Imágenes de páginas



Shirley, "a profligate character as far as I can understand."

"Hi, Massa, you telly me marry one wife which is no good. You no tinky I see you buckra no content wid one, two, three, four wives, no more poor negro.' The overseers, too, are in general needy adventurers, without either principle, religion, or morality. Of course their example must be the worst possible to these poor creatures. . ." The smugness of Lady Nugent!

"A little mulatto girl sent into the drawingroom to amuse me," says she, writing of her visit to Mr Simon Taylor's, an old bachelor at Liguanea. "She was a sickly, delicate child, with straight light hair and very black eyes. Mr T. appeared very anxious for me to dismiss her, and in the evening the housekeeper told me she was his own daughter and he had a numerous family, some almost on every one of his estates.'

[ocr errors]

When she left the gentlemen she took tea in her own room, surrounded by the black, brown, and yellow ladies of the house, and fairly revelled in gossip, this being the time, of course, when she heard of its master's peccadilloes.

We smile at Lady Nugent, but after all she does succeed in giving us some idea of how the planters of Jamaica lived in her day, all the more so because she is unconscious of doing anything beyond telling the tale of her life and sufferings in a far land with what she regarded as a pestilential climate. But she by no means holds such a high place in my affections as Hans Sloane.



JAMAICA is a thickly populated country. The last census taken in 1911 gave a population of 197 to the square mile, and this is mostly black, for the same statistics give something under 16,000 white people to close on 800,000 black and coloured, and in all probability among the so-called white there would be a trace of colour.

Now I was warned not to touch on the colour question when I wrote on Jamaica, which is really like writing about the present times without mentioning the Great War. You must mention the colour question. If a man is charming and courteous and well educated, what can it matter what his shade, and I who was brought up in Australia, where the colour question is a burning one, can say this with feeling.

I have listened to a white woman, whose only recommendation was that she was white, draw herself up and sniff when speaking of a highly cultivated man whose only fault in her eyes could be that there was a trace of colour in his veins.

[ocr errors]

Well, I promised my husband I'd receive him, but his wife-I do draw the line at his wife."

I could see no reason why she should not receive his wife, who had seen a great deal more of the world than she had and was a much more interesting

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]



personality. Every man has a right to choose his personal friends, but it seems to me the only reason why a community should ban a race is when that race lowers the standard of living and so imperils the life of the master people. This, of course, is at the root of the colour question, and I could write a book about it.

Men and women with just a dash of the tar brush are often extremely good looking, in fact, never have I seen more beautiful children than in Jamaica, save possibly in Sicily, where a dash of colour from Africa thrown into the stock long, long ago, makes for beauty. But the black man, however good looking, however well educated, has one handicap; a stiffly starched white shirt-front and a black evening coat bear very heavily indeed on him. He may be college bred, have the softest and most cultivated of voices, but the dress imposed upon him by civilisation is apt to take away from his dignity. In Africa they are beginning to realise this, and the Ashanti Chief is never allowed to dress in European costume, and he looks every inch a Chief in the beautiful silken robes, the gay colours of which set off the complexion the sun has kissed.

And if a black man looks bad in fashionable clothes, the black woman looks even worse. How this can be mended I know not, but I feel sure that as soon as the black people find a style of dress that will set off their beauty, much of the feeling against coloured blood will vanish.

It is coming. I went to church one day in Kingston, and, I think, with the exception of the minister in black Geneva gown and white bands, I was the only full-blooded white person present. But the church was full and the people struck me as being very good looking and well dressed, especially

« AnteriorContinuar »