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was of very bright tints, each taking the part that was
in its own beak. And when they . had done this each
dressed himself in his own bit of skin. Most of them
— all except the darter who had aftually begun the at-
tack on the snake, but to whose lot the head of the skin
happened to fall— at once became the various bright"
coloured parrots and macaws. Only one, he who' began
the fight, remained dingy in colour and a simple darter.
The second story is again of a war of the birds,, this time
against the king vultures, who were eventually driven
into their own houses which were then burnt over their
heads. Then the other birds began to quarrel over the
plunder. The trumpet-bird and the heron got so angry
that they fought and rolled each other in the ashes, so
that the former < acquired the gray colouring of its back
and the latter became gray all over. Taking advantage



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REDMEN ; SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. I J

of the confusion, the owl, prowling about, found a
package so carefully done up that he thought it must
contain something very valuable ; so he opened it, and
out came the darkness in which he has ever since had
to live. Later, the hawks and other big birds found,
that that generally bold little bird the keskedie, disin-
clined to fight just then, had bandaged his head with
white cotton and, pretending to be ill, had remained at
home, for which aft he was compelled by the big birds
always to wear his bandage, as he does, in the white
marks round his head, to this day.

The Redman, therefore is utterly without the most
remote idea of fixity of species in either of the forms
in which that has been conceived by civilized men ; so
that there is no possibility in this early stage of thought
of any classification of beings.

The distinction, then, between the primitive man's
conception of differences of bodily form and ours is this.
We, even the most unscientific of us, have deeply im-
brued in our minds a classification of natural objects ac-
cording to certain qualities in their bodily form, which
qualities, under ordinary circumstances are unchange*
able, so that we distinguish, according to certain fixed
qualities, a stone from a tree, and both these from an
animal, and further, by more minute marks, we dis.
tinguish one kind of stone from another, one tree from
another, one animal from another; but the primitive
thinker, recognizing quite unlimited diversity of bodily
form, unchecked by any idea of fixity of species, is utterly
unable to form the most elementary classification, and
regards each one of the quite infinitely numerous beings
which surround him, the essentia* p*rt of each of which



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»4



TlMEHRl.



is a spirit, as clothed in a bodily form which it can
often vary at will or which may be instantaneously varied
by accidental circumstances. The primitive man has
no means of even roughly grouping the innumerable
individual beings which constitute his world.

The third part in this primitive philosophy is the re-
cognition of a. difference between various spirits, which
difference is, however, merely a difference in degree of
cunning. This cunning, it must be understood, is not
the immoral form of that quality to which we are most
accustomed to apply that term, but rather that praise-
worthy cunning, so difficult of perfeft attainment, which
even in our stage of civilization enables the skilled
sportsman to follow, to lure and to capture his prey.
The quality, indeed, when thus manifested, in the skill
of the perfe6l sportsman, in a civilized state of society
is a distin£l and direft survival, in almost full purity, of
the one mental quality which, comparatively useless
now, was of the utmost, indeed almost of sole, import-
ance to the very life of the uncivilized man. For the
latter sees in perfeft and fearful clearness, owing to the
simplicity of the conditions, the all-involving struggle
for existence, in which he, a single individual, has to
fight with every other individual, none being armed with
any of the weapons, material or intelleftual, which in
each succeeding stage of civilization so greatly compli-
cate, and at the same time obscure, the great world con*
test. He sees himself and every other being of the
visible world involved in one unending struggle for exis-
tence, each with each, each armed only with the one
weapon of cunning. That uncivilized man should recog-
nize this onfe mental quality, it being the one developed,



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REDMEN ; SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. IS

and thus indeed essential to his very being, is natural;
nor in this stage of civilization has he had opportunity
of observing the other mental qualities, which are indeed
their, rather, undeveloped mental potentialities. Strange
men, wild beasts, rocks and trees in falling, rivers by
drowning, diseases always imagined in bodily forms,
and the countless other recognized beings ever seem to
surround the Redmen, ready to inflift injury by, and
only by the one-known weapon, cunning. Bodily size
and strength are in themselves of no account* I have
known, a whole village of some two hundred Redmen
thrown into consternation for some days by the appear-
ance in their neighbourhood of one small bird, no biggfer
than a sky-lark, in which, in some way unknown to me;
they recognized the presence of a hostile spirit, powerful
in cunning. This dread is less surprising when it is
remembered that to these primitive thinkers it seems
that each, sooner or later, meets and falls before his
superior in cunning ; for when the death which comes to
each befalls, it is either by violence, in which case it is
manifestly the work of a being of superior cunning, or
it is- by disease — and this, too, is the work of some cun-
ning spirit, which has entered into its vittim in- the
insignificant bodily form, so hard to guard . against, of i
as often as not, a fly .or worm.

It is for this reason that the Redman, feeling his own
inability in many cases to circumvent the never-ending,
most insidious attacks of these more cunning beings,
who are to him murderers — or, to use his own
word, kenaimas— ever on the watch to slay, employs
the most cunning of his own fellows, who has been
deliberately educated in cunning as a peaiman, or



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l6 TlMERRI.

sorcerer, to circumvent the cunning of the kenaimas.

I have just reached this point in my lefture without
feeling with ever increasing force the overpowering
vastness of the subjeft and the consequent hopelessness
of attempting more than to suggest, with as little
vagueness as may be, a few of its main points. Let us
recapitulate these. An attempt has been made to show
that the earliest habit of human thought, of reason in
its essential features, was a conception of all the in*
numerable natural obje&s of the physical world as
identical with the one thing known to the reasoner, to
man. Differences of bodily form, though unavoidable
perceived, were, for reasons already indicated, regarded
as without significance. Differences of the spiritual
parts of these beings were, for reasons also indicated,
regarded as differences only in degree of the one
spiritual quality which— I cannot express myself except
in very modern phrase— -enabled the survival of the
fittest in the great and all pervading struggle for exis-
tence. It was as though, when reason first arose in
man, he looked into a world occupied by innumerable
beings engaged in the struggle for existence, each
armed with the weapon of cunning and distinguished,
the one from the other, only by the varying excellence
of the weapon which he thus wielded.

Obviously this earliest mental point of view— 4 feel
the misfortune of having to employ definite words to
express a really quite indefinable instant in a mental
process— can have endured in full purity but momentarily.
Let us seek aid from analogy. As in the development
of a photographic plate really simultaneously with the
moment of first change in the chemical surface begins,



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REDMEN ; SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. 1 7

ail t>ut unobservably but ever advancing, the develop-
ment of the image, so in the development of the human
apparatus of thought, almost simultaneously with the
first movement of reason, which is the point, so hope-
lessly indefinable in words, which I have yet striven
to suggest, must have begun that development, that
long series of questionings of the reality of this iden-
tity of all things with the questioner, and that con-
sequent recognition of real and fixed differences in
things which, through long ages gradually affefting and
developing the elementary thought of primitive man,
has gradually wrought that simple germ into the shape
in which we now use it, into the shape, that is, of our
modern common knowledge, and even our scientific
conception, of natural phenomena, and which, its de-
velopment still continuing, is hourly and daily leading
us to a truer and wider knowledge of the objefts of the
natural world.

Finally there is an eminently praftical suggestion I
should like to make about the rather speculative mat-
ters just discussed. It refers to the relation which
highly civilized folk bear, and should bear, toward the
races still in a very primitive condition of thought with
whom they are brought in contaft in these days of much
travel and widely spreading colonization. It should be
more clearly conceived than is often the case that the
task of the missionaries sent from civilized folk among
primitive people — and by missionaries I here mean
not only the highly honourable class of religious mis-
sionaries but also that other class, wider in that it
should embrace the former, of social missionaries —
is to adopt those who are only provided with a very

C



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l8 TlMEHRI.



primitive apparatus of thought — which, by the way,
is a very different and distinft thing from the fragment-
ary apparatus of thought of uneducated civilized people.
Merely to supply the primitive thinker, without further
preparation, with the complex apparatus is much as it
would be simply to supply folk of a race which has used
no implements but sticks and stones with machine guns,
grand pianos or any other of the highly elaborated pro-
du£ls of civilization.




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The Colony of Surinam.

OUTLINES OF THE HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF HER
POLITICAL ORGANIZATION AND HER LEGISLATION.



By B. E. Colaco Belmonte, LL.D., Graduate of the University of Ley den,
Advocate at the Bar of British Guiana,




(Continued.)

|N the introduttion of the law before the Cham-
bers, the Ministry expressly and positively
declared that it was the intention and the
desire of the Government, by restoring to the colony her
ancient political rights and privileges, "to lead her to
" self-government and to financial independence from
" the Mother Country."

But the colony was unfortunately at that time, politi-
cally and financially, in a state of transition and inert-
ness ; and it was this exceptional position which necessi-
tated some deviations, and prevented the introdu6tion of
the system in its entirety. The principle was, however,
unalterably written in the law, and the door has been
left open for the future introduftion of the system in the
form originally intended.

It was feared by some of the most sanguine and sin-
cere defenders of a liberal system of government for the
colony, that a franchise, in its fulness, might prove detri-
mental to the colony, sapping the foundations of its
dependence, weakening the authority of the local Gov-
ernment, and ultimately estranging the colony from the
Mother Country. Of a general suffrage as in 1682,
there was never any question.. It was neither advo-.

9?



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20 TlMEHRI.



cated, nor demanded, nor wished for. The electors
were to be those direttly taxed. But even this did not
offer a sufficient guarantee against the danger of unde-
sirable and incapable members being "sent up to the
" States" to represent the colonists, and to co-operate
with the Government in condu&ing the administration of
the colony. The door ought not to be opened too wide.
Every person being a Dutch subje6t or an alien domi-
ciled in the colony, having attained the age of 25 years,
and enjoying all civil rights, was eligible. No owner-
ship of any property, certainly not ownership of or
agency for estates or plantations, (as in days by gone,
when autocracy from home and plantocracy had their
full sway in the colony and had destroyed her politi-
cal life and existence) was any longer a requisite or
qualification for eligibility. // was not even necessary to
be classed among the taxpayers. The law showitigly
centred her entire confidence in the Kiezers ; but she,
nevertheless, reserved a share in the eleftion for the
Government. As has already been said, of the 13 mem-
bers composing the Colonial States, 4 were elefted by
the Governor. But even these members, in the perform-
ance of their duties and the exercise of their rights,
were fully and in every respe6t the representatives of
the inhabitants, bound by the same oath, and independ-
ent members of the representative body. They were not
in any way considered to be members of ox for the Gov-
ernment. Their right to vote was free and unfettered,
and they were by no means obliged to submit to the
views of the Government. I can here testify that during
the 11 years I. had the honour of membership of the
Colonial States, the Government, since the introduftion



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The Colony of Surinam. 21

of the new constitution, has never sought for itself any
preponderance in the States. The Governor is free and
unfettered in his right of eleftion of the 4 members, pro-
vided they are eligible in the terms of the Colonial
Constitution. But the Government Secretary is uneligi-
ble. He may not be sent to a seat in the States, neither
by the Governor nor by the ele6tors. The same prohi-
bition affefts members of the military service and of the
clergy. As a rule, the Government has elefted its mem-
bers from the ranks of the inhabitants, seldom from the
Government officials, or, if from the latter, has frequently
chosen an independent member of the Bench or Magis-
trature. Frequently it has elefted a member, who had
failed to obtain the required majority of votes at a
second ele&ion. This pra&ice is still continued. There
is no prevalence of governmental authority, there is no
ascendency or predominance in the States. The Gover-
nor himself is never present to advise or give his
opinion ; he sends his delegates.

As I have already said, the Home Government, in
framing the new constitution, relied on the Kiezers.
This confidence has, up to this day, not been betrayed.
The fear that undesirable members might be sent to the
Legislative body has not been realised, and, as a rule,
members of the Bench, of the legal and also of the medi-
cal profession, and planters and merchants of position
have been sent to the House.



Another limitation of the colony's franchise and of the
attributes of her Legislative body, was also considered
of essential necessity on account of the unfortunate
financial position, to which I have already alluded.



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22 TlMEHRl.



One of the privileges granted to the Colonial States is
to vote and to fix the annual estimates, the expenditure
of the colony, and the ways and means of raising the
revenue. The Budget is annually submitted for the
approbation of the States by the Governor, when he
opens that body. It is debated, amended or approved
of by the States, and promulgated by the Governor as
voted by the States. But the vote of the States, operates
only as a provisional Budget. It has to' be forwarded
by the Governor to the King, by whose order it must be
laid, for definitive sandion before the Chambers of the
States-General, as long as the Mother Country is called
yearly to grant a subsidy to the colony, enabling her to
meet her expenditure. It is indeed to be regretted that,
up to this day, the colony Has not been able to raise, her
revenue up to her expenditure. Consequently, there is
a yearly deficit and a balance on the wrong side, which
has to be met by the Mother Country. The strings of
the colonial purse are in the hands of the Government
at home. This state of affairs re-a6ls most detriment-
ally on the colony and its prosperity. It makes her
aftually entirely dependent as to her finances on the
Home Government and its Legislature : it retards pro-
gress and condemns the colony to inaftivity : it prevents
her attainment of such a state of financial independence
of the Mother Country and her enjoyment in full
of her right of autonomy, which alone can insure
her the advantages and benefits of the liberal political
organisation and constitution granted and intended in
1865. As long as the colony needs a subsidy from the
general national revenue, the yearly accounts of the
colony must be rendered, as the Budget, to the Home



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The Colony of Surinam. 23

Government and laid before the States-General, tor
examination and approbation. But as soon as the colony
is self-supporting and not in need of any subsidy, the
accounts will be rendered by the Governor to the Colo-
nial States, and the interference of the States-General
will be at an end.

It depends on the exertions and the energy both of
the colonists and of those at home interested in the
welfare of the colony, and on the Home Government to
hasten a better future for Surinam. Is there lack of
energy on the one side ; there is certainly want of
interest and of liberal feelings and intentions on the side
of the ruling powers at Home. It is a positive fa£t that
the Government at Home and the States-General regard
the yearly recurring need for a subsidy to the colony, as
a burden on the nation ; and have proved themselves
very illiberal in that respeft. The Colonial Budget, as
voted by the Colonial States, is yearly, minutely, I
dare say, grudgingly, scrutinised and mutilated by the
powers at home ; repeatedly the items for the most
urgent and indispensable requirements of the colony,
have been struck from the Budget : and, very frequently,
items inserted in the Budget, pro memoria, to express
the leading opinion in the States, with regard to the
wants and necessities of the colony have found no
indulgence nor mercy at home.

It is indeed to be hoped that the nation and her
representatives will some day recognize the fa£ts of the
case. Surinam is a magnificent colony and a most
valuable possession of the Netherlands in South America.
What British Guiana was and what it is now, will tell
the Mother Country what are her interests in Dutch



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24 TlMJEHRI.






Guiana and bow they can be promoted. A liberal
assistance in her wants and financial distress, coupled
with economy in her houserholding, will prove a profit-
able outlay.



2. Judicial. — The United Provinces of the Nether-
lands had no codification. The general or common
law of the land consisted of local statutes and ordi-
nances, and privileges having force of law. The Roman
law was the law of the land.

This was afterwards expressly ena6led by the States
of Holland by their resolution of the 25th of May 1755,
whereby it was stated that, "the Courts of Justice in
11 Holland, like all other Tribunals in the provinces of
"Holland and (West) Vriesland must do justice ^ccord-
" ing to the law and ordinances of the land, and also
"according to the privileges and old established customs
" and usages, and, in failure of these, according to the
" Roman law."

The law of the land was however, long before this,
worked out by cases and decisions of the various courts
and tribunals in the united provinces. The authority of
these decisions and the books of eminent Dutch Jurists,
and their consultations, constituted, in connexion with
the general law of the land and the subsidiary Civil or
Roman Law, the legislation, the system of law obtaining
in the Netherlands, more universally known as the Ro-
man-Dutch Law, until the beginning of this century.

The Criminal law of Holland was contained in the
Constitutio Carolina (CHARLES the V.) and the ordinance
on the style of PHILIP the II.

The procedure in civil cases was regulated by inst rue-



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The Colony of Surinam. 25

tions for the Court of Holland and the Supreme Court
of Holland and West Vriesland. The procedure in crim-
inal cases was conduced in accordance with the ordi-
nance on the Style, before referred to.



The Court of Holland, also called the Court of Holland,
Zeeland and West Vriesland, had jurisdiftion in civil as
well in criminal matters extending over all the Provinces
of the United Netherlands ; among other corporations,
societies and bodies corporate, the West India Company
was subjeft to the jurisdiftion of this Court.

Consequently the civil and criminal law of Holland
became the law in those foreign countries of which the
West India Company obtained and held possession under
the various oftroys or fundamental laws and privileges
granted by the States-General of the United Netherlands.

And, in this way, the law of Holland, the Roman-
Dutch Law, became the general and common law of the
colony of Surinam, which, as has been seen in the pre-
ceding pages, rested on a special o6troy under the rule
and administration of the West India Company in 1682,
after having been up to that time, ruled and possessed
by the Province of Zeeland, where the same system of
law prevailed.

Under the fundamental law of 1682, the West India
Company had a certain legislative authority in Surinam.
It could however not infringe or violate the privileges
granted to the inhabitants, or go beyond the instruftions
and orders transmitted to the Governor by the Sovereign
Power at home. The States-General also continued
to legislate for the colonies. The W. I. Company
exercised its authority by their Committee or Council of

D



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26 TtMftKRl.



Ten. The original law of the colony was amplified,
altered, and alternately partly abolished and again re-in-
troduced, by a number of ordinances, orders and resolu-
tions, affefting the various branches of legislation. The
common law, however, remained as before. History
further tells us that, about the year 1761, it was
found by the powers in the Mother Country, that the
various orders and resolutions, ordinances and placards
ena&ed in and for the colonies, were so voluminous,
cofifli&ing and uncertain, that it was deemed absolutely
necessary to order that the orders, resolutions, and
enactments which were intended to remain in force
should be, de novo, printed, and sent to the colony ; and
that all such orders which should not be rt-firinted
should be considered repealed.

Soch was the state of the colonial legislation when,
in 1815, a new fundamental taw was introduced. It
brought no improvement. To the contrary, it was
enafted that the Courts of Justice should be bound
to base their judgments on the "existing tews" (be-
staande wetten), and this was the Roman-Dutch law
system ; but an unsystematic amending, altering ©£,
and amplifying the law by a nearly unbroken Kne of
local ordinances and resolutions, had been ever since
encroaching, and, the legislation of the colony, under
an irresponsible Government, was uncertain, indefinite
and vary ing with the circumstances of the moment And
this continued under the other Governments, after 1815.

In the meantime, the Codes Napoleon were adopted
in the Mother Country to remain in force until the
national legislation, promised and guaranteed to the na-
tion, should be completed. The influence of mecfera



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The Colony op Surinam. 37

legislation was speedily felt. Much was organised, and
again re-organised, especially in the judicial branch of
the colonial administration. The year 1828, under the
extensive legislative authority of the Hooge Raad dtr
Nederl IV. J. Bezittimgen, in particular, engrafted new
procedure afts, of French origin, on the old colonial
law. A complete absence of system prevailed. Legis-
lation was in the hands of the colonial powers, described
in the foregoing pages, until the year 1868 when the
new legislation for the colony was introduced.

The criminal law remained as before. In 1827, the
ordinance of the States-General of 10 October 1798,



Online LibraryRoyal agricultural and commercial society of BritiTimehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana → online text (page 2 of 25)