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The Planters and the Poor Whites
It is in Barbados that will be found the most substantial relics of the old West Indian aristocracy, of the planter prince who, in the days of slavery and dear sugar, held court in the island with all the pomp and circumstance of a feudal lord. Here, still clinging to the same broad acres, are those whose ancestors were among the early landowners in the colony.
The Day When The Sun Stood Still
In the course of time a schooner cast anchor in Carlisle Bay bringing the news that on the day the sun stood still over Barbados there had been an unparalleled eruption of Mount Soufriere on the island of St. Vincent.
A Mysterious Ship
Every ship, whether great or small, brought news, but it was often the smallest which carried the most weighty tidings—tidings of a French fleet bearing westward, of a sea fight off St. Lucia, of a derelict with dead men awash on her deck and the name Mary of Barbados under her stern.
Trinidad
Trinidad is the most southerly of the West Indies, the island nearest of all to the Equator. It lies close to the mainland, being indeed but a detached fragment of Venezuela. The Gulf of Paria is the little sea shut in between the continent of South America and the wayward island, which same dissevered land seems to be stretching out its arms towards the mother country.
Holy Island
On entering the Gulf of Paria some low insignificant land was seen on the southwest. Columbus, no doubt, scanned it steadfastly enough. He was gazing for the first time in his travels upon the coast of the great continent of America, but he knew it not.
St. Joseph
Some seven miles from Port of Spain is the village of St. Joseph—as picturesque a little townlet as is to be found in the West Indies. It stands at the foot of the northern heights, just where they step out into the plain, so that it has behind it, ridge above ridge, the guardian hills, while in front is a rueful flat, the Caroni swamp, stretching away to the sea.
El Dorado
El Dorado was a daring fiction of the sixteenth century. The country was situated, so the fable said, in Guiana, between the rivers Amazon and Orinoco. It was rich in all kinds of precious metals, and ablaze with priceless gems. Its chief city was Manoa, a place of great size and magnificence, reared upon the banks of Lake Parima.
The High Woods
A drift of luxuriant green, some fathoms deep, covers the whole island, silting up the valleys, making level the ravines, and bridging over each smaller river so that it creeps through the shadows like a snake. This wealth of green pours down from the hills into the town.
The First West Indian Tourist
The first British tourist to the West Indies was undoubtedly Robert Duddeley, Earl of Warwick and Leicester, Duke of Northumberland, Knight of the Garter and, in a general way, Leiftenante of all her Majestie's fortes and forces beyonde the seas.
The Pitch Lake
If a Londoner would realise the Pitch Lake, he must imagine the pond in St. James's Park emptied of water, its bottom filled with asphalt, pools left in places, and some tropical vegetation disposed about the margin of the depression. Such a landscape would only inspire in the susceptible conceptions of the scenery of Hell.
The Bocas
Who has not heard of the famous Bocas of Trinidad, of those wild sea-passes which lead into the Gulf of Paria ? One gate-way guards the approach by the north, another that by the south. It was by the southern Boca, the Serpent's Mouth, that Columbus came, but it is not notably picturesque.
The Five Islands
One of the most pleasant ways of seeing the northern Bocas is by means of the steamer which plies between Port of Spain and Chacachacare, the outermost of the three islands which form the channels. On the passage the vessel calls at the Five Islands. These dots of land form one of the most picturesque groups to be met with in this world of islands.
A Glance at the Map
From Trinidad, twice in the year, a special steamer starts for a cruise among the West Indian islands. Before embarking upon such a voyage it is well to take a glance at the map, in order to appreciate the remarkable disposition of land and sea in this part of the globe.
Grenada
Grenada is the first island reached from Trinidad. The steamer finds its way into a small almost land-locked harbour which is one of the most beautiful in the West Indies. It is said to be the crater of an ancient volcano the seaward wall of which has been blown away, so that the water has poured in and filled the basin.
St. Lucia
No island in these waters will be approached with greater interest and expectancy than the island of St. Lucia. This is not on account of its winsome beauty, although there are many who hold it to be the loveliest spot in this gorgeous crescent.
Cul de Sac Bay
Cul de Sac Bay, to the south, is a sheltered and pleasant inlet at the foot of the southern slopes of the Morne Fortune. It is a deep-water bay where the lead-line sinks to from ten to twenty fathoms.
The Morne Fortune
A winding road ascends from Castries to the summit of the Morne Fortune. It is a road made gracious by many trees, by cocoanut palms, by a dell or a thicket here and there, and by glimpses of the sea. All who mount this steep way will find that, step by step, they are carried back into the past.
Castries and its People
Castries, in spite of its chequered and unrestful history, is not interesting. It sprawls upon a flat at the foot of the hills, a poor meagre place, quite out of keeping with its superb surroundings. The houses are mostly of wood.
The Song of Casimir Delavigne
The history has yet to be written which will deal with the effects of the French Revolution upon the people in the French West Indies, and, at the same time, tell of the strange activities it aroused and of the bizarre ends to which it led.
Martinique
Twenty miles north of St. Lucia is the French island of Martinique. It can be seen from the heights above Castries whenever the sky is clear, a pillar of cloud resting on the sea, silver-grey at noon, lilac at sunset.
No Flint Grey and the Stone Ship
As the steamer sails into Fort de France Bay there will be noticed, just off the southern point of the harbour, a minute island lying close to the shore. This is Ilet a Ramiers, or the Wood Pigeons Island. It is very insignificant, being only about 100 feet high and 300 feet in circumference at the summit, yet it played a remarkable part in some of the hardest fighting that Fort de France ever saw.
St. Pierre, The City That Was
St. Pierre, the debonair, the adored city of Martinique, was swept off the earth by the fearful eruption of Mont Pele in the month of May 1902. The chronicles of the town, as well as the many views of it which survive, make it evident that St. Pierre was one of the most delectable abodes of men in the West Indies.
The Last Night in St. Pierre
The exact moment of the destruction of the city was 7.52 A.M., as shown by the clock left standing over the military hospital. The awful suddenness with which the blow fell can best be judged from the following incident.
The Shadow of the Mountain
It was in February 1907 just four years and nine months after the great disaster—that I visited St. Pierre. We steamed into the roadstead from Fort de France, and anchored as near the shore as the sunken shipping would allow. On entering the wide bay on which the city stood, the only impression is one of utter desolation.
Victorine and her Forefathers
A special interest attaches to Dominica in that it is — as Dr. Nicholls says—the only island where pure-blooded descendants of the original inhabitants of the Antilles are to be found. There is in a remote spot on the northeast coast of the island a Carib Reservation provided by the Government.
The Battle of the Saints Passage
As the steamer makes her way northwards again there comes into view, between Dominica and Guadaloupe, a blue-water channel. It is called The Saints Passage, not on the surmise that it leads to Heaven, but because athwart it lie Les Isles des Saintes as well as little Marie Galante.
St. Kitts
St Kitts will impress the visitor as being not only well-to-do but comfortable. Almost every available part of it is cultivated, for fields of sugar-cane climb far up the mountain sides. The island possesses excellent roads, its villages are neat.
St. Kitts in all its Glory
Certain letters written from St Kitts by Christopher Jeaffreson between the years 1676 and 1686 serve to give a graphic picture of the island in its heyday. Christopher was born in England in 1650.
Strange Wares
There were of course many things wanting at St. Kitts in the earlier period of its history. One of the most pressing needs was for malefactors. Malefactors were not only scarce, but they were fetching high prices, in spite of the discount allowed on taking a quantity.
The Little Captain of the Boreas
Nevis, the co-partner of St. Kitts, is a noteworthy island. The part it has played in the pursuit of fashion has been already alluded to. Its most remarkable feature is its appearance, which is conspicuous by contrast. The adjacent islands are irregular, florid in colour, and unrestrained in outline ; wild in their forests and jagged peaks, they flaunt an air of profligacy. Nevis, on the other hand, is prim and neat, a dapper island.
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