Royal agricultural and commercial society of Briti.

Timehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana online

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members were to be balloted for, three black balls to ex-
clude. The admission and annual fee of membership
was fixed at 22 guilders. The general meetings of this
Society were appointed to be held quarterly at the Co-
lony House. The officers chosen for the first year were : —

Chairman, Mr. D. C. CAMERON; Deputy Chairman,
Mr. David Melville; Committee, Messrs. Wm. Henery,
John Alves, T. Williams ; Secretary, Mr. Thos. B.
Winter ; Treasurer, Mr. Geo. Laing.

On the 28th February, 1834, another meeting took
place, at which these resolutions were adopted : —

That it being desirable to abolish the name of Driver, which has long

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Agricultural Societies. 271

been inapplicable, the term Foreman be used instead, and that the mem-
bers of the Society carry this resolution into effect forthwith upon the
estates with which they are connected ; also, that it is desirable to provide
more efficiently for the education of the labouring classes in this district,
and for this purpose to establish on each estate a School at which children
six years old and upwards shall be required to attend for two hours
every day at least, besides Sundays, and likewise to form a Sunday
School for all who desire to attend ; that the members of the Society
will aft upon the above resolution forthwith, and that the Committee be
authorised to make arrangements for procuiing the requisite books and
to distribute them to estates at cost price.

It is to be regretted that the old files of the Demerara
papers — I have not had any of the Berbice ones at my
command— contain no information with reference to the
result of the a6lion which appears to have been resolved
upon, or indeed as to whether any such interesting
educational experiment was ever aftually attempted.

On the 2nd May, 1834, the Berbice Society decided to
offer prizes as follows : —

1st. A Gold Medal, value 10 guineas, to any Manager of a sugar
estate in this district who should on the ist May, 1835, ^ ave prepared
by the plough and successfully established in canes, the greatest extent
not less than 20 acres, of land, with the least manual labour ; and a
Silver Medal value 5 guineas, to the Manager who shall have prepared
the next greatest extent in the same manner.

2nd. A Silver Medal, value 3 guineas and the sum of 2 Joes in money,
to the best negro ploughman ; and a Silver Medal of the same value to
the second best.

3rd. A Silver Medal value 5 guineas to the person exhibiting the best
team of 6 draft oxen, in point of strength and docility.

4th. A Gold Medal value 10 guineas to the person who on the ist May,
1835, sna H nave effe&ed the greatest saving of manual labour by
machinery or otherwise on any one estate in Berbice, to the satisfaction
of a Committee to be appointed by the Society.

The next — and the last — reference I have seen to
this Society, is an advertisement signed " Geo. Laing,
Treasurer," and dated 9th November, 1837, convening a

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272 TlMEHRI.

meeting of members " to dispose of surplus funds and to
take into consideration matters of importance."

West Coast and West Bank Agricultural Society.
In the newspapers of 1840, mention is made of "The
West Coast and West Bank Distrift Agricultural Society",
Mr. Robt. N. BROTHERSON, Secretary.

Collapse of the Early Movement.
I have shown how the pioneer Agricultural Societies
passed gradually but surely from public notice. The
energy and aftivity with which they were established was
not sustained, and in 1841, when "Agricultural Societies
or Committees" of an altogether different cbara&er were
being formed, Mr. Alex. MACRAE publicly attributed the
passing out of existence of the organizations whose
records I have endeavoured to colleft to the faft that*
" they had been made the instrument of political squab-
bles and party feelings." The Agricultural Committees
of 1 841 were the machinery by means of which the plan-
ters sought to bring into operation the historical " Rules
and Regulations" anent the work and wages of the freed
black people. On 06lober 12th, 1843, the Royal Gazette,
commenting upon a ploughing match which had taken
place in Barbados, remarked : —

Alas for this colony ! While the Barbadians are talking of their
"District Agricultural Societies*' from which such honourable conten-
tions emanate, where, oh planters of Demerara, Essequebo, and
Berbice, is the single central Agricultural Association of any sort that
you can point to as being now in operation.

Three days later the same paper had the follow-
ing :—

As to Agricultural Societies, that of the West Coast and River Bank
of Demerara was the last to drag its weary existence to a close ; since then

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Agricultural Societies. 273

not a word has been breathed of associations of this kind* except
a few political essays, as its reports were termed at the time, not a
record even is left of its former existence.

Such is the history and such the end of the precursors
of the present Royal Agricultural and Commercial
Society, whose career must be left for treatment in a
future number.

(To be continued.)


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After the Storm in St. Vincent.

Edited by Mary E. Browne.

YESTERDAY morning concluded a long letter
to you giving a full account of the hurricane, the
losses we had sustained by that awful visitation
the alarming fires which took place subsequently, and
the precautions I took to avoid the occurrence of fire on
my own estate. I now propose in justice to ourselves
to detail the steps we took for the comfort and relief of
the Negroes (even before we thought of ourselves or of
our own residences) in order to shew you how we re-
gard the welfare of our people on all occasions. On the
evening after the hurricane they were employed by my
direftions in collefting every article of furniture and
clothing they could discover amongst the ruins of their
cottages, but as several of these were buried beneath
masses of fallen cliffs, it was an occupation of more than
a day. The next day, and for a whole fortnight after-
wards they had the time entirely to themselves; and
whilst some were assisted by the carpenters (who are
above 20 in number) in re-building their dwellings, others
were occupied in planting provisions, washing their
clothes, and clearing away the ruins and fallen trees.
The greater proportion of the breadfruit trees had been
rooted up, and all were deprived of their fruit, the plan-
tains, which were advancing rapidly to maturity, were all
thrown down, and the yams, tanias and other vegetables
so seriously injured that we were threatened with a
famine unless some immediate steps were taken at this
very critical period to avert so awful an addition to our

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After the Storm in St. Vincent. 275

sufferings. Flour which had been ten dollars per barrel,
rose suddenly to twenty-two dollars, and corn-meal and
salt provisions in proportion. But by the seasonable
arrival of several American vessels, and the promptness
of our excellent Governor in immediately taking off the
duties and throwing open the Ports, flour fell as low as
seven and a half and eight dollars. We, on our part di*
rected the Negroes to search all their provision grounds,
and to secure every article of food they could find. We
took the precaution of using first such as would not keep
long, and drying or pounding the remainder to come in
afterwards. During the succeeding fortnight we gave
them three days a week, and allotted to the infirm and
aged a portion of one of our own valleys, in which and
in their own grounds, they were employed in planting
sweet potatoes, Indian corn, peas and ochroes, which are
ready in two or three months. When their own little
stores began to fail, we bought 40 or 50 barrels of flour,
6 puncheons of corn meal, and an increased cumber of
hogsheads of salt fish, which we served out to them every
week in proportion to their respeftive wants, for which
purpose I made an alphabetical list of the whole 700, and
made enquiries of all the overseers and drivers as to
those persons who stood most in need, affixing marks to
their names in order to prevent imposition, which, not-
withstanding all our vigilance, we found pra&ised upon
us in a variety of instances by those who needed not our
assistance, some even having barrels of flour in their
houses at the very time they made their application.
In addition to these supplies, all the young people
under 15, the children, the aged and the sick had
each two mugs of chocolate, well sweetened with

MM 2

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2j6 TlMEHftl.

sugar every morning for breakfast, and at nopn the
same. quantity of hasty pudding thickened with salt fish,
and these allowances were continued between two or
three months. . The lists on these occasions were called
over by myself or one of my sons every day, and our
English servant, Ann, measured it out, otherwise, great
partiality would have been shewn to particular favourites,
a,nd £h* tame person might have come a dozen times, a
deceit which they all repeatedly attempted to practise,
by washing out their tins and calabashes and coming
under a feigned name, though when discovered they
were sure to receive a good rap with my 6tick as a pun-
ishment. Notwithstanding all the daily care and atten-
tion to their wants I repeatedly heard them exclaim,
grumbling as I passed them in the fields, " Massa, me
no like hasty pudding and salt fish, me want dumplings
and me want salt pork," some wanting one thing and
some another. 'Oh certainly," I said, in a tone of
bitter irony, " and, perhaps, you would have no objection
to roast beet, and plum pudding, and mutton chops, and
beef steaks" ? " Yes Massa, yes Massa, me want dat
too." At the very time we were daily administering to
their wants and comforts, they were committing depre-
dations upon our canes, for at this early season when
they were scarcely ripe, they would seize upon a cane
from six to eight feet in length, snap it in two, to taste
the middle joint, and if not exactly to their liking they
threw it away and broke several more until they met
with one more suited to their taste, thus wantonly
wasting three or four times as many as they eat. We
observed the scattered fragments, and kept a vigilant
look-out, but they still frequently eluded us in the

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After the Storm in St. Vincent. .277

evenings and at night, when we could not recognise
their features, and they were soon hidden and lost
among the lofty and thickly-set canes. As soon as the
Negro provision grounds were cleared and re-planted,
and as many houses erefted as we could procure thatch
for, (the hurricane having destroyed that upon the canes)
so as to allow room for one or two families to occupy
each cottage, we left five of the carpenters to continue
to rebuild the remainder as fast as materials could be
procured, and we turned our attention to our own resi-
dences, sugar works and fallen canes. Vegetation in this
country is so rapid that the canes and fruit trees soon
began to assume their usual livery of green, and appa-
rently to the unpra£tised eye to recover rapidly from
the effefts of the storm. In many instances, however,
this was only an appearance, for those which looked
flourishing at a distance, on a nearer and closer inspec-
tion were found to be withering and rotting on the
stalks, sprouting at the eyes, or taking root where they
had fallen, all which contribute not only to diminish the
quantity but seriously to deteriorate from the quality of
the juice. Some were so much injured that they could
not be raised up at all without snapping off, others that
would admit of it were gently supported, stripped,
weeded and bedded with trash, and the later canes
which were not so high at the time all weeded, hoed up
and manured. This was the occupation of several
months, as great care was required in their injured state,
and a profusion of weeds was threatening to £row
through them as in the case of laid wheat in England.

In the meantime our jobbers were employed in remov-
ing the fallen trees and rubbish, colle6ling the scattered

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278 TlMEHRI.

materials and preparing the way for the masons and car-
penters, who commenced with putting my house and the
manager's in a barely habitable state. Then we pro-
ceeded in due order to the mill-house, boiling house, still
house, and the canal. The latter, from its great extent,
four or five miles, passing round wooded hills and under
precipices, was so filled up with rocks, masses of fallen
earth and immense trees, that it was a labour of some
time to clear it out effe&ually. On the first of Septem-
ber our own residence was rendered so far habitable that
we were enabled to return to it from the curing-house,
where we had passed many weeks of discomfort under a
burning coppered roof, and in the midst of the various
disagreeables with which it and the store room are
usually filled. We were returning it is true to a mere
thatched cottage, but the temperature was so different,
and the air so pure and comparatively cool, that it was
quite a luxurious palace compared with the building we
had quitted. We had abused it before the hurricane as
little better than a barn, but we were now thankful, nay
delighted, to occupy it again, even in its diminutive and
reduced size. The very next morning we had a visit
from Sir GEORGE Hill, the Governor, who with his
charafteristic benevolence and zeal for the public, had
come up attended by only a single servant, knowing
how incapable we were in this part of the country of re-
ceiving him with any retinue. His objeft was to ascer-
tain by personal observation the extent of the calamity
that had befallen us, in order that he might represent
our case in stronger terms to the Government at home,
and describe as an eye-witness the extent of the loss we
had suffered. Not aware of any such intention I had

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After the Storm in St. Vincent. 279

ridden to inspeft the repairs that were going on at the
Tunnel Wharf at Mount Young, and on my return ob-
served as I thought a stranger standing on the ruins of
our works at Mount Young, and looking with uplifted
hands and in utter astonishment at the prodigious vio-
lence of the wind which had not only hurled away the
roof in fragments to a distance, but had thrown down
the very stone walls. It was our worthy friend Sir
GEORGE, who observed on recognising me, that all the
accounts he had received in town of the state of the
Carib Country, and which he concluded would be much
exaggerated by our fears, fell far, — very far short of the
reality ; for that beggared all description. As we rode
along I pointed out to him the prostrated fields of canes,
trees of the largest size, thrown across the roads, and our
ruined buildings at Grand Sable. From thence we rode
up to our little cottage at which the workmen were still
engaged, and I introduced him to the ladies in our little
drawing room, which was now merely a little open gal-
lery. After congratulating us upon our personal safety,
though commiserating our misfortunes, our guest was
soon quietly seated amidst shavings and lumber, quite at
home. He made us recount to him all the perils and ad-
ventures of that awful day, traced our flight from room
to room as the building fell, our escape through the win-
dow, lodgment in a pantry without windows or doors or
floor, and our final refuge in the ever memorable cave,
the interior of which we explored. Afterwards as we
passed along the cane fields where the negroes were at
work, I requested them all to take off their hats as a
mark of respeft to His [Excellency. Some of them re-
marked to me afterwards " Massa, how plain Guvnor

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28b TitfEHfU.

dress, and how free to talk to every body, we no bin
kriow he come till you tell us. When list Guvnor come
me know long before he reach Graftd Sable; him dress
out all over so fine, him soldters wid him, dru,m beating,
flags flying, him all so grand.' ' On his progress north-
ward to visit the other estates, I accompanied Sir
GfiORGE across our own boundaries and through the
neighbouring properties of mount Bentinck and Langley
Park until he reached the road leading up to Lot 14,
Mr. CUMMiNGS' residence, which, as it had sustained the
least injury from the hurricane would best admit of his
reception ; and there, several gentlemen of the neigh-
bourhood and amongst them myself paid our personal
respe&s next morning. The following week the Governor
occupied in a similar tour to the leeward side of the
island, and from his own observation and strong repre-
sentations of our desolate situation, accompanied by the
Estimate of losses made out by the Commissioners he had
appointed for that purpose, we may mainly attribute the
£20,000, which has been awarded by Parliament to this
islkncl. The estimated loss sustained on the whole island
was about £200,000 and our own individual loss at a
moderate calculation £10,863 18s. so that our proportion
of the grant will, at 8 per cent be about £869. Small
however as this sum is when compared with our a6tual
loss, we shall find it in these times a most seasonable
relief and of considerable service to us in our reduced
circumstances. I have great reason td be thankful that
we have not had the same expenses to incur in repairs
at Grand Sable as many of our neighbours on the ad-
joining estates, who. were obliged to hire tradesmen at
very high wages, there being so much competition,

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After the Storm in St. Vincent. a8i

■ i ' i 1 .i M | . ■■ . * " 1 1.... i i ■ i I, . M i .

whilst we have erefted our works, and shall complete
every other building with our own tradesmen alone,
without hiring one stranger, carpenter, blacksmith, or
mason. . Our principal expense in cash will be for. the'
materials, wood, lime, tiles and iron, and the increased
supply of provisions procured for the negroes. Our
principal fields and sugar works being at Grand Sable.,
our first attention was directed to them, and by very
great and continued exertions those works were so far
completed by the 28th of November, that we commenced
cutting canes on that day and grinding and boiling on
the 30th, It was a most anxious time, for from the
injury the canes we were cutting had suffered during
the hurricane, and their progressive deterioration every
week by remaining on the ground so long, we antici-
pated from our early canes nothing but molasses. As
the liquor advanced from copper to copper, seven in
number, we watched its progress with an anxious eye ; it
at last reached the teach or last copper, where its boil-
ing is completed and from whence it is struck into the
coolers. All our neighbours were anxious to know the
result as we were the first to commence crop, for on our
fate depended their own . What will it turn to ? Molasses
only I fear. Now it looks better — it will surely gran-
ulate ! It is struck into the cooler, as the heat lessens it
assumes more consistency, — the grains become visible —
it is sugar! Then as to its quality ; (when removed from
the cooler and packed in the hogshead, where it parts
with the molasses and is cured ready for shipping) that is
far better than we calculated upon ; and as we advanced
in our crops it grew better and better, up to the present
time (April) at which period we are a&ually making


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282 TlMEHRI.

finer sugar both in grain and colour than was ever pro-
duced on this estate before. Had the hurricane then
improved the quality of these latter canes, you will ask ?
* No, but the improvement is owing, first, to these canes
having been better attended to, than they had been for
years, in weeding hoeing and manuring, and, secondly,
and in my opinion mainly attributable to the yery im-
proved method of potting the sugar, which I adopted at
the suggestion of a very intelligent gentleman, Mr.
MASSIAH of Barbados.

The Sunday after the boiling house was re-opened
I had it fitted up at one o'clock with benches, and recom-
menced Divine service for the negroes. The morning
service I have performed in my own house for the family
and such as chose to attend. These desirable objects
attained and our main buildings ere&ed, we proceeded
to re-build our megass houses (where the cane stalks
when the juice is expressed are dried for fuel) our
coopers' and carpenters' shop, our boat house at the
Tunnel and the home cattle pens. Our attention would
have next been turned to the ere&ion of our hospital,
nursery, overseers' houses, and my own mansion, but as
American lumber, deal planks and scantling, is at present
very high, we must wait a favourable opportunity when
the price is low, and in the meantime our carpenters, to
save expense in every way, are engaged back in the
woods in cutting down large trees, which they split up
into headings for the sugar hogsheads.

N ^W#N



Report of the Meetings of the Society.

Report of the Meeting held 8th July. — The -Hon.
W. Russell, President, in the chair.

There were 17 members present

Eleflion. — Henry Messervy, Pin. La Bonne Intention,
was elected an ordinary member.

Mr. Garnett gave notice of motion that the subscrip-
tion of members be reduced.

The President said he would submit some data to the
next meeting on the Slicing of Canes, in connexion with
the Diffusion process.

Some information from Mr. Walker, Director in
London, was laid before members. He said he had been
in communication with Mr. Stanford, the publisher, about
a qualified person to arrange the Society's proposed
classified catalogue of books. — The invoice of medals for
the Local Exhibition amounted to £110 16 8.— Mr.
Walker expressed his satisfa6lion at the colony's dis-
play in the London Exhibition — He thought the establish-
ment of a Colonial Museum in London was now assured.
He had on enquiry learnt that there was no prospeft of a
dividend from Ridgway's estate for at least six months

In reply to Mr. Hutchens, the Honorary Secretary
said the memorial bust of Mr. Campbell was in course of

A letter from Mr. Hawtayne, Commissioner at the
Exhibition was read, accompanying a pamphlet on the
Locust war in Cyprus, and containing information about

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284 TlMEHRI.

a new process for preserving the natural appearance
of fruit, by a mixture of Hydrate chloral and water.

On the suggestion of the President, Mr. Quelch the
Curator was asked to make experiments on the preserva-
tion of native fruits in the manner suggested.

A request communicated through Mr. Hawtayne from
Mr. James Jackson, Fellow of the Paris Geographical
Sjoeiety, for maps, plans and publications relating to the
Colony was favourably entertained, provided his society
was willing to arrange exchanges. In this connexion
Mr. Hutchens expressed his willingness to supply a list
of a most complete collection at the Hague, of maps,
plans and papers relating to this colony.

Mr. Williams, afting Government Analytical Chemist,
submitted a tabular statement of analysis of several
varieties of Jamaica canes made by the Chemical bureau
of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. He was ac-
corded a vote of thanks.

The President said the next item of business was dis-
cussion on his paper on Cattle raising in the Grand
Savannah, Berbice. The fa£t that the colony had to
import cattle from other lands, while it had such excel-
lent means of raising its own flocks, was a very impor-
tant one, and showed the want of enterprise somewhere.

In the short desultory conversation that ensued, in
which Messrs. Hutchens, Jamieson, Garnett, Winter and
Hill took part, Mr. Godfrey pointed out that it was
dffamage that was wanted in the first place to ensure
the success of a cattle farm in ihis colony. In the dry
season there was no water, and only sunburnt grass,
and in the wet season the water drowned the small stock
and killed the horses.

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Report of Sociitv's Meetings. 285

After attention had been called to the possibility of
supplying cattle distri&s with water under a Government
scheme, and taxing the lands participating therein, for
the same, it was understood that a copy of Mr. Russell's
paper should be sent to the Government.

Referring to specimens of striped Sugar Cane exhi-

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Online LibraryRoyal agricultural and commercial society of BritiTimehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana → online text (page 21 of 25)