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Here, There and Everywhere By Lord Frederic Hamilton Characters: 44325

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


The glamour of the West Indies-Captain Marryat and Michael Scott-Deadly climate of the islands in the eighteenth century-The West Indian planters-Difference between East and West Indies-"Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die"-Training-school for British Navy-A fruitless voyage-Quarantine-Distant view of Barbados-Father Labat-The last of the Emperors of Byzantium-Delightful little Lady Nugent and her diary of 1802-Her impressions of Jamaica-Wealthy planters-Their hideous gormandising-A simple morning meal-An aldermanic dinner-How the little Nugents were gorged-Haiti-Attempts of General Le Clerc to secure British intervention in Haiti-Presents to Lady Nugent-Her Paris dresses described-Our arrival in Jamaica-Its marvellous beauty-The bewildered Guardsman-Little trace of Spain left in Jamaica-The Spaniards as builders-British and Spanish Colonial methods contrasted.

Since the earliest days of my boyhood, the West Indies have exercised a quite irresistible fascination over me. This was probably due to my having read and re-read Peter Simple and Tom Cringle's Log over and over again, until I knew them almost by heart; indeed I will confess that even at the present day the glamour of these books is almost as strong as it used to be, and that hardly a year passes without my thumbing once again their familiar pages. Both Captain Marryat and Michael Scott knew their West Indies well, for Marryat had served on the station in either 1813 or 1814, and Michael Scott lived for sixteen years in Jamaica, from 1806 to 1822, at first as manager of a sugar estate, and then as a merchant in Kingston. Marryat and Scott were practically contemporaries, though the former was the younger by three years, being born in 1792. I am told that now-a-days boys care for neither of these books; if so, the loss is theirs. What attracted me in these authors' West Indian pictures was the fact that here was a community of British-born people living a reckless, rollicking, Charles Lever-like sort of life in a most deadly climate, thousands of miles from home, apparently equally indifferent to earthquakes, hurricanes, or yellow fever, for at the beginning of the twentieth century no one who has not read the Colonial records, or visited West Indian churches, can form the faintest idea of the awful ravages of yellow fever, nor of the vast amount of victims this appalling scourge claimed. Now, improved sanitation and the knowledge that the yellow death is carried by the Stegomyia mosquito, with the precautionary methods suggested by that knowledge, have almost entirely eliminated yellow fever from the West India islands; but in Marryat and Scott's time to be ordered to the West Indies was looked upon as equivalent to a death sentence. Yet every writer enlarges upon the exquisite beauty of these green, sun- kissed islands, and regrets bitterly that so enchanting an earthly paradise should be the very ante-room of death.

In spite of the unhealthy climate, in the days when King Sugar reigned undisputed, the owners of sugar estates, attracted by the enormous fortunes then to be made, and fully alive to the fact that in the case of absentee proprietors profits tended to go everywhere except into the owners' pockets, deliberately braved the climate, settled down for life (usually a brief one) in either Jamaica or Barbados, built themselves sumptuous houses, stocked with silver plate and rare wines, and held high and continual revel until such time as Yellow Jack should claim them. In the East Indies the soldiers and Civil Servants of "John Company," and the merchant community, "shook the pagoda tree" until they had accumulated sufficient fortunes on which to retire, when they returned to England with yellow faces and torpid livers, grumbling like Jos Sedley to the ends of their lives about the cold, and the carelessness of English cooks in preparing curries, and harbouring unending regrets for the flesh-pots and comforts of life in Boggley Wollah, which in retrospect no doubt appeared more attractive than they had done in reality. The West Indian, on the other hand, settled down permanently with his wife and family in the island of his choice. Barbados and Jamaica are the only two tropical countries under the British flag where there was a resident white gentry born and bred in the country, with country places handed down from father to son. In these two islands not one word of any language but English was ever to be heard from either black or white. The English parochial system had been transplanted bodily, and successfully, with guardians and overseers complete; in a word, they were colonies in the strictest sense of the word; transplanted portions of the motherland, with most of its institutions, dumped down into the Caribbean Sea, but blighted until 1834 by the curse of negro slavery. It was this overseas England, set amidst the most enchanting tropical scenery and vegetation, that I was so anxious to see. Michael Scott, both in Tom Cringle and The Cruise of the Midge, gave the most alluring pictures of Creole society (a Creole does not mean a coloured person; any one born in the West Indies of pure white parents is a Creole); they certainly seemed to get drunk more than was necessary, yet the impression left on one's mind was not unlike that produced by the purely fictitious Ireland of Charles Lever's novels: one continual round of junketing, feasting, and practical jokes; and what gave the pictures additional piquancy was the knowledge that death was all the while peeping round the corner, and that Yellow Jack might at any moment touch one of these light-hearted revellers with his burning finger-tips.

Lady Nugent, wife of Sir George Nugent, Governor of Jamaica from 1801 to 1806, kept a voluminous diary during her stay in the island, and most excellent reading it makes. She was thus rather anterior in date to Michael Scott, but their descriptions tally very closely. I shall have a good deal to say about Lady Nugent.

The West Indies make an appeal of a different nature to all Britons. They were the training-ground and school of all the great British Admirals from Drake to Nelson. Benbow died of his wounds at Port Royal in Jamaica, and was buried in Kingston Parish Church in 1702, whilst Rodney's memory is still so cherished by West Indians, white and coloured alike, that serious riots broke out when his statue was removed from Spanish Town to Kingston, and his effigy had eventually to be placed in the memorial temple which grateful Spanish Town erected to commemorate his great victory over de Grasse off Dominica on April 12, 1782, as the result of which the Lesser Antilles remained British instead of French. For all these reasons I had experienced, since the age of thirteen, an intense longing to see these lovely islands with all their historic associations.

In 1884 I travelled from Buenos Ayres to Canada in a tramp steamer simply and solely because she was advertised to call at Barbados and Jamaica. Never shall I forget my first night in that tramp. I soon became conscious of uninvited guests in my bunk, so, striking a light (strictly against rules in the ships of those days), I discovered regiments and army corps of noisome, crawling vermin marching in serried ranks into my bunk under the impression that it was their parade ground. For the remainder of the voyage I slept on the saloon table, a hard but cleanly couch. We lay for a week at Rio de Janeiro loading coffee, and we touched at Bahia and at Pernambuco. At this latter place as at Rio an epidemic of yellow fever was raging, so we had not got a clean bill-of-health. As the blunt-nosed tramp pushed her leisurely way northward through the oily ultra-marine expanse of tropical seas, I thought longingly of the green island for which we were heading. We reached Carlisle Bay, Barbados, at daybreak on a glorious June morning, and waited impatiently in the roadstead (there is no harbour in Barbados) for the liberating visit of the medical officer from the shore. He arrived, gave one glance at our bill-of-health, and sternly refused pratique, so the hateful yellow flag remained fluttering at the fore in the Trade wind, announcing to all and sundry that we were cut off from all communication with the shore. Never was there a more aggravating situation! Barbados, all emerald green after the rainy season, looked deliciously enticing from the ship. The "flamboyant" trees, Ponciana Regia, were in full bloom, making great patches of vivid scarlet round the Savannah. The houses and villas peeping out of luxuriant tangles of tropical vegetation had a delightfully home-like look to eyes accustomed for two years to South American surroundings. Seen through a glass from the ship's deck, the Public Buildings in Trafalgar Square, solid and substantial, had all the unimaginative neatness of any prosaic provincial townhall at home. We were clearly no longer in a Latin-American country. It was really a piece of England translated to the Caribbean Sea, and we few passengers, some of whom had not seen England for many weary years, were forbidden to set foot on this outpost of home. It was most exasperating; for never did any island look more inviting, and surely such dazzling white houses, such glowing red roofs, such vivid greenery, and so absurdly blue a sea, had never been seen in conjunction before. Barbados is almost exactly the size of the Isle of Wight, but in spite of its restricted area, all the Barbadians, both white and coloured, have the most exalted opinion of their island, which in those days they lovingly termed "Bimshire," white Barbadians being then known as "Bims." Students of Marryat will remember how Mr. Apollo Johnson, at Miss Betty Austin's coloured "Dignity ball," declared that "All de world fight against England, but England nebber fear; King George nebber fear while Barbados 'tand 'tiff," and something of that sentiment persists still to-day. As a youngster I used to laugh till I cried at the rebuff administered to Peter Simple by Miss Minerva at the same "Dignity ball." Peter was carving a turkey, and asked his swarthy partner whether he might send her a slice of the breast. Shocked at such coarseness, the dusky but delicate damsel simpered demurely, "Sar, I take a lily piece turkey bosom, if you please." Dignity balls are still held in Barbados; they are rather trying to one of the senses. In the "eighties" it was a point of honour amongst "Bims" to wear on all and every occasion a high black silk hat. During our enforced quarantine we saw a number of white Bims sailing little yachts about the roadstead, every single man of them crowned with a high silk hat, about the most uncomfortable head-gear imaginable for sailing in. Another agreeable home-touch was to hear the negro boatmen all talking to each other in English. Their speech may not have been melodious, but it fell pleasantly enough on ears accustomed for so long to hear nothing but Spanish. From my intimate acquaintance with Marryat, even the jargon of the negro boatmen struck me with a delightful sense of familiarity, as did the very place-names, Needham Point and Carlisle Bay. I was fated not to see Barbados again for twenty-two years.

In the early part of the eighteenth century a French missionary, one Father Labat, visited Barbados and gave the most glowing account of it to his countrymen. According to him the island was brimful of wealth, and the jewellers' and silversmiths' shops in Bridgetown rivalled those of Paris. I should be inclined to question Father Labat's strict veracity. This worthy priest declared that the planters lived in sumptuous houses, superbly furnished, that their dinners lasted four hours, and their tables were crowded with gold and silver plate. The statement as to the length of the planters' dinners is probably an accurate one, for I myself have been the recipient of Barbadian hospitality, and had never before even imagined such an endless procession of fish, flesh, and fowl, not to mention turtle, land-crabs, and pepper-pot. West Indian negresses seem to have a natural gift for cooking, though their cuisine is a very highly spiced and full-flavoured one.

Father Labat's motive in drawing so glorified a picture of Barbados peeps out at the end of his account, for he drily remarks that the fortifications of the island were most inadequate, and that it could easily be captured by the French; he was clearly making an appeal to his countrymen's cupidity.

Upon making the acquaintance of Bridgetown some twenty years after my first quarantine visit, I can hardly endorse Father Labat's opinion that the streets are strikingly handsome, for Bridgetown, like most British West Indian towns, looks as though all the houses were built of cards or paper. It is, however, a bright, cheery little spot, seems prosperous enough, and has its own Trafalgar Square, decorated with its own very fine statue of Nelson. Every house both in Jamaica and Barbados is fitted with sash-windows in the English style. This fidelity to the customs of the motherland is very touching but hardly practical, for in the burning climate of the West Indies every available breath of fresh air is welcome. With French windows, the entire window-space can be opened; with sashes, one-half of the window remains necessarily blocked.

Let strangers beware of "Barbados Green Bitters." It is a most comforting local cocktail, apparently quite innocuous. It is not; under its silkiness it is abominably potent. One "green bitter" is food, two are dangerous.

In St. John's churchyard, some fourteen miles from Bridgetown, is to be seen one of the most striking examples of the vanity of human greatness. A stone reproduction of the porch of a Greek temple bears this inscription,

HERE LYETH YE BODY OF

FERDINANDO PALEOLOGOS

DESCENDED FROM YE IMPERIAL LYNE

OF YE LAST CHRISTIAN

EMPERORS OF GREECE

CHURCHWARDEN OF THIS PARISH

1655-1656

VESTRYMAN TWENTY YEARS

DIED OCTOBER 3, 1678.

Just think of it! The last descendant of Constantine, the last scion of the proud Emperors of Byzantium, commemorated as vestryman and churchwarden of a country parish in a little, unknown island in the Caribbean, only then settled for seventy-three years! Could any preacher quote a more striking instance of "sic transit gloria mundi"?

Codrington College, not far from St. John's church, is rather a surprise. Few people would expect to come across a little piece of Oxford in a tropical island, or to find a college building over two hundred years old in Barbados, complete with hall and chapel. The facade of Codrington is modelled on either Queen's or the New Buildings at Magdalen, Oxford, and the college is affiliated to Durham University. Originally intended as a place of education for the sons of white planters it is now wholly given over to coloured students. It can certainly claim the note of the unexpected, and the quiet eighteenth-century dignity of its architecture is enhanced by the broad lake which fronts it, and by the exceedingly pretty tropical park in which it stands. Codrington boasts some splendid specimens of the "Royal" palm, the Palmiste of the French, which is one of the glories of West Indian scenery.

Though Father Labat may have drawn the longbow intentionally, some of the country houses erected by the sugar planters in the heyday of the colony's riotous prosperity are really very fine indeed, although at present they have mostly changed hands, or been left derelict. Long Bay Castle, now unoccupied, is a most ambitious building, with marble stairs, beautiful plaster ceilings, and some of its original Chippendale furniture still remaining. A curious feature of all these Barbadian houses is the hurricane-wing, built of extra strength and fitted with iron shutters, into which all the family locked themselves when the fall of the barometer announced the approach of a hurricane. I was shown one hurricane-wing which had successfully withstood two centuries of these visitations.

Barbados is the only ugly island of the West Indian group, for every available foot is planted with sugar-cane, and the unbroken, undulating sea of green is monotonous. In the hilly portions, however, there are some very attractive bits of scenery.

On my first visit, as I have already said, I saw nothing of all this, except through glasses from the deck of a tramp. I was also to be denied a sight of Jamaica, for the Captain knew that he would be refused pratique there, and settled to steam direct to the Danish island of St. Thomas, where quarantine regulations were less strict, so all my voyage was for nothing.

Not for over twenty years after was I to make the acquaintance of Kingston and Port Royal and the Palisadoes, all very familiar names to me from my constant reading of Marryat and Michael Scott.

I suppose that every one draws mental pictures of places that they have constantly heard about, and that most people have noticed how invariably the real place is not only totally different from the fancy picture, but almost aggressively so.

I have already mentioned Lady Nugent's journal or "Jamaica in 1801." I am persuaded that she must have been a most delightful little creature. She was very tiny, as she tells us herself, and had brown curly hair. She was a little coy about her age, which she confided to no one; by her own directions, it was omitted even from her tombstone, but from internal evidence we know that when her husband, Sir George Nugent, was appointed Governor of Jamaica on April 1, 1801 (how sceptical he must have been at first as to the genuineness of this appointment! One can almost hear him ejaculating "Quite so. You don't make an April fool of me!"), she was either thirty or thirty-one years old. Lady Nugent was as great an adept as Mrs. Fairchild, of revered memory, at composing long prayers, every one of which she enters in extenso in her diary, but not only was there a delightful note of feminine coquetry about her, but she also possessed a keen sense of humour, two engaging attributes in which, I fear, that poor Mrs. Fairchild was lamentably lacking.

Lady Nugent and her husband sailed out to Jamaica in a man-of-war, H.M.S. Ambuscade, in June, 1801. As Sir George Nugent had been from 1799 to 1801 Adjutant-General in Ireland, this name must have had quite a home-like sound to him. We read in Lady Nugent's diary of June 25, 1801, after a lengthy supplication for protection against the perils of the deep, the following charmingly feminine note: "My nightcaps are so smart that I wear them all day, for to tell the truth I really think I look better in my nightcap than in my bonnet, and as I am surrounded by men who do not know a nightcap from a daycap, it is no matter what I do." Dear little thing! I am sure she looked too sweet in them. They sailed from Cork on June 5, and reached Barbados on July 17, which seems a quick voyage. They stayed one night at an inn in Bridgetown, and gave a dinner-party for which the bill was over sixty pounds. This strikes quite a modern note, and might really have been in post-war days instead of in 1801.

Lady Nugent found the society in Jamaica, both that of officials and of planters and their wives, intensely uncongenial to her. "Nothing is ever talked of in this horrid island but the price of sugar. The only other topics of conversation are debt, disease and death." She was much shocked at the low standard of morality prevailing amongst the white men in the colony, and disgusted at the perpetual gormandising and drunkenness. The frequent deaths from yellow fever amongst her acquaintance, and the terrible rapidity with which Yellow Jack slew, depressed her dreadfully, and she was startled at the callous fashion in which people, hardened by many years' experience of the scourge, received the news of the death of their most intimate friends. She was perpetually complaining of the unbearable heat, to which she never got acclimatised; she suffered "sadly" from the mosquitoes, and never could get used to earthquakes, hurricanes, or scorpions.

With these exceptions, she seems to have liked Jamaica very well. It must have been an extraordinary community, and to understand it we must remember the conditions prevailing. Bryan Edwards, in his History of the British West Indies, published in 1793, called them "the principal source of the national opulence and maritime power of England"; and without the stream of wealth pouring into Great Britain from Barbados and Jamaica, the long struggle with France would have been impossible.

The term "as rich as a West Indian" was proverbial, and in 1803 the West Indies were accountable for one-third of the imports and exports of Great Britain.

The price of sugar in 1803 was fifty-two shillings a hundredweight. Wealth was pouring into the island and into the pockets of the planters. Lady Nugent constantly alludes to sugar estates worth 20,000 or 30,000 pounds a year. These planters were six weeks distant from England, and, except during the two years' respite which followed the Treaty of Amiens, Great Britain had been intermittently at war with either France or Spain during the whole of the eighteenth century. The preliminary articles of peace between France and Britain were signed on October 1, 1801, the Peace of Amiens itself on March 27, 1802, but in July, 1803, hostilities between the two countries were again renewed. All this meant that communications between the colony and the motherland were very precarious. Nominally a mail-packet sailed from Jamaica once a month, but the seas were swarming with swift-sailing French and Spanish privateers, hanging about the trade-routes on the chance of capturing West Indiamen with their rich cargoes, so the mail-packets had to wait till a convoy assembled, and were then escorted home by men-of-war. This entailed the increasing isolation of the white community in Jamaica, who, in their outlook on life, retained the eighteenth-century standpoint. Now the eighteenth century was a thoroughly gross and material epoch. People had a p

retty taste in clothes, and a nice feeling for good architecture, graceful furniture, and artistic house decoration, but this was a veneer only, and under the veneer lay an ingrained grossness of mind, just as the gorgeous satins and dainty brocades covered dirty, unwashed bodies. Even the complexions of the women were artificial to mask the defects of a sparing use of soap and water, and they drenched themselves with perfumes to hide the unpleasant effects of this lack of bodily cleanliness. On the surface hyper-refinement, glitter and show; beneath it a crude materialism and an ingrained grossness of temperament. What else could be expected when all the men got drunk as a matter of course almost every night of their lives? Over the coarsest description of wood lay a very highly polished veneer of satin-wood, which might possibly deceive the eye, but once scratch the paper-thin veneer and the ugly under-surface was at once apparent. Money rolled into the pockets of these Jamaican planters; there is but little sport possible in the island, and they had no intellectual pursuits, so they just built fine houses, filled them with rare china, Chippendale furniture, and silver plate, and found their amusements in eating, drinking and gambling.

Even to-day the climate of Jamaica is very enervating. Wise people know now that to keep in health in hot countries alcohol, and wine especially, must be avoided. Meat must be eaten very sparingly, and an abstemious regime will bring its own reward. In the eighteenth century, however, people apparently thought that vast quantities of food and drink would combat the debilitating effects of the climate, and that, too, at a time when yellow fever was endemic. There are still old-fashioned people who are obsessed with the idea that the more you eat the stronger you grow. The Creoles in Jamaica certainly put this theory into effect. Michael Scott, in Tom Cringle, describes many Gargantuan repasts amongst the Kingston merchants, and as he himself was one of them, we can presume he knew what he was writing about. The men, too, habitually drank, of all beverages in the world to select in the scorching heat of Jamaica, hot brandy and water, and then they wondered that they died of yellow fever! Every white man and woman in the island seems to have been gorged with food. It was really a case of "let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die"; but if they hadn't eaten and drunk so enormously, presumably they would not have died so rapidly.

Lady Nugent was much disgusted with this gormandising. On page 78 of her journal she says, "I don't wonder now at the fever the people suffer from here-such eating and drinking I never saw! Such loads of rich and highly-seasoned things, and really the gallons of wine and mixed liquors that they drink! I observed some of our party to-day eat at breakfast as if they had never eaten before. A dish of tea, another of coffee, a bumper of claret, another large one of hock-negus; then Madeira, sangaree, hot and cold meats, stews and pies, hot and cold fish pickled and plain, peppers, ginger-sweetmeats, acid fruit, sweet jellies-in short, it was all as astonishing as it was disgusting."

It really does seem a fair allowance for a simple morning meal.

The life of a Governor of Jamaica is now principally taken up with quiet administrative work, but in 1802 he was supposed to hold a succession of reviews, to give personal audiences, endless balls and dinners, to make tours of inspection round the island; and, in addition, as ex officio Chancellor of Jamaica, it was his duty to preside at all the sittings of the Court of Chancery. During their many tours of inspection poor little Lady Nugent complains that, with the best wishes in the world, she really could not eat five large meals a day. She continues (page 95), "At the Moro to-day, our dinner at 6 was really so profuse that it is worth describing. The first course was of fish, with an entire jerked hog in the centre, and a black crab pepper-pot. The second course was of turtle, mutton, beef, turkey, goose, ducks, chicken, capons, ham, tongue, and crab patties. The third course was of sweets and fruits of all kinds. I felt quite sick, what with the heat and such a profusion of eatables."

One wonders what those planters' weekly bills would have amounted to at the present-day scale of prices, and can no longer feel surprised at their all running into debt, in spite of their huge incomes. The drinking, too, was on the same scale. Lady Nugent remarks (page 108), "I am not astonished at the general ill-health of the men in this country, for they really eat like cormorants and drink like porpoises. All the men of our party got drunk to-night, even to a boy of fifteen, who was obliged to be carried home." Tom Cringle, in his account of a dinner-party in Cuba, remarks airily, "We, the males of the party, had drunk little or nothing, a bottle of claret or so apiece, a dram of brandy, and a good deal of vin-de-grave (sic)," and he really thinks that nothing: moderation itself in that sweltering climate!

In spite of her disgust at the immense amount of food devoured round her, Lady Nugent seems to have adopted a Jamaican scale of diet for her children, for when she returned to England with them in the Augustus Caesar in 1805, she gives the following account of the day's routine on board the ship. It must be observed that George, the elder child, was not yet three, and that Louisa was under two. "When I awake, the old steward brings me a dish of ginger tea. I then dress, and breakfast with the children. At eleven the children have biscuits, and some port wine and water. George eats some chicken or mutton at twelve, and at two they each have a bowl of strong soup. At four we all dine; I go to my cabin at half-past seven, and soon after eight I am always in bed and the babies fast asleep. The old steward then comes to my bedside with a large tumbler of porter with a toast in it. I eat the toast, drink the porter, and usually rest well."

Those two unfortunate children must have landed in England two miniature Daniel Lamberts. It is pleasant to learn that little George lived to the age of ninety. Had he not been so stuffed with food in his youth, he would probably have been a centenarian.

During Nugent's term of office events in Haiti, or San Domingo, as it was still called then, occasioned him great anxiety. Before the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Haiti had been the most prosperous and the most highly civilised of the West Indian islands. But after the French National Assembly had, in 1791, decreed equal rights between whites and mulattoes, troubles began. The blacks rebelled; the French rescinded the decree of 1791 and, changing their minds again, re-affirmed it. The blacks began murdering and plundering the whites, and many planters emigrated to Jamaica and the United States. That most extraordinary man, Toussaint l'Ouverture, a pure negro, who had been born a slave, re-established some form of order in Haiti until Napoleon, when the preliminary articles of the Peace of Amiens had been signed between Britain and France, hit upon the idea of employing his soldiers in Haiti, and sent out his brother-in-law, General Le Clerc, with 25,000 French soldiers to re-conquer the island. It was a most ill-fated expedition; the soldiers could not withstand the climate, and died like flies; France losing, from first to last, no less than 40,000 men from yellow fever. In 1802, Le Clerc, who seems to have been a great scoundrel, died, and in 1804 Haiti declared her independence.

After the Peace of Amiens the French Government were exceedingly anxious to secure the cooperation of British troops from Jamaica, seasoned to the climate, in restoring order in Haiti, and even offered to cede them such portions of Haiti as were willing to come under the British flag. During the ten months of General Le Clerc's administration of Haiti he was perpetually sending envoys to General Nugent in Jamaica, and continually offering him presents. It is not uncharitable to suppose that these presents were proffered with a view of winning Nugent's support to the idea of a British expedition to Haiti. Nugent, however, sternly refused all these gifts. Madame Le Clerc, Napoleon's sister, who is better known as the beautiful Princess Pauline Borghese, a lady with an infinity of admirers, was far more subtle in her methods. Her presents to Lady Nugent took the irresistible form of dresses of the latest Parisian fashion, and were eagerly accepted by that volatile little lady. Indeed, for ten months she seems to have been entirely dressed by Madame Le Clerc, who even provided little George Nugent's christening robe of white muslin, heavily embroidered in gold. Ladies may be interested in Lady Nugent's account of her various dresses. "Last night at the ball I wore a new dress of purple crape, embroidered and heavily spangled in gold, given me by Madame Le Clerc. The skirt rather short; the waist very high. On my head I wore a wreath of gilded bay-leaves, and must have looked like a Roman Empress. I think that purple suits me, for every one declared that they never saw me looking better." Dear little lady! I am sure that she never did, and that the piquant little face on the frontispiece, with its roguish eyes, looked charming under her gold wreath. Again, "I wore a lovely dress of pink crape spangled in silver, sent me by Madame Le Clerc." She gives a fuller account of her dress at the great ball given her to celebrate her recovery after the birth of her son (Dec. 30, 1802).

"For the benefit of posterity I will describe my dress on this grand occasion. A crape dress, embroidered in silver spangles, also sent me by Madame Le Clerc, but much richer than that which I wore at the last ball. Scarcely any sleeves to my dress, but a broad silver spangled border to the shoulder-straps. The body made very like a child's frock, tying behind, and the skirt round, with not much train. On my head a turban of spangled crape like the dress, looped-up with pearls. This dress, the admiration of all the world over, will, perhaps, fifty years hence, be laughed at, and considered as ridiculous as our grandmothers' hoops and brocades appear to us now."

In fairness it must be stated that General Nugent punctiliously returned all Madame Le Clerc's presents to his wife with gifts of English cut-glass, then apparently much appreciated by the French. He seems to have sent absolute cart-loads of cut-glass to Haiti, but in days when men habitually drank two bottles of wine apiece after dinner, there was presumably a fair amount of breakage of decanters and tumblers.

I notice that although Lady Nugent complains on almost every page of "the appalling heat," the "unbearable heat," the "terrific heat, which gives me these sad headaches," she seems always ready to dance for hours at any time. Some idea of the ceremonious manners of the day is obtained from the perpetual entry "went to bed with my knees aching from the hundreds of curtsies I have had to make to the company."

In 1811 Sir George Nugent was appointed Commander-in-Chief in Bengal, and their voyage from Portsmouth to Calcutta occupied exactly six months, yet there are people who grumble at the mails now taking eighteen days to traverse the distance between London and Calcutta.

Lady Nugent was much shocked at the universal habit of smoking amongst Europeans in the East Indies. She sternly refused to allow their two aides-de-camp to smoke, "for as they are both only twenty-five, they are too young to begin so odious a custom," an idea which will amuse the fifteen-year-olds of today.

Not till 1906 did I find myself sailing into Kingston Harbour and actually set eyes on Port Royal, the Palisadoes, and Fort Augusta, all very familiar by name to me since my boyhood.

I had taken the trip to shake off a prolonged bronchial attack; a young Guardsman, a friend of mine, though my junior by many years, was convalescent after an illness, and was also recommended a sunbath, so we travelled together. The hotels being all full, we took up our quarters in a small boarding-house, standing in dense groves of orange trees, where each shiver of the night breeze sent the branches of the orange trees swish-swishing, and wafted great breaths of the delicious fragrance of orange blossom into our rooms. I was in bed, when the Guardsman, who had never been in the tropics before, rushed terror-stricken into my room. "I have drunk nothing whatever," he faltered, "but I must be either very drunk or else mad, for I keep fancying that my room is full of moving electric lights." I went into his room, where I found some half-dozen of the peculiarly brilliant Jamaican fireflies cruising about. The Guardsman refused at first to believe that any insect could produce so bright a light, and bemoaned the loss of his mental faculties, until I caught a firefly and showed him its two lamps gleaming like miniature motor head-lights.

Some pictures stand out startlingly clear-cut in the memory. Such a one is the recollection of our first morning in Jamaica. The Guardsman, full of curiosity to see something of the mysterious tropical island into which we had been deposited after nightfall, awoke me at daybreak. After landing from the mail-steamer in the dark, we had had merely impressions of oven-like heat, and of a long, dim-lit drive in endless suburbs of flimsily built, wooden houses, through the spice-scented, hot, black-velvet night, enlivened with almost indecently intimate glimpses into humble interiors, where swarthy dark forms jabbered and gesticulated, clustered round smoky oil-lamps; and as the suburbs gave place to the open country, the vast leaves of unfamiliar growths stood out, momentarily silhouetted against the blackness by the gleam of our carriage lamps.

It being so early, the Guardsman and I went out as we were, in pyjamas and slippers, with, of course, sufficient head protection against the fierce sun. Just a fortnight before we had left England under snow, in the grip of a black frost; London had been veiled in incessant thick fogs for ten days, and we had fallen straight into the most exquisitely beautiful island on the face of the globe, bathed in perpetual summer.

When we had traversed the grove of orange trees, we came upon a lovely little sunk-garden, where beds of cannas, orange, sulphur, and scarlet, blazed round a marble fountain, with a silvery jet splashing and leaping into the sunshine. The sunk-garden was surrounded on three sides by a pergola, heavily draped with yellow alamandas, drifts of wine-coloured bougainvillaa, and pale-blue solanums, the size of saucers. In the clear morning light it really looked entrancingly lovely. On the fourth side the garden ended in a terrace dominating the entire Liguanea plain, with the city of Kingston, Kingston Harbour, Port Royal, and the hills on the far side spread out below us like a map. Those hills are now marked on the Ordnance Survey as the "Healthshire Hills." This is a modern euphemism, for the name originally given to those hills and the district round them by the soldiers stationed in the "Apostles' Battery," was "Hellshire," and any one who has had personal experience of the heat there, can hardly say that the title is inappropriate. From our heights, even Kingston itself looked inviting, an impression not confirmed by subsequent visits to that unlovely town. The long, sickle-shape sandspit of the Palisadoes separated Kingston Harbour on one side from the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea; on the other side the mangrove swamps of the Rio Cobre made unnaturally vivid patches of emerald green against the background of hills. On railways a green flag denotes that caution must be observed; the vivid green of the mangroves is Nature's caution-flag to the white man, for where the mangrove flourishes, there fever lurks.

The whole scene was so wonderfully beautiful under the blazing sunlight, and in the crystal-clear atmosphere, that the Guardsman refused to accept it as genuine. "It can't be real!" he cried, "this is January. We have got somehow into a pantomime transformation scene. In a minute it will go, and I shall wake up in Wellington Barracks to find it freezing like mad, with my owl of a servant telling me that I have to be on parade in five minutes." This lengthy warrior showed, too, a childish incredulity when I pointed out to him cocoa-nuts hanging on the palms; a field of growing pineapples below us, or great clusters of fruit on the banana trees. Pineapples, cocoanuts, and bananas were bought in shops; they did not grow on trees. He would insist that the great orange flowers, the size of cabbages, on the Brownea trees were artificial, as were the big blue trumpets of the Morning Glories. He was in reality quite intoxicated with the novelty and the glamour of his first peep into the tropics. By came fluttering a great, gorgeous butterfly, the size of a saucer, and after it rushed the Guardsman, shedding slippers around him as his long legs bent to their task. He might just as well have attempted to catch the Scotch Express; but, as he returned to me dripping, he began to realise what the heat of Jamaica can do. All the remainder of that day the Guardsman remained under the spell of the entrancing beauty of his new surroundings, and I was dragged on foot for miles and miles; along country lanes, through the Hope Botanical Gardens, down into the deep ravine of the Hope River, then back again, both of us dripping wet in the fierce heat, in spite of our white drill suits, larding the ground as we walked, oozing from every pore, but always urged on and on by my enthusiastic young friend, who, suffering from a paucity of epithets, kept up monotonous ejaculations of "How absolutely d--d lovely it all is!" every two minutes.

I had to remain a full hour in the swimming-bath after my exertions; and the Guardsman had quite determined by night-time to "send in his papers," and settle down as a coffee-planter in this enchanting island.

It is curious that although the Spaniards held Jamaica for one hundred and sixty-one years, no trace of the Spaniard in language, customs, or architecture is left in the island, for Spain has generally left her permanent impress on all countries occupied by her, and has planted her language and her customs definitely in them. The one exception as regards Jamaica is found in certain place-names such as Ocho Rios, Rio Grande, and Rio Cobre, but as these are all pronounced in the English fashion, the music of the Spanish names is lost. Not one word of any language but English (of a sort) is now heard in the colony. When Columbus discovered the island in 1494, he called it Santiago, St. James being the patron saint of Spain, but the native name of Xaymaca (which being interpreted means "the land of springs") persisted somehow, and really there are enough Santiagos already dotted about in Spanish-speaking countries, without further additions to them. When Admiral Penn and General Venables were sent out by Cromwell to break the Spanish power in the West Indies, they succeeded in capturing Jamaica in 1655, and British the island has remained ever since. To this day the arms of Jamaica are Cromwell's arms slightly modified, and George V is not King, but "Supreme Lord of Jamaica," the original title assumed by Cromwell. The fine statue of Queen Victoria in Kingston is inscribed "Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, and Supreme Lady of Jamaica."

Venables found that the Spaniards, craving for yet another Santiago, had called the capital of the island Santiago de la Vega, "St. James of the Plain," and to this day the official name of Spanish Town, the old capital, is St. Jago de Vega, and as such is inscribed on all the milestones, only as it is pronounced in the English fashion, it is now one of the ugliest names imaginable. The wonderfully beautiful gorge of the Rio Cobre, above Spanish Town, was called by the conquistadores "Spouting Waters," or Bocas de Agua. This has been Anglicised into the hideous name of Bog Walk, just as the "High Waters," Agua Alta, on the north side of the island, has become the Wagwater River. The Spanish forms seem preferable to me.

Some one has truly said that the old Spaniards shared all the coral insect's mania for building. As soon as they had conquered a place, they set to work to build a great cathedral, and simultaneously, the church then being distinctly militant, a large and solid fort. They then proceeded to erect massive walls and ramparts round their new settlement, and most of these ramparts are surviving to-day. We, in true British haphazard style, did not build for posterity, but allowed ramshackle towns to spring up anyhow without any attempt at design or plan. There are many things we could learn from the Spanish. Their solid, dignified cities of massive stone houses with deep, heavy arcades into which the sun never penetrates; their broad plazas where cool fountains spout under great shade-trees; their imposing over-ornate churches, their general look of solid permanence, put to shame our flimsy, ephemeral, planless British West Indian towns of match-boarding and white paint. We seldom look ahead: they always did. Added to which it would be, of course, too much trouble to lay out towns after definite designs; it is much easier to let them grow up anyhow. On the other hand, the British colonial towns have all good water supplies, and efficient systems of sewerage, which atones in some degree for their architectural shortcomings; whilst the Spaniard would never dream of bothering his head about sanitation, and would be content with a very inadequate water supply. Provided that he had sufficient water for the public fountains, the Spaniard would not trouble about a domestic supply. The Briton contrives an ugly town in which you can live in reasonable health and comfort; the Spaniard fashions a most picturesque city in which you are extremely like to die. Racial ideals differ.

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