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At Last by Charles Kingsley

Part 7 out of 8

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Java, shall count by millions the coco-palms which they have planted
along their shores, and by thousands of pounds the profit which
accrues from them.

After breakfast--call it luncheon rather--we started for the lagoon.
We had set our hearts on seeing Manatis ('sea cows'), which are
still not uncommon on the east coast of this island, though they
have been exterminated through the rest of the West Indies since the
days of Pere Labat. That good missionary speaks of them in his
delightful journal as already rare in the year 1695; and now, as far
as I am aware, none are to be found north of Trinidad and the
Spanish Main, save a few round Cuba and Jamaica. We were anxious,
too, to see, if not to get, a boa-constrictor of one kind or other.
For there are two kinds in the island, which may be seen alive at
the Zoological Gardens in the same cage. The true Boa, {277a} which
is here called Mahajuel, is striped as well as spotted with two
patterns, one over the other. The Huillia, Anaconda, or Water-boa,
{277b} bears only a few large round spots. Both are fond of the
water, the Huillia living almost entirely in it; both grow to a very
large size; and both are dangerous, at least to children and small
animals. That there were Huillias about the place, possibly within
fifty yards of the house, there was no doubt. One of our party had
seen with his own eyes one of seven-and-twenty feet long killed,
with a whole kid inside it, only a few miles off. The brown
policeman, crossing an arm of the Guanapo only a month or two
before, had been frightened by meeting one in the ford, which his
excited imagination magnified so much that its head was on the one
bank while its tail was on the other--a measurement which must, I
think, be divided at least by three. But in the very spot in which
we stood, some four years since, happened what might have been a
painful tragedy. Four young ladies, whose names were mentioned to
me, preferred, not wisely, a bathe in the still lagoon to one in the
surf outside; and as they disported themselves, one of them felt
herself seized from behind. Fancying that one of her sisters was
playing tricks, she called out to her to let her alone; and looking
up, saw, to her astonishment, her three sisters sitting on the bank,
and herself alone. She looked back, and shrieked for help: and
only just in time; for the Huillia had her. The other three girls,
to their honour, dashed in to her assistance. The brute had luckily
got hold, not of her poor little body, but of her bathing-dress, and
held on stupidly. The girls pulled; the bathing-dress, which was,
luckily, of thin cotton, was torn off; the Huillia slid back again
with it in his mouth into the dark labyrinth of the mangrove-roots;
and the girl was saved. Two minutes' delay, and his coils would
have been round her; and all would have been over.

The sudden daring of these lazy and stupid animals is very great.
Their brain seems to act like that of the alligator or the pike,
paroxysmally, and by rare fits and starts, after lying for hours
motionless as if asleep. But when excited, they will attempt great
deeds. Dr. De Verteuil tells a story--and if he tells it, it must
be believed--of some hunters who wounded a deer. The deer ran for
the stream down a bank; but the hunters had no sooner heard it
splash into the water than they heard it scream. They leapt down to
the place, and found it in the coils of a Huillia, which they killed
with the deer. And yet this snake, which had dared to seize a full-
grown deer, could have had no hope of eating her; for it was only
seven feet long.

We set out down a foul porter-coloured creek, which soon opened out
into a river, reminding us, in spite of all differences, of certain
alder and willow-fringed reaches of the Thames. But here the wood
which hid the margin was altogether of mangrove; the common
Rhizophoras, or black mangroves, being, of course, the most
abundant. Over them, however, rose the statelier Avicennias, or
white mangroves, to a height of fifty or sixty feet, and poured down
from their upper branches whole streams of air-roots, which waved
and creaked dolefully in the breeze overhead. But on the water was
no breeze at all. The lagoon was still as glass; the sun was
sickening; and we were glad to put up our umbrellas and look out
from under them for Manatis and Boas. But the Manatis usually only
come in at night, to put their heads out of water and browse on the
lowest mangrove leaves; and the Boas hide themselves so cunningly,
either altogether under water, or with only the head above, that we
might have passed half a dozen without seeing them. The only
chance, indeed, of coming across them, is when they are travelling
from lagoon to lagoon, or basking on the mud at low tide.

So all the game which we saw was a lovely white Egret, {278} its
back covered with those stiff pinnated plumes which young ladies--
when they can obtain them--are only too happy to wear in their hats.
He, after being civil enough to wait on a bough till one of us got a
sitting shot at him, heard the cap snap, thought it as well not to
wait till a fresh one was put on, and flapped away. He need not
have troubled himself. The Negroes--but too apt to forget something
or other--had forgotten to bring a spare supply; and the gun was
useless.

As we descended, the left bank of the river was entirely occupied
with cocos; and the contrast between them and the mangroves on the
right was made all the more striking by the afternoon sun, which, as
it sank behind the forest, left the mangrove wall in black shadow,
while it bathed the palm-groves opposite with yellow light. In one
of these palm-groves we landed, for we were right thirsty; and to
drink lagoon water would be to drink cholera or fever. But there
was plenty of pure water in the coco-trees, and we soon had our
fill. A Negro walked--not climbed--up a stem like a four-footed
animal, his legs and arms straight, his feet pressed flat against
it, his hands clinging round it--a feat impossible, as far as I have
seen, to an European--tossed us down plenty of green nuts; and our
feast began.

Two or three blows with the cutlass, at the small end of the nut,
cut off not only the pith-coat, but the point of the shell; and
disclose--the nut being held carefully upright meanwhile--a cavity
full of perfectly clear water, slightly sweet, and so cold (the
pith-coat being a good non-conductor of heat) that you are advised,
for fear of cholera, to flavour it with a little brandy. After
draining this natural cup, you are presented with a natural spoon of
rind, green outside and white within, and told to scoop out and eat
the cream which lines the inside of the shell, a very delicious food
in the opinion of Creoles. After which, if you are as curious as
some of us were, you will sit down under the amber shade, and
examine at leisure the construction and germination of these famous
and royal nuts. Let me explain it, even at the risk of prolixity.
The coat of white pith outside, with its green skin, will gradually
develop and harden into that brown fibre of which matting is made.
The clear water inside will gradually harden into that sweetmeat
which little boys eat off stalls and barrows in the street; the
first delicate deposit of which is the cream in the green nut. This
is albumen, intended to nourish the young palm till it has grown
leaves enough to feed on the air, and roots enough to feed on the
soil; and the birth of that young palm is in itself a mystery and a
miracle, well worth considering. Much has been written on it, of
which I, unfortunately, have read very little; but I can at least
tell what I have seen with my own eyes.

If you search among the cream-layer at the larger end of the nut,
you will find, gradually separating itself from the mass, a little
white lump, like the stalk of a very young mushroom. That is the
ovule. In that lies the life, the 'forma formativa,' of the future
tree. How that life works, according to its kind, who can tell?
What it does, is this: it is locked up inside a hard woody shell,
and outside that shell are several inches of tough tangled fibre.
How can it get out, as soft and seemingly helpless as a baby's
finger?

All know that there are three eyes in the monkey's face, as the
children call it, at the butt of the nut. Two of these eyes are
blind, and filled up with hard wood. They are rudiments--hints--
that the nut ought to have, perhaps had uncounted ages since, not
one ovule, but three, the type-number in palms. One ovule alone is
left; and that is opposite the one eye which is less blind than the
rest; the eye which a schoolboy feels for with his knife, when he
wants to get out the milk.

As the nut lies upon the sand, in shade, and rain, and heat, that
baby's finger begins boring its way, with unerring aim, out of the
weakest eye. Soft itself, yet with immense wedging power, from the
gradual accretion of tiny cells, it pierces the wood, and then rends
right and left the tough fibrous coat. Just so may be seen--I have
seen--a large flagstone lifted in a night by a crop of tiny soft
toadstools which have suddenly blossomed up beneath it. The baby's
finger protrudes at last, and curves upward toward the light, to
commence the campaign of life: but it has meanwhile established,
like a good strategist, a safe base of operations in its rear, from
which it intends to draw supplies. Into the albuminous cream which
lines the shell, and into the cavity where the milk once was, it
throws out white fibrous vessels, which eat up the albumen for it,
and at last line the whole inside of the shell with a white pith.
The albumen gives it food wherewith to grow, upward and downward.
Upward, the white plumule hardens into what will be a stem; the one
white cotyledon which sheaths it develops into a flat, ribbed,
forked, green leaf, sheathing it still; and above it fresh leaves,
sheathing always at their bases, begin to form a tiny crown; and
assume each, more and more, the pinnate form of the usual coco-leaf.
But long ere this, from the butt of the white plumule, just outside
the nut, white threads of root have struck down into the sand; and
so the nut lies, chained to the ground by a bridge-like chord, which
drains its albumen, through the monkey's eye, into the young plant.
After a while--a few months, I believe--the draining of the nut is
complete; the chord dries up--I know not how, for I had neither
microscope nor time wherewith to examine--and parts; and the little
plant, having got all it can out of its poor wet-nurse, casts her
ungratefully off to wither on the sand; while it grows up into a
stately tree, which will begin to bear fruit in six or seven years,
and thenceforth continue, flowering and fruiting the whole year
round without a pause, for sixty years and more.

I think I have described this--to me--'miraculum' simply enough to
be understood by the non-scientific reader, if only he or she have
first learned the undoubted fact--known, I find, to very few
'educated' English people--that the coco-palm which produces coir-
rope, and coconuts, and a hundred other useful things, is not the
same plant as the cacao-bush which produces chocolate, nor anything
like it. I am sorry to have to insist upon this fact: but till
Professor Huxley's dream--and mine--is fulfilled, and our schools
deign to teach, in the intervals of Latin and Greek, some slight
knowledge of this planet, and of those of its productions which are
most commonly in use, even this fact may need to be re-stated more
than once.

We re-embarked again, and rowed down to the river-mouth to pick up
shells, and drink in the rich roaring trade breeze, after the
choking atmosphere of the lagoon; and then rowed up home, tired, and
infinitely amused, though neither Manati nor Boa-constrictor had
been seen; and then we fell to siesta; during which--with Mr.
Tennyson's forgiveness--I read myself to sleep with one of his best
poems; and then went to dinner, not without a little anxiety.

For M--- (the civiliser of Montserrat) had gone off early, with
mule, cutlass, and haversack, back over the Doubloon and into the
wilds of Manzanilla, to settle certain disputed squatter claims, and
otherwise enforce the law; and now the night had fallen, and he was
not yet home. However, he rode up at last, dead beat, with a strong
touch of his old swamp-fever, and having had an adventure, which had
like to have proved his last. For as he rode through the Doubloon
at low tide in the morning, he espied in the surf that river-god, or
Jumby, of which I spoke just now; namely, the gray back-fin of a
shark; and his mule espied it too, and laid back her ears, knowing
well what it was. M--- rode close up to the brute. He seemed full
seven feet long, and eyed him surlily, disinclined to move off; so
they parted, and M--- went on his way. But his business detained
him longer than he expected; when he got back to the river-mouth it
was quite dark, and the tide was full high. He must either sleep on
the sands, which with fever upon him would not have been over-safe,
or try the passage. So he stripped, swam the mule over, tied her
up, and then went back, up to his shoulders in surf; and cutlass in
hand too, for that same shark might be within two yards of him. But
on his second journey he had to pile on his head, first his saddle,
and then his clothes and other goods; few indeed, but enough to
require both hands to steady them: and so walked helpless through
the surf, expecting every moment to be accosted by a set of teeth,
from which he would hardly have escaped with life. To have faced
such a danger, alone and in the dark, and thoroughly well aware, as
an experienced man, of its extremity, was good proof (if any had
been needed) of the indomitable Scots courage of the man.
Nevertheless, he said, he never felt so cold down his back as he did
during that last wade. By God's blessing the shark was not there,
or did not see him; and he got safe home, thankful for dinner and
quinine.

Going back the next morning at low tide, we kept a good look-out for
M---'s shark, spreading out, walkers and riders, in hopes of
surrounding him and cutting him up. There were half a dozen weapons
among us, of which my heavy bowie-knife was not the worst; and we
should have given good account of him had we met him, and got
between him and the deep water. But our valour was superfluous.
The enemy was nowhere to be seen; and we rode on, looking back
wistfully, but in vain, for a gray fin among the ripples.

So we rode back, along the Cocal and along that wonderful green
glade, where I, staring at Noranteas in tree-tops, instead of at the
ground beneath my horse's feet, had the pleasure of being swallowed
up--my horse's hindquarters at least--in the very same slough which
had engulfed M---'s mule three days before, and got a roll in much
soft mud. Then up to ---'s camp, where we expected breakfast, not
with greediness, though we had been nigh six hours in the saddle,
but with curiosity. For he had promised to send out the hunters for
all game that could be found, and give us a true forest meal; and we
were curious to taste what lapo, quenco, guazupita-deer, and other
strange meats might be like. Nay, some of us agreed, that if the
hunters had but brought in a tender young red monkey, {282a} we
would surely eat him too, if it were but to say that we had done it.
But the hunters had had no luck. They had brought in only a Pajui,
{282b} an excellent game bird; an Ant-eater, {282c} and a great
Cachicame, or nine-banded Armadillo. The ant-eater the foolish
fellows had eaten themselves--I would have given them what they
asked for his skeleton; but the Armadillo was cut up and hashed for
us, and was eaten, to the last scrap, being about the best game I
ever tasted. I fear he is a foul feeder at times, who by no means
confines himself to roots, or even worms. If what I was told be
true, there is but too much probability for Captain Mayne Reid's
statement, that he will eat his way into the soft parts of a dead
horse, and stay there until he has eaten his way out again. But, to
do him justice, I never heard him accused, like the giant Armadillo
{282d} of the Main, of digging dead bodies out of their graves, as
he is doing in a very clever drawing in Mr. Wood's Homes without
Hands. Be that as it may, the Armadillo, whatever he feeds on, has
the power of transmuting it into most delicate and wholesome flesh.

Meanwhile--and hereby hangs a tale--I was interested, not merely in
the Armadillo, but in the excellent taste with which it, and
everything else, was cooked in a little open shed over a few stones
and firesticks. And complimenting my host thereon, I found that he
had, there in the primeval forest, an admirable French cook, to whom
I begged to be introduced at once. Poor fellow! A little lithe
Parisian, not thirty years old, he had got thither by a wild road.
Cook to some good bourgeois family in Paris, he had fallen in love
with his master's daughter, and she with him. And when their love
was hopeless, and discovered, the two young foolish things, not
having--as is too common in France--the fear of God before their
eyes, could think of no better resource than to shut themselves up
with a pan of lighted charcoal, and so go they knew not-whither.
The poor girl went--and was found dead. But the boy recovered; and
was punished with twenty years of Cayenne; and here he was now, on a
sort of ticket-of-leave, cooking for his livelihood. I talked a
while with him, cheered him with some compliments about the
Parisians, and so forth, dear to the Frenchman's heart--what else
was there to say?--and so left him, not without the fancy that, if
he had had but such an education as the middle classes in Paris have
not, there were the makings of a man in that keen eye, large jaw,
sharp chin. 'The very fellow,' said some one, 'to have been a
first-rate Zouave.' Well: perhaps he was a better man, even as he
was, than as a Zouave.

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

I would gladly, had I been able, have gone farther due westward into
the forests which hide the river Oropuche, that I might have visited
the scene of a certain two years' Idyll, which was enacted in them
some forty years and more ago.

In 1827 cacao fell to so low a price (two dollars per cwt.) that it
was no longer worth cultivating; and the head of the F--- family,
leaving his slaves to live at ease on his estates, retreated, with a
household of twelve persons, to a small property of his own, which
was buried in the primeval forests of Oropuche. With them went his
second son, Monsignor F---, then and afterwards cure of San Josef,
who died shortly before my visit to the island. I always heard him
spoken of as a gentleman and a scholar, a saintly and cultivated
priest of the old French School, respected and beloved by men of all
denominations. His church of San Josef, though still unfinished,
had been taxed, as well as all the Roman Catholic churches of the
island, to build the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Port of Spain; and
he, refusing to obey an order which he considered unjust, threw up
his cure, and retreated with the rest of the family to the palm-leaf
ajoupas in the forest.

M. F--- chose three of his finest Negroes as companions. Melchior
was to go out every day to shoot wild pigeons, coming every morning
to ask how many were needed, so as not to squander powder and shot.
The number ordered were always punctually brought in, besides
sometimes a wild turkey--Pajui--or other fine birds. Alejos, who is
now a cacao proprietor, and owner of a house in Arima, was chosen to
go out every day, except Sundays, with the dogs; and scarcely ever
failed to bring in a lapp or quenco. Aristobal was chosen for the
fishing, and brought in good loads of river fish, some sixteen
pounds weight: and thus the little party of cultivated gentlemen
and ladies were able to live, though in poverty, yet sumptuously.

The Bishop had given Monsignor F--- permission to perform service on
any of his father's estates. So a little chapel was built; the
family and servants attended every Sunday, and many days in the
week; and the country folk from great distances found their way
through the woods to hear Mass in the palm-thatched sanctuary of 'El
Riposo.'

So did that happy family live 'the gentle life' for some two years;
till cacao rose again in price, the tax on the churches was taken
off, and the F---s returned again to the world: but not to
civilisation and Christianity. Those they had carried with them
into the wilderness; and those they brought back with them
unstained.

CHAPTER XIV: THE 'EDUCATION QUESTION' IN TRINIDAD

When I arrived in Trinidad, the little island was somewhat excited
about changes in the system of education, which ended in a
compromise like that at home, though starting from almost the
opposite point.

Among the many good deeds which Lord Harris did for the colony was
the establishment throughout it of secular elementary ward schools,
helped by Government grants, on a system which had, I think, but two
defects. First, that attendance was not compulsory; and next, that
it was too advanced for the state of society in the island.

In an ideal system, secular and religious education ought, I
believe, to be strictly separate, and given, as far as possible, by
different classes of men. The first is the business of scientific
men and their pupils; the second, of the clergy and their pupils:
and the less either invades the domain of the other, the better for
the community. But, like all ideals, it requires not only first-
rate workmen, but first-rate material to work on; an intelligent and
high-minded populace, who can and will think for themselves upon
religious questions; and who have, moreover, a thirst for truth and
knowledge of every kind. With such a populace, secular and
religious education can be safely parted. But can they be safely
parted in the case of a populace either degraded or still savage;
given up to the 'lusts of the flesh'; with no desire for
improvement, and ignorant of that 'moral ideal,' without the
influence of which, as my friend Professor Huxley well says, there
can be no true education? It is well if such a people can be made
to submit to one system of education. Is it wise to try to burden
them with two at once? But if one system is to give way to the
other, which is the more important: to teach them the elements of
reading, writing, and arithmetic; or the elements of duty and
morals? And how these latter can be taught without religion is a
problem as yet unsolved.

So argued some of the Protestant and the whole of the Roman Catholic
clergy of Trinidad, and withdrew their support from the Government
schools, to such an extent that at least three-fourths of the
children, I understand, went to no school at all.

The Roman Catholic clergy had, certainly, much to urge on their own
behalf. The great majority of the coloured population of the
island, besides a large proportion of the white, belonged to their
creed. Their influence was the chief (I had almost said the only)
civilising and Christianising influence at work on the lower orders
of their own coloured people. They knew, none so well, how much the
Negro required, not merely to be instructed, but to be reclaimed
from gross and ruinous vices. It was not a question in Port of
Spain, any more than it is in Martinique, of whether the Negroes
should be able to read and write, but of whether they should exist
on the earth at all for a few generations longer. I say this openly
and deliberately; and clergymen and police magistrates know but too
well what I mean. The priesthood were, and are, doing their best to
save the Negro; and they naturally wished to do their work, on
behalf of society and of the colony, in their own way; and to
subordinate all teaching to that of religion, which includes, with
them, morality and decency. They therefore opposed the Government
schools; because they tended, it was thought, to withdraw the Negro
from his priest's influence.

I am not likely, I presume, to be suspected of any leaning toward
Romanism. But I think a Roman Catholic priest would have a right to
a fair and respectful hearing, if he said:--

'You have set these people free, without letting them go through
that intermediate stage of feudalism, by which, and by which alone,
the white races of Europe were educated into true freedom. I do not
blame you. You could do no otherwise. But will you hinder their
passing through that process of religious education under a
priesthood, by which, and by which alone, the white races of Europe
were educated up to something like obedience, virtue, and purity?

'These last, you know, we teach in the interest of the State, as
well as of the Negro: and if we should ask the State for aid, in
order that we may teach them, over and above a little reading and
writing--which will not be taught save by us, for we only shall be
listened to--are we asking too much, or anything which the State
will not be wise in granting us? We can have no temptation to abuse
our power for political purposes. It would not suit us--to put the
matter on its lowest ground--to become demagogues. For our
congregations include persons of every rank and occupation; and
therefore it is our interest, as much as that of the British
Government, that all classes should be loyal, peaceable, and
wealthy.

'As for our peculiar creed, with its vivid appeals to the senses:
is it not a question whether the utterly unimaginative and illogical
Negro can be taught the facts of Christianity, or indeed any
religion at all, save through his senses? Is it not a question
whether we do not, on the whole, give him a juster and clearer
notion of the very truths which you hold in common with us, than an
average Protestant missionary does?

'Your Church of England'--it must be understood that the relations
between the Anglican and the Romish clergy in Trinidad are, as far
as I have seen, friendly and tolerant--' does good work among its
coloured members. But it does so by speaking, as we speak, with
authority. It, too, finds it prudent to keep up in its services
somewhat at least of that dignity, even pomp, which is as necessary
for the Negro as it was for the half-savage European of the early
Middle Age, if he is to be raised above his mere natural dread of
spells, witches, and other harmful powers, to somewhat of admiration
and reverence.

'As for the merely dogmatic teaching of the Dissenters: we do not
believe that the mere Negro really comprehends one of those
propositions, whether true or false, Catholic or Calvinist, which
have been elaborated by the intellect and the emotions of races who
have gone through a training unknown to the Negro. With all respect
for those who disseminate such books, we think that the Negro can no
more conceive the true meaning of an average Dissenting Hymn-book,
than a Sclavonian of the German Marches a thousand years ago could
have conceived the meaning of St. Augustine's Confessions. For what
we see is this--that when the personal influence of the white
missionary is withdrawn, and the Negro left to perpetuate his sect
on democratic principles, his creed merely feeds his inordinate
natural vanity with the notion that everybody who differs from him
is going to hell, while he is going to heaven whatever his morals
may be.'

If a Roman Catholic priest should say all this, he would at least
have a right, I believe, to a respectful hearing.

Nay, more. If he were to say, 'You are afraid of our having too
much to do with the education of the Negro, because we use the
Confessional as an instrument of education. Now how far the
Confessional is needful, or useful, or prudent, in a highly
civilised and generally virtuous community, may be an open matter.
But in spite of all your English dislike of it, hear our side of the
question, as far as Negroes and races in a similar condition are
concerned. Do you know why and how the Confessional arose? Have
you looked, for instance, into the old middle-age Penitentials? If
so, you must be aware that it arose in an age of coarseness, which
seems now inconceivable; in those barbarous times when the lower
classes of Europe, slaves or serfs, especially in remote country
districts, lived lives little better than those of the monkeys in
the forest, and committed habitually the most fearful crimes,
without any clear notion that they were doing wrong: while the
upper classes, to judge from the literature which they have left,
were so coarse, and often so profligate, in spite of nobler
instincts and a higher sense of duty, that the purest and justest
spirits among them had again and again to flee from their own class
into the cloister or the hermit's cell.

'In those days, it was found necessary to ask Christian people
perpetually--Have you been doing this, or that? For if you have,
you are not only unfit to be called a Christian; you are unfit to be
called a decent human being. And this, because there was every
reason to suppose that they had been doing it; and that they would
not tell of themselves, if they could possibly avoid it. So the
Confessional arose, as a necessary element for educating savages
into common morality and decency. And for the same reasons we
employ it among the Negroes of Trinidad. Have no fears lest we
should corrupt the minds of the young. They see and hear more harm
daily than we could ever teach them, were we so devilishly minded.
There is vice now, rampant and notorious, in Port of Spain, which
eludes even our Confessional. Let us alone to do our best. God
knows we are trying to do it, according to our light.'

If any Roman Catholic clergyman in Port of Spain spoke thus to me--
and I have been spoken to in words not unlike these--I could only
answer, 'God's blessing on you, and all your efforts, whether I
agree with you in detail or not.'

The Roman Catholic inhabitants of the island are to the Protestant
as about 2.5 to 1. {288} The whole of the more educated portion of
them, as far as I could ascertain, are willing to entrust the
education of their children to the clergy. The Archbishop of
Trinidad, Monsignor Gonin, who has jurisdiction also in St. Lucia,
St. Vincent, Grenada, and Tobago, is a man not only of great energy
and devotion, but of cultivation and knowledge of the world; having,
I was told, attained distinction as a barrister elsewhere before he
took Holy Orders. A group of clergy is working under him--among
them a personal friend of mine--able and ready to do their best to
mend a state of things in which most of the children in the island,
born nominal Roman Catholics, but the majority illegitimate, were
growing up not only in ignorance, but in heathendom and brutality.
Meanwhile, the clergy were in want of funds. There were no funds at
all, indeed, which would enable them to set up in remote forest
districts a religious school side by side with the secular ward
school; and the colony could not well be asked for Government grants
to two sets of schools at once. In face of these circumstances, the
late Governor thought fit to take action on the very able and
interesting report of Mr. J. P. Keenan, one of the chiefs of
inspection of the Irish National Board of Education, who had been
sent out as special commissioner to inquire into the state of
education in the island; to modify Lord Harris's plan, however
excellent in itself; and to pass an Ordinance by which Government
aid was extended to private elementary schools, of whatever
denomination, provided they had duly certificated teachers; were
accessible to all children of the neighbourhood without distinction
of religion or race; and 'offered solid guarantees for abstinence
from proselytism and intolerance, by subjecting their rules and
course of teaching to the Board of Education, and empowering that
Board at any moment to cancel the certificate of the teacher.' In
the wards in which such schools were founded, and proved to be
working satisfactorily, the secular ward schools were to be
discontinued. But the Government reserved to itself the power of
reopening a secular school in the ward, in case the private school
turned out a failure.

Such is a short sketch of an Ordinance which seems, to me at least,
a rational and fair compromise, identical, mutatis mutandis, with
that embodied in Mr. Forster's new Education Act; and the only one
by which the lower orders of Trinidad were likely to get any
education whatever. It was received, of course, with applause by
the Roman Catholics, and by a great number of the Protestants of the
colony. But, as was to be expected, it met with strong expressions
of dissent from some of the Protestant gentry and clergy; especially
from one gentleman, who attacked the new scheme with an acuteness
and humour which made even those who differed from him regret that
such remarkable talents had no wider sphere than a little island of
forty-five miles by sixty. An accession of power to the Roman
Catholic clergy was, of course, dreaded; and all the more because it
was known that the scheme met with the approval of the Archbishop;
that it was, indeed, a compromise with the requests made in a
petition which that prelate had lately sent in to the Governor; a
petition which seems to me most rational and temperate. It was
argued, too, that though the existing Act--that of 1851--had more or
less failed, it might still succeed if Lord Harris's plan was fully
carried out, and the choice of the ward schoolmaster, the selection
of ward school-books, and the direction of the course of
instruction, were vested in local committees. The simple answer
was, that eighteen years had elapsed, and the colony had done
nothing in that direction; that the great majority of children in
the island did not go to school at all, while those who did attended
most irregularly, and learnt little or nothing; {290} that the
secular system of education had not attracted, as it was hoped, the
children of the Hindoo immigrants, of whom scarcely one was to be
found in a ward school; that the ward schoolmasters were generally
inefficient, and the Central Board of Education inactive; that there
was no rigorous local supervision, and no local interest felt in the
schools; that there were fewer children in the ward schools in 1868
than there had been in 1863, in spite of the rapid increase of
population: and all this for the simple reason which the Archbishop
had pointed out--the want of religious instruction. As was to be
expected, the good people of the island, being most of them
religious people also, felt no enthusiasm about schools where little
was likely to be taught beyond the three royal R's.

I believe they were wrong. Any teaching which involves moral
discipline is better than mere anarchy and idleness. But they had a
right to their opinion; and a right too, being the great majority of
the islanders, to have that opinion respected by the Governor. Even
now, it will be but too likely, I think, that the establishment and
superintendence of schools in remote districts will devolve--as it
did in Europe during the Middle Age--entirely on the different
clergies, simply by default of laymen of sufficient zeal for the
welfare of the coloured people. Be that as it may, the Ordinance
has become Law; and I have faith enough in the loyalty of the good
folk of Trinidad to believe that they will do their best to make it
work.

If, indeed, the present Ordinance does not work, it is difficult to
conceive any that will. It seems exactly fitted for the needs of
Trinidad. I do not say that it is fitted for the needs of any and
every country. In Ireland, for instance, such a system would be, in
my opinion, simply retrograde. The Irishman, to his honour, has
passed, centuries since, beyond the stage at which he requires to be
educated by a priesthood in the primary laws of religion and
morality. His morality is--on certain important points--superior to
that of almost any people. What he needs is to be trained to
loyalty and order; to be brought more in contact with the secular
science and civilisation of the rest of Europe: and that must be
done by a secular, and not by an ecclesiastical system of education.

The higher education, in Trinidad, seems in a more satisfactory
state than the elementary. The young ladies, many of them, go
'home'--i.e. to England or France--for their schooling; and some of
the young men to Oxford, Cambridge, London, or Edinburgh. The
Gilchrist Trust of the University of London has lately offered
annually a Scholarship of 100 pounds a year for three years, to lads
from the West India colonies, the examinations for it to be held in
Jamaica, Barbadoes, Trinidad, and Demerara; and in Trinidad itself
two Exhibitions of 150 pounds a year each, tenable for three years,
are attainable by lads of the Queen's Collegiate School, to help
them toward their studies at a British University.

The Collegiate School received aid from the State to the amount of
3000 pounds per annum--less by the students' fees; and was open to
all denominations. But in it, again, the secular system would not
work. The great majority of Roman Catholic lads were educated at
St. Mary's College, which received no State aid at all. 417
Catholic pupils at the former school, as against 111 at the latter,
were--as Mr. Keenan says--'a poor expression of confidence or favour
on the part of the colonists.' The Roman Catholic religion was the
creed of the great majority of the islanders, and especially of the
wealthier and better educated of the coloured families. Justice
seemed to demand that if State aid were given, it should be given to
all creeds alike; and prudence certainly demanded that the
respectable young men of Trinidad should not be arrayed in two alien
camps, in which the differences of creed were intensified by those
of race, and--in one camp at least--by a sense of something very
like injustice on the part of a Protestant, and, it must always be
remembered, originally conquering, Government. To give the lads as
much as possible the same interests, the same views; to make them
all alike feel that they were growing up, not merely English
subjects, but English men, was one of the most important social
problems in Trinidad. And the simplest way of solving it was, to
educate them as much as possible side by side in the same school, on
terms of perfect equality.

The late Governor, therefore, with the advice and consent of his
Council, determined to develop the Queen's Collegiate School into a
new Royal College, which was to be open to all creeds and races
without distinction: but upon such terms as will, it is hoped,
secure the willing attendance of Roman Catholic scholars. {291} Not
only it, but schools duly affiliated to it, are to receive
Government aid; and four Exhibitions of 150 pounds a year each,
instead of two, are granted to young men going home to a British
University. The College was inaugurated--I am sorry to say after I
had left the island--in June 1870, by the Governor, in the presence
of (to quote the Port of Spain Gazette) the Council, consisting of--

The Honourable the Chief Judge Needham.
J. Scott Bushe (Colonial Secretary).
Charles W. Warner, C.B.
E. J. Eagles.
F. Warner.
Dr. L. A. A. Verteuil.
Henry Court.
M. Maxwell Philip.
His Honour Mr. Justice Fitzgerald.
Andre Bernard, Esq.

The last five of these gentlemen being, I believe, Roman Catholics.
Most of the Board of Education were also present; the Principal and
Masters of the Collegiate School, the Superiors and Reverend
Professors of St. Mary's College, the Clergy of the Church of
England in the island; the leading professional men and merchants,
etc., and especially a large number of the Roman Catholic gentry of
the island; 'MM. Ambard, O'Connor, Giuseppi, Laney, Farfan,
Gillineau, Rat, Pantin, Leotaud, Besson, Fraser, Paull, Hobson,
Garcia, Dr. Padron,' etc. I quote their names from the Gazette, in
the order in which they occur. Many of them I have not the honour
of knowing: but judging of those whom I do not know by those whom I
do, I should say that their presence at the inauguration was a solid
proof that the foundation of the new College was a just and politic
measure, opening, as the Gazette well says, a great future to the
youth of all creeds in the colony.

The late Governor's speech on the occasion I shall print entire. It
will explain the circumstances of the case far better than I can do;
and it may possibly meet with interest and approval from those who
like to hear sound sense spoken, even in a small colony.

'We are met here to-day to inaugurate the Royal College, an
institution in which the benefits of a sound education, I trust,
will be secured to Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, without
the slightest compromise of their respective principles.

'The Queen's Collegiate School, of which this College is, in some
sort, an out-growth and development, was founded with the same
object: but, successful as it has been in other respects, it cannot
be said to have altogether attained this.

'St. Mary's College was founded by private enterprise with a
different view, and to meet the wants of those who objected to the
Collegiate School.

'It has long been felt the existence of two Colleges--one, the
smaller, almost entirely supported by the State; the other, the
larger, wholly without State aid--was objectionable; and that the
whole question of secondary education presented a most difficult
problem.

'Some saw its solution in the withdrawal of all State aid from
higher education; others in the establishment by the State of two
distinct Denominational Colleges.

'I have elsewhere explained the reason why I consider both these
suggestions faulty, and their probable effect bad; the one being
certain to check and discourage superior education altogether, the
other likely to substitute inefficient for efficient teaching, and
small exclusive schools for a wide national institution.

'I knew that, whilst insuperable objections existed to a combined
education in all subjects, that objection had its limits: that in
America and in Germany I had seen Protestants and Catholics learning
side by side; that in Mauritius, a College numbering 700 pupils,
partly Protestants, partly Roman Catholics, existed; and that
similar establishments were not uncommon elsewhere.

'I therefore determined to endeavour to effect the establishment of
a College where combined study might be carried on in those branches
of education with respect to which no objection to such a course was
felt, and to support with Government aid, and bring under Government
supervision, those establishments where those branches in which a
separate education was deemed necessary were taught.

'I had, when last at home, some anxious conferences with the highest
ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Catholic Church in England on
the subject, and came to a complete understanding with him in
respect to it. That distinguished prelate, himself a man of the
highest University eminence, is not one to be indifferent to the
interests of learning. His position, his known opinions, afford a
guarantee that nothing sanctioned by him could, even by the most
scrupulous, be considered in the least degree inconsistent with the
interests of his Church or his religion.

'He expressed a strong preference for a totally separate education:
but candidly admitted the objections to such a course in a small and
not very wealthy island, and drew a wide distinction between
combination for all purposes, and for some only.

'There were certain courses of instruction in which combined
instruction could not possibly be given consistently with due regard
to the faith of the pupils; there were others where it was difficult
to decide whether it could or could not properly be given; there
were others again where it might be certainly given without
objection.

'On this understanding the plan carried into effect is based: but
the Legislature have gone far beyond what was then agreed; and
whilst Archbishop Manning would have assented to an arrangement
which would have excluded certain branches only of education from
the common course, the law, as now in force, allows exemption from
attendance on all, provided competent instruction is given to the
pupils in the same branches elsewhere; till, in fact, all that
remains obligatory is attendance at examinations, and at the course
of instruction in one or more of four given branches of education,
if it should so happen that no adequate teaching in that particular
branch is given in the pupil's own school.

'A scheme more liberal--a bond more elastic--could hardly have been
devised, capable of effecting, if desired, the closest union--
capable of being stretched to almost any degree of slight
connection; and even if some Catholics would still prefer a wholly
separate system, they must, if candid men, admit that the Protestant
population here have a right to demand that they should not be
called on to surrender, in order to satisfy a mere preference, the
great advantages they derive from a united College under State
control, with its efficient staff and national character.

'If religious difficulties are met, and conscientious scruples are
not wounded, a sacrifice of preferences must often be made. Private
wishes must often yield to the public good.

'In the first instance, all the boys of the former Collegiate School
have become students of the College; but probably a school of a
similar character, but affiliated to the College, will shortly be
formed, in which a large number of those boys will be included.

'That the headship of the College should be entrusted to the
Principal of the Queen's Collegiate School will, I am sure, be
universally felt to be only a just tribute to the zeal, efficiency,
and success with which he has hitherto laboured in his office,
whilst, in addition to these qualifications, he possesses the no
less important one for the post he is about to fill, of a mind
singularly impartial, just, liberal, and candid.

'I hope that the other Professors of the College may be taken from
affiliated schools indiscriminately, the lectures being given as may
be most convenient, and as may be arranged by the College Council.

'It is intended by the College Council that the fees charged for
attendance at the Royal College should be much lower than those
heretofore charged at the Queen's Collegiate School. I do not
believe that the mere financial loss will be great, whilst I believe
a good education will, by this means, be placed within the reach of
many who cannot now afford it.

'I hope--but I express only my own personal wish, not that of the
Council, which, as yet, has pronounced no opinion--that some of the
changes introduced in most states of modern education will be made
here, and that especial attention will be given to the teaching of
some of the Eastern languages.

'It is almost impossible to overrate the importance of this both to
the Government and the community;--to the Government, as enabling it
to avail itself of the services of honest, competent, and
trustworthy interpreters; and to the general community, as relieving
both employer and employed from the necessity of depending on the
interpretation of men not always very competent, nor always very
scrupulous, whose mistakes or errors, whether wilful or accidental,
may often effect much injustice, and on whose fidelity life may not
unfrequently depend.

'I thank the members of the College Council for having accepted a
task which will, at first, involve much delicate tact, forbearance,
caution, and firmness, and the exercise of talents I know them to
possess, and which I am confident will be freely bestowed in working
out the success of the institution committed to their care.

'I thank the Principal and his staff for their past exertions, and I
count with confidence on their future labours.

'I thank the parents who, by their presence, have manifested their
interest in our undertaking, and their wishes for its success, and I
especially thank the ladies who have been drawn within these walls
by graver attractions than those which generally bring us together
at this building.

'I rejoice to see here the Superior of St. Mary's College, and the
goodly array of those under his charge, and I do so for many
reasons.

'I rejoice, because being not as yet affiliated or in any way
officially connected with the Royal College, their presence is a
spontaneous evidence of their goodwill and kindly feeling, and of
the spirit in which they have been disposed to meet the efforts made
to consult their feelings in the arrangements of this institution; a
spirit yet further evinced by the fact that the Superior has
informed me that he is about voluntarily to alter the course of
study pursued in St. Mary's College, so as more nearly to assimilate
it to that pursued here.

'I rejoice, because in their presence I hail a sign that the
affiliation which is, I believe, desired by the great body of the
Roman Catholic community in this island, and to which it has been
shown no insuperable religious obstacle exists, will take place at
no more distant day than is necessary to secure the approval, the
naturally requisite approval, of ecclesiastical authority elsewhere.

'I rejoice at their presence, because it enables me before this
company to express my high sense of the courage and liberality which
have maintained their College for years past without any aid
whatever from the State, and, in spite of manifold obstacles and
discouragements, have caused it to increase in numbers and
efficiency.

'I rejoice at their presence, because I desire to see the youth of
Trinidad of every race, without indifference to their respective
creeds, brought together on all possible occasions, whether for
recreation or for work; because I wish to see them engaged in
friendly rivalry in their studies now, as they will hereafter be in
the world, which I desire to see them enter, not as strangers to
each other, but as friends and fellow-citizens.

'I rejoice, because their presence enables me to take a personal
farewell of so many of those who will in the next generation be the
planters, the merchants, the official and professional men of
Trinidad. By the time that you are men all the petty jealousies,
all the mean resentments of this our day, will have faded into the
oblivion which is their proper bourn. But the work now accomplished
will not, I trust, so fade. They will melt and perish as the snow
of the north would before our tropical sun: but the College will, I
trust, remain as the rock on which the snow rests, and which remains
uninjured by the heat, unmoved by the passing storm. May it endure
and strengthen as it passes from the first feeble beginnings of this
its infancy to a vigorous youth and maturity. You will sometimes in
days to come recall the inauguration of your College, and perhaps
not forget that its founder prayed you to bear in mind the truth
that you will find, even now, the truest satisfaction in the strict
discharge of duty; that he urged you to form high and unselfish
aims--to seek noble and worthy objects; and as you enter on the
world and all its tossing sea of jealousies, strife, division and
distrust, to heed the lesson which an Apostle, whose words we all
alike revere, has taught us, "If ye bite and devour one another,
take ye heed that ye be not consumed one of another."

'Here, we hope, a point of union has been found which may last
through life, and that whilst every man cherishes a love for his own
peculiar School, all alike will have an interest in their common
College, all alike be proud of a national institution, jealous of
its honour, and eager to advance its welfare.

'It is a common thing to hear the bitterness of religious discord
here deplored. I for one, looking back on the history of past
years, cannot think, as some seem to do, that it has increased. On
the contrary, it seems to me that it has greatly diminished in
violence when displayed, and that its displays are far less
frequent. Such, I believe, will be more and more the case; and that
whilst religious distinctions will remain the same, and
conscientious convictions unaltered, social and party differences
consequent on those distinctions and convictions will daily
diminish; that all alike will more and more feel in how many things
they can think and act together for the benefit of their common
country, and of the community of which they all are members; how
they can be glad together in her prosperity, and be sad together in
the day of her distress; and work together at all times to promote
her good. That this College is calculated to aid in a great degree
in effecting this happy result, I for one cannot entertain the
shadow of a doubt. "Esto perpetua!"'

'Esto perpetua.' But there remains, I believe, more yet to be done
for education in the West Indies; and that is to carry out Mr.
Keenan's scheme for a Central University for the whole of the West
Indian Colonies, {297a} as a focus of higher education; and a focus,
also, of cultivated public opinion, round which all that is
shrewdest and noblest in the islands shall rally, and find strength
in moral and intellectual union. I earnestly recommend all West
Indians to ponder Mr. Keenan's weighty words on this matter;
believing that, as they do so, even stronger reasons than he has
given for establishing such an institution will suggest themselves
to West Indian minds.

I am not aware, nor would the reader care much to know, what schools
there may be in Port of Spain for Protestant young ladies. I can
only say that, to judge from the young ladies themselves, the
schools must be excellent. But one school in Port of Spain I am
bound in honour, as a clergyman of the Church of England, not to
pass by without earnest approval, namely, 'The Convent,' as it is
usually called. It was established in 1836, under the patronage of
the Roman Catholic Bishop, the Right Rev. Dr. Macdonnel, and was
founded by the ladies of St. Joseph, a religious Sisterhood which
originated in France a few years since, for the special purpose of
diffusing instruction through the colonies. {297b} This
institution, which Dr. De Verteuil says is 'unique in the West
Indies,' besides keeping up two large girls' schools for poor
children, gave in 1857 a higher education to 120 girls of the middle
and upper classes, and the number has much increased since then. It
is impossible to doubt that this Convent has been 'a blessing to the
colony.' At the very time when, just after slavery was abolished,
society throughout the island was in the greatest peril, these good
ladies came to supply a want which, under the peculiar circumstances
of Trinidad, could only have been supplied by the self-sacrifice of
devoted women. The Convent has not only spread instruction and
religion among the wealthier coloured class: but it has done more;
it has been a centre of true civilisation, purity, virtue, where one
was but too much needed; and has preserved, doubtless, hundreds of
young creatures from serious harm; and that without interfering in
any wise, I should think, with their duty to their parents. On the
contrary, many a mother in Port of Spain must have found in the
Convent a protection for her daughters, better than she herself
could give, against influences to which she herself had been but too
much exposed during the evil days of slavery; influences which are
not yet, alas! extinct in Port of Spain. Creoles will understand my
words; and will understand, too, why I, Protestant though I am, bid
heartily God speed to the good ladies of St. Joseph.

To the Anglican clergy, meanwhile, whom I met in the West Indies, I
am bound to offer my thanks, not for courtesies shown to me--that is
a slight matter--but for the worthy fashion in which they seem to be
upholding the honour of the good old Church in the colonies. In
Port of Spain I heard and saw enough of their work to believe that
they are in nowise less active--more active they cannot be--than if
they were seaport clergymen in England. The services were performed
thoroughly well; with a certain stateliness, which is not only
allowable but necessary, in a colony where the majority of the
congregation are coloured; but without the least foppery or
extravagance. The very best sermon, perhaps, for matter and manner,
which I ever heard preached to unlettered folk, was preached by a
young clergyman--a West Indian born--in the Great Church of Port of
Spain; and he had no lack of hearers, and those attentive ones. The
Great Church was always a pleasant sight, with its crowded
congregation of every hue, all well dressed, and with the universal
West Indian look of comfort; and its noble span of roof overhead,
all cut from island timber--another proof of what the wood-carver
may effect in the island hereafter. Certainly distractions were
frequent and troublesome, at least to a newcomer. A large centipede
would come out and take a hurried turn round the Governor's seat; or
a bat would settle in broad daylight in the curate's hood; or one
had to turn away one's eyes lest they should behold--not vanity,
but--the magnificent head of a Cabbage-palm just outside the
opposite window, with the black vultures trying to sit on the
footstalks in a high wind, and slipping down, and flopping up again,
half the service through. But one soon got accustomed to the
strange sights; though it was, to say the least, somewhat startling
to find, on Christmas Day, the altar and pulpit decked with
exquisite tropic flowers; and each doorway arched over with a single
pair of coconut leaves, fifteen feet high.

The Christmas Day Communion, too, was one not easily to be
forgotten. At least 250 persons, mostly coloured, many as black as
jet, attended; and were, I must say for them, most devout in manner.
Pleasant it was to see the large proportion of men among them, many
young white men of the middle and upper class; and still more
pleasant, too, to see that all hues and ranks knelt side by side
without the least distinction. One trio touched me deeply. An old
lady--I know not who she was--with the unmistakable long, delicate,
once beautiful features of a high-bred West Indian of the 'Ancien
Regime,' came and knelt reverently, feebly, sadly, between two old
Negro women. One of them seemed her maid. Both of them might have
been once her slaves. Here at least they were equals. True
Equality--the consecration of humility, not the consecration of
envy--first appeared on earth in the house of God, and at the altar
of Christ: and I question much whether it will linger long in any
spot on earth where that house and that altar are despised. It is
easy to propose an equality without Christianity; as easy as to
propose to kick down the ladder by which you have climbed, or to saw
off the bough on which you sit. As easy; and as safe.

But I must not forget, while speaking of education in Trinidad, one
truly 'educational' establishment which I visited at Tacarigua;
namely, a Coolie Orphan Home, assisted by the State, but set up and
kept up almost entirely by the zeal of one man--the Rev. ---
Richards, brother of the excellent Rector of Trinity Church, Port of
Spain. This good man, having no children of his own, has taken for
his children the little brown immigrants, who, losing father and
mother, are but too apt to be neglected by their own folk. At the
foot of the mountains, beside a clear swift stream, amid scenery and
vegetation which an European millionaire might envy, he has built a
smart little quadrangle, with a long low house, on one side for the
girls, on the other for the boys; a schoolroom, which was as well
supplied with books, maps, and pictures as any average National
School in England; and, adjoining the buildings, a garden where the
boys are taught to work. A matron--who seemed thoroughly worthy of
her post--conducts the whole; and comfort, cleanliness, and order
were visible everywhere. A pleasant sight; but the pleasantest
sight of all was to see the little bright-eyed brown darlings
clustering round him who was indeed their father in God; who had
delivered them from misery and loneliness, and--in the case of the
girls--too probably vice likewise; and drawn them, by love, to
civilisation and Christianity. The children, as fast as they grow
up, are put out to domestic service, and the great majority of the
boys at least turn out well. The girls, I was told, are curiously
inferior to the boys in intellect and force of character; an
inferiority which is certainly not to be found in Negroes, among
whom the two sexes are more on a par, not only intellectually, but
physically also, than among any race which I have seen. One
instance, indeed, we saw of the success of the school. A young
creature, brought up there, and well married near by, came in during
our visit to show off her first baby to the matron and the children;
as pretty a mother and babe as one could well see. Only we
regretted that, in obedience to the supposed demands of
civilisation, and of a rise in life, she had discarded the graceful
and modest Hindoo dress of her ancestresses, for a French bonnet and
all that accompanies it. The transfiguration added, one must
charitably suppose, to her self-respect; if so, it must be condoned
on moral grounds: but in an aesthetic view, she had made a great
mistake.

In remembrance of our visit, a little brown child, some three or
four years old, who had been christened that day, was named after
me; and I was glad to have my name connected, even in so minute an
item, with an institution which at all events delivers children from
the fancy that they can, without being good or doing good,
conciliate the upper powers by hanging garlands on a trident inside
a hut, or putting red dust on a stump of wood outside it, while they
stare in and mumble prayers to they know not what of gilded wood.

The coolie temples are curious places to those who have never before
been face to face with real heathendom. Their mark is, generally, a
long bamboo with a pennon atop, outside a low dark hut, with a broad
flat verandah, or rather shed, outside the door. Under the latter,
opposite each door, if I recollect rightly, is a stone or small
stump, on which offerings are made of red dust and flowers. From it
the worshippers can see the images within. The white man, stooping,
enters the temple. The attendant priest, so far from forbidding
him, seems highly honoured, especially if the visitor give him a
shilling; and points out, in the darkness--for there is no light
save through the low doors--three or four squatting abominations,
usually gilded. Sometimes these have been carved in the island.
Sometimes the poor folk have taken the trouble to bring them all the
way from India on board ship. Hung beside them on the walls are
little pictures, often very well executed in the miniature-like
Hindoo style by native artists in the island. Large brass pots,
which have some sacred meaning, stand about, and with them a curious
trident-shaped stand, about four feet high, on the horns of which
garlands of flowers are hung as offerings. The visitor is told that
the male figures are Mahadeva, and the female Kali: we could hear
of no other deities. I leave it to those who know Indian mythology
better than I do, to interpret the meaning--or rather the past
meaning, for I suspect it means very little now--of all this
trumpery and nonsense, on which the poor folk seem to spend much
money. It was impossible, of course, even if one had understood
their language, to find out what notions they attached to it all;
and all I could do, on looking at these heathen idol chapels, in the
midst of a Christian and civilised land, was to ponder, in sadness
and astonishment, over a puzzle as yet to me inexplicable; namely,
how human beings first got into their heads the vagary of
worshipping images. I fully allow the cleverness and apparent
reasonableness of M. Comte's now famous theory of the development of
religions. I blame no one for holding it. But I cannot agree with
it. The more of a 'saine appreciation,' as M. Comte calls it, I
bring to bear on the known facts; the more I 'let my thought play
freely around them,' the more it is inconceivable to me, according
to any laws of the human intellect which I have seen at work, that
savage or half-savage folk should have invented idolatries. I do
not believe that Fetishism is the parent of idolatry; but rather--as
I have said elsewhere--that it is the dregs and remnants of
idolatry. The idolatrous nations now, as always, are not the savage
nations; but those who profess a very ancient and decaying
civilisation. The Hebrew Scriptures uniformly represent the non-
idolatrous and monotheistic peoples, from Abraham to Cyrus, as lower
in what we now call the scale of civilisation, than the idolatrous
and polytheistic peoples about them. May not the contrast between
the Patriarchs and the Pharaohs, David and the Philistines, the
Persians and the Babylonians, mark a law of history of wider
application than we are wont to suspect? But if so, what was the
parent of idolatry? For a natural genesis it must have had, whether
it be a healthy and necessary development of the human mind--as some
hold, not without weighty arguments on their side; or whether it be
a diseased and merely fungoid growth, as I believe it to be. I
cannot hold that it originated in Nature-worship, simply because I
can find no evidence of such an origin. There is rather evidence,
if the statements of the idolaters themselves are to be taken, that
it originated in the worship of superior races by inferior races;
possibly also in the worship of works of art which those races,
dying out, had left behind them, and which the lower race, while
unable to copy them, believed to be possessed of magical powers
derived from a civilisation which they had lost. After a while the
priesthood, which has usually, in all ages and countries, proclaimed
itself the depository of a knowledge and a civilisation lost to the
mass of the people, may have gained courage to imitate these old
works of art, with proper improvements for the worse, and have
persuaded the people that the new idols would do as well as the old
ones. Would that some truly learned man would 'let his thoughts
play freely' round this view of the mystery, and see what can be
made out of it. But whatever is made out, on either view, it will
still remain a mystery--to me at least, as much as to Isaiah of old-
-how this utterly abnormal and astonishing animal called man first
got into his foolish head that he could cut a thing out of wood or
stone which would listen to him and answer his prayers. Yet so it
is; so it has been for unnumbered ages. Man may be defined as a
speaking animal, or a cooking animal. He is best, I fear, defined
as an idolatrous animal; and so much the worse for him. But what if
that very fact, diseased as it is, should be a sure proof that he is
more than an animal?

CHAPTER XV: THE RACES--A LETTER

Dear ---, I have been to the races: not to bet, nor to see the
horses run: not even to see the fair ladies on the Grand Stand, in
all the newest fashions of Paris via New York: but to wander en
mufti among the crowd outside, and behold the humours of men. And I
must say that their humours were very good humours; far better, it
seemed to me, than those of an English race-ground. Not that I have
set foot on one for thirty years; but at railway stations, and
elsewhere, one cannot help seeing what manner of folk, beside mere
holiday folk, rich or poor, affect English races; or help
pronouncing them, if physiognomy be any test of character, the most
degraded beings, even some of those smart-dressed men who carry bags
with their names on them, which our pseudo-civilisation has yet done
itself the dishonour of producing. Now, of that class I saw
absolutely none. I do not suppose that the brown fellows who hung
about the horses, whether Barbadians or Trinidad men, were of very
angelic morals: but they looked like heroes compared with the
bloated hangdog roughs and quasi-grooms of English races. As for
the sporting gentlemen, not having the honour to know them, I can
only say that they looked like gentlemen, and that I wish, in all
courtesy, that they had been more wisely employed.

But the Negro, or the coloured man of the lower class, was in his
glory. He was smart, clean, shiny, happy, according to his light.
He got up into trees, and clustered there, grinning from ear to ear.
He bawled about island horses and Barbadian horses--for the
Barbadians mustered strong, and a fight was expected, which,
however, never came off; he sang songs, possibly some of them
extempore, like that which amused one's childhood concerning a once
notable event in a certain island--

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

'Run Allright,
Run for your life;
See Mr Barton
A comin wid a knife.

'Oh, Mr Barton,
I sarry for your loss;
If you no believe me,
I tie my head across.'

That is--go into mourning. But no one seemed inclined to tie their
heads, across that day. The Coolies seemed as merry as the Negroes,
even about the face of the Chinese there flickered, at times, a
feeble ray of interest.

The coloured women wandered about, in showy prints, great
crinolines, and gorgeous turbans. The Coolie women sat in groups on
the glass--ah! Isle of the Blest, where people can sit on the grass
in January--like live flower beds of the most splendid and yet
harmonious hues. As for jewels, of gold as well as silver, there
were many there, on arms, ankles, necks, and noses, which made white
ladies fresh from England break the tenth commandment.

I wandered about, looking at the live flower beds, and giving
passing glances into booths, which I longed to enter, and hear what
sort of human speech might be going on therein but I was deterred,
first by the thought that much of the speech might not be over
edifying, and next by the smells, especially by that most hideous of
all smells--new rum.

At last I came to a crowd, and in the midst of it, one of those
great French merry-go-rounds turned by machinery, with pictures of
languishing ladies round the central column. All the way from the
Champs Elysees the huge piece of fool's tackle had lumbered and
creaked hither across the sea to Martinique, and was now making the
round of the islands, and a very profitable round, to judge from the
number of its customers. The hobby-horses swarmed with Negresses
and Hindoos of the lower order. The Negresses, I am sorry to say,
forgot themselves, kicked up their legs, shouted to the bystanders,
and were altogether incondite. The Hindoo women, though showing
much more of their limbs than the Negresses, kept them gracefully
together, drew their veils round their heads, and sat coyly, half
frightened, half amused, to the delight of their papas, or husbands,
who had in some cases to urge them to get up and ride, while they
stood by, as on guard, with the long hardwood quarter staff in hand.

As I looked on, considered what a strange creature man is, and
wondered what possible pleasure these women could derive from being
whirled round till they were giddy and stupid, I saw an old
gentleman seemingly absorbed in the very same reflection. He was
dressed in dark blue, with a straw hat. He stood with his hands
behind his back, his knees a little bent, and a sort of wise, half-
sad, half-humorous smile upon his aquiline high-cheek-boned
features. I took him for an old Scot; a canny, austere man--a man,
too, who had known sorrow, and profited thereby; and I drew near to
him. But as he turned his head deliberately round to me, I beheld
to my astonishment the unmistakable features of a Chinese. He and I
looked each other full in the face, without a word; and I fancied
that we understood each other about the merry-go-round, and many
things besides. And then we both walked off different ways, as
having seen enough, and more than enough. Was he, after all, an
honest man and true? Or had he, like Ah Sin, in Mr. Bret Harte's
delectable ballad, with 'the smile that was child-like and bland'--

'In his sleeves, which were large,
Twenty-four packs of cards,
And--On his nails, which were taper,
What's common in tapers--that's wax'?

I know not; for the Chinese visage is unfathomable. But I incline
to this day to the more charitable judgment; for the man's face
haunted me, and haunts me still; and I am weak enough to believe
that I should know the man and like him, if I met him in another
planet, a thousand years hence.

Then I walked back under the blazing sun across the Savanna, over
the sensitive plants and the mole-crickets' nests, while the great
locusts whirred up before me at every step; toward the archway
between the bamboo-clumps, and the red sentry shining like a spark
of fire beneath its deep shadow; and found on my way a dying
racehorse, with a group of coloured men round him, whom I advised in
vain to do the one thing needful--put a blanket over him to keep off
the sun, for the poor thing had fallen from sunstroke; so I left
them to jabber and do nothing: asking myself--Is the human race, in
the matter of amusements, as civilised as it was--say three thousand
years ago? People have, certainly--quite of late years--given up
going to see cocks fight, or heretics burnt: but that is mainly
because the heretics just now make the laws--in favour of themselves
and the cocks. But are our amusements to be compared with those of
the old Greeks, with the one exception of liking to hear really good
music? Yet that fruit of civilisation is barely twenty years old;
and we owe its introduction, be it always remembered, to the
Germans. French civilisation signifies practically, certainly in
the New World, little save ballet-girls, billiard-tables, and thin
boots: English civilisation, little save horse-racing and cricket.
The latter sport is certainly blameless; nay, in the West Indies,
laudable and even heroic, when played, as on the Savanna here, under
a noonday sun which feels hot enough to cook a mutton-chop. But
with all respect for cricket, one cannot help looking back at the
old games of Greece, and questioning whether man has advanced much
in the art of amusing himself rationally and wholesomely.

I had reason to ask the same question that evening, as we sat in the
cool verandah, watching the fireflies flicker about the tree-tops,
and listening to the weary din of the tom-toms which came from all
sides of the Savanna save our own, drowning the screeching and
snoring of the toads, and even, at times, the screams of an European
band, which was playing a 'combination tune,' near the Grand Stand,
half a mile off.

To the music of tom-tom and chac-chac, the coloured folk would dance
perpetually till ten o'clock, after which time the rites of Mylitta
are silenced by the policeman, for the sake of quiet folk in bed.
They are but too apt, however, to break out again with fresh din
about one in the morning, under the excuse--'Dis am not last night,
Policeman. Dis am 'nother day.'

Well: but is the nightly tom-tom dance so much more absurd than the
nightly ball, which is now considered an integral element of white
civilisation? A few centuries hence may not both of them be looked
back on as equally sheer barbarisms?

These tom-tom dances are not easily seen. The only glance I ever
had of them was from the steep slope of once beautiful Belmont.
'Sitting on a hill apart,' my host and I were discoursing, not 'of
fate, free-will, free-knowledge absolute,' but of a question almost
as mysterious--the doings of the Parasol-ants who marched up and
down their trackways past us, and whether these doings were guided
by an intellect differing from ours, only in degree, but not in
kind. A hundred yards below we espied a dance in a negro garden; a
few couples, mostly of women, pousetting to each other with violent
and ungainly stampings, to the music of tom-tom and chac-chac, if
music it can be called. Some power over the emotions it must have;
for the Negroes are said to be gradually maddened by it; and white
people have told me that its very monotony, if listened to long, is
strangely exciting, like the monotony of a bagpipe drone, or of a
drum. What more went on at the dance we could not see; and if we
had tried, we should probably not have been allowed to see. The
Negro is chary of admitting white men to his amusements; and no
wonder. If a London ballroom were suddenly invaded by Phoebus,
Ares, and Hermes, such as Homer drew them, they would probably be
unwelcome guests; at least in the eyes of the gentlemen. The latter
would, I suspect, thoroughly sympathise with the Negro in the old
story, intelligible enough to those who know what is the favourite
food of a West Indian chicken.

'Well, John, so they gave a dignity ball on the estate last night?'

'Yes, massa, very nice ball. Plenty of pretty ladies, massa.'

'Why did you not ask me, John? I like to look at pretty ladies as
well as you.'

'Ah, massa: when cockroach give a ball, him no ask da fowls.'

Great and worthy exertions are made, every London Season, for the
conversion of the Negro and the Heathen, and the abolition of their
barbarous customs and dances. It is to be hoped that the Negro and
the Heathen will some day show their gratitude to us, by sending
missionaries hither to convert the London Season itself, dances and
all; and assist it to take the beam out of its own eye, in return
for having taken the mote out of theirs.

CHAPTER XVI: A PROVISION GROUND

The 'provision grounds' of the Negroes were very interesting. I had
longed to behold, alive and growing, fruits and plants which I had
heard so often named, and seen so often figured, that I had expected
to recognise many of them at first sight; and found, in nine cases
out of ten, that I could not. Again, I had longed to gather some
hints as to the possibility of carrying out in the West Indian
islands that system of 'Petite Culture'--of small spade farming--
which I have long regarded, with Mr. John Stuart Mill and others, as
not only the ideal form of agriculture, but perhaps the basis of any
ideal rustic civilisation. And what scanty and imperfect facts I
could collect I set down here.

It was a pleasant sensation to have, day after day, old names
translated for me into new facts. Pleasant, at least to me: not so
pleasant, I fear, to my kind companions, whose courtesy I taxed to
the uttermost by stopping to look over every fence, and ask, 'What
is that? And that?' Let the reader who has a taste for the
beautiful as well as the useful in horticulture, do the same, and
look in fancy over the hedge of the nearest provision ground.

There are orange-trees laden with fruit: who knows not them? and
that awkward-boughed tree, with huge green fruit, and deeply-cut
leaves a foot or more across--leaves so grand that, as one of our
party often suggested, their form ought to be introduced into
architectural ornamentation, and to take the place of the Greek
acanthus, which they surpass in beauty--that is, of course, a Bread-
fruit tree.

That round-headed tree, with dark rich Portugal laurel foliage,
arranged in stars at the end of each twig, is the Mango, always a
beautiful object, whether in orchard or in open park. In the West
Indies, as far as I have seen, the Mango has not yet reached the
huge size of its ancestors in Hindostan. There--to judge, at least,
from photographs--the Mango must be indeed the queen of trees;
growing to the size of the largest English oak, and keeping always
the round oak-like form. Rich in resplendent foliage, and still
more rich in fruit, the tree easily became encircled with an
atmosphere of myth in the fancy of the imaginative Hindoo.

That tree with upright branches, and large, dark, glossy leaves
tiled upwards along them, is the Mammee Sapota, {311a} beautiful
likewise. And what is the next, like an evergreen peach, shedding
from the under side of every leaf a golden light--call it not shade?
A Star-apple; {311b} and that young thing which you may often see
grown into a great timber-tree, with leaves like a Spanish chestnut,
is the Avocado, {311c} or, as some call it, alligator, pear. This
with the glossy leaves, somewhat like the Mammee Sapota, is a
Sapodilla, {311d} and that with leaves like a great myrtle, and
bright flesh-coloured fruit, a Malacca-apple, or perhaps a Rose-
apple. {311e} Its neighbour, with large leaves, gray and rough
underneath, flowers as big as your two hands, with greenish petals
and a purple eye, followed by fat scaly yellow apples, is the Sweet-
sop; {311f} and that privet-like bush with little flowers and green
berries a Guava, {311g} of which you may eat if you will, as you may
of the rest.

The truth, however, must be told. These West Indian fruits are,
most of them, still so little improved by careful culture and
selection of kinds, that not one of them (as far as we have tried
them) is to be compared with an average strawberry, plum, or pear.

But how beautiful they are all and each, after their kinds! What a
joy for a man to stand at his door and simply look at them growing,
leafing, blossoming, fruiting, without pause, through the perpetual
summer, in his little garden of the Hesperides, where, as in those
of the Phoenicians of old, 'pear grows ripe on pear, and fig on
fig,' for ever and for ever!

Now look at the vegetables. At the Bananas and Plantains first of
all. A stranger's eye would not distinguish them. The practical
difference between them is, that the Plaintain {311h} bears large
fruits which require cooking; the Banana {312a} smaller and sweeter
fruits, which are eaten raw. As for the plant on which they grow,
no mere words can picture the simple grandeur and grace of a form
which startles me whenever I look steadily at it. For however
common it is--none commoner here--it is so unlike aught else, so
perfect in itself, that, like a palm, it might well have become, in
early ages, an object of worship.

And who knows that it has not? Who knows that there have not been
races who looked on it as the Red Indians looked on Mondamin, the
maize-plant; as a gift of a god--perhaps the incarnation of a god?
Who knows? Whence did the ancestors of that plant come? What was
its wild stock like ages ago? It is wild nowhere now on earth. It
stands alone and unique in the vegetable kingdom, with distant
cousins, but no brother kinds. It has been cultivated so long that
though it flowers and fruits, it seldom or never seeds, and is
propagated entirely by cuttings. The only spot, as far as I am
aware, in which it seeds regularly and plentifully, is the remote,
and till of late barbarous Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
{312b}

There it regularly springs up in the second growth, after the forest
is cleared, and bears fruits full of seed as close together as they
can be pressed. How did the plant get there? Was it once
cultivated there by a race superior to the now utterly savage
islanders, and at an epoch so remote that it had not yet lost the
power of seeding? Are the Andamans its original home? or rather,
was its original home that great southern continent of which the
Andamans are perhaps a remnant? Does not this fact, as well as the
broader fact that different varieties of the Plantain and Banana
girdle the earth round at the Tropics, and have girdled it as long
as records go back, hint at a time when there was a tropic continent
or archipelago round the whole equator, and at a civilisation and a
horticulture to which those of old Egypt are upstarts of yesterday?
There are those who never can look at the Banana without a feeling
of awe, as at a token of holy ancient the race of man may be, and
how little we know of his history.

Most beautiful it is. The lush fat green stem; the crown of huge
leaves, falling over in curves like those of human limbs; and below,
the whorls of green or golden fruit, with the purple heart of
flowers dangling below them; and all so full of life, that this
splendid object is the product of a few months. I am told that if
you cut the stem off at certain seasons, you may see the young leaf-
-remember that it is an endogen, and grows from within, like a palm,
or a lily, or a grass--actually move upward from within and grow
before your eyes; and that each stem of Plantain will bear from
thirty to sixty pounds of rich food during the year of its short
life.

But, beside the grand Plantains and Bananas, there are other
interesting plants, whose names you have often heard. The tall
plant with stem unbranched, but knotty and zigzag, and leaves atop
like hemp, but of a cold purplish tinge, is the famous Cassava,
{313a} or Manioc, the old food of the Indians, poisonous till its
juice is squeezed out in a curious spiral grass basket. The young
Laburnums (as they seem), with purple flowers, are Pigeon-peas,
{313b} right good to eat. The creeping vines, like our Tamus, or
Black Bryony, are Yams, {313c}--best of all roots.

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

And we must not overlook the French Physic-nut, {313h} with its hemp
like leaves, and a little bunch of red coral in the midst, with
which the Negro loves to adorn his garden, and uses it also as
medicine; or the Indian Shot, {313i} which may be seen planted out
now in summer gardens in England. The Negro grows it, not for its
pretty crimson flowers, but because its hard seed put into a bladder
furnishes him with that detestable musical instrument the chac-chac,
wherewith he accompanies nightly that equally detestable instrument
the tom-tom.

The list of vegetables is already long: but there are a few more to
be added to it. For there, in a corner, creep some plants of the
Earth-nut, {314a} a little vetch which buries its pods in the earth.
The owner will roast and eat their oily seeds. There is also a tall
bunch of Ochro {314b}--a purple-stemmed mallow-flowered plant--whose
mucilaginous seeds will thicken his soup. Up a tree, and round the
house-eaves, scramble a large coarse Pumpkin, and a more delicate
Granadilla, {314c} whose large yellow fruits hang ready to be
plucked, and eaten principally for a few seeds of the shape and
colour of young cockroaches. If he be a prudent man (especially if
he lives in Jamaica), he will have a plant of the pretty Overlook
pea, {314d} trailing aloft somewhere, to prevent his garden being
'overlooked,' i.e. bewitched by an evil eye, in case the Obeah-
bottle which hangs from the Mango-tree, charged with toad and
spider, dirty water, and so forth, has no terrors for his secret
enemy. He will have a Libidibi {314e} tree, too, for astringent
medicine; and his hedge will be composed, if he be a man of taste--
as he often seems to be--of Hibiscus bushes, whose magnificent
crimson flowers contrast with the bright yellow bunches of the
common Cassia, and the scarlet flowers of the Jumby-bead bush,
{314f} and blue and white and pink Convolvuluses. The sulphur and
purple Neerembergia of our hothouses, which is here one mass of
flower at Christmas, and the creeping Crab's-eye Vine, {314g} will
scramble over the fence; while, as a finish to his little Paradise,
he will have planted at each of its four corners an upright
Dragon's-blood {314h} bush, whose violet and red leaves bedeck our
dinner-tables in winter; and are here used, from their unlikeness to
any other plant in the island, to mark boundaries.

I have not dared--for fear of prolixity--to make this catalogue as
complete as I could have done. But it must be remembered that, over
and above all this, every hedge and wood furnishes wild fruit more
or less eatable; the high forests plenty of oily seeds, in which the
tropic man delights; and woods, forests, and fields medicinal plants
uncounted. 'There is more medicine in the bush, and better, than in
all the shops in Port of Spain,' said a wise medical man to me; and
to the Exhibition of 1862 Mr. M'Clintock alone contributed, from
British Guiana, one hundred and forty species of barks used as
medicine by the Indians. There is therefore no fear that the
tropical small farmer should suffer, either from want, or from
monotony of food; and equally small fear lest, when his children
have eaten themselves sick--as they are likely to do if, like the
Negro children, they are eating all day long--he should be unable to
find something in the hedge which will set them all right again.

At the amount of food which a man can get off this little patch I
dare not guess. Well says Humboldt, that an European lately arrived
in the torrid zone is struck with nothing so much as the extreme
smallness of the spots under cultivation round a cabin which
contains a numerous family. The plantains alone ought, according to
Humboldt, to give one hundred and thirty-three times as much food as
the same space of ground sown with wheat, and forty-four times as
much as if it grew potatoes. True, the plantain is by no means as
nourishing as wheat: which reduces the actual difference between
their value per acre to twenty-five to one. But under his plantains
he can grow other vegetables. He has no winter, and therefore some
crop or other is always coming forward. From whence it comes, that,
as I just hinted, his wife and children seem to have always
something to eat in their mouths, if it be only the berries and nuts
which abound in every hedge and wood. Neither dare I guess at the
profit which he might make, and I hope will some day make, out of
his land, if he would cultivate somewhat more for exportation, and
not merely for home consumption. If any one wishes to know more on
this matter, let him consult the catalogue of contributions from
British Guiana to the London Exhibition of 1862; especially the
pages from lix. to lxviii. on the starch-producing plants of the
West Indies.

Beyond the facts which I have given as to the plantain, I have no
statistics of the amount of produce which is usually raised on a
West Indian provision ground. Nor would any be of use; for a glance
shows that the limit of production has not been nearly reached.
Were the fork used instead of the hoe; were the weeds kept down;
were the manure returned to the soil, instead of festering about
everywhere in sun and rain: in a word, were even as much done for
the land as an English labourer does for his garden; still more, if
as much were done for it as for a suburban market-garden, the
produce might be doubled or trebled, and that without exhausting the
soil.

The West Indian peasant can, if he will, carry 'la petite Culture'
to a perfection and a wealth which it has not yet attained even in
China, Japan, and Hindostan, and make every rood of ground not
merely maintain its man, but its civilised man. This, however, will
require a skill and a thoughtfulness which the Negro does not as yet
possess. If he ever had them, he lost them under slavery, from the
brutalising effects of a rough and unscientific 'grande culture';
and it will need several generations of training ere he recovers
them. Garden-tillage and spade-farming are not learnt in a day,
especially when they depend--as they always must in temperate
climates--for their main profit on some article which requires
skilled labour to prepare it for the market--on flax, for instance,
silk, wine, or fruits. An average English labourer, I fear, if put
in possession of half a dozen acres of land, would fare as badly as
the poor Chartists who, some twenty years ago, joined in Feargus
O'Connor's land scheme, unless he knew half a dozen ways of eking
out a livelihood which even our squatters around Windsor and the New
Forest are, alas! forgetting, under the money-making and man-
unmaking influences of the 'division of labour.' He is vanishing
fast, the old bee-keeping, apple-growing, basket-making, copse-
cutting, many-counselled Ulysses of our youth, as handy as a sailor:
and we know too well what he leaves behind him; grandchildren better
fed, better clothed, better taught than he, but his inferiors in
intellect and in manhood, because--whatever they may be taught--they
cannot be taught by schooling to use their fingers and their wits.
I fear, therefore, that the average English labourer would not
prosper here. He has not stamina enough for the hard work of the
sugar plantation. He has not wit and handiness enough for the more
delicate work of a little spade-farm: and he would sink, as the
Negro seems inclined to sink, into a mere grower of food for
himself; or take to drink--as too many of the white immigrants to
certain West Indian colonies did thirty years ago--and burn the life
out of himself with new rum. The Hindoo immigrant, on the other
hand, has been trained by long ages to a somewhat scientific
agriculture, and civilised into the want of many luxuries for which
the Negro cares nothing; and it is to him that we must look, I
think, for a 'petite culture' which will do justice to the
inexhaustible wealth of the West Indian soil and climate.

As for the house, which is embowered in the little Paradise which I
have been describing, I am sorry to say that it is, in general, the
merest wooden hut on stilts; the front half altogether open and
unwalled; the back half boarded up to form a single room, a passing
glance into which will not make the stranger wish to enter, if he
has any nose, or any dislike of vermin. The group at the door,
meanwhile, will do anything but invite him to enter; and he will
ride on, with something like a sigh at what man might be, and what
he is.

Doubtless, there are great excuses for the inmates. A house in this
climate is only needed for a sleeping or lounging place. The
cooking is carried on between a few stones in the garden; the
washing at the neighbouring brook. No store rooms are needed, where
there is no winter, and everything grows fresh and fresh, save the
salt-fish, which can be easily kept--and I understand usually is
kept--underneath the bed. As for separate bedrooms for boys and
girls, and all those decencies and moralities for which those who
build model cottages strive, and with good cause--of such things
none dream. But it is not so very long ago that the British Isles
were not perfect in such matters; some think that they are not quite
perfect yet. So we will take the beam out of our own eye, before we
try to take the mote from the Negro's. The latter, however, no man
can do. For the Negro, being a freeholder and the owner of his own
cottage, must take the mote out of his own eye, having no landlord
to build cottages for him; in the meanwhile, however, the less said
about his lodging the better.

In the villages, however, in Maraval, for instance, you see houses
of a far better stamp, belonging, I believe, to coloured people
employed in trades; long and low wooden buildings with jalousies
instead of windows--for no glass is needed here; divided into rooms,
and smart with paint, which is not as pretty as the native wood.
You catch sight as you pass of prints, usually devotional, on the
walls, comfortable furniture, looking-glasses, and sideboards, and
other pleasant signs that a civilisation of the middle classes is
springing up; and springing, to judge from the number of new houses
building everywhere, very rapidly, as befits a colony whose revenue
has risen, since 1855, from 72,300 pounds to 240,000 pounds, beside
the local taxation of the wards, some 30,000 pounds or 40,000 pounds
more.

What will be the future of agriculture in the West Indian colonies I
of course dare not guess. The profits of sugar-growing, in spite of
all drawbacks, have been of late very great. They will be greater
still under the improved methods of manufacture which will be
employed now that the sugar duties have been at least rationally
reformed by Mr. Lowe. And therefore, for some time to come, capital
will naturally flow towards sugar-planting; and great sheets of the
forest will be, too probably, ruthlessly and wastefully swept away
to make room for canes. And yet one must ask, regretfully, are
there no other cultures save that of cane which will yield a fair,
even an ample, return, to men of small capital and energetic habits?
What of the culture of bamboo for paper-fibre, of which I have
spoken already? It has been, I understand, taken up successfully in
Jamaica, to supply the United States' paper market. Why should it
not be taken up in Trinidad? Why should not Plantain-meal {318a} be
hereafter largely exported for the use of the English working
classes? Why should not Trinidad, and other islands, export fruits-
-preserved fruits especially? Surely such a trade might be
profitable, if only a quarter as much care were taken in the West
Indies as is taken in England to improve the varieties by selection
and culture; and care taken also not to spoil the preserves, as now,
for the English market, by swamping them with sugar or sling. Can
nothing be done in growing the oil-producing seeds with which the
Tropics abound, and for which a demand is rising in England, if it
be only for use about machinery? Nothing, too, toward growing drugs
for the home market? Nothing toward using the treasures of gutta-
percha which are now wasting in the Balatas? Above all, can nothing
be done to increase the yield of the cacao-farms, and the quality of
Trinidad cacao?

For this latter industry, at least, I have hope. My friend--if he
will allow me to call him so--Mr. John Law has shown what
extraordinary returns may be obtained from improved cacao-growing;
at least, so far to his own satisfaction that he is himself trying
the experiment. He calculates {318b} that 200 acres, at a maximum
outlay of about 11,000 dollars spread over six years, and
diminishing from that time till the end of the tenth year, should
give, for fifty years after that, a net income of 6800 dollars; and
then 'the industrious planter may sit down,' as I heartily hope Mr.
Law will do, 'and enjoy the fruits of his labour.'

Mr. Law is of opinion that, to give such a return, the cacao must be
farmed in a very different way from the usual plan; that the trees
must not be left shaded, as now, by Bois Immortelles, sixty to
eighty feet high, during their whole life. The trees, he says with
reason, impoverish the soil by their roots. The shade causes excess
of moisture, chills, weakens and retards the plants; encourages
parasitic moss and insects; and, moreover, is least useful in the
very months in which the sun is hottest, viz. February, March, and
April, which are just the months in which the Bois Immortelles shed
their leaves. He believes that the cacao needs no shade after the
third year; and that, till then, shade would be amply given by
plantains and maize set between the trees, which would, in the very
first year, repay the planter some 6500 dollars on his first outlay
of some 8000. It is not for me to give an opinion upon the
correctness of his estimates: but the past history of Trinidad
shows so many failures of the cacao crop, that even a practically
ignorant man may be excused for guessing that there is something
wrong in the old Spanish system; and that with cacao, as with wheat
and every other known crop, improved culture means improved produce
and steadier profits.

As an advocate of 'petite culture,' I heartily hope that such may be
the case. I have hinted in these volumes my belief that exclusive
sugar cultivation, on the large scale, has been the bane of the West
Indies.

I went out thither with a somewhat foregone conclusion in that
direction. But it was at least founded on what I believed to be
facts. And it was, certainly, verified by the fresh facts which I
saw there. I returned with a belief stronger than ever, that
exclusive sugar cultivation had put a premium on unskilled slave-
labour, to the disadvantage of skilled white-labour; and to the
disadvantage, also, of any attempt to educate and raise the Negro,
whom it was not worth while to civilise, as long as he was needed
merely as an instrument exerting brute strength. It seems to me,
also, that to the exclusive cultivation of sugar is owing, more than
to any other cause, that frightful decrease throughout the islands
of the white population, of which most English people are, I
believe, quite unaware. Do they know, for instance, that Barbadoes
could in Cromwell's time send three thousand white volunteers, and
St. Kitts and Nevis a thousand, to help in the gallant conquest of
Jamaica? Do they know that in 1676 Barbadoes was reported to
maintain, as against 80,000 black, 70,000 free whites; while in 1851
the island contained more than 120,000 Negroes and people of colour,
as against only 15,824 whites? That St. Kitts held, even as late as
1761, 7000 whites; but in 1826--before emancipation--only 1600? Or
that little Montserrat, which held, about 1648, 1000 white families,
and had a militia of 360 effective men, held in 1787 only 1300
whites, in 1828 only 315, and in 1851 only 150?

It will be said that this ugly decrease in the white population is
owing to the unfitness of the climate. I believe it to have been
produced rather by the introduction of sugar cultivation, at which
the white man cannot work. These early settlers had grants of ten
acres apiece; at least in Barbadoes. They grew not only provisions
enough for themselves, but tobacco, cotton, and indigo--products now
all but obliterated out of the British islands. They made cotton
hammocks, and sold them abroad as well as in the island. They
might, had they been wisely educated to perceive and use the natural
wealth around them, have made money out of many other wild products.
But the profits of sugar-growing were so enormous, in spite of their
uncertainty, that, during the greater part of the eighteenth
century, their little freeholds were bought up, and converted into
cane-pieces by their wealthier neighbours, who could afford to buy
slaves and sugar-mills. They sought their fortunes in other lands:
and so was exterminated a race of yeomen, who might have been at
this day a source of strength and honour, not only to the colonies,
but to England herself.

It may be that the extermination was not altogether undeserved; that
they were not sufficiently educated or skilful to carry out that
'petite culture' which requires--as I have said already--not only
intellect and practical education, but a hereditary and traditional
experience, such as is possessed by the Belgians, the Piedmontese,
and, above all, by the charming peasantry of Provence and Languedoc,
the fathers (as far as Western Europe is concerned) of all our
agriculture. It may be, too, that as the sugar cultivation
increased, they were tempted more and more, in the old hard drinking
days, by the special poison of the West Indies--new rum, to the
destruction both of soul and body. Be that as it may, their
extirpation helped to make inevitable the vicious system of large
estates cultivated by slaves; a system which is judged by its own
results; for it was ruinate before emancipation; and emancipation
only gave the coup de grace. The 'Latifundia perdidere' the
Antilles, as they did Italy of old. The vicious system brought its
own Nemesis. The ruin of the West Indies at the end of the great
French war was principally owing to that exclusive cultivation of
the cane, which forced the planter to depend on a single article of
produce, and left him embarrassed every time prices fell suddenly,
or the canes failed from drought or hurricane. We all know what
would be thought of an European farmer who thus staked his capital
on one venture. 'He is a bad farmer,' says the proverb, 'who does
not stand on four legs, and, if he can, on five.' If his wheat
fails, he has his barley--if his barley, he has his sheep--if his
sheep, he has his fatting oxen. The Provencal, the model farmer,
can retreat on his almonds if his mulberries fail; on his olives, if
his vines fail; on his maize, if his wheat fails. The West Indian
might have had--the Cuban has--his tobacco; his indigo too; his
coffee, or--as in Trinidad--his cacao and his arrowroot; and half a
dozen crops more: indeed, had his intellect--and he had intellect
in plenty--been diverted from the fatal fixed idea of making money
as fast as possible by sugar, he might have ere now discovered in
America, or imported from the East, plants for cultivation far more
valuable than that Bread-fruit tree, of which such high hopes were
once entertained, as a food for the Negro. As it was, his very
green crops were neglected, till, in some islands at least, he could
not feed his cattle and mules with certainty; while the sugar-cane,
to which everything else had been sacrificed, proved sometimes,
indeed, a valuable servant: but too often a tyrannous and
capricious master.

But those days are past; and better ones have dawned, with better
education, and a wider knowledge of the world and of science. What
West Indians have to learn--some of them have learnt it already--is
that if they can compete with other countries only by improved and
more scientific cultivation and manufacture, as they themselves
confess, then they can carry out the new methods only by more
skilful labour. They therefore require now, as they never required
before, to give the labouring classes a practical education; to
quicken their intellect, and to teach them habits of self-dependent
and originative action, which are--as in the case of the Prussian
soldier, and of the English sailor and railway servant--perfectly
compatible with strict discipline. Let them take warning from the
English manufacturing system, which condemns a human intellect to
waste itself in perpetually heading pins, or opening and shutting
trap-doors, and punishes itself by producing a class of workpeople
who alternate between reckless comfort and moody discontent. Let
them be sure that they will help rather than injure the labour-
market of the colony, by making the labourer also a small free-
holding peasant. He will learn more in his own provision ground--
properly tilled--than he will in the cane-piece: and he will take
to the cane-piece and use for his employer the self-helpfulness
which he has learnt in the provision ground. It is so in England.
Our best agricultural day-labourers are, without exception, those
who cultivate some scrap of ground, or follow some petty occupation,
which prevents their depending entirely on wage-labour. And so I
believe it will be in the West Indies. Let the land-policy of the
late Governor be followed up. Let squatting be rigidly forbidden.
Let no man hold possession of land without having earned, or
inherited, money enough to purchase it, as a guarantee of his
ability and respectability, or--as in the case of Coolies past their
indenture's--as a commutation for rights which he has earned in
likewise. But let the coloured man of every race be encouraged to
become a landholder and a producer in his own small way. He will
thus, not only by what he produces, but by what he consumes, add
largely to the wealth of the colony; while his increased wants, and
those of his children, till they too can purchase land, will draw
him and his sons and daughters to the sugar-estates, as intelligent
and helpful day-labourers.

So it may be: and I cannot but trust, from what I have seen of the
temper of the gentlemen of Trinidad, that so it will be.

CHAPTER XVII (AND LAST): HOMEWARD BOUND

At last we were homeward bound. We had been seven weeks in the
island. We had promised to be back in England, if possible, within
the three months; and we had a certain pride in keeping our promise,
not only for its own sake, but for the sake of the dear West Indies.
We wished to show those at home how easy it was to get there; how
easy to get home again. Moreover, though going to sea in the
Shannon was not quite the same 'as going to sea in a sieve,' our
stay-at-home friends were of the same mind as those of the dear
little Jumblies, whom Mr. Lear has made immortal in his New Book of
Nonsense; and we were bound to come back as soon as possible, and
not 'in twenty years or more,' if we wished them to say--

'If we live,
We too will go to sea in a sieve,
To the Hills of the Chankly bore.'

So we left. But it was sore leaving. People had been very kind;
and were ready to be kinder still; while we, busy--perhaps too busy-
-over our Natural History collections, had seen very little of our
neighbours; had been able to accept very few of the invitations
which were showered on us, and which would, I doubt not, have given
us opportunities for liking the islanders still more than we liked
them already.

Another cause made our leaving sore to us. The hunger for travel
had been aroused--above all for travel westward--and would not be
satisfied. Up the Orinoco we longed to go: but could not. To La
Guayra and Caraccas we longed to go: but dared not. Thanks to
Spanish Republican barbarism, the only regular communication with
that once magnificent capital of Northern Venezuela was by a filthy
steamer, the Regos Ferreos, which had become, from her very looks, a
byword in the port. On board of her some friends of ours had lately
been glad to sleep in a dog-hutch on deck, to escape the filth and
vermin of the berths; and went hungry for want of decent food.
Caraccas itself was going through one of its periodic revolutions--
it has not got through the fever fit yet--and neither life nor
property was safe.

But the longing to go westward was on us nevertheless. It seemed
hard to turn back after getting so far along the great path of the
human race; and one had to reason with oneself--Foolish soul,
whither would you go? You cannot go westward for ever. If you go
up the Orinoco, you will long to go up the Meta. If you get to Sta.
Fe de Bogota, you will not be content till you cross the Andes and
see Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. When you look down on the Pacific, you
will be craving to go to the Gallapagos, after Darwin; and then to
the Marquesas, after Herman Melville; and then to the Fijis, after
Seeman; and then to Borneo, after Brooke; and then to the
Archipelago, after Wallace; and then to Hindostan, and round the
world. And when you get home, the westward fever will be stronger
on you than ever, and you will crave to start again. Go home at
once, like a reasonable man, and do your duty, and thank God for
what you have been allowed to see; and try to become of the same
mind as that most brilliant of old ladies, who boasted that she had
not been abroad since she saw the Apotheosis of Voltaire, before the
French Revolution; and did not care to go, as long as all manner of
clever people were kind enough to go instead, and write charming
books about what they had seen for her.

But the westward fever was slow to cool: and with wistful eyes we
watched the sun by day, and Venus and the moon by night, sink down
into the gulf, to lighten lands which we should never see. A few
days more, and we were steaming out to the Bocas--which we had begun
to love as the gates of a new home--heaped with presents to the last
minute, some of them from persons we hardly knew. Behind us Port of
Spain sank into haze: before us Monos rose, tall, dark, and grim--
if Monos could be grim--in moonless night. We ran on, and past the
island; this time we were going, not through the Boca de Monos, but
through the next, the Umbrella Bocas. It was too dark to see
houses, palm-trees, aught but the ragged outline of the hills
against the northern sky, and beneath, sparks of light in sheltered
coves, some of which were already, to one of us, well-beloved nooks.
There was the great gulf of the Boca de Monos. There was
Morrison's--our good Scotch host of seven weeks since; and the
glasses were turned on it, to see, if possible, through the dusk,
the almond-tree and the coco-grove for the last time. Ah, well--
When we next meet, what will he be, and where? And where the
handsome Creole wife, and the little brown. Cupid who danced all
naked in the log canoe, till the white gentlemen, swimming round,
upset him; and canoe, and boy, and men rolled and splashed about
like a shoal of seals at play, beneath the cliff with the Seguines
and Cereuses; while the ripple lapped the Moriche-nuts about the
roots of the Manchineel bush, and the skippers leaped and flashed
outside, like silver splinters? And here, where we steamed along,
was the very spot where we had seen the shark's back-fin when we
rowed back from the first Guacharo cave. And it was all over.

We are such stuff as dreams are made of. And as in a dream, or
rather as part of a dream, and myself a phantom and a play-actor, I
looked out over the side, and saw on the right the black Avails of
Monos, on the left the black walls of Huevos--a gate even grander,
though not as narrow, as that of Monos; and the Umbrella Rock,
capped with Matapalo and Cactus, and night-blowing Cereus, dim in
the dusk. And now we were outside. The roar of the surf, the
tumble of the sea, the rush of the trade-wind, told us that at once.
Out in the great sea, with Grenada, and kind friends in it, ahead;
not to be seen or reached till morning light. But we looked astern
and not ahead. We could see into and through the gap in Huevos,
through which we had tried to reach the Guacharo cave. Inside that
notch in the cliffs must be the wooded bay, whence we picked up the
shells among the fallen leaves and flowers. From under that dark
wall beyond it the Guacharos must be just trooping out for their
nightly forage, as they had trooped out since--He alone who made
them knows how long. The outline of Huevos, the outline of Monos,
were growing lower and grayer astern. A long ragged haze, far
loftier than that on the starboard quarter, signified the Northern
Mountains; and far off on the port quarter lay a flat bank of cloud,
amid which rose, or seemed to rise, the Cordillera of the Main, and
the hills where jaguars lie. Canopus blazed high astern, and
Fomalhaut below him to the west, as if bidding us a kind farewell.
Orion and Aldebaran spangled the zenith. The young moon lay on her
back in the far west, thin and pale, over Cumana and the Cordillera,
with Venus, ragged and red with earth mist, just beneath. And low
ahead, with the pointers horizontal, glimmered the cold pole-star,
for which we were steering, out of the summer into the winter once
more. We grew chill as we looked at him; and shuddered, it may be,
cowered for a moment, at the thought of 'Niflheim,' the home of

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