford. 
Second Edition. Crown 8va dr. 

Mr, Cos^s Recollections date from the end of last ccfttury to quite 

recent times. They are full of old stories and traditions, epigrams and 

personal traits of the distinguished men who have been at Oxford during 

thai period. The Times says that it " will pleasantly recall in many a 

ceuntry parsonage the memory of youthful days.** 

By the Author of "Ruth and her Friends." New Edition. 
iBmo. cloth, gilt leaves, y. 6d. 

**Full of truthful and charming historic pictures, is everywhere vital 
with moral and religious principles, and is written with a brightness of 
daeription, and with a dramatic force in the representation of character, 
that have made, and will always make, it one of the greatest favourites with 
reading ^i^^fj."— Nonconformist. 

Dilke.— GREATER BRITAIN. A Record of Travel in English- 
speaking Countries during 1866-7. (America, Australia, India.) 
By Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, M.P. Fifth and Cheaper 
Edition. Crown 8vo. dr. 


** It is an entertaining and spirited record of travel in lands whick have 
a fascinating itUerest for Englishmen." — SPECTATOR. ** Mr. Dilke has 
written a book which is probably as well worth reading as any book of the 
same aims and character that ever zvas toritten," — Saturday Review. 
** A work such as no man who cares for the future of his race can afford 
to trmt with indiffereftce.*^ — Daily News. 

Estelle Russell. By the Author of "The Private Life of 
Galileo." Crown 8vo. 6s. 

Full of bright pictures of French life. The English family, whose 
fortunes Jorm the main drift of the story, reside mostly in France, but there 
are also many English characters and scenes of great interest. It is 
certainly the work of a fresh, vigorous, aiui most interesting writer, with 
a dash oj sarcastic humour, which is refreshing and not too bitter. 

Y2XTy Book. The Best Popular Fairy Stories. Selected and 
Rendered anew by the Author of "John Halifax, Gentleman." 
With Coloured Illustrations and Omamenlal Borders by J. £. 
Rogers, Author of ** Ridicula Rediviva." Crown 8vo. cloth, 
extra gilt. ts. (Golden Treasury Edition. i8mo. ^. td.) 

**A delightful sdection, in a delightful external form.*^ — Spectator. 

Higginson. — MALBONE : An Oldport Romance. By T. W. 
HiGGiNSON. Fcap. Svo. 2x. 6d. 

This is a story of American life so told as to be interesting and in. 
structive to all English readers. The Daily News says, ** Who likes a 
quiet story ^ full oJ mature thought, of clear humorous surprises, of 
artistic studious design? * Afalbone* is a rare work, possessing these 
characteristics, and replete, too, with honest literary effort,^ 


Keary.— JANETS home. By Miss Keary. Crown Svo. dr. 

^* Never did a more charming family appear upon the canvas; and 
most skilfully and felicitously have their characters been portrayed. Each 
individual of the fireside is a finished portrait, distinct and lifelike, .... 
T^e future before her as a novelist is that of becoming the Miss Austin of 
her generation." —Tnz SUN. 


Keary (A. and E.) — Works by:— 

THE UTTLE WANDERLIN, and other Fairy Tales. i8mo. 
3J. dd. 

** The tales are fanciful and well ivritten^ and they are sure to win 
favour amongst little readers. " — ATHENAEUM. 

THE HEROES OF ASGARD. Tales from Scandinavian Mythology. 
New and Revised Edition, illustrated by Huard. Exira fcap. 8vo. 
4^. 6d, 

** Told in a light and amusing style, which, in its drollery and quaint" 
nesSf reminds us of our old favourite GrimmP — Times. 

Kingsley.— Works by the Rev. CHARLES KINGSLEY, M. A., 
Rector of Eversley, and Canon of Chester : — 

"WESTWARD HO!" or, The Voyages and Adventures of Sir 
Amyas Leigh. Sixth Edition. Cro\vn 8vo. dr. 

No other work conveys a more vivid idea of the surging, adventurous^ 
nobly inquisitive spirit of the generation which immediately followed the 
Reformation in England, Every reader must find his heart warm with 
admiration towards the men whose lift- like photographs are so clearly and 
naturally grouped on the author^ s pages, and whose daring deeds are told 
with a freshness, an enthusiasm, and a truthfulness that can bdong only 
to one who wishes he had been their leader. His descriptions of the luxu* 
riant scenery of the then new found Western land are acknowledged t9 
be unmatched, 

TWO YEARS AGO. Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo. 6j. 

^^ Mr. Kingsley has ptovided us all along with such pleasant diversions 

such rich and brightly tinted glimpses of natural history, such suggestive 

remarks on mankind, society, and all sorts of topics, that amidst the 

pleasure of the way, the circuit to be madeivill be by most forgotten.*^ — The 


HYPATIA ; or, New Foes with an Old Face. Fifth Edition. 
Crown 8vo. 6s, 

The work is from beginning to en(( a series of fascinating pictures of 
strange phases of that strange primitive society ; and no finer portrait has 


Kingsley (Rev. C.) — continued, 

yet been given of the noble-minded lady who was faithful to martyrdom in 
her attachment to the classicai creeds. No 7wrk affords a clearer notion of 
the many interesting probltms which agitated the minds of men in tliose 
days, and which, in various phases, are again coming up for discussion at 
the present day. 

Crown 8vo. 6j. 

Mr. Kingsley s paiver of artistic realization is so great, that here he tclts 
the story of the final conflict of the two races, Saxons and Normans, as if 
h( himself had borne a fnirt in it. While as a work of fiction * * Hereward " 
cannot fail to delight all readers, no better supplement to the dry history of 
the time could be put into the hands of the young, containing as it does so 
firid a picture of the social and political life of the period, 

YEAST : A Problem. Fifth Edition. Crown 8vo. 5j. 

In Uiis production the aut/tor shorvs in an interesting dramatic form, 
the state of fermentation in which the minds of many earnest men are 
with regird to some 0/ the most important religious and social problems oj 
the day. 

ALTON LOCKE. New Edition. With a New Preface. Crown 8vo. 
\s. (yi. 

This novel, which shews forth the evds arising from modern ** caste" 
has done much to rentai'c the unnatural barriers which existed between the 
varioms classes of society, and establish a sympathy to some extent between 
the ht^her and lower grades of the social sccde. Though written with a 
purposi, it is full of character and interest ; the author shows, to quote the 
Spectator, **what it is that constitutes the true Christian, Godfearing, 
man-liiing gentleman. '* 

numerous Illustrations. Two Vols. Crown 8vo. 2\s. 

** In this book Air. Kingsley revels in the gorgeous wealth of West 
Indian ve^tation, bringing before us one marvel after another, alternately 
sating and piquing our curiosity. Whether we climb the cliffs tvith htm. 


Kingsley (Rev. C.) — continued. 

or peer over into narrow bays which are being hollowed out by the trade' 
sur/^ or wander through impenetrable forests, where the tops of the trea 
form a green cloud overhead, or gaze down glens which are watered by the 
clearest brooks, running through masses of palm and banana, and ail 
the rich variety of foliage, we are equally delighted and amazed.'*^ — 

THE WATER BABIES. A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby. New 
Edition, with additional Illustrations by Sir Noel Paton, R.S.A.^ 
and P. Skelton. Crown 8vo. cloth extra gilt. 5j. 

" In fun, in hutnour, and in innocent imagination, as a child^s book 
we do not know its equcUy — London Review, "il/r. Kingsley must 
have the credit of revealing to us a new order of life. . . . There is in the 
* Water Babies^ an abundance of wit, fun, good humour, geniality, ^lui, 
go** — ^TlMES. 

THE HEROES ; or, Greek Fairy Tales for my Children. With 
Coloured Illustrations. New Edition. i8mo. 4r. dd. 

" We do not think these heroic stories have ever been more all f actively 
told. . . . There is a deep under'Current of religious feding traceable 
throughout its pages which is sure to^ influence young readers pozreffully** 
— London Review. ** One of the children* s books that will surdy 
become a classic.** —Nonconformist. 

Kingsley (H.)— Works by HENRY KINGSLEY :-- 

TALES OF OLD TRAVEL. Re-narrated. With Eight full-page 
Illustrations by Huard. Third Edition. Crown 8vo. i^loth, 
extra gilt. S^. 

" We would heartily culvise all who wish to place a book in the kinds of 
youth, from which they must derive at once amusement, information, and 
fine manly sentiments, to select for this purpose Mr. Kingsley* s, ^ Tales of 
Old TVrt?/^/.* "—Illustrated Times. ** As for the settsatiomlt most 
novels are tame compared with these articles,** — Athen AUM. 

THE LOST CHILD. With Eight Illustrations by Frolic*. Crown 
4to. cloth gilt. y. 6d. 


Knatchbull-Hugessen.— Works by E. H. KNATCHBULL- 

STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN. With Illustrations. Second 
Edition. Crown 8vo. 5^. 
The stories are charming, and full of life ami fun,** — Standard. 
** The auihor has an imagination as fanciful as Grimm himself while 
some of his stories are superior to anything that Hans Christian Andersen 
has written." — Nonconformist. 

CRACKERS FOR CHRISTMAS. More Stories. With Illustrations 
by Jellicok and Elwes. Third Edition. Crown 8vo. 5/. 
** A fascinating little volume, which will make him friends in every 
household in which there are children." — Daily News. 

MOONSHINE : Fairy Tales. With Illustrations by W. Brunton. 
Crown 8vo. cloth gilt. 5j-. 

Little Estella, and other Fairy Tales for the Young. Royal 
i6mo. 3J. (id. 
" T'his is a fifie story, and we thank heaven for not being too wise t9 
enjoy i/."— Daily News. 

Little Lucy's Wonderful Globe. Pictured by Frolich 

and narrated by Charlotte M. Yonge, Author of "The Heir of 
Redclyffe." Crown 410. with 24 Illustrations, dr. 

Macmillan.— Works by the Rev. HUGH MACMILLAN :— 
8vo. 6^. 
** The writing of the book is most striking, and in many places highly 
eloquent."— "LiTEKAKY Churchman. "He has made the world more 
beautiful to us, and unsealed our ears to voices of praise and messages 
of lave that might otherwise have been unheard." — BRITISH QUARTERLY 

8vo. dr. 
^^ Mr. Maemillan^s glowing pictures of Scandinavian nature are enough 

to kindle in every tourist the desire to take the same interesting high lands 


of shipwreck of absolutely unsurpassed pffiver, such as 7ve might alone 
expect from Byron^ Marryatt, and Sinbad combined J"* — Pall Mall 

Phantasmagoria, and other Poems. By Lewis 

Carroll, Author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." 
Fcap. 8vo. gilt edges. 6j. 

" Those who have not made acquaintance ivith these poems already, have 
a pleasure to come. The comical is so comical, the grave so really beautiful, ** 
— Literary Churchman. 

OF ENGLAND. By Margaret E. Poole. Cro\NTi 8vo. 6s. 

** Cliarming stories of peasant life, written in something of George 
Eliot* s style. , . . Her stories could not be other than they are, as literal 
as truth, as \romantic as fiction, full of pathetic touches and strokes of 
genuine humour, . . . All the stories are studies of actual life, executed 
with no mean art.** — TiMES. 

Population of an Old Pear Tree. From the French 

of E. Van Bruyssel. Edited by the Author of " The Heir of 
Redclyffe." With Illustrations by Becker. Second Edition. 
Crown 8vo. gilt edges. 6s. 

** This is not a regular book of natural history, but a description of all 
the living creatures that came and went in a summer's day beneath an old 
pear tree, observed by eyes t/iat had for the nonce become microscopic, rit- 
corded by a pen that finds dramas in everything, aud illustrated by a 
dainty pencil. . . . IVe can hardly fancy anyone with a moderate turn 
for the curiosities of insect life, or for delicate French esprit, fu>t being 
taken by these clever sketches.^* — GUARDIAN. ^* A whimsical artd 
charming little book.** — ATHENiEUM. 

Puss and Robin, and their Friends Kitty and Bob. 

Told in Pictures by Frolich, and in Rhymes by Tom Hood. 
Crown 4to. cloth gilt, with Thirteen Illustrations. 3j. 6d. 


Realmah. By the Author of "Friends in Council." New and 
Cheaper Ldition. Crown 8vo. df. 

*' Mr, JIdps is a master of English^ his ivriting is disHnguisJied 
fy noble thoughts and by high literary culture."— Dxi'LY News. '* We 
have to go back many a day and across a vast tract of print before we 
reach any work that stands so fair a chance of being preserved.** — 
Scotsman. ** We find in it a treasury of graceful thoughts and 
suggestive ideas" — Times. 

Richardson (Frederika) — the iliad of the EAST. 

A Selection of Legends drawn from Valmiki's Sanskrit Poem, 
"The Ramayana." By Frederika Richardson. Crown 8va 
7/. 6d. 

** It is impossible to read it without ruognizing the value and interest 
cfthe Eastern epic. It is as fascituUing as a fairy tale, this romantic poem 
of India,** — Globe. 

Rogers.— Works by J. E. ROGERS :— 

RIDICULA REDIVIVA. Old Nursery Rhymes. lUustiated rin 
Colours, with Ornamental Cover. Crown 4to. dr. 

" 7^ mostySpUndid, and at the same time the most really meritorious of 
the books specially intended for children, that v>e have seen,** — SPECTATOR. 
** These large bright pictures ivill attract children to really good and honest 
artistic work, and that ought not to be an indifferent consideration with 
parents who propose to educate their children." — Pall Mall Gazette. 

MORES RIDICULI. Old Nursery Rhymes. Illustrated in Colouxs, 
with Ornamental Cover. Crown 4to. dr. 

" These world-old rhymes have never had and need never wish for a 
better pictorial setting than Mr. Rogers has given them.** — Times. 
** Nothing could be quainter or more absurdly comical than most of the 
pictures^ which are all carefully executed and beautifully coloured** — 


Ruth and her Friends, a Story for Girls. With a Frontis- 
piece. Fourth Edition. Royal i6mo. 3/. 6^. 

** We wish all the scJiool girls and home-taught girls in the land had 
the opportunity of reading it." — NONCONFORMIST. 

Scouring of the White Horse ; or, THE long 

Author of **Tom Brown's School Days." Illustrated by Doyle. 
Eighth Thousand. Imp. i6mo. Cheaper Issue. 3^. 6</. 

** A glorious tale of summer jt^'^ — Freeman. " There is a genial 
hearty life about the book." — ^JoHN Bull. " The execution is excellent, 
. . . Lihe • Tom Bro7vn's School Days,* the * White Horse* gii>es the 
reader a feeling of gratitude and personal esteem towards the author."^ 
Saturday Review. 

Storehouse of Stories. Edited by Charlotte M. Yongk, 
Author of "The Heir of RedclyfTe." Second Edition, Globe 8vo. 
y. (id. 

Contents : — History of Philip Quarll— Goody Twoshoes— The 
Governess — ^Jemima Placid — The Perambulations of a Mouse — 
The Village School — The Little Queen — History of Little Jack. 

** Miss Yonge has done great service to the infantry of this generation 
by putting these devest stories 0/ sage simplicity ivithin their reach." — 
British Quarterly Review. 

A STOREHOUSE OF STORIES. Second Series. Globe Svo. 
3J. 6</. 

Contents : — Family Stories — Elements of Morality — Puzzle 
for a Curious Girl — Blossoms of Morality. 

Tom Brown's School Days. ByAnOi.u Boy. 

Golden Treasury Edition, 4^. (>d. People's Edition, 2s. 

With Sixty Illustrations, by A. Hughes and Sydney Hall, 

Square, cloth extra, gilt edges, los. dd. 
With Seven Illustrations by the same Artists, Crown Svo. 6j. 

** We have read and re-read this book with unmingled pleasure. . . . 
We have carefully ^guarded ourselves against any tampering vCfith <*ur 


critical sagacity, and yet hai'e been compelled again and again to exclaim, 
* Bene I Optinu!'*' — London Quarterly Review. ** An exac^ 
picture of the bright side of a Rugby boy's experience, told with a life, a 
spirit, and a fond minuteness of detail and recollection which is infinitely 
honourable to the author. "— Edin BU RG H REVIEW. ' * The most famous 
bey's book in the language " — Daily News. 

Tom Brown at Oxford. By the Author of "Tom Brown's 
School Days." New Edition. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. dr. 

"In no other work that we can call to mind are the finer qualities of the 
English gentleman more happily portrayed,^"* — DAILY News. **" A book 
of great power and truth.'^—'S ATio^Ah Review. 

POETRY. Selected and Arranged with Notes, by the Arch- 
bishop OF Dublin. Second Edition, revised. Extra fcap. 8vo. 
Ss. td. 

** The Archbishop of Dublin has conferred, in this delightful book, an 
important gift on the whole English-speaking population of the world *^ — 
Pall Mall Gazette. 

Wandering Willie. By the Author of " Effie's Friends," and 
" John Hatherton." Second Edition. Crown 8vo. 6j. 

** This is an idyll of rare truth and beauty. . . . The story is simple 
and touching^ the style of extraordinary delicacy, precision, and picturesque- 
ness. . . , A charming gift-book for young ladies twt yet promoted to 
novels, and will amply repay those of their elders ivho may give an hour to 
its perusal. *'— D A I LY N Ews. 

When I was a Little Girl, STORIES FOR CHILDREN. 

By the Author of **St. Olave's." Second Edition. Extra fcap. 
8vo. 4J. 6</. With Eight Illustrations by L. Frolich. 


At the head, and a long way ahead of all books for girls, we place 
• When I was a little Girl.' ''^TlMES. *' It is one of the choicest 
morsels of child-biography which wc have met 7L*ith.'' — NONCONFORMIST. 


Words from the Poets. Selected by the Editor of "Rays 
of Sunlight." With a Vignette and Frontispiece. Cheaper 
Edition. iSmo. limp. is. 

•* The selection aims at popularity, and deserves it^ — Guardian. 

Wright.— DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL. By Josiah Wright. 
Readings for the Young. With Six Illustrations. Royal i6mo. 
cloth gilt. 3J. dd, 

*^Itis the poem of King Davids life, represented by thoughts creative^ 
uncommon f and correct, expressed in a graceful felicity of diction uniform 
but not unvaried, and of which the chastened fertility sustains no im- 
poverishment by redundance, nor zuasteby excess of ornament,^* — Church 
OF England Monthly Review. 

Yonge (Charlotte M.) Works by.— 

THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE. Eighteenth Edition. With lUustra- 
tions. Crown 8vo. dr. 

HEARTSEASE. Eleventh Edition. With Illustrations. Crown 
8vo. 6f. 

THE DAISY CHAIN. Tenth Edition. With Illustrations. Crown 
8vo. dr. 

Fifth Edition. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. dr. 

DYNEVOR TERRACE. Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo. 6s, 

HOPES AND FEARS. Third Edition. Crown 8vo. dr. 

THE YOUNG STEPMOTHER. Third Edition. Crown 8v©. dr. 

CLEVER WOMAN OF THE FAMILY. Second Edition. Crown 
8vo. dr. 

THE DOVE IN THE EAGLE'S NEST. Second Edition. Crown 
8vo. dr. 


Yonge (Charlotte M,) — continued, 

THE CAGED LION. Illustrated. Crown 8vo. 6j. 

BLACK RIBAUMONT. Two Vols, crown 8vo. I2j. 

THE PRINCE AND THE PAGE. A Tale of the Last Crusade. 
Illustrated. iSmo. 3^. 6</. 

" A tale which, we are sure, unll give pleasure to many others besides the 
young people for whom it is specially intended, . . . This cxtremdy 
prettily-told story does not require the guarantee afforded by the name 
of the author of * Tlte Heir of Redclyffe ' on the title-page to ensure its 
becoming a universal favourite " — DUBLIN EVENING Mail. 

THE LANCES OF LYNWOOD. New Edition, with Coloured 
Illustrations. i8mo. 4J-. 6^. 

" The illustrations are very spirited and rich in colour, and the story 
can hardly fail to charm the youthful reader J*^ — MANCHESTER 

Edition. Illustrated. iSmo. 3J. 6«/. 

Edward II. Extra Fcap. 8vo. 5j. Second Edition, enlarged. 

** They are a series of vix'id pictures which 7i*ill not easily fade from the 
memory of the young people for whom they are writtcft,*^ — Guardian. 

IN France. Extra fcap. 8vo. 5^. 

and narrated by Charlotte M. Yonge. With Twenty-four 
Illustrations. Crown 4to. cloth gilt. 6j. 

COUNTRIES. Gathered and Narrated Anew. Ntw Edition, 
with Twenty Illustrations by Frolich. Crown 8vo. cloth gilt. 6s, 




Uilifarmly prinltd in 
\%mo. with Vigndtt 
Til/a by Sir Noel 
Paton, T, Wool. 
NBR, W. Holm AN 
Hunt, J. E. Mu.lais, 

i&'r. Engraved qh 
Stfd iyjczns. Bound 
in eilra doth, 4/. bd. 
tach vclumt. Also 
kept in -aarieus styles 
c/ nurxca and cat/ 

"The Golden Treasury Series dispults if U does net carry 
away Ihe palm of excdloKt among woris in tokick tht taste of 
the publishei; frriiita; stationer, tngraver, and hinder, is jointly 
fxcreiscd to give addiliounl grace to the produeliom of writers." — 
Illustrated London News. '^ Avery m^lc series of books."— 
British " 

The Golden Treasury of ihe Dest songs mid lyrical 

Arranged, with Notes, by Francis Turkfr Palokave. 

\tt the E"glish lanipiagc '.vhirh ii-ill mate a more 

delightful cc 

n this."- 

The Book of Praise. From ihe Besl KNGLISH HVMN 

WRITERS. Selected and Arranged by Sir RorNDKl.L PALMER, 

" All pretiious compilalums ,f this Mad must, uiidiuiMy, for the 

present, give plate to the 'Beak of Praise.''' — Sati;k1>aY KkVIeW. 

"// is a book -.ohith ought to find n plnte in r.-rry Chri'tioii tibr<iry:' — 


The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. i;dited, from 
(he Original Editions, by J. W. Clark, ALA. 
' ■ Mutilated and madifiid editions of this English elanie are so muck 


The Republic of Plato. Translated into English, with 
Analysis and Notes, by J. Ll. Davies, M.A., and D. J. 
Vaughan, M.A. 

" A dainty and cheap little edition,''^ — EXAMINER. 

The Song Book. Words and Tunes from the best PoeU and 
Musicians. Selected and Arranged by John Hullah. 

"-// choice collection of the sterling songs of England^ Scotland^ and 
Irelandf with the music of each prefixed to the words. How much true 
wholesome pleasure sttch a book can diffuse, and will diffuse, we trust, 
through many thousand families,'''* — Examiner. 

The Poetical Works of Robert Burns. Edited, with 

Biographical Memoir, by Alexander Smith. Two Vols. 

** This certainly is the handsomest, most convenient, and most accurate 
pocket edition of Burns," — Spectator. ** Beyond all question the most 
beautiful edition of Bums yet out,^* — EDINBURGH Daily Review. 

La Lyre Francaise. Selected and Arranged, with Notes, by 


" We doubt whether even in France itself so interesting and complete a 
repository of the best French lyrics could be found," — Notes and 

Bacon's Essays and colours of GOOD and evil. 

With Notes and Classical Index, by \V. Aldis Wright, M.A. 

" By far the most complete as well as the most elegant edition 7ve possess.** 

— Westminster Review. " // is a scholarly edition of Bacon* s Essays 

that has in one or two of its features distinct value for the exact student of 

English, while it is the best and prettiest of all pocket editions of the text** 


c 2 


A Book of Golden Deeds of all COUNTRIES AND 

ALL TIMES. Gathered and Narrated by the Author of "The 
Heir of Redclyffe." 

** We have seen no prettier gift-book for a l<tng tinUy and none 7ohich^ 
both for its cheapness atid the spirit in which it has been compiled ^ is more 
deserving of praise.^' — Athen^um. 

A Book of Worthies. Gathered from the Old Histories and 
Written anew by the Author of " The Heir of Redely fie." 

** // is a golden book of noble deeds, which young and old luUl equally 
delight in , and be inspired by.^' — Britisfi Quarterly Review. *^ An 
admirable addition to an admirable series." — Westminster Review. 

Tom Brown's School Days. By an Old Boy. With a 
Vignette by Arthur Hughes. 

** A perfect gem of a book. The best and most Jiecdthy book about boys 
for boys that ever luas written.'*'^ — Illustrated Times. 

The Sunday Book of Poetry. Selected and Arranged 
by C. F. Alexander. 

"^ well-selected volume of sacred poetry '* — Spectator. 

The Ballad Book, a Selection of the Choicest British Ballads. 
Edited by William Allingham. 

" The most perfect * Ballad Book* ever produced ^ admirable alike fc^r 
what it contains and what it excludes, and entitled to the hea?ty gratitude 
and unrestrained praise of every lover of our pre-Shakespearian song." — 

The Children's Garland from the BEST POETS. Selected 
and Arranged by Coventry Patmore, 

**// has the merit of being the best of its kind, and of hazing been 
collected 7oith a definite object and by a competent person.*' — Saturday 
Review. **// w the richest collection of the best poetry for childreti.'^ — 


The Fairy Book. The Best Popular Fairy Stories. Selected 

and Rendered anew by the Author of **John Halifax, Gentleman." 

** A delightful selection, in a delightful external fomu^* — Spectator. 

The Jest Book. The Choicest Anecdotes and Sayings. Selected 
and Arranged by Mark Lemon, Editor of Punch, 

*' The fullest and best jest book\that has yd a/>/>eared." — SATURDAY 

The Pilgrim's Progress from this World to that which is 

to Come. By John Bunyan. 

** A prettier and better edition of the * Pilgrim s Progress^* and one niore 
exactly suited for use as an elegant and inexpensive Christmas Gifi-book^ 
is not to be found.'' — Examiner. " The prettiest possible edition" — 

A Book of Golden Thoughts. By Henry Atwell, 

Knight of the Order of the Oak Crown. 

" Mr. Attivcll lias produced a book of rare value. Happily it is small 
enough to be carried about in the pockety and of such a companion it would 
be difficult to weary.'''— VxLL Mall Gazette. 

Guesses at Truth. By Two Brothers. New Edition. 

" A new and dainty edition of a work that has taken a sure and lasting 
place in our literature. " — Daily Telegraph. 

Other Volumes in Preparation, 



Beautifully printed on toned paper, price 3^-. 6^. each in cloth plain. 
Cloth elegant, gilt edges, 4^. 6^. Also kept in various styles of 
morocco and calf bindings. 

" The Globe Editions are admirable for their scholarly editings their 
typographical excellence^ their cofnprehensive form, and their cheapness. " — 
Saturday Review. 

" A Series unrivalled for its combination of excellatce and cheapness." — 
Daily Telegraph. 

The following are now ready : — 

Shakespeare's Complete Works. Edited by w. g. 

Clark, M.A., and W. Aldis Wright, M.A. With Glossary. 

** A marvel of beauty ^ cheapness^ and compactness. . . . For the busy 
maUf above all for the working student, this * Globe * Edition is the best of 
all existing Shahespc'aj'es." — Athen/EUM. ** To have produced the coth- 
plete works of the world'' s greatest poet in such a form, and at a price 
within the reach of ci'cry one, is of itself almost sttjjicient to gtt-e the 
publishers a claim to be considered public benefactors.^' — Pall Mall 

Morte D' Arthur. — sir Thomas Malory's Book of King 
Arthur, and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table. The 
Edition of Caxton, revised for modern use. With an Introduction, 
Notes, and Glossary, by Sir Edward Strachev. New Edition. 

** // is with the most perfect confuicnce that we recom^ncfid this edition 
of the old romance to every class ofrecuiers." — Pall Mall Gazette. 

Robert Burns' Complete Works.— The Poems, Songs, 

and Letters. Edited, with Glossarial Index, and Biographica 
Memoir, by Alexander Smith. New Edition. 

** The works of the bard have never been offered in such a complete form 
in a single volume." —Glasgow Daily Herald. "Admirable in all 
respects." — Spectator. " The cheapest, the most perfect, and the nwst 
interesting edition which has been tier published." — Bell's Messenger. 


The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. Edited after 

the Original Editions, with Biographical Introduction, by Henry 


**y| most exceUent and in every way desirable edition^ — COURT 
Circular. *' Macmillan^s Globe Robinson Crusoe is a book to have and 
to keep." — Morning Star. 

Sir Walter Scott's Poetical Works, with Bio- 
graphical and Critical Essay by Francis Turner Palgrave. 
New Edition. 

As a popular edition it leaves nothing to be desired." — Spectator. 
IVe can almost sympathise luith a middle-aged grumbler^ who, after 
reading Mr. Palgrave^ s metnoir and introduction, should exclaim * Why 
was tliere not such an edition, of Scott when I was a school-boy?^ " — 

Oliver Goldsmith's Miscellaneous Works, with 

Biographical Introduction by Professor Masson. 

"Cheap, elegant, and complete." — Nonconformist. " IVe do not 
know any edition more adapted for popular use." — CoURT CIRCULAR. 
** IVe do not know a better edition." — Glasgow Daily Herald. 

Edmund Spenser's Complete Works. Edited with 

Glossary by R. Morris, and Memoir by J. W. Hales. 

** Worthy — and higher praise it needs not — of the beautiful * Globe 
Series.* The loork is edited with all the care so noble apod deserves." — 
The Daily News. ** The best service the publishers have yet rendered to 
the lovers of genuine poetry and real English classical scholarship is the 
issue of this excellent edition." — Illustrated London News. 

Alexander Pope's Poetical Works. Edited, with Notes 

and Introductory Memoir, by Professor Ward. 

" The book is ha?uisome and handy." — AtheN/EUM. *' We are in- 
clined to think this edition not only the cheapest, but the very best that can 
be put into the hands of a student of English literature."— ?VliLlSHJLK's 


Great Christians of France : St. Louis and Calvin. 

By M. GuizoT. 
" A very interesting book." — Guardian. 

Christian Singers of Germany. By Catherine Wink- 

" Miss Winkworth^s volume of this series is, according to our vieiv^ the 
choicest production of her pen" — British Quarterly Review. 

Apostles of Mediaeval Europe. By the Rev. G. F. 

^^ Mr, Maclear will ficwe done a great work if his admirable little 
volume shall help to break up the dense ignorance which is still prei*ailing 
among people at large" — Literary Churchman. 

Alfred the Great. By Thomas Hughes, M.P., Author of 
**Tom Brown's School Days." 

" Mr. HugJies has indeed written a good book^ bright and readable 
w: need hardly say, and of a very considerable historical value." — 

Nations Around. By Miss A. Keary. 

** Miss Kcary has skilfully availed herself of t/ie opportunity to write a 
pleasing and instructive book." — Guardian. ** A valuable and interest- 
ing volume" — Illustrated Times. 

St. Anselm. By the Rev. R. W. Church, M.A. 

**Itisa sketch by the hand of a master, with every line marked by tasU^ 
learning, and real apprehension of the subject." — Pall Mall Gazettk. 

Francis of Assisi. By Mrs. Olipiiant. 

" A valuable volufne which cannot fail often to betaken out for its beauty 
and the freshness and simplicity that bear us away into a region so entirely 

-* ♦ 


different from our owny — Guardian. " We are grateful to Mrs, 
Olipkant for a booh of much interest and pathetic beauty, a book which 
none can read without being the better for it" — JOHN Bull. 

Pioneers and Founders ; or, recent workers in 

THE MISSION FIELD. By Charlotte M. Yonge, Author 
of "The Heir of Redclyffe." 

" Likely to be one of the most popular of the * Sunday Library^ volumuj** 
— Literary Churchman. 

"iVt? popular book of ilte kind has been better executed," — DAILY 

rv w-i