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St Vincent

Friday 5th August – during the night, almost a calm – Barbadoes still in sight at 5 this morning. At 9 saw in distant prospect the island of S.t Vincent, which was our next port. During the whole day, the wind was very light, sometimes dying away altogether. The weather was very fine. We saw to the right of us but rather indistinctly thro’ the haze, the island of S.ta Lucie, and right ahead of us S.t Vincent. This latter island we gradually rose until about 7 P.M. we were within 7 or 8 miles of the town – but there being several other islands close at hand - & a strong current - & total darkness, the Captain preferred laying off 7 on until day light.

Saturday 6th August – when I came upon deck this morning we [were] sailing close to S.t Vincent with a strong and favourable current. The Town was not yet visible, as a point of land, which formed one extremity of the Bay shut it in. The scenery which was presented to us was really beautiful, consisting of shelving declivities, ravines, abrupt and broken hillocks. A thick mist spread its hazy mantle over the tops of many of the precipices, and leaving to the imagination to conceive what it concealed, produced a more powerful effect than if the atmosphere had been perfectly clear. On this side, and on that of us were several pretty islands forming a narrow passage between them and S.t Vincent. When you are pretty close to Kingstown Bay, there is a remarkable insulated rock, about less than a stone’s throw from the mainland, rising precipitously from the water, and almost perpendicular on all sides. On the top of it is a small fort & flag station from whence you can see a long distance to windward and communicate intelligence to the Town or Garrison.

At last we came opposite the Town of Kingston and I easily recognised the beautiful scene which had struck my fancy so much during our former voyage. Our Commander not been [sic] disposed to go on shore, sent the Master, whom I accompanied. We left the Packet at half past 8 oClock A.M. in our gig, whilst our captain lay off and on in the Bay till our return. In the centre of a rather small semi circle, and extending also to either extremity or wings, which is formed by the elevated ground, where there are forts, and various defences, lies the Town of Kingstown, the Capital of the island. From the sea the most striking object is the church with its steeple. All the other building[s] presenting nothing to fix the strangers gaze. There is no proper landing place, and you must therefore haul your boat up on the sandy beach. Where we landed we met the post Master and several of the inhabitants, for the arrival of a packet is looked forward to as an interesting event. Having delivered our Mail, and being told that our Mail from this place would not be ready for two hours, we resolved to take a stroll for the purpose of seeing the nakedness of the land

Remarks on S.t Vincents

The first place we visited was the market, where we expected to witness a great display of fruit, as, in the West Indies, Saturday is the day allotted to the slaves to sell the produce of their own industry, and in most of the islands it is one of great bustle and business. Instead of this, we observed only a few and common articles the whole of which might have been bought for a dollar or two. I said all the fruits were common and well known to me – I should have made one exception which was what they called here a rose plum. Its appearance was beautiful. In shape it resembled an apple, with a beautiful white rose colour, which was deeper on one side than the other, and gradually shaded off to the most delicate tint ending in a delicate white. In the heart of it was a large seed, which in eating it was to be rejected. However strange the comparison which occurred to me may be, I thought at first that it was artificial made of sugar, and was what are called Queen’s Kisser in our confectioners shops. As often happens what pleases the eye deceives the taste – and this exemplified it. Its taste was very insipid – slightly saccharine and having a something which I cannot describe – I would not give one of our plums for a thousand such.

Remarks on Kingstown in S.t Vincents

Leaving the market place, we came to the main streets of which there is only one. The houses in it were pretty fair, and that is all that I could say for any of the houses of the town, as regards their exterior. The Court House & Church are excellent, substantial buildings, and what is used as a Theatre is very respectable indeed, far far exceeding the stable place so miscalled at Falmouth. Some of the houses & the best are of stone, a few huts of wood. As might be expected you can contrast scenes of misery with scenes of comfort – wretched dog holes, strong smelling with animal effluvium, with large airy & sweet apartments.

Leading from the Town up to the garrison is an excellent road, which I should  judge to have been formed by the military. It winds round a hill, gradually leading to the top where the fortifications are situated. From it you have an excellent view of the sea – a long range of islands, and of the whole extent of the Town. In the background the country behind the Town soon rises into hills and mountains, the declivities of which were fully cultivated and portioned out into regular patches and fields.

From what I have said of the romantic beauty of the island, you would hardly anticipate a negative to the question as to whether I should like to reside here or not permanently. And yet most assuredly not. And for this answer – there are several reasons. It is a common observation that manners make the man, and I am sure that it will be admitted as equally true, that the society of a small place renders such a place either pleasant or the contrary. If the different members of such a society live happily & sociably together, the romantic beauties of nature will be doubly enjoyed, if present, or their absence not felt, whereas if envy and petty jealousy reign among a community no happiness could be enjoyed amidst the finest scenery in the world. If Kingston, then, is not blessed, such is the unpleasant state of society here. Self is the ruling principle, and their civility to strangers introduced to them extends no farther than a simple how do you do and a shake of the hand.

In every transaction you must look sharp, otherwise you will be overreached. There being little money in the Island, every article is enormously dear. In short, I am prepossessed against S.t Vincents and never wish to settle there.

Theatre & Militia in S.t Vincents

I have mentioned a Theatre here, and I was rather surprised at finding one – and one externally so food. Performances were to take place this evening and the Company were puffed up, as being from the Theatres of Barbadoes & Trinidad, and acting under the patronage of the Governor Sir George Hill. The price of admission to the boxes was 10/- and to the gallery 7/6 – No Pit was mentioned. If the list of plays be any criterion of the taste of the island, their taste was very creditable, as I observed several of our best comedies announced. I was rather doubtful of the character of a farce – merely from the name “Nature and Philosophy, or the Man who never saw a Woman.’ No doubt the design was to prove that man has no more to do with nature than with philosophy, and that under herduction, or rather intention, the philosopher will forget his stoical & prudential maxims and act as others, not philosophers but men, would do.

This day happened to be a militia day and accordingly we saw all the freemen, blacks & mulattoes &.c going to their parade. The appearance on many was truly ‘bien drole,’ but all marched with an air of consequence, which seemed to say ‘I am now on a footing with a buckra man, and am entitled to hold my head as high as them.’ Some of these were exceptions to the rest, and sported nicely white trowsers and clean regimentals.