Thursday 4th – contrary to our expectations of not reaching Barbadoes till the afternoon of this day, we were close to it early in the morning. It appeared very low, that is, with no high mountains but many hillocks. At 8 A.M. we came to anchor in front of Bridgetown the Capital, in Carlisle Bay. It would have been more desirable to have arrived after twelve oClock, as in that case we would have remained all that day, and not have sailed until next evening. If however a packet should arrive before 12, she must then go off the same evening – and so it was with us.
During our last voyage I gave you so full an account of Barbadoes as my limited opportunities would permit me to give, and I am afraid that I shall have nothing to offer you but repetitions. I shall only say that I went on shore for an hour or two and traversed during that time a variety of streets. The weather was very hot, and the glare of the reflected heat added excessively to the influence of the solar beams. We fell in with several very well built and handsome houses, belonging to private individuals, and also a very excellent church. As we passed along every person seemed to be engaged in bustle and activity – and one fellow refused a dollar which I offered him, if he would put the sun in his pocket!!
I observed numerous well supplied shops, & more especially druggist shops, which are more numerous here than in any other of the islands, which I have visited. But if it be true that you can have any of British or foreign manufacture, as well as at home, it is also true that you must pay well for it – and nothing amused me more than to enquire the current prices of articles with which I was well acquainted – & I found, at a moderate calculation, that 50, 100, or 150 per-cent was charged more than I had ever paid – to which you must add that the sovereign here only goes for 4 instead of 5 Spanish dollars.
I remarked that many stores & shops, instead of having what they had printed or painted, had only the articles in chalk on the shop window – a plan both economical and handy – for if you had these articles this way as good an intimation as was necessary, & when you had sold all, you had nothing to do but to give a wipe and all was erased – whereas, if you had a painted sign, you would mislead the public by the notion that you had things, which you would in vain seek for in the shop.
With regard to the appearance from the sea, I can only say that my opinion of the beauty of the situation of the town is not altered – nay is even encreased. A stranger has no idea of the extent of Bridgetown from the Harbour – for the trees which are scattered here and there serve as concealment, and you would be surprised to find, where you expected a paltry village, a very large and very populous town.
The day being as I have said very hot, I did not continue long ashore – but knowing that we were to start in the afternoon, I made haste on board and derived much amusement from witnessing the peculiarities of the negroe and coloured band, to which I alluded in my former Journal. You would actually split your sides with laughing to see our decks crowded with black and brown endeavouring to sell every thing and many other things, as the fisherman would say, – Boat after boat came alongside, many manned with women – and now between them and our sailing, the bustle grew fast and furious – the laugh – the joke – the scold – the praise are heard all around. The strange dialect of the slaves, which is between the lisping and imperfect of a child & the corrupt pronunciation & words of a grown up person – their strange remarks often acute and appropriate – their perfect competency to cheat and extortionate – and their winning ways to induce you to purchase – all these form a medley which it is worth while to have been at Barbadoes to have seen. There is hardly a possibility of getting of their importunity – a positive refusal to purchase any of their wares only serving to stimulate their desire that you should purchase, and all the coaxing epithets with which their language furnished them are put into requisition. Great then was the consternation among them when about 3 oClock, the Master told them to get ready to set off immediately as he was about to weigh anchor. Loud rose the human voice divine, but truly the sound resembled the cackling of so many geese, when disturbed in the midst of an excellent feed. They endeavoured to hasten on their sales, and to procure their potatoes, cheese &.c at the most reasonable rate. I was particularly amused with the conduct of two women, who were in partnership. Having still some business to transact and the Master being impatient to have them off, one of them said to the other who was the best looking – ‘do try to coax de Massa,’ a piece of advice which she endeavoured to follow up as well as possible – but all in vain for the Master was inexcorable and never ceased to order them away, until they were fairly over the ships side, when immediate preparations were made for getting up the anchor.
We left at Barbadoes two of our three passengers, viz. Lieut. Colonel George Teulon of the 35th and M.r George Ford. The former was a very tall man and had been at Barbadoes before. His manners were pleasant and gentlemanly and altho’ he said comparatively little, yet that little shewed him to be a man of good sense and information. He seldom looked up but almost always kept his eye on the table or place before him, and at first we thought that his taciturnity proceeded from pride, which was only owing to his natural disposition and habits among strangers. When engaged in interesting conversation, he could be as fluent and as animated as any of the others.
Of all our passengers, M.r George Ford, brother of Sir Francis Ford, who has a very large plantation in Barbadoes, under the agency of a M.r Crichlow Lears, was the one who rendered himself most pleasant and agreeable to me & my brother officers. He was a fine looking man, with a Roman nose, and had a military air about him. He had been in many parts of the world. As a soldier (I think as a Captain) he had been in Spain & France in the army of Wellington. He had also served in Canada during the American war. His travels had also led him to Holland, and the Isle of France in the East Indies. He was now on his passage to the Island of Trinadad, where as I learned, he was to be one of the Committee of Ten, who assist the Governor – in the administration of the Island. I think – but am not sure – that he is going there in a commercial capacity.
His free and easy manners – his amusing anecdotes and varied conversation rendered him a great favourite with us. In every thing he was ready to oblige us – his books and whatever else he had was at our service. M.r Ford had proposed to have sailed next day in the Mail boat for his destination, but meeting his brother’s agent, he would likely remain for 10 days longer.
I have now only one remark more to make before I take leave of Barbadoes, and I am not sure but that the same remark is applicable to other islands – that is – it is against the law that any but a black should engage in field work and consequently to be possessed of many mulatto slaves is a great disadvantage. If you have mulattoes, you must employ them as house servants or teach them various handicrafts. Most of the artisans here are of the coloured tribe. But still the estates must be cultivated, and what to do for blacks has often puzzled the planters. The slave trade is now at an end (thank heaven) and the laws strictly prohibit the transportation of a slave to or from any other island where he has been born – so that should there be an excess of them in one island and a deficiency in another, you cannot equalise them to the wants of the different islands, however advantageous it might be. To remedy, if possible this defect, many planters send their female mulattoes into the interior, where the blacks reside, and endeavour to have from them a negroe more fit for their plantations.
At 5 P.M. the Captain came on board with the Mail, and from laying to we arranged our sails for our departure. There was very little wind up, and when darkness came on, we were still in sight of Barbadoes.