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´╗┐Title: At Last
Author: Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "At Last" ***

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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,



At last we, too, were crossing the Atlantic.  At last the dream of 
forty years, please God, would be fulfilled, and I should see (and 
happily, not alone) the West Indies and the Spanish Main.  From 
childhood I had studied their Natural History, their charts, their 
Romances, and alas! their Tragedies; and now, at last, I was about 
to compare books with facts, and 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 farther side of the ocean; and 
it was not till the morning of the second day, the 3d of December, 
that we began to be thoroughly aware 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 the taffrel, beneath 
the chill 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 with dull red from off the setting sun--a study for 
Vandevelde 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 sponson behind the 
paddle-boxes; as the live flame-beads leaped and ran amid the 
swirling snow, while some fifteen feet beyond the untouched 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 till 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 spray, 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 strangely 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 night the wake 
teemed more bright with flame-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 diffused light, paler than the 
sparks, yet of the same yellow-white 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 the Peak of 
Teneriffe 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 that book 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 (though usual enough just 
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 would 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 round the 
moment they step on shore and return to something like a normal 
state of society.  The wisest and most humane rule for a traveller 
toward his companion is to

'Be to their faults a little blind;
Be to their virtues very kind;'

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 suffice that there were on board the good 
steamship Shannon, as was to be expected, plenty of kind, courteous, 
generous, intelligent people; officials, travellers--one, happy man! 
away to discover new birds on the yet unexplored Rio Magdalena, 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 
different destinations, 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 tantalising us, in the hospitable 
fashion of all West Indians, by fruitless invitations 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 Redruth and Camborne 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 
course, 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-line.  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, running 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 Terceira, 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 this voyage, those wondrous Isles of 
the Blest--Isles of the Blest of old; and why not still?  They too 
are said to be earthly 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 Terceira now as they did a few years 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 Flores, 
and the scene of that great fight off the Azores, on August 30, 
1591, made ever memorable by the pen of Walter Raleigh--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 words:  'Here die I, Richard 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' {4}--
to learn, 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 

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 outlook 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 
Medusae, 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 witnessed 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 
Rambles in the 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 appearance in the West Indies.  One 
curious fact, then, was verified that night.

The next morning gave us unmistakable tokens that we were nearing 
the home of the summer and the sun.  A north-east wind, which would 
in England keep the air at least at freezing in the shade, gave here 
a temperature just over 60 degrees; 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 brave 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, renewing its own 
youth, and becoming once more what it was when it started on its 
long journey from the Tropics towards the Pole.  As it rushes back 
across the ocean, thrilled and expanded by the heat, it opens its 
dry and thirsty lips to suck in the damp from below, till, saturated 
once more with steam, it will reach the tropic as a gray rain-laden 
sky of North-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 improving 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 

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

'Quocumque adspicias, nil est nisi pontus et 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 9th of 
December, the appearance of the first 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 extemporised 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 must 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 corners 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 undefinable 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 themselves 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 
thereof, which has lost ages since the habit of growing on rock or 
sea-bottom, but propagates itself for ever floating; and feeds among 
its branches a whole family of fish, crabs, cuttlefish, zoophytes, 
mollusks, which, like the plant which shelters them, are found 
nowhere else in the world.  And that awe, springing from 'the 
scientific use of the imagination,' would be increased if he 
recollected the theory--not altogether impossible--that this 
sargasso (and possibly some of the animals which cling to it) marks 
the site of an Atlantic continent, sunk long ages since; and that, 
transformed by the necessities of life from a rooting to a floating 

'Still it remembers its august abodes,'

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

'Slimy things would crawl with legs
   Upon that slimy sea,'

and thought of the memorable day when Columbus's ship first plunged 
her bows into the tangled 'ocean meadow,' and the sailors, naturally 
enough, were ready to mutiny, fearing hidden shoals, ignorant that 
they had four miles of blue water beneath their keel, and half 
recollecting old Greek and Phoenician legends of a weedy sea off the 
coast 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 sargasso.  Only in a sailing ship, 
and in calms or light breezes, can its treasures be explored.  
Twelve knots an hour is a pace sufficient 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, {8} which may be described as cuttlefish 
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, 
burdened 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 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 land-plant would, any 
nourishment from it.  Therefore it is, that to grow while uprooted 
and floating, though impossible to most land plants, is easy enough 
to many sea-weeds, and especially to the sargasso.

The flying-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 recollect that they are actually fish.  The first 
little one was mistaken for a dragon-fly, the first big one for a 
gray plover.  The flight is almost exactly like that of a quail or 
partridge--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 touching, 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 up 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. Ruskin 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 white haze of the horizon, where, in sharpest contrast, 
leaps and welters against it the black jagged sea; and richer and 
richer it glows upwards, till it cuts the azure overhead:  until, 
only too soon--

'The sun's rim dips, the stars rush out,
   At one 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 degrees 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 first outlier of the New World.  We ought 
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 directions, 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 lifting and 
sorting goods on the main-deck, in readiness for the arrival at St. 
Thomas's, and of moving forwards two huge 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 dissipation, all went off to rest, promising 
to themselves and their partners that they would get up at sunrise 
to sight Sombrero.

But, as it befell, 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 gray shoreless world of waters, looking out for Virgin Gorda; the 
first of those numberless isles which Columbus, so goes the tale, 
discovered on St. Ursula's day, and named them after the Saint and 
her eleven thousand mythical virgins.  Unfortunately, English 
buccaneers have since then given to most of them less poetic names.  
The Dutchman's Cap, Broken Jerusalem, The Dead Man's Chest, Rum 
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 Conquistadores, whose descendants, in the seventeenth 
century, they smote hip and thigh with great destruction.

The farthest of these Virgin Islands is St. Thomas's.  And there 
ended the first and longer part of a voyage unmarred 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 North-East 
wind, who caught us up in the chops of the Channel, helped us 
graciously on nearly 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 edge 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 atmosphere in which the mere 
act of breathing is a pleasure, be things for which to be thankful, 
then we had reason to say in 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-gray 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 upper 
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, evidently for many ages, to the 
gnawing of the sea at the present level.  Everywhere 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 raised 
beaches, or of the terraces which would have inevitably been formed 
by upheaval on the soft sides of the lava hills.  The 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 
freshness, 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 Rhone, 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 green corrie, or 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 superintendent, 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 clock, immovable, as yet, by the art of 

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 vegetation which we had 
ever seen.  Already on a sandy beach outside, we had caught sight of 
unmistakable coconut 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 coconut throughout the West Indies; belonging, we 
are told, to the Elaters--fire-fly, or skipjack beetles.  His grub, 
like that of his cousin, our English wire-worm, and his nearer 
cousin, the great wire-worm of the sugar-cane, eats into the pith 
and marrow of growing shoots; and as the palm, being an endogen, 
increases from within by one bud, and therefore by one shoot only, 
when that is eaten out nothing remains for the tree but to die.  And 
so it happens that almost every coconut 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, 
gray-blue Cerei like huge branching candelabra, and bushes the 
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 fruit trees round a cottage told, by their 
dark baylike foliage, of fruits whose names alone were known to us.

Round Water-island we went, into a narrow channel between steep 
green 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 primeval 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 
shores with their timbers; the boatfuls of Negroes 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) civilisation.  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 ceremony 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 themselves on 
their own ground, and looked round patronisingly 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 hats, 
nests of Curacoa baskets, and so forth.  They drove a thriving trade 
among all newcomers:  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 carry as coals to 
Newcastle, six hundred miles down the islands.  Poor Joe tried to 
sell us a nest of Curacoa baskets for seven shillings; retired after 
a firm refusal; came up again to R-----, after a couple of hours, 
and said, in a melancholy and reproachful voice, 'Da--- take dem for 
four shillings and sixpence.  I give dem 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 impenetrable jungle, among which we 
could see, below, the curved yellow stems of the coconuts; and 
higher up the straight gray 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!  There was three-quarters of an hour left, 
between dinner and dark; and in three-quarters of an hour what might 
not be seen in a world where all was new?  The kind chief officer, 
bidding us not trust negro boats on such a trip, lent us one of the 
ship's, with four honest fellows, thankful enough to escape from 
heat and smoke; and away we went with two select companions--the 
sportsman and our scientific friend--to land, for the first time, in 
the New World.

As we leaped on shore on that white sand, what feelings passed 
through the heart of at least one of us, who found the dream of 
forty years translated into fact at last, are best, perhaps, left 
untold here.  But it must be confessed 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, for the scrub was not thirty feet 
high; nor at the gorgeous colours, for very few plants or trees were 
in flower; but at the wonderful wealth of life.  The massiveness, 
the strangeness, the variety, the very length of the young 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, to be looked at, and a fresh Dryad gazed out 
of every bush and with wooing eyes asked to be wooed again.  The 
first two plants, perhaps, we looked steadily at were the Ipomoea 
pes caprae, 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.' {15a}  We had fancied it (and correctly) to be a 
mere low bushy tree with roundish leaves.  But what a bush! with 
drooping boughs, arched over and through each other, shoots already 
six feet long, leaves as big as the hand shining like dark velvet, a 
crimson mid-rib down each, and tiled over each other--'imbricated,' 
as the botanists would say, in that fashion, which gives its 
peculiar solidity and richness of light and shade to the foliage of 
an old sycamore; and among these noble shoots and noble leaves, 
pendent everywhere, long tapering 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-leafed 
plant which we had ever seen.  Then we admired the Frangipani, {15b} 
a tall and almost leafless shrub with thick fleshy shoots, bearing, 
in this species, white flowers, which have the fragrance peculiar to 
certain white blossoms, to the jessamine, the tuberose, the orange, 
the Gardenia, the night-flowering Cereus; then the Cacti and Aloes; 
then the first coconut, with its last year's leaves pale yellow, its 
new leaves deep green, and its trunk ringing, when struck, like 
metal; then the sensitive plants; then creeping lianes of a dozen 
different kinds.  Then we shrank back from our first glimpse 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 spider-legged Mangroves rose on stilted 
roots.  We turned, in wholesome dread, to the white beach outside, 
and picked up--and, 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 
chattering, quacking, squealing, whistling, not to cease till 

So ended our first trip in the New World; and we got back to the 
ship, but not to sleep.  Already a coal-barge 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 
heavy 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 fell, worked, many 
of them, altogether naked, their glossy bronze figures gleaming in 
the red lamplight, 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 sponson, 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 song 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--'

'Ya-he,' etc.

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

'Ya-he,' etc.

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 between the refinement within and the brutality 
without became very painful.  For brutality it was, not merely in 
the eyes of the sentimentalist, but in those of the moralist; still 
more in the eyes of those who try to believe that all God's human 
children may be some-when, 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, 
demoralising in itself, as it enables Negroes 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 from the mere excitability and coarseness of 
half-civilised creatures than from any deliberate depravity; and we 
were told that, in the island just mentioned, the Negroes, 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 certain 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 Sabbaths, may be answered, and 
answered rightly, 'All the more reason for keeping one day which 
shall be a Sabbath, 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 farther 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 paraphrased 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, etc.) 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, 
burns 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 of Christmas; 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 hedge of 
Pinguin (Bromelia)--the plants like huge pine-apple 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 plaything 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 yellow 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 gray stems and 
leaves, and its azure of lovely lilac flowers, with curious columns 
of stamens in each--an Asclepiad introduced from the Old World, 
where it ranges from tropical Africa to Afghanistan; 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 toughest 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 shady cove (for 
the sun, even at eight o'clock in December, was becoming 
uncomfortably fierce), and again into the shore-grape wood.  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, Bonducella) rounded prickly pods, which, being opened, 
proved to contain the gray 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 grass-wrack, 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 gray, and branching 
corals likewise, such as, when cleaned, may be seen in any curiosity 
shop.  These, and a flock of brown and gray pelicans sailing over 
our head, were fresh 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 newcome Europeans, R----- 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 manchineel.  Dat poison.  Throw dat 
overboard.'  R-----, who knew it was not manchineel, 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 befell, 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 quarter-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 put what it was, after promising at least not to eat it.  And 
it proved to be Thevetia neriifolia, and a very deadly poison.

This was the first (though by no means the last) warning which we 
got not to meddle rashly with 'poison-bush,' lest that should befall 
us which befell a scientific West Indian of old.  For hearing much 
of the edible properties of certain European toadstools, he resolved 
to try a few experiments in his 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 his 
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 during 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 


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

Under a cloudless sky, upon a sea, lively yet not unpleasantly 
rough, we thrashed and leaped along.  Ahead of us, one after 
another, rose high on the southern horizon banks of gray cloud, from 
under each of which, as we neared it, descended the shoulder of a 
mighty mountain, dim and gray.  Nearer still the gray changed to 
purple; lowlands rose out of the sea, sloping upwards with those 
grand and simple concave curves which betoken, almost always, 
volcanic land.  Nearer still, the purple changed to green.  Tall 
palm-trees and engine-houses stood out against the sky; the surf 
gleamed white around the base of isolated rocks.  A little nearer, 
and we were under the lee, or western side, of the island.  The sea 
grew smooth as glass; we entered the shade of the island-cloud, and 
slid along in still unfathomable blue water, close under the shore 
of what should have been one of the Islands of the Blest.

It was easy, in presence of such scenery, to conceive the exaltation 
which possessed the souls of the first discoverers of the West 
Indies.  What wonder if they seemed to themselves to have burst into 
Fairyland--to be at the gates of The Earthly Paradise?  With such a 
climate, such a soil, such vegetation, 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 inexhaustible 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 infinitely, they hoped 
infinitely, and dared infinitely.  They were a dumb generation and 
an unlettered, those old Conquistadores.  They did not, as we do 
now, analyse and describe their own impressions:  but they felt them 
nevertheless; and felt them, it may be, all the more intensely, 
because they could not utter them; and so went, half intoxicated, by 
day and night, with the beauty and the wonder round them, till the 
excitement overpowered alike their reason and 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 1500 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 1200 honest Dutch, and 
some 800 Negroes, 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 Negroes 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 peacefully 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 complexions 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 eruptions, 
surrounding a central cone, the product of some newer one.  But even 
this latter, as far as I could judge by the glass, is very ancient.  
Little more than the core of the central cone is left.  The rest has 
been long since destroyed by rains and winds.  A white cliff at the 
south end of the island should be examined by geologists.  It 
belongs probably to that formation of tertiary calcareous marl so 
often seen in the West Indies, especially at Barbadoes:  but if so, 
it must, to judge from the scar which it makes seaward, have been 
upheaved long ago, and like the whole island--and indeed all the 
islands--betokens an immense antiquity.

Much more recent--in appearance at least--is the little isle of St. 
Eustatius, or at least the crater-cone, with its lip broken down at 
one spot, which makes up five-sixths of the island.  St. Eustatius 
may have been in eruption, though there is no record of it, during 
historic times, and looks more unrepentant and capable of 
misbehaving itself again than does any other crater-cone in the 
Antilles; far more so than the Souffriere in St. Vincent which 
exploded in 1812.

But these two are mere rocks.  It is not till the traveller arrives 
at St. Kitts that he sees what a West Indian island is.

The 'Mother of the Antilles,' as she is called, is worthy of her 
name.  Everywhere from the shore the land sweeps up, slowly at 
first, then rapidly, toward the central mass, the rugged peak 
whereof goes by the name of Mount Misery.  Only once, and then but 
for a moment, did we succeed in getting a sight of the actual 
summit, so pertinaciously did the clouds crawl round it.  3700 feet 
aloft a pyramid of black lava rises above the broken walls 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 which steam and the fumes of sulphur are emitted.  
Sulphur in crystals abounds, encrusting 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's 
imagination, the form of the giant St. Christopher bearing on his 
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 volcanic 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. Davy, 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 result 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 Rain 
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-grass, and pigeon pea; 
and that 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.  Gray 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 
vegetation, mixed with other and smaller species of palms, their 
form, fantastic though it was, harmonised 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 civilisation 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 tree-shrouded house on a low cliff a mile off, 
where doubtless every 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 

The first thing that caught our eye on board the negro boats which 
were alongside was, of course, the baskets of fruits and vegetables, 
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 Cuffy's ladies delight to gnaw, walking, 
sitting, and standing; increasing thereby the size of their lips, 
and breaking out, often enough, their upper front teeth.  We had 
seen, and eaten too, the sweet sop {25a}--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; {25b} of the really delicious, but to me unknown, 
Chirimoya; {25c} and of the custard apple, {25d} containing a pulp 
which (as those who remember the delectable pages of Tom Cringle 
know) bears a startling likeness to brains.  Bunches of grapes, 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; {26a} large round brown fruits, to be eaten with pepper and 
salt by those who list.  With these, in open baskets, lay bright 
scarlet capsicums, green coconuts tinged with orange, great roots of 
yam {26b} and cush-cush, {26c} 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 Negroes and Negresses thrust each 
other's boats about, scramble from one to the other with gestures of 
wrath and defiance, and seemed at every moment about 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 white race.  The causes, 
I believe, are two.  In the first place there is less difference 
between the sexes in mere physical strength and courage; 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 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 the 
exceeding ease with which, not merely food, but gay 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 civilising 
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 Old 
World, and the short and stunted figures, the mesquin and scrofulous 
visages, which crowd our alleys and back 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 healthy and 
comfortable, remember that we have at home here tens of thousands of 
paupers, rogues, whatnot, who are not a whit more civilised, 
intellectual, virtuous, or spiritual than the Negro, and are 
meanwhile neither healthy nor comfortable.  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 
reefs, whether of true coral or of volcanic rock I should be glad to 
know.  A single peak, with its Souffriere, rises to some 2000 feet; 
right and left of it are two lower hills, fragments, 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 seventeenth century a 
little paradise, containing 4000 white citizens, who had dwindled 
down in 1805, under the baneful influences of slavery, to 1300; in 
1832 (the period of emancipation) to 500; and in 1854 to only 170. 
{27a}  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, after his marriage with Mrs. Nisbet, 
a lady of Nevis, dwelt awhile in peace and purity.  Happier for him, 
perhaps, though not for England, had he never left that quiet nest.

And now, on the leeward bow, another gray 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 Montserrat is just now the scene of a 
very hopeful and important experiment. {27b}  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 be carried on 
for the benefit, not merely of the capitalists, but of the coloured 
people who are employed.  Already, I am assured, a marked 
improvement has taken place among 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, I verily believe the bane, of the West 
Indies.  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 people 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 agricultural 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, which I 
cannot too often recommend.  For us, we could only give a hasty look 
at its southern volcanic cliffs; while we regretted that we could 
not inspect the marine strata of the eastern 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. {28}

We could well believe, as the steamer ran into English Harbour, that 
Antigua was still subject to earthquakes; and had been shaken, with 
great loss of property though not of life, in the Guadaloupe 
earthquake of 1843, when 5000 lives were lost in the town of Point-
a-Pitre alone.  The 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 Rat 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 cliffs 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 gray lava and ash is gnawn 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, which seem to 
slope outward from it.  To the left it leads away into a long creek, 
up which, somewhat to our surprise, we saw neat government-houses 
and quays; and between them and us, a noble ironclad 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 
imported 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 which lay under a sheet of clouds 
of corresponding vastness.  That was Guadaloupe.  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 the 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 of 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 

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 gray 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-houses.  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 farther island, 
known by the name of Grande Terre.

Guadaloupe, as some of my readers may know, consists, properly 
speaking, of two islands, divided by a swamp and a narrow salt-water 
river.  The eastward half, or Grande Terre, which is composed of 
marine strata, is hardly seen in the island voyage, and then only at 
a distance, first behind the westward Basse Terre, and then behind 
other little islands, the Saintes and Mariegalante.  But the 
westward island, rising in one lofty volcanic mass which hides the 
eastern island from view, is perhaps, for mere grandeur, 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 magnificent as they were in the days of Pere Labat.  Tiny 
knots on distant cliff-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 5000 feet in height, at the foot of 
which lies the Port of Basse Terre, or Bourg St. Francois.

We never were so fortunate as to see the Souffriere 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 forgotten.

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 hill-tops, 
curved sheets of bright white mist

'Stooped from heaven, and took the shape,
With fold on fold, of mountain and of cape.'

And under them, again, the crater seethed with gray 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 
sinking 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 mangoes, 
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 cliff, marked with many a 
cross, was the lonely cholera 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 sulphureous 
vapours.  In the great crisis of 1812, indeed, the volcano was 
quiet, leaving the Souffriere 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 mistaken 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-a-
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 far as human industry and enterprise goes.  They have, as 
well, I understand, 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 
expensive system.  These shrewd Frenchmen, and, I am told, even 
small proprietors among the Negroes, 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 are manufactured into sugar.  They thus devote their own 
capital and intellect to increasing the yield of their estates; 
while the central factories, it is said, pay dividends ranging from 
twenty to forty 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 schooner, and bad food, bugs, cockroaches, and a bunk 
which--but I will not describe.  'Non ragionam di lor, ma guarda' 
(down the companion) 'e passa.'

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 nears each of them--Guadaloupe, Dominica, 
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 Pelee, the 
Pitons du Carbet, and the Piton du Vauclain.  But all have that 
peculiar jagged outline which is noticed first at the Virgin 

Flat 'vans' or hog-backed hills, and broad sweeps of moorland, so 
common in Scotland, are as rare as are steep walls of cliff, so 
common in the Alps.  Pyramid is piled on pyramid, the sides of each 
at a slope of about 45 degrees, till the whole range is a congeries 
of multitudinous peaks and peaklets, 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 rocks 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 lumps, 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 downpour 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 gray with groo-groo palms, {33} or yellow with 
unknown flowering trees.  High against the sky-line, tiny 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 gray stem and dark crown of some palmiste 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, compared 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 ever-changing, iridescent, like a peacock's neck; 
till the whole island, from peak to shore, 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 Rosseau at Dominica.  Let him sail down 
the leeward side of Guadaloupe, down the leeward side of what island 
he will, and judge for himself how poor, and yet how tawdry, my 
words are, compared with the luscious yet magnificent colouring of 
the Antilles.

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 traveller, 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 is.  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 negro slavery, nor 
of the shadow which, though abolished, it has left behind, not to be 
cleared off for generations 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, 
who, 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 retaken, 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 
down 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 Fills de Paris.  Truly, though cynically, wrote Sir Gilbert 
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 afforded.'

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 coconut, 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 round, 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 alongside 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 18's hauled up far above his masthead 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.' {36}  In this strange fortress 
Lieutenant James Wilkie Maurice (let his name be recollected 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 Rock, 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 squadron of two 74's, a frigate, a corvette, a schooner, and 
eleven gunboats, after killing and wounding some seventy men on the 
rock alone, and destroying three gunboats, with a loss 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 Rodney's line of frigates watched for the expected 
reinforcement of the French fleet.  The first bay in St. Lucia is 
Gros islet; and there is the Gros islet itself--Pigeon Rock, as the 
English call it--behind which Rodney'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.

And those glens and forests of St. Lucia--over them and through them 
Sir John Moore and Sir Ralph Abercrombie fought, week after week, 
month after month, not merely against French soldiers, but against 
worse enemies; 'Brigands,' as the poor fellows were called; Negroes 
liberated by the Revolution of 1792.  With their heads full (and who 
can blame them?) of the Rights of Man, and the democratic teachings 
of that valiant and able friend of Robespierre, Victor Hugues, 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 Negroes made a desperate stand in the earthworks of yonder 
Morne Fortunee, 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 cush-cush 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:  stern 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 his life to St. Vincent, so saving 
himself for the glory of Corunna--was all but dead of fever; and 
Colonel James Drummond had to carry on the miserable work, till the 
whole 'Armee Francaise 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 some length, as an instance of what 
these islands have cost us in blood and treasure.  I have heard it 
regretted that we restored Martinique to the French, and kept St. 
Lucia instead.  But in so doing, the British Government acted at 
least on the advice which Rodney 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 
should be 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 forfeiting 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 prejudices of his time, he supported not only slavery, but 
the slave-trade itself, had perceived one of the most fatal 
weaknesses of the slave-holding 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 

We went up 800 feet of steep hill, to pay a visit on that Morne 
Fortunee which Moore and Abercrombie took, with terrible loss of 
life, in May 1796; and wondered at the courage and the tenacity of 
purpose which could have contrived 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 panorama.  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 
promontories; and, beyond all, the open sea.  What a land:  and in 
what a climate:  and all lying well-nigh as it has been since the 
making of the world, waiting for man to come and take possession.  
But there, as elsewhere, matters are mending steadily; and in 
another hundred years St. Lucia may be an honour to the English 

We were, of course, anxious to obtain at St. Lucia specimens of that 
abominable reptile, the Fer-de-lance, or rat-tailed snake, {38} 
which is the pest of this island, as well as of the neighbouring 
island of Martinique, and, in Pere 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 exaggeration.  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 retreat 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--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 
proportion 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 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 is created really 
ugly, that the Fer-de-lance looks an hideous fiend, the Ocelot a 
beautiful fiend, merely because the outlines 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, 
perhaps one's common-sense also, will persist 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.

These 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 Government House.'  I can 
well believe this, for about the same number were killed only two 
years ago in clearing, probably, the same piece of ground, which is 
infested with that creeping pest of the West Indies, the wild Guava-
bush, from which guava-jelly 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 so 
large that I do not like to quote it merely from memory.  Certainly, 
it was high time to make a crusade against these unwelcome denizens.  
Dr. Davy, judging from a Government 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 befalls, a 
hideous death enough.  If any one wishes to know what it is like, 
let him read the tragedy which Sir Richard Schomburgk 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. 
{40}  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 
think, 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 
Negroes 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 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 goes the story) during the Carib war of 1795-96, 
the savages imported Fer-de-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 medieval one, that the devil 
must have brought them thither, to plague the inhabitants for their 

Among all these beautiful islands, St. Lucia is, I think, 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 The Pitons 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 English 
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 2710, the other to that of 2680 feet, about a mile from each 
other.  Between them is the loveliest little bay; and behind them 
green wooded slopes rise toward the rearward mountain of the 
Souffriere.  The whole glitters clear and keen in blazing sunshine:  
but behind, black depths of cloud and gray sheets of rain shroud all 
the central highlands in mystery and sadness.  Beyond them, without 
a shore, spreads open sea.  But the fantastic 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 exaggerated the 
slenderness 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, probably of Rodney's men--and 
numbering, according to the pleasure of the narrator, three hundred, 
thirty, or three--are 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 cliffs.  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, which, 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 Souffriere, probably the 
remains of the old crater, now fallen in, and only 1000 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 profitably will require a little more common-sense than 
the good folks of St. Lucia have as yet shown.  In 1836 two 
gentlemen of Antigua, {43a} Mr. Bennett and Mr. Wood, set up sulphur 
works at the Souffriere 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.

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 Guadaloupe.  Very grand are the vast sheets, probably of lava 
covered 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, unseen, the Souffriere.

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 from 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. 
{43b}  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 Fe 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 spoken of by Moreau de Jonnes took place in the 
Souffriere.  According to him, with a terrific earthquake, clouds of 
ashes were driven into the air with violent detonations from a 
mountain situated at the eastern end of the island.  When the 
eruption had ceased, it was found that the whole mountain had 
disappeared.  Now there is no eastern end to St. Vincent, nor any 
mountain on the east coast:  and the Souffriere is at the northern 
end.  It is impossible, meanwhile, 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 Souffriere had once a lofty cone, which 
was blasted away in 1718, leaving the present crater-ring of cliffs 
and peaks; and that thus may be explained the discrepancies in the 
accounts of its height, which Mr. Scrope gives as 4940 feet, and 
Humboldt and Dr. Davy at 3000, a measurement which seems to me to be 
more probably correct?  The mountain 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 around 800 feet in 
height, reminding one traveller of the Lake of Albano. {44}  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 mountain, was throwing stones at 
him; 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 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 Llanos, over 
a space of four thousand square leagues, were terrified by a 
subterranean noise, which resembled frequent discharges of the 
loudest cannon.  It was accompanied 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 vent.

No wonder if, with such facts on my memory since my childhood, I 
looked up at that Souffriere 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 mountain 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 reopened, even by a steam-force the vastness of 
which may be guessed at from the vastness of the area which it had 
shaken for two years.  So when the eruption was over, it was found 
that the old crater-lake, incredible as it may seem, remained 
undisturbed, as far as has been ascertained.  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 regretted 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 Rabacca, 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 Souffriere 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 Barbadoes.  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 in 
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 
Negroes 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 Barbadoes) were not 
proof against the infection.  Old letters describe the scene in the 
churches that morning as hideous--prayers, sobs, and cries, 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 feeling 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 began 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 fertilising, dust.  The 
trade-wind blew suddenly once more out of the clear east, and the 
surf roared again along the shore.

Meanwhile, a heavy earthquake-wave had struck part at least of the 
shores of Barbadoes.  The gentleman on the east coast, going out, 
found traces of the sea, and boats and logs washed up, some 10 to 20 
feet above high-tide mark:  a convulsion which seems to have gone 
unmarked 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. Vincent has broken out at last,' said the wise man, 'and this 
is the dust of it.'  So he quieted his household and his Negroes, 
lighted his 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 world.

Those who will recollect that Barbadoes 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 that 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 explained 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 euphonious names--
Becquia, Mustique, Canonau, Carriacou, Isle de Rhone--rise a few 
hundred feet out of the unfathomable sea, bare of wood, edged with 
cliffs and streaks of red and gray rock, resembling, says Dr. Davy, 
the Cyclades of the Grecian Archipelago:  their number is counted at 
three hundred.  The largest of them all is not 8000 acres in extent; 
the smallest about 600.  A quiet prosperous race of little yeomen, 
beside a few planters, dwell there; the latter feeding and exporting 
much stock, the former much provisions, and both troubling 
themselves less than of yore with sugar and cotton.  They build 
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-hermitages; 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 1000 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 pile 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, hung 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 trees.  Below, 
a line of bright mist over a swamp, with the coco-palms standing up 
through it, dark, and yet glistering 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, lanthorns; 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 easily 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-fire.  'Tell your boatman to go round to the other side,' 
quoth the officer in charge.

'Fanqua!  (Francois)  You go round oder side of de ship!'

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

'Fanqua!  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!' (regretful).  And so on, through every conceivable tone of 

But Fanqua did not move; and the officer and bystanders laughed.

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 tenderness 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!

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 outstretched, as if to 
cast off--had she the heart to do it--the rebel; and then 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 

It was a piece of admirable 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 hypocrisy 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?  Is it not the bane of too 
many Irish? of too many modern French? of certain English, for that 
matter, whom I have known, who probably had no drop of French or 
Irish blood in their veins?  But it is all the more baneful the 
higher the organisation is; because, the more brilliant the 
intellect, the more noble the instincts, 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 
cliff of volcanic sand, interspersed with large 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 left, the little city, 
scrambling up the hillside, with its red roofs and church spires, 
among coconut 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 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, one inside the other 
towards the central peak of Mount Maitland, 1700 feet high.  On the 
right bow, low sharp cliff-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 reef, almost awash, stretching from it to the 
ash-cliff on the south side of the harbour mouth.  A glance shows 
that this is none other than an old crater, like that inside English 
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, however, 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 the 
lower part of the town, washing away a stage, and doing 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 away.

The bottom of the crater, I was assured, was not permanently 
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 Negroes 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 Negroes, 
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, through be-coaled 
Negroes, 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 
everywhere, 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 beautiful 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 greasy 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 {52a}--
with purple maroon flowers; and an old hog-plum {52b}--Mombin of the 
French--a huge tree, which was striking, not so much from its size 
as from its shape.  Growing among blocks of 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 primeval woods, which range upward 60 or 80 feet 
without a branch.  We walked up to see the old fort, commanding the 
harbour from a height of 800 feet.  We sat and rested by the 
roadside 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 we 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 Negroes; 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 

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 3700 feet, and is itself about 1740 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 recognised, up and down the island, by the eye of 
a practised geologist.

The southern end of Grenada--of whatsoever rock it may be composed--
shows evidence of the same wave-destruction as do the Grenadines.  
Arches and stacks, and low horizontal strata laid bare along the 
cliff, 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 cliffs, 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, Robinson 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 North 
Trinidad ahead of us; to the west of them the island of the Dragon's 
Mouth; and westward 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 civilised man shall remain, with 
those waters--Columbus, Raleigh, 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 of rocks, not 
thirty feet high, and as many broad, stood 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 gray 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 seaside, 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 Negroes, 
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 his third voyage, sighted the three hills in the south-
eastern part.  He had determined, 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 Iere.

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 sterile as he approached the equator; whereas he beheld groves 
of palm-trees, and luxuriant forests sweeping down to the seaside, 
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.

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's 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 efforts to 
drive off the Spaniards who landed at Punta Arenal, near Icacque, 
and who, finding 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's 
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 accurate, has immortalised 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 Trinidad.  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 
cruelty.  The Arrawaks, to do them justice, defended themselves more 
valiantly than the still gentler people of Hayti, Cuba, Jamaica, 
Porto Rico, and the Lucayas:  but not so valiantly as the fierce 
cannibal Caribs of the Lesser Antilles, whom the Spaniards were 
never able to subdue.

It was in 1595, nearly a century after Columbus discovered the 
island, that 'Sir Robert Duddeley in the Bear, with Captain Munck, 
in the Beare's Whelpe, with two small pinnesses, 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 explored 
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 different 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, Raleigh'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 pleasure, 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 full of fruits, strange beasts and fowls, 
whereof munkeis, babions, and parats were in great abundance.'  His 
'munkeis' 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'--i.e. built a fort:  but he found 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 
Raleigh.  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 half-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 Paria.

He left somewhat too soon.  For on the 22d 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 shippes, 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, all 
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 
true.  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 which; considering Berreo's 
treachery to Whiddon's men; and considering also that as Berreo 
himself, like Raleigh, was just about to cross the gulf to Guiana in 
search of El 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.'  So Raleigh 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 primeval forest, 
tradition reports; and tells, too, how the prickly climbing palm, 
{58} 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, 
began shouting, 'Suelta mi, Ingles!'  (Let me go, Englishman!)--or, 
as others have it, 'Valga mi, Ingles!'  (Take ransom for me, 
Englishman!)--which name the palm bears unto this day.

So Raleigh, having, as one historian of Trinidad says, 'acted like a 
tiger, lest he should savour of the ass,' went his way to find El 
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 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 Raleigh, with Berreo as prisoner, 'hasted away toward 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 
uninhabited.  Their only fear was lest the Spaniards, worse 
neighbours than even the Caribs, should follow them thither.

But as Raleigh and such as he went their way, Berreo and such as he 
seem to have gone their way also.  The 'Conquistadores,' the 
offscourings not only of Spain but of South Germany, and indeed of 
every Roman Catholic country in Europe, met the same fate as befell, 
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 civilised themselves off the face of the 
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 
civilisation came to Trinidad, and re-settled the island:  
especially the family of Farfan--'Farfan de los Godos,' once famous 
in mediaeval chivalry--if they will allow me the pleasure of for 
once breaking a rule of mine, and mentioning a name--who seem to 
have inherited for some centuries the old blessings of Psalm 

'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 inheritance 
shall endure for ever.

'They shall 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 summoned 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 governor, 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 smallpox 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 a head, 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 primeval 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 2032.  In 1798, after the great 
immigration from the French West Indies, there were but 1082 Indians 
in the island.  It is true that the white population had increased 
meanwhile to 2151, the free coloured to 4476, and the slaves to 
10,000.  But there was still room in plenty for 2000 Indians.  
Probably many of them had been absorbed by intermarriage with the 
invaders.  At present, there is hardly an Indian of certainly pure 
blood in the island, and that only in the northern mountains.

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 Raleigh, 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 Company of Guinea, established 
in France, was allowed to supply the Spanish colonies with 4800 
Negroes 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 'Blackboard,' 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 his six pistols slung in bandoliers 
down his breast, lighted matches stuck underneath the brim of his 
hat, and his famous 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 
blackmail, and received blackmail 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. Robert Maynard, first 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 Blackbeard 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 Rabelo, who paid his 
tithes duly, saved his trees and his crop.

The wicked (according to Dauxion Lavaysse, a Frenchman inoculated 
somewhat with scientific and revolutionary 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 Rabelo 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 revanche, 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 smallpox had again devastated the island and the 
very monkeys had died of it,--as the hapless creatures died of 
cholera in hundreds 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, I say the war between 
Spain and England--that about Jenkins's 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 small-
clothes, which did duty among all the members.

Let no one be shocked.  The small-clothes desiderated would have 
been of black satin, probably embroidered; and fit, though somewhat 
threadbare, for the thigh of a magistrate 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 sportsmen, 
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 modern 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. Rome de St. Laurent 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, Martinique, and St. Lucia.  He laid before the Intendant 
at Caraccas, on whom Trinidad then depended, a scheme of 
colonisation, 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, born 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 Roman 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, 
considering 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 
ten per cent on all which they had accumulated; and their lands 
reverted to the Crown.  Similarly, if the heirs of a deceased 
settler should not reside in the colony, fifteen 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 population, 
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-burnings, to 
the newcomers.  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 

But in those days ignorance of the island, as well as the battle 
between old and new interests, brought lawsuits, and all but civil 
war.  Many of the French settlers were no better than they should 
be; many had debts in other islands; many of the Negroes 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 Negroes and mulatto slaves,' who 
were sent over as crimps.  I shall not record the words 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! 
as well as moral.  Then hurried into Trinidad, to make confusion 
worse confounded, French Royalist families, escaping from the 
horrors in Hayti; and brought with them, it is said, many still 
faithful house-slaves born 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 
Ca 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 ringleader (name not given) at his yard-arm.  Chacon begged 
the man's life, and the fellow was 'spared to become the persecutor 
of his preserver, even to banishment, and death from a broken 
heart.' {65}

At last the explosion came.  The English sloop Zebra 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 
towards the Boca, and found, to his grim delight, that the 
privateers had mistaken him for a certain English merchantman whom 
they 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 a 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, leaving behind them their surgeon severely 

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 mounting 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, but 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 madmen, 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.  Franco 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 Republic.  About the first profit which it made 
was the battle of St. Vincent; about the second, the loss of 

On February 14, while Jervis and Nelson were fighting off Cape St. 
Vincent, Harvey and Abercrombie came into Carriacou in the 
Grenadines with a gallant armada; seven ships of the line, thirteen 
other men-of-war, and nigh 8000 men, including 1500 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 land-
locked harbour of Chaguaramas, 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, 5000 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; forgetting, as to this day, that all the fiery valour of 
Frenchmen is of no avail without officers, and without respect for 
those officers.  Beside them, there lay under a little fort on 
Gaspar Grande island, in Chaguaramas harbour--ah, what a Paradise to 
be denied by war--four Spanish line-of-battle ships and a frigate.  
Their admiral, Apodaca, was a foolish old devotee.  Their crews 
numbered 1600 men, 400 of whom were in hospital with yellow fever, 
and many only convalescent.  The terrible Victor Hugues, it is said, 
offered a band of Republican sympathisers from Guadaloupe:  but 
Chacon 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 enemies, and more to be trusted than treacherous 

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 not let them fall into English 
hands.  At three in the morning Port of Spain woke up, all aglare 
with the blaze six miles away to the north-west.  Negroes 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.  The admiral crossed himself; and, 
when Chacon said 'All is lost,' answered (or did not answer, for the 
story, like most good stories, is said not to be quite true), 'Not 
all; I saved the image of St. Jago de Compostella, my patron and my 
ship's.'  His ship'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 Republicans (how does 
history repeat itself!) broke open the arsenal, overpowering the 
Spanish guard, seized some 3000 to 5000 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 himself.  But here they had no leaders.  The Spanish, 
overpowered by numbers, fell back across the Dry River to the east 
of the town, and got on a height.  The German jagers climbed the 
beautiful Laventille hills, and commanded the 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 Republican 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 second 
time, and tardy justice done, not by popular clamour, but by fair 
and deliberate law.  His nephew set out to bring the good man home 
in triumph.  He found him dying in a wretched Portuguese inn.  
Chacon heard that his honour was cleared at last, and so gave up the 

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, 
'aere 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 
civilised garden, the memory of the last and best of the Spanish 

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 Robinson's Life of Picton, 
two books, each of which will seem, I think, to him who will read 
them alternately, rather 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 liked to be turned 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 
modern 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 increased, in six years, from 17,700 to 28,400; in 1851 
it was 69,600; and it is now far larger.

But Trinidad has gained, by becoming English, more than mere 
numbers.  Had it continued Spanish, it would probably be, like Cuba, 
a slave-holding and slave-trading island, now wealthy, luxurious, 
profligate; and Port of Spain would be such another wen upon the 
face of God's earth as that magnificent 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 mankind 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 Republic of Venezuela, and have been 'called into 
existence' by the massacre of the respectable folk, the expulsion of 
capital, and the establishment (with a pronunciamento and a 
revolution every few years) of a Republic such as those of Spanish 
America, combining every vice of civilisation with every vice of 
savagery.  From that fate, as every honest man in Trinidad knows 
well, 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 


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 marketplace, 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 'Midshipman's half-pay--
nothing a day, and find yourself.'  You are told that there are 8000 
human beings in Port of Spain alone without visible means of 
subsistence, and you congratulate 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 tolerated.

Next, the stranger will remark, here as at Grenada, that every one 
he passes looks strong, healthy, and well-fed.  One meets few or 
none of those figures and faces, small, scrofulous, squinny, and 
haggard, which disgrace the so-called civilisation 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 mountains.  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 sundown every evening, so long will an 
occasional outbreak of cholera or yellow fever hint that there are 
laws of cleanliness and decency which are both able and ready to 
avenge themselves.  You cross the pretty 'Marine Square,' with its 
fountain and flowering trees, and beyond them on the right the Roman 
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 tall 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 had not, 
as yet, gone so far as to play the part of Poseidon Ennosigaeus.

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 flowering 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 doorsteps sit Negresses in gaudy print dresses, with 
stiff turbans (which are, according to this year's fashion, of 
chocolate and yellow silk plaid, 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, 
from 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 coarseness, 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 aggravated by 
the superabundant animal vigour and the perfect independence of the 
younger women.  It is a painful subject.  I shall touch it in these 
pages as seldom and as lightly as I can.  There 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--Then do not scratch him.  
It will be better for you, 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 nothing 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 Negroes round.  
There comes a bright-eyed young lady, probably his daughter-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, delicate little woman, 
who is quite aware of the brightness of her own eyes.  And who are 
these three boys in dark blue coatees 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 out that the women have chignons and 
no hats, the men hats with their pigtails coiled up under them.  
Beyond this distinction, I know none visible.  Certainly none in 
those sad visages--'Offas, 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 born, and they had been 
weeping bitterly over the calamity ever since?  They, too, must have 
their moments of relaxation:  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 astonished 
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 
unmistakable Englishman, tall, fair, close-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 civilisation 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 lowest.

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 once.  Some are 
mere wooden sheds of one or two rooms, comfortable enough in that 
climate, where a sleeping-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 coolness.  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 are told, by people engaged in business.

But what would--or at least ought to--strike the newcomer's eye with 
most pleasurable surprise, and make him realise into what a new 
world he has been suddenly translated--even more than the Negroes, 
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 tall palm--whether Palmiste or Oil-palm--has 
its smooth trunk hung all over with orchids, tied on with wire.  
Close to it stands a purple Dracaena, 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 straight stem, fifteen 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 {74} 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 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 ballroom, and the best that can be hoped is that the 
authorities will hide it as quickly as possible with a ring of 
Palmistes, Casuarinas, 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 uniform 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 all 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 
fireflies 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--Negroes, 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 remarkable, 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 or sell.

But the most interesting element of that exhibition was the coconut 
fibre products of Messrs. Uhrich and Gerold, of which 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 ballroom has seen--even now is seeing--
strange vicissitudes.  For the new Royal College, having as yet no 
buildings of its own, now keeps school, it is said, therein--alas 
for the inkstains on that beautiful floor!  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 (Melpomene, 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 Ralph 
Woodford, are as good as English roads--runs between the Savannah 
and the mountain spurs, and past the Botanic Gardens, which are a 
credit, in more senses than one, to the Governors 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 

This Paradise--for such it is--is somewhat too far from the city; 
and one passes in it few people, save an occasional brown nurse.  
But when Port of Spain becomes, as it surely will, a great 
commercial city, and the slopes of Laventille, 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 with human


30th December 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 stupefied 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 impossible.  It must suffice if you 
find in this letter a sketch or two--not worthy to be called a 
study--of particular spots which seem typical, beginning with my 
bathroom window, as the scene which first proved to me, at least, 
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 gray 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, looking 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, {77} first cousin to the great black 
pepper-bush in the gardens near by, with the berries of which you 
may burn 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, {78a} 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 
leafstalks 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 farther, 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,' {78b} 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, {78c} from the East Indian Islands, 
like spiral pine-apple 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 'Poui' of 
the Indians, {78d} 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 {78e} which, introduced from Africa, has spread over 
the whole West Indies.  Dark lithe coolie prisoners, one a gentle 
young fellow, with soft beseeching 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 pine-
apples 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 flat 
top of gigantic curly horse-chestnut leaves, which is a Trumpet-
tree. {79a}  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'; {79b} when full-grown, one of the finest timbers in the 
world.  And what are those at the top of the brow, rising 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 there a 
young one springing up like a gigantic crown of male-fern.  The old 
ones have straight gray stems, often prickly enough, and thickened 
in the middle; gray last year's leaves hanging down; and feathering 
round the top, a circular plume of pale green leaves, like those of 
a coconut.  But these are not cocos.  The last year's leaves of the 
coco are rich yellow, and its stem is curved.  These are groo-groos; 
{79c} 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 vegetation by the stern grace of 
their simple lines; the immovable pillar-stem looking the more 
immovable beneath the toss and lash and flicker of the long leaves, 
as 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 luxurious drawing-room, sharp cut, cold, virginal; 
shaming, by the grandeur of mere form, the voluptuousness of mere 
colour, however rich and harmonious; so stands the palm in the 
forest; to be worshipped rather than to be loved.  Look at the 
drawings of the Oreodoxa-avenue at Rio, in M. Agassiz's charming 
book.  Would that you could see actually such avenues, even from the 
sea, as we have seen them in St. Vincent and Guadaloupe:  but look 
at the mere pictures of them in that book, and you will sympathise, 
surely, with our new 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 {79d}--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 being 
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 so 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 gray, 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 gray 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 are 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 fresh impenetrable undergrowth of green; 
creepers covering the land, climbing up and shrouding the charred 
stumps; young palms, like Prince of Wales's feathers, breaking up, 
six or eight feet high, among a wilderness of sensitive plants, 
scarlet-flowered dwarf Balisiers, {81a} climbing fern, {81b} 
convolvuluses of every hue, and an 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 children are, in myriads; and ere a 
generation has passed, every dead gray stem will have disappeared 
before the ants and beetles and great wood-boring bees who rumble 
round in blue-black 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 
more.  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 his grave.  Think over that last simile.  If you think 
of it in the light which physiology gives, you will find that it is 
not merely a simile, but a true analogy; another manifestation of a 
great physical law.

Thus much for the view at the back--a chance scene, without 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 coconut palms on the nearest 
spur of hill throwing back the tender-blue of the higher mountains; 
the huge central group of trees--Saman, {81c} Sandbox, {81d} and 
Fig, with the bright ostrich plumes of a climbing palm towering 
through the mimosa-like foliage of the Saman; and Erythrinas {81e} 
(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 {82a}) like 
Venus's hair fern; some, again, like the Cocorite, {82b} 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 Bauhinias, 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, the Banana, food of 
paradise.  Or, again, far away to the extreme 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 shining water, and beyond them, a cloud among 
the clouds, the peak of a mighty mountain, with one white tuft of 
mist 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 language which 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 
aesthetic barbarism, in fact, which has no choice of epithets save 
between such as 'great,' and 'vast,' and 'gigantic'; between such as 
'beautiful,' and 'lovely,' and '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 
admiration; 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 of 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 God.

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 trunk a Cereus has reared itself, 
for some thirty feet at least; a climbing Seguine {83a} twines up it 
with leaves like 'lords and ladies'; but the glory of the tree is 
that climbing palm, the feathers of which 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 ground in curves as 
that of a Boa bedecked with huge ferns and prickly spikes, six feet 
and more long each, the Rattan {83b} 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, {83c} looking, to 
describe the unknown by the known, like walnuts with leaflets eight 
inches long, their boughs clustered with yellow and green sour 
fruit; 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 crimson caul of mace; or the nutmegs, the mace still 
clinging round them, lie scattered on the grass.  Under the 
perpetual shade of the evergreens haunt Heliconias and other 
delicate butterflies, 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 entomologising, 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 burden you.  Glance at 
that beautiful and most poisonous shrub, which we found wild at St. 
Thomas's. {84}  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 stifled in their embraces, dies 
and rots out, and the Matapalo (or Scotch attorney, {85a} 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 

Now turn homewards, past the Rosa del monte {85b} 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 
compared 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, {85c} 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 upright, often 
in the angle of a doorpost or panel; and always added to, and 
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 off the tube of the nest with 
horizontal floors of a finer and harder mud, and inside each storey 
places some five spiders, and among them the precious egg, or eggs, 
which is to feed on them when hatched.  If we open the uppermost 
chamber, 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 grub full-grown, and finishing his 
last spicier; 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 stupefy, but not to kill, just as the sand-wasps of our 
banks at home stupefy 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 sometimes from the stronger boughs, looking 
like huge hard lumps of clay.  And, once at least, we have found 
silken nests 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 curtains at 
night, the flies about the house are not nearly as 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 by, we have 
seen hardly any here.  They then prove themselves in their sound 
senses by uniting to carry off 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 comfortable as in an 
country-house, and infinitely more comfortable than in 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 is the 
green lizard of the South of Europe, but of more sober colours.  The 
parasol ants--of whom I could tell you much, 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 
sister'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 especially.  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 insect-killers should avenge itself by a plague of vermin, 
caterpillars, 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 something 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' hats.

So we shall see and hear but few birds round Port of Spain, save the 
black vultures {87a}--Corbeaux, as they call them here; and the 
black 'tick birds,' {87b} a little larger than our English 
blackbird, with a long tail and a thick-hooked bill, who perform 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,' {87c} a brown and yellow 
bird, who seems almost equally privileged and insolent, inquires 
perpetually what you say.  Besides these, swallows of various kinds, 
little wrens, {87d} 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 proud 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 house.  The queen of all the pets is a black and 
gray spider monkey {88} from Guiana--consisting of a tail which has 
developed, at one end, a body about twice 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 which, 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 wanted; often, as she swings, every other limb hangs in 
the most ridiculous repose, 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 wrist.  Her relative Jack, of whom hereafter, walks about 
carrying his chain, to ease his neck, in a loop of his tail.  The 
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 seance 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, nevertheless, 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 pretending 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 in futile explanations, 
gesticulations, mouthings of an 'Oh!--oh!--oh!' so pitiably human, 
that you can only punish her by laughing at her, which she does not 
at all like.  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. {89}  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, which indicates the great development of the hyoid 
bone; but, happily for the sleep of the neighbourhood, he never 
utters in captivity any sound beyond a chuckle; and he is supposed, 
by some here, from his burly thick-set figure, vast breadth between 
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 us was impressed, at the first sight, with the 
conviction that we had seen him before.

Poor Jack! and it is come to this:  and all from the indulgence of 
his five senses, plus '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, {90} two of which belong to the island; as 
abject and selfish as monkeys usually are, and as uninteresting; 
save for the plain signs which they give of being actuated by more 
than instinct,--by a 'reasoning' power 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 
Reason connected 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 inconveniences 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 imaginations so daringly hopeful a 
range:  but the world travels fast, and seems travelling on into 
some such theory just now; leaving behind, as antiquated 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 God, that he might be perfect even as his Father in 
heaven is perfect.

But to return to the animals.  The cage next to the monkeys holds a 
more pleasant beast; a Toucan out of the primeval 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 right 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, digesting 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 nature.

Next to him is a Kinkajou; {91a} 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 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 Ant-eater, 
{91b} who must needs climb here to feed on the tree ants.  So it is, 
too, with the Tree Porcupine, {91c} or Coendou, who (in strange 
contrast 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 primeval forest is, as 
one glance would show you, principally arboreal.  The flowers, the 
birds, the insects, are all a hundred feet over your head as you 
walk along in the all but lifeless shade; and half an hour therein 
would make you feel how true was Mr. Wallace's simile--that a walk 
in the tropic forest was like one in an empty cathedral while the 
service was being celebrated upon the roof.

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 as perfect, that it suits every circumstance 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 OEningen 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-increasing bulk of his 
square lumbering head, that in six months he will be ready to eat 
the monkey, and in twelve to eat the keeper.

There 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, {93a} 'Sun-fowlo' of the Surinam Negroes, 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 representation of the 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 of a 
clock.' {93b}  A game-bird, olive, with a bare red throat, also from 
The Main, called a Chacaracha, {93c} who is impudently brave, and 
considers the house his own; and a great black Curassow, {93d} also 
from The Main, who patronises 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 instruction 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.


Early in January, I 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 Negroes, 
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 ones, 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 his own hair hanging down to his 
shoulders after the manner of our old cavaliers.

The first islands which we made--The Five Islands, as they are 
called--are curious enough.  Isolated remnants of limestone, 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 stranded 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 {95a} and Pinguins {95b} find room or 
sustenance among them.  The island on which we landed is used, from 
time to time, as a depot 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 bona-fide 'voluntary' 
character of the engagement.  That they are well treated on the 
voyage is sufficiently proved, that on 2264 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 are sick are sent at once to 
the hospital; those unfit for immediate labour are sent to the 
depot.  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 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 newcomers 
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, four ounces of dholl (a 
kind of pea), an ounce of coconut oil or ghee, and two ounces of 
sugar to each adult; and half the same to each child 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 
decreased, especially during the first year of residence, since the 
plan of giving them rations has been at work.  The newcomers 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 advance money or luxuries to a newcomer, 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 one-tenth 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 medical visitors, appointed 
by the Governor, and under the inspection (as are the labour-books, 
indeed every document and arrangement 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 assigning 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 protect the employed 
from the employer; or, again, the employer from the employed.  What 
is needed is a moral bond between 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 still--a bond which shall combine 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 is yet; and, for a generation or two to come, '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 cannot wait to be blockaded and 
starved out by the rich 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 movement; and in fencing it round, as 
in Trinidad, with such regulations as shall make it most difficult 
for a Coolie to be seriously or permanently wronged without direct 
infraction of the law, and connivance of Government officers; which 
last supposition is, 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 persons, 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 September 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 passage 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 carried with them 65,585 
dollars; and one man, Heerah, handed over 6000 dollars for 
transmission through the Treasury, and was known to have about him 
4000 more.  This man, originally allotted to an estate, had, after 
serving out his industrial 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 fixed in special 
grooves for tens of centuries, should hurriedly embrace an offer 
which must strike at all his prejudices of country, and creed, and 
kin.'  Still, about sixty had settled in 1869 near the estates in 
Savonetta, where I saw them, and at Point a 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 a second time to Trinidad, bringing their kinsfolk and 
fellow-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 
civilisations 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 Matapalo shade; the group in the water as we 
landed, bathing and dressing themselves at the same time, after the 
modest and graceful 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 off to the estates to 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 people.  Indeed few high-caste Hindoos, 
except some Sepoys who found it prudent to emigrate after the 
rebellion, have condescended, or dared, to cross the 'dark water'; 
and only a very few of those who come west are Mussulmans.  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 European 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 their 
civilisation.  For it must tend to undermine in them, and still more 
in their children, the petty superstitions of old tribal 
distinctions; and must force them to take their stand on wider and 
sounder ground, and see that 'a man's a man for a' that.'

The third thing noteworthy in the crowd which cooked, chatted, 
lounged, sauntered idly to and fro under the Matapalos--the pillared 
air-roots of which must have put them in mind of their own Banyans 
at home--was their good manners.  One saw in a moment that one was 
among gentlemen and ladies.  The dress of many of the men was nought 
but a scarf wrapped round the loins; that of most of the women 
nought but the longer scarf which the Hindoo woman contrives to 
arrange in a most graceful, as well as a perfectly modest covering, 
even for her feet and head.  These garments, and perhaps a brass 
pot, were probably all the worldly goods of most of them just then.  
But every attitude, gesture, tone, was 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 civilisation 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 
civilised man, instinctively, and by the mere interchange of 
glances; a civilisation 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 dumb 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 quarterstaff.

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 Raleigh.  Already the 
good President of Ciudad Bolivar (Angostura) has disbanded 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 hundred miles up the Orinoco and Apure; while a 
second will soon run up the Meta, almost to Santa Fe 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 method of so doing 
now is to lay the swamp as dry as possible by open ditches, and then 
plant it, with coconuts, 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 coconuts 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 

We rowed on past the Boca de Monos, by which we had entered the gulf 
at first, and looked out eagerly enough for sharks, 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 
Barracoutas--Sphyraenas 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 
inshore, 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 disagreeing 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--admirable 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 
extraordinary 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-billed sprat, {102} 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 differing 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 we'll as at one end of St. Kitts, the fish are said to 
be all 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 fish are unknown in that island.  The 
statement, however, is somewhat too broadly made; for the Chouf-
chouf, {103a} 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 

These islands of the Bocas, three 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 unconsciously, 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 
gives these islands their special charm.  It is their exquisite 
little land-locked southern coves--places to live and die in--

'The world forgetting, by the world forgot.'

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, shut in right and left 
by steep rocks wooded down almost to the sea, and worn into black 
caves and crannies, festooned with the night-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 {103b} rides parasitic on roots and stems, sending downward 
long air-roots, and upward brown rat-tails of flower, and broad 
leaves, four feet by two, which wither into whity-brown paper, and 
are used, being tough and fibrous, to wrap round the rowlocks of the 
oars.  Tufts of Karatas, top, spread their long prickly leaves among 
the bush of 'rastrajo,' or second growth after the primeval forest 
has been cleared, which dips suddenly right and left to the beach.  
It, and the little strip of flat 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 
lizards and creeping flowers; some twenty or thirty coconut 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 fishing lines; and 
around it, scattered on the shingle, strange shells, bits of coral, 
coconuts 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, {104} 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 bore a likeness, and 
introduced hither, and indeed to 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 help.  An old 
sailor, and much-wandering Ulysses, he is now coastguardman, 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 coconut 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 corn 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 almanac, and 
three or four old books on a shelf are his whole library.  He has 
all that man needs, more than man deserves, and is far too wise to 
wish to better 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 under 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 young 
couple, who have education, refinement, resources in themselves, but 
are, happily or unhappily for them, unable to keep a brougham and go 
to 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 civilisation, and vain 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 civilisation 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 Huevos, 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 went, 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 Huevos, 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, {106} like 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 the 
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 farther 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 cliffs, 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 land-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 flowers, 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, liane 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 chasm we were to 
have passed out to the cave.  And yet the 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 Monos 
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 gray--
wheeled round and round in lordly flight, paused, gave a sudden 
half-turn, then fell into the water with widespread wings, and after 
a splash, rose with another skipjack in their pouch.  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 that 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 friend Professor Newton, not to the insect-eating, but to the 
fruit-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 
indoors, by such light as Venus gave, over the slippery rocks, and 
then, cautiously enough, past the Manchineel {107} bush, a broken 
sprig of which would have raised an instant blister on the face or 

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, I 
presumed 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 I became 
aware of a strange noise from seaward--a booming, or rather humming 
most like that which a locomotive sometimes 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 gray dawn, to the prettiest idyllic 
picture, through the half-open door, of two kids dancing on a stone 
at the foot of a coconut tree, with a background of sea and dark 

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 Chaguaramas.

'Immediately under the vessel I heard a deep and not unpleasant 
sound, similar to those one might imagine to proceed from a thousand 
AEolian harps; this ceased, and deep twanging notes succeeded; these 
gradually swelled into an uninterrupted 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 fish; 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, certainly, 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 mangrove shoots and 
turtle-grass:  {110} 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. O. de Thoron, communicated by him to the 
Academie des Sciences, December 1861, which confirms Mr. Joseph's 
story.  He asserts that in the Bay 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 afterwards, having advanced a little farther, he heard a 
multitude of different voices, which harmonised 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 United States) is made by a 
Pogonias, a fish somewhat like a great bearded perch, and cousin of 
the Maigre of the Mediterranean, which is accused of making a 
similar purring or grunting noise, which can be heard from a depth 
of one hundred and twenty feet, and guides the fishermen to their 

How the noise is made is a question.  Cuvier was of opinion that it 
was made by the air-bladder, though he could not 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 together.

I vouch for nothing, save that I heard this strange humming more 
than once.  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 cliff on the landward side of the Monos Boca.  But, 
alas! the wind had chopped a little to the northward; 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 Negroes, 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, {111a} 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--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 
{111b} are; and why five English gentlemen and a canny Scots 
coastguardman 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 civilised Europe, for the first time:--

'The Cueva del Guacharo 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 with trees of gigantic height.  The Mammee-tree 
and the Genipa, 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 
Orchideae of a singular construction, 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 Solandra, the orange 
flower of which has a fleshy tube more than four inches long.  The 
entrances of grottoes, 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!

'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 Praga palm-trees, and arborescent Arums follow the banks of the 
river, even to 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. . . .

'The Guacharo quits the cavern at nightfall, especially when the 
moon shines.  It is almost the only frugivorous nocturnal bird that 
is yet known; the conformation of its feet sufficiently shows that 
it does not hunt like our owls.  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-crow.  The 
Indians assured us that the Guacharo does not pursue either the 
lamellicorn insects, or those phalaenae 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 affrighted 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 

'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 Indians, uttering 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 long since observed in the fattening of 
geese and oxen.  It is well known how favourable darkness and repose 
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 or Cumana, and lived 
there several days without taking any nourishment, 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 del Guacharo), 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 
prevalent. . . .

'The natives connect mystic ideas with this cave, inhabited by 
nocturnal birds; they believe that the souls of their ancestors 
sojourn in the deep recesses of the cavern.  "Man," say they, 
"should avoid places which are enlightened neither by the sun" (Zis) 
"nor by the moon" (Nuna).  To go and join the Guacharos is to rejoin 
their fathers, is to die.  The magicians (piaches) and the poisoners 
(imorons) perform their nocturnal tricks at the entrance of the 
cavern, to conjure the chief of the evil spirits (ivorokiamo).  Thus 
in every climate the first fictions 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 birds. . . .

'The missionaries, with all their authority, could not prevail on 
the Indians to penetrate farther into the cavern.  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 cavern was indeed very uniform.  
We find that a bishop of St. Thomas of Guiana had gone farther than 
ourselves.  He had measured nearly two thousand five hundred feet 
from the mouth to the spot where he stopped, though the cavern 
reached farther.  The remembrance or 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 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 ourselves that the name of the Grotto of 
Caripe had hitherto remained unknown in Europe.  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 farther into the cave than either 
the bishop or Humboldt.  He had brought home also several Guacharos 
from the Trinidad caves, 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 Appendix.

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 gray lumps of coral 
pulp, and of Botrylli, azure, crimson, and all the hues of the 
flower-garden; and landed on the bank of a mangrove swamp, bored 
everywhere with the holes of land-crabs.  One glance showed how 
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, damming the land-water 
back 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 
smell.  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 at all.  So there it all lies, festering in the sun, and cooking 
poison day and night; while the mangroves and graceful white roseaux 
{115a} (tall canes) kindly do their best to lessen the mischief, by 
rooting in the slush, and absorbing the poison with their leaves.  A 
white man, sleeping one night on the edge of that pestilential 
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.

Through 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 {115b} 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 facts; that in 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 else that is bad.

Up we pushed along the narrow path, past curious spiral flags {115c} 
just throwing out their heads of delicate white or purple flower, 
and under the shade of great Balisiers or wild plantains, {115d} 
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 Roseau {115e}--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.  If 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 Roseau.

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 pairs 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 Roseau, 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 

Before us seethed a shallow horse-shoe bay, almost a lake, some two 
hundred yards across inside, but far narrower at the mouth.  Into 
it, between two lofty points of hard rock, worn into caves and 
pillars and natural arches, 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 sun 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-gray mist on copse and 
lawn high above.  A huge dark-headed Balata, {116a} like a storm-
torn Scotch pine, crowned the left-hand cliff; two or three young 
Fan-palms, {116b} 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 spellbound 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 sanctuary of Nature where one would have liked to build, and 
live and die:  had not a second glance warned us 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 immeasurable antiquity.  But instead 
of being hard, as Silurian rocks are wont to be, they are mere loose 
beds of dark sand and shale, yellow with sulphur, or black with 
carbonaceous 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 formed an entrance in the cliff 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 Gulf 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 trade-
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 Ramsgate cliffs--to pare the 
land away into a flat plain, just covered by a shallow sea.  No surf 
or currents could nave 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, {117} 'the 
situation of the Bocas is in a depression of the range, perhaps of 
the highest antiquity.'

We wandered along the beach, looking up at a cliff clothed, wherever 
it was not actually falling away, with richest 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 Luz, wandered into these seas 
in search of fish, when, in the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, 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 congratulated 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 coming down it, which 
belonged, it seemed, to a bathing party of pleasant French people, 
'marooning' (as picnicking 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 Negroes 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. {118a}  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, {118b} 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 Norantea, common 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 had not 
yet come in, and there 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-fin 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 Alice Biscayen suggested, as we 
went on, a fresh geological question.  How the outer islands of the 
Bocas had been formed, or were being 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, 
with steep cliffs, 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 disturbed the dull waters of the 'Golfo 
Triste,' as the Spaniards 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, depositing 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 boulders 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 primeval forest is called here; and they are not less, but more, 
wonderful than I had imagined them.  But they must wait awhile; for 
in reaching them, though they were only ten miles off, 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 Spain.  The frogs and 
cicalas had nearly finished their nightly music.  The fireflies had 
been in bed since midnight.  The air was heavy with the fragrance of 
the Bauhinias, and after I passed the great Australian Blue-gum 
which overhangs the road, and the Wallaba-tree, {120a} with its thin 
curved pods dangling from innumerable bootlaces six feet long, 
almost too heavy with the fragrance of the 'white Ixora.' {120b}  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,' {120c} 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 enjoyment.  Even more 
swiftly fades an even more delicate child of the moon, the Ipomoea, 
Bona-nox, whose snow-white patines, as broad as the hand, open at 
nightfall on every hedge, and shrivel up with the first rays of 

On through the long silent street of Port of Spain, where the air 
was heavy with everything 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 remembered, 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 mirror; 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 interminable 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 off 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, Raleigh and his men 
sailed in to conquer Trinidad.

On one log a huge black and white heron moped all alone, looking in 
the mist as tall as a man; and would not move for all our shouts.  
Schools of fish 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, from its monotony, vastness, silence; and we were 
glad, when we neared the high tree which marks the entrance of the 
Chaguanas Creek, and turned at last into a recess in the mangrove 
bushes; a desolate pool, round which the mangrove roots formed 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 {122a} rose lazily off a dead bough, flapped fifty yards up 
the creek, and then sat down again.  The only sound beside the 
rattle of our oars was the metallic note of a pigeon in the 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 horny 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 projecting above the surface 
of the water, and, in fact, did anything but behave like fish.

This little creature (Star-gazer, {122b} as some call him) is, you 
must understand, one of the curiosities of Trinidad and of the 
Guiana Coast.  He looks, on the whole, like a gray 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 cornea.'

These strangely specialised eyes--so folks 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 wharf, with 
barges alongside.  Baulks of strange timbers lay on shore.  Sheds 
were full of empty sugar-casks, ready for the approaching crop-time.  
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 of 
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 delights 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-month 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 was answered at 
once, that one or two good introductions to a single island would 
ensure hospitality throughout the whole archipelago.

A long-legged mule, after gibbing enough to satisfy his own self-
respect, condescended to trot off with us up the tramway, which lay 
along a green drove strangely like one in the Cambridgeshire fens.  
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 Bruneswald.

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 daytime, 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 a Palmiste, 
{124} or cabbage-palm, on each side of the garden gate, a pair of 
columns which any prince would have longed for 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, merely 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 gray.  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 Negroes spare, whenever they can, the 
gigantic Ceibas, or silk cotton trees.  These latter are useless as 
timber; 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 jumbies 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 Demerara, 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, of lianes, matapalos, orchids, wild 
pines with long air-roots or gray beards; and last, but not least, 
that strange and lovely parasite, the Rhipsalis cassytha, which you 
mistake first for a plume of green sea-weed, or a tress of Mermaid'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 grows; 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, grow 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 when 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, {126} fifty or sixty feet high, one blaze of 
vermilion against the blue sky.  Those who 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 ground below 
always damp.

I turned my dazzled eyes down again, and looked into the delicious 
darkness under the bushes.  The ground was brown with fallen leaves, 
or green with ferns; and here and there a slant ray of sunlight 
pierced through the shade, and flashed on the brown leaves, and on a 
gray stem, and 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 all my life; at which news he grinned amusement till 
his 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 pulp in which the rows of nibs lie packed, a pulp which I 
found very pleasant and refreshing.

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. 
{127}  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 insignificant 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 Negroes may have 
brought the name with them:  but then arose another wonder.  How 
were the terrible properties of the plant discovered?  How eager and 
ingenious must the human mind be about the devil's work, and what 
long practice--considering its visual 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 civilisation in the Tropics, and a civilisation 
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 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 primeval forest is 
cleared--all utterly impassable.  These rastrajo forms, of course, 
were all new to me.  I might have spent weeks in botanising 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.  I 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 Negroes, 
who expected the respectable elderly 'buccra' to come to grief; 
struggled perspiring up the other side of the gully; and then dashed 
away to the left, and stopped short, breathless with awe, in the 
primeval forest at last.

In the primeval forest; looking upon that upon which my teachers and 
masters, Humboldt, Spix, Martius, 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 helplessness, 
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.'  
You 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 of innumerable perpendicular lines, all straining 
upwards, in fierce competition, towards the light-food far above; 
and next of a green 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 the most part 
on the tips of the twigs, give a scattered, mist-like appearance to 
the under-foliage.  For the first moment, therefore, 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, {129a} with creeping stems and fan-shaped leaves, something 
like those of a young coconut 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 of 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 steps.  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 of a 
young Cocorite palm. {129b}  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) by a gray lichen-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. {129c}  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 all 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, strange as it may 
seem, the ascending sap, or rather the ascending pure rain-water 
which has been taken up by the roots, and is hurrying aloft, to be 
elaborated into sap, and leaf, and flower, and fruit, and fresh 
tissue for the very stem up which it originally 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 could 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.  There may be monkeys up there 
over your head, burly red Howler, {131a} or tiny peevish Sapajou, 
{131b} 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, are upstairs--up above the green cloud.  You are 
in 'the empty 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 
edges slope upward till, as your eye follows them, you find them 
enter an enormous stem, perhaps round, like one of the Norman 
pillars 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, {131c} or of Matapalos, or 
of Figs, or of Seguines, {131d} 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 set on end, that some 
sixty or eighty feet up in the green cloud, arms as big as English 
forest trees branch off; and that out of their forks a whole green 
garden of vegetation has tumbled down 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-trunk 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 branches of the big tree.  And what are 
their species? what are their families?  Who knows?  Not even the 
most experienced 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 which we cut through just now may be one of 
three or even four different plants. {132}

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 never 
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, Savernake, or Sherwood.  Stems rough, smooth, prickly, 
round, fluted, stilted, upright, sloping, branched, arched, jointed, 
opposite-leaved, alternate-leaved, leaflets, 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, gray, 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 {133a} with entire leaves; up the next 
another quite different, with deeply-cut leaves; {133b} up the next 
the Ceriman {133c} spreads its huge leaves, latticed and forked 
again and again.  So fast do they grow, that they have not time to 
fill up the spaces between their nerves, and are, consequently 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 fire of 
passion, which may be tested by the thermometer, or even by the 
hand, is given off during fructification.  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 fern {133d} 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 {133e} 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. {133f}  Suffice it to say, that over your 
head are perhaps a dozen kinds of admirable timber, which might be 
turned to a hundred 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 column after another, 
straight as those of a cathedral, and sixty to eighty feet without 
branch or knob.  That, he will say, is Fiddlewood; {133g} that a 
Carapo, {133h} that a Cedar, {133i} that a Roble {133j} (oak); that, 
larger than all you have seen yet, a Locust; {133k} that a Poui; 
{133l} that a Guatecare, {133m} that an Olivier, {133n} woods which, 
he will tell you, are all but incorruptible, defying weather and 
insects.  He will show you, as curiosities, the smaller but 
intensely hard Letter wood, {133o} Lignum vitae, {133p} and Purple 
heart. {134a}  He will pass by as useless weeds, Ceibas {134b} and 
Sandbox-trees, {134c} 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, {134d} 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 racehorse.  He goes on to evince his affection, in the 
fashion of West Indians, by giving it a chop with his cutlass; but 
not in wantonness.  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 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.  
But 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 Poui.  He will make 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 log 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 carelessly 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 four 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 
Fertilisation of Orchids, and finds in his own reason that the book 
is true, had best say nothing about the beautiful monsters till he 
has seen with his own eyes more than his master.

And yet even the three or four that are in flower are worth going 
many a mile to see.  In the hothouse they seem almost artificial 
from their strangeness:  but to see them 'natural,' on natural 
boughs, 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 is 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 running 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.  
These 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 
foresters 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 English 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 sight 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?  In an English wood there would be a foot--
perhaps two feet--of black soil, renewed by every autumn 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 perpetual 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 
great trunk comes down, with a boom as of a heavy gun, re-echoing on 
from mountain-side to mountain-side; then--

'Nothing in him that doth fade,
But doth suffer 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, as it is one of the most startling, phenomena 
of the forest.

Look here at a fresh wonder.  Away in front of us a smooth gray 
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 palm, called here black Roseau. {137a}  Close to it rises 
another pillar, as straight and smooth, but one-fourth of the 
diameter--a giant's walking-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; {137b} 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 Roseaux 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 flowers, which is a Poui; 
and of another lower one covered with hoar-frost, perhaps a Croton; 
{137c} 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 flowers may belong to the tree itself.  It may be a Mountain-
mangrove, {137d} 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 {137e} has taken possession of 
the head of a huge Mombin, {137f} and tiled it all over with crimson 
combs which crawl out to the ends of the branches, and dangle twenty 
or thirty feet down, 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-chien!' shouts your companion:  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--luckily 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 {138a} 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-Ingles'; and tells you 
the old story of the Spanish soldier at San Josef.  You are near the 
water now; for here is a thicket of Balisiers. {138b}  Push through, 
under their 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.

The 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.  Round our feet are Arums, {138c} with 
snow-white spadixes and hoods, one instance among many here of 
brilliant colour developing itself in deep shade.  But is the 
darkness of the forest actually as great as it seems?  Or are our 
eyes, accustomed to the blaze 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 {138d}--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.  There 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, {139a} 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 leafstalks of 
the Tanias; {139b} and mingled with them, leaves often larger still:  
oval, glossy, bright, ribbed, reflecting from their underside a 
silver light.  They belong to Arumas; {139c} 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 leaves 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 nerves in 
each leaf, that they are Melastomas of different kinds--a sure token 
they that you are in the Tropics--a probable token that you are in 
Tropical America.

And over them, and among them, what a strange variety of foliage:  
look at the contrast between the Balisiers 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, {139d} 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 that low weeping tree?  A flower-head 
of the Rosa del Monte. {139e}  And what is 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 different 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 {140a} 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; {140b} and there, probably, is the trunk to which 
they belong, or rather 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 slowly 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 I should know the hundredth part of the forms on which we 
look?--And above all you catch a glimpse of that crimson 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 
same.  New forms, new combinations; a wealth of creative 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 filled 
with seeing, or the ear with hearing; and never would be, did you 
roam these forests for 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 varying 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 observation 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 of 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 for Berkeley or against 
him, you would still have to learn from these forests a knowledge 
which enters into man, not through the head, but through the heart; 
which (let some modern philosophers say what they will) defies all 
analysis, and can be no more defined or explained by words than a 
mother's love.  I mean, the causes and the effects of their beauty; 
that 'AEsthetic of plants,' of which Schleiden has spoken so well in 
that charming book of his, The Plant, which all should read who wish 
to know somewhat of 'The Open Secret.'

But when 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 I 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.


We were, of course, desirous to visit that famous Lake of Pitch, 
which 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 phenomenon:  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 investigated, 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 the 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 himself, probably, 
if he had a smattering of science, by saying 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 they 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 not 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.  The first 
argument would apply to a thousand new facts, which physical 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 

But 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.  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 burn 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 temperate 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 spring 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 Barbadoes tar; and the petroleum springs 
of the mainland, described by Humboldt, 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.' {145}  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 says, what is scientific thought but 
common sense well regulated?

Running 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 primeval 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 saw 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 subsequent 
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 7000 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 them 
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 elsewhere, 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 employment for West Indian 
convicts has been suggested to me.  Bamboo, 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 realise 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 as 
pitch; and the breeze being off the land, the asphalt smell (not 
unpleasant) came off 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 
drilled, and then given a responsibility which calls out his self-
respect.  He was warning our crew 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 off 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 pitch.  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 off 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 

In front of us was the unit of civilisation--the police-station, 
wooden, on wooden 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 preferred looking about, under our 
umbrellas; for the heat was intense.  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 Negroes 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, Roucou; 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 experience.  
Indeed, 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 utilising 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 
pitch-dust, and so letting in the unwary walker over his shoes.  The 
pitch in the gutter-bank is in its 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 us; and we 
observed that the lumps, when the fracture is fresh, have all a 
drawn-out look; that the very air-bubbles in them, which are often 
very numerous, are all drawn out likewise, long and oval, like the 
air-bubbles in some ductile lavas.

On our left, as we went on, the bush was low, all of yellow Cassia 
and white Hibiscus, and tangled with lovely convolvulus-like 
creepers, Ipomoea and Echites, with white, purple, or yellow 
flowers.  On the right were negro huts and gardens, fewer and fewer 
as we went on--all rich with fruit-trees, especially with oranges, 
hung with fruit of every hue; and beneath them, of course, the pine-
apples of La Brea.  Everywhere along the road grew, seemingly wild 
here, 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-shaped bean, 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 a mile), the ground became 
more and more full of pitch, and the vegetation poorer and more 
rushy, till it resembled, on the whole, that of an English fen.  An 
Ipomoea or two, and a scarlet-flowered dwarf Heliconia, kept up the 
tropic type, as does a stiff brittle fern about two feet high. 
{148a}  We picked 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 far 
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, gray stemmed, gray 
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, though 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 under the 
burning sun of day, must needs expand most towards the line of least 
resistance, that is, downhill; and when it contracts again 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 {148b} 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 solidification 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 sheet.'

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 innumerable, progressing by expanding and 
contracting their rings, 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 expected, 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 
noble forest of Moriche fan-palms; {149} 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-beetles in it; and, looking 
round, saw that the whole lake was intersected with channels, so 
unlike anything which can be seen elsewhere, 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 flat 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 are at bottom mere cracks, 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 far as 
the eye goes down, they are 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 corresponding coat of the next mass.  Meanwhile, Mr. 
Manross, an American gentleman, who has written a very clever and 
interesting account of the lake, {150} 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 supposes 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 first 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 what 
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 caching the surface they generally assume an 
upright position, one end being detained in the pitch, while the 
other is elevated by the lifting 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 side.'

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 rolling upward? or are 
they of both kinds?  I do not know.  Only this is certain, as 
Messrs. Wall and Sawkins have pointed out, that not only 'the purer 
varieties of asphalt, such as approach or 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 
proceeding 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 contact; since 
pieces of wood included accidentally in the asphalt, for example, by 
dropping from overhanging vegetation, are often found partially 
transformed into the material.'  This is a statement which we 
verified 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 manifestly derived from leaves, etc., 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 round 

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 on across the lake, over the planks which the Negroes laid 
down from island to island.  Some, meanwhile, preferred a steeple-
chase with water-jumps, after the fashion of the midshipmen on a 
certain second visit to the lake.  How the Negroes 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 
schoolboys--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; gray 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, {152} very like the holly in habit, which seems to be all but 
confined to these little patches of red earth, afloat on the pitch.  
Out of 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 nest.

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 truly, '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 resistance, 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 several yards in length 
in the three weeks between our first and second visit; and on 
another, some of our party performed exactly the same feat as Mr. 

'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 reaching 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 only sustained my weight, but 
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 

True, though strange:  but stranger still did it seem to us, when we 
did at last what the Negroes 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 without 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 
gray 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 which, while it keeps the pitch 
from soiling, makes it far less valuable than it would be were it 

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.  
Layers of sandstone or of shale containing 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, between the sulphuretted 
hydrogen and the blaze of the sun reflected off the hot black pitch, 
we hurried on over the water-furrows, and through the sedge-beds to 
the farther 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 for the 
human mind that the Pitch Lake was still unknown when 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 had he 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, sinking 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 and more aloft, the short smooth columns of the Moriches 
{154} 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 with 
which that of St. Mary Redcliff, or even of King's College, is as 
clumsy as all man's works are beside the works of God; 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.  True, all is 'still-
life' here:  no human forms, hardly even that of a bird, is mixed 
with the vegetable arabesques.  A higher state of civilisation, 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 ugliness outside.  For the want 
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 civilised--
possessed any tincture of real Christianity, of real civilisation?  
What a race, of mingled Spaniard and Indian, might have grown up 
throughout the West Indies.  What a life, what a society, what an 
art, what a science it might have developed ere now, equalling, even 
surpassing, that of Ionia, Athens, and Sicily, till the famed isles 
and coasts of Greece should have been almost forgotten in the new 
fame of the isles and coasts of the Caribbean Sea.

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 justice 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:--{155}

'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 Trinidad.  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 fellowship, the natives offered 
to build houses for the Spaniards.  The 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 built, 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 building 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 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, stupefied 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 them 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 Rico, 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 himself.  "From his own mouth I heard 
that 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 reward 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 young leaves into twine, and making sago from the pith, 
and thin wine from the sap and fruit, while 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 shellfish 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 
humming-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 village had sunk deep into the earth, and in its 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 century, 
bringing with them a Spanish grace, Spanish simplicity, and Spanish 
hospitality, which their descendants have certainly 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 affection 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 mouth, 
difficult to draw, impossible to describe, but discerned instantly 
by any one accustomed to observe human features.  Many of them, 
doubtless, have some touch of Negro blood, and are the offspring of 
'Cimarons'--'Maroons,' as they are still called in Jamaica.  These 
Cimarons were Negroes who, even in the latter half of the sixteenth 
century (as may be read in the tragical tale of John Oxenham, given 
in Hakluyt's Voyages), had begun to flee from their cruel 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 Oropuche, 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 palm ajoupas, and eat oranges and Malacca apples {157} 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 decreases as its length increases, and the 
juice is squeezed out through the pores to drip into a calabash, 
and, nowadays, to be thrown carefully away, lest children or goats 
should drink 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 expelled by boiling 
it down into Cassaripe, which has a singular power of preserving 
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 destruction.

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 regrets--
before our feet lay a jest of Nature's, almost as absurd as a 'four-
eyed fish,' or 'calling-crab.'  A rough stick, of 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 larvae of Phryganeas--this of a true moth. {158}  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 grub, 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, 
where 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 thrust out of its house.  Suddenly, disgusted at 
our importunity, it laid hold of its curtains with two hands, right 
and left, like a human being, folded them modestly over its head, 
held them tight together, and so retired to bed, amid the 
inextinguishable laughter of the whole party.

The noble Moriche palm delights in wet, at least in Trinidad and on 
the lower Orinoco:  but Schomburgk describes forests of them--if, 
indeed, it be the same species--as growing in the mountains of 
Guiana up 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 fruit, 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, {159} which grows in the mainland, but not here.  Delicious 
they are, and precious, to monkeys and parrots, as well as to the 
Orinoco 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 
stones, 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 should have named it 
the tree of life.

'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 
Raleigh), 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 necessary for their 
household wants.  They have owed their liberty and their political 
independence 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 affords 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 making 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 Guerapiche and the mouths of the 
Amazon.  It is curious to observe in the lowest degree of human 
civilisation the existence 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.' {160}

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 silly and vulgar.  So the English call yon noble tree a hog-
plum; 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, happily, known here, as it was in 
the French West Indies in the days of good Pere 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 Seguines 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 burn.  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 farthest from the village.  As we proceeded we entered 
forest still unburnt, 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 parrot beaks with blue seed-vessels; a Canne de Riviere, 
{161a} with a stem eight feet high, wreathed round with pale green 
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. {161b}  Overhead, 
sprawled and dangled the common Vine-bamboo, {161c} ugly and 
unsatisfactory in form, because it has not yet, seemingly, made up 
its mind whether it will become an arborescent or a climbing grass; 
and, meanwhile, 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 be by selfish and questionable means.  But their 
descendants, secure in their own power, can afford 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 ambition, 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 
hindmost.'  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 proverb, 'Never do for yourself what you can get 
another to do for you,' and will have developed into a true high 
climber, selfish and insolent, choking and strangling, like yonder 
beautiful green pest, of which beware; namely, a tangle of Razor-
grass. {162a}  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 large flower, {162b} 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's, and of the yellow Allamandas 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 beings 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 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 left 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 
climbing over it, the earth crumbling into it, and in a 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 Pennsylvanian oil, which, 
when tapped, springs out of the ground of itself, to a height 
sometimes of many feet, under the pressure of the superincumbent 
rocks, yielding enormous profits, and turning needy adventurers 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, whatever natural 
beauty may be spoilt thereby, the wealth of these asphalt deposits 
may at last be utilised.  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 use.

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 Riviere and the Balisiers 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 right--when shall we see it again?--rose a young 'Bois flot,' 
{164} 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 
convolvulus-flowers; while underneath it grew a tuft of that 
delicate silver-backed fern, which is admired so much in hothouses 
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 crumbling into the sea, with all its palms 
and cactuses, lianes and trees.  Red stacks and skerries stood 
isolated and ready to fall at the end of the point, showing that the 
land has, even lately, extended far out to sea; and that Point 
Rouge, 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, feathered 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 substance, strangely jumbled, even intercalated now 
and then with soft sand.  This, we were told, is a bit of the 
porcellanite formation of Trinidad, curious to geologists, which 
reappears 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 brick-kiln.  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 carne 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 fire, 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 around.  That the heat did not come from below, as volcanic 
heat would have done, is proved by the fact that the lignite beds 
underneath the porcellanite are unburnt.  We found asphalt under the 
porcellanite.  We found even one bit of red porcellanite with 
unburnt asphalt 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 all?  And may not the asphalt mingled with it have 
been squeezed into it and round it, as it is being squeezed into and 
through the unburnt 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 in dreamily with our eyes the beauty of that strange lonely 
place.  The only living things, save ourselves, which were visible 
were a few pelicans sleeping on a skerry, and a shoal of dolphins 
rolling silently in threes--husband, wife, and little 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 life, 
as the noble heat permeated every nerve, and made us feel young, and 
strong, and blithe once more.


The road to the ancient capital of the island is pleasant enough, 
and characteristic of the West Indies.  Not, indeed, as to its 
breadth, make, and material, for they, contrary to the wont of West 
India roads, are as good as they would be in 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 field-work, 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. Gunther, 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 seen, for 
eight most pleasant miles.

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 coconuts or bamboos; for its miasma makes the 
southern corner of Port of Spain utterly pestilential.  You cross a 
railroad, the only one in the island, which goes to a limestone 
quarry, and so 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 wall of the primeval 
forest; and to the left, some half mile off, the steep slopes of the 
green northern mountains 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 Negroes 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 men are hewing down the giant grass with cutlasses; the women 
stripping off the leaves, and then piling the cane in carts drawn 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 
everything, and that the Creoles know their own business best.  For 
the wheelers, being in the slough with the cart, are powerless; 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 sugar-cane.

You pull up, and take off your hat to the party.  The Negroes shout, 
'Marnin', sa!'  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 
village:  still, it is not every village in England which has fought 
the Dutch, and earned its right to be called a city by beating some 
of the bravest sailors of the seventeenth century.  True, there is 
not a single shop in it with plate-glass windows:  but what matters 
that, if its citizens have all that civilised 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 footmen, 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 and 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 civilised man to live, and work, and think, and 
die in.

San Josef has had, nevertheless, its troubles and excitements 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 military 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 so 
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, {170} was the adopted son of 
Madershee, the old and childless king of the tribe called Paupaus, 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 Negroes 
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 
protruded, high cheek-bones, and flat nose; his teeth were large and 
regular.  He had a singular cast in his eyes, not quite amounting to 
that obliquity of the visual organs denominated a squint, but 
sufficient to give his features a peculiarly forbidding appearance;-
-his forehead, however, although small in proportion to his enormous 
head, was remarkably compact and well formed.  The whole head was 
disproportioned, having the greater part of the brain behind the 
ears; but the greatest peculiarity of this singular being was his 
voice.  In the course of my life I never heard such sounds uttered 
by human organs as those formed by Daaga.  In ordinary conversation 
he appeared to me to endeavour to soften his 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 Holloloo.  This account of the 
religion of Daaga was confirmed by the military chaplain who 
attended him in his last moments.  He also informed me that he 
believed in predestination;--at least he said that Holloloo, he 
knew, had ordained that he should come to white man's country and be 

'Daaga, 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.

'Daaga sold his prisoners; and under pretence of paying him, he and 
his Paupau guards were enticed on board a Portuguese 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 board which Daaga had been entrapped 
was captured by the British.  He could not comprehend 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; therefore 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 Daaga with being the cause 
of their capture, he pacified them by promising that when they 
should arrive in white man's country, he would repay their perfidy 
by attacking them in the night.  He further promised that if the 
Paupaus and the 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 Daaga:  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.

'Such was this extraordinary man, who led the mutiny I am about to 

'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 Regiment.  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 comprehend 
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 Negroes 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 pecuniary 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 tyranny which would appear to a 
civilised man a mere necessary restraint.  To keep the restless body 
of an African Negro in a position to which he has not been 
accustomed--to cramp his splay-feet, with his great toes standing 
out, into European 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 unacquainted with the 
habits of the Negro cannot conceive with what abhorrence he looks on 
having his disposition to nocturnal rambles checked by barrack 
regulations. {172}

'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 shortly 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 we find 
that Lieutenant-Colonel Bush, who commanded the 1st West India 
Regiment, thought that the mutiny was mainly owing to the ill advice 
of their civil, or, we should rather say, unmilitary countrymen.  
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 mutiny by 
hard treatment of their commanding officers.  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 praedial 
apprentices of the circumjacent estates:  not the slightest 
foundation existed for this apprehension.  Some months previous to 
this Daaga had planned a mutiny, but this was interrupted by sending 
a part of the Paupau and Yarraba recruits to St. Lucia.  The object 
of all those conspiracies 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 number, singing the war-
song of the Paupaus.  This wild song consisted 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:--

Au fey,
Oluu werrei,
Au lay,"

which may be rendered almost literally by the following couplet:--

Air by the chief:  "Come to plunder, come to slay;"
Chorus of followers:  "We are ready to obey."

'About three o'clock in the morning their war-song (highly 
characteristic of a predatory tribe) became very loud, and they 
commenced uttering their war-cry.  This is different 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 

'Fire now was set to a quantity of huts built for the accommodation 
of African soldiers to the northward of the barracks, as well as to 
the house of a poor black woman called Dalrymple.  These burnt 
briskly, throwing a dismal glare over the barracks and picturesque 
town of San Josef, and overpowering the light of the full moon, 
which illumined a cloudless sky.  The mutineers made a rush at the 
barrack-room, and seized on the muskets and fusees in the racks.  
Their leader, Daaga, 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 
gray 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 
unmilitary countrymen:  pistol-balls are never given to infantry.  
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 Dickson, 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 said, in English, "Ah, you old soldier, you knock 
down."  Dixon was not Daaga's countryman, hence he could not speak 
to him in his own language.  The Paupau then levelled his musket and 
shot the fallen soldier, who groaned and died.  The war-yells, or 
rather growls, of the Paupaus and Yarrabas 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, Daaga, 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 buildings were completely riddled.  A few of the old soldiers 
opposed them, and were wounded; but it fortunately happened that 
they were, to an inconceivable degree, ignorant of the right use of 
firearms--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 ammunition thrown away.

'The officers 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 mutineers to lay down their arms, 
and was answered by an irregular discharge 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 commenced firing at him.  He discerned the 
gigantic figure of Daaga (alias Donald Stewart), with his musket at 
the trail:  he spurred his horse through the midst of them; they 
were grouped, but not in line.  On looking back he saw Daaga 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 officers' quarters was bravely 
defended by two old African soldiers, Sergeant Merry and Corporal 
Plague.  The latter stood in the gallery, near the 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 firearms and those who handle them as mops are held.

'In the meantime Colonel Bush got to a police-station above the 
barracks, and got muskets and a few cartridges from a discharged 
African soldier who was in the police establishment.  Being joined 
by the policemen, Corporal Craven {175} and Ensign Pogson, they 
concealed themselves on an eminence above, and as the mutineers 
(about 100 in number) approached, 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 absolutely 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 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 mixture 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 l'Est. {176a}

'In the meantime the San Josef militia were assembled, to the number 
of forty.  Major Giuseppi, and Captain and Adjutant Rousseau, 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 

'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 Daaga appeared to the right of a 
party of six, at the entrance of the town; they were challenged by 
the militia, and the mutineers fired on them, but without effect.  
Only two of the militia returned the fire, when all but Daaga fled.  
He was deliberately reloading his piece, when a militiaman, 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 Daaga 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.  
Daaga was dragging the militiaman away, when Adjutant Rousseau came 
to his assistance, and placed a sword to Daaga's breast.  Doctor 
Tardy and several others rushed 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 first 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 Arima; 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 militiamen 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 
militiamen.  The commandant 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 gentlemen 
present would intercede for their pardon.  The Negroes 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 melee 
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 had 
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 firearms.  Dixon was 
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 three that were shot by 
sentence of the court-martial, and one who was shot while 
endeavouring to escape (Satchell).

'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 succeeded 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 effected his escape, was subsequently retaken, and again made his 
escape with Satchell, who after this was shot by a policeman.

'Torrens was retaken, 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 appearance 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 Daaga, 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 Barbadoes in order to be submitted to 
the Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Whittingham, who approved 
of the decision of the courts, which was 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 Edward Coffin were executed on 
the 16th of August 1837, at San Josef Barracks.  Nothing seemed to 
have been neglected which could render the execution solemn and 
impressive; the scenery and the weather gave additional awe to the 
melancholy proceedings.  Fronting the little eminence where the 
prisoners were shot was the scene where their ill-concerted mutiny 
commenced.  To the right stood the long range of building on which 
they had expended much of their ammunition for the purpose of 
destroying their officers.  The rest of the panorama was made up of 
an immense view of forest below them, and upright masses of 
mountains above them.  Over those, heavy bodies of mist were slowly 
sailing, giving a sombre appearance to the primeval woods which, in 
general, covered both mountains and plains.  The atmosphere 
indicated an inter-tropical morning during the rainy season, and the 
sun shone resplendently between dense columns of clouds.

'At half-past seven o'clock the condemned men asked to be allowed to 
eat a hearty meal, as they said persons about to be 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 arms 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 productive of much confusion, and was properly guarded 

'The condemned men displayed no unmanly fear.  On the contrary, they 
steadily kept step to the Dead March which the band 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 
Daaga 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 square were formed, 
flanked on one side by a detachment of the 89th Regiment and a party 
of artillery, while the recruits, many of whom shared the guilt of 
the culprits, were appropriately 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 clergyman then shook hands with the three men about 
to be sent into another state of existence.  Daaga and Ogston coolly 
gave their hands:  Coffin wrung 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 
bound, 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 Daaga pushed theirs up again.  
The former did this calmly; the latter showed great wrath, seeming 
to think himself insulted; and his deep metallic voice sounded in 
anger above that of the provost-marshal, {179} 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 his 
squatting posture, and received the fire from behind; while the less 
noisy, but more brave, Ogston looked the firing-party full in the 
face as they discharged their fatal volley.

'In one instant all three fell dead, almost all the balls of the 
firing-party having taken effect.  The savage appearance and manner 
of Daaga 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 Negroes.  Most of these expressed their 
hopes that after this terrible example the recruits would make good 

Ah, stupid savages.  Yes:  but also--ah, stupid civilised people.


I 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 civilisation.  
The soil seems inexhaustibly rich.  I say inexhaustibly; for as fast 
as the upper layer is impoverished, it will be swept over by the 
tropic rains, to mingle with the vegas, or alluvial flats below, and 
thus enriched again, while a fresh layer of virgin soil is exposed 
above.  I have seen, cresting the highest ridges of Montserrat, ten 
feet at least of fat earth, falling clod by clod right and left upon 
the gardens below.  There are, doubtless, comparatively barren 
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 Neocomian, 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 down on them again?  What vast, 
though probably slow, processes changed that sea-bottom from one 
salt enough to carry corals and limestones, 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 sea-
bottom 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 gulleys, which are 
due to the action of Colonel George Greenwood's geologic panacea, 
'Rain and Rivers,' and to nothing else.  Long enough ago, once more, 
for a period 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.

Such thoughts were forced upon me as 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 generation; 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, carrying on its cliffs the remains of a once magnificent 
vegetation.  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 along the roads and terraces; and 
everywhere is activity and high cultivation, under the 
superintendence of gentlemen who are prospering, because they 
deserve to prosper.

Between the cliff and the shore nestles the gay and growing 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 heterogeneous and wretched scraps of wood; and on inquiry I 
found that the materials were, in most cases, stolen; that when a 
Negro wanted to build a house, instead of buying the materials, 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 slavery, when the pilfering of the 
slaves from other estates was connived at by their own masters, on 
the ground that if A's Negroes robbed B, B's Negroes robbed C, and 
so all round the alphabet; one more evil instance of the 
demoralising 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 opportunities 
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 tramway 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 neighbourhood 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 waiting, on which we floundered, through 
mud and moonlight, to a certain hospitable house, and found a hungry 
party, who had been long waiting for a dinner worth the waiting.

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 windows, 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 brilliantly 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 ornamentation 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, copying 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 might 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 trust 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 civilisation 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, Dracaenas, 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 {184} spread their huge fan-leaves among the curious 
flowering trees; other foreign palms, 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 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 shade.  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 
tasteful neighbours, tall Carats, carrying their heads of fan-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 half-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 cutting 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 perpetual 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 commenced; 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 

We had a charming Sunday there, amid charming society, down even to 
the dogs and cats; and not the least charming object among many was 
little Franky, the Coolie butler's child, who ran in and out with 
the dogs, gay in his little cotton 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 trustingly 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 was 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 the 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 {186}--which 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 single 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 richer 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 prepared.

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 ecclesiastic,' or 'clanging the Bible to shreds,' for fear of 
toppling into the pews 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, fit 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 incomprehensible Mowery 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 

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 board-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 vegetable had known its 
own business best, and had built itself up right cannily; and stood, 
and will stand for many a year, perhaps for many a century, if the 
Matapalos do not squeeze out its life.  I found, by the by, 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 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 bare-legged.  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 thousands 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, {187a} some said it was; 
others that it was a Figuier. {187b}  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 I 
mentioned just now.  But the curiosity of the tree was a Carat-palm 
which had 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 contrast 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 embrace, 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 how he had been born in 
Baltimore, a slave to a Quaker master; how he and his wife Mary, 
during the second 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 regiments, 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 service 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 
independent will, but on brute fear, is to be called obedience at 

Would that in this respect, as in some others, 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 
Romans, 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--according 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 their appointed time; so 
strengthening ourselves, while we reward 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 'conversion.'  His Mary, of whom all spoke 
as a woman of 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 I 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 saints.

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, I doubt not, of old black 
Isaac among the rest.

In 1864 he had a great sorrow.  Old Mary, trying to smoke the 
mosquitoes out of her house with a charcoal-pan, set fire, in her 
shortsightedness, 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 still in the other world, as she had been in 

He was happy enough, he said:  but I was told that he had to endure 
much vexation from the neighbouring Negroes, 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 not 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 soldier; 
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 

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 man so firm a mind;
God, said I, be my help and stay secure,
I'll think of thee, leech-gatherer, 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 were 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 Rebekah at the 
well, a special ornament.  The men stood by themselves; the women by 
themselves; the children grouped in front; and a merrier, healthier, 
shrewder looking party I have seldom seen.  Complaints there were 
none.  All seemed to look on the Squire as a father, and 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, in a long night-shirt of crimson cotton velvet, acted as 
aide-de-camp, and took his perquisites freely.  Each of the little 
brown darlings got its share, the boys putting them into the flap of 
their waistcloths, the girls into the front of their veils; and some 
of the married women seemed ready enough to follow the children's 
example; some of them, indeed, were little more than children 
themselves.  The pleasure of the men at the whole ceremony was very 
noticeable, and very pleasant.  Well fed, well cared for, well 
taught (when they will allow themselves to be so), and with a local 
medical man appointed for their special benefit, Coolies under such 
a master ought to be, and are, prosperous and happy.  Exceptions 
there are, and must be.  Are there none among the workmen of English 
manufacturers and farmers?  Abuses may spring up, and do.  Do none 
spring up in London and elsewhere?  But the Government has the power 
to interfere, and uses that power.  These poor people are 
sufficiently protected by law from their white employers; what they 
need most is protection for the newcomers 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 also 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 Negroes; 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 tough 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 horse.  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 regulation 
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 all 
ways.  A senior class of young men--including one who had had his 
head nearly cut off last year by misapplication of that formidable 
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 clothing on as they could be persuaded to wear--were a 
sight pleasant to see.  Among them, by the by, 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--between 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 (Anglice, 
husband) wished her to look her best on so important an occasion.

This over-early marriage among the Coolies is a very serious evil, 
but one which they have brought with them from 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?  I 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 
office 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 batch 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 creepers.

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 transformed 
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; {192} 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 
rosebuds 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 rediscovered some century since--
that the 'first step in civilisation 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 progress, through all parts of 
the island which I visited, save the precipitous glens of the 
northern shore.

Of such roads we saw more than one in the next few days.  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 railway embankment of average steepness, 
strew it freely with wreck, 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 
pheasant-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 alternative.  Some 
one jumped off, and scrambled up on his hands and knees; his horse 
was driven up 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 brickmaking 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 shuffled 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 scrambled upward again, as 
if he had done nothing remarkable.  Coming back, by the by, 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 legs 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 seemingly 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 verdure on the 
edge of a little clearing, there tumbled the quaintest little old 
black man, cutlass in hand, and, without being asked, went on ahead 
as our guide.  Crook-backed, round-shouldered, his only dress a 
ragged shirt and ragged pair of drawers, he had evidently thriven 
upon the forest life for many a year.  He did not walk nor run, but 
tumbled along in front of us, his bare feet plashing from log to log 
and mud-heap to mud-heap, his gray woolly head wagging right 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, which, 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 

'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 changeableness 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 butterflies.

There was no track of man, not even a hunter's footprint; but 
instead, tracks of beasts in plenty.  Deer, quenco, {194a} and lapo, 
{194b} 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 come out 
here at night, and walk about;' and he was much scandalised 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-volcanoes on the farther side.  These curious openings 
into the nether-world are not permanent.  They choke up after a 
while, 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 running 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 dirt to a considerable height; a feat which we did 
not see performed, but which is so common that we were in something 
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,' {195} would have 
been both unpleasant and humiliating.  But the most puzzling thing 
about the place is, that out of the mud 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-volcanoes.

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 heard 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 
Negroes 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 sham earthquake 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?'  They point out the fact, that 
wherever such volcanoes exist, asphalt or petroleum is found hard 
by.  The mud volcanoes of 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 
the surface of the small openings; and the gas issuing from any of 
the cones could be ignited.  Dr. Daubeny found the mud-volcanoes of 
Macaluba giving out bitumen, and bubbles of carbonic acid and 
carburetted hydrogen.  The mud-volcano of Saman, in the Western 
Caucasus, gives off, with a continual stream of thick mud, ignited 
gases, accompanied with mimic earthquakes 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 
of asphalt, or are saturated with naphtha.  At 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 volcanoes than 
mud-volcanoes, as the eruptions always terminate in a large emission 
of naphtha.'

It is reasonable enough, then, to suppose a similar connection in 
Trinidad.  But whence come, either in Trinidad or at Turbaco, the 
sea-salts and the iodine?  Certainly not from the sea itself, which 
is distant, in the case of the Trinidad Salses, from two to 
seventeen miles.  It must exist already in the strata below.  And 
the ejected pebbles, which are evidently sea-worn, must form part of 
a tertiary sea-beach, covered by sands, and covering, perhaps, in 
its turn, vegetable debris which, as it is converted into asphalt, 
thrusts the pebbles up to the surface.

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 were already moving, and a deer crossed our line of 
march, close before one of the horses.  However, we were not 
benighted; for the sun was hardly down ere the moon rose, bright and 
full; and we floundered home through the mud, to start again next 
morning into mud again.  Through rich rolling land covered with 
cane; past large sugar-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 roads, which are opening up the yet 
untouched riches of this island.  In this district alone, thirty-six 
miles of good road and thirty bridges have been made, where formerly 
there were only two abominable bridle-paths.  It was a solid 
pleasure to see good engineering round the hillsides; gullies, which 
but a year or two before were break-neck scrambles into fords often 
impassable after all, bridged with baulks of incorruptible timber, 
on piers sunk, to give a hold in that sea of hasty pudding, sixteen 
feet below the river-bed; and side supports sunk as far into the 
banks; a solid pleasure to congratulate the warden (who had joined 
us) on his triumphs, and to hear how he had sought for miles around 
in the hasty-pudding sea, ere he could find either gravel or stone 
for road metal, and had 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 too-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 
themselves.  And so we rode on chatting,

   'While all the land,
Beneath a broad and equal-blowing breeze,
Smelt of the coming summer;'

for it was winter then, and only 80 degrees 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 beginning with a 
road, and expecting settlers to follow it.  Some such settlers we 
found, clearing right and left; among them a most satisfactory 
sight; namely, more than one Coolie family, who had served their 
apprenticeship, saved money, bought Government land, and set up as 
yeomen; the foundation, it is to be hoped, of a class of intelligent 
and civilised peasant proprietors.  These men, as soon as they have 
cleared as much land as their wives and children, with their 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 which was at first 
held by some attorneys and managers of sugar-estates, that the 
settling of free Indian immigrants would 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 civilised 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 assured that 
the only expense to the colony is the fee for survey, amounting 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 pounds, an acclimatised 
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 for the market, instead of 
being shipped back to India at a cost, including gratuities and 
etceteras, of not less than 50 pounds.

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 pass 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 Negroes' 
fears.  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 story 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 where Moriche 
palms are found; to see certain springs and a certain tree; and well 
worth seeing they were.  Out of the base 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, was anything 
but Greek, or even Indian, either 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 would 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, 
undecayed, and growing 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 measuring.  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 discern 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 hundred feet; less it could hardly 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 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 larger trees in the island.  A 
certain Locust-tree and a Ceiba were mentioned.  The Moras, too, of 
the southern hills, 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 
Martius, 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 conclusion that they 
were of the age of Homer, and 332 years old in the days of 
Pythagoras.  One estimate, indeed, reduced their antiquity to 2052 
years old; while another (counting, I presume, two rings of fresh 
wood for every year) carried it up to 4104.

So we rode on and up the hills, by green and flowery 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 itself, botanists tell us, is neither more nor 
less than a gigantic Spurge, the cousin-german of the milky garden 
weeds with which boys burn away their warts.  But if the modern 
theory 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 
representatives 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 Euphorbia 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 Poinsettia 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 difference, created separately and at 
once?  But if it be--which I cannot allow--what can the theologian 
say, save that God'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 organisation of 
the most simple means; it was wonderful (or ought to have been) 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 
likewise.  Ought God to appear less or more august in our eyes if we 
discover that His means are even simpler than we supposed?  We hold 
Him to be almighty and allwise.  Are we to reverence Him 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 universe was made up of special 
providences:  if, then, that should be true which Mr. Darwin says--
'It may be metaphorically said that natural selection is daily and 
hourly scrutinising, throughout 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 lovelier 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 {202a} in which the pinnae 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 perfectness of its beauty.  But among them we saw-
-for the first and last time in the forest--a few of a far more 
beautiful species, {202b} common on the mainland.  In it, the pinnae 
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 curving 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 very fond of coiling 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 innumerable sharp hairs, and eats the 
sour-sweet refreshing 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 
this colony a thriving and loyal peasant proprietary.  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.  Unfortunately, though a time was fixed for 
petitioning, no time was fixed for paying; and consequently the vast 
majority of petitioners never took any further steps in the matter.  
Unfortunately, too, the price fixed--2 pounds per acre--was 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 pounds per acre; and 
the Montserrat system extended, as far as possible, to other wards; 
a movement which the results fully justified.

In 1867 there were in Montserrat 400 squatters, holding lands of 
from 3 to 120 acres, planted with cacao, coffee, or provisions.  
Some of the cacao plantations were valued at 1000 pounds.  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 boards and shingles, 
while the greater part was left to rot or burn.  These 
irregularities have been now almost stopped; and 266 persons, in 
Montserrat alone, have taken out grants of land, some of 400 acres.  
But this by no means represents the number of purchasers, as nearly 
an equal number have paid for their estates, though they have not 
yet received their grants, and nearly 500 more have made 
application.  Two villages have been formed; one of which 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, and Indian, are among the most 
industrious; and their cacao plantations, in some cases, hold 8000 
to 10,000 trees.  The south-west corner of Montserrat {204} is 
almost entirely settled by Africans of various tribes--Mandingos, 
Foulahs, Homas, Yarribas, Ashantees, and Congos.  The last occupy 
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 position of some of the Yarribas 
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 corn, etc.; 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 expected from superior intellect while still 
uncivilised), more difficult to manage than the Congos, and highly 
impatient of control.

These Africans, Mr. Mitchell says, all belong nominally to some 
denomination of Christianity; 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 
whereabouts 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 had 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 had enjoyed either for nothing, or 
for payment of a small annual assessment for the cultivated portion.  
In another quarter--Toco--a notoriously lawless squatter had 
expressed his intention of shooting the Government official.  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 cutlass.

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 stands 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 for 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 landmark, 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 Government.

Scarcely eighteen months had passed since then, and already 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 pigtails and thick-soled shoes 
grinning behind cedar counters, among stores of Bryant's safety 
matches, Huntley and Palmers' biscuits, and Allsopp's pale ale.  A 
church had been built, the shell at least, and partly floored, with 
a very simple, but not tasteless, altar; the Abbe had a good house, 
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 vegetation 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 primeval 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 

Nevertheless, the panorama from the top of Montserrat is at once the 
most vast, and the most lovely, which I have ever seen.  And 
whosoever chooses to go and live there may buy any reasonable 
quantity of the richest soil at 1 pounds per acre.

Then down off 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 would have been called of 
old a paradise; and the enceinte of a West Indian house, even in its 
present half-wild condition, 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. Nesfield 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 Rhododendrons and Azaleas 
with the neighbouring wood in its native state.  Thus may be 
obtained somewhat of that variety and richness which is wanting 
everywhere, more 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 northward, 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 made.  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 introduced 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 
civilisation, 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, always willing to obey when 
conquered by fair means, will produce such effects of form and 
colour around tropic estates and cities as we cannot fancy for 

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 
furze or broom-croft, a field of yellow charlock, blue bugloss, or 
scarlet poppy.  Tropic landscape gardening will supply that defect; 
and a hundred plants of yellow Allamanda, or purple Dolichos, or 
blue Clitoria, or crimson Norantea, set side by side, as we might 
use a hundred 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 effects--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 material 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 we 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 round the gallery.  
And as we looked down through the purple gorges, and up at the 
mountain woods, over which the stars were flashing out blight 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 on 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 balisiers 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 bananas, 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 pendant nests of the Merles:  
{209} birds of the size of a jackdaw, brown and yellow, and mocking-
birds, too, of 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 
round 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. Leotaud, 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 neighbourhood of the city; and a sad answer will 
soon have to be given to M. Leotaud'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 ourselves, should these insect destroyers 
disappear?  Everywhere may be seen' (M. L. speaks, I presume, of 
five-and-twenty years 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 abandons his usual 
fruits for this more tempting delicacy.  Our frugivorous and 
baccivorous 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 legislator, Lord Harris, and next to the 
late Governor.  Here, in the depths of the forest, where never 
policeman or schoolmaster 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 shall have more to say on the education 
system of Trinidad.  All it seems to me to want, with its late 
modifications, is compulsory attendance.

Soon turning down an old Indian path, we saw the Gulf once more, and 
between us and it the sheet of cane cultivation, 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 return passage to which they were 
entitled, were all busily felling wood, putting up bamboo and palm-
leaf cabins, and settling themselves down, each one his own master, 
yet near enough to the sugar-estates below to get remunerative work 
whenever needful.

Then on, over slow miles (you must not trot beneath the burning mid-
day sun) of sandy stifling flat, between high canes, till we saw 
with joy, through long vistas of straight traces, the mangrove 
shrubbery which marked the sea.  We turned into large sugar-works, 
to be cooled with sherry and ice by a hospitable manager, whose 
rooms were hung 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 estate.

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 Negroes 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 
difficulty was, of course, to get the canoe out of the creek up the 
steep mud-bank.  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 befell, that in the 
very agony of the steepest slope, when the Negroes (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 Negroes 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, off 
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 the 
mere pleasure of laughing; and when we got to the boat the 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 therefrom the name of Gelasimus 
Vocans ('The Calling Laughable'); 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 whatsoever.

After which sight, and weary of waiting, not without some fear that-
-as the Negroes would have put it--'If I tap da wan momant 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 much 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 Humboldt 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 three 
thousand 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 mountains, 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.  The 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 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 primeval coat of woodland.

To this degrading influence of mere rain 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 
expressing 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 terraces 
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 battle 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 impossible 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 grows 
tired toward the end of a day's journey with the monotonous surges 
of green woodland; 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 inhabitants 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 silence, hoping 
that something to their advantage might be dropped or left behind--
possibly that one of our horses might die.

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 morning, 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 balls of the sensitive-plants and blue 
Commelyna, and the upright negro Ipecacuanha, {216} 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 

Our party consisted of a bat-mule, with food and clothes, two or 
three Negroes, 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 trousers, 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 walked.

The 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 hillsides, malaria 
hangs for ever at the mouth of each little mountain torrent, and 
crawls up inland to leeward to a considerable 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 Deeside 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 green sea
The waveless plain of Lombardy,
. . . . .
Where a soft and purple mist,
Like a vaporous amethyst,
Or an air-dissolved 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 that silent lie
Underneath, the leaves unsodden
Where the infant frost has trodden
With his morning-winged feet,
Whose bright fruit is gleaming yet;
And the red 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 forests 
on Montserrat 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 civilisation 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 Devonshire or Yorkshire, Ireland or Scotland; crystal-clear, 
bedded with gray 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 
hill 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 wilderness for 
the benefit of the parrots and agoutis; or on huge dark clumps of 
bamboo, which (probably not indigenous to the island) have in like 
manner spread themselves along all the streams in the lapse of ages.

Now we scrambled down into the brook, and waded our horses through, 
amid shoals of the little spotted sardine, {218a} 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, {218b} 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 

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 rare, 
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 
three 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 primeval 
garden began with ferns and creeping Selaginella.  Next, of course, 
the common Arum, {218c} 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 herbage; while above it again enormous 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, Bignonias, Echites, and Allamandas, 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 burn-side, are the peppers, 
groves of tall herbs some ten feet high or more, utterly unlike any 
European plants I have ever seen.  Some {219a} 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, {219b} 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, drooping, 
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 'resplendent 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 the jewel of these woods.  A low straggling tree carries, on 
long pendent branches, leaves like a Spanish chestnut, a foot 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 
Calycophyllum,' 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 began 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 Chateau 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 
gray and bare.  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 branches sometimes much higher than our heads, 
or to lead the horses underneath boughs which were too large to cut 
through, and just high enough to let them pass.  An English horse 
would have lost his nerve, and become restive from confusion and 
terror; but these wise brutes, like the pack-mule, seemed to 
understand 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 snapped 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 noonday 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 cliff, 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 fortune 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 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 them 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 liane and 
thickets of the tall Arouma, {221} 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 round a corner, at 
the head of a glen, where a few flagstones 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 which when our own voices 
ceased, was saddening, all but appalling.

At last, striking into a broader trace which came from the 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?  Suffice it to say, that right and left 
of the path, and arching together over head, 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 productions, 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 far 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 stood 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 distance, could be seen to 
toss and rage impatiently before the rush of the strong trade 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 Negroes had lagged behind with the provisions; and, 
hungry and thirsty, we tethered 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 recollect, we found on the ground many 
curious pods, {224} curled two or three times round, something like 
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 as soon as they opened, and out of hundreds of pods we only 
secured one or two beads.

We got to the cliff--a smugglers' crack in the rock, and peered 
down, with some disgust.  There should have been a pole or two 
there, to get down by:  but they were washed away; a canoe also:  
but it had been carried off, probably out of the way of the surf.  
To get down the crack, for active men, was easy enough:  but to get 
up again seemed, the longer we looked at it, the more impossible, at 
least for me.  So after scrambling down, holding on by wild pines, 
as far as we dare--during which process one of us was stung (not 
bitten) by a great hunting-ant, causing much pain and swelling--we 
turned away; for the heat of the little corner was intolerable.  But 
wistful eyes did we cast back at the next point of rock, behind 
which broke out the tantalising spring, which we could just not 

We rode on, sick and sorry, to find unexpected relief.  We 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 figure 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 senors!'  Candelaria, who might have been eighteen or twenty, 
came sliding down under the Banana-leaves, all modest smiles, and 
blushes through her whity-brown skin.  But having no more clothes on 
than her mother, she naturally hesitated at climbing the tree; and 
after ineffectual attempts to knock down oranges with a bamboo, 
screamed in her turn for some Jose or Juan.  Jose or Juan made his 
appearance, in a ragged shirt.  A lanky lad, about seventeen years 
old, he was evidently 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 contempt (the 
poor boy had done and said nothing) the two women hounded him up the 
tree.  He obeyed in meek resignation, and in a couple of minutes we 
had more 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 Christmas pantomime got up by my 
host for my special amusement; and that if I only winked my eyes 
hard enough, when I opened them again it would be all gone, and I 
should find myself walking with him 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 louder 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 nothing.

We passed over a sort of open down, from which all vegetation had 
been cleared, save the 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, seemingly, it 
was not so.  They stood utterly unharmed; save some half-dozen 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, transformed, by that one blast, from one of the 
loveliest to one of the ugliest natural objects.

Through the Palmiste pillars; through the usual black Roseau 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 {226} 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 
mountains, 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 lagoon above.  We sat down on bare polished logs, 
which floods had carried from the hills above, and ate and drank--
for our Negroes had by now rejoined us; and then scrambled up the 
shore back again, and into a trace running along the low cliff, even 
more beautiful, if possible, than that which we had followed in the 
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 long 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 large 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 Orinoco and Amazon; to 
Trinidad, as a fragment of the old Orinocquan 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 in old 
times, akin to myrtles.  If so, they have taken a grand and original 
line of their own, and persevered in it for ages, till they have 
specialised themselves to a condition far in advance of most 
myrtles, in size, beauty, 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 trees they are, and glorious to behold, when in full flower; 
but they are notorious mostly for their huge fruits and delicious 
nuts.  One of their finest forms, and the only one which the 
traveller is likely to see often in Trinidad, is the Cannon-ball 
tree. {227}  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-born 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 
thirty two pound shot, which you must get down with a certain 
caution, lest that befall you which befell 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 befell 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 Negroes.  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 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 has hammered 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, {228} that the Indians dared not enter the forests, 
when the trees were fruiting, without having their heads and 
shoulders covered with bucklers of hard wood.  These 'Almendras de 
Peru' (Peru almonds), 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 knew 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 excelsa 
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 twenty 
feet in height.  It does not resemble the Mammee, the star-apple, 
and several other trees of the Tropics, of which the branches, as in 
the laurels of the temperate zone, 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 semi-
coriaceous leaves, a little silvery beneath and more than two feet 
long, makes the branches bend down toward the ground, like the 
fronds of the palm-trees.'

'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 lower Oroonoco, 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, I 
believe, that monkeys--at least the South American--do use stones 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 in this case would lie, not in want of wits, but 
want of strength; and the monkeys must have too often to wait for 
these feasts till the rainy season, when the woody shell rots of 
itself, and amuse themselves meanwhile, as Humboldt describes them, 
in rolling 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 manaviris, 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 kernel 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 think themselves alone the 
legitimate masters of the forest.'

But if Nature has played the poor monkeys a somewhat tantalising 
trick about Brazil nuts, she has been more generous to them in the 
case of some other Lecythids, {229} which go by the name of monkey-
pots.  Huge trees like their kinsfolk, they are clothed in bark 
layers so delicate that the Indians beat them out till they are as 
thin as satin-paper, and use them as cigarette-wrappers.  They carry 
great 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 draw for us some of the strange fashions of the strange birds and 
beasts of these lands?--to draw, for instance, the cunning, selfish, 
greedy grin of delight on the face of some burly, hairy, goitred old 
red Howler, as he lifts off 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 
round jabbering and screeching, and, monkey fashion, twisting their 
heads upside down, as they put their arms round 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 sermon.

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 Demerara, but also for the botanical artist, 
for the man who should study long and carefully the more striking 
and beautiful of these wonderful leaves and stems, flowers and 
fruits, and introduce them into ornamentation, architectural or 

And so I end my little episode about these Lecythids, only adding 
that the reader must not confound with their nuts the butter-nuts, 
Caryocar, or Souari, which may be bought, I believe, at Fortnum and 
Mason's, and which are of all nuts the largest and the most 
delicious.  They have not been found as yet in Trinidad, though they 
abound in Guiana.  They are the fruit also of an enormous tree 
{230}--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 great 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 when 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 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 handiwork) 
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 requisition to ring in His Excellency the Governor and 
his muddy and quaintly attired--or unattired--suite.

Ah, that I 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 his 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 greetings, 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 beyond 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 civiliser in every sense of the word; and, when his health 
broke down from the noxious climate, had moved elsewhere 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 gentleman 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 I 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 by, at being taken for a Frenchman, and 
begged it to be understood that he was 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, etc. etc.; which he begged leave to present in due form next 
day; and all the while the brown crowd surged round and in and out, 
and the naked brown children got between every one's legs, and every 
one was in a fume of curiosity and delight--anything being an event 
in Blanchisseuse--save the one Chinaman, if I recollect right, who 
stood in his blue jacket and trousers, his hands behind his back, 
with visage unimpassioned, 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 mangoes 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 

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 farther 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, and started up the steep zigzag, through 
cacao groves, 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 world 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 for ever watered by 
the steam of the trade-wind, ferns are far more luxuriant and varied 
than in any other part of the island.

Soon it grew dark, and we strode on up hill and down dale, at one 
time for a mile or more through burnt forest, with its ghastly 
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-night.

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 
hillside, across a shallow ford, and then up another hillside--this 
time with care, for the felled 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 elsewhere 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 
acclimatised, 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 myself.

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 unhealthy 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 rudimentary.  A cottage of precious woods cut off 
the clearing, standing, 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 temperature 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 chairs 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, mosquitoes, 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 
added, 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 
{233} 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 the sake of air.  Soon, no regular 
garden, but beautiful flowering 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 Bougain-villia or the 
Clerodendron cover some arbour with lilac or white racemes.

But this camp had not yet arrived at so high a state of 
civilisation.  All round it, almost up to the very doors, 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 

As for the situation of the little oasis in the wilderness, it 
bespoke good sense and good taste.  The owner had stumbled, in his 
forest 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 
place.  Round the clearing the mountain woods surged 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--intolerable.  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 of 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 
'manana,' and a little quinine for fear of fever, we lounged about 
waiting for breakfast, and for the arrival of the horses from the 

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 
things which John Bull has not seen, because he does not care to see 
them.  If he comes to those 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 tormentor 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, morning 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 triangular hole would not stop, any more than 
that from the bite of a horse-leech, we feasted 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 
I 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 Norantea, a mile or two miles off, 
showed like a whole crimson flower-bed in the tree-tops; or a Poui, 
just coming into flower, made a spot of golden yellow--'a guinea 
stuck against the mountain-side,' as some one said; or the head of a 
palm broke the monotony of the broad-leaved foliage with its huge 
star of green.

Near us we descried several trees covered with pale yellow flowers, 
conspicuous enough on the hillside.  No one knew what they were; and 
a couple of Negroes (who are admirable 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.  
Animated were the arguments--almost the bets--as to which tree-top 
belonged to which tree-trunk.  Many were the mistakes made; and had 
it not been for the head of a certain palm, which served as a fixed 
point which there was no mistaking, three or four trees would have 
been cut before the right one was hit upon.  At last the right tree 
came crashing down, and a branch of the flowers was 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 

The majority went down, on horse and foot, to Blanchisseuse 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 piece 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 understood 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 
dozes 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 testimonial, those who read it said that it was not worth 
the paper it was written on.  Most probably every one of these poor 
follows had either employed the Obeah-man themselves to avert 
thieves or evil eye from a particularly fine fruit-tree, by hanging 
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 Obeah-man to swear to his good character, they could 
not well refuse, under 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 
doorstep; 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 
custom of Obeah, or Fetish-worship.  It appears to me, on closer 
examination, that it is not a worship of natural objects; not a 
primeval 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 primeval Nature-worship.  The 
Negro does not, as the primeval 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, 
Duppy, like the 'Duvvels' 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 offer to 
it fowls and plantains, which of course he himself ate.  Such is 
Obeah now; and such it was, as may be seen by De Bry's plates, when 
the Portuguese first met with it on the African coast four hundred 
years ago.

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 being a primeval one, as neither I, nor any 
one else, ever had the pleasure of meeting a primeval man, it seems 
to me somewhat rash to imagine what primeval man's creeds and 
worships must have been like; more rash still to conclude that they 
must have been like those of the modern 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 years 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 Negroes now, 
are likely to be the mere dregs and fragments of those older 

As a fact, Obeah is rather to be ranked, it seems to me, with those 
ancient Eastern mysteries, at once magical and profligate, which 
troubled society and morals in later Rome, when

'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 revenge 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 much for our comfort of mind--of that prevailing dread of poison 
as well as of magic which urges the African Negroes to deeds of 
horrible cruelty; and the fact that these African Negroes, up to the 
very latest importations, 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 unpleasant 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 Negroes knowing that they believe in it.  
Not two generations ago there might be found, up and down the 
islands, respectable 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 servant, 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 clergyman:--She had lived from youth, 
for many years, happily and faithfully with a white gentleman who 
considered her as his wife.  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 murders (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.  The 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 Negroes 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 fletri, 
mais 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 impostors.

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 Republicans--
deposed their despot after she had been taken prisoner, sacked her 
magic castle, and levelled it with the ground.  Whether they did, or 
did not, find skeletons of children buried under the floor, or what 
they found at all, I could not discover; and should be very careful 
how I 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 

The chief centre of this detestable system is St. Vincent, where--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, fattening 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 by 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 civilised world, 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 

The same missionary told me that in Sierra Leone, also, Obeah and 
poisoning go hand in hand.  Arriving home one night, he said, with 
two friends, he heard hideous screams from the house of a Portuguese 
Negro, a known Obeah-man.  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 containing the usual 
charms, and round it--sight of horror to all Negroes of the old 
school--three white cocks' heads--an 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.

But the Obeah-man was not so easily beaten.  In a few days the 
servant came in again with a wise visage.

'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 he 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 from 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 curiously illustrative of Negro manners in Trinidad during 
the last generation, that I 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. R---, 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 theft, especially at night; for we 
had not then the powerful 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 
Negroes, owing to his reputed supernatural powers 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 

'I very soon found that Martin was determined to try his authority 
and influence against mine; and I resolved to give him the earliest 
possible opportunity 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.  The 
boiling-house was but very dimly lighted by two murky oil-lamps, the 
rays from which could scarcely penetrate 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 distinctly saw 
Martin deliberately filling a large tin pan with sugar from one of 
the coolers.

'I called out to him to desist; but he never deigned to take the 
slightest notice of me.  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:  quitte moue 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 could 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 standing, 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 corner of one of the large wooden sugar-coolers.

'The blow stunned him for the time, and before he recovered 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 told 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 persuading 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, etc., hung round their necks.  They were all squatted on 
their haunches outside the hut, apparently 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 addressed to 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 appearance of a man, 
but with the head of a cock.  Everything that the coarsest fancy 
could invent had been done to make this image horrible; and yet it 
appeared to be the object of special adoration to the devotees 

'Jean Marie, to be out of the way, clambered on to one of the cross-
beams that supported 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 overpowering.

'Martin took his seat astride of an African tom-tom 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.  Round and round she went, 
keeping admirable time with the music.

'Quicker still went the drum.  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 remained; 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 finger 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 

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 
court, and an atmosphere of perspiration 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 silence.

So, when all had departed, I lounged awhile in the rocking-chair, 
watching two Negroes 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 they 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 
genial 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, who deserve it 
certainly as much as he, have it not.  After all, the ancestors of 
these Negroes have been, for centuries past, so hard-worked, ill-
fed, ill-used too--sometimes worse than ill-used--that it is hard if 
the descendants may not have a holiday, and take the world easy for 
a generation or two.

The perpetual Saturnalia in which the Negro, in Trinidad at least, 
lives, will surely give physical strength and health to the body, 
and something of cheerfulness, self-help, independence to the 
spirit.  If the Saturnalia be prolonged too far, and run, as they 
seem inclined to run, into brutality and licence, those stern laws 
of Nature which men call political economy will pull the Negro up 
short, and waken him out of his dream, soon enough and sharply 
enough--a 'judgment' by which the wise will profit and be preserved, 
while the fools only will be destroyed.  And meanwhile, what if in 
these Saturnalia (as in Rome of old) the new sense of independence 
manifests itself in somewhat of self-assertion and rudeness, often 
in insolence, especially disagreeable, because deliberate?  What if 
'You call me black fellow?  I mash you white face in,' were the 
first words one heard at St. Thomas's from a Negro, on being asked, 
civilly enough, by a sailor to cast off from a boat to which he had 
no right to be holding on?  What if a Negro now and then addresses 
you as simple 'Buccra,' while he expects you to call him 'Sir'; or 
if a Negro woman, on being begged by an English lady to call to 
another Negro woman, answers at last, after long pretences not to 
hear, 'You coloured lady! you hear dis white woman a wanting of 
you'?  Let it be.  We white people bullied these black people quite 
enough for three hundred years, to be able to allow them to play 
(for it is no more) at bullying us.  As long as the Negroes are 
decently loyal and peaceable, and do not murder their magistrates 
and drink their brains mixed with rum, nor send delegates to the 
President of Hayti to ask if he will assist them, in case of a 
general rising, to exterminate the whites--tricks which the harmless 
Negroes of Trinidad, to do them justice, never have played, or had a 
thought of playing--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 civilised 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 to 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 practically is, an offence against the British Government; and 
that Government will find in them, I believe, loyal citizens and 
able servants.

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 
trunk itself by horizontal lateral fronds, while the main rachis 
climbed straight up many feet, thus embracing the stem in a network 
of semi-transparent green Guipure lace.  I recollect, too, a coarse 
low fern {245} 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 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 gravelly beaches, and gazed up the green avenues 
of the brooks.  I sat amid the Balisiers 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 enjoyment of looking, careless of what I 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 yourself 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 gray-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, {246} which excited--and 
no wonder--the enthusiasm of the usually unimpassioned Humboldt.  
Magnificent 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 Coconut, usually curves the height of a man 
ere it rises in a shaft for fifty or sixty feet more.  From the 
summit of that shaft springs a crown--I had rather say, a fountain--
of pinnated leaves; 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 degrees or more; for the last fourth 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-gray below, shiver and rattle 
amid the denser foliage of the broad-leaved trees; and then went on 
to another and to another, to stare up again, and enjoy the mere 
shape of the most beautiful plant I had ever beheld, excepting 
always the Musa Ensete, 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, {247} 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 
Manioc 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 AEquatorial 
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 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 principal 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 my 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 nears 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 one's 
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 falling 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, {248a} 
'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 of 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 
ground, and in the lower strata of the atmosphere.  Everything 
announces a world of organic activity and life.  In every bush, in 
the cracked bark of the trees, in the earth undermined by 
hymenopterous 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 being sensitive while it is 
recovering from that most deafening of plagues, a tropic cold in the 

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 Fillette, kept along the northern wall of 
the mountains, instead of turning up to the slope which we came over 
out of Caura.  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 
reascended.  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 concentrated essence of unwashed tropic humanity, 
which proceeded from that strange animal, the porcupine with a 
prehensile tail, {248b} 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 ancestors 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 
recognised, and, looking up, saw a magnificent Bois Chataigne, 
{249a}--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 M'Gillicuddy's Reeks 
transfigured into one huge 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 gray, and of a shape something 
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 Immortelle.  
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 scrub; in which ride, by the by, the civiliser of Montserrat and 
I, to avoid the blinding glare of 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 {249b}--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, 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 scrape, as she had been probably fifty times 

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 'Ramornie' 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 
Negroes, 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 Negroes, 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 ungainly Montrichardias, drinking 
'Ramornie' out of bamboo, washing it down with milk from green 
coconuts--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 

In front 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 strong 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 than any 
we had seen before; and down the other side, with the great lowland 
and the Gulf of Paria opening before us.  We rested at a police-
station--always a pleasant sight in Trinidad, for the sake of the 
stalwart soldier-like brown policemen and their buxom wives, and 
neat houses and gardens a focus of discipline and civilisation amid 
what would otherwise relapse too soon into anarchy and barbarism; we 
whiled away the time by inspecting the ward police reports, which 
were kept as neatly, and worded as well, as they would have been in 
England; and then rolled comfortably in the carriage down to Port of 
Spain, tired and happy, after three such days 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 my 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 Orinoco, as far as Ciudad Bolivar (the Angostura 
of Humboldt'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, Senor 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 Narrative, 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 thousands 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 

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 
Raleigh'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 attention 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 everywhere with 
dense forests, is intersected at various angles by numbers 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 glistening 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 hills, 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 curious 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?

'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 Boehmeria or Ardisia, and that 
scarlet flower belongs to our native Aphelandra.  In the rear are 
one or two Philodendrons--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 

'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 Pitcairnia 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, Hydrocotyles, Cyperoids, 
and Grasses of various genera, Tradescantias and Commelynas, 
Billbergias, and, occasionally, a few small Rubiaceae and 

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 gray 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 mending 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 changes, giving place to the new:
Lest one good custom 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 
civilisation shall we have invented to put in its place?  None as 
yet.  All our best civilisation, in every class, is derived from 
that; from the true self respect which is founded on respect for 

From San Josef, I was taken on in the carriage of a Spanish 
gentleman through Arima, a large village where an Indian colony 
makes those baskets and other wares from the Arouma-leaf for which 
Trinidad is noted; and on to his 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, beautifully 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 by, I espied, and gathered for the first and last time, a flower 
very dear to me--a crimson Passion flower, rambling wild over the 

When we arrived, the sun was still so high in heaven that the kind 
owner offered 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 recognised 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 squire leading the way on his mule, with cutlass and 
umbrella, both needful enough.

We went along a sandy high road, bordered by a vegetation new to me.  
Low trees, with wiry branches and shining evergreen leaves, which 
belonged, I was told, principally 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 often heard, but which I 
had never seen before, at least in any abundance, namely, the Timit, 
{256a} 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 nerves 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 roadside, tied up, 
ready for carrying away, and each Negro or Negress 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 entirely of 
carbon and water, drains hardly any mineral constituents 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 bakers 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 Government 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. 

'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.  
True 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 has 
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 virgin 
beauty smiles before him.  Here, again, in selfish pursuit of 
profit, and, consciously or unconsciously, following the abominable 
principle of the great moral vileness which one man has expressed--
"Apres nous le deluge"--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 Humboldt and other travellers have expressed at the 
far vaster Savannas of the Orinoco.

A large sheet of gray-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 gray 
promontory into a green sea, was an object which filled me with more 
awe and admiration than anything 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 
gray columns, perfectly straight and parallel, supported a dark roof 
of leaves, gray underneath, and reflecting above, from their broad 
fans, 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, Droseras, 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, {259a} but not 
the Chaparro {259b} 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 
properties; 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, 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, {259c} which I had expected to find, but which, when found, 
were so utterly unlike any English ones, that I did not recognise at 
first what they were.  Our English Bladder-worts, as everybody 
knows, float in stagnant water on tangles of hair-like leaves, 
something like those of the Water-Ranunculus, 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 nor swamp to root in, has taken to lodging 
as a parasite among the wet moss on tree-trunks; not so strange, 
either, as that of 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 
parasite on parasites; and sends out long runners, as it grows, 
along the bough, in search of the next wild pine and its tiny 

In the face of such strange facts, is it very absurd to guess that 
these Utricularias, so like each other in their singular and highly 
specialised flowers, so unlike each other in the habit of the rest 
of the plant, have started from 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 
circumstances, 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 distribution 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, {260a} 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 land way between the two 
continents by way of Greenland, and the bison ranged from Russia to 
the Rocky 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 Orinoco once ran along 
the foot of the northern mountains of Trinidad.

'It is impossible,' says Humboldt, {260b} 'to cross the burning 
plains' (of the Orinocquan 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 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, and 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 fertilised by various rivers?  This question is connected with 
all that relates to the history of our planet.  If, indulging in 
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 
recognise 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 Orinoco 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 Flora, which once 
spread uninterruptedly along the southern base of the Cordillera and 
over the lowland which is now the Gulf of Paria, along the alluvial 
flats of the mighty stream; and the Moriche 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 Schomburgk found forming forests among the mountains of 
Guiana, up to four thousand 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 remembered, 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 across the island at the mountain-foot, its highest 
point in thirty-six miles being only two hundred and twenty feet--an 
elevation far less than the corresponding 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 Orinoco is now.  For so are best 
explained, not merely the sheets of gravel, but the huge piles of 
boulder which have accumulated at the mouth of the mountain gorges 
on the northern side.

As for the southern shore of this supposed channel of the Orinoco, 
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 
degradation going on still about the summits, or who remembers that 
the strata, whether tertiary or lower chalk, have been, over the 
greater part 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 represent 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 depression of the 
neighbouring Gulf 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--to 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?  Humboldt--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 Gulf 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 Pedernales.' {262}  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 Pedernales' mouth of the Orinoco, 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 


Next 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 and a Coolie carrying 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.  Cuffy 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 Barbadoes, sa.  Dat de 
country to see.  I Barbadian, sa.'  No doubt.  It is very quaint, 
this self-satisfaction of the Barbadian Negro.  Whether or not he 
belonged originally to some higher race--for there are as great 
differences of race among Negroes as among any white men--he looks 
down on the Negroes, and indeed on the white men, of other islands, 
as beings of an inferior grade; and takes care to inform you in the 
first five minutes that he is 'neider C'rab 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 Negroes are, I believe, the only ones who 
give, or ever have given, any trouble in Trinidad; and in Barbadoes 
itself, though the agricultural Negroes 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 unable to clear his quarter of 
the fleet of fighting, jabbering brown people, turned the steam pipe 
on them.  At which quite unexpected artillery they fled 
precipitately; 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 I 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 washing 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 which is becoming fixed, with its own grammar and 
declensions, etc.  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 philologer 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 he was pleased to call 
his mind' he had arrived at the conclusion that such a thing could 
be done.  Clearly, he could not plead unavoidable ignorance of the 
subject-matter, as might the old cook at San Josef, who, the first 
time her master brought home Wenham Lake ice from Port of Spain, was 
scandalised at the dirtiness of the 'American water,' washed off the 
sawdust, and dried the ice in the sun.  His was a case of Handy-
Andyism, 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 Negroes.  But--as might 
have been expected--the poor boy's moral sense had proved as shaky 
as his 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 sugar.

We arrived after a while at Valencia, a scattered hamlet in 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 {265} nuts; trapezoidal brown nuts--enclosed 
originally in a round fruit--which ought some day to form a valuable 
article of export.  Their bitter anthelminthic 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 {266a}--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 extensively used already in the island; while its bark is a 
febrifuge and tonic.  In fact it possesses all those qualities which 
make its brethren, the Meliaceae, valuable throughout the Tropics.  
But it is not the only tree of South America whose bark may be used 
as a substitute for quinine.  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 
Demerara Greenheart, or Bibiri, {266b} 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 
cabinetmakers; while in Demerara, I am assured by an eye-witness, 
many tons of this precious Greenheart bark are thrown away year by 
year.  So goes the world; and man meanwhile at once boasts of his 
civilisation, 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 landscape 
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, Roseau, Timit, Aroumas, 
and Tulumas, {266c} mixed with Myrtles and Melastomas; then the 
copper Bois Mulatres 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 resembled rather the less 
poetical sound of a woman beating a saucepan to make a swarm of bees 

At one point we met a gang of Negroes felling timber to widen the 
road.  Fresh fallen trees, tied together with lianes, lay 
everywhere.  What a harvest for the botanist was among them!  I 
longed to stay there a week to examine and collect.  But time 
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 Negroes was one who excited my astonishment; not merely 
for his size, though he was perhaps the tallest man whom I saw among 
the usually tall Negroes 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 born; but his father, it appeared, had 
been in one of our Negro regiments, and had been settled afterwards 
on a Government grant of land.  Whether his beauty was the result of 
'atavism'--of the reappearance, under the black skin and woolly 
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 ascertain; namely, 
by the appearance among them of sudden sports of nature; individuals 
of an altogether higher type; such a man as that terrible Daaga, 
whose story has been told.  If I am any judge of physiognomy, such a 
man as that, having--what the Negro has not yet had--'la carriere 
ouverte aux 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 
possible.  They were, the Negroes told us, 'Dormillons,' or 
'Mangrove Cascabel,' a species as yet, I believe, undescribed; and, 
of course, here considered as very poisonous, owing to their 
likeness to the true Cascabel, {268} 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 rattlesnake 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 himself 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 Negroes, I opened their mouths to 
judge for myself, and found them, as I expected, 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 rational 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 
slavery 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 cannot afford 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 Revolution 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 
feet 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 
innumerable 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.  When slipped off, it is 
found to be made of two transverse layers of fibre--a bit of 
veritable natural lace, similar to, though far less delicate than, 
the famous lace-bark of the Lagetta-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 clothing 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 found--
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 civiliser 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.  However, 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 or under sheds; with hedges of dwarf Erythrina, dotted with 
red jumby beads, and here and there that pretty climbing vetch, the 
Overlook. {270}  I forgot, by the by, 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.

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 flat, sandy, surf 
beaten shore, along which stretched, in one grand curve, lost at 
last in the haze of spray, fourteen 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.

These Cocos, be it understood, are probably not indigenous.  They 
spread, it is said, from an East Indian vessel which was wrecked 
here.  Be that as it may, they have thoroughly naturalised 
themselves.  Every nut which falls and lies, throws out, during the 
wet season, its roots 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 innumerable 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 

The most remarkable, and to me unexpected, peculiarity of a Cocal 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 gray of the Jagua, but from 
any other tree which I have ever seen.

When inside the Cocal, 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-gray 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 general, 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 gray 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 Rhine 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 Orinoco 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 curving 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, impassable 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 
submergence 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 mark; and killed 
where they grew.

So we rode on, stopping now and then to pick up shells; chip-chips, 
{274a} which are said to be excellent eating; a beautiful purple 
bivalve, {274b} to which, in almost every case, a coralline {274c} 
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 

These were all, if I recollect, that we found that day.  The next 
day we came on hundreds of a most beautiful bivalve, {274d} 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 {274e} 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, leading 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 

How we took off our saddles, sat down on the sand, 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 Negroes 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 wardrobes, 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 I 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 civilisation, 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 barns, 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 fireflies twinkled, 
talking of dear old Germany, and German unity, and the possibility 
of many things 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 
exploded 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 Negroes:  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 off 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 Negroes one evening rushed 
shrieking out of a boiling-house, 'Oh!  Massa Robert, we all killed.  
Dar one great jumby-bird come in a hole a-top a roof.  Oh!  Massa 
Robert, you no go in; you killed, we killed,' etc. etc.  Massa 
Robert went in, and could see no bird.  'Ah, Massa Robert, him darky 
him eye, but him see you all da same.  You killed, we killed,' etc.  
Da capo.

Massa Robert was not killed:  but lives still, to the great benefit 
of his fellow-creatures, Negroes especially.  Nevertheless, the 
Negroes 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 exercising 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 shut 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 home.

We spent the next morning in inspecting the works.  We watched the 
Negroes splitting the coconuts with a single blow of that all-useful 
cutlass, which they handle with surprising 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 piecework.  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 Pere 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, {277a} which 
is here called Mahajuel, is striped as well as spotted with two 
patterns, one over the other.  The Huillia, Anaconda, or Water-boa, 
{277b} 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 magnified 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 
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 tells 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 differences, 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 
and 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 glad 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 passed half a dozen without seeing them.  The only 
chance, 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, {278} 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 Negroes--but too apt to forget something 
or other--had forgotten to bring a spare supply; and the gun was 

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 cholera 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 European--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 meanwhile--a cavity 
full of perfectly clear water, slightly sweet, and so cold (the 
pith-coat being a good non-conductor 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 under 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 young palm till it has grown 
leaves enough to feed on the air, and 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 

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 wedging 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 protrudes at last, and curves upward toward the light, to 
commence 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 albumen, through 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--that the coco-palm which produces coir-
rope, and coconuts, 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 which 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 nor Boa-constrictor had 
been seen; and then we fell to siesta; during which--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 civiliser 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 the 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 gray 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, disinclined to move off; so 
they parted, and M--- went on his way.  But his business detained 
him longer than he expected; when he got back to the river-mouth it 
was quite dark, and the tide was full high.  He must either sleep on 
the sands, which with fever upon him would not have been over-safe, 
or try 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 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 extremity, 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 back as he did 
during that last wade.  By God's blessing the shark was not there, 
or did not see him; and he got safe home, thankful for dinner and 

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 superfluous.  
The enemy was nowhere to be seen; and we rode on, looking back 
wistfully, but in vain, for a gray fin among the ripples.

So we rode back, along the Cocal and along that wonderful 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 hindquarters 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 be 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 monkey, {282a} we 
would surely eat him too, if it were but to say that we had done it.  
But the hunters had had no luck.  They had brought in only a Pajui, 
{282b} an excellent game bird; an Ant-eater, {282c} and a great 
Cachicame, or nine-banded Armadillo.  The ant-eater the 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 Captain Mayne Reid's 
statement, that he will eat his way into the soft parts of a dead 
horse, and stay there until he has eaten his way out again.  But, to 
do him justice, I never heard him accused, like the giant Armadillo 
{282d} of the Main, of digging dead bodies out of their graves, 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 primeval 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 Paris, 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 of 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 boy 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 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 some one, 'to have been a 
first-rate Zouave.'  Well:  perhaps he was a better man, even as he 
was, than as a Zouave.

And so we rode away again, and through Valencia, and through San 
Josef, weary and happy, back to Port of Spain.

I would gladly, had I been able, have gone farther due 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 persons, to a small property of his own, which 
was buried in the primeval forests of Oropuche.  With them went his 
second son, Monsignor F---, then and afterwards cure 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, respected and beloved by men of all 
denominations.  His church of San Josef, though still unfinished, 
had been taxed, as well as all the Roman Catholic churches of the 
island, to build the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Port of Spain; and 
he, refusing to obey an order which he considered unjust, 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 Negroes 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 number ordered were 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 lapp or quenco.  Aristobal was chosen for the 
fishing, and brought in good loads of river fish, some sixteen 
pounds weight:  and thus the little 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 

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 
civilisation and Christianity.  Those they had carried with them 
into the wilderness; and those they brought back with them 


When I arrived in Trinidad, the little island was somewhat excited 
about changes in the system of education, which 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 which 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 try to burden 
them with two at once?  But if one system is to give way to the 
other, which is the more 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 understand, went to no school at all.

The Roman 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) 
civilising and Christianising 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 Negroes 
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 clergymen 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 influence.

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 otherwise.  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 reading 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 have 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 

'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 Romish clergy 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 necessary 
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 Calvinist, which 
have been elaborated by the intellect and the emotions of races who 
have gone through a training unknown to the Negro.  With all respect 
for those who disseminate 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. Augustine's Confessions.  For what 
we see is this--that when the personal influence of the white 
missionary is withdrawn, and 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 Roman Catholic priest should say all this, he would at least 
have a right, I believe, to a respectful hearing.

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 education.  Now how far the 
Confessional is needful, or useful, or prudent, in a highly 
civilised and generally virtuous community, may be an open matter.  
But in spite of all your English dislike of it, hear our side of the 
question, as far as Negroes 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 barbarous 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:  while 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 Christian; you are unfit to be 
called a decent human being.  And this, because there was every 
reason to suppose 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 Negroes 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 notorious, 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 Roman Catholic clergyman in Port of Spain spoke thus to me--
and I have been spoken to in words not unlike these--I could only 
answer, 'God's blessing on you, and all your efforts, whether I 
agree with you in detail or not.'

The Roman Catholic inhabitants of the island are to the Protestant 
as about 2.5 to 1. {288}  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, Grenada, 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 elsewhere 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 illegitimate, were 
growing up not only in ignorance, but in heathendom 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 school side by side with the secular ward 
school; and the colony could not well be asked for Government grants 
to two sets of schools at once.  In face of these circumstances, 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, who 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 
reopening a secular school in the ward, in case the private school 
turned out a failure.

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 
forty-five miles by sixty.  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, were vested in local committees.  The simple answer 
was, that eighteen years had elapsed, and the colony had done 
nothing in that direction; that the great majority of children in 
the island did not go to school at all, while those who did attended 
most irregularly, and learnt little or nothing; {290} 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 generally 
inefficient, and the Central Board of Education inactive; that there 
was no rigorous local supervision, and no local interest 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 no 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 be 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 enough in the loyalty of the good 
folk of Trinidad to believe that they will do their best to make it 

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 civilisation 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 satisfactory 
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 pounds a year for three years, to lads 
from the West India colonies, the examinations for it to be held in 
Jamaica, Barbadoes, Trinidad, and Demerara; and in Trinidad itself 
two Exhibitions of 150 pounds a year each, tenable for three years, 
are attainable 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 
3000 pounds 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 Roman 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 Mr. 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. {291}  Not 
only it, but schools duly affiliated to it, are to receive 
Government aid; and four Exhibitions of 150 pounds 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 presence 
of (to quote the Port of Spain Gazette) the Council, consisting of--

The Honourable the Chief Judge Needham.
J. Scott Bushe (Colonial Secretary).
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 present; the Principal and 
Masters of the Collegiate School, the Superiors and Reverend 
Professors of St. Mary's College, the Clergy of the Church of 
England in the island; the leading professional men and merchants, 
etc., and especially a large number of the Roman Catholic gentry of 
the island; 'MM. Ambard, O'Connor, Giuseppi, Laney, Farfan, 
Gillineau, Rat, Pantin, Leotaud, Besson, Fraser, Paull, Hobson, 
Garcia, Dr. Padron,' etc.  I quote their names from the Gazette, in 
the order in which they occur.  Many of them I 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 College was a just and politic 
measure, opening, as the Gazette well says, a great future 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 Roman Catholics alike, without 
the slightest compromise of their respective principles.

'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 this.

'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--was objectionable; and that the 
whole question of secondary education presented a most difficult 

'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 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 Protestants and Catholics learning 
side by side; that in Mauritius, a College numbering 700 pupils, 
partly Protestants, partly Roman Catholics, existed; and that 
similar establishments were not uncommon elsewhere.

'I therefore determined to endeavour to effect the establishment 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 support with Government aid, and bring under Government 
supervision, 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 certain courses of instruction in which combined 
instruction could not possibly be given consistently with due regard 
to the faith of the pupils; there were others where it was difficult 
to decide whether it could or could not properly be given; there 
were others again where it might be certainly given without 

'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 assented 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 on 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 education, 
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 scruples are 
not wounded, a sacrifice of preferences must often be made.  Private 
wishes must often yield to the public good.

'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 affiliated 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, efficiency, 
and success with which he has hitherto laboured 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 
affiliated schools indiscriminately, the lectures being given as may 
be most convenient, and as may be arranged by the College Council.

'It is intended by the College Council that the fees charged for 
attendance at the Royal College should be much lower than those 
heretofore charged at the Queen's Collegiate School.  I do not 
believe that the mere financial loss will 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 modern education will be made 
here, and that especial attention will be given to the teaching of 
some of the Eastern languages.

'It is almost impossible to overrate the importance of this both to 
the Government and the community;--to the Government, as enabling it 
to avail itself of the services of honest, competent, and 
trustworthy 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 confident 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 exertions, and I 
count with confidence on their future labours.

'I thank the parents who, by their presence, have manifested 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 for many 

'I rejoice, because being not as yet affiliated or in any way 
officially connected with the Royal College, their presence 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 College, 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 years past without any aid 
whatever from the State, and, in spite of manifold obstacles and 
discouragements, have caused it to increase in numbers and 

'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 fellow-citizens.

'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 College will, I 
trust, remain as the rock on which the snow rests, and which remains 
uninjured by the heat, unmoved by the passing storm.  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 and 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 convictions will daily 
diminish; that all alike will more and more feel in how many things 
they can think and act together 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 promote 
her good.  That this College is calculated to aid in a great degree 
in effecting 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 education in the West Indies; and that is to carry out Mr. 
Keenan's scheme for a Central University for the whole of the West 
Indian Colonies, {297a} 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. Keenan'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 clergyman 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 Roman Catholic Bishop, the Right 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 
diffusing instruction through the colonies. {297b}  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 increased 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 throughout the island was in the greatest peril, these good 
ladies came to supply a want which, under the peculiar circumstances 
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 civilisation, purity, virtue, where one 
was but too much needed; and has preserved, doubtless, hundreds of 
young creatures from serious harm; 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 herself 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 I 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 seaport 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 least foppery or 
extravagance.  The very best sermon, perhaps, for matter and manner, 
which I ever heard preached to unlettered 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 newcomer.  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 trying to sit on the 
footstalks in a high wind, and slipping down, and flopping up again, 
half the service through.  But one soon got accustomed to the 
strange sights; though it was, to say the least, somewhat startling 
to find, on Christmas Day, the altar and pulpit decked with 
exquisite tropic flowers; and each doorway arched over with a single 
pair of coconut 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 large 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 unmistakable long, delicate, 
once beautiful features of a high-bred West Indian of the 'Ancien 
Regime,' came and knelt reverently, feebly, sadly, between two old 
Negro women.  One of them seemed her maid.  Both of them might have 
been once her slaves.  Here at least they were equals.  True 
Equality--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 question 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 Rev. --- 
Richards, brother of the excellent Rector 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 to 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 
civilisation and Christianity.  The children, 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 in intellect and force of character; an 
inferiority which is certainly not to be found in Negroes, 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 
civilisation, 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 aesthetic 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.

The coolie temples are curious places to those who have never before 
been face to face with real heathendom.  Their 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, 
opposite 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 civilised 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 cannot agree with 
it.  The more of a 'saine appreciation,' 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 remnants of 
idolatry.  The idolatrous nations now, as always, are not the savage 
nations; but those who profess a very ancient and decaying 
civilisation.  The Hebrew Scriptures uniformly represent the non-
idolatrous and monotheistic peoples, from Abraham to Cyrus, as lower 
in what we now call the scale of civilisation, 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 
application 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 civilisation which they had lost.  After a while the 
priesthood, which has usually, in all ages and countries, proclaimed 
itself the depository of a knowledge and a civilisation lost to the 
mass of the people, may have gained courage to imitate these old 
works of art, with 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 as to Isaiah of old-
-how this utterly abnormal and astonishing 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 so it 
is; so it has been for unnumbered 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 for him.  But what if 
that very fact, diseased as it is, should be a sure proof that he is 
more 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, in 
all the newest fashions of Paris via New York:  but to wander en 
mufti among the crowd outside, and behold the humours of men.  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 physiognomy 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-civilisation 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 compared with the 
bloated hangdog roughs and quasi-grooms of English races.  As for 
the sporting gentlemen, not having the honour to know them, I 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 amused one's childhood concerning a once 
notable event in a certain island--

'I went to da Place
To see da horse-race,
I see Mr. Barton
A-wipin' ob his face.

'Run Allright,
Run for your life;
See Mr Barton
A comin 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 mourning.  But no one seemed inclined to tie their 
heads, across that day.  The Coolies seemed as merry as the Negroes, 
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 glass--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 hues.  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 fool's tackle had lumbered and 
creaked hither across the sea to Martinique, and was now making the 
round of the islands, and 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 say, 
forgot themselves, kicked up their legs, shouted to the bystanders, 
and were altogether 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 amused, 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 could 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 hat.  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 him for an old Scot; a canny, austere man--a man, 
too, who had 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 unmistakable 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 about 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 cards,
And--On his nails, which were taper,
   What's common in tapers--that's wax'?

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' nests, while the great 
locusts whirred 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 group of coloured men round him, whom I advised in 
vain to do the one thing needful--put a blanket over him 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 civilised as it was--say three thousand 
years ago?  People have, certainly--quite of late years--given up 
going to see cocks fight, 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 civilisation is barely twenty years old; 
and we owe its introduction, be it always remembered, to the 
Germans.  French civilisation signifies practically, certainly in 
the New World, little save ballet-girls, billiard-tables, and thin 
boots:  English civilisation, little save horse-racing and cricket.  
The latter sport is certainly blameless; nay, in the West Indies, 
laudable and even heroic, when played, as on the Savanna here, under 
a noonday 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 fireflies 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.'

Well:  but is the nightly tom-tom dance so much more absurd than the 
nightly ball, which is now considered an integral element of white 
civilisation?  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 hundred 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 Negroes are said to be gradually maddened by it; and white 
people have told me that its very monotony, if listened to long, is 
strangely exciting, 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 ballroom were suddenly invaded by Phoebus, 
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, massa.'

'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 
conversion 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.


The 'provision grounds' of the Negroes were very interesting.  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 recognise 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 others, as 
not only the ideal form of agriculture, but perhaps the basis of any 
ideal rustic civilisation.  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 fruit, 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, and 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 laurel foliage, 
arranged in stars at the end of each twig, is the Mango, always a 
beautiful object, whether in orchard or in open park.  In the West 
Indies, as far 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 oak, and keeping always 
the round oak-like form.  Rich in resplendent foliage, and still 
more rich in fruit, the tree easily became encircled with an 
atmosphere of myth in the fancy of the imaginative Hindoo.

That tree with upright branches, and large, dark, glossy leaves 
tiled upwards along them, is the Mammee Sapota, {311a} beautiful 
likewise.  And what is the next, like an evergreen peach, shedding 
from the under side of every leaf a golden light--call it not shade?  
A Star-apple; {311b} and that young thing which you may often see 
grown into a great timber-tree, with leaves like a Spanish chestnut, 
is the Avocado, {311c} or, as some call it, alligator, pear.  This 
with the glossy leaves, somewhat like the Mammee Sapota, is a 
Sapodilla, {311d} and that with leaves like a great myrtle, and 
bright flesh-coloured fruit, a Malacca-apple, or perhaps a Rose-
apple. {311e}  Its neighbour, with large leaves, gray 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-
sop; {311f} and that privet-like bush with little flowers and green 
berries a Guava, {311g} 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 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 Plaintain {311h} bears large 
fruits which require cooking; the Banana {312a} 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 commoner 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 Red 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 cultivated so long that 
though it flowers and fruits, it seldom or never seeds, and is 
propagated entirely by cuttings.  The 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 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 rather, 
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 civilisation 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 holy 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 curves 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 from 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 

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, 
{313a} 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, 
{313b} right good to eat.  The creeping vines, like our Tamus, or 
Black Bryony, are Yams, {313c}--best of all roots.

The branching broad-leaved canes, with strange white flowers, is 
Arrowroot. {313d}  The tall mallow-like shrub, with large pale 
yellowish-white flowers, Cotton.  The huge grass with beads on it 
{313e} is covered with the Job's tears, which are precious in 
children's eyes, and will be used as beads for necklaces.  The 
castor-oil plants, and the maize--that last always beautiful--are of 
course well known.  The arrow leaves, three feet long, on stalks 
three feet high, like gigantic Arums, are Tanias, {313f} whose roots 
are excellent.  The plot of creeping convolvulus-like plants, with 
purple flowers, is the Sweet, or true, Potato. {313g}

And we must not overlook the French Physic-nut, {313h} 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 the Indian Shot, {313i} which may be seen planted out 
now in summer gardens in England.  The Negro grows it, not for its 
pretty crimson flowers, but because its hard seed put into a bladder 
furnishes him with that detestable musical instrument the chac-chac, 
wherewith he accompanies nightly that equally detestable instrument 
the tom-tom.

The list of vegetables is already long:  but there are a few more to 
be added to it.  For there, in a corner, creep some plants of the 
Earth-nut, {314a} a little vetch which buries its pods in the earth.  
The owner will roast and eat their oily seeds.  There is also a tall 
bunch of Ochro {314b}--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 
Granadilla, {314c} whose large yellow fruits hang ready to be 
plucked, and eaten principally for a few seeds of the shape and 
colour of young cockroaches.  If he be a prudent man (especially if 
he lives in Jamaica), he will have a plant of the pretty Overlook 
pea, {314d} trailing aloft somewhere, to prevent his garden being 
'overlooked,' i.e. bewitched by an evil eye, in case the Obeah-
bottle which hangs from the Mango-tree, charged with toad and 
spider, dirty water, and so forth, has no terrors for his secret 
enemy.  He will have a Libidibi {314e} tree, too, for astringent 
medicine; and his hedge will be composed, 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, 
{314f} and blue and white and pink Convolvuluses.  The sulphur and 
purple Neerembergia of our hothouses, which is here one mass of 
flower at Christmas, and the creeping Crab's-eye Vine, {314g} 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 {314h} 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 boundaries.

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 man delights; and woods, forests, and fields medicinal plants 
uncounted.  'There is more medicine in the bush, and better, 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 Guiana, one hundred and forty 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 be unable to 
find something in the hedge which will set them all right again.

At the amount of food which a man can get off 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 cultivation round a cabin which 
contains a numerous family.  The plantains alone ought, according to 
Humboldt, to give one hundred and thirty-three times as much food as 
the same space of ground sown with wheat, and forty-four 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 
something 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 lxviii. on the starch-producing plants of the 
West Indies.

Beyond the facts which I have given as to the plantain, I have no 
statistics of the amount 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 
everywhere 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 

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 civilised man.  This, however, will 
require a skill and a thoughtfulness which the Negro does not as yet 
possess.  If he ever had them, he lost them under slavery, from the 
brutalising 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 Feargus 
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! forgetting, 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 fingers 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 with new rum.  The Hindoo immigrant, on the other 
hand, has been trained by long ages to a somewhat scientific 
agriculture, and civilised 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 lounging 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 everything grows fresh and fresh, save the 
salt-fish, 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 from 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 devotional, on the 
walls, comfortable furniture, looking-glasses, and sideboards, and 
other pleasant signs that a civilisation 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 pounds to 240,000 pounds, beside 
the local taxation of the wards, some 30,000 pounds or 40,000 pounds 

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 flow 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 {318a} be 
hereafter largely exported for the use of the English working 
classes?  Why should not Trinidad, and other 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 England 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 {318b} 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 6800 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 Immortelles, sixty to 
eighty feet high, during their whole life.  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 6500 dollars on his first outlay 
of some 8000.  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 in these volumes my belief that exclusive 
sugar cultivation, on the large scale, has been the bane of the West 

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 Negro, 
whom it was not worth while to civilise, 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 Barbadoes 
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 Barbadoes was reported to 
maintain, as against 80,000 black, 70,000 free whites; while in 1851 
the island contained more than 120,000 Negroes and people of colour, 
as against only 15,824 whites?  That St. Kitts held, even as late as 
1761, 7000 whites; but in 1826--before emancipation--only 1600?  Or 
that little Montserrat, which held, about 1648, 1000 white families, 
and had a militia of 360 effective men, held in 1787 only 1300 
whites, in 1828 only 315, and in 1851 only 150?

It will be said that this ugly decrease in the white population is 
owing to the unfitness of the climate.  I believe it to have 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 Barbadoes.  They grew not only provisions 
enough for themselves, but tobacco, cotton, and indigo--products now 
all but obliterated 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 the colonies, 
but to England herself.

It may be that the extermination was not altogether undeserved; 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 
agriculture.  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 article of 
produce, and left him embarrassed every time prices fell suddenly, 
or the canes failed from drought or hurricane.  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 retreat on his almonds if his mulberries 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 arrowroot; 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, or 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 countries 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 practical 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 discipline.  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 alternate between reckless comfort and moody 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--
properly tilled--than he will in the cane-piece:  and he will take 
to the cane-piece and use for his employer the self-helpfulness 
which he has learnt in the provision ground.  It is so in England.  
Our best agricultural day-labourers are, without exception, those 
who cultivate some scrap of ground, or follow some petty occupation, 
which prevents their depending entirely on wage-labour.  And so I 
believe it will be in the West Indies.  Let the land-policy of the 
late Governor be followed up.  Let squatting be rigidly forbidden.  
Let no man hold possession of land without having earned, or 
inherited, money enough to purchase it, as a guarantee of his 
ability and respectability, or--as in the case of Coolies past their 
indenture's--as a commutation for rights which he has earned in 
likewise.  But let the coloured man of every race be encouraged to 
become a landholder and a producer in his own small way.  He will 
thus, not only by what he produces, but by what he consumes, add 
largely to the wealth of the colony; while his increased wants, and 
those of his children, till they 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 last we were homeward bound.  We had been seven weeks in the 
island.  We had promised to be back in England, 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 Orinoco we longed to go:  but could not.  To La 
Guayra and Caraccas we longed to go:  but dared not.  Thanks to 
Spanish Republican barbarism, the only regular communication with 
that once magnificent capital of Northern Venezuela was by a filthy 
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 was 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 Orinoco, you will long to go up the Meta.  If you get to Sta. 
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 Gallapagos, 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 Revolution; 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 begun 
to love as the gates 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 Monos could be grim--in moonless night.  We ran on, and past the 
island; this time we were going, not through the Boca de Monos, but 
through the next, the Umbrella 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 
Morrison'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 Cereuses; 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 Avails 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 Matapalo 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 grayer 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 jaguars 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 young 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 once 
more.  We grew chill as we looked at him; and shuddered, it may be, 
cowered for a moment, at the thought of 'Niflheim,' the home of 
frosts and fogs, towards which we were bound.

However, we were not yet out of the Tropics.  We had still 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 invitation; 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 
Barbadoes, and of the kind people who were ready to welcome us into 
that prosperous and civilised 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.  More frequent and easy 
intercommunication is needed throughout the Antilles.  The good 
people, whether 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 French 
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 charm 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 

We transhipped to the Neva, Captain Woolward--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 Panama.

We left St. Thomas's by a different track from that by which we came 
to it.  We ran northward up the magnificent land-locked channel 
between Tortola and Virgin Gorda, to pass to leeward of Virgin Gorda 
and Anegada, and so northward toward the Gulf Stream.

This channel has borne the name of Drake, 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, we 
came to an anker some 7 or 8 leagues off among certain broken Ilands 
called Las Virgines, 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 Ilands 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 stern-most 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 

'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 best 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 them, 
sometimes not a rifle-shot from the cliffs, 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 all 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 Rico to the west.  The same upheaval would 
connect with each other Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Bartholomew, 
to the east.  But Santa Cruz, though so near St. Thomas's, and the 
Virgin Gordas to the south, would still be parted from them by a 
gulf nearly two thousand fathoms deep--a gulf which marks still, 
probably, the separation of two ancient continents, or at least two 

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 nor 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 type.  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 Grenadines, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia, have, as far as 
land-shells are concerned, a Venezuelan fauna; while the eastern 
side of it, namely, Barbadoes, Martinique, Dominica, Guadaloupe, 
Antigua, etc., have, most strangely, the fauna of Guiana.

If this be so, a glance at the map will 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 
destroyed.  For, to supply the dry land which Mr. Bland's theory 
needs, we shall have to conceive a junction, reaching over at least 
five degrees of latitude, between the north of British Guiana and 
Barbadoes; and may freely indulge in the dream that the waters of 
the Orinoco, when they ran over the lowlands of Trinidad, passed 
east of Tobago; then northward between Barbadoes 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 
Royal Mail steamers and their crews are--without, I believe, an 
exception--all that we could wish.  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 
Corsican, 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 Republics) 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.  Whole families were bayonetted, to save the 
trouble of judging and shooting them.  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 Red 
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 two feet six 
inches 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 English adder.

We showed a Vulturine Parrot and a Kinkajou.  The Kinkajou, by the 
by, 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 everybody 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 
tamable, others not; and that even in the same family?  Among the 
South American monkeys the Howlers are untamable; the Sapajous less 
so; while the Spider Monkeys are instinctively gentle and fond of 
man:  as may be seen in the case of the very fine Marimonda (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 

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 abeam; the sea soon 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 themselves; 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, sorry at last when the 
run is over.  And when a man--not being sea-sick--has once 
discovered that the apparent 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 gale a finer tonic, and a finer stirrer of wholesome 
appetite, than all the drugs of Apothecaries' Hall.

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 inextricable 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 for it on board.  So, after 
ascertaining that R--- was not frightened, I went back to my berth 
and slept 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 officer and the look-out 
man--luckily they fell into a sail and not overboard; put out the 
galley-fires, so that we got a cold breakfast; and eased the ship; 
for the shock turned the 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, his orders being 'not to prosecute a 
voyage so as to endanger the lives of the passengers or the 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 
windless sea, where smooth mountainous waves, the relics of the 
storm, were weltering aimlessly up and down under a dark sad sky.

Soon we began to sight ship after ship, and found ourselves on the 
great south-western high-road of the Atlantic; and found ourselves, 
too, nearing Niflheim 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.  Only 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 neared 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. 
Keverne, 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 break water--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 recollections 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 surprise--though not without pride--the 
foreigners express their admiration of this, their first specimen of 
an English port.

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 Revelstoke 
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 lay in 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, 
unreadiness, 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 Cherbourg 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-

Beyond them were arsenals, docks, fortifications, of which of course 
we could not judge; and backing all, a cliff, some two hundred feet 
high, much quarried for building-stone.  An ugly place it is to look 
at; and, I should 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 right some one, thought of 
fighting us, who only wished to live in peace with our neighbours.  
Alas! alas!  'Tu l'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 evening 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 
Cliff, 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 luggage; 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 I've had my hour.'  At last we had seen it; and 
we could not unsee it.  We could not not have been in the Tropics.


{4}  Raleigh's Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Iles of 

{8}  Chiroteuthi and Onychoteuthi.

{15a}  Cocoloba uvifera.

{15b}  Plumieria.

{25a}  Anona squamosa.

{25b}  A. muricata.

{25c}  A. chierimolia.

{25d}  A. reticulata.

{26a}  Persea gratissima.

{26b}  Dioscorea.

{26c}  Colocasia esculcuta.

{27a}  Dr. Davy's West Indies.

{27b}  An account of the Souffriere of Montserrat is given by Dr. 
Nugent, Geological Society's Transactions, vol. i., 1811.

{28}  For what is known of these, consult Dr. Nugent's 'Memoir on 
the Geology of Antigua,' Transactions of Geological Society, vol. 
v., 1821.  See also Humboldt, Personal Narrative, book v. cap. 14.

{33}  Acrocomia.

{36}  Naval Chronicles, vol. xii. p. 206.

{38}  Craspedocephalus lanceolatus.

{40}  Coluber variabilis.

{43a}  Breen's St. Lucia, p. 295.

{43b}  Personal Narrative, book v. cap. 14.

{44}  Dr. Davy.

{52a}  Ipomaea Horsfallii.

{52b}  Spondias lutea.

{58}  Desmoncus.

{65}  M. Joseph, History of Trinidad, from which most of these facts 
are taken.

{74}  Clitoria Ternatea; which should be in all our hothouses.

{77}  Peperomia.

{78a}  Sabal.

{78b}  Poinziana.

{78c}  Pandanus.

{78d}  Tecoma (serratifolia?)

{78e}  Panicum jumentorum.

{79a}  Cecropia.

{79b}  Andira inermis.

{79c}  Acrocomia sclerocarpa.

{79d}  Eriodendron anfractuosum.

{81a}  Heliconia Caribaea.

{81b}  Lygodium venustum.

{81c}  Inga Saman; 'Caraccas tree.'

{81d}  Hura crepitans.

{81e}  Erythrina umbrosa.

{82a}  Caryota.

{82b}  Maximiliana.

{83a}  Philodendron.

{83b}  Calamus Rotangi, from the East Indies.

{83c}  Garcinia Mangostana, from Malacca.  The really luscious and 
famous variety has not yet fruited in Trinidad.

{84}  Thevetia nerriifolia.

{85a}  Clusia.

{85b}  Brownea.

{85c}  Xylocopa.

{87a}  Cathartes Urubu.

{87b}  Crotophaga Ani.

{87c}  Lanius Pitanga.

{87d}  Troglodytes Eudon.

{88}  Ateles (undescribed species).

{89}  Alas for Spider!  She came to the Zoological Gardens last 
summer, only to die pitifully.

{90}  Cebus.

{91a}  Cercoleptes.

{91b}  Myrmecophaga Didactyla.  I owe to the pencil of a gifted lady 
this sketch of the animal in repose, which is as perfect as it is, I 
believe, unique.

{91c}  Synetheres.

{93a}  Helias Eurypyga.

{93b}  Stedman's Surinam, vol. i. p. 118.  What a genius was 
Stedman.  What an eye and what a pen he had for all natural objects.  
His denunciations of the brutalities of old Dutch slavery are full 
of genuine eloquence and of sound sense likewise; and the loves of 
Stedman and his brown Joanna are one of the sweetest idylls in the 
English tongue.

{93c}  Penelope (?).

{93d}  Crax.

{95a}  Philodendron.

{95b}  Bromelia.

{102}  Alosa Bishopi.

{103a}  Tetraodon.

{103b}  Anthurium Huegelii?--Grisebach, Flora of the West Indies.

{104}  Terminalia Catappa.

{106}  Pitcairnia?

{107}  Hippomane Mancinella.

{110}  Thalassia testudinum

{111a}  Cephaloptera.

{111b}  Steatornis Caripensis.

{115a}  Gynerium saccharoides.

{115b}  Xanthosoma; a huge plant like our Arums, with an edible 

{115c}  Costus.

{115d}  Heliconia.

{115e}  Bactris.

{116a}  Mimusops Balala,

{116b}  Probably Thrinax radiata (Grisebach, p. 515).

{117}  Geological Survey of Trinidad.

{118a}  Jacquinia armillaris.

{118b}  Combretum (laxifolium?).

{120a}  Eperua falcata.

{120b}  Posoqueria.

{120c}  Carolinea.

{122a}  Ardea leucogaster.

{122b}  Anableps tetropthalmus.

{124}  Oreodoxa oleracea.

{126}  Erythrina umbrosa.

{127}  Spigelia anthelmia.

{129a}  Carludovica.

{129b}  Maximiliama Caribaea.

{129c}  Schella excisa.

{131a}  Mycetes.

{131b}  Cebus.

{131c}  Tillandsia

{131d}  Philodendron, Anthurium, etc.

{132}  It may be a true vine, Vitis Caribaea, or Cissus Sicyoides (I 
owe the names of these water-vines, as I do numberless facts and 
courtesies, to my friend Mr. Prestoe, of the Botanic Gardens, Port 
of Spain); or, again, a Cinchonaceous plant, allied to the Quinine 
trees, Uncaria, Guianensis; or possibly something else; for the 
botanic treasures of these forests are yet unexhausted, in spite of 
the labours of Krueger, Lockhart, Purdie, and De Schach.

{133a}  Philodendron.

{133b}  Philodendron lacerum.  A noble plant.

{133c}  Monstera pertusa; a still nobler one:  which may be seen, 
with Philodendrons, in great beauty at Kew.

{133d}  Lygodium.

{133e}  (-----------?).

{133f}  To know more of them, the reader should consult Dr. 
Krueger's list of woods sent from Trinidad to the Exhibition of 
1862; 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 Devenish, Esquire, Crown Surveyor.

{133g}  Vitex.

{133h}  Carapa Guianensis.

{133i}  Cedrela.

{133j}  Machaerium.

{133k}  Hymenaea Courbaril.

{133l}  Tecoma serratifolia.

{133m}  Lecythis.

{133n}  Bucida.

{133o}  Brosimum Aubletii.

{133p}  Guaiacum.

{134a}  Copaifera.

{134b}  Eriodendron.

{134c}  Hura crepitans.

{134d}  Mimusops Balata.

{137a}  Bactris.

{137b}  Euterpe oleracea.

{137c}  Croton gossypifolium.

{137d}  Moronobea coccinea.

{137e}  Norantea.

{137f}  Spondias lutea (Hog-plum).

{138a}  Desmoncus.

{138b}  Heliconia.

{138c}  Spathiphyllum canufolium.

{138d}  Galbula.

{139a}  Dieffenbachia, of which varieties are not now uncommon in 

{139b}  Xanthosoma.

{139c}  Calathea.

{139d}  Pentaclethra filamentosa.

{139e}  Brownea.

{140a}  Sabal.

{140b}  Ficus salicifolia?

{145}  Quoted from Codazzi, by Messrs. Wall and Sawkins, in an 
Appendix on Asphalt Deposits, an excellent monograph which first 
pointed out, as far as I am aware, the fact that asphalt, at least 
at the surface, is found almost exclusively in the warmer parts of 
the globe.

{148a}  Blechnum serrulatum.

{148b}  Geological Survey of Trinidad; Appendix G, on Asphaltic 

{149}  Mauritia flexuosa.

{150}  American Journal of Science, Sept. 1855.

{152}  Chrysobalanus Pellocarpus.

{154}  Mauritia flexuosa.

{155}  See Mr. Helps' Spanish Conquest in America, vol. ii. p. 10.

{157}  Jambosa Malaccensis.

{158}  Oiketicus.

{159}  Phytelephas macrocarpa.

{160}  Humboldt, Personal Narrative, vol. v. pp. 728, 729, of Helen 
Maria Williams's Translation.

{161a}  Costus.

{161b}  Scleria latifolia.

{161c}  Panicum divaricatum.

{162a}  Scleria flagellum.

{162b}  Echites symphytocarpa (?).

{164}  Ochroma.

{170}  Pronounced like the Spanish noun Daga.

{172}  See Bryan Edwards on the character of the African Negroes; 
also Chanvelon's Histoire de la Martinique.

{175}  This man, who was a friend of Daaga's, owed his life to a 
solitary act of humanity on the part of the chief of this wild 
tragedy.  A musket was levelled at him, when Daaga pushed it aside, 
and said, 'Not this man.'

{176a}  People will smile at the simplicity of those savages; but it 
should be recollected that civilised convicts were lately in the 
constant habit of attempting to escape from New South Wales in order 
to walk to China.

{176b}  I had this anecdote from one of his countrymen, an old 
Paupau soldier, who said he did not join the mutiny.

{179}  One of his countrymen explained to me what Daaga said on this 
occasion--viz., 'The curse of Holloloo on white men.  Do they think 
that Daaga fears to fix his eyeballs on death?'

{184}  Sabal.

{186}  Panicum sp.

{187a}  Inga.

{187b}  Ficus.

{192}  AEchmaea Augusta.

{194a}  Dicoteles (Peccary hog).

{194b}  Caelogenys paca.

{195}  Dr. Davy (West Indies, art. 'Trinidad').

{202a}  Maximiliana Caribaea.

{202b}  M. regia.

{204}  I quote mostly from a report of my friend Mr. Robert 
Mitchell, who, almost alone, did this good work, and who has, since 
my departure, been sent to Demerara to assist at the investigation 
into the alleged ill-usage of the Coolie immigrants there.  No more 
just or experienced public servant could have been employed on such 
an errand.

{209}  Cassicus.

{216}  Asclepias curassavica.

{218a}  Hydrocyon.

{218b}  Serrasalmo.

{218c}  Spathiphyllum cannifolium.

{219a}  Pothomorphe.

{219b}  Enckea and Artanthe.

{221}  Ischnosiphon.

{224}  Pithecolobium (?).

{226}  Paritium and Thespesia.

{227}  Couroupita Guiainensis.

{228}  Personal Narrative, vol. v. p. 537.

{229}  Lecythis Ollaris, etc.

{230}  Caryocar butyrosum.

{233}  Manicaria.

{245}  Pteris podophylla.

{246}  Jessenia.

{247}  Gulielma speciosa.

{248a}  Aspects of Nature, vol. ii. p. 272.

{248b}  Synetheres.

{249a}  Carolinea insignis.

{249b}  Montrichardia.

{256a}  Manicaria.

{257a}  Schleiden's Plant:  a Biography.  End of Lecture xi.

{259a}  Curatella Americana.

{259b}  Rhopala.

{259c}  Utricularia.

{260a}  Drosera longifolia.

{260b}  Personal Narrative, vol. iv. p. 336 of H. M. Williams's 

{262}  Personal Narrative, vol. v. p. 725.

{265}  Carapa Guianensis.

{266a}  Feuillea cordifolia.

{266b}  Nectandra Rodiaei.

{266c}  Manna.

{268}  Trigonocephalus Jararaca.

{270}  Canavalia.

{274a}  Trigonia.

{274b}  Tellina rosea.

{274c}  Xiphogorgia setacea (Milne-Edwards).

{274d}  Cytherea Dione.

{274e}  Mactrella alata.

{277a}  Boa-constrictor.

{277b}  Eunec urnus.

{278}  Ardea Garzetta.

{282a}  Mycetes ursinus.

{282b}  Penelope.

{282c}  Myrmecophaga tridactyla.

{282d}  Priodonta gigas.

{288}  In 1858 they were computed as--

Roman Catholics . . . 44,576
Church of England . . . 16,350
Presbyterians . . . 2,570
Baptists . . . 449
Independents, etc. . . 239

From Trinidad, its Geography, etc. 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.

{290}  See Mr Keenan's Report, and other papers, printed by order of 
the House of Commons, 10th August 1870.

{291}  See Papers on the State of Education in Trinidad, p. 137 et 

{297a}  Mr. Keenan's Report, pp. 63-67.

{297b}  Dr. De Verteuil's Trinidad.

{311a}  Lucuma mammosa.

{311b}  Chrysophyllum cainito.

{311c}  Persea gratassima.

{311d}  Sapota achras.

{311e}  Jambosa malaccensis, and vulgaris.

{311f}  Anona squamosa.

{311g}  Psidium Guava.

{311h}  Musa paradisiaca.

{312a}  M. sapientum.

{312b}  I owe these curious facts, and specimens of the seeds, to 
the courtesy of Dr. King, of the Bengal Army.  The seeds are now in 
the hands of Dr. Hooker, at Kew.

{313a}  Janipha Manihot.

{313b}  Cajanus Indicus.

{313c}  Dioscorea.

{313d}  Maranta.

{313e}  Coix lacryma.

{313f}  Xanthosoma.

{313g}  Ipomaea Batatas

{313h}  Jatropha multifida.

{313i}  Canna.

{314a}  Arachis hypogaea.

{314b}  Abelmoschus esculentus.

{314c}  Passiflora.

{314d}  Canavalia.

{314e}  Libidibia coriacea, now largely imported into Liverpool for 

{314f}  Erythrina corallodendron.

{314g}  Abrus precatorius.

{314h}  Dracaena terminalis.

{318a}  Directions for preparing it may be found in the catalogue of 
contributions from British Guiana to the International Exhibition of 
1862.  Preface, pp. lix. lxii.

{318b}  'How to Establish and Cultivate an Estate of One Square Mile 
in Cacao:' a Paper read to the Scientific Association of Trinidad, 

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