to gross income Â£480. The yearly cost of cultivation and manufac-
ture (including the cost of providing the hogsheads) would amount
to Â£240. There would, therefore, remain exactly Â£240, and this
would be the net income of a lime estate which had cost one thousand
pounds, spread over seven years.
It is impossible to do more here than give an outline of all the
possible industries of Dominica. Bananas are already grown for
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The Colony oj the Leeward Islands. 241
export; oranges are of excellent quality, and are easily grown.
Then there are fresh limes, lemons, grapes, figs, pine-apples, and
fresh vegetables of all kinds. Spices, such as nutmegs, cloves,
vanilla, black pepper, cardamoms, ginger, and cinnamon, are already
introduced, and appear to be well suited to the country. A new
plant, lately introduced from Kew, and likely to do very well, is the
Gambier (tfncaria Qambier), This plant yields a valuable tanning
material largely used in commerce. It used to cost Â£10 per ton,
and now costs Â£40. Hitherto it has been exclusively produced in
the Straits Settlements, but, owing to the demand which has arisen
for it in America, the present state of the trade appears to justify
its extended culture in other parts of the tropics. The plants
introduced to Dominica have made excellent progress, and it is
evident that the warm, moist valleys of that island are hkely to suit
its requirements in every way.
There are extensive tracts of land in Dominica, as yet untouched
by cultivation, within easy reach of the coast. The Layou and Sara
flats comprise an area of 20,000 acres, covered with valuable timber,
and watered by a great number of streams. These flats extend
across the island in its widest part. Farther north another large
area of country in the Pickard Valley is practically unoccupied by
cultivation, and it is probable that here an attempt will be made
to establish a Oambrer industry.
The Presidency of Montserrat has a total area of 82^ square
miles, and a population of 11,000. This is at the rate of 838
persons to a square mile. The surface is composed of a series of
rocky hills and ridges, culminating in several high peaks, from
2,600 feet to 8,000 feet. The island is entirely of volcanic origin,
and a soufridre exists in the high lands to the south. There are
easy slopes on the western and south-eastern sides, and these are
chiefly in cultivation. Other portions of the island are somewhat
steep, and broken up into numerous valleys and ravines. The
higher slopes of the mountains are covered with dense forest, with
cabbage-palms, tree-ferns, wild bananas, and some valuable timber
trees. Although the surface is on the whole so rugged and broken,
it is estimated that nearly one-half of it could be advantageously
placed under cultivation. The soil varies from a light sandy loam
to a stiff clay, and is generally of considerable depth. The mean
annual temperature is 78^ F. The annual rainfall is about 56
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242 The Cohny of the Leeward Islands.
inches near the coast, and 78 to 80 inches in the hilly parts of the
interior. The heat is seldom oppressive, and the island has never
sufrered severely from hurricanes.
Most of the land under cultivation is occupied with sugar-cane.
There are, also, large plantations of lime-trees, chiefly established
by the Montserrat Company ; and, besides, there are scattered culti-
vations of arrowroot, sweet potatoes, yams, eddoes, pigeon-peas,
cassava, ginger, Indian com, and numerous fruit-trees.
The roads in Montserrat are extended all over the island ; they
have lately been thoroughly repaired, and are well supplied with
bridges and culverts.
The chief, and indeed only town, is Plymouth, which consists of
two or three streets running parallel to the sea, with a population
of 1,400. The town, and indeed the whole island, is remarkably
healthy. The people are peaceful and contented. The cottages of
the small freeholders (negro peasants) are well kept, and surrounded
by small gardens with fruit-trees and vegetables. Education and
an efficient medical service have tended to improves the circumstances
of the negroes, and render them as intelligent and as thriving as
any in the West Indies. The value of the exports in 1889 was
Â£28,392. This is at the rate of Â£2-5 per head of population.
Montserrat has come into considerable notice of late years in
connection with the production of lime-juice. This industry was
started about twenty years ago by Mr. Joseph Sturge, and now it
has assumed considerable dimensions. The lime-plantations cover
about 1,000 acres, and great skill and enterprise have been expended
upon them. There are exported fresh and pickled limes, raw lime-
juice, concentrated lime-juice, essence of limes (prepared by a pro-
cess known as ecuelling), from the rind of the hme, and oil of limes
prepared by distillation. Besides these, the Company possesses
a large arrowroot-factory, banana, coffee, and cacao plantations,
and a successful stock-farm. By force of its energy and its example
the Montserrat Company has done a good deal for the island, and
its enterprise deserves to be regarded as one of the many factors
now at work calculated to revive the prosperity of the West India
In Montserrat there are about 1,200 small freeholders. These,
like the negro settlers in Jamaica, would readily take to fruit-grow-
ing, and this industry only requires rapid steam communication
with the northern markets to make it at once as successful and
as important as sugar and lime-juice.
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* The Colony of the Leeward Islands. 248
From Montserrat to Antigna the voyage is a very short one.
Soon after leaving Montserrat, in the early morning especially,
there is a magnificent view of the low peaks of Antigua to the north-
east, while to the north-west rises the rocky mass of Bedonda, with
the peaks of Nevis and St. Eitts beyond. A closer view of Antigua
brings into prominence the pointed peaks in the south and south-
west, and the low headlands on each side of the harbour of St.
John. The steamer makes for this, but does not enter it. It is a
handsome and commodious harbour, but it is blocked by a sandy
bar and obstructed with reefs. If these were removed it would
become one of the finest in the West Indies. The naval station for
this part of the world is at English Harbour, on the south-east
The Presidency of Antigua consists of Antigua, Barbuda, and
Bedonda. Barbuda lies to the north of the main island, with an
area of 62 square miles. It is very flat and uninteresting. It
produces some salt and phosphate of lime, and there are herds of
cattle and horses, some of which are exported to the other islands.
Bedonda is a bold, rocky islet about a mile long, rising to a height
of 1,000 feet above the level of the sea. It is valuable for its stores
of phosphate of alumina, which are worked under a license. Up to a
recent date about 7,000 tons of phosphate were annually exported
to the United States.
Antigua, the seat of the Federal Government, has an area of
108 square miles (about half the size of Middlesex), and a population
of 85,000. This is at the rate of 824 persons to a square mile.
The sur&ce is comparatively flat, the chief hills in the south reach
fix>m 1,200 feet to 2,000 feet. The high lands are generally dry and
uncultivated, while the low lands are covered with rich-loolring cane-
fields. As regards configuration and soil, Antigua possesses three
well-marked districts. These do not pass imperceptibly into one
another, but are divided by clearly defined natural boundaries.
The district to the north and east is either undulating or flat, and is
composed of calcareous marls and coarse sandstone, interspersed
with masses of tolerably compact limestone. The mountainous
district to the west and south is composed of trap rocks, with trap
breccias, and some basaltic greenstones. The intermediate or
central district occupying a depressed area, running diagonally
across the island from St. John's Harbour to Willoughby Bay, is
composed of various clayey formations ranging from loose friable
Digitized by VjOOQ IC
244 The Colony of the Leeward Islands.
marls of a yellow colour to a whitish indurated clay. In this
district there are marine and fresh water flint beds with nnmeroos
fossils of corals and shells and interesting specimens of silicified
The soils are nowhere very deep, except in certain broad valleys.
In composition they are very varied, but may be described as con-
sisting chiefly of clays and calcareous marls. The stiffest clays are
foimd in the west, the marls and light clays being found towards
the centre and eastern portions. The Antigua soils generally are
very fertile and productive. They are very retentive of moisture,
and respond readily to tillage and manures.
The average rainfall is about 45 inches. The climate is there-
fore dry, and occasionally there are seasons of drought. There
are few or no streams, and the only water usually available is
supplied from ponds and pools. Latterly large reservoirs have been
constructed, and from these a plentiful supply of pure water will be
distributed all over the island.
The chief product of Antigua is sugar. About 102 estates are at
present under cultivation, yielding an annual out-turn of 12,000
hogsheads. Some rum and molasses are also produced. The pine-
apples of Antigua are well known, and the exports of these are
capable of being largely increased. At present only one-third of
the surface of the island is under cultivation. Besides sugar
and pine-apples, there are scattered cultivations of fruits and
vegetables, and numerous small provision grounds belonging to
St. John, the capital, is an extensive and attractive town. It
possesses a fine cathedral and other public buildings, and is well
placed on a declivity overlooking the harbour. The population is
about 10,000. The other towns are Falmouth, on the south coast,
and Parham, on the north-east coast.
St. Chbistopher and Nevis.
The Presidency of St. Christopher and Nevis includes also the
island of Anguilla. This is distant about sixty miles. The total
area of the three islands is 153 square miles, or about the size of
Rutland. The total population is about 45,000. The Legislative
Council for the Presidency meets at Basseterre, St. Christopher.
St. Christopher (or St. Kitts) has an area of 68 square miles
and a population of about 30,000. The main portion of the island
consists of an irregular oval. From this there projects a narrow
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The Colony of the Leeward Islands. 245
neck to the sontb-east, expanding at the end into a large rounded
hill. Beyond this hill, two miles distant to the south-east, lies the
island of Nevis.
As St. Eitts is approached from the sea, it presents an attractive
and cultivated appearance. The main portion is composed of a
series of elevations all culminating in one great mass, that of
Mount Misery. This reaches an altitude of 4,060 feet above the
level of the sea, and is nearly always capped with clouds. Imme-
diately below the clouds, the somewhat steep slopes are covered
with dark forests. Below these is a girdle, more or less regular, of
grass lands forming a dividing line between the forests and the
sugar-cane lands. The latter, however, extend all round the island,
sometimes reaching to the sea and sometimes cut off by an inter-
secting tract of dry and barren country. The cultivated slopes with
â€¢grass or sugar-cane fields present varying shades of green, broken
here and there by the dark-brown or greyish shades of the newly
opened land. Dotted amongst these are houses surroimded by trees
placed well to windward of the " works," where, during crop-timo,
a busy hive is at work late and early.
The soil of St. Eitts is largely composed of a rich Â£riable loam
mixed with volcanic ash. It is, in fact, a fine garden soil, easily
worked, and during moderately moist seasons it is most productive.
Its porous character, however, renders it very susceptible to drought.
The rain&ll for 1889 was 59*26 inches.
The climate is, for the tropics, decidedly healthy ; the tempera-
ture varies from 78** to 85** F. During the greater part of the year,
when the trade winds are blowing, the temperature is seldom
The chief produce of St. Eitts is sugar and molasses. There are
also numerous other articles produced on a small scale, consisting
of sweet potatoes, cassava, groimd-nuts, pigeon-peas, and tobacco.
English vegetables are readily grown at all elevations. The system
of cultivation pursued at St. Eitts is of a very high order. It is as
good as anywhere in the tropics. A " green dressing " consisting
of the young growth of pigeon-peas and " Bengal " beans is largely
used for ploughing into the soil.
. The manufacture of sugar is not in so advanced a state as the
cultivation. It is true that the old windmills have largely given
place to steam-engines, but the appliances and apparatus for making
sugar are very much those which have been discarded long ago in
other sugar-producing coxmtries.
^ The sterile land to the south-east is devoted to grazin purposes,
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246 The Colony of the Leeward Islands.
and the salt pond or lake in this district has fonneriy yielded large
crops of salt.
Basseterre, the capital, lies at the foot of a plain sloping down
from the direction of Monkey Hill towards the sea. It contains
about 8,000 inhabitants. It possesses a few good buildings, such as
the Church and the Court House. In the latter, the meetings of the
Legislative Council are also held. Q?here is an attractive and well-kept
public square and garden. The other towns are small and un-
important ; the chief are Old Boad and Sandy Point.
Nevis lies south-east of St. Eitts, and is separated from it by a
narrow strait about two miles wide. This, however, does not con-
vey a clear idea of the distance separating the two communities in
these islands. From Basseterre in St. Eitts to Charlestown in
Nevis is a sea-voyage by boat of about twelve miles. Sometimes
the sea is so rough that the communication is entirely cut off.
With the aid of a small steamer which is in contemplation to
place on this service, the communication between, the two islands
will not be so difficult nor so long,
Nevis is almost circular in outline, and, like many of the West
Indian volcanic islands, it consists of a platform more or less wide
leading up to the slopes of a crater peak, whose head is in the
clouds. It contains 50 square miles, and a population of about
About one-half of its 82,000 acres is, or has been, under cultiva-
tion. The peak of Nevis occupies a position almost in the centre of
the island. It rises to the height of 8,200 feet, with a dark- wooded
crater at the top. The slopes at first are somewhat steep and
covered with forest ; they then become gradually less steep and un-
dulating, and at last spread out almost horizontally towards the sea*
The soil of Nevis, derived from the decomposition of crystalline
trachytes, is more clayey than^that of St. Eitts. Sugar is the chief
product, but, as there are a large number of peasant proprietors in
the island, these cultivate numerous ground provisions, fruits and
vegetables, which, if there were a fiEivourable market for them,
might be increased to a very large extent.
The chief place of business and head-quarters of the Qovemment
is Charlestown, lying along the shore of a bay or roadstead of that
name. The land begins to rise inunediately behind the town and
leads up to the dark-wooded peak. Nevis was formerly a place of
considerable importance, and known as the '' Mother of the English
Charibbee Islands." The Governor of Nevis held a dormant
commissionasGovemor-in-Chief of thelieeward Islands, and *^ pirates
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The Colony of the Leewa/rd Islands. 247
are tried at Nevis only as being deemed the mother-island." Here
also was one of the chief slave marts of the West Indies. Since
that time Nevis has passed through various vicissitudes. Of late
years, however, strenuous efforts have been made to revive the
industries of the island, and no one did more in this direction than
the late Sir Graham Briggs.
Besides sugar and a few small agricultural industries, Nevis pro-
duces some salt, and in the crater of the peak are some deposits of
AnquhiLA contains 85 square miles and a population of about
8,000. It is a long, narrow island, and somewhat flat. The higher
lands are chiefly along the coast ; the interior is depressed, and slopes
slightly towards the north-east. There are few or no swamps, and
the place is extremely healthy. The surface is largely composed
of porous limestone, with highly calcareous marly and stiff clays.
Lately the island has suffered severely from drought, and the in-
habitants have undergone considerable privations. Although the
greater part of the land is rocky and poor, there are several patches
suitable for cultivation. On these, during favourable seasons as
regards rain, the people (who are a healthy and vigorous race)
raise crops of sweet potatoes, cassava, pigeon-peas, okro. Ponies,
cattle, goats, and poultry are successfully raised on the island, and
these, as well as ground provisions, find a market at St. Thomas.
The Presidency of the Virgin Islands consists of 80 to 40 small
scattered islands due east of Porto Bico. Geologically speaking,
they form a submarine prolongation of the mountain system of that
island. The total area is about 58 square miles, and the estimated
population under 5,000. The principal members of the group are
Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada. The latter, as its name
implies (the inundated), is merely a low reef elevated a few feet
above the level of the sea. It has an area of 14 square miles.
Tortola, with an area of 26 square miles, is composed of hills, the
highest of which rises to nearly 1,600 feet. The surface is much
broken up into ravines, and nearly the whole of it has been under
cultivation in former years, chiefly in sugar. Virgin Gorda, 10
square miles in extent, is also hilly, but apparently less fertile than
Tortola* Copper-mines have been worked here, but at present they
are not productive. The inhabitants of these islands are hardy and
skilful seamen. The climate is cool and healthy. The great
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248 The Colony of the Leeward Islands.
drawback to cultivation is the destructive hurricanes that occa-
sionally sweep over these islands. The principal productions are
a coarse sugar, cotton, and ground provisions. Fishing is largely
pursued, and poultry-raising is very successful.
The Old and New Leewabd Islands.
We have thus taken a particular as well as a general view of the
Leeward Islands. It now remains to say a few words on theii^past
economic history, and offer some brief suggestions as regards their
future. The prosperous past of these islands (as, indeed, oi most
of the West Indies) was closely connected with a system of slavery
and with the exclusive production of sugar. Under the exceptionctl
circumstances which obtained sixty years ago they had practically
the monopoly of supplying sugar to the whole world. They were
exclusively sugar islands, and little or nothing else. Slavery, as we
know, was abolished. The whole fabric of the prosperity of the
islands then collapsed. It has taken more than half a century
to attempt to build up another, and we only now begin to see some
promise of it. The taint and stain of slavery have now gone. During
many sorrowful years these beautiful islands have fully expiated the
curse that slavery brought upon them, and they are manfully and
hopefully seeking to enter upon a new order of things. If cane sugar
is ever supplanted by beet in the markets of Europe, it will not be
the fault of the West Indies. In many of the islands which have
come under your notice to-night sugar-growing still continues to
occupy a large share of the attention of the people. That being so,
and as the soil and climate point to sugar as more suitable for culti-
vation than anything else, it is incumbent upon the people them-
selves, as well as upon all connected with them, to place the sugar
industry in the most favourable condition to compete with other
countries, whether these countries produce beet sugar or cane sugar.
Every effort should be made to support the industry compatible
with due regard to the general welfare of the people ; and while
this is being done the planters themselves, on their part, should
take advantage of every improvement within their reach with the
view of cheapening the cost of producing sugar and increasing the
yield per acre. It is true that a good deal has already been done
in this direction. New varieties of canes have from time to time
been introduced ; a valuable series of experiments have been carried
on for the purpose of testing the value of certain artificial and other
manures ; more skilful appliances have been adopted to cultivate
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The Colony of the Leeward Islands. 249
the land, to obtain a greater yield of jtiice from the canes, and to
raise the quality and hence the value of the manufactured article.
And, while all this has been done, steps have been gradually taken
in other directions to remove certain fiscal disabilities, so that the
sugar could be sold at a price to compete with beet sugar and at the
same time to yield a profit to the grower.
These facts sufficiently show that the people in these islands are
waking up, and that they are not prepared to give up their staple
industry, where found suitable, without an effort that will, at
least, call forth the sympathy of the Mother Country, if not
her practical aid and support. Sugar-cane cultivation is for the
most part confined to the low lands. Both the requirements of the
plant and the exigencies of its culture demand that the land should
be fertile, moderately level, and at not too high an altitude above
the level of the sea. Where lands possessing these conditions exist,
and where labour is available, the probability is that they will grow
sugar as well as, if not better than, anything else.
But the production of sugar can by no means occupy all the
available lands suitable for cultivation in the West Indies. It is
well that it is so. What is wanted is a diversified system of
cultural industries, so that there may be no collapse of prosperity
as at present on account of fluctuation in the price of any single
article. The physical configuration of the West India Islands,
where there are all gradations from plains to slopes and mountain
sides, point to this conclusion. We cannot do better, therefore,
than take these as they are, and endeavour to -cultivate them in
such a skilful and suitable manner as to render them a source of
wealth and prosperity to the community.
On lands not already occupied with sugar, and where sugar-
growing does not prove remunerative, there are numerous industries
that might be successfully established. What has been accom-
plished in this respect at Jamaica and other West Indian islands
is a sufficient proof that a system of diversified industries is in the
long run the best and most lasting. Besides sugar, then, we should
endeavour to select a number of industries well suited to the soil
and climate. Of these none are perhaps more promising at present
than coffee. There are two sorts of coffee : the Liberian coffee,
for warm, humid valleys, and the Arabian coffee, for hilly slopes up
to two or three thousand feet. The mountains of Dominica could
grow as fine a coffee as any in the world. While people are investi-
gating remote parts of the world for suitable coffee lands*, here
within easy reach of us are some of the finest coffee lands to be
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250 The Colony of the Leeward Islands.
found in any part of the tropics. At least from five to ten thousand
acres could be established with coffee in this one island. There
are, besides, the highlands of Montserrat, of 8t. Eitts-Nevis, and the
hills of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Cacao is easy of culture, and
thrives in the rich soil of humid valleys. These are to be had in
Dominica in abundance, and they are not wanting also in Moni-
serrat and St. Eitts. Spices, such as nutmeg and mace, vanilla,
black pepper, cubeb pepper, long pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon,
cardamoms, are already introduced to this part of the world. The