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PORT OF SPAIN.
No scenery can be more picturesque than that afforded by the entrance to Port of Spain, the chief town in the island of Trinidad. Trinidad, as all men doubtless know, is the southernmost of the West Indian islands, and lies across the delta of the Orinoco river.
The western portion of the island is so placed that it nearly reaches with two horns two different parts of the mainland of Venezuela, one of the South American republics. And thus a bay is formed closed between the island and the main. land, somewhat as is the Gulf of Mexico by the island of Cuba; only that the proportions here are much less in size. This enclosed sea is called the Gulf of Paria.
The two chief towns, I believe I may say the two only towns in Trinidad are situated in this bay. That which is the larger, and the seat of government, is called the Port of Spain, and lies near to the northern horn. San Fernando, the other, which is surrounded by the finest sugar districts of the island, and which therefore devotes its best energies to the export of that article, is on the other side of the bay and near the other horn.
The passages into the enclosed sea on either side are called the Bocas, or mouths. Those nearest to the delta of the Orinoco are the Serpent's mouths. The ordinary approach from England or the other islands is by the more northern entrance. Here there are three passages, of which the middle is the largest one, the Boca Grande. That between the mainland and a small
island is used by the steamers in fine weather, and is by far the prettiest. Through this, the Boca di Mona, or monkey's mouth, we approached Port of Spain. These northern entrances are called the Dragon's mouths. What may be the nautical difference between the mouth of a dragon and that of a serpent I did not learn.
On the mainland, that is the land of the main island, the coast is precipitous, but clothed to the very top with the thickest and most magnificent foliage. With an opera-glass one can distinctly see the trees coming forth from the sides of the rocks as though no soil were necessary for them, and not even a shelf of stone needed for their support. And these are not shrubs, but forest trees, with grand spreading branches, huge trunks, and brilliant colored foliage. The small island on the other side is almost equally wooded, but is less precipitous. Here, however, there are open glades, and grassy enclosures, which tempt one to wish that it was one's lot to lie there in the green shade and eat bananas and mangoes. This little island in the good old days, regretted by not a few, when planters were planters, and slaves were slaves, produced cotton up to its very hill-tops. Now I believe it yields nothing but the grass for a few cattle.
Our steamer as she got well into the boca drew near to the shore of the large island, and as we passed along we had a succession of lovely scenes. Soft-green smiling nooks made themselves visible below the rocks, the
very spots for pic-nics. One could not but long to be there with straw hats and crinoline, pigeon pies and champagne baskets. There was one narrow shady valley, into which a creek of the sea ran up, that must have been made for such purposes, either for that, or for the less noisy joys of some Paul of Trinidad with his Creole Virginia.
As we steamed on a little further we came to a whaling
establishment. Ideas of whaling establishments naturally connect themselves with ice-bergs and the North Pole. But it seems that there are races of whales as there are of men, proper to the tropics as well as to the poles; and some of the former here render up their oily tributes. From the look of the place, I should not say that the trade was flourishing. The whaling huts are very picturesque, but do not say much for the commercial enterprise of the proprietors.
From them we went on through many smaller islands to Port of Spain. This is a large town, excellently well laid out, with the streets running all at right angles to each other, as is now so common in new towns. The spaces have been prepared for a much larger population than that now existing, so that it is at present straggling, unfilled, and full of gaps. But the time will come, and that before long, when it will be the best town in the British West Indies. There is at present at Port of Spain a degree of commercial enterprise quite unlike the sleepiness of Jamaica or the apathy of the smaller islands.
I have now before me at the present moment of writing a debate which took place in the House of Commons the other day—it is only the other day as I now write-on a motion made by Mr. Buxton for a committee to inquire into the British West Indies; and though somewhat afraid of being tedious on the subject of immigration to these parts, I will say a few words as to this motion in as far as it effects not only Trinidad, but all those colonies. Of all subjects this is the one that is of real importance to the West Indies; and it may be expected that the sugar colonies will or will not prosper, as that subject is or is not understood by its rulers.
I think I may assume that the intended purport of Mr.
IMMIGRATION OF COOLIES.
Buxton's motion was to throw impediments in the way the immigration of Coolies into Jamaica; and that in making it he was acting as the parliamentary mouth-piece of the Anti-Slavery Society. The legislature of Jamaica has at length passed a law with the object of promoting this immigration, as it has been promoted at the Mauritius, and in a lesser degree in British Guiana and Trinidad; but the Anti-Slavery Society have wished to induce the Crown to use its authority and abstain fron sanctioning this law, urging that it will be injurious to the interests of the negro
laborers. The “peculiar institution" of slavery is, I imagine, quite as little likely to find friends in England now as it was when the question of its abolition was so hotly pressed some thirty years since. And God forbid that I should use either the strength or the weakness of my pen in
saying a word in favor of a system so abhorrent to the feelings of a Christian Englishman. But may we not say that that giant has been killed ? Is it not the case that the Anti-Slavery Society has done its work ?-has done its work at any rate as regards the British West Indies ? What should we have said of the Anti-Corn-Law League, had it chosen to sit in permanence after the repeal of the obnoxious tax, with the view of regulating the fixed price of bread ?
Such is the attempt now being made by the AntiSlavery Society with reference to the West Indian negroes.
If any men are free, these men are so. They have been left without the slightest constraint or bond over them. In the sense in which they are free, no English laborer is free. In England a man cannot select whether he will work or whether he will let it alone. He, the poor Englishman, has that freedom which God seems to have intended as good for man; but work he
must. If he do not do so willingly, compulsion is in some sort brought to bear upon him. He is not free to be idle; and I presume that no English philanthropists will go so far as to wish to endow him with that freedom.
But that is the freedom which the negro has in Jamaica, which he still has in many parts of Trinidad, and which the Anti-Slavery Society is so anxious to procure for him. It-but no; I will give the Society no monopoly of such honor. We, we Englishmen have made our negroes free. If by further efforts we can do anything towards making other black men free-if we can assist in driving slavery from the earth, in God's name let us still be doing. Here may be scope enough for an Anti-Slavery Society. But I maintain that these men are going beyond their markthat they are minding other than their own business, in attempting to interfere with the labor of the West Indian colonies. Gentlemen in the West Indies see at once that the Society is discussing matters which it has not studied, and that interests of the utmost importance to them are being played with in the dark.
Mr. Buxton grounded his motion on these two pleas :Firstly, that the distress of the West Indian planters had been brought about by their own apathy and indiscretion. And secondly, That that distress was in course of relief, would quickly be relieved, without any further special measures for its mitigation. I think that he was substantially wrong in both these allegations.
That there were apathetic and indiscreet plantersthat there were absentees whose property was not sufficient to entitle them to the luxury of living away from it, may doubtless have been true. But the tremendous distress which came on these colonies fell on them in too sure a manner, with too sudden a blow, to leave any
doubt as to its cause. Slavery was first abolished, and the pro