July 25th, Thank God once more got to Sea with light Breezes of Wind from SE at ESE very so for Tobago, exceedingly hot, squally and rainy. This Morning at 6 o’Clock saw the Island of Tobago bearing SWbS about 9 Leagues as I was well to Windward intended for Barbados Bay, but it coming on very thick bore up or rather kept her away for Great Courland Bay, at Noon Little Tobago bore from us SbW 6 or 7 Leagues, fell little Wind fine Afternoon the Current satt us away to the NW. Saw Tobago, Trinadada and Grenada at same Time, at 6 satt the Sisters Rocks bearing South 4 League, wore ship and stood off ‘till 3 next Morning very dark, a Deluge of Rain with loud Peals of Thunder and fierce Lightning.
July 26th continual Rain all Night and Morning not a dry Place to be found at half past Eleven this Morning anchored in Great Courland Bay with the small Bower in 5 f:m water, the Hut on the Beach bearing SSE and the outermost point NbW moored with the Kedge Anchor and Hawser at 12 went on Shore with the Bag and delivered it to Mr Forbes at Plymon who is appointed D.y Postmaster for that Division, eat some Dinner with him, Bray with me and his (Mr Forbes’s ) Clerks, wrote Mr Franklyn at the Hope. Mr Ferguson and Forbes came off and supped with me. Last evening had vast quantities of Porpus’s playing round us the first I have seen for the Voyage.
27th July – much finer Day than have seen for some Time not near so much Rain rec:d a Letter this Morning from Mr Franklyn desiring me to take a cask of Rum to Antigua. Got up very yearly breakfasted with a Mr Moody the Manager of Mr Gilbert Franklyn’s Estate at Courland took my Gun shot a Pelican & several other Birds very much tired. Sent Mr Franklyn’s, Robertsons and Peter Campbell’s Onions on Shore rec:d a Letter from Mr Franklyn in answer to mine also one from Mr Campbell and another from Capt Morse, dined again w:th Mr Forbes, Bray with one and Mr Ottley, this Gentleman came from his House on purpose to wait on me a very polite well bred man he gave me a very hearty Invitation to his House and insisted upon my being at his House the next Time came to Tobago, he came on board to look at my Vessel eat some Salt Beef and was very much pleased. At 6 this Evening we unmoored and at 9 hove up and came to Sea with the Wind at East Light Breezes fine Wea:r
Sunday 28th July – Fine Wea:r, wind Easterly, at 6 am saw the Island of Grenada bearing from North to West at least 12 Leagues distant and at Noon Point Saline on Grenada bore NWbW dis:t 2 Leagues Light Breezes & whifling Wind came to an anchor about half past 6 o’Clock in 18 fathom water in St George’s Bay and moored with the Kedge, Point Saline bear:g SWbS the Northmost Point NEbW and the Fort NEbE ½ mile from it M:r Rushed the Postmaster came on board who carried the Bag on Shore, a M:r Wallis belonging to the Governor was on board for Sir George McCartney’s Dispatches which he also carried on shore they informed me of some Vessels sailing soon for England. Well as I have given some little loose account of Madeira I will endeavour to do the same of Tobago.
Tobago is one as well as Barbados of the Carabee Islands and lyes in Lattitude 11º:10° N and 50º: 20° Degrees West Long:de. It may be I suppose 20 or more Miles long and from 6 to 8 Miles broad, it is a very mountanious Country abounding with vast numbers of Hills not unlike the Eastern Part of Devon, but the Hills more numerous and higher, it appears to one as if it had been thrown up at different Times by Volcanos. From the Number of Hills of Course there must be Vallies of Rivers so that the Island is well watered. The Chief Town near which the Lieu:t Gov:r Mr Young resides is called Scarborough on the South Side of the Island I never was at it, here all the Courts &c are held at Barbados Bay the nearest place to it where the Ship off Sugars are a few Houses, and a Fort called Granby Fort. On the same side of the Island is a Bay called Rockley Bay from whence they also ship off Sugars – and several of smaller consequence where the small Craft resort to bring them to the Bays above. I am told these Bays are rocky and dangerous, most of our Packets have lost Anchors in them for which Reason I prefer the North Side where the Ground is clear though we are more Subject to a Swell and a Surf on the Beach than they are to the South Side the Principal Bays on the North Side are Grand Courland, Little Courland and Sandy Point Bays from all which Places the European Ships take in Sugars for England. I have been at the two former of these Bays but give the Preference to Great Courland.
These Bays take their name from the Duke of Courland who was once Proprietor of the Island the Dutch and French have also had Possession of it as well as the English it has been a Bone of Contention and they oftentimes drove one another off and it was before the last War called one of the Neutral Islands, the French however had begun again to creep into it, but it was taken possession off by the English in the late War and in 1773 was by Treaty ceded to them. In my Opinion the Seat of Government should have been at G:t Courland where there is a fine Bay and two Rivers empty themselves into it, at this Place a spot for a Town upon a high but level Ground is marked out and the name of Plymouth given to it, there are a few Houses or rather Huts erected, and it will be a long while before it deserves the Name of a Town, though an Eligible plot for one.
This Island is and has been reckoned to be very unhealthy at which I make no wonder as the stagnated Waters in the low Grounds must make it so, and for want of the Trees being cleared away from the high Hills to have free Circulation of Air, these Trees naturally attract the Clouds and of Course they have a great deal of Rain more so than in many other of the Caribbee Islands. But at this Time tho’ the Rainy Season I was informed there was not a Man sick amongst them. M:r Forbes told me they had from 5 to 600 white Men in the Island and from 10 to 12’000 Blacks. This seems to be quite a Scotch Colony as is indeed most of the New Islands, the Scotch are a People fond of adventuring they are sensible of the Advantages of it and are highly to be commended for it, here they Lord it over the poor Negroes as their Chieftains did over the Clans in Scotland, whereas if they had not emigrated they would never perhaps have rose to a higher Title than that of a Laird and lived upon Crowdy their life Time.
They make rapid progress in clearing away their Lands and ‘tis said will make this year at least 6000 hhds of Sugar which I think very well for so young a Colony. A great deal of which is owing to the Proprietor living upon their Estates, this Island I am informed is in more credit than any of the ceded or conquered Islands. The Ants here as in Barbadoes have made great Havock among their Cane Pieces, insomuch that whole Estates have been obliged to root up their Canes and plant Cotton in which they find a very good Account as this Article bears a good Price, the Sandy Point District is a very level low Land, and from once being all Cane Land is now Cotton Plantations, had this as formerly been in Canes their Crop of Sugar would this Year have been much larger.
At Plymouth they have a Battery of 5 or 6 Guns but ‘twill puzzle a Person to find it out being hid by the Trees which are grown over the Guns, here I was shown the Remains of a Dutch Fort or rather a Redoubt and the Foundation of some Houses. This Island abounds with most all the Fruits in common to this Climate, except the Cocoa Nut of which I am informed they have not got a single Tree, the Planters might have many Things more than they have if would take a little Trouble to cultivate them, but their chief Aim is to raise Sugar.
The Island of Trinadada belonging to the Spaniards and which lyes but a few Leagues from them abound with Cocoa Nuts and the Indians bring them a crop in their Canoes and sell them 8 or 10 for a Bit. This last mentioned island is rather too near Tobago, for the Negroes poor Devils thinking to change Masters for the better often run away in Canoes over to Trinidada, where the Spaniards lay hold of them and send them away to the Continent, so that poor Creatures they are out of the Frying Pan into the Fire, however the Loss of them to the Planter is a serious Matter, they have often made Complaints to the Spanish Governor but could never get redressed, had I been in their places I think should make reprisal upon his Negroes. The Rivers and Bays in this Island abound with Fish, they have in the Rivers very fine large grey Mullet a Fish they call Carramaus and several others, different from ours in Europe – also Prawns and Craw Fish. In G:t Courland Bay I think I never saw such great Quantities of Fish, mostly Snappers and Cavallos these prey upon the Sprat which are here in the greatest Plenty I have seen Turtle in the Bay, but had never the good Luck to take one, I suppose at a lucky Hawl with a ground Seyne might almost load a Ship w:th different Kinds of Fish, on their Rivers they have variety of Reptiles Aligators, Armadillos, Guanas, Lizards of various Sorts as well as diff:t sorts of Land Crabs, Snakes large but innocent of which I killed one when here last.
Rats the same as in England are here in great Plenty also a small red Sort of which have shot one formerly. There are great varieties of Birds and of very fine Plumage, Cockracois is esteemed a fine Bird for it’s flesh they boast much of it I never saw one, it takes its name from the plain manner in which it pronounces the word Cockracois the Pidgeons are good, so are the Doves, the Green Parrot such as come from the Spanish Main are here in abundance what a noise they make in the woods, they fly forward and backward from hence to Trinadada in great Flights. This Voyage I shot one but could not find it, I fancy in falling it stuck fast in some of the thick Trees under that upon which ‘twas perched when I shot it. The Nest of the Birds here I think are not near so curious as in England I have got one with me the Nest of a small Woodpecker I named it the Gallina woodpecker as it is spotted exactly like it, they just continue to weave a little Grass together so as to hold the Eggs, and instead of making them in the Fork of a Tree they are generally hung to a Branch of it, two feet from the Branch of ye Cotton Shrubb – it had two Eggs, spotted red, but were broke coming on board.
They have a Species of Crow here with a yellow tail which are very singular in their Nests, they resemble and are much the size of a middle sized Sugar Loaf, and are hung up just like them to a Branch of a Tree, they begin the Nest at Top, enlarge it as go down and about one third from the Top leave a Hole to go in and out, they build numbers of them together like the Rooks, such a Rookery must have a good deal the Resemblance of a Grocers Shop.
What Miriads of Musketos (my old Tormentors) paid us a visit upon our arrival at Tobago – they filled the Cabin, how gladly could I have excused their Company, I imagine I must have been a fine Treat for them, as they sucked my Blood from the Crown of my Head to the Sole of my Foot, what a Figure did I cut the next Day, fatigued to Death for want of Sleep, for I am sure ‘twas impossible to get any I had ten thousand Trumpeters or rather Postillions sounding their little Horns round me all night, I hope they amused themselves with the Musick but for my part I can safely swear it was none to me, the Egyptians never had a worse Plague than these little insects are to me I could as well sleep in the midst of so many RattleSnakes, had not my Habit of Body been good should from so many poisonous Bites have been a very shabby Fellow, but I never scratch, what a pleasure to be debarred of – surely you will think me a Scotchman and I may apply to myself a Sentiment I have heard given to the People of that Nation, the Pleasure of Itching without the Benefit of scratching. This little Animal alone is enough almost to frighten me away from such a Climate where now at this Time it is as anyone may ever define it, add to this there are thousands of the Sort of common Flies we have in England, buzzing about you and if possible would eat you up, what a delectable Situation – Patience.
There are few of the Settlers of Tobago married, indeed it is no place more than the other Islands for Ladies, they must divest themselves of a great Part, if not all their Delicasy before they cross the Atlantic or they must be miserably unhappy, no Inducement whatever should I think make me marry a Creole Lady, perhaps many would tell me ‘twas a Piece of False Delicasy it may be so, but I pride myself upon entertaining such a Notion, my dear Peggy you cannot form any Idea how very disgusting the Custom of the Country is, Neither was I a Lady should I like to marry a Creole Man or he who had been so long in the Country, their Fondness and Attachment to the Blacks and Yellows must to a woman of nice Feelings be very distressing and I am sure by what I have seen is the Occasion of many miserable and unhappy Marriages in this Country, good God how is it possible to prefer them as many of them do to the most amiable white woman.