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Indian colonies, such as Jamaica, Barbados, and British Guiana. As this was a conquered colony, the people of the island are not allowed to have so potent a voice in their own management. They have no House of Commons or Legislative Assembly, but take such rules or laws as may be necessary for their guidance direct from the Crown. The Governor, however, is assisted by a council, in which sit the chief executive officers in the island. That the fact of the colony having been conquered need preclude it from the benefit (?) of self-government, one does not clearly see. But one does see clearly enough, that as they are French in language and habits, and Roman Catholic in religion, they would make even a worse hash of it than the Jamaicans do in Jamaica.
And it is devoutly to be hoped, for the island's sake, that it may be long before it is endowed with a consitution. It would be impossible now-a-days to commence a legislature in the system of electing which all but white men should be excluded from voting. Nor would there be white men enough to carry on an election. And may Providence defend my friends there from such an assembly as would be returned by French negroes and hybrid mulattos !
A scientific survey has just been completed of this island, with reference to its mineral productions, and the result has been to show that it contains a very large quantity of coal.
I was fortunate enough to meet one of the gentlemen by whom this was done, and he was kind enough to put into my hand a paper showing the exact result of their investigation. But, unfortunately, the paper was so learned, and I was so ignorant, that I could not understand one word of it. The whole matter also was explained to me verbally, but not in
So I am
language adapted to my child-like simplicity. not able to say whether the coal be good or badwhether it would make a nice, hot, crackling, Christmas fire, or fly away in slaty flakes and dirty dust.
It is a pity that science cannot be made recognize the depth of unscientific ignorance.
There is also here in Trinidad a great pitch lake, of which all the world has heard, and out of which that indefatigable old hero, Lord Dundonald, tried hard to make wax candles and oil for burning. The oil and candles, indeed, he did make, but not, I fear, the money which should have been consequent upon their fabrication. I have no doubt, however, that in time we shall all have our wax candles from thence ; for Lord Dundonald is one of those men who are born to do great deeds, of which others shall reap the advantages.
One of these days his name will be duly honored, for his conquests as well as for his candles.
And so I speedily took my departure, and threaded my way back again though the Bocas, in that the most horrid of all steam-vessels, the Prince.'
All persons travelling in the West Indies have so much to do with the island of St. Thomas, that I must devote a short chapter to it. My circumstances with reference to it were such that I was compelled to remain there a longer time, putting all my visits together, than in any other of the islands except Jamaica.
The place belongs to the Danes, who possess also the larger and much more valuable island of Santa Cruz, as they do also the small island of St. Martin. These all lie among the Virgin Islands, and are considered as belonging to that thick cluster. As St. Thomas at present exists, it is of considerable importance. It is an emporium, not only for many of the islands, but for many also of the places on the coast of South and Central America. Guiana, Venezuela, and New Grenada, deal there largely. It is a depôt for cigars, light dresses, brandy, boots, and Eau de Cologne. Many men therefore of many nations go thither to make money, and they do make it. These are men, generally not of the tenderest class, or who have probably been nursed in much early refinement. Few men will select St. Thomas as a place of residence from mere unbiassed choice and love of the locale. A wine merchant in London, doing a good trade there, would hardly give up that business with the object of personally opening an establishment in this island : nor would a well-to-do milliner leave Paris with the same object. Men who settle at St. Thomas have most probably roughed it elsewhere unsuccessfully.
These St. Thomas tradesmen do make money I believe, and it is certainly due to them that they should do so. Things ought not, if possible, to be all bad with any man; and I cannot imagine what good can accrue to a man at St. Thomas if it be not the good of amassing money. It is one of the hottest and one of the most unhealthy spots among all these hot and unhealthy regions. I do not know whether I should not be justified in saying that of all such spots it is the most hot and the most unhealthy.
I have said in a previous chapter that the people one meets there may be described as an Hispano-Dano-Niggery-Yankee-doodle population. In this I referred not only to the settlers, but to those also who are constantly passing through it. In the shops and stores, and at the hotels, one meets the same mixture. The Spanish element is of course strong, for Venezuela, New Grenada, Central America, and Mexico are all Spanish, as also is Cuba. The people of these lands speak Spanish, and hereabouts are called Spaniards. To the Danes the island belongs. The soldiers, officials, and custom-house people are Danes. They do not, however, mix much with their customers. They affect, I believe, to say that the island is overrun and destroyed by these strange comers, and that they would as lief be without such visitors. If they are altogether indifferent to money making, such may be the case.
The laboring people are all black-if these blacks can be called a laboring people. They do coal the vessels at about a dollar a day each—that is, when they are so circumstanced as to require a dollar. As to the American element, that is by no means the slightest or most retiring. Dollars are going there, and therefore it is of course natural that Americans should be going also. I saw the other day a map, “ The United States as they now are, and in prospective;" and it included all these
places_Mexico, Central America, Cuba, St. Domingo, and even poor Jamaica. It may be that the man who made the map understood the destiny of his country; at any rate, he understood the tastes of his countrymen.
All these people are assembled together at St. Thomas, because St. Thomas is the meeting-place and central depôt of the West Indian steam-packets. That reason can be given 'easily enough; but why St. Thomas should be the meeting-place of these packets, I do not know who can give me the reason for that arrangement. Tortola and Virgin Gorda, two of the Virgin islands, both belong to ourselves, and are situated equally well for the required purpose as is St. Thomas. I am told also, that at any rate one, probably at both, good harbor accommodation is to be found. It is certain that in other respects they are preferable. They are not unhealthy, as is St. Thomas; and, as I have said above, they belong to ourselves. My own opinion is that Jamaica should be the head-quarters of these packets; but the question is one which will not probably be interesting to the reader of these pages.
"They cannot understand at home why we dislike the inter-colonial work so much,” said the captain of one of the steam-ships to me. By inter-colonial work he meant the different branch services from St. Thomas. “They do not comprehend at home what it is for a man to be burying one young officer after another; to have them sent out, and then to see them mown down in that accursed hole of a harbor by yellow fever. Such a work is not a very pleasant one."
Indeed this was true. The life cannot be a very pleasant one.
These captains themselves and their senior officers are doubtless acclimated. The yellow fever may reach them, but their chance of escape is tolerably good; but the young lads who join the service, and who do so at