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come. The white folk caught (and little blame to them) the panic;
and some began to pray who had not prayed for years. The pious and
the educated (and there were plenty of both in Barbadoes) were not
proof against the infection. Old letters describe the scene in the
churches that morning as hideous - prayers, sobs, and cries, in
Stygian darkness, from trembling crowds. And still the darkness
continued, and the dust fell.

I have a letter, written by one long since dead, who had at least
powers of description of no common order, telling how, when he tried
to go out of his house upon the east coast, he could not find the
trees on his own lawn, save by feeling for their stems. He stood
amazed not only in utter darkness, but in utter silence. For the
trade-wind had fallen dead; the everlasting roar of the surf was
gone; and the only noise was the crashing of branches, snapped by
the weight of the clammy dust. He went in again, and waited. About
one o'clock the veil began to lift; a lurid sunlight stared in from
the horizon: but all was black overhead. Gradually the dust-cloud
drifted away; the island saw the sun once more; and saw itself
inches deep in black, and in this case fertilising, dust. The
trade-wind blew suddenly once more out of the clear east, and the
surf roared again along the shore.

Meanwhile, a heavy earthquake-wave had struck part at least of the
shores of Barbadoes. The gentleman on the east coast, going out,
found traces of the sea, and boats and logs washed up, some 10 to 20
feet above high-tide mark: a convulsion which seems to have gone
unmarked during the general dismay.

One man at least, an old friend of John Hunter, Sir Joseph Banks and
others their compeers, was above the dismay, and the superstitious
panic which accompanied it. Finding it still dark when he rose to
dress, he opened (so the story used to run) his window; found it
stick, and felt upon the sill a coat of soft powder. 'The volcano
in St. Vincent has broken out at last,' said the wise man, 'and this
is the dust of it.' So he quieted his household and his Negroes,
lighted his candles, and went to his scientific books, in that
delight, mingled with an awe not the less deep because it is
rational and self-possessed, with which he, like other men of
science, looked at the wonders of this wondrous world.

Those who will recollect that Barbadoes is eighty miles to windward
of St. Vincent, and that a strong breeze from E.N.E. is usually
blowing from the former island to the latter, will be able to
imagine, not to measure, the force of an explosion which must have
blown this dust several miles into the air, above the region of the
trade-wind, whether into a totally calm stratum, or into that still
higher one in which the heated south-west wind is hurrying
continually from the tropics toward the pole. As for the cessation
of the trade-wind itself during the fall of the dust, I leave the
fact to be explained by more learned men: the authority whom I have
quoted leaves no doubt in my mind as to the fact.

On leaving St. Vincent, the track lies past the Grenadines. For
sixty miles, long low islands of quaint forms and euphonious names -
Becquia, Mustique, Canonau, Carriacou, Isle de Rhone - rise a few
hundred feet out of the unfathomable sea, bare of wood, edged with
cliffs and streaks of red and gray rock, resembling, says Dr. Davy,
the Cyclades of the Grecian Archipelago: their number is counted at
three hundred. The largest of them all is not 8000 acres in extent;
the smallest about 600. A quiet prosperous race of little yeomen,
beside a few planters, dwell there; the latter feeding and exporting
much stock, the former much provisions, and both troubling
themselves less than of yore with sugar and cotton. They build
coasting vessels, and trade with them to the larger islands; and
they might be, it is said, if they chose, much richer than they
are, - if that be any good to them.

The steamer does not stop at any of these little sea-hermitages; so
that we could only watch their shores: and they were worth
watching. They had been, plainly, sea-gnawn for countless ages; and
may, at some remote time, have been all joined in one long ragged
chine of hills, the highest about 1000 feet. They seem to be for
the most part made up of marls and limestones, with trap-dykes and
other igneous matters here and there. And one could not help
entertaining the fancy that they were a specimen of what the other
islands were once, or at least would have been now, had not each of
them had its volcanic vents, to pile up hard lavas thousands of feet
aloft, above the marine strata, and so consolidate each ragged chine
of submerged mountain into one solid conical island, like St.
Vincent at their northern end, and at their southern end that
beautiful Grenada to which we were fast approaching, and which we
reached, on our outward voyage, at nightfall; running in toward a
narrow gap of moonlit cliffs, beyond which we could discern the
lights of a town. We did not enter the harbour: but lay close off
its gateway in safe deep water; fired our gun, and waited for the
swarm of negro boats, which began to splash out to us through the
darkness, the jabbering of their crews heard long before the flash
of their oars was seen.

Most weird and fantastic are these nightly visits to West Indian
harbours. Above, the black mountain-depths, with their canopy of
cloud, bright white against the purple night, hung with keen stars.
The moon, it may be on her back in the west, sinking like a golden
goblet behind some rock-fort, half shrouded in black trees. Below,
a line of bright mist over a swamp, with the coco-palms standing up
through it, dark, and yet glistering in the moon. A light here and
there in a house: another here and there in a vessel, unseen in the
dark. The echo of the gun from hill to hill. Wild voices from
shore and sea. The snorting of the steamer, the rattling of the
chain through the hawse-hole; and on deck, and under the quarter,
strange gleams of red light amid pitchy darkness, from engines,
galley fires, lanthorns; and black folk and white folk flitting
restlessly across them.

The strangest show: 'like a thing in a play,' says every one when
they see it for the first time. And when at the gun-fire one
tumbles out of one's berth, and up on deck, to see the new island,
one has need to rub one's eyes, and pinch oneself - as I was minded
to do again and again during the next few weeks - to make sure that
it is not all a dream. It is always worth the trouble, meanwhile,
to tumble up on deck, not merely for the show, but for the episodes
of West Indian life and manners, which, quaint enough by day, are
sure to be even more quaint at night, in the confusion and bustle of
the darkness. One such I witnessed in that same harbour of Grenada,
not easily to be forgotten.

A tall and very handsome middle-aged brown woman, in a limp print
gown and a gorgeous turban, stood at the gangway in a glare of
light, which made her look like some splendid witch by a Walpurgis
night-fire. 'Tell your boatman to go round to the other side,'
quoth the officer in charge.

'Fanqua! (Francois) You go round oder side of de ship!'

Fanqua, who seemed to be her son, being sleepy, tipsy, stupid, or
lazy, did not stir.

'Fanqua! You hear what de officer say? You go round.'

No move.

'Fanqua! You not ashamed of youself? You not hear de officer say
he turn a steam-pipe over you?'

No move.

'Fanqua!' (authoritative).

'Fanqua!' (indignant).

'Fanqua!' (argumentative).

'Fanqua!' (astonished).

'Fanqua!' (majestic).

'Fanqua!' (confidentially alluring).

'Fanqua!' (regretful). And so on, through every conceivable tone of
expression.

But Fanqua did not move; and the officer and bystanders laughed.

She summoned all her talents, and uttered one last 'Fanqua!' which
was a triumph of art.

Shame and surprise were blended in her voice with tenderness and
pity, and they again with meek despair. To have been betrayed,
disgraced, and so unexpectedly, by one whom she loved, and must love
still, in spite of this, his fearful fall!

It was more than heart could bear. Breathing his name but that once
more, she stood a moment, like a queen of tragedy, one long arm
drawing her garments round her, the other outstretched, as if to
cast off - had she the heart to do it - the rebel; and then stalked
away into the darkness of the paddle-boxes - for ever and a day to
brood speechless over her great sorrow? Not in the least. To begin
chattering away to her acquaintances, as if no Fanqua existed in the
world.

It was a piece of admirable play-acting; and was meant to be. She
had been conscious all the while that she was an object of
attention - possibly of admiration - to a group of men; and she knew
what was right to be done and said under the circumstances, and did
it perfectly, even to the smallest change of voice. She was
doubtless quite sincere the whole time, and felt everything which
her voice expressed: but she felt it, because it was proper to feel
it; and deceived herself probably more than she deceived any one
about her.

A curious phase of human nature is that same play-acting, effect-
studying, temperament, which ends, if indulged in too much, in
hopeless self-deception, and 'the hypocrisy which,' as Mr. Carlyle
says, 'is honestly indignant that you should think it hypocritical.'
It is common enough among Negresses, and among coloured people too:
but is it so very uncommon among whites? Is it not the bane of too
many Irish? of too many modern French? of certain English, for that
matter, whom I have known, who probably had no drop of French or
Irish blood in their veins? But it is all the more baneful the
higher the organisation is; because, the more brilliant the
intellect, the more noble the instincts, the more able its victim is
to say - 'See: I feel what I ought, I say what I ought, I do what I
ought: and what more would you have? Why do you Philistines
persist in regarding me with distrust and ridicule? What is this
common honesty, and what is this "single eye," which you suspect me
of not possessing?'

Very beautiful was that harbour of George Town, seen by day. In the
centre an entrance some two hundred yards across: on the right, a
cliff of volcanic sand, interspersed with large boulders hurled from
some volcano now silent, where black women, with baskets on their
heads, were filling a barge with gravel. On the left, rocks of hard
lava, surmounted by a well-lined old fort, strong enough in the days
of 32-pounders. Beyond it, still on the left, the little city,
scrambling up the hillside, with its red roofs and church spires,
among coconut and bread-fruit trees, looking just like a German toy
town. In front, at the bottom of the harbour, villa over villa,
garden over garden, up to the large and handsome Government House,
one of the most delectable spots of all this delectable land; and
piled above it, green hill upon green hill, which, the eye soon
discovers, are the Sommas of old craters, one inside the other
towards the central peak of Mount Maitland, 1700 feet high. On the
right bow, low sharp cliff-points of volcanic ash; and on the right
again, a circular lake a quarter of a mile across and 40 feet in
depth, with a coral reef, almost awash, stretching from it to the
ash-cliff on the south side of the harbour mouth. A glance shows
that this is none other than an old crater, like that inside English
Harbour in Antigua, probably that which has hurled out the boulders
and the ash; and one whose temper is still uncertain, and to be
watched anxiously in earthquake times. The Etang du Vieux Bourg is
its name; for, so tradition tells, in the beginning of the
seventeenth century the old French town stood where the white coral-
reef gleams under water; in fact, upon the northern lip of the
crater. One day, however, the Enceladus below turned over in his
sleep, and the whole town was swallowed up, or washed away. The
sole survivor was a certain blacksmith, who thereupon was made - or
as sole survivor made himself - Governor of the island of Grenada.
So runs the tale; and so it seemed likely to run again, during the
late earthquake at St. Thomas's. For on the very same day, and
before any earthquake-wave from St. Thomas's had reached Grenada - if
any ever reached it, which I could not clearly ascertain - this Etang
du Vieux Bourg boiled up suddenly, hurling masses of water into the
lower part of the town, washing away a stage, and doing much damage.
The people were, and with good reason, in much anxiety for some
hours after: but the little fit of ill-temper went off, having
vented itself, as is well known, in the sea between St. Thomas's and
Santa Cruz, many miles away.

The bottom of the crater, I was assured, was not permanently
altered: but the same informant - an eye-witness on whom I can fully
depend - shared the popular opinion that it had opened, sucked in
sea-water, and spouted it out again. If so, the good folks of
George Town are quite right in holding that they had a very narrow
escape of utter destruction.

An animated and picturesque spot, as the steamer runs alongside, is
the wooden wharf where passengers are to land and the ship to coal.
The coaling Negroes and Negresses, dressed or undressed, in their
dingiest rags, contrast with the country Negresses, in gaudy prints
and gaudier turbans, who carry on their heads baskets of fruit even
more gaudy than their dresses. Both country and town Negroes,
meanwhile, look - as they are said to be - comfortable and prosperous;
and I can well believe the story that beggars are unknown in the
island. The coalers, indeed, are only too well off, for they earn
enough, by one day of violent and degrading toil, to live in
reckless shiftless comfort, and, I am assured, something very like
debauchery, till the next steamer comes in.

No sooner is the plank down, than a struggling line getting on board
meets a struggling line getting on shore; and it is well if the
passenger, on landing, is not besmirched with coal-dust, after a
narrow escape of being shoved into the sea off the stage. But,
after all, civility pays in Grenada, as in the rest of the world;
and the Negro, like the Frenchman, though surly and rude enough if
treated with the least haughtiness, will generally, like the
Frenchman, melt at once at a touch of the hat, and an appeal to
'Laissez passer Mademoiselle.' On shore we got, through be-coaled
Negroes, men and women, safe and not very much be-coaled ourselves;
and were driven up steep streets of black porous lava, between lava
houses and walls, and past lava gardens, in which jutted up
everywhere, amid the loveliest vegetation, black knots and lumps
scorched by the nether fires. The situation of the house - the
principal one of the island - to which we drove, is beautiful beyond
description. It stands on a knoll some 300 feet in height,
commanded only by a slight rise to the north; and the wind of the
eastern mountains sweeps fresh and cool through a wide hall and
lofty rooms. Outside, a pleasure-ground and garden, with the same
flowers as we plant out in summer at home; and behind, tier on tier
of green wooded hill, with cottages and farms in the hollows, might
have made us fancy ourselves for a moment in some charming country-
house in Wales. But opposite the drawing-room window rose a
Candelabra Cereus, thirty feet high. On the lawn in front great
shrubs of red Frangipani carried rose-coloured flowers which filled
the air with fragrance, at the end of thick and all but leafless
branches. Trees hung over them with smooth greasy stems of bright
copper - which has gained them the name of 'Indian skin,' at least in
Trinidad, where we often saw them wild; another glance showed us
that every tree and shrub around was different from those at home:
and we recollected where we were; and recollected, too, as we looked
at the wealth of flower and fruit and verdure, that it was sharp
winter at home. We admired this and that: especially a most lovely
Convolvulus - I know not whether we have it in our hothouses {52a} -
with purple maroon flowers; and an old hog-plum {52b} - Mombin of the
French - a huge tree, which was striking, not so much from its size
as from its shape. Growing among blocks of lava, it had assumed the
exact shape of an English oak in a poor soil and exposed situation;
globular-headed, gnarled, stunted, and most unlike to its giant
brethren of the primeval woods, which range upward 60 or 80 feet
without a branch. We walked up to see the old fort, commanding the
harbour from a height of 800 feet. We sat and rested by the
roadside under a great cotton-wood tree, and looked down on gorges
of richest green, on negro gardens, and groo-groo palms, and here
and there a cabbage-palm, or a huge tree at whose name we could not
guess; then turned through an arch cut in the rock into the interior
of the fort, which now holds neither guns nor soldiers, to see at
our feet the triple harbour, the steep town, and a very paradise of
garden and orchard; and then down again, with the regretful thought,
which haunted me throughout the islands - What might the West Indies
not have been by now, had it not been for slavery, rum, and sugar?

We got down to the steamer again, just in time, happily, not to see
a great fight in the water between two Negroes; to watch which all
the women had stopped their work, and cheered the combatants with
savage shouts and laughter. At last the coaling and the cursing
were over; and we steamed out again to sea.

I have antedated this little episode - delightful for more reasons
than I set down here - because I do not wish to trouble my readers
with two descriptions of the same island - and those mere passing
glimpses.

There are two craters, I should say, in Grenada, beside the harbour.
One, the Grand Etang, lies high in the central group of mountains,
which rise to 3700 feet, and is itself about 1740 feet above the
sea. Dr. Davy describes it as a lake of great beauty, surrounded by
bamboos and tree-ferns. The other crater-lake lies on the north-
east coast, and nearer to the sea-level: and I more than suspect
that more would be recognised, up and down the island, by the eye of
a practised geologist.

The southern end of Grenada - of whatsoever rock it may be composed -
shows evidence of the same wave-destruction as do the Grenadines.
Arches and stacks, and low horizontal strata laid bare along the
cliff, in some places white with guano, prove that the sea has been
at work for ages, which must be many and long, considering that the
surf, on that leeward side of the island, is little or none the
whole year round. With these low cliffs, in strongest contrast to
the stately and precipitous southern point of St. Lucia, the
southern point of Grenada slides into the sea, the last of the true
Antilles. For Tobago, Robinson Crusoe's island, which lies away
unseen to windward, is seemingly a fragment of South America, like
the island of Trinidad, to which the steamer now ran dead south for
seventy miles.

It was on the shortest day of the year - St. Thomas's Day - at seven
in the morning (half-past eleven of English time, just as the old
women at Eversley would have been going round the parish for their
'goodying'), that we became aware of the blue mountains of North
Trinidad ahead of us; to the west of them the island of the Dragon's
Mouth; and westward again, a cloud among the clouds, the last spur
of the Cordilleras of the Spanish Main. There was South America at
last; and as a witness that this, too, was no dream, the blue water
of the Windward Islands changed suddenly into foul bottle-green.
The waters of the Orinoco, waters from the peaks of the Andes far
away, were staining the sea around us. With thoughts full of three
great names, connected, as long as civilised man shall remain, with
those waters - Columbus, Raleigh, Humboldt - we steamed on, to see
hills, not standing out, like those of the isles which we had
passed, in intense clearness of green and yellow, purple and blue,
but all shrouded in haze, like those of the Hebrides or the West of
Ireland. Onward through a narrow channel in the mountain-wall, not
a rifle-shot across, which goes by the name of the Ape's Mouth,
banked by high cliffs of dark Silurian rock - not bare, though, as in
Britain, but furred with timber, festooned with lianes, down to the
very spray of the gnawing surf. One little stack of rocks, not
thirty feet high, and as many broad, stood almost in the midst of
the channel, and in the very northern mouth of it, exposed to the
full cut of surf and trade-wind. But the plants on it, even seen
through the glasses, told us where we were. One huge low tree
covered the top with shining foliage, like that of a Portugal
laurel; all around it upright Cerei reared their gray candelabra,
and below them, hanging down the rock to the very surf, deep green
night-blowing Cereus twined and waved, looking just like a curtain
of gigantic stag's-horn moss. We ran through the channel; then amid
more low wooded islands, it may be for a mile, before a strong back
current rushing in from the sea; and then saw before us a vast plain
of muddy water. No shore was visible to the westward; to the
eastward the northern hills of Trinidad, forest clad, sank to the
water; to the south lay a long line of coast, generally level with
the water's edge, and green with mangroves, or dotted with coco-
palms. That was the Gulf of Paria, and Trinidad beyond.

Shipping at anchor, and buildings along the flat shore, marked Port
of Spain, destined hereafter to stand, not on the seaside, but, like
Lynn in Norfolk, and other fen-land towns, in the midst of some of
the richest reclaimed alluvial in the world.

As the steamer stopped at last, her screw whirled up from the bottom
clouds of yellow mud, the mingled deposits of the Caroni and the
Orinoco. In half an hour more we were on shore, amid Negroes,
Coolies, Chinese, French, Spaniards, short-legged Guaraon dogs, and
black vultures.



CHAPTER III: TRINIDAD



It may be worth while to spend a few pages in telling something of
the history of this lovely island since the 31st of July 1499, when
Columbus, on his third voyage, sighted the three hills in the south-
eastern part. He had determined, it is said, to name the first land
which he should see after the Blessed Trinity; the triple peaks
seemed to him a heaven-sent confirmation of his intent, and he named
the island Trinidad; but the Indians called it Iere.

He ran from Punta Galera, at the north-eastern extremity - so named
from the likeness of a certain rock to a galley under sail - along
the east and south of the island; turned eastward at Punta Galeota;
and then northward, round Punta Icacque, through the Boca Sierpe, or
serpent's mouth, into the Gulf of Paria, which he named 'Golfo de
Balena,' the Gulf of the Whale, and 'Golfo Triste,' the Sad Gulf;
and went out by the northern passage of the Boca Drago. The names
which he gave to the island and its surroundings remain, with few
alterations, to this day.

He was surprised, says Washington Irving, at the verdure and
fertility of the country, having expected to find it more parched
and sterile as he approached the equator; whereas he beheld groves
of palm-trees, and luxuriant forests sweeping down to the seaside,
with fountains and running streams beneath the shade. The shore was
low and uninhabited: but the country rose in the interior, and was
cultivated in many places, and enlivened by hamlets and scattered
habitations. In a word, the softness and purity of the climate, and
the verdure, freshness, and sweetness of the country, appeared to
equal the delights of early spring in the beautiful province of
Valencia in Spain.

He found the island peopled by a race of Indians with fairer
complexions than any he had hitherto seen; 'people all of good
stature, well made, and of very graceful bearing, with much and
smooth hair.' They wore, the chiefs at least, tunics of coloured
cotton, and on their heads beautiful worked handkerchiefs, which
looked in the distance as if they were made of silk. The women,
meanwhile, according to the report of Columbus's son, seem, some of



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