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Froudacity: West Indian Fables by J. A. Froude by J. J. Thomas

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J.J. Thomas



Preface by J.J. Thomas


Introduction: 27-33
Voyage out: 34-41
Barbados: 41-44
St. Vincent: 44-48
Grenada: 48-50


Trinidad: 53-55
Reform in Trinidad: 55-80
Negro Felicity in the West Indies: 81-110


Social Revolution: 113-174
West Indian Confederation: 175-200
The Negro as a Worker: 201-206
Religion for Negroes: 207-230


Historical Summary or Rsum: 233-261, end



[5] Last year had well advanced towards its middle--in fact it was
already April, 1888--before Mr. Froude's book of travels in the West
Indies became known and generally accessible to readers in those

My perusal of it in Grenada about the period above mentioned
disclosed, thinly draped with rhetorical flowers, the dark outlines
of a scheme to thwart political aspiration in the Antilles. That
project is sought to be realized by deterring the home authorities
from granting an elective local legislature, however restricted in
character, to any of the Colonies not yet enjoying such an advantage.
An argument based on the composition of the inhabitants of those
Colonies is confidently relied upon to confirm the inexorable mood of
Downing Street.

[6] Over-large and ever-increasing,--so runs the argument,--the
African element in the population of the West Indies is, from its
past history and its actual tendencies, a standing menace to the
continuance of civilization and religion. An immediate catastrophe,
social, political, and moral, would most assuredly be brought about
by the granting of full elective rights to dependencies thus
inhabited. Enlightened statesmanship should at once perceive the
immense benefit that would ultimately result from such refusal of the
franchise. The cardinal recommendation of that refusal is that it
would avert definitively the political domination of the Blacks,
which must inevitably be the outcome of any concession of the modicum
of right so earnestly desired. The exclusion of the Negro vote being
inexpedient, if not impossible, the exercise of electoral powers by
the Blacks must lead to their returning candidates of their own race
to the local legislatures, and that, too, in numbers preponderating
according to the majority of the Negro electors. The Negro
legislators thus supreme in the councils of the Colonies would
straightway proceed to pass vindictive and retaliatory laws against
their white fellow- [7] colonists. For it is only fifty years since
the White man and the Black man stood in the reciprocal relations of
master and slave. Whilst those relations subsisted, the white
masters inflicted, and the black slaves had to endure, the hideous
atrocities that are inseparable from the system of slavery. Since
Emancipation, the enormous strides made in self-advancement by the
ex-slaves have only had the effect of provoking a resentful
uneasiness in the bosoms of the ex-masters. The former bondsmen, on
their side, and like their brethren of Hayti, are eaten up with
implacable, blood-thirsty rancour against their former lords and
owners. The annals of Hayti form quite a cabinet of political and
social object lessons which, in the eyes of British statesmen, should
be invaluable in showing the true method of dealing with Ethiopic
subjects of the Crown. The Negro race in Hayti, in order to obtain
and to guard what it calls its freedom, has outraged every humane
instinct and falsified every benevolent hope. The slave-owners there
had not been a whit more cruel than slave-owners in the other
islands. But, in spite of this, how ferocious, how sanguinary, [8]
how relentless against them has the vengeance of the Blacks been in
their hour of mastery! A century has passed away since then, and,
notwithstanding that, the hatred of Whites still rankles in their
souls, and is cherished and yielded to as a national creed and guide
of conduct. Colonial administrators of the mighty British Empire,
the lesson which History has taught and yet continues to teach you in
Hayti as to the best mode of dealing with your Ethiopic colonists
lies patent, blood-stained and terrible before you, and should be
taken definitively to heart. But if you are willing that
Civilization and Religion--in short, all the highest developments of
individual and social life--should at once be swept away by a
desolating vandalism of African birth; if you do not recoil from the
blood-guiltiness that would stain your consciences through the
massacre of our fellow-countrymen in the West Indies, on account of
their race, complexion and enlightenment; finally, if you desire
those modern Hesperides to revert into primeval jungle, horrent lairs
wherein the Blacks, who, but a short while before, had been
ostensibly civilized, shall be revellers, as high-priests and [9]
devotees, in orgies of devil-worship, cannibalism, and obeah--dare to
give the franchise to those West Indian Colonies, and then rue the
consequences of your infatuation! . . .

Alas, if the foregoing summary of the ghastly imaginings of Mr.
Froude were true, in what a fool's paradise had the wisest and best
amongst us been living, moving, and having our being! Up to the date
of the suggestion by him as above of the alleged facts and
possibilities of West Indian life, we had believed (even granting the
correctness of his gloomy account of the past and present positions
of the two races) that to no well-thinking West Indian White, whose
ancestors may have, innocently or culpably, participated in the gains
as well as the guilt of slavery, would the remembrance of its palmy
days be otherwise than one of regret. We Negroes, on the other hand,
after a lapse of time extending over nearly two generations, could be
indebted only to precarious tradition or scarcely accessible
documents for any knowledge we might chance upon of the sufferings
endured in these Islands of the West by those of our race who have
gone before us. Death, with undiscriminating hand, had gathered [10]
in the human harvest of masters and slaves alike, according to or out
of the normal laws of nature; while Time had been letting down on the
stage of our existence drop-scene after drop-scene of years, to the
number of something like fifty, which had been curtaining off the
tragic incidents of the past from the peaceful activities of the
present. Being thus circumstanced, thought we, what rational
elements of mutual hatred should now continue to exist in the bosoms
of the two races?

With regard to the perpetual reference to Hayti, because of our
oneness with its inhabitants in origin and complexion, as a criterion
for the exact forecast of our future conduct under given
circumstances, this appeared to us, looking at actual facts,
perversity gone wild in the manufacture of analogies. The founders
of the Black Republic, we had all along understood, were not in any
sense whatever equipped, as Mr. Froude assures us they were, when
starting on their self-governing career, with the civil and
intellectual advantages that had been transplanted from Europe. On
the contrary, we had been taught to regard them as most unfortunate
in the circumstances under which [11] they so gloriously conquered
their merited freedom. We saw them free, but perfectly illiterate
barbarians, impotent to use the intellectual resources of which their
valour had made them possessors, in the shape of books on the spirit
and technical details of a highly developed national existence. We
had learnt also, until this new interpreter of history had
contradicted the accepted record, that the continued failure of Hayti
to realize the dreams of Toussaint was due to the fatal want of
confidence subsisting between the fairer and darker sections of the
inhabitants, which had its sinister and disastrous origin in the
action of the Mulattoes in attempting to secure freedom for
themselves, in conjunction with the Whites, at the sacrifice of their
darker-hued kinsmen. Finally, it had been explained to us that the
remembrance of this abnormal treason had been underlying and
perniciously influencing the whole course of Haytian national
history. All this established knowledge we are called upon to throw
overboard, and accept the baseless assertions of this conjuror-up of
inconceivable fables! He calls upon us to believe that, in spite of
being free, educated, progressive, and at peace with [12] all men, we
West Indian Blacks, were we ever to become constitutionally dominant
in our native islands, would emulate in savagery our Haytian fellow-
Blacks who, at the time of retaliating upon their actual masters,
were tortured slaves, bleeding and rendered desperate under the
oppressors' lash--and all this simply and merely because of the
sameness of our ancestry and the colour of our skin! One would have
thought that Liberia would have been a fitter standard of comparison
in respect of a coloured population starting a national life, really
and truly equipped with the requisites and essentials of civilized
existence. But such a reference would have been fatal to Mr.
Froude's object: the annals of Liberia being a persistent refutation
of the old pro-slavery prophecies which our author so feelingly

Let us revert, however, to Grenada and the newly-published "Bow of
Ulysses," which had come into my hands in April, 1888.

It seemed to me, on reading that book, and deducing therefrom the
foregoing essential summary, that a critic would have little more to
do, in order to effectually exorcise this negrophobic political
hobgoblin, than to appeal to [13] impartial history, as well as to
common sense, in its application to human nature in general, and to
the actual facts of West Indian life in particular.

History, as against the hard and fast White-master and Black-slave
theory so recklessly invented and confidently built upon by Mr.
Froude, would show incontestably--(a) that for upwards of two hundred
years before the Negro Emancipation, in 1838, there had never existed
in one of those then British Colonies, which had been originally
discovered and settled for Spain by the great Columbus or by his
successors, the Conquistadores, any prohibition whatsoever, on the
ground of race or colour, against the owning of slaves by any free
person possessing the necessary means, and desirous of doing so; (b)
that, as a consequence of this non-restriction, and from causes
notoriously historical, numbers of blacks, half-breeds, and other
non-Europeans, besides such of them as had become possessed of their
"property" by inheritance, availed themselves of this virtual
license, and in course of time constituted a very considerable
proportion of the slave-holding section of those communities; (c)
that these [14] dusky plantation-owners enjoyed and used in every
possible sense the identical rights and privileges which were enjoyed
and used by their pure-blooded Caucasian brother-slaveowners. The
above statements are attested by written documents, oral tradition,
and, better still perhaps, by the living presence in those islands of
numerous lineal representatives of those once opulent and flourishing
non-European planter-families.

Common sense, here stepping in, must, from the above data, deduce
some such conclusions as the following. First that, on the
hypothesis that the slaves who were freed in 1838--full fifty years
ago--were all on an average fifteen years old, those vengeful ex-
slaves of to-day will be all men of sixty-five years of age; and,
allowing for the delay in getting the franchise, somewhat further
advanced towards the human life-term of threescore and ten years.
Again, in order to organize and carry out any scheme of legislative
and social retaliation of the kind set forth in the "Bow of Ulysses,"
there must be (which unquestionably there is not) a considerable,
well-educated, and very influential number surviving of those who had
actually [15] been in bondage. Moreover, the vengeance of these
people (also assuming the foregoing nonexistent condition) would
have, in case of opportunity, to wreak itself far more largely and
vigorously upon members of their own race than upon Whites, seeing
that the increase of the Blacks, as correctly represented in the "Bow
of Ulysses," is just as rapid as the diminution of the White
population. And therefore, Mr. Froude's "Danger-to-the-Whites" cry
in support of his anti-reform manifesto would not appear, after all,
to be quite so justifiable as he possibly thinks.

Feeling keenly that something in the shape of the foregoing programme
might be successfully worked up for a public defence of the maligned
people, I disregarded the bodily and mental obstacles that have beset
and clouded my career during the last twelve years, and cheerfully
undertook the task, stimulated thereto by what I thought weighty
considerations. I saw that no representative of Her Majesty's
Ethiopic West Indian subjects cared to come forward to perform this
work in the more permanent shape that I felt to be not only desirable
but essential for our self-vindication. [16] I also realized the
fact that the "Bow of Ulysses" was not likely to have the same
ephemeral existence and effect as the newspaper and other periodical
discussions of its contents, which had poured from the press in Great
Britain, the United States, and very notably, of course, in all the
English Colonies of the Western Hemisphere. In the West Indian
papers the best writers of our race had written masterly refutations,
but it was clear how difficult the task would be in future to procure
and refer to them whenever occasion should require. Such
productions, however, fully satisfied those qualified men of our
people, because they were legitimately convinced (even as I myself am
convinced) that the political destinies of the people of colour could
not run one tittle of risk from anything that it pleased Mr. Froude
to write or say on the subject. But, meditating further on the
question, the reflection forced itself upon me that, beyond the mere
political personages in the circle more directly addressed by Mr.
Froude's volume, there were individuals whose influence or possible
sympathy we could not afford to disregard, or to esteem lightly. So
I deemed it right and a patriotic duty to attempt [17] the enterprise
myself, in obedience to the above stated motives.

At this point I must pause to express on behalf of the entire
coloured population of the West Indies our most heartfelt
acknowledgments to Mr. C. Salmon for the luminous and effective
vindication of us, in his volume on "West Indian Confederation,"
against Mr. Froude's libels. The service thus rendered by Mr. Salmon
possesses a double significance and value in my estimation. In the
first place, as being the work of a European of high position, quite
independent of us (who testifies concerning Negroes, not through
having gazed at them from balconies, decks of steamers, or the seats
of moving carriages, but from actual and long personal intercourse
with them, which the internal evidence of his book plainly proves to
have been as sympathetic as it was familiar), and, secondly, as the
work of an individual entirely outside of our race, it has been
gratefully accepted by myself as an incentive to self-help, on the
same more formal and permanent lines, in a matter so important to the
status which we can justly claim as a progressive, law-abiding, and
self-respecting section of Her Majesty's liege subjects.

[18] It behoves me now to say a few words respecting this book as a
mere literary production.

Alexander Pope, who, next to Shakespeare and perhaps Butler, was the
most copious contributor to the current stock of English maxims,

"True ease in writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learnt to dance."

A whole dozen years of bodily sickness and mental tribulation have
not been conducive to that regularity of practice in composition
which alone can ensure the "true ease" spoken of by the poet; and
therefore is it that my style leaves so much to be desired, and
exhibits, perhaps, still, more to be pardoned. Happily, a quarrel
such as ours with the author of "The English in the West Indies"
cannot be finally or even approximately settled on the score of
superior literary competency, whether of aggressor or defender. I
feel free to ignore whatever verdict might be grounded on a
consideration so purely artificial. There ought to be enough, if not
in these pages, at any rate in whatever else I have heretofore
published, that should prove me not so hopelessly stupid and wanting
in [19] self-respect, as would be implied by my undertaking a contest
in artistic phrase-weaving with one who, even among the foremost of
his literary countrymen, is confessedly a master in that craft. The
judges to whom I do submit our case are those Englishmen and others
whose conscience blends with their judgment, and who determine such
questions as this on their essential rightness which has claim to the
first and decisive consideration. For much that is irregular in the
arrangement and sequence of the subject-matter, some blame fairly
attaches to our assailant. The erratic manner in which lie launches
his injurious statements against the hapless Blacks, even in the
course of passages which no more led up to them than to any other
section of mankind, is a very notable feature of his anti-Negro
production. As he frequently repeats, very often with cynical
aggravations, his charges and sinister prophecies against the sable
objects of his aversion, I could see no other course open to me than
to take him up on the points whereto I demurred, exactly how, when,
and where I found them.

My purpose could not be attained up without direct mention of, or
reference to, certain public [20] employs in the Colonies whose
official conduct has often been the subject of criticism in the
public press of the West Indies. Though fully aware that such
criticism has on many occasions been much more severe than my own
strictures, yet, it being possible that some special responsibility
may attach to what I here reproduce in a more permanent shape, I most
cheerfully accept, in the interests of public justice, any
consequence which may result.

A remark or two concerning the publication of this rejoinder. It has
been hinted to me that the issue of it has been too long delayed to
secure for it any attention in England, owing to the fact that the
West Indies are but little known, and of less interest, to the
generality of English readers. Whilst admitting, as in duty bound,
the possible correctness of this forecast, and regretting the oft-
recurring hindrances which occasioned such frequent and, sometimes,
long suspension of my labour; and noting, too, the additional delay
caused through my unacquaintance with English publishing usages, I
must, notwithstanding, plead guilty to a lurking hope that some small
fraction of Mr. Froude's readers will yet be found, [21] whose
interest in the West Indies will be temporarily revived on behalf of
this essay, owing to its direct bearing on Mr. Froude and his
statements relative to these Islands, contained in his recent book of
travels in them. This I am led to hope will be more particularly the
case when it is borne in mind that the rejoinder has been attempted
by a member of that very same race which he has, with such eloquent
recklessness of all moral considerations, held up to public contempt
and disfavour. In short, I can scarcely permit myself to believe it
possible that concern regarding a popular author, on his being
questioned by an adverse critic of however restricted powers, can be
so utterly dead within a twelvemonth as to be incapable of
rekindling. Mr. Froude's "Oceana," which had been published long
before its author voyaged to the West Indies, in order to treat the
Queen's subjects there in the same more than questionable fashion as
that in which he had treated those of the Southern Hemisphere, had
what was in the main a formal rejoinder to its misrepresentations
published only three months ago in this city. I venture to believe
that no serious work in defence of an [22] important cause or
community can lose much, if anything, of its intrinsic value through
some delay in its issue; especially when written in the vindication
of Truth, whose eternal principles are beyond and above the influence
of time and its changes.

At any rate, this attempt to answer some of Mr. Froude's main
allegations against the people of the West Indies cannot fail to be
of grave importance and lively interest to the inhabitants of those
Colonies. In this opinion I am happy in being able to record the
full concurrence of a numerous and influential body of my fellow-West
Indians, men of various races, but united in detestation of falsehood
and injustice.


LONDON, June, 1889.


[27] Like the ancient hero, one of whose warlike equipments furnishes
the complementary title of his book, the author of "The English in
the West Indies; or, The Bow of Ulysses," sallied forth from his home
to study, if not cities, at least men (especially black men), and
their manners in the British Antilles.

James Anthony Froude is, beyond any doubt whatever, a very
considerable figure in modern English literature. It has, however,
for some time ceased to be a question whether his acceptability, to
the extent which it reaches, has not been due rather to the verbal
attractiveness than to the intrinsic value and trustworthiness of his
opinions and teachings. In fact, so far as a judgment can be formed
from examined specimens of his writings, it appears that our [28]
author is the bond-slave of his own phrases. To secure an artistic
perfection of style, he disregards all obstacles, not only those
presented by the requirements of verity, but such as spring from any
other kind of consideration whatsoever. The doubt may safely be
entertained whether, among modern British men of letters, there be
one of equal capability who, in the interest of the happiness of his
sentences, so cynically sacrifices what is due not only to himself as
a public instructor, but also to that public whom he professes to
instruct. Yet, as the too evident plaything of an over-permeable
moral constitution, he might set up some plea in explanation of his
ethical vagaries. He might urge, for instance, that the high culture
of which his books are all so redolent has utterly failed to imbue
him with the nil admirari sentiment, which Horace commends as the
sole specific for making men happy and keeping them so. For, as a
matter of fact, and with special reference to the work we have
undertaken to discuss, Mr. Froude, though cynical in his general
utterances regarding Negroes-of the male sex, be it noted-is, in the
main, all extravagance and self-abandonment whenever he [29] brings
an object of his arbitrary likes or dislikes under discussion. At
such times he is no observer, much less worshipper, of proportion in
his delineations. Thorough-paced, scarcely controllable, his
enthusiasm for or against admits no degree in its expression, save
and except the superlative. Hence Mr. Froude's statement of facts
or description of phenomena, whenever his feelings are enlisted
either way, must be taken with the proverbial "grain of salt" by all
when enjoying the luxury of perusing his books. So complete is his
self-identification with the sect or individual for the time being
engrossing his sympathy, that even their personal antipathies are
made his own; and the hostile language, often exaggerated and unjust,
in which those antipathies find vent, secures in his more chastened
mode of utterance an exact reproduction none the less injurious
because divested of grossness.

Of this special phase of self-manifestation a typical instance is
afforded at page 164, under the heading of "Dominica," in a passage
which at once embraces and accentuates the whole spirit and method of
the work. To a eulogium of the professional skill and successful
[30] agricultural enterprise of Dr. Nichol, a medical officer of
that Colony, with whom he became acquainted for the first time during
his short stay there, our author travels out of his way to tack on a
gratuitous and pointless sneer at the educational competency of all
the elected members of the island legislature, among whom, he tells
us, the worthy doctor had often tried in vain to obtain a place. His
want of success, our author informs his readers, was brought about
through Dr. Nichol "being the only man in the Colony of superior
attainments." Persons acquainted with the stormy politics of that
lovely little island do not require to be informed that the bitterest
animosity had for years been raging between Dr. Nichol and some of
the elected members-a fact which our author chose characteristically
to regard as justifying an onslaught by himself on the whole of that
section of which the foes of his new friend formed a prominent part.

Swayed by the above specified motives, our author also manages to see
much that is, and always has been, invisible to mortal eye, and to
fail to hear what is audible to and remarked upon by every other

[31] Thus we find him (p. 56) describing the Grenada Carenage as
being surrounded by forest trees, causing its waters to present a
violet tint; whilst every one familiar with that locality knows that
there are no forest trees within two miles of the object which they
are so ingeniously made to colour. Again, and aptly illustrating the
influence of his prejudices on his sense of hearing, we will notice
somewhat more in detail the following assertion respecting the speech
of the gentry of Barbados:--

"The language of the Anglo-Barbadians was pure English, the voices
without the smallest transatlantic intonation."

Now it so happens that no Barbadian born and bred, be he gentle or
simple, can, on opening his lips, avoid the fate of Peter of Galilee
when skulking from the peril of a detected nationality: "Thy speech
bewrayeth thee!" It would, however, be prudent on this point to take
the evidence of other Englishmen, whose testimony is above suspicion,
seeing that they were free from the moral disturbance that affected
Mr. Froude's auditory powers. G. J. Chester, in his
"Transatlantic Sketches" (page 95), deposes as follows-

[32] "But worse, far worse than the colour, both of men and women, is
their voice and accent. Well may Coleridge enumerate among the pains
of the West Indies, 'the yawny-drawny way in which men converse.'
The soft, whining drawl is simply intolerable. Resemble the worst
Northern States woman's accent it may in some degree, but it has not
a grain of its vigour. A man tells you, 'if you can speer it, to
send a beerer with a bottle of bare,' and the clergyman excruciates
you by praying in church, 'Speer us, good Lord.' The English
pronunciation of A and E is in most words transposed. Barbados has a
considerable number of provincialisms of dialect. Some of these, as
the constant use of 'Mistress' for 'Mrs.,' are interesting as
archaisms, or words in use in the early days of the Colony, and which
have never died out of use. Others are Yankeeisms or vulgarisms;
others, again, such as the expression 'turning cuffums,' i.e.
summersets, from cuffums, a species of fish, seem to be of local

In a note hereto appended, the author gives a list of English words
of peculiar use and acceptation in Barbados.

[33] To the same effect writes Anthony Trollope:

"But if the black people differ from their brethren of the other
islands, so certainly do the white people. One soon learns to know--
a Bim. That is the name in which they themselves delight, and
therefore, though there is a sound of slang about it, I give it here.
One certainly soon learns to know a Bim. The most peculiar
distinction is in his voice. There is always a nasal twang about it,
but quite distinct from the nasality of a Yankee. The Yankee's word
rings sharp through his nose; not so that of the first-class Bim.
There is a soft drawl about it, and the sound is seldom completely
formed. The effect on the ear is the same as that on the hand when a
man gives you his to shake, and instead of shaking yours, holds his
own still, &c., &c." ("The West Indies," p. 207).

From the above and scores of other authoritative testimonies which
might have been cited to the direct contrary of our traveller's tale
under this head, we can plainly perceive that Mr. Froude's love is
not only blind, but adder-deaf as well. We shall now contemplate him
under circumstances where his feelings are quite other than those of
a partisan.


[34] That Mr. Froude, despite his professions to the contrary, did
not go out on his explorations unhampered by prejudices, seems clear
enough from the following quotation:--

"There was a small black boy among us, evidently of pure blood, for
his hair was wool and his colour black as ink. His parents must have
been well-to-do, for the boy had been to Europe to be educated. The
officers on board and some of the ladies played with him as they
would play with a monkey. He had little more sense than a monkey,
perhaps less, and the gestures of him grinning behind gratings and
perching out his long thin arms between the bars were curiously
suggestive of the original from whom we are told now that all of us
came. The worst of it was that, being lifted above his own people,
he had been taught to despise them. He was spoilt as a black and
could not be made into a white, and this I found afterwards was the
invariable and dangerous consequence whenever a superior negro
contrived to raise himself. He might do well enough himself, but his
family feel their blood as degradation. His [35] children will not
marry among their own people, and not only will no white girl marry a
negro, but hardly any dowry can be large enough to tempt a West
Indian white to make a wife of a black lady. This is one of the most
sinister features in the present state of social life there."

We may safely assume that the playing of "the officers on board and
some of the ladies" with the boy, "as they would play with a monkey,"
is evidently a suggestion of Mr. Froude's own soul, as well as the
resemblance to the simian tribe which he makes out from the frolics
of the lad. Verily, it requires an eye rendered more than
microscopic by prejudice to discern the difference between the
gambols of juveniles of any colour under similar conditions. It is
true that it might just be the difference between the friskings of
white lambs and the friskings of lambs that are not white. That any
black pupil should be taught to despise his own people through being
lifted above them by education, seems a reckless statement, and far
from patriotic withal; inasmuch as the education referred to here was
European, and the place from which it was obtained presumably
England. At all events, [36] the difference among educated black men
in deportment towards their unenlightened fellow-blacks, can be
proved to have nothing of that cynicism which often marks the bearing
of Englishmen in an analogous case with regard to their less favoured
countrymen. The statement that a black person can be "spoilt" for
such by education, whilst he cannot be made white, is one of the
silly conceits which the worship of the skin engenders in ill-
conditioned minds. No sympathy should be wasted on the negro
sufferer from mortification at not being able to "change his skin."
The Ethiopian of whatever shade of colour who is not satisfied with
being such was never intended to be more than a mere living figure.
Mr. Froude further confidently states that whilst a superior Negro
"might do well himself," yet "his family feel their blood as a
degradation." If there be some who so feel, they are indeed very
much to be pitied; but their sentiments are not entitled to the
serious importance with which our critic has invested them. But is
it at all conceivable that a people whose sanity has never in any way
been questioned would strain every nerve to secure for their
offspring a [37] distinction the consequence of which to themselves
would be a feeling of their own abasement? The poor Irish peasant who
toils and starves to secure for his eldest son admission into the
Catholic priesthood, has a far other feeling than one of humiliation
when contemplating that son eventually as the spiritual director of a
congregation and parish. Similarly, the laudable ambition which, in
the case of a humble Scotch matron, is expressed in the wish and
exertion to see her Jamie or Geordie "wag his pow in the pou'pit,"
produces, when realized, salutary effects in the whole family
connection. These effects, which Mr. Froude would doubtless allow
and commend in their case, he finds it creditable to ignore the very
possibility of in the experience of people whose cuticle is not
white. It is, however, but bare justice to say that, as Negroes are
by no means deficient in self-love and the tenderness of natural
affection, such gratifying fulfilment of a family's hopes exerts an
elevating and, in many cases, an ennobling influence on every one
connected with the fortunate household. Nor, from the eminently
sympathetic nature of the African race, are the near friends of a
family [38] unbenefited in a similar way. This is true, and
distinctively human; but, naturally, no apologist of Negro
depreciation would admit the reasonableness of applying to the
affairs of Negroes the principles of common equity, or even of common
sense. To sum up practically our argument on this head, we shall
suppose West Indians to be called upon to imagine that the less
distinguished relations respectively of, say, the late Solicitor-
General of Trinidad and the present Chief Justice of Barbados could
be otherwise than legitimately elated at the conspicuous position won
by a member of their own household.

Mr. Froude further ventures to declare, in this connection, that the
children of educated coloured folk "will not marry among their own
people." Will he tell us, then, whom the daughters marry, or if they
ever do marry at all, since he asserts, with regard to West Indian
Whites, that "hardly any dowry can be large enough to tempt them to
make a wife of a black lady"? Our author evidently does not feel or
care that the suggestion he here induces is a hideous slander against
a large body of respectable people of whose affairs he is absolutely
ignorant. Full [39] of the "go" imparted to his talk by a
consciousness of absolute license with regard to Negroes, our
dignified narrator makes the parenthetical assertion that no white
girl (in the West Indies) will "marry a Negro." But has he been
informed that cases upon cases have occurred in those Colonies, and
in very high "Anglo-West Indian" families too, where the social
degradation of being married to Negroes has been avoided by the
alternative of forming base private connections even with menials of
that race?

The marrying of a black wife, on the other hand, by a West Indian
White was an event of frequent occurrence at a period in regard to
which our historian seems to be culpably uninformed. In slavery
days, when all planters, black and white alike, were fused in a
common solidarity of interests, the skin-distinction which Mr. Froude
so strenuously advocates, and would fain risk so much to promote, did
not, so far as matrimony was concerned, exist in the degree that it
now does. Self-interest often dictated such unions, especially on
the part of in-coming Whites desiring to strengthen their position
and to increase their influence in [40] the land of their adoption by
means of advantageous Creole marriages. Love, too, sheer
uncalculating love, impelled not a few Whites to enter the hymeneal
state with the dusky captivators of their affections. When rich, the
white planter not seldom paid for such gratification of his laudable
impulse by accepting exclusion from "Society"--and when poor, he
incurred almost invariably his dismissal from employment. Of course,
in all cases of the sort the dispensers of such penalties were
actuated by high motives which, nevertheless, did not stand in the
way of their meeting, in the households of the persons thus obnoxious
to punishment, the same or even a lower class of Ethiopic damsels,
under the title of "housekeeper," on whom they lavished a very
plethora of caresses. Perhaps it may be wrong so to hint it, but,
judging from indications in his own book, our author himself would
have been liable in those days to enthralment by the piquant charms
that proved irresistible to so many of his brother-Europeans. It is
almost superfluous to repeat that the skin-discriminating policy
induced as regards the coloured subjects of the Queen since the [41]
abolition of slavery did not, and could not, operate when coloured
and white stood on the same high level as slave-owners and ruling
potentates in the Colonies. Of course, when the administrative power
passed entirely into the hands of British officials, their colonial
compatriots coalesced with them, and found no loss in being in the
good books of the dominant personages.

In conclusion of our remarks upon the above extracts, it may be
stated that the blending of the races is not a burning question. "It
can keep," as Mr. Bright wittily said with regard to a subject of
similar urgency. Time and Nature might safely be left uninterfered
with to work out whatever social development of this kind is in store
for the world and its inhabitants.


[41] Our distinguished voyager visited many of the British West
Indies, landing first at Barbados, his social experience whereof is
set forth in a very agreeable account. Our immediate business,
however, is not with what West Indian hospitality, especially among
the well-to-do classes, can and does accomplish for [42] the
entertainment of visitors, and particularly visitors so eminent as
Mr. Froude. We are concerned with what Mr. Froude has to say
concerning our dusky brethren and sisters in those Colonies. We
have, thus, much pleasure in being able at the outset to extract the
following favourable verdict of his respecting them--premising, at
the same time, that the balcony from which Mr. Froude surveyed the
teeming multitude in Bridgetown was that of a grand hotel at which he
had, on invitation, partaken of the refreshing beverage mentioned in
the citation:--

"Cocktail over, and walking in the heat of the sun being a thing not
to be thought of, I sat for two hours in the balcony, watching the
people, who were as thick as bees in swarming time. Nine-tenths of
them were pure black. You rarely saw a white face, but still less
would you see a discontented one, imperturbable good humour and self-
satisfaction being written on the features of every one. The women
struck me especially. They were smartly dressed in white calico,
scrupulously clean, and tricked out with ribands and feathers; but
their figures were so good, and they carried themselves so [43] well
and gracefully, that although they might make themselves absurd, they
could not look vulgar. Like the Greek and Etruscan women, they are
trained from childhood to carry weights on their heads. They are
thus perfectly upright, and plant their feet firmly and naturally on
the ground. They might serve for sculptors' models, and are well
aware of it."

Regarding the other sex, Mr. Froude says:--

"The men were active enough, driving carts, wheeling barrows, and
selling flying-fish," &c.

He also speaks with candour of the entire absence of drunkenness and
quarrelling and the agreeable prevalence of good humour and light-
heartedness among them. Some critic might, on reading the above
extract from our author's account of the men, be tempted to ask--"But
what is the meaning of that little word 'enough' occurring therein?"
We should be disposed to hazard a suggestion that Mr. Froude, being
fair-minded and loyal to truth, as far as is compatible with his
sympathy for his hapless "Anglo-West Indians," could not give an
entirely ungrudging testimony in favour of the possible, nay
probable, voters by whose suffrages the supremacy of the Dark [44]
Parliament will be ensured, and the relapse into obeahism, devil-
worship, and children-eating be inaugurated. Nevertheless, Si sic
omnia dixisset--if he had said all things thus! Yes, if Mr. Froude
had, throughout his volume, spoken in this strain, his occasional
want of patience and fairness with regard to our male kindred might
have found condonation in his even more than chivalrous appreciation
of our womankind. But it has been otherwise. So we are forced to
try conclusions with him in the arena of his own selection--
unreflecting spokesman that he is of British colonialism, which, we
grieve to learn through Mr. Froude's pages, has, like the Bourbon
family, not only forgotten nothing, but, unfortunately for its own
peace, learnt nothing also.


[44] The following are the words in which our traveller embodies the
main motive and purpose of his voyage:--

"My own chief desire was to see the human inhabitants, to learn what
they were doing, how they were living, and what they were thinking
about. . . ."

[45] But, alas, with the mercurialism of temperament in which he has
thought proper to indulge when only Negroes and Europeans not of
"Anglo-West Indian" tendencies were concerned, he jauntily threw to
the winds all the scruples and cautious minuteness which were
essential to the proper execution of his project. At Barbados, as we
have seen, he satisfies himself with sitting aloft, at a balcony-
window, to contemplate the movements of the sable throng below, of
whose character, moral and political, he nevertheless professes to
have become a trustworthy delineator. From the above-quoted account
of his impressions of the external traits and deportment of the
Ethiopic folk thus superficially gazed at, our author passes on to an
analysis of their mental and moral idiosyncrasies, and other intimate
matters, which the very silence of the book as to his method of
ascertaining them is a sufficient proof that his knowledge in their
regard has not been acquired directly and at first hand. Nor need we
say that the generally adverse cast of his verdicts on what he had
been at no pains to study for himself points to the "hostileness" of
the witnesses whose [46] testimony alone has formed the basis of his
conclusions. Throughout Mr. Froude's tour in the British Colonies
his intercourse was exclusively with "Anglo-West Indians," whose
aversion to the Blacks he has himself, perhaps they would think
indiscreetly, placed on record. In no instance do we find that he
condescended to visit the abode of any Negro, whether it was the
mansion of a gentleman or the hut of a peasant of that race. The
whole tenor of the book indicates his rigid adherence to this one-
sided course, and suggests also that, as a traveller, Mr. Froude
considers maligning on hearsay to be just as convenient as reporting
facts elicited by personal investigation. Proceed we, however, to
strengthen our statement regarding his definitive abandonment, and
that without any apparent reason, of the plan he had professedly laid
down for himself at starting, and failing which no trustworthy data
could have been obtained concerning the character and disposition of
the people about whom he undertakes to thoroughly enlighten his
readers. Speaking of St. Vincent, where he arrived immediately after
leaving Barbados, our author says:--

[47] "I did not land, for the time was short, and as a beautiful
picture the island was best seen from the deck. The characteristics
of the people are the same in all the Antilles, and could be studied

Now, it is a fact, patent and notorious, that "the characteristics of
the people are" not "the same in all the Antilles." A man of Mr.
Froude's attainments, whose studies have made him familiar with
ethnological facts, must be aware that difference of local
surroundings and influences does, in the course of time, inevitably
create difference of characteristic and deportment. Hence there is
in nearly every Colony a marked dissimilarity of native qualities
amongst the Negro inhabitants, arising not only from the causes above
indicated, but largely also from the great diversity of their African
ancestry. We might as well be told that because the nations of
Europe are generally white and descended from Japhet, they could be
studied one by the light derived from acquaintance with another. We
venture to declare that, unless a common education from youth has
been shared by them, the Hamitic inhabitants of one island have very
little in common with [48] those of another, beyond the dusky skin
and woolly hair. In speech, character, and deportment, a coloured
native of Trinidad differs as much from one of Barbados as a North
American black does from either, in all the above respects.


[48] In Grenada, the next island he arrived at, our traveller's
procedure with regard to the inhabitants was very similar. There he
landed in the afternoon, drove three or four miles inland to dine at
the house of a "gentleman who was a passing resident," returned in
the dark to his ship, and started for Trinidad. In the course of
this journey back, however, as he sped along in the carriage, Mr.
Froude found opportunity to look into the people's houses along the
way, where, he tells us, he "could see and was astonished to observe
signs of comfort, and even signs of taste--armchairs, sofas, side-
boards with cut-glass upon them, engravings and coloured prints upon
the walls." As a result of this nocturnal examination, vol
d'oiseau, he has written paragraph upon paragraph about the people's
character [49] and prospects in the island of Grenada. To read the
patronizing terms in which our historian-traveller has seen fit to
comment on Grenada and its people, one would believe that his account
is of some half-civilized, out-of-the-way region under British sway,
and inhabited chiefly by a horde of semi-barbarian ignoramuses of
African descent. If the world had not by this time thoroughly
assessed the intrinsic value of Mr. Froude's utterances, one who
knows Grenada might have felt inclined to resent his causeless
depreciation of the intellectual capacity of its inhabitants; but
considering the estimate which has been pretty generally formed of
his historical judgment, Mr. Froude may be dismissed, as regards
Grenada and its people, with a certain degree of scepticism. Such
scepticism, though lost upon himself, is unquestionably needful to
protect his readers from the hallucination which the author's
singular contempt for accuracy is but too liable to induce.

Those who know Grenada and its affairs are perfectly familiar with
the fact that all of its chief intellectual business, whether
official (even in the highest degree, such as temporary [50]
administration of the government), legal, commercial, municipal,
educational, or journalistic, has been for years upon years carried
on by men of colour. And what, as a consequence of this fact, has
the world ever heard in disparagement of Grenada throughout this long
series of years? Assuredly not a syllable. On the contrary, she has
been the theme of praise, not only for the admirable foresight with
which she avoided the sugar crisis, so disastrous to her sister
islands, but also for the pluck and persistence shown in sustaining
herself through an agricultural emergency brought about by commercial
reverses, whereby the steady march of her sons in self-advancement
was only checked for a time, but never definitively arrested. In
fine, as regards every branch of civilized employment pursued there,
the good people of Grenada hold their own so well and worthily that
any show of patronage, even from a source more entitled to
confidence, would simply be a piece of obtrusive kindness, not
acceptable to any, seeing that it is required by none.


[53] Mr. Froude, crossing the ninety miles of the Caribbean Sea lying
between Grenada and Trinidad, lands next morning in Port of Spain,
the chief city of that "splendid colony," as Governor Irving, its
worst ruler, truly calls it in his farewell message to the
Legislature. Regarding Port of Spain in particular, Mr. Froude is
positively exuberant in the display of the peculiar qualities that
distinguish him, and which we have already admitted. Ecstatic praise
and groundless detraction go hand in hand, bewildering to any one not
possessed of the key to the mystery of the art of blowing hot and
cold, which Mr. Froude so startlingly exemplifies. As it is our
purpose to make what he says concerning this Colony the crucial test
of his veracity as a writer of travels, [54] and also of the value of
his judgments respecting men and things, we shall first invite the
reader's attention to the following extracts, with our discussion

"On landing we found ourselves in a large foreign-looking town, Port
of Spain having been built by French and Spaniards according to their
national tendencies, and especially with a view to the temperature,
which is that of a forcing house, and rarely falls below 80. The
streets are broad, and are planted with trees for shade, each house
where room permits having a garden of its own, with palms and mangoes
and coffee-plants and creepers. Of sanitary arrangements there
seemed to be none. There is abundance of rain, and the gutters which
run down by the footway are flushed almost every day. But they are
all open. Dirt of every kind lies about freely, to be washed into
them or left to putrify as fate shall direct" (p. 64).

Lower down, on the same page, our author, luxuriating in his contempt
for exactitude when the character of other folk only is at stake,
continues:--"The town has between thirty and forty thousand people
living in it, and the [55] rain and Johnny crows between them keep
off pestilence." On page 65 we have the following astounding
statement with respect to one of the trees in the garden in front of
the house in which Mr. Froude was sojourning:--"At the gate stood as
sentinel a cabbage palm a hundred feet high."

The above quotations, in which we have elected to be content
with indicating by typographical differences the points on which
attention should be mostly directed, will suffice, with any one
knowing Trinidad, as examples of Mr. Froude's trustworthiness. But
as these are only on matters of mere detail, involving no question of
principle, they are dismissed without any further comment. It must
not be so, however, with the following remarkable deliverances which
occur on page 67 of his too picturesque work:--"The commonplace
intrudes upon the imaginative. At moments one can fancy that the
world is an enchanted place after all, but then comes generally an
absurd awakening. On the first night of my arrival, before we went
to bed, there came an invitation to me to attend a political meeting
which was to be held in a few days on the Savannah.

[56] "Trinidad is a purely Crown colony, and has escaped hitherto the
introduction of the election virus. The newspapers and certain busy
gentlemen in Port of Spain had discovered that they were living under
a 'degrading tyranny,' and they demanded a constitution. They did
not complain that their affairs had been ill-managed. On the
contrary, they insisted that they were the most prosperous of the
West Indian colonies, and alone had a surplus in their treasury. If
this was so, it seemed to me that they had better let well alone.
The population, all told, was but 170,000, less by thirty thousand
than that of Barbados. They were a mixed and motley assemblage of
all races and colours, busy each with their own affairs, and never
hitherto troubling themselves about politics. But it had pleased the
Home Government to set up the beginning of a constitution again in
Jamaica; no one knew why, but so it was; and Trinidad did not choose
to be behindhand. The official appointments were valuable, and had
been hitherto given away by the Crown. The local popularities very
naturally wished to have them for themselves. This was the [57]
reality in the thing, so far as there was a reality. It was dressed
up in the phrases borrowed from the great English masters of the art,
about privileges of manhood, moral dignity, the elevating influence
of the suffrage, &c., intended for home consumption among the
believers in the orthodox radical faith."

The passages which we have signalized in the above quotation, and
which occur with more elaboration and heedless assurance on a later
page, will produce a feeling of wonder at the hardihood of him who
not only conceived, but penned and dared to publish them as well,
against the gentlemen whom we all know to be foremost in the
political agitation at which Mr. Froude so flippantly sneers. An
emphatic denial may be opposed to his pretence that "they did not
complain that their affairs had been ill-managed." Why, the very
gist and kernel of the whole agitation, set forth in print through
long years of iteration, has been the scandalous mismanagement of the
affairs of the Colony--especially under the baleful administration of
Governor Irving. The Augan Stable, miscalled by him "The Public
Works Department," and whose officials he coolly [58] fastened upon
the financial vitals of that long-suffering Colony, baffled even the
resolute will of a Des Voeux to cleanse it. Poor Sir Sanford
Freeling attempted the cleansing, but foundered ignominiously almost
as soon as he embarked on that Herculean enterprise. Sir A. E.
Havelock, who came after, must be mentioned by the historian of
Trinidad merely as an incarnate accident in the succession of
Governors to whom the destinies of that maltreated Colony have been
successively intrusted since the departure of Sir Arthur Hamilton
Gordon. The present Governor of Trinidad, Sir William Robinson, is a
man of spirit and intelligence, keenly alive to the grave
responsibilities resting on him as a ruler of men and moulder of
men's destinies. Has he, with all his energy, his public spirit and
indisputable devotion to the furtherance of the Colony's interests,
been able to grapple successfully with the giant evil? Has he
effectually gained the ear of our masters in Downing Street regarding
the inefficiency and wastefulness of Governor Irving's pet
department? We presume that his success has been but very partial,
for otherwise it is difficult to conceive the motive for [59]
retaining the army of officials radiating from that office, with the
chief under whose supervision so many architectural and other
scandals have for so long been the order of the day. The Public
Works Department is costly enough to have been a warning to the whole
of the West Indies. It is true that the lavish squandering of the
people's money by that department has been appreciably checked since
the advent of the present head of the Government. The papers no
longer team with accounts, nor is even the humblest aesthetic sense,
offended now, as formerly, with views of unsightly, useless and
flimsy erections, the cost of which, on an average, was five times
more than that of good and reputable structures.

This, however, has been entirely due to the personal influence of the
Governor. Sir William Robinson, not being the tool, as Sir Henry
Irving owned that he was, of the Director of Public Works, could not
be expected to be his accomplice or screener in the cynical waste of
the public funds. Here, then, is the personal rectitude of a ruler
operating as a safeguard to the people's interests; and we gladly
confess our entire agreement with [60] Mr. Froude on the subject of
the essential qualifications of a Crown Governor. Mr. Froude
contends, and we heartily coincide with him, that a ruler of high
training and noble purposes would, as the embodiment of the
administrative authority, be the very best provision for the
government of Colonies constituted as ours are. But he has also
pointed out, and that in no equivocal terms, that the above are far
from having been indispensable qualifications for the patronage of
Downing Street. He has shown that the Colonial Office is, more often
than otherwise, swayed in the appointment of Colonial Governors by
considerations among which the special fitness of the man appointed
holds but a secondary place. On this point we have much
gratification in giving Mr. Froude's own words (p. 91):--"Among the
public servants of Great Britain there are persons always to be found
fit and willing for posts of honour and difficulty if a sincere
effort be made to find them. Alas! in times past we have sent
persons to rule our Baratarias to whom Sancho Panza was a sage--
troublesome members of Parliament, younger brothers of powerful
families, impecunious peers; favourites, [61] with backstairs
influence, for whom a provision was to be found; colonial clerks bred
in the office who had been obsequious and useful!" Now then,
applying these facts to the political history of Trinidad, with which
we are more particularly concerned at present, what do we find? We
find that in the person of Sir A. H. Gordon (1867-1870) that Colony
at length chanced upon a ruler both competent and eager to advance
her interests, not only materially, but in the nobler respects that
give dignity to the existence of a community. Of course, he was
opposed--ably, strenuously, violently, virulently--but the metal of
which the man was composed was only fused into greater firmness by
being subjected to such fiery tests. On leaving Trinidad, this
eminent ruler left as legacies to the Colony he had loved and worked
for so heartily, laws that placed the persons and belongings of the
inhabitants beyond the reach of wanton aggression; the means by which
honest and laborious industry could, through agriculture, benefit
both itself and the general revenue. He also left an educational
system that opened (to even the humblest) a free pathway to
knowledge, to [62] distinction, and, if the objects of its
beneficence were worthy of the boon, to serviceableness to their
native country. Above all, he left peace among the jarring interests
which, under the badge of Englishman and of Creole, under the badge
of Catholic and under the badge of Protestant, and so many other
forms of sectional divergence, had too long distracted Trinidad.
This he had effected, not by constituting himself a partisan of
either section, but by inquiring with statesmanlike appreciation, and
allowing the legitimate claims of each to a certain scope of
influence in the furtherance of the Colony's welfare. Hence the
bitter rivalry of jarring interests was transformed into harmonious
co-operation on all sides, in advancing the common good of the common

The Colonial Office, knowing little and caring less about that noble
jewel in the British Crown, sent out as successor to so brilliant and
successful an administrator--whom? One Sir James Robert Longden, a
gentleman without initiative, without courage, and, above all, with a
slavish adherence to red-tape and a clerk-like dread of compromising
his berth. Having served for a long series of years in subordinate
posts in [63] minor dependencies, the habit of being impressed and
influenced by colonial magnates grew and gathered strength within
him. Such a ruler, of course, the serpents that had only been
"scotched, but not killed," by the stern procedures of Governor
Gordon, could wind round, beguile, and finally cause to fall.
Measure after measure of his predecessor which he could in any way
neutralize in the interests of the colonial clique, was rendered of
none effect. In fact, he was subservient to the wishes of those who
had all long objected to those measures, but had not dared even to
hint their objections to the beneficent autocrat who had willed and
given them effect for the general welfare. After Governor Longden
came Sir Henry Turner Irving, a personage who brought to Trinidad a
reputation for all the vulgar colonial prejudices which,
discreditable enough in ordinary folk, are, in the Governor of a
mixed community, nothing less than calamitous. More than amply did
he justify the evil reports with which rumour had heralded his
coming. Abler, more astute, more daring than Sir James Longden, who
was, on the whole, only a constitutionally timid man, Governor Irving
threw [64] himself heart and soul into the arms of the Sugar
Interest, by whom he had been helped into his high office, and whose
belief he evidently shared, that sugar-growers alone should be
possessors of the lands of the West Indies. It would be wearisome to
detail the methods by which every act of Sir Arthur Gordon's to
benefit the whole population was cynically and systematically undone
by this his native-hating successor. In short, the policy of
reaction which Sir James Longden began, found in Governor Irving not
only a consistent promoter, but, as it were, a sinister incarnation.
It is true that he could not, at the bidding and on the advice of his
planter-friends, shut up the Crown Lands of the Colony against
purchasers of limited means, because they happened to be mostly
natives of colour, but he could annul the provision by which every
Warden in the rural districts, on the receipt of the statutory fees,
had to supply a Government title on the spot to every one who
purchased any acreage of Crown Lands. Every intending purchaser,
therefore, whether living at Toco, Guayaguayare, Monos, or Icacos,
the four extreme points of the Island of Trinidad, was compelled to
go to Port of [65] Spain, forty or fifty miles distant, through an
almost roadless country, to compete at the Sub-Intendant's auction
sales, with every probability of being outbid in the end, and having
his long-deposited money returned to him after all his pains.
Lieutenant-Governor Des Voeux told the Legislature of Trinidad that
the monstrous Excise imposts of the Colony were an incentive to
smuggling, and he thought that the duties, licenses, &c., should be
lowered in the interest of good and equitable government. Sir Henry
Turner Irving, however, besides raising the duties on spirituous
liquors, also enacted that every distillery, however small, must pay
a salary to a Government official stationed within it to supervise
the manufacture of the spirits. This, of course, was the death-blow
to all the minor competition which had so long been disturbing the
peace of mind of the mighty possessors of the great distilleries.
Ahab was thus made glad with the vineyard of Naboth.

In the matter of official appointments, too, Governor Irving was
consistent in his ostentatious hostility to Creoles in general, and
to coloured Creoles in particular. Of the fifty-six appointments
which that model Governor [66] made in 1876, only seven happened to
be natives and coloured, out of a population in which the latter
element is so preponderant as to excite the fears of Mr. Froude. In
educational matters, though he could not with any show of sense or
decency re-enact the rule which excluded students of illegitimate
birth from the advantages of the Royal College, he could,
nevertheless, pander to the prejudices of himself and his friends by
raising the standard of proficiency while reducing the limit of the
age for free admission to that institution--boys of African descent
having shown an irrepressible persistency in carrying off prizes.

Every one acquainted with Trinidad politics knows very well the
ineffably low dodges and subterfuges under which the Arima Railway
was prevented from having its terminus in the centre of that town.
The public was promised a saving of Eight Thousand Pounds by their
high-minded Governor for a diversion of the line "by only a few
yards" from the originally projected terminus. In the end it was
found out not only that the terminus of the railway was nearly a
whole mile outside of the town of Arima, but also that Twenty [67]
Thousand Pounds "Miscellaneous" had to be paid up by the good folk of
Trinidad, in addition to gulping down their disappointment at saving
no Eight Thousand Pounds, and having to find by bitter experience,
especially in rainy weather, that their Governor's few yards were
just his characteristic way of putting down yards which he well knew
were to be counted by hundreds. Then, again, we have the so-called
San Fernando Waterworks, an abortion, a scandal for which there is no
excuse, as the head of the Public Works Department went his own way
despite the experience of those who knew better than he, and the
protests of those who would have had to pay. Seventeen Thousand
Pounds represent the amount of debt with which Governor Irving's pet
department has saddled the town of San Fernando for water, which half
the inhabitants cannot get, and which few of the half who do get it
dare venture to drink. Summa fastigia rerum secuti sumus. If in the
works that were so prominent before the public gaze these enormous
abuses could flourish, defiant of protest and opposition, what shall
we think of the nooks and corners of that same squandering
department, which of [68] course must have been mere gnats in the
eyes of a Governor who had swallowed so many monstrous camels! The
Governor was callous. Trinidad was a battening ground for his
friends; but she had in her bosom men who were her friends, and the
struggle began, constitutionally of course, which, under the
leadership of the Mayor of San Fernando, has continued up to now,
culminating at last in the Reform movement which Mr. Froude decries,
and which his pupil, Mr. S. H. Gatty, is, from what has appeared in
the Trinidad papers, doing his "level best" to render abortive.

Sir Sanford Freeling, by the will and pleasure of Downing Street, was
the next successor, after Governor Irving, to the chief ruler-ship of
Trinidad. Incredible as it may sound, he was a yet more
disadvantageous bargain for the Colony's 4000 a year. A better man
in many respects than his predecessor, he was in many more a much
worse Governor. The personal affability of a man can be known only
to those who come into actual contact with him--the public measures
of a ruler over a community touches it, mediately or immediately,
throughout all its sections. The bad boldness of [69] Governor
Irving achieved much that the people, especially in the outlying
districts, could see and appreciate. For example, he erected Rest-
houses all over the remoter and more sparsely peopled quarters of the
Colony, after the manner of such provisions in Oriental lands. The
population who came in contact with these conveniences, and to whom
access to them--for a consideration--had never been denied, saw with
their own eyes tangible evidence of the Governor's activity, and
inferred therefrom a solicitude on his part for the public welfare.
Had they, however, been given a notion of the bill which had had to
be paid for those frail, though welcome hostelries, they would have
stood aghast at the imbecility, or, if not logically that, the
something very much worse, through which five times the actual worth
of these buildings had been extracted from the Treasury. Sir Sanford
Freeling, on the other hand, while being no screener of jobbery and
peculation, had not the strength of mind whereof jobbers and
peculators do stand in dread. In evidence of that poor ruler's
infirmity of purpose, we would only cite the double fact that,
whereas in 1883 he was the first to enter a practical protest against
the housing [70] of the diseased and destitute in the then newly
finished, but most leaky, House of Refuge on the St. Clair Lands, by
having the poor saturated inmates carried off in his presence to the
Colonial Hospital, yet His Excellency was the very man who, in the
very next year, 1884, not only sanctioned the shooting down of Indian
immigrants at their festival, but actually directed the use of buck-
shot for that purpose! Evidently, if these two foregoing statements
are true, Mr. Froude must join us in thinking that a man whose mind
could be warped by external influences from the softest commiseration
for the sufferings of his kind, one year, into being the cold-blooded
deviser of the readiest method for slaughtering unarmed holiday-
makers, the very next year, is not the kind of ruler whom he and we
so cordially desiderate. We have already mentioned above how
ignominious Governor Freeling's failure was in attempting to meddle
with the colossal abuses of the Public Works Department.

Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock next had the privilege of enjoying the
paradisaic sojourn at Queen's House, St. Ann's, as well as the four
thousand pounds a year attached to the [71] right of occupying that
princely residence. Save as a dandy, however, and the harrier of
subordinate officials, the writer of the annals of Trinidad may well
pass him by. So then it may be seen what, by mere freaks of Chance--
the ruling deity at Downing Street--the administrative experience of
Trinidad had been from the departure of that true king in Israel,--
Sir Arthur Gordon, up to the visit of Mr. Froude. First, a slave to
red-tape, procrastination, and the caprices of pretentious
colonialists; next, a daring schemer, confident of the support of the
then dominant Sugar Interest, and regarding and treating the
resources of the Island as free booty for his friends, sycophants,
and favourites; then, an old woman, garbed in male attire, having an
infirmity of purpose only too prone to be blown about by every wind
of doctrine, alternating helplessly between tenderness and
truculence, the charity of a Fry and the tragic atrocity of Medea.
After this dismal ruler, Trinidad, by the grace of the Colonial
Office, was subjected to the manipulation of an unctuous dandy. This
successor of Gordon, of Elliot, and of Cairns, durst not oppose high-
placed official malfeasants, but [72] was inexorable with regard to
minor delinquents. In the above retrospect we have purposely omitted
mentioning such transient rulers as Mr. Rennie, Sir G. W. Des Voeux,
and last, but by no means least, Sir F. Barlee, a high-minded
Governor, whom death so suddenly and inscrutably snatched away from
the good work he had loyally begun. Every one of the above temporary
administrators was a right good man for a post in which brain power
and moral back-bone are essential qualifications. But the Fates so
willed it that Trinidad should never enjoy the permanent governance
of either. In view of the above facts; in view also of the lessons
taught the inhabitants of Trinidad so frequently, so cruelly, what
wonder is there that, failing of faith in a probability, which stands
one against four, of their getting another worthy ruler when Governor
Robinson shall have left them, they should seek to make hay while the
sun shines, by providing against the contingency of such Governors as
they know from bitter experience that Downing Street would place over
their destinies, should the considerations detailed by Mr. Froude or
any other equally [73] unworthy counsellor supervene? That the
leading minds of Trinidad should believe in an elective legislature
is a logical consequence of the teachings of the past, when the
Colony was under the manipulation of the sort of Governors above
mentioned as immediately succeeding Sir Arthur Gordon.

This brings us to the motives, the sordid motives, which Mr. Froude,
oblivious of the responsibility of his high literary status, has
permitted himself gratuitously, and we may add scandalously, to
impute to the heads of the Reform movement in Trinidad. It was
perfectly competent that our author should decline, as he did
decline, to have anything to do, even as a spectator, at a meeting
with the object of which he had no sympathy. But our opinion is
equally decided that Mr. Froude has transgressed the bounds of decent
political antagonism, nay, even of common sense, when he presumes to
state that it was not for any other object than the large salaries of
the Crown appointments, which they covet for themselves, that the
Reform leaders are contending. This is not criticism: it is slander.
To make culpatory statements against others, [74] without ability to
prove them, is, to say the least, hazardous; but to make accusations
to formulate which the accuser is forced, not only to ignore facts,
but actually to deny them, is, to our mind, nothing short of rank

Mr. Froude is not likely to impress the world (of the West Indies, at
any rate) with the transparently silly, if not intentionally
malicious, ravings which he has indulged in on the subject of
Trinidad and its politics. Here are some of the things which this
"champion of Anglo-West Indians" attempts to force down the throats
of his readers. He would have us believe that Mr. Francis Damian,
the Mayor of Port of Spain, and one of the wealthiest of the native
inhabitants of Trinidad, a man who has retired from an honourable and
lucrative legal practice, and devotes his time, his talents, and his
money to the service of his native country; that Mr. Robert Guppy,
the venerable and venerated Mayor of San Fernando, with his weight of
years and his sufficing competence, and with his long record of self-
denying services to the public; that Mr. George Goodwille, one of the
most successful merchants in the Colonies; that Mr. Conrad [75] F.
Stollmeyer, a gentleman retired, in the evening of his days, on his
well-earned ample means, are open to the above sordid accusation. In
short, that those and such-like individuals who, on account of their
private resources and mental capabilities, as well as the public
influence resulting therefrom, are, by the sheer logic of
circumstances, forced to be at the head of public movements, are
actuated by a craving for the few hundred pounds a year for which
there is such a scramble at Downing Street among the future official
grandees of the West Indies! But granting that this allegation of
Mr. Froude's was not as baseless as we have shown it to be, and that
the leaders of the Reform agitation were impelled by the desire which
our author seeks to discredit them with, what then? Have they who
have borne the heat and the burden of the day in making the Colonies
what they are no right to the enjoyment of the fruits of their
labours? The local knowledge, the confidence and respect of the
population, which such men enjoy, and can wield for good or evil in
the community, are these matters of small account in the efficient
government of the Colony? Our author, in [76] specifying the
immunities of his ideal Governor, who is also ours, recommends,
amongst other things, that His Excellency should be allowed to choose
his own advisers. By this Mr. Froude certainly does not mean that
the advisers so chosen must be all pure-blooded Englishmen who have
rushed from the destitution of home to batten on the cheaply obtained
flesh-pots of the Colonies.

At any rate, whatever political fate Mr. Froude may desire for the
Colonies in general, and for Trinidad in particular, it is
nevertheless unquestionable that he and the scheme that he may have
for our future governance, in this year of grace 1888, have both come
into view entirely out of season. The spirit of the times has
rendered impossible any further toleration of the arrogance which is
based on historical self-glorification. The gentlemen of Trinidad,
who are struggling for political enfranchisement, are not likely to
heed, except as a matter for indignant contempt, the obtrusion by our
author of his opinion that "they had best let well alone." On his
own showing, the persons appointed to supreme authority in the
Colonies are, more usually than not, entirely unfit for [77] holding
any responsible position whatever over their fellows. Now, can it be
doubted that less care, less scruple, less consideration, would be
exercised in the choice of the satellites appointed to revolve, in
these far-off latitudes, around the central luminaries? Have we not
found, are we not still finding every day, that the brain-dizziness--
Xenophon calls it kephalalgeia+--induced by sudden promotion has
transformed the abject suppliants at the Downing Street backstairs
into the arrogant defiers of the opinions, and violators of the
rights, of the populations whose subjection to the British Crown
alone could have rendered possible the elevation of such folk and
their impunity in malfeasance? The cup of loyal forbearance reached
the overflowing point since the trickstering days of Governor Irving,
and it is useless now to believe in the possibility of a return of
the leading minds of Trinidad to a tame acquiescence as regards the
probabilities of their government according to the Crown system. Mr.
Froude's own remarks point out definitely enough that a community so
governed is absolutely at the mercy, for good or for evil, of the man
who happens to be invested with [78] the supreme authority. He has
also shown that in our case that supreme authority is very often
disastrously entrusted. Yet has he nothing but sneers for the
efforts of those who strive to be emancipated from liability to such
subjection. Mr. Froude's deftly-worded sarcasms about "degrading
tyranny," "the dignity of manhood," &c., are powerless to alter the
facts. Crown Colony Government--denying, as it does to even the
wisest and most interested in a community cursed with it all
participation in the conduct of their own affairs, while investing
irresponsible and uninterested "birds of passage" (as our author
aptly describes them) with the right of making ducks and drakes of
the resources wrung from the inhabitants--is a degrading tyranny,
which the sneers of Mr. Froude cannot make otherwise. The dignity of
manhood, on the other hand, we are forced to admit, runs scanty
chance of recognition by any being, however masculine his name, who
could perpetrate such a literary and moral scandal as "The Bow of
Ulysses." Yet the dignity of manhood stands venerable there, and
whilst the world lasts shall gain for its possessors the right of
record on the roll of [79] those whom the worthy of the world delight
to honour.

All of a piece, as regards veracity and prudence, is the further
allegation of Mr. Froude's, to the effect that there was never any
agitation for Reform in Trinidad before that which he passes under
review. It is, however, a melancholy fact, which we are ashamed to
state, that Mr. Froude has written characteristically here also,
either through crass ignorance or through deliberate malice. Any
respectable, well-informed inhabitant of Trinidad, who happened not
to be an official "bird of passage," might, on our author's honest
inquiry, have informed him that Trinidad is the land of chronic
agitation for Reform. Mr. Froude might also have been informed that,
even forty-five years ago, that is in 1843, an elective constitution,
with all the electoral districts duly marked out, was formulated and
transmitted by the leading inhabitants of Trinidad to the then
Secretary of State for the Colonies. He might also have learnt that
on every occasion that any of the shady Governors, whom he has so
well depicted, manifested any excess of his undesirable qualities,
there has been a movement [80] among the educated people in behalf of
changing their country's political condition.

We close this part of our review by reiterating our conviction that,
come what will, the Crown Colony system, as at present managed, is
doomed. Britain may, in deference to the alleged wishes of her
impalpable "Anglo-West Indians"--whose existence rests on the
authority of Mr. Froude alone--deny to Trinidad and other Colonies
even the small modicum prayed for of autonomy, but in doing so the
Mother Country will have to sternly revise her present methods of
selecting and appointing Governors. As to the subordinate lot, they
will have to be worth their salt when there is at the head of the
Government a man who is truly deserving of his.


53. +It is not clear from the original text exactly where the brief
chapter "Trinidad" ends and where the longer one entitled "Reform in
Trinidad" begins. (The copy indicates that the "Trinidad" chapter
ends at page 54, but the relevant page contains no subheading.) I
have, therefore, chosen to fuse the two chapters since they form a
logical unit.

77. +Since there is little Greek in this work, I have simply
transliterated it.


[81] We come now to the ingenious and novel fashion in which Mr.
Froude carries out his investigations among the black population, and
to his dogmatic conclusions concerning them. He says:--

"In Trinidad, as everywhere else, my own chief desire was to see the
human inhabitants, to learn what they were doing, how they were
living, and what they were thinking about, and this could best be
done by drives about the town and neighbourhood."

"Drives about the town and neighbourhood," indeed! To learn and be
able to depict with faithful accuracy what people "were doing, how
they were living, and what they were thinking about"--all this being
best done (domestic circumstances, nay, soul-workings and all!)
through fleeting glimpses of shifting [82] panoramas of intelligent
human beings! What a bright notion! We have here the suggestion of
a capacity too superhuman to be accepted on trust, especially when,
as in this case, it is by implication self-arrogated. The modesty of
this thaumaturgic traveller in confining the execution of his
detailed scrutiny of a whole community to the moderate progression of
some conventional vehicle, drawn by some conventional quadruped or
the other, does injustice to powers which, if possessed at all, might
have compassed the same achievement in the swifter transit of an
express train, or, better still perhaps, from the empyrean elevation
of a balloon! Yet is Mr. Froude confident that data professed to be
thus collected would easily pass muster with the readers of his book!
A confidence of this kind is abnormal, and illustrates, we think most
fully, all the special characteristics of the man. With his passion
for repeating, our author tells us in continuation of a strange
rhapsody on Negro felicity:--

"Once more, the earth does not contain any peasantry so well off, so
well-cared for, so happy, so sleek and contented, as the sons [83]
and daughters of the emancipated slaves in the English West Indian


"Under the rule of England, in these islands, the two millions of
these brothers-in-law of ours are the most perfectly contented
specimens of the human race to be found upon the planet. . . . If
happiness be the satisfaction of every conscious desire, theirs is a
condition that admits of no improvement: were they independent, they
might quarrel among themselves, and the weaker become the bondsmen of
the stronger; under the beneficent despotism of the English
Government, which knows no difference of colour and permits no
oppression, they can sleep, lounge, and laugh away their lives as
they please, fearing no danger," &c.

Now, then, let us examine for a while this roseate picture of
Arcadian blissfulness said to be enjoyed by British West Indian
Negroes in general, and by the Negroes of Trinidad in particular.
"No distinction of colour" under the British rule, and, better
still, absolute protection of the weaker against the stronger! This
latter consummation especially, [84] Mr. Froude tells us, has been
happily secured "under the beneficent despotism" of the Crown Colony
system. However, let the above vague hyperboles be submitted to the
test of practical experience, and the abstract government analysed in
its concrete relations with the people.

Unquestionably the actual and direct interposition of the shielding
authority above referred to, between man and man, is the immediate
province of the MAGISTRACY. All other branches of the Government,
having in themselves no coercive power, must, from the supreme
executive downwards, in cases of irreconcilable clashing of
interests, have ultimate recourse to the magisterial jurisdiction.
Putting aside, then, whatever culpable remissness may have been
manifested by magistrates in favour of powerful malfeasants, we would
submit that the fact of stipendiary justices converting the
tremendous, far-reaching powers which they wield into an engine of
systematic oppression, ought to dim by many a shade the glowing
lustre of Mr. Froude's encomiums. Facts, authentic and notorious,
might be adduced in hundreds, especially with respect to [85] the
Port of Spain and San Fernando magistracies (both of which, since the
administration of Sir J. R. Longden, have been exclusively the prizes
of briefless English barristers*), to prove that these gentry, far
from being bulwarks to the weaker as against the stronger, have, in
their own persons, been the direst scourges that the poor,
particularly when coloured, have been afflicted by in aggravation of
the difficulties of their lot. Only typical examples can here be
given out of hundreds upon hundreds which might easily be cited and
proved against the incumbents of the abovementioned chief stipendiary
magistracies. One such example was a matter of everyday discussion
at the time of Mr. Froude's visit. The inhabitants were even backed
in their complaints by the Governor, who had, in response to their
cry of distress, forwarded their prayer [86] to the home authorities
for relief from the hard treatment which they alleged themselves to
be suffering at the hands of the then magistrate. Our allusion here
is to the chief town, Port of Spain, the magistracy of which embraces
also the surrounding districts, containing a total population of
between 60,000 and 70,000 souls. Mr. R. D. Mayne filled this
responsible office during the latter years of Sir J. R. Longden's
governorship. He was reputed, soon after his arrival, to have
announced from the bench that in every case he would take the word of
a constable in preference to the testimony of any one else. The
Barbadian rowdies who then formed the major part of the constabulary
of Trinidad, and whose bitter hatred of the older residents had been
not only plainly expressed, but often brutally exemplified, rejoiced
in the opportunity thus afforded for giving effect to their truculent
sentiments. At that time the bulk of the immigrants from Barbados
were habitual offenders whom the Government there had provided with a
free passage to wherever they elected to betake themselves. The more
intelligent of the men flocked to the Trinidad [87] police ranks,
into which they were admitted generally without much inquiry into
their antecedents. On this account they were shunned by the decent
inhabitants, a course which they repaid with savage animosity.
Perjuries the most atrocious and crushing, especially to the
respectable poor, became the order of the day. Hundreds of innocent
persons were committed to gaol and the infamy of convict servitude,
without the possibility of escape from, or even mitigation of, their
ignominious doom. A respectable woman (a native of Barbados, too,
who in the time of the first immigration of the better sort of her
compatriots had made Trinidad her home) was one of the first victims
of this iniquitous state of affairs.

The class of people to which she belonged was noted as orderly,
industrious and law-abiding, and, being so, it had identified itself
entirely with the natives of the land of its adoption. This fact
alone was sufficient to involve these immigrants in the same lot of
persecution which their newly arrived countrymen had organized and
were carrying out against the Trinidadians proper. It happened that,
on the occasion to which we wish particularly [88] to refer, the
woman in question was at home, engaged in her usual occupation of
ironing for her honest livelihood. Suddenly she heard a heavy blow
in the street before her door, and almost simultaneously a loud
scream, which, on looking hastily out, she perceived to be the cry of
a boy of some ten or twelve years of age, who had been violently
struck with the fist by another youth of larger size and evidently
his senior in age. The smaller fellow had laid fast hold of his
antagonist by the collar, and would not let go, despite the blows
which, to extricate himself and in retaliation of the puny buffets of
his youthful detainer, he "showered thick as wintry rain."

The woman, seeing the posture of affairs, shouted to the combatants
to desist, but to no purpose, rage and absorption in their wrathful
occupation having deafened both to all external sounds. Seized with
pity for the younger lad, who was getting so mercilessly the worst of
it, the woman, hastily throwing a shawl over her shoulders, sprang
into the street and rushed between the juvenile belligerents.
Dexterously extricating the hand of the little fellow from the collar
of his antagonist, she hurried the former [89] into her gateway,
shouting out to him at the same time to fasten the door on the
inside. This the little fellow did, and no doubt gladly, as this
surcease from actual conflict, short though it was, must have
afforded space for the natural instinct of self-preservation to
reassert itself. Hereupon the elder of the two lads, like a tiger
robbed of his prey, sprang furiously to the gate, and began to use
frantic efforts to force an entrance. Perceiving this, the woman
(who meanwhile had not been idle with earnest dissuasions and
remonstrances, which had all proved futile) pulled the irate
youngster back, and interposed her body between him and the gate,
warding him off with her hands every time that he rushed forward to
renew the assault. At length a Barbadian policeman hove in sight,
and was hastily beckoned to by the poor ironer, who, by this time,
had nearly come to the end of her strength. The uniformed "Bim" was
soon on the spot; but, without asking or waiting to hear the cause of
the disturbance, he shouted to the volunteer peacemaker, "I see you
are fighting: you are my prisoner!" Saying this, he clutched the
poor thunderstruck creature by the wrist, and there [90] and then set
about hurrying her off towards the police station. It happened,
however, that the whole affair had occurred in the sight of a
gentleman of well-known integrity. He, seated at a window
overlooking the street, had witnessed the whole squabble, from its
beginning in words to its culmination in blows; so, seeing that the
woman was most unjustly arrested, he went out and explained the
circumstances to the guardian of order. But to no purpose; the poor
creature was taken to the station, accompanied by the gentleman, who
most properly volunteered that neighbourly turn. There she was
charged with "obstructing the policeman in the lawful execution of
his duty." She was let out on bail, and next day appeared to answer
the charge.

Mr. Mayne, the magistrate, presided. The constable told his tale
without any material deviation from the truth, probably confident,
from previous experience, that his accusation was sufficient to
secure a conviction. On the defendant's behalf, the gentleman
referred to, who was well known to the magistrate himself, was
called, and he related the facts as we have above given them. Even
Mr. Mayne [91] could see no proof of the information, and this he
confessed in the following qualified judgment:--

"You are indeed very lucky, my good woman, that the constable has
failed to prove his case against you; otherwise you would have been
sent to hard labour, as the ordinance provides, without the option of
a fine. But as the case stands, you must pay a fine of 2"!!!

Comment on this worse than scandalous decision would be superfluous.

Another typical case, illustrative of the truth of Mr. Froude's boast
of the eminent fair play, nay, even the stout protection, that
Negroes, and generally, "the weaker," have been wont to receive from
British magistrates, may be related.

An honest, hard-working couple, living in one of the outlying
districts, cultivated a plot of ground, upon the produce of which
they depended for their livelihood. After a time these worthy folk,
on getting to their holding in the morning, used to find exasperating
evidence of the plunder overnight of their marketable provisions.
Determined to discover the depredator, they concealed themselves
[92] in the garden late one night, and awaited the result. By that
means they succeeded in capturing the thief, a female, who, not
suspecting their presence, had entered the garden, dug out some of
the provisions, and was about to make off with her booty. In spite
of desperate resistance, she was taken to the police station and
there duly charged with larceny. Meanwhile her son, on hearing of
his mother's incarceration, hastened to find her in her cell, and,
after briefly consulting with her, he decided on entering a
countercharge of assault and battery against both her captors.
Whether or not this bold proceeding was prompted by the knowledge
that the dispensing of justice in the magistrate's court was a mere
game of cross-purposes, a cynical disregard of common sense and
elementary equity, we cannot say; but the ultimate result fully
justified this abnormal hardihood of filial championship.

On the day of the trial, the magistrate heard the evidence on both
sides, the case of larceny having been gone into first. For her
defence, the accused confined herself to simple denials of the
allegations against her, at the [93] same time entertaining the court
with a lachrymose harangue about her rough treatment at the hands of
the accusing parties. Finally, the decision of the magistrate was:
that the prisoner be discharged, and the plundered goods restored to
her; and, as to the countercharge, that the husband and wife be
imprisoned, the former for three and the latter for two months, with
hard labour! When we add that there was, at that time, no Governor
or Chief Justice accessible to the poorer and less intelligent
classes, as is now the case (Sir Henry T. Irving and Sir Joseph
Needham having been respectively superseded by Sir William Robinson
and Sir John Gorrie), one can imagine what scope there was for
similar exhibitions of the protecting energy of British rule.

As we have already said, during Mr. Froude's sojourn in Trinidad the
"sleek, happy, and contented" people, whose condition "admitted of no
improvement," were yet groaning in bitter sorrow, nay, in absolute
despair, under the crushing weight of such magisterial decisions as
those which I have just recorded. Let me add two more [94] typical
cases which occurred during Mr. Mayne's tenure of office in the

L. B. was a member of one of those brawling sisterhoods that
frequently disturbed the peace of the town of Port of Spain. She had
a "pal" or intimate chum familiarly known as "Lady," who staunchly
stood by her in all the squabbles that occurred with their
adversaries. One particular night, the police were called to a
street in the east of the town, in consequence of an affray between
some women of the sort referred to. Arriving on the spot, they found
the fight already over, but a war of words was still proceeding among
the late combatants, of whom the aforesaid "Lady" was one of the most
conspicuous. A list was duly made out of the parties found so
engaged, and it included the name of L. B., who happened not to be
there, or even in Port of Spain at all, she having some days before
gone into the country to spend a little time with some relatives.
The inserting of her name was an inferential mistake on the part of
the police, arising from the presence of "Lady" at the brawl, she
being well known by them to be the inseparable ally of L. B. on such

[95] It was not unnatural that in the obscurity they should have
concluded that the latter was present with her altera ego, when in
reality she was not there.

The participants in the brawl were charged at the station, and
summonses, including one to L. B., were duly issued. On her return
to Port of Spain a day or two after the occurrence, the wrongly
incriminated woman received from the landlady her key, along with the
magisterial summons that had resulted from the error of the
constables. The day of the trial came on, and L. B. stood before Mr.
Mayne, strong in her innocence, and supported by the sworn testimony
of her landlady as well as of her uncle from the country, with whom
and with his family she had been uninterruptedly staying up to one or
two days after the occurrence in which she had been thus implicated.
The evidence of the old lady, who, like thousands of her advanced age
in the Colony, had never even once had occasion to be present in any
court of justice, was to the following effect: That the defendant,
who was a tenant of hers, had, on a certain morning (naming days
before the affray occurred), [96] come up to her door well dressed,
and followed by a porter carrying her luggage. L. B., she continued,
then handed her the key of the apartment, informing her at the same
time that she was going for some days into the country to her
relatives, for a change, and requesting also that the witness should
on no account deliver the key to any person who should ask for it
during her absence. This witness further deposed to receiving the
summons from the police, which she placed along with the key for
delivery to L. B. on the latter's return home.

The testimony of the uncle was also decisively corroborative of that
of the preceding witness, as to the absence from Port of Spain of L.
B. during the days embraced in the defence. The alibi was therefore
unquestionably made out, especially as none of the police witnesses
would venture to swear to having actually seen L. B. at the brawl.
The magistrate had no alternative but that of acquiescing in the
proof of her innocence; so he dismissed the charge against the
accused, who stood down from among the rest, radiant with
satisfaction. The other defendants were duly [97] convicted, and
sentenced to a term of imprisonment with hard labour. All this was
quite correct; but here comes matter for consideration with regard to
the immaculate dispensation of justice as vaunted so confidently by
Mr. Froude.

On receiving their sentence the women all stood down from the dock,
to be escorted to prison, except "Lady," who, by the way, had
preserved a rigid silence, while some of the other defendants had
voluntarily and, it may be added, generously protested that L. B.
was not present on the occasion of this particular row. "Lady,"
whether out of affection or from a less respectable motive, cried out
to the stipendiary justice. "But, sir, it ain't fair. How is it
every time that L. B. and me come up before you, you either fine or
send up the two of us together, and to-day you are sending me up
alone?" Moved either by the logic or the pathos of this objurgation,
the magistrate, turning towards L. B., who had lingered after her
narrow escape to watch the issue of the proceedings, thus addressed
her:--"L. B., upon second thoughts I order you to the same term of
hard labour at the Royal Gaol with the [98] others." The poor girl,
having neither money nor friends intelligent enough to interfere on
her behalf, had to submit, and she underwent the whole of this
iniquitous sentence.

The last typical case that we shall give illustrates the singular
application by this more than singular judge of the legal maxim
caveat emptor. A free coolie possessed of a donkey resolved to
utilize the animal in carting grass to the market. He therefore
called on another coolie living at some distance from him, whom he
knew to own two carts, a small donkey-cart and an ordinary cart for
mule or horse. He proposed the purchase of the smaller cart, stating
his reason for wishing to have it. The donkey-cart was then shown to
the intending purchaser, who, along with two Creole witnesses brought
by him to make out and attest the receipt on the occasion, found some
of the iron fittings defective, and drew the vendor's attention
thereto. He, on his side, engaged, on receiving the amount agreed to
for the cart, to send it off to the blacksmith for immediate repairs,
to be delivered to the purchaser next morning at the latest. On this
understanding the purchase money was paid down, and the [99] receipt,
specifying that the sum therein mentioned was for a donkey-cart,
passed from the vendor to the purchaser of the little vehicle. Next
day at about noon the man went with his donkey for the cart. Arrived
there, his countryman had the larger of the two carts brought out,
and in pretended innocence said to the purchaser of the donkey-cart,
"Here is your cart." On this a warm dispute arose, which was not
abated by the presence and protests of the two witnesses of the day
before, who had hastily been summoned by the victim to bear out his
contention that it was the donkey-cart and not the larger cart which
had been examined, bargained for, purchased, and promised to be
delivered, the day before.

The matter, on account of the sturdiness of the rascal's denials, had
to be referred to a court of law. The complainant engaged an able
solicitor, who laid the case before Mr. Mayne in all its transparent
simplicity and strength. The defendant, although he had, and as a
matter of fact could have, no means of invalidating the evidence of
the two witnesses, and above all of his receipt with his signature,
relied upon the fact that the cart which he [100] offered was much
larger than the one the complainant had actually bought, and that
therefore complainant would be the gainer by the transaction.
Incredible as it may sound, this view of the case commended itself to
the magistrate, who adopted it in giving his judgment against the
complainant. In vain did the solicitor protest that all the facts of
the case were centred in the desire and intention of the prosecutor
to have specifically a donkey-cart, which was abundantly proved by
everything that had come out in the proceedings. In vain also was
his endeavour to show that a man having only a donkey would be
hopelessly embarrassed by having a cart for it which was entirely
intended for animals of much larger size. The magistrate solemnly
reiterated his decision, and wound up by saying that the victim had
lost his case through disregard of the legal maxim caveat emptor--let
the purchaser be careful. The rascally defendant thus gained his
case, and left the court in defiant triumph.

The four preceding cases are thoroughly significant of the original
method in which thousands of cases were decided by this model
magistrate, to the great detriment, pecuniary, [101] social, and
moral, during more than ten years, of between 60,000 and 70,000 of
the population within the circle of his judicial authority. What
shall we think, therefore, of the fairness of Mr. Froude or his
informants, who, prompt and eager in imputing unworthy motives to
gentlemen with characters above reproach, have yet been so silent
with regard to the flagrant and frequent abuses of more than one of
their countrymen by whom the honour and fair fame of their nation
were for years draggled in the mire, and whose misdeeds were the
theme of every tongue and thousands of newspaper-articles in the West
Indian Colonies?


We now take San Fernando, the next most important magisterial
district after Port of Spain. At the time of Mr. Froude's visit, and
for some time before, the duties of the magistracy there were
discharged by Mr. Arthur Child, an "English barrister" who, of
course, had possessed the requisite qualification of being hopelessly
briefless. For the ideal justice which Mr. Froude would have Britons
believe is meted out to the weaker classes by their fellow-
countrymen [102] in the West Indies, we may refer the reader to the
conduct of the above-named functionary on the memorable occasion of
the slaughter of the coolies under Governor Freeling, in October,
1884. Mr. Child, as Stipendiary justice, had the duty of reading the
Riot Act to the immigrants, who were marching in procession to the
town of San Fernando, contrary, indeed, to the Government
proclamation which had forbidden it; and he it was who gave the order
to "fire," which resulted fatally to many of the unfortunate devotees
of Hosein. This mandate and its lethal consequences anticipated by
some minutes the similar but far more death-dealing action of the
Chief of Police, who was stationed at another post in the vicinity of
San Fernando. The day after the shooting down of a total of more
than one hundred immigrants, the protecting action of this magistrate
towards the weaker folk under his jurisdiction had a striking
exemplification, to which Mr. Froude is hereby made welcome. Of
course there was a general cry of horror throughout the Colony, and
especially in the San Fernando district, at the fatal outcome of the
proclamation, which had mentioned only "fine" and "imprisonment,"
[103] but not Death, as the penalty of disregarding its prohibitions.
For nearly forty years, namely from their very first arrival in the
Colony, the East Indian immigrants had, according to specific
agreement with the Government, invariably been allowed the privilege
of celebrating their annual feast of Hosein, by walking in procession
with their Pagodas through the public roads and streets of the
island, without prohibition or hindrance of any kind from the
authorities, save and except in cases where rival estate pagodas were
in danger of getting into collision on the question of precedence.
On such occasions the police, who always attended the processions,
usually gave the lead to the pagodas of the labourers of estates
according to their seniority as immigrants.

In no case up to 1884, after thirty odd years' inauguration in the
Colony, was the Hosein festival ever pretended to be any cause of
danger, actual or prospective, to any town or building. On the
contrary, business grew brisker and solidly improved at the approach
of the commemoration, owing to the very considerable sale of parti-
coloured paper, velvet, calico, and similar articles used in the
construction [104] of the pagodas. Governor Freeling, however, was,
it may be presumed, compelled to see danger in an institution which
had had nearly forty years' trial, without a single accident
happening to warrant any sudden interposition of the Government
tending to its suppression. At all events, the only action taken in
1884, in prospect of their usual festival, was to notify the
immigrants by proclamation, and, it is said, also through authorized
agents, that the details of their fte were not to be conducted in
the usual manner; and that their appearance with pagodas in any
public road or any town, without special license from some competent
local authority, would entail the penalty of so many pounds fine, or
imprisonment for so many months with hard labour. The immigrants, to
whom this unexpected change on the part of the authorities was
utterly incomprehensible, both petitioned and sent deputations to the
Governor, offering guarantees for the, if possible, more secure
celebration of the Hosein, and praying His Excellency to cancel the
prohibition as to the use of the roads, inasmuch as it interfered
with the essential part of their religious rite, which was the
"drowning," or casting into [105] the sea, of the pagodas. Having
utterly failed in their efforts with the Governor, the coolies
resolved to carry out their religious duty according to prescriptive
forms, accepting, at the same time, the responsibility in the way of
fine or imprisonment which they would thus inevitably incur. A
rumour was also current at the time that, pursuant to this
resolution, the head men of the various plantations had authorized a
general subscription amongst their countrymen, for meeting the
contingency of fines in the police courts. All these things were the
current talk of the population of San Fernando, in which town the
leading immigrants, free as well as indentured, had begun to raise
funds for this purpose.

All that the public, therefore, expected would have resulted from the
intended infringement of the Proclamation was an enormous influx of
money in the shape of fines into the Colonial Treasury; as no one
doubted the extreme facility which existed for ascertaining exactly,
in the case of persons registered and indentured to specific
plantations, the names and abodes of at least the chief offenders
against the proclamation. Accordingly, on the [106] occurrence of
the bloody catastrophe related above, every one felt that the mere
persistence in marching all unarmed towards the town, without
actually attempting to force their way into it, was exorbitantly
visited upon the coolies by a violent death or a life-long
mutilation. This sentiment few were at any pains to conceal; but as
the poorer and more ignorant classes can be handled with greater
impunity than those who are intelligent and have the means of self-
defence, Mr. Justice Child, the very day after the tragedy, and
without waiting for the pro form official inquiry into the tragedy
in which he bore so conspicuous a part, actually caused to be
arrested, sat to try and sent to hard labour, persons whom the
police, in obedience to his positive injunctions, had reported to him
as having condemned the shooting down of the immigrants! Those who
were arrested and thus summarily punished had, of course, no means of
self-protection; and as the case is typical of others, as
illustrative of "justice-made law" applied to "subject races" in a
British colony, Mr. Froude is free to accept it, or not, in
corroboration of his unqualified panegyrics.



As Stipendary Magistrate of this self-same San Fernando district,
Grove Humphrey Chapman, Esquire (another English barrister), was the
immediate predecessor of Mr. Child. More humane than Mr. Mayne, his
colleague and contemporary in Port of Spain, this young magistrate
began his career fairly well. But he speedily fell a victim to the
influences immediately surrounding him in his new position. His
head, which later events proved never to have been naturally strong,
began to be turned by the unaccustomed deference which he met with on
all hands, from high and low, official and non-official, and he
himself soon consummated the addling of his brain by persistent
practical revolts against every maxim of the ancient Nazarenes in the
matter of potations. His decisions at the court, therefore, became
perfect emulations of those of Mr. Mayne, as well in perversity as in
harshness, and many in his case also were the appeals for relief made
to the head of the executive by the inhabitants of the district--but
of course in vain. Governor Irving was at this time in office, and
the unfortunate [108] victims of perverse judgments--occasionally
pronounced by this magistrate in his cups--were only poor Negroes,
coolies, or other persons whose worldly circumstances placed them in
the category of the "weaker" in the community. To these classes of
people that excellent ruler unhappily denied--we dare not say his
personal sympathy, but--the official protection which, even through
self-respect, he might have perfunctorily accorded. Bent, however,
on running through the whole gamut of extravagance, Mr. Chapman--by
interpreting official impunity into implying a direct license for the
wildest of his caprices--plunged headlong with ever accelerating
speed, till the deliverance of the Naparimas became the welcome
consequence of his own personal action. On one occasion it was
credibly reported in the Colony that this infatuated dispenser of
British justice actually stretched his official complaisance so far
as to permit a lady not only to be seated near him on the judicial
bench, but also to take a part--loud, boisterous and abusive--in the
legal proceedings of the day. Meanwhile, as the Governor could not
be induced to interfere, things went [109] on from bad to worse, till
one day, as above hinted, the unfortunate magistrate so publicly
committed himself as to be obliged to be borne for temporary refuge
to the Lunatic Asylum, whence he was clandestinely shipped from the
Colony on "six months' leave of absence," never more to resume his
official station.

The removal of two such magistrates as those whose careers we have so
briefly sketched out--Mr. Mayne having died, still a magistrate,
since Mr. Froude's departure--has afforded opportunity for the
restoration of British protecting influence. In the person of Mr.
Llewellyn Lewis, as magistrate of Port of Spain, this opportunity has
been secured. He, it is generally rumoured, strives to justify the
expectations of fair play and even-handed justice which are generally
entertained concerning Englishmen. It is, however, certain that with
a Governor so prompt to hear the cry of the poor as Sir William
Robinson has proved himself to be, and with a Chief Justice so
vigilant, fearless, and painstaking as Sir John Gorrie, the entire
magistracy of the Colony must be so beneficially influenced as to
preclude [110] the frequency of appeals being made to the higher
courts, or it may be to the Executive, on account of scandalously
unjust and senseless decisions.

So long, too, as the names of T. S. Warner, Captain Larcom, and F. H.
Hamblin abide in the grateful remembrance of the entire population,
as ideally upright, just, and impartial dispensers of justice, each
in his own jurisdiction, we can only sigh at the temporal
dispensation which renders practicable the appointment and retention
in office of such administrators of the Law as were Mr. Mayne and Mr.
Chapman. The widespread and irreparable mischiefs wrought by these
men still affect disastrously many an unfortunate household; and the
execration by the weaker in the community of their memory,
particularly that of Robert Dawson Mayne, is only a fitting
retribution for their abuse of power.


85. *A West Indian official superstition professes to believe that a
British barrister must make an exceptionally good colonial S.J.P.,
seeing that he is ignorant of everything, save general English law,
that would qualify him for the post! In this, to acquit oneself
tolerably, some acquaintance with the language, customs, and habits
of thought of the population is everywhere else held to be of prime
importance,--native conscientiousness and honesty of purpose being
definitively presupposed.


[113] Never was the Knight of La Mancha more convinced of his
imaginary mission to redress the wrongs of the world than Mr. James
Anthony Froude seems to be of his ability to alter the course of
events, especially those bearing on the destinies of the Negro in the
British West Indies. The doctrinaire style of his utterances, his
sublime indifference as to what Negro opinion and feelings may be, on
account of his revelations, are uniquely charming. In that portion
of his book headed "Social Revolution" our author, with that mixture
of frankness and cynicism which is so dear to the soul of the British
esprit fort of to-day, has challenged a comparison between British
Colonial policy on the [114] one hand, and the Colonial policy of
France and Spain on the other. This he does with an evident
recklessness that his approval of Spain and France involves a
definite condemnation of his own country. However, let us hear

"The English West Indies, like other parts of the world, are going
through a silent revolution. Elsewhere the revolution, as we hope,
is a transition state, a new birth; a passing away of what is old and
worn out, that a fresh and healthier order may rise in its place. In
the West Indies the most sanguine of mortals will find it difficult
to entertain any such hope at all."

As Mr. Froude is speaking dogmatically here of his, or rather our,
West Indies, let us hear him as he proceeds:--

"We have been a ruling power there for two hundred and fifty years;
the whites whom we planted as our representatives are drifting into
ruin, and they regard England and England's policy as the principal
cause of it. The blacks whom, in a fit of virtuous benevolence, we
emancipated, do not feel particularly obliged to us. They think, if
they think at all, that they were [115] ill-treated originally, and
have received no more than was due to them."

Thus far. Now, as to "the whites whom we planted as our
representatives," and who, Mr. Froude avers, are drifting into ruin,
we confess to a total ignorance of their whereabouts in these islands
in this jubilee year of Negro Emancipation. Of the representatives
of Britain immediately before and after Emancipation we happen to
know something, which, on the testimony of Englishmen, Mr. Froude
will be made quite welcome to before our task is ended. With respect
to Mr. Froude's statement as to the ingratitude of the emancipated
Blacks, if it is aimed at the slaves who were actually set free, it
is utterly untrue; for no class of persons, in their humble and
artless way, are more attached to the Queen's majesty, whom they
regard as incarnating in her gracious person the benevolence which
Mr. Froude so jauntily scoffs at. But if our censor's remark under
this head is intended for the present generation of Blacks, it is a

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