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Title: Journal of a West India Proprietor - Kept During a Residence in the Island of Jamaica
Author: Lewis, M. G. (Matthew Gregory)
Language: English
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Kept During A Residence In The Island Of Jamaica.

By Matthew Gregory Lewis

Author of “The Monk,” “The Castle Spectre,” “Tales Of Wonder,” &c.

London: John Murray, Albemarle Street.





[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0007]


The following Journals of two residences in Jamaica, in 1815-16, and in
1817, are now printed from the MS. of Mr. Lewis; who died at sea, on the
voyage homewards from the West Indies, in the year 1818.


Expect our sailing in a few hours. But although the vessel left the
Docks on Saturday, she did not reach this place till three o’clock on
Thursday, the 9th. The captain now tells me, that we may expect to sail
certainly in the afternoon of to-morrow, the 10th. I expect the ship’s
cabin to gain greatly by my two days’ residence at the “--------------,”
 which nothing can exceed for noise, dirt, and dulness. Eloisa would
never have established “black melancholy” at the Paraclete as its
favourite residence, if she had happened to pass three days at an inn
at Gravesend: nowhere else did I ever see the sky look so dingy, and the
river “_Nunc alio patriam quaero sub sole jacentem_.”--Virgil.

1815. NOVEMBER 8.


I left London, and reached Gravesend at nine in the morning, having been
taught to exso dirty; to be sure, the place has all the advantages of
an English November to assist it in those particulars. Just now, too,
a carriage passed my windows, conveying on board a cargo of passengers,
who seemed sincerely afflicted at the thoughts of leaving their dear
native land! The pigs squeaked, the ducks quacked, and the fowls
screamed; and all so dolefully, as clearly to prove, that _theirs_ was
no dissembled sorrow? And after them (more affecting than all) came
a wheelbarrow, with a solitary porker tied in a basket, with his head
hanging over on one side, and his legs sticking out on the other, who
neither grunted nor moved, nor gave any signs of life, but seemed to
be of quite the same opinion with Hannah More’s heroine, “Grief is for
_little_ wrongs; despair for mine!”

As Miss O’Neil is to play “Elwina” for the first time to-morrow, it is
a thousand pities that she had not the previous advantage of seeing the
speechless despondency of this poor pig; it might have furnished her
with some valuable hints, and enabled her to convey more perfectly to
the audience the “expressive silence” of irremediable distress.


At four o’clock in the afternoon, I embarked on board the “Sir Godfrey
Webster,” Captain Boyes. On approaching the vessel, we heard the loudest
of all possible shrieks proceeding from a boat lying near her: and who
should prove to be the complainant, but my former acquaintance, the
despairing pig, He had recovered his voice to protest against entering
the ship: I had already declared against climbing up the accommodation
ladder; the pig had precisely the very same objection. So a _soi-disant_
chair, being a broken bucket, was let down for us, and the pig and
myself entered the vessel by the same conveyance; only pig had the
precedence, and was hoisted up first. The ship proceeded three miles,
and then the darkness obliged us to come to an anchor. There are only
two other cabin passengers, a Mr. J------ and a Mr. S------; the
latter is a planter in the “May-Day Mountains,” Jamaica: he wonders,
considering how much benefit Great Britain derives from the West Indies,
that government is not careful to build more churches in them, and is of
opinion, that “hedicating the negroes is the only way to make them appy;
indeed, in his umble hopinion, hedication his hall in hall!”


We sailed at six o’clock, passed through “Nob’s Hole,” the “Girdler’s
Hole,” and “the Pan” (all very dangerous sands, and particularly the
last, where at times we had only one foot water below us), by half past
four, and at five came to an anchor in the Queen’s Channel. Never having
seen any thing of the kind before, I was wonderfully pleased with the
manoeuvring of several large ships, which passed through the sands at
the same time with us: their motions seemed to be effected with as much
ease and dexterity as if they had been crane-necked carriages; and the
effect as they pursued each other’s track and windings was perfectly


The wind was contrary, and we had to beat up the whole way; we did not
reach the Downs till past four o’clock, and, as there were above sixty
vessels arrived before us, we had some difficulty in finding a safe
berth. At length we anchored in the Lower Roads, about four miles off
Deal. We can see very clearly the double lights in the vessel moored
off the Goodwin sands: it is constantly inhabited by two families, who
reside there alternately every fortnight, except when the weather delays
the exchange. The “Sir Godfrey Webster” is a vessel of 600 tons, and was
formerly in the East India service. I have a very clean cabin, a place
for my books, and every thing is much more comfortable than I expected;
the wind, however, is completely west, the worst that we could have, and
we must not even expect a change till the full moon. The captain pointed
out a man to me to-day, who had been with him in a violent storm off
the Bermudas. For six hours together, the flashes of lightning were so
unintermitting, that the eye could not sustain them: at one time, the
ship seemed to be completely in a blaze; and the man in question (who
was then standing at the wheel, near the captain) suddenly cried out,
“I don’t know what has happened to me, but I can neither see nor stand;”
 and he fell down upon the deck. He was taken up and carried below; and
it appeared that the lightning had affected his eyes and legs, in a
degree to make him both blind and lame, though the captain, who was
standing by his side, had received no injury: in three or four days, the
man was quite well again. In this storm, no less than thirteen vessels
were dismasted, or otherwise shattered by the lightning.

Sea Terms.--_Windward, from_ whence the wind blows; _leeward, to_ which
it blows; _starboard_, the _right_ of the stern; _larboard_, the _left_;
_starboard helm_, when you go to the left; but when to the right,
instead of larboard helm, _helm a-port_; _luff you may_, go nearer to
the wind; _theis (thus)_ you are near enough; _luff no near_, you
are too near the wind; the _tiller_, the handle of the rudder; the
_capstan_, the weigher of the anchor; the _buntlines_, the ropes which
move the body of the sail, the _bunt_ being the body; the _bowlines_,
those which spread out the sails, and make them swell.


At six this morning, came on a tremendous gale of wind; the captain
says, that he never experienced a heavier. However, we rode it out with
great success, although, at one time, it was bawled out that we were
driving; and, at another, a brig which lay near us broke from her
moorings, and came bearing down close upon us. The danger, indeed, from
the difference of size, was all upon the side of the brig; but, luckily,
the vessels cleared each other. This evening she has thought it as well
to remove further from so dangerous a neighbourhood. There is a little
cabin boy on board, and Mr. J------ has brought with him a black
terrier; and these two at first sight swore to each other an eternal
friendship, in the true German style. It is the boy’s first voyage, and
he is excessively sea-sick; so he has been obliged to creep into his
hammock, and his friend, the little black terrier, has crept into the
hammock with him. A boat came from the shore this evening, and reported
that several vessels have been dismasted, lost their anchors, and
injured in various ways. A brig, which was obliged to make for Ramsgate,
missed the pier, and was dashed to pieces completely; the crew, however,
were saved, all except the pilot; who, although he was brought on shore
alive, what between bruises, drowning, and fright, had suffered so much,
that he died two hours afterwards. The weather has now again become
calm; but it is still full west.



               Ne’er were the zephyrs known disclosing

                   More sweets, than when in Tempe’s shades

               They waved the lilies, where, reposing,

                   Sat four and twenty lovely maids.

               Those lovely maids were called “the Hours,”

                   The charge of Virtue’s flock they kept;

               And each in turn employ’d her powers

               To guard it, while her sisters slept.

               False Love, how simple souls thou cheatest!

                   In myrtle bower, that traitor near

               Long watch’d an Hour, the softest, sweetest!

                   The evening Hour, to shepherds dear. *

               In tones so bland he praised her beauty,

                   Such melting airs his pipe could play,

               The thoughtless Hour forgot her duty,

                   And fled in Love’s embrace away.

               Meanwhile the fold was left unguarded--

                   The wolf broke in--the lambs were slain:

               And now from Virtue’s train discarded,

                   With tears her sisters speak their pain.

               Time flies, and still they weep; for never

                   The fugitive can time restore:

               An Hour once fled, has fled for ever,

                   And all the rest shall smile no more!

* L’heure du berger.


The wind altered sufficiently to allow us to escape from the Downs;
and at dusk we were off Beachy Head. This morning, the steward left the
trap-door of the store-hole open; of course, I immediately contrived to
step into it, and was on the point of being precipitated to the
bottom, among innumerable boxes of grocery, bags of biscuit, and porter
barrels;--where a broken limb was the _least_ that I could expect.
Luckily, I fell across the corner of the trap, and managed to support
myself, till I could effect my escape with a bruised knee, and the loss
of a few inches of skin from my left arm.


Off the Isle of Wight.


Off the St. Alban’s Head. Sick to death! My temples throbbing, my head
burning, my limbs freezing, my mouth all fever, my stomach all nausea,
my mind all disgust.


Off the Lizard, the last point of England.


At one this morning, a violent gust of wind came on; and, at the rate of
ten miles an hour, carried us through the Chops of the Channel, formed
by the Scilly Rocks and the Isle of Ushant. But I thought, that the
advance was dearly purchased by the terrible night which the storm made
us pass. The wind roaring, the waves dashing against the stern, till at
last they beat in the quarter gallery; the ship, too, rolling from side
to side, as if every moment she were going to roll over and over! Mr.
J------ was heaved off one of the sofas, and rolled along, till he was
stopped by the table. He then took his seat upon the floor, as the more
secure position; and, half an hour afterwards, another heave chucked him
back again upon the sofa. The captain snuffed out one of the candles,
and both being tied to the table, could not relight it with the other:
so the steward came to do it; when a sudden heel of the ship made him
extinguish the second candle, tumbled him upon the sofa on which I was
lying, and made the candle which he had brought with him fly out of the
candlestick, through a cabin window at his elbow; and thus we were all
left in the dark. Then the intolerable noise! the cracking of bulkheads!
the sawing of ropes! the screeching of the tiller! the trampling of
the sailors! the clattering of the crockery! Every thing above deck and
below deck, all in motion at once! Chairs, writing-desks, books, boxes,
bundles, fire-irons and fenders, flying to one end of the room; and the
next moment (as if they had made a mistake) flying back again to the
other with the same hurry and confusion! “Confusion worse confounded!”
 Of all the inconveniences attached to a vessel, the incessant noise
appears to me the most insupportable! As to our live stock, they seem to
have made up their minds on the subject, and say with one of Ariosto’s
knights (when he was cloven from the head to the chine), “_or corvien
morire_” Our fowls and ducks are screaming and quacking their last by
dozens; and by Tuesday morning, it is supposed that we shall not have
an animal alive in the ship, except the black terrier--and my friend the
squeaking pig, whose vocal powers are still audible, maugre the storm
and the sailors, and who (I verily believe) only continues to survive
out of spite, because he can join in the general chorus, and help to
increase the number of abominable sounds.

We are now tossing about in the Bay of Biscay: I shall remember it as
long as I live. The “beef-eater’s front” could never have “beamed more
terrible” upon Don Ferolo Whiskerandos, “in Biscay’s Bay, when he took
him prisoner,” than Biscay’s Bay itself will appear to _me_ the next
time that I approach it.


Our live stock has received an increase; our fowls and ducks are dead to
be sure, but a lark flew on board this morning, blown (as is supposed)
from the coast of France. In five minutes it appeared to be quite at
home, eat very readily whatever was given it, and hopped about the deck
without fear of the sailors, or the more formidable black terrier, with
all the ease and assurance imaginable.

I dare say, it _was_ blown from the coast of France!


The weather continues intolerable. Boisterous waves running mountains
high, with no wind, or a foul one. Dead calms by day, which prevent
our making any progress; and violent storms by night, which prevent our
getting any sleep.

Every thing is in a state of perpetual motion. “_Nulla quies intus_ (nor
_outus_ indeed for the matter of that), _nullâque silentia parte_” We
drink our tea exactly as Tantalus did in the infernal regions; we keep
bobbing at the basin for half an hour together without being able to get
a drop; and certainly nobody on ship-board can doubt the truth of the
proverb, “Many things fall out between the cup and the lip.”



               Prometheus once (in Tooke the tale you’ll see)

               In one vast box enclosed all human evils;

               But curious Woman needs the inside would see,

               And out came twenty thousand million devils.

               The story’s spoil’d, and Tooke should well be chid;

                   The fact, sir, happen’d thus, and I’ve no doubt of it:

               ’Twas not that Woman raised the coffer’s lid,

                   But when the lid _was_ raised, Woman popp’d out of it.

               “But Hope remain’d”--true, sir, she did; but still

                   All saw of what Miss Hope gave intimation;

               Her right hand grasp’d an undertaker’s bill,

                   Her left conceal’d a deed of separation.

N. B. I was most horribly sea-sick when I took this view of the subject.
Besides, grapes on shipboard, in general, are remarkably sour.


                   “Manibus date lilia plenis;

                        Purpureos spargam flores!”

The squeaking pig was killed this morning.


Letters were sent to England by a small vessel bound for Plymouth, and
laden with oranges from St. Michael’s, one of the Azores.


A complete and most violent storm, from twelve at night till seven the
next morning. The fore-top-sail, though only put up for the first time
yesterday, was rent from top to bottom; and several of the other sails
are torn to pieces. The perpetual tempestuous weather which we have
experienced has so shaken the planks of the vessel, that the sea enters
at all quarters. About one o’clock in the morning I was saluted by a
stream of water, which poured down exactly upon my face, and obliged me
to shift my lodgings. The carpenter had been made aware that there was
a leak in my cabin, and ordered to caulk the seams; but, I suppose,
he thought that during only a two months’ voyage, the rain might very
possibly never find out the hole, and that it would be quite time enough
to apply the remedy when I should have felt the inconvenience. The best
is, that the carpenter happening to be at work in the next cabin when
the water came down upon me, I desired him to call my servant, in order
that I might get up, on account of the leak; on which he told me “that
the leak could not be helped;” grumbled a good deal at calling up the
servant; and seemed to think me not a little unreasonable for not lying
quietly, and suffering myself to be pumped upon by this shower-bath of
his own providing.

But if the water gets _into_ the ship, on the other hand, last night the
poor old steward was very near getting out of it. In the thick of the
storm he was carrying some grog to the mate, when a gun, which drove
against him, threw him off his balance, and he was just passing through
one of the port-holes, when, luckily, he caught hold of a rope, and
saved himself. A screech-owl flew on board this morning: I am sure we
have no need of birds of ill omen; I could supply the place of a whole
aviary of them myself.


Reading Don Quixote this morning, I was greatly pleased with an instance
of the hero’s politeness, which had never struck me before. The Princess
Micomicona having fallen into a most egregious blunder, he never so
much as hints a suspicion of her not having acted precisely as she
has stated, but only begs to know her reasons for taking a step so
extraordinary. “But pray, madam,” says he, “why _did_ your ladyship land
at Ossuna, seeing that it is not a seaport town?”

I was also much charmed with an instance of conjugal affection, in the
same work. Sancho being just returned home, after a long absence, the
first thing which his wife, Teresa, asks about, is the welfare of the
ass. “I have brought him back,” answers Sancho, “and in much better
health and condition than I am in myself.” “The Lord be praised,” said
Teresa, “for this his great mercy to me!”


The wind continues contrary, and the weather is as disagreeable and
perverse as it can well be; indeed, I understand that in these latitudes
nothing can be expected but heavy gales or dead calms, which makes them
particularly pleasant for sailing, especially as the calms are by far
the most disagreeable of the two: the wind steadies the ship; but when
she creeps as slowly as she does at present (scarcely going a mile in
four hours), she feels the whole effect of the sea breaking against
her, and rolls backwards and forwards with every billow as it rises and
falls. In the mean while, every thing seems to be in a state of the most
active motion, except the ship; while we are carrying a spoonful of soup
to our mouths, the remainder takes the “glorious golden opportunity” to
empty itself into our laps, and the glasses and salt-cellars carry on
a perpetual domestic warfare during the whole time of dinner, like the
Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Nothing is so common as to see a roast
goose suddenly jump out of its dish in the middle of dinner, and make
a frisk from one end of the table to the other; and we are quite in the
habit of laying wagers which of the two boiled fowls will arrive at the
bottom first.

N.B. To-day the fowl without the liver wing was the favourite, but the
knowing ones were taken in; the uncarved one carried it hollow.


               “Do those I love e’er think on me?”

                   How oft that painful doubt will start,

               To blight the roseate smile of glee,

                   And cloud the brow, and sink the heart!

               No more can I, estranged from home,

                   Their pleasures share, nor soothe their moans

               To them I’m dead as were the foam

                   Now breaking o’er my whitening bones.

               And doubtless now with newer friends,

                   The tide of life content they stem;

               Nor on the sailor think, who bends

                   Full many an anxious thought on them.

               Should that reflection cause me pain?

                   No ease for mine their grief could bring;

               Enough if, when we meet again,

                   Their answering hearts to greet me spring.

               Enough, if no dull joyless eye

                   Give signs of kindness quite forgot;

               Nor heartless question, cold reply,

                   Speak--“all is past; I love you not.”

               Too much has heav’n ordain’d of woe,

                   Too much of groans on earth abounds,

               For me to wish one tear to flow

                   Which brings no balm for sorrow’s wounds.

               Love’s moisten’d lid and Friendship’s sigh,

                   I could not see, I could not hear!

               To think “they weep!” more fills mine eye,

                   And smarts the more each tender tear.

               Then, if there be one heart so kind,

                   It mourns each hour the loss of me;

               Shrinks, when it hears some gust of wind,

                   And sighs--“Perhaps a storm at sea!”

               Oh! if there be an heart _indeed_,

                   Which beats for me, so sad, so true,

               Swift to its aid, Oblivion, speed,

                   And bathe it with thy poppy’s dew;

               My form in vapours to conceal,

                   From Pleasure’s wreath rich odours shake;

               Nor let that heart one moment feel

                   Such pangs as force my own to ache.

               Demon of Memory, cherish’d grief!

                   Oh, could I break thy wand in twain!

               Oh, could I close thy magic leaf,

                   Till those I love are mine again!


The captain to-day pointed oat to me a sailor-boy, who, about three
years ago, was shaken from the mast-head, and fell through the scuttle
into the hold; the distance was above eighty feet, yet the boy was taken
up with only a few bruises.


The wind during the last two days has been more favourable; and at nine
this morning we were in the latitude of Madeira.


Sea Terms.--_Ratlines_, the rope ladders by which the sailors climb
the shrouds; the _companion_, the cabin-head; _reefs_, the divisions by
which the sails are contracted; _stunsails_, additional sails, spread
for the purpose of catching all the wind possible; the fore-mast,
main-mast, mizen-mast; _fore_, the head; _aft_, the stern; _being
pooped_ (the very sound of which tells one, that it must be something
very terrible), having the stern beat in by the sea; _to belay a rope_,
to fasten it.


I had no idea of the expense of building and preserving a ship: that in
which I am at present cost £30,000 at its outset. Last year the repairs
amounted to £14,000; and in a voyage to the East Indies they were more
than £20,000. In its return last year from Jamaica it was on the very
brink of shipwreck. A storm had driven it into Bantry Bay, and there
was no other refuge from the winds than Bear Haven, whose entrance
was narrow and difficult; however, a gentleman from Castletown came on
board, and very obligingly offered to pilot the ship. He was one of the
first people in the place, had been the owner of a vessel himself, was
most thoroughly acquainted with every inch of the haven, &c. &c., and so
on they went. There was but one sunken rock, and that about ten feet in
diameter; the captain knew it, and warned his gentleman-pilot to keep
a little more to the eastward. “My dear friend,” answered the Irishman,
“now do just make yourself _asy_; I know well enough what we are
about; we are as clear of the rock as if we were in the Red Sea, by
Jasus;”--upon which the vessel struck upon the rock, and there she
stuck. The captain fell to swearing and tearing his hair. “God damn you,
sir! didn’t I tell you to keep to eastward? Dam’me, she’s on the rock!”
 “Oh! well, my dear, she’s now _on_ the rock, and, in a few minutes, you
know, why she’ll be _off_ the rock: to be sure, I’d have taken my oath
that the rock was two hundred and fifty feet on the other side of her,
but----“--“Two hundred and fifty feet! why, the channel is not two
hundred and fifty feet wide itself! and as to getting her off, bumping
against this rock, it can only be with a great hole in her side.”--“Poh!
now, bother, my dear! why sure----“--“Leave the ship, sir; dam’me, sir,
get out of my ship this moment!” Instead of which, with the most smiling
and obliging air in the world, the Irishman turned to console the
female passengers. “Make yourselves _asy_, ladies, pray make yourselves
perfectly _asy_; but, upon my soul, I believe your captain’s mad; no
danger in life! only make yourselves _asy_, I say; for the ship lies on
the rock as safe and as quiet, by Jasus, as if she were lying on a mud
bank!” Luckily the weather was so perfectly calm, that the ship having
once touched the rock with her keel bumped no more. It was low water;
she wanted but five inches to float her, and when the tide rose she
drifted off, and with but little harm done. The gentleman-pilot then
thought proper to return on shore, took a very polite leave of the
lady-passengers, and departed with all the urbanity possible; only
+thinking the captain the strangest person that he had ever met with;
and wondering that any man of common sense could be put out of temper by
such a trifle.


Yesterday we had the satisfaction of falling in with the trade wind, and
now we are proceeding both rapidly and steadily. The change of climate
is very perceptible; and the deep and beautiful blue which colours the
sea is a certain intimation of our approach to the tropic. A few flying
fish have made their appearance; and the spears are getting in order
for the reception of their constant attendant, the dolphin. These spears
have ropes affixed to them, and at one end of the pole are five barbs,
at the other a heavy ball of lead: then, when the fish is speared, the
striker lets the staff fall, on which down goes the lead into the sea,
and up goes the dolphin into the air, who is in the utmost astonishment
to find itself all of a sudden turned into a flying fish; so determines
to cultivate the art of flying for the future, and promises itself
a great many pleasant airings. The dolphin and the flying fish are
beautifully coloured, and both are very good food, particularly the
latter, which move in shoals like the herring, and are about the size
of that fish. They are supposed to feed on spawn and sea animalculæ,
and will not take the bait; but on the shores of Barbadoes, which they
frequent in great multitudes, they are caught in wide nets, spread upon
the surface of the sea; then, upon beating the waters around, the fish
rise in clouds, and fly till, their fins getting dry, they fall down
into the nets which have been spread to receive them. The dolphin is
seldom above three feet long; the immense strength which he exerts in
his struggles for liberty occasions the necessity of catching him in the
way before described.


At three o’clock this afternoon we entered the tropic of Cancer; and if
our wind continues tolerably favourable, we may expect to see Antigua on
Sunday. On crossing the line, it was formerly usual for ships
to receive a visit from an old gentleman and his wife, Mr. and Mrs.
Cancer: the husband was, by profession, a barber; and, probably, the
scullion, who insisted so peremptorily on shaving Sancho, at the duke’s
castle, had served an apprenticeship to Mr. Cancer, for their mode of
proceeding was much alike, and, indeed, very peculiar: the old gentleman
always made a point of using a rusty iron hoop instead of a razor, tar
for soap, and an empty beef-barrel was, in his opinion, the very best
possible substitute for a basin; in consequence of which, instead of
paying him for shaving them, people of taste were disposed to pay for
not being shaved; and as Mrs. Cancer happened to be particularly partial
to gin (when good), the gift of a few bottles was generally successful
in rescuing the donor’s chin from the hands of her husband; however,
to-day this venerable pair “peradventure were sleeping, or on a
journey,” for we neither saw nor heard any thing about them.


When, after his victory of the 1st of June, Lord Howe again put to sea
from Portsmouth, the number of women who were turned on shore out of the
ships (wives, sisters, &c.) amounted to above thirty thousand!

DECEMBER 10. (Sunday.)

               What triumph moves on the billows so blue?

               In his car of pellucid pearl I view,

               With glorious pomp, on the dancing tide,

               The tropic Genius proudly ride.

               The flying fish, who trail his car,

               Dazzle the eye, as they shine from afar;

               Twinkling their fins in the sun, and show

               All the hues which adorn the showery bow.

               Of dark sea-blue is the mantle he wears;

               For a sceptre a plantain branch he bears;

               Pearls his sable arms surround,

               And his locks of wool with coral are crown’d.

               Perpetual sunbeams round him stream;

               His bronzed limbs shine with golden gleam;

               The spicy spray from his wheels that showers,

               Makes the sense ache with its odorous powers.

               Myriads of monsters, who people the caves

               Of ocean, attendant plough the waves;

               Sharks and crocodiles bask in his blaze,

               And whales spout the waters which dance in his rays.

               And as onward floats that triumph gay,

               The light sea-breezes around it play;

               While at his royal feet lie bound

               The Ouragans, hush’d in sleep profound.

               Dark Genius, hear a stranger’s prayer,

               Nor suffer those winds to ravage and tear

               Jamaica’s savannas, and loose to fly,

               Mingling the earth, and the sea, and the sky.

               From thy locks on my harvest of sweets diffuse,

               To swell my canes, refreshing dews;

               And kindly breathe, with cooling powers,

               Through my coffee walks and shaddock bowers.

               Let not thy strange diseases prey

               On my life; but scare from my couch away

               The yellow Plague’s imps; and safe let me rest

               From that dread black demon, who racks the breast:

               Nor force my throbbing temples to know

               Thy sunbeam’s sudden and maddening blow;

               Nor bid thy day-flood blaze too bright

               On nerves so fragile, and brain so light:

               And let me, returning in safety, view

               Thy triumph again on the ocean blue;

               And in Britain I’ll oft with flowers entwine

               The Tropic Sovereign’s ebony shrine!

               Was it but fancy? did He not frown,

               And in anger shake his coral crown?

               Gorgeous and slow the pomp moves on!

               Low sinks the sun--and all is gone!

“And pray now do you mean to say that you really saw all this fine
show?” Oh, yes, really, “in my mind’s eye, Horatio,” as Shakspeare says;
or, if you like it better in Greek--

[Greek line] Odyssey, A.


A dead centipes was found on the deck, supposed to have made its way on
board, during the last voyage, among the logwood. This is not the only
species of disagreeable passengers, who are in the habit of introducing
themselves into homeward bound vessels without leave. While sleeping
on deck last year, the Captain felt something run across his face; and,
supposing it to be a cock-roach, he brushed off a scorpion; but not
without its first biting him upon the cheek: the pain for about four
hours was excessive; but although he did no more than wash the wound
with spirits, he was perfectly well again in a couple of days.


Since we entered the tropic, the rains have been incessant, and most
violent; but the wind was brisk and favourable, and we proceeded
rapidly. Now we have lost the trade-wind, and move so slowly, that it
might almost be called standing still. On the other hand, the weather
is now perfectly delicious; the ship makes but little way, but she moves
steadily: the sun is brilliant; the sky cloudless; the sea calm, and so
smooth that it looks like one extended sheet of blue glass; an awning is
stretched over the deck; although there is not wind enough to fill the
canvass, there is sufficient to keep the air cool, and thus, even
during the day, the weather is very pleasant; but the nights are quite
heavenly, and so bright, that at ten o’clock yesterday evening little
Jem Parsons (the cabin boy), and his friend the black terrier, came on
deck, and sat themselves down on a gun-carriage, to read by the light of
the moon. I looked at the boy’s book, (the terrier, I suppose, read over
the other’s shoulder,) and found that it was “The Sorrows of Werter.” I
asked who had lent him such a book, and whether it amused him? He said
that it had been made a present to him, and so he had read it almost
through, for he had got to Werter’s dying; though, to be sure, he did
not understand it all, nor like very much what he understood; for he
thought the man a great fool for killing himself _for love_. I told him
I thought every man a great fool who killed himself for love or for any
thing else: but had he no books but “The Sorrows of Werter?”--Oh dear,
yes, he said, he had a great many more; he had got “The Adventures of
a Louse,” which was a very curious book, indeed; and he had got besides
“The Recess,” and “Valentine and Orson,” and “Ros-lin Castle,” and a
book of Prayers, just like the Bible; but he could not but say that he
liked “The Adventures of a Louse” the best of any of them.


We caught a dolphin, but not with the spear: he gorged a line which was
fastened to the stern, and baited with salt pork; but being a very large
and strong fish, his efforts to escape were so powerful, that it
was feared that he would break the line, and a _grainse_ (as the
dolphin-spear is technically termed) was thrown at him: he was struck,
and three of the prongs were buried in his side; yet, with a violent
effort, he forced them out again, and threw the lance up into the air. I
am not much used to take pleasure in the sight of animal suffering; but
if Pythagoras himself had been present, and “of opinion that the soul
of his grandam might haply inhabit” this dolphin, I think he must
still have admired the force and agility displayed in his endeavours to
escape. Imagination can picture nothing more beautiful than the colours
of this fish: while covered by the waves he was entirely green; and as
the water gave him a case of transparent crystal, he really looked like
one solid piece of living emerald; when he sprang into the air, or swam
fatigued upon the surface, his fins alone preserved their green, and
the rest of his body appeared to be of the brightest yellow, his scales
shining like gold wherever they caught the sun; while the blood
which, as long as he remained in the sea, continued to spout in great
quantities, forced its way upwards through the water, like a wreath of
crimson smoke, and then dispersed itself in separate globules among the
spray. From the great loss of blood, his colours soon became paler;
but when he was at length safely landed on deck, and beating himself to
death against the flooring, agony renewed all the lustre of his tints:
his fins were still green and his body golden, except his back, which
was olive, shot with bright deep blue; his head and belly became
silvery, and the spots with which the latter was mottled changed,
with incessant rapidity, from deep olive to the most beautiful azure.
Gradually his brilliant tints disappeared: they were succeeded by one
uniform shade of slate-colour; and when he was quite dead, he exhibited
nothing but dirty brown and dull dead white. As soon as all was over
with him, the first thing done was to convert one of his fins into
the resemblance of a flying fish, for the purpose of decoying other
dolphins; and the second, to order some of the present gentleman to be
got ready for dinner. He measured above four feet and a half.


At noon to-day, we found ourselves in the latitude of Jamaica. We were
promised the sight of Antigua on Sunday next, but that is now quite out
of the question. We made but eight miles in the whole of yesterday; and
as Jamaica is still at the distance of eighteen hundred miles, at this
rate of proceeding we may expect to reach it about eight months hence.
The sky this evening presented us with quite a new phenomenon, a
rose-coloured moon: she is to be at her full to-morrow; and this
afternoon, about half-past four, she rose like a disk of silver,
perfectly white and colourless; but, as she was exactly opposite to the
sun at the time of his setting, the reflection of his rays spread a kind
of pale blush over her orb, which produced an effect as beautiful as
singular. Indeed, the size and inconceivable brilliance of the sun, the
clearness of the atmosphere, which had assumed a faint greenish hue,
and was entirely without a cloud, the smoothness of the ocean, and the
aforesaid rose-coloured moon, altogether rendered this sunset the most
magical in effect that I ever beheld; and it was with great reluctance
that I was called away from admiring it, to ascertain whether the merits
of our new acquaintance, the dolphin, extended any further than his
skin. Part of him, which was boiled for yesterday’s dinner, was rather
coarse and dry, and might have been mistaken for indifferent haddock.
But his having been steeped in brine, and then broiled with a good deal
of pepper and salt, had improved him wonderfully; and to-day I thought
him as good as any other fish.

Our wind is like Lady Townley’s separate allowance: “that little has
been made less;” or, rather, it has dwindled away to nothing. We are now
so absolutely becalmed, that I begin seriously to suspect all the crew
of being Phæacians; and that at this identical moment Neptune is amusing
himself by making the ship take root in the ocean; a trick which he
played once before to a vessel (they say) in the days of Ulysses. I
have got some locust plants on board in pots: if we continue to sail
as slowly as we have done for the last week, before we reach Jamaica my
plants will be forest trees, little Jem, the cabin-boy, will have been
obliged to shave, and the black terrier will have died of old age long
ago. Great numbers of porpoises were playing about to-day, and tumbling
under the ship’s very nose. When in their gambols they allow themselves
to be seen above the surface, they are of a dirty blackish brown, and as
ugly as heart can wish; but in the waves they acquire a fine sea-green
cast, and their spouting up water in the sunbeams is extremely


               Hark! the bell 1 it sounds midnight!--all hail, thou new


                   How soft sleep the stars on their bosom of night!

               While o’er the full moon, as they gently are driven,

                   Slowly floating the clouds bathe their fleeces in light.

               The warm feeble breeze scarcely ripples the ocean,

                   And all seems so hush’d, all so happy to feel!

               So smooth glides the bark, I perceive not her motion,

                   While low sings the sailor who watches the wheel.

               That sailor I’ve noted--his cheek, fresh and blooming

                   With health, scarcely yet twenty springs can have


               His looks they are lofty, but never presuming,

                   His limbs strong, but light, and undaunted his mien.

               Frank and clear is his brow, yet a thoughtful expression,

                   Half tender, half mournful, oft shadows his eye;

               And murmurs escape him, which make the confession,

                   If not check’d by a hem, they had swell’d to a sigh.

               His song is not pour’d to beguile the lone hour,

                   When in-watch on deck ’tis his duty to keep;

               Nor of painful reflection to weaken the power,

                   Nor chase from his eyelids the pinions of sleep.

               Tis so sad...’tis so sweet... and some tones come so


                   So right from the heart, and so pure to the ear;--

               That sure at this moment his thoughts must be dwelling

                   On one who is absent, most kind and most dear.

               Perhaps on a mother his mind loves to linger,

                   Whose wants to relieve, the rough seas hath he


               Who kiss’d him at parting, and vow’d he could bring her

                   No jewel so dear as the one she then lost!

               No, no! ’tis a sweetheart, his soul’s cherish’d treasure,

                   Those full melting notes... hark! he breathes them


               So mournful, and yet they’re prolong’d with such plea


                   Oh, nothing but love could have prompted the strain.

               Yet, whate’er be the cause of thy sadness, young seaman,

               That the weight be soon lighten’d, I send up my vow;

               From the stings of remorse, I’ll be sworn, thou’rt a


                   No guilt ever ruffled the smooth of that brow!

               That sigh which you breath’d sprang from pensive


                   That song, though so plaintive, sheds balm on the


               And the pain which you feel at each fond recollection,

                   Is worth all the pleasures that vice could impart.

               Oh, still may the scenes of your life, like the present,

                   Shine bright to the eye, and speak calm to the breast;

               May each wave flow as gentle, each breeze play as


                        And warm as the clime prove the friends you love best!

               And may she, who now dictates that ballad so tender,

                   Diffuse o’er your days the heart’s solace and ease,

               As yon lovely moon, with a gleam of mild splendour,

                   Pure, tranquil, and bright, over-silvers the seas!


What little wind there is blows so perversely, that we have been obliged
to alter our course; and instead of Antigua, we are now told that the
Summer Islands (Shakspeare’s “still vexed Bermoothes”) are the first
land that we must expect to see.

I am greatly disappointed at finding such a scarcity of monsters; I had
flattered myself, that as soon as we should enter the Atlantic Ocean,
or at least the tropic, we should have seen whole shoals of sharks,
whales, and dolphins wandering about as plenty as sheep upon the South
Downs: instead of which, a brace of dolphins, and a few flying fish and
porpoises, are the only inhabitants of the ocean who have as yet taken
the trouble of paying us the common civility of a visit. However, I am
promised, that as soon as we approach the islands, I shall have as many
sharks as heart can wish.

As I am particularly fond of proofs of conjugal attachment between
animals (in the human species they are so universal that I set no store
by them), an instance of that kind which the captain related to me this
morning gave me great pleasure. While lying in Black River harbour,
Jamaica, two sharks were frequently seen playing about the ship;
at length the female was killed, and the desolation of the male was

                   “Che faro senz’ Eurydice?”

What he did _without_ her remains a secret, but what he did _with_ her
was clear enough; for scarce was the breath out of his Eurydice’s
body, when he stuck his teeth in her, and began to eat her up with all
possible expedition. Even the sailors felt their sensibility excited
by so peculiar a mark of posthumous attachment; and to enable him to
perform this melancholy duty the more easily, they offered to be his
carvers, lowered their boat, and proceeded to chop his better half in
pieces with their hatchets; while the widower opened his jaws as wide
as possible, and gulped down pounds upon pounds of the dear departed as
fast as they were thrown to him, with the greatest delight and all the
avidity imaginable. I make no doubt that all the while he was eating, he
was thoroughly persuaded that every morsel which went into his
stomach would make its way to his heart directly! “She was perfectly
consistent,” he said to himself; “she was excellent through life,
and really she’s extremely good now she’s dead!” and then, “unable to
conceal his pain,”

               “He sigh’d and swallow’d, and sigh’d and swallow’d,

                   And sigh’d and swallow’d again.”

I doubt, whether the annals of Hymen can produce a similar instance
of post-obitual affection. Certainly Calderon’s “_Amor despues de la
Muerte_” has nothing that is worthy to be compared to it; nor do I
recollect in history any fact at all resembling it, except perhaps a
circumstance which is recorded respecting Cambletes, King of Lydia, a
monarch equally remarkable for his voracity and uxoriousness; and who,
being one night completely overpowered by sleep, and at the same time
violently tormented by hunger, eat up his queen without being conscious
of it, and was mightily astonished, the next morning, to wake with
her hand in his mouth, the only bit that was left of her. But then,
Cambletes was quite unconscious what he was doing; whereas, the shark’s
mark of attachment was evidently intentional. It may, however, be
doubted, from the voracity with which he eat, whether his conduct on
this occasion was not as much influenced by the sentiment of hunger as
of love; and if he were absolutely on the point of starving, Tasso might
have applied to this couple, with equal truth, although with somewhat a
different meaning, what he says of his “Amanti e Sposi;”--


               D’ un fato sol e l’ una e l’ altra vita

for if Madam Shark had not died first, Monsieur must have died himself
for want of a dinner.

DECEMBER 17. (Sunday.)

On this day, from a sense of propriety no doubt, as well as from having
nothing else to do, all the crew in the morning betook themselves to
their studies. The carpenter was very seriously spelling a comedy;
Edward was engaged with “The Six Princesses of Babylon;” a third was
amusing himself with a tract “On the Management of Bees;” another had
borrowed the cabin-boy’s “Sorrows of Werter,” and was reading it aloud
to a large circle--some whistling--and others yawning; and Werter’s
abrupt transitions, and exclamations, and raptures, and refinements,
read in the same loud monotonous tone, and without the slightest respect
paid to stops, had the oddest effect possible. “She did not look at me;
I thought my heart would burst; the coach drove off; she looked out of
the window; was that look meant for me? yes it was; perhaps it might be;
do not tell me that it was not meant for me. Oh, my friend, my friend,
am I not a fool, a madman?” (This part is rather stupid, or so, you
see, but no matter for that; where was I? oh!) “I am now sure, Charlotte
loves me: I prest my hand on my heart; I said ‘Klopstock;’ yes,
Charlotte loves me; what! does Charlotte love me? oh, rapturous thought!
my brain turns round:--Immortal powers!--how!--what!--oh, my friend, my
friend,” &c. &c. &c. I was surprised to find that (except Edward’s Fairy
Tale) none of them were reading works that were at all likely to amuse
them (Smollett or Fielding, for instance), or any which might interest
them as relating to their profession, such as voyages and travels;
much less any which had the slightest reference to the particular day.
However, as most of them were reading what they could not possibly
understand, they might mistake them for books of devotion, for any
thing they knew to the contrary; or, perhaps, they might have so much
reverence for all books in print, as to think that, provided they did
but read something, it was doing a good work, and it did not much matter
what. So one of Congreve’s fine ladies swears Mrs. Mincing, the waiting
maid, to secrecy, “upon an odd volume of Messalina’s Poems.” Sir Dudley
North, too, informs us, (or is it his brother Roger? but I mean the
Turkey merchant: ):--that at Constantinople the respect for printed
books is so great, that when people are sick, they fancy that they can
be _read_ into health again; and if the Koran should not be in the way,
they will make a shift with a few verses of the Bible, or a chapter or
two of the Talmud, or of any other book that comes first to hand, rather
than not read something. I think Sir Dudley says, that he himself cured
an old Turk of the toothache, by administering a few pages of “Ovid’s
Metamorphoses;” and in an old receipt-book, we are directed for the
cure of a double tertian fever, “to drink plentifully of cock-broth, and
sleep with the Second Book of the Iliad under the pillow.” If, instead
of sleeping with it under the pillow, the doctor had desired us to read
the Second Book of the Iliad in order that we _might_ sleep, I should
have had some faith in his prescription myself.


During these last two days nothing very extraordinary, or of sufficient
importance to deserve its being handed down to the latest posterity, has
occurred; except that this morning a swinging rope knocked my hat into
the sea, and away it sailed upon a voyage of discovery, like poor La
Perouse, to return no more, I suppose; unless, indeed,--like Polycrates,
the fortunate tyrant of Samos, who threw his favourite ring into the
ocean, and found it again in the stomach of the first fish that was
served up at his table,--I should have the good luck (but I by no means
reckon upon it) to catch a dolphin with my hat upon his head: as to a
porpoise, he never could squeeze his great numskull into it; but our
dolphin of last week was much about my own size, and I dare say such
another would find my hat fit him to a miracle, and look very well in


The weather is so excessively close and sultry, that it would be allowed
to be too hot to be pleasant, even by that perfect model for all future
lords of the bedchamber, who was never known to speak a word, except
in praise, of any thing living or dead, through the whole course of his
life: but, at last, one day he met with an accident--he happened to die;
and the next day he met with another accident--he happened to be damned:
and immediately upon his arrival in the infernal regions, the Devil (who
was determined to be as well bred as the other could be for his ears,)
came to pay his compliments to the new-comer, and very obligingly
expressed his concern that his lordship was not likely to feel satisfied
with his new abode; for that he must certainly find hell very hot and
disagreeable. “Oh, dear, no!” exclaimed the Lord of the Bedchamber, “not
at all disagreeable, by any manner of means, Mr. Devil, upon my word
and honour! Rather _warm_, to be sure.” In point of heat there is no
difference between the days and the nights; or if there is any, it is
that the nights are rather the hottest of the two. The lightning is
incessant, and it does not show itself forked or in flashes, but in wide
sheets of mild blue light, which spread themselves at once over the
sky and sea; and, for the moment which they last, make all the objects
around as distinct as in daylight. The moon now does not rise till near
ten o’clock, and during her absence the size and brilliancy of the stars
are admirable. In England they always seemed to me (to borrow a phrase
of Shakspeare’s, which, in truth, is not worth borrowing,) to “peep
through the blanket of the dark;” but here the heavens appear to be
studded with them on the outside, as if they were chased with so many
jewels: it is really Milton’s “firmament of living sapphires;” and what
with the lightning, the stars, and the quantity of floating lights which
just gleamed round the ship every moment, and then were gone again,
to-night the sky had an effect so beautiful, that when at length the
moon thought proper to show her great red drunken face, I thought that
we did much better without her.

The above-mentioned floating lights are a kind of sea-meteors, which, as
I am told, are produced by the concussion of the waves, while eddying in
whirlpools round the rudder; but still I saw them rise sometimes at so
great a distance from the ship, and there appeared to be something so
like _Will_ in the direction of their course,--sometimes hurrying
on, sometimes gliding along quite slowly; now stopping and remaining
motionless for a minute or two, and then hurrying on again,--that I
could not be convinced of their not being Medusæ, or some species
or other of phosphoric animal: but whatever be the cause of this
appearance, the effect is singularly beautiful. As to air, we have not
enough to bless ourselves with. I had been led to believe, that when
once we should have fallen in with the trade winds, from that moment
we should sail into our destined port as rapidly and as directly as
Truffaldino travels in Gozzi’s farce; when, having occasion to go from
Asia to Europe, and being very much pressed for time, he persuades a
conjuror of his acquaintance to lend him a devil, with a great pair of
bellows, the nozzle of which being directed right against his stern,
away goes the traveller before the stream of wind, with the devil after
him, and the infernal bellows never cease from working till they have
blown him out of one quarter of the globe into another: but our trade
winds must “hide their diminished heads” before Truffaldino’s bellows.
It seems that like the Moors, “in Africa the torrid,” they are “of
temper somewhat mulish;” for, although, to be sure, when they _do_ blow,
they will only blow in one certain direction, yet very often they will
not blow at all; which has been our case for the last week: indeed, they
seem to be but a queerish kind of a concern at best. About three years
ago a fleet of merchantmen was becalmed near St. Vincent’s: in a few
days after their arrival, there happened a violent eruption of a volcano
in that island, nor was it long before a favourable breeze sprang up.
Unluckily, one of the ships had anchored rather nearer to the shore than
the others, and was at the distance of about one hundred and fifty yards
from the stream of the trade wind; nor could any possible efforts of
the crew, by tacking, by towing, or otherwise, ever enable the vessel
to conquer that one hundred and fifty yards: there she remained, as
completely becalmed as if there were not such a thing as a breath of
wind in the universe; and on the one hand she had the mortification to
see the rest of the merchantmen, with their convoy (for it was in the
very heat of the war), sail away with all their canvass spread and
swelling; while, on the other hand, the sailors had the comfortable
possibility of being suffocated every moment by the clouds of ashes
which continued to fall on their deck every moment, from the burning
volcano, although they were not nearer to St. Vincent’s than eight or
nine miles; indeed that distance went for nothing, as ashes fell upon
vessels that were out at sea at least five hundred miles; and Barbadoes
being to windward of the volcano, such immense quantities of its
contents were carried to that island as almost covered the fields; and
destroying vegetation completely wherever they fell, did inconceivable
damage, while that which St. Vincent’s itself experienced was but
trifling in proportion.

Our captain is quite out of patience with the tortoise pace of our
progress; for my part I care very little about it. Whether we have
sailed slowly or rapidly, when a day is once over, I am just as much
nearer advanced towards April, the time fixed for my return to England;
and, what is of much more consequence, whether we have sailed slowly
or rapidly, when a day is once over, I am just as much nearer advanced
towards “that bourne,” to reach which, peaceably and harmlessly, is
the only business of life, and towards which the whole of our existence
forms but one continued journey.


We succeeded in catching another dolphin today; but he had not a hat on;
however, I just asked him whether he happened to have seen mine, but to
little purpose; for I found that he could tell me nothing at all about
it; so, instead of bothering the poor animal with any more questions, we
eat him.


About three years ago the Captain had the ill luck to be captured by a
French frigate. As she had already made prizes of two other merchantmen,
it was determined to sink his ship; which, after removing the crew and
every thing in her that was valuable, was effected by firing her own
guns down the hatchways. It was near three hours before she filled, then
down she went with a single plunge, head foremost, with all her sails
set and colours flying. This display of the ship’s magnificence in her
last moments reminded me of Mary Queen of Scots, arraying herself in her
richest robes that she might go to the scaffold. If Yorick had fallen
in with this anecdote in the course of his journey, the situation of the
Captain, standing on the enemy’s deck, and seeing his “brave vessel”
 in full and gallant trim, possessing all the abilities for a long
existence, yet abandoned by every one, and sinking from the effect of
her own shot, might have furnished him with a companion for his old
commercial Marquis, lamenting over the rust of his newly recovered



               Does then the insatiate sea relent?

               And hath he back those treasures sent,

                   His stormy rage devoured?

               All starred with gems the billows bound,

               And emeralds, jacinths, sapphires round

                   The bark in spray are showered.

               No, no!’t is there the Dolphin plays;

               His scales, enriched with sunny rays,

                   Celestial tints unfold;

                   And as he darts, the waters blue

               Are streaked with gleams of many a hue,

                   Green, orange, purple, gold!

               And brighter still will shine your skin,

               Poor fish, more dazzling play each fin,

                   On deck when dying cast;

               Like good men, who, expiring, bless

               The Power that calls them, all confess

                   Your brightest hour your last.

               And now the Spearman watchful stands!

               The five-pronged grainse, which arms his hands,

                   Your scales is doomed to gore;

               The lead will sink, and soon on high,

               Borne from the deep, perforce you’ll fly,

                   Nor e’er regain it more.

               Weep, Beauty, weep! those vivid dyes,

               Those splendours, but the harpooner’s eyes

                   To strike his victim call!

               Ambition, mark the Dolphin’s close--

                   To dangerous heights he only rose

                   To find the heavier fall!

               Mark, too, ye witty, rich, and gay,

               How quick those sportive fins could play,

                   How gay, how rich was he!

               He moves no more--he’s cold to touch--

               He’s dull--dark--dead! The Dolphin’s such,

                   And such we all must be!

There is a technical fault in the above lines: the grainse, or
dolphin-spear, has five barbs; but the _harpooner_ never uses a lance
with more than a single point. However, the word was so agreeable to my
ear, that I could not find in my heart to leave it out.

DECEMBER 24. (Sunday.)

At length we have crawled into the Caribbean Sea. I was told that we
were not to expect to see land to-day; but on shipboard our not seeing
a thing _to-day_ by no means implies that we shall not see it before
_to-morrow_; for the nautical day is supposed to conclude at noon,
when the solar observation is taken; and, therefore, the making land
_to-day_, or not, very often depends upon our making it before twelve
o’clock, or after it. This was the case in the present instance; for
noon was scarcely passed when we saw Descada (a small island totally
unprovided with water, and whose only produce consists in a little
cotton), Guadaloupe, and Marie Galante, though the latter was at so
great a distance as to be scarcely visible. At sunset Antigua was in


The sun rose upon Montserrat and Nevis, with the _Rodondo_ rock between
them, “apricis natio gratissima mergis,--” for it is perpetually covered
with innumerable flocks of gulls, boobies, pelicans, and other sea
birds. Then came St. Christopher’s and St. Eustatia; and in the course
of the afternoon we passed over the _Aves_ bank, a collection of sand,
rock, and mud, extending about two hundred miles, and terminated at each
end by a small island: one of them inhabited by a few fishermen, the
other only by sea birds. Of all the Atlantic isles the soil of St.
Christopher’s is by some supposed to be the richest, the land frequently
producing three hogsheads an acre. I rather think that this was the
first island discovered by Columbus, and that it took its name from
his patron-saint. Montserrat is so rocky, and the roads so steep and
difficult, that the sugar is obliged to be brought down in bags upon
the backs of mules, and not put into casks, till its arrival on the sea

The weather is now quite delicious; there is just wind enough to send
us forward and keep the air cool: the sun is brilliant without being
overpowering; the swell of the waves is scarcely perceptible; and the
ship moves along so steadily, that the deck affords almost as firm
footing as if we were walking on land. One would think that Belinda had
been smiling on the Caribbean Sea, as she once before did on the Thames,
and had “made all the world look gay.” During the night we passed Santa
Cruz, an island which, from the perfection to which its cultivation has
been carried, is called “the Garden of the West Indies.”


Having left Porto Rico behind us, at noon today we passed the insulated
rock of Alcavella, lying about six miles from St. Domingo, which is now
in sight. As this part of the Caribbean Sea is much infested by pirates
from the Caraccas, all our muskets have been put in repair, and to-day
the guns were loaded, of which we mount eight; but as one of them,
during the last voyage, went overboard in a gale of wind, its place
has been supplied by a _Quaker_, i. e. a sham gun of wood, so called,
I suppose, because it would not fight if it were called upon. These
pirate-vessels are small schooners, armed with a single twenty-four
pounder, which moves upon a swivel, and their crew is composed of
negroes and outlaws of all nations, their numbers generally running from
one hundred to one hundred and fifty men. To-day, for the first time,
I saw some flying fish: we have also been visited by several men-of-war
birds and tropic birds; the latter is a species of gull, perfectly
white, and distinguished by a single very long feather in its tail: its
nautical name is “the boatswain.”

As we sail along, the air is absolutely loaded with “Sabean odours
from the spicy shores” of St. Domingo, which we were still coasting at


At day-break Jamaica was in sight, or rather it would have been in
sight, only that we could not see it. The weather was so gloomy, and the
wind and rain were so violent, that we might have said to the Captain,
as one of the two Punches who went into the ark is reported to have said
to the patriarch, during the deluge, “Hazy weather, Master Noah.”--I
remember my good friend, Walter Scott, asserts, that at the death of a
poet the groans and tears of his heroes and heroines swell the blast and
increase the river; perhaps something of the same kind takes place at
the arrival of a West India proprietor from Europe, and all this rain
and wind proceed from the eyes and lungs of my agents and overseers,
who, for the last twenty years, have been reigning in my dominions with
despotic authority; but now

               “Whose groans in roaring winds complain,

               Whose tears of rage impel the rain;”

because, on the approach of the sovereign himself, they must evacuate
the palace, and resign the deputed sceptre. “Hinc illæ lachrymæ!” this
is the cause of our being soaked to the skin this morning. However,
about noon the weather cleared up, and allowed us to verify, with our
own eyes, that we had reached “the Land of Springs,” without having been
invited by any Piccaroon vessel to “walk the plank” instead of the deck;
which is a compliment very generally paid by those gentry, after they
have taken the trouble of laying a plank over the side of a captured
ship, in order that the passengers and the crew may walk overboard
without any inconvenience.

We arrived at the east end of the island, passed Pedro Point and
Starvegut Bay, and arrived before Black River Bay (our destined harbour)
soon after two o’clock; but here we were obliged to come to a stand
still: the channel is very dangerous, extremely narrow, and full of
sunken rocks; so that it can only be entered by a vessel drawing so
much water as ours with a particular wind, and when there is not any
apprehension of a sudden squall. We were, therefore, obliged to drop
anchor, and are now riding within a couple of miles of the shore, but
with as utter an incapability of reaching it as if we were still
at Gravesend. The north side of the island is said to be extremely
beautiful and romantic; but the south, which we coasted to-day, is low,
barren, and without any recommendation whatever. As yet I can only look
at Jamaica as one does on a man who comes to pay money, and whom we are
extremely well pleased to see, however little the fellow’s appearance
may be in his favour.

We passed the whole of the day in vain endeavours to work ourselves
into the bay. At one time, indeed, we got very near the shore, but the
consequence was, that we were within an ace of striking upon a rock,
and very much obliged to a sudden gust of wind, which, blowing right off
shore, blew us out of the channel, and left us at night in a much more
perilous situation than we had occupied the evening before, though even
that had been by no means secure. At three o’clock, the other passengers
went on shore in the jolly-boat, and proceeded to their destination;
but as I was still more than thirty miles distant from my estate, I
preferred waiting on board till the Captain should have moored his
vessel in safety, and be at liberty to take me in his pinnace to
Savannah la Mar, when I should find myself within a few miles of my own

In the course of the afternoon, one of the sailors took up a fish of a
very singular shape and most brilliant colours, as it floated along upon
the water. It seemed to be gasping, and lay with its belly upwards;
it was supposed to have eaten something poisonous, as whenever it was
touched it appeared to be full of life, and squirted the water in our
faces with great spirit and dexterity. But no sooner was he suffered
to remain quiet in the tub, than he turned upon his back and again was
gasping. He had a large round transparent globule, intersected with red
veins, under the belly, which some imagined to proceed from a rupture,
and to be the occasion of his disease. But I could not discover any
vestige of a wound; and the globule was quite solid to the touch;
neither did the fish appear to be sensible when it was pressed upon. No
one on board had ever seen this kind of fish till then; its name is the
“Doctor Fish.”

A black pilot came on board yesterday, in a canoe hollowed out of the
cotton-tree; and when it returned for him this morning, it brought us a
water-melon. I never met with a worse article in my life; the pulp is of
a faint greenish yellow, stained here and there with spots of moist red,
so that it looks exactly as if the servant in slicing it had cut his
finger, and suffered it to bleed over the fruit. Then the seeds, being
of a dark purple, present the happiest imitation of drops of clotted
gore; and altogether (prejudiced as I was by its appearance), when I had
put a single bit into my mouth, it had such a kind of Shylocky taste of
raw flesh about it (not that I recollect having ever eaten a bit of raw
flesh itself), that I sent away my plate, and was perfectly satisfied as
to the merits of the fruit.

1816.--JANUARY 1.

At length the ship has squeezed herself into this champagne bottle of
a bay! Perhaps, the satisfaction attendant upon our having overcome
the difficulty, added something to the illusion of its effect; but the
beauty of the atmosphere, the dark purple mountains, the shores covered
with mangroves of the liveliest green down to the very edge of the
water, and the light-coloured houses with their lattices and piazzas
completely embowered in trees, altogether made the scenery of the Bay
wear a very picturesque appearance. And, to complete the charm,
the sudden sounds of the drum and banjee, called our attention to a
procession of the John-Canoe, which was proceeding to celebrate the
opening of the new year at the town of Black River. The John-Canoe is a
Merry-Andrew dressed in a striped doublet, and bearing upon his head a
kind of pasteboard house-boat, filled with puppets, representing, some
sailors, others soldiers, others again slaves at work on a plantation,
&c. The negroes are allowed three days for holidays at Christmas, and
also New-year’s day, which being the last is always reckoned by them as
the festival of the greatest importance. It is for this day that they
reserve their finest dresses, and lay their schemes for displaying their
show and expense to the greatest advantage; and it is then that the
John-Canoe is considered not merely as a person of material consequence,
but one whose presence is absolutely indispensable. Nothing could
look more gay than the procession which we now saw with its train of
attendants, all dressed in white, and marching two by two (except when
the file was broken here and there by a single horseman), and its band
of negro music, and its scarlet flags fluttering about in the breeze,
now disappearing behind a projecting clump of mangrove trees, and then
again emerging into an open part of the road, as it wound along the
shore towards the town of Black River.

                   ----“Magno telluris amore

               Egressi optatâ Troes potiuntur arena.”

I had determined not to go on shore, till I should land for good and
all at Savannah la Mar. But although I could resist the “telluris
amor,” there was no resisting John-Canoe; so, in defiance of a broiling
afternoon’s sun, about four o’clock we left the vessel for the town.

It was, as I understand, formerly one of some magnitude; but it now
consists only of a few houses, owing to a spark from a tobacco-pipe or
a candle having lodged upon a mosquito-net during dry weather; and
although the conflagration took place at mid-day, the whole town was
reduced to ashes. The few streets--(I believe there were not above two,
but those were wide and regular, and the houses looked very neat)--were
now crowded with people, and it seemed to be allowed, upon all hands,
that New-year’s day had never been celebrated there with more expense
and festivity.

It seems that, many years ago, an Admiral of the Red was superseded on
the Jamaica station by an Admiral of the Blue; and both of them gave
balls at Kingston to the “_Brown Girls;”_ for the fair sex elsewhere are
called the “Brown Girls” in Jamaica. In consequence of these balls, all
Kingston was divided into parties: from thence the division spread into
other districts: and ever since, the whole island, at Christmas, is
separated into the rival factions of the Blues and the Reds (the Red
representing also the English, the Blue the Scotch), who contend
for setting forth their processions with the greatest taste and
magnificence. This year, several gentlemen in the neighbourhood of Black
River had subscribed very largely towards the expenses of the show;
and certainly it produced the gayest and most amusing scene that I ever
witnessed, to which the mutual jealousy and pique of the two parties
against each other contributed in no slight degree. The champions of
the rival Roses,--the Guelphs and the Ghibellines,--none of them could
exceed the scornful animosity and spirit of depreciation with which the
Blues and the Reds of Black River examined the efforts at display of
each other. The Blues had the advantage beyond a doubt; this a Red
girl told us that she could not deny; but still, “though the Reds were
beaten, she would not be a Blue girl for the whole universe!” On the
other hand, Miss Edwards (the mistress of the hotel from whose window we
saw the show), was rank Blue to the very tips of her fingers, and had,
indeed, contributed one of her female slaves to sustain a very important
character in the show; for when the Blue procession was ready to set
forward, there was evidently a hitch, something was wanting; and there
seemed to be no possibility of getting on without it--when suddenly we
saw a tall woman dressed in mourning (being Miss Edwards herself) rush
out of our hotel, dragging along by the hand a strange uncouth kind of
a glittering tawdry figure, all feathers, and pitchfork, and painted
pasteboard, who moved most reluctantly, and turned out to be no less a
personage than Britannia herself, with a pasteboard shield covered with
the arms of Great Britain, a trident in her hand, and a helmet made
of pale blue silk and silver. The poor girl, it seems, was bashful at
appearing in this conspicuous manner before so many spectators, and hung
back when it came to the point. But her mistress had seized hold of her,
and placed her by main force in her destined position. The music struck
up; Miss Edwards gave the Goddess a great push forwards; the drumsticks
and the elbows of the fiddlers attacked her in the rear; and on went
Britannia willy-nilly!

The Blue girls called themselves “the Blue girls of Waterloo.”
 Their motto was the more patriotic; that of the Red was the more
gallant:--“Britannia rules the day!” streamed upon the Blue flag;
“Red girls for ever!” floated upon the Red. But, in point of taste and
invention, the former carried it hollow. First marched Britannia; then
came a band of music; then the flag; then the Blue King and Queen--the
Queen splendidly dressed in white and silver (in scorn of the opposite
party, her train was borne by a little girl in red); his Majesty wore
a full British Admiral’s uniform, with a white satin sash, and a huge
cocked hat with a gilt paper crown upon the top of it. These were
immediately followed by “Nelson’s car,” being a kind of canoe decorated
with blue and silver drapery, and with “Trafalgar” written on the front
of it; and the procession was closed by a long train of Blue grandees
(the women dressed in uniforms of white, with robes of blue muslin),
all Princes and Princesses, Dukes and Duchesses, every mother’s child of

The Red girls were also dressed very gaily and prettily, but they had
nothing in point of invention that could vie with Nelson’s Car and
Britannia; and when the Red throne made its appearance, language cannot
express the contempt with which our landlady eyed it. “It was neither
one thing nor t’other,” Miss Edwards was of opinion. “Merely a few yards
of calico stretched over some planks--and look, look, only look at it
behind! you may see the bare boards! By way of a throne, indeed! Well,
to be sure, Miss Edwards never saw a poorer thing in her life, that she
must say!” And then she told me, that somebody had just snatched at a
medal which Britannia wore round her neck, and had endeavoured to force
it away. I asked her who had done so? “Oh, one of the Red party, _of
course!_” The Red party was evidently Miss Edwards’s Mrs. Grundy.
John-Canoe made no part of the procession; but he and his rival,
John-Crayfish (a personage of whom I heard, but could not obtain a
sight), seemed to act upon quite an independent interest, and go about
from house to house, tumbling and playing antics to pick up money for

A play was now proposed to us, and, of course, accepted. Three men and
a girl accordingly made their appearance; the men dressed like the
tumblers at Astley’s, the lady very tastefully in white and silver,
and all with their faces concealed by masks of thin blue silk; and they
proceeded to perform the quarrel between Douglas and Glenalvon, and the
fourth act of “The Fair Penitent.” They were all quite perfect, and had
no need of a prompter. As to Lothario, he was by far the most comical
dog that I ever saw in my life, and his dying scene exceeded all
description; Mr. Coates himself might have taken hints from him! As
soon as Lothario was fairly dead, and Calista had made her exit in
distraction, they all began dancing reels like so many mad people, till
they were obliged to make way for the Waterloo procession, who came to
collect money for the next year’s festival; one of them singing,
another dancing to the tune, while she presented her money-box to the
spectators, and the rest of the Blue girls filling up the chorus. I
cannot say much in praise of the black Catalani; but nothing could be
more light, and playful, and graceful, than the extempore movements of
the dancing girl. Indeed, through the whole day, I had been struck with
the precision of their march, the ease and grace of their action, the
elasticity of their step, and the lofty air with which they carried
their heads--all, indeed, except poor Britannia, who hung down hers in
the most ungoddess-like manner imaginable. The first song was the old
Scotch air of “Logie of Buchan,” of which the girl sang one single
stanza forty times over. But the second was in praise of the Hero of
Heroes; so I gave the songstress a dollar to teach it to me, and drink
the Duke’s health. It was not easy to make out what she said, but as
well as I could understand them, the words ran as follows:--

                   “Come, rise up, our gentry,

                   And hear about Waterloo;

                   Ladies, take your spy-glass,

                   And attend to what we do;

                   For one and one makes two,

                   But one alone must be.

                   Then singee, singee Waterloo,

                   None so brave as he!”

--and then there came something about green and white flowers, and a
Duchess, and a lily-white Pig, and going on board of a dashing man of
war; but what they all had to do with the Duke, or with each other, I
could not make even a guess. I was going to ask for an explanation, but
suddenly half of them gave a shout loud enough “to fright the realms of
Chaos and old Night,” and away they flew, singers, dancers, and all. The
cause of this was the sudden illumination of the town with quantities of
large chandeliers and bushes, the branches of which were stuck all over
with great blazing torches: the effect was really beautiful, and the
excessive rapture of the black multitude at the spectacle was as well
worth the witnessing as the sight itself.

I never saw so many people who appeared to be so unaffectedly happy.
In England, at fairs and races, half the visiters at least seem to have
been only brought there for the sake of traffic, and to be too busy to
be amused; but here nothing was thought of but real pleasure; and that
pleasure seemed to consist in singing, dancing, and laughing, in seeing
and being seen, in showing their own fine clothes, or in admiring those
of others. There were no people selling or buying; no servants and
landladies bustling and passing about; and at eight o’clock, as we
passed through the market-place, where was the greatest illumination,
and which, of course, was most thronged, I did not see a single person
drunk, nor had I observed a single quarrel through the course of the
day; except, indeed, when some thoughtless fellow crossed the line of
the procession, and received by the way a good box of the ear from the
Queen or one of her attendant Duchesses. Every body made the same remark
to me; “Well, sir, what do you think Mr. Wilberforce would think of the
state of the negroes, if he could see this scene?” and certainly, to
judge by this one specimen, of all beings that I have yet seen,
these were the happiest. As we were passing to our boat, through the
market-place, suddenly we saw Miss Edwards dart out of the crowd, and
seize the Captain’s arm--“Captain! Captain!” cried she, “for the love of
Heaven, only look at the _Red_ lights! Old iron hoops, nothing but old
iron hoops, I declare! Well! for my part!” and then, with a contemptuous
toss of her head, away frisked Miss Edwards triumphantly.


The St. Elizabeth, which sailed from England at the same time with our
vessel, was attacked by a pirate from Carthagena, near the rocks of
Alcavella, who attempted three times to board her, though he was at
length beaten off so that our Piccaroon preparations were by no means
taken without foundation.

At four o’clock this morning I embarked in the cutter for Savannah
la Mar, lighted by the most beautiful of all possible morning stars:
certainly, if this star be really Lucifer, that “Son of the
Morning,” the Devil must be “an extremely pretty fellow.” But in spite
of the fineness of the morning, our passage was a most disagreeable
concern: there was a violent swell in the sea; and a strong north wind,
though it carried us forward with great rapidity, overwhelmed us with
whole sheets of foam so incessantly, that I expected, as soon as the sun
should have evaporated the moisture, to see the boat’s crew covered with
salt, and looking like so many Lot’s wives after her metamorphosis.

The distance was about thirty miles, and soon after nine o’clock
we reached Savannah la Mar, where I found my trustee, and a whole
cavalcade, waiting to conduct me to my own estate; for he had brought
with him a curricle and pair for myself a gig for my servant, two black
boys upon mules, and a cart with eight oxen to convey my baggage. The
road was excellent, and we had not above five miles to travel; and as
soon as the carriage entered my gates, the uproar and confusion which
ensued sets all description at defiance. The works were instantly all
abandoned; every thing that had life came flocking to the house from all
quarters; and not only the men, and the women, and the children, but,
“by a bland assimilation,” the hogs, and the dogs, and the geese, and
the fowls, and the turkeys, all came hurrying along by instinct, to see
what could possibly be the matter, and seemed to be afraid of arriving
too late. Whether the pleasure of the negroes was sincere may be
doubted; but certainly it was the loudest that I ever witnessed: they
all talked together, sang, danced, shouted, and, in the violence of
their gesticulations, tumbled over each other, and rolled about upon
the ground. Twenty voices at once enquired after uncles, and aunts, and
grandfathers, and great-grandmothers of mine, who had been buried long
before I was in existence, and whom, I verily believe, most of them only
knew by tradition. One woman held up her little naked black child to me,
grinning from ear to ear;--“Look, Massa, look here! him nice lilly neger
for Massa!” Another complained,--“So long since none come see we, Massa;
good Massa, come at last.” As for the old people, they were all in one
and the same story: now they had lived once to see Massa, they were
ready for dying to-morrow, “them no care.”

The shouts, the gaiety, the wild laughter, their strange and sudden
bursts of singing and dancing, and several old women, wrapped up
in large cloaks, their heads bound round with different-coloured
handkerchiefs, leaning on a staff, and standing motionless in the middle
of the hubbub, with their eyes fixed upon the portico which I occupied,
formed an exact counterpart of the festivity of the witches in Macbeth.
Nothing could be more odd or more novel than the whole scene; and yet
there was something in it by which I could not help being affected;
perhaps it was the consciousness that all these human beings were my
_slaves_;--to be sure, I never saw people look more happy in my life;
and I believe their condition to be much more comfortable than that of
the labourers of Great Britain; and, after all, slavery, in _their_
case, is but another name for servitude, now that no more negroes can be
forcibly carried away from Africa, and subjected to the horrors of the
voyage, and of the seasoning after their arrival: but still I had
already experienced, in the morning, that Juliet was wrong in saying
“What’s in a name?” For soon after my reaching the lodging-house at
Savannah la Mar, a remarkably cleanlooking negro lad presented himself
with some water and a towel: I concluded him to belong to the inn; and,
on my returning the towel, as he found that I took no notice of him, he
at length ventured to introduce himself, by saying,--“Massa not know me;
_me your slave!_”--and really the sound made me feel a pang at the
heart. The lad appeared all gaiety and good humour, and his whole
countenance expressed anxiety to recommend himself to my notice; but the
word “slave” seemed to imply, that, although he did feel pleasure then
in serving me, if he had detested me he must have served me still. I
really felt quite humiliated at the moment, and was tempted to tell
him,--“Do not say that again; say that you are my negro, but do not call
yourself my slave.”

Altogether, they shouted and sang me into a violent headach. It is now
one in the morning, and I hear them still shouting and singing. I gave
them a holiday for Saturday next, and told them that I had brought
them all presents from England; and so, I believe, we parted very good


I have reached Jamaica in the best season for seeing my property in a
favourable point of view; it is crop time, when all the laborious work
is over, and the negroes are the most healthy and merry. This morning I
went to visit the hospital, and found there only eight patients out of
three hundred negroes, and not one of them a serious case. Yesterday I
had observed a remarkably handsome Creole girl, called Psyche, and she
really deserved the name. This morning a little brown girl made her
appearance at breakfast, with an orange bough, to flap away the flies,
and, on enquiry, she proved to be an emanation of the aforesaid Psyche.
It is evident, therefore, that Psyche has already visited the palace of
Cupid; I heartily hope that she is not now upon her road to the infernal
regions: but, as the ancients had two Cupids, one divine and the other
sensual, so am I in possession of two Psyches; and on visiting the
hospital, _there_ was poor Psyche the second. Probably this was the
Psyche of the sensual Cupid.

I passed the morning in driving about the estate: my house is frightful
to look at, but very clean and comfortable on the inside; some of the
scenery is very picturesque, from the lively green of the trees and
shrubs, and the hermitage-like appearance of the negro buildings, all
situated in little gardens, and embosomed in sweet-smelling shrubberies.
Indeed, every thing appears much better than I expected; the negroes
seem healthy and contented, and so perfectly at their ease, that our
English squires would be mightily astonished at being accosted so
familiarly by their farmers. This delightful north wind keeps the air
temperate and agreeable. I live upon shaddocks and pine-apples. The
dreaded mosquitoes are not worse than gnats, nor as bad as the Sussex
harvest-bugs; and, as yet, I never felt myself in more perfect
health. There was a man once, who fell from the top of a steeple; and,
perceiving no inconvenience in his passage through the air,--“Come,”
 said he to himself, while in the act of falling, “really this is well
enough yet if it would but last.” Cubina, my young Savannah la Mar
acquaintance, is appointed my black attendant; and as I had desired him
to bring me any native flowers of Jamaica, this evening he brought me a
very pretty one; the negroes, he said, called it “John-to-Heal,” but
in white language it was _hoccoco-pickang_; it proved to be the wild


There were three things against which I was particularly cautioned, and
which three things I was determined _not_ to do: to take exercise after
ten in the day; to be exposed to the dews after sun-down; and to sleep
at a Jamaica lodging-house. So, yesterday, I set off for Montego Bay at
eight o’clock in the morning, and travelled till three; walked home from
a ball after midnight; and that home was a lodging-house at Montego
Bay; but the lodging-house was such a cool clean lodging-house, and the
landlady was such an obliging smiling landlady, with the whitest of
all possible teeth, and the blackest of all possible eyes, that no harm
could happen to me from occupying an apartment which had been prepared
by _her_. She was called out of her bed to make my room ready for me;
yet she did every thing with so much good-will and cordiality; no quick
answers, no mutterings: inns would be bowers of Paradise, if they were
all rented by mulatto landladies, like Judy James.

I was much pleased with the scenery of Montego Bay, and with the
neatness and cleanliness of the town; indeed, what with the sea washing
it, and the picturesque aspect of the piazzas and verandas, it is
impossible for a West Indian town so situated, and in such a climate,
not to present an agreeable appearance. But the first part of the road
exceeds in beauty all that I have ever seen: it wound through mountain
lands of my own, their summits of the boldest, and at the same time
of the most beautiful shapes; their sides ornamented with bright green
woods of bamboo, logwood, prickly-yellow, broad-leaf, and trumpet trees;
and so completely covered with the most lively verdure, that once,
when we found a piece of barren rock, Cubina pointed it out to me as a
curiosity;--“Look, massa, rock quite naked!” The cotton-tree presented
itself on all sides; but as this is the season for its shedding its
leaves, its wide-spreading bare white arms contributed nothing to the
beauty of the scene, except where the wild fig and various creeping
plants had completely mantled the stems and branches; and then its
gigantic height, and the fantastic wreathings of its limbs, from which
numberless green withes and strings of wild flowers were streaming,
rendered it exactly the very tree for which a landscape-painter
would have wished. The air, too, was delicious; the fragrance of the
Sweet-wood, and of several other scented trees, but above all, of the
delicious Logwood (of which most of the fences in Westmoreland are made)
composed an atmosphere, such, that if Satan, after promising them “a
buxom air, embalmed with odours,” had transported Sin and Death thither,
the charming couple must have acknowledged their papa’s promises

We travelled these first ten miles (Montego Bay being about thirty from
my estate of Cornwall) without seeing a human creature, nor, indeed, any
thing that had life in it, except a black snake basking in the sunshine,
and a few John Crows----a species of vulture, whose utility is so great
that its destruction is prohibited by law under a heavy penalty. In a
country where putrefaction is so rapid, it is of infinite consequence to
preserve an animal which, if a bullock or horse falls dead in the field,
immediately flies to the carcass before it has time to corrupt, and
gobbles it up before you can say “John Crow,” much less Jack Robinson.
The bite of the black snake is slightly venomous, but that is all; as
to the great yellow one, it is perfectly innoxious, and so timid that it
always runs away from you. The only dangerous species of serpent is the
Whip-snake, so called from its exactly resembling the lash of a whip, in
length, thinness, pliability, and whiteness; but even the bite of this
is not mortal, except from very great neglect. The most beautiful tree,
or, rather, group of trees, all to nothing, is the Bamboo, both from its
verdure and from its elegance of form: as to the Cotton tree, it
answers no purpose, either of ornament or utility; or, rather, it is not
suffered to answer any, since it is forbidden by law to export its down,
lest it should hurt the fur trade in the manufacture of hats: its only
present use is to furnish the negroes with canoes, which are hollowed
out of its immense trunks. I am as yet so much enchanted with the
country, that it would require no very strong additional inducements to
make me establish myself here altogether; and in that case my first care
would be to build for myself a cottage among these mountains, in which I
might pass the sultry months,

               “E bruna-si; ma il bruno il bel non toglie.”


As I was returning; this morning; from Montego Bay, about a mile from my
own estate, a figure presented itself before me, I really think the
most picturesque that I ever beheld: it was a mulatto girl, born upon
Cornwall, but whom the overseer of a neighbouring estate had obtained
my permission to exchange for another slave, as well as two little
children, whom she had borne to him; but, as yet, he has been unable
to procure a substitute, owing to the difficulty of purchasing single
negroes, and Mary Wiggins is still my slave. However, as she is
considered as being manumitted, she had not dared to present herself
at Cornwall on my arrival, lest she should have been considered as an
intruder; but she now threw herself in my way to tell me how glad she
was to see me, for that she had always thought till now (which is the
general complaint) that “_she had no massa_” and also to obtain a regular
invitation to my negro festival tomorrow. By this universal complaint,
it appears that, while Mr. Wilberforce is lamenting their hard fate in
being subject to a master, _their_ greatest fear is the not having a
master whom they know; and that to be told by the negroes of another
estate that “they belong to no massa,” is one of the most contemptuous
reproaches that can be cast upon them. Poor creatures, when they
happened to hear on Wednesday evening that my carriage was ordered for
Montego Bay the next morning, they fancied that I was going away for
good and all, and came up to the house in such a hubbub, that my agent
was obliged to speak to them, and pacify them with the assurance that I
should come back on Friday without fail.

But to return to Mary Wiggins: she was much too pretty not to obtain her
invitation to Cornwall; on the contrary, I _insisted_ upon her coming,
and bade her tell her _husband_ that I admired his taste very much for
having chosen her. I really think that her form and features were the
most _statue-like_ that I ever met with: her complexion had no yellow in
it, and yet was not brown enough to be dark--it was more of an ash-dove
colour than any thing else; her teeth were admirable, both for colour
and shape; her eyes equally mild and bright; and her face merely broad
enough to give it all possible softness and grandness of contour: her
air and countenance would have suited Yarico; but she reminded me most
of Grassini in “La Vergine del Sole,” only that Mary Wiggins was a
thousand times more beautiful, and that, instead of a white robe, she
wore a mixed dress of brown, white, and dead yellow, which harmonised
excellently well with her complexion while one of her beautiful arms was
thrown across her brow to shade her eyes, and a profusion of rings
on her fingers glittered in the sunbeams. Mary Wiggins and an old
Cotton-tree are the most picturesque objects that I have seen for these
twenty years.

On my arrival at home, my agent made me a very elegant little present of
a scorpion and a couple of centipedes: the first was given to him, but
the large centipede he had shaken out of a book last night, and having
immediately covered her up in a phial of rum, he found this morning that
she had produced a young one, which was lying drowned by her side.

I find that my negroes were called away from their attention to the
works yesterday evening (for the crop is now making with the greatest
activity), and kept up all night by a fire at a neighbouring estate.
On these occasions a fire-shell is blown, and all the negroes of the
adjoining plantations hasten to give their assistance. On this occasion
the fire was extinguished with the loss of only five negro houses; but
this is a heavy concern to the poor negro proprietors, who have lost in
it their whole stock of clothes, and furniture, and finery, which
they had been accumulating for years, and to which their attachment is


               When first I gain’d the Atlantic shore,

               And bade farewell to ocean’s roar,

               What gracious power my bosom eased,

               My senses soothed, my fancy pleased,

               And bade me feel, in whispers bland,

               No Stranger in a Stranger-land?

               ’T was not at length my goal to reach,

               And tread Jamaica’s burning beach:

               ’T was not from Neptune’s chains discharged,

               To move, think, feel with powers enlarged:

               Nor that no more my bed the wave,

               Ere morning dawn’d, might prove my grave:--

               A livelier chord was struck: a spell,

               While heav’d my heart with gentle swell,

               Crept o’er my soul with magic sweet,

               And made each pulse responsive beat.

                   No Sheep-bell e’er to Pilgrim’s ear,

               Wandering in woods unknown and drear;

               No midnight lay to Spanish maid,

               Conscious by whom the lute was played;

               Not on the breeze the sounding wings

               Of him who nurture homeward brings

               To mother-bird, whose callow brood

               Pain her fond heart with chirps for food,--

               E’er seem’d more charming than to me,

               (When two long months had past at sea,

               During whose course my thirsty ear

               No softer voice, no strain could hear

               Nearer allied to love and pity,

               Than the strong bass of seaman’s ditty,)

               Seem’d by the sea-gale round me flung,

               Approaching sounds of female tongue!

                   No, Venus, no! Small right hast thou

               To claim for this my grateful vow;

               N     or on thine altar now bestows

               My hand the gift of one poor rose!

               No eager glance, no heighten’d dye

               Blush’d on my cheek, nor fired mine eye;

               I heard, nor felt, at each soft note,

               Flutter my heart, and swell my throat.

               Those sounds but spoke of bosom-balm,

               Of pity prompt and kindness calm;

               Of tender care, of anxious zeal;

               For here were breasts whose hearts could feel!

               ’T was as to guest in stranger halls

               If voice of friend a welcome calls:

               Such pleasure soothes the starting maid,

               Who finds some jewel long mislaid;

               Pleasure, which blessed dew supplies,

               To ease the heart, and float the eyes;

               As when in pain attentions prove

               A mother’s care, a sister’s love.

               To Woman, Life its value owes!

               Robb’d of her love, its dawn and close

               Would find nor aid, nor soothing care;

               Its middle course no joys would share.

               Childhood in vain would thirst and cry,

               And Age, unheeded, moan and die;

               And Manhood frown to see the hours

               Weave scentless wreaths unblest with flowers.

                   It beam’d on cheek of sable dye;

               No matter, since ’t was _woman’s_ eye!

               Each phrase the tortured language broke;

               Enough for me--’t was _woman_ spoke!

                   Once raven locks my temples wore;

               Time has pluck’d many, sorrow more:

               Through forty springs (thank God they’re run)

               These weary eyes have seen the sun;

                   And in that space full room is found

                   For flowers to fade, and thorns to wound.

                   But now, (all fancy’s freaks supprest,

                   Each thread-bare sneer and wanton jest,)

                   With hand on heart in serious tone,

                   With thanks, with truth, I needs must own,

                   Wide as I’ye roam’d the world around,

                   Roam where I would, I ever found,

                   The worst of Women still possest

                   More virtues than of Men the best.

                   And, oh! if shipwreck proves my lot,

                   Guide me, kind Heav’n, to some lone cot

                   Where _woman_ dwells! Her hand she’ll stretch

                   In pity to the stranger-wretch;

                   If virtuous want mine eye surveys,

                   Nor mine the power his head to raise,

                   I’ll pour the tale in _woman’s_ ear,

                   She’ll aid, and, aiding, drop a tear.

                   And when my life-blood sickness drains,

                   And racks my nerves, and fires my brains,

                   What kinder juice, what livelier power,

                   Than mineral yields, or opiate flower,

                   Can make me e’en in pain rejoice?--

                   A few sweet words in that sweet voice!


This was the day given to my negroes as a festival on my arrival. A
couple of heifers were slaughtered for them: they were allowed as much
rum, and sugar, and noise, and dancing as they chose; and as to the two
latter, certainly they profited by the permission. About two o’clock
they began to assemble round the house, all drest in their holiday
clothes, which, both for men and women, were chiefly white; only that
the women were decked out with a profusion of beads and corals, and gold
ornaments of all descriptions; and that while the blacks wore jackets,
the mulattoes generally wore cloth coats; and inasmuch as they were all
plainly clean instead of being shabbily fashionable, and affected to
be nothing except that which they really were, they looked twenty times
more like gentlemen than nine tenths of the bankers’ clerks who swagger
up and down Bond Street. It is a custom as to the mulatto children, that
the males born on an estate should never be employed as field negroes,
but as tradesmen; the females are brought up as domestics about the
house. I had particularly invited “Mr. John-Canoe” (which I found to be
the polite manner in which the negroes spoke of him), and there arrived
a couple of very gay and gaudy ones. I enquired whether one of them was
“John-Crayfish;” but I was told that John-Crayfish was John-Ca-noe’s
rival and enemy, and might belong to the factions of “the Blues and the
Reds;” but on Cornwall they were all friends, and therefore there
were only the father and the son---Mr. John-Canoe, senior, and Mr.
John-Canoe, junior.

The person who gave me this information was a young mulatto carpenter,
called Nicholas, whom I had noticed in the crowd, on my first arrival,
for his clean appearance and intelligent countenance; and he now begged
me to notice the smaller of the two John-Canoe machines. “To be sure,”
 he said, “it was not so large nor so showy as the other, but then it
was much better _proportioned_ (his own word), and altogether much
prettier;” and he said so much in praise of it, that I asked him whether
he knew the maker? and then out came the motive: “Oh, yes! it was made
by John Fuller, who lived in the next house to him, and worked in the
same shop, and indeed they were just like brothers.” So I desired to see
his _fidas Achates_, and he brought me as smart and intelligent a little
fellow as eye ever beheld, who came grinning from ear to ear to tell me
that he had made every bit of the canoe with his own hands, and had set
to work upon it the moment that he knew of massa’s coming to Jamaica.
And indeed it was as fine as paint, pasteboard, gilt paper, and
looking-glass could make it! Unluckily, the breeze being very strong
blew off a fine glittering umbrella, surmounted with a plume of John
Crow feathers, which crowned the top; and a little wag of a negro boy
whipped it up, clapped it upon his head, and performed the part of an
impromptu Mr. John-Canoe with so much fun and grotesqueness, that he
fairly beat the original performers out of the pit, and carried off
all the applause of the spectators, and a couple of my dollars. The
John-Canoes are fitted out at the expense of the rich negroes, who
afterwards share the money collected from the spectators during their
performance, allotting one share to the representator himself; and it
is usual for the master of the estate to give them a couple of guineas

This Nicholas, whom I mentioned, is a very interesting person, both from
his good looks and gentle manners, and from his story. He is the son
of a white man, who on his death-bed charged his nephew and heir to
purchase the freedom of this natural child. The nephew had promised to
do so; I had consented; nothing was necessary but to find the substitute
(which now is no easy matter); when about six months ago the nephew
broke his neck, and the property went to a distant relation. Application
in behalf of poor Nicholas has been made to the heir, and I heartily
hope that he will enable me to release him. I felt strongly tempted to
set him at liberty at once; but if I were to begin in that way, there
would be no stopping; and it would be doing a kindness to an individual
at the expense of all my other negroes--others would expect the same;
and then I must either contrive to cultivate my estate with fewer
hands--or must cease to cultivate it altogether--and, from inability to
maintain them, send my negroes to seek bread for themselves--which, as
two thirds of them have been born upon the estate, and many of them
are lame, dropsical, and of a great age, would, of all misfortunes that
could happen to them, be the most cruel. Even when Nicholas was speaking
to me about his liberty, he said, “It is not that I wish to go away,
sir; it is only for the name and honour of being free: but I
would always stay here and be your servant; and I had rather be an
under-workman on Cornwall, than a head carpenter any where else.”
 Possibly, this was all palaver (in which the negroes are great dealers),
but at least he _seemed_ to be sincere; and I was heartily grieved that
I could not allow myself to say more to him than that I sincerely wished
him to get his liberty, and would receive the very lowest exchange for
him that common prudence would authorize. And even for those few kind
words, the poor fellow seemed to think it impossible to find means
strong enough to express his gratitude.

Nor is this the only instance in which Nicholas has been unlucky. It
seems that he was the first lover of the beautiful Psyche, whom I
had noticed on my arrival. This evening, after the performance of the
John-Canoes, I desired to see some of the girls dance; and by general
acclamation Psyche was brought forward to exhibit, she being avowedly
the best dancer on the estate; and certainly nothing could be more
light, graceful, easy, and spirited, than her performance. She perfectly
answered the description of Sallust’s Sempronia, who was said--“Sal tare
elegantius, quam necesse est probæ, et cui cariora semper omnia, quam
decus et pudicitia fuit.” When her dance was over, I called her to me,
and gave her a handful of silver. “Ah, Psyche,” said Nicholas, who was
standing at my elbow, “Massa no give you all that if massa know you
so bad girl! she run away from me, massa!” Psyche gave him a kind of
pouting look, half kind, and half reproachful, and turned away. And then
he told me that Psyche had been his wife (_one_ of his wives he should
have said); that he had had a child by her, and then she had left him
for one of my “white people” (as they call the book-keepers), because
he had a good salary, and could afford to give her more presents than a
slave could. “Was there not another reason for your quarrelling?” said
my agent. “Was there not a shade of colour too much?”--“Oh, massa!”
 answered Nicholas, “the child is not my own, that is certain; it is
a black man’s child. But still I will always take care of the child
because it have no friends, and me wish make it good neger for
massa--and _she_ take good care of it too,” he added, throwing his arm
round the waist of a sickly-looking woman rather in years; “she my wife,
too, massa, long ago; old now and sick, but always good to me, so I
still live with her, and will never leave her, never, massa; she Polly’s
mother, sir.” Polly is a pretty, delicate-looking girl, nursing a
young child; she belongs to the mansion-house, and seems to think it as
necessary a part of her duty to nurse _me_ as the child. To be sure she
has not as yet insisted upon suckling me; but if I open a _jalousie_
in the evening, Polly walks in and shuts it without saying a word. “Oh,
don’t shut the window, Polly.”--“Night-air not good for massa;” and she
shuts the casement without mercy. I am drinking orangeade, or some such
liquid; Polly walks up to the table, and seizes it; “Leave that jug,
Polly, I am dying with thirst.”--“More hurt, massa;” and away go Polly
and the orangeade. So that I begin to fancy myself Sancho in Barataria,
and that Polly is the Señor Doctor Pedro in petticoats.

The difference of colour, which had offended Nicholas so much in
Psyche’s child, is a fault which no mulatto will pardon; nor can the
separation of castes in India be more rigidly observed, than that
of complexional shades among the Creoles. My black page, Cubina, is
married: I told him that I hoped he had married a pretty woman; why had
he not married Mary Wiggins? He seemed quite shocked at the very idea.
“Oh, massa, me black, Mary Wiggins sambo; that not allowed.”

The dances performed to-night seldom admitted more than three persons
at a time: to me they appeared to be movements entirely dictated by the
caprice of the moment; but I am told that there is a regular figure, and
that the least mistake, or a single false step, is immediately noticed
by the rest. I could indeed sometimes fancy, that one story represented
an old duenna guarding a girl from a lover; and another, the pursuit of
a young woman by two suitors, the one young and the other old; but this
might be only fancy. However, I am told, that they have dances which not
only represent courtship and marriage, but being brought to bed. Their
music consisted of nothing but Gambys (Eboe drums), Shaky-shekies, and
Kitty-katties: the latter is nothing but any flat piece of board beat
upon with two sticks, and the former is a bladder with a parcel of
pebbles in it. But the principal part of the music to which they dance
is vocal; one girl generally singing two lines by herself, and being
answered by a chorus. To make out either the rhyme of the air, or
meaning of the words, was out of the question. But one very long song
was about the Duke of Wellington, every stanza being chorussed with,

                   “Ay! hey-day! Waterloo!

                        Waterloo! ho! ho! ho!”

_I_ too had a great deal to do in the business, for every third word was
“massa;” though how I came there, I have no more idea than the Duke.

The singing began about six o’clock, and lasted without a moment’s pause
till two in the morning; and such a noise never did I hear till then.
The whole of the floor which was not taken up by the dancers was,
through every part of the house except the bed-rooms, occupied by men,
women, and children, fast asleep. But although they were allowed rum and
sugar by whole pailfuls, and were most of them _merry_ in consequence,
there was not one of them drunk; except indeed, one person, and that
was an old woman, who sang, and shouted, and tossed herself about in an
elbow chair, till she tumbled it over, and rolled about the room in a
manner which shocked the delicacy of even the least prudish part of the
company. At twelve, my agent wanted to dismiss them; but I would not
suffer them to be interrupted on the first holiday that I had given
them; so they continued to dance and shout till two; when human nature
could bear no more, and they left me to my bed, and a violent headache.

JANUARY 7. (Sunday.)

In spite of their exertions of last night, the negroes were again with
me by two o’clock in the day, with their drums and their chorusses.
However, they found themselves unable to keep it up as they had done on
the former night, and were content to withdraw to their own houses
by ten in the evening. But first they requested to have tomorrow to
themselves, in order that they might go to the mountains for provisions.
For although their cottages are always surrounded with trees and shrubs,
their provision grounds are kept quite distinct, and are at a distance
among the mountains. Of course, I made no difficulty of acceding to
their request, but upon condition, that they should ask for no
more holidays till the crop should be completed. For the purpose of
cultivating their provision-grounds, they are allowed every Saturday;
but on the occasion of my arrival, they obtained permission to have the
Saturday to themselves, and to fetch their week’s provisions from the
mountains on the following Monday. All the slaves maintain themselves
in this manner by their own labour; even the domestic attendants are not
exempted, but are expected to feed themselves, except stated allowances
of salt fish, salt pork, &c.


I really believe that the negresses can produce children at pleasure;
and where they are barren, it is just as hens will frequently not lay
eggs on shipboard, because they do not like their situation. Cubina’s
wife is in a family way, and I told him that if the child should live,
I would christen it for him, if he wished it. “Tank you, kind massa,
me like it very much: much oblige if massa do that for _me_, too.” So
I promised to baptize the father and the baby on the same day, and said
that I would be godfather to any children that might be born on the
estate during my residence in Jamaica. This was soon spread about, and
although I have not yet been here a week, two women are in the straw
already, Jug Betty and Minerva: the first is wife to my head driver, the
Duke of Sully; but my sense of propriety was much gratified at finding
that Minerva’s husband was called Captain.

I think nobody will be able to accuse me of neglecting the religious
education of my negroes: for I have not only promised to baptize all the
infants, but, meeting a little black boy this morning, who said that his
name was Moses, I gave him a piece of silver, and told him that it was
for the sake of Aaron; which, I flatter myself, was planting in his
young mind the rudiments of Christianity.

In my evening’s drive I met the negroes, returning from the mountains,
with baskets of provisions sufficient to last them for the week. By
law they are only allowed every other Saturday for the purpose of
cultivating their own grounds, which, indeed, is sufficient; but by
giving them every alternate Saturday into the bargain, it enables them
to perform their task with so much ease as almost converts it into
an amusement; and the frequent visiting their grounds makes them grow
habitually as much attached to them as they are to their houses and
gardens. It is also adviseable for them to bring home only a week’s
provisions at a time, rather than a fortnight’s; for they are so
thoughtless and improvident, that, when they find themselves in
possession of a larger supply than is requisite for their immediate
occasions, they will sell half to the wandering higglers, or at Savanna
la Mar, in exchange for spirits; and then, at the end of the week, they
find themselves entirely unprovided with food, and come to beg a supply
from the master’s storehouse.


The sensitive plant is a great nuisance in Jamaica: it over-runs the
pastures, and, being armed with very strong sharp prickles, it wounds
the mouths of the cattle, and, in some places, makes it quite impossible
for them to feed. Various endeavours have been made to eradicate this
inconvenient weed, but none as yet have proved effectual.


The houses here are generally built and arranged according to one
and the same model. My own is of wood, partly raised upon pillars; it
consists of a single floor: a long gallery, called a piazza, terminated
at each end by a square room, runs the whole length of the house. On
each side of the piazza is a range of bed-rooms, and the porticoes of
the two fronts form two more rooms, with balustrades, and flights of
steps descending to the lawn. The whole house is virandoed with shifting
Venetian blinds to admit air; except that one of the end rooms has
sash-windows on account of the rains, which, when they arrive, are so
heavy, and shift with the wind so suddenly from the one side to the
other, that all the blinds are obliged to be kept closed; consequently
the whole house is in total darkness during their continuance, except
the single sash-windowed room. There is nothing underneath except a few
store-rooms and a kind of waiting-hall; but none of the domestic negroes
sleep in the house, all going home at night to their respective cottages
and families.

Cornwall House itself stands on a dead flat, and the works are built in
its immediate neighbourhood, for the convenience of their being the more
under the agent’s personal inspection (a point of material consequence
with them all, but more particularly for the hospital). This dead flat
is only ornamented with a few scattered bread-fruit and cotton trees, a
grove of mangoes, and the branch of a small river, which turns the mill.
Several of these buildings are ugly enough; but the shops of the cooper,
carpenter, and blacksmith, some of the trees in their vicinity, and the
negro-huts, embowered in shrubberies, and groves of oranges, plantains,
cocoas, and pepper-trees, would be reckoned picturesque in the most
ornamented grounds. A large spreading tamarind fronts me at this moment,
and overshadows the stables, which are formed of open wickerwork; and an
orange-tree, loaded with fruit, grows against the window at which I am

On three sides of the landscape the prospect is bounded by lofty purple
mountains; and the variety of occupations going on all around me, and
at the same time, give an inconceivable air of life and animation to the
whole scene, especially as all those occupations look clean,--even those
which in England look dirty. All the tradespeople are dressed either
in white jackets and trousers, or with stripes of red and sky-blue. One
band of negroes are carrying the ripe canes on their heads to the mill;
another set are conveying away the _trash_, after the juice has been
extracted; flocks of turkeys are sheltering from the heat under the
trees; the river is filled with ducks and geese; the coopers and
carpenters are employed about the puncheons; carts drawn some by six,
others by eight, oxen, are bringing loads of Indian corn from the
fields; the black children are employed in gathering it into the
granary, and in quarrelling with pigs as black as themselves, who are
equally busy in stealing the corn whenever the children are looking
another way: in short, a plantation possesses all the movement and
interest of a farm, without its dung, and its stench, and its dirty


I saw the whole process of sugar-making this morning. The ripe canes
are brought in bundles to the mill, where the cleanest of the women
are appointed, one to put them into the machine for grinding them, and
another to draw them out after the juice has been extracted, when she
throws them into an opening in the floor close to her; another band of
negroes collects them below, when, under the name of _trash_, they are
carried away to serve for fuel. The juice, which is itself at first of a
pale ash-colour, gushes out in great streams, quite white with foam,
and passes through a wooden gutter into the boiling-house, where it is
received into the siphon or “cock copper.” where fire is applied to it,
and it is slaked with lime, in order to make it granulate. The feculent
parts of it rise to the top, while the purer and more fluid flow through
another gutter into the second copper. When little but the impure scum
on the surface remains to be drawn off, the first gutter communicating
with the copper is stopped, and the grosser parts are obliged to find a
new course through another gutter, which conveys them to the distillery,
where, being mixed with the molasses, or treacle, they are manufactured
into rum. From the second copper they are transmitted into the first,
and thence into two others, and in these four latter basins the scum is
removed with skimmers pierced with holes, till it becomes sufficiently
free from impurities to be _skipped off_, that is, to be again ladled
out of the coppers and spread into the coolers, where it is left
to granulate. The sugar is then formed, and is removed into the
_curing-house_, where it is put into hogsheads, and left to settle for a
certain time, during which those parts which are too poor and too liquid
to granulate, drip from the casks into vessels placed beneath them:
these drippings are the molasses, which, being carried into the
distillery, and mixed with the coarser scum formerly mentioned, form
that mixture from which the spirituous liquor of sugar is afterwards
produced by fermentation: when but once distilled, it is called “low
wine;” and it is not till after it has gone through a second
distillation, that it acquires the name of rum. The “trash” used for
fuel consists of the empty canes, that which is employed for fodder and
for thatching is furnished by the superabundant cane-tops; after so many
have been set apart as are required for planting. After these original
plants have been cut, their roots throw up suckers, which, in time,
become canes, and are called _ratoons_: they are far inferior in juice
to the planted canes; but then, on the other hand, they require much
less weeding, and spare the negroes the only laborious part of the
business of sugar-making, the digging holes for the plants; therefore,
although an acre of ratoons will produce but one hogshead of sugar,
while an acre of plants will produce two, the superiority of the
ratooned piece is very great, inasmuch as the saving of time and labour
will enable the proprietor to cultivate five acres of ratoons in the
same time with one of plants. Unluckily, after three crops, or five at
the utmost, in general the ratoons are totally exhausted, and you are
obliged to have recourse to fresh plants.

Last night a poor man, named Charles, who had been coachman to my uncle
ages ago, was brought into the hospital, having missed a step in the
boiling-house, and plunged his foot into the siphon: fortunately, the
fire had not long been kindled, and though the liquor was hot enough to
scald him, it was not sufficiently so to do him any material injury.
The old man had presented himself to me on Saturday’s holiday (or
_play-day_, in the negro dialect), and had shown me, with great
exultation, the coat and waistcoat which had been the last present
of his old massa. Charles is now my chief mason, and, as one of the
principal persons on the estate, was entitled, by old custom, to the
compliment of a _distinguishing_ dollar on my arrival; but at the same
time that I gave him the dollar, to which his situation entitled him, I
gave him another for himself, as a keepsake: he put it into the pocket
of “his old massa’s” waistcoat, and assured me that they should never
again be separated. On hearing of his accident, I went over to the
hospital to see that he was well taken care of; and immediately the poor
fellow began talking to me about my grandfather, and his young massa,
and the young missies, his sisters, and while I suffered him to chatter
away for an hour, he totally forgot the pain of his burnt leg.

It was particularly agreeable to me to observe, on Saturday, as a proof
of the good treatment which they had experienced, so many old servants
of the family, many of whom had been born on the estate, and who, though
turned of sixty and seventy, were still strong, healthy, and cheerful.
Many manumitted negroes, also, came from other parts of the country to
this festival, on hearing of my arrival, because, as they said,--“if
they did not come to see massa, they were afraid that it would look
ungrateful, and as if they cared no longer about him and Cornwall, now
that they were free.” So they stayed two or three days on the estate,
coming up to the house for their dinners, and going to sleep at night
among their friends in their own former habitations, the negro huts; and
when they went away, they assured me, that nothing should prevent their
coming back to bid me farewell, before I left the island. All this may
be palaver; but certainly they at least play their parts with such an
air of truth, and warmth, and enthusiasm, that, after the cold hearts
and repulsive manners of England, the contrast is infinitely agreeable.

               “Je ne vois que des yeux toujours prêts à sourire.”

I find it quite impossible to resist the fascination of the conscious
pleasure of pleasing; and my own heart, which I have so long been
obliged to keep closed, seems to expand itself again in the sunshine of
the kind looks and words which meet me at every turn, and seem to wait
for mine as anxiously as if they were so many diamonds.


In the year ‘80, this parish of Westmoreland was kept in a perpetual
state of alarm by a runaway negro called _Plato_, who had established
himself among the Moreland Mountains, and collected a troop of banditti,
of which he was himself the chief. He robbed very often, and murdered
occasionally; but gallantry was his every day occupation. Indeed, being
a remarkably tall athletic young fellow, among the beauties of his own
complexion he found but few Lucretias; and his retreat in the mountains
was as well furnished as the haram of Constantinople. Every handsome
negress who had the slightest cause of complaint against her master,
took the first opportunity of eloping to join _Plato_, where she found
freedom, protection, and unbounded generosity; for he spared no pains
to secure their affections by gratifying their vanity. Indeed, no Creole
lady could venture out on a visit, without running the risk of having
her bandbox run away with by Plato for the decoration of his sultanas;
and if the maid who carried the bandbox happened to be well-looking, he
ran away with the maid as well as the bandbox. Every endeavour to seize
this desperado was long in vain: a large reward was put upon his head,
but no negro dared to approach him; for, besides his acknowledged
courage, he was a professor of Obi, and had threatened that whoever
dared to lay a finger upon him should suffer spiritual torments, as well
as be physically shot through the head.

Unluckily for Plato, rum was an article with him of the first necessity;
the look-out, which was kept for him, was too vigilant to admit of
his purchasing spirituous liquors for himself; and once, when for that
purpose he had ventured into the neighbourhood of Montego Bay, he was
recognised by a slave, who immediately gave the alarm. Unfortunately
for this poor fellow, whose name was Taffy, at that moment all his
companions happened to be out of hearing; and, after the first moment’s
alarm, finding that no one approached, the exasperated robber rushed
upon him, and lifted the bill-hook, with which he was armed, for the
purpose of cleaving his skull. Taffy fled for it; but Plato was the
younger, the stronger, and the swifter of the two, and gained upon him
every moment. Taffy, however, on the other hand, possessed that one
quality by which, according to the fable, the cat was enabled to save
herself from the hounds, when the fox, with his thousand tricks, was
caught by them. He was an admirable climber, an art in which Plato
possessed no skill; and a bread-nut tree, which is remarkably difficult
of ascent, presenting itself before him, in a few moments Taffy was
bawling for help from the very top of it. To reach him was impossible
for his enemy; but still his destruction was hard at hand; for Plato
began to hack the tree with his bill, and it was evident that a very
short space of time would be sufficient to level it with the ground.
In this dilemma, Taffy had nothing for it but to break off the branches
near him; and he contrived to pelt these so dexterously at the head of
his assailant, that he fairly kept him at bay till his cries at length
reached the ears of his companions, and their approach compelled the
banditti-captain once more to seek safety among the mountains.

After this Plato no longer dared to approach Montego town; but still
spirits must be had:--how was he to obtain them? There was an old
watchman on the outskirts of the estate of Canaan, with whom he had
contracted an acquaintance, and frequently had passed the night in his
hut; the old man having been equally induced by his presents and by
dread of his corporeal strength and supposed supernatural power, to
profess the warmest attachment to the interests of his terrible friend.
To this man Plato at length resolved to entrust himself: he gave him
money to purchase spirits, and appointed a particular day when he would
come to receive them. The reward placed upon the robber’s head was more
than either gratitude or terror could counterbalance; and on the same
day when the watchman set out to purchase the rum, he apprised two of
his friends at Canaan, for whose use it was intended, and advised _them_
to take the opportunity of obtaining the reward.

The two negroes posted themselves in proper time near the watchman’s
hut. Most unwisely, instead of sending down some of his gang, they saw
Plato, in his full confidence in the friendship of his confidant, arrive
himself and enter the cabin; but so great was their alarm at seeing this
dreadful personage, that they remained in their concealment, nor dared
to make an attempt at seizing him. The spirits were delivered to the
robber: he might have retired with them unmolested; but, in his rashness
and his eagerness to taste the liquor, of which he had so long been
deprived, he opened the flagon, and swallowed draught after draught,
till he sunk upon the ground in a state of complete insensibility. The
watchman then summoned the two negroes from their concealment, who bound
his arms, and conveyed him to Montego Bay, where he was immediately
sentenced to execution. He died most heroically; kept up the terrors of
his imposture to his last moment; told the magistrates, who condemned
him, that his death should be revenged by a storm, which would lay waste
the whole island, that year; and, when his negro gaoler was binding him
to the stake at which he was destined to suffer, he assured him that he
should not live long to triumph in his death, for that he had taken
good care to Obeah him before his quitting the prison. It certainly
did happen, strangely enough, that, before the year was over, the most
violent storm took place ever known in Jamaica; and as to the gaoler,
his imagination was so forcibly struck by the threats of the dying
man, that, although every care was taken of him, the power of medicine
exhausted, and even a voyage to America undertaken, in hopes that a
change of scene might change the course of his ideas, still, from the
moment of Plato’s death, he gradually pined and withered away, and
finally expired before the completion of the twelvemonth.

The belief in Obeah is now greatly weakened, but still exists in some
degree. Not above ten months ago, my agent was informed that a negro
of very suspicious manners and appearance was harboured by some of my
people on the mountain lands. He found means to have him surprised, and
on examination there was found upon him a bag containing a great variety
of strange materials for incantations; such as thunder-stones, cat’s
ears, the feet of various animals, human hair, fish bones, the teeth of
alligators, &c.: he was conveyed to Montego Bay; and no sooner was it
understood that this old African was in prison, than depositions were
poured in from all quarters from negroes who deposed to having seen him
exercise his magical arts, and, in particular, to his having sold such
and such slaves medicines and charms to deliver them from their
enemies; being, in plain English, nothing else than rank poisons. He
was convicted of Obeah upon the most indubitable evidence. The good old
practice of burning has fallen into disrepute; so he was sentenced to be
transported, and was shipped off the island, to the great satisfaction
of persons of all colours--white, black, and yellow.


Throughout the island many estates, formerly very flourishing and
productive, have been thrown up for want of hands to cultivate them,
and are now suffered to lie waste: four are in this situation in my own
immediate neighbourhood. Finding their complement of negroes decrease,
and having no means of recruiting them, proprietors of two estates have
in numerous instances found themselves obliged to give up one of them,
and draw off the negroes for the purpose of properly cultivating the

I have just had an instance strikingly convincing of the extreme nicety
required in rearing negro children. Two have been born since my arrival.
My housekeeper was hardly ever out of the lying-in apartment; I always
visited it myself once a day, and sometimes twice, in order that I
might be certain of the women being well taken care of; not a day passed
without the inspection of a physician; nothing of indulgence, that
was proper for them, was denied; and, besides their ordinary food, the
mothers received every day the most nourishing and palatable dish that
was brought to my own table. Add to this, that the women themselves were
kind-hearted creatures, and particularly anxious to rear these children,
because I had promised to be their godfather myself. Yet, in spite
of all this attention and indulgence, one of the mothers, during the
nurse’s absence for ten minutes, grew alarmed at her infant’s apparent
sleepiness. To rouse it, she began dancing and shaking it till it was in
a strong perspiration, and then she stood with it for some minutes at an
open window, while a strong north wind was blowing. In consequence,
it caught cold, and the next morning symptoms of a locked jaw showed
itself. The poor woman was the image of grief itself: she sat on her
bed, looking at the child which lay by her side with its little hands
clasped, its teeth clenched, and its eyes fixed, writhing in the agony
of the spasm, while she was herself quite motionless and speechless,
although the tears trickled down her cheeks incessantly. All assistance
was fruitless: her thoughtlessness for five minutes had killed the
infant, and, at noon to-day it expired.

This woman was a tender mother, had borne ten children, and yet has now
but one alive: another, at present in the hospital, has borne seven, and
but one has lived to puberty; and the instances of those who have had
four, five, six children, without succeeding in bringing up one, in
spite of the utmost attention and indulgence, are very numerous; so
heedless and inattentive are the best-intentioned mothers, and so
subject in this climate are infants to dangerous complaints. The locked
jaw is the common and most fatal one; so fatal, indeed, that the midwife
(the _graundee_ is her negro appellation) told me, the other day, “Oh,
massa, till nine days over, we _no hope_ of them.” Certainly care
and kindness are not adequate to save the children, for the son of a
sovereign could not have been more anxiously well treated than was the
poor little negro who died this morning.

The negroes are always buried in their own gardens, and many strange and
fantastical ceremonies are observed on the occasion. If the corpse be
that of a grown person, they consult it as to which way it pleases to
be carried; and they make attempts upon various roads without success,
before they can hit upon the right one. Till that is accomplished, they
stagger under the weight of the coffin, struggle against its force,
which draws them in a different direction from that in which they had
settled to go; and sometimes in the contest the corpse and the coffin
jump off the shoulders of the bearers. But if, as is frequently the
case, any person is suspected of having hastened the catastrophe, the
corpse will then refuse to go any road but the one which passes by the
habitation of the suspected person, and as soon as it approaches his
house, no human power is equal to persuading it to pass. As the negroes
are extremely superstitious, and very much afraid of ghosts (whom they
call the _duppy_), I rather wonder at their choosing to have their dead
buried in their gardens; but I understand their argument to be, that
they need only fear the duppies of their enemies, but have nothing to
apprehend from those after death, who loved them in their lifetime;
but the duppies of their adversaries are very alarming beings, equally
powerful by day as by night, and who not only are spiritually terrific,
but who can give very hard substantial knocks on the pate, whenever they
see fit occasion, and can find a good opportunity.

Last Saturday a negro was brought into the hospital, having fallen into
epileptic fits, with which till then he had never been troubled. As the
faintings had seized him at the slaughter-house, and the fellow was an
African, it was at first supposed by his companions, that the sight
and smell of the meat had affected him; for many of the Africans cannot
endure animal food of any kind, and most of the Ebres in particular are
made ill by eating turtle, even although they can use any other food
without injury. However, upon enquiry among his shipmates, it appeared
that he had frequently eaten beef without the slightest inconvenience.
For my own part, the symptoms of his complaint were such as to make me
suspect him of having tasted something poisonous, specially as, just
before his first fit, he had been observed in the small grove of mangoes
near the house; but I was assured by the negroes, one and all, that
nothing could possibly have induced him to eat an herb or fruit from
that grove, as it had been used as a burying-ground for “the white
people.” But although my idea of the poison was scouted, still the
mention of the burying-ground suggested another cause for his illness to
the negroes, and they had no sort of doubt, that in passing through the
burying-ground he had been struck down by the duppy of a white person
not long deceased, whom he had formerly offended, and that these
repeated fainting fits were the consequence of that ghostly blow. The
negroes have in various publications been accused of a total want of
religion, but this appears to me quite incompatible with the ideas
of spirits existing after dissolution of the body, which necessarily
implies a belief in a future state; and although (as far as I can make
out) they have no outward forms of religion, the most devout Christian
cannot have “God bless you” oftener on his lips than the negro; nor, on
the other hand, appear to feel the wish for their enemy’s damnation more
sincerely when he utters it.

The Africans (as is well known) generally believe, that there is a life
beyond this world, and that they shall enjoy it by returning to their
own country; and this idea used frequently to induce them, soon after
their landing in the colonies, to commit suicide; but this was never
known to take place except among fresh negroes, and since the execrable
slave-trade has been abolished, such an illusion is unheard of. As to
those who had once got over the dreadful period of “seasoning,” they
were generally soon sensible enough of the amelioration of their
condition, to make the idea of returning to Africa the most painful that
could be presented to them. But, to be sure, poor creatures! what with
the terrors and sufferings of the voyage, and the unavoidable hardships
of the seasoning, those advantages were purchased more dearly than any
in this life can possibly be worth. God be thanked, all that is now
at an end; and certainly, as far as I can as yet judge, if I were now
standing on the banks of Virgil’s Lethe, with a goblet of the waters of
oblivion in my hand, and asked whether I chose to enter life anew as
an English labourer or a Jamaica negro, I should have no hesitation
in preferring the latter. For myself, it appears to me almost worth
surrendering the luxuries and pleasures of Great Britain, for the single
pleasure of being surrounded with beings who are always laughing and
singing, and who seem to perform their work with so much _nonchalance_,
taking up their baskets as if it were perfectly optional whether they
took them up or left them there; sauntering along with their hands
dangling; stopping to chat with every one they meet; or if they meet no
one, standing still to look round, and examine whether there is nothing
to be seen that can amuse them, so that I can hardly persuade myself
that it is really _work_ that they are about. The negro might well say,
on his arrival in England--“Massa, in England every thing work!” for
here nobody appears to work at all.

I am told that there is one part of their business very laborious, the
digging holes for receiving the cane-plants, and which I have not as yet
seen; but this does not occupy above a month (I believe) at the utmost,
at two periods of the year; and on my estate this service is chiefly
performed by extra negroes, hired for the purpose; which, although
equally hard on the hired negroes (called a jobbing gang), at least
relieves my own, and after all, puts even the former on much the same
footing with English day-labourers.

But if I could be contented to _live_ in Jamaica, I am still more
certain, that it is the only agreeable place for me to die in; for I
have got a family mausoleum, which looks for all the world like the
theatrical representation of the “tomb of all the Capulets.” Its outside
is most plentifully decorated “with sculptured stones,”--

“Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones.”

Within is a tomb of the purest white marble, raised on a platform of
ebony; the building, which is surmounted by a statue of Time, with his
scythe and hour-glass, stands in the very heart of an orange grove, now
in full bearing; and the whole scene this morning looked so cool, so
tranquil, and so gay, and is so perfectly divested of all vestiges of
dissolution, that the sight of it quite gave me an appetite for being
buried. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me what becomes of
this little ugly husk of mine, when once I shall have “shuffled off
this mortal coil;” or else I should certainly follow my grandfather’s
example, and, die where I might, order my body to be sent over for
burial to Cornwall; for I never yet saw a place where one could lie down
more comfortably to listen for the last trumpet.

JANUARY 14. (Sunday.)

I gave a dinner to my “white people,” as the book-keepers, &c. are
called here, and who have a separate house and establishment for
themselves; and certainly a man must be destitute of every spark of
hospitality, and have had “Caucasus horrens” for his great-grandmother,
if he can resist giving dinners in a country where Nature seems to
have set up a superior kind of “London Tavern” of her own. They who
are possessed by the “Ci-borum ambitiosa fames, et lautæ gloria mensæ,”
 ought to ship themselves off for Jamaica out of hand; and even the lord
mayor himself need not blush to give his aldermen such a dinner as is
placed on my table, even when I dine alone. Land and sea turtle, quails,
snipes, plovers, and pigeons and doves of all descriptions--of which the
ring-tail has been allowed to rank with the most exquisite of the winged
species, by epicures of such distinction, that their opinion, in matters
of this nature, almost carries with it the weight of a law,--excellent
pork, barbicued pigs, pepperpots, with numberless other excellent
dishes, form the ordinary fare; while the poultry is so large and fine,
that if the Dragon of Wantley found “houses and churches to be geese and
turkies” in England, he would mistake the geese and turkies for
houses and churches here. Then our tarts are made of pineapples, and
pine-apples make the best tarts that I ever tasted; there is no end of
the variety of fruits, of which the shaddock is “in itself an host;” but
the most singular and exquisite flavour, perhaps, is to be found in the
granadillo, a fruit which grows upon a species of vine, and, in fact,
appears to be a kind of cucumber. It must be suffered to hang till it is
dead ripe, when it is scarcely any thing except juice and seeds, which
can only be eaten with a spoon. It requires sugar, but the acid is truly
delicious, and like no other separate flavour that I ever met with; what
it most resembles is a _macedoine_, as it unites the different tastes of
almost all other fruits, and has, at the same time, a very strong
flavour of wine.

As to fish, Savannah la Mar is reckoned the best place in the island,
both for variety and _safety_; for, in many parts, the fish feed upon
copperas banks, and cannot be used without much precaution: here, none
is necessary, and it is only to be wished that their names equalled
their flesh in taste; for it must be owned, that nothing can be less
tempting than the sounds of Jew-fish, hog-fish, mud-fish, snappers,
god-dammies, groupas, and grunts! Of the Sea Fish which I have hitherto
met with, the Deep-water Silk appears to me the best; and of rivers, the
Mountain-Mullet: but, indeed, the fish is generally so excellent, and in
such profusion, that I never sit down to table without wishing for the
company of Queen Atygatis of Scythia, who was so particularly fond of
fish, that she prohibited all her subjects from eating it on pain of
death, through fear that there might not be enough left for her majesty.

This fondness for fish seems to be a sort of royal passion: more than
one of our English sovereigns died of eating too many lampreys; though,
to own the truth, it was suspected that the monks, in an instance
or two, improved the same by the addition of a little ratsbane; and
Mirabeau assures us, that Frederick the Second of Prussia might have
prolonged his existence, if he could but have resisted the fascination
of an eel-pye; but the charm was too strong for him, and, like his
great-grandmother of all, he ate and died--“All for eel-pye, or this
world well lost!” And now, which had to resist the most difficult
temptation, Frederic or Eve? _She_ longed to experience pleasures yet
untasted, and which she fancied to be exquisite: _he_, like Sigismunda,
pined after known pleasures, and which he knew to be good; _she_ was the
dupe of imagination; _he_ fell a victim to established habit. Which was
the most deserving pardon? There is a question for the bishops: those
clergymen who reside constantly on their livings (as all clergymen ought
to do, or they ought not to be clergymen), I shall, in charity, believe
to have something better to do with their time than to solve it.

The provision-grounds of the negroes furnish them with plantains,
bananas, cocoa-nuts, and yams: of the latter there is a regular harvest
once a year, and they remain in great perfection for many months,
provided they are dug up carefully, but the slightest wound with the
spade is sufficient to rot them. Catalue (a species of spinach) is a
principal article in their pepper-pots; but in this parish their most
valuable and regular supply of food arises from the cocoa-finger, or
coccos, a species of the yam, but which lasts all the year round. These
vegetables form the basis of negro sustenance; but the slaves also
receive from their owners a regular weekly allowance of red herrings
and salt meat, which serves to relish their vegetable diet; and, indeed,
they are so passionately fond of salted provisions, that, instead of
giving them fresh beef (as at their festival of Saturday last), I have
been advised to provide some hogsheads of salt fish, as likely to afford
them more gratification, at such future additional holidays as I may
find it possible to allow them in this busy season of crop.


The offspring of a white man and black woman is a _mulatto_; the mulatto
and black produce a _sambo_; from the mulatto and white comes the
_quadroon_; from the quadroon and white the _mustee_; the child of a
mustee by a white man is called a _musteefino_; while the children of a
musteefino are free by law, and rank as white persons to all intents and
purposes. I think it is Long who asserts, that two mulattoes will never
have children; but, as far as the most positive assurances can go, since
my arrival in Jamaica, I have reason to believe the contrary, and that
mulattoes breed together just as well as blacks and whites; but they are
almost universally weak and effeminate persons, and thus their children
are very difficult to rear. On a sugar estate one black is considered
as more than equal to two mulattoes. Beautiful as are their forms in
general, and easy and graceful as are their movements (which, indeed,
appear to me so striking, that they cannot fail to excite the admiration
of any one who has ever looked with delight on statues), still the women
of colour are deficient in one of the most requisite points of female
beauty. When Oromases was employed in the formation of woman, and
said,--“Let her enchanting bosom resemble the celestial spheres,” he
must certainly have suffered the negress to slip out of his mind. Young
or old, I have not yet seen such a thing as a _bosom_.


I never witnessed on the stage a scene so picturesque as a negro
village. I walked through my own to-day, and visited the houses of the
drivers, and other principal persons; and if I were to decide according
to my own taste, I should infinitely have preferred their habitations
to my own. Each house is surrounded by a separate garden, and the
whole village is intersected by lanes, bordered with all kinds of
sweet-smelling and flowering plants; but not such gardens as those
belonging to our English cottages, where a few cabbages and carrots just
peep up and grovel upon the earth between hedges, in square narrow beds,
and where the tallest tree is a gooseberry bush: the vegetables of the
negroes are all cultivated in their provision-grounds; these form their
_kitchen-gardens_, and these are all for ornament or luxury, and are
filled with a profusion of oranges, shaddocks, cocoa-nuts, and peppers
of all descriptions: in particular I was shown the abba, or palm-tree,
resembling the cocoa-tree, but much more beautiful, as its leaves are
larger and more numerous, and, feathering to the ground as they grow
old, they form a kind of natural arbour. It bears a large fruit, or
rather vegetable, towards the top of the tree, in shape like the cone of
the pine, but formed of seeds, some scarlet and bright as coral, others
of a brownish-red or purple. The abba requires a length of years to
arrive at maturity: a very fine one, which was shown me this morning,
was supposed to be upwards of an hundred years old; and one of a very
moderate size had been planted at the least twenty years, and had only
borne fruit once.

It appears to me a strong proof of the good treatment which the negroes
on Cornwall have been accustomed to receive, that there are many very
old people upon it; I saw to-day a woman near a hundred years of age;
and I am told that there are several of sixty, seventy, and eighty. I
was glad, also, to find, that several negroes who have obtained their
freedom, and possess little properties of their own in the mountains,
and at Savannah la Mar, look upon my estate so little as the scene of
their former sufferings while slaves, that they frequently come down
to pass a few days in their ancient habitations with their former
companions, by way of relaxation. One woman in particular expressed her
hopes, that I should not be offended at her still coming to Cornwall now
and then, although she belonged to it no longer; and begged me to give
directions before my return to England, that her visits should not be
hindered on the grounds of her having no business there.

My visit to Jamaica has at least produced one advantage to myself.
Several runaways, who had disappeared for some time (some even for
several months), have again made their appearance in the field, and I
have desired that no questions should be asked. On the other hand, after
enjoying herself during the Saturday and Sunday, which were allowed for
holidays on my arrival, one of my ladies chose to _pull foot_, and did
not return from her hiding-place in the mountains till this morning. Her
name is Marcia; but so unlike is she to Addison’s Marcia, that she is
not only as black as Juba, (instead of being “fair, oh! how divinely
fair!”) but,--whereas Sempronius complains, that “Marcia, the lovely
Marcia, is left behind,” the complaint against my heroine is, that
“Marcia, the lovely Marcia,” is always running away. In excuse for her
disappearance she alleged, that so far was her husband from thinking
that “she towered above her sex,” that he had called her “a very bad
woman,” which had provoked her so much, that she could not bear to stay
with him; and she assured me, that he was himself “a very bad man;”
 which, if true, was certainly enough to justify any lady, black
or white, in making a little incognito excursion for a week or so;
therefore, as it appeared to be nothing more than a conjugal quarrel,
and as Marcia engaged never to run away any more (at the same time
allowing that she had suffered her resentment to carry her too far, when
it had carried her all the way to the mountains), I desired that an act
of oblivion might be passed in favour of Cato’s daughter, and away she
went, quite happy, to pick hog’s meat.

The negro houses are composed of wattles on the outside, with rafters of
sweet-wood, and are well plastered within and whitewashed; they consist
of two chambers, one for cooking and the other for sleeping, and are, in
general, well furnished with chairs, tables, &c., and I saw none without
a four-post bedstead and plenty of bed-clothes; for, in spite of the
warmth of the climate, when the sun is not above the horizon the negro
always feels very chilly. I am assured that many of my slaves are very
rich (and their property is inviolable), and that they are I’ll never
without salt provisions, porter, and even wine, to entertain their
friends and their visiters from the bay or the mountains. As I passed
through their grounds, many little requests were preferred to me: one
wanted an additional supply of lime for the whitewashing his house;
another was building a new house for a superannuated wife (for they have
all so much decency as to call their sexual attachments by a conjugal
name), and wanted a little assistance towards the finishing it; a third
requested a new axe to work with; and several entreated me to negotiate
the purchase of some relation or friend belonging to another estate, and
with whom they were anxious to be reunited: but all their requests were
for additional indulgences; not one complained of ill-treatment, hunger,
or over-work.

Poor Nicholas gave me a fresh instance of his being one of those whom
Fortune pitches upon to show her spite: he has had four children, none
of whom are alive; and the eldest of them, a fine little girl of four
years old, fell into the mill-stream, and was drowned before any one was
aware of her danger. His wife told me that she had had fifteen children,
had taken the utmost care of them, and yet had now but two alive:
she said, indeed, fifteen at the first, but she afterwards corrected
herself, and explained that she had had twelve whole children and three
half ones by which she meant miscarriages.

Besides the profits arising from their superabundance of provisions,
which the better sort of negroes are enabled to sell regularly once
a week at Savannah la Mar to a considerable amount, they keep a large
stock of poultry, and pigs without number; which latter cost their
owners but little, though they cost me a great deal; for they generally
make their way into the cane-pieces, and sometimes eat me up an hogshead
of sugar in the course of the morning: but the most expensive of the
planter’s enemies are the rats, whose numbers are incredible, and are so
destructive that a reward is given for killing them. During the last six
months my agent has paid for three thousand rats killed upon Cornwall.
Nor is the sugar which they consume the worst damage which they commit;
the worst mischief is, that if through the carelessness of those whose
business it is to supply the mill, one cane which has been gnawed by the
rats is allowed admittance, that single damaged piece is sufficient to
produce acidity enough to spoil the whole sugar.


In this country there is scarcely any twilight, and all nature seems to
wake at the same moment. About six o’clock the darkness disperses, the
sun rises, and instantly every thing is in motion: the negroes are
going to the field, the cattle are driving to pasture, the pigs and the
poultry are pouring out from their hutches, the old women are preparing
food on the lawn for the _pickaninnies_ (the very small children), whom
they keep feeding at all hours of the day; and all seem to be going to
their employments, none to their work, the men and the women just as
quietly and leisurely as the pigs and the poultry. The sight is really
quite gay and amusing, and I am generally out of bed in time to enjoy
it, especially as the continuance of the cool north breezes renders the
weather still delicious, though the pleasure is rather an expensive
one. Not a drop of rain has fallen since the 16th of November; the young
canes are burning; and the drying quality of these norths is still more
detrimental than the want of rain, so that these winds may be said to
blow my pockets inside out; and as every draught of air, which I inhale
with so much pleasure, is estimated to cost me a guinea, I feel, while
breathing it, like Miss Burney’s Citizen at Vauxhall, who kept muttering
to himself with every bit of ham that he put into his mouth, “There goes
sixpence, and there goes a shilling!”


A Galli-wasp, which was killed in the neighbouring morass, has just
been brought to me. This is the Alligator in miniature, and is even more
dreaded by the negroes than its great relation: it is only to be found
in swamps and morasses: that which was brought to me was about eighteen
inches in length, and I understand that it is seldom longer, although,
as it grows in years, its thickness and the size of its jaws and
head become greatly increased. It runs away on being encountered, and
conceals itself; and it is only dangerous if trampled upon by accident,
or if attacked; but then its bite is a dreadful one, not only from its
tongue being armed with a sting (the venom of which is very powerful,
although not mortal), but from its teeth being so brittle that they
generally break in the wound, and as it is hardly possible to extract
the pieces entirely, the wound corrupts, and becomes an incurable sore
of the most offensive nature. Luckily, these reptiles are very scarce,
but nothing can exceed the terror and aversion in which they are held by
the negroes. This dead one had been lying in the room for several
hours, yet, on my servant’s accidentally stirring the board on which
the galli-wasp was stretched for my inspection, my little negro servant
George darted out of the room in terror, and was at the bottom of the
staircase in a moment. The skin of this animal appeared to be like
shagreen in looks and strength, and was almost entirely composed of
layers of very small scales; the colours were brownish-yellow and
olive-green, the teeth numerous and piercing, and the claws of the feet
very long and sharp: altogether it is a hideous and disgusting creature.
As to the alligator of Jamaica, it is a timid animal, which never
was known to attack the human species, though it frequently takes the
liberty of running away with a dog or two, which appears to be their
venison and turtle. There is no river on my estate large enough for
their inhabiting; but, in Paradise River, which is not above four miles
off, I understand that they are common.


A young mulatto carpenter, belonging to Horace Beckford’s estate of
Shrewsbury, came to beg my intercession with his overseer. He had been
absent two days without leave, and on these occasions it is customary
for the slaves to apply to some neighbouring gentleman for a note in
their behalf’ which, as I am told, never fails to obtain the pardon
required, as the managers of estates are in general but too happy to
find an excuse for passing over without punishment any offences which
are not very heinous; indeed, what with the excellent laws already
enacted for the protection of the slaves, and which every year are still
further ameliorated, and what with the difficulty of procuring more
negroes--(which can now only be done by purchasing them from other
estates),--which makes it absolutely necessary for the managers to
preserve the slaves, if they mean to preserve their own situations,--I
am fully persuaded that instances of tyranny to negroes are now very
rare, at least in this island. But I must still acknowledge, from my own
sad experience, since my arrival, that unless a West-Indian proprietor
occasionally visit his estates himself, it is utterly impossible for him
to be _certain_ that his deputed authority is not abused, however good
may be his intentions, and however vigilant his anxiety.

My father was one of the most humane and generous persons that ever
existed; there was no indulgence which he ever denied his negroes, and
his letters were filled with the most absolute injunctions for their
good treatment. When his estates became mine, the one upon which I am
now residing was managed by an attorney, considerably advanced in years,
who had been long in our employment, and who bore the highest character
for probity and humanity. He was both attorney and overseer; and it was
a particular recommendation to me that he lived in my own house, and
therefore had my slaves so immediately under his eye, that it was
impossible for any subaltern to misuse them without his knowledge. His
letters to me expressed the greatest anxiety and attention respecting
the welfare and comfort of the slaves;--so much so, indeed, that when I
detailed his mode of management to Lord Holland, he observed, “that if
he did all that was mentioned in his letters, he did as much as could
possibly be expected or wished from an attorney;” and on parting with
his own, Lord Holland was induced to take mine to manage his estates,
which are in the immediate neighbourhood of Cornwall. This man died
about two years ago, and since my arrival, I happened to hear, that
during his management a remarkably fine young penn-keeper, named Richard
(the brother of my intelligent carpenter, John Fuller), had run away
several times to the mountains. I had taken occasion to let the
brothers know, between jest and earnest, that I was aware of Richard’s
misconduct; and at length, one morning, John, while he blamed his
brother’s running away, let fall, that he had some excuse in the extreme
ill-usage which he had received from one of the bookkeepers, who “had
had a spite against him.” The hint alarmed me; I followed it, and
nothing could equal my anger and surprise at learning the whole truth.

It seems, that while I fancied my attorney to be resident on Cornwall,
he was, in fact, generally attending to a property of his own, or
looking after estates of which also he had the management in distant
parts of the island. During his absence, an overseer of his own
appointing, without my knowledge, was left in absolute possession of
his power, which he abused to such a degree, that almost every slave
of respectability on the estate was compelled to become a runaway. The
property was nearly ruined, and absolutely in a state of rebellion; and
at length he committed an act of such severity, that the negroes,
one and all, fled to Savannah la Mar, and threw themselves upon the
protection of the magistrates, who immediately came over to Cornwall,
investigated the complaint, and _now_, at length, the attorney, who
had known frequent instances of the overseer’s tyranny, had frequently
rebuked him for them, and had redressed the sufferers, but who still
had dared to abuse my confidence so grossly as to continue him in his
situation, upon this public exposure thought proper to dismiss him. Yet,
while all this was going on--while my negroes were groaning under the
iron rod of this petty tyrant--and while the public magistrature was
obliged to interfere to protect them from his cruelty--my attorney had
the insolence and falsehood to write me letters, filled with assurances
of his perpetual vigilance for their welfare--of their perfect good
treatment and satisfaction; nor, if I had not come myself to Jamaica,
in all probability should I ever have had the most distant idea how
abominably the poor creatures had been misused.

I have made it my business to mix as much as possible among the negroes,
and have given them every encouragement to repose confidence in me; and
I have uniformly found all those, upon whom any reliance can be
placed, unite in praising the humanity of their present superintendant.
Instantly on his arrival, he took the whole power of punishment into his
own hands: he forbade the slightest interference in this respect of any
person whatever on the estate, white or black; nor have I been able to
find as yet any one negro who has any charge of harsh treatment to bring
against him.

However, having been already so grossly deceived, I will never again
place implicit confidence in any person whatever in a matter of such
importance. Before my departure, I shall take every possible measure
that may prevent any misconduct taking place without my being apprised
of it as soon as possible; and I have already exhorted my negroes to
apply to the magistrates on the very first instance of ill-usage, should
any occur during my absence.

I am indeed assured by every one about me, that to manage a West-Indian
estate without the occasional use of the cart-whip, however rarely, is
impossible; and they insist upon it, that it is absurd in me to call
my slaves ill-treated, because, when they act grossly wrong, they are
treated like English soldiers and sailors. All this may be very true;
but there is something to me so shocking in the idea of this execrable
cart-whip, that I have positively forbidden the use of it on Cornwall;
and if the estate must go to rack and ruin without its use, to rack
and ruin the estate must go. Probably, I should care less about this
punishment, if I had not been living among those on whom it may be
inflicted; but now, when I am accustomed to see every face that looks
upon me, grinning from ear to ear with pleasure at my notice, and
hear every voice cry “God bless you, massa,” as I pass, one must be an
absolute brute not to feel unwilling to leave them subject to the lash;
besides, they are excellent cajolers, and lay it on with a trowel.
Nicholas and John Fuller came to me this morning to beg a favour, “and
beg massa hard, quite hard!” It was, that when massa went away, “he would
leave his picture for the negroes;” that they might talk to it, “all just
as they did to massa.” Shakspeare says--

                   “A little flattery does well sometimes!”

But, although the mode of expressing it may be artifice, the sentiment
of good-will may be shown. A dog grows attached to the person who feeds
and makes much of him; and as they have never experienced as yet any but
kind treatment from me personally, it would be against common sense and
nature to suppose that my negroes do not feel kindly towards me.



               Peter, Peter was a black boy;

                   Peter, him pull foot one day:

               Buckra girl, him * Peter’s joy;

                   Lilly white girl entice him away.

               Fye, Missy Sally, fye on you!

               Poor Blacky Peter why undo?

               Oh! Peter, Peter was a bad boy;

               Peter was a runaway.

* _The negroes never distinguish between “him” and “her” in their

               Peter, him Massa thief--Oh! fye!

                   Missy Sally, him say him do so.

               Him money spent, Sally bid him bye.

                   And from Peter away him go;

               Fye, Missy Sally, fye on you!

               Poor Blacky Peter what him do?

          Oh! Peter, Peter was a sad boy;

               Peter was a runaway!

               Peter, him go to him Massa back;

                   There him humbly own him crime:

               “Massa, forgib one poor young Black!

                   Oh! Massa, good Massa, forgib dis time!”--

                   Then in come him Missy so fine, so gay,

                   And to him Peter thus him say:

               “Oh! Missy, good Missy, you for me pray!

                   Beg Massa forgib poor runaway!”

               “Missy, you cheeks so red, so white;

                   Missy, you eyes like diamond shine I

               Missy, you Massa’s sole delight,

                   And Lilly Sally, him was mine!

               Him say--6 Come, Peter, mid me go!’--

               Could me refuse him? Could me say 6 no?’--»

               Poor Peter--‘no’ him could no say!

               So Peter, Peter ran away!”--

               Him Missy him pray; him Massa so kind

                   Was moved by him prayer, and to Peter him says

               “Well, boy, for this once I forgive you!--but mind!

                   With the buckra girls you no more go away!

               Though fair without, they’re foul within;

               Their heart is black, though white their skin.

               Then Peter, Peter with me stay;

               Peter no more run away!”--

JANUARY 21. (Sunday.)

The hospital has been crowded, since my arrival, with patients who
have nothing the matter with them. On Wednesday there were about thirty
invalids, of whom only four were cases at all serious; the rest had “a
lilly pain here, Massa,” or “a bad pain me know nowhere, Massa,” and
evidently only came to the hospital in order to sit idle, and chat away
the time with their friends. Four of them the doctor ordered into the
field peremptorily; the next day there came into the sick-house six
others; upon this I resolved to try my own hand at curing them; and
I directed the head-driver to announce, that the presents which I had
brought from England should be distributed to-day, that the new-born
children should be christened, and that the negroes might take
possession of my house, and amuse themselves till twelve at night. The
effect of my prescription was magical; two thirds of the sick were hale
and hearty, at work in the field on Saturday morning, and to-day not a
soul remained in the hospital except the four serious cases.

The christening took place about four o’clock. Sully’s infant, which
had been destined to perform a part on this occasion, had died in
the hospital; but this morning the father came to complain of his
disappointment, and to beg leave to substitute a child _by another_
wife, which had been born about two months before my arrival; and as
the father is a very serviceable fellow, and the mother, besides having
brought up three children of her own, had the additional merit of having
reared an infant whose own mother had died in child-bed, I broke through
the rule of only christening those myself who should be born since my
coming to Jamaica, and granted his request. By good luck, the first
child to be named was the offspring of Minerva and Captain; so I told
the parents that as it would be highly proper to call the boy after
the greatest Captain that the world could produce, he should be named
Wellington; and that I hoped that he would grow up to serve _me_ in
Jamaica as well as the Duke of Wellington had served his massa, the
King of England, in Europe. The Duke of Sully’s child I wanted to call
Navarre; but the father had brought over a free negro from Savannah la
Mar to stand godfather, who was his _fidus Achates_, by the name of John
Davies, and I found that he had set his heart upon calling the boy John
Lewis, after his friend and myself; so John Lewis he was.

There ought to have been a third child, born at seven months, whom
the _graundee_ had reared with great difficulty, and dismissed, quite
strong, from the hospital; the mother had taken great care of it
till the tenth day, when she was entitled to an allowance of clothes,
provisions, &c.; but no sooner had she received her reward, than on that
very night she suffered the child to remain so long without food, while
she went herself to dance on a neighbouring estate, that it was brought,
in an exhausted state, back to the hospital; and, in spite of every
care, it expired within four and twenty hours after its return.

The ceremony was performed with perfect gravity and propriety by all
parties; I thought it as well to cut the reading part of it very short;
but I read a couple of prayers, marked the foreheads of the children
with the sign of the cross, and, instead of the concluding prayer, I
substituted a wish, “that God would bless the children, and make them
live to be as good servants to me, as I prayed him to make me a kind
massa to them;” upon which all present very gravely made me their lowest
bows and courtesies, and then gave me a loud huzza; so unusual a mode
of approbation at a christening that it had nearly overturned my
seriousness; and I made haste to serve out Madeira to the parents and
assistants, that they might drink the healths of the new Christians and
of each other. The mothers and the _graindee_ were then called up to
the table, and the ladies in a family way were arranged behind them.

_Their_ title in Jamaica is rather coarse, but very expressive. I asked
Cubina one day “who was that woman with a basket on her head?”

“Massa,” he answered, “that one belly-woman going to sell provisions
at the Bay.” As she was going to sell _provisions_, I supposed that
_belly_-woman was the name of her trade; but it afterwards appeared that
she was one of those females who had given in their names as being then
labouring under

               “The pleasing punishment which women bear;”

and who, in consequence, were discharged from all severe labour. I then
gave the _graundee_ and the mothers a dollar each, and told them, that
for the future they might claim the same sum, in addition to their usual
allowance of clothes and provisions, for every infant which should be
brought to the overseer alive and well on the fourteenth day; and I also
gave each mother a present of a scarlet girdle with a silver medal in
the centre, telling her always to wear it on feasts and holidays, when
it should entitle her to marks of peculiar respect and attention, such
as being one of the first served, and receiving a larger portion than
the rest; that the _first_ fault which she might commit, should be
forgiven on the production of this girdle; and that when she should
have any favour to ask, she should always put it round her waist, and
be assured, that on seeing it, the overseer would allow the wearer to
be entitled to particular indulgence. On every additional child an
additional medal is to be affixed to the belt, and precedence is to
follow the greater number of medals. I expected that this notion of
an order of honour would have been treated as completely fanciful and
romantic; but to my great surprise, my manager told me, that “he never
knew a dollar better bestowed than the one which formed the medal of the
girdle, and that he thought the institution likely to have a very good

Immediately after the christening the Eboe drums were produced, and in
defiance of Sunday the negroes had the irreverence to be gay and happy,
while the presents were getting in order for distribution. All the men
got jackets, the women seven yards of stuff each for petticoats, &c.,
and the children as much printed cotton as would make a couple of
frocks. The Creoles were delighted beyond measure when some of the
African male negroes exclaimed, “Tank, massa,” and made a low courtesy
in the confusion of their gratitude. As they were all called to receive
their presents alphabetically in pairs, some of the combinations were
very amusing. We had Punch and Plato, Priam and Pam, Hemp and Hercules,
and Minerva and Moll come together. By twelve they dispersed, and I went
to bed, as usual on these occasions, with a violent headach.


While I was at dinner, a violent uproar was heard below stairs. On
enquiry, it proved to be Cubina, quarrelling with his niece Phillis
(a goodlooking black girl employed about the house), about a broken
pitcher; and as her explanation did not appear satisfactory to him,
he had thought proper to give her a few boxes on the ear. Upon hearing
this, I read him such a lecture upon the baseness of a man’s striking a
woman, and told him with so much severity that his heart must be a bad
one to commit such an offence, that poor Cubina, having never heard a
harsh word from me before, scarcely knew whether he stood upon his head
or his heels. When he afterwards brought my coffee, he expressed his
sorrow for having offended me, and begged my pardon in the most humble
manner. I told him, that to obtain mine, he must first obtain that
of Phillis, and he immediately declared himself ready to make her any
apology that I might dictate. So the girl was called in; and her uncle
going up to her, “I am very sorry, Phillis,” said he, “that I gave way
to high passion, and called you hard names, and struck you: which I
ought not to have done while massa was in the house;” (here I was going
to interrupt him, but he was too clever not to perceive his blunder, and
made haste to add) “nor if he had _not_ been here, nor at all; so I hope
you will have the kindness to forgive me this once, and I never will
strike you again, and so I beg your pardon.” And he then put out his
hand to her in the most frank and hearty manner imaginable; and on
her accepting it, made her three or four of his very lowest and most
graceful bows. I furnished him with a piece of money to give her as a
peace-offering; they left the room thoroughly reconciled, and in five
minutes after they and the rest of the servants were all chattering,
laughing, and singing together, in the most perfect harmony and
good-humour. I suppose, if I had desired an upper servant in England to
make the same submission, he would have preferred quitting my service to
doing what he would have called “humbling himself to an inferior;” or,
if he had found himself compelled to give way, he would have been sulky
with the girl, and found fault with every thing that she did in the
house for a twelvemonth after.

On the other hand, there are some choice ungrateful scoundrels among
the negroes: on the night of their first dance, a couple of sheep
disappeared from the pen, although they could not have been taken
from want of food, as on that very morning there had been an ample
distribution of fresh beef; and last night another sheep and a quantity
of poultry followed them. Yesterday, too, a young rascal of a boy called
“massa Jackey,” who is in the frequent habit of running away for months
at a time, and whom I had distinguished from the cleverness of his
countenance and buffoonery of his manners, came to beg my permission
to go and purchase food with some money which I had just given him,
“because he was almost starving; his parents were dead, he had no
provision-grounds, no allowance, and nobody ever gave him anything.”
 Upon this I sent Cubina with the boy to the storekeeper, when it
appeared that he had always received a regular allowance of provisions
twice a week, which he generally sold, as well as his clothes, at the
Bay, for spirits; had received an additional portion only last Friday;
and, into the bargain, during the whole of that week had been fed from
the house. What he could propose to himself by telling a lie which must
be so soon detected, I cannot conceive; but I am assured, that unless a
negro has an interest in telling the truth, he always lies--in order to
keep his tongue in practice.

One species of flattery (or of _Congo-saw_, as we call it here) amused
me much this morning: an old woman who is in the hospital wanted to
express her gratitude for some stewed fish which I had sent her for
supper, and, instead of calling me “massa,” she always said--“Tank him,
_my husband_.”


This was a day of perpetual occupation. I rose at six o’clock, and went
down to the Bay to settle some business; on my return I visited the
hospital while breakfast was getting ready; and as soon as it was over,
I went down to the negro-houses to hear the whole body of Eboes lodge a
complaint against one of the book-keepers, and appoint a day for their
being heard in his presence. On my return to the house, I found two
women belonging to a neighbouring estate, who came to complain of cruel
treatment from their overseer, and to request me to inform their trustee
how ill they had been used, and see their injuries redressed. They said,
that having been ill in the hospital, and ordered to the field while
they were still too weak to work, they had been flogged with much
severity (though not beyond the limits of the law); and my head driver,
who was less scrupulously delicate than myself as to ocular inspection
of Juliet’s person (which Juliet, to do her justice, was perfectly ready
to submit to in proof of her assertions), told me, that the woman had
certainly suffered greatly; the other, whose name was Delia, was
but just recovering from a miscarriage, and declared openly that the
overseer’s conduct had been such, that nothing should have prevented her
running away long ago if she could but have had the heart to abandon
a child which she had on the estate. Both were poor feeble-looking
creatures, and seemed very unfit subjects for any severe correction. I
promised to write to their trustee; and, as they were afraid of being
punished on their return home for having thrown themselves on my
protection, I wrote a note to the overseer, requesting that the women
might remain quite unmolested till the trustee’s arrival, which was
daily expected; and, with this note and a present of cocoa-fingers and
salt fish, Delia and Juliet departed, apparently much comforted.

They were succeeded by no less a personage than _Venus_ herself--a poor,
little, sickly, timid soul, who had purchased her freedom from my
father by substituting in her place a fine stout black wench, who, being
Venus’s _locum tenens_, was, by courtesy, called Venus, too, though her
right name was “Big Joan;” but, by some neglect of the then attorney,
Venus had never received any title, and she now came to beg “massa
so good as give paper;” otherwise she was still, to all intents and
purposes, my slave, and I might still have compelled her to work,
although, at the same time, her substitute was on the estate. Of course,
I promised the paper required, and engaged to act the part of a second
Vulcan by releasing Venus from my chains: but the paper was not the only
thing that Venus wanted; she also wanted a petticoat! She told me, that
when the presents were distributed on Sunday, the petticoat, which she
would otherwise have had, was, of course, “given to the _other_ Venus;”
 and though, to be sure, she was free now, yet, “when she belonged to
massa, she had always worked for him well,” and “she was quite as glad
to see massa as the other Venus,” and, therefore, “ought to have quite
as much petticoat.” I tried to convince her, that for Venus to wear a
petticoat of blue durant, or, indeed, any petticoat at all, would be
quite unclassical: the goddess of beauty stuck to her point, and finally
carried off the petticoat.

Venus had scarcely evacuated the premises, when her place was occupied
by the minister of Savannah la Mar, with proposals for instructing the
negroes in religion; and the minister, in his turn, was replaced by one
of the Sunday-night thieves, who had been caught while in the actual
possession of one of my sheep and a great turkey-cock; and, to make the
matter worse, the depredator’s name was Hercules! Hercules, whom Virgil
states to have exercised so much severity on Cacus, when his own oxen
were stolen, was taken up himself for stealing my sheep in Jamaica! The
demi-god had nothing to say in his excuse: he had just received a large
allowance of beef:--therefore, hunger had no share in his transgression;
and the committing the offence during the very time that I was giving
the negroes a festival, rendered his ingratitude the more flagrant.

I perfectly well understood that the man was sent to me by my agent,
in order to show the absolute necessity of sometimes employing the
cart-whip, and to see whether I would suffer the fellow to escape
unpunished. But, as this was the first offender who had been brought
before me, I took that for a pretext to absolve him: so I lectured
him for half an hour with great severity, swore that on the very next
offence I would order him to be sold; and that if he would not do his
fair proportion of work without being lashed, he should be sent to
work somewhere else; for I would suffer no such worthless fellows on my
estate, and would not be at the expense of a cart-whip to correct him.
He promised most earnestly to behave better in future, and Hercules was
suffered to depart: but I am told that no good can be expected of him;
that he is perpetually running away; and that he had been absent for
five weeks together before my arrival, and only returned home upon
hearing that there was a distribution of beef, rum, and jackets going
forward; in return for all which, he stole my sheep and my poor great

But now came the most puzzling business of the day. About four years
ago, two Eboes, called Pickle and Edward, were rivals, after being
intimate friends: Pickle (who is an excellent faithful negro, but not
very wise) was the successful candidate; and, of course, the friendship
was interrupted, till Edward married the sister of the disputed fair
one. From this time the brothers-in-law lived in perfect harmony
together; but, during the first festival given on my arrival, Pickle’s
house was broken open, and robbed of all his clothes, &c. The thief was
sought for, but in vain. On Monday last I found Pickle in the hospital,
complaining of a pain in his side; and the blood, which had been taken
from him, gave reason to apprehend a pleurisy arising from cold; but, as
the disorder had been taken in its earliest stage, nothing dangerous
was expected. The fever abated; the medicines performed their offices
properly; still the man’s spirits and strength appeared to decline, and
he persisted in saying that he was not better, and should never do
well. At length, to-day, he got out of his sick bed, came to the house,
attended by the whole body of drivers, and accused his brother-in-law
of having been the stealer of his goods. I asked, “Had Edward been seen
near his house? Had any of his effects been seen in Edward’s possession?
Did Edward refuse to suffer his hut to be searched?” No. Edward, who was
present, pressed for the most strict scrutiny, and asserted his perfect
ignorance; nor could the accuser advance any grounds for the charge,
except his belief of Edward’s guilt. “Why did he think so?” After
much beating about the bush, at length out came the real _causa
doloris_--“Edward had _Obeahed_ him!” He had accused Edward of breaking
open his house, and had begged him to help him to his goods again; and
“Edward had gone at midnight into the bush” (i. e. the wood), and “had
gathered the plant whangra, which he had boiled in an iron pot, by
a fire of leaves, over which he went pufij puffie!” and said the
sautee-sautee; and then had cut the whangra root into four pieces, three
to bury at the plantation gates, and one to burn; and to each of these
three pieces he gave the name of a Christian, one of which was Daniel,
and Edward had said, that this would help him to find his goods; but
instead of that, he had immediately felt this pain in his side, and
therefore he was sure that, instead of using Obeah to find his goods,
Edward had used it to kill himself. “And were these all his reasons?” I
enquired. “No; when he married, Edward was very angry at the loss of
his mistress, and had said that they never would live well and happily
together; and they never _had_ lived happily and well together.”

This last argument quite got the better of my gravity. By parity of
reasoning, I thought that almost every married couple in Great Britain
must be under the influence of Obeah! I endeavoured to convince the
fellow of his folly and injustice, especially as the person accused was
the identical man who had detected the Obeah priest harboured in one
of my negro huts last year, had seized him with his own hands, and
delivered him up to my agent, who had prosecuted and transported him. It
was, therefore, improbable in the highest degree, that he should be an
Obeah man himself; and all the bystanders, black and white, joined me in
ridiculing Pickle for complaints so improbable and childish. But anger,
argument, and irony were all ineffectual. I offered to christen him, and
expel black Obeah by white, but in vain; the fellow persisted in saying,
that “he had a pain in his side, and, _therefore_, Edward must have
given it to him;” and he went back to his hospital, shaking his head all
the way, sullen and unconvinced. He is a young strong negro, perfectly
well disposed, and doing his due portion of work willingly; and it
will be truly provoking to lose him by the influence of this foolish


I sent for Edward, had him alone with me for above two hours, and
pressed him most earnestly to confide in me. I gave him a dollar to
convince him of my good-will towards him; assured him that whatever
he might tell me should remain a secret between us; said, that I was
certain of his not having used any poison, or done any thing really
mischievous; but as I suspected him of having played some monkey-tricks
or other, which, however harmless in themselves, had evidently operated
dangerously upon Pickle’s imagination, I begged him to tell me precisely
what had passed, in order that I might counteract its baleful effects.
In reply, Edward swore to me most solemnly, “by the great God Almighty,
who lives above the clouds,” that he never had used any such practices:
that he had never gone into the wood to gather whangra; and that he had
considered Pickle, from the moment of his own marriage, as his brother,
and had always, till then, loved him as such. His eyes filled with tears
while he protested that he should be as sorry for Pickle’s death as if
it were himself; and he complained bitterly of having the ill name of
an Obeah man given to him, which made him feared and shunned by his
companions, and entirely without cause. But he said that he was certain
that Pickle would never have suspected him of such a crime, if a third
person had not put it into his head. There is a negro on my estate
called Adam, who has been long and strongly suspected of having
connections with Obeah men. When Edward was quite young, he was under
this fellow’s superintendence, and he now assured me, that Adam had
not only endeavoured to draw him into similar practices, but had even
pressed him very earnestly to lay a magical egg under the door of a
book-keeper whose conduct had been obnoxious. Edward had positively
refused: from that moment his superintendent, from being his protector,
had become his enemy, had shown him spite upon every occasion; and he it
was, he had no doubt, who, for the purpose of injuring him, had put this
foolish notion into Pickle’s head.

Upon enquiry it appeared, that on the very morning succeeding Pickle’s
entering the hospital, this suspected man had gone there also, on
pretence of sickness, and had remained there to watch the invalid;
although it was so evident that nothing was the matter with him, that
the doctor had frequently ordered him to the field, but the man had
always found means for evading the order. The first thing that we now
did was to turn him out of the sick-house, neck and heels; I then
took Edward with me to Pickle’s bedside, where the former told his
brother-in-law, that if he had ever done any thing to offend him, he
heartily begged his pardon; that he swore by the Almighty God that
he had never been in the bush to hurt him, nor any where else; on the
contrary, that he had always loved him, and wished him well; and that he
now begged him to be friends with him again, to forget and forgive all
former quarrels, and to accept the hand which he offered him in all
sincerity. The sick man also confessed, that he had always loved Edward
as his brother, had “eaten and drunk with him for many years with
perfect good-will,” and that it was his ingratitude for such affection
which vexed him more than any thing. On this I told him, that I insisted
upon their being good friends for the future, and that I should never
hear the word Obeah, or any such nonsense, mentioned on my estate,
on pain of my extreme displeasure. I promised that, as soon as Pickle
should be quite recovered, I would buy for him exactly a set of such
things as had been stolen from him; that Edward should bring them to his
house, to show that he had rather give him things than take them away;
and I then desired to see them shake hands. They did so, with much
apparent cordiality; Edward then went back to his work; and this
evening, when I sent him a dish from my table, Pickle desired the
servant to tell me, that he had hardly any fever, and felt “_quite so
so_,” which, in the negro dialect, means “a great deal better.” I begin,
therefore, to hope that we shall save the foolish fellow’s life at last,
which, at one time, appeared to be in great jeopardy.

There was a great dinner and ball for the whole county given to-day at
Montego Bay, to which I was invited; but I begged leave to decline this
and all other invitations, being determined to give up my whole time to
my negroes during my stay in Jamaica.


Every morning my agent regales me with some fresh instance of
insubordination: he says nothing plainly, but shakes his head, and
evidently gives me to understand, that the estate cannot be governed
properly without the cart-whip. It seems that this morning, the women,
one and all, refused to carry away the _trash_ (which is one of the
easiest tasks that can be set), and that without the slightest pretence:
in consequence, the mill was obliged to be stopped; and when the driver
on that station insisted on their doing their duty, a little fierce
young devil of a Miss Whaunica flew at his throat, and endeavoured to
strangle him: the agent was obliged to be called in, and, at length,
this petticoat rebellion was subdued, and every thing went on as usual.
I have, in consequence, assured the women, that since they will not be
managed by fair treatment, I must have recourse to other measures; and
that, if any similar instance of misconduct should take place, I was
determined, on my return from Kingston, to sell the most refractory,
ship myself immediately for England, and never return to them and
Jamaica more. This threat, at the time, seemed to produce a great
effect; all hands were clasped, and all voices were raised, imploring me
not to leave them, and assuring me, that in future they would do their
work quietly and willingly. But whether the impression will last beyond
the immediate moment is a point greatly to be doubted.


Another morning, with the mill stopped, no liquor in the boiling-house,
and no work done. The driver brought the most obstinate and insolent of
the women to be lectured by me; and I bounced and stormed for half
an hour with all my might and main, especially at Whaunica, whose
ingratitude was peculiar; as she is the wife of Edward, the Eboe, whom
I had been protecting against the charge of theft and Obeahism, and had
shown him more than usual kindness. They, at last, appeared to be very
penitent and ashamed of themselves, and engaged never to behave ill
again, if I would but forgive them this present fault; Whaunica, in
particular, assuring me very earnestly, that I never should have cause
to accuse her of “bad manners” again; for, in negro dialect, ingratitude
is always called “bad manners.” My agent declares, that they never
conducted themselves so ill before; that they worked cheerfully and
properly till my arrival; but now they think that I shall protect them
against all punishment, and have made regularly ten hogsheads of sugar
a week less than they did before my coming upon the estate. This is the
more provoking, as, by delaying the conclusion of the crop, the latter
part of it may be driven into the rainy season, and then the labour
is infinitely more severe both for the slaves and the cattle, and more
detrimental to their health.

The minister of Savannah la Mar has shown me a plan for the religious
instruction of the negroes, which was sent to him by the ecclesiastical
commissaries at Kingston. It consisted but of two points: against the
first (which recommended the slaves being _ordered_ to go to church on
a Sunday) I positively declared myself. Sunday is now the absolute
property of the negroes for their relaxation, as Saturday is for the
cultivation of their grounds; and I will not suffer a single hour of it
to be taken from them for any purpose whatever. If my slaves choose to
go to church on Sundays, so much the better; but not one of them shall
be _ordered_ to do one earthly thing on Sundays, but that which he
chooses himself. The second article recommended occasional pastoral
visits of the minister to the different estates; and in this respect I
promised to give him every facility--although I greatly doubt any good
effect being produced by a few short visits, at considerable intervals,
on the minds of ignorant creatures, to whom no palpable and immediate
benefit is offered. It appears, indeed, to me, that the only means of
giving the negroes morality and religion must be through the medium of
education, and their being induced to read such books in the minister’s
absence as may recall to their thoughts what they have heard from him;
otherwise, he may talk for an hour, and they will have understood but
little--and remember nothing. There is not a single negro among my whole
three hundred who can read a line; and what I suppose to be wanted
on West-Indian estates is not an importation of missionaries, but of
schoolmasters on Dr. Bell’s plan, if it could by any means be introduced
here with effect. However, in the mean while I told the minister, that
I was perfectly well inclined to have every measure tried that might
enlighten the minds of the negroes, provided it did not interfere with
their own hours of leisure, and were not compulsory. I mentioned to
him a plan for commencing his instructions under the most favourable
auspices, of which he seemed to approve; and he has promised to make
occasional visits on my estate during my absence, which may do good and
can do no harm; and, even should it fail to make the negroes religious,
will, at least, add another humane inspector to my list. Soon after the
minister’s departure, John Fuller came to repair one of the windows. Now
John is in great disgrace with me in one respect. Instead of having a
wife on the estate, he keeps one at the Bay, so that his children will
not belong to me. Phillis, too, who formerly lived with John, says, that
she parted with him, because he threw away all his money upon the Bay
girls; though John asserts that the cause of separation was his catching
the false Phillis coming out of one of the book-keepers’ bedrooms.

However, it is certain, that now his connections are all at the Bay; and
I have assured him, that if he does not provide himself with a wife at
Cornwall, before my return from Kingston, I will put him up to auction,
and call the girls together to bid for him, one offering half a dozen
yams, and another a bit of salt fish; and the highest bidder shall carry
him off as her property. But to-day, as he came into the room just as
the minister left it, I told him that Dr. Pope was coming to give the
negroes some instruction; and that he had left part of a catechism for
him, which he was to get by heart against his next visit. John promised
to study it diligently, and went off to get it read to him by one of the
book-keepers. Several of his companions came to hear it from curiosity,
and the book-keeper read aloud:--

                   “John Fuller is gone to the Bay, boys,

                   On the girls to spend his cash;

                   And when John Fuller comes home, boys,

                   John Fuller deserves the lash.”

So John went away shaking his head, and saying, “Massa had told him,
that the minister had left that paper to make him a better Christian.
But he was certain that the minister had nothing to do with that, and
that massa had made it all himself about the Bay girls.”

JANUARY 28. (Sunday.)

I shall have enough to do in Jamaica if I accept all the offices that
are pressed upon me. A large body of negroes, from a neighbouring
estate, came over to Cornwall this morning, to complain of hard
treatment, in various ways, from their overseer and drivers, and
requesting me to represent their injuries to their trustee here, and
their proprietor in England. The charges were so strong, that I am
certain that they must be fictitious; however, I listened to their story
with patience; promised that the trustee (whom I was to see in a few
days) should know their complaint;--and they went away apparently
satisfied. Then came a runaway negro, who wanted to return home, and
requested me to write a few lines to his master, to save him from the
lash. He was succeeded by a poor creature named Bessie, who, although
still a young woman, is dispensed with from labour, on account of her
being afflicted with the _cocoa-bay_, one of the most horrible of negro
diseases. It shows itself in large blotches and swellings, and which
generally, by degrees, moulder away the joints of the toes and fingers,
till they rot and drop off; sometimes as much as half a foot will go at
once. As the disease is communicable by contact, the person so afflicted
is necessarily shunned by society; and this poor woman, who is married
to John Fuller, one of the best young men on the estate, and by whom she
has had four children (although they are all dead), has for some time
been obliged to live separated from him, lest he should be destroyed by
contracting the same complaint. She now came to tell me, that she wanted
a blanket, “for that the cold killed her of nights;” cold being that
which negroes dislike most, and from which most of their illnesses
arise. Of course she got her blanket; then she said, that she wanted
medicine for her complaint. “Had not the doctor seen her?”

“Oh, yes! Dr. Goodwin; but the white doctor could do her no good.
She wanted to go to a black doctor, named Ormond, who belonged to
a neighbouring gentleman.” I told her, that if this black doctor
understood her particular disease better than others, certainly she
should go to him; but that if he pretended to cure her by charms or
spells, or any thing but medicine, I should desire his master to
cure the black doctor by giving him the punishment proper for such an
impostor. Upon this Bessie burst into tears, and said “that Ormond was
not an Obeah man, and that she had suffered too much by Obeah men to
wish to have any more to do with them. She had made Adam her enemy by
betraying him, when he had attempted to poison the former attorney; he
had then cursed her, and wished that she might never be hearty again:
and from that very time her complaint had declared itself; and her poor
pickaninies had all died away, one after another; and she was sure that
it was Adam who had done all this mischief by Obeah.” Upon this, I put
myself in a great rage, and asked her “how she could believe that God
would suffer a low wicked fellow like Adam to make good people die,
merely because he wished them dead?”

“She did not know; she knew nothing about God; had never heard of any
such Being, nor of any other world.” I told her, that God was a great
personage, “who lived up yonder above the blue, in a place full of
pleasures and free from pains, where Adam and wicked people could not
come; that her pickaninies were not dead for ever, but were only gone up
to live with God, who was good, and would take care of them for her; and
that if she were good, when she died, she too would go up to God above
the blue, and see all her four pickaninies again.” The idea seemed so
new and so agreeable, to the poor creature, that she clapped her hands
together, and began laughing for joy; so I said to her every thing that
I could imagine likely to remove her prejudice; told her that I should
make it a crime even so much as to mention the word Obeah on the estate;
and that, if any negro from that time forward should be proved to have
accused another of Obeahing him, or of telling another that he had been
Obeahed, he should forfeit his share of the next present of salt-fish,
which I meant soon to distribute among the slaves, and should never
receive any favour from me in future; so I gave Bessie a piece of money,
and she seemed to go away in better spirits than she came.

This Adam, of whom she complained, is a most dangerous fellow, and the
terror of all his companions, with whom he lives in a constant state
of warfare. He is a creole, born on my own property, and has several
sisters, who have obtained their freedom, and are in every respect
creditable and praiseworthy; and to one of whom I consider myself as
particularly indebted, as she was the means of saving poor Richard’s
life, when the tyranny of the overseer had brought him almost to the
brink of the grave. But this brother is in every thing the very reverse
of his sisters: there is no doubt of his having (as Bessie stated)
infused poison into the water-jars through spite against the late
superintendent. It was this same fellow whom Edward suspected of
having put into his brother-in-law’s head the idea of his having been
bewitched; and it was also in his hut that the old Obeah man was found
concealed, whom my attorney seized and transported last year. He is,
unfortunately, clever and plausible; and I am told that the mischief
which he has already done, by working upon the folly and superstition of
his fellows, is incalculable; yet I cannot get rid of him: the law will
not suffer any negro to be shipped off the island, until he shall have
been convicted of felony at the sessions; I cannot sell him, for nobody
would buy him, nor even accept him, if I would offer them so dangerous
a present; if he were to go away, the law would seize him, and bring him
back to me, and I should be obliged to pay heavily for his re-taking
and his maintenance in the workhouse. In short, I know not what I can do
with him, except indeed make a Christian of him! This might induce the
negroes to believe, that he had lost his infernal power by the superior
virtue of the holy water; but, perhaps he may refuse to be christened.
However, I will at least ask him the question; and if he consents, I
will send him--and a couple of dollars--to the clergyman--for he shall
not have so great a distinction as baptism from massa’s own hand--and
see what effect “white Obeah” will have in removing the terrors of this
professor of the black.

As to my sick Obeah patient, Pickle, from the moment of his
reconciliation with his brother-inlaw he began to mend, and has
recovered with wonderful rapidity: the fellow seems _really_ grateful
for the pains which I have taken about him; and our difficulty now is
to prevent his fancying himself too soon able to quit the hospital, so
eager is he to return “to work for massa.”

There are certainly many excellent qualities in the negro character;
their worst faults appear to be, this prejudice respecting Obeah, and
the facility with which they are frequently induced to poison to the
right hand and to the left. A neighbouring gentleman, as I hear, has now
three negroes in prison, all domestics, and one of them grown grey in
his service, for poisoning him with corrosive sublimate; his brother
was actually killed by similar means; yet I am assured that both of them
were reckoned men of great humanity. Another agent, who appears to be in
high favour with the negroes whom he now governs, was obliged to quit an
estate, from the frequent attempts to poison him; and a person against
whom there is no sort of charge alleged for tyranny, after being brought
to the doors of death by a cup of coffee, only escaped a second time by
his civility, in giving the beverage, prepared for himself to two young
book-keepers, to both of whom it proved fatal. It, indeed, came out,
afterwards, that this crime was also effected by the abominable belief
in Obeah: the woman, who mixed the draught, had no idea of its being
poison; but she had received the deleterious ingredients from an Obeah
man, as “a charm to make her massa good to her;” by which the negroes
mean, the compelling a person to give another every thing for which that
other may ask him.

Next to this vile trick of poisoning people (arising, doubtless, in a
great measure, from their total want of religion, and their ignorance
of a future state, which makes them dread no punishment hereafter for
themselves, and look with but little respect on human life in others),
the greatest drawback upon one’s comfort in a Jamaica existence seems to
me to be the being obliged to live perpetually in public. Certainly, if
a man was desirous of leading a life of vice _here_, he must have set
himself totally above shame, for he may depend upon every thing done
by him being seen and known. The houses are absolutely transparent; the
walls are nothing but windows--and all the doors stand wide open. No
servants are in waiting to announce arrivals: visiters, negroes, dogs,
cats, poultry, all walk in and out, and up and down your living-rooms,
without the slightest ceremony.

Even the Temple of Cloacina (which, by the bye, is here very elegantly
spoken of generally as “_The_ Temple,”) is as much latticed and as
pervious to the eye as any other part of my premises; and many a time
has my delicacy been put to the blush by the ill-timed civility of some
old woman or other, who, wandering that way, and happening to cast her
eye to the left, has stopped her course to curtsy very gravely, and pay
me the passing compliment of an “Ah, massa! bless you, massa! how day?”


I find that Bessie’s black doctor is really nothing more than a
professor of medicine as to this particular disease; and I have ordered
her to be sent to him in the mountains immediately. Several gentlemen
of the county dined with me to-day, and when they left me, one of the
carriages contrived to get overturned, and the right shoulder of one of
the gentlemen was dislocated. Luckily, it happened close to the house;
and as the physician who attends my estate had dined with me also, a
boy, on a mule, was despatched after him with all haste. He was soon
with us, the bone was replaced with perfect ease, and this morning the
patient left me with every prospect of finding no bad effects whatever
from his accident.

We had at dinner a land tortoise and a barbecued pig, two of the best
and richest dishes that I ever tasted;--the latter, in particular--which
was dressed in the true maroon fashion, being placed on a barbecue (a
frame of wicker-work, through whose interstices the steam can ascend),
filled with peppers and spices of the highest flavour, wrapt in plantain
leaves, and then buried in a hole filled with hot stones, by whose
vapour it is baked, no particle of the juice being thus suffered to
evaporate. I have eaten several other good Jamaica dishes, but none so
excellent as this, a large portion of which was transferred to the most
infirm patients in the hospital. Perhaps an English physician would have
felt every hair of his wig bristle upon his head with astonishment, at
hearing me ask, this morning, a woman in a fever, how her bark and
her barbe cued pig had agreed with her. But, with negroes, I find that
feeding the sick upon stewed fish and pork, highly seasoned, produces
the very best effects possible.

Some of the fruits here are excellent, such as shaddocks, oranges,
granadelloes, forbidden fruit; and one between an orange and a lemon,
called “the grape or cluster fruit,” appears to me quite delicious. For
the vegetables, I cannot say so much, yams, plantains, cocoa poyers,
yam-poys, bananas, &c. look and taste all so much alike, that I scarcely
know one from the other: they are all something between bread and
potatoes, not so good as either, and I am quite tired of them all. The
Lima Bean is said to be more like a pea than a bean, but whatever it be
like, it appeared to me very indifferent. As to peas themselves, nothing
can be worse. The achie fruit is a kind of vegetable, which generally
is fried in butter; many people, I am told, are fond of it, but I could
find no merit in it. The palm-tree (or abba, as it is called here)
produces a long scarlet or reddish brown cone, which separates into
beads, each of which contains a roasting nut surrounded by a kind of
stringy husk--which, being boiled in salt and water, upon being chewn
has a taste of artichoke, but the consistence is very disagreeable. The
only native vegetable, which I like much, is the ochra, which tastes
like asparagus, though not with quite so delicate a flavour.

As to fish, the variety is endless; but I think it rather consists in
variety of names than of flavour. From this, however, I must except the
Silk-Fish and Mud-Fish, and above all, the Mountain-Mullet, which is
almost the best fish that I ever tasted. All the shell-fish, that I have
met with as yet, have been excellent; the oysters have not come, in
my way, but I am told that they are not only poor and insipid, but
frequently are so poisonous that I had better not venture upon them; and
so ends this chapter of the “Almanach des Gourmands” for Jamaica.


There were above twenty ladies literally at my feet this morning. I went
down to the negro-village to speak to Bessie about going to her black
doctor; and all the refractory females of last week heard of my being
there, and came in a body to promise better conduct for the future, and
implore me not to go away. The sight of my carriage getting ready to
take me to Kingston, and the arrival of post-horses, had alarmed them
with the idea that I was really going to put my threats into execution
of leaving them for ever. They had artfully enough prevailed on the
wife of Clifford (the driver whom Whannica had collared) to be their
spokes-woman; and they begged, and lifted up their folded hands, and
cried, and fell on the ground, and kissed my feet--and, in short, acted
their part so well, that they almost made me act mine to perfection, and
fall to blubbering. I told them, that I certainly should go to Kingston
on Thursday; but if I had good accounts of them during my absence, I
should return in a few days;--if, on the contrary, the idle negroes
continued to refuse to work without compulsion, then, in justice to
the good ones (who last week were obliged to do more than their share),
those punishments, which I had stopped, must be resumed;--but that, as
Cornwall would be unsupportable to me, if I could not live there without
hearing the crack of the abominable cart-whip all day long, I would not
return to it, but ship myself off for England, and never visit them or
Jamaica any more. And then I talked very sternly and positively about
“punishments” and “making bad negroes do their work properly,” and every
third word was the cart-whip, till I almost fancied myself the princess
in the “Fairy Tale,” who never opened her mouth, but out came two toads
and three couple of serpents. However, to sweeten my oration a little at
the end, I told them, that, “having enquired closely into the characters
of the present book-keepers, I had found no charge against any of them
except one, who was accused of having occasionally struck a negro, of
using bad language to them, and of being a hasty passionate man, though
in other respects very serviceable to the estate. But although these
faults were but trifling, and some of them not proved, so determined
was I to show that I would suffer no white person on the estate who
maltreated the negroes, either by word or deed, that I had determined to
make an example of him for the warning of the rest; and accordingly had
dismissed him this morning.”

The man in question (by his own account) had made himself obnoxious to
them; and on hearing of his discharge, they, one and all, sprawled upon
the ground in such a rapture of joy and gratitude, that now I may safely
say with Sir Andrew Aguecheek, “I was adored once!”

The book-keeper had denied positively the charge of striking the
negroes, and ascribed it to the revenge of the Eboe Edward, whom he had
detected in cutting out part of a boiling-house window, in order that he
might pass out stolen sugar unperceived; for, to do the negroes justice,
it is a doubt whether they are the greatest thieves or liars, and the
quantity of sugar which they purloin during the crop, and dispose of at
the Bay for a mere trifle, is enormous. However, whether the charge
of striking were true or not, it was sufficiently proved that this
book-keeper was a passionate man, and he said himself, “that the negroes
had conceived a spite against him,” which alone were reasons enough for
removing him. Indeed, I had the less scruple from the slight nature of
his offence making it easy for him to find another situation; and I
have besides desired him to stay out his quarter on the estate, and
then receive a double salary on going away, which will free him from any
charge of having been dismissed disgracefully.


I went to enquire after my petitioners Juliet and Delia, and had the
satisfaction to find that the trustee had enquired into their complaint;
and, as it appeared not to be entirely unfounded, he had done every
thing that was right and necessary. Aberdeen, too, the runaway cooper,
who had applied to me to obtain his pardon, had been suffered to return
to his work unpunished; and as it had been found that his flight had in
a great measure been occasioned by his being in a bad state of health,
which rendered him apprehensive of being put to labour beyond his
strength, he had been permitted to select his own occupation, which,
of course, was the easiest one in his trade. But I found it a more
difficult matter to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the charges
brought to me on Sunday last: the books positively contradicted them,
but the register might have been falsely kept; and as the negroes
persisted most positively in their complaint against the overseer
(particularly as to his having curtailed them of the legal allowance of
time for their meals, and the cultivation of their own grounds) with the
concurrence of the trustee, I wrote to the magistrates of the county,
desiring that they would summon the negroes in question before a
council of protection, and examine into the injuries of which they had
complained to me.

FEBRUARY 1. (Thursday.)

I left Cornwall for Spanish Town at six in the morning, accompanied by
a young naval officer, the son of my next neighbour, Mr. Hill of Amity,
who not only was good enough to lend me a kittereen, with a canopy, to
perform my journey, but his son to be my _cicerone_ on my tour. The
road wound through mountain passes, or else on a shelf of rock so
narrow--though without the slightest danger--that one of the wheels was
frequently in the sea, while my other side was fenced by a line of bold
broken cliffs, clothed with trees completely from their brows down to
the very edge of the water. Between eight and nine we reached a solitary
tavern, called Blue-fields, where the horses rested for a couple of
hours. It had a very pretty garden on the sea-shore, which contained
a picturesque cottage, exactly resembling an ornamental Hermitage; and
leaning against one of the pillars of its porch we found a young girl,
who exactly answered George Colman’s description of Yarico, “quite
brown, but extremely genteel, like a Wedgewood teapot.” She told us that
she was a Spanish creole, who had fled with her mother from the disputes
between the royalists and independents in the island of Old Providence;
and the owner of the tavern being a relation of her mother, he had
permitted the fugitives to establish themselves in his garden-cottage,
till the troubles of their own country should be over. She talked
perfectly good English, for she said that there were many of that nation
established in Providence. Her name was Antonietta. Her figure was light
and elegant; her black eyes mild and bright; her countenance intelligent
and good-humoured; and her teeth beautiful to perfection: altogether,
Antonietta was by far the handsomest creole that I have ever seen.

From Blue-fields we proceeded at once to Lakovia (a small village), a
stage of thirty miles. Here we found a relay of horses, which conveyed
us by seven o’clock to “the Gutturs;” a house belonging to the
proprietor of the post-horses, and which is situated at the very foot of
the tremendous May-day Mountains. The house is an excellent one, and we
found good beds, eatables, and, in short, every thing that travellers
could wish. The distance from Lakovia to “the Gutturs” is sixteen miles.


Yesterday the only very striking point of view (although the whole of
the road was picturesque) was “the Cove,” situated between Blue-fields
and Lakovia, and which resembled the most beautiful of the views of
coves to be found in “Cook’s Voyages,” but our journey to-day was a
succession of beautiful scenes, from beginning to end. Instantly on
leaving “the Gutturs,” we began to ascend the May-day Mountains, and it
was not till after travelling for five and twenty miles, that we found
ourselves at the foot of them on the other side, at a place called
Williamsfield, about twelve miles from the toll-house, where we rested
for the night. To be sure, the road was so rough, that it was enough to
make one envy the Mahometan women, who, having no souls at all, could
not possibly have them jolted out of their bodies; but the beauty of the
scenery amply rewarded us for our bruised sides and battered backs. The
road was, for the most part, bounded by lofty rocks on one side, and
a deep precipice on the other, and bordered with a profusion of noble
trees and flowering shrubs in great variety. In particular, I was struck
with the picturesque appearance of some wild fig-trees of singular size
and beauty. Although there were only two of us, besides servants, we
found it necessary to employ seven horses and a couple of mules; and, as
our cavalcade wound along through the mountains, the Spanish look of our
sumpter-mules, and of our kittereens (which are precisely the vehicle in
which Gil Bias is always represented when travelling with Scipio towards
Lirias) gave us quite the appearance of a caravan; nor should I have
been greatly surprised to see a trap-door open in the middle of the
road, and Captain Rolando’s whiskers make their appearance. Every one
spoke to me with contempt of this south road, in respect of beauty,
when compared with the north; however, it certainly seemed to me more
beautiful than any road which I have ever travelled as yet.


A stage of twenty miles brought us to Old Harbour, and, passing through
the Dry River, twelve more landed us at Spanish Town, otherwise called
St. Jago de la Vega, and the seat of government in Jamaica, although
Kingston is much larger and more populous, and must be considered as
the principal town. We found very clean and comfortable lodgings at Miss
Cole’s. Spanish Town has no recommendations whatever; the houses are
mostly built of wood: the streets are very irregular and narrow; every
alternate building is in a ruinous state, and the whole place wears
an air of gloom and melancholy. The government house is a large
clumsy-looking brick building, with a portico the stucco of which
has suffered by the weather, and it can advance no pretensions to
architectural beauty. On one side of the square in which it stands there
is a small temple protecting a statue of Lord Rodney, executed by Bacon:
some of the bas-reliefs on the pedestal appeared to me very good;
but the old admiral is most absurdly dressed in the habit of a Roman
General, and furnished out with buskins and a truncheon. The temple
itself is quite in opposition to good taste, with very low arches,
surmounted by heavy bas reliefs out of all proportion.

FEBRUARY 4. (Sunday.)

We breakfasted with the Chief Justice, who is my relation, and of my
own name, and then went to the church, which is a very handsome one; the
walls lined with fine mahogany, and ornamented with many monuments of
white marble, in memory of the former governors and other principal
inhabitants. It seems that my ancestors, on both sides, have always had
a taste for being well lodged after their decease; for, on admiring one
of these tombs, it proved to be that of my maternal grandfather; but
still this was not to be compared for a moment with my mausoleum at
Cornwall. After church I went home with the Rector, who is one of
the ecclesiastical commissaries, and had a long conversation with him
respecting a plan which is in agitation for giving the negroes something
of a religious education. We afterwards dined with the member for
Westmoreland; and as every body in Jamaica is on foot by six in the
morning, at ten in the evening we were quite ready to go to bed.


The Chief Justice went with me to Kingston, where I had appointed the
agent for my other estate in St. Thomas-in-the-East to meet me. The
short time allotted for my stay in the island makes it impossible to
attend properly both to this estate and to Cornwall at this first visit,
and therefore I determined to confine my attention to the negroes on
the latter estate till my return to Jamaica. I now contented myself by
impressing on the mind of my agent (whom I am certain of being a most
humane and intelligent man) my extreme anxiety for the abolition of the
cart-whip; and I had the satisfaction of hearing from him, that for a
long time it had never been used more than perhaps twice in the year,
and then only very slightly, and for some offence so flagrant that it
was impossible to pass it over; and he assured me, that whenever I visit
Hordley, I may depend upon its not being employed at all. On the other
hand, I am told that a gentleman of the parish of Vere, who came over
to Jamaica for the sole purpose of ameliorating the condition of his
negroes, after abolishing the cart-whip, has at length been constrained
to resume the occasional use of it, because he found it utterly
impossible to keep them in any sort of subordination without it.

There is not that air of melancholy about Kingston which pervades
Spanish Town; but it has no pretensions to beauty; and if any person
will imagine a large town entirely composed of booths at a race-course,
and the streets merely roads, without any sort of paving, he will have,
a perfect idea of Kingston.


The Jamaica canoes are hollowed cotton-trees. We embarked in one of them
at six in the morning, and visited the ruins of Port Royal, which, last
year, was destroyed by fire: some of the houses were rebuilding; but
it was a melancholy sight, not only from the look of the half-burnt
buildings, but the dejected countenances of the ruined inhabitants.
I returned to breakfast at the rectory, with two other ecclesiastical
commissaries; had more conversation about their proposed plan; and
became still more convinced of the difficulty of doing any thing
effectual without danger to the island and to the negroes themselves,
and of the extreme delicacy requisite in whatever may be attempted.
We afterwards visited the school of the children of the poor, who are
educating upon Dr. Bell’s system; and then saw the church, a very large
and handsome one on the inside, but mean enough as to its exterior. I
was shown the tombstone of Admiral Benbow, who was killed in a naval
engagement, and whose ship afterwards

               “Bore down to Port Royal, where the people flocked very


               To see brave Admiral Benbow laid in Kingston Town


as the admiral’s Homer informs us.

The church is a large one, but it is going to be still further extended;
the negroes in Kingston and its neighbourhood being (as the rector
assured me) so anxious to obtain religious instruction, that on Sundays
not only the church but the churchyard is so completely thronged with
them, as to make it difficult to traverse the crowd; and those who are
fortunate enough to obtain seats for the morning service, through fear
of being excluded from that of the evening, never stir out of the church
during the whole day. They also flock to be baptized in great numbers,
and many have lately come to be married; and their burials and
christenings are performed with great pomp and solemnity.

One of the most intelligent of the negroes with whom I have yet
conversed, was the coxswain of my Port Royal canoe. I asked him whether
he had been christened? He answered, no; he did not yet think himself
good enough, but he hoped to be so in time. Nor was he married; for he
was still young, and afraid that he could not break off his bad habits,
and be contented to live with no other woman than his wife; and so he
thought it better not to become a Christian till he could feel certain
of performing the duties of it. However, he said, he had at least cured
himself of one bad custom, and never worked upon Sundays, except on some
very urgent necessity. I asked what he did on Sundays instead: did he go
to church?--No. Or employ himself in learning to read?--Oh, no; though
he thought being able to read _was a great virtue_; (which was his
constant expression for any thing right, pleasant, or profitable;) but
he had no leisure to learn, no week days, and as he had heard the parson
say that Sunday ought to be a day of rest, he made a point of doing
nothing at all on that day. He praised his former master, of whose son
he was now the property, and said that neither of them had ever occasion
to lay a finger on him. He worked as a waterman, and paid his master ten
shillings a week, the rest of his earnings being his own profit; and
when he owed wages for three months, if he brought two his master would
always give him time for the remainder, and that in so kind a manner,
that he always fretted himself to think that so kind a master should
wait for his rights, and worked twice as hard till the debt was
discharged. He said that kindness was the only way to make good negroes,
and that, if _that_ failed, flogging would never succeed; and he advised
me, when I found my negro worthless, “to sell him at once, and not stay
to flog him, and so, by spoiling his appearance, make him sell for less;
for blacks must not be treated now, massa, as they used to be; they can
think, and hear, and see, as well as white people: blacks are wiser,
massa, than they were, and will soon be still wiser.” I thought the
fellow himself was a good proof of his assertion.

I left Kingston at two o’clock, in defiance of a broiling sun; reached
Spanish Town in time to dine with the Attorney-General; and went
afterwards to the play, where I found my acquaintance Mr. Hill of Covent
Garden theatre performing Lord William in “The Haunted Tower,” and Don
Juan in the pantomime which followed. The theatre is neat enough, but, I
am told, very inferior in splendour to that in Kingston. As to the
performance, it was about equal to any provincial theatricals that I
ever saw in England; although the pieces represented were by no means
well selected, being entirely musical, and the orchestra consisting of
nothing more than a couple of fiddles. My stay in Spanish Town has been
too short to admit of my inspecting the antiquities of it, which must be
reserved for a future visit, although I never intend to make a longer
than the present. The difference of climate was very sensible, both at
Spanish Town and Kingston; and the suffocating closeness made me long to
breathe again in the country.

The governor happened to be absent on a tour in the north; but I had an
opportunity of seeing many of the principal persons of the island during
my residence here; and the civilities which I received from all of them
were not only more than I expected, but such as I should be unreasonable
if I had desired more, and very ungrateful if I could ever forget them.


We were to return by the North Road, and set out at six in the morning.
The first stage was to the West Tavern, nineteen miles; and nothing can
be imagined at once more sublime and more beautiful than the scenery.
Our road lay along the banks of the Rio Cobre, which runs up to Spanish
Town, where its floods frequently commit dreadful ravages. Large masses
of rock intercept its current at small intervals, which, as well as its
shallowness, render it unnavigable. The cliffs and trees are of the
most gigantic size, and the road goes so near the brink of a tremendous
precipice, that we were obliged always to send a servant forwards to
warn any other carriage of our approach, in order that it might stay in
some broader part while we passed it. A bridge had been attempted to
be built over the river, but a storm had demolished it before its
completion, and nothing was now left standing but a single enormous
arch. In like manner, “the Dry River” sets all bridges at defiance: when
we crossed it between Old Harbour and Spanish Town, it was nothing but
a waste of sand; but its floods frequently pour down with irresistible
strength and rapidity, and sometimes render it impassable for weeks
together. I was extremely delighted with the first ten miles of this
stage: unluckily, a mist then arose, so thick, that it was utterly
impossible even to guess at the surrounding scenery; and the morning was
so cold, that I was very glad to wrap myself up in my cloak as closely
as if I had been travelling in an English December.

By the time of our leaving the West Tavern the mist had dispersed, and I
was able to ad mire the extraordinary beauty of Mount Diavolo, which we
were then crossing. Though we had left the river, the road was still a
narrow shelf of rock running along the edge of ravines of great depth,
and filled with broken masses of stone and trees of wonderful magnitude;
only that at intervals we emerged for a time into places resembling
ornamental parks in England, the lawns being of the liveliest verdure,
the ground rising and falling with an endless variety of surface, and
enriched with a profusion of trees majestic in stature and picturesque
in their shapes, many of them entirely covered with the beautiful
flowers of “hogsmeat,” and other creeping plants. The logwood, too, is
now perfectly golden with its full bloom, and perfumes all the air; and
nothing can be more gay than the quantity of wild flowers which
catch the eye on all sides, particularly the wild pine, and the wild
ipecacuanha. We travelled for sixteen miles, which brought us to our
harbour for the night,---a solitary tavern called Blackheath, situated
in the heart of the mountains of St. Anne.


The road soon brought us down to the very brink of the sea, which we
continued to skirt during the whole of the stage. It then brought us to
St. Anne’s Bay, where we found an excellent breakfast, at an inn quite
in the English fashion,--for the landlady had been long resident in
Great Britain. Every thing was clean and comfortable, and the windows
looked full upon the sea. This stage was sixteen miles: the next was
said to be twenty-five; but from the time which we took to travel it, I
can scarcely believe it to be so much. Our road still lay by the
sea-side, till we began to ascend the mountain of Rio Bueno; from which
we at length perceived the river itself running into the sea. It was at
Porto Bueno that Columbus is said to have made his first landing on the
island. Rio Bueno is a small town with a fort, situated close to the
sea. Here also we found a very good inn, kept by a Scotchman.

The present landlady (her father being from home) was a very pretty
brown girl, by name Eliza Thompson. She told me that she was only
residing with her parents during her _husband’s_ absence; for she was
(it seems) the _soi-disant_ wife of an English merchant in Kingston, and
had a house on Tachy’s Bridge. This kind of establishment is the highest
object of the _brown_ females of Jamaica; they seldom marry men of their
own colour, but lay themselves out to captivate some white person, who
takes them for mistresses, under the appellation of housekeepers.

Soon after my arrival at Cornwall, I asked my attorney whether a
clever-looking brown woman, who seemed to have great authority in
the house, belonged to me?--No; she was a free woman.--Was she in
my service, then?--No; she was not in my service. I began to grow
impatient.--“But what _does_ she do at Cornwall? Of what use is she in
the house?”--“Why sir, as to use.... of no great use, sir;” and then,
after a pause, he added in a lower voice, “It is the custom, sir, in
this country, for unmarried men to have housekeepers, and Nancy is
mine.” But he was unjust in saying that Nancy is of no use on the
estate; for she is perpetually in the hospital, nurses the children,
can bleed, and mix up medicines, and (as I am assured) she is of more
service to the sick than all the doctors. These brown housekeepers
generally attach themselves so sincerely to the interests of their
protectors, and make themselves so useful, that they in common retain
their situation; and their children (if slaves) are always honoured by
their fellows with the title of Miss. My mulatto housemaid is always
called “Miss Polly,” by her fellow-servant Phillis. This kind of
connection is considered by a brown girl in the same light as marriage.
They will tell you, with an air of vanity, “I am Mr. Such-a-one’s
_Love!_” and always speak of him as being her _husband_; and I am told,
that, except on these terms, it is extremely difficult to obtain the
favours of a woman of colour. To gain the situation of housekeeper to a
white man, the mulatto girl

                        “directs her aim;

                   This makes her happiness, and this her fame.”


The sea-view from a bridge near Falmouth was remarkably pleasing;
a stage of eighteen miles brought us to the town itself, which I
understand to be in size the second in the island.

However various are the characters which actors sustain, I find their
own to be the same every where. Although the Jamaica company did not
consist of more than twenty persons, their green-room squabbles had
divided it, and we found one half performing at Falmouth. We did not
wait for the play, but proceeded for twenty-two miles to Montego Bay,
where I once more found myself under the protecting roof of Miss Judy

On our return from dinner at Mr. Dewer’s, we discovered a ball of brown
ladies and gentlemen opposite to the inn. No whites nor blacks were
permitted to attend this assembly; but as our landlady had two nieces
there, under her auspices we were allowed to be spectators. The females
chiefly consisted of the natural daughters of attorneys and overseers,
and the young men were mostly clerks and book-keepers. I saw nothing at
all to be compared, either for form or feature, to many of the humbler
people of colour, much less to the beautiful Spaniard at Blue-fields.
Long, or Bryan Edwards, asserts that mulattos never breed except with a
separate black or white; but at this ball two girls were pointed out to
me, the daughters of mulatto parents; and I have been assured that
the assertion was a mistake, arising from such a connection being very
rarely formed; the females generally preferring to live with white men,
and the brown men having thus no other resource than black women. As to
the above girls, the fact is certain; and the different shades of
colour are distinguished by too plain a line to allow any suspicion of
infidelity on the part of their parents.


We passed the day at Mr. Plummer’s estate, Anchovy Bottom.

When Lord Bolingbroke was resident in America, large flocks of turkeys
used to ravage his corn-fields; but, from their extreme wildness, he
never could make any of them prisoners. He had a barn lighted by a large
sash window, and into this he laid a train of corn, hiding some servants
with guns behind the large doors, which were folded back. The turkeys
picked up the corn, and gradually were enticed to enter the barn. But
as soon as a dozen had passed in, the servants clapped the doors to with
all possible expedition. Now they reckoned themselves secure of their
game; but to their utter consternation, the turkeys in a body darted
towards the light, dashed against the glass, forced out the wood-work,
and away went turkeys, glass, wood-work, and all.

FEBRUARY 11. (Sunday.)

I reached Cornwall about three o’clock, after an excursion the most
amusing and agreeable that I ever made in my life. Almost every step
of the road presented some new and striking scene; and although we
travelled at all hours, and with as little circumspection as if we had
been in England, I never felt a headach except for one half hour. On my
arrival, I found the satisfactory intelligence usually communicated to
West Indian proprietors. My estate in the west is burnt up for want of
moisture; and my estate in the east has been so completely flooded, that
I have lost a whole third of my crop. At Cornwall, not a drop of rain
has fallen since the 16th of November. Not a vestige of verdure is to
be seen; and we begin to apprehend a famine among the negroes in
consequence of the drought destroying their provision grounds. This
alone is wanting to complete the dangerous state of the island;
where the higher classes are all in the utmost alarm at rumours of
Wilberforce’s intentions to set the negroes entirely at freedom; the
next step to which would be, in all probability, a general massacre of
the whites, and a second part of the horrors of St. Domingo: while,
on the other hand, the negroes are impatient at the delay; and such
disturbances arose in St. Thomas’s in the East, last Christmas, as
required the interposition of the magistrates. They say that the negroes
of that parish had taken it into their heads that _The Regent and
Wilherforce_ had actually determined upon setting them all at liberty at
once on the first day of the present year, but that the interference of
the island had defeated the plan. Their discontent was most carefully
and artfully fomented by some brown Methodists, who held secret and
nightly meetings on the different estates, and did their best to mislead
and bewilder these poor creatures with their fantastic and absurd
preaching. These fellows harp upon sin, and the devil, and hell-fire
incessantly, and describe the Almighty and the Saviour as beings so
terrible, that many of their proselytes cannot hear the name of Christ
without shuddering. One poor negro, on one of my own estates, told the
overseer that he knew himself to be so great a sinner that nothing could
save him from the devil’s clutches, even for a few hours, except singing
hymns; and he kept singing so incessantly day and night, that at length
terror and want of sleep turned his brain, and the wretch died raving


A Sir Charles Price, who had an estate in this island infested by rats,
imported, with much trouble, a very large and strong species for the
purpose of extirpating the others. The new-comers answered his purpose
to a miracle; they attacked the native rats with such spirit, that in a
short time they had the whole property to themselves; but no sooner had
they done their duty upon the rats, than they extended their exertions
to the cats, of whom their strength and size at length enabled them
completely to get the better; and since that last victory, Sir Charles
Price’s rats, as they are called, have increased so prodigiously, that
(like the man in Scripture, who got rid of one devil, and was taken
possession of by seven others) this single species is now a greater
nuisance to the island than all the others before them were together.
The best, mode of destroying rats here is with terriers; but those
imported from England soon grow useless, being blinded by the sun, while
their puppies, born in Jamaica, are provided by nature with a protecting
film over their eyes, which effectually secures them against incurring
that calamity.


Poor Philippa, the woman who used always to call me her “husband,” and
whom I left sick in the hospital, during my absence has gone out of
her senses; and there cannot well happen any thing more distressing, as
there is no separate place for her confinement, and her ravings disturb
the other invalids. There is, indeed, no kind of bedlam in the whole
island of Jamaica: whether this proceeds from people being so very
sedate and sensible, that they never go mad, or from their all being so
mad, that no one person has a right to shut up another for being out
of his senses, is a point which I will not pretend to decide. One of my
domestic negroes, a boy of sixteen, named Prince, was abandoned by his
worthless mother in infancy, and reared by this Philippa; and since her
illness he passes every moment of his leisure in her sick-room. On the
other hand, there is a woman named Christian, attending two fevered
children in the hospital; one her own, and the other an adopted infant,
whom she reared upon the death of its mother in child-birth; and there
she sits, throwing her eyes from one to the other with such unceasing
solicitude, that no one could discover which was her own child and which
the orphan.


Two Jamaica nightingales have established themselves on the orange tree
which grows against my window, and their song is most beautiful. This
bird is also called “the mocking-bird,” from its facility of imitating,
not only the notes of every other animal, but--I am told--of catching
every tune that may be played or sung two or three times in the house
near which it resides, after which it will go through the air with the
greatest taste and precision, throwing in cadences and ornaments that
Catalani herself might envy.

But by far the most curious animal that I have yet seen in Jamaica is
“the soldier,” a species of crab, which inhabits a shell like a snail’s,
so small in proportion to its limbs, that nothing can be more curious
or admirable than the machinery by which it is enabled to fold them
up instantly on the slightest alarm. They inhabit the mountains, but
regularly once a year travel in large troops down to the seaside to
spawn and change their shells. If I recollect right, Goldsmith gives a
very full and entertaining account of this animal, by the name of “the
soldier crab.” They are seldom used in Jamaica except for soups, which
are reckoned delicious: that which was brought to me was a very small
one, the shell being no bigger than a large snail’s, although the animal
itself, when marching with his house on his back, appears to be above
thrice the size; but I am told that they are frequently as large as a
man’s fist. Mine was found alone in the public road: how it came to be
in so solitary a state, I know not, for in general they move in armies,
and march towards the sea in a straight line; I am afraid, by his being
found alone, that my soldier must have been a deserter.


To-day there was a shower of rain for the first time since my arrival;
indeed, not a drop has fallen since the 16th of November; and in
consequence my present crop has suffered terribly, and our expectations
for next season are still worse.

FEBRUARY 18. (Sunday.)

The rain has brought forth the fire-flies, and in the evening the hedges
are all brilliant with their numbers. In the day they seem to be torpid
beetles of a dull reddish colour, but at night they become of a shining
purple. The fire proceeds from two small spots in the back part of the
head. It is yellow in the light, and requires motion to throw out its
radiance in perfection; but as soon as it is touched, the fly struggles
violently, and bends itself together with a clicking noise like the snap
of a spring; and I understand that this effort is necessary to set it in
motion. It is sufficiently strong to turn itself upwards with a single
movement, if lying on its back: some people say that it is always
obliged to throw itself upon its back in order to take wing; but this
I have, again, heard others contradict. When confined in a glass, the
light seems almost extinguished; nothing can be discerned but two pale
yellow spots; but on being pressed by the hand it becomes more brilliant
than any emerald, and when on the wing it seems entirely composed of the
most beautifully coloured fire.


I attended the Slave Court, where a negro was tried for sheep-stealing,
and a black servant girl for attempting to poison her master. The former
was sentenced to be transported. The latter was a girl of fifteen,
called Minetta: she acknowledged the having infused corrosive sublimate
in some brandy and water; but asserted that she had taken it from the
medicine chest without knowing it to be poison, and had given it to
her master at her grandmother’s desire. This account was evidently a
fabrication: there was no doubt of the grandmother’s innocence, although
some suspicion attached to the mother’s influence; but as to the girl
herself, nothing could be more hardened than her conduct through the
whole transaction. She stood by the bed to see her master drink the
poison; witnessed his agonies without one expression of surprise or
pity; and when she was ordered to leave the room, she pretended to
be fast asleep, and not to hear what was said to her. Even since her
imprisonment, she could never be prevailed upon to say that she was
sorry for her master’s having been poisoned; and she told the people in
the gaol, that “they could do nothing to her, for she had turned king’s
evidence against her grandmother.” She was condemned to die on Thursday
next, the day after to-morrow: she heard the sentence pronounced without
the least emotion; and I am told, that when she went down the steps of
the courthouse, she was seen to laugh.

The trial appeared to be conducted with all possible justice and
propriety; the jury consisted of nine respectable persons; the bench of
three magistrates, and a senior one to preside. There were no lawyers
employed on either side; consequently no appeals to the passions, no
false lights thrown out, no traps, no flaws, no quibbles, no artful
cross-examinings, and no brow-beating of witnesses; and I cannot say
that the trial appeared to me to go on at all the worse. Nobody appeared
to be either for or against the prisoner; the only object of all present
was evidently to come at the truth, and I sincerely believe that they
obtained their object. The only part of the trial of which I disapproved
was the ordering the culprit to such immediate execution, that
sufficient time was not allowed for the exercise of the royal
prerogative, should the governor have been disposed to commute the
punishment for that of transportation.


During my excursion to Spanish Town, the complaining negroes of
Friendship, who had applied to me for relief, were summoned to Savannah
la Mar, before the Council of Protection, and the business thoroughly
investigated. Their examination has been sent to me, and they appear
to have had a very fair hearing. The journals of the estate were
produced;--the book-keepers examined upon oath; and in order to make out
a case at all, the chief complainant contradicted himself so grossly,
as left no doubt that the whole was a fabrication. They were, therefore,
dismissed without relief, but also without punishment, in spite of their
gross falsehoods and calumnies; and although they did not gain their
object, I make no doubt that they will go on more contentedly for having
had attention paid to their complaints. It was indeed evident, that
Nelly (the chief complainant) was actuated more by wounded pride than
any real feeling of hardship; for what she laid the most stress upon
was, the overseer’s turning his back upon her, when she stated herself
to be injured, and walking away without giving her any answer.

There are so many pleasing and amusing parts of the character of
negroes, that it seems to me scarcely possible not to like them. But
when they are once disposed to evil, they seem to set no bounds to the
indulgence of their bad passions. A poor girl came into the hospital
to-day, who had had some trifling dispute with two of her companions; on
which the two friends seized her together, and each fixing her teeth on
one of the girl’s hands, bit her so severely, that we greatly fear her
losing the use of both of them. I happened also to ask, this morning, to
whom a skull had belonged, which I had observed fixed on a pole by the
roadside, when returning last from Montego Bay. I was told, that about
five years ago a Mr. Dunbar had given some discontent to his negroes in
the article of clothing them, although, in other respects, he was by no
means a severe master. However, this was sufficient to induce his head
driver, who had been brought up in his own house from infancy, to form
a plot among his slaves to assassinate him; and he was assisted in
this laudable design by two young men from a neighbouring property, who
barely knew Mr. Dunbar by sight, had no enmity against him whatever, and
only joined in the conspiracy in compliment to their worthy friend
the driver. During several months a variety of attempts were made for
effecting their purpose; but accident defeated them; till at length they
were made certain of his intention to dine out at some distance, and of
his being absolutely obliged to return in the evening. An ambuscade was
therefore laid to intercept him; and on his passing a clump of trees,
the assassins sprang upon him, the driver knocked him from his horse,
and in a few moments their clubs despatched him. No one suspected the
driver; but in the course of enquiry, his house as well as the other was
searched, and not only Mr. Dunbar’s watch was found concealed there,
but with it one of his ears, which the villain had carried away, from a
negro belief that, as long as the murderer possesses one of the ears
of his victim, he will never be haunted by his spectre. The
stranger-youths, two of Dunbar’s negroes, and the driver, were tried,
confessed the crime, and were all executed; the head of the latter being
fixed upon a pole _in terrorem_. But while the offenders were still in
prison, the overseer upon a neighbouring property had occasion to find
fault in the field with a woman belonging to a gang hired to perform
some particular work; upon which she flew upon him with the greatest
fury, grasped him by the throat, cried to her fellows--“Come here! come
here! Let us Dunbar him!” and through her strength and the suddenness
of her attack had nearly accomplished her purpose, before his own slaves
could come to his assistance. This woman was also executed.

This happened about five years ago, when the mountains were in a very
rebellious state. Every thing there is at present quiet. But only last
year a book-keeper belonging to the next estate to me was found with
his skull fractured in one of my own cane-pieces; nor have any enquiries
been able to discover the murderer.


During many years the Moravians have been established upon the
neighbouring estate of Mesopotamia. As the ecclesiastical commissaries
had said so much to me respecting the great appetite of the negroes for
religious instruction, I was desirous of learning what progress had been
made in this quarter, and this morning I went over to see one of the
teachers. He told me, that he and his wife had jointly used their best
efforts to produce a sense of religion in the minds of the slaves; that
they were all permitted to attend his morning and evening lectures,
if they chose it; but that he could not say that they showed any great
avidity on the subject. It seems that there are at least three hundred
negroes on the estate; the number of believers has rather increased than
diminished, to be sure, but still in a very small proportion. When this
gentleman arrived, there were not more than forty baptised persons: he
has been here upwards of five years, and still the number of persons
“belonging to his church” (as he expressed it) does not exceed fifty. Of
these, seldom more than ten or a dozen attend his lectures at a time. As
to the remaining two hundred and fifty, they take no more notice of his
lectures or his exhortations, than if there were no such person on the
property, are only very civil to him when they see him, and go on in
their own old way, without suffering him to interfere in any shape. By
the overseer of Greenwich’s express desire, the Moravian has, however,
agreed to give up an hour every day for the religious instruction of the
negro children on that property: and I should certainly request him to
extend his labours to Cornwall, if I did not think it right to give
the Church of England clergymen full room for a trial of their intended
periodical visitations; which would not be the case, if the negroes
were to be interfered with by the professors of any other communion:
otherwise I am myself ready to give free ingress and egress upon my
several estates to the teachers of any Christian sect whatever, the
Methodists always excepted, and “Miss Peg, who faints at the sound of an

For my own part, I have no hope of any material benefit arising from
these religious visitations made at quarterly intervals. It seems to me
as nugatory as if a man were to sow a field with horse-hair, and expect
a crop of colts.


This morning my picture was drawn by a self-taught genius, a negro
Apelles, belonging to Dr. Pope, the minister; and the picture was
exactly such as a self-taught genius might be expected to produce. It
was a straight hard outline, without shade or perspective; the hair
was a large black patch, and the face covered with an uniform layer
of flesh-colour, with a red spot in the centre of each cheek. As to
likeness, there was not even an attempt to take any. But still, such as
they were, there were eyes, nose, and mouth, to be sure. A long red
nose supplied the place of my own snub; an enormous pair of whiskers
stretched themselves to the very corner of my mouth; and in place
of three hairs and a half, the painter, in the superabundance of his
generosity, bestowed upon me a pair of eye-brows more bushy than Dr.
Johnson’s, and which, being formed in an exact semicircle, made the eyes
beneath them stare with an expression of the utmost astonishment. The
negroes, however, are in the highest admiration of the painter’s skill,
and consider the portrait as a striking resemblance; for there is a very
blue coat with very yellow buttons, and white gaiters and trow-sers, and
an eye-glass so big and so blue, that it looks as if I had hung a pewter
plate about my neck; and a bunch of watch-seals larger than those with
which Pope has decorated Belinda’s great great grandsire. John Fuller
(to whom, jointly with Nicholas, the charge of this inestimable treasure
is to be entrusted) could not find words to express his satisfaction at
the performance. “Dere massa coat! and dere him chair him sit in! and
dere massa seals, all just de very same ting! just all as one! And oh!
ki! dere massa pye-glass!” In the midst of his raptures he dropped the
picture, and fractured the frame-glass. His despair now equalled his
former joy;--“Oh, now what for him do? Such a pity! Just to break it
after it was all done so well! All so pretty!” However, we stuck the
broken glass together with wafers, and he carried it off, assuring me,
“that when massa gone, he should talk to it every morning, all one as
if massa still here.” Indeed, this “talking to massa” is a favourite
amusement among the negroes, and extremely inconvenient: they come to me
perpetually with complaints so frivolous, and requests so unreasonable,
that I am persuaded they invent them only to have an excuse for “talk
to massa;” and when I have given them a plump refusal, they go away
perfectly satisfied, and “tank massa for dis here great indulgence of

There is an Eboe carpenter named Strap, who was lately sick and in great
danger, and whom I nursed with particular care. The poor fellow thinks
that he never can express his gratitude sufficiently; and whenever he
meets me in the public road, or in the streets of Savannah la Mar, he
rushes towards the carriage, roars out to the postilion to stop, and if
the boy does not obey instantly, he abuses him with all his power; “for
why him no stop when him want talk to massa?”--“But look, Strap, your
beast is getting away!”--“Oh! damn beast, massa.”--“But you should go to
your mountain, or you will get no vittle.”--“Oh, damn vittle, and damn
mountain! me no want vittle, me want talk wid massa;” and then, all that
he has got to say is, “Oh massa, massa! God bless you, massa! me quite,
_quite_ glad to see you come back, my own massa!” And then he bursts
into a roar of laughter so wild and so loud, that the passers-by cannot
help stopping to stare and laugh too.


On the Sunday after my first arrival, the whole body of Eboe negroes
came to me to complain of the attorney, and more particularly of one of
the book-keepers. I listened to them, if not with unwearied patience,
at least with unsubdued fortitude, for above an hour and a half; and
finding some grounds for their complaint against the latter, in a few
days I went down to their quarter of the village, told them that to
please them I had discharged the book-keeper, named a day for examining
their other grievances, and listened to them for an hour more. When the
day of trial came, they sent me word that they were perfectly satisfied,
and had no complaint to make. I was, therefore, much surprised to
receive a visit from Edward, the Eboe, yesterday evening, who informed
me, that during my absence his fellows had formed a plan of making a
complaint _en masse_ to a neighbouring magistrate; and that, not only
against the attorney, but against myself “for not listening to them when
they were injured;” and Edward claimed great merit with me for having
prevented their taking this step, and convinced them, that while I was
on the estate myself, there could be no occasion for applying to a third
person. Now, having made me aware of my great obligations to him, here
Edward meant the matter to rest; but being a good deal incensed at
their ingratitude, I instantly sent for the Eboes, and enquired into the
matter; when it appeared, that Edward (who is a clever fellow, and has
great influence over the rest) had first goaded them into a resolution
of complaining to a magistrate, had then stopped them from putting their
plan into execution, and that the whole was a plot of Edward’s, in order
to make a merit with me for himself at the expense of his countrymen.
However, as they confessed their having had the intention of applying
to Mr. Hill as a magistrate, I insisted upon their executing their
intention. I told them, that as Mr. Hill was the person whom they had
selected for their protector, to Mr. Hill they should go; that they
should either make their complaint to him against me, or confess that
they had been telling lies, and had no complaint to make; and that, as
the next day was to be a play-day given them by me, instead of passing
it at home in singing and dancing, they should pass it at the Bay in
stating their grievances.

This threw them into terrible confusion; they cried out that they wanted
to make no complaint whatever, and that it was all Edward’s fault, who
had misled them. Three of them, one after the other, gave him the lie to
his face; and each and all (Edward as well as the rest) declared that go
to the Bay they absolutely would _not_. The next morning they were all
at the door waiting for my coming out: they positively refused to go to
Mr. Hill, and begged and prayed, and humbled themselves; now scraping
and bowing to me, and then blackguarding Edward with all their might and
main; and when I ordered the driver to take charge of them, and carry
them to Mr. Hill, some of them fairly took to their heels, and ran away.
However, the rest soon brought them back again, for they swore that
if one went, all should go; and away they were marched, in a string of
about twenty, with the driver at their head. When they got to the Bay,
they told Mr. Hill that, as to their massa, they had no complaint to
make against him, except that he had compelled them to make one; and
what they said against the attorney was so trifling, that the magistrate
bade the driver take them all back again. Upon which they slunk away to
their houses, while the Creoles cried out “Shame! shame!” as they passed

Indeed, the Creoles could not have received a greater pleasure than
the mortification of the Eboes; for the two bodies hate each other as
cordially as the Guelphs and Ghibellines; and after their departure
for the Bay, I heard the head cook haranguing a large audience, and
declaring it to be her fixed opinion, “that massa ought to sell all the
Eboes, and buy Creoles instead.” Probably, Mrs. Cook was not the less
loud in her exclamations against the ingratitude of the Eboes, from her
own loyalty having lately been questioned. She had found fault one day
in the hospital with some women who feigned sickness in order to remain
idle. “You no work willing for massa,” said Mrs. Cook, “and him so vex,
him say him go to Kingston to-morrow, and him wish him neber come back
again!”--“What!” cried Philippa, the mad woman, “you wish massa neber
come back from Kingston?” So she gave Mrs. Cook a box on the ear with
all her might; upon which Mrs. Cook snatched up a stick and broke the
mad woman’s pate with it. But though she could beat a hole in her head,
she never could beat out of it her having said that she wished massa
might never come back. And although Philippa has recovered her senses,
in her belief of Mrs. Cook’s disloyalty she continues firm; and they
never meet without renewing the dispute.

To-day being a play-day, the gaiety of the negroes was promoted by a
distribution of an additional quantity of salt-fish (which forms a most
acceptable ingredient in their pepper-pots), and as much rum and sugar
as they chose to drink. But there was also a dinner prepared at the
house where the “white people” reside, expressly for none but the
_piccaninny-mothers_; that is, for the women who had children living. I
had taken care, when this play-day was announced by the head driver, to
make him inform the negroes that they were indebted for it entirely to
these mothers; and to show them the more respect, I went to them after
dinner myself, and drank their healths. The most respectable blacks on
the estate were also assembled in the room; and I then told them that
clothes would wear out, and money would be spent, and that I wished to
give them something more lasting than clothes or money. The law
only allows them, as a matter of right, every alternate Saturday for
themselves, and holidays for three days at Christmas, which, with all
Sundays, forms their whole legal time of relaxation. I therefore granted
them as a matter of right, and of which no person should deprive them on
any account whatever, _every_ Saturday to cultivate their grounds; and
in addition to their holidays at Christmas, I gave them for play-days
Good-Friday, the second Friday in October, and the second Friday in
July. By which means, they will in future have the same number of
holidays four times a year, which hitherto they have been allowed only
once, i.e. at Christmas. The first is to be called “the royal play-day,”
 in honour of that excellent Princess, the Duchess of York; and the
negroes are directed to give three cheers upon the head driver’s
announcing “The health of our good lady, H. R. H. the Duchess of York.”
 And I told them, that before my leaving the island, I should hear them
drink this health, and should not fail to let Her Royal Highness know,
that the negroes of Cornwall drank her health every year. This evidently
touched the right chord of their vanity, and they all bowed and
courtesied down to the very ground, and said, that would do them much
high honour. The ninth being my own birthday, the July play-day is to
be called “the massa’s” and that in October is to be in honour of the
piccaninny-mothers, from whom it is to take its name.

The poor creatures overflowed with gratitude; and the prospective
indulgences which had just been announced, gave them such an increase of
spirits, that on returning to my own residence, they fell to singing and
dancing again with as much violence as if they had been a pack of French
furies at the Opera. The favourite song of the night was,

                   “Since massa come, we very well off;”

which words they repeated in chorus, without intermission (dancing all
the time), for hours together; till, at half-past three, neither my eyes
nor my brain could endure it any longer, and I was obliged to send them
word that I wanted to go to bed, and could not sleep till the noise
should cease. The idea of my going to bed seemed never to have occurred
to them till that moment. Fortunately, like Johnson’s definition of wit,
“the idea, although novel, was immediately acknowledged to be just.” So
instantly the drums and gumbies left off beating; the children left
off singing; the women and men left off dancing; and they all with one
accord fell to kicking, and pulling, and thumping about two dozen of
their companions, who were lying fast asleep upon the floor. Some were
roused, some resisted, some began fighting, some got up and lay down
again; but at length, by dint of their leading some, carrying others,
and rolling the remainder down the steps, I got my house clear of my
black guests about four in the morning.

Another of their popular songs this evening was--

“All the stories them telling you are lies, oh!”

which was meant as a satire upon the Eboes. My friend Strap being an
Eboe, and one who had hitherto generally taken a leading part in all
the discontents and squabbles of his countrymen, I was not without
apprehensions of his having been concerned in the late complaint. I was,
therefore, much pleased to find that he had positively refused to take
any share in the business, and had been to the full as violent as any of
the Creoles in reprobating the ingratitude of the Eboes. Today he
came up to the house dressed in his best clothes, to show me his seven
children; and he marched at their head in all the dignity of paternal
pride. He begged me particularly to notice two fine little girls, who
were twins. I told him that I had seen them already. “Iss! iss!” he
said; “massa see um; but massa no _admire_ um enough yet.” Upon which
I fell to admiring them, tooth and nail, and the father went away quite
proud and satisfied.


Yesterday it was observed at George’s Plain, an estate about four miles
off, that the water-mill did not work properly, and it was concluded
that the grating was clogged up with rubbish. To clear it away, a negro
immediately jumped down into the trench upon a log of wood; when he felt
the log move under him, and of course jumped out again with all possible
expedition. It was then discovered that the impediment in question
proceeded from a large alligator which had wandered from the morass,
and, in the hope of finding his way to the river, had swam up the
mill-trench till he found himself stopped by the grating; and the banks
being too high for him to gain them by leaping upwards, and the place
of his confinement too narrow to admit of his turning round to go back
again, his escape was impossible, and a ball, lodged near his eye, soon
put an end to him. I went over to see him this morning; but I was not
contented with merely seeing him, so I begged to have a steak cut off
for me, brought it home, and ordered it to be broiled for dinner. One of
the negroes happened to see it in the kitchen; the news spread through
the estate like wildfire; and I had immediately half a dozen different
deputations, all hoping that massa would not think of eating the
alligator, for it was poisonous. However, I was obstinate, and found the
taste of the flesh, when broiled with pepper and salt, and assisted by
an onion sauce, by no means to be despised; but the consistence of the
meat was disagreeable, being as tough as a piece of eel-skin. Perhaps
any body who wishes to eat alligator steaks in perfection, ought to keep
them for two or three days before dressing them; or the animal’s age
might be in fault, for the fellow was so old that he had scarcely
a tooth in his head; I therefore contented myself with two or three
morsels; but a person who was dining with me ate a whole steak, and
pronounced the dish to be a very good one. The eggs are said to be
very palatable; nor have the negroes who live near morasses, the same
objection with those of Cornwall to eating the flesh; it is, however,
true that the gall of the alligator, if not extracted carefully, will
render the whole animal unfit for food; and when this gall is reduced to
powder, it forms a poison of the most dangerous nature, as the negroes
know but too well.


I had given the most positive orders that no person whatever should
presume to strike a negro, or give him abusive language, or, however
great the offence might be, should inflict any punishment, except by
the sole direction of the trustee himself. Yet, although I had already
discharged one bookkeeper on this account, this evening another of them
had a dispute in the boiling-house with an African named Frank, because
a pool of water was not removed fast enough; upon which he called him a
rascal, sluiced him with the dirty water, and finally knocked him down
with the broom. The African came to me instantly; four eye-witnesses,
who were examined separately, proved the truth of his ill-usage; and I
immediately discharged the book-keeper, who had contented himself with
simply denying the blow having been given by him: but I told him that I
could not possibly allow his single unsupported denial to outweigh five
concordant witnesses to the assertion; and that, if he grounded his
claim to being believed merely upon his having a white skin, he
would find that, on Cornwall estate at least, that claim would not be
admitted. The fact was established as evident as the sun; and nothing
should induce me to retain him on my property, except his finding some
means of appeasing the injured negro, and prevailing on him to intercede
in his behalf. This was an humiliation to which he could not bring
himself to stoop; and, accordingly, the man has left the estate.
Probably, indeed, the attempt at reconciliation would have been
unsuccessful; for when one of his companions asked Frank whether, if
Mr. Barker would make him a present, he had not better take it, and
beg massa to let him stay, he exclaimed, in the true spirit of a
Zanga,--“No, no, no! me no want present! me no want noting! Me no beg
for Mr. Barker! him go away!”--I was kept awake the greatest part of the
night by the songs and rejoicings of the negroes, at their triumph over
the offending book-keeper.


The only horned cattle said to be fit for Jamaica work, are those which
have a great deal of black in them. The white are terribly tormented
by the insects, and they are weak and sluggish in proportion to their
quantity of white. On the contrary I am told that such a thing as
a black horse is not to be found in the island; those which may be
imported black soon change their colour into a bay; and colts are said
to have been dropped perfectly black, which afterwards grew lighter and
lighter till they arrived at being perfectly white.


Hearing that a manati (the sea-cow) had been taken at the mouth of
the Cabrita River, and was kept alive at the Hope Wharf I got a
sailing-boat, and went about eight miles to see the animal. It was
suffered to live in the sea, a rope being fastened round it, by which
it could be landed at pleasure. It was a male, and a very young one, not
exceeding nine feet in length, whereas they have frequently been found
on the outside of eighteen. The females yield a quart of milk at a
time: a gentleman told me that he had tasted it, and could not have
distinguished it from the sweetest cow’s milk. Unlike the seal, it never
comes on shore, although it ventures up rivers in the night, to feed on
the grass of their banks; but during the day it constantly inhabits the
ocean, where its chief enemy is the shark, whose attacks it beats off
with its tail, the strength of which is prodigious. It was killed this
morning, and the gentleman to whom it belonged was obliging enough
to send me part of it; we roasted it for dinner, and, except that its
consistence was rather firmer, I should not have known it from veal.


The wife of an old negro on the neighbouring estate of Anchovy had
lately forsaken him for a younger lover. One night, when she happened to
be alone, the incensed husband entered her hut unexpectedly, abused her
with all the rage of jealousy, and demanded the clothes to be restored,
which he had formerly given her. On her refusal he drew a knife, and
threatened to cut them off her back; nor could she persuade him to
depart, till she had received a severe beating. He had but just left the
hut, when he encountered his successful rival, who was returning home:
a quarrel instantly ensued; and the husband, having the knife still
unsheathed in his hand, plunged it into the neck of his antagonist. It
pierced the jugular vein; of course the man fell dead on the spot; and
the murderer has been sent to Montego Bay, to take his trial.

MARCH 1. (Friday.)

One of my house-boys, named Prince, is son to the Duke of Sully; and
to-day his Grace came to beg that, when I should leave Jamaica, I would
direct the boy to be made a tradesman, instead of being sent back to be
a common field-negro: but my own shops are not only full at present, but
loaded with future engagements. Sully then requested that I would send
his son to learn some other trade (a tailor’s, for instance) at Savannah
la Mar, as had been frequently done in former times; but this, also, I
was obliged to refuse. I told him, that formerly a master could pay for
the apprenticeship of a clever negro boy, and, instead of employing him
afterwards on the estate, could content himself with being repaid by
a share of the profits; but that, since The Abolition had made it
impossible for the proprietor of an estate to supply the place of one
negro by the purchase of another, it would be unjust to his companions
to suffer any one in particular to be withdrawn from service; as in
that case two hundred and ninety-nine would have to do the work, which
was now performed by three hundred; and, therefore, I could allow my
negroes to apply themselves to no trades but such as related to the
business of the property, such as carpenters, coopers, smiths, &c. “All
true, massa,” said Sully; “all fair and just; and, to be sure, a tailor
or a saddler would be of no great use towards your planting and getting
in your crop; nor----”

He hesitated for a moment, and then added, with a look of doubt, and in
a lower voice,--“Nor--nor a fiddler either, I suppose, massa?” I began
to laugh. “No, indeed, Sully; nor a fiddler either!” It seems the lad,
who is about sixteen, very thoughtless, and _un tantino_ stupid, has a
passion for playing the fiddle, and, among other trades, had suggested
this to his father, as one which would be extremely to his taste. We
finally settled, that when the plough should be introduced on my estate
(which I am very anxious to accomplish, and substitute the labour of
oxen for that of negroes, wherever it can possibly be done), Prince
should be instructed in farming business, and in the mean while should
officiate as a pen-keeper to look after the cattle.

Just now Prince came to me with a request of his own. “Massa, please, me
want one little coat.”--“A little coat! For what?”--“Massa, please, for
wear when me go down to the Bay.”--“And why should you wear a little
coat when you go to the Bay?”--“Massa, please, make me look eerie
(buckish) when me go abroad.” So I assured him that he looked quite
eerie enough already; and that, as I was going away too soon to admit
of my seeing him in his little coat, there could not be the slightest
occasion for his being a bit _eerier_ than he was. A master in England
would probably have been not a little astonished at receiving such a
request from one of his groom-boys; but here one gets quite accustomed
to them; and when they are refused, the petitioners frequently laugh
themselves at their own unreasonableness.


Most of those negroes who are tolerably industrious, breed cattle on my
estate, which are their own peculiar property, and by the sale of which
they obtain considerable sums. The pasturage of a steer would amount, in
this country, to £12 a year; but the negro cattle get their grass from
me without its costing them a farthing; and as they were very desirous
that I should be their general purchaser, I ordered them to agree among
themselves as to what the price should be. It was, therefore, settled
that I should take their whole stock, good and bad indifferently, at the
rate of £15 a head for every three-year-old beast; and they expressed
themselves not only satisfied, but very grateful for my acceptance of
their proposal. John Fuller and the beautiful Psyche had each a steer
to sell (how Psyche came to be so rich, I had too much discretion to
enquire), and they were paid down their £15 a piece instantly, which
they carried off with much glee.

MARCH 3. (Sunday.)

In this country it may be truly said that “it never rains but it pours.”
 After a drought of three months, it began to rain on Thursday morning,
and has never stopped raining since, with thunder all the day, and
lightning all the night; one consequence of which incessant showers is,
that it has brought out all sorts of insects and reptiles in crowds: the
ground is covered with lizards; the air is filled with mosquitoes, and
their bite is infinitely more envenomed than on my first arrival. A
centipede was found squeezed to death under the door of my bed-room this
morning. As to the cock-roaches, they are absolutely in legions; every
evening my negro boys are set to hunt them, and they kill them by dozens
on the chairs and sofas, in the covers of my books, and among the leaves
in my fruit-baskets. Yesterday I wanted to send away a note in a great
hurry, snatched up a wafer, and was on the point of putting it into my
mouth, when I felt it move, and found it to be a cockroach, which had
worked its way into the wafer-box.

MARCH 4. (Monday.)

Since my arrival in Jamaica, I am not conscious of having omitted any
means of satisfying my negroes, and rendering them happy and secure from
oppression. I have suffered no person to be punished, except the two
female demons who almost bit a girl’s hands off (for which they received
a slight switching), and the most worthless rascal on the estate, whom
for manifold offences I was compelled, for the sake of discipline, to
allow to pass two days in the bilboes. I have never refused a
favour that I could possibly grant. I have listened patiently to all
complaints. I have increased the number of negro holidays, and have
given away money and presents of all kinds incessantly. Now for my
reward. On Saturday morning there were no fewer than forty-five persons
(not including children) in the hospital; which makes nearly a fifth of
my whole gang. Of these, the medical people assured me that not above
seven had any thing whatever the matter with them; the rest were only
feigning sickness out of mere idleness, and in order to sit doing
nothing, while their companions were forced to perform their part of
the estate-duty. And sure enough, on Sunday morning they all walked away
from the hospital to amuse themselves, except about seven or eight: they
will, perhaps, go to the field for a couple of days; and on Wednesday we
may expect to have them all back again, complaining of pains, which (not
existing) it is not possible to remove. Jenny (the girl whose hands were
bitten) was told by the doctoress, that having been in the hospital
all the week, she ought not, for very shame, to go out on Sunday.
She answered, “She wanted to go to the mountains, and go she would.”
 “Then,” said the doctoress, “you must not come back again on Monday at

“Yes,” Jenny said, “she _should_ come back;” and back this morning
Jenny came. But as her wounds were almost completely well, she had tied
packthread round them so as to cut deep into the flesh, had rubbed dirt
into them, and, in short, had played such tricks as nearly to produce a
mortification in one of her fingers.

The most worthless fellow on the whole property is one Nato,--a thief, a
liar, a runaway, and one who has never been two days together out of the
hospital since my arrival, although he has nothing the matter with him;
indeed, when the other negroes abused him for his laziness, and leaving
them to do his work for him, he told them plainly that he did not mean
to work, and that nobody should make him. The only real illness which
brought him to the hospital, within my knowledge, was the consequence of
a beating received from his own father, who had caught him in the act of
robbing his house by the help of a false key. In the hospital he found
his wife, Philippa, the mad woman, with whom he instantly quarrelled,
and she cut his head open with a plate; and as she might have served
one of the children in the same way, we were obliged to confine her.
Her husband was thought to be the fittest person to guard her; and
accordingly they were locked up together in a separate room from the
other invalids, till a straight waistcoat could be made. The husband was
then restored to freedom, and desired to go to work, which he declared
to be impossible from illness; yet he disappeared the whole of the next
day; and on his return on the following morning, he had the impudence to
assert that he had never been out of the hospital for an hour. For this
runaway offence, and for endeavouring to exasperate his wife’s phrensy,
he was put into the bilboes for two days: on the third he was released;
when he came to me with tears in his eyes, implored me most earnestly to
forgive what had past, and promised to behave better for the future,
“to so good a massa.” It appeared afterwards, that he had employed his
absence in complaining to Mr. Williams, a neighbouring magistrate,
that, “having a spite against them, although neither he nor his wife
had committed any fault, I had punished them both by locking them up
for several days in a solitary prison, under pretence of his wife’s
insanity, when, in fact, she was perfectly in her senses.” Unluckily,
one of my physicians had told Mr. Williams, that very morning, how much
he had been alarmed at Cornwall, when, upon going into a mad woman’s
room, her husband had fastened the door, and he had found himself shut
up between them; the woman really mad, and the man pretending to be so
too. The moment that Nato mentioned the mad woman as his wife, “What
then,” said Mr. Williams, “you are the fellow who alarmed the doctor so
much two days ago?” Upon which Nato had the impudence to burst into a
fit of laughter,--“Oh, ki, massa, doctor no need be fright; we no want
to hurt him; only make lilly bit fun wid him, massa, that all.” On which
he was ordered to get out of Mr. Williams’s house, slunk back into the
Cornwall hospital, and in a few days came to me with such a long story
of penitence, and “so good massa,” that he induced me to forgive him.

To sum up the whole, about three this morning an alarm was given that
the pen-keeper had suffered the cattle to get among the canes, where
they might do infinite mischief; the trustee was roused out of his bed;
the drivers blew their shells to summon the negroes to their assistance;
when it appeared, that there was not a single watchman at his post; the
watch-fires had all been suffered to expire; not a single domestic was
to be found, nor a horse to be procured; even the little servant boys,
whom the trustee had locked up in his own house, and had left fast
asleep when he went to bed, had got up again, and made their escape to
pass the night in play and rioting; and although they were perfectly
aware of the detriment which the cattle were doing to my interests, not
a negro could be prevailed upon to rouse himself and help to drive them
out, till at length Cubina (who had run down from his own house to mine
on the first alarm) with difficulty collected about half a dozen
to assist him: but long before this, one of my best cane-pieces was
trampled to pieces, and the produce of this year’s crop considerably
diminished.--And so much for negro gratitude! However, they still
continue their eternal song of “Now massa come, we very well off;”
 but their satisfaction evidently begins and ends with themselves. They
rejoice sincerely at being very well off, but think it unnecessary to
make the slightest return to massa for making them so.


The worst of negro diseases is “the cocoa-bag” it is both hereditary and
contagious, and will lurk in the blood of persons apparently the most
healthy and of regular habits, till a certain age; when it declares
itself in the form of offensive sores, attended with extreme debility.
No cure for it has yet been discovered: there are negro doctors, who
understand how to prepare diet drinks from simples of the island, which
moderate its virulence for a time; but the disease itself is never
entirely subdued. On the contrary, “the yaws,” although it defies the
power of medicine, ultimately cures itself. This, also, is communicated
by contact, and that of so slight a nature, that a fly, which had
touched an ulcer produced by the yaws, has been known to convey the
infection by merely alighting on the wound of a cut finger. It generally
shows itself by a slight pimple, which is soon converted into a sore;
and this spreads itself gradually over the invalid’s whole body, till
having made its progress through the system completely, its virulence
gradually abates, and at length the disease disappears all together. As
“the yaws” can only be taken once, inoculation has been tried upon
the most hopeful subjects; but the disease showed itself with as much
violence as when contracted in the natural way.


Nato has kept his promise as yet, and has actually past a whole week
in the field; a thing which he was never known to do before within the
memory of man. So I sent him a piece of money to encourage him; and told
him, that I sent him a _maccarony_ for behaving well, and wished to know
whether any one had ever given him a maccarony for behaving ill. I hear
that he was highly delighted at my thinking him worthy to receive a
present from me, and sent me in return the most positive assurances of
perseverance in good conduct. On the other hand, Mackaroo has not
only run away himself, but has carried his wife away with him. This is
improving upon the profligacy of British manners with a vengeance. In
England, a man only runs away with another person’s wife: but to run
away with his own--what depravity!--As to my ungrateful demigod of a
sheep-stealer, Hercules, the poor wretch has brought down upon himself
a full punishment for all his misdeeds. By running away, and sleeping in
the woods, exposed to all the fury of the late heavy rains, he has
been struck by the palsy. Yesterday some of my negroes found him in the
mountains, unable to raise himself from the ground, and brought him in
a cart to the hospital; where he now lies, having quite lost the use of
one side, and without any hopes of recovery. He is still a young man,
and in every other respect strong and healthy; so that he may look
forward to a long and miserable existence.



               Deck’d with all that youth and beauty

                   E’er bestow’d on sable maid,

               Gathering bloom her fragrant duty,

                   Down the lime-walk Zoè stray’d.

               Many a logwood brake was ringing

                   With the chicka-chinky’s cry;

               Many a mock-bird loudly singing

                   Bless’d the groves with melody.

               Fly-birds, on whose plumage showers

                   Nature’s hand her wealth profuse,

               Humming round, from banks of flowers

                   Suck’d the rich ambrosial juice.

               There an orange-plant, perfuming

                   All the air with blossoms white,

               Near a bush of roses blooming,

                   Charm’d at once the scent and sight.

               Of that plant the loveliest daughter,

                   One sweet bloom-bough all preferr’d;

               When his glittering eye had caught her,

                   Oh, how joy’d the Humming Bird!

               Here the fairest blossoms thinking,

                   Swift he flies, nor loads the stem;

               Poised in air, and odour drinking,

                   Fluttering hangs the feather’d Gem.

               Sure, he deems, these cups untasted,

                   Many a honied drop allow!

               Soon he finds his labour wasted;

                   Bees have robb’d that orange bough.

               Wandering bees, at blush of morning,

                   Drain’d of all their sweets the bells;

               Then the rifled beauty scorning,

                   How his angry throat he swells!

               See his bill the blossoms rending;

                   Round their leaves in wrath he throws;

               Then, once more his wings extending,

                   Flies to woo the opening rose.

               (e Mark, my Zoe,” said her mother,

                   (t Mark that bough, so lovely late!

               Thou in bloom art such another--

                   Such, perhaps, may be thy fate.

               (e Some wild youth may charm and cheat thee,

                   Sip thy sweets, and break his vow;

               Then the world will scorn and treat thee

                   As the Fly-Bird did just now.”

               British mothers thus impress on

                   Virgin minds some maxim true;

               Zoè heard and used the lesson

                   Just as British daughters do.


The shaddock contains generally thirty-two seeds, two of which only will
reproduce shaddocks; and these two it is impossible to distinguish: the
rest will yield, some sweet oranges, others bitter ones, others again
forbidden fruit, and, in short, all the varieties of the orange; but
until the trees actually are in bearing, no one can guess what the fruit
is likely to prove; and even then, the seeds which produce shaddocks,
although taken from a tree remarkable for the excellence of its fruit,
will frequently yield only such as are scarcely eatable. So also
the varieties of the mango are infinite: the fruit of no two trees
resembling each other; and the seeds of the very finest mango (although
sown and cultivated with the utmost care) seldom affording any thing
at all like the parent stock. The two first mangoes which I tasted were
nothing but turpentine and sugar; the third was very delicious; and yet
I was told that it was by no means of a superior quality. The _sweet_
cassava requires no preparation; the _bitter_ cassava, unless the juice
is carefully pressed out of it, is a deadly poison; there is a third
kind, called the _sweet-and-bitter_ cassava, which is perfectly
wholesome till a certain age, when it acquires its deleterious
qualities. Many persons have been poisoned by mistaking these various
kinds of cassava for each other. As soon as the plantain has done
bearing, it is cut down; when four or five suckers spring from each
root, which become plants themselves in their turn. Ratoons are suckers
of the sugar-cane: they are far preferable to the original plants,
where the soil is rich enough to support them; but they are much better
adapted to some estates than to others. Thus, on my estate in St.
Thomas’s in the East, they can allow of ten ratoons from the same plant,
and only dig cane-holes every eleventh year; while, at Cornwall, the
strength of the cane is exhausted in the fourth ratoon, or the fifth
at furthest. The fresh plants are cane-tops; but those canes which bear
_flags_ or feathers at their extremities will not answer the purpose, as
dry weather easily burns up the slight arrows to which the flags adhere,
and destroys them before they can acquire sufficient vigour to resist
the climate.

MARCH 10. (Sunday.)

I find that I have not done justice to the cotton tree, and, on the
other hand, have given too much praise to the Jamaica kitchen. The first
cotton trees which I saw, were either withered by age, or struck by
lightning, or happened to be ill-shaped of their kind; but I have since
met with others, than which nothing could be more noble or picturesque,
from their gigantic height, the immense spread of their arms, the colour
of their stems and leaves, and the wild fantastic wreathings of their
roots and branches. As to the kitchen, nothing can be larger and
finer in appearance than the poultry of all kinds, but nothing can be
uniformly more tough and tasteless; and the same is the case with all
butcher’s meat, pork excepted, which is much better here than in Europe.
The fault is in the climate, which prevents any animal food from being
kept sufficiently long to become tender; so that when a man sits down
to a Jamaica dinner, he might almost fancy himself a guest at Macbeth’s
Covent-Garden banquet, where the fowls, hams, and legs of mutton are all
made of deal boards. I ordered a duck to be kept for two days; but it
was so completely spoiled, that there was no bearing it upon the table.
Then I tried the expedient of boiling a fowl till it absolutely fell to
pieces; but even this violent process had not the power of rendering it
tender. The only effect produced by it was, that instead of being helped
to a wing of solid wood, I got a plateful of splinters. Perhaps, my
having totally lost my appetite (probably from my not being able to
take, in this climate, sufficient of my usual exercise) makes the meat
appear to me less palatable than it may to others; but I have observed,
that most people here prefer living upon soups, stews, and salted
provisions. For my own part, I have for the last few weeks eaten nothing
except black crabs, than which I never met with a more delicious article
for the table. I have also tried the _soldier_ soup, which is in great
estimation in this island; but although it greatly resembled the very
richest cray-fish soup, it seemed to be composed of cray-fish which had
been kept too long. The _soldiers_ themselves were perfectly fresh, for
they were brought to the kitchen quite alive and merry; but I was told
that this taste of staleness is their peculiar flavour, as well as their
peculiar scent even when alive, and is precisely the quality which forms
their recommendation. It was quite enough to fix my opinion of the soup:
I ate two spoonfuls, and never mean to venture on a third.


The most general of negro infirmities appears to be that of lameness.
It is chiefly occasioned by the _chiga_, a diminutive fly which works
itself into the feet to lay its eggs, and, if it be not carefully
extracted in time, the flesh around it corrupts, and a sore ensues not
easily to be cured. No vigilance can prevent the attacks of the chiga;
and not only soldiers, but the very cleanest persons of the highest
rank in society, are obliged to have their feet examined regularly. The
negroes are all provided with small knives for the purpose of extracting
them: but as no pain is felt till the sore is produced, their extreme
laziness frequently makes them neglect that precaution, till all kinds
of dirt getting into the wound, increases the difficulty of a cure; and
sometimes the consequence is lameness for life.

There is another disease which commits great ravages among them; for
although in this climate its quality is far from virulent, and it is
easy to be cured in its beginning, the negro will most carefully conceal
his having such a complaint, till it has made so great a progress
that its effects are perceived by others. Even then, they will never
acknowledge the way in which they have contracted it; but men and women,
whose noses almost shake while speaking to you, will still insist upon
it that their illness arises from catching cold, or from a strain in
lifting a weight, or, in short, from any cause except the true one. Yet
why they act thus it is difficult to imagine; for certainly it does not
arise from shame.

Indeed, it is one of their singular obstinacies, that, however ill they
may be, they scarcely ever will confess to the physician what is really
the matter with them on their first coming into the hospital, but will
rather assign some other cause for their being unwell than the true one;
and it is only by cross-questioning, that their superintendents are able
to understand the true nature of their case. Perhaps this duplicity is
occasioned by fear; for in any bodily pain it is not possible to be more
cowardly than the negro; and I have heard strong young men, while the
tears were running down their cheeks, scream and roar as if a limb was
amputating, although the doctoress was only applying a poultice to a
whitlow on the finger. I suppose, therefore, that dread of the pain of
some unknown mode of treatment makes them conceal their real disease,
and name some other, of which they know the cure to be unattended with
bodily suffering or long restraint. In the disease I allude to, such
a motive would operate with peculiar force, as one of their chief
aversions is the necessarily being long confined to one certainly not
fragrant room.


The Reporter of the African Institution asserts, in a late pamphlet,
that in the West Indies the breeding system is to this day discouraged,
and that the planters are still indifferent to the preservation of
their present stock of negroes, from their confidence of getting fresh
supplies from Africa. Certainly the negroes in Jamaica are by no
means of this Reporter’s opinion, but are thoroughly sensible of their
intrinsic value in the eyes of the proprietor. On my arrival, every
woman who had a child held it up to show to me, exclaiming,--“See massa,
see! here nice new neger me bring for work for massa;” and those who had
more than one did not fail to boast of the number, and make it a claim
to the greater merit with me. Last week, an old watchman was brought
home from the mountains almost dead with fever; he would neither move,
nor speak, nor notice any one, for several days. For two nights I sent
him soup from my own table; but he could not even taste it, and always
gave it to his daughter. On the third evening, there happened to be no
soup at dinner, and I sent other food instead; but old Cudjoe had been
accustomed to see the soup arrive, and the disappointment made him fancy
himself hungry, and that he could have eaten the soup if it had been
brought as usual: accordingly, when I visited him the next morning, he
bade the doctoress tell me that massa had send him no soup the night
before. This was the first notice that he had ever taken of me. I
promised that some soup should be ordered for him on purpose that
evening. Could he fancy any thing to eat _then?_--“Milk! milk!” So milk
was sent to him, and he drank two full calabashes of it. I then tried
him with an egg, which he also got down; and at night, by spoonfuls at
a time, he finished the whole bason of soup; but when I next came to see
him, and he wished to thank me, the words in which he thought he could
comprise most gratitude were bidding the doctoress tell me he would do
his best not to die yet; he promised to _fight hard_ for it. He is
now quite out of danger, and seems really to be grateful. When he was
sometimes too weak to speak, on my leaving the room he would drag his
hand to his mouth with difficulty, and kiss it three or four times
to bid me farewell; and once, when the doctoress mentioned his having
charged her to tell me that he owed his recovery to the good food that
I had sent him, he added, “And him kind words too, massa; kind words
do neger much good, much as good food.” In my visits to the old man, I
observed a young woman nursing him with an infant in her arms, which (as
they told me) was her own, by Cudjoe. I therefore supposed her to be his
wife: but I found that she belonged to a _brown_ man in the mountains;
and that Cudjoe hired her from her master, at the rate of thirty pounds
a year!

I hope this fact will convince the African _Reporter_, that it is
possible for some of this “oppressed race of human beings”--“of these
our most unfortunate fellow-creatures,”--to enjoy at least _some_ of the
luxuries of civilised society; and I doubt, whether even Mr. Wilberforce
himself, with all his benevolence, would not allow a negro to be quite
rich enough, who can afford to pay thirty pounds a year for the hire of
a kept mistress.


Poor Nato’s stock of goodness is quite exhausted; and the day before
yesterday he returned to the hospital with most piteous complaints of
pains and aches, whose existence he could persuade no person to credit.
His pulse was regular, his skin cool, his tongue red and moist, and the
doctor declared nothing whatever to be the matter with him. However,
on my arrival, he began to moan, and groan, and grunt, and all so
lamentably, that every soul in the hospital, sick or well, burst into a
fit of laughter. For my part, I told him that I really believed him to
be very bad; and that, as he met with no sympathy in the hospital, I
should remove him from such unfeeling companions. Accordingly I had
a comfortable bed made for him in a separate house. Here he was
plentifully supplied with provisions: but, in order that he might enjoy
perfect repose daring his illness, the doors were kept locked, and no
person allowed to disturb him with their conversation; while, by the
doctor’s orders, he was obliged to take frequent doses of Bitter-Wood
and Assafotida. Shame would not suffer him to get well all at once; so
yesterday he still complained of a pain in his chest, and begged to be
blooded. His request was granted; and the blood proved to be so pure
and well-coloured, that every one exclaimed, that for a man who had
such good blood to part with it so wantonly was a shame and a folly. The
fellow was at length convinced that his tricks would serve no object;
and this morning he begged me to suffer him to return to his duty,
and promised that I should have no more cause to complain of him. So
I consented to consider his cure as completed, and he set off for the
field perfectly satisfied with his release.


On opening the Assize-court for the county of Cornwall on March 4.,
Mr. Stewart, the Custos of Trelawny, and Presiding Judge, said, in his
charge to the jury, he wished to direct their attention in a peculiar
manner to the infringement of slave-laws in the island, in consequence
of charges having been brought forward in England of slave laws not
being enforced in this country, and being in fact perfect dead letters.
The charge was unfounded; but it became proper, in consequence, for the
bench to call in a strong manner on the grand jury to be particularly
vigilant and attentive to the discharge of this part of their duty. The
bench at the same time adverted to another subject connected with the
above. Many out of the country, and _some in it_, had thought proper
to interfere with our system, and by their insidious practices and
dangerous doctrines to call the peace of the island into question, and
to promote disorder and confusion. The jury were therefore enjoined, in
every such case, to investigate it thoroughly, and to bring the parties
concerned before the country, and not to suffer the systems of the
island, as established by the laws of the land, to be overset or
endangered. It was their bounden duty to watch over and support the
established laws, and to act against those who dared to infringe them;
and that, otherwise, it was imperiously called for on the principle
of self-preservation. Every country had its peculiar laws, on the due
maintenance of which depended the public safety and welfare. I read all
this with the most perfect unconsciousness; when, lo and behold! I have
been assured, from a variety of quarters, that all this was levelled at
myself! It is I (it seems) who am “calling the peace of the island
in question;” who am “promoting disorder and confusion;” and who am
“infringing the established laws!” I should never have guessed it! By
“insidious practices” is meant (as I am told) my overindulgence to my
negroes; and my endeavouring to obtain either redress or pardon for
those belonging to other estates, who occasionally appeal to me for
protection: while “dangerous doctrines” alludes to my being of opinion,
that the evidence of negroes ought at least to be _heard_ against white
persons; the jury always making proportionable abatements of belief,
from bearing in mind the bad habits of most negroes, their general want
of probity and good faith in every respect, and their total ignorance of
the nature of religious obligations. At the same time, these defects may
be counterbalanced by the respectable character of the particular negro;
by the strength of corroborating circumstances; and, finally, by the
irresistible conviction which his evidence may leave upon the minds
of the jury. They are not obliged to _believe_ a negro witness, but I
maintain that he ought to be _heard_, and then let the jury give their
verdict according to their conscience. But this, in the opinion of the
bench at Montego Bay, it seems, is “dangerous doctrine!” At least, the
venom of my doctrines is circumscribed within very narrow limits; for
as I have made a point of never stirring off my own estate, nobody could
possibly be corrupted by them, except those who were at the trouble of
walking into my house for the express purpose of being corrupted.

At all events, if I _really_ am the person to whom Mr. Stewart alluded,
I must consider his speech as the most flattering compliment that I ever
received. If my presence in the island has made the bench of a whole
country think it necessary to exact from the jury a more severe
vigilance than usual in all causes relating to the protection of
negroes, I cannot but own myself most richly rewarded for all my pains
and expense in coming hither, for every risk of the voyage, and for
every possible sacrifice of my pleasures. There is nothing earthly that
is too much to give for the power of producing an effect so beneficial;
and I would set off for Constantinople to-morrow, could I only be
convinced that my arrival would make the Mufti redress the complaints of
the lower orders of Turks with more scrupulous justice, and the Bashaws
relax the fetters of their slaves as much as their safety would permit.
But I cannot flatter myself with having done either the one or the other
in Jamaica; and if Mr. Stewart _really_ alluded to me in his charge, I
am certainly greatly obliged to him; but he has paid me much too high a
compliment;--God grant that I may live to deserve it!


Hercules, the poor paralytic runaway, has neither moved nor spoken since
his being brought into the hospital. For the two last days he refused
all sustenance; blisters, rubbing with mustard, &c. were tried without
producing the least sensation; and in the course of last night he
expired without a groan.

Another offender, by name Charles Fox, is also under the doctor’s hands,
suffering under the effects of his own transgressions. Having been
Pickle’s shipmate, he professed the strongest attachment to him, and was
perpetually at his house; till Pickle’s wife made her husband aware that
love for herself was the real object of his shipmate’s visits. Finding
her story disbelieved, she hid Pickle behind the bed, when he had an
opportunity of hearing the solicitations of his perfidious Pylades; and,
rushing from his concealment, he gave Fox so complete a thrashing,
that he was obliged to come to the hospital. Here is another proof that
negroes, “our unfortunate fellow-creatures,” are not without some of
the luxuries of civilised life; old men of sixty keeping mistresses, and
young ones seducing their friends’ wives; why, what would the Reporter
of the African Institution have?

It is only to be wished, that the negroes would content themselves with
these fashionable peccadilloes; but, unluckily, there are some palates
among them which require higher seasoned vices; and besides their
occasional amusements of poisoning, stabbing, thieving, &c., a plan has
just been discovered in the adjoining parish of St. Elizabeth’s, for
giving themselves a grand fête by murdering all the whites in the
island. The focus of this meditated insurrection was on Martin’s Penn,
the property of Lord Balcarras, where the overseer is an old man of the
mildest character, and the negroes had always been treated with peculiar
indulgence. Above a thousand persons were engaged in the plot, three
hundred of whom had been regularly sworn to assist in it with all the
usual accompanying ceremonies of drinking human blood, eating earth from
graves, &c. Luckily, the plot was discovered time enough to prevent any
mischief; and yesterday the ringleaders were to be tried at Black River.

MARCH 17. (Sunday.)

The Cornwall Chronicle informs us, that, at the Montego Bay assizes, a
man was tried on the Monday, for assaulting, while drunk, an officer who
had served with great distinction, and calling him a coward; for which
offence he was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment and fine of £100; and
on the Tuesday the same man brought an action against another person
for calling him a “drunken liar,” for which he was awarded £1000 for
damages! A plain man would have supposed two such verdicts to be rather
incompatible; but one lives to learn.

I remember to have read the case of a French nobleman, who was accused
of impotence by his wife before the Parliament of Paris, and by a
farmer’s daughter for seduction and getting her with child before the
Parliament of Rouen; he thought himself perfectly sure of gaining either
the one cause or the other: but, however, he was condemned in both.
Certainly the poor Frenchman had no luck in matters of justice.

To make the matter better, in the present instance, the man was a
clergyman; and his cause of quarrel against the officer was the latter’s
refusal to give him a puncheon of rum to christen all his negroes in a


Mr. Plummer came over from St. James’s to-day, and told me, that the
“insidious practices and dangerous doctrines” in Mr. Stewart’s speech
were intended for the Methodists, and that only the charge to the grand
jury respecting “additional vigilance” was in allusion to myself; but he
added that it was the report at Montego Bay, that, in consequence of
my over-indulgence to my negroes, a song had been made at Cornwall,
declaring that I was come over to set them all free, and that this was
now circulating through the neighbouring parishes. If there be any such
song (which I do not believe), I certainly never heard it. However, my
agent here says, that he has reason to believe that my negroes really
have spread the report that I intend to set _them_ free in a few years;
and this merely out of vanity, in order to give themselves and their
master the greater credit upon other estates. As to the truth of an
assertion, that is a point which never enters into negro consideration.

The two ringleaders of the proposed rebellion have been condemned at
Black River, the one to be hanged, the other to transportation. The plot
was discovered by the overseer of Lyndhurst Penn (a Frenchman from
St. Domingo) observing an uncommon concourse of stranger negroes to a
child’s funeral, on which occasion a hog was roasted by the father. He
stole softly down to the feasting hut, and listened behind a hedge
to the conversation of the supposed mourners; when he heard the whole
conspiracy detailed. It appears that above two hundred and fifty had
been sworn in regularly, all of them Africans; not a Creole was among
them. But there was a _black_ ascertained to have stolen over into the
island from St. Domingo, and a _brown_ Anabaptist missionary, both of
whom had been very active in promoting the plot. They had elected a King
of the Eboes, who had two Captains under him; and their intention was
to effect a complete massacre of all the whites on the island; for which
laudable design His Majesty thought Christmas the very fittest season
in the year, but his Captains were more impatient, and were for striking
the blow immediately. The next morning information was given against
them: one of the Captains escaped to the woods; but the other, and the
King of the Eboes, were seized and brought to justice. On their trial
they were perfectly cool and unconcerned, and did not even profess to
deny the facts with which they were charged.

Indeed, proofs were too strong to admit of denial; among others, a copy
of the following song was found upon the King, which the overseer had
heard him sing at the funeral feast, while the other negroes joined in
the chorus:--


               Oh me good friend, Mr. Wilberforce, make we free!

               God Almighty thank ye! God Almighty thank ye!

                   God Almighty, make we free!

               Buckra in this country no make we free:

               What Negro for to do? What Negro for to do?

                   Take force by force! Take force by force!


                   To be sure! to be sure! to be sure!

The Eboe King said, that he certainly had made use of this song, and
what harm was there in his doing so? He had sung no songs but such as
his brown priest had assured him were approved of by John the Baptist.
“And who, then, was John the Baptist?” He did not very well know; only
he had been told by his brown priest, that John the Baptist was a friend
to the negroes, and had got his head in a pan!

As to the Captain, he only said in his defence, that if the court would
forgive him this once, he would not do so again, as he found the whites
did not like their plans which, it seems, till that moment they had
never suspected! They had all along imagined, no doubt, that the whites
would find as much amusement in having their throats cut, as the blacks
would find in cutting them. I remember hearing a sportsman, who was
defending the humanity of hunting, maintain, that it being as much the
nature of a hare to run away as of a dog to run after her, consequently
the hare must receive as much pleasure from being coursed, as the dog
from coursing.


Two negroes upon Amity estate quarrelled the other day about some
trifle, when the one bit the other’s nose off completely. Soon after his
accident, the overseer meeting the sufferer--“Why, Sambo,” he exclaimed,
“where’s your nose?”

“I can’t tell, massa,” answered Sambo; “I looked every where about, but
I could not find it.”

MARCH 24. (Sunday.)

Every Sunday since my return from Kingston I have read prayers to
such of the negroes as chose to attend, preparatory to the intended
visitations of the minister, Dr. Pope. About twenty or thirty of the
most respectable among them generally attended, and behaved with great
attention and propriety. I read the Litany, and made them repeat the
responses. I explained the Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer to them,
teaching them to say each sentence of the latter after me, as I read it
slowly, in hopes of impressing it upon their memory. Then came “the
good Samaritan,” or some such apologue; and, lastly, I related to them
a portion of the life of Christ, and explained to them the object of
his death and sufferings. The latter part of my service always seemed
to interest them greatly; but, indeed, they behaved throughout with much
attention. Unluckily, the head driver, who was one of the most zealous
of my disciples, never could repeat the responses of the Litany without
an appeal to myself, and always made a point of saying--“Good Lord,
deliver us; yes, sir!” and made me a low bow: and one day when I
was describing the wonderful precocity of Christ’s understanding, as
evidenced by his interview with the doctors in the temple, while but
a child, the head driver thought fit to interrupt me with--“Beg massa
pardon, but want know one ting as puzzle me. Massa say ‘the child,’ and
me want know, massa, one ting much; was Jesus Christ a boy or a girl?”
 Like my friend the Moravian, at Mesopotamia, I cannot boast of any
increased audience; and if the negroes will not come to hear massa, I
have little hope of their giving up their time to hear Dr. Pope, who
inspires them with no interest, and can exert no authority. Indeed, I am
afraid that I am indebted for the chief part of my present auditory to
my quality of massa rather than that of priest; and when I ask any of
them why they did not come to prayers on the preceding Sunday, their
excuse is always coupled with an assurance, that they wished very much
to come, “because they wish to do _any thing_ to oblige massa.”


The negroes certainly are perverse beings. They had been praying for
a sight of their master year after year; they were in raptures at my
arrival; I have suffered no one to be punished, and shown them every
possible indulgence during my residence amongst them; and one and all
they declare themselves perfectly happy and well treated. Yet, previous
to my arrival, they made thirty-three hogsheads a week; in a fortnight
after my landing, their product dwindled to twenty-three; daring this
last week they have managed to make but thirteen. Still they are not
ungrateful; they are only selfish: they love me very well, but they
love themselves a great deal better; and, to do them justice, I verily
believe that every negro on the estate is extremely anxious that
all should do their full duty, except himself. My censure, although
accompanied with the certainty of their not being punished, is by no
means a matter of indifference. If I express myself to be displeased,
the whole property is in an uproar; every body is finding fault with
every body; nobody that does not represent the shame of neglecting my
work, and the ingratitude of vexing me by their ill-conduct; and then
each individual--having said so much, and said it so strongly, that he
is convinced of its having its full effect in making the others do their
duty--thinks himself quite safe and snug in skulking away from his own.


Young Hill was told at the Bay this morning, that I make a part of the
Eboe King’s song! According to this report, “good King George and
good Mr. Wilberforce” are stated to have “given me a paper” to set the
negroes free (i. e. an order), but that the white people of Jamaica will
not suffer me to show the paper, and I am now going home to say so, and
“to resume my chair, which I have left during my absence to be filled by
the Regent.”

Since I heard the report of a rebellious song issuing from Cornwall, I
have listened more attentively to the negro chaunts; but they seem,
as far as I can make out, to relate entirely to their own private
situation, and to have nothing to do with the negro state in general.
Their favourite, “We varry well off,” is still screamed about the estate
by the children; but among the grown people its nose has been put out of
joint by the following stanzas, which were explained to me this morning.
For several days past they had been dinned into my ears so incessantly,
that at length I became quite curious to know their import, which I
learned from Phillis, who is the family minstrel. It will be evident
from this specimen, that the Cornwall bards are greatly inferior to
those of Black River, who have actually advanced so far as to make an
attempt at rhyme and metre.


          Hey-ho-day! me no care a dammee! (i. e. a damn,)

          Me acquire a house, (i. e. I have a solid foundation to

                   build on,)

          Since massa come see we--oh!

          Hey-ho-day! neger now quite eerie, (i. e. hearty,)

          For once me see massa--hey-ho-day!

          When massa go, me no care a dammee,

          For how them usy we--hey-ho-day!

An Alligator, crossing the morass at Bellisle, an estate but a few miles
distant from Cornwall, fell into a water-trench, from which he struggled
in vain to extricate himself, and was taken alive; so that, according to
the vulgar expression, he may literally be said to “have put his foot
in it.” Fontenelle says, that when Copernicus published his system, he
foresaw the contradictions which he should have to undergo--“Et il se
tira d’affaire très-habilement. Le jour qu’on lui présentoit le premier
exemplaire, scavez-vous ce qu’il fit? Il mourut;” which was precisely
the resource resorted to by the alligator. He died on the second morning
of his captivity, and his proprietor, Mr. Storer, was obliging enough to
order the skin to be stuffed, and to make me a present of him. Neptune
was despatched to bring him (or rather her, for nineteen eggs were found
within her) over to Cornwall; and at dinner to-day we were alarmed with
a general hubbub. It proved to be occasioned by Neptune’s arrival (if
Thames or Achelous had been despatched on this errand, it would have
been more appropriate) with the alligator on his head. In a few minutes
every thing on the estate that was alive, without feathers, and with
only two legs, flocked into the room, and requested to take a bird’s-eye
view of the monster; for as to coming near her, _that_ they were much
too cowardly to venture. It was in vain that I represented to them, that
being dead it was utterly impossible that the animal could hurt them:
they allowed the impossibility, but still kept at a respectful distance;
and when at length I succeeded in persuading them to approach it, upon
some one accidentally moving the alligator’s tail, they all, with one
accord, set up a loud scream, and men, women, and children tumbled out
of the room over one another, to the irreparable ruin of some of
my glasses and decanters, and the extreme trepidation of the whole


The negro-husband, who stabbed his rival in a fit of jealousy, has been
tried at Montego Bay, and acquitted. On the other hand, the King of the
Eboes has been hung at Black Hiver, and died, declaring that he left
enough of his countrymen to prosecute the design in hand, and revenge
his death upon the whites. Such threats of a rescue were held out,
that it was judged advisable to put the militia under arms, till the
execution should have taken place; and also to remove the King’s Captain
to the gaol at Savannah la Mar, till means can be found for transporting
him from the island.


The Eboe Captain has effected his escape by burning down the prison
door. It is supposed that he has fled towards the fastnesses in the
interior of the mountains, where I am assured that many settlements of
run-away slaves have been formed, and with which the inhabited part of
the island has no communication. However, the chief of the Accompong
Maroons, Captain Roe, is gone in pursuit of him, and has promised
to bring him in, alive or dead. The latter is the only reasonable
expectation, as the fugitive is represented as a complete desperado.


The negroes have at least given me one proof of their not being entirely
selfish. When they heard that the boat was come to convey my baggage to
the ship at Black River, they collected all their poultry, and brought
it to my agent, desiring him to add it to my sea-stores. Of course
I refused to let them be received, and they were evidently much
disappointed, till I consented to accept the fowls and ducks, and then
gave them back to them again, telling them to consider them as a present
from my own hen-house, and to distinguish them by the name of “massa’s


I have been positively assured, that an attempt was made to persuade the
grand jury at Montego Bay, to present me for over-indulgence to my own
negroes! It is a great pity that so reasonable an attempt should not
have succeeded.--The rebel captain who broke out of prison, has been
found concealed in the hut of a notorious Obeah-man, and has been lodged
a second time in the gaol of Savannah la Mar.


About two months ago, a runaway cooper, belonging to Shrewsbury estate,
by name Edward, applied to me to intercede for his not being punished on
his return home. As soon as he got the paper requested, he gave up
all idea of returning to the estate, and instead of it went about the
country stealing every thing upon which he could lay his hands; and
whenever his proceedings were enquired into by the magistrates, he
stated himself to be on the road to his trustee, and produced my letter
as a proof of it. At length some one had the curiosity to open the
letter, and found that it had been written two months before.


This was the day appointed for the first “Royal play-day,” when I bade
farewell to my negroes. I expected to be besieged with petitions and
complaints, as they must either make them on this occasion or not at
all. I was, therefore, most agreeably surprised to find, that although
they had opportunities of addressing me from nine in the morning till
twelve at night, the only favours asked me were by a poor old man, who
wanted an iron cooking pot, and by Adam, who begged me to order a little
daughter of his to be instructed in needle-work: and as to complaints,
not a murmur of such a thing was heard; they all expressed themselves to
be quite satisfied, and seemed to think that they could never say
enough to mark their gratitude for my kindness, and their anxiety for
my getting safe to England. We began our festival by the head driver’s
drinking the health of H. R. H. the Duchess of York, whom the negroes
cheered with such a shout as might have “rent hell’s concave.”

Then we had a christening of such persons as had been absent on the
former occasion, one of whom was Adam, the reputed Obeah-man. In the
number was a new-born child, whom we called Shakspeare, and whom Afra,
the Eboe mother, had very earnestly begged me to make a Christian, as
well as a daughter of hers, about four or five years old; at the same
time that she declined being christened herself! In the same manner
Cubina’s wife, although her father and husband were both baptised on the
former occasion, objected to going through the ceremony herself; and the
reason which she gave was, that “she did not like being christened while
she was with child, as she did not know what change it might not produce
upon herself and the infant.”

After the christening there was a general distribution of salt-fish by
the trustee; and I also gave every man and woman half a dollar each, and
every child a maccarony (fifteen pence) as a parting present, to
show them that I parted with them in good-humour. While the money was
distributing, young Hill arrived, and finding the house completely
crowded, he enquired what was the matter. “Oh, massa,” said an old
woman, “it is only _my son_, who is giving the negroes all something.”

I also read to them a new code of laws, which I had ordered to be put in
force at Cornwall, for the better security of the negroes. The principal
were, that “a new hospital for the lying-in women, and for those who
might be seriously ill, should be built, and made as comfortable as
possible; while the present one should be reserved for those whom the
physicians might declare to be very slightly indisposed, or not ill at
all; the doors being kept constantly locked, and the sexes placed in
separate chambers, to prevent its being made a place of amusement by
the lazy and lying, as is the case at present.”--“A book register of
punishments to be kept, in which the name, offence, and nature and
quantity of punishment inflicted must be carefully put down; and also
a note of the same given to the negro, in order that if he should think
himself unjustly, or too severely punished, he may show his note to my
other attorney on his next visit, or to myself on my return to Jamaica,
and thus get redress if he has been wronged.”--“No negro is to be
struck, or punished in any way, without the trustee’s express orders:
the black driver so offending to be immediately degraded, and sent to
work in the field; and the white person, for such a breach of my orders,
to be discharged upon the spot.”--“No negro is to be punished till
twenty-four hours shall have elapsed between his committing the fault
and suffering for it, in order that nothing should be done in the heat
of passion, but that the trustee should have time to consider the matter
coolly. But to prevent a guilty person from avoiding punishment by
running away, he is to pass those twenty-four hours in such confinement
as the trustee may think most fitting.”--“Any white person, who can be
proved to have had an improper connection with a woman known publicly
to be living as the wife of one of my negroes, is to be discharged
immediately upon complaint being made.” I also gave the head driver
a complete list of the allowances of clothing, food, &c. to which the
negroes were entitled, in order that they might apply to it if
they should have any doubts as to their having received their full
proportion; and my new rules seemed to add greatly to the satisfaction
of the negroes, who were profuse in their expressions of gratitude.

The festival concluded with a grander ball than usual, as I sent for
music from Savanna la Mar to play country dances to them; and at twelve
o’clock at night they left me apparently much pleased, only I heard some
of them saying to each other, “When shall we have such a day of pleasure
again, since massa goes to-morrow?”

MARCH 31. (Sunday.)

With their usual levity, the negroes were laughing and talking as gaily
as ever till the very moment of my departure; but when they saw my
curricle actually at the door to convey me away, then their faces grew
very long indeed. In particular, the women called me by every endearing
name they could think of. “My son! my love! my husband! my father!”

“You no my massa, you my tata!” said one old woman (upon which another
wishing to go a step beyond her, added, “Iss, massa, iss! It was
you”);----------and when I came down the steps to depart, they crowded
about me, kissing my feet, and clasping my knees, so that it was with
difficulty that I could get into the carriage. And this was done with
such marks of truth and feeling, that I cannot believe the whole to be
mere acting and mummery.

I dined with Mr. Allwood at Shaftstone, his pen near Blue-fields, and at
half past seven found myself once more on board the Sir Godfrey Webster.

To fill up my list of Jamaica delicacies, I must not forget to mention,
that I did my best to procure a Cane-piece Cat roasted in the true
African fashion. The Creole negroes, however, greatly disapproved of
my venturing upon this dish, which they positively denied having tasted
themselves; and when, at length, the Cat was procured, last Saturday,
instead of plainly boiling it with negro-pepper and salt, they made into
a high seasoned stew, which rendered it impossible to judge of its real
flavour. However, I tasted it, as did also several other people, and we
were unanimous in opinion, that it might have been mistaken for a very
good game-soup, and that, when properly dressed, a Cane-piece Cat must
be excellent food.

One of the best vegetable productions of the island is esteemed to be
the Avogada pear, sometimes called “the vegetable marrow.” It was not
the proper season for them, and with great difficulty I procured a
couple, which were said to be by no means in a state of perfection. Such
as they were, I could find no great merit in them; they were to be eaten
cold with pepper and salt, and seemed to be an insipid kind of melon,
with no other resemblance to marrow than their softness.

APRIL 1. (Monday.)

At eight this morning we weighed anchor on our return to England.


               Poor Yarra comes to bid farewell,

                   But Yarra’s lips can never say it!

               Her swimming eyes--her bosom’s swell--

                   The debt she owes you, these must pay it.

               She ne’er can speak, though tears can start,

                   Her grief, that fate so soon removes you;

               But One there is, who reads the heart,

                   And well He knows how Yarra loves you!

               See, massa, see this sable boy!

                   When chill disease had nipp’d his flower,

               You came and spoke the word of joy,

                   And poured the juice of healing power.

               To visit far Jamaica’s shore

               Had no kind angel deign’d to move you,

               These laughing eyes had laugh’d no more,

                   Nor Yarra lived to thank and love you,

               Then grieve not, massa, that to view

                   Our isle you left your British pleasures:

               One tear, which falls in grateful dew,

                   Is worth the best of Britain’s treasures.

               And sure, the thought will bring relief,

                   What e’er your fate, wherever rove you,

               Your wealth’s not given by pain and grief,

                   But hands that know, and hearts that love you.

               May He, who bade you cross the wave,

               Through care for Afric’s sons and daughters;

               When round your bark the billows rave,

               In safety guide you through the waters!

               By all you love with smiles be met;

               Through life each good man’s tongue approve you:

               And though far distant, don’t forget,

               While Yarra lives, she’ll live to love you!


The trade-winds which facilitate the passage to Jamaica, effectually
prevent the return of vessels by the same road. The common passage is
through the Gulf of Florida, but there is another between Cuba and
St. Domingo, which is at least 1000 miles nearer. The first, however,
affords almost a certainty of reaching Europe in a given time; while you
may keep tacking in the attempt to make the windward passage (as it is
called) for months together. Last night the wind was so favourable for
this attempt, that the captain determined upon risking it. Accordingly
he altered his course; and had not done so for more than a few hours,
when the wind changed, and became as direct for the Gulf, as till then
it had been contrary. The consequence was, that the Gulf passage was
fixed once for all, and we are now steering towards it with all our
might and main. Besides the distance saved, there was another reason
for preferring the windward passage, if it could have been effected. The
Gulf of Florida has for some time past been infested by a pirate called
Captain Mitchell, who, by all accounts, seems to be of the very worst
description. It is not long ago, since, in company with another vessel
of his own stamp, he landed on the small settlement of St. Andrews,
plundered it completely, and on his departure carried off the governor,
whom he kept on board for more than fourteen days, and then hung him at
the yard-arm out of mere wanton devilry; and indeed he is said to show
no more mercy to any of his prisoners than he did to the poor governor.
His companion has been captured and brought into Kingston, and the
conquering vessel is gone in search of Captain Mitchell. If it does
not fall in with him, and _we_ do, I fear that we shall stand but a bad
chance; for he has one hundred men on board according to report, while
we have not above thirty. However, the captain has harangued them,
represented the necessity of their fighting if attacked, as Captain
Mitchell is known to spare no one, high or low, and has engaged to give
every man five guineas apiece, if a gun should be fired. The sailors
promise bravery; whether their promises will prove to be pie-crust,
we must leave to be decided by time and Captain Mitchell. In the mean
while, every sail that appears on the horizon is concluded to be this
terrible pirate, and every thing is immediately put in readiness for

This day we passed the Caymana islands; but owing to our having always
either a contrary wind, or no wind at all, it was not till the 12th that
Cuba was visible, nor till the 14th that we reached Cape Florida.


At noon this day we found ourselves once more sailing on the Atlantic,
and bade farewell to the Gulf of Florida without having heard any news
of the dreaded Commodore Mitchell. The narrow and dangerous part of
this Gulf is about two hundred miles in length, and fifty in breadth,
bordered on one side by the coast of Florida, and on the other, first
by Cuba, and then by the Bahama Islands, of which the Manilla reef forms
the extremity, and which reef also terminates the Gulf. But on both
sides of these two hundred miles, at the distance of about four or
five miles from the main land, there extends a reef which renders the
navigation extremely dangerous. The reef is broken at intervals by large
inlets; and the sudden and violent squalls of wind to which the Gulf is
subject, so frequently drive vessels into these perilous openings, that
it is worth the while of many of the poorer inhabitants of Florida to
establish their habitations within the reef, and devote themselves and
their small vessels entirely to the occupation of assisting vessels
in distress. They are known by the general name of “wreckers,” and are
allowed a certain salvage upon such ships as they may rescue. As a proof
of the violence of the gales which are occasionally experienced in this
Gulf, our captain, about nine years ago, saw the wind suddenly take a
vessel (which had unwisely suffered her canvass to stand, while the
rest of the ships under convoy had taken theirs down,) and turn her
completely over, the sails in the water and the keel uppermost. It
happened about four o’clock in the afternoon: the captain and the
passengers were at dinner in the cabin; but as she went over very
leisurely, they and the crew had time allowed them to escape out of the
windows and port-holes, and sustain themselves upon the rigging, till
boats from the ships near them could arrive to take them off. As
she filled, she gradually sunk, and in a quarter of an hour she had
disappeared totally.



               Bright ocean-bird, alike who sharing

               Both elements, could sport the air in,

               Or swim the sea, your winged fins wearing

                        The rainbow’s hues,

               Your fate this day full long shall bear in

                        Her mind the muse,

               In vain for you had nature blended

               Two regions, and your powers extended;

               Now high you rose, now low descended;

                        But folly marred

               Those gifts, the bounteous dame intended

                        To prove your guard.

               A flying fish, could bounds include her?

               She winged the deep, if birds pursued her;

               She swam the sky, if dolphins viewed her;

                        But now what wish

               Tempts you to watch yon bright deluder,

                        Unthinking fish?

               Alas!--a fly above you viewing,

               Gay tints his gilded wings imbuing,

               You mount; and ah! too far pursuing

                        At fancy’s call,

               Heedless you strike the sails, where ruin

                        Awaits your fall.

               Your fins, too dry, no longer play you,

               And soon those fins no more upstay you;

               You drop; and now on deck survey you

                        Jack, Tom, and Bill,

               Who up may take, and down may lay you,

                        As suits their will.

               Oh! list my tale, fair maids of Britain!

               This subject fain I’d try my wit on,

               And show the rock you’re apt to split on:

                        Then cry not--“Pish!”--

               You’re all (I’m glad the thought I hit on)

                        Just flying fish!

               Beauty, does nature’s hand bestow it?

               It swells your pride, and plain you show it;

               Though wealthy cit, and airy poet

                        Your charms pursue,

               Church--physic--law--you he fair, you know it,

                        You’ll none, not you!  .

               Age looks too dry, and youth too blooming:

               The scholar’s face there’s too much gloom in;

               This man’s too dull, that too presuming;

                        His mouth’s too wide!--

               For mending, Lord! you think there’s room in

                        The best, when tried.

               In each you find some fault to snarl at,

               And wilful seek the sun by starlight;

               Till some gay glittering rogue in scarlet,

                        Who lures the eye,

               Dazzles poor miss, and then the varlet

                        Pretends to fly.

               His flight has piqued, his glitter caught her;

               And soon her mammy’s darling daughter,

               Whose eyes have made such mighty slaughter,

                        Charm’d by a fop,

               Is fairly hit ’twixt wind and water,

                        And, miss! you drop!

               Then certain fate of fallen lasses,

               When short-lived bliss more frail than glass is,

               To eyes of all degrees and classes

                        Exposed you stand,

               And soon your beauty circling passes

                   From hand to hand.

               In vain your flattering charms display you;

               From home and parents far away, you

               See former friends with scorn survey you;

                        While fools and brutes

               May take you up, or down may lay you,

                        As humour suits.

               Oh! mark, dear girls, the moral story

               Of one, who breathes but to adore ye!

               Let no rash action mar your glory;

                        But when you wish

               To catch some coxcomb, place before ye

                        The flying fish.


Two or three years ago, our captain, while his vessel was lying in Black
River Bay, for the purpose of loading, was informed by his sailors,
that their beef and other provisions frequently disappeared in a very
unaccountable manner. However, by setting a strict watch during the
night, he soon managed to clear up the mystery: and a negro, who had
made his escape from the workhouse, and concealed himself on board among
the bags of cotton, was found to be the thief. He was sent back to the
workhouse, of which the chain was still about his neck. But another
negro had better luck in a similar attempt on board of a different
vessel. He contrived to secrete himself in the lower part of it, where
the sugar hogsheads are stored, unknown to any one. As soon as the cargo
was completed, the planks above it were caulked down, and raised no more
till their ship reached Liverpool; when, to the universal astonishment,
upon opening the hold, out walked Mungo, in a wretched condition to be
sure, but still at least alive, and a freeman in Great Britain. During
his painful voyage, he had subsisted entirely upon sugar, of which he
had consumed nearly an hogshead; how he managed for water I could not
learn, nor can imagine.


The old steward, this morning, told one of the sailors, who complained
of being ill, that he would get well as soon as he should reach England,
and could have plenty of vegetables; “for,” he said, “the man had only
got a _stomachick_ complaint; nothing but just scurvy!”


Sea Terms.--The _sheets_, a term for various ropes; the _halyards_,
ropes which extend the topsails; the _painter_, the rope which fastens
the boat to the vessel; the eight points of the compass, south, south
and by east, south-south east, south east and by east, south-east,
east south and by east, east south east, east and by south east. The
knowledge of these points is termed “knowing how to box the compass.”


Many years ago, a new species of grass was imported into Jamaica, by Mr.
Vassal, (to whom an estate near my own then belonged), as he said “for
the purpose of feeding his pigs and his bookkeepers.” Its seeds being
soon scattered about by the birds, it has taken possession of the
cane-pieces, whence to eradicate it is an utter impossibility, the roots
being as strong as those of ginger, and insinuating themselves under
ground to a great extent; so that the only means of preventing it from
entirely choking up the canes, is plucking it out with the hand, which
is obliged to be done frequently, and has increased the labour of the
plantation at least one third. This nuisance, which is called “Vassal’s
grass,” from its original introducer, has now completely over-run the
parish of Westmoreland, has begun to show itself in the neighbouring
parishes, and probably in time will get a footing throughout the island.
St. Thomas’s in the East has been inoculated with another self-inflicted
plague, under the name of “the rifle-ant,” which was imported for the
purpose of eating up the ants of the country; and so to be sure they
did, but into the bargain they eat up every thing else which came in
their way, a practice in which they persist to this hour; so that it
may be doubted whether in Jamaica most execrations are bestowed in
the course of the day upon Vassal’s grass, the rifle-ants, Sir Charles
Price’s rats, or the Reporter of the African Society; only that the
maledictions uttered against the three first are necessarily local,
while the Reporter of the African Society comes in for curses from all

APRIL 30. (Tuesday.)

A whole calendar month has elapsed since our quitting Jamaica,
during which the wind has been favourable for something less than
four-and-twenty hours; either it has blown precisely from the point on
which we wanted to sail, or has been so faint, that we scarcely made
one knot an hour. However, on Tuesday last, finding ourselves in the
latitude of the “still-vexed Bermoothes,” by way of variety, a sudden
squall carried away both our lower stunsails in the morning; and at nine
in the evening there came on a gale of wind truly tremendous. The ship
pitched and rolled every minute, as if she had been on the point of
overturning; the hencoops floated about the deck, and many of the
poultry were found drowned in them the next morning. Just as the last
dead-light was putting up, the sea embraced the opportunity of
the window being open, to whip itself through, and half filled the
after-cabin with water; and in half an hour more a mountain of waves
broke over the vessel, and pouring itself through the sky-light,
paid the same compliment to the fore-cabin, with which it had already
honoured the after one. About four in the morning the storm abated, and
then we relapsed into our good old jog-trot pace of a knot an hour. Our
passengers consist of a Mrs. Walker with her two children, and a sick
surgeon of the name of Ashman.

MAY 5. (Sunday.)

We continue to proceed at such a tortoise-pace, that it has been thought
advisable to put the crew upon an allowance of water.

MAY 7.

A negro song.--“Me take my cutacoo, (i. e. a basket made of matting,)
and follow him to Lucea, and all for love of my bonny man-O--My bonny
man come home, come home! Doctor no do you good. When neger fall into
neger hands, buckra doctor no do him good more. Come home, my gold ring,
come home!” This is the song of a wife, whose husband had been Obeahed
by another woman, in consequence of his rejecting her advances. A negro
riddle: “Pretty Miss Nancy was going to market, and she tore her fine
yellow gown, and there was not a taylor in all the town who could mend
it again.” This is a ripe plantain with a broken skin. The negroes
are also very fond of what they call Nancy stories, part of which is
related, and part sung. The heroine of one of them is an old woman named
Mamma Luna, who having left a pot boiling in her hut, found it robbed
on her return. Her suspicions were divided between two children whom she
found at play near her door, and some negroes who had passed that way to
market. The children denied the theft positively. It was necessary for
the negroes, in order to reach their own estate, to wade through a river
at that time almost dry; and on their return, Mammy Luna (who it should
seem, was not without some skill in witchcraft,) warned them to take
care in venturing across the stream, for that the water would infallibly
rise and carry away the person who had stolen the contents of her pot;
but if the thief would but confess the offence, she engaged that no harm
should happen, as she only wanted to exculpate the innocent, and not to
punish the guilty. One and all denied the charge, and several
crossed the river without fear or danger; but upon the approach of a
_belly-woman_ to the bank, she was observed to hesitate. “My neger, my
neger,” said Mammy Luna, “why you stop? me tink, you savee well, who
thief me?” This accusation spirited up the woman, who instantly marched
into the river, singing as she went ( and the woman’s part is always
chanted frequently in chorus, which the negroes call, “taking up the

               “If da me eat Mammy Luna’s pease-O,

               Drowny me water, drowny, drowny!”

“My neger, my neger,” cried the old woman, “me sure now you the thief!
me see the water wet you feet. Come back, my neger, come back.” Still on
went the woman, and still continued her song of

               “If da me eat Mammy Luna’s pease, &c.”

“My neger, my neger,” repeated Mammy Luna, “me no want punish you; my
pot smell good, and you belly-woman. Come back, my neger, come back;
me see now water above your knee!” But the woman was obstinate; she
continued to sing and to advance, till she reached the middle of the
river’s bed, when down came a tremendous flood, swept her away, and she
never was heard of more; while Mammy Luna warned the other negroes
never to take the property of another; always to tell the truth; and, at
least, if they should be betrayed into telling a lie, not to persist in
it, otherwise they must expect to perish like their companion. Observe,
that a moral is always an indispensable part of a Nancy story. Another
is as follows:--“Two sisters had always lived together on the best
terms; but, on the death of one of them, the other treated very harshly
a little niece, who had been left to her care, and made her a common
drudge to herself and her daughter. One day the child having broken a
water-jug, was turned out of the house, and ordered not to return till
she could bring back as good a one. As she was going along, weeping,
she came to a large cotton-tree, under which was sitting an old woman
without a head. I suppose this unexpected sight made her gaze rather too
earnestly, for the old woman immediately enquired--‘Well, my piccaniny,
what you see?’ ‘Oh, mammy,’ answered the girl, ‘me no see nothing.’
‘Good child!’ said again the old woman; ‘and good will come to you.’ Not
far distant was a cocoa-tree; and here was another old woman, without
any more head than the former one. The same question was asked her, and
she failed not to give the same answer which had already met with so
good a reception. Still she travelled forwards, and began to feel faint
through want of food, when, under a mahogany tree, she not only saw a
third old woman, but one who, to her great satisfaction, had got a head
between her shoulders. She stopped, and made her best courtesy--‘How
day, grannie!’ ‘How day, my piccaniny; what matter, you no look well?’
‘Grannie, me lilly hungry.’ ‘My piccaniny, you see that hut, there’s
rice in the pot, take it, and yam-yam me; but if you see one black
puss, mind you give him him share.’ The child hastened to profit by the
permission; the ‘one black puss’ failed not to make its appearance, and
was served first to its portion of rice, after which it departed; and
the child had but just finished her meal, when the mistress of the hut
entered, and told her that she might help herself to three eggs out of
the fowl-house, but that she must not take any of the _talking_ ones:
perhaps, too, she might find the black puss there, also; but if she did,
she was to take no notice of her. Unluckily all the eggs seemed to be
as fond of talking as if they had been so many old maids; and the moment
that the child entered the fowl-house, there was a cry of ‘Take
_me!_ Take _me!_’ from all quarters. However she was punctual in her
obedience; and although the conversable eggs were remarkably fine and
large, she searched about till at length she had collected three little
dirty-looking eggs, that had not a word to say for themselves. The old
woman now dismissed her guest, bidding her to return home without fear;
but not to forget to break one of the eggs under each of the three
trees near which she had seen an old woman that morning. The first egg
produced a water-jug exactly similar to that which she had broken; out
of the second came a whole large sugar estate; and out of the third a
splendid equipage, in which she returned to her aunt, delivered up the
jug, related that an old woman in a red docker (i. e. petticoat) had
made her a great lady, and then departed in triumph to her sugar estate.
Stung by envy, the aunt lost no time in sending her own daughter to
search for the same good fortune which had befallen her cousin. She
found the cotton-tree and the headless old woman, and had the
same question addressed to her; but instead of returning the same
answer--‘What me see,’ said she; ‘me see one old woman without him
head!’ Now this reply was doubly offensive; it was rude, because
it reminded the old lady of what might certainly be considered as a
personal defect; and it was dangerous, as, if such a circumstance were
to come to the ears of the buckras, it might bring her into trouble,
women being seldom known to walk and talk without their heads, indeed,
if ever, except by the assistance of Obeah. ‘Bad child!’ cried the old
woman; ‘bad child! and bad will come to you!’ Matters were no better
managed near the cocoa-tree; and even when she reached the mahogany,
although she saw that the old woman had not only got her head on, but
had a red docker besides, she could not prevail on herself to say more
than a short ‘How day?’ without calling her ‘grannie.’ [Among negroes
it is almost tantamount to an affront to address by the name, without
affixing some term of relationship, such as ‘grannie,’ or ‘uncle,’ or
‘cousin.’] My Cornwall boy, George, told me one day, that ‘Uncle Sully
wanted to speak to massa.’ ‘Why, is Sully your uncle, George?’ ‘No,
massa; me only call him so for honour.’ However, she received the
permission to eat rice at the cottage, coupled with the injunction of
giving a share to the black puss; an injunction, however, which she
totally disregarded, although she scrupled not to assure her hostess
that she had suffered puss to eat till she could eat no more. The old
lady in the red petticoat seemed to swallow the lie very glibly, and
despatched the girl to the fowl-house for three eggs, as she had before
done her cousin; but having been cautioned against taking the talking
eggs, she conceived that these must needs be the most valuable; and,
therefore, made a point of selecting those three which seemed to be the
greatest gossips of the whole poultry yard. Then, lest their chattering
should betray her disobedience, she thought it best not to return into
the hut, and, accordingly, set forward on her return home; but she had
not yet reached the mahogany tree, when curiosity induced her to break
one of the eggs. To her infinite disappointment it proved to be empty;
and she soon found cause to wish that the second had been empty too;
for, on her dashing it against the ground, out came an enormous yellow
snake, which flew at her with dreadful hissings. Away ran the girl; a
fallen bamboo lay in her path; she stumbled over it, and fell. In
her fall the third egg was broken; and the old woman without the head
immediately popping out of it, told her, that if she had treated her as
civilly, and had adhered as closely to the truth as her cousin had done,
she would have obtained the same good fortune; but that as she had shown
her nothing but rudeness, and told her nothing but lies, she must be
contented to carry nothing home but the empty egg-shells. The old woman
then jumped upon the yellow snake, galloped away with incredible speed,
and never showed her red docker in that part of the island any more.”


At breakfast the captain was explaining to me the dangerous consequences
of breaking the wheel-rope: two hours afterwards the wheel-rope broke,
and round swung the vessel. However, as the accident fortunately took
place in the day time, and when the sea was perfectly calm, it was
speedily remedied: but this was “talking of the devil and his imps” with
a vengeance.


During the early part of my outward-bound voyage I was extremely
afflicted with sea-sickness; and between eight o’clock on a Monday
morning, and twelve on the following Thursday, I actually brought up
almost a thousand lines, with rhymes at the end of them. Having nothing
better to do at present, I may as well copy them into this book.
Composed with such speed, and under such circumstances, I take it for
granted that the verses cannot be very good; but let them be ever so
bad, I defy any one to be more sick while reading them than the author
himself was while writing them. This strange story was found by me in
an old Italian book, called “II Palagio degli Incanti,” in which it was
related as a fact, and stated to be taken from the “Annals of Portugal,”
 an historical work. I will not vouch for the truth of it myself; and, at
all events, I earnestly request that no person who may read these verses
will ask me “who the hero really was?” If he does, I shall only return
the same answer which the lady gave her husband when, being on the point
of shipwreck, he requested her to tell him whether she had really ever
wronged his bed? “My dear,” said she, “sink or swim, that secret shall
go to the grave with me.”



               “Should I report this now, would they believe me?

               If I should say, I saw such islanders,

               Who, though they were of monstrous shape, yet, note,

               Their manners were more gentle-kind, than of

               Our human generation you shall find

               Many; nay, almost any!”--

                        _Tempest_, Act 3.


               Speed, Halcyon, speed, and here construct thy nest:

               Brood on these waves, and charm the winds to rest!

               No wave should dare to rage, no wind to roar,

               Till lands yon blooming maid on Lisbon’s shore.

               That maid, as Venus fair and chaste is she,

               When first to dazzled sky and glorying sea

               The bursting conch Love’s new-born queen exposed,

               The fairest pearl that ever shell inclosed.

                   While love’s fantastic hand had joyed to braid

               Her locks with weeds and shells like some sea-maid,

               High seated at the stern was Irza seen,

               And seemed to rule the tide, as ocean’s queen.

               Smooth sailed the bark; the sun shone clear and bright

               The glittering billows danced along in light;

               While Irza, free from fear, from sorrow free,

               Bright as the sun, and buoyant as the sea,

               Bade o’er the lute her flying fingers move,

               And sang a Spanish lay of Moorish love.


               (From Las Guerras Civiles de Granada.’)

               Lo! beneath yon haughty towers,

                   Where the young and gallant Zayde

               Fondly chides the lingering hours,

                   Till they bring his lovely maid.

               Evening shades are gathering round him;

                   Doubting fear his heart alarms;

               But nor doubt nor fear can wound him,

                   If he views his lady’s charms.

               Hark! the window softly telling,

                   Zayda comes to bless his sight;

               Bright as sun-beams clouds dispelling,

                   Mild as Cynthia’s trembling light.

               “Dearest, say, to what I’m fated!”

                   Cried the Moor, as near he drew:

               “Is the tale my page related,

                   Loveliest lady, is it true?

               “To an ancient lord thy beauty

                   Does thy tyrant father doom?

               Must my love, the slave of duty,

                   Waste in age’s arms her bloom?

               “If my lot be still to languish,

                   Thine, another’s bride to be,

               Let thy lips pronounce my anguish;

                   ‘Twill be bliss to die by thee!”

               Rising sighs her grief discover;

                   Fast her tears, while speaking, pour--

               “Zayde, my Zayde, our loves are over!

                   Zayde, my Zayde, we meet no more!

               “Allah knows, I cherished dearly,

                   Fondest hopes of being thine!

               Allah knows, I grieve sincerely,

                   When I those fond hopes resign!

               “May some lady, happier, fairer,

                   Blest with every charm and grace,

               Whose kind friends would grieve to tear her

                   From all comfort, fill my place:

               “May all pleasures greet your bridal;

                   May she give you heart for heart!

               Never be she from her idol

                   Forced, as I am now, to part!”

               “Rumour did not then deceive me!”

                   Wild the Moor in anguish cries:

               “Then ’tis true! for wealth you leave me!

                   Wealth has charms for Zayda’s eyes!

               “Blind to beauty, cold to pleasure,

                   Ozmyn shall my hopes destroy!

               Yes; though worthless such a treasure,

                   He shall Zayda’s charms enjoy!

               “Fare thee well! so soon to sever

                   Little thought I, when you said,

               “Thine it is, and thine for ever

                   ‘Shall be Zayda’s heart, my Zayde!’”


               Scarce moved the zephyr’s wings, while breathed the song,

               And waves in silence bore the bark along.

               ’Twas Irza sang! Rosalvo at her side

               Gazed on his cherub-love, his destined bride,

               Felt at each look his soul in softness melt,

               Nor wished to feel more bliss than then he felt.

               Gainst the high mast, intent on book and beads,

               A reverend abbot leans, and prays, and reads:

               Yet oft with secret glance the pair surveys,

               Marks how she looks, and listens what he says.

               An idle task! The terms which speak their love

               Had served for prayer, and passed unblamed above.

               He finds each tender phrase so free from harm,

               So pure each thought, each look so chaste though warm,

               Still to his book and beads he turns again,

               Pleased to have found his guardian care so vain;

               While oft a blush of shame his pale cheek wears,

               To find his thoughts so much less pure than theirs.

                   Oh! they _were_ pure! pure as the moon, whose ray

               Loves on the shrines of virgin-saints to play;

               Pure as the falling snow, ere yet its shower

               Bends with its weight its own pale fragile flower.

               Not fourteen years were Irza’s; nay, tis true,

               Most maids at twelve know more than Irza knew:

               And scarce two more had spread with silken down

               Her youthful cousin’s cheek of glowing brown.

               His tutor sage (in fact, not show, a saint)

               Had kept his heart and mind secure from taint.

               In liberal arts, in healthful manly sports,

               In studies fit for councils, camps, and courts,

               His moments found their full and best employ,

               Nor left one leisure hour for guilty joy.

               Since her blue dove-like eyes six springs had seen,

               Immured in cloistered shades had Irza been,

               From duties done her sole delight deriven,

               And her sole care to please the queen of heaven.

               None e’er approached her, save the pure and good:

               Her promised spouse; that monk who near them stood;

               Her viceroy uncle, and some guardian nun

               Were all she e’er had seen by moon or sun.

               No amorous forms, by wanton art designed,

               Had e’er inflamed her blood, or stained her mind;

               No hint in books, no coarse or doubtful phrase

               E’er bade her curious thought explore the maze

               No glowing dream by memory’s pencil drawn

               Had e’er profaned her sleep, and made her blush at dawn.

               With flowers she decked the virgin mother’s shrine,

               Nor guessed a wonder made that name divine.

               The very love, which lent her looks such fire,

               Ne’er raised one blameful thought, nor loose desire;

               Like streams of gold, which in alembic roll,

               The flames she suffered but refined her soul;

               Made it more free from stain, more light from dross,

               With brighter lustre, and with softer gloss.

               That, which she bore her bridegroom, well might claim

               A brother’s love, and bear a sister’s name:

               And e’en where now her lips in playful bliss

               Sealed on Rosalvo’s eyes a balmy kiss,

               Love’s highest, dearest grace she meant to show,

               Nor thought he more could ask, nor she bestow.


                   From Goa’s precious sands to Lisbon’s shore.

               The viceroy’s countless wealth that vessel bore:

               In heaps there jewels lay of various dyes,

               Ingots of gold, and pearls of wondrous size;

               And there (two gems worth all that Cortez won)

               He placed his angel niece and only son.

               Sebastian sought the Moors! With loyal zeal

               Rosalvo cased his youthful limbs in steel;

               To die or conquer by his sovereign’s side

               He came; and with him came his destined bride.

               E’en now in Lisbon’s court for Irza’s hair

               Virgins the myrtle’s nuptial crown prepare,

               And Hymen waves his torch from Cintra’s towers,

               Hails the dull bark, and chides the slow-winged hours.

                   Seldom in this bad world two hearts we see

               So blest, and meriting so blest to be;

               Then oh! ye winds, gently your pinions move,

               And speed in safety home the bark of love.

               Brood, Halcyon, brood: thy sea-spell chaunt again,

               And keep the mirror of the enchanted main,

               Where his white wing the exulting tropic dips,

               Calm as their hearts, and smiling as their lips.

                   The charm prevails! Hushed are the waves and still;

               The expanded sails light favouring zephyrs fill.

               Wafting with motion scarce perceived; and now

               In rapture Irza from the vessel’s prow

               Gazed on an isle with verdure gay and bright,

               Which seemed (so green it shone in solar light)

               An emerald set in silver. Long her eyes

               Dwelt on its rocks; and “Oh! dear friend,” she cries,

               And clasps Rosalvo’s hand,--“admire with me

               Yon isle, which rising crowns the silent sea!

               How bold those mossy cliffs, which guard the strand,

               Like spires, and domes, and towers in fairy-land!

               How green the plains! how balsam-fraught the breeze!

               How bend with golden fruit the loaded trees;

               While, fluttering midst their boughs in joyful notes,

               Myriads of birds attune their warbling throats!

               Blooms all the ground with flowers! and mark, oh! mark

               That giant palm, whose foliage broad and dark

               Plays on the sun-clad rock!--Beneath, a cave

               Spreads wide its sparry mouth: while loosely wave

               A thousand creepers, dyed with thousand stains,

               Whose wreaths enrich the trees, and cloathe the plains.

               Dear friend, how blest, if passed my life could be

               In that fair isle, with God alone and thee,

               Far from the world, from man and fiend secure,

               No guilt to harm us, and no vice to lure!

               Bright round the virgin’s shrine would blush and bloom

               That world of flowers, which pour such rich perfume;

               And sweet yon caves repeat with mellowing swell

               Eve’s closing hymn, when chimed the vesper-bell.”

                   The pilot heard--“Oh! spring of life,” he cried,

               “How bright and beauteous seems the world untried!

               I too, like you, in youth’s romantic bowers

               Dreamt not of wasps in fruit, nor thorns in flowers;

               And when on banks of sand the sunbeams shone,

               I deemed each sparkling flint a precious stone.

               Ah! noble lady, learn, that isle so fair,

               The fields all roses, and all balm the air,

               That isle is one, where every leaf’s a spell,

               Where no good thing e’er dwelt, nor e’er shall dwell.

               No fisher, forced from home by adverse breeze,

               Would slake his thirst from yon infernal trees:

               No shipwrecked sailor from the following waves

               Would seek a shelter in those haunted caves.

               There flock the damned! there Satan reigns, and revels!

               And thence yon isle is called (( The Isle of Devils!”

               Nor think, on rumour’s faith this tale is given:

               Once, hot in youthful blood, when hell nor heaven

               Much claimed my thoughts, (the truth with shame I tell;

               Holy St. Francis, guard thy votary well! )

               In quest of water near that isle I drew:

               When lo! such monstrous forms appalled my view,

               Such shrieks I heard, sounds all so strange and dread,

               That from the strand with shuddering haste I fled,

               Plyed as for life my oars, nor backward bent my head.

               And though since then hath flown full many a year,

               Still sinks my heart, still shake my limbs with fear,

               Soon as yon awful island meets mine eye!

               Cross we our breasts! say, ‘Ave!’ and pass by!”


                   The isle is past. And still in tranquil pride

               Bears the rich bark its treasures o’er the tide.

               And now the sun, ere yet his lamp he shrouds,

               Stains the pure western sky with crimson clouds:

               Now from the sea’s last verge he sheds his rays,

               And sinks triumphant in a golden blaze.

               Still o’er the heavens reflected splendours flow,

               Which make the world of waters gleam and glow:

               Wide and more wide each billow shines more bright,

               Till all the empurpled ocean floats in light.

               Soon as fair Irza marked the evening’s close,

               Grave from her seat the young enthusiast rose,

               Told o’er her beads, and when the string was said,

               “Ave Maria!” sang the enraptured maid;

               Her look so humble, so devout her air,

               Each worldly wish appeared so lost in prayer,

               All felt, no thought could to her mind be near,

               That man her form could see, her voice could hear:

               Hushed all the ship!--Each sailor checked his glee,

               Clasped his hard hands, and bent his trembling knee;

               And each (as rose that soft mysterious strain,

               Best help in trouble, and sweet balm in pain)

               Gazed on the maid with mingled awe and fear,

               Damp on his cheek perceived the unwonted tear,

               Then raised to Heaven his eyes in earnest prayer,

               And half believed himself already there.

               Low too Rosalvo knelt, nor knew, if now

               For Mary’s grace, or Irza’s, rose his vow.

               Scarce e’en the monk forbore to kneel; his child

               Fondly he viewed, and sweetly, gravely smiled,

               And blessed that God, as swelled each melting note,

               Who gave such heavenly powers to human throat!

               Melodious strains, oh! speed your flight above

               On Neptune’s wings, and reach the ear of Love!

               Oh! spread thy starry robe, celestial queen,

               (For much thine aid she needs!) from ills to screen

               Thy virgin-votaress!--Silence holds the deep,

               And e’en the helmsman’s eyes are sealed by sleep:

               Yet mark yon gathering clouds!--the moon is fled!--

               Mark too that deathlike stillness, deep and dread!

               And hark!--from yon black cloud an awful voice

               Pours the wild chaunt, and bids the winds rejoice!


               I marked her!--the pennants, how gaily they streamed!--

               How well was she armed for resistance!

               The waves that sustained her, how brightly they beamed

               In the sun’s setting rays, and the sailors all seemed

               To forget the storm-spirit’s existence.

               But I marked her!--and now from the clouds I descend!

               My spells to the billows I mutter!

               I clap my black pinions! my wand I extend,

               In darkness the sky and the ocean to blend,

               And the winds mark the charms which I utter.

               Now more and more rapid in eddies I whirl,

               In my voice while the thunder-clap rumbles:

               And now the white mountainous waves, as they curl,

               I joy o’er the deck of the vessel to hurl,

               And laugh, as she tosses and tumbles.

               The crew is alarmed; but the tempest prevails,

               No care from my fury delivers!

               Ere there’s time for their furling the canvass, the sails

               From the top to the bottom I split with my nails,

               And they stream in the blast, rent in shivers!

               The sky and the ocean, fierce battle they wage;

               The elements all are in action!

               No sailor the storm longer hopes to assuage:

               What clamours, what hurry, what oaths, and what rage!

               Oh, brave! what despair, what distraction!

               Their heart-strings, they ache, while my ravage they view;

               Each knee ’gainst its fellow is knocking!

               My eyes, darting lightnings to dazzle the crew,

               Burn and blaze; and those lightnings so forked and so blue

               Make the darkness of midnight more shocking.

               The morn to that vessel no succour shall bring!

               Now high o’er the main-mast I hover;

               Now I plunge from the sky to the deck with a spring,

               And I shatter the mast with one flap of my wing;

               It cracks! and it breaks! and goes over!

               Hew away, gallant seamen! fatigue never dread;

               You shall all rest to-night from your labours!

               The ocean’s wide mantle shall o’er you be spread,

               The white bones of mariners pillow your head,

               And the whale and the shark be your neighbours.

               For I swoop from aloft, and I blaze, and I burn,

               While my spouts the salt billows are drinking:

               And I drive ’gainst the vessel, and beat down the stern,

               And pour in a flood, which shall never return,

               And all cry--66 She’s sinking! she’s sinking!”--

               The barge?--well remembered!--’tis strong, and ’tis large,

               And will live in the billows’ commotion;

               But now all my spouts from the clouds I discharge,

               And down goes the vessel, and down goes the barge!

               Hurrah! I reign lord of the ocean!

               How their shrieks rose in chorus! Now all is at rest;

               The tempest no longer is brewing!

               My dreams by the harm newly done will be blest,

               So I’ll sleep for a while on a thunder-cloud’s breast,

               Then rouze to hurl round me fresh ruin.

               Hushed is the storm: the heavens no longer frown;

               And o’er that spot, where late the bark went down,

               All bright and smiling flows the treacherous wave,

               Like sunshine playing on a new-made grave.

               Full rose the watery moon: it showed a plank,

               To which, all deadly pale, with tresses dank,

               And robes of white, on which the sea had flung

               Loose wreaths of ocean-flowers, unconscious clung

               A fair frail form:--‘twas Irza!--to the shore

               Each following wave the virgin nearer bore;

               And now the mountain surge overwhelmed the land,

               Then flying left her on the wished-for strand.

               Soon hope and love of life her powers renew;

               Swift towards a cliff she speeds, which towers in view,

               Nor waits the wave’s return’; and now again

               Safe on the shore, and rescued from the main,

               Prostrate she falls, and thanks the Sire of life,

               Whose arm hath snatched her from the billowy strife.

               That duty done, she rose, and gazed around:

               Mossed are the rocks, and flowers bestrew the ground.

               Not distant far, a group of fragrant trees

               Bend with their golden fruit. The ocean-breeze

               Shakes a gigantic palm, which o’er a cave

               Its dark green foliage spreads, and wildly wave

               Their blooming wreaths, all starred with midnight dews,

               A thousand creeping plants of thousand hues.

               Then flashed the dreadful truth on Irza’s view!

               That cave--those trees--that giant palm she knew!

               Then from her lips for ever fled the smile:

               --“Mother of God!” she shrieked, “the Demon-Isle!”--

               Long on a broken crag she knelt, and prayed,

               And wearied every saint for strength and aid;

               Then speechless, heedless, senseless lay; when, lo!

               Strange mutterings near her roused from torpid woe

               Her soul to fresh alarms. Her head she reared,

               And near her face an hideous face appeared;

               But straight ’twas gone!--In trembling haste she rose,

               And saw a ring of monstrous dwarfs inclose

               Her rugged couch. Not Teniers’ hand could paint

               Forms more grotesque to scare the tempted saint,

               Than here, as on they pressed in circling throng,

               With gnashing teeth seemed for her blood to long,

               And grinned, and glared, and gloated! Quicker grew

               Her breath! Death hemmed her round! As yet, ‘tis true,

               Far off they kept; but soon, more daring grown,

               More near they crept, oft sharpening on some stone

               Their long crookt claws; and still, as on they came,

               They screeched and chattered; and their eyes of flame,

               Twinkling and goggling, told, what pleasure grim

               ‘Twould give to rack and rend her limb from limb:

               --“Heaven take my soul!” she cried,--when, hark! a


               So full, so sad, so strange--not shriek--not groan--

               Something scarce earthly--breathed above her head--

               ‘Twas heard, and instant every imp was fled.

               What was that sound? What pitying saint from high

               Had stooped to save her? Now to heaven her eye

               Grateful she raised. Almighty powers!--a form,

               Gigantic as the palm, black as the storm,

               All shagged with hair, wild, strange in shape and show,

               Towered on the loftiest cliff, and gazed below.

               On her he gazed, and gazed so fixed, so hard,

               Like knights of bronze some hero’s tomb who guard.

               Bright wreaths of scarlet plumes his temples crowned,

               And round his ankles, arms, and wrists were wound

               Unnumbered glassy strings of crystals bright,

               Corals, and shells, and berries red and white.

               On her he gazed, and floods of sable fires

               Rolled his huge eyes, and spoke his fierce desires,

               As on his club, a torn-up lime, he leaned.--

               “Help, Heaven!” thought Irza, “‘tis the master-fiend!”

               Not long he paused: he now with one quick bound

               Sprang from the cliff, and lighted on the ground.

               Back fled the maid in terror; but her fear

               Was needless. Humbly, slowly crept he near,

               Then kissed the earth, his club before her laid,

               And of his neck her footstool would have made:

               But from his touch she shrank. He raised his head,

               And saw her limbs convulsed, her face all dread,

               And felt the cause his presence! Sad and slow

               He rose, resumed his club, and turn’d to go.

               Reproachful was his look, but still ’twas kind;

               He climb’d the rock, but oft he gazed behind;

               He reach’d the cave; one look below he threw;

               Plaintive again he moan’d, and with slow steps withdrew.

               She is alone; she breathes again!--Fly, fly!--

               Ah! wretched girl, too late! with frenzied eye,

               (Scarce gone the master-fiend) his imps she sees,

               Pour from the rocks, and drop from all the trees

               With yell, and squeak, and many a horrid sound,

               And form a living fence to hedge her round:

               --“Now then,” she cried, 4 c all’s over!--oh! farewell,

               Farewell, Rosalvo!” On her knee she fell,

               And told her beads with trembling hands. Yet still

               On came the throng; and soon, with wanton skill

               (Lured by its coral glow and cross of gold),

               One snatch’d her chaplet, nor forsook his hold,

               Though hard she struggled: while more bold, more fierce

               Another seized her arm, and dared to pierce

               With his sharp teeth its snow. The pure blood stream’d

               Fast from the wound, and loud the virgin scream’d;

               And strait again was heard that sad strange moan,

               And instant all the dwarfs again were flown.

               Scarce conscious that she lived, scarce knowing why,

               Half grieved, half grateful, Irza raised her eye:

               Still on the rock (not dared he down to spring)

               Dark and majestic stood the demon-king;

               Then lowly knelt, and raised his arm to wave

               An orange bough, and court her to his cave.

               Lost are her friends; no help, no hope is nigh;

               What can she do, and whither can she fly?

               To him already twice her life she owes,

               And but his presence now restrains her foes.

               On wings of flame the sun had left the main;

               And peeping from the trees, the imps too plain

               Shot darts of rage from their green orbs of sight:

               She heard their gibberings, and she mark’d their spite;

               And, while they eyed her form, their care she saw

               To grind their teeth, and whet each cruel claw.

               Demons alike, the monarch-demon’s breast

               Appear’d least fierce; of ills she chose the best,

               Sought, where profaned her coral rosary lay,

               Then slowly mounted where he show’d the way.

               Cautious he led her tow’rds his lone abode,

               And clear’d each stone that might impede her road.

               With pain she trod: she reach’d the cave; but there

               No more their weight her wearied limbs could bear.

               Exhausted, fainting, anguish, terror, thirst,

               Fatigue o’erpower’d her frame: her heart must burst,

               Her eyes grow dim! Sunk on the rock she lies,

               And sinking, prays she never more may rise.

               Long in this deathlike swoon she lay: at length

               Exhausted nature show’d forth all its strength,

               And call’d her back to life. Her opening eyes

               Beheld a grotto vast in depth and size,

               Whose high straight sides forbade all hopes of flight:

               The fractured roof gave ample space for light,

               Through which in gorgeous guise the day-star shone

               On many a lucid shell and brilliant stone.

               Through pendent spars and crystals as it falls,

               Each beam with rainbow hues adorns the walls,

               Gilds all the roof, emblazes all the ground,

               And scatters light, and warmth, and splendour round.

               Gently on pillowing furs reposed her head;

               With many a verdant rush her couch was spread;

               A gourd with blushing fruits was near her placed,

               Whose scent and colour woo’d alike her taste;

               And round her strewn there bloom’d unnumber’d flowers

               Charming her sense with aromatic powers.

               One only object chill’d her blood with ear:

               Far off removed (but still, alas! too near),

               Scarce breathing, lest a breath her sleep might break,

               There stood the fiend, and watch’d to see her wake.

               In sooth, if credit outward show might crave,

               Than Irza, ne’er had nymph an humbler slave.

               He watched her every glance; her frown he fear’d;

               And if his pains to meet her wish appear’d,

               All pains seem’d far o’er-paid, all cares appeased,

               And so she found but pleasure, he was pleased.

               One power he claim’d, but claim’d that power alone:

               Still, when he left her side, a mass of stone

               Barr’d up the grotto, nor allow’d her feet

               To pass the limits of her bright retreat.

               But when in quest of food not forced to stray,

               In Irza’s sight he wore the livelong day,

               And show’d her living springs and noontide shades,

               Spice-breathing groves, and flower-enamell’d glades.

               For her he still selects the sweetest roots,

               The coolest waters, and the loveliest fruits;

               To deck her charms the softest furs he brings,

               And plucks their plumage from flamingo wings;

               Bids blooming shrubs, to shade her, bend in bowers,

               And strews her couch with fragrant herbs and flowers

               While many an ivy-twisted grate restrains

               The splendid tenants of the etherial plains.

               Then, when she sought her lonesome grot at eve,

               And waved her hand, and warn’d him take his leave,

               Her will was his: he breathed his plaintive moan,

               Gazed one last look, then gently roll’d the stone.

               Perhaps, such constant care and worship paid,

               More fit for angel than for mortal maid,

               At length had won her, with more grateful mind

               To view his gifts, and pay respect so kind;

               But, as her giant-gaoler she esteem’d

               Some prince of subterraneous fire, she deem’d

               His favours snares, his presents only given

               To shake her faith, and steal her soul from heaven.

               Still then her loathing heart remain’d the same,

               Joy’d when he went, and shudder’d when he came;

               And when to share his fruits by hunger press’d,

               Ever she bless’d them first, and cross’d her breast.

               Days creep--months roll--no change! no hope! and oh!

               Rosalvo lost, what hope can life bestow?

               Death, only death, she feels, can end her woes;

               Nor doubts death soon will bring that wish’d-for close;

               For now her frame, her mind, confess disease;

               Painful and faint she moves; her tottering knees

               Scarce bear her weight; and oft, by humour moved,

               Her sickening soul now loathes what late it loved.

               It comes! the moment comes! Her frame is rent

               By sharper pangs; her nerves, too strongly bent,

               Seem on the point to break; her forehead burns;

               Her curdling blood is fire, is ice by turns;

               Her heart-strings crack!--“This hour is sure her last!’

               Fainting she sinks, and hopes “that hour is pass’d!”

               Wake, Irza, wake to grief most strange and deep!

               Still must thou live, and only live to weep!

               Oh, lift thine aching head, thy languid eyes,

               And mark what hideous stranger near thee lies.

               “Guard me, all blessed saints!”--A monster child

               Press’d her green couch; and, as it grimly smiled,

               Its shaggy limbs, and eyes of sable fire,

               Betray’d the crime, and claim’d its hellish sire!

               “Lost! lost! My soul is lost!” the affrighted maid,

               (Ah, now a maid no more!) distracted, said,

               And wrung her hands. Those words she scarce could say;

               Yet would have pray’d, but fear’d’t was sin to pray!

               That only veil which ne’er admits a stain,

               The veil of ignorance, was rent in twain:

               In spite of virtue, cloisters, horror, youth,

               She knows, and feels, and shudders at the truth.

               That night accursed!--In death-like swoon she slept--

               Then near her couch if that dark demon crept--

               Oh! where was then her guardian angel’s aid?

               And would not heavenly Mary save her maid?

               Deprived of sense--betray’d by place and time--

               Then was she doom’d to share the unconscious crime?

               Debased, deflower’d, and stamp’d a wretch for life,

               A monster’s mother, and a demon’s wife?

               Oh! at that thought her soul what passions tear!

               How then she beats her breast, how rends her hair,

               And bids, with golden ringlets scatter’d round,

               Stream all the air, and glitter all the ground!

               Sighs, sobs, and shrieks the place of words supply;

               And still she mourns to live, and prays to die,

               Till heart denies to groan, and eyes to flow;

               Then, on her couch of rushes sinking low,

               Languid and lost she lies, in silent, senseless woe.

               What lifts her burning head? why opes her eye?

               What makes her blood run back? A faint shrill cry!

               Too well, alas! that cry was understood:

               The monster pined for want, and claim’d its food.

               Then in her heart what rival passions strove!

               How shrinks disgust, how yearns maternal love!

               Now to its life her feelings she prefers;

               Now Nature wakes, and makes her own--“’Tis hers!”

               Loathing its sight, she melts to hear its cries,

               And, while she yields the breast, averts her eyes.

               Not so the demon-sire: the child he raised,

               He kiss’d it--danced it--nursed it--knelt, and gazed,

               Till joyful tears gush’d forth, and dimm’d his sight:

               Scarce Irza’s self was view’d with more delight.

               He held it tow’rds her--horror seem’d to thrill

               Her frame. He sigh’d, and clasp’d it closer still.

               Once, and but once, his features wrath express’d:

               He saw her shudder, as it drain’d her breast;

               And, while reproach half mingled with his moan,

               Snatch’d it from her’s, and press’d it to his own.

               Three months had pass’d; still lived the monster-brat:

               Its sire had sought the wood; alone she sat:

               She sheds no tears--no tears are left to shed;

               Unmoisten’d burn her eyes--her heart seems dead--

               Her form seems marble. Lo! from far the sound

               Of music steals, and fills the caves around.

               She starts!--scarce breathing--trembling;--“Oh! for


               But hark! for nearer now the minstrel sings. .



               When summer smiled on Goa’s bowers

               They seem’d so fair;

               All light the skies, all bloom the flowers,

               All balm the air!

               The mock-bird swell’d his amorous lay,

               Soft, sweet, and clear; .

               And all was beauteous, all was gay,

               For she was near.


               But now the skies in vain are bright

               With Summer’s glow;

               The pea-dove’s call to Love’s delight

               Augments my woé;

               And blushing roses vainly bloom;

               Their charms are fled,

               And all is sadness, all is gloom,

               For she is dead!


               Now o’er thy head, my virgin love,

               Rolls Ocean’s wave;

               But fond regret, in myrtle grove,

               Hath dug thy grave.

               Sweet flowers, around her vacant urn

               Your wreaths I’ll twine,

               And pray such flowers, ere Spring’s return,

               May garland mine!

               “He! he!”--That love-lorn dirge--that heavenly


               That air, she taught him‘t was Rosalvo sung!

               Rosalvo, whom the waves, which wreck’d their bark,

               Had borne, like her, for purpose sad and dark,

               To that strange isle; though far remote the beach

               From Irza’s grot, which Fate ordain’d him reach;

               But now at length his curious search explores

               These rude and slippery crags and distant shores;

               And while he treads his dangerous path, the strains

               Which Irza taught him soothe her lover’s pains.

               She hears his steps, and hears them soon more near;

               And loud she cries--“Rosalvo! Hear! oh, hear!

               ‘Tis Irza calls!” and now more quick, more nigh,

               Down the steep rock she hears those footsteps fly.

               Again she calls. He comes! He searches round;

               He seeks the gate, and soon the gate is found.

               Alas! ‘t is found in vain! the marble guard

               Seem’d rooted as the rock, whose mouth it barr’d.

               Yet still, with labouring nerves, to move the stone

               He struggles. Now he stops; and, hark! A groan!

               But one; then all was hush’d! A sickening chill

               Seized Irza’s heart, and seem’d her veins to thrill.

               Fain had she call’d her youthful bridegroom’s name;

               Her tongue Fear’s numbing fingers seem’d to lame.

               Footsteps!--more near they drew:--slow rolled the


               The infernal gaoler came, but came alone.

               With anxious glance his eye explored the cell;

               But when it fix’d on her’s, abash’d it fell.

               He knelt, and seem’d to fear her frown. He bore

               His club.’T was splash’d with brains! ‘twas wet with


               She fear’d--she guess’d--she rush’d--she ran--she


               Nor dared the fiend her frantic course pursue.

               “Rosalvo! speak! Rosalvo!” Shrill, yet sweet,

               She wakes the echoes. What obstructs her feet?

               ‘T is he, the young, the good, the kind, the fair!

               As some frail lily, which the passing share *

               Or wanton boy hath wounded, droops its head,

               Its whiteness wither’d, and its fragrance fled,

               Low lay the youth, and from his temple’s wound

               With precious streams bedew’d the ensanguin’d ground.

               Then reason fled its seat! She shrieks! she raves!

               And fills with hideous yells the ocean caves;

               Rends her bright locks, and laughs to see them fly,

               And bids them seek Rosalvo in the sky.

               To dig his grave she fiercely ploughs the ground,

               Loud shrieks his name, nor feels the flints that wound

               Her bosom’s globes, and stain their snow with gore,

               As wild she dashes down, and beats in rage the floor.

               Now fail her strength, her spirits; mute she sits,

               Silent and sad; then laughs and sings by fits.

               A statue now she seems, or one just dead,

               Her looks all gloom, her eyes two balls of lead:

               Then simply smiles, and chaunts, with idiot glee,

               “Ave Maria! Benedicite!”

               Till, Nature’s powers revived by rest, again

               The fury passions riot in her brain,

               And all is rage, revenge, and helpless, hopeless pain.

               Days, weeks, months pass. Time came with slow relief;

               But still at length it came. No more her grief

               Disturbs her brain: she knows “that groan was his!”

               And fully feels herself the wretch she is.

               She rises: towards the grotto’s mouth she goes,

               Nor dares the fiend her wandering steps oppose.

               She seeks the spot on which Rosalvo fell,

               On which he died! She knows that spot too well!

               But, lo! no corse was there! All smooth and green

               A velvet turf o’erstrewn with flowers was seen,

               And fenced with roses. “Oh! whose pious care

               Hath deck’d this grave? Hear, gracious Heaven, his


               When most he needs!” While thus in doubt she stands,

               She marks the fiend’s approach. His ebon hands

               Sustain’d a gourd of flowers of various hue;

               He pour’d them, kiss’d the turf, and straight withdrew

               Hither each morn his blooming gifts he bore,

               Smooth’d the green sod, and strew’d it o’er and o’er.

               Hither, each morn, came Irza; on those flowers

               She wept, she pray’d, she sang away her hours.

               So mourns the nightingale on poplar spray *,

               Her callow brood by shepherds borne away,

               Weeps all the night, and from her green retreat

               Fills the wide groves with warblings sad as sweet.

               And still fresh woes succeed. She feels again

               Mysterious pangs, nor doubts her cause of pain.

               Too sure, while lost in maniac state she lay,

               Her sense, her wits, her feeling all away,

               The fiend once more had seized the unguarded hour

               To force her weakness, and abuse his ower.

               “Qualis populeâ,” &c.--Virgil.

               Again Lucina came. That new-born cry,

               Shuddering, again she heard; her fearful eye

               Wander’d around awhile, nor dared to stay.

               “There, there he lies! my child!” With fresh essay

               Once more she turn’d. But when at length her sight

               Dwelt on its face, her wonder--her delight--

               Can ne’er by tongue be told, by fancy guess’d!

               Frantic she caught, she kiss’d, and lull’d him on her breast.

               Oh! who can paint how Irza loved that child!

               Grieved when he moan’d, and smiled whene’er he smiled!

               His dimpled arm soft on the rushes lay;

               Through his fine skin the blood was seen to play;

               That skin than down of swans more smooth and white;

               Nor e’er shone summer sky so blue and bright,

               As shone the eyes of that same cherub elf;

               In small the model of her beauteous self.

               The scant gold locks which gilt his ivory brow,

               Were sun-beams gleaming on a globe of snow;

               And on his coral lips the red which stood,

               Shamed the first rose, whose milk was Paphia’s blood.

               By fairy-thefts since nurses were beguiled,

               Never stole fairy yet a lovelier child!

               In Nature’s costlier charms no babe array’d,

               At length a mother’s fears and throes repaid:

               Not when Lucina first in myrtle grove,

               To Beauty’s kiss presented new-born Love;

               And while, with wond’ring eyes, the immortal boy

               Imbibed new light, and pour’d ecstatic joy:

               He kiss’d and drain’d by turns her fragrant breast,

               Till amorous ring-doves coo’d the god to rest.

               Mothers may love as much, but never more,

               Nor e’er did mother love so well before,

               As Irza loved that child! Her sable lord

               Mark’d well that love; and now, to health restored,

               He felt her child to home would chain her feet,

               Nor roll’d the stone to close her lone retreat.

               Still, when he went, he with him bore away

               That fav’rite babe, nor fear’d she far would stray.

               Arm’d with his club, she now might safely rove

               Through verdant vale, or weep in shadowy grove;

               For soon the dwarfs were used to bear her sight,

               Knew that dread club, nor dared indulge their spite.

               Still from afar off looks of rage they cast,

               And shrilly squeal’d and clamour’d as she pass’d;

               But by their flight when near she came, ‘twas seen,

               They own’d allegiance, and confess’d their queen.

               One morn her savage lord, in quest of food,

               Forsook tho cave, and sought th’ adjacent wood;

               And as her darling boy he with him bore,

               Irza, unwatch’d, might pace the sounding shore.

               Listless and slow she moved, and climb’d with pain

               A tow’ring cliff, which beetled o’er the main.

               Now three full years had flown, since Irza’s eye

               Had dwelt on human form, and since reply

               From human tongue had blest her ear.’Tis true,

               Throned on a rock, which spread before her view

               The sea’s wide-stretching plains, she once descried

               A gallant vessel plough the neighbouring tide.

               By cries to draw it near she long essay’d,

               And oft a palm-bough waved in sign for aid:

               But all her cries and all her signs were vain;

               On sail’d the bark, nor e’er return’d again!

               On that same rock she sat, and eyed the wave,

               And wish’d she there had found her wat’ry grave!

               Fain had she sought one then, plunged from the steep.

               And buried all her sufferings in the deep;

               But faith alike and reason bade her shun

               That wish, nor break a thread which God had spun.

               Hark!--was it fancy?--hark again!--the shores

               Echo the sound of fast approaching oars.

               Oh! how she gazed!--a barge (by friars ’twas mann’d)

               Cut the smooth waves, and sought the rocky strand.

               Soon (while his wither’d hands a crosier hold,

               All rich with gems, and rough with sculptured gold),

               Landing alone, a reverend monk appear’d:--

               His jewell’d cross--his flowing silver beard--

               “‘Tis he!--‘tis he!”--swift down the steep she flies,

               Falls at the stranger’s feet, and frantic cries,

               Down her pale cheek while tears imploring roll,

               “Help, father abbot! save me! save my soul!”

               ‘Twas he indeed! that bark which ne’er return’d,

               Well on the cliff* her fair wild form discern’d,

               But deem’d some island-fiend had spread a snare

               To lure them with a form so wild and fair.

               Yet oft in Lisbon would those seamen tell,

               How angled for their souls the prince of hell;

               And warmly paint, their leisure to beguile,

               The fallen angel of th’ enchanted isle.

               At length this wonder reach’d the abbot’s ear,

               And prompt affection made the wonder clear:--

               “’Twas Irza! shipwreck’d Irza! none but she

               So heav’nly fair, so lonely lost could be!”

               Straight he prepares anew that sea to brave,

               Which once already seem’d to yawn his grave;

               Nor ask, how chanced it that he reach’d the shore:

               It was through a miracle and nothing more.

               Whether on monkish frock as safe rode he,

               As night-hags skim in sieves o’er Norway’s sea;

               Or like Arion plough’d the wat’ry plain,

               Horsed on some monster of the astonish’d main,

               Some shark, some whale, some kraken, some sea-cow--

               St. Francis saved him, and it boots not how.

               And now again the saint his priest survey’d,

               From waves and winds imploring heavenly aid;

               Resolved for Irza’s sake to brave the worst

               Which fate could offer on that isle accurst.

               Far off his ship was anchor’d; on that strand

               Not India’s wealth could make a layman land!

               Therefore with none but monks he mann’d his barge,

               Which bore of beads and bells a sacred charge;

               Whole heaps of relics lent by Cintra’s nuns,

               And holy water (blest at Rome) by tons!

               His toils were all o’erpaid! he saw again

               His fav’rite child, and kindly soothed her pain;

               And while her tale he heard, oft dropp’d a tear,

               And sign’d his beard-swept breast in awe and fear:

               Then bade her speed the friendly bark to gain,

               And fly the infernal monarch’s green domain;

               Nor yield her tyrant time to cast a spell,

               And rouse to cross her flight the powers of hell.

               Then first from Irza’s cheek the glow of red,

               By hope of rescue raised, grew faint, and fled;

               Trembling she nam’d her cherub-boy, confess’d

               A mother’s fondness fill’d his mother’s breast;

               Described how fair he look’d, how sweet he smiled,

               And fear’d her flight might quite destroy her child.

               Then rose the abbot’s ire--ee Oh, guilty care!”

               Frowning, he cried, and shook his hoary hair:

               “Fair is the imp? and shall he therefore breathe

               To win new subjects for the realms beneath?

               The fiends most dangerous are those spirits bright,

               Who toil for hell, and show like sons of light;

               And still when Satan spreads his subtlest snares,

               The baits are azure eyes, the lines are golden hairs.

               Name thou the brat no more! To Cintra’s walls

               Fly, where thy footsteps mild repentance calls.

               I’ll hear no plaint! kneel not! I’m deaf to prayer!

               Swift, brethren, to the barge this maniac bear;

               Speed! speed!--no tears!--no struggling!--no delay

               Row, brethren, row, and waft us swift away!”

               The monks obeyed. Then, then in Irza’s soul

               What various passions raged, and mock’d control!

               Now how she mourn’d, now how she wept for joy,

               How loathed the sire, and how adored the boy!

               The barge is gain’d; they row. When, lo! from high

               Her ear again receives that well-known cry,

               That sad, strange moan! she starts, and lifts her eye.

               There, on a rock which fenced the strand, once more

               She saw her demon-husband stand: he bore

               Her beauteous babe; and, while he view’d the barge,

               Keen anguish seem’d each feature to enlarge,

               And shake each giant limb. With piteous air

               His arms he spread, his hands he clasp’d in prayer;

               Knelt, wept, and while his eye-balls seem’d to burn,

               Oft show’d the child, and woo’d her to return.

               His suit the monks disdain; the barge recedes;

               More humbly now he kneels, more earnest pleads.

               But when he found no tears their course delay,

               And still the boat pursued its watery way;

               Then, ‘gainst his grief and rage no longer proof,

               He gnash’d his teeth, he stamp’d his iron hoof,

               Whirl’d the boy wildly round and round his head,

               Hash’d it against the rocks, and howling fled.

               Loud shrieks the mother! changed to stone she stands,

               And silent lifts to heav’n her clay-cold hands:

               Then, sinking down, stretch’d on the deck she lies,

               Hid her pale face, and closed her aching eyes.

               But hark! why shout the monks?--C£ Again,” they said,

               “Again the demon comes!” with desperate dread

               Starts the poor wretch, and lifts her anguish’d head.

               Yes! there the infant-murderer stood once more,

               But now far different were the looks he wore.

               No bending knee, no suppliant glance was seen,

               Proud was his port, and stern and fierce his mien.

               His blood-stain’d eye-balls glared with vengeful ire;

               His spreading nostrils seem’d to snort out fire.

               Swiftly from crag to crag he following sprung,

               While round his neck his shaggy offspring clung;

               And now, like some dark tow’r, erect he stood,

               Where the last rock hung frowning o’er the flood:--

               “Look! look!” he seem’d to say, with action wild,

               “Look, mother, look! this babe is still your child!

               With him as me all social bonds you break,

               Scorn’d and detested for his father’s sake:

               My love, my service only wrought disdain,

               And nature fed his heart from yours in vain!

               Then go, Ingrate, far o’er the ocean go,

               Consign your friend, your child to endless woe!

               Renounce us! hate us! pleased, your course pursue,

               And break their hearts who lived alone for you!”

               His eyes, which flash’d red fire--his arms spread wide,

               Her child raised high to heaven--too plain implied,

               Such were his thoughts, though nature speech denied.

               And now with eager glance the deep he view’d,

               And now the barge with savage howl pursued;

               Then to his lips his infant wildly press’d,

               And fondly, fiercely, clasp’d it to his breast:

               Three piteous moans, three hideous yells he gave,

               Plunged headlong from the rock, and made the sea his


               Where, screen’d by orange groves and myrtle bowers,

               Saint-favour’d Cintra rears her gothic towers;

               A nun there dwells, most holy, sad, and fair,

               Her only business penance, fasts, and prayer;

               Her only joy with flowers the shrines to dress,

               Weep with the suff’ring, and relieve distress.

               A poor lay-sister she; yet golden rain

               Showers from her hand to glad each barren plain:

               In other eyes she lights up joy, but ne’er

               Those eyes of hers were seen a smile to wear:

               From other breasts she plucks the thorn of grief,

               But feels, her own admits of no relief.

               Where age and sickness count the hours by groans,

               Uncalled, she comes to hear and hush their moans.

               There, ever humble, watchful, patient, kind,

               No nauseous task, no servile care declined,

               O’er the sick couch, all day, all night she hangs,

               Till health or death relieves the sufferer’s pangs.

               No thanks she takes, no praise from man receives,

               Her duty done, the rest to God she leaves;

               But only when her care redeems a life,

               Parting she says--“Pray for a demon’s wife!”

               With blessings still, whene’er that nun they view,

               The young, the aged her sainted steps pursue,

               And cry, with bended knee and suppliant air,

               ee Sister of mercy, name us in thy prayer!”

               With beads the night, in gracious acts the day,

               So wore her youth, so wears her age away.

               Now cease, my lay! thy mournful task is o’er;

               Irza, farewell! I wake thy lute no more.

               “Was such her fate? and did her days thus creep

               So sad, so slow, till came the long last sleep?

               And did for this her hands with roses twine

               The Saviour’s altars and the Virgin’s shrine?

               Pure, beauteous, rich, did all these blessings tend,

               But from the world in prime of life to send

               This gifted maid, in prayer to waste her hours,

               And weep a fancied crime in cloister’d bowers?”

               Oh, blind to fate! perhaps that fancied crime

               Which bade her quit the world in youthful prime,

               Snatch’d her from paths, where beauty, wealth, and fame

               Had proved but snares to load her soul with shame,

               And spared her pangs from wilful guilt which flow,

               The only serious ills that man can know!

               Ah! what avails it, since they ne’er can last,

               If gay or sad our span of days be past?

               Pray, mortals, pray, in sickness or in pain,

               Not long nor blest to live, but pure from stain.

               A life of pleasure, and a life of woe,

               When both are past, the difference who can show?

               But all can tell, how wide apart in price

               A life of virtue, and a life of vice.

               Then still, sad Irza, tread your thorny way,

               Since life must end, and merits ne’er decay.

               Wounded past hope, still prize the pleasure pure,

               To heal those hearts which yet can hope a cure;

               Nor doubt, the soul which joys in noble deeds

               Shall reap a rich reward when most it needs.

               When comes that day to conscious guilt so dread,

               Angels unseen shall bathe your burning head:

               The prayers of orphans fan with balmy breath,

               And widow’s blessings drown the threats of death;

               Each sigh your pity hush’d shall swelling rise

               In loud hosannas when you mount the skies;

               And every tear on earth to sorrow given,

               Be precious pearls to wreathe your brows in heaven!


                   Piansi i riposi di quest’ umil vita,

                   E sospirai la mia perduta pace!”

I regret the loss of our dead calm and our crawling pace of a knot and
a half an hour; for during the last four days we have had nothing but
gales and squalls, mountainous waves, the vessel rolling and pitching
incessantly, and the sea perpetually pouring in at the windows and down
through the hatchway. Into the bargain, we are now sufficiently towards
the north to find the weather perishingly cold, and we have neither wood
nor coals enough on board to allow a fire for the cabin.

But, among all our inconveniences, that which is the most intolerable
undoubtedly arises from the sick apothecary. It seems that his complaint
is the consequence of dram-drinking, which has affected his liver. Since
his coming on board, he has continued to indulge his taste; and growing
worse (as might be expected), he has now thought proper to put himself
in a state of salivation: the consequence is, that what with the mercury
and what with the man, aided by the concomitant effluvia of our cargo of
sugar, rum, and coffee, for a combination of villanous smells, Falstaff’s
buck-basket was nothing to the cabin of the Sir Godfrey Webster. I could
almost fancy myself Slawken-bergius’s Don Diego just returned from the
Promontory of Noses, and that I had exchanged my snub for a proboscis;
so much do all my other senses appear to be absorbed in that of
smelling, and so completely do I seem to myself to be nose all over. As
to the poor apothecary, his mercury annoys us without any signs as yet
of its benefiting himself. He grows worse daily, and I greatly doubt his
ever reaching England.

APRIL 19. (Sunday.)

I have not been able to ascertain exactly the negro notions concerning
the _Duppy_; indeed, I believe that his character and qualities vary in
different parts of the country. At first, I thought that the term Duppy
meant neither more nor less than a ghost; but sometimes he is spoken of
as “the Duppy,” as if there were but one, and then he seems to answer
to the devil. Sometimes he is a kind of malicious spirit, who haunts
burying-grounds (like the Arabian gouls), and delights in playing tricks
to those who may pass that way. On other occasions, he seems to be a
supernatural attendant on the practitioners of Obeah, in the shape of
some animal, as familiar imps are supposed to belong to our English
witches; and this latter is the part assigned to him in the following

“Sarah Winyan was scarcely ten years old, when her mother died, and
bequeathed to her considerable property. Her father was already dead;
and the guardianship of the child devolved upon his sister, who had
always resided in the same house, and who was her only surviving
relation. Her mother, indeed, had left two sons by a former husband, but
they lived at some distance in the wood, and seldom came to see their
mother; chiefly from a rooted aversion to this aunt; who, although
from interested motives she stooped to flatter her sister-in-law,
was haughty, ill-natured, and even suspected of Obeahism, from the
occasional visits of an enormous black dog, whom she called Tiger, and
whom she never failed to feed and caress with marked distinction.
In case of Sarah’s death, the aunt, in right of her brother, was the
heiress of his property. She was determined to remove this obstacle to
her wishes; and after treating her for some time with harshness and
even cruelty, she one night took occasion to quarrel with her for some
trifling fault, and fairly turned her out of doors. The poor girl seated
herself on a stone near the house, and endeavoured to beguile the time
by singing--

                   ‘Ho-day, poor me, O!

                   Poor me, Sarah Winyan, O!

                   They call me neger, neger!

                   They call me Sarah Winyan, O!’

“But her song was soon interrupted by a loud rushing among the bushes;
and the growling which accompanied it announced the approach of the
dreaded Tiger. She endeavoured to secure herself against his attacks
by climbing a tree: but it seems that Tiger had not been suspected of
Obeahism without reason; for he immediately growled out an assurance
to the girl, that come down she must and should! Her aunt, he said, had
made her over to him by contract, and had turned her out of doors that
night for the express purpose of giving him an opportunity of carrying
her away. If she would descend from the tree, and follow him willingly
to his own den to wait upon him, he engaged to do her no harm; but if
she refused to do this, he threatened to gnaw down the tree without
loss of time, and tear her into a thousand pieces. His long sharp
teeth, which he gnashed occasionally during the above speech, appeared
perfectly adequate to the execution of his menaces, and Sarah judged it
most prudent to obey his commands. But as she followed Tiger into the
wood, she took care to resume her song of

                        ‘Ho-day, poor me, O!’

in hopes that some one passing near them might hear her name, and come
to her rescue. Tiger, however, was aware of this, and positively forbad
her singing. However, she contrived every now and then to loiter behind;
and when she thought him out of hearing, her

                        ‘Ho-day! poor me, O!’

began again; although she was compelled to sing in so low a voice,
through fear of her four-footed master, that she had but faint hopes of
its reaching any ear but her own. Such was, indeed, the event, and Tiger
conveyed her to his den without molestation. In the meanwhile, her two
half-brothers had heard of their mother’s death, and soon arrived at the
house to enquire what was become of Sarah. The aunt received them with
every appearance of welcome; told them that grief for the loss of her
only surviving parent had already carried her niece to the grave, which
she showed them in her garden; and acted her part so well, that the
youths departed perfectly satisfied of the decease of their sister.
But while passing through the wood on their return, they heard some one
singing, but in so low a tone that it was impossible to distinguish the
words. As this part of the wood was the most unfrequented, they were
surprised to find any one concealed there. Curiosity induced them to
draw nearer, and they soon could make out the

                        ‘Ho-day! poor me, O!

                        Poor me, Sarah Winyan, O!’

“There needed no more to induce them to hasten onwards; and upon
advancing deeper into the thicket, they found themselves at the mouth of
a large cavern in a rock. A fire was burning within it; and by its light
they perceived their sister seated on a heap of stones, and weeping,
while she chanted her melancholy ditty in a low voice, and supported on
her lap the head of the formidable Tiger. This was a precaution which he
always took when inclined to sleep, lest she should escape; and she had
taken advantage of his slumbers to resume her song in as low a tone as
her fears of waking him would allow. She saw her brothers at the mouth
of the cave: the youngest fortunately had a gun with him, and he made
signs that Sarah should disengage herself from Tiger if possible. It was
long before she could summon up courage enough to make the attempt; but
at length, with fear and trembling, and moving with the utmost caution,
she managed to slip a log of wood between her knees and the frightful
head, and at length drew herself away without waking him. She then crept
softly out of the cavern, while the youngest brother crept as softly
into it: the monster’s head still reposed upon the block of wood; in a
moment it was blown into a thousand pieces; and the brothers, afterwards
cutting the body into four parts, laid one in each quarter of the wood.”

From that time only were dogs brought into subjection to men; and
the inhabitants of Jamaica would never have been able to subdue those
ferocious animals, if Tiger had not been killed and quartered by Sarah
Winyan’s brothers. As to the aunt, she received the punishment which
she merited, but I cannot remember what it was exactly. Probably, the
brothers killed and quartered _her_ as well as her four-footed ally; or,
perhaps, she was turned into a wild beast, and supplied the vacancy left
by Tiger, as was the case with the celebrated Zingha, queen of Angola;
who, although she embraced Christianity on her death-bed, and died
according to the most orthodox forms of the Romish religion, still had
conducted herself in such a manner while alive, that shortly after her
decease, the kingdom being ravaged by a hyena, her subjects could not
be persuaded but that the soul of this most Christian queen had
transmigrated into the body of the hyena. Yet this was surely doing the
hyena great injustice; for she, at least, had never been in the habit of
composing ointments by pounding little children in a mortar with her own
hands; an amusement which Zingha had introduced at the court of Angola.
It took surprisingly; shortly, no woman thought her toilette completed,
unless she had used some of this ointment. Pounding children became all
the rage; and ladies who aspired to be the leaders of fashion, pounded
their own.


                   EPIGRAM.--(From the French.)

               “Whose can that little monster be?

                   Its parents really claim one’s pity!”

               “Madam, that child belongs to me.”--

                   “Well, I protest, she’s vastly pretty!”


The weather gets no better, the apothecary gets no worse, and both are
as foul and as disagreeable as they can well be. As to the man, it is
wonderful that he is still alive, for he has swallowed nothing for the
last three weeks except drams and laudanum. He drinks, and he stinks,
and he does nothing else earthly or celestial. The quantity of spirits
which he pours down his throat incessantly should, of itself, be
sufficient to finish him; but he seems to have accustomed himself to
drams, as Mithridates used himself to poisons, till his stomach is
completely proof against them; or like the Scythian princess, who was
fed upon ratsbane pap from her infancy, for the express purpose of one
day or other poisoning Alexander in her embraces; and who arrived
at such perfection, that although the venom did no harm to her own
constitution, she killed a condemned criminal with a single kiss. The
consequence was, that hemp fell fifty per cent, and Jack Ketch’s
nose was put out of joint completely; for the devil a culprit of
any pretensions to taste could be found in all Scythia, who could be
prevailed upon to be executed except by her royal highness’s own lips. I
am afraid this story is not strictly historical, and that we should look
for it in vain in Quintus Curtius.


A gale of wind began to show itself on Monday night; it has continued
to blow ever since with increasing violence, and is now become very
serious. The captain says that he never experienced weather so severe at
this season: this is only my usual luck. Certainly nothing can be more
disagreeable than a ship on these occasions. The sea breaks over the
vessel every minute, and it is really something awful to see the waves
raised into the air by the force of the gale, hovering for a while over
the ship, and then coming down upon us swop, to inundate every thing
below deck as well as upon it. The wind is piercingly cold; the floors
and walls are perpetually streaming. But a fire is quite out of the
question; and, indeed, at one time to-day, our eating appeared to be out
of the question too; for at four o’clock the cook sent us word, that the
sea put the kitchen-fire out as fast as he could light it; that he was
almost frozen, having been for the last eight hours up to his waist
in water; and that we must make up our minds to get no dinner to-day.
However, the steward coaxed him, and encouraged him, and poured spirits
down his throat, and at last a dinner of some kind was put upon the
table; but it had not been there ten minutes, before a tremendous sea
poured itself down the companion stairs and through the hatchway, set
every thing on the table afloat, deluged the cabin, ducked most of the
company, and drove us all into the other room. I was lucky enough to
escape with only a sprinkling; but Mrs. Walker was soaked through from
head to foot. We can only cross the cabin by creeping along by the sides
as if we were so many cats. Walking the deck, even for the sailors, is
absolutely out of the question; and the little cabin-boy has so fairly
given up the attempt, that he goes crawling about upon all fours. Even
our Spanish mastiff, Flora, finds it impossible to keep her four legs
upon deck. Every five minutes up they all go, away rolls the dog over
and over; and when she gets up again, shakes her ears, and howls in a
tone of the most piteous astonishment.


Though the gale was itself sufficiently serious, its effects at first
were ludicrous enough; but yesterday it produced a consequence truly
shocking and alarming. Edward Sadler, the second mate, was at breakfast
in the steerage: the boatswain had been cutting some beef with a large
case-knife, which he had afterwards put down upon the chest on which
they were sitting: a sudden heel of the ship threw them all to the other
side of the cabin: the knife fell with its haft against the ladder; and
poor Edward falling against it, at least three inches of the blade were
forced into his right side. The wound was dressed without the loss of a
moment; but, from its depth, the jaggedness of the weapon with which it
was made, and from a pain which immediately afterwards seized the poor
fellow in his chest, the apothecary thinks that his recovery is very
improbable: he says that the liver is certainly perforated, and so
probably are the lungs. If the latter have escaped, it must have been
only by the breadth of a hair. Every one in the ship is distressed
beyond measure at this accident, for the young man is a universal
favourite. He is but just one and twenty, good-looking, with manners
much superior to his station; and so unusually steady, as well as
active, that if Providence grants him life, he cannot fail to raise
himself in his profession.


Edward complains no longer of the pain in his chest; he sleeps well,
eats enough, has no fever, and every symptom is so favourable, that Dr.
Ashman encourages us to hope that he has received no material injury.
Our ship-carpenter has always appeared to be the sulkiest and surliest
of sea-bears: yet, on the day of Edward’s accident, he passed every
minute that he could command by the side of his sofa, kneeling, and
praying, and watching him as if he had been his son; and every now
and then wiping away his “own tears” with the dirtiest of all possible
pocket-handkerchiefs. So that what Goldsmith said of Dr. Johnson may be
applied to this old man: “He has nothing of a bear but his skin.” After
tearing every sail in the ship into shivers, and being as disagreeable
as ever it could be, the gale has at length abated. Yesterday it was
a storm, and we were going to Ireland, Lisbon, Brest--in short, every
where except to England; to-day, it is a dead calm, and we are going
nowhere at all.

APRIL 26. (Sunday.)

The gale has returned with increased violence, and we are once more
at our old trade of dead lights; however, for this time, the wind, at
least, is in our favour.


The wounded mate is so much recovered as to come upon deck for a few
hours to-day, and may now be considered as completely out of danger;
although Dr. Ashman is positive (from his difficulty of breathing
at first, and the subsequent pain in his chest) that his lungs must
actually have been wounded, however slightly. We are now nearly abreast
of Scilly; we fell in with several Scilly boats to-day, from whom we
obtained a very acceptable supply of fish, vegetables, and newspapers.


_An African Nancy-Story_.--The headman (i. e. the king) of a large
district in Africa, in one of his tours, visited a young nobleman, to
whom he lost a considerable sum at play. On his departure he loaded
his host with caresses, and insisted on his coming in person to receive
payment at court; but his pretended kindness had not deceived the nurse
of the young man. She told him, that the headman was certainly incensed
against him for having conquered him at play, and meant to do him some
injury; that having been so positively ordered to come to court, he
could not avoid obeying; but she advised him to take the river-road,
where, at a particular hour, he would find the king’s youngest and
favourite daughter bathing; and she instructed him how to behave. The
youth reached the river, and concealed himself, till he saw the princess
enter the stream alone; but when she thought fit to regain the bank,
she found herself extremely embarrassed.--‘Ho-day! what is become of
my clothes? ho-day! who has stolen my clothes? ho-day! if any one will
bring me back my clothes, I promise that no harm shall happen to him
this day--O!’--This was the cue for which the youth had been instructed
to wait. ‘Here are your clothes, missy!’ said he, stepping from his
concealment: ‘a rogue had stolen them, while you were bathing; but I
took them from him, and have brought them back.’--‘Well, young man, I
will keep my promise to you. You are going to court, I know; and I know
also, that the headman will chop off your head, unless at first sight
you can tell him which of his three daughters is the youngest. Now I am
she; and in order that you may not mistake, I will take care to make a
sign; and then do not you fail to pitch upon me.’ The young man assured
her, that, having once seen her, he never could possibly mistake her
for any other, and then set forwards with a lightened heart. The headman
received him very graciously, feasted him with magnificence, and told
him that he would present him to his three daughters, only that there
was a slight rule respecting them to which he must conform. Whoever
could not point out which was the youngest, must immediately lose his
head. The young man kissed the ground in obedience, the door opened,
and in walked three little black dogs. Now, then, the necessity of the
precaution taken by the princess was evident; the youth looked at the
dogs earnestly; something induced the headman to turn away his eyes for
a moment, and in that moment one of the dogs lifted up its fore paw.

‘This,’ cried the youth--‘this is your youngest daughter;’--and
instantly the dogs vanished, and three young women appeared in their
stead. The headman was equally surprised and incensed; but concealing
his rage, he professed the more pleasure at that discovery; because, in
consequence, the law of that country obliged him to give his youngest
daughter in marriage to the person who should recognise her; and he
charged his future son-in-law to return in a week, when he should
receive his bride. But his feigned caresses could no longer deceive the
young man: as it was evident that the headman practised Obeah, he did
not dare to disobey him; and knew that to escape by flight would be
unavailing. It was, therefore, with melancholy forebodings that he set
out for court on the appointed day; and (according to the advice of his
old nurse) he failed not to take the road which led by the river. The
princess came again to bathe; her clothes again vanished; she had again
recourse to her ‘Ho-day! what is become of my clothes?’ and on hearing
the same promise of protection, the youth again made his appearance.
‘Here are your clothes, missy,’ said he; ‘the wind had blown them away
to a great distance; I found them hanging upon the bushes, and have
brought them back to you.’ Probably the princess thought it rather
singular, that whenever her petticoats were missing, the same person
should always happen to be in the way to find them: however, as she was
remarkably handsome, she kept her thoughts to herself, swallowed the
story like so much butter, and assured him of her protection. ‘My
father,’ said she, ‘will again ask you which is the youngest daughter;
and as he suspects me of having assisted you before, he threatens to
chop off _my_ head instead of yours, should I disobey him a second time.
He will, therefore, watch me too closely to allow of my making any sign
to you; but still I will contrive something to distinguish me from my
sisters; and do you examine us narrowly till you find it.’ As she had
foretold, the headman no sooner saw his destined son-in-law enter, than
he told him that he should immediately receive his bride; but that if he
did not immediately point her out, the laws of the kingdom sentenced him
to lose his head. Upon which the door opened, and in walked three large
black cats, so exactly similar in every respect, that it was utterly
impossible to distinguish one from the other. The youth was at length on
the point of giving up the attempt in despair, when it struck him, that
each of the cats had a slight thread passed round its neck; and that
while the threads of two were scarlet, that of the third was blue.
‘_This_ is your youngest daughter;’ cried he, snatching up the cat with
the blue thread. The headman was utterly at a loss to conceive by what
means he had made the discovery; but could not deny the fact, for there
stood the princesses in their own shape. He therefore affected to be
greatly pleased, gave him his bride, and made a great feast, which was
followed by a ball; but in the midst of it the princess whispered her
lover to follow her silently into the garden. Here she told him, that an
old Obeah woman, who had been her father’s nurse, had warned him, that
if his youngest daughter should live to see the day after her wedding,
he would lose his power and his life together; that she, therefore, was
sure of his intending to destroy both herself and her bridegroom that
night in their sleep; but that, being aware of all these circumstances,
she had watched him so narrowly as to get possession of some of his
magical secrets, which might possibly enable her to counteract his cruel
designs. She then gathered a rose, picked up a pebble, filled a small
phial with water from a rivulet; and thus provided, she and her lover
betook themselves to flight upon a couple of the swiftest steeds in her
father’s stables. It was midnight before the headman missed them: his
rage was excessive; and immediately mounting his great horse, Dandy, he
set forwards in pursuit of the lovers. Now Dandy galloped at the rate of
ten miles a minute. The princess was soon aware of her pursuer: without
loss of time she pulled the rose to pieces, scattered the leaves behind
her, and had the satisfaction of seeing them instantly grow up into
a wood of briars, so strong and so thickly planted, that Dandy vainly
attempted to force his way through them. But, alas! this fence was but
of a very perishable nature. In the time that it would have taken to
wither its parent rose-leaves, the briars withered away; and Dandy was
soon able to trample them down, while he continued his pursuit. Now,
then, the pebble was thrown in his passage; it burst into forty pieces,
and every piece in a minute became a rock as lofty as the Andes. But
the Andes themselves would have offered no insurmountable obstacles to
Dandy, who bounded from precipice to precipice; and the lovers and the
headman could once more clearly distinguish each other by the first
beams of the rising sun. The headman roared, and threatened, and
brandished a monstrous sabre; Dandy tore up the ground as he ran,
neighed louder than thunder, and gained upon the fugitives every moment.
Despair left the princess no choice, and she violently dashed her phial
upon the ground. Instantly the water which it contained swelled itself
into a tremendous torrent, which carried away every thing before
it,--rocks, trees, and houses; and ‘the horse and his rider’ were
carried away among the rest.--‘Hic finis Priami fatorum!’ There was an
end of the headman and Dandy! The princess then returned to court, where
she raised a strong party for herself; seized her two sisters, who were
no better than their father, and had assisted him in his witchcraft; and
having put them and all their partisans to death by a summary mode of
proceeding, she established herself and her husband on the throne as
headman and head-woman. It was from this time that _all_ the kings of
Africa have been uniformly mild and benevolent sovereigns. Till then
they were all tyrants, and tyrants they would all still have continued,
if this virtuous princess had not changed the face of things by drowning
her father, strangling her two sisters, and chopping off the heads of
two or three dozen of her nearest and dearest relations.

It seems to be an indispensable requisite for a Nancy-story, that
it should contain a witch, or a duppy, or, in short, some marvellous
personage or other. It is a kind of “pièce à machines” But the creole
slaves are very fond of another species of tale, which they call
“Neger-tricks,” and which bear the same relation to a Nancy-story
which a farce does to a tragedy. The following is a specimen:--_A
Neger-trick_.--“A man who had two wives divided his provision-grounds
into two parts, and proposed that each of the women should cultivate one
half. They were ready to do their proper share, but insisted that the
husband should at least take his third of the work. However, when they
were to set out, the man was taken so ill, that he found it impossible
to move; he quite roared with pain, and complained bitterly of a large
lump which had formed itself on his cheek during the night. The wives
did what they could to relieve him, but in vain they boiled a negro-pot
for him, but he was too ill to swallow a morsel: and at length they were
obliged to leave him, and go to take care of the provision-grounds. As
soon as they were gone, the husband became perfectly well, emptied the
contents of the pot with great appetite, and enjoyed himself in ease and
indolence till evening, when he saw his wives returning; and immediately
he became worse than ever. One of the women was quite shocked to see the
size to which the lump had increased during her absence: she begged
to examine it; but although she barely touched it with the tip of
her finger as gingerly as possible, it was so tender that the fellow
screamed with agony. Unluckily, the other woman’s manners were by no
means so delicate; and seizing him forcibly by the head to examine it,
she undesignedly happened to hit him a great knock on the jaw, and, lo
and behold! out flew a large lime, which he had crammed into it. Upon
which both his wives fell upon him like two furies; beat him out of
the house; and whenever afterwards he begged them to go to the
provision-grounds, they told him that he had got no lime in his mouth
_then_, and obliged him from that time forwards to do the whole work

A negro was brought to England; and the first point shown him being the
chalky cliffs of Dover, “O ki!” he said; “me know now what makes the
buckras all so white!”

MAY 29.

We once more saw the “Lizard,” the first point of England; and, indeed,
it was full time that we should. Besides that our provisions were nearly
exhausted by the length of the voyage, our crew was in a great measure
composed of fellows of the most worthless description; and the captain
lately discovered that some of them had contrived to break a secret
passage into the hold, where they had broached the rum-casks, and had
already passed several nights in drinking, with lighted candles: a
single spark would have been sufficient to blow us all up to the moon!

June 1. (Saturday.)

We took our river pilot on board; and on Wednesday, the 5th, we reached
Gravesend. I went on shore at nine in the morning; and here I conclude
my _Jamaica Journal_.


November 5. (Wednesday.)

I left London, and embarked for Jamaica on board the same vessel,
commanded by the same captain, which conveyed me thither in 1815. We
did not reach the Downs till Sunday, the 9th, after experiencing in our
passage a severe gale of wind, which broke the bowsprit of a vessel in
our sight, but did no mischief to ourselves. On arriving in the Downs,
we found all the flags lowered half way down the masts, which is a
signal of mourning; and we now learnt, that, in a few hours after giving
birth to a still-born son, the Princess Charlotte of Wales had expired
at half-past two on Thursday morning.

November 16. (Sunday.)

“Peaceful slumbering on the ocean.” Here we are still in the Downs, and
no symptoms of a probable removal. Indeed, when we weighed our anchor at
Gravesend, it gave us a broad hint that there was no occasion as yet for
giving ourselves the trouble; for, before it could be got on board, the
cable was suffered to slip, and down again went the anchor, carrying
along with it one of the men who happened to be standing upon it at the
moment, and who in consequence went plump to the bottom. Luckily, the
fellow could swim; so in a few minutes he was on board again, and no
harm done.

November 19.

We resumed our voyage with fine weather, but wind so perverse, that we
did not arrive in sight of Portsmouth till the evening of the 21st. A
pilot came on board, and conveyed us into Spithead.

November 22.

This morning we quitted Portsmouth, and this evening we returned to it.
The Needle rocks were already in sight, when the wind failed completely.
There was no getting through the passage, and the dread of a gale
would not admit of our remaining in so dangerous a roadstead. So we
had nothing for it but to follow Mad Bess’s example, and “return to the
place whence we came.” We are now anchored upon the Motherbank, about
two miles from Ryde in the Isle of Wight.

November 30. (Sunday.)

Edward, the young man who was so dangerously wounded on our return from
my former voyage to Jamaica, is now chief mate of the vessel, and feels
no other inconvenience from his accident, except a slight difficulty in
raising his left arm above his head.

DECEMBER 1. (Monday.)

Here we are, still riding at anchor, with no better consolation than
that of Klopstock’s halfdevil Abadonna; the consciousness that others
are deeper damned than ourselves. Another ship belonging to the same
proprietor left the West India Docks three weeks before us, and here she
is still rocking cheek by jowl alongside of us,

               “One writ with us in sour misfortune’s book.”


A tolerably fair breeze at length enabled us to set sail once more.

DECEMBER 24. (Wednesday.)

I had often heard talk of “a hell upon earth,” and now I have a perfect
idea of “a hell upon water.” It must be precisely our vessel during the
last three weeks. At twelve at noon upon the 4th, we passed Plymouth,
and were actually in sight of the Lizard point, when the wind suddenly
became completely foul, and drove us back into the Channel. It continued
to strengthen gradually but rapidly; and by the time that night arrived,
we had a violent gale, which blew incessantly till the middle of Sunday,
the 7th, when we were glad to find ourselves once more in sight of
Plymouth, and took advantage of a temporary abatement of the wind to
seek refuge in the Sound. Here, however, we soon found that we had but
little reason to rejoice at the change of our situation. The Sound was
already crowded with vessels of all descriptions; and as we arrived so
late, the only mooring still unoccupied, placed us so near the rocks on
one side, and another vessel astern, that the captain confessed that
he should feel considerable anxiety if the gale should return with its
former violence. So, of course, about eleven at night, the gale _did_
return; not, indeed, with its former violence, but with its violence
increased tenfold; and once we were in very imminent danger from our
ship’s swinging round by a sudden squall, and narrowly escaping coming
in contact with the ship astern, which had not, it seems, allowed itself
sufficient cable. Luckily, we just missed her; and our cables (for both
our anchors were down) being new and good, we rode out the storm
without driving, or meeting with any accident whatever. The next day was
squally; and in spite of the Breakwater, the rocking of the ship from
the violent agitation of the waves by the late stormy weather was almost
insupportable. However, on the 9th, the wind took a more favourable
turn, though in so slight a degree, that the pilot expressed great
doubts whether it would last long to do us any service. But the captain
felt his situation in Plymouth Sound so uneasy, that he resolved at
least to make the attempt; and so we crept once more into the Channel.
In a few hours the breeze strengthened; about midnight we passed the
lights upon the Lizard, and the next morning England was at length out
of sight. This cessation of ill luck soon proved to be only “_reculer
‘pour mieux sauter_” The gale, it seems, had only stopped to take
breath: about four in the afternoon of Wednesday, the wind began to rise
again; and from that time till the middle of the 23d it blew a complete
storm day and night, with only an occasional intermission of two or
three hours at a time. Every one in the ship declared that they had
never before experienced so obstinate a persecution of severe weather:
every rag of sail was obliged to be taken down; the sea was blown up
into mountains, and poured itself over the deck repeatedly. The noise
was dreadful; and as it lasted incessantly, to sleep was impossible; and
I passed ten nights, one after another, without closing my eyes; so that
the pain in the nerves of them at length became almost intolerable, and
I began to be seriously afraid of going blind. In truth, the captain
could not well have pitched upon a set of passengers worse calculated to
undergo the trial of a passage so rough. As for myself, my brain is so
weak, that the continuation of any violent noise makes me absolutely
light-headed; and a pop-gun going off suddenly is quite sufficient at
any time to set every nerve shaking, from the crown of my head to
the sole of my foot. Then we had a young lady who was ready to die of
seasickness, and an old one who was little better through fright; and
I had an Italian servant into the bargain, who was as sick as the young
lady, and as frightened as the old one. The poor fellow had never been
on board a ship before; and with every crack which the vessel gave, he
thought that to be sure, she was splitting right in half. The sailors,
too, appeared to be quite knocked up from the unremitting fatigue to
which they were subjected by the perseverance of this dreadful weather.
Several of them were ill; and one poor fellow actually died, and was
committed to the ocean. To make matters still worse, during the first
week the wind was as foul as it could blow; and we passed it in running
backwards and forwards, without advancing a step towards our object;
till at length every drop of my very small stock of patience was
exhausted, and I could no longer resist suggesting our returning to
port, rather than continue buffeting about in the chops of the Channel,
so much to the damage of the ship, and all contained in her. A change of
wind, however, gave a complete answer to this proposal. On Thursday
it became favourable as to the prosecution of our voyage, but its fury
continued unabated till the evening of the 23d. It then gradually died
away, and left us becalmed before the island of Madeira; where we are
now rolling backwards and forwards, in sight of its capital, Funchal, on
the 24th of December, being seven immortal weeks since my departure from
Gravesend. The evening sun is now very brilliant, and shines full upon
the island, the rocks of which are finely broken; the height of the
mountains cause their tops to be lost in the clouds; the sides are
covered with plantations of vines and forests of cedars; and the white
edifices of Funchal, built upon the very edge of the shore, have a truly
picturesque appearance. We are now riding between the island and an
isolated group of inaccessible rocks called “the Deserters;” * and the
effect of the scene altogether is beautiful in the extreme.

* The Dezertas.

DECEMBER 25. (Christmas-day.)

A light breeze sprang up in the night, and this morning Madeira was no
longer visible.

DECEMBER 31. (Wednesday.)

We are now in the latitudes commonly known by the name of “the Horse
Latitudes.” During the union of America and Great Britain, great numbers
of horses used to be exported from the latter; and the winds in
these latitudes are so capricious, squally, and troublesome in every
respect,--now a gale, and then a dead calm--now a fair wind, and the
next moment a foul one,--that more horses used to die in this portion
of the passage than during all the remainder of it. These latitudes from
thence obtained their present appellation, and extend from 29° to 25° or
24 1/2°.

1818.--JANUARY 1.


On this day, on my former voyage, I landed at Black River. Now we are
still at some distance from the line, and are told that we cannot expect
to reach Jamaica in less than three weeks, even with favourable breezes;
and our breezes at present are _not_ favourable. Nothing but light
winds, or else dead calms; two knots an hour, and obliged to be thankful
even for that! A-weel! this is weary work!

JANUARY 17. (Saturday.)

On Saturday, the 3d, we managed to crawl over the line, and had no
sooner got to the other side of it, than we were completely becalmed;
and even when we resumed our progress, it was at such a pace that a
careless observer might have been pardoned for mistaking our manner of
moving for a downright standing still. Day after day produced nothing
better for us than baffling winds, so light that we scarcely made two
miles an hour, and so variable that the sails could be scarcely set in
one direction before it became necessary to shift them to another;
while the monotony of our voyage was only broken by an occasional
thunderstorm, the catching a stray dolphin now and then, watching a
shoal of flying fish, or guessing at the complexion of the corsairs on
board some vessel in the offing: for the Caribbean Sea is now dabbed all
over like a painter’s pallette with corsairs of all colours,--black
from St. Domingo, brown from Carthagena, white from North America, and
pea-green from the Cape de Verd Islands. On the afternoon of the 4th,
one of them was at no very great distance from us; she hoisted English
colours on seeing ours; but there was little doubt, from her peculiar
construction and general appearance, that she was a privateer from
Carthagena. She set her head towards us, and seemed to be doing her best
to come to a nearer acquaintance; but the same calm which hindered us
from bravely running away from her, hindered her also from reaching us,
although at nightfall she seemed to have gained upon us. In the night
we had a violent thunder-storm, and the next morning she was not to be
seen. Still we continued to creep and to crawl, grumbling and growling,
till on Sunday, the 11th, the long-looked-for wind came at last. The
trade wind began to blow with all its might and main right in the
vessel’s poop, and sent us forward at the rate of 200 miles a day. We
passed between Deseada and Antigua in the night of the 15th; and, on the
16th, the rising sun showed us the island mountain of Montserrat; the
sight of which was scarcely less agreeable to our eyes from its
romantic beauty, than welcome from its giving us the assurance that our
long-winded voyage is at length drawing towards its termination.


Yesterday morning a miniature shark chose to swallow the bait laid for
dolphins, and in consequence soon made his appearance upon deck. It was
a very young one, not above three feet long. I ordered a slice of him to
be broiled at dinner, but he was by no means so good as a dolphin; but
still there was nothing in the taste so unpalatable as to prevent the
flesh from being very acceptable in the absence of more delicate food.
In the evening, a bird, about the size of a large pigeon, flew on board,
and was knocked down by the mate with his hat. It was sulky, and would
not be persuaded to eat any thing that was offered, so he was suffered
to escape this morning. It was beautifully shaped, with a swallow-tail,
wings of an extraordinary spread in comparison with the smallness of
the body, a long sharp bill, black and polished like a piece of jet, and
eyes remarkably large and brilliant. The head, back, and outside of the
wings were of a brownish slate colour, and the rest of his feathers of
the most dazzling whiteness. It is called a crab-catcher.

JANUARY 24. (Saturday.)

Our favourable breeze lasted till Tuesday, the 20th; when, having
brought us half way between St. Domingo and Jamaica, it died away, and
we dragged on at the rate of two or three miles an hour till Thursday
afternoon, which placed us at the mouth of Black River. If we had
arrived one hour earlier, we could have immediately entered the
harbour; but, with our usual good fortune, we were just too late for the
daylight. We therefore did not drop anchor till two o’clock on Friday,
before the town of Black River; and on Saturday morning, at four
o’clock, I embarked in the ship’s cutter for Savannah la Mar. Every one
assured us that we could not fail to have a favourable seabreeze the
whole way, and that we should be on land by eight: instead of which,
what little wind there was veered round from one point of the compass to
the other with the most indefatigable caprice; and we were not on shore
till eleven. Here I found Mr. T. Hill, who luckily had his phaëton
ready, in which he immediately conveyed me once more to my own estate.
The accounts of the general behaviour of my negroes is reasonably good,
and they all express themselves satisfied with their situation and their
superintendents. Yet, among upwards of three hundred and thirty
negroes, and with a greater number of females than men, in spite of all
indulgences and inducements, not more than twelve or thirteen children
have been added annually to the list of the births. On the other hand,
this last season has been generally unhealthy all over the island, and
more particularly so in my parish; so that I have lost several negroes,
some of them young, strong, and valuable labourers in every respect; and
in consequence, my sum total is rather diminished than increased since
my last visit. I had been so positively assured that the custom of
plunging negro infants, immediately upon their being born, into a tub of
cold water, infallibly preserved them from the danger of tetanus, that,
on leaving Jamaica, I had ordered this practice to be adopted uniformly.
The negro mothers, however, took a prejudice against it into their
heads, and have been so obstinate in their opposition, that it was
thought unadvisable to attempt the enforcing this regulation. From this
and other causes I have lost several infants; but I am told, that on
other estates in the neighbourhood they have been still more unfortunate
in regard to their children; and one was named to me, on which sixteen
were carried off in the course of three days.

JANUARY 26. (Monday.)

The joy of the negroes on my return was quite sufficiently vociferous,
and they were allowed today for a holiday. They set themselves to
singing and dancing yesterday, in order to lose no time; and to show
their gratitude for the indulgence, not one of the five pen-keepers
chose to go to their watch last night; the consequence was that the
cattle made their escape, and got into one of my very best cane-pieces.
The alarm was given; my own servants and some of the head people had
grace enough to run down to the scene of action; but the greatest
part remained quietly in the negro-houses, beating the gumby-drum, and
singing their joy for my arrival with the whole strength of their lungs,
but without thinking it in the least necessary to move so much as a
finger-joint in my service. The cattle were at length replaced in their
pen, but not till the cane-piece had been ruined irretrievably. Such
is negro gratitude, and such my reward for all that I have suffered on
ship-board. To be sure, as yet there could not be a more ill-starred
expedition than my present one.

I only learned, yesterday, that before making the island of Madeira an
Algerine corsair was actually in sight, and near enough to discern the
turbans of the crew; but we lost each other through the violence of the


There is a popular negro song, the burden of which is,--

               Take him to the Gulley! Take him to the Gulley!

               But bringee back the frock and board.”--

               “Oh! massa, massa! me no deadee yet!”--

               “Take him to the Gulley! Take him to the Gulley!”

               “Carry him along!”

This alludes to a transaction which took place some thirty years ago,
on an estate in this neighbourhood, called Spring-Garden; the owner
of which (I think the name was Bedward) is quoted as the cruellest
proprietor that ever disgraced Jamaica. It was his constant practice,
whenever a sick negro was pronounced incurable, to order the poor wretch
to be carried to a solitary vale upon his estate, called the Gulley,
where he was thrown down, and abandoned to his fate; which fate was
generally to be half devoured by the john-crows, before death had put an
end to his sufferings. By this proceeding the avaricious owner avoided
the expence of maintaining the slave during his last illness; and in
order that he might be as little a loser as possible, he always enjoined
the negro bearers of the dying man to strip him naked before leaving the
Gulley, and not to forget to bring back his frock and the board on which
he had been carried down. One poor creature, while in the act of being
removed, screamed out most piteously “that he was not dead yet;” and
implored not to be left to perish in the Gulley in a manner so horrible.
His cries had no effect upon his master, but operated so forcibly on the
less marble hearts of his fellow-slaves, that in the night some of them
removed him back to the negro village privately, and nursed him there
with so much care, that he recovered, and left the estate unquestioned
and undiscovered. Unluckily, one day the master was passing through
Kingston, when, on turning the corner of a street suddenly, he found
himself face to face with the negro, whom he had supposed long ago
to have been picked to the bones in the Gulley of Spring-Garden. He
immediately seized him, claimed him as his slave, and ordered his
attendants to convey him to his house; but the fellow’s cries attracted
a crowd round them, before he could be dragged away. He related his
melancholy story, and the singular manner in which he had recovered his
life and liberty; and the public indignation was so forcibly excited by
the shocking tale, that Mr. Bedward was glad to save himself from
being torn to pieces by a precipitate retreat from Kingston, and never
ventured to advance his claim to the negro a second time.


A man has been tried, at Kingston, for cruel treatment of a Sambo female
slave, called Amey. She had no friends to support her cause, nor any
other evidence to prove her assertions, than the apparent truth of
her statement, and the marks of having been branded in five different
places. The result was, that the master received a most severe reprimand
for his inhuman conduct, and was sentenced to close confinement for six
months, while the slave, in consequence of her sufferings, was restored
to the full enjoyment of her freedom.

It appears to me that nothing could afford so much relief to the
negroes, under the existing system of Jamaica, as the substituting the
labour of animals for that of slaves in agriculture, whereever such a
measure is practicable. On leaving the island, I impressed this wish of
mine upon the minds of my agents with all my power; but the only result
has been the creating a very considerable additional expense in the
purchase of ploughs, oxen, and farming implements; the awkwardness,
and still more the obstinacy, of the few negroes, whose services were
indispensable, was not to be overcome: they broke plough after plough,
and ruined beast after beast, till the attempt was abandoned in despair.
However, it was made without the most essential ingredient for success,
the superintendence of an English ploughman; and such of the ploughs as
were of cast-iron could not be repaired when once broken, and therefore
ought not to have been adopted; but I am told, that in several other
parts of the island the plough has been introduced, and completely
successful. Another of my farming speculations answered no better: this
was to improve the breed of cattle in the county, for which purpose
Lord Holland and myself sent over four of the finest bulls that could be
procured in England. One of them got a trifling hurt in its passage
from the vessel to land; but the remaining three were deposited in their
respective pens without the least apparent damage. They were taken all
possible care of, houses appropriated to shelter them from the sun and
rain, and, in short, no means of preserving their health was neglected.
Yet, shortly after their arrival in Jamaica, they evidently began to
decline; their blood was converted into urine; they paid no sort of
attention to the cows, who were confined in the same paddock; and at the
end of a fortnight not one was in existence, two having died upon
the same day. The injured one, having been bled the most copiously in
consequence of its hurt, was that which survived the longest.


Some days ago, a negro woman, who has lost four children, and has always
been a most affectionate mother, brought the fifth, a remarkably fine
infant, into the hospital. She complained of its having caught cold, a
fever, and so on; but nothing administered was of use, and its manner of
breathing made the doctor enquire, whether the child had not had a fall?
The mother denied this most positively, and her fondness for the infant
admitted no doubt of her veracity. Still the child grew worse and
worse; still the question about the fall was repeated, and as constantly
denied; until luckily being made in the presence of a new-comer, the
latter immediately exclaimed, “that to her certain knowledge the infant
had really had a fall, for that the mother having fastened it behind her
back, the knot of the handkerchief had slipped, and the baby had fallen
upon the floor.”--“It is false,” answered the mother: “the child did not
fall; for when the knot slipped, I had time to catch it by the foot, and
so I saved it from falling, just as its head struck against the ground.”
 Fear of being blamed as having occasioned the baby’s illness through
her own carelessness had induced her to adopt this equivocation, and its
life had nearly been the sacrifice of her duplicity. A proper mode of
treatment was now adopted without loss of time; their beneficial effect
was immediately visible, and the poor little negro is now recovering
rapidly. But certainly there is no folly and imprudence like unto negro
folly and imprudence. One of my best disposed and most sensible Eboes
has had a violent fever lately, but was so nearly well as to be put
upon a course of bark. On Wednesday morning a son of his died of
dirt-eating,--a practice which neither severity nor indulgence could
induce him to discontinue. The boy was buried that night according to
African customs, accompanied with dancing, singing, drinking, eating,
and riot of all kinds; and the father, although the kindest-hearted
negro on my estate, and remarkably fond of his children, danced and
drank to such an excess, that I found him on the following morning in a
raging fever, and worse than he was when he first entered the hospital.
I had warned him against the consequences of the funeral, reminded him
of the dangerous malady from which he was but just recovering, and he
had promised solemnly to be upon his guard; and such was the manner in
which he performed his promise.

FEBRUARY 1. (Sunday.)

During my former visit to Jamaica I had interceded in behalf of a
negro belonging to Greenwich estate, named Aberdeen, who had run away
repeatedly, but who attributed his misconduct to the decay of his
health, which rendered him unable to work as well as formerly, and to
the fear of consequent punishment for not having performed the tasks
assigned to him. The fellow while he spoke to me had tears running
down his cheeks, looked feeble and ill, and indeed seemed to be quite
heart-broken. On my speaking to the attorney, he readily promised to
enquire into the truth of the man’s statement, and to take care that he
should be only allotted such labour as his strength might be fully equal
to. This morning he came over to see me, and so altered, that I could
scarcely believe him to be the same man. He was cleanly dressed, walked
with his head erect, and his eyes sparkled, and his mouth grinned from
ear to ear, while he told me, that during my absence every thing had
gone well with him, nobody had “put upon him;” he had been tasked no
more than suited his strength; as much as he was able to do, he had
done willingly, and had never run away. Even his asthma was better in
consequence of the depression being removed from his spirits. So, he
said, as soon as he heard of my return, he thought it his duty to
come over and show himself to me, and tell me that he was well, and
contented, and behaving properly; for that “to be sure, if massa no
speak that good word for me to trustee, me no livee now; me good,
massa!” Gratitude made him absolutely eloquent: his whole manner, and
the strong expression of his countenance, put his sincerity out of
all doubt, and I never saw a man seem to feel more truly thankful.
All negroes, therefore, are not absolutely without some remembrance of
kindness shown them; and indeed I ought not in justice to my own people
to allow myself to forget, that when I sent a reward to those who had
roused themselves to drive the cattle out of my canes the other night,
there was considerable difficulty in persuading them to accept the
money: they sent me word, “that as they were all well treated on the
estate, it was their business to take care that no mischief was done to
it, and that they did not deserve to be rewarded for having merely done
their duty by me.” Nor was it till after they had received repeated
orders from me, that their delicacy could be overcome, and themselves
persuaded to pocket the affront and the _maccaroni_.


One of the deadliest poisons used by the negroes (and a great variety is
perfectly well known to most of them) is prepared from the root of the

Its juice being expressed and allowed to ferment, a small worm is
generated, the substance of which being received into the stomach is of
a nature the most pernicious. A small portion of this worm is concealed
under one of the thumb-nails, which are suffered to grow long for this
purpose; then when the negro has contrived to persuade his intended
victim to eat or drink with him, he takes an opportunity, while handing
to him a dish or cup, to let the worm fall, which never fails to destroy
the person who swallows it. Another means of destruction is to be found
(as I am assured) in almost every negro garden throughout the island:
it is the arsenic bean, neither useful for food nor ornamental in its
appearance; nor can the negroes, when questioned, give any reason for
affording it a place in their gardens; yet there it is always to be
seen. The alligator’s liver also possesses deleterious properties; and
the gall is said to be still more dangerous.


On Friday I was made to observe, in the hospital, a remarkably fine
young negro, about twenty-two years of age, stout and strong, and whom
every one praised for his numerous good qualities, and particularly for
his affection for his mother, and the services which he rendered her. He
complained of a little fever, and a slight pain in his side. On Saturday
he left the hospital, and intended to go to his provision grounds, among
the mountains, on Sunday morning; but, as he complained of a pain in his
head, his mother prevented his going, and obliged him to return to the
hospital in the evening. On Monday he was seized with fainting fits,
lost his speech and power of motion, and this morning I was awaked by
the shrieks and lamentations of the poor mother, who, on coming to the
hospital to enquire for her son, found, that in spite of all possible
care and exertions on the part of his medical attendants, he had just
expired. Whether it be the climate not agreeing with their African
blood (genuine or inherited), or whether it be from some defect in their
general formation, certainly negroes seem to hold their lives upon a
very precarious tenure. Nicholas, John Fuller, and others of my best
and most favoured workmen, the very servants, too, in my own house, are
perpetually falling ill with little fevers, or colds, or pains in the
head or limbs. However, the season is universally allowed to have been
peculiarly unhealthy for negroes; and, indeed, even for white people,
the deaths on board the shipping having been unusually numerous this
year. As to the barracks, which are scarcely a couple of miles distant
from my estate, there the yellow fever has established itself, and, as
I hear, is committing terrible ravages, particularly among the wives
of the soldiers.--This morning several negro-mothers, belonging to
Friendship and Greenwich, came to complain to their attorney (who
happened to be at my house) that the overseer obliged them to wean their
children too soon. Some of these children were above twenty-two months
old, and none under eighteen; but, in order to retain the leisure and
other indulgences annexed to the condition of nursing-mothers, the
female negroes, by their own good-will, would never wean their offspring
at all. Of course their demands were rejected, and they went home in
high discontent; one of them, indeed, not scrupling to declare aloud,
and with a peculiar emphasis and manner, that if the child should be put
into the weaning-house against her will, the attorney would see it dead
in less than a week.


The violent gale of wind which persecuted us with so much pertinacity on
our leaving the English Channel is supposed to have been the tail of a
tremendous hurricane, which has utterly laid waste Barbados and several
other islands. No less than sixteen of the ships which sailed at the
same time with us are reported to have perished upon the passage; so
that I ought to consider it at least as a negative piece of good luck to
have reached Jamaica myself, no bones broke, though sore peppered but
I am still trembling in uncertainty for the fate of the vessel which is
bringing out all my Irish supplies, and the non-arrival of which would
be a misfortune to me of serious magnitude.

The negroes are so obstinate and so wilful in their general character,
that if they do not receive the precise articles to which they have
been accustomed, and which they expect as their right, no compensation,
however ample, can satisfy them. Thus, at every Christmas it would go
near to create a rebellion if they did not receive a certain proportion
of salt fish; but if, in the intervening months, accident should prevent
their receiving their usual allowance of herrings, the giving them salt
fish to the amount of double the value would be considered by them as an
act of the grossest injustice.


On Saturday, about eight in the evening, a large centipede dropped from
the ceiling upon my dinner-table, and was immediately cut in two exact
halves by one of the guests. As it is reported in Jamaica that these
reptiles, when thus divided, will re-unite again, or if separated will
reproduce their missing members, and continue to live as stoutly as
ever, I put both parts into a plate, under a glass cover. On Sunday they
continued to move about their prison with considerable agility, although
the tail was evidently much more lively and full of motion than the
head: perhaps the centipede was a female. On Monday the head was dead,
but the tail continued to run about, and evidently endeavoured to to
make its escape, although it appeared not to know very well how to set
about it, nor to be perfectly determined as to which way it wanted to
go: it only seemed to have Cymon’s reason for wishing to take a walk,
and “would rather go any where, than stay with any body.” On Wednesday,
at twelve o’clock, its vivacity was a little abated, but only a little;
the wound was skinned over, and I was waiting anxiously to know whether
it would subsist without its numskull till a good old age, or would put
forth an entirely spick and span new head and shoulders; when, on going
to look at the plate on Thursday morning, lo and behold! the dead head
and the living tail had disappeared together. I suppose some of the
negro servants had thrown them away through ignorance, but they deny,
one and all, having so much as touched the plate, most stoutly; and as
a paper case, pierced in several places, had been substituted for the
glass cover, some persons are of opinion that the tail made its escape
through one of these air-holes, and carried its head away with it in its
forceps. Be this as it may, gone they both are, and I am disappointed
beyond measure at being deprived of this opportunity of reading the
last volume of “The Life and Adventures of a Centipede’s Tail.” I have
proclaimed a reward for the bringing me another, but I am told that
these reptiles are only found by accident; and that, very possibly, one
may not be procured previous to my leaving the island.


Mr. Lutford, the proprietor of a considerable estate in the parish
of Clarendon, had frequently accused a particular negro of purloining
coffee. About six months ago the slave was sent for, and charged with a
fresh offence of the same nature, when he confessed the having taken a
small quantity; upon which his master ordered him to fix his eyes on a
particular cotton tree, and then, without any further ceremony, shot him
through the head. His mistress was the coroner’s natural daughter,
and the coroner himself was similarly connected with the custos of
Clarendon. In consequence of this family compact, no inquest was held,
no enquiry was made; the whole business was allowed to be slurred
over, and the murder would have remained unpunished if accident had
not brought some rumours respecting it to the governor’s ear. An
investigation was ordered to take place without delay; but Mr. Lutford
received sufficient warning to get on shipboard, and escape to America;
and the displacing of the custos of Clarendon, for neglecting his
official duty, was the only means by which the governor could express
his abhorrence of the act.

FEBRUARY 8. (Sunday.)

My estate is greatly plagued by a negress named Catalina; she is either
mad, or has long pretended to be so, never works, and always steals.
About a week before my arrival she was found in the trash-house, which
she had pitched upon as the very fittest place possible for her kitchen;
and there she was sitting, very quietly and comfortably, boiling her
pot over an immense fire, and surrounded on all sides by dry canes,
inflammable as tinder. This vagary was of too dangerous a nature to
allow of her being longer left at liberty, and she was put into the
hospital. But her husband was by no means pleased with her detention,
as he never failed to appropriate to himself a share of her plunder, and
when discovered, the blame of the robbery was laid upon his wife, in a
fit of insanity. So, while the general joy at my first arrival drew the
hospital attendants from their post, he took the opportunity to carry
off his wife, and conceal her. The consequence was, that this morning
complaints poured upon me of gardens robbed by Catalina, who had carried
off as much as she could, dug up and destroyed the rest, and had shown
as little conscience in providing herself with poultry as in
helping herself to vegetables. I immediately despatched one of the
negro-governors with a party in pursuit of her, who succeeded in lodging
her once more in the hospital; where she must remain till I can get her
sent to the asylum at Kingston, the only hospital for lunatics in the
whole island.

FEBRUARY 12. (Thursday.)

On my former visit to Jamaica, I found on my estate a poor woman nearly
one hundred years old, and stone blind. She was too infirm to walk; but
two young negroes brought her on their backs to the steps of my house,
in order, as she said, that she might at least touch massa, although she
could not see him. When she had kissed my hand, “that was enough,” she
said; “now me hab once kiss a massa’s hand, me willing to die to-morrow,
me no care.” She had a woman appropriated to her service, and was shown
the greatest care and attention; however, she did not live many months
after my departure. There was also a mulatto, about thirty years of age,
named Bob, who had been almost deprived of the use of his limbs by
the horrible cocoa-bay, and had never done the least work since he
was fifteen. He was so gentle and humble, and so fearful, from the
consciousness of his total inability of soliciting my notice, that I
could not help pitying the poor fellow; and whenever he came in my way
I always sought to encourage him by little presents, and other trifling
marks of favour. His thus unexpectedly meeting with distinguishing
kindness, where he expected to be treated as a worthless incumbrance,
made a strong impression on his mind. Soon after my departure his malady
assumed a more active appearance but during the last stages of its
progress the only fear which he expressed was, that he should not live
till last Christmas, when my return was expected to a certainty. In the
mean while he endeavoured to find out a means of being of some little
use to me, although his weak constitution would not allow of his being
of much. Some of his relations being in opulent circumstances, they
furnished him with a horse, for he was too weak to walk for more than a
few minutes at a time; and, mounted upon this, he passed all his time
in traversing the estate, watching the corn that it might not be stolen,
warning the pen-keepers if any of the cattle had found their way into
the cane-pieces, and doing many other such little pieces of service to
the property; so that, as the negroes said, “if he had been a white man
he might have been taken for an overseer.” At length Christmas arrived;
it was known that I was on the sea; Bob, too, was still alive; but still
there was nothing to be heard of me. His perpetual question to all who
came to visit him was, How was the wind? and he was constantly praying
to the wind and the ocean to bring massa’s vessel soon to Savanna la
Mar, that he might but see him once more, and thank him, before he died.
At length I landed; and when, on the day of my arrival on my estate, I
expressed my surprise at the nonappearance of several of the negroes,
who had appeared to be most attached to me, and I had expected to find
most forward in greeting me, I was told that a messenger had been sent
to call them, and that their absence was occasioned by their attendance
at poor Bob’s funeral. Several of his relations, who nursed him on his
death-bed, have assured me, that the last audible words which he uttered
were--“Are there still no news of massa?”


Talk of Lucretia! commend me to a she-turkey! The hawk of Jamaica is
an absolute Don Giovanni; and he never loses an opportunity of being
extremely rude indeed to these feathered fair ones; not even scrupling
to use the last violence, and that without the least ceremony, not so
much as saying, “With your leave,” or “By your leave,” or using any of
the forms which common civility expects upon such occasions. The poor
timid things are too much frightened by the sudden attack of this
Tarquin with a beak and claws, to make any resistance; but they no
sooner recover from their flutter sufficiently to be aware of what has
happened, than they feel so extremely shocked, that they always make a
point of dying; nor was a female turkey ever known to survive the loss
of her honour above three days.


I think that I really may now venture to hope that my plans for the
management of my estate have succeeded beyond even my most sanguine
expectations. I have now passed three weeks with my negroes, the doors
of my house open all day long, and full liberty allowed to every person
to come and speak to me without witnesses or restraint; yet not one man
or woman has come to me with a single complaint. On the contrary, all my
enquiries have been answered by an assurance, that during the two years
of my absence my regulations were adhered to most implicitly, and that,
“except for the pleasure of seeing massa,” there was no more difference
in treatment than if I had remained upon the estate. Many of them have
come to tell me instances of kindness which they have received from one
or other of their superintendents; others, to describe some severe fit
of illness, in which they must have died but for the care taken of them
in the hospital; some, who were weakly and low-spirited on my former
visit, to show me how much they are improved in health, and tell me
“how they keep up heart now, because since massa come upon the property
nobody put upon them, and all go well;” and some, who had formerly
complained of one trifle or other, to take back their complaints, and
say, that they wanted no change, and were willing to be employed in any
way that might be thought most for the good of the estate; but although
I have now at least _seen_ every one of them, and have conversed with
numbers, I have not yet been able to find one person who had so much as
even an imaginary grievance to lay before me. Yet I find, that it has
been found necessary to punish with the lash, although only in a very
few instances; but then this only took place on the commission of
absolute _crimes_, and in cases where its necessity and justice were so
universally felt, not only by others, but by the sufferers themselves,
that instead of complaining, they seem only to be afraid of their
offence coming to my knowledge; to prevent which, they affect to be
more satisfied and happy than all the rest, and now when I see a mouth
grinning from ear to ear with a more than ordinary expansion of jaw, I
never fail to find, on enquiry, that its proprietor is one of those who
have been punished during my absence. I then take care to give them an
opportunity of making a complaint, if they should have any to make; but
no, not a word comes; “every thing has gone on perfectly well, and
just as it ought to have done.” Upon this, I drop a slight hint of the
offence in question; and instantly away goes the grin, and down falls
the negro to kiss my feet, confess his fault, and “beg massa forgib,
and them never do so bad thing more to fret massa, and them beg massa
pardon, hard, quite hard!” But not one of them has denied the justice
of his punishment, or complained of undue severity on the part of his
superintendents. On the other hand, although the lash has thus been in
a manner utterly abolished, except in cases where a much severer
punishment would have been inflicted by the police, and although they
are aware of this unwillingness to chastise, my trustee acknowledges
that during my absence the negroes have been quiet and tractable, and
have not only laboured as well as they used to do, but have done much
more work than the negroes on an adjoining property, where there are
forty more negroes, and where, moreover, a considerable sum is paid for
hired assistance. Having now waited three weeks to see how they would
conduct themselves, and found no cause of dissatisfaction since the
neglect of the watchman to guard the cattle (and which they one and
all attributed to their joy at seeing me again), I thought it time
to distribute the presents which I had brought with me for them from
England. During my absence I had ordered a new and additional hospital
to be built, intended entirely for the use of lying-in women, nursing
mothers, and cases of a serious nature, for which purpose it is to be
provided with every possible comfort; while the old hospital is to be
reserved for those who have little or nothing the matter with them, but
who obstinately insist upon their being too ill to work, in defiance
of the opinion of all their medical attendants. The new hospital is
not quite finished; but wishing to connect it as much as possible
with pleasurable associations, I took occasion of the distribution of
presents to open it for the first time. Accordingly, the negroes were
summoned to the new hospital this morning; the rooms were sprinkled with
Madeira for good luck; and the toast of “Health to the new hospital, and
shame to the old lazy house!” was drunk by the trustee, the doctoresses,
the governors, &c., and received by the whole congregation of negroes
with loud cheering; after which, every man received a blue jacket lined
with flannel, every woman a flaming red stuff petticoat, and every child
a frock of white cotton. They then fell to dancing and singing, and
drinking rum and sugar, which they kept up till a much later hour than
would be at all approved of by the bench of bishops; for it is now
Sunday morning, and they are still dancing and singing louder than ever.

FEBRUARY 15. (Sunday.)

To-day divine service was performed at Savanna la Mar for the first
time these five weeks. The rector has been indisposed lately with the
lumbago: he has no curate; and thus during five whole weeks there was
a total cessation of public worship. I had told several of my female
acquaintance that it was long since they had been to church; that I was
afraid of their forgetting “all about and about it,” and that if there
should be no service for a week longer I should think it my duty to come
and hear them say their Catechism myself. Luckily the rector recovered,
and saved me the trouble of hearing them; but the long privation of
public prayer did not seem to have created any very great demand for the
article, as I have seldom witnessed a more meagre congregation. It was
literally “two or three gathered together,” and it seemed as if five or
six would be too many, and forfeit the promise. I cannot discover that
the negroes have any external forms of worship, nor any priests in
Jamaica, unless their Obeah men should be considered as such; but still
I cannot think that they ought to be considered as totally devoid of
all natural religion. There is no phrase so common on their lips as “God
bless you!” and “God preserve you!” and “God will bless you wherever you
go!” Phrases which they pronounce with every-appearance of sincerity,
and as if they came from the very bottom of their hearts. “God-A’mity!
God-A’mity!” is their constant exclamation in pain and in sorrow;
and with this perpetual recurrence to the Supreme Being, it must be
difficult to insist upon their being atheists. But they have even got a
step further than the belief in a God; they also allow the existence of
an evil principle. One of them complained to me the other day, that when
he went to the field his companions had told him “that he might go
to hell, for he was not worthy to work with them;” and one of his
adversaries in return accused him of being so lazy, “that instead of
being a slave upon Cornwall estate, he was only fit to be the slave of
the devil.” Then surely they could not be afraid of duppies (or ghosts)
without some idea of a future state; and indeed nothing is more firmly
impressed upon the mind of the Africans, than that after death they
shall go back to Africa, and pass an eternity in revelling and feasting
with their ancestors. The proprietor of a neighbouring estate lately
used all his influence to persuade his foster-sister to be christened;
but it was all in vain: she had imbibed strong African prejudices from
her mother, and frankly declared that she found nothing in the Christian
system so alluring to her taste as the post-obit balls and banquets
promised by the religion of Africa. I confess, that this prejudice
appears to me to be so strongly rooted, that in spite of the curates
expected from the hands of the bishop of London, I am sadly afraid, that
“the pulpit drum ecclesiastic” will find it a hard matter to overpower
the gumby; and that the joys of the Christian paradise will be seen to
kick the beam, when they are weighed against the pleasures of eating
fat hog, drinking raw rum, and dancing for centuries to the jam-jam and
kitty-katty. In the negro festivals in this life, the chief point
lies in making as much noise as possible, and the Africans and Creoles
dispute it with the greatest pertinacity. I am just informed that at the
dance last night the Eboes obtained a decided triumph, for they roared
and screamed and shouted and thumped their drums with so much effect,
that the Creoles were fairly rendered deaf with the noise of their
rivals, and dumb with their own, and obliged to leave off singing


On my arrival I found that idle rogue Nato, as usual, an inmate of the
hospital, where he regularly passes at least nine months out of the
twelve. He was with infinite difficulty persuaded, at the end of a
fortnight, to employ himself about the carriage-horses for a couple of
days; but on the third he returned to the hospital, although the medical
attendants, one and all, declared nothing to be the matter with him, and
the doctors even refused to insert his name in the sick list. Still he
persisted in declaring himself to be too ill to do a single stroke of
work: so on Thursday I put him into one of the sick rooms by himself,
and desired him to get well with the doors locked, which he would find
to the full as easy as with the doors open; at the same time assuring
him, that he should never come out, till he should be sufficiently
recovered to cut canes in the field. He held good all Friday; but
Saturday being a holy-day, he declared himself to be in a perfect state
of health, and desired to be released. However, I was determined to make
him suffer a little for his lying and obstinacy, and would not suffer
the doors to be opened for him till this morning, when he quitted the
hospital, saluted on all sides by loud huzzas in congratulation of his
amended health, and which followed him during his whole progress to
the cane-piece. I was informed that a lad, named Epsom, who used to be
perpetually running away, had been stationary for the last two years.
So on Wednesday last, as he happened to come in my way, I gave him all
proper commendation for having got rid of his bad habits; and to
make the praise better worth his having, I added a maccarony: he was
gratified in the extreme, thanked me a thousand times, promised most
solemnly never to behave ill again, and ran away that very night.
However, he returned on Saturday morning, and was brought to me all
rags, tears, and penitence, wondering “how he could have had such _bad
manners_ as to make massa fret.”


Some of the free people of colour possess slaves, cattle, and other
property left them by their fathers, and are in good circumstances; but
few of them are industrious enough to increase their possessions by any
honest exertions of their own. As to the free blacks, they are almost
uniformly lazy and improvident, most of them half-starved, and only
anxious to live from hand to mouth. Some lounge about the highways
with pedlar-boxes, stocked with various worthless baubles; others keep
miserable stalls provided with rancid butter, damaged salt-pork, and
other such articles: and these they are always willing to exchange for
stolen rum and sugar, which they secretly tempt the negroes to pilfer
from their proprietors; but few of them ever make the exertion of
earning their livelihood creditably. Even those who profess to be
tailors, carpenters, or coopers, are for the most part careless,
drunken, and dissipated, and never take pains sufficient to attain any
dexterity in their trade. As to a free negro hiring himself out for
plantation labour, no instance of such a thing was ever known in
Jamaica, and probably no price, however great, would be considered by
them as a sufficient temptation.


The Africans and Creoles certainly do hate each other with a cordiality
which would have appeared highly gratifying to Dr. Johnson in his “Love
of Good Haters.” Yesterday, in the field, a girl who had taken some
slight offence at something said to her by a young boy, immediately
struck him with the bill, with which she was cutting canes. Luckily,
his loose wrapper saved him from the blow; and, on his running away, she
threw the bill after him in his flight with all the fury and malice of
a fiend. This same vixen, during my former visit, had been punished
for fixing her teeth in the hand of one of the other girls, and nearly
biting her thumb off; and on hearing of this fresh instance of devilism,
I asked her mother, “how she came to have so bad a daughter, when all
her sons were so mild and good?”--“Oh, massa,” answered she, “the girl’s
father was a Guineaman.”


Neptune came this morning to request that the name of his son, Oscar,
might be changed for that of Julius, which (it seems) had been that of
his own father. The child, he said, had always been weakly, and he was
persuaded, that its ill-health proceeded from his deceased grandfather’s
being displeased, because it had not been called after him. The other
day, too, a woman, who had a child sick in the hospital, begged me to
change its name for any other which might please me best: she cared not
what; but she was sure that it would never do well, so long as it should
be called Lucia. Perhaps this prejudice respecting the power of names
produces in some measure their unwillingness to be christened. They find
no change produced in them, except the alteration of their name, and
hence they conclude that this name contains in it some secret power;
while, on the other hand, they conceive that the ghosts of their
ancestors cannot fail to be offended at their abandoning an appellation,
either hereditary in the family, or given by themselves. It is another
negro-prejudice that the eructation of the breath of a sucking child has
something in it venomous; and frequently nursing mothers, on showing the
doctor a swelled breast, will very gravely and positively attribute it
to the infant’s having broken wind while hanging at the nipple.


I asked one of my negro servants this morning whether old Luke was
a relation of his. “Yes,” he said.--“Is he your uncle, or your
cousin?”--“No, massa.”--“What then?”--“He and my father were shipmates,


The law-charges in Jamaica have lately been regulated by the House of
Assembly; and by all accounts (except that of the lawyers) it was full
time that something should be done on the subject. A case was mentioned
to me this morning of an estate litigated between several parties. At
length a decision was given: the estate was sold for £16,000; but the
lawyer’s claim must always be the first discharged, and as this amounted
to more than £16,000 the lawyer found himself in possession of the
estate. This was the fable of Æsop’s oyster put in action with a


A negro, named Adam, has long been the terror of my whole estate. He was
accused of being an Obeah-man, and persons notorious for the practice
of Obeah had been found concealed from justice in his house, who were
afterwards convicted and transported. He was strongly suspected of
having poisoned more than twelve negroes, men and women; and having been
displaced by my former trustee from being principal governor, in revenge
he put poison into his water jar. Luckily he was observed by one of the
house servants, who impeached him, and prevented the intended mischief.
For this offence he ought to have been given up to justice; but being
brother of the trustee’s mistress she found means to get him off, after
undergoing a long confinement in the stocks. I found him, on my arrival,
living in a state of utter excommunication; I tried what reasoning with
him could effect, reconciled him to his companions, treated him with
marked kindness, and he promised solemnly to behave well during my
absence. However, instead of attributing my lenity to a wish to reform
him, his pride and confidence in his own talents and powers of deception
made him attribute the indulgence shown him to his having obtained an
influence over my mind. This he determined to employ to his own purposes
upon my return; so he set about forming a conspiracy against Sully,
the present chief governor, and boasted on various estates in the
neighbourhood that on my arrival he would take care to get Sully broke,
and himself substituted in his place. In the meanwhile he quarrelled and
fought to the right and to the left; and on my arrival I found the whole
estate in an uproar about Adam. No less than three charges of assault,
with intent to kill, were preferred against him. In a fit of jealousy
he had endeavoured to strangle Marlborough with the thong of a whip, and
had nearly effected his purpose before he could be dragged away: he
had knocked Nato down in some trifling dispute, and while the man was
senseless had thrown him into the river to drown him; and having taken
offence at a poor weak creature called Old Rachael, on meeting her
by accident he struck her to the ground, beat her with a supplejack,
stamped upon her belly, and begged her to be assured of his intention
(as he eloquently worded it) “to kick her guts out.” The breeding
mothers also accused him of having been the cause of the poisoning a
particular spring, from which they were in the habit of fetching water
for their children, as Adam on that morning had been seen near the
spring without having any business there, and he had been heard to
caution his little daughter against drinking water from it that day,
although he stoutly denied both circumstances. Into the bargain, my head
blacksmith being perfectly well at five o’clock, was found by his son
dead in his bed at eight; and it was known that he had lately had a
dispute with Adam, who on that day had made it up with him, and had
invited him to drink, although it was not certain that his offer had
been accepted. He had, moreover, threatened the lives of many of the
best negroes. Two of the cooks declared, that he had severally directed
them to dress Sully’s food apart, and had given them powders to mix
with it. The first to whom he applied refused positively; the second
he treated with liquor, and when she had drunk, he gave her the poison,
with instructions how to use it. Being a timid creature, she did not
dare to object, so threw away the powder privately, and pretended that
it had been administered; but finding no effect produced by it, Adam
gave her a second powder, at the same time bidding her remember the
liquor which she had swallowed, and which he assured her would effect
her own destruction through the force of Obeah, unless she prevented
it by sacrificing his enemy in her stead. The poor creature still threw
away the powder, but the strength of imagination brought upon her
a serious malady, and it was not till after several weeks that she
recovered from the effects of her fears. The terror thus produced was
universal throughout the estate, and Sully and several other principal
negroes requested me to remove them to my property in St. Thomas’s,
as their lives were not safe while breathing the same air with Adam.
However, it appeared a more salutary measure to remove Adam himself; but
all the poisoning charges either went no further than strong suspicion,
or (any more than the assaults) were not liable by the laws of Jamaica
to be punished, except by flogging or temporary imprisonment, which
would only have returned him to the estate with increased resentment
against those to whom he should ascribe his sufferings, however

However, on searching his house, a musket with a plentiful accompaniment
of powder and ball was found concealed, as also a considerable quantity
of materials for the practice of Obeah: the possession of either of the
above articles (if the musket is without the consent of the proprietor)
authorises the magistrates to pronounce a sentence of transportation. In
consequence of this discovery, Adam was immediately committed to gaol;
a slave court was summoned, and to-day a sentence of transportation from
the island was pronounced, after a trial of three hours. As to the man’s
guilt, of that the jury entertained no doubt after the first half
hour’s evidence; and the only difficulty was to restrain the verdict
to transportation. We produced nothing which could possibly affect
the man’s life; for although perhaps no offender ever better de served
hanging; yet I confess my being weak-minded enough to entertain doubts
whether hanging or other capital punishment ought to be inflicted for
any offence whatever: I am at least certain, that if offenders waited
till they were hanged by me, they would remain unhanged till they were
all so many old Parrs. However, although I did my best to prevent Adam
from being hanged, it was no easy matter to prevent his hanging himself.
The Obeah ceremonies always commence with what is called, by the
negroes, “the Myal dance.” This is intended to remove any doubt of
the chief Obeah-man’s supernatural powers; and in the course of it, he
undertakes to show his art by killing one of the persons present, whom
he pitches upon for that purpose. He sprinkles various powders over the
devoted victim, blows upon him, and dances round him, obliges him to
drink a liquor prepared for the occasion, and finally the sorcerer and
his assistants seize him and whirl him rapidly round and round till the
man loses his senses, and falls on the ground to all appearance and
the belief of the spectators a perfect corpse. The chief Myal-man then
utters loud shrieks, rushes out of the house with wild and frantic
gestures, and conceals himself in some neighbouring wood. At the end of
two or three hours he returns with a large bundle of herbs, from some
of which he squeezes the juice into the mouth of the dead person;
with others he anoints his eyes and stains the tips of his fingers,
accompanying the ceremony with a great variety of grotesque actions, and
chanting all the while something between a song and a howl, while the
assistants hand in hand dance slowly round them in a circle, stamping
the ground loudly with their feet to keep time with his chant. A
considerable time elapses before the desired effect is produced, but at
length the corpse gradually recovers animation, rises from the ground
perfectly recovered, and the Myal dance concludes. After this proof of
his power, those who wish to be revenged upon their enemies apply to the
sorcerer for some of the same powder, which produced apparent death
upon their companion, and as they never employ the means used for his
recovery, of course the powder once administered never fails to be
lastingly fatal. It must be superfluous to mention that the Myal-man
on this second occasion substitutes a poison for a narcotic. Now, among
other suspicious articles found in Adam’s hut, there was a string of
beads of various sizes, shapes, and colours, arranged in a form peculiar
to the performance of the Obeah-man in the Myal dance. Their use was
so well known, that Adam on his trial did not even attempt to deny
that they could serve for no purpose but the practice of Obeah; but he
endeavoured to refute their being his own property, and with this view
he began to narrate the means by which he had become possessed of them.
He said that they belonged to Fox (a negro who was lately transported),
from whom he had taken them at a Myal dance held on the estate of
Dean’s Valley; but as the assistants at one of these dances are by law
condemned to death equally with the principal performer, the court had
the humanity to interrupt his confession of having been present on such
an occasion, and thus saved him from criminating himself so deeply as to
render a capital punishment inevitable. I understand that he was quite
unabashed and at his ease the whole time; upon hearing his sentence, he
only said very coolly, “Well! I ca’n’t help it!” turned himself round,
and walked out of court. That nothing might be wanting, this fellow had
even a decided talent for hypocrisy. When on my arrival he gave me a
letter filled with the grossest lies respecting the trustee, and every
creditable negro on the estate, he took care to sign it by the name
which he had lately received in baptism; and in his defence at the bar
to prove his probity of character and purity of manners, he informed the
court that for some time past he had been learning to read, for the sole
purpose of learning the Lord’s Prayer. The nick-name by which he was
generally known among the negroes in this part of the country, was
Buonaparte, and he always appeared to exult in the appellation. Once
condemned, the marshal is bound under a heavy penalty to see him shipped
from off the island before the expiration of six weeks, and probably he
will be sent to Cuba. He is a fine-looking man between thirty and forty,
square built, and of great bodily strength, and his countenance equally
expresses intelligence and malignity. The sum allowed me for him is one
hundred pounds currency, which is scarcely a third of his worth as a
labourer, but which is the highest value which a jury is permitted to

MARCH 1. (Sunday.)

Last night the negroes of Friendship took it into their ingenious
heads to pay me a compliment of an extremely inconvenient nature. They
thought, that it would be highly proper to treat me with a nightly
serenade just by way of showing their _enjoyment_ on my return; and
accordingly a large body of them arrived at my doors about midnight,
dressed out in their best clothes, and accompanied with drums, rattles,
and their whole orchestra of abominable instruments, determined to pass
the whole night in singing and dancing under my windows. Luckily, my
negro-governors heard what was going forwards, and knowing my taste a
little better than my visiters, they hastened to assure them of my being
in bed and asleep, and with much difficulty persuaded them to remove
into my village. Here they contented themselves with making a noise for
the greatest part of the night; and the next morning, after coming up to
see me at breakfast, they went away quietly. One of them only remained
to enquire particularly after Lady H-------, as her mother had been her
nurse, and she was very particular in her enquiries as to her health,
her children, their ages and names. When she went away, I gave her a
plentiful provision of bread, butter, plantains, and cold ham from the
breakfast table; part of which she sat down to eat, intending, as she
said, to carry the rest to her piccaninny at home. But in half an hour
after she made her appearance again, saying she was come to take leave
of me, and hoped I would give her a _bit_ to buy tobacco. I gave her a
maccaroni, which occasioned a great squall of delight. Oh! since I had
given her so much, she would not buy tobacco but a fowl; and then, when
I returned, she would bring me a chicken from it for my dinner; that is,
if she could keep the other negroes from stealing it from her, a piece
of extraordinary good luck of which she seemed to entertain but slender
hopes. At length off she set; but she had scarcely gone above ten yards
from the house, when she turned back, and was soon at my writing-table
once more, with a “Well! here me come to massa again!” So then she said,
that she had meant to eat part of the provisions which I had given her,
and carry home the rest to her boy; but that really it was so good, she
could not help going on eating and eating, till she had eaten the whole,
and now she wanted another bit of cold ham to carry home to her child,
and then she should go away perfectly contented. I ordered Cubina
to give her a great hunch of it, and Mrs. Phillis at length took her
departure for good and all.

MARCH 4. (Wednesday.)

I set out to visit my estate in St. Thomas’s in the East, called
Hordley. It is at the very furthest extremity of the island, and
never was there a journey like unto my journey. Something disagreeable
happened at every step; my accidents commenced before I had accomplished
ten miles from my own house; for in passing along a narrow shelf
of rock, which overhangs the sea near Bluefields, a pair of young
blood-horses in my carriage took fright at the roaring of the waves
which dashed violently against them, and twice nearly overturned me. On
the second occasion one of them actually fell down into the water, while
the off-wheel of the curricle flew up into the air, and thus it remained
suspended, balancing backwards and forwards, like Mahomet’s coffin.
Luckily, time was allowed the horse to recover his legs, down came the
wheel once more on terra firma, and on we went again. We slept at Cashew
(an estate near Lacovia), and the next morning at daylight proceeded to
climb the Bogr, a mountain so difficult, that every one had pronounced
the attempt to be hopeless with horses so young as mine; but those
horses were my only ones, and therefore I was obliged to make the trial.
The road is bordered by tremendous precipices for about twelve miles;
the path is so narrow, that a servant must always be sent on before to
make any carts which may be descending stop in recesses hollowed out for
this express purpose; and the cartmen are obliged to sound their shells
repeatedly, in order to give each other timely warning. The chief
danger, however, proceeds from the steepness of the road, which in
some places will not permit the waggons to stop, however well their
conductors may be inclined; then down they come drawn by twelve or
fourteen, or sometimes sixteen oxen, sweeping every thing before them,
and any carriage unlucky enough to find itself in their course must
infallibly be dashed over the precipice. To-day, it really appeared as
if all the estates in the island had agreed to send their produce by
this particular road; the shells formed a complete chorus, and sounded
incessantly during our whole passage of the mountain; and at one time
there was a very numerous accumulation of carts and oxen in consequence
of my carriage coming to a complete stop. As we were ascending,--“It
is very well,” said a gentleman who was travelling with me, (Mr. Hill)
“that we did not come by this road three months sooner. I remember about
that time travelling it on horseback, and an enormous tree had fallen
over the path, which made me say to myself as I passed under it, ‘Now,
how would a chaise with a canopy get along here? The tree hangs so low
that the carriage never could pass, and it would certainly have to go
all the way home again.’ Of course, the obstacle must now be removed;
but if I remember right, this must have been the very spot.... and as
I hope to live, yonder is the very tree still!”--And so it proved;
although three months had elapsed, the impediment had been suffered to
remain in unmolested possession of the road, and to pass my carriage
under it proved an absolute impossibility. After much discussion,
and many fruitless attempts, we at length succeeded in unscrewing the
wheels, lifting off the body, which we carried along, and then built
the curricle up again on the opposite side of the tree. However, by
one means or other (after leaving a knocked-up saddle-horse at a coffee
plantation, to the owner of which I was a perfect stranger, but who very
obligingly offered to take charge of the animal) we found ourselves at
the bottom of the mountain; but the fatal tree, and the delay occasioned
by taking unavoidable shelter from tremendous storms of rain, had lost
us so much time, that night surprised us when we were still eight miles
distant from our destined inn. The night was dark as night could be;
no moon, no stars, nor any light except the flashing of myriads of
fire-flies, which, flapping in the faces of the young horses, frightened
them, and made them rear. The road, too, was full of water-trenches,
precipices, and deep and dangerous holes. As to the ground, it was quite
invisible, and we had no means of proceeding with any chance of safety
except by making some of the servants lead the horses, while others
went before us to explore the way, while they cried out at every
moment,--“Take care; a little to the left, or you will slip into that
water-trench--a little to the right, or you will tumble over that
precipice.”--Into the bargain there was neither inn nor gentleman’s
house within reach; and thus we proceeded crawling along at a foot’s
pace for five eternal miles, when we at length stopped to beg a shelter
for the night at a small estate called Porous. By this time it was
midnight; all the family was gone to bed; the gates were all locked; and
before we could obtain admittance a full hour elapsed, during which I
sat in an open carriage, perspiration streaming down from my head to my
feet through vexation, impatience and fatigue, while the night-dew fell
heavy and the night-breeze blew keen; which (as I had frequently been
assured) was the very best recipe possible for getting a Jamaica fever.
On such I counted both for myself and my white servant, when I at
length laid myself down in a bed at Porous; but to my equal surprise and
satisfaction we both rose the next morning without feeling the slightest
inconvenience from our risks of the preceding day, and in the evening of
Friday, the 5th, I reached Miss Cole’s hotel at the Spanish Town. One of
my young horses, however, was so completely knocked up by the fatigue of
crossing the mountain, that I could get no further than Kingston (only
fourteen miles) this next day. In consequence of the delay, I
was enabled to visit the Kingston theatre; the exterior is rather
picturesque; within it has no particular recommendations; the scenery
and dresses were shabby, the actors wretched, and the stage ill lighted;
the performance was for the benefit of the chief actress, who had but
little reason to be satisfied with the number of her audience; and I
may reckon it among my other misfortunes on this ill-starred expedition,
that it was my destiny to sit out the tragedy of “Adelgitha,” whom the
author meant only to be killed in the last act, but whom the actors
murdered in all five. The heroine was the only one who spoke tolerably,
but she was old enough and fat enough for the Widow Cheshire; Guiscard
did not know ten words of his part; the tyrant was really comical
enough; and Lothair was played by a young Jamaica Jew about fifteen
years of age, and who is dignified here with the name of “the Creole
Roscius.” His voice was just breaking, which made him “pipe and whistle
in the sound,” his action was awkward, and altogether he was but a sorry
specimen of theatrical talent: however, his _forte_ is said to lie
in broad farce, which perhaps may account for his being no better in
tragedy. On Sunday, the 8th, I resumed my journey, but my horses were so
completely knocked up, that I was obliged to hire an additional pair to
convey me to Miss Hetley’s inn on the other side of the Yallacks River,
which is nineteen miles from Kingston. This river, as well as that of
Morant (which I passed about ten miles further) both in breadth and
strength sets all bridges at defiance, and in the rainy season it is
sometimes impassable for several weeks. On this occasion there was but
little water in either, and I arrived without difficulty at Port Morant,
where I found horses sent by my trustee to convey me to Hordley. The
road led up to the mountains, and was one of the steepest, roughest,
and most fatiguing that I ever travelled, in spite of its picturesque
beauties. At length I reached my estate, jaded and wearied to death;
here I expected to find a perfect paradise, and I found a perfect hell.
Report had assured me, that Hordley was the best managed estate in the
island, and as far as the soil was concerned, report appeared to have
said true; but my trustee had also assured me, that my negroes were
the most contented and best disposed, and here there was a lamentable
incorrectness in the account. I found them in a perfect uproar;
complaints of all kinds stunned me from all quarters: all the blacks
accused all the whites, and all the whites accused all the blacks, and
as far as I could make out, both parties were extremely in the right.
There was no attachment to the soil to be found _here_; the negroes
declared, one and all, that if I went away and left them to groan under
the same system of oppression without appeal or hope of redress, they
would follow my carriage and establish themselves at Cornwall. I had
soon discovered enough to be certain, that although they told me plenty
of falsehoods, many of their complaints were but too well founded; and
yet how to protect them for the future or satisfy them for the present
was no easy matter to decide. Trusting to these fallacious reports of
the Arcadian state of happiness upon Hordley, I supposed, that I should
have nothing to do there but grant a few indulgences, and establish
the regulations already adopted with success on Cornwall; distribute
a little money, and allow a couple of play-days for dancing; and under
this persuasion I had made it quite impossible for me to remain above a
week at Hordley, which I conceived to be fully sufficient for the above
purpose. As to grievances to be redressed, I was totally unprepared for
any such necessity; yet now they poured in upon me incessantly, each
more serious than the former; and before twenty-four hours were elapsed
I had been assured, that in order to produce any sort of tranquillity
upon the estate, I must begin by displacing the trustee, the physician,
the four white book-keepers, and the four black governors, all of whom
I was modestly required to remove and provide better substitutes in the
space of five days and a morning. What with the general clamour,
the assertions and denials, the tears and the passion, the odious
falsehoods, and the still more odious truths, and (worst of all to me)
my own vexation and disappointment at finding things so different from
my expectations, at first nearly turned my brain; and I felt strongly
tempted to set off as fast as I could, and leave all these black devils
and white ones to tear one another to pieces, an amusement in which they
appeared to be perfectly ready to indulge themselves. It was, however,
considerable relief to me to find, upon examination, that no act of
personal ill-treatment was alleged against the trustee himself, who
was allowed to be sufficiently humane in his own nature, and was
only complained of for allowing the negroes to be maltreated by the
book-keepers, and other inferior agents, with absolute impunity.
Being an excellent planter, he confined his attention entirely to the
cultivation of the soil, and when the negroes came to complain of some
act of cruelty or oppression committed by the book-keepers or the black
governors, he refused to listen to them, and left their complaints
unenquired into, and consequently unredressed. The result was, that the
negroes were worse off, than if he had been a cruel man himself; for
his cruelty would have given them only one tyrant, whereas his indolence
left them at the mercy of eight. Still they said, that they would be
well contented to have him continue their trustee, provided that I would
appoint some protector, to whom they might appeal in cases of injustice
and ill-usage. The trustee declaring himself well satisfied that some
such appointment should take place, a neighbouring gentleman (whose
humanity to his own negroes had established him in high favour
with mine) was selected for this purpose. I next ordered one of the
book-keepers (of the atrocious brutality of whose conduct the trustee
himself upon examination allowed that there could be no doubt) to quit
the estate in two hours under pain of prosecution; away went the man,
and when I arose the next morning, another book-keeper had taken himself
off of his own accord, and that in so much haste that he left all
his clothes behind him. My next step was to displace the chief black
governor, a man deservedly odious to the negroes, and whom a gross and
insolent lie told to myself enabled me to punish without seeming to
displace him in compliance with their complaints against him; and these
sources of discontent being removed, I read to them my regulations for
allowing them new holidays, additional allowances of salt-fish, rum,
and sugar, with a variety of other indulgences and measures taken
for protection, &c. All which, assisted by a couple of dances and
distribution of money on the day of my departure had so good an effect
upon their tempers, that I left them in as good humour apparently, as
I found them in bad. But to leave them was no such easy matter; the
weather had been bad from the moment of my commencing my journey, but
from the moment of my reaching Hordley, it became abominable. The rain
poured down in cataracts incessantly; the old crazy house stands on the
top of a hill, and the north wind howled round it night and day, shaking
it from top to bottom, and threatening to become a hurricane. The
storm was provided with a very suitable accompaniment of thunder
and lightning; and to complete the business, down came the mountain
torrents, and swelled Plantain Garden River to such a degree, that
it broke down the dam-head, stopped the mill, and all work was at a
stand-still for two days and nights. But the worst of all was that this
same river lay between me and Kingston; bridge there was none, and it
soon became utterly impassable. Thus it continued for four days; on the
fifth (the day which I had appointed for my departure, and on which I
gave the negroes a parting holiday) the water appeared to be somewhat
abated at a ford about four miles distant; for as to crossing at my
own, that was quite out of the question for a week at least. A negro was
despatched on horseback to ascertain the height of the water; his report
was very unfavourable. However, as at worst I could but return, and had
no better means of employing my time, I resolved to make the experiment.
About forty of the youngest and strongest negroes left their dancing and
drinking, and ran on foot to see me safe over the water. The few hours
which had elapsed since my messenger’s examination, had operated very
favourably towards the reduction of the water, although it was still
very high. But a servant going before to ascertain the least dangerous
passage, and the negroes rushing all into the river to break the force
of the stream, and support the carriage on both sides, we were enabled
to struggle to the opposite bank, and were landed in safety with loud
cheering from my sable attendants, who then left me, many with tears
running down their cheeks, and all with thanks for the protection which
I had shown them, and earnest entreaties that I would come to visit them
another time. Whether my visit will have been productive of essential
service to them must remain a doubt; the trustee at least promised
me most solemnly that my regulations for their happiness and security
should be obeyed, and that the slave-laws (of which I had detected
beyond a doubt some very flagrant violations) should be carried into
effect for the future with the most scrupulous exactness. If he breaks
his promise, and I discover it, I have pledged myself most solemnly
to remove him, however great may be his merits as a planter; if he
contrives to keep me in ignorance of his proceedings (which, however,
from the precautions which I have now taken, I trust, will be no easy
matter), and the state of the negroes should continue after my departure
to be what it was before my arrival, then I can only console myself with
thinking, that the guilt is his, not mine; and that it is on _his_ head
that the curse of the sufferers and the vengeance of heaven will fall,
not on my own. I have been told that this estate of mine is one of the
most beautiful in the island. It may be so for anything that I can tell
of the matter. The badness of the weather and the disquietude of my
mind during the whole of my short stay, made every thing look gloomy and
hideous; and when I once found myself again beyond my own limits, I
felt my spirits lighter by a hundred weight. Of all the points which had
displeased me at Hordley, none had made me more angry for the time, than
the lie told me by the chief governor, which occasioned my displacing
him. This fellow, who for the credit of our family (no doubt) had got
himself christened by the name of John Lewis, had the impudence to walk
into my parlour just as I was preparing to go to bed, and inform me,
that he could not get the business of the estate done. Why not? He could
get nobody to come to the night-work at the mill, which he supposed was
the consequence of my indulging the negroes so much. Indeed! and where
were the people who ought to come to their night-work? in the negro
village? No; they were in the hospital, and refused to come out to work.
Upon which I blazed up like a barrel of gunpowder, and volleying out
in a breath all the curses that I ever heard in my life, I asked him,
whether any person really had been insolent enough to select a whole
night party from the sick people in the hospital, not one of whom ought
to stir out of it till well? There stood the fellow, trembling and
stammering, and unable to get out an answer, while I stamped up and down
the piazza, storming and swearing, banging all the doors till the house
seemed ready to tumble about our ears, and doing my best to out-herod
Herod, till at last I ordered the man to begone that instant, and get
the work done properly. He did not wait to be told twice, and was off in
a twinkling. In a quarter of an hour I sent for him again, and enquired
whether he had succeeded in getting the proper people to work at the
mill? Upon which he had the assurance to answer, that all the people
were there, and that it was not of their not being at the mill that he
had meant to complain. Of what was it then? “Of their not being in the
field.” When? “Yesterday. He could not get the negroes to come to work,
and so there had been none done all day.” And who refused to come? “All
the people.” But who? “All.” But who, who, who?--their names,
their names, their names? “He could not remember them all.” Name
one--well?--speak then, speak! “There was Beck.” And who else? “There
was Sally, who used to be called Whan-ica.” And who else? “There was....
there was Beck.” But who else? “Beck... and Sally”... But who else? who
else? “Little Edward had gone out of the hospital, and had not come to
work.” Well! Beck and Sally, and little Edward; who else? “Beck, and
little Edward, and Sally.”

But who else: I say, who else? “He could not remember any body else.”
 Then to be sure I was in such an imperial passion, as would have done
honour to “her majesty the queen Dolallolla.”

Why, you most impudent of all impudent fellows that ever told a lie,
have you really presumed to disturb me at this time of night, prevent
my going to bed, tell me that you can’t get the business done, and that
none of the people would come to work, and make such a disturbance, and
all because two old women and a little boy missed coming into the field
yesterday! Down dropped the fellow in a moment upon his marrow bones:
“Oh, me good massa,” cried he (and out came the truth, which I knew well
enough before he told me), “me no come of my own head; me _ordered_ to
come; but me never tell massa lie more, so me pray him forgib me!”
 But his obeying any person on my own estate in preference to me, and
suffering himself to be converted into an instrument of my annoyance,
was not to be easily overlooked; so I turned him out of the house with a
flea in his ear as big as a camel; and the next morning degraded him to
the rank of a common field negro. The trustee pleaded hard for his being
permitted to return to the waggons, from whence he had been taken, and
where he would be useful. But I was obdurate. Then came his wife to beg
for him, and then his mother, and then his cousin, and then his cousin’s
cousin: still I was firm; till on the day of my departure, the new chief
governor came to me in the name of the whole estate, and bested me to
allow John Lewis to return to the command of the waggons, “for that all
the negroes said, that it would be _too sad a thing_ for them to see a
man who had held the highest place among them, degraded quite to be a
common field negro.” There was something in this appeal which argued so
good a feeling, that I did not think it right to resist any longer; so I
hinted that if the trustee should ask it again as a favour to himself,
I might perhaps relent; and the proper application being thus made,
John Lewis was allowed to quit the field, but with a positive injunction
against his ever being employed again in any office of authority over
the negroes. I found baptism in high vogue upon Hordley, but I am sorry
to say, that I could not discover much effect produced upon their minds
by having been made Christians, except in one particular: whenever one
of them told me a monstrous lie (and they told me whole dozens), he
never failed to conclude his story by saying--“And now, massa, you know,
I’ve been christened; and if you do not believe what I say, I’m ready to
buss the booh to the truth of it.” The whole advantages to be derived
by negroes from becoming Christians, seemed to consist with them in two
points; being a superior species of magic itself, it preserved them from
black Obeah; and by enabling them to take an oath upon the ‘Bible to the
truth of any lie which it might suit them to tell, they believed that
it would give them the power of humbugging the white people with perfect
ease and convenience. They had observed the importance attached by
the whites to such an attestation, and the conviction which it always
appeared to carry with it; as to the crime or penalty of perjury, of
that they were totally ignorant, or at least indifferent; therefore
they were perfectly ready to “buss the book,” which they considered as
a piece of buckra superstition, mighty useful to the negroes, and valued
taking their oath upon the Bible to a lie, no more than Mrs. Mincing
did the oath which she took in the Blue Garret “upon an odd volume of
Messalina’s Poems.” Although I set out from Hordley at two o’clock, it
was past seven before I reached an estate called “The Retreat,” which
was only twelve miles off, so abominable was the road. Here I stopped
for the night, which I passed at supper with the musquitoes,--“not where
I ate, but where I was eaten.” Morant River had been swelled by the late
heavy rains to a tremendous height, and its numerous quicksands render
the passage in such a state extremely dangerous, However, a negro having
been sent early to explore it, and having returned with a favourable
report, we proceeded to encounter it. A Hordley negro, well acquainted
with these perilous rivers, had accompanied me for the express purpose
of pointing out the most practicable fords; but for some time his
efforts to find a safe one were unavailing, his horse at the end of a
minute or two plunging into a quicksand or some deep hole, among the
waters thrown up from which he totally disappeared for a moment, and
then was seen to struggle out again with such an effort and leap, as
were quite beyond the capability of any carriage’s attempting. However,
at the end of half an hour he was fortunate to find a place, where he
could cross (up to his horse’s belly in the water, to be sure), but at
least without tumbling into holes and quicksands; and here we set out,
conscious that our whole chance of reaching the opposite shore consisted
in keeping precisely the path which he had gone already, and determined
to stick as close as possible to his horse’s tail. But no sooner were
we fairly in the water, than my young horses found themselves unable to
resist the strength and rapidity of the torrent, which was rolling
down huge stones as big as rocks from the mountain; and to my utter
consternation, I perceived the curricle carried down the stream, and
the distance from my guide (who, by swimming his horse, had reached the
destined landing-place in safety) growing wider and wider with every
moment. We were now driving at all hazards; every moment I expected
to see a horse or a wheel sink down into some deep hole, the chaise
overturned, and ourselves either swallowed up in a quicksand, or dashed
to pieces against the stones, which were rolling around us. I never
remember to have felt myself so completely convinced of approaching
destruction, and I roared out with all my might and main:--“We are
carried away! all is over!” although, to be sure, I might as well
have held my tongue, seeing that all my roaring could not do the least
possible good. However, my horses, although too weak to resist the
current, were fortunately strong enough to keep their legs; while they
drifted down the stream, they struggled along in an oblique direction,
which gradually (though but slowly) brought us nearer to the opposite
shore; and after several minutes passed in most painful anxiety, a
desperate plunge out of the water enabled them to _jump_ the carriage
upon terra firma on the same side with my guide, although at a
considerable distance from the spot where he had landed. The Yallack’s
River was less dangerous; but even this too had been sufficiently
swelled to make the crossing it no easy matter; so that what with one
obstacle and another, when I reached Kingston at six o’clock with
my bones and my vehicle unbroken, I was almost as much surprised as
satisfied. I dined with the curate of Kingston (Rev. G. Hill), where I
met the admiral upon this station, Sir Home Popham, and a large party.
At Kingston I was obliged to send back a horse, which had been lent me
in aid of my own; another had been dropped at “the Retreat a third could
get no farther than the mountains; and my companion’s three horses had
found themselves unable even to reach Spanish Town, and I had thus been
obliged to leave them and theirs behind upon the road. On the morning of
our departure from Cornwall, when my Italian servant saw the quantity
of horses, mules, servants, and carriages collected for the journey,
he clapped his hands together in exultation, and exclaimed,--“They will
certainly take us for the king of England!” But now when after leaving
one horse in one place and another horse in another, on the morning
of Monday the 16th, he beheld my whole caravan reduced to one pair of
chaise horses and a couple of miserable mules, he cast a rueful look
upon my diminished cavalry and sighed to himself,--“I verily believe, we
shall return home on foot after all!” I reached Spanish Town in time to
dine with the chief justice (Mr. Jackson), and intended to remain two
or three days longer; but the fatality, which had persecuted me from the
very commencement of this abominable journey, was not exhausted yet. On
Tuesday morning, my landlady just hinted, that “she thought it right
to let me know, that to be sure there _was_ a gentleman unwell in the
house; but she supposed, that I should not care about it: however, if
I particularly disliked the neighbourhood of a sick person, she would
procure me lodgings.” I asked, “What was the complaint?”

“Oh! he was a little sick, that was all.” To which I only could answer,
that, “in that case I hoped he would get better,” and thought no more
about it. However, when I went to visit the governor, I found, that this
“little sickness” of my landlady’s was neither more nor less than the
yellow fever; of which the gentleman in question was now dying, of which
a lady had died only two days before, and of which another European,
newly arrived, had fallen ill in this very same hotel only a fortnight
before, and had died, after throwing himself out of an upper window in a
fit of delirium. Under all these circumstances, I thought it to the full
as prudent not to prolong my residence in Spanish Town; and accordingly,
on Wednesday the 18th, I resumed my journey homewards. I travelled the
north side of the island, which was the road used by me on my return two
years ago. I have nothing to add to my former account of it, except that
there need not be better inns anywhere than the Wellington hotel at
Rio Bueno, and Judy James’s at Montego Bay, which latter is now, in my
opinion, by far the prettiest town in Jamaica. Indeed, all the inns upon
this road are excellent, with the solitary exception of the Black-heath
Tavern, which I stopped at by a mistake instead of that of Montague. At
this most miserable of all inns that ever entrapped an unwary traveller,
there was literally nothing to be procured for love or money: no corn
for the horses; no wine without sending six miles for a bottle; no food
but a miserable starved fowl, so tough that the very negroes could not
eat it; and a couple of eggs, one of which was addled: there was but one
pair of sheets in the whole house, and neither candles, nor oranges,
nor pepper, nor vinegar, nor bread, nor even so much as sugar, white or
brown. Yams there were, which prevented my servants from going to bed
quite empty, and I contented myself with the far-fetched bottle of wine
and the solitary egg, which I eat by the light of a lamp filled with
stinking oil. The one pair of sheets I seized upon to my own share, and
my servants made themselves as good beds as they could upon the floor
with great coats and travelling mantles. It was on Wednesday night, that
after the fatigue of crossing Mount Diablo, “myself I unfatigued” in
this delectable retreat, which seemed to have been established upon
principles diametrically opposite to those of Shenstone’s. On Thursday I
slept at Rio Bueno, on Friday at Montego Bay, passed Saturday at Anchovy
estate (Mr. Plummer’s), and was very glad, on Sunday the 22d, to find
myself once more quietly established at Cornwall, fully determined to
leave it no more, till I leave it on my return to England. The lady, who
had died so lately at Kingston, had arrived not long before in a vessel,
both the crew and passengers of which landed (to all appearance) in
perfect health after a favourable passage from England. Of course, they
soon dispersed in different directions; yet almost all of them were
attacked nearly at the same period by the fever, which seemed to have a
particular commission to search out such persons as had arrived by that
particular ship, at however remote a distance they might be from each

MARCH 29. (Sunday.)

This morning (without either fault or accident) a young, strong, healthy
woman miscarried of an eight months’ child; and this is the third
time that she has met with a similar misfortune. No other symptom of
child-bearing has been given in the course of this year, nor are there
above eight women upon the breeding list out of more than one hundred
and fifty females. Yet they are all well clothed and well fed, contented
in mind, even by their own account, over-worked at no time, and when
upon the breeding list are exempted from labour of every kind. In
spite of all this, and their being treated with all possible care
and indulgence, rewarded for bringing children, and therefore anxious
themselves to have them, how they manage it so ill I know not, but
somehow or other certainly the children do not come.


During the whole three weeks of my absence, only two negroes have been
complained of for committing fault. The first was a domestic quarrel
between two Africans; Hazard stole Frank’s calabash of sugar, which
Frank had previously stolen out of my boiling-house. So Frank broke
Hazard’s head, which in my opinion settled the matter so properly,
that I declined spoiling it by any interference of my own. The other
complaint was more serious. Toby, being ordered to load the cart
with canes, answered “I wo’nt”--and Toby was as good as his word;
in consequence of which the mill stopped for want of canes, and the
boilinghouse stopped for want of liquor. I found on my return that for
this offence Toby had received six lashes, which Toby did not mind three
straws. But as his fault amounted to an act of downright rebellion, I
thought that it ought not by any means to be passed over so lightly, and
that Toby ought to be _made_ to mind. I took no notice for some days;
but the Easter holidays had been deferred till my return, and only began
here on Friday last. On that day, as soon as the head governor had blown
the shell, and dismissed the negroes till Monday morning, he requested
the pleasure of Mr. Toby’s company to the hospital, where he locked him
up in a room by himself. All Saturday and Sunday the estate rang with
laughing, dancing, singing, and huzzaing. Salt-fish was given away in
the morning; the children played at ninepins for jackets and petticoats
in the evening; rum and sugar was denied to no one. The gumbys
thundered; the kitty-katties clattered; all was noise and festivity; and
all this while, “_qualis morens Philomela_,” sat solitary Toby gazing
at his four white walls! Toby had not minded the lashes; but the loss of
his amusement, and the disgrace of his exclusion from the fête operated
on his mind so forcibly, that when on the Monday morning his door was
unlocked, and the chief governor called him to his work, not a word
would he deign to utter; let who would speak, there he sat motionless,
silent, and sulky. However, upon my going down to him myself, his
voice thought proper to return, and he began at once to complain of his
seclusion and justify his conduct. But he no sooner opened his lips than
the whole hospital opened theirs to censure his folly, asking him how
he could presume to justify himself when he knew that he had done wrong?
and advising him to humble himself and beg my pardon; and their clamours
were so loud and so general (Mrs. Sappho, his wife, being one of the
loudest, who not only “gave it him on both sides of his ears,” but
enforced her arguments by a knock on the pate now and then), that they
fairly drove the evil spirit out of him; he confessed his fault with
great penitence, engaged solemnly never to commit such another, and set
off to his work full of gratitude for my granting him forgiveness. I
am more and more convinced every day, that the best and easiest mode of
governing negroes (and governed by some mode or other they must be) is
not by the detestable lash, but by confinement, solitary or otherwise;
they cannot bear it, and the memory of it seems to make a lasting
impression upon their minds; while the lash makes none but upon their
skins, and lasts no longer than the mark. The order at my hospital
is, that no negro should be denied admittance; even if no symptoms of
illness appear, he is allowed one day to rest, and take physic, if he
choose it. On the second morning, if the physician declares the man to
be shamming, and the plea of illness is still alleged against going
to work, then the negro is locked up in a room with others similarly
circumstanced, where care is taken to supply him with food, water,
physic, &c., and no restraint is imposed except that of not going out.
Here he is suffered to remain unmolested as long as he pleases, and he
is only allowed to leave the hospital upon his own declaration that he
is well enough to go to work; when the door is opened, and he walks
away unreproached and unpunished, however evident his deception may have
been. Before I adopted this regulation, the number of patients used to
vary from thirty to forty-five, not more than a dozen of whom perhaps
had anything the matter with them: the number at this moment is but
fourteen, and all are sores, burns, or complaints the reality of which
speaks for itself. Some few persevering tricksters will still submit
to be locked up for a day or two; but their patience never fails to
be wearied out by the fourth morning, and I have not yet met with an
instance of a patient who had once been locked up with a fictitious
illness, returning to the hospital except with a real one. In general,
they offer to take a day’s rest and physic, promising to go out to work
the next day, and on these occasions they have uniformly kept their
word. Indeed, my hospital is now in such good order, that the physician
told the trustee the other day that “mine gave him less trouble than any
hospital in the parish.”

My boilers, too, who used to make sugar the colour of mahogany, are
now making excellent; and certainly, if appearances may be trusted, and
things will but last, I may flatter myself with the complete success
of my system of management, as far as the time elapsed is sufficient
to warrant an opinion. I only wish from my soul that I were but half
as certain of the good treatment and good behaviour of the negroes at

APRIL 1. (Wednesday.)

Jug-Betty having had two leathern purses full of silver coin stolen out
of her trunk, her cousin Punch told her to have patience till Sunday,
and he thought that by that time he should be able to find it for her.
Upon which she very naturally suspected her cousin Punch of having
stolen the money himself, and brought him to day to make her charge
against him. However, he stuck firmly to a denial, and as several days
had been suffered to elapse since the theft, there could be no doubt of
his having concealed the money, and therefore no utility in searching
his person or his house. I found great fault with the persons in
authority for not having taken such a measure without a moment’s delay;
but the trustee informed me that it frequently produced very serious
consequences, many instances having occurred of the disgrace of their
house being searched having offended negroes so much to the heart, as to
occasion their committing suicide: so that it was a proceeding which was
seldom ventured upon without urgent necessity. It was now too late to
take it, at all events; the man confessed, indeed, that he had quitted
his work, and gone down to the negro-village on the day of the robbery,
which rendered his guilt highly probable, but he could be brought to
confess no more; and as to his saying that he thought he could find
the money by Sunday, he explained _that_ into an intention of “going to
consult a brown woman at the bay, who was a fortune-teller, and who when
any thing was stolen, could always point out the thief by _cutting
the cards_.” This was all that we could extract from him, and we were
obliged to dismiss him. However, the fright of his examination was not
without good consequences: one of the stolen purses had belonged to a
sister of Jug-Betty’s, not long deceased; and on her return home, _this_
purse (with its contents untouched) was found lying on the sister’s
grave in her garden. Perhaps, the thief had taken it without knowing
the owner; and on finding that it had belonged to a dead person, he had
surrendered it through apprehension of being haunted by her _duppy_.

APRIL 5. (Sunday.)

Clearing their grounds by fire is a very expeditious proceeding,
consequently in much practice among the negroes; but in this tindery
country it is extremely dangerous, and forbidden by the law. As I
returned home to-day from church, I observed a large smoke at no great
distance, and Cubina told me, he supposed that the negroes of the
neighbouring estate of Amity were clearing their grounds. “Then they are
doing a very wrong thing,” said I; “I hope they will fire nothing else
but their grounds, for with so strong a breeze a great deal of mischief
might be done.” However, in half an hour it proved that the smoke in
question arose from my own negro-grounds, that the fire had spread
itself, and I could see from my window the flames and smoke pouring
themselves upwards in large volumes, while the crackling of the dry
bushes and brush-wood was something perfectly terrific. The alarm was
instantly given, and whites and blacks all hurried to the scene of
action. Luckily, the breeze set the contrary way from the plantations;
a morass interposed itself between the blazing ground and one of my
best cane-pieces: the flames were suffered to burn till they reached
the brink of the water, and then the negroes managed to extinguish them
without much difficulty. Thus we escaped without injury, but I own I was
heartily frightened.


This morning I was awaked by a violent coughing in the hospital; and as
soon as I heard any of the servants moving, I despatched a negro to ask,
“whether any body was bad in the hospital?” He returned and told me,
“No, massa; nobody bad there; for Alick is better, and Nelson is dead.”
 Nelson was one of my best labourers, and had come into the hospital for
a glandular swelling. Early this morning he was seized with a violent
fit of coughing, burst a large artery, and was immediately suffocated
in his blood! This is the sixth death in the course of the first three
months of the year, and we have not as yet a single birth for a set-off.
Say what one will to the negroes, and treat them as well as one can,
obstinate devils, they will die!


I had mentioned to Mr. Shand my having found a woman at Hordley, who had
been crippled for life, in consequence of her having been kicked in the
womb by one of the book-keepers. He writes to me on this subject:--“I
trust that conduct so savage occurs rarely in _any_ country. I can only
say, that in my long experience nothing of the kind has ever fallen
under my observation.” Mr. S. then ought to consider _me_ as having
been in high luck. I have not passed six months in Jamaica, and I have
already found on one of my estates a woman who had been kicked in the
womb by a white book-keeper, by which she was crippled herself, and on
another of my estates another woman who had been kicked in the womb by
another white book-keeper, by which he had crippled the child. The name
of the first man and woman were Lory and Jeannette; those of the second
were Full-wood and Martia: and thus, as my two estates are at the two
extremities of the island, I am entitled to say, from my own knowledge
(i.e, speaking _lite-rally_, observe), that “white book-keepers kick
black women in the belly _from one end of Jamaica to the other_.”

APRIL 15. (Wednesday.)

About noon to-day a well-disposed healthy lad of seventeen years of
age was employed in unhaltering the first pair of oxen of one of the
waggons, in doing which he entangled his right leg in the rope. At that
moment the oxen set off full gallop, and dragged the boy along with them
round the whole inclosure, before the other negroes could succeed in
stopping them. However, when the prisoner was extricated, although his
flesh appeared to have been terribly lacerated, no bones were broken,
and he was even able to walk to the hospital without support. He was
blooded instantly, and two physicians were sent for by express. At
two o’clock he was still in perfect possession of his senses, and only
complained of the soreness of his wounds: but in half an hour after
he became apoplectic; sank into a state of utter insensibility, during
which a dreadful rattling in his throat was the only sign of still
existing life, and before six in the evening all was over with him!


Pickle had accused his brother-in-law, Edward the Eboe, of having given
him a pleurisy by the practice of Obeah. During my last visit I had
convinced him that the charge was unjust (or at least he had declared
himself to be convinced), and about six weeks ago they came together to
assure me, that ever since they had lived upon the best terms possible.
Unluckily, Pickle’s wife miscarried lately, and for the third time;
previously to which Edward had said, that his wife would remain sole
heiress of the father’s property. This was enough to set the suspicious
brains of these foolish people at work; and to-day Pickle and his
father-in-law, old Damon, came to assure me, that in order to prevent
a child coming to claim its share of the grandfather’s property, Edward
had practised Obeah to make his sister-in-law miscarry; the only proof
of which adduced was the above expression, and the woman’s having
miscarried “just according to Edward’s very words!” To reason with
such very absurd persons was out of the case. I found too, that the two
sisters were quarrelling perpetually, and always on the point of tearing
each other’s eyes out. Therefore, as domestic peace “in a house so
disunited” was out of the question, I ordered the two families to
separate instantly, and to live at the two extremities of the negro
village; at the same time forbidding all intercourse between them
whatsoever: a plan, which was received with approbation by all parties;
and Edward moved his property out of the old man’s house into another
without loss of time. Among other charges of Obeah, Pickle declared,
that his house having been robbed, Edward had told him that Nato was
the offender; and in order to prove it beyond the power of doubt, he
had made him look at something round, “just like massa’s watch,” out of
which he had taken a sentee (a something) which looked like an egg; this
he gave to Pickle, at the same time instructing him to throw it at night
against the door of Nato’s house; which he had no sooner done and broken
the egg, than the very next day Nato’s wife Philippa “began to bawl, and
halloo, and went mad.” Now that Philippa had bawled and hallooed enough
was certainly true; but it was also true that she had confessed her
madness to have been a trick for the purpose of exciting my compassion,
and inducing me to feed her from my own table. Yet was this simple
fellow persuaded that he had made her go mad by the help of his broken
egg, and his old fool of a father-in-law was goose enough to encourage
him in the persuasion.

APRIL 19. (Sunday.)

“And massa,” said Bridget, the doctoress, this morning, “my old mother
a lilly so-so to-day; and him tank massa much for the good supper massa
send last night; and him like it so well.--Laud! massa, the old lady was
just thinking what him could yam (eat) and him no fancy nothing; and
him could no yam salt, and him just wishing for something fresh, when at
that very moment Cu-bina come to him from massa with a stewed pig’s
head so fresh: it seemed just as if massa had got it from the Almighty’s
hands himself.”


Naturalists and physicians, philosophers and philanthropists, may argue
and decide as they please; but certainly, as far as mere observation
admits of my judging, there does seem to be a very great difference
between the brain of a black person and a white one. I should think that
Voltaire would call a negro’s reason “_une raison très particulière_.”
 Somehow or other, they never can manage to do anything _quite_ as it
should be done. If they correct themselves in one respect to-day they
are sure of making a blunder in some other manner to-morrow. Cubina is
now twenty-five, and has all his life been employed about the stable;
he goes out with my carriage twice every day; yet he has never yet been
able to succeed in putting on the harness properly. Before we get to one
of the plantation gates we are certain of being obliged to stop, and put
something or other to rights: and I once remember having laboured
for more than half an hour to make him understand that the Christmas
holidays came at Christmas; when asked the question, he always
hesitated, and answered, at hap-hazard, “July” or “October.” Yet, Cubina
is far superior in intellect to most of the negroes who have fallen
under my observation. The girl too, whose business it is to open
the house each morning, has in vain been desired to unclose all the
jalousies: she never fails to leave three or four closed, and when she
is scolded for doing so, she takes care to open those three the next
morning, and leaves three shut on the opposite side. Indeed, the attempt
to make them correct a fault is quite fruitless: they never can do the
same thing a second time in the same manner; and if the cook having
succeeded in dressing a dish well is desired to dress just such another,
she is certain of doing something which makes it quite different.
One day I desired, that there might be always a piece of salt meat at
dinner, in order that I might be certain of always having enough to send
to the sick in the hospital. In consequence, there was nothing at dinner
but salt meat. I complained that there was not a single fresh dish, and
the next day, there was nothing but fresh. Sometimes there is scarcely
anything served up, and the cook seems to have forgotten the dinner
altogether: she is told of it; and the next day she slaughters without
mercy pigs, sheep, fowls, ducks, turkeys, and everything that she can
lay her murderous hands upon, till the table absolutely groans under
the load of her labours. For above a month Cubina and I had perpetual
quarrels about the cats being shut into the gallery at nights, where
they threw down plates, glasses, and crockery of all kinds, and
made such a clatter that to get a wink of sleep was quite out of the
question. Cubina, before he went to rest, hunted under all the beds and
sofas, and laid about him with a long whip for half an hour together;
but in half an hour after his departure the cats were at work again. He
was then told, that although he had turned them out, he must certainly
have left some window open: he promised to pay particular attention
to this point, but that night the uproar was worse than ever; yet he
protested that he had carefully turned out all the cats, locked all
the doors, and shut all the windows. He was told, that if he had really
turned out all the cats, the cats must have got in again, and therefore
that he must have left some one window open at least. “No,” he said, “he
had not left one; but a pane in one of the windows had been broken
two months before, and it was there that the cats got in whenever they
pleased.” Yet he had continued to turn the cats out of the door with
the greatest care, although he was perfectly conscious that they could
always walk in again at the window in five minutes after. But the most
curious of Cubina’s modes of proceeding is, when it is necessary for
him to attack the pigeon-house. He steals up the ladder as slily and as
softly as foot can fall; he opens the door, and steals in his head
with the utmost caution; on which, to his never-failing surprise and
disappointment, all the pigeons make their escape through the open
holes; he has now no resource but entering the dove-cot, and remaining
there with unwearied patience for the accidental return of the birds,
which nine times out of ten does not take place till too late for
dinner, and Cubina returns empty-handed. Having observed this
proceeding constantly repeated during a fortnight, I took pity upon his
embarrassment, and ordered two wooden sliders to be fitted to the holes.
Cubina was delighted with this exquisite invention, and failed not
the next morning to close all the holes on the right with one of the
sliders; he then stepped boldly into the dove-cot, when to his utter
confusion the pigeons flew away through the holes on the left. Here then
he discovered where the fault lay, so he lost no time in closing the
remaining aperture with the second slider, and the pigeons were thus
prevented from returning at all. Cubina waited long with exemplary
patience, but without success, so he abandoned the new invention in
despair, made no farther use of the sliders, and continues to steal
up the ladder as he did before. A few days ago, Nicholas, a mulatto
carpenter, was ordered to make a box for the conveyance of four jars of
sweetmeats, of which he took previous measure; yet first he made a box
so small that it would scarcely hold a single jar, and then another so
large that it would have held twenty; and when at length he produced one
of a proper size, he brought it nailed up for travelling (although it
was completely empty), and nailed up so effectually too, that on being
directed to open it that the jars might be packed, he split the cover
to pieces in the attempt to take it off. Yet, among all my negroes,
Nicholas and Cubina are not equalled for adroitness and intelligence by
more than twenty. Judge then what must be the remaining three hundred!


In my medical capacity, like a true quack I sometimes perform cures so
unexpected, that I stand like Katterfelto, “with my hair standing on end
at my own wonders.” Last night, Alexander, the second governor, who has
been seriously ill for some days, sent me word, that he was suffering
cruelly from a pain in his head, and could get no sleep. I knew not how
to relieve him; but having frequently observed a violent passion for
perfumes in the house negroes, for want of something else I gave the
doctoress some oil of lavender, and told her to rub two or three drops
upon his nostrils. This morning, he told me that “to be sure what I had
sent him was a grand medicine indeed,” for it had no sooner touched his
nose than he felt some-thing cold run up to his forehead, over his head,
and all the way down his neck to the back-bone; instantly, the headach
left him, he fell fast asleep, nor had the pain returned in the morning.
But I am afraid, that even this wonderful oil would fail of curing a
complaint which was made to me a few days ago. A poor old creature,
named Quasheba, made her appearance at my breakfast table, and told me,
“that she was almost eighty, had been rather weakly for some time past,
and somehow she did not feel as she was by any means right.”

“Had she seen the doctor? Did she want physic?”

“No, she had taken too much physic already, and the doctor would do her
no good; she did not want to see the doctor.”

“But what then was her complaint?”

“Oh! she had no particular complaint; only she was old and weakly, and
did not find herself by any means so well as she used to be, and so
she came just to tell massa, and see what he could do to make her quite
right again, that was all.” In short, she _only_ wanted me to make her
young again!


Mr. Forbes is dead. When I was last in Jamaica, he had just been
poisoned with corrosive sublimate by a female slave, who was executed
in consequence. He never was well afterwards; but as he lived
intemperately, the whole blame of his death must not be laid upon the


A free mulatto of the name of Rolph had frequently been mentioned to
me by different magistrates, as remarkable for the numerous complaints
brought against him for cruel treatment of his negroes. He was described
to me as the son of a white ploughman, who at his death left his son
six or seven slaves, with whom he resides in the heart of the mountains,
where the remoteness of the situation secures him from observation or
control. His slaves, indeed, every now and then contrive to escape,
and come down to Savannah la Mar to lodge their complaints; but the
magistrates, hitherto, had never been able to get a legal hold upon him.
However, a few days ago, he entered the house of a Mrs. Edgins, when she
was from home, and behaving in an outrageous manner to her slaves, he
was desired by the head-man to go away. Highly incensed, he answered,
“that if the fellow dared to speak another word, it should be the last
that he should ever utter.” The negro dared to make a rejoinder; upon
which Rolph aimed a blow at him with a stick, which missed his intended
victim, but struck another slave who was interposing to prevent a
scuffle, and killed him upon the spot. The murder was committed in
the presence of several negroes; but negroes are not allowed to give
evidence, and as no free person was present, there are not only doubts
whether the murderer will be punished, but whether he can even be put
upon his trial.

MAY 1. (Friday.)

This morning I signed the manumission of Nicholas Cameron, the best of
my mulatto carpenters. He had been so often on the very point of getting
his liberty, and still the cup was dashed from his lips, that I had
promised to set him free, whenever he could procure an able negro as
his substitute; although being a good workman, a single negro was by
no means an adequate price in exchange. On my arrival this year I found
that he had agreed to pay £150 for a female negro, and the woman was
approved of by my trustee. But on enquiry it appeared that she had a
child, from which she was unwilling to separate, and that her owner
refused to sell the child, except at a most unreasonable price. Here
then was an insurmountable objection to my accepting her, and Nicholas
was told to his great mortification, that he must look out for another
substitute. The woman, on her part, was determined to belong to Cornwall
estate and no other: so she told her owner, that if he attempted to sell
her elsewhere she would make away with herself, and on his ordering
her to prepare for a removal to a neighbouring proprietor’s, she
disappeared, and concealed herself so well, that for some time she was
believed to have put her threats of suicide into execution. The idea of
losing his £150 frightened her master so completely, that he declared
himself ready to let me have the child at a fair price, as well as the
mother, if she ever should be found; and her friends having conveyed
this assurance to her, she thought proper to emerge from her
hiding-place, and the bargain was arranged finally. The titles, however,
were not yet made out, and as the time of my departure for Hordley was
arrived, these were ordered to be got ready against my return, when
the negroes were to be delivered over to me, and Nicholas was to be
set free. In the meanwhile, the child was sent by her mistress (a free
mulatto) to hide some stolen ducks upon a distant property, and on her
return blabbed out the errand: in consequence the mistress was committed
to prison for theft; and no sooner was she released, than she revenged
herself upon the poor girl by giving her thirty lashes with the
cattle-whip, inflicted with all the severity of vindictive malice. This
treatment of a child of such tender years reduced her to such a state,
as made the magistrates think it right to send her for protection to the
workhouse, until the conduct of the mistress should have been enquired
into. In the meanwhile, as the result of the enquiry might be the
setting the girl at liberty, the joint title for her and her mother
could not be made out, and thus poor Nicholas’s manumission was at a
stand-still again. The magistrates at length decided, that although the
chastisement had been severe, yet (according to the medical report) it
was not such as to authorise the sending the mistress to be tried at the
assizes. She was accordingly dismissed from farther investigation, and
the girl was once more considered as belonging to me, as soon as the
title could be made out. But the fatality which had so often prevented
Nicholas from obtaining his freedom, was not weary yet. On the very
morning, when he was to sign the title, a person whose signature was
indispensable, was thrown out of his chaise, the wheel of which passed
over his head, and he was rendered incapable of transacting business
for several weeks. Yesterday, the titles were at length brought to me
complete, and this morning put Nicholas in possession of the object, in
the pursuit of which he has experienced such repeated disappointments.
The conduct of the poor child’s mulatto mistress in this case was
most unpardonable, and is only one of numerous instances of a similar
description, which have been mentioned to me. Indeed, I have every
reason to believe, that nothing can be uniformly more wretched, than the
life of the slaves of free people of colour in Jamaica; nor would any
thing contribute more to the relief of the black population, than the
prohibiting by law any mulatto to become the owner of a slave for the
future. Why should not rich people of colour be served by poor people of
colour, hiring them as domestics? It seldom happens that mulattoes are
in possession of plantations; but when a white man dies, who happens
to possess twenty negroes, he will divide them among his brown family,
leaving (we may say) five to each of his four children. These are too
few to be employed in plantation work; they are, therefore, ordered
to maintain their owner by some means or other, and which means are
frequently not the most honest, the most frequent being the travelling
about as higglers, and exchanging the trumpery contents of their packs
and boxes with plantation negroes for stolen rum and sugar. I confess I
cannot see why, on such bequest being made, the law should not order
the negroes to be sold, and the produce of the sale paid to the
mulatto heirs, but absolutely prohibiting the mulattoes from becoming
proprietors of the negroes themselves. Every man of humanity must wish
that slavery, even in its best and most mitigated form, had never found
a legal sanction, and must regret that its system is now so incorporated
with the welfare of Great Britain as well as of Jamaica, as to make
its extirpation an absolute impossibility, without the certainty
of producing worse mischiefs than the one which we annihilate. But
certainly there can be no sort of occasion for continuing in the
colonies the existence of _do-mestic slavery_, which neither contributes
to the security of the colonies themselves, nor to the opulence of the
mother-country, the revenue of which derived from colonial duties would
suffer no defalcation whatever, even if neither whites nor blacks in the
West Indies were suffered to employ slaves, except in plantation labour.

MAY 2.

I gave my negroes a farewell holiday, on which occasion each grown
person received a present of half-a-dollar, and every child a maccaroni.
In return, they endeavoured to express their sorrow for my departure,
by eating and drinking, dancing and singing, with more vehemence and
perseverance than on any former occasion. As in all probability many
years will elapse without my making them another visit, if indeed I
should ever return at all, I have at least exerted myself while here to
do everything which appeared likely to contribute to their welfare and
security during my absence. In particular, my attorney has made out a
list of all such offences as are most usually committed on plantations,
to which proportionate punishments have been affixed by myself. From
this code of internal regulations the overseer is not to be allowed to
deviate, and the attorney has pledged himself in the most solemn manner
to adhere strictly to the system laid down for him. By this scheme, the
negroes will no longer be punished according to the momentary caprice of
their superintendent, but by known and fixed laws, the one no more than
the other, and without respect to partiality or prejudice. Hitherto, in
everything which had not been previously deter mined by the public law,
with a penalty attached to the breach of it, the negro has been left
entirely at the mercy of the overseer, who if he was a humane man
punished him slightly, and if a tyrant, heavily; nay, very often the
quantity of punishment depended upon the time of day when the offence
was made known. If accused in the morning, when the overseer was in cold
blood and in good humour, a night’s confinement in the stocks might be
deemed sufficient; whereas if the charge was brought when the superior
had taken his full proportion of grog or sangaree, the very same offence
would be visited with thirty-nine lashes. I have, moreover, taken care
to settle all disputes respecting property, having caused all negroes
having claims upon others to bring them before my tribunal previous to
my departure, and determined that from that time forth no such claims
should be enquired into, but considered as definitively settled by my
authority. It would have done the Lord Chancellor’s heart good to see
how many suits I determined in the course of a week, and with what
expedition I made a clear court of chancery. But perhaps the most
astonishing part of the whole business was, that after judgment was
pronounced, the losers as well as the gainers declared themselves
perfectly satisfied with the justice of the sentence. I must
acknowledge, however, that the negro principle that “massa can do no
wrong,” was of some little assistance to me on this occasion. “Oh! quite
just, me good, massa! what massa say, quite just! me no say nothing
more; me good, massa!” Then they thanked me “for massa’s goodness in
giving them so long talk!” and went away to tell all the others “how
just massa had been in taking away what they wanted to keep, or not
giving them what they asked for.” It must be owned that this is not the
usual mode of proceeding after the loss of a chancery suit in England.
But to do the negroes mere justice, I must say, that I could not have
wished to find a more tractable set of people on almost every occasion.
Some lazy and obstinate persons, of course, there must inevitably be in
so great a number; but in general I found them excellently disposed, and
being once thoroughly convinced of my real good-will towards them, they
were willing to take it for granted, that my regulations must be
right and beneficial, even in cases where they were in opposition to
individual interests and popular prejudices. My attorney had mentioned
to me several points, which he thought it advisable to have altered, but
which he had vainly endeavoured to accomplish. Thus the negroes were
in the practice of bequeathing their houses and grounds, by which means
some of them were become owners of several houses and numerous
gardens in the village, while others with large families were either
inadequately provided for, or not provided for at all. I made it public,
that from henceforth no negro should possess more than one house, with a
sufficient portion of ground for his family, and on the following Sunday
the overseer by my order looked over the village, took from those who
had too much to give to those who had too little, and made an entire new
distribution according to the most strict Agrarian law. Those who lost
by this measure, came the next day to complain to me; when I avowed
its having been done by my order, and explained the propriety of the
proceeding; after which they declared themselves contented, and I
never heard another murmur on the subject. Again, mothers being allowed
certain indulgences while suckling, persist in it for two years and
upwards, to the great detriment both of themselves and their children:
complaint of this being made to me, I sent for the mothers, and told
them that every child must be sent to the weaning-house on the first day
of the fifteenth month, but that their indulgences should be continued
to the mothers for two months longer, although the children would be no
longer with them. All who had children of that age immediately gave them
up; the rest promised to do so, when they should be old enough $ and
they all thanked me for the continuance of their indulgences, which they
considered as a boon newly granted them. On my return from Hordley, I
was told that the negroes suffered their pigs to infest the works and
grounds in the immediate vicinity of the house in such numbers, that
they were become a perfect nuisance; nor could any remonstrance prevail
on them to confine the animals within the village. An order was in
consequence issued on a Saturday, that the first four pigs found
rambling at large after two days should be put to death without mercy;
and accordingly on Monday morning, at the negro breakfast hour, the head
governor made his appearance before the house, armed cap-a-pee, with a
lance in his hand, and an enormous cutlass by his side. The news of this
tremendous apparition spread through the estate like wildfire. Instantly
all was in an uproar; the negroes came pouring down from all quarters;
in an instant the whole air was rent with noises of all kinds and
creatures; men, women, and children shouting and bellowing, geese
cackling, dogs barking, turkeys gobbling; and, look where you would,
there was a negro running along as fast as he could, and dragging a
pig along with him by one of the hind legs, while the pigs were all
astonishment at this sudden attack, and called upon heaven and earth for
commiseration and protection,--

               “With many a doleful grunt and piteous squeak,

               Poor pigs! as if their pretty hearts would break!”

From thenceforth not a pig except my own was to be seen about the place;
yet instead of complaining of this restraint, several of the negroes
came to assure me, that I might depend on the animals not being suffered
to stray beyond the village for the future, and to thank me for having
given them the warning two days before. What other negroes may be, I
will not pretend to guess; but I am certain that there cannot be more
tractable or better disposed persons (take them for all in all) than my
negroes of Cornwall. I only wish, that in my future dealings with white
persons, whether _in_ Jamaica or out of it, I could but meet with half
so much gratitude, affection, and good-will.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Journal of a West India Proprietor - Kept During a Residence in the Island of Jamaica" ***

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