Front Cover
 Table of Contents
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Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00063
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: August-October 1989
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00063
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
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Full Text



1-T I


Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

Port Royal Wine Glass

Dating from about 1690, this classic wine glass is typical
of the late seventeenth century. It is probably made of
English flint glass, developed in the 1770s and later
known as lead crystal. The double knopped stem is a
more elaborate variation of the fairly common baluster
style while the folded foot gives added strength to the
part most likely to be chipped. The folded foot was
made by turning the rim underneath while the glass
was still hot to form a reinforced edge.
Although covered with marine accretions from its
two centuries under water and although the bowl is
chipped, the Port Royal Wing Glass tells us of the
elegant style that must have existed at some Port Royal
dining table.

Height 55/e
Diameter of bowl
Museums Division
Insfiute ofJcnaica


JAMAICA JOURNAL is published on behalf of the
Institute of Jamaica by Institute of Jamaica
Publications Limited.
Managing Director
Patricia V. Stevens
All correspondence should be addressed to:
IOJ Publications Limited
2a Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone (809) 929-4785/6
Leeta Heame
Assistant Editor
Dahlia Fraser
Support Services
Faith Myers Secretarial
Ricardo Henderson Sales
Design and Production
Dennis Ranston
Back issues: Some back issues are available. List
sent on request. Entire series available on
microfilm from:
University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, USA.
Subscriptions:J$60 for 4 issues (in Jamaica only);
UK: Individuals: 10, Institutions: 15.
All other countries: Individuals: US$20.
Institutions: US$25.
Single copies: J$17 (in Jamaica only); UK.3;
Other countries: US$7.
All sent second class airmail.
We accept UNESCO coupons. Contact your local
UNESCO office for details.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in JAMAICA JOURNAL are
abstracted and indexed in HISTORICAL ABSTRACTS,
Vol. 22 No.3. Copyright 1989 by Institute of
Jamaica Publications Ltd. Cover or contents may
not be reproduced in whole or in part without
written permission.
ISSN 0021-4124



Vol 22 No 3

*. w~5

August October 1989

History and Life

2 The Road to Bellevue
by Carol Mae Morrissey

12 Tourist Travel to Jamaica in the
Nineteenth Century
by W J Hanna


46 Barrettia: A Jamaican Fossil Shell
by A R D Porter

The Arts

22 Theatre and the English We Speak
by Wycliffe Bennett

59 Poems
by Anthony McNeill and Gloria Escoffery

Regular Features

39 Music: The Religious Songs of
Barry Chevannes
by Pamela O'Gorman

51 Books and Writers
Reviews: Mavis Campbell's Maroons of
Jamaica by Edward Kamau Brathwaite
Erna Brodber's Myal by Michael G. Cooke

Briefly Noted

30 Art: Jacob Lawrence
by Gloria Escoffery

Cover: Maria LaYacona dimbed to the top of the tower
of Kingston Parish Church to photograph this section of
the huge crowd waiting for the Float Parade in the 1955
Tercentenary Celebrations. Wycliffe Bennett's article
beginning on p.22 mentions the enthusiastic support
given to the Celebrations.

64 Feedback


The Road To

The architect's rendering of the 1846 design for the New Lunatic Asylum (Bellevue).

Conditions and treatment of the
mentally ill in Jamaica 1776-1861

by Carol Mae Morrissey

reflecting the medical thinking of his time,
Dr Thomas Dancer, former physician to
Bath and Island Botanist in Jamaica, had
recommended in 1819 that bleeding and
purging were the best methods to be used for
treating the insane:

. we know so little [about] a deranged state of the fac-
ulties, that it is difficult to establish any principle of cure
S. [However] the general plan of treatment... in ...
madness is,
1. To bleed copiously in young, robust, and plethoric
2. To vomit and purge plentifuly, by administering large
doses of tartar emetic, scammony, calomel, etc.
3. To put a seton into the neck, (blisters to the head are of
no use).
4. To restore obstructed evacuations.
5. To use the sea and the shower bath, and, in some cas-
es, to give opium in large doses. [Dancer 1819 p. 25]

Bleeding and purging were often accompanied by the
use of chains, hand and leg locks, and stocks to restrain
movement since it was then generally believed that physical
suppression was the greatest resource in the control of men-
tal suffering. These harsh methods of treatment and coercion
prevailed in some mental institutions in Europe prior to the
early nineteenth century but were subsequently replaced by
more humane treatment.
In Jamaica however, even after visible means of
restraint disappeared in the 1840s, more terrifying methods
of control persisted, as was revealed to a Commission of
Enquiry in 1861. Long after a more enlightened approach to
the treatment of the insane had come into effect elsewhere,
the Jamaican authorities failed to provide for their mentally
ill citizens. Only after lengthy agitation led by doctors such
as Edward Bancroft and Lewis Bowerbank, and public reve-
lations of the 'chamber of horrors' that was the Old Lunatic
Asylum, did the authorities institute reforms. The new public
insane asylum (Bellevue) came into use in 1861, heralding a
new era in the treatment of the mentally ill.



Dr Edward Bancroft (1772-1842).

Treatment of the insane in Europe

U ntil the seventeenth century, persons suffering from
Mental disorders in Europe were generally regarded as
objects of abhorrence. Conceptions of mental illness at this
time revolved around the theory that the insane were pos-
sessed by evil spirits. At first, the insane were allowed to
wander freely but by the seventeenth century it had come to
be felt that they were too dangerous and destructive to be left
at large and they were subsequently locked away in prisons,
almshouses and workhouses. The majority of the confined
insane were from the pauperized working class, as private
keepers were employed to look after insane family members
of the wealthy classes.
Interest in the problem was stimulated in the late eight-
eenth century when King George III was declared to be
insane. The arguments among physicians as to the best
method of treating him resulted in a new approach to the
care and treatment of the insane in England and her colonies.
It was felt that specialized and separate institutions were
now necessary for the identification, treatment, care and con-
trol of the insane. Privately owned madhousess' and hospi-
tals for the insane were therefore established through public
funds in the 1780s, to be followed later by the establishment
of public institutions for the insane.

The Jamaican situation

F-amaica's first lunatic asylum was part of the Kingston
I Public Hospital which had been established in 1776. It is
not clear when mentally ill patients were first treated there,
but by 1836 the hospital had become so overcrowded that
the sick had to be locked in with the insane at night.

Throughout its history, the planter-dominated Jamaica
House of Assembly had shown little concern for social wel-
fare including the treatment of the insane. Their preoccu-
pations had been largely bound up with the fate of the econ-
omy which rested on the sugar industry. This attitude of the
Assembly to the provision of social services did not change
with Emancipation in 1838. The planters, their agents, and
the lawyers and merchants who comprised the majority of
members, were convinced that the maintenance of law and
order and the prevention of economic ruin (consequent upon
the liberation of their labour force), had more far-reaching
effects on their prosperity than establishing a reliable stan-
dard of medical care for the ex-slaves.
In 1838 therefore, despite the overcrowded state of the
Kingston Public Hospital, the House of Assembly granted
only a token sum of 10,000 to purchase land and start the
building of a separate lunatic asylum. But construction of the
new asylum did not actually start until 1847, and it did not
become operational until the 1860s.
As the impetus to improve the condition of the insane
would not come from the legislators, medical men, especial-
ly Dr Edward Bancroft and Dr Lewis Bowerbank, had to
lead the way.
Dr Edward Bancroft (1772-1842), a well-known medi-
cal writer, was a physician attached to the Kingston Public
Hospital and Lunatic Asylum in the 1830s. A Fellow of the
Royal College of Physicians in London and the deputy
inspector of army hospitals in Jamaica, he became increas-
ingly concerned about conditions in the institutions during
the 1830s and 1840s. He made two submissions to the House
of Assembly in letters dated 9 September 1839 and 12 March
1840, both emphasizing the need for a complete reorganiza-
tion of the existing asylum.
Extrapolating from the statistics of English lunatic asy-
lums, Dr Bancroft projected in 1839 that at least 140 insane
persons from the newly-freed slave population would need
to be accommodated. During slavery, the Public Hospital
and Asylum had catered only to free people, the health care
of slaves being the exclusive concern of their masters. But
now, the health care of the newly freed would have to
become the responsibility of the authorities. How could
more insane persons be accommodated when the existing
facilities were already being condemned?
Dr Bancroft, in his letters, alleged that the Assembly by
its inactivity was condoning the conditions existing in the
Lunatic Asylum. The buildings were of particular concern:
The . Institution consists of two equal and parallel
buildings, each 120 feet in length, and 16 feet in breadth,
which are surrounded by an open gallery or piazza, seven
feet wide, and are enclosed by high walls, within an area
of 150 feet square. Those buildings contain each a series
of 12 rooms of equal size, 131/2 feet long, and 9 feet
broad, and therefore the whole of the accommodation
which they afford is limited to 24 small rooms. Of these
one is necessarily allocated to the Keeper, and eight or
nine others are occupied either by patients, whose former
station in society gives them a claim to the indulgence of
having each a single room to himself, or by maniacs
whose violence makes it necessary to place them in soli-
tary confinement, and hence there are in general only
fourteen or fifteen of the other rooms that are left for the
rest of the patients, the number of whom is seldom less
than forty, but is often more. [Bancroft 1840 p.4]


Courtesy Medical Library, UWI, Mona

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The general floor plan of the New Lunatic Asylum (Bellevue) designed by Mr J Harris, the architect of llanwell Asylum in England. Ilanwell became an
international showcase for the care of the insane. An 1851 report stated that three wards or wings had been erected as designed. The wards ran parallel
to each other and were exactly alike in construction.

Bancroft pointed out that the prison-like situation under
which the insane patients were confined was a severe hin-
drance to the improvement of their bodily and mental health,
and the lack of supervisory control was also undesirable. The
practice was to leave the Keeper alone in the asylum to
attend the fifty or more lunatics confined there throughout
the night. A result of this imprudent arrangement was that:

.. quarrels . happen among the patients during the
night and fights ensue, and [if] the Keeper . [were]
overpowered at the time by sleep, or perhaps by liquor,
death might take place without his being aware that any
mischief was going on, and without his taking any step to
prevent it. [Bancroft 1840 p.6]

Dr Bancroft, moreover, felt that the facilities at the
Asylum were objectionable from a moral point of view. He
was very concerned about the implications of the Keeper
being left alone in the institution every night, having at his
disposal over twenty female patients, 'some of whom are
young or have strong passions'. He felt that the facilities of
the existing Asylum were totally inadequate and he contin-
ued to lobby for the construction of a new one.
It is not clear how far the efforts of Dr Bancroft and oth-
ers precipitated the House of Assembly's action in passing
an act to regulate admissions into the Old Lunatic Asylum.
But on 22 December 1840, legislators provided guidelines
for identification and admission of the insane into the
Lunatic Asylum:

... upon it being made known to any Justice of the Peace
that any pauper or other person wandering about, or at
large in any parish . within his jurisdiction is deemed
to be insane . it shall be lawful for the said justice by
an order under his hand and seal .... to require a consta-
ble of the said parish . to bring the said insane person
before any two Justices of the Peace of the said parish ...
and the said Justices are hereby required to call to their
assistance a physician or surgeon ... if such person. ..
[were] deemed to be insane . and ... a pauper, or oth-
erwise destitute of the means of support, then it shall be
lawful for the said Justices . to cause the said poor
insane person to be conveyed to, and placed in, the
Lunatic Asylum, established . for the reception of
insane persons. [Laws of Jamaica 1840]

In 1843 the passing of the Lunacy Act in England might
have further forced the Jamaica House of Assembly's hand
in adopting similar provisions for the insane, for in that year
another act was passed, this time providing for the construc-
tion of a new lunatic asylum. The previous sum of 10,000,
granted in 1838, was now increased to 20,000.

Construction of the New Asylum

[T he Commissioners entrusted with carrying the provi-
I sions of the 1843 Act into effect, were careful to take
into consideration contemporary ideas and concepts regard-
ing the building of the new asylum. Extreme care went into
the selection of the site. The attitude in Europe and North
America during the mid-nineteenth century was that mental
hospitals should be situated in areas where patients could
enjoy the benefits of fresh air and an extensively pleasing
view. In the 1840s England had already developed a compre-

hensive programme for the building of such asylums which
had soon become a model throughout Europe. This model
was also proposed for Jamaica.
On 9 February 1844 the Commissioners invited tenders
for the sale of land on which to erect the asylum. They stated
that it should consist of 'not less than thirty acres, situated
within twelve miles of the City of Kingston, and having an
abundant supply of water or affording facilities for obtain-
ing it'.
A year later they paid 560 for twenty-eight acres in the
possession of the island penitentiary to the east of the city,
finding it 'a convenient and salubrious situation'. In 1846
two more acres were acquired.
Having acquired the land, the Commissioners resolved,
on 17 November 1845, that 'medical gentlemen should be
invited to favour the Board with their attendance, and to give
their professional opinion as to the site selected'.
The choice of the site was found to be:
. the best which could be made with due regard first to
salubrity then to economy... it affords remarkable facili-
ties for obtaining an abundant supply both of fresh and
sea water, a free and perfect ventilation by the unheated
and untainted sea breeze and a complete sewerage, by
sewers emptying themselves into the sea auxiliaries of
the greatest value in averting a fetid and noxious atmo-
sphere from a Lunatic Asylum, and in preserving the
health of a mass of people living within the same walls in
a tropical climate.

The Commissioners next advertised in Jamaica and
England, offering an award of one hundred guineas for the
best design for an asylum, specifying that:

the institution must accommodate two hundred patients
of both sexes, with the requisite number of offices and
servants, and due attention must be paid in the plan to the
proper classification of the patients and the climate in
which the Asylum is to be erected. The plan must like-
wise set out the probable cost of the Building in Stone,
Brick and Iron. The principal functions of the Building is
to be allotted to Paupers, but the Commissioners are
desirous of setting aside sufficient apartments for the
accommodation of twenty-five persons in better circum-
stances of life, (i.e. the paying class of patients) and
direct the attention of competitors to this arrangement.

The following year they adopted the architectural plans
of a Mr J Harris, an architect connected with the construc-
tion of the Hanwell Asylum in England. In Mr Harris's plan:

... the buildings have ... a ground floor; thus offer-
ing greater facilities for general supervision and inspec-
tion; . a convenient supply of water throughout the
building is amply provided for; while sufficient ventila-
tion appears to be perfectly available..... The style of Mr.
Harris' architecture appears . admirably suited to a
tropical country.

Two years later, on 13 April 1847, the foundation stone of
the new lunatic asylum was laid.
Despite the economic crisis of the 1840s, work on the
new asylum progressed steadily. In keeping with the contem-
porary view that institutions of this nature should emphasize
cheerfulness and allow scope for recreation and diversions,
the curator of the Botanic Gardens at Bath in St Thomas, Mr


Wilson, was asked by the Commissioners in February 1848
to come to Kingston 'to confer... as to the steps which it
will be desirable to take for laying out the grounds'.
But Jamaica in the late 1840s and early 1850s continued
to experience serious economic decline. Work on the asylum
therefore began to slow down in the 1850s, especially since
at the end of 1850 construction expenditure had already
exceeded the 1843 grant of 20,000 by nearly 10,000. Not
surprisingly, the House of Assembly refused any further
In its incomplete state, the new asylum could hardly
have been considered a monumental representation of the era
of enlightened asylum construction. There was no 'cheerful
and pleasing architecture ... creating and sustaining [an]
... optimistic and family-like atmosphere' [Scull 1980
p.54]. Instead, the unfinished windows in what were sup-
posed to be the asylum wards, emitted a gloomy, iron-bound,
prison-like appearance. The Commissioners were naturally
distressed about the incomplete state of the new asylum, and
more so by the fact that construction had ceased and provi-
sions had not even been made yet 'for the reception of the
paying class of patients whose friends have long been look-
ing forward to the time when such an Institution as we have
been deputed to prepare should be ready with all its comforts
and advantages to receive them'.

Conditions in the Lunatic Asylum
while construction on the New Lunatic Asylum was pro-
_L grossing, conditions in the Old Lunatic Asylum (as the
Kingston Lunatic Asylum now came to be called) continued
to deteriorate.
In 1836 Dr Easton, the house surgeon, in a statement to
the Assembly had reported that:
There are . 49 maniacs in the Asylum, and . 30
maniacs in the Hospital; ... I consider it totally difficult
to pursue any mode of treatment but that of restraint, in
consequence of the want of accommodation . The
Asylum is not in a fit state to receive or benefit maniacs,
in consequence of four or five being confined together.
[Bowerbank 1858 p.38]

However, nothing seems to have been done, for
the Notes and Observations by Medical Officers for the
years 1847-8 reported 'A large number [of patients] ... died
... by a scorbutic diathesia consequent upon the crowded
state of the buildings' [Bowerbank 1858 p.6].
During the 1840s, Dr Lewis Bowerbank (1814-1880),
a private practitioner and churchwarden for the parish of St
Andrew, emerged as a severe critic of the Old Asylum. In
1845 he had given his services as one of the 'medical gentle-
men' who had advised on the salubrity of the site chosen for
the New Asylum, and in 1850 had been appointed one of the
Commissioners entrusted with overseeing its construction.
In his capacity as President of the College of Physicians
in Jamaica, Dr Bowerbank now expressed the view that the
number of insane patients who were treated, discharged or
who had died in the Old Asylum for the years 1838-1849
was proof that the 'foul air, overcrowded wards, filthy
cesspools, bad drainage and defective ventilation' were
severe aggravants for prolonged suffering. [See Table]
With conditions such as these, it was not surprising that

the Old Lunatic Asylum was severely affected by the cholera
epidemic which swept through the city of Kingston in
1850-1851. The first cholera case at the hospital originated
from within the wards. Five days after this case was discov-
ered, over 120 (84.8 per cent) of the insane patients were
infected; and of these 82 died, representing 56.6 per cent of
the inmates. In the wake of this crisis, an attempt was made
to transfer some of the physically healthy patients to the
unfinished buildings of the new asylum, but this did not
prove feasible.
The socially conscious and humane members of the
Jamaican society now refused to allow the shadows and
nightmares of the cholera years to be forgotten or white-
washed. Dr Bowerbank, in a letter to individual members of
the Legislative Council and of the House of Assembly in
1858, called upon the Commissioners in charge of the Public
Hospital and Lunatic Asylum to institute searching investi-
gations into the shameful and crying abuses prevalent in the
Asylum. For, 'However apathetic ... or callous we may be
where the interests and sufferings of others are affected, pray
let us imagine that their case may become our own', he con-
The negative attitude of the House of Assembly to
social reform evident over the years could not be so easily
eradicated, however. Despite the disastrous effects of the
cholera epidemic on Jamaican society as a whole, votes
made by the House of Assembly were only feeble conces-
sions for urgently needed medical and sanitary services.
When, in the immediate post-cholera years, the Colonial
Office insisted that the House should provide more adequate
services for the social betterment of the Jamaican popula-
tion, the legislators became adamant. Instead they granted no



Number of patients treated, discharged, or died, with the
percentage of discharges and deaths, in the Old Lunatic
Asylum between 1838 and 1849

Total Cases Discharged Died
Years Treated Nos. % Nos. %
1838-39 116 22 18.96 17 14.65
1839-40 115 26 22.60 16 13.91
1840-41 112 37 33.03 7 6.25
1841-42 99 15 15.15 5 5.05
1842-43 159 53 33.33 14 8.80

Total 601 153 25.45 59 9.81

1844-45 129 18 13.95 19 14.72
1845-46 163 18 11.04 44 26.99
1846-47 178 23 12.92 29 16.20
1847-48 201 28 13.93 51 25.37
1848-49 216 28 12.96 55 25.46

Total 887 115 12.96 198 22.32

Source: Bowerbank 1858 p. 37.

Dr Lewis Bowerbank (1814-1880).

money at all even for the upkeep of existing social services.
According to Augier, et al., [1960] in 1853 at least one hun-
dred prisoners had to be granted unconditional pardons as
there was no money to provide them with food. Up until
1856, writes Heuman, the House failed to 'enact any signifi-
cant reforms in ... sanitation and other areas affecting the
majority of the population ... economic reform .. [contin-
ued] to precede any radical improvements in an even rudi-
mentary system of social services'. [Heuman 1981 p.160].
Controversy continued to swirl around the Old Lunatic
Asylum as the 'Friends of Humanity' headed by Dr Bower-
bank persisted in their efforts to bring to light the imperfec-
tions and abuses there. But it was not until Dr Bowerbank
had succeeded in awakening public interest in England that
the Assembly was forced to take some kind of action. As a
result of considerable pressure from the Colonial Office, an
act was passed in 1861 'authorizing the appointment of a
Commission to enquire into the condition and management
of the public hospital and lunatic asylum in Kingston'.

The Evidence

--he Commission of Enquiry reviewed the evidence of
Persons such as Dr Bowerbank, then a member of the
Visiting Committee to the Lunatic Asylum ex-patients,
including the notorious Ann Pratt, who had written a pam-
phlet entitled Seven months in the Kingston Lunatic Asylum,
and what I saw there; Mr Richard Rouse, Warden to the
Lunatic Asylum between 1854 and 1858 (through his treatise
entitled New Light on Dark Deeds); and other members of
the concerned public. They submitted their report to the
Assembly on 20 November 1861 which revealed that the
Old Lunatic Asylum was nothing less than a 'chamber of

horrors'. Where lunatic asylums in general professed to be
places of cure, in the Jamaican case no systematic curative
treatment had been applied to the patients; the Old Lunatic
Asylum was merely a place of detention.
To begin with, the Commissioners condemned the phys-
ical location of the Old Asylum which they regarded as
being in the most unhealthy portion of the noisy city of
Kingston. The hospital and its surroundings they found
prison-like in appearance, dirty, offering no privacy to the
inmates while easily facilitating their escape.
Moreover, there was severe overcrowding in the Old
Asylum: up to fourteen inmates would be locked into one
small cell at night. These cells were cold and damp, bug rid-
den and smelly. The patients slept on bare wooden platforms
without covering; and since there were never enough plat-
forms, each night a battle for their occupancy ensued, won
by the fittest. The sick and weak would then have to content
themselves with the damp and bare flagstone floor.
Another result of the overcrowded state of the Old
Asylum was that no provisions were made for classifying the
insane. An arbitrary selection of inmates was locked up at
night in each cell, with some female patients being shut in
the same cell as the males. A number of these female insane
patients became pregnant in due course. Fighting and quar-
relling in both the male and female cells was also a frequent
occurrence, with inmates coming out in the morning disfig-
ured, maimed and bloody. Dead bodies were sometimes tak-
en out of the cells when they were unlocked.
On entering the institution, patients were stripped of
their own clothing and their heads were shaved. The institu-
tional clothing provided was marked front and back with the
initials MLA or FLA (Male/Female Lunatic Asylum), but as
the garments were generally ragged and insufficient, inmates
were often in a state of nudity.
For bathing, there were two large tanks for male and
female inmates, with all the patients of each sex bathing in
the same water in the tank.
In general the diet of the inmates was found to be poor
and monotonous, with badly cooked and sometimes rotten
food. They were also forced to drink dirty or insanitary
water. Patients refusing to eat had their meals poured down
their throats through a long-spouted mug.
The Commissioners totally condemned the managerial
and supervisory staff of the institution. All were found to be
completely indifferent to the patients; the Matron used them
as her personal servants, undertaking money-making activi-
ties from which she alone benefited. She was found to be
'corrupt', 'unprincipled' and a heavy drinker. The few
nurses employed to the institution were found to be unintelli-
gent, illiterate and careless, spending at least three-quarters
of each day outside the premises. Their treatment of the
patients was cruel and unfeeling. All categories of staff,
including washerwomen and labourers, were found guilty of
beating and generally ill-treating the patients. Inmates were
used by the staff to do manual and other labour, both inside
and outside the institution, for the benefit of the Superinten-
dent and others. Patients were also forced to take care of oth-
er inmates in the asylum.
The Commissioners noted that several patients entering
the Old Asylum in good physical condition had died soon
after as a result of the harsh treatment meted out to them
there. Various control mechanisms were used to keep the
patients in a state of constant fear through inhumane punish-


ment such as 'tanking', i.e. holding down a person by force
under water until he or she gasped for breath or sank uncon-
scious. Some died.
The Medical Officers were not exonerated by the report
of the Commissioners. It was revealed that they were fully
aware of the extensive malpractices at the institution, and
condoned them. The Medical Officers exercised no supervi-
sion over superintendents and subordinates, leaving the treat-
ment of the insane patients solely in the hands of the Matron
and the Keeper. They neither examined the patients on their
admission nor on their discharge, made few visits to the
institution, and no enquiries at all into the deaths of the
To complete the isolation and desperation of the insane
patients, the Asylum administrators prevented the friends
and relatives of the inmates from visiting the Asylum. Those
attempting to do so were chased away by the staff, who
would not even inform them when deaths of their loved ones
One of the comments made by the Commission of
Enquiry in their report was that 'if it were impossible to treat
the lunatics for their cure, it was at least possible to treat
them with kindness and humanity. Such, however, was by no
means . the case'.
With the findings of the Commissioners fully publi-
cized, when contemporary Jamaicans made mention of the
Old Lunatic Asylum, they immediately conjured up a picture

of a house of detention imprisoning a mass of hopeless and
incurable inmates. As Mair points out, the word asylum
'which originally expressed help and security came in time
to be associated with loss of freedom, incarceration and fear'
[Mair 1965 p.3]. This described the conditions which the
Commissioners found. The social world which the patients
inhabited had left them with broken bodies and broken spir-
its, with no hope of cure. Instead of being a sanctuary of sup-
port, the Old Lunatic Asylum in Jamaica became a place of
no return.
Rosa Henry, a former inmate of the Old Lunatic
Asylum, summarized what life was like for her there in the

I was sent to the mad-house when I was really mad.
When I got better and wanted to come home, Dr Scott
said, no one could leave without some person came for
her, and we were bound to remain and wash clothes to
pay for our eating and drinking ... There are many peo-
ple in the mad house that I did not know the names of. I
remember Jane and Walker dying. They were brown
women. They died from ill-treatment, and three black
women, but I do not know their names. I know Steele
well; he is very cruel, and I feel it now from the blow he
gave me with a stick which broke my forehead. See the
mark here. (The indented scar is visible.) I have been
tanked. Mrs Ryan [the matron] and three women lay hold
of the person to be tanked, shove her into the water; as

Here and opposite: two pre-hurricane Gilbert aerial photographs of Bellevue. In this picture, it is clear that the original ground plan
has not been completely lost. Some of the buildings could be the originals, much modified since their construction.

fast as she come above water, shove her in again and
again until she is half-dead and some do die little time
after. When they tanked me, I swallow water till my belly
swell . Five of us slept in one cell every night. Every
night they strip us naked, turn us into the cell, and lock us
up until morning. The chinks (bugs) worry us. Eliza
Maxwell, Coolie, Polly, myself and a brown girl, used to
sleep in one cell. I do not now remember the brown girl's
name. She died shortly after tanking. Mrs Ryan was very
cruel. She and Steele used to beat us with sticks; and she
made us eat whatever she gave us, whether it was good or
bad sometimes half-raw . .They used to give us rice
water at night. The rice would be given to Mrs Ryan's
hogs and dogs. In cooking our victuals they throw the
bread-kind in without peeling them rotten and good all
went together ... I used to clean Mrs Ryan's house, and
ran away from there one Sunday. In going to and from
Mrs Ryan's house, I went by myself, and came back by
myself. The house was a long way off from the mad-
house. I used to wash clothes. We all wash clothes from
Monday to Thursday. Friday we case up sheets. Saturday
clean yard and scour benches ... We get coffee in the
morning; but no milk. We were half-starved ... the three
head washer-women ... I do not remember their names
. Dr Scott would see them beating us with sticks and
would not interfere . Almost every day they make
coffins. When they tank the brown girl that used to sleep
in my cell, she died away... January 16th, 1859. [Rouse
1860 p.23]

The New Lunatic Asylum (Bellevue)

[]he unanimous recommendation of the Commission of
SIEnquiry was that the only practical solution to alleviate
the conditions prevalent in the Old Lunatic Asylum was the
immediate completion of the new asylum building. The
House of Assembly therefore voted a special grant of
7,986.16.3 for this purpose, and in November 1860, sixty-
two male patients were transferred from the Old Lunatic
Asylum to the New. These were followed in June 1862 by
seventy-six female patients. By 1862 the Commission of
Enquiry was able to report:

. when we visited the new asylum, nothing met our
observation but what was clearly orderly, and humane. At
the back a garden is in process of being laid out, in which,
in suitable divisions and sub-divisions, the lunatics are to
find regular and systematic employment.

It was felt that, with a distinct and new medical staff
using modem contemporary methods of treatment, the men-
tally ill would be treated with humanity in this new building.
In 1863 this achievement was heralded under the superinten-
dence of Dr Thomas Allen. For the next twenty-five years,
Dr Allen employed the experience he had acquired in
England in an attempt to treat mental illness itself in a more
rational manner. He effected many improvements in the

I SIab. KUII~;Ah BaImA ,wn.A a mrWiWa J' ae .nL
gs opposite can be seen in the left-centre section of this picture which clearly shows the boundaries of Bellevue and the
the surrounding buildings.


treatment of the insane in Jamaica by introducing an efficient
and humane system of asylum management, and by provid-
ing the inmates with occupational and recreational facilitities
to ensure that they could participate in a full range of inter-
The historian Gardner wrote in the 1870s that he felt the
New Lunatic Asylum could, at this time, 'bear favourable
comparison with similar institutions in Great Britain. The
order, discipline, and good behaviour of the inmates, the
absence of restraint, and the general aspect of the establish-
ment, afford the most striking contrast to the dirt, misery,
and disorder of the former receptacle for lunatics' [Gardner
1873 pp.468-469].


AUGIER, F. R., GORDON, S. C., HALL, D. G., RECORD, M. The Making
of the West Indies. Trinidad & Jamaica: Longman Caribbean
Ltd., 1960.
BANCROFr, Edward N. A Letter to the Honourable Hector Mitchell,
Chairman of the Commisssioners of Public Accounts, on the
Proposed Erection of a New Lunatic Asylum (19 September
1839). Kingston: Jordon, Osbom & Co., 1839.
-. A Letter to the Honourable Hector Mitchel, Chairman of the
Commissioners of Public Accounts, Representing the Total
Unfitness of the Present Asylum for Lunatics and the Urgent
Necessity for Building a New Lunatic Asylum in a Proper
Situation (12 March 1840). Kingston: Jordon, Osborn & Co.,
BOWERBANK, Lewis Q. A Circular Letter to the Individual
Members of the Legislative Council; and of the House of
Assembly of Jamaica. Kingston: Ford & Gale, 1858.
DANCER, Thomas. The Medical Assistant; or Jamaica Practice of

Physic: designed chiefly for the use of Families and
Plantations. Kingston: Smith & Kinnear, 1819.
GARDNER, W. J. A History of Jamaica from its Discovery by
Christopher Columbus to the year 1872. London: T. Fisher,
HEUMAN, Gad. Between Black and White. Race, Politics and the
Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1792-1865. Oxford, England: Clio
Press, 1981.
MAIR, Ronald. 'By any other name'. Vue, Bellevue Hospital
Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1 (August 1965).
ROUSE, Richard. 'New Light on Dark Deeds'. Jottings from the
Diary of Richard Rouse, Late Warden of the Lunatic Asylum of
Kingston. Kingston: Gall & Myers, 1860.
SCULL, Andrew. 'A convenient place to get rid of inconvenient peo-
ple'. The Victorian Lunatic Asylum, in Buildings and Society.
Essays on the Social Development of the Built Environment.
Edited by Anthony D. King. London, Boston & Henley:
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.
Manuscripts and
Semi-official Documents
Laws ofJamaica, Chapter 48, (1840).
Minute Book of the Honourable Commissioners for Building a
Lunatic Asylum, 1844-52. The Archives of Jamaica. Ref. -
Central Govt. C. S. O. file, No. 3. misc. p. 17.
Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the
Management of the Public Hospital and Lunatic Asylum, and
the Evidence upon which such Report is Founded. Presented to
the House of Assembly of Jamaica, on the 20th November,
1861, to which is added An Appendix of papers referred to in
the evidence given before the above Commission. Kingston &
Spanish Town: Jordon & Osborn, 1862.
The History of Bellevue Hospital. Bellevue Hospital, Kingston.
Votes of the Honourable House of Assembly of Jamaica. [Jamaica,


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A Survey of Travel
Books of the Period

WJ Hanna

ERED AS A tourist resort in the
1890s. By then the island had
developed excellent shipping connec-
tions with Europe, North, Central and
South America as well as with the other
West Indian islands. There was a good
telephone and telegraph system, and
railway lines to the larger towns.
Kingston, the capital, boasted electrici-
ty, a potable piped water system and,
towards the latter half of the decade, an
underground waste disposal system.
There was a good, cheap tramcar ser-

vice offering transportation from the
city to its boundaries and beyond, as far
north as Constant Spring.
For some would-be travellers,
Jamaica still conjured up visions of a
country infested with fevers and lethal
illness, but these were unreal fears as
yellow fever and malaria were no
longer common. Earlier visitors brave

enough to overcome those 'fears' had
found the natural beauty of the island
'all-consuming' and 'magnetic'.1.2
Later, Jamaica's participation in inter-
national world fairs and overseas expo-
sitions helped to spread information
about the island and to correct false
impressions. Correspondence in Ameri-
can newspapers aided the process. An
example of this was a letter from the
United States' Consul in Kingston, pub-
lished in the New York Sun on 9
September 1884. (See Jamaica at the
World's Exposition etc., Appendix 1,


1884.) In this letter, the Consul attempt-
ed to answer questions which anyone
contemplating a visit to Jamaica might
ask. Despite all this, up to the beginning
of the 1890s little information was
available for the traveller to the island.
In 1891, W F Hutchinson, the author of
Under the Southern Cross, was lament-
ing the meagreness of sources of infor-
mation about Jamaica. He added . it
therefore gives me special pleasure to
present to Americans this charming is-
land as almost terra incognita' [p.143].

Tourist Publications
[T he Jamaica Exhibition of 1891 and
L the hotels built to provide accom-
modation for the expected visitors
might well have represented a formal
effort to attract overseas tourists.3 It
was hoped that this event would
encourage advertising by word of
mouth and also the return of visitors
from far afield. The Exhibition was not
a financial success, but it did attract
some measure of tourist activity.
According to the Handbook of
Jamaica, 1893:
During the latter months of 1892 and
earlier months of 1893, one of the results
of the Exhibition was seen in the visits of
tourist steamers to the Island. Of the vis-
its made by these boats, some were in
connection with Cook's Excursions,
while others were arranged in the United
States. [p.75]

The early development of tourist
travel to Jamaica created an increased
demand for information. As a result, a
varied range of material began to
appear: handbooks and guidebooks to
the island, travel brochures put out by
steamship companies, and travel books
by visiting writers. Each had its particu-
lar bias. Government guidebooks and
travel handbooks of the period por-
trayed an island paradise with happy
smiling people and Kingston as a
metropolis with hotels which promised
excellent accommodation. These por-
trayals were often not what visitors
experienced or what impressed them
Some of the sources were more
informative than others but a few con-
tained erroneous information. For ex-
ample, in Under the Southern Cross,
Hutchinson stated that the Maroons of
Moore Town were the descendants of
the Indian tribes who originally inhabit-
ed Jamaica. He added that after their
capture by the Spanish they were ship-
ped off to Sierra Leone. James Stark's
Jamaica Guide, however, one in a
series of guidebooks to Caribbean coun-
tries, was well laid out and informative.
On occasion, some travel guides
and memoirs showed great similarity in
their accounts of places and events. The
description of Kingston railway station
in The New Jamaica and Stark's
Jamaica Guide are identical except for
changes in a few words pertaining to
the design of the railcars. Yet these

books were printed eight years apart.
There are other examples, suggesting
that the travel writers of the period bor-
rowed freely from one another's work.4
Most of these writers visited
Kingston, Port Antonio and the smaller
towns, took the railway across the
island, and stayed in the larger hotels.
A few adventurous travellers left the
more populated areas for an 'off-the-
road' experience. Herbert Thomas
walked across the Blue Mountains and
visited a Maroon town,5 while Gilbert
Gaul ate in local, open-air restaurants,
along with their resident population of
chickens and dogs.6 Some of the writers
were women, often travelling by them-
selves, sketching or painting scenes of
Jamaica. In their books, they expressed
no fear of travelling alone in the island.
The late nineteenth century trav-
eller had to make the same decisions as
today's tourist: how to arrive at his des-
tination, where to stay, how to reach the
various attractions. He had to master the
intricacies of foreign exchange and -
most important of all know how to
avoid getting ill.

Travel to Jamaica
T here was only one way to get to
_Jamaica: by sea. In the 1890s
steamships, including the famous
Lusitania, came regularly and frequent-
ly to the island. James Stark's Jama-
ica Guide noted:

Erected on lands now occupied by the Wolmer's Schools, the buildingsfor the Great Exhibition of 1891 were
designed 'in Moorish style', complete with minarets.

No other island in the West Indies pos-
sesses such frequent communications
with the United States and Canada, and
at such a moderate cost as Jamaica, on
an average one steamer a day leaving
Jamaica for the American continent.

Although departures to Europe
were less frequent there was a well
developed network of steamers from
Kingston to Southampton, Liverpool,
Glasgow, Antwerp, and London,
including the very regular service
offered by the Royal Mail steamers.
The two best-known lines that
offered passages to and from the United
States were the Boston Fruit Company
and the Atlas lines. The former sailed
between Port Antonio and several
American ports such as New York,
Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
The Atlas Line offered a weekly service
between New York and Kingston and
was considered by Bacon and Aaron in
The New Jamaica to be the oldest and
best line running from New York to
The voyage to New York took five
and a half days and cost $50 for a one
way ticket and $80 for an excursion
fare. Some of the ships on this line
stopped at other Jamaican ports, as well
as at Haiti and ports in Central
The ships of the Boston Fruit
Company, in particular the Beverly and


Steamers of the Boston Fruit Co.

SAILING from LONG WHARF, Boston, direct for
PORT ANTONIO, Jamaica, weekly, from November
to March, and semi-weekly from March to November.
These Steamers are new and fitted with superior accommoda-
tions for passengers. Cabins on main deck and located forward
of engines, thus securing light and air free from any dis
agreeable odors.
Distance Boston to Port Antonio, 1,600 miles,
which is covered in five days.
The disagreeable sensations produced on passengers by
passing near Hatteras incident to some other routes is avoided
by taking the Steamers of this Line.
At PORT ANTONIO, excellent communications bI land or
water can be had with all parts of the island.
Full particulars furnished by application to
A. W. PRESTON, Man'gr Boston Division, Boston.

L. D. BAKER, Pres. and Man'gr, Tropical Division,

Spacious and handsomely furnished accommodation on one of the
Elder, Dempster steamers of the time.

the Belvidere, were said to be:

... like yachts in all their appointments,
and are very fast. The staterooms are
forward of the engines on the main deck,
and removed from the noise of the pro-
peller and smell of the engines, and are
especially well ventilated, of ample
dimensions and lighted by electricity.
[Stark p.43]

Life on board the steamers was a
delightful and agreeable experience.
The ships were elegantly furnished
down to the smallest detail. Running
water in the rooms and sea water for
baths on board ship were available on
some of the steamers. In Buckra Land:
Two Weeks in Jamaica, the author,
Charles Willis, described the comforts
of the Boston Fruit Company steam-
ship, the Brookline, which was repre-
sentative of steamers in its fleet:

To the Boston Fruit Company must be
given the credit of most carefully provid-
ing for the comfort and pleasure of its
passengers, and of surrounding them
with every comfort and every necessary
luxury. From the time one sets foot on
board he is most carefully cared for and
his wants almost anticipated. The table is
always attractively spread and filled with
a good variety of well prepared food.
The staterooms are large and well venti-
lated, neat and pleasant, with luxurious
berths and a couch beside. Each has run-

ning water and a patent wash bowl. The
saloon is large, with a high ceiling, hand-
somely decorated and furnished, with
comfortable chairs and divans . As
soon as warm latitudes are reached
awnings are stretched over the deck,
which makes the voyage most delightful.
Unlike most transportation companies,
the Boston Fruit Company does not lose
all interest in its passengers the moment
they are landed at the port of destination,
but during their stay in the neighborhood
of their estates they extend such free hos-
pitality as was never equalled. [p.10]

This quality service was not unique
to the Boston Fruit Company. Margaret
Newton in Glimpses of Life in
Bermuda and The Tropics commented
on her trip by Royal Mail steamer from
Barbados to Kingston:
It is expensive travelling by H.M.R.MS.,
but they are undeniably most comfort-
able and commodious. It feels more like
being in a good hotel than on board ship,
and the rest and comfort of it all, and the
good care that is taken of one, makes one
feel well and lively. [pp.166-167]

John Carson Smith in My Winter
in the Tropics wrote that in addition to
the good service offered on his trip
down on a steamer of the Boston Fruit

there is one feature of the management
of this Company which deserves special


SS. Port Antonio of the Boston Fruit Company Line.

mention, and that is that no liquors of
any kind are permitted on steamships, at
the hotel, The Titchfield, or upon the
property of the Company. [p.36]
As commendable as he thought this fea-
ture to be, it might not have been one
welcomed by all travellers.

First Impressions

E rom the sea, the island's natural
beauty was apparent to the visitor.
The mountains of Jamaica now loom up
directly ahead, clothed with a luxuriant
verdure from foot to crest, the latter
showing many sharp outlines and peaks.
Viewed from any point, Jamaica, as
regards scenery and verdure, is a magnif-
icent island, and surpassed by no island
in the world. Its volcanic origin gives
grandeur and sharpness to the outline of
the mountains which is quite unique.
Mountains rise one above another,
clothed here with the banana and cab-
bage palms ... [Stark p.6]

Even the smell of the island carried by
the winds as they passed over it and out
to sea conjured up visions of a land of
mystery and exotic spices:
The breeze blowing from the land brings
with it a spicy and aromatic odor as we
approach the island, and our voyage, so
pleasant and wonderful, is at an end.
[Stark p.7]

Travel writers varied in their res-
ponse to the harbours of Port Antonio
and Kingston. Some saw only the beau-

ty of the harbours in an early morning
sunrise, others the harsh reality of the
busy or dirty harbour front. Hutchinson
thought Port Antonio rather attractive:
It has a beautiful harbour split in twain
by a projecting tongue of land that holds
upon its white tip a red and white light-
house, with some attractive residences
farther back.

Willis in 1895 found the town, or
village as he called it, a very pictur-
esque place, ideally sited between
mountains and sea. Commerce was
already an important factor, with a wide

range of imported articles being sold in
the stores. This was largely the result
of the activities of the Boston Fruit
Company. In addition to bringing
tourists to the island on its steamers,
and providing accommodation for them
at the Titchfield, the company had its
Jamaican offices in the town. The
offices and hotel were staffed by a large
contingent of Americans from New
England. This made it necessary to
ensure that services and goods to which
Americans were accustomed in the
States, would also be provided in
Jamaica for company workers and visi-
tors alike. According to Willis:

Port Antonio itself is a most interesting
village. It nestles in a beautiful valley
between the mountains and the shore,
and looks very pretty with its white
houses contrasting with the intense tropi-
cal green. It has one main street running
through it, and numerous others leading
from it. Most of the shops are built of
wood, but some of the larger business
structures are of stone and brick. The
smaller stores and some of the larger
ones, have their fronts entirely open dur-
ing business hours and many of the
smaller ones are raised several feet from
the street. In them one can purchase
almost everything of ordinary useful-
ness; dry goods, etc., being mostly
imported from England, while food arti-
cles, agricultural supplies, boots and
shoes, etc., nearly all come from the
United States. [p.38]

For those arriving in Kingston har-
bour, the feature which impressed most

Laie nineteenin century rorn Anonlo


travellers was the backdrop the moun-

tains provided :

We had seen similar pictures in other
cities of our sunny islands, but they had
no such background as those of King-
ston. Scarcely farther away than subur-
ban huts, rose in bold relief the steep
sides and rain-scarred cliffs of the
famous Blue Mountains, whose singular
coloring, equally noticeable by day or
moonlight, set the low city forward in
the view. [Hutchinson pp. 151-152]

Kingston was a city to be either
hated or loved. The authors clearly
showed their bias in their books. For
those who hated it, nothing good or
beautiful could be found in the city. The
Parade Ground at the top of King Street
was, in the view of the authors of The
New Jamaica, 'a pleasant little park
with trees and fountain, tastefully arr-
anged walks and flower gardens; a fav-
ourite resting place for the people after
the heat of day is done'. But for Ford,
who appeared to have a rabid dislike for
the city and found nothing about it
charming or beautiful, the 'pleasant lit-
tle park' became in his Tropical
America '. . an ill-kept park, with a
few trees and dusty beds of flowers'.
Before 1895 visitors and residents
of Kingston were faced with the prob-
lems of dirty streets and open sewer
drains. Hutchinson's description in
1891 did mention the open drains but
despite them he managed to find some
attractive aspects of the city:

.. in a few minutes we were ashore
among its low-lying streets, open drains,
fire scarred buildings and multitudinous
negroes. There were narrow streets bor-
dered by brick walls opening by iron
gates to gardens gay with flowers, foun-
tains and singing birds, or by heavy
doors to scenes of dismal poverty that no
sunbeams could lighten; handsome resi-
dences far back from dusty roadways,
showing white through shade of palms
and parasites; hovels of low degree and
dark with grime, and wide, open spaces
alternating. [p.151]

Ford, on the other hand, in the same
year found Kingston.

... a city essentially commonplace, with
dull shabby houses, with unpretentious
and ill-designed frame buildings, with
unpaved streets fouled by the slime of
open drains, and with few trees and a
meagre display of tropical vegetation....
It is one of the most backward and least
attractive of southern cities. I have not

King Street looking north. The gales of the old Victoria Market are at the lower left. The open
drains and the rails of the horse-drawn tramcars are clearly visible.

found any Brazilian or Spanish-
American coast town of equal preten-
sions where the streets have been so bad-
ly paved and lighted, or where the sani-
tary conditions are so utterly neglected.

Villiers Stuart who also visited
Kingston in 1891, the year of the
Jamaica Exhibition, described the
drainage system quite graphically
including some of the hazards to peo-
ple using the streets:

Each of the avenues of traffic has in the
centre a little river of its own, which con-
veys away the drainage of the town.
These water courses are lacking in poet-
ry, for the surfaces are diversified with
worn-out boots, dead cats, and other
unsavoury objects, all on their way to the
sea by easy stages; the present Governor,
however, is promoting a scheme for the
substitution of underground sewers.
The streets just described are crossed
by others running as uncompromisingly
due east and west. These have not the
same advantage of running streams in
their centres, but while traversing them
the unwary traveller is liable to get an
unexpected shower-bath, if his carriage
is progressing at a rapid rate, for at each
cross-road horses and wheels plunge into
the drainage channels already described,
which revenge themselves by rising in a
geyser of doubtful purity right and left of
him. If he escapes himself, not so the
passerby, whose white duck trousers will
show evidence of the rencontre for the
rest of the day. [p. 165]

By 1895, when Willis visited Ja-
maica, the new sewer system was being
put in place but his description of how
the open drains were flushed is interest-
ing. It appeared that the city was
washed clean every morning, unfortu-
nately causing some distress to the
pedestrian population:
The sewers are similar to those of New
Orleans and are merely shallow conduits
open to the surface, which, every morn-
ing, are 'flushed' by letting out water
from the city water system, which flows
along the ditch by the sides of the streets,
all over the city, across the streets, com-
pelling the pedestrian to perform some
acrobatic leaps in getting around. The
city of Kingston is well cared for and the
streets scrupulously clean, and while the
water is flowing all the filth and matter
usually found in a city's streets is swept
into the ditches and carried down into
the harbour. At the time of our visit,
however, a modern system of sewers was
being put in ... [p.63]

Even at the end of the decade,
impressions of Kingston were still con-
flicting. In 1899, Susan Deforest Day,
looking at it from a feminine point of
view, found Kingston 'a bustling little
place, with rows of good business hous-
es, nice churches, and passable shops,
where good English stuffs can be bought
at a ridiculously low figure'. [p.280]
Hill's description however, is
unfavorable. He pointed out that the
unpleasant aspects of the city might



Harbour Street showing tram lines, open drains and horse-and-buggy cabs.

easily deter travellers from visiting the
rest of Jamaica.
Kingston, the colonial and commercial
capital and only city of importance, is a
most unattractive place. Travellers land-
ing at Kingston are often so impressed
by its unpleasant aspects that they leave
the island with no knowledge of the
beautiful interior, and afterward decry
a land of which they have really seen
nothing. [p.219]

Ethel Maude Symmonett gave the
most vivid description of the sights and
sounds that assailed the traveller in t h e
Kingston Streets. The reader of her
book, Jamaica: Queen of the Carib
Sea is almost able to feel and smell the
intense level of activity:
Everybody on the go. Elbows of busied
pedestrians meeting with elbows on
either side of the thoroughfare, each per-
son turning the demanded attention to his
or her varied vocation of life. Tongues
busily employed in purchasing, or in the
effecting of sales. The confused tingling
of the street-car bells sounding from all
directions, joining with the clear ring of
horses' hoofs, as these animals kiss each
other in the collision of carriages, omni-
buses, waggons, carts, drays and cycles.
The shrieking whistle of the locomotive
further west, making itself heard above
anything else... [pp. 19-20]

Where To Stay

a---arlier in the century, travellers usu-
Ljlally stayed in lodging houses in
which the service was variable, and
often rudimentary. John Amphlett in
1873 noted in Under A Tropical Sky,
that service from the manageress of his
lodging house left a lot to be desired:

Our hostess at Blundell Hall was, like all
West Indian hotel-keepers, a very inde-
pendent lady of colour. I heard that on
Friday the Nile came in; there were so
many applications for rooms at her
establishment that she got quite vexed,
and at last refused everybody, although
she had one or two rooms vacant,
because, she said, she was quite tired of
giving out clean linen, which, I suppose,
was required to furnish a room for a

By the 1890s most of the major
ports of entry had both hotels and lodg-
ing houses to provide accommodation
for arriving passengers. Visitors to
Kingston at this time were fortunate to
have a choice of new hotels which had
been built especially for the Jamaica
Exhibition. These were the Myrtle Bank
and the Queen's in Kingston, and the
Constant Spring in St Andrew. The lat-
ter, completed in 1890, was considered
to be quite luxurious. The Queen's
Hotel was at the corner of Heywood
and Princess Streets and was classed as
a native inn with the object of providing
comfortable lodging for the respectable
peasantry of the island [Handbook of
Jamaica 1893].
Myrtle Bank Hotel had an enviable
seafront location with its own private
pier. A morning telegraph service was
available to bring the traveller up to
date with world news. A rather heady
view of the gaiety associated with the
hotel was described by Ethel Maude

Myrtle Bank Hotel is inviting from with-
out and, in every minor respect, answers
within the expectation of one and all who
have sipped therein the life of comfort
and pleasure. The ne'er deserted billiard
room; and the occasionally enlivened

scene of the ball room, presented by the
measured steps of the merry graceful
dancers whirling round and round in gid-
dy couples; or band concerts on the
lawn, lit up by the soft lights of electrici-
ty, just facing the sea. [p.24]

In Port Antonio the Titchfield was
a 'home away from home' for Amer-
icans. It was run like a typical New
England hotel and Stark's description
shows that northern comforts were

Here they have established a novel style
of hotel, which is admirably adapted to a
hot climate. There is a group of cottages
on the top of the hill which constitute the
sleeping-rooms; entirely distinct from
these is a capacious dining-room, with a
convenient kitchen, while the laundry is
in another building. A central cottage
contains a parlor, reading-room, and
baths. The table is thoroughly excellent,
the best on the island, being liberally
supplied with northern products. [p.148]

At the start of the decade, the re-
ports of the Kingston hotel scene were
generally good. Hutchinson wrote:

There are several excellent hotels in
Kingston, and a number of respectable
boarding houses. The exposition year
was naturally a busy one for all these
houses and they were well tried. The
Park Place and Sonnescheins are excel-
lent native inns, where a traveller may be
perfectly comfortable at the regular rate,
$2.00 a day no extras. Constant Spring
and Myrtle Bank are under American
management, with home prices and
ways. [p.146]

Paying one's hotel bill was not a
problem as the country accepted all
major forms of currency. Coins in circu-
lation as legal tender were British ster-
ling, United States gold and silver,
Spanish, Mexican and Colombian gold
doubloons and Jamaican nickel tokens.
Local paper currency of ten shillings
and one pound sterling existed. As
Hutchinson put it:

Americans need carry no other money
than their own. What goes in New York
is good there and better further south.
Eagles and greenbacks are exchanged at
the Atlas Line office at par, or are freely
taken at hotels or shops. [p.149]

The Boston Fruit Company even
had a system whereby the traveller
could purchase at its offices in New
York a draft payable in Jamaican cur-
rency, drawn on its office here. Jamai-


can money could then be changed back
to dollars when leaving, making it
unnecessary to carry cash en route.

Getting Around
-HTow did the visitor get around to
_see the attractions Kingston
offered? Walking in the city should
have been relatively easy but according
to Hill: 'The sidewalks are miserable,
and seem to be constructed with an
especial object to prevent walking.'
For those who did not wish to
brave the sidewalks or risk being
splashed with a 'geyser of doubtful
purity' there were cabs or hackney car-
riages. These were standard single or
double horse-drawn traps, American
style, and readily available. The fare
was sixpence for anywhere within city
limits or three shillings by the hour. The
drivers, however, seemed to have cer-
tain unfortunate characteristics as
described by James Stark and others as:
'... the most obtrusive and most offen-
sive hack drivers on earth, Barbados
only excepted'. As if the characteristics
of the drivers were not bad enough, the
cabs themselves were not the most
comfortable forms of conveyance in the
world. Ian Malcolm's description in his
article 'Jamaica, An Impression', indi-
cates what it was like when the cab
wheels met criss-crossing tram lines
and gutters in the streets of Kingston:
broad deep gutters running at right
angles to the aggressive tramcar lines ...

cause the very soul to be jolted out of
your body as you drive along in a buggy .

There were always the tramcars which
went as far north as Constant Spring.
These were very slow as they were
horse drawn until 1899 when the sys-
tem was electrified.
For travel outside Kingston there
was a choice of rented cabs, the railway
or the mail coach. The road system
throughout the island was highly
praised. Strangely enough, the worst
roads were to be found in Kingston
Renting a cab then to journey out-
side Kingston was very similar to rent-
ing a car today, the rates being higher
for short term rental. The only differ-
ence between then and now would be
the arrangements made to feed the driv-
er and horses. It cost one shilling and
sixpence a day to feed the driver while
the cost for horses depended on the cur-
rent price for grass and corn.
Rail travel was a convenient and
efficient way to travel across the island.
The railway underwent tremendous
expansion during the 1890s. It had been
bought out by American entrepreneurs
who extended the lines to Montego Bay
and Port Antonio by the middle of the
decade. The experience of travel by rail
and the lush tropical vegetation forming
the landscape have been beautifully
described by Stark:
For fifteen miles or more the line runs
through a level country, and on leaving
there the iron horse mounts the hills.

aC/wa Cterminus J;ngst:n j7amna i

Kingston Railway Terminus a hundred years ago.


Here the scenes are entirely different
from those already noted, but they are a
constant charm. Now the passenger
gazes through a vista of coconut and
mango trees upon a tangle of rank tropi-
cal plants and flowers, or upon some
mountain hamlet with its thatched
African huts. Plunging from the mouth
of some tunnel, he finds himself high
upon a mountainous shelf with a densely
wooded ravine beneath his feet, while
tall mountain forms tower above him, on
the other side. The picture is ever chang-
ing and never commonplace or familiar.

Other methods of getting to the
smaller towns from Kingston were by
mail coach or coastal steamer. The mail
coach provided a passenger service in
addition to carrying mail. The coaches
ran regularly and the rates were less
than those for hiring a carriage. By
combining railway and mail coach,
there was virtually no town or village in
Jamaica which could not be reached.
The coastal steamers provided a
regular service, going eastward and
westward every ten days from King-
ston, stopping at all the island's major
ports. The fares whether deck or cabin
class were very reasonable. Most writ-
ers who took this trip found it a delight-
ful way to see the island and wrote
about their experience enthusiastically.
It certainly must have been far more
comfortable that riding across the interi-
or in a horse-drawn buggy. (It is a pity
that such a service is not offered today
as it would certainly provide the means
of a short restful cruise for residents and
visitors alike.)

What To Do
f here seems to have been no short-
age of things to do in Kingston,
according to an account in a pamphlet
prepared for Jamaica's exhibition at the
World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893:
Kingston also possesses its theatre, its
race course, its clubs, some connected
with sports, others existing for social
purposes. The Jamaica Club in Hanover
Street welcomes strangers heartily; the
Royal Jamaica Yacht Club has commodi-
ous quarters in the heart of the city; the
Society of Agriculture and Commerce
has its home in Harbour Street, and its
table is well supplied with the latest En-
glish and American papers. [Ward p.13]

Most travellers, with the exception
of Ford, found the museum and library

interesting to visit and were impressed
with the high standard of their exhibits
and books. The following descriptions
are representative:
In making a tour of the city's buildings
and points of interest, one is attracted
sooner or later to the museum and lib-
rary, the latter containing at present
about twelve thousand volumes, among
which are a number of rare old books
and pamphlets upon the history, geogra-
phy, natural history, botany, etc., etc., of
Jamaica. Jamaica-ana is not a pretty
looking word, but that is what we mean.
The library is rich in that sort of thing, ...
[Bacon and Aaron p. 59]
A notable public feature is the
Institute of Jamaica, located at Kingston.
This is a public lyceum and museum
maintained at Colonial expense. The
library is rich in Jamaican and early West
Indian literature, while the museum pre-
sents a splendid illustration of the island
fauna and flora and archaeological
objects of interest. Public lectures are
given, and the publications of a scientific
and historic nature are appreciated
throughout the world. [Hill p. 206]

Ford remained true to form in his
description of the city, and the museum
became a 'miniature museum' with
Kingston a city of few attractions!
Once the sights of the capital had
been exhausted, travellers could go on
any number of day trips outside
Kingston. A few were not very different
from some of today's destinations, usu-
ally excursions into the mountains or to
botanical gardens. The following exam-
ples with their recommended itineraries
are drawn from a number of guide-

Blue Mountain Peak: A two-day
trip with a stop at Whitfield Hall or
Portland Gap House. The first stage
was by tramcar to Papine Comer, then
by buggy to Gordon Town arriving by
10 a.m. Ponies were waiting there to
take the travellers to Whitfield Hall,
arriving in time for lunch at 2 p.m. The
rest of the day was spent at Whitfield
Hall. Travellers set out at 6 a.m. the
next day on a two-hour pony ride to the
Peak, returning by easy stages to their
hotels on the same evening.
Chestervale: Departure from
Kingston 6 a.m, arrival in Gordon Town
at approximately 7.30 a.m. Then on to
Chestervale where there was a tennis
court and good bathing. It was recom-
mended as a spa. From Chestervale,

trips could be made to Cinchona
Botanical Gardens in the Blue
Hope Gardens and the Gardens at
King's House: A very popular afternoon
trip by cab to escape the heat of the city.
Castleton Gardens were also a popular
botanical attraction.
Newton Great House: Four thou-
sand feet above sea level, this great
house offered a fine view of Kingston
and the harbour. This was a day trip via
Gordon Town, returning to Kingston by
3 p.m.
Newcastle: First stage by tram car
to Papine Corner then by buggy to
Newcastle. The trip cost thirty shillings
and travellers were advised to take a
luncheon basket.

The 1890 description of Cinchona
given by Sir Henry Blake, Governor of
Jamaica, makes anyone familiar with
the gardens realize how little the
scenery as well as the approach roads
have changed:
In the evening we find a cheerful wood
fire comfortable to sit round, and at
night, with a temperature of fifty-five
degrees, a pair of blankets is necessary.
In the close-cropped sward in front of the
house, smooth and green as an English
lawn, are formed beds of roses, petunias,
fuschias, verbena and geraniums, while
the mountain roads are gay with masses
of beautiful pink and white begonias, and
here and there fringed with English
gorse. Everywhere the banks are laden
with wild strawberries, and the woods
around are fragrant with the scent of
flowers. A great portion of the hillsides
is planted with the famous Blue
Mountain coffee, which commands the
highest price in England...
Unfortunately these pleasant heights
cannot be reached on wheels, and there
are many who would gladly escape from
the summer heat of the plains, but dare
not face the ride along the roads that
cling to the precipitous sides of the
mountains, sometimes mere paths not
more than two feet wide, from which one
looks almost sheer down two thousand
feet or more, to where the brawling river
below is rushing seawards [Blake p. 536]

What To Avoid

J amaica's reputation before the
11890s was that of a country in
which a traveller might contract some

sudden, deadly fever. It was no wonder
that there were those who felt a visit to
Jamaica almost a sentence of death.
Gardener, in his Handy Guide to
Jamaica, pointed this out and at the
same time tried to dispel baseless fears:
To many old-fashioned people at home
to book a passage for Jamaica is almost
synonymous with ordering a coffin.
Epidemics of yellow fever, varied with
the inconveniences of hurricanes and the
excitement of an occasional earthquake
which swallows up a few towers, are but
a slightly exaggerated epitome of many
people's idea of 'Life in the Tropics'.
The Englishman who revisits home in
robust health after a few years residence
here is coolly told by his friends that
they 'suppose the voyage must have
picked him up'. As a matter of fact,
official statistics and the records of vari-
ous Life Assurance Societies plainly
show that life in Jamaica is on the aver-
age quite as healthy and quite as pro-
longed as elsewhere. [p. XL]

Most guidebooks usually devoted a
section on health advice to travellers,
pointing out, in particular, the differ-
ences of a tropical climate. It was
apparent that the Jamaican climate
could have beneficial effects, and was
more salubrious in the hills. Some trav-
el writers readily appreciated these
advantages and Hutchinson's book, for
example, was really a description of
where to find the best sanatoriums in
the Caribbean. The benefits offered by
the varying altitudes and humidity in
the island were a prescription for health
to any ill person:
... Jamaica affords rare opportunities for
the health seeker to obtain such condi-
tions as are best suited to his case.
[Bacon & Aaron p. 40]

Some writers went to great lengths
to point out that excess of one sort or
another in a tropical climate could be
detrimental to health. Gardener gave the
following advice to travellers:

Thus to a visitor or newcomer the protec-
tion of an umbrella or of a helmet from
the rays of the sun is absolutely neces-
sary, while exposure to the night air,
though temptingly cool, should be avoid-
ed. So also the temptation to sit in a
draught when hot must be religiously
resisted, as likewise must any desire to
indulge to excess in alcoholic stimulants.
However, an extraordinary thirst is one
of the first things of which a newcomer
to a tropical country becomes conscious,
and there are two golden rules for regu-


lating this thirst, namely,
1. Don't drink too much.
2. Don't be afraid of drinking enough.

The guidebooks all made the point
that if a person was foolhardy enough
to be indiscreet and not obey common-
sense rules, then the climate of Jamaica
could not be held responsible for any
health problems:

If, for instance, a person will sit out of
doors in the mid-day sun with his hat off
or if a devotee of Bacchus persistently
consumes two bottles of rum a day, he
must not blame the climate if his health
suffers. [Gardener p. xLI]

The visitor did not necessarily have
to be 'a devotee of Bacchus', as the
hospitality of the Jamaican people often
encouraged the excessive drinking of

Nothing is more impressive to the visi-
tor than the foolhardiness shown in this
respect by many, especially young men,
who, coming from the colder north dur-
ing the winter months, when the contrast
in temperature is very great, find there a
social condition, among the better class-
es of men, which is famous for its hospi-
tality and good fellowship. The rum of
the island, a most seductive beverage,
lends itself readily to many decoctions
which to the uninitiated are as injurious
as they are novel. [Bacon and Aaron p.

The dangers of being caught in a
draught were emphasized by others
beside Gardener. It was believed that
the outcome could possibly be lethal.
The following dramatic description by
Julian Hawthorne in his article
'Summer at Christmas-Tide' warns of
the terrible things that could happen
should the traveller subject himself to a
sudden draught.
... it will not do to take undue liberties
with this soft-spoken climate. After
walking a few miles along the white
undulating roads, or panting up a steep
hillside, nothing could be more delicious
than the touch of a Northern breeze fan-
ning you as you sit under the shadow of
a broad-spreading silk-cotton, nor could
anything be more dangerous. You are
being fanned by the wings of death. In
the North a slight chill may be followed
by a slight cold, and that may be the end
of it; here your chill may turn out the end
of everything for you. [Jamaica
Pamphlets, vol. 22, item 28]

Final Impressions

Iln spite of whatever difficulties the
_visitor to Jamaica in the 1890s had
to face, the beauty of the island and
hospitality of the people usually made
up for them. Margaret Newton echoes
how the majority of visitors felt about
the island, especially when they had to
say farewell:

... I felt that I had really gained some
substantive information and knowledge
coming to Jamaica and the British West
Indies, and I had met with nothing but
kindness and courtesy wherever I went.


1. Amphlett, John. Under a Tropical
Sky. A Journal of Impressions of the
West Indies. London: Sampson Low,
Marston Low and Searle, 1873.
2. Gursney, Joseph John. A Winter in
the West Indies. Described in Familiar
Letters to Henry Clay, of Kentucky.
London: John Murray, Albermarle
Street, 1840.
3. Booth, Karen. 'When Jamaica Wel-
comed the World'. The Great Exhibition
of 1891. JAMAICA JOURNAL 18:3 (1985).
4. Holden, L. Travelling in the Island
of Jamaica, Jamaica Pamphlets, vol. 22,
pp.1-6. The description of the landscape
seen by rail is similar to that in Stark's
Jamaica Guide.
5. Thomas, Herbert. Untrodden Jam-
aica. Kingston: Aston W. Gardener and
Co., 1890.
6. Gaul, Gilbert. Jamaica, With Pict-
ures by the Author. Jamaica Pamphlets,
Vol. 22, item 23, 1893.


Guides and Handbooks
BACON, Edgar Mayhew and AARON, Eugene
Murray. The New Jamaica. Kingston:
Aston W. Gardner and Co., 1890.
Colonial Standard and Despatch, 1884.
DE SOUZA, Mortimer C. A Tourist's guide to
the parishes of Jamaica together with
an account descriptive of the Jamaica
Exhibition. Kingston: 1891.
GARDNER, A. Tourist Guide to the Island of
Jamaica, Kingston: Aston W. Gardner,
Handbook of Jamaica, 1890-91 to 1900.

'Jamaica at the World's Exposition. An
Official Introduction to the Jamaica
Court '. Kingston: 1884.


RAMBLER. What to see! Where to See! and
How to See it! The Tourist's Guide to
Kingston and the parishes of Jamaica.
STARK, James H. Stark's Jamaica Guide
(illustrated) containing a description of
everything relating to Jamaica of which
the visitor or resident may desire infor-
mation including its history, inhabitants,
government, resources and places of
interest to travellers. Boston: James H.
Stark, 1898.
WARD, J. C. World's Fair: Jamaica at
Chicago. New York: Wm. J. Pell, 1893

Travel Memoirs
AMPHLETr, John. Under a Tropical Sky. A
Journal of First Impressions of the West
Indies. London: Sampson Low, Marston
Low and Searle, 1873.
BLAKE, Sir Henry. The Awakening of
Jamaica. Jamaica Pamphlets, vol. 22,
item 13, 1890.
CROMMELIN, M. The Mountain-Heart of
Jamaica. Jamaica Pamphlets, vol. 22,
item 31, 189?
DAY, Susan Deforest. The Cruise of the
Scythian in the West Indies. London;
New York: F.T. Neely, 1899.
FORD, I.N. Tropical America. London:
Edward Stanford, 1893.
HAWTHORNE, Julian. Summer at Christmas-
Tide. Jamaica Pamphlets, vol. 22, item
28, 1897.
HILL, R. T. Cuba and Porto Rico with other
Islands of the West Indies. New York:
The Century Company, 1899.
HUTCHINSON, W. F. Under the Southern
Cross. Providence: The Ryder and
Dearth Company, 1891.
MALCOLM, Ian. Jamaica: An Impression.
Jamaica Pamphlets, vol. 22, item 37,
NEWTON M. Glimpses of Life in Bermuda
and the Tropics. London: Digby, Long
and Company, 1897.
SMITH, John Carson. My Winter in the
Tropics. Chicago: 1897.
STUART, Villiers H. Adventures amidst the
equatorial forests and rivers of South
America; also in the West Indies and the
wilds of Florida. London: J. Murray,
SYMMONErr, Ethel Maude. Jamaica: Queen
of the Carib Sea. Kingston: Mortimer C.
Desouza, 1895.
WILLIS, Charles [ERIC ALLEN]. 'Buckra'
Land: Two Weeks in Jamaica. Boston:

Travel Brochures
Elder, Dempster and Co. To England
Through Sunny Seas. Elder, Dempster
and Co. 189?

ex eie c it iih ditn tvAat
gitof riea d rdiin



'atre, the latest in a long line ofplayhouses which have stood on the site since the 1770s.


n encounter with Tyrone
Guthrie at the British Drama
League in London one morning
in 1958 raised a cluster of questions
about staging Shakespeare, and about
voice and speech, that are still of funda-
mental importance to practitioners
throughout the English-speaking world
Born in 1900, Guthrie was a tall,
handsome and imposing man of Scot-
tish and Irish stock. He was educated at
Wellington, one of the leading English
public schools, and at Oxford Univer-
sity. By the time I met him, he had cre-
ated a considerable number of outstand-
ing theatrical productions, initiated the
Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare Festi-
val, with its famous thrust stage, and
served as Managing Director of the Old
Vic and Sadler's Wells Theatres in
London. He had guest-directed at the

and the




Tyrone Guthrie, Jamaica,
Shakespeare and Speech

Wycliffe Bennett

Edinburgh Festival and elsewhere and
had advised a number of countries on
the setting up of national theatres. He
travelled the high road of artistic
endeavour and directly confronted the
problems that came in his way. His high
purpose and originality, both as theorist
and practitioner, combined with his
great gifts as a director to give him a
towering reputation as The New York
Times put it at that time, he was 'the
most important international theatre
director today'. I learned for myself that
he was also a generous but notoriously
outspoken man. I kept in touch with
him over the years, and was in 1967
invited to spend a week with him at the
Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Min-
nesota, when he was directing The
House of Atreus, a modern rendering of
the Agamemnon story.
It is over thirty years since our first


meeting; but the event has remained
fresh in my mind. Guthrie's book, A
Life in the Theatre, published in the fol-
lowing year, reinforces much of what
he said to me at the time. But I must
sketch in the Jamaican background, if
the reader is to understand and em-
pathize with the sense of shock I expe-
rienced during that first encounter and
to appreciate the high esteem in which I
subsequently held this great man.
Theatre in Jamaica began shortly
after the capture by the British in 1655.
Francis Hanson wrote about 'plays at a
Public Theatre' in Jamaica in 1682.
And during the eighteenth, nineteenth
and twentieth centuries there developed
a tradition of touring companies to the
island that was halted only in 1939 with
the outbreak of the Second World War.
Historians often recall 1755 and also
1776 to 1783 when the Hallams and
Douglasses and their London (later
called the American) Company of
Comedians settled in Jamaica and pre-
sented almost all of Shakespeare's
plays. Early in this century, in 1905, we
had Sir Frank Benson's Shakespearean
Company; and during the 1920s and
30s the Florence Glossop-Harris
Company. Various other combinations
of players came annually.
Benson toured the West Indies with
a company of thirty-five strong. They
played only one week at the Theatre
Royal in Kingston, but what a week
thought the critics; every night a new
play: The Taming of the Shrew;
Hamlet; Romeo and Juliet; The Merry
Wives of Windsor; Twelfth Night;
Richard III; and Goldsmith's She
Stoops to Conquer. There were several
players of world-wide reputation in this
great company: Nigel Playfair, Math-
eson Lang and his wife, Hutin Britton,
W E Halloway, who had acted with
Henry Irving, and Stanley Drewitt, who
later brought his own company to
Not all touring companies were of
this indisputably high quality. Horace
Vaz speaks lyrically of the Florence
Glossop-Harris Company, whose reper-
toire consisted of three types of offer-
ings: current London and New York
hits; Shakespeare; and a miscellany of
classical and romantic period pieces. Of
Glossop-Harris he says:
Her companies stand boldly contrasted
against the expiring Italian opera com-
panies, who sang their swan-song unla-
mented at the Ward Theatre, and the very

Sir Tyrone Gulhrie

so-so English Repertory Players who at
various times gave their seasons in waste
places. 1

Alongside the offerings of the tour-
ing companies were the efforts of local
groups, who by the second decade of
this century were demonstrating the
bifurcation which was to become a fea-
ture of the Jamaican Theatre: in one
branch were the imported scripts, clas-
sical and modem; and in the other the
plays of Jamaican writers.
Among the first group of native
playwrights were E M Cupidon and
Una Marson, operating between the
1920s and 40s, and Frank Hill, Archie
Lindo and W G Ogilvie, overlapping
and flourishing in succeeding decades.
Productions of Shakespeare's plays
were among the first they ever saw.
By 1950 the local full-length pro-
ductions of Shakespeare had included:
Hamlet, directed by Canon P W Gibson
with the St George's Church Young
Men's Dramatic Society at the Ward
Theatre in 1921; Twelfth Night, directed
by Joan Grant for the Jamaica Arts
Society at the Ward in 1939; A Mid-
summer Night's Dream, produced and
directed by Noel Vaz and Hazel
Johnson for the Little Theatre
Movement, in the Gardens of Holy
Cross Church, Half Way Tree in 1943; a
second Hamlet, directed by Molly Ward
Johnson for the first Jamaica Drama
Festival organized by Stephen 0 D Hill
at the Ward in 1944; and The Merchant
of Venice, directed by Nugent Monck
for the British Council and the Little

Theatre Movement at the Ward in 1950.
Long before this, however, the
English language had set its seal irrevo-
cably on Jamaica; and even to people
who could not read, Shakespeare had
become a standard of reference. Many a
Jamaican peasant would say 'Shake-
speare said', and then go on to quote a
proverb or some other pithy saying
which might not have come from the
poet's pen at all.
Shakespeare has at times also
assumed the role of national playwright:
he has been the author most often per-
formed, and has been used to help cele-
brate special events. It was felt, as in
England, that no major theatre director
or actor could enter a claim to greatness
until he had measured himself against
the works of the man whom Garrick
had christened 'The Immortal Bard'.
When the British Council, in asso-
ciation with the Little Theatre Move-
ment, sponsored the first drama festival
for secondary schools in 1950, the pre-
sentations, all thirty-one of them, were
chosen from the Shakespearean canon,
and the adjudicator was none other than
Nugent Monck, the English actor and
producer, disciple of William Poel, and
founder of the then famous Madder-
market Theatre in Norwich, England.
The festival was an unqualified
success. Thousands of spectators
flocked to the Garrison Theatre to
watch the performances. A refreshing
feature was the remarkably high quality
of speech and the standard of acting
reached by the young performers. Mr
Monck was particularly taken with the
ability of some of them, and was moved
to remark on separate occasions that the
Caliban and one of the Emilias were as
good as he had ever seen.
The British Council was anxious to
give as many local actors and directors
as possible a chance to work with
Nugent Monck. The Council arranged
that, in addition to his work as adjudica-
tor of the Schools Drama Festival, he
would remain in the island long enough
to direct The Merchant of Venice at the
Ward Theatre.
The Jamaican theatre was at that
time primarily amateur in status. Monck
had a long association with amateurs.
As early as 1919 he had become pro-
ducer/director of the long-established
amateur group known as the Norwich
Players. For them he acquired and
reconstructed an old dilapidated build-
ing, giving it an Elizabethan stage com-
plete with apron. He was one of the


very few living producers who had
staged all thirty-seven plays associated
with Shakespeare; and it was due to his
efforts that for the first time since
Elizabethan days the English public
was able to see Shakespeare performed
as it was written, with the continuous
action and dramatic continuity which
existed in the Elizabethan theatre.
Despite its amateur status, his Madder-
market Theatre was noted throughout
England for the high quality of its per-
Monck was seventy-three when he
arrived in Jamaica. A talented young
Jamaican director, Maurice Harty, was
appointed Assistant Director.
The Little Theatre Movement
recruited the cast for The Merchant of
Venice from all the existing theatrical
groups and by public audition. The
poet, A L Hendriks, who attended on
the first night, wrote a thoughtful and
comprehensive review:

The production is certainly pleasing.
From the rise of the curtain to its fall we
are charmingly transported to Venice to
watch the romances of the young people
and the grim transactions between
Shylock and Antonio. The production is
even and except for a little sagging in the
middle presents a uniformly smooth
appearance throughout.2'

Monck provided a firm scaffolding,
from which he orchestrated speech,
movement, grouping and actor/audi-
ence relationships. Speech was well
modulated, clear and varied, the phras-
ing accurately nuanced, the whole con-
stantly varying in power, pitch and
pace. I attended all the rehearsals and
performances. In the words of

Mr. Monck claims he is able to make
even a broomstick act, but here he has
not had to deal with any 'cudgel or hov-
el-post, a staff or a prop'. He has had a
company of talented amateurs who have
responded with great sensitivity to his
direction and presented a production of
the Merchant of Venice that all
Jamaicans should certainly see. 3

The production contained a number
of performances that people in and out
of the theatre still speak about. For
example, Dorothy Blondel Francis as
Portia, Claire Bennett as Jessica,
George Lazarus as Lorenzo, Barry and
Lloyd Reckord as Old Gobbo and
Launcelot Gobbo respectively and Vere

Johns, whose realization of the role of
Shylock remains a landmark in the his-
tory of Jamaican acting. Most of the
players have made substantial contribu-
tions to the development of a Jamaican
acting tradition.
A tradition of open air productions
of Shakespeare appears to have been
developing. The local A Midsummer
Night's Dream in 1943, took from
prodigal nature some of the very effects
that the great Max Reinhardt had wres-
tled with technology to achieve in his
realization of the Dream in Germany in
1905. Indeed, Noel Vaz and Hazel
Johnson's production was so successful
that when twelve years later, in 1955,
Jamaica decided to celebrate its three
hundred years of association with Great
Britain, the organizers of the celebra-
tions chose The Tempest as part of their
programme, and opted for an alfresco
The producers staged the show on
the grounds of St Andrew High School,
and gave the play a panoramic setting,
with acting areas on different levels
covered with moss. The school hall
between the tall trees and other foliage
provided a backdrop and took on the
appearance of a huge white rock. In this
rock was the cave in which Prospero
and Miranda lived. The building
responded to light as effectively as a
plaster sky-dome, and the appearances
of Ariel from unexpected places helped
to heighten the effect of Prospero's

., Jamai. a
/e N onarl Fen tivalI

(Fom The. Jul D-n L--|u'. F- E- of Pbl)
PLAYING TIME 3/, HOURS: FROM 7 p.m. 10.0 p.m.
T6 bl -o p-rfn.. Llmh iur wi be i hool chid. rm
prfnun- -- A.dm,.i. 3 /-

A 1961 advertisement for one of Jamaica's
favourite Shakespearean plays.

'potent art'.
The popularity of the classics,
especially of Shakespeare, was based
partly upon factors inherent in these
dramas, in particular the fact that they
were written by poets for an oral tradi-
tion, and partly upon the work in voice
and speech training that had formed
part of our cultural and artistic growth
during the previous fifty or more years.
As in England, 'received pronunciation'
had become more than a badge of social
distinction: it was often regarded as the
unmistakable sign of a good education.
Parents who could afford to do so
would send their sons and daughters to
qualified teachers of Speech for private
lessons; and an increasing number of
schools began to include Speech as a
subject in their curricula. Insofar as the
theatre was concerned, you could not
expect to be cast in a play that required
'good' or 'standard' speech, as some
organizers then incorrectly called it, if
the director felt that your utterance did
not belong. 'Good' speech became one
of the hallmarks of privilege. Histor-
ically, privilege was synonymous with
being white, or being able to pass for
white, so that if you were black or
obviously coloured, unless by some
unlikely good fortune you were very
rich, you were ipso facto underprivi-
leged. Where opportunities could be
based upon education, difficulties
would continue to be created, unless the
literate part of the population could be
exposed to the same acceptable speech
A general assault upon the problem
was suggested during the first decades
of this century when a number of pub-
lic-spirited persons began organizing
and supporting elocution contests. The
Jesuit Fathers of St George's College,
T S Phillips of the Jamaica Times
newspaper, and Marcus Garvey, one of
Jamaica's National Heroes, were among
the pioneers. Garvey participated in an
all-island contest at Collegiate Hall in
1910, and organized similar contests at
the Ward Theatre in 1913, and at Edel-
weiss Park in 1927-1928. By this time
he had achieved international renown as
a reformer and an orator. When England
declared war upon Germany in 1939
and Hitler addressed the German peo-
ple, a section of the British press report-
ed that the Fuehrer made a speech that
only Marcus Garvey could have rivalled
in impact and power.
By the 1920s the movement had
become very popular and during the


next two decades several organizations
promoted elocution or verse-speaking
contests: The Universal Negro Im-
provement Association, headed by
Marcus Garvey; the Poetry League of
Jamaica, over which J E Clare McFar-
lane, the Poet Laureate, presided; the
Jamaica Arts Society, under the chair-
manship of C G X Henriques; the All-
Island Musical Competitions Festival
Committee with J J Mills in charge; and
the Central Branch Old Students'
Association, of which Lloyd Barrow
was president.
By 1950 the term 'elocution' was
dropped as a rather ugly word suggest-
ing affected speech. In order to give a
clear signal that this was not what the
movement was about, the Poetry
League, which by then had become the
sole sponsors, renamed the contests the
Annual All-Island Speech Festival. I
had become secretary of the League in
1943, and succeeded to the chairman-
ship of a greatly expanded operation in
1959 with Dorothy Blondel Francis as
vice-chairman, and Greta Lyons as
another very active member of the com-
mittee. I remained as chairman until
1963, when I left the island to further
my studies. Twenty years had provided
ample opportunity to develop the philo-
sophical basis of the movement, and to
put it on a proper island-wide footing,
but the foundations had already been
well and truly laid before the Second
World War.
In 1937, C G X Henriques, Joan
Grant and Douglas Judah, judges at the
championships sponsored by the Poetry
League, delivered a report entitled The
Standard of Elocution in Jamaica. This
was a seminal document and combined
the best English, American and Jamai-
can expertise available. The aim of this
work was the development and use of a
norm of 'received pronunciation', in
which the child and adult Jamaican
could feel at home wherever good mod-
ern English was spoken a norm in
which his competence as a speaker and
his knowledge of the spoken word
would free him from any feeling of lin-
guistic inferiority, a norm which, whilst
recognizably Jamaican, was interna-
tionally intelligible.
It was a wide-ranging report deal-
ing with the choice of pieces, and tech-
nical aspects such as diction, voice pro-
duction, deportment and gesture, and
interpretation. The adjudicators were
not short on specifics. In a plea to the
school teachers they said:

A noticeable feature of the schools'
event was the general lack of literary
merit in the pieces chosen, and their
unsuitability to the age and powers of the
children speaking them. The object of
elocution instruction in schools should
not be to attempt to give the children the
equipment of a dramatic performer, or
even of a drawing-room entertainer; but
it should be used as the valuable aid it is
towards the better realisation of the finer
points of good literature whether it be
lyric poetry, drama or prose. At the same
time some of the necessary training in
the correct use and control of speech,
voice and body must be given, in order
to enable the public to respond to the
inspiration of the words in an active
Thus a dual educational purpose is
achieved, a literary and a more practical
one: the exercise of mind and imagina-
tion involved in studying a poem or other
extract with the object of interpreting it

orally for one's listeners which is obvi-
ously of great cultural value; and the cul-
tivation of pure, clear speech, a pleasant-
toned, carrying voice together with a
well-poised body, free from self-con-
scious mannerisms, that will prove assets
to the possessor at all times and in all
walks of life.4
During the 1950s the Speech Fes-
tival also encouraged the correct and
proper use of dialect as a viable second
language; and it was always the partici-
pants who excelled in the standard
English literary selections who did best
in the dialect classes. Dialect was still
frowned upon by many people with pre-
tensions to education and culture, but
the upsurge of national consciousness
eventually swept such opposition out of
the way.
I was chairman of the All-Island
Speech Festival and President of the
Jamaica Drama League when the

Programme for the 1951 Secondary School Drama Festival.


Programmefor the Tercentenary Year All-Island
Speech Festival.

British Council invited me to London
towards the end of 1957. It was against
the background I have just outlined that
I attended at the British Drama League
during the spring of 1958.
On that memorable morning with
which I began my story, Guthrie was
addressing some thirty students who
had come from different parts of the
English-speaking world to attend the
League's full time course in play pro-
duction. The class included enthusiasts
from Australia, New Zealand, India,
(white) South Africa, Canada, the USA,
the United Kingdom and Nigeria, and
myself from Jamaica. 'The Theatre and
its Future' was the title of Guthrie's
address. He was insightful, witty and,
of course, brilliant, but he was particu-
larly severe on Australians. Profession-
ally, his visit to that country in 1947
had not been particularly exciting. He
had seen some rather dull shows,
including a semi-amateur production of
The Merry Wives of Windsor. He
referred to their Cockney-speaking
style of English, and berated them for
their attempts to use such an 'inappro-
priate linguistic apparatus' to present
Shakespeare. 'Perhaps Shakespeare
ought not to be done in such places,' he
I experienced a sense of shock.
Why not? I asked myself. Do not
Australians and Englishmen resemble
each other? In any event, are they not of
the same ethnic and linguistic stock?
And do not both native-born white
Australians and Jamaicans, even to the
third and fourth generation, refer to
Britain as home? For me, a black from

the West Indies, this seemed a double
'put down'.
So after Mr Guthrie had concluded
his speech and his remarks about
Australians, their spoken English and
their attempts at Shakespeare, and the
time came for comments or questions, I
raised my hand.
'Yes, what is it?' he asked me.
'Sir,' I said, 'recently I accompa-
nied a colleague to a school in Surrey to
attend a performance by his students of
Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and
although I have known the play almost
by heart since my Junior Cambridge
exams, I could hardly understand a
word of what they were saying ... Also
a few nights ago I went to a perfor-
mance of William Wycherley's The
Country Wife at a Women's Institute in
London, and to me they made Wych-
erley's text sound like a foreign lan-
guage. Coming from my own particular
Victorian Jamaican background, with
strongly held preconceived notions of a
"standard" or "received" pronunciation
and even of how the English ought to
speak their own language, I find that
whenever I travel to some places in
England such as Liverpool, Newcastle
and certain parts of London, I am often
tempted to ask where do all these
strange sounding people come from?'
'Oh, I am enjoying this,' Guthrie
interjected, and the class erupted into
paroxysms of laughter.
'Sir,' I continued in more measured
tones, 'you now have a population of
forty-five million people living in
England and Wales, with approximately
a hundred thousand graduating annually
from the Universities; nevertheless, I
believe you would be hard put today to
identify as many as twenty thousand
persons who, without further training,
could speak "received pronunciation" at
a level that you could comfortably
accommodate in your prestigious pro-
ductions of the classics.'
'Quite so, quite so,' he raised his
hand, but did not comment. I was to
find his answer later in his book, A
Life in the Theatre:

To 'get anywhere' in England this
applies much less forcibly in Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland it is still
almost a prerequisite that you subscribe
to 'establishment' conventions of speech,
manners and morals. If you do not, then
you must make your way in business,
politics or one of the learned professions
by enacting, rather cleverly, the character

role of an outsider.5
To return to our question time: I
told Guthrie that I wondered how he
would have reacted if he could have
been in Jamaica three years earlier to
see the national production of The
Tempest. It was a multi-racial presenta-
tion and it was mounted with imagina-
tion and flair in Kingston, under the
open sky, by two West Indians, Hugh
Morrison of Jamaica and Errol Hill of
Trinidad. The production was paced
with subtlety, and the acting was of a
comparatively high order memorable
in many ways. The actors looked good
and moved well. The verse-speaking
got to the heart of the meaning, and was
characterized by a sense of rhythm and
a gift of phrasing that released the
music and magic of the lines. A talented
young man from Guyana, Slade Hop-
kinson gave a remarkably satisfying
performance as Prospero.
In the years since then other roles
had remained fresh in the mind: Ronald
Harrison's incredibly definitive Cali-
ban, Noelle Hill's elusively ubiquitous
Ariel, and Barbara Carter's as
'admired' a Miranda as one had ever
I compared that production with a
production of The Tempest I had seen at
the Old Vic a few months before. The
great John Gielgud played Prospero.
Our Jamaican production did not pale
by comparison: in many respects, and
especially in the masque sequence, ours
was more exciting.
Hopkinson had seemed taller and,
in his robes, was certainly a more com-
manding figure than Gielgud. His voice
had a timbre more like Laurence
Olivier's. But his speech was unimped-
ed by any aristocratic accent, and its
clarity proclaimed a more international
norm. Hopkinson did not approach
Gielgud in experience and stagecraft,
but he had successfully learned to com-
bine the attributes of intellect, emotion,
body and voice. Finally, he was a poet,
who seemed to intuit whatever he did,
and brought to his roles an unerring
metaphysical drive. I told Guthrie that I
wished he could have been there.
He did not say very much in reply,
except that he agreed with most of the
views I had expressed with regard to
intelligibility; and that although he had
not seen the Jamaican production, he
very much understood what I was say-
ing. From my report and from what he
had heard from others, the Jamaican


theatre seemed to be exciting.
In the remaining discussion time,
other members of the group joined in,
asking questions and making com-
ments, many of them supportive of the
views I had expressed.
During the luncheon break, Mr
Guthrie accompanied by the Principal,
Frances MacKenzie, came and sat at my
'How is it that you Jamaicans
speak so well?' he began.
'Yes, how is it?' echoed Miss
'What other Jamaicans have you
met?' I asked.
Guthrie said he had known Noel
Vaz and Lloyd Reckord quite well. He
had directed Lloyd in Peer Gynt at the
Edinburgh Festival in 1949. Noel had
been his assistant on a BBC production
of Tennyson's Queen Mary in 1948, and
in 1952 he had acted in Tamburlaine
the Great which Guthrie had directed at
the Old Vic.
Only a few months before our con-
versation, Noel, accompanied by Errol
Hill and Derek Walcott, had gone to
London to invite Guthrie to direct a
pageant written by Walcott entitled
Drums and Colours, part of an Arts
Festival being held to celebrate the for-
mal opening of the Federal Parliament
of the West Indies in Port of Spain.
Guthrie had felt flattered but had to
decline the gracious invitation. He sug-
gested that Noel himself should direct
the pageant which, of course, he did.
'But Mr Bennett,' Frances Mac-
Kenzie insisted, 'You have not yet
answered Mr Guthrie's question: How
is it you Jamaicans speak so well?'
'Well,' I replied, 'I suppose I ought
to say that it depends, in the first
instance, upon the home from which
you come. The school teachers do quite
a bit, especially those who put on plays
and organize concerts, and enter stu-
dents in speech and drama festivals. I
myself was a schoolboy champion in
the Speech Festival. The visit of Nugent
Monck in 1950 for the first Secondary
Schools Drama Festival and the produc-
tion of The Merchant of Venice gave
quite a fillip to the speech and drama
Guthrie observed that we had been
fortunate to have Monck in Jamaica,
and added that he was forthright and
very strong on speech and clarity in
staging Shakespeare. Guthrie said that
he himself was indebted to Monck and
had stolen many of Monck's good ideas

for his own production of Love's
Labour's Lost. He was sure that Monck
was at the back of his mind when he
staged Lindsay's Ane Satire of the
Thrie Estaites in the Assembly Hall at
the Edinburgh Festival in 1947. That
stage was a try out for the sort of
Elizabethan stage he had long hoped
for, and had eventually established at
the Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare
'What ideas did you steal from
Monck?' I asked.
'You must know,' Guthrie replied,
'that directors hardly ever work in iso-
lation. Equally, Monck was indebted to
other directors, including William Poel,
who had founded the Elizabethan Stage
Society in 1894.'
The work of that Society had an
enormous influence on the staging and
production of Shakespeare during the
twentieth century. The Society appeared
in various halls and courtyards, and per-
formed on a stage constructed in accor-
dance with Poel's idea of an Eliza-
bethan public stage.
Guthrie continued, 'Prior to Poel,
Frank Benson, who also had a consider-
able reputation as an actor/producer of
Shakespeare, had reduced settings to a
few stock pieces and placed the primary
emphasis upon the actors. Nevertheless,
they still remained within the prosceni-
um frame.'
'And it would have been those very
productions that Benson and his famous
company brought to Jamaica in 1905,' I
Guthrie recalled that Poel had re-
introduced or popularized several con-
ventions of the Elizabethan public
stage: costuming the players in Eliza-
bethan garments to reflect Shake-
speare's own day instead of in the peri-
od dress of the dramatic action; using
costumed pages to draw the curtains of
the inner stage and to arrange furniture
and props; employing on-stage cos-
tumed spectators to emphasize the
actor-audience relationship of the
Elizabethan Theatre.
I told Guthrie that, with the excep-
tion of costumed spectators on stage,
Monck had used all those devices at the
Ward in 1950.
Guthrie emphasized the importance
of Monck's use of a neutral permanent
set, suggesting no clearly defined local-
ity; the lack of breaks between scenes,
and the treatment of the comic scenes
without any overlay of 'vaudeville'
business, but simply, realistically and

sympathetically. Above all, his produc-
tions had continuity of action and a
lively pace.
I asked Guthrie to say more about
the stage at Stratford, Ontario.
In reply, he quoted from the official
description of the Theatre:'The focal
point of the Festival Theatre, has
always been the pillared, porticoed
stage designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch
and [myself], on which elaborate cos-
tumes and properties, in lieu of scenery,
serve as the only dressing.'
'In the productions I've seen there,
the actors do seem to be carrying the
setting on their backs,' I interjected.
'That stage is a unique platform,'
he continued. 'It is a permanent struc-
ture a modern adaptation of the
Elizabethan stage with balcony, trap-
doors, seven acting levels and nine
major entrances. The steeply sloping
auditorium surrounds the stage on three
sides, which emphasizes the actor-audi-
ence relationship, and no spectator is
more than sixty-five feet from the
'The Ward Theatre has a prosceni-
um not a thrust stage,' I observed.
'What you have said, however, about
Monck's business-like staging of
Love's Labour's Lost was precisely the
same approach he brought to The
Merchant of Venice in Jamaica.'
After a pause, I rounded off my
response. 'Some of the Jamaicans you
have met had professional training with
specialists at home and abroad, as well
as at Royal Academies or other speech
and drama schools. However, there are
many Jamaicans, who have not had pro-
fessional training, but who speak well.
'In 1955, also as part of the Tercen-
tenary Celebrations, we mounted the
first Jamaica National Festival of Arts.
It was island-wide, year-long and
embraced both the child and adult pop-
ulation. It included speech and drama
among the subjects, and an island-wide
Adult Drama Festival was held for the
first time.
'In the speech section there were a
great many participants, including some
three thousand speaking choirs. In
short, a climate of encouragement has
developed, promoting island-wide a
clear, expressive, pleasing but unmis-
takably Jamaican style of spoken
English. Only recently, I asked Rose
Bruford, Principal of the Rose Bruford
College of Speech and Drama in Kent,
how she approached the teaching of
speech to students who came to her






S* I r m, ,.....,
...... n ....- .
Chetolah Park Primary School entered the winning Under-10 Girls Speaking Choir in the
1960 Speech Festival.

from all over the world. "I teach them
vowels, I teach them consonants, and
leave their intonation severely alone,"
she replied. "I have to assume that with
or without help the students will get the
interpretation right".'
'To my way of thinking, that seems
a universally satisfactory approach,'
said Guthrie.
'Much the same situation now
obtains in Jamaica,' I continued. 'I
should emphasize that no attempt is
made to impose what may be called an
"aristocratic" or any other kind of
"refayned" accent upon participants in
the Festival. The organizers recognize
that accent is the mode of utterance
peculiar to an individual, a locality or a
nation; and that each individual will
have his own accent within a locality,
and each locality its own accent within
a nation. I hope I have now fully
answered your question.'
'You most certainly have,' said
Guthrie and Frances MacKenzie.
Our story could, of course, end
here, but in fairness to Guthrie I ought
briefly to refer to another side of his
Australian visit as given by him in his
A Life in the Theatre.
He had gone there in 1947 on the
invitation of the British Council to
advise the Australian Government on
the establishment of a national theatre.

He took the view that although 'there
was an extraordinary mine of talent ...
there was at that time no satisfactory
organization of its expression, no con-
siderable public appreciation to develop
it, and little enlightened criticism to
lead the public'. Consequently, in his
report to the Prime Minister he advised
'that before spending great sums on a
building, a much more moderate sum
should be spent on equipping the
human material of a national theatre'.
But 'the suggestion that Australian
taste might not be entirely perfect and
that Australia might, in certain matters,
be a decade or two behind certain other
communities aroused a tremendous
amount of steam'. Persons who before
hadn't thought much about the subject
suddenly felt an intense desire for
Australia to have a national theatre and
developed 'a passionate rage against the
sneering, bloody Pommy who dared
suggest that the time was not quite yet'.
This challenge to national vanity
may have been just what was needed.
The movement gathered to a focus.
Some three or four years later, various
interest groups joined forces to launch
The Elizabethan Theatre Trust. The
Trust was given the task 'to commemo-
rate the first visit to Australia of the
Queen, shortly after her accession, by
the establishment of a theatre and an

opera company'. On this development
Guthric commented:
It was a conspicuous recognition of the
fact that in the new Elizabethan age
Australia recognized the need for such
companies as part of the national life,
and recognized, too, that the quality of
such things is not estimable in solely
quantitative terms; that an opera or a
play must not be regarded as a failure if
it fails to pay its way.6
In these days of rampant commercial-
ism, we fail to heed such advice at
grave social cost from which we, and
future generations, will take a long time
to recover.

1.Vaz, Horace. 'The Drama in Jamaica'.
The West Indian Review, Spring 1947.
2. Hendriks, A.L.'The Merchant of
Venice, A Review of the Opening
Performance'. Public Opinion, March
3. Ibid.
4. Henriques, C.G.X., Judah, D.J., Grant
S.T. 'Standard of Elocution in Jamaica -
A Comprehensive Review'. The Daily
Gleaner, 12 January 1937.
5. Guthrie, T. A Life in the Theatre.
London: McGraw Hill, 1959. p.278.
6. Ibid. p.281.




First-hand impressions by
Gloria Escoffery

Symbols of people needing people

July brought an aesthetic and
social event which charmed
the hearts of Jamaican art
lovers as they were afforded
the opportunity to view the
works of distinguished
American painter Jacob
Lawrence and also to meet the
artist and his wife in person.
Renowned as dean of black
artists in the United States, the
seventy-two year old painter
has quietly crept into national
and international conscious-
ness as someone whose
professional achievement and
profound adherence to the
American values of humanism
and optimism have earned
him the sort of respect that
transcends definition in ethnic
his exposure at the National Gallery of Lawrence's
work, which lasted from mid-July to mid-September
1989, along with the visit of the artist and his
Barbadian wife, Gwendolyn, was sponsored by the United
States Information Service and organized by Scripps College
in California. It marked one stop in a circuit taking in several
Latin American countries.
In Jamaica the two American visitors accommodated
themselves to a tight schedule which in three days included
meet-the-people sessions in both Kingston and Montego


Bay, long press interviews, a visit to the Cultural Training
Centre and at least three well-attended social functions. They
chatted with dozens of new friends, all anxious for them to
fall in love with Jamaica and return for a protracted stay as
they did after a short initial visit to Nigeria. Everywhere they
endeared themselves by their friendliness, ease of manner
and lack of pretentiousness. Soon it became difficult to draw
a line of demarcation between one's impressions of the man
and of his work. Perhaps the distinction is irrelevant. Of no
other artist I have met can it be more truly said that 'by his


works ye shall know him'. Total integrity is the secret of his
For the wider, all-island public which did not have the
opportunity to attend the exhibition, or to see the excellent
documentary shown daily there, the media did their bit by
presenting this film more than once. It deserves to be
repeated even now, long after the show has closed, not
merely because of ILS interesting. individualisuc approaches
to artistic production, but because it encapsulates several
messages of value to our largely philistine and materialistic
people. Among these is the moral example of a man totally
without rancour, tranquilly pursuing his bent and winning
through to universal acclaim despite the loading of the dice
against black artists in his youth and perhaps even toda),
though to a far less extent because of his having led the way.
For those youths of today on the fringe of drug culture
degradation simply because of lack of a sense of purpose, or
boredom, what could be a more convincing exemplar of the
delight of creative joy and inner discipline than the
sequences showing this serious, dedicated artist at work in
his studio?
Jacob Lawrence is, in fact, the prototype of the artist,
the painter who very early in life gets hooked on colour,
meaning that rainbow glory issuing like a bottled genie from
those relatively inexpensive jars of poster paints. Harlem of
the 1930s to which he moved after a spell in a Penn-
sylvania foster home when his hard pressed mother
managed to unite the family in 1930, was a tough
environment for a teenager to grow up in though perhaps not
as rugged and dangerous as it is today. Those were the
Depression years and the blacks newly arrived by the
process of mass migration from the south were at the bottom
of the socioeconomic ladder. However, as Lawrence wryly
points out, they did not have as far to fall as the whites and
the very struggle to survive created a tightly knit community
w ith a strong morale and sense of neighbourliness.
At 'Utopia House', a Works Project Administration
(WPA) centre to which his mother sent him to keep him off
the streets and because a hot lunch was provided, he joined
the afternoon arts and craft class, where he started painting
geometric designs. He found inspiration for these designs in
the 'Persian' throw rugs and artificial flowers with which
mothers in those days brought cheer into the home. From
that point he never looked back.
Moving on to recreating Harlem street scenes on shoe
boxes he became the accepted artist of his peer group, and
soon gained recognition from his first teacher, Charles
Alston, and other perceptive adults. Thus we see the
motivation mix which has remained with him all his life,
pleasure in his craft and satisfaction derived from the
sanction of his community. His drawings and paintings
spoke directly to the condition of his neighbours because he
went straight to the heart of the matter, eliminating
inessential details and focusing on the essentials of human
drama. As in the most basic and unsophisticated popular
theatre, the stage sets are minimal and must make their point.
Expressiveness is all. I do not think it is far-fetched to relate
the early Harlem scenes to the art of Vaudeville; certainly
they drew inspiration from every social 'performance' in the
bustle of the streets from the delivery of a political or
religious oration, through attendance at funerals to the
routine event of the arrival of the iceman's cart. If there was
sadness and deprivation there was also a vibrating sense of

life being lied to the lull, not only in the streeLs but aJo in
the crowded apartments which required regular homely
rituals of survival. Abo\e all there was no sense of self-pity.
Behind the folksiness of the streets there was also a
current of intellectual fervour. This was not an isolated
academic phenomenon but something that reached
youngsters like Jacob Lawrence in the P PA centre,, of
which there were several. There were also encounters in
meeting places such as the studio of the impassioned
sculptor, Augusta Savage. The young high school drop out,
who contributed to the family income by a variety) of odd
jobs, was no intellectual slouch. It is true that the Harlem
Renaissance was by then past its heyday and Marcus Garvey
had gone his way as a deportee, but the Garveyites with their
street parades were still in evidence. Lawrence caught the
fire of enthusiasm from a group of elders who included our
poet Claude McKay, who, says Lawrence, had a particularly
good rapport with young people. He soon found his way to
the Afro-American related collection of books, pamphlets,
art and manuscripts assembled at his branch of the New
York Public Library by West Indian-born curator, Arthur
Schomburg. Here he spent hours doing the research which
was to produce his first historical narrative series, on
Toussaint L'Ouverture completed in 1929 when he was
only twenty-two years old.'
Jacob Lawrence is the sort of person who cannot be
distanced from a core integrity of self-knowledge by any
degree of recognition or celebrity. When he says, 'You just
have to believe that what you're doing is right,' this is a
piece of commonsense, fatherly advice, with no suggestion
that he regards himself as a specially chosen seer or spiritual
guide for the blacks of America. Painting pictures is simply
the most pleasurable activity he knows. He always stresses
the importance of the abstract element, which he refers to as
'picture structure'; delight in visual ideas and challenges has
never deserted him though, significantly, his ideas are
always carried out within the boundaries of his particular
approach, which is figurative. On the other hand, there is this
strong social realist appeal of the observed fact, which
provides him with the motifs for abstraction.
In carrying out a work of art he has a clear idea of the
all-over design, but in the process of working out the details
he is guided by a strong intuition which, without intervention
of conscious thought, produces the brilliant insights and
poetic analogies which distinguish his oeuvre. There is
evidence of a personal symbolism, an attachment to certain
forms, for instance carpenter's tools, which have never lost
their fascination for him, but his images never become
repetitious and stale because his imagination and sense of
adventure keep him constantly on the move. He is
stubbornly taciturn on the subject of interpretations, leaving
that to the critics. Intellectual analysis is the critic's mode of
thought, not his. What occupies his mind is the fascination of
what his eyes see, and the challenge of design and technique.
Any abstruse literary connotations viewers may read into his
work are their business.
This powerful intuitive faculty, which links Lawrence,
sophisticated technician that he is, to our intuitives, he
regards as pan of the God given talent without which no
young person can succeed as an artist. Paradoxically, the
very objectivity of his vision as he studies the externals of
human encounter and relationship to particular environments
provides the philosophical, ethical spin-off which takes his

work right out of the category of literal genre. Truly great
artists whose glance is sufficiently penetrating have gimlet
eyes for the truth that lies beneath the surface of appear-
ances. There have been periods, particularly in the works
produced in the late forties after a post-breakdown spell of
voluntary retreat to a mental institution, when there was a
strong element of surrealism in the pictures he painted. They
show the activities of the inmates, emphasizing their futility
and the frustration of isolation.
Jacob Lawrence today is a man of Iremendous
experience and depth. His manner of speaking may be
described as courteous and urbane, always mindful of the
basic viewpoint of his interlocutor. In the open session of
question and answer at the National Gallery, he applied his
attention seriously to the questions thrown at him by young
artists anxious to know what it feels like to be successful,
how one can break into the metropolitan art scene, whether it
is as difficult for black and/or young and/or women artists as
it seems. For someone of his status this has long ceased to be
a matter of personal concern; still he recognizes the
undertones of anxiety in the voice of the one who is putting
the question. Patiently he explains that fame and fortune are
great but believing in what you are doing is more important;
that the morale-building effect of a supportive peer or
community group is just as relevant as the techniques of
Lawrence has combined this attachment to his early
sources of motivation with a tremendous zest for new
experience. There is something typically American about the
frontiersman spirit in which he has all his life responded to
invitations that opened up his mind to wider and wider
horizons. This is evident at a glance when one turns to his

curriculum vitac, and the early successes he took in his
stride, without even realizing at the time how extraordinary
they were. In 1941 he enjoyed the succes d'estime of a
unique break into the world of white Manhattan galleries by
exposure at the Downtown Gallery run by Edith Halpart. His
first solo exhibition, at the Museum of Modem Art, (a first
for black American artists) took place in 1944, when he was
only twcniy-scvcn. Two years later he was awarded a
Guggenhcim Fellowship to paint a War Series and began his
long career as a teacher at the prestigious Black Mountain
College in North Carolina where he was stimulated by the
abstract artist, Joseph Albers. The following year he was
commissioned by Fortune magazine to do ten paintings of
post-war social conditions in the southern states and the year
after that he illustrated Langston Hughes's One Way Ticket.
No wonder the next year found him suffering a nervous
breakdown from the pressures of life (and producing the
brilliant Hospital series mentioned earlier). There is
insufficient space here to catalogue the activities of his
middle years which included teaching posts, several
commissions for illustrations, more prestigious exhibitions, a
visit in 1964 to Nigeria and election to membership in the
National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1965. What cannot
be omitted is his decision to pull up stakes in the East in
1971 and move to Seattle, in the northwestern state of
Washington, taking up his appointment as Professor of the
University of Washington School of Art.
In Nigeria, Lawrence was fascinated by the open
markets, the light, the colour, but he was not about to graft
himself on to a culture which really was not the one which
had shaped his vision. He is not the sort of artist who
consciously seeks to incorporate the exotic into his works.

Dust to Dut, 1938. Gouache on paper 11 "x 16 ".


The effect of a new experience must take place on a deeper
level, slowly opening up new avenues of thought without
conscious effort on his part.
Jacob Lawrence responds with a paradoxical and
productive balance of conservatism and open-mindedness to
challenge and to new ideas. This is very evident in the way
he has expanded his technical expertise and gone from
painting- small works in gouache or egg tempera to the
designing and execution of murals, but always resisting the
attractions of oil as against water based media, no doubt
because the lure of a more versatile fluid medium is contrary
to his need for a contained design medium. He could have
made the break in his early days, but did not because he
liked working on paper, and the medium he was in suited
him. He graduated from the cheap poster paints and brown
paper into more sophisticated materials such as egg tempera
and casein but basically his style remained dramatically flat.
Only now, in his late years, is he deviating from this
characteristic, to the extent of seeking to obtain a greater
solidity in his forms.
His faithfulness to figurative art must have been
wondered at by his more 'advanced' contemporaries in the
forties and fifties, when abstract expressionism was
flourishing in America and being copied by followers in
Europe. Characteristically, he is open-minded and a bit
cagey in discussing contemporary styles. Yes, he says,
'there is a lot going on that is exciting. He does not consider a
painting in term of styles or schools but as an individual
piece of work with its own qualities. He has a high opinion
of many contemporary artists; diplomatically he refrains
from naming his favourites. What is it, though, that really
makes his eyes light up? It is when he speaks of the tiny
narrative panels produced in early Renaissance art,
particularly the Sienese school. One can imagine him avidly
studying these, along with the specimens of Dutch-genre,
when he made those exploratory excursions, as a boy, to the
Metropolitan Museum in New York. These tiny works must
have inspired him with a desire to produce the small but
heroic paintings in his early historical narrative series,
confident in the knowledge that grandeur is not to be
measured by square feet of canvas. A typical example
chosen from the paintings shown in Jamaica, Another
Journey Ended (from the Harriet Tubman series of 1967),
measures only ten by eleven inches.
This question of scale is important in relation to the
evolution of Jacob Lawrence's oeuvre. In the socially
conscious thirties, a great-deal of publicity was given-in the
American press to the paintings of the Mexican muralists of
social revolution, notably Rivera and Orozco (whom
Lawrence recalls meeting in person). Excited by the social
content of their:works, he was not however tempted to
imitate the monumental fullness of their forms. There were
other muralists closer to home who were moving spirits in
the area of black consciousness, for instance, Aaron Douglas
(1899 1979), who by 1934 had completed murals on the
theme Aspects of Negro Life in the Countee Cullen Branch
Public Library. Among the white artists leading the way in
WPA socially sponsored 'relevant' art was Ben Shahn,
famous for his paintings exposing the injustice of the Sacco
and Vanzetti trials. Lawrence speaks well of Shahn as a
kindly man, his elder by some years, who was one of the
artists promoted by Edith-Halpert. He purchased one of
Lawrence"s paintings in the 1941 Downtown Gallery show.

Shahn was an illustrator, and his predilection for working in
series, as in the Haggadah illustrations, though not in the
category of dramatic narratives, would surely have interested
and inspired Lawrence. He was, also, moved by the graphic
works of George Grosz and the social idealism of Kathe
In due course, Lawrence was to take up the challenges of
both the wall and the printed page. He has carried out several
commissions for murals, executed in ceramic tiles, including
one for Howard University in Washington, designs for which
were included in the show mounted at the National Gallery.
He has also produced a great deal of illustrative work,
ranging from Time magazine covers through illustrations for
Aesop's fables, to a 1982 set of paintings for a de luxe edi-
tion of John Hersey's Hiroshima. What comes across is the
dedicated professionalism of Jacob Lawrence. He is always
his own man, always trying a slightly new variant of his
previous technique yet he meets the requirements of the task
in hand. When the subject is closest to his heart, the results
are likely to be the most poignant, as in the early (1948)
illustration for a Langston Hughes poem, One Way Ticket, in
which personal experience gives a bite to the details, espec-
ially the pose of the cocky small boy in the foreground.
Lawrence is not without reason the perfect selection as
an American unofficial cultural ambassador. All that he
knows and puts on paper has been acquired by a process of
life-long assimilation through years that have dramatically
altered the status of Afro-Americans. He does not see
himself as an artist of social revolution, merely as one who
set down what he observed and felt. The very fact of
human interaction, sometimes hostile, has provided the
design element of counterpoint in his works. Referring in an
interview with another journalist to his works of the sixties,
in which he came close to being labelled as a civil rights
propagandist, he insists that he never uses the term 'protest'
in connection with his paintings. Even the early brothel
scenes, he has been reported as saying, stress the positive
relationship between exploiter and exploited. 'Even in
exploitation there's need. I see those particular works as
symbols of people needing each other'.2
Typically, Lawrence does not exaggerate his social
awareness in those early days. He was just another young
man, enjoying the extrovert entertainment of vaudeville at
the Apollo Theatre, absorbing from the carpenters and
cabinet makers a respect for tools well used, as an extension
of the human hand, listening with wide-open ears to the shop
talk of black actors and of writers like Langston Hughes,
Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright; developing his particular
techniques with contemporaries like Henry Bannan and
Romare Bearden. His voice grows wistful as he reminisces
with his wife Gwendolyn, recalling who and who was
around in those days, what event came before what.
The episode of the Downtown Gallery show makes an
interesting story in the retelling of the early days. He and his
wife were actually in New Orleans at the time of the opening
which, though they did not know it then, was to be so
important in his career. The sophisticated galleries were
waking up to the richness of black culture and had planned a
simultaneous exposure of a roster of artists from the black
community. Then on 14 December, the eve of the grand
opening, came the shock of Pearl Harbour. After that, Edith
Halpert was the only gallery proprietor who followed
through with the promise to promote an artist on the roster.


The Swearing In, No.I (Prendeint Jimmy CartEr), 1977 Gouache on paper 20" x 30".

There must have been an element of luck in this break for
Lawrence was indeed the 'man pon spot'- though absent in
New Orleans at the opportune moment. Lawrence did not
at the time regard the event as extraordinary since he had
already received considerable notice in the Harlem
community. And, of course, there was the matter of talent
and promise. Edith Halpert must have realized she was on to
a very good thing.
Many lovers of Lawrence's work will regret the passing
of the starkness of the early Harlem works, as he became
more sophisticated, more witty, placing perhaps a bit more
emphasis on the abstract element than on first hand
impressions of human encounter, on social harmony rather
than on struggle. Most people who saw the show at the
National Gallery opening, myself included, after making the
rounds of the exhibits seemed to gravitate back to a
particular work or works among the nine pieces from the
Harlem period, searching intently for clues to the mystery of
the spiritual youthfulness they radiate.
Relatively dark in tonality, these small paintings in
purely aesthetic terms proclaim the hopefulness of energy
and neighbourliness in a world in which consumer goods in
the abundance we take for granted today simply weren't
there to be the source of envy and discord. Set against rich,
warm tones of brown and grey, what are in fact fairly muted
yellows seem like brilliant splashes of prismatic colour.
Lawrence's intelligent, or intuitive, sleight of hand as a
colourist appears, if one must be analytical, in, for instance
The Woman in Green. Here the woman's voluminous cloak
isn't, in fact, green at all, but geared to give the illusion of
greenness by contrast with the strong touches of orange and
red in the woman's earrings, lipstick and ring, and by the

underpainting which relates it to the grey street.
In these paintings, not only yellow, but black and white
play their arts like mime actors in a symbolic drama. This
may be seen in the grotesque bandaged heads of the patients
in Free Clinic, the while blank face of the window broken by
slanting rain-drops in Rain, the jumby-like whites of eyes in
the watchful prostitute's glance, which seems able to detect
the presence of the figure behind her at the lamp post, in
Woman in Green. In Pool Players, the artist plays games
with the look-alike motifs of buttons, billiard ball and
eyeballs. Stripes in garments are used with effect to
emphasize the dogmatic style of thinking which governs
people's lives, in Street Orator underscoring the analogy
between the baggy trousers of the orator and the starkly
lettered sign nBLND on the forehead of the man with dark
glasses. This is a wonderful picture, in terms of the richness
of expressive content. There is satirical comment in every
detail, contributing to the total impression of an audience
that is variously, passive, gullible, knowing, leary or in some
way squeezed out of normal shape by the pressures of life. A
wry effect is obtained by the displacement of the blind man's
red tie, so that it suggests the noose on a hanging figure.
One general observation is that the harshness of the
comment is made palatable by good humour, so that the
characters appear in a favourable light, even when depicted
as gullible victims of their own acceptance of things as they
are, thank God. The flattening out of the perspective in the
interiors provides a closed space, like a very tiny stage, in
which the furniture and props must play as important a par
as the actors. This is evident in Rain in which three persons
grapple with five significant, token objects, wrestling with
them to achieve deliverance from the fate God permits to


Brooklyn Sioop, 1967. Casein on paper, 21"x 15'4" (Poster designedforGoddardArd Center, New York)


leak from above into their hallowed box of an apartment.
Usually the frontality of the picture plane is emphasized,
but sometimes there is a diagonal thrust as in the
architectural setting for Free Clinic; this draws attention to
the scientifically inspired, diagrammatic murals so at
variance with the human anguish of the patients. Whatever
the exigency, there is always an element of hope. This may
be provided by the rich colour of garments as in the pink
dress of the mother in Family, or some bit of brave finery,
like the plumage on the hat of a mourner in Dust to Dust. For
purposeful gaiety under duress, nothing can equal the
advance of the family, the lady defiantly dressed in red and
carrying her own chair, across the diagonal of the white line
down the centre of the street.
Jacob Lawrence denies any consciousness of the human
characteristics with which he has endowed such things as
furniture and street lamps. Does anyone else besides myself
laugh out loud when suddenly the old black furnace in
Family reveals its true identity as the family's faithful
household god, cap on head and yellow garment like a
kerchief thoughtfully placed at his nostrils?
After the Harlem paintings there was a glimpse of
Lawrence in the sixties, moving into a reconstituted vision of
life. The artist's palette is, for one thing, much brighter, and
favours colour contrasts featuring the opposition of
ultramarine and yellow, with wine red as an intermediary.
Also he seems to be more conscious of life as a hilariously
funny passing spectacle one that involves the inter-
relationship of whiles and blacks. Linear technique is much
more in evidence and the black and white areas seem to be
more consciously used as elements of design rather than as
emotional signposts. It is tempting to say that wit has taken
over from humour; certainly there is an abundance of wit in
both Strong Man and Brooklyn Stoop. The expression on the
blue face of the doll between the two little girls, one black
and the other white, is unforgettable, and so is the profile of
the very common looking hand-can entrepreneur with his
cheeky, look-alike, go-getter dog.

The drawings of the same period, represented here by
Struggle and two others in the same series, show the harsher
side of Lawrence's view of life in the sixties. They make us
aware that people actually did, and do, kill each other for
such things as political differences. For cheerful humour we
turn back to the Chess Players of 1947. What a brilliant
commentator on daily events Lawrence would have been had
he gone in for cartooning as a career. In the Langston
Hughes illustrations of the forties we see Lawrence
experimenting technically with more formal arrangements of
black and white along with solid areas of black; this
technique is more purposefully employed with a view to a
moralistic effect in The Bundle of Sticks in 1969 and with
playful intent in the Aesop illustrations of the late sixties.
With the six paintings of the seventies in the collection,
Lawrence appears to have moved into a new, mature period
of synthesis in which the linear content is played down and
the colours are somehow richer than in the sixties, maybe
because increased use is made of interlocking areas differing
more in colour or hue than in tone. This necessitates, as in
Windows, the use of a white rather than a black contour line
for defining the features. White, is, in fact, used quite
sparingly and effectively highlighting, for instance, the
expression of the workmen's eyes, and suggesting their inner
fulfilment in Tools of 1978. Hands are, as ever, a focus of
attention, as well as eyes. Along with Tools, Carpenters
must surely be among the masterpieces of Lawrence's
maturity. There is a crowded, body consciousness that recalls
the Harlem paintings. Quite different but equally arresting is
Lawrence's original viewpoint in The Swearing in of Jimmy
Carter. The upward-looking faces of people in the audience
are complemented by the starkly silhouetted tree branches,
in one of which there is a bird's nest somewhat resembling a
black face with a watchful eye. Obviously Lawrence did not
lose his wit or inclination to create a narrative line with
precisely delineated stringer lines; Other Rooms contains
almost too many diverse focuses of attention as compared,
of course, with the Harlem pictures.


,Te I
The Bundle of Sticks, 1969. Brlsh and ink, 19`x 30"

The theme of builders continues to fascinate Jacob
Lawrence. A coloured pencil and graphite drawing of 1985
gives us a glimpse of the latest phase of the artist's work,
reflecting less prismatic colours and more plasticity of form.
This is the result of his imperceptible absorption, probably,
of the northwestern environment in which he has lived since
1971. For him the days in Harlem were probably the high
point, because of the impressionable, zestful nature of
youthful experience. He speaks sadly of the Harlem of today
with its ruthless drug peddlars, addicts and muggers. There
is no more sense of neighbourliness, no safety on the streets.
Lawrence does not know what the solution will be but there
will be one, he hopes. Speaking from the typical viewpoint
of an American combatant who was involved in the war
against fascism World War Two3 he hopes it won't take a
return of fascism to clean up the situation in the worst
affected societies.

1. Lawrence went on to produce series on the lives of
Frederick Douglas (1938-9), Harriet Tubman (1939-40), and
John Brown (1941) and one on the epic of the migration of
blacks from the South (1940-41). A complete list of the
seventeen Series and Themes produced between 1937 and 1982
is published in the catalogue of the show under review.
2. The quotation comes from an article by June Addams
Allen, Washington Times. n.d.
3. In 1943 Lawrence was drafted for service in the US
Coastguard as black serviceman. Originally appointed to the
duties of steward's male, he was given special recognition and
encouraged to continue painting, being upgraded to the rank of
public relations petty officer, third class. It is interesting to note
thai he served in the first integrated military unit.


LEWIS, Samella. 'Jacob Lawrence'. Black Art. Vol. 5, No. 3.
usis. Jacob Lawrence, Paintings and Drawings. Catalogue of the
Show presented by the USIS and organized by Scripps College
of the Claremont Colleges. California 1987.
ERNICK, Robert. 'Jacob Lawrence American Artist'. Topic No.
174, reprinted from Smithsonian.

Duplicated Material
ALLEN, June Addams. 'Famed Artist Paints Niche in History'.
Washington Times.
COLLINS, Amy Fine. 'Jacob Lawrence-Art Builder'.
SULLIVAN, Lester. "Lawrence's Style and the Series Form'.

Author's Note: The Catalogue of the Jacob Lawrence Show,
which is probably still available at the National Gallery, is a
collector's item. It contains two interesting articles, beautiful
reproductions of all the works except one in colour and of all the
graphic exhibits, interesting biographical photographs and a more
extensive bibliography than the one given above. What a pity that
the beautiful monograph, published by the University of
Washington Press in 1986 (Jacob Lawrence American Painter
by Ellen Harkins Wheat), was not made available in local
bookshops in tune for the exhibition One hopes it is now on order.

Gloria Escoffery, our regular art reviewer is artist, poet and

We are grateful to the artist and to the United States
Information Service for enabling us to use illustrations
from the Catalogue of the Jacob Lawrence exhibition.




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One of the most extensive and musically valuable contributions
ever made to the repertory of Jamaican religious music is the
collection of songs composed by Barry Chevannes in the short
period between 1966 and 1970/71.

x-seminarian, ex-communist, a man with a burning
_social conscience and a deep concern for the poor and
oppressed, he has a natural gift for song, through which he
sublimated a need to communicate a message of hope to his
fellow Jamaicans at a time when the established religions
were not overly concerned with the cultural orientation of the
church in Jamaica.
The essential simplicity and directness of his music, its
rootedness in Jamaican rural folk culture and its hybridization
with the best features of the modern American folk-song
movement (a result of his early training as a seminarian),
have made for an extensive body of work that is broad in
scope and highly individualistic in style. It is closely related
both to the inner and outer life of its author and as such is a
kind of personal testament to the spiritual beliefs he held at
that time and to that part of his life which he dedicated to the
Catholic faith and the enrichment of its pastoral functions.
His childhood was spent in Aberdeen, in the hilly part of
St Catherine that borders on St Mary. His parents were peas-
ants who moved into the grocery trade. His mother was
deeply religious and had a strong religious influence on his
life so much so that, in children's games, he invariably
played the role of Parson, an image that he now realizes was
projected on to him.
Another strong influence was that of the folk culture in
which he was raised. He has vivid memories of snippets of
folk song, of women singing as they went to the riverside to

wash and of the shrill, yodel-like calls that used to echo
round the hills. Country concerts were held regularly all over
the district and here, among other things, he heard the bands
which played for the quadrille and mento dances.
The religious music of his cultural upbringing ranged
from Revival and Pukkumina songs to Gregorian chant and
hymns which he heard in the Catholic Church.
From his earliest years he was oriented towards music,
being one of those people who compose music in their mind,
as a matter of course.
He also had a highly-developed social conscience and a
desire to help the poor. At first it had seemed to him that this
could be achieved through politics and, as the leading politi-
cians of the time seemed to come from the legal profession,
he first of all decided to become a lawyer. But the influence
of the priests and a realization that the politics of the day
often seemed in conflict with his personal ideals of unworld-
liness and sharing made him decide to enter a seminary.
In 1959, at the age of nineteen, he left for the United
States, entering a seminary in Lennox, Massachusetts, then,
after four years, moving to another in Weston, a suburb of
Altogether he was in the States for seven years, during
which he became alienated from his Jamaican roots; but the
increasing impact of the Civil Rights Movement awoke in
him an awareness of the problems of race and colour, whose
existence, up to then, he had been 'unwilling to face up to'.


The civil rights movement was also a cultural movement
and the strong musical influences of that period the folk-
song style of Pete Sceger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez had a
deep and lasting effect on Chevanncs's own musical style.
As the time approached for him to return home, he began
to think more and more about Jamaica, its culture and most of
all the poverty of the ghettoes. At that time the Catholic
Church in Africa was far more radical than that in Jamaica
and, as a preparation for his work when he returned home, he
opened himself more and more to the influence of the African
Bishops and their ideas particularly those about the incor-
poration of native culture into the liturgy. While in Weston,
he composed several verses to go with the Revival chorus
Go Before Us, Lord.
In an effort to emulate another seminarian who had com-
posed a Mass that was sung in the seminary, he composed his
own Mass the first music he had ever consciously created.
He drew up ideas for a whole liturgy in native idiom around
the idea of a folk mass held in a yard, with the drums beating
and pounding and the priests dressed in colourful robes and
garments dancing before the altar and the congregation a
Mass that reflected Jamaicans' love of bright colours and
On his return home in 1966, and in furtherance of his
priestly training, he was assigned to teach Latin at Campion
College. At the time he could not play a musical instrument
and his decision to learn the guitar arose from his growing
sense of alienation. He was unsettled by the Jesuits' isolation
from the people and the rest of the world. To him, the Jesuits
at the time seemed like a small American community in
which he was isolated from his own people and, in order to
distance himself and come to grips with his own cultural
identity, he went down to Music Mart, bought a guitar and a
self-tutor and proceeded to teach himself to play 'to keep my
sanity'. He had barely mastered a few elementary chord pat-
terns before he started to compose songs. One of the first was
Gwine Wid Mi Leader.
He found himself reacting more and more to the Jesuits'
apparent insensitivity to the poor and the black, and eventual-
ly he and a friend obtained permission from their superiors to
live in Trench Town among the people. They rented a couple
of rooms on Tobias Street, on the edge of Trench Town.
He was befriended by a Jamaican-born Jesuit priest, Fr
Harry Mallette, who encouraged him to play in his church, St
Patrick's, in Waterhouse and to teach his songs there. Radio
Jamaica recorded these services at least once and this in turn
led to the idea of making a record. As a reaction against for-
eign Christmas music, he had written a carol, Fi wi Gad
Great while at Campion what he describes as an 'urban'
carol and for the flip side of the record he composed anoth-
er with a rural flavour Hosanna. A few hundred of these
records were circulated among family and friends.

Fi Wi Gad Great
Early Christmas morning
When the star dem getting t'in,

From a squatter's winder
A hooman start fi sing:

Holy, holy, holy him name,
Fi wi Gad great fi true,
Fi wi Gad great.

Ecna fi wi time
God word settle dong,
Jus like gentle dew-drop
Pon the morning grong.

Like moonshine pon the harbour,
Like sunshine through the day,
So this baby love wi,
Is stay 'im come fi stay.

One day soon dis likkle bwoy
Gwine tu'n Prime Minister,
Then Puss an Dog gwine walk an talk,
For them tu'n breda an' sister.

Everlasting Father,
Shining Prince of Peace,
Mighty God Jehovah,
Counsellor from the East.


Hosanna, Hosanna,
Hosanna, Hosanna,
Fi wi Jesus Christ jus' born.

Run go call all the pickney dem
Fi go run go over Bethlehem,
Carry one shet-pan o' milk
Go gi Miss May.
Tell her seh Satan reign jus' end,
Tell her seh de bwoy gwine conquer death ,
For God name im Emmanuel.

Run mi pickney, go outa shop,
Trus' two dollar wo't a 'trong white rum,
Tell Miss Chung mi want i' fi gi Maas Joe,
For 'im wife hab one baby bwoy.
The bwoy head natty, natty, natty cyaan done,
And God name him Emmanuel.

Mek wi set up wi bamboo boot',
Tap wi wo'k an go jump an dance,
Gyadder everybody eena yard,
For the pickney bwoy promise wi
Fi wipe way de eye water from wi eye,
For God name him Emmanuel.

Mek wi go dong a Half-way Tree
An go talk to de Goubener.


Wi got bans of news fi Missis Queen
Nat anedder drap o' slavery, Ma',
Cause smadi deh ya nong fi set wi free,
And God name him Emmanuel.

In addition to these Christmas songs, Barry Chevannes com-
posed a Yard Mass, and numerous other songs.
While he was in Boston he had been active in the Folk
Mass movement that had swept the United States in the 1965-
66 period and, in fact, used to lead the singing in a Blues
Mass composed by Fr Rivers which was one of the popular
Masses of the day.
In Jamaica he was impressed with Rastafarianism par-
ticularly its witness, which was exhibited in locks, lifestyle
and the outright rejection of Western norms and values and it
was perhaps inevitable that his Yard Mass contained music
that was influenced by Rasta drumming. Father Bless should
be performed with emphasis on the strong beats, as if under-
pinned by the heavy double-beat of the fundeh.

Father Bless This Offering
Father, bless this offering of bread to give life,
Bless this cup of salvation evermore;
Alleluia, come and bless this sacrament,
It's the sign that Jesus is the Christ-messiah,
The sign mankind free.

As we stand around the altar,
Father, bless this gathering;
One with Christ we are united,
One with him in offering.

We are now about to glory
In the cross of Jesus Christ,
Give the priest and people blessing,
We share in his sacrifice.

Bless the sick ones, Lord, bless the poor ones,
Make their living more fruitful,
Share with them your glorious kingdom,
Bless them and be merciful.

The other native religions which influenced him were
Pukkumina and Revival. Bless the Lord was influenced by
Pentecostalism, conceived as being accompanied by jubilant
tambourines and rhythmic body movement.

Bless The Lord
Bless the Lord, the God of Israel,
Bless the Lord, he'll visit us again,
Wait for the Lord, by sunrise we'll be free,
Bless him forever.

Bless'd be our God there is freedom at hand,
No more slave!
Any day now you will see how great love can set us free,
Bless him forever.

Through Abraham every nation shall sing
'Born again';
For God swore to be true, He'd make us all anew,
Bless him forever.

Soon we'll be free from the scourging whip,
Glory be!
No more fear little one, live the freedom of God's son,
Bless him forever.

Composing for him was not just a matter of sitting down
and creating something. There was a shared sense of spiritu-
ality and communion with the people in the church, particu-
larly in Waterhouse. This, coupled with the external cultural
stimulus of Jamaican 'native' religions and the practical con-
sideration of filling a need, led to the creation of an enormous
output of songs.
During the Trench Town period he thought of producing
music for the Church seasons Easter, Pentecost, Lent and so
on. Blak Up (dialect for 'blocked up' or drunk), which is per-
haps his best-known song, is based on the biblical story of
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all
with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound
from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the
house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them
cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with
other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Blak Up
Blak up, blak up,
Sun a-rise an people say we blak up
But a de spirit o' de Lord fly dong laka fire,
Grab we in de spirit like a choir
Singing higher, higher, higher, higher,

Dem don' got a drap a shame,
Galilee man dem is all de same;
Dem tek dem water laka sercy tea,
De whole a dem wan' go jail.

German, African and Indian race,
Some mus-a come from outa space,
For dem drop dem mout' an a start fi shout
'What a hell a-gwan roun' dis place!'


Him blow laka hurricane,
An'blow de fire right dong de lane
Ole Simon Pete da-cut 'im Latin an 'im Greek
An a-reel dem off by de chain.

Not a t'ing no wrong wid we yah sah,
So me no know wha dem accuse we fah,
Is jus' because de Holy Spirit o' God
Blow de fire o' love right yah. (Mek we sing)

So repent and get baptise,
In de name o' Jesus Christ,
Throw out unu sin, let de Holy Spirit in
Mek im raise Pentecostal noise (mek we sing)

Blak up, blak up
Sun a-rise an people say we blak up
But a de spirit o' de Lord fly dong laka fire,
Grab we in de spirit laka choir
Singing higher, higher, higher, higher,

Another seasonal song, this time for Lent, was Nailed to
the Cross a song with strong Revival undertones that was
conceived with the idea of a Revival 'trumping' background.

Nailed To The Cross
Nail' to de cross dung a Trench Town
Jiizas overcome;
Buried eena grong dong a Trench Town
Jiizas overcome;
For dem dat love dem life shall surely die,
But a dem gwine live who mek da sacrifice,
Dem wi' rise an overcome.

During this time, Barry Chevannes was experiencing a
sense of growing frustration at the Church's apparent separa-
tion from the people. To him, it appeared to be still foreign to
Jamaica, colonial in its attitudes, class-ridden and insensitive
to the suffering and poverty that were rampant in the city of
Kingston. More than a year after returning home, he had
made up his mind to leave the Jesuit order.
He left Trench Town in October 1967 and went to the
University of the West Indies to study Sociology, not because
he had any particular interest in it at the time but because, as
he puts it, it was then a 'fashionable' subject and the Catholic
Church encouraged its priests to keep up to date.
While at UWI he was asked to help out at the Aquinas
Centre. The Aquinas period was a prolific one, musically,
which again was the result of filling a need.
He became deeply involved in a Catholic youth move-
ment called SEARCH whose members were young people with

a highly-developed social consciousness, who used to orga-
nize work camps, help people in rural areas and give service
to others in need. Many of his best songs were composed for
this group, among them the unforgettable Ruth and Naomi
which was composed as a birthday gift for one of the workers
at a work camp.

Ruth and Naomi

Hooman live a Moab land name Rut', name Rut';
Hooman live a Moab land name Rut', name Rut';
Rut' love Naomi to her heart,
So she follow her back to the Bethlehem part
A Judah land, 0, a Judah land.

Anywey you go me ha fi go, for dat's love;
Anywey you live mi ha fi live tu for dat's love;
For fi yu people a fi mi people and fi yu God a fi mi God,
Anywey yu live and anywey yu die
Is dere I laugh, is dere I cry,
Naomi dat is love.

'Gwan back home, mi daughter Ruth, gwan back home,
Gwan back home, mi daughter Ruth, gwan back home,
Gwan back yu wi fin' anedda man -
Love him like yu love fi mi owna son,
Antony bway sweet Antony.'

So, Miss Rut' an Naomi dem limba, limba 'long
So, Miss Rut' an Naomi dem limba limba 'long
Soon dem reach sweet Judah-lan'
Full a' plenty corn an a waiting han' -
Rich man Boaz, rich man Boaz.

'Pretty lady tell me what yu name, what yu name?
Pretty lady tell me what yu name, what yu name?'
'Me name Ruth, a lovely girl -
Hair like silk an eyes like pearl,
Me name Ruth, sah, me name is Ruth.'

Di laad bless Boaz an' im bless, bless Miss Rut'
Di laad bless Boaz an' im bless, bless Miss Rut'
Dem great granson tu'n a mighty king
Dem great great great a greater still,
Jiizas Christ, O Jiizas Christ.

Brothers, sisters, learn a lesson from the book of love,
Brothers, sisters, learn a lesson from the book of love,
Rut' love Naomi to her heart,
So she follow her back to the Bethlehem part
A Judah land, 0, Judah land.

Chevannes found himself being more and more in
demand as a religious folk-singer. His children's song All di
Likkle Pickni Dem a song based on Christ's injunction
'Suffer the little children was specially composed for such


an occasion when he was asked to play and sing for a chil-
dren's gathering.

All Di Likkle Pickni Dem
Mek di likkle pikni dem gyada roun'
Don' run dem kaaz dem weak,
A fi dem, fi dem di kingdom a Gad,
Is I Maas Jiizas speak.

Maas Jiizas staat fi grow wan beard,
An before you know it im tu'n a big man,
An any-any likkle bwai or gyal
Use to run come touch im pan im han.

One day Maas Jiizas tek a seat
Right under one cassia tree,
An im open im Bible an im start fi preach
Bout love for you an me.

As soon a teacher-dem let out school
Pickni run go cassia tree,
An when dem see which-part Jesus deh
Dem staat show aaf dem A B C.

'ABC di bumpkin bee
Mary had a lamb at school
Di cyat an di figl cannot see' -
Which was against da rule.

When John dem hear di pikni dem,
Dem fly eena a piece a rage;
'Is how ti-deh pikni dem doan have no mannaz
Go home! Unu hak unu age!'

Maas Jiizas love every likkle chile
Im was a perfect' Jew,
When im hear how dem a-treat im pikni dem
It hat im, it hat im fi true.

'Unu open unu ears-hole evry one,
Unu see dem likkle pikni de?
Jus' lay unu han pan any one a dem,
Unu bex wid me ti-deh'.

Although his Catholic faith was still strong during the
Aquinas period, Barry Chevannes found himself becoming
increasingly alienated from the established Church. He was
more and more drawn to black political ideology he calls it
a 'cultural/nationalist phase' and began to concentrate more
on political songs. He became deeply involved in racial and
social issues, helping to distribute Abeng, the radical journal
whose uncompromising and outspoken views were so feared
by the Establishment of the time.
The decision to leave the Jesuits finally came at the end

of 1967. Two songs which, unusually for him, were com-
posed spontaneously to satisfy an inner private need rather
than a functional purpose were the lamentatory Job and The
Night When Jesus Died which he recalls singing to himself
the night before he finally left the Order.
Just the same, he continued to direct the music at
Aquinas for a few more years after that and to be involved in
the Yard Mass movement in Waterhouse.
After 1967, he had become involved in the Black Power
Movement and had adopted a manifestly radical lifestyle,
which he now recalls with wry amusement. He also finds it
ironic that he eventually fulfilled his early ambition and
entered the political arena by joining the communist Workers
Party of Jamaica in 1974, remaining with that movement for
nearly fourteen years until he left in 1988. He commented
recently in an interview, 'A general set of principles and ideals
led me into the Communist Movement: they also led me out.'
It is a statement that, in a way, sums up the deep integrity
that has always informed the character of this gentle and gift-
ed Jamaican. At present he is a lecturer in sociology at the
University of the West Indies. Fortunately, it seems that 1971
did not mark the end of his musical creativity. In 1986 he
composed a song for the Fourth Assembly of the Caribbean
Council of Churches.

he effectiveness and attractiveness of Chevannes's
music owes much to the balance he achieves between
rhythmic vitality and melodic assurance.
The rhythmic impetus comes not only from the variety
and interest contained in the rhythmic construction of his
melodic lines a result of its close relationship with
Jamaican dialect but also from the underlying rhythmic
accompaniment which identifies its folk origins and estab-
lishes its character.
This accompaniment is often only implied, since most of
the available performances of the music are recordings (many
of them privately made) of Chevannes singing and accompa-
nying himself on the guitar. While many of the songs lend
themselves to the r' "' ( of a Mento guitar accompaniment,
there are others that have been conceived with other rhythmic
accompaniments in mind, such as the Rastafarian, Revival or
Pentecostal influenced songs, as in EXAMPLE 1 which is
Rastafarian Performances with these additional, percussion,
accompaniments would immediately reveal their true folk
The rhythmic construction of the melodic lines is unfail-
ingly interesting, varied and reflective of the sense of the
words. The first line of the Chorus of Ruth and Naomi
(EXAMPLE 2) is a case in point.
The rhythm of the first bar is evocative of movement:
that of the second is static. The melody reinforces this with
unerring skill. The sense of 'going' is captured in the upward
direction of the melody, which conveys a sense of tension, of
effort; that of the second bar, expressing 'love' is a down-
ward, lyrical sigh, a moment of relaxation.


In EXAMPLE 3, Nailed to the Cross, the rhythmic construc-
tion of the first line in itself expresses the triumph of Jesus
over death. After the opening, rhythmic first phrase, (Nail' to
de cross dung a Trench Town), the second phrase (Jiizas
overcome) becomes the focal point of the line, highlighted by
its contrasting rhythm and the descending finality of its
melodic line to the tonic note.
By contrast, the rhythm of Blak Up (EXAMPLE 4) is dis-
tinguished by the machine-gun rapidity and accentuation of
Jamaican dialect, which succeeds in conveying an unmistak-
able sense of excitement.
The strength and authority of Chevannes's melodic lines
lie in their flexibility and their unerring sense of direction. He
never gives the feeling of groping around for music to fit the
words probably because he composes both words and
music and the two are indissolubly wedded together.
The undulating line of Example 1 contains within it the
gesture of raising and lowering the Host and the climax of
praise at the word 'Alleluia' is the high point of the song,
based on a pentatonic scale, one of the oldest, most deeply
embedded and therefore assured musical utterances of
The inherent characteristics of Chevannes's style are, in
a sense, summed up in Holy, Holy, Holy (EXAMPLE 5). The
opening is quiet and reflective, the first two lines remaining
within an ambit of three notes. Then, on the words 'Heaven
and earth are full of Thy glory', the melody line moves in a
simple, wondrous curve. This gives way to the jubilant, heav-
ily accentuated 'Hosanna' and a subsequent return to the qui-
et reverence of the opening. It provides a sense of emotional
satisfaction which is the hallmark of all the best music that
has been written for the Mass (EXAMPLE 5).
In the example above it is worth noting one of Barry
Chevannes's melodic 'fingerprints': the gesture of reaching
upwards in a melodic curve at the emotional high point of the
song (EXAMPLES 1,2,4, 5).
Except for Blak Up and Ruth and Naomi, which have
been harmonized and performed chorally by Noel Dexter and
The University Singers, the corpus of Chevannes's songs
remains in the simple format of voice with guitar accompani-
ment. The songs cry out for a realization of their full potential
in the form of choral arrangements with accompaniments that
use Jamaican instrumentation such as guitars, drums, tam-

bourines, hand-claps and other percussive resources.
There is a quite splendid Revival-influenced Gloria,
Glory to God in the Highest, which follows Lord Have
Mercy that, if performed chorally with appropriate accompa-
niment, would provide the kind of triumphant Jamaican
music that is so badly needed for use on state religious occa-
sions and with the exception of Noel Dexter's Psalm 150
and parts of Olive Lewin's Folk Mass is so often conspicu-
ous by its absence. His Psalm 23 would certainly offer a
meaningful Jamaican replacement of the abominable Happy
Wanderer and there are several other songs which could form
part of a national collection of religious music suitable for
use as an element of our national heritage when required.
Probably because they were originally composed to fill an
immediate function, Chevannes's songs are easy to perform
and their ambit generally makes them eminently suitable for
congregational singing.
And that is the greatest virtue that is required of any reli-
gious music.

Pamela O'Gorman, our regular music columnist, is a former
Director of the Jamaica School of Music.

This list has no pretensions to being complete Barry Chevannes
himself cannot remember all the songs he wrote between 1966-1971
-but it does contain the music most representative of the composer,
including songs in the author's personal collection and those in the
UWI collection Songs for Use in the (UWI) Chapel compiled by the
author in 1973.

Bless The Lord
Father Bless This Offering
Grace and Peace
Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord Have Mercy
Glory to God in the Highest
Lamb of God

Nailed To the Cross
The Night When Jesus Died
Blak Up
Fi Wi Gad Great

Psalm 23 (God is My Great
Psalm 112 (Praise, Praise the
Psalm 121 (I Will Lift Up My
Eyes to the Mountain)
Psalm 150

All di Likkle Pickni Dan
Jesus TekWeh All Wi Sin
Ruth and Naomi
Walk-Good Song
Written for Sunday

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.. t

Two Barrettia specimens
showing the difference in size
between the species found in
the eastern and western ends of
the island: r. Barrettia gigas
from Haughton Hall, near
Green Island, Hanover:
1. Barrettia monilifera from
Back Rio Grande, Portland.



by A R D Porter

B y the late nineteenth century, the concept of evolution
was beginning to be widely accepted. This concept,
which explains much of the diversity among animals
and plants in the world today, was the theme of Charles
Darwin's famous book, Origin of Species, published in 1859.
Today it is common knowledge that those animals and plants
are the result of unbroken generations of life that stretch far
back through geologic time. Fortunately, nature has preserved
in rocks the remains and impressions of ancient animals and
plants. Our knowledge about life in prehistoric times is based
on the work of the palaeontologists who have studied these
fossil remains and traces.
In southern England, about sixty years before Origin of
Species was published, a very observant land surveyor
named William Smith, who was to be immortalized as the
'father' of English geology, discovered that certain types of
fossil were peculiar to certain rock strata. He rightly
concluded that fossils were 'tools' by which strata could be
recognized, identified and correlated. However, neither he
nor any of his contemporaries understood the fixed
relationship between fossils and rock strata. It remained for
Darwin to explain that species derive from other species by a
gradual evolutionary process and that every species evolved
is unique.
When a species becomes extinct, its features are never
precisely reproduced again. The remains of ancient

organisms, therefore, are records of the stage of evolution
reached at the time the host rock was formed. Thus, fossils
represent the life of that period in earth's history, and are a
valuable tool in studying the geological history of the earth's
crust. It is possible to trace fossiliferous rocks from one place
or region to another, and to assign these rock strata to their
correct position in the catalogue of rock layers, the
stratigraphic column, used by geologists world-wide. Fossils
can also be used to establish the type of environment in
which sediments accumulated. For example, the presence of
coral in ancient rocks is indicative of a certain kind of marine
environment, whereas fossil horses are indicative of a grass
land environment.
The complete remains of animals and plants are seldom
found. Only fragments of any organism tend to survive, such
as shells, bones, fish teeth and seeds. This is understandable
as the softer parts are quickly destroyed by bacterial action
after death, while the harder parts, although usually exposed
to agents of erosion and weathering, stand a better chance of
being preserved. However, should burial occur shortly after
death, as for example by a mud slide, then entire skeletons
may be preserved. Under certain circumstances, soft tissue
may also be fossilized in the form of impressions. Under
different conditions, trace-fossils, such as footprints or worm
burrows, may be preserved.
The naming of the different types of fossil is based on


An exposure of limestone containing
specimens of Barrettia at Haughlon Hall.

the binomial system established by the great Swedish
naturalist, Carl Linnaeus in 1735. Each organism is given a
name consisting of two words. The first is the generic name,
while the second is a specific name, and signifies the species
within the genus.
In palaeontological literature, the name of the person
who discovered or described the species is invariably added.
For example, in Barrettia monilifera Woodward, Barrettia is
the generic name, monilifera shows the species within the
genus, and Woodward is the name of the geologist, Dr
Samuel P Woodward, who first described it in 1862.
Frequently, however, only the generic name is used.

n the spring of 1859, Lucas Barrett, a young London-born
Naturalist arrived in Jamaica accompanied by his assistant,
James Gay Sawkins, thirty years his senior. Sir Roderick
Murchison, then Director General of the Geological Survey
of Great Britain, had appointed the two men to carry out the
first official geological survey of Jamaica.
Born in 1837, Barrett, was only twenty-two when he was
named director of the new survey. He had been educated in
England and then in Germany and was an accomplished,
energetic and highly respected naturalist. At the surprisingly
young age of seventeen and a half, he had been elected a
Fellow of the Geological Society of London. At eighteen, he
was appointed Curator of the Woodwardian Museum by the
eminent Professor Adam Sedgwick. James Sawkins lacked
Barrett's formal geological training, but he had considerable
artistic talents and stamina, and had gained extensive field
experience while working in Mexico, Cuba and Trinidad.
Upon arrival in Jamaica, the two men immediately set to
work at the eastern end of the island. Initially, they
concentrated on the area between the Morant and the Plantain
Garden Rivers, in what was then the parish of St Thomas-in-
the-East. It was here that Barrett recognized the presence of
'hippurite' fossil shells and, as a consequence, was able to

demonstrate that the rocks which had been thought to be of
the Palaeozic age by Sir Henry de la Beche were, in fact,
much younger, dating from the Cretaceous age. Following the
completion of their work in this area, Barrett and Sawkins
decided that from then on they would work independently,
each taking a different district or region.
Between 1860 and early 1861, Lucas Barrett undertook
an investigation of the north-eastern slopes of the Blue
Mountains, penetrating a considerable distance up the Back
Rio Grande Valley in Portland. It was here that he discovered
and took back to England specimens of a fossil that
exhibited certain remarkable and previously unknown
features, but which he was nevertheless able to recognize as a
hippurite. So extraordinary was this fossil that the renowned
Dr Samuel P Woodward, then the world's leading authority
on Mollusca, wasted no time in describing, drawing and
naming this new fossil Barrettia in honour of its discoverer.
Unfortunately, in the following year tragedy struck. Lucas
Barrett drowned on 19 December 1862, at the early age of
twenty-five, while diving to examine the coral reefs among
the cays on the south side of Port Royal.
According to the late Dr Lawrence J Chubb, another
giant in the annals of Jamaican geology and from whose
biography of Barrett some of these particulars were taken:

Nearly a hundred years were to elapse before Barrett's locality
was to be visited by another geologist, the late Dr. V. A. Zans,
who found this nearly inaccessible spot in August 1958, and
collected several topotypes (i.e. fossils collected from the locality
where the type specimens were found).

This remote locality in the Back Rio Grande valley is
approximately a quarter of a mile downstream (i.e. north) of
the junction with the Catalina River. Access is by way of an
unpaved road to the postal agency at Durham near Samba
Hill, and thence by a steep footpath down to the Back Rio
Grande. From the river there is a laborious climb upstream.
In spite of the network of roads and tracks that have sprung
up since Barrett's day, it is still very difficult terrain to explore.



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Occurrence and Distribution
- arrettia belongs to a group of highly aberrant bivalved
B molluscs called rudists which originated late in the
Jurassic period, about 140 million years ago. They were,
however, especially characteristic of the Cretaceous period
136 to 65 million years ago, reaching their peak in Upper or
Late Cretaceous times, then becoming extinct by the end of
that period. Like oysters and barnacles, rudists led a
sedentary life, attaching themselves to a hard rock or other
surface by one of their valves. Most present day
rudistologists regard Rudistae as a sub-order of Pelecypoda,
which they divide into six families of which Hippuritidae is
one. The genus Barrettia is a specialized member of this
family. Unfortunately most textbooks give little or no
treatment of rudists. Consequently, many students of geology,
and even professional palaeontologists, know little of these
ancient molluscs.
Since Woodward's first description appeared in 1862 (the
type specimens from Portland being named Barrettia
monilifera), specimens of this and other species of Barrettia
have been found elsewhere in Jamaica and also to the west in
Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, to the north in Cuba and to
the east in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and St Croix in the Virgin
Islands. Up to June 1960, Barrettia had been found at four
places in Jamaica: Back Rio Grande, Portland, by Lucas
Barrett in 1861; Green Island, Hanover, by Mr F C Nicholas
in 1895-96; Great River Valley, St Ann, by Dr C T
Trechmann in 1926; and Stapleton, near Newman's Hall, St
James, by Dr V A Zans in 1951.
Two more localities were discovered in July 1960: the
Clarks River/Bon Hill area, near Sunning Hill in St Thomas,
by Mr B V Bailey; and at Clifton, Hanover, by the 6A
Geology Group of Rusea's High School, Lucea. This group
was led by Alan Eyre, now Reader in Physical Geography at
the University of the West Indies, Mona. As a result of his
initiative, the specimen found by the Rusea's group was
subsequently determined by Dr Chubb, then one of the
world's foremost authorities on rudists, to be a new species. It
was accordingly named Barrettia ruseae in honour of the
school. Since then Barrettiinae have also been found near
Grange Hill in Westmoreland; at Peter's Hill, Clarendon by
Dr A G Coates in 1964; and at Mitchell's Hill in Clarendon
by myself in 1971. Unfortunately Dr Chubb died before it

BOUNDARY -------
0 5 t1 IS

was possible for me to bring this new occurrence to his
attention. Consequently, there is no mention of this last
locality in his monograph on the rudists of Jamaica,
published in 1971, the year of his death. These localities
together with the names of the species of Barrettia that have
so far been determined are marked on the map below.
Investigations carried out to date show that while the
Cretaceous fauna of the Blue Mountain region has much in
common with that of Cuba, the fauna of central and western
Jamaica is largely different. For example, the Barrettia
species that occur cast of the Wagwater Trough (see map) are
relatively small and part black, part white in colour. Those to
the west are much larger, up to eighteen inches in diameter
and occasionally more than three feet in length, and buff to
yellowish brown in colour. However, like all fossil shells
composed of calcium carbonate (CaCo3), the application of
dilute hydrochloric acid to Jamaican Barrettias invariably
produces instantaneous effervesence. Under certain
conditions, CaCo3 may be replaced by silica (SiO2), as is the
case in many of those from St Croix. Such replacements
usually permit these fossils to be cut and polished for
ornamental purposes. Up to now, no silicified or agatized
Barrettias have been found anywhere in Jamaica.
Although rudists are not the commonest fossils in
Jamaican Cretaceous rocks, they are certainly the most
characteristic. It is unfortunate, therefore, that since the death
of Dr Lawrence Chubb nineteen years ago, no new expert has
emerged on the local scene. This lack is compounded by the
fact that almost all of the best preserved material collected in
Jamaica now resides in the following overseas institutions:
the Museum of Natural History, London; the American
Museum of Natural History; the United States National
Museum, Washington, DC; the Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, DC; and the Naturhistorisches Museum, Basle,
Switzerland. Yet it is comforting to know that many of the
island's best specimens are well preserved and displayed in
the world's most prestigious museums.

CHUBB L. T. 'Lucas Barrett: a biography'. Geonotes (Journal,
Geological Society of Jamaica). Vol. 5. 1961
-.'Rudists of Jamaica'. Paleontographical Americana,Vol.VII, No.
45, Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, N.Y. 1971.

--- ------- -- *-

' PETER'S HILL 1. Barrettia localities and species in
S Jamaica.
S' MITCHE---- \ 2. Rudist distribution throughout the
\MITCHELL S F Caribbean.


This article is taken from A R D Porter's
forthcoming book, Jamaica: A Geological
Portrait, to be published by Institute of
1 Jamaica Publications Limited.

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A history of resistance, collaboration and betrayal
Mavis C. Campbell
Granby, Mass: Bergin & Garvey, 1988


Edward Kamau Brathwaite

I have thrown them upon the lands of the
slavesfor subsistence
Balcarres to Portland, 25 October 1795

some years ago now, I visited one
of the primary schools there and in
talking with the children was shocked
and alarmed to hear that they knew very
little of their own history their own
very very remarkable history; or, to put
it more accurately, since they did,
obviously, in a very real way, 'know',
their unarticulated knowledge of their
own history was not being grounded
into the 'history' they were taught in
school. Their 'History of Jamaica'
syllabus a national syllabus did not
contain anything special or specific on
'History of the Maroons', despite, as I
say, their very 'history'; and despite the
constant stream of visitor/researchers
into the area, into their town
I have just completed another year of
teaching H201 a second year un-
dergraduate course in West Indian
History at the University of the West
Indies, Mona. For reasons of 'space' -
we cannot gallop through 'all' Carib-
bean history in a single year and we are
yet to find enough 'space' for it in a
second or third year! we have for
many years now decided to 'begin' this
course not from '1492' itself a tra-
vesty of 'history' since '1492'
assumes(assures) that there was no or
very very little 'history' before that date
but from '1750' a 'no reason' date,
since 1750 is simply where the 18th
century breaks in half
It is also a date some +100 years after
the establishment of Maroon com-

munities in the Caribbean/Americas,
excluding them therefore from the
Xamination and from 'History'. And
once that exclusion begins, why not (as
we often do) 'leave out' that pan-
Caribbean flare-up of Maroon resis-
tance in the 1790s connected with the
Haitian and French Revolutions? So
that this year, at any rate, my students
did not 'do' (among other Maroon-
connected things like 'Haiti' and
'Surinam') the Black Caribs of St
Vincent/Honduras (the Garifuna). They
did not 'do' the Second Maroon War in
Jamaica because they did not 'do' the
First and so they know nothing, really,
about that xile of several hundred (568)
black warriors to Nova Scotia and their
contribution in building up that part
of the world and their (pre-Garveyite)
struggle to return to Africa they went
on (were sent on) to Sierra Leone,
creating that Krio/Creole connection
which we still don't know enough
The literature on Maroons itself makes,
I think, a point, in that it comes in two
distinct time-bunches: the 18th century
'Literature of Crisis': Herlein (1718),
Long (1774), Nassy (1788), Thicknesse
(1788), Young(1795), Edwards (1796),
Stedman (1796), Dallas (1803),
Pinckhard (1806), Southey (1817-22):
when the mercantilists were trying to
figure out who these people were; how
they succeeded so successfully and for
so long in not only defeating European
incursion, but by their presence and
what they stood for, standing in the way
of the continuation of plantation and
therefore Eurowealth and prosperity in
the tropical New World. It was 'key'
therefore that they discover what they

could about Maroon guerrilla warfare (a
major contribution to the European
military manual), and about Maroon
'settlements' (their political structure
and organization) and (savage)
customs', and try to work out the
contradiction they perceived between
'gorilla' and 'guerrilla' in dealing with
It was not until the 'birth 'of eth-
nography and later anthropology in and
since the 1920s and the interest, I
suspect, in 'alternative' cultures since
the 60s, that there has been a revived
interest in Maroons: Beckwith, Hers-
kovits, Hurston, J J Williams, Dunham,
Dark, Hurault, Van Lier, Kopytoff,
Price, and Price and Price, to name a
few. At the same time, nativist Carib-
bean artists, intellectuals and scholars
became interested in the concept of
marronage the history and devel-
opment of the culture of the Alternative.
One thinks of the Haitians Price-Mars,
Fouchard, Manigat, Casimir; Barnet,
Esteban Montejo and Rogelio Fure in
Cuba; and the Jamaicans Namba Roy,
Orlando Patterson, Carey Robinson,
Beverley Carey, LucilleMathurin-Mair,
among others and Mavis Campbell,
whose The Maroons of Jamaica 1655-
1796 has just (1988/89) been published3
The Maroons of Jamaica is the first part
of what promises to be the first
'complete' history of a particular
achievement of New World African
Jamaicans from their several 'break-
aways' and establishment of free settle-
ments when and after the British invad-
ed Spanish Jamaica in 1655; through
their Treaties (1739/40), revolt (1795),
and will include the subsequent
deportation of some of them to Nova


Scotia (June 1796); and their 'return'
to West Africa in 18004
In this first volume, using her pretty
comprehensive command of the British
Colonial Office (PRO) archives +
critical replays of Long (1774), Ed-
wards (1796), Patterson (1967,1970),
Kopytoff (1972), and especially Dallas
(1803), Professor Campbell offers us a
clear, dispassionate, historian's account
of events: who were the first Maroon
leaders and where and how they estab-
lished their 'camps' which developed
into the now familiar 'Leeward' and
'Windward' settlements at the time of
the 'First' War (?1700-1740) under
Cudjoe (Trelawny Town), Quao (and
Nanny?) (Nanny Town), and the
historiographic and human issues
their achievements raise. Why, for
instance, did Cudjoe's 1739 Treaty
with the British involve the Maroons in
an 'independence' which accepted or
had to accept British 'plantation'
within their imperiumm': British super-
intendents/spies, the English language,
and an agreement to act as SWAT
troops and marshallers for the
Government against the slave popu-
lation, and even unto sending a Maroon
detachment with a British naval
expedition against Spanish Panama and
Cartagena [p.151]; even unto their
intervention at Morant Bay in 1865...
So that from the outset it is clear that
this is not going to be any blackwash,
whitewash or brainwash presentation.
As an historian, and as herself a cultural
nationalist (though I know she is very
'particular' about tags and pigeon-
holes), Professor Campbell has no time
for romantical views of Maroons and
marronage and is rather impatient with
what she calls recent pro and/or pseudo
Maroon propaganda and panegyrics
[pp.50-51, 177 & passim]; and she
recognizes that some of her conclusions
will not be 'popular'. For instance: 'the
evidence is overwhelming that they,
especially the Leewards under Cudjoe,
and later the Accompongs, willingly
and faithfully assisted the plantocracy
in the control mechanism of the slave
population'[p.152]. Worse, the Maroons
found themselves in a situation where
their economy their steady income
[p.152], no less had become signif-
icantly dependent upon such 'assistance
to the planters': they kept the ear of the
planters, as some wit put it, with the
cars of the slaves [Ch.5 passim],
especially since slave resistance and

'running away' was becoming more
complex and frequent all the time; and
Professor Campbell xplores very well
the consequences of this in the
widening rift between these 'two
peoples of African descent: the slaves
'hating' the Maroons and the Maroons,
'with their inbred contempt for slaves'
But how deep/permanent/intransigent
was this rift? It was, for one thing, a
cause of the Trelawny Town uprising
[p.211]. But how much, how far, did it
contribute to the isolation of the
Maroons and their perhaps consequent
negative creolization? 5
The degree/xtent of Maroon isolation
from the slave population is still, in it-
self, a matter for debate and dependent
on further research and thinking-out.
Professor Campbell in this work seems
quite clear on the 'isolation' syndrome.
With the 'victory' of their Treaty the
Maroons would not have wanted to
remain too close with slaves for a
variety of reasons: (1) the terms of the
Treaty: which made policing the slaves
an aspect of their political economy; (2)
caution: slaves would infiltrate and
'dilute'their autonomy (this was a
universal Maroon wariness); slaves
would increase a Maroon population
that had always to be ecologically
sensitive; and (3) pride : an aspect of
'The Chosen', which Professor Camp-
bell discusses towards the end of her
study. The treaties and their history -
made the Maroons 'different'; in a situ-
ation of Scarce Resources of Privilege,
this made no little difference...
But the slaves, too, were becoming
steadily more independent of the Ma-
roons. Their increasingly sophisticated
plots and rebellions were carried out -
in a sense in spite of the Maroons.
But there was also collaboration. It was
certainly there in the 1831 rebellion and
very likely in all or many of the revolts
that preceded that. Even in 1796, we
find the hard core Trelawny Town
rebels (freedom fighters) linked with
I am commanded by his honour the
Lieutenant-Governor to acquaint the
house that a body of rebels still continue
active in the woods, in rebellion,
composed of about 24 Trelawny
maroons, and about 80 runaway slaves:
That 40 of them are armed with
firelocks, and the rest with cutlasses.
[JAJ IX, 452 of 17 March 1796]
These may well have been the 'Congos'

from the 1760 (Tacky) rebellion [See
Campbell, p.158]. . And what about
trade and that fine web of social and
other relations related to markets and
places of sale and barter? Both before
and after the Treaties, the 'plantation'
remained for the Jamaica Maroons far
more than an xistential periphery or
perimeter; along with the mountains, it
was the parameter that defined their
world and we fool ourselves if we think
we can think ourselves back into all the
interrelationships (black, white, brown,
slave, creole, African) involved...
In the end it comes down to a question
of culture; not in the traditional
anthropological sense of ancestral
customs etc but a matter of customary
orientation(s) and choice: Professor
Campbell's 'the creoleization [sic]
process of the Caribbean' [p.255]. Did
the Maroons see themselves as x-slaves,
as Africans, as x-Africans, as Afro-
Saxons, as Maroons, and/or what
combinations of these and how did
these orientations change over time/
circumstances; and what did this all
mean, as praxis, in their particular and
peculiar geohistorical context?
Here again, I'm afraid, we will not find
Professor Campbell very sanguine. For
her, the key feature of this period was
the tendency of the Maroons or the
Maroon l6ite (Chs. 6 + 8] to
'favour' the outwards signs at least -
of British culture and certainly its
patronage becoming, as William
Beckford put it, the Authorities' 'fast
friends'6; and being (and becoming),
like them, owners, themselves, of
African slaves [pp.198-99].
This Euro-culture tendency (accultur-
ation, negative creolization) was re-
flected and continued/further xploited
- in/through the presence and influ-
ence of white (British) superinten-
dents in the Maroon Towns as stipula-
ted in the Treaties; and the symbolic
meaning, for example, of the annual gift
of clothes (hand-me-downs?) to the
Maroons: If a little clothes were
annually allowed the several Negroes
now in alliance with us, it might be a
better means of securing them to us,
than any other method that could be
fallen upon. . [The Assembly of
Jamaica 1742, quoted in Campbell,
p.150]. And alongside this, the Lee-
wards' apparent preference for
'Western' medicines [p.256] and Cud-
joe's reported insistence on the use of
English among his people before, that


is, the British insistence on it. And from
this, again, no doubt, the symbolic
meaning of the deAfricanization of
Maroon names, although this was also
part of the creole process [p.255]
An important point to mention in this
regard is the fact that by the time of the
Trelawny War, most of the Maroons
(who had never been defeated in war)
had chosen Anglo-Saxon names elitist
too for they adopted the names of men
of the first rank in society, men of
substance and influence all slave
masters, it should be remembered.
Montague James himself, their chief,
most probably adopted his surname from
the James dynasty, and his aristocratic
first name should not go unnoticed. A
roll call of the Maroons would find them
answering to apellations like Captain
John Tharp, Captain Robert Jackson,
Samuel Shaw, Captain James Williams,
and so on among the Trelawny office-
holders. Any random assortment among
the rank and file . would reveal the
One wonders what Professor Campbell,
without a little more humour, would
make of the first class and other
honours going annually to the Wash-
ingtons, Wellingtons, Carlyles, Spencer
Churchills, Marcus Aureliuses and
MacArthurs among the male graduants
of the University of the West Indies.
But her fundamental point remains:
despite what's in a name, the name and
choice of name reflect your cultural
choice and orientation and so it is not
surprising to hear that among the more
culturally intransigent Windwards [see
Campbell, pp.165, 205 & passim], the
process of anglification of names was
apparently slower
A similar pattern, more or less, existed in
the other communities, although among
the Windwards a sprinkling of African
names still remained, chiefly among the
oldest. Thus Charles Town at this time
(1796) had one officer with an African
name, Lieutenant Colonel Afee Cudjoe,
aged eighty; Moore Town, also about
this time, had a sole surviving African
cognomen among its officers, Lieutenant
Yeaon, aged seventy; and Lieutenant
John Sambo could be considered as
having half of his name still African.
Like Trelawny Town, all of the officers
of Accompong Town, as would be
expected, [especially after the 'early
1770s'] had assumed Anglo-Saxon
names... [p.255]
At the bottom of all this and it
applies in greater or less degree to all
Maroon communities in the New World
is the contradictory position the
(Jamaica) Maroons found themselves
in. After their 'victory' they could get

only weaker. Or to spell it out a little
more: realpolitik 'demands' that liber-
ation or survival victories be total;
partial or pyrrhic victories and/or
accommodations harbour contradictions
which eventually have their negative
effects on the smaller, fundamentally
weaker fragment or fraction of the
entity 'incomplete polities' in Barbara
Kopytoff's phrase8 and which Dr
Campbell's study here illustrates very
At the moment of the Treaties, both
sides were desperate the British
perhaps even more so than the Mar-
oons, though there is no evidence that
the Maroons had any significant
advantage either; and Jamaica was far
too valuable a 'developing plantation'
to give up to 'men in the hills'. Indeed,
Cudjoe was brought to the bargaining
table because said table was beginning
to turn against him with the arrival of
Colonel Guthrie into the equation.
Guthrie, a North Coast planter and
militia officer, was of the 'new school'
of plantation people prepared to learn
from the Maroons, torture prisoners for
information, send spies, black guides
[p.107 ff.], researchers into the area,
and then fight them with their own fire.
Guthrie represented the type of soldier
initiating the British military into the art
of tropical guerrilla warfare; and behind
him were continuing European tech-
nological advances like the use of
Cuban bloodhounds(!) and the increas-
ing mobility of cannon, for instance -
though even as late as 1800, this did not
do Napoleon's troops much good in the
Haitian hills...
These contradictions are clearly set out
in the final part of Professor Campbell's
study which deals with the inter-war
years 1740-1795 and the 'resolution' of
the contradiction into the deportation of
the Trelawny Town rebels. And just as
the first period of Maroon history
(1655-1740) saw the British military
authorities using the 'Maroon Xperi-
ence' to develop their own under-
standing of guerrilla warfare, so now
this second phase saw the British
political authorities trying out their first
steps in Colonial Rule: not only 'Divide
and Rule', but 'Indirect Rule', to be
later used, as Campbell [pp.253-57],
developing a point from Cumper [1963]
and Kopytoff [1973], reminds us, by
(like) Frederick Lugard in Nigeria...
Just as . Frederick D Lugard, the
dynamic British administrator, has come

to be peculiarly associated with Britain's
indirect rule in Nigeria, so could John
James, the forceful, vain, courageous,
and successful (British) generalissimo of
Maroon affairs, be associated with this
intrusive, external, alien rule. James's
very success or efficiency nearly spelled
doom for Maroon hegemony... [p.254].
With the Treaties, the Maroons
became crucially isolated, as we have
seen, from the slave population and
increasingly dependent upon the British
Jamaica government for economic aid:
'ear money', gifts, subsidies, etc. And
since Maroon land was harsh, limited in
xtent (according to Dallas only some
100 of the Leewards' 1,500 acres was
arable) and since Maroon entrepre-
neurship in agriculture (food, arrow-
root, coffee) [p.194], the sale of tobacco
[p.192], agriculture products, jerk pro-
ducts, salt 'making', ?mining [p.198],
house-building of course, lumber (if not
shingles, staves, boards etc) [p.194],
mechanic work, some manufacture of
'Knives, Cutlasses, Heads of Lances,
Bracelets, Rings and a variety of other...
necessaries' [p.191] from mountain-
made bellows to include possibly guns,
bullets, cannon balls ibidd]; as overseers
[p.195], labourers (especially for road-
building) was not encouraged, since
the Maroons, though 'free' and
'independent' were still British
'subjects' not 'citizens' and couldn't
therefore legally xtend themselves out
of the Reservation, their creative
options were clearly being limited. It is
this that eventually brought the
Trelawny Town group into conflict with
the British, though Professor Campbell
makes only negative reference to what
was probably the trigger to the whole
thing Black Ideological fever from
When therefore an altercation took place
between the Trelawny Town Maroons
and the local government of Montego
Bay . in July 1795, [Governor]
Balcarres [see pp. 209-10 for Campbell's
assessment of him], was certain that
French revolutionary ideas were behind
it . your grace knows how very
jealous I am of everything that has the
tendency to Insurrection, and if the
minds of these mountaineers have been
poisoned by Emissaries, it may prove
very fatal to the Country. Later he was
to assert more unambiguously the French
influence on the Trelawny Town
Maroons. This, of course, was nonsense
[p. 210]
If this, of course, was really 'nonsense',
it would put paid to the very subtext on
which more and more of our nativist


work is founded: that alongside the
white/Euro-cultural Atlantic crisscross
including the continental/island Amer-
ican change, there was (and is) a black
crisscross and interchange, which
Professor Campbell's work very sig-
nally reflects. Black North Americans
like George Liele and Moses Baker into
the Caribbean, anglophone Caribbean
slaves such as Makandal, Boukman and
Henri Christophe into St Domingue/
Haiti; the increasing evidence of black
- including Maroon correspondence
with Cuba [p.54 & passim]; the very
clear evidence of the relationship
between Free Haiti and Black America
[see for example, Bishop Holly's Vindi-
cation (1857)]; George Liele's interest
in and outreach to Africa [see Beverley
Brown, 'George Liele: Black Baptist
and panAfricanist 1750-1826, Savacou
11/12 (1975) 58-67]; the influence of
transcultured Africans such as Phillis
Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah
Cugoano and Equiano (Gustavus Vasa),
the Amistad people; and (central to
Professor Campbell's own work) the
Trelawny Town Maroons who were
'returned' to Sierra Leone [see note 4
below and Betty Russell, 'The influence
of the French Revolution upon
Grenada, St Vincent and Jamaica';
Dept. of History, Postgraduate Seminar
Paper, UWI, Mona, 1967]
What happened in 1795 was that a
small group of young, militant Maroons
in Trelawny Town why Trelawny
Town and why only Trelawny Town is
still not clear, especially in view of the
more culturally recalcitrant Windwards
- decided to buck against the box of
humiliation and isolation (from each
other and from the increasingly creative
slave population) that the contradictory
Treaty had forced their forebears into.
This was not something that, given the
international situation, the insurrection
in St Domingue, the resulting unstable
sociopolitical situation in Jamaica and
the Caribbean generally (free coloured
protest, slave rebellion), the delicate
stage of mercantilism (what ?new direc-
tion for Sugar, etc); this was not some-
thing that, given the history of mar-
ronage in Jamaica (and the Caribbean),
given the developing sophistication,
arrogance and fire-power of Colonial
Rule this was not something that the
British Authorities would and could
now tolerate. Fifteen thousand troops +
'several thousand militia' [p.216] +
loyal Accompongs + 100 Cuban

bloodhounds ibidd) + naval cannon +
experience gained from the earlier War,
were thrown against the +500 rebels. 9
The Moore Town and the other Maroon
groups, xcept Accompong, for the most
part remained neutral [p239]
The Trelawny Town War was the
denouement of a process that began with
the Treaties. That it happened among the
Trelawnys is merely fortuitous, for it
could have happened in any of the
communities by the 1790s. Moreover,
that a major uprising did not occur
earlier was largely . the result of the
patronage system that worked well with
influential men acting as arbiters in dis-
putes, partly due to the character of the
superintendents in the towns and partly
due to the type of governor in the colony.
That the accumulated tension finally
exploded in Trelawny Town was due to
the fortuitous conjunction of the
presence of a governor like Balcarres,
who exacerbated the situation, and the
fact that Thomas Craskell and not John
James was their superintendent . .
Trelawny Town was in a state of dis-
equilibrium (bearing too much the brunt
of 'negative creolization'), and there can
be no doubt that it was a matter of
supreme humiliation to them when two
of their members were whipped by a
'common slave'. This can only be
understood when viewed within the
context of their perceived notion of
themselves as a special people [p.259]
Professor Campbell's notion of the
Maroons as seeing themselves as
'special people', 'The Chosen' [p.260],
is perhaps the best way of 'resolving'
some of the contradictions within
Maroon culture and their post-Treaty
situation. To the very end and beyond
to Nova Scotia and into Sierra Leone -

there was no question of this people's
fearlessness and ability to stand up for
their rights; and there is no question
that the establishment and the almost
500 years' maintenance of these com-
munities amounts to a significant al-
ternative to the plantation experience
which we are only now beginning to
recognize. But the special nature of the
Maroon experience, given the frag-
mentation of our own ability to see it,
and given that the archives on which
their 'history' is founded are not their
archives or ours! means that to fully
interstand that experience, we have now
to look at the whole of it
If there is a 'weakness' in this book, it
is the too much absence of Nanny and
the Nanny Town people10 who, after all,
perhaps because of Nanny, remained
more truly(?) Maroon, perhaps, than the
Leeward people who, this study makes

clear, became tragically marooned
When the Trelawnys importuned the
colonial state for social welfare in the
form of medical care, they, in effect,
gave validity to their client status in the
local system. It was also an aspect of the
new dependency syndrome and the
[negative] creolization process. In the
pre-Treaty days, they would have relied
on their own local 'doctors' or
'medicine' men and women [why the
inverted commas?] with their African
knowledge of herbs and 'science.' Now
[1770] they requested Western doctors..
But the history of this Special
People does not end here or like this.
The consciously marooned Trelawny
Town Maroons broke out of their box
with their defeat and transportation.
And it is the revitalization of their Great
Tradition that, hopefully, Professor
Campbell will turn to in her second


1. See Robin W Winks, The Blacks in
Canada (1971), A T Porter, Creoledom
(1963) and the work of the Sierra Leone
poet and literary critic, Lemuel Johnson,
among others.
2. It sometimes comes as a shock, on
reading Balcarres' despatches and re-
reading Bryan Edwards' The proceed-
ings of the Governor and Assembly of
Jamaica, in regard to the Maroon
Negroes. . (London 1796), for example,
to realize that the planters saw the
Maroons as the same kind of immoral
(offering their daughters to visitors)
animal/pagan/savages as they saw their
.his savage pursuers, having
decollated the body, in order to preserve
the head as the trophy of victory,
roasted and actually devoured the heart
and entrails of the wretched victim! [and
made it] the subject of boasting and
triumph [p.xxxviii, italics in text] at a
festival in one of the towns . their
highest luxury, in point of food, was
some rotten beef which had been
originally salted in Ireland, and was
probably presented to them, by some
person who knew their taste, because it
was putrid.' [p.xl, italics in text]
'When the remains of Colonel Fitch
were found, a day or two afterwards, by
a party sent to give them the rites of
sepulture, it was perceived that the head
had been separated from the body, and
was entombed in the ill-fated officer's
own bowels! [p.lxiv, italics in text]. As it


is impossible to get up with the Savages
without first receiving the fire of their
Ambush, our loss in every affair is
constantly from 8 to 12 men killed and
wounded...' [CO 137/96, Balcarres
to Portland, 16 Nov 1795]
3. Mavis Campbell: The Dynamics of
Change in a Slave Society: a socio-
political history of the free coloureds of
Jamaica, 1800-1865. London &
Rutherford, N J: Fairleigh Dickinson
University Press, 1976. For earlier
Campbell on Maroons: 'The Maroons of
Jamaica: Imperium in Imperio?', Pan
African Journal 6:1 1973, 'Marronage in
Jamaica: its origin in the 17th century',
in Comparative Perspectives on Slavery
in NW Plantation Societies, ed. Rubin
and Tuden. New York 1976
4. I look in vain for this date in
Campbell (1988). Typical of the text in
this respect: p.10 'There has been no
historical study of the Maroons of
Jamaica tracing them through Nova
Scotia to Sierra Leone since Dallas's
History of the Maroons [1803]'
p.ll 'This work was originally con-
ceived of as a transatlantic history, under
one cover, tracing the Maroons to Nova
Scotia and from there to Sierra Leone.
But the monumental proportion of the
primary sources precluded this scheme
as a one-volume proposition. Future
works will deal with the Maroons in
Nova Scotia and in Sierra Leone, and a
comparison will be made with those
remaining in Jamaica. Largely because
of the misconceptions, the inaccuracies,
and the misinterpretations connected
with this subject, the author felt an even
greater responsibility to search for the
truth. ..'
p.28 '.. the Maroons who eventually
went to Sierra Leone were to be used as
soldiers for the British on the very first
day of their arrival ['they helped to sup-
press a revolt of some liberated slaves'.
Burs 1954:555 nl], and were later to
treat with African kings and chiefs in the
interior of the country'.
p.241 'The Maroons of Trelawny
Town ... were now placed on transport
ships, some 568, of whom 401 were old
men, women, and children, 167, arms-
bearing men, ready to be deported to a
destination, which, ironically, was not
clear up to the last moment. Sierra
Leone? Although the Maroons were
finally sent there, the suggestion at this
time was greeted with horror. "No
punishment was intended them beyond
their transportation much less a
banishment to that dreary, barren and in-
hospitable spot, to which Death by the
hands of the Executioner is Mercy".'
p.257 'Their final journey to Sierra
Leone came about largely because of
their own energetic and sustained
representations to the British govern-
ment, and Montague continued to be

their leader until his death in Sierra
p.257 '... they never lost their old
spirit again, as they travelled first to
Nova Scotia and then to Sierra Leone.
The ancestors of these brave men and
women were soon to become a part of
the very foundation of the Creole society
in Freetown, distinguishing themselves
in leadership positions, in government, in
business, and in the professions.'
5. Caribbean interculturation (creoliz-
ation) has many forms, ramifications and
orientations and the process may be
'incomplete' (for a variety of reasons),
and it may be 'reversed' (ditto). See, on
this, Sylvia Wynter, 'Jonkonnu in
Jamaica', JAMAICA JOURNAL 3:2 (June
1970); Rex Nettleford, Caribbean
Cultural Identity: the case of Jamaica
(Kingston 1978); my The Development
of Creole Society (1971),Contradictory
Omens: cultural diversity & integration
in the Caribbean (Mona 1974), and
'World Order Models a Caribbean
perspective', CQ 32:1 (1985) 53-63.
'Negative creolization' is more recent
and refers to the negative effects
(acculturation?) of the process, in which
a culture loses more than it gains in the
6. Edward Long Papers, BM Add. Ms
7. Campbell p.255. This is how Bryan
Edwards made this point in his
Proceedings (p.xl): 'It should not be
omitted, that of late years, a practice has
universally prevailed among the
Maroons (in imitation of the other free
blacks) of attaching themselves to
different families among the English and
desiring gentlemen of consideration to
allow the Maroon children to bear their
names. Montague James, John Palmer,
Tharp, Jarrett, Parkinson, Shirley, White,
and many others, are names adopted in
this way; and I think great advantages
might be derived from it if properly im-
In 1796, only 9 (13.4%) of the 67
'Government Negroes' listed in JAJ IX,
486 of 12 April had African names:
Bossum, Cudjoe, Quaco (2), Quamina,
Quasheba, Quaw, Suckey & Zemie
8 Barbara K Kopytoff, The Maroons of
Jamaica: an Ethno-Historical Study of
Incomplete Polities, 1655-1905; Ann
Arbor: Univ. Microfilms 1974. PhD
Thesis, University of Pennsylvania 1973
9 The population of Trelawny Town at
the time of the uprising is estimated at
some + 500, with some 167 'men able to
bear arms'. 'Balcarres himself mentioned
later that of these, only about thirty were
really "stout boys". [p.216]. The
Trelawny numbers were, however,
probably something more than 500 with
167 fighting men (the 'official' figure
[C0142/33] was 1000), since a total of
568 were deported including 167

fighting men and, as late as 1798,
Balcarres was reporting that there were
still some 150 runaways in the woods,
'armed and with some ammunition' [p.
235] though this of course might have
been an xaggeration and/or might have
represented some at least non-Maroon
insurgents, who may or may not have
supported the Trelawny Town rebels.
My own research leaves me far less
categorical than is Professor Campbell
about the intransigent rift between
Maroons and slaves. For me, the
relationship, though officially that
described by Campbell, was probably
much more flexible, both 'sides' acting
in their own interests. In any case, I
can't see how the Maroons could have
survived without continued and
continuing correspondence with the
slaves. The 1831 slave rebellion
certainly received support from (some)
Maroons. See Brathwaite, Wars of
Respect. (Kingston 1971); 'The rebellion
in the Great River Valley of St James',
Ja Hist Rev XIII (1982), pp.11-30 and
especially the (still unpub.) Slave
Revolt/Rebellion in the CaribbeanlMal-
americas, ts pp.84-85 using CO 137/185.
Maroon women also, of course, played
crucial roles in Maroon warfare [see
Campbell p.222] and therefore their
numbers would also have to be reckoned.
I could find no statistics of Maroon or
other casualties for this war: nothing in
Edwards, Dallas, Kopytoff, Campbell
[p24]); nothing in the Journals of the
Assembly ofJamaica...
10 Despite my work on Nanny in Wars
of Respect [Kingston 1977] most if not
all post-1977 comments on Nanny imply,
for whatever reason, that my book does
not even xist. I mean there is not even
critical discussion of it. See, for example,
the Gleaner of 11 October 1986. My
letter of protest was not even published!
Wars of Respect does not (?even) appear
in Professor Campbell's bibliography.
As a result (?), her 'position' on Nanny
is ambiguous: Nanny must have xisted -
'legends are not built around nonentities'
[p.51]; she lives at least 'in the
perception of her people' [pp. 176-77] etc
etc. But all this is surrounded with the
old 'network of myth and legend',
'shadowy evidence', 'it is impossible to
get at the real facts about her', and 'like
the Arthurian legend we may never be
able to put the pieces together'. And all
'this has been made more complicated
by the recent (?) romantic panegyrics on
her purporting to be "history" [p51]
though she cites none of these. For
Campbell, there may well have been
several Nannys (there might also have
been 'several' Sam Sharpes (see Wars
of Respect), but I find she is a bit too
'serious' when she asks us to 'remind
ourselves that we have no clear picture
of Nanny herself, although this has not
prevented photographs [!] of her from
floating around in recent times' [p177].


A reference no doubt to the 'artist's
impressions' of Nanny produced as
public posters after Nanny was declared
a National Hero by the Government of
Jamaica in 1976/?77
The point I wish to make here is that it
seems that when or because scholars find
it difficult to 'locate' Nanny, they seem,
as perhaps a ?consequence, to ignore the
Windwards' autochthonouss' [Campbell,


Erna Brodber
London: New Beacon Books. 1988

Review by Michael G Cooke

In 'Massa Day Done' Eric Willi-
ams contends that 'to educate is to
emancipate'. This could begin to look
like a home principle of the African
outlook in the New World when we
find W E B Du Bois coming out in the
same vein: 'Education among all kinds
of men always has had, and always will
have, an element of danger and
revolution ....'
But the novel in the Caribbean
hardly chimes with such a view. Early
and late, prominent works such as
Claude McKay's Banana Bottom and
George Lamming's Season of Adven-
ture favour the conclusion that the right
route towards emancipation is frankly
to turn your back on education. For Bita
Williams and Fola Piggott, with what
might pass for superior cultivation, it
proves that to educate is culturally to
constipate. Worse yet, such traits as
drunkenness, vanity, cruelty, toadying
and rapacious lust come effortlessly to
teachers in Lamming's In the Castle of
My Skin and Earl Lovelace's The
Perhaps Lamming sums up such an
attitude in The Pleasures of Exile, with
his attack on 'educated middle-class
treachery'; for whether education marks
the middle class or the traitorous
character, it conduces to no good.

p.165] experience. Starting and stem-
ming, I suspect, with and from Dallas
(1803), the historical accounts of this
group can be counted (Carey 1970,
Kopytoff 1974) on the rings on one's left
hand in contrast to the attention given
to the Leewards where perhaps the
archival record is richer, and where
Cudjoe is 'located', even if only in the
'ugly' andno doubt apocryphal 'photo'[!]

Rather than undoing the servility that
Williams and Du Bois take aim at,
education as it spreads erodes attention
and devotion to wide community
values. The family in Sam Selvon's
'Cane Is Bitter' see it so. For them,
education disables and disqualifies,
almost dehumanizes, the son in whom
they had reposed such hopes.
Without evident design or special
rancour Erna Brodber goes further in
her second novel, Myal. She shows
education as a species of fantastic
divorce from the actualities of human
life, and the treachery of its middle-
class possessors as a secondary reflex
that education first causes then defends.
Her middle class in fact is anything but
a class, or a class so taken up in
selfishness and pride as to have lost
coherence, consistency, or plausible
purpose. Indeed, in her extraordinary
first novel, Jane and Louisa Will Soon

Come Home, Brodber almost sets forth
a negative motto on education: 'Who
must teach whom? No Sir, swimming
cannot be taught.'
Brodber goes further than her
colleagues, in the matter of education,
in yet another respect: besides
condemning or dismissing the conven-
tional forms of education, she furnishes
at least the prospect of an alternative.
For the few in the know, the very title
of Myal points toward that alternative
(myalism has today a select following
in Jamaica). For the rest, no concession
is made, by way of explanatory note or
well-chosen quotation from one of the
several recognized scholars (Simpson,
Williams, Patterson) in the field of
myalism. This means that, somewhat
ironically, readers will be obliged to hie
themselves to a library a dictionary is
not likely to do to bone up on what is
an ancient African tradition rooted in
folk and oral culture.
Myalism once had the stature, or
say rather the currency, of voodoo and
obeah in the Caribbean (with voodoo it
shared the term zombie, but only as an
Anglicization of Nzambi, identified by
Maureen Warner Lewis as the'Sup-
reme God in the Kikongo language').
Before it was diluted, and perhaps
diverted from its original course by the


of him that frontispieces Dallas' study.
But not weighing the Windwards with
the same care and resolution as the
Leewards could well result in a
fragmented read-out of 'Maroon'.
Compare Campbell's exploration of
Nanny, for instance, with her quick,
witty and nativist analysis of 18th
century perceptions of Cudjoe whose
name, incidentally, is not even indexed
by the publishers

expedient politics of resentment and
revenge associated with the struggle
against slavery, myalism flourished
in Jamaica(especially in Morant Bay, in
the parish of St Thomas where the
epochal Bogle-Gordon uprising was to
take place). It operated as a set of rites:
a. centred on a dance called cumina and
on spirit possession, b. associated with
visions and authorized at once by the
gods and the ancestors (whom the
individual in possession is seen to
personify in particular guises), c. dedi-
cated to curing individual afflictions in
the context of family and community
values while at the same time, d. orien-
ted toward a millennarian view of life.
'Myalists', Elizabeth Pigou notes,
'preached that they were doing God's
work, and were trying to put right a
"contrary world".'
Now Myal is far from a disguised
tract in favor of myalism; the family is
down played, for example, rather than
congruent with the community group its
scattered members, when they prove
elect, go together to form; and the term
zombie, introduced late and somewhat
argumentatively, has the Haitian
voodoo sense of exploiting the bodily
frame of someone in a deathlike state,
rather than that of incarnating a god via
dance. The story may in fact be taken as
a great secular read, with witty
elements of mystery and ghost story
and barnyard fable and animism, the
spice of edifying and degraded states of
possession, as well as sexual and racial
imbroglios, and along with all this a
deftly conducted meditation on history
and politics and a summons to an
enlightened social transformation.
The opening scenes positively
capture the imagination. We want to
know what horror can have produced
'that grey mass [in] that rigid, staring,
silent female', and even more what
power can prove adequate against it.
We wince at what the child Ella
undergoes, we are arrested by the
allegorizing account of the hurricane of
1919. And we want to know, in quite a
different vein, what timorous soul is
throwing stones up at the window of the
nubile Anita. We find, when the stones
menacingly increase, that the nameless
horror, the famed storm, and the
unknown stone-thrower are part of one
diseased order, and that is where
myalism comes in.
The rain of stones does no real
harm, except to nerves and confidence,
and serves for more than a narrative

frisson. Essentially beneficent, in
keeping with the myalist view of stones
as sacred, they manifest the fact that the
home stands in danger, and call up the
divining and corrective/curative
functions of the small, spirited myalist
forces of the key Grove Town
As Myal unfolds, it identifies and
dextrously interweaves an array of
characters and stories (readers will find
it rewarding to suspend a natural bias
toward tying things together as they
come; the pattern will emerge, both
delightfully and shockingly). With all
their variety, the characters have one of
two things in common, or both; a
driving mission or a secret more or less
well kept. The text is very hard on
secrets, by the way, and wary of
missions. Only the secret of myalism
(an unconventional and so uncomfor-
table practice) and the mission of
myalism come out in a positive light.
Though none is blurred, no char-
acter stands out in Myal. Values reside
in community, not in personality, and
indeed the action pits healing and
reconciliation and succouring of the
underdog against detachment and
domination. But for that reason it
proves that no character is really minor,
as no piece in a mosaic can be neg-
lected without detriment to the whole.
There will be a temptation, where
the bias toward instant ordering cannot
be restrained, to fashion genealogical
charts, for example for Ella, daughter of
Mary Riley by the Irish cop Ralston
O'Grady, herself daughter of Catherine
Riley, by the Jamaica Bada D, in a
lineage where the male is more
biologically than culturally interesting.
Or again for Maydene Brassington,
daughter of a liberal English parson
(and wife of a deep-dyed dogmatist of
the Methodist persuasion), who evinces
evolutionary insights and sympathies,
becoming a key rather than a quaint
community figure after the plan of
adopting Ella falls through. But lineage
proves an illusory anchor. What matters
is affiliation, as when Mrs Brassington
goes from prying to praying herself into
the myalist cadre.
Even affiliation is sometimes a
cheat. The family business of medicinal
supplies vies with making movies as a
career for Selwyn Langley, Ella's hus-
band, and the movies symbolically win
out. He is bad medicine behind his
cosmopolitan and affectionate air. And
sometimes affiliation must be masked,

as with myalists, to lessen opposition
and enhance goals. For affiliation is not
merely social and public. It is spiritual
first, and so Mrs Brassington's
affiliation with her husband whose
motto is 'exorcise and replace' must
give way to her place on the cumina
team, who live by the principle: curse
and restore. The question of what a
person indentifies with becomes one
with the question of how one is
identified. The patient reader will
admire Brodber's artistry in working
out the myalist vis-a-vis the social
identities of the cumina team: Mr Dan
is the Reverend Simpson, Mother Hen
is Miss Gatha, Old African is Master
Willie, and White Hen is Mrs
Brassington whose acceptance /impor-
tance in the myalist order Brodber
deftly persuades us to.
Myal declares that 'there are ways
and ways of knowing', but insists that
there can be 'no solitary mind
expansion'. Accordingly the world of
fantasy, including references to Alice
in Wonderland and, tellingly, the
movies, gets little sympathy. But
Brodber allows differences in degree
and mode. Even the 'daydreaming'
Ella, symmetrically married to the
movie-maker Selwyn Langley, is shown
as a partial victim. In fact, her flight
into fantasy constitutes a tacit critique
of a world controlled by the 'spirit
thieves', intruders who crushingly
exploit individuals even as they stamp
out traditional ways and rights.
Indignation at the 'spirit thieves' is part
of the animus toward formal education
which, as Gareth Griffiths observes,
long rendered the West Indian world
'unreal and fictional', while reinforcing
'the colonial status quo'.
The Reverend William Brassing-
ton, with his rigid motto: 'exorcise and
replace', would represent an obvious if
modest 'spirit thief', but Myal is not a
book about the obvious. The mystery of
myalism is a case in point, and then
there is the question of myalism's
adversary, personal and social evil,
which typically conceals itself. That
evil produces the most graphic and,
probably, the most controversial scene
in the novel, with Mass Levi Clarke in
the cloaca.
For it proves that Mass Levi the
town's outstanding citizen and one
Brodber calls 'a strong man. And
spiritually too' is really impotent, and
(out of desperation) wicked. The text is
unfortunately reticent about how he


comes by the effigy doll of Anita, but
he withdraws with the doll to the
outside latrine, performing rites
voyeuristicallyy witnessed by his wife)
on purpose to restore his male prowess.
Instead he drives himself to death.
It is noticeable in Myal that the two
men who appear to have some strength
and dignity and grace, namely Mass
Levi and Selwyn Langley, turn out false
and ugly. This development seems
almost forced in the case of Mass Levi,
and it is certainly presented with a
harsh misandrotic relish. Perhaps, given
the community emphasis of Myal, even
Mass Levi's virtues of independence
and decisiveness and self-sufficiency
are to be mistrusted, and should be seen
as paving the way for his privy counsels
against impotence.
But Brodber's severity with Mass
Levi represents a rare departure from
her usual supple, intense, and forgiving
candour. Her depiction of the love affair
between Mary Riley and Newton James
(a.k.a. 'Taylor') is brilliantly knowing
and patient and poignant. Her pres-
entation of the obligatory confrontation
between Maydene Brassington and her
husband has the frightening playful-

ness of wild cats, and the Reverend
Brassington's opening himself up to
possibilities undreamt of in his phil-
osophy has just the right degree of
obliqueness. And her rhythmic devel-
opment of the relationship between
Miss Agatha Paisley and Mrs
Brassington, two equal but unacknowl-
edged 'spirits', is not only structurally
but also psychologically masterly.
It is the final concession to
education, though, that shows the pur-
posive play of Brodber's mind. Having
set forth the harm education does as an
aloof institution dealing with unoriented
individuals, Brodber concludes Myal
with a scene of integrated learning,
where the individual student the
erstwhile daydreamer, Ella flourishes
under the sun-like affection and
admiration of the community, and the
community as it were waits to receive
the fruits of individual learning. History
is being challenged, if not revised, in
these pages, and by the same token the
proscribed tradition of myalism is being
summoned to the court of community
values not for punishment but for
reconciliation and praise. Myal begins
as a dark mystery that needs identifying

and curing. It ends as a clear possibility
that needs cultivating. It begins and
ends with a natural setting in an
Aesopic vein, and it may be inevitable
that the opening ominousness seems
truer than the closing optimism. After
all, animals sense danger far more
acutely than they promote social/
educational reform.
But let the novel not, on this
account, be taken as solemn. The writ-
ing is as various as the characteriza-
tions, the settings and social range
exceptionally diverse. Above all, even
in the teeth of its own mysterious
threats, Myal makes room for a lot of
merriment and giggling, like frolic lines
of foam from waves breaking con-
tinually far out at sea. It is usually
healthy giggling for those who are not
taking advantage of others or blinding
themselves to the fact that they are in
deep water.

Editor's note: The Commonwealth Writers
Prize (Americas Region) for 1989 was
awarded to Erna Brodber for her novel
Myal, reviewed here.



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460,000 sq. feet of paved open storage e
Container Storage Area. Cold Storage Facilities.
Various mobile cranes, three-ton and heavy fork-
lifts for handling all types of cargo Bunkering
facilities: Bunker "C", Marine Diesel and Blended
fuels. Fresh water outlets for delivery at a rate of
200 tons per hour.

Wharf Company to set up modern operations at
Newport West. In fact, Newport West became a
reality with the opening of WESTERN
The Company has an enviable reputation in care and
safety of Cargo Handling.

WESTERN TERMINALS has taken the Ports of
Kingston and the Caribbean into the Port
Computer Age. The Port of Kingston has made great
strides in Computer Applications, thanks to the
pioneering role of WESTERN TERMINALS, -
Newport West (Port Bustamante) providing a
vital link with the rest of the world.

Western Terminals




by Anthony Mc Neill A Sextet from the manuscript Summer Tidings in Softer Times

Carole's Elegy
Hide for the wind
doesn't love you
Dont play a sad harp
by the sea

The woman in mourning dress
raises her dolours

her lover just died
in his 34th year

Many nights are waiting for her
and many long evenings

but for now she is light
at the still spring

The Grief-Princess
The rose summer evening
blesses me softly

I sit on a tomb
with my lass

'Contradictory omens'
surge in the wind

what follows the poem's
an iron hand

Goodnight till daybreak
my sorrowful sister

who dawned on the West
with gold hair

Old House
Struck tree
Struck tree

What are you saying
this evening to me

I embrace the darkness
which comes later on
Above me a bronze
sliver of moon

No lover awaits me
here in the ash

I lower the window
& pull down the sash

The White Shell
This one's for Jean Rhys
of Parisian nightmare

Most of her fiction
remembers the sea

Her heroines Fragile
Drink or go mad

repeating their errors
empty and sad

I bless her this summer
for writing so well

surprising far inland
a white shell

Carole's Green Sermon
Carole come quickly home
for you must
the night thru the window
shifts like black cloth

I have written some poems
& want you to hear them
you can't see them because of
my wild hand

Wherever I go
she walks with me loving

& lifts the green sermon
the world is still young

Elliot's Elegy
April finds me
Baltimore tulips
crossed by the wing

There are griefs
and idylls behind me

Johns Hopkins & Elliott
lost from the sea

With my life
more than 1/2 over

I bandage my sorrows
under the stars



Our best selling

Jamaican Folk Tales

and Oral Histories
By Laura Tanna '..

Plus Video and Audio-Cassette

The Book: Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories
The book is a critical scholarly study of Jamaican folk tales against the
background of Jamaica's history and culture plus over 50 narratives
written down exactly as told. Biographical information and photographs
of each performer. Other illustrations. Musical notations to the songs.
ISBN 976-8017-01-5 (HC) 976-8017-07-4 (PB)
pp.143+x Index, Bibliography, Illustrations, including colour
81/2 x 12" (21.5 x 30 cm.)
PB:J$ 75.00 USA $ 14.95 +2.75 postage/handling U.K. 10.50
HC J$ 150.00 USA $ 25.00 +2.75 postage and handling U.K. 20.00

The Video: Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories
A two-part documentary in colour of an art form in transition, based on
the book by Laura Tanna and including several of the stories narrated in
the book, plus others. The video demonstrates how the art of oral
narrative performance is transmitted, using words, songs and physical
2 versions of the video are now available

Original version (104 Minutes)
J$ 275.00 USA Institutional $125.00 +4.95; Individual: $79.95 +4.95
Part I The Performance of Stories (28 minutes, colour)
explores the art of storytelling with excerpts of actual
performance and interviews with Jamaican traditional artistes aged 28
to 85.
The original version includes a much wider variety of stories including
Duppy Stories, Parson stories, Maroon Stories, among others, and is
more suitable for educational and research use.

Part 2 A Selection of Jamaican Folk Tales (76 minutes, colour)
by noted performers including Louise Bennett and Adina Henry and
the maroon storyteller Thomas Rowe.

Shortened version (58 minutes)
J$ 150.00 US$ 75+4.95 (Institutional); US$39.95+4.95 (Individual)
Part 1 The Performance of Stories (same as in original version)
Part 2 A Selection of Jamaican Folk Tales (30 minutes, colour).
Three stories from the book 'Cubbitch and the Wacky' by Louise
Bennett, 'Nora an de Ackee' by Adina Henry and 'Anansi, King and
Dryhead' by Brother Martin.

The Audio-Cassette: Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories
(60 minutes).
J$ 35.00 US$9.95+$1
Not the sound track of the video but actual performances of ten stories
used in the book, with introductory narration by the noted folklorist Olive
Lewin. Included are stories by Louise Bennett and the late Ranny

Ordering Information
U.S. orders for Folk Tales Video and Audio to:
Caribbean Books, Post Office Box C, Parkersburgh, IA 50665, USA
U.K. orders for books only to:
Third World Publications, 151 Stratford Rd., Birmingham BII I IRD, U.K.
All other orders to our office:
Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
2a Suthermere Rd., Kingston 10, Jamaica Tel. 92-94785-6


The Institute of Jamaica

founded in 1879. Its main functions are to
foster and encourage the development of
culture, science and history, in the national

It operates as a statutory body under the
Institute of Jamaica Act 1978 and falls under
the portfolio of the Minister of Culture. The
Institute's central decision-making body is the
Council which is appointed by the Minister.

The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central
administration and a number of divisions and
associate bodies operating with varying degrees
of autonomy.

Chairman: Sonia Jones
Executive Director: Beverley Hall-Alleyne
Deputy Director: Dexter Manning

Central Administration
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-20620
African Caribbean Institute (ACU)
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Boulevard
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-4793.

Cultural Training Centre (CTC)
1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kgn. 5 Tel: 929-2350/3
Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts
(formerly Jamaica School of Art)
Jamaica School of Dance
Jamaica School of Drama
Jamaica School of Music

Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
2a Suthermere Rd., Kingston 10
Tel: 929-4785/6 926-8817

Junior Centre
19 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-0620

lead Office: 12-16 East St., Kingston
Tel: 922-0620
National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal. Tel: 924-8871
Fort Charles Maritime Museum, Port Royal
Arawak Museum, White Marl
Military Museum,
Up Park Camp, 3rd GR Compound.
Jamaica People's Museum of Craft and
Spanish Town Square Tel: 984-2452
Old King's House Archaeological Museum.
Spanish Town Square Tel: 984-2452

National Gallery of Jamaica
Roy West Building, Ocean Boulevard.
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-1561/4

National Library of Jamaica
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-0620

Natural History Library and Museum
12-16 East St., Kgn. Tel: 922-0620


by Gloria Escoffery


Mother Jackson
sees the moon coming at her
and slams the door of her shack
so hard
the tin louvres shudder with eagerness-
to let the moon in.
If she should cry for help
the dog would skin his teeth at her,
the cat would hoist his tail
and pin the whole moonlit sky
to the gutter.
The neighbours would maybe
douse her in chicken blood
and hang her skin out to dry
on the packy tree.

Mother Jackson
swallows her bile and sprinkles oil
from the kitchen bitch
on her ragged mattress.
Then she lights a firestick and waits
for the moon to come in and take her.


Mother Jackson
never lies or so she says.
She lays her thoughts out
like an experienced mortician
while truth grins at her
from a nest in the cherry tree.
When she runs out of words
her old croaking lizard continues
to lay down the law of the wild
from his chink in the rafters.
Mother Jackson
never sleeps; all night long
she never once closes her eyes.
The flea that enlivens her dreams
knows better.
In the morning she hunts him down
and scrunches his fat belly with her thumb nails.

Hunched in the hold
he ignores the swatch of liberated turquoise
at his back
and projects the future
from behind his own
white rimmed, impenetrable darkers;
the tote bag at his feet
carries all he thinks he will need. It is empty.
Sweat soaked ganzies,
tatters of a thousand indignities,
have been left behind
along with the ancient fetishes.
They belong to his discarded world -
or so he thinks -
stepping out from his inner darkness
like a born again Myal Columbus
all set to project his potency
on a new landscape.

It is time for the stretching of lines -
not words strung out at random
but corded simplicities arranged
so they ripple
when the slightest breeze
tugs at their bellying certainties
or tickles the stitched monogram
in the pocket of a pinafore.
Lay the more chastened garments
on the stones today;
but remember to take them in
before the sun eats holes
through to the chastity
that once they guarded.

We are God's difficult children
passing through awkward age -
adenoidal, paranoid, noisy,
defective in some faculty
of breathing or perception.
Not even the lobotomised
see things as they are.
Wanting, not wanting,
loving, hating,
fighting back,
we are more dangerous than clawed kittens.
We are the originee originals.



There's always a good reason to stay

at the Wyndham.
/ begin with, it's Kingston's night spot, takes care of all the
premier address. A veritable nocturnal activities. Shows, Revues,
# spa in the heart of a bustling dancing and on Fridays, the ritual of /
metropolis, with facilities like the Happy Hour. f-'
the Presidential Club. An inn within a For those of you planning meetings "
hotel dedicated to the needs of the and conventions, the Wyndham'sr
business traveller who requires that banquetting and meeting room
much more. facilities are the best in the city and '
The Palm Court on the mezzanine can handle groups of all sizes. /
floor is a delightful restaurant with an These are just some of -
exquisite menu featuring pasta, a the reasons for staying .'
salad bar and a daily special to tempt at the Wyndham. .
your taste buds. Then there is the If you need -
Rendezvous Piano Bar, the ideal some more, /
meeting place for drinks and give us a call.
conversation. The Cafe on the.
terrace is ideal for those who prefer
to dine in the ambiance of
the great outdoors so to ;
speak. Totally relaxed. The
Jonkanoo, our celebrated '
77 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5. Jamaica, W.1 Tel: (809)92 65430 RE 'DEZ VOUS PIANO BAR

These brief notes do not
preclude a longer review.

Garvey: His Work and
Rupert Lewis & Patrick Bryan
Kingston: ISER
1988. 334 pp.
A comprehensive selection of
papers presented to the 1987
Garvey Centenary Confer-
ence at UWI, Mona. Touch-
ing every aspect of Jamaican
life influenced by Garvey,
this book is an essential
introduction to his life and
work. It is an invaluable
foundation text for the
teaching of Garvey's life and

|m history of

m eligions in the


Dale Bisnauth

History of Religions in the
Dale Bisnauth
Kingston: Kingston Publishers
1989. 226 pp.
The first specialized study of
this topic. Dr Bisnauth treats
his subject both chronolog-
ically, from Arawak to Rasta-
farian beliefs, and also cross-
culturally, illustrating the
region's particular mingling
of world religions. The
origins of the different faiths
are presented, and the post-
Emancipation period is dealt
with thoroughly.
History of the Catholic
Church in Jamaica
Francis J Osborne, SJ
Chicago: Loyola University
1988. 448pp.

A more readable edition of a
work which first appeared in
1977. Based on seventeen
years of study, it includes
material from Jesuit archives
and covers the period from
1494 to the 1980s. The for-

tunes of the Catholic church
in Jamaica inevitably reflec-
ted historical events, so the
book can also be read as a
history of Jamaica seen from
one particular religious


Cane Cut Poems from
Bob Stewart
Kingston: Savacou
1988: 30pp.

A short collection from a
writer who successfully uses
different forms, including an
apt sonnet for Claude Mc-
Kay, to pin down his Jamai-
can experiences
Crown Point
Velma Pollard
Leeds: Peepal Tree Press
1988. 82 pp.
Written over ten years or so,
these are poems of remem-
bering; family, friends (some
dead), and places. A strong
sense of history and sharp
images make them poignant
and memorable.
Fire in the Sun
Maura Healey (ed.)
Harlow UK: Longman
1989. 196 + xviii pp.
Poems by women. This is one
in the Longman Study Texts
so there are varied assign-
ments for the student and
discussion of aspects of
women's lives. The selection
of poets goes far beyond the
regular few to include Loma
Goodison, Jean D'Costa and
Christine Craig as well as
some African writers whose
voices are rarely heard in the
usual anthologies.




US$23.50 US$23.50
J$175.00 J$165.00

US$26.00 cased paper US$1850
J$ 180.00 cased paper J$120.00

Available from your local bookseller or from
Heinemann Publishers (Caribbean) Ltd
175 Mountain View Ave
Kingston 6



Pre-Columbian Gold Disc
JAMAICA JOURNAL 18:1. February-April 1985

Further information on this Treasure of Jamaican Heritage
has been supplied by Mr George A Aarons, Consultant to
the Bahamian Government. The disc which measures
approximately 5/8" by 7/8" was donated to the Institute of
Jamaica in November 1983 by Mr Maurice Facey and Dr
James Lee and is now on permanent display at the Coin
Museum, Bank of Jamaica.

Mr Aarons writes:
The following data on the Pre-Columbian Gold Disc found in
St Ann can be added to that already published:

1 Other pre-Columbian Taino gold pieces have been found.
Unfortunately all are (or were in 1982) at the British
Museum. These were found in 1757 and 1792 with other arti-
facts and are described in the following publications:-
a. British Museum List of Jamaican Items both
Archaeological and Ethnographical in the Department of
Ethnology, British Museum. Al. BM 7000 London:
b. Archaeologia XLV pp 262-9 + plate XLVI
(Exhibit by Isaac Rebello, F.A.S.) London 1803.
Additionally, Sir Hans Sloane talks about the use of gold
by the Jamaica Taino in the Jamaica section of his
description of his voyage. For the full reference to
Sloane cf. Farr, Thomas A. 'A Sloane Sampler' JAMAICA
JOURNAL 21:1 pp. 39-46, Kingston: Feb-April 1988.

2 The gold disc was found by Dr Lee in 1982 on a small
plantation in central St Ann.

3 The disc is clearly an ear plug as there are countless
ethnographic, archaeological, and artifactual parallels in the
other Greater Antilles and Guyana, prehistoric, historical and

4 The design is similar to that replicated on the well-known
three-cornered stones, which have been found from the
Bahamian archipelago in the North to Trinidad and Guyana
in the South. These are magico-religious iconographs/icono-
morphs representative of fertility in the form of Yocahu(a)na,
the Taino Mother-earth goddess.

5 Assuming that the assay is correct, its significance is the
high percentage of silver, as the percentage of nickel could
point to an origin in any of the Greater Antilles. It is in fact
what the sixteenth century Spaniards described as dor6 gold,
i.e. a gold naturally alloyed with silver, mined from the
streams and rivers, then as now, of the Dominican Republic
as opposed to the guanin gold, i.e. a gold naturally alloyed

with copper, which was and is mined from open-shaft mines
in the central Dominican Republic. The probable place of ori-
gin is in the vicinity of Concepcion de la Vega or San Tomas.

6 Based on other dated Greater Antillean examples, the
disc is dateable to 600A.D.-800A.D. and while the gold is cer-
tainly Dominican, the design is certainly Jamaican Taino as it
is replicated on Taino ceramic vessels made from clay origi-
nating in Duanvale near Spanish Town and found on over
two hundred Taino sites in Jamaica.

It is hoped that a summary of this information can be dis-
played with the disc at the Coin Museum. It is also hoped that
the disc is not permanently attached to its mount, for obvious
reasons. If the Coin Museum could commission the sculpture
of an authentic head of a Taino man in a suitable medium by
an artist such as Miss Kay Sullivan, then this priceless object
could be more appropriately placed in one ear, as was origi-
nally intended. The proud Jamaican Taino, Maurice and
Valerie Facey and Dr James Lee deserve no less.


Carol Mae Morissey holds an M.A. in History from the
UWI and has researched various aspects of Jamaica's social
history. Her article "01' Time Tram" and the Tramway',
appeared in Vol 16:4.
W J Hanna of the Department of Anaesthetics and
Intensive Care at the University Hospital writes occasiona-
lly for JAMAICA JOURNAL His latest article was 'Newspapers
and Medicine in Jamaica', JAMAICA JOURNAL 21:4.
A R D Porter A geologist with wide international experi-
ence and a former president of the Jamaican Geological
Society, he is now Staff Geologist at the Alcan headquarters
in Montreal. He is co-author of the book Minerals and
Rocks ofJamaica.
Wycliffe Bennett, now Chairman of the Creative Produc-
tion and Training Centre (CPTC), has long been identified
as Jamaica's expert in the development and history of
speech and drama.




The architects' original design for Bank of Nova Scotia ,King Street

-- 7fter the earthquake of 1907 had completely
destroyed the Port Royal Street branch of the
I Bank of Nova Scotia, which had been opened
in 1889, it was decided to rebuild on King Street.
The large site acquired there ran as far back as
Peter's Lane and was conveniently near to the
government property on which the post-earthquake
Treasury Building was to be erected.
The new branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia
opened in 1908 and still dominates that section of
King Street. It was designed in a modified Spanish
Colonial style by two Canadian architects, Darling
and Pearson. The use of arches, balconies and red
roof tiles reflected the Spanish idiom. However, the
height of the building, the ventilation devices and the
sturdiness of the pillars and structural reinforcement
indicate an awareness of tropical conditions,
including the threat of earthquake.

In the early 1960s, the interior was
enhanced by the use of Italian marble for columns,
counters and floors. Other modifications and
expansion changed the outer appearance to some
degree, but the building still stands much as it did in
1909 when it was considered to be a pioneer in
Kingston's post-earthquake reconstruction.

Bank of Nova Scotia, King Street

.r i.

r rt~-9
'r"~P 1

P a ~


Glimpses of Jamaica's

Natural History

Trimezia Martinicensis

This beautiful yellow flower, also known as Butterball, is a member of
the Iris family. A native of Jamaica, it can be found growing wild in
cool, hilly areas in damp, grassy places, near streams or wet roadside
banks. In some countries, it is grown as an ornamental and the corm has
been used for medicinal purposes as a diuretic and a remedy for influenza.
The flowers are approximately one to two inches wide with three large
outer yellow petals mottled dark brown or red at their bases. The petals may
be lightly joined at their tips forming a ball and this probably accounts for
the name Butterball.
Even though the plant produces seeds, new plantlets develop on the
stalk which bends to the ground allowing them to take root.
Wild Scallion flowers throughout the year. The species also occurs in
the Lesser Antilles and in South America, from Mexico to Brazil.

614F12 Pi"f34i
B9/19/00 34168

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