Copyright
Margaret Newton.

Glimpses of life in Bermuda and the tropics online

. (page 1 of 15)
Online LibraryMargaret NewtonGlimpses of life in Bermuda and the tropics → online text (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Glimpses of
Life in Bermuda
and the Tropics



Mfiraaret



ILLUSTRATED BY

TJ-JK x/ UT11OKESS




<



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES




\



GLIMPSES OF LIFE IN
BERMUDA AND THE TROPICS




./ Coloured Child



GLIMPSES OF LIFE IN
BERMUDA AND THE TROPICS



ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHORESS



Xonfcon

DIGBY, LONG & CO., PUBLISHERS
1 8 Bouverie Street, Fleet Street E C

[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]



F



TO

MY FRIEND

JANE M. BUCHANAN

"}

I DEDICATE

THIS RECORD OF MY WANDERINGS

IN THE REGIONS OF

UNENDING SUMMER



LONDONDERRY

February 1897.



CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

INTRODUCTION .... I

I. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AT BERMUDA . . 7

II. CHRISTMAS IN BERMUDA . . .26

III. WEST INDIES LAND IN SIGHT . . 36

IV. MARTINIQUE. SANTA LUCIA, BARBADOES . 53
V. DEMERARA . . . . .62

VI. TRININAD ..... 74

vii. SAUT D'EAU FALLS OF MARACCAS . . 82

VIII. THE PITCH LAKE . . . .9!

IX. MASQUERADING, PORT OK SPAIN . . IOI

X. A SUGAR ESTATE . . . 1 17

XI. TRINIDAD TO DOMINICA . . I 33

XII. BARBADOES (BATHSHEBA) . . .158

XIII. JACMEL, JAMAICA . . . 1 66

XIV. THE NORTH COAST, JAMAICA . .182
XV. OCHO RIOS . . . . .199

XVI. FERN GULLY, DIAVOLO, BOG WALK . . 214

XVII. THE BLUE MOUNTAINS, NEWCASTLE . 228

XVIII. ROUTE TO PORT ANTONIO, JOURNEY HOME . 240



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Page Illustrations

A COLOURED CHILD, BERMUDA . . Frontispiece

CHRISTMAS EVE, BERMUDA . . 28

A WATER CARRIER, ST KITTS . 47

MAIN STREET, DEMERARA . . . .69

WASHING CLOTHES, TRINIDAD . . 84

THE PITCH LAKE . . . . -93

COURA, TRINIDAD . . . . .119

THE ROSEAU VALLEY, DOMINICA . . . 144

BATHSHEBA, BARBADOES . . . [ 59

SUPPER TIME, JAMAICA . . . .184

OCHO RIOS ...... 204

CATHERINE PEAK AND FARM RIDGE 226



Text Illustrations

THE ORINOCO ... .7

MANGROVE ROOTS . . . II

POINSETTIA ... 13

PRICKLY PEAR ... .14



LIST OF ILL USTRA TIONS xi

PAGE

INSCRIPTION ON SPANISH ROCK . . .15

SPECTACLES AT SPANISH ROCK . . 1 6

BERMUDA HOLLY . . . . .26

LIFE PLANT ...... 34

SANTA CRUZ ...... 4!

ST EUSTATIUS . . . . .43

s. KITT'S, MOUNT MISERY . . . .44

MONTSERRAT . . . . .49

GUADALOUPE . . . . .50

DOMINICA .... .51

DIAMOND ROCK, MARTINIQUE . . .54

THE BOCCA HUEVOS . . , . .62

COOKING UTENSILS . . . . .67

PEPPER PLANT . . . . .76

NUTMEG . . . . . .8l

CLOVES ...... 85

LA BREA . . . . . .91

CASHEW ...... 96

SAUT D'EAU ISLAND . . . .100

HEIGHTS OF ARIMA .... 103

CORN BIRDS' NESTS . . . . .104

THE PITONS, ST LUCIA . . . .134

DIVING BOYS . . . . 135

LUNAR RAINBOWS . . . . .138

WAYSIDE SCENE, JAMAICA . . . . l8o

PINK CREEPER . . 229

LOBELIA, IPECACUANHA, ETC. . . . 232

WILD FUSCHIA ..... 233



INTRODUCTION

' . . . . . . . To wander far away,

On from island unto island, to the gateways of the day.

' Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
Breadth of tropic shade and palms to cluster, knots of Paradise.

' Droops the heavy blossomed bower, hangs the heavy fruited tree,
Summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea.'

Locksley Hall.

IT is with the utmost diffidence I venture to offer these
very inadequate descriptions of some of the glorious
scenes I visited in the West Indies to the public. My
friends both there and here have continually urged that
I should write an account of my travels and adventures
in regions not yet generally known, and perhaps few
strangers have visited quite so many ' out-of-the-way '
places, or seen so much of the natives in their homes,
as I have done. It is with awe I venture to record
some of the countless impressions made by nature in
these islands upon my memory. These ' glimpses ' were

A



2 INTRODUCTION

written at the time more with a view to keep the
memory fresh for me than with any distinct idea of
publication, and as such I trust they will not be too
severely criticised. I found it so difficult to discover
which scenes were most attractive from an artistic
standpoint, that in many cases I simply explored the
country in search of them, though, in every case,
things were made easy for me by the marvellous
hospitality of friends to whom I had brought letters
of introduction. I have not alluded, except in general
terms to the kindness of the West Indians, indeed, they
are justly famous for their hospitality, which is so
graciously bestowed as almost to beguile the visitor into
the belief that one is conferring a pleasure upon them
by accepting it. The like of which one simply cannot
comprehend in older countries where keeping ' open-
house ' would be impossible.

To the friends who made my visit to these beautiful
islands so delightful, I wish to offer my most grateful
thanks and to assure them that their cordiality and
kindness towards me will always remain one of the
happiest memories of my life.

In the illustrations, I have selected from over one
hundred and fifty sketches in pencil and water colour,
taken at the time, I have endeavoured to choose scenes
as characteristic and varied as possible, and to give some
idea through them of all the islands I stayed at. My only
regret is, that the number of them is necessarily so
limited, and with so very wide a field for illustration,



INTRODUCTION 3

one is inevitably obliged to withhold much that was
impressive.

If I have dwelt too absolutely on the bright side of the
picture, I must ask pardon for my partiality. To see
what I have seen and to sketch day by day as I
sketched one must often undergo fatigue and sometimes
hardships. One must be ready to rough it, and to make
the best of such inconveniences as excessive heat and
the extreme indolence of the natives, and to put up with
their decidedly ' through-other ' style of work, and with
their frequent disregard for punctuality and general lack
of accuracy, either in word or deed.

One must be prepared to endure the onslaught of
mosquitoes, to be blinded by clouds of dust and the effects
of heat so great that one often feels like having a Turkish
bath, though the nights are always refreshingly cool,
and there is very little change in the temperature all the
year round. January and February are really delightful
months, however.

There are fevers, too, and chills to be combated, and
there is an enervating tendency in perpetual heat, which
makes study of any kind twice as difficult as in a more
bracing atmosphere.

Then of course many of the dwellings are primitive,
and one has to dispense with luxuries so common at
home that we scarcely appreciate them. In some
islands, for instance, it is almost impossible to obtain
new milk, and condensed English milk is chiefly what
is used, and good butter is almost unobtainable. Of



4 INTRODUCTION

course ice is used extensively, but butter in a semi-
transparent condition is not so appetising as the creamy
looking article of colder regions.

Then one has to beware of snakes and a host of
unpleasant insects when one longs to lie in the grass,
or wander by the side of streams; though in point of
fact these terrors are exaggerated, and although I
sometimes sketched in curious places, I was never
attacked by anything worse than mosquitoes, sand-flies
or grass-ticks these last tiresome enough however.
There is much less privacy in West Indian houses than
in England, as wide spaces are often left at the top of
walls for the sake of ventilation, and also both at the
foot and the top of doors, so that whatever goes on in
any part of the house is generally heard all over it, and
conversation is public property.

Sanitation, too, is not sufficiently considered, and fevers
are the consequence; still this defect is being remedied,
as the terrible scourge of yellow fever, once so dreaded
in these islands, is now quite rare, a fact which proves
that progress is being made, though typhoid, diphtheria,
and intermittent fevers are still more common than
they need be with more perfect sanitation. These are
some of the defects which it is only right to mention,
but when one is accustomed to the islands these draw-
backs are less terrible than when written in black and
white.

There is another characteristic of the West Indians I
must not omit, and that is their loyalty to England and



INTRODUCTION 5

their pride in all that belongs to the Mother Country.
An English-man or woman is sure to meet with kindness
in these islands, and with a frankness and cordiality
both cheering" and delightful. Things are much further
advanced in Jamaica, Barbado^s, Trinidad and George-
town than we sometimes realise. Electric light, tram-
cars, and even electric cars (in Port of Spain) telegraphs,
telephones (these latter largely used), and railways are
amongst the modern improvements; good shops, too there
are, and in some ways the Port of Spain is the most
progressive town in the British West Indies. Indeed
Trinidad has advantages so great, that with her splendid
harbour she has every chance of becoming one of the most
prosperous of these colonies. When as years go by, (as in
Jamaica) the cool mountain heights are made accessible as
sanatoriums for those needing a more bracing atmosphere
than the towns it will be an advantage. There is a
brightness and vivacity about the Trinidadians which
renders a stay in their lovely island, ' a joy for ever.'

There are also in these islands subjects for the artist,
so lovely and so numerous that one would be amply
repaid by a sojourn there; and to the scientific mind
there is a wide field open.

If I have said anything which will induce others to visit
scenes I have so keenly enjoyed, or to realise more fully
the value and great beauty of these tropical colonies, I
shall be rewarded for the exertion made after days of
fatiguing rambles to record these ' Glimpses of Life in
Bermuda and the Tropics.'




THE ORINOCO



CHAPTER I

LAND in sight after two days and a half at sea ! The
white houses of St George's gleam in the bright, clear
sunlight, and the Orinoco glides through a somewhat
circuitous course, avoiding coral reefs, onward towards
Hamilton. Wonderful, translucent depths, blue-green
and emerald, sapphire and opal tints ! First the health
officer comes on board, surveys the second cabin pas-
sengers, and takes his departure, then a boat with white-
coated British sailors rows alongside to take mails for
Ireland Island, and, in spite oi a somewhat tossing sea,
pulls manfully in the wake, for a short time, of the
Orinoco. We wind amidst numbers of Islands, cedar-
wooded, verdant, almost, as old Erin, dotted with dazzl-
ingly white dwelling houses ; and at last, just as we come



LIFE IN THE TROPICS

within sight of Hamilton, a thunder shower falling in
torrents transforms the wharfs into a species of waterfall,
and the crowd which has gathered to see the arrival of the
steamer, attired in fresh print dresses and Sunday best, is
obliged to retreat beneath the sheds. But the sun soon
shines forth again and the shower is over before we
land.

Leaving my luggage to find its way to the Custom
House, I started in quest of a boarding-house, and after
much hunting and disappointment ultimately found one.
Many of the boarding-houses were not open, for the
season had not yet begun, and when I returned to the
Customs to get my things examined, it was half-past one
o'clock. But if the hunt for a boarding-house was a
weary one owing to my somewhat early advent in
Bermuda, it was made easier by the courtesy of the
people here. They were so kind in giving me advice
and showing me the way, and the coloured people bowed
most respectfully, out of courtesy to me as a stranger.

The roads dried directly, and the strong sunshine made
the atmosphere very like that of a hot-house, damp and
warm after the rain. And oh, the charm of it all !
Wide verandahs, palms, and coloured people passing
picturesquely along, and a delightful black baby
swinging a large crimson hibiscus blossom as its still
darker-hued mother drove it past in a perambulator,
while donkey waggons with their gracefully indolent
coloured drivers, swept along. Oh'! the wonderful hues
of the hibiscus trees, scarlet and crimson and magenta



BERMUDA 9

trumpet-shaped and of the purple, graceful, boug-
anvilliet:, with drooping, flower-laden branches, the
regal colours of the purple-blue convolvulus, or morning
glory, the broad green banana leaves, and the aurelia like
verdure of the pa\V-paw plants with green fruit clusters,
the sugar apple waving glossy branches above banana
bunches, palms outspreading above maiden hair tufted
walls ! Everywhere, verdant glimpses and cedar-clad
hills, silvery-hued roads, sand-coated and of coral and lime-
stone formation, like continuous pavement purple
shadows meeting over pleasant road-windings, clear air,
sunshine and sky of purest cobalt.

These and an atmosphere of peacefulness and salubrity
were amongst one's first impressions of Bermuda ; a
smiling, happy - looking people, and an every day
Sabbath tranquillity after unending rush and worry
repose without stagnation a benignant atmosphere
soothing, salubrious a perpetual verdure, and unceasing
flowers. A sapphire sea, sparkling, intensely luminous,
sunshine and shadow, clouds too in turn, surely it is a
land for love and poetry, for spiritual advancement and
sweet home fellowship.

The Orinoco ploughs her way over the tossing waters
of the Gulf Stream. Fortnightly she brings some
happy wanderers to this haven of rest and leaves them
there, returning with precious news from home eagerly
awaited. The Post Office on the morning after the
advent of the steamer, presents an aspect more alert than
on other days, for the arrival of the Orinoco is the great



io LIFE IN THE TROPICS

event in the Islands, and her entrance to the docks is
welcomed as a friend, as the chief connecting link with
the outer world.

Turn where one will in Bermuda, charming subjects
for sketching meet the eye ; trees and semi-tropical vege-
tation, cedars, and loveliest flowers. Roadways cut
through the coral rock, lined and seamed, and per-
forated, stained with pearl grey tints, now raised in
bright relief, or lost in warm toned shadows. Crowned by
oleanders, bamboos and cedars, tufted with waving maiden
hair, and pigeon-berry shrubs. Pride of India trees
rough rinded, with : twisted gnarled branches, and foliage
resembling ash trees, but berry laden, stand out strongly
in contrast to the more erect cedars. Bananas unfurl
their emerald leaves, erecting their young verdure upright
like a scroll, and dropping green fruit clusters, tipped
with blossoming rose coverings in which the immature
bananas or their blossoms are shrouded layer within layer.
Golden tinted leaves also autumn hued (for even banana
has its autumn). Banana ridges growing near the road-
sides within reach of the wayfarer, guarded by their own
unripeness but forming interesting ridges of broad leaved
vegetation. One must beware of letting the juice of
banana leaves or fruit touch one'si linen, as a dark stain
would be the result, and the juice of oleander trees pro-
duces a similar effect.

Mangroves, myriad rooted, gnarled and verdant, fringe
the termination of the Sound. Their twisted dark-brown
trunks rise from the water's edge, curve with new branch



BERMUDA



ii



shoots upwards, then droop quickly, casting anchor with
descending roots, they again rise skywards to repeat
the process of re-rooting. From all the older branches
rootlets, shaggy, strange-looking, descend like dishevelled
tresses, first wind blown, then petrified. They spread
their roots in search of something to which they may
attach themselves : finding it not they are left suspended
in mid-air, standing out darkly against the intense blue
sky. The foliage reminds one of our own alder trees?
but it is more succulent in character ; the under side is of
a lighter shade.




MANOROVK ROOTS



There are two kinds of Mangroves, in one of which, the
leaf is greener and more succulent than in the other, and
the roots are more intricately connected and entangled ;
branches and roots present a strangely confused appear-



12 LIFE IN THE TROPICS

ance. At Fairyland there is a large swamp of mangroves
of both kinds.

To enumerate the different trees and shrubs and
flowering plants of Bermuda would occupy a volume,
but I must just describe a few of those which strike the
stranger as most tropical or strange. Everywhere the
Oleander flourishes, and it is said there are fourteen
different kinds of it. The commonest species is the
lovely pink blossom, both double and single, which
contrasts so charmingly with the grey-stained coral rock,
and which waves its fragrant blossoms by the way side ;
for many hedges are formed of this shrub, which attains
considerable height when growing in a somewhat damp
soil, and its supple branches bend with the wind like
reeds, and are, even when exposed to a windy aspect,
little injured by the storms which are disastrous to
bananas, pride of India, and the paw-paw. The pure
white waxen blossoms of the white oleander are very
lovely, but it appears to me less fragrant than its rose-
coloured sister. Red and pink of different shades and
combinations are the prevailing colours, and there are lots
found all over the island, now tossing their lovely clusters
high above banana ridges, against a background of purest
sky-blue, now standing out brightly against a patch of
cedar or grey rock shadow with, perhaps, some dark-
hued natives, graceful and picturesque, at work upon
the red brown clay near by, or anon marching
lightly, bare-footed or straw-hatted, with sometimes a
bundle on their heads like bronze caryatides supple in



BERMUDA 13

outline, and giving just the touch of humanity and
colour to the peaceful scene which it needs.

Lovely Bermuda ! as one stays here the charm increases
and Americans who are so difficult to satisfy come here
year after year as to a haven of rest ; but the English
come here rarely. Alas ! for them, for it is a place to
satisfy the weary, and to renew their courage and vigour
for a more active life.

Perhaps the most startling flower I have seen is the
Poinsettia, flame-like, purest cardinal in colour with
its flat-spreading clusters, somewhat like the head of a
huge ragged and very single chrysanthemum or mar-
guerite, growing from
the ends of bare ash-
like branches in a single
cluster of flaming crim-
son. The tree is bare
and leafless, and each
branch bears only one

j-CLr.




end. And suddenly the

tree seems to flash out into blossom unexpectedly, as if
by magic. Sometimes there are a few green leaves, but
when there are many green leaves there are less fine
flowers. It resembles the most gorgeous autumn colour-
ing, but it is the young fresh leaves that are coloured,
and the brightest autumn tints of maple can not be com-
pared with it. It is more the colour and texture of
scarlet geraniums, but it grows into large shrubs.




LIFE IN THE TROPICS

The prickly pear is found abundantly near the shore,

creeping over rocks, and al-
most within reach of the sea-
spray, and its crimson fruit
is tufted with minute silky
looking thorns which one is
apt to ignore, and to catch
hold of when the fine colour-
less prickles enter the skin and are difficult to extract.
One day, in the region of Spanish Rock, a poor boy was
gathering some. I had walked out to the rock, but
instead of turning to the left from the little lake near to
it, I went to the right, where indeed I was repaid by very
interesting and wide views along the coast, and of fine
rocks and tossing waves, so much so, that I sat down to
sketch. I had meant to return to Brunswick House for
lunch, but Nature was too bewitching, and when my
sketch was finished after a delightful hour spent on the
edge of a bold rock overhanging the marvellous trans-
lucent sea I found it was almost lunch-time, and that it
was impossible to both dine and see the Spanish Rock.
So I gave up the dinner and went off in search of the
rock on the other side of the lake. To the uninitiated it
is somewhat difficult to find. I had pictured to myself an
entirely different scene, some perpendicular rock like a
wall or obelisk rising sheer from the sea. There were
several interesting promontories, all cedar-crowned, and
there was no very distinct path so I wandered up and
down over the different promontories, going at once to



BERMUDA 15

' Jeffrey's Hole,' which one descends by means of a ladder
and finds a curious sort of cave in the coral rock, with an
interesting view seawards, and where one experiences a
strange feeling of absolute seclusion from humanity.

Had I only known it, the hole was three minutes'
walk from the Spanish Rock, which is directly above
it. It is cedar crowned, and the inscription of 1543
appears in very large letters on the surface, also other
names and dates, and it is here the Spaniards first landed,
though the Islands were discovered by Juan Bermudez in
1515, from whom they take their name.



^<fr~ ^ ;

^,'




I wandered round for a time away beyond the targets,
always getting glimpses of something interesting, but not
of the rock I was in search of. At last I came upon a boy
gathering prickly pears for hitherto I had found no one to
advise me where to go. First, however, he showed me
how to eat the pears, for I, in ignorance had taken one in
my hand which was immediately pricked in many places by
the innumerable needles. He had a sharp knife which



1 6 LIFE IN THE TROPICS

he used to separate the pear from the stem, and then
cautiously taking it by the stem and top he rolled it upon
the grass until all the prickles were removed. Then he
showed me how to eat the end which had been attached
to the plant, and on doing this not to peal it but to suck
the juice. I had taken the skin off unwarily and immedi-
ately my hands were covered with a thick crimson juice
like cochineal in colour, which I had some difficulty in
removing from both lips and fingers. My humble friend
looked on smiling at my awkwardness, and finally escorted
me to the Spanish Rock which really presents somewhat
the appearance of a steep flight of steps rising from the
water. When the wind is strong the waves are said to
dash with considerable force against the rock, and the sea
spray rises high above it. Just at the foot of the rock
purple-hued, and covered with the clear green water
my guide pointed out a strangely shaped coral rock in
the form of spectacles. He said there was a legend that a

lady looking over
had lost her glasses
in the water, and
that they had for-

.

med these curiously
shaped rocks. If so
she must have been a giantess !

To reach the Spanish Rock, I took the road by
Hungry Bay, and followed the coach road to St George's
until St Mark's Church came in sight ; then, instead of
keeping to the left, I went on past the church, and a




BERMUDA 17

minute or two afterwards turned down to the Spanish
Rock. There are, I believe, caves or holes not far from
the church, and my friendly guide informed me that he
frequently climbed down into them in search of honey
bees, which were to be found in them, but that I could
not well descend into them without a ladder.

Everywhere I have met with courtesy, and the
easy going nature of the coloured people it is not polite
to say blacks is in its way charming, provided one is
not in a desperate hurry to get any thing done. But
they can be quick and punctual too if they know that
work must be done, only one must be very definite in
stating the limits of time allowed for doing anything,
otherwise work may be postponed indefinitely. Their
voices and manners are pleasing low-toned and melodi-
ous in many cases and as I set about sketching, a
crowd of children joined by older persons would not un-
frequently assemble round me, behaving, however, much
more respectfully than any similar crowd I have ever
been acquainted with elsewhere and not obtruding too
much, though they chattered unceasingly, and at intervals
a coloured lady or gentleman passing by in a market
cart or gig would pull up in the street, and remain for
some time contemplating the progress of the sketch and
commenting upon it, while any stray figures introduced
into it were eagerly pointed out by one of the group
which generally surrounded me. Dear little brown-faced
children with black woolly hair, dark brown eyes and
pearly teeth and grinning mouths, would come round me



iS LIFE IN THE TROPICS

like little kids ; they would scamper round when I pinched
their cheeks and threatened to make a picture of them to
take back to England. But as a rule they like to be
sketched, and a penny or two makes them grin with


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryMargaret NewtonGlimpses of life in Bermuda and the tropics → online text (page 1 of 15)