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Title: Narrative, of a five years' expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana on the Wild Coast of South America; from the year 1772 to 1777 ... Volume 1 (of 2)

Author: John Gabriel Stedman

Engraver: Inigo Barlow

Francesco Bartolozzi

Michele Benedetti

William Blake

Thomas Conder

Thomas Holloway

Release date: June 27, 2021 [eBook #65715]
Most recently updated: April 6, 2022

Language: English

Credits: Emmanuel Ackerman, Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at for Project Gutenberg (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Newly designed Front Cover.


Stedman Pinxt.  Bartolozzi Sculpt.

“From different Parents, different Climes we came,

At different Periods”; Fate still rules the same.

Unhappy Youth while bleeding on the ground;

’Twas Yours to fall—but Mine to feel the wound.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1794, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls’ Church Yard.


Original Title Page.

of a five years’ expedition, against the
Revolted Negroes of Surinam,
in Guiana, on the WILD COAST of
South America;
from the year 1772, to 1777:
elucidating the History of that Country, and

the description of its productions, viz.
Quadrupedes, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, Trees, Shrubs, Fruits, & Roots;
with an account of the Indians of Guiana, & Negroes of Guinea
——Vol. I.——

“O Quantum terræ quantum Cognoscere Cœli,

Permissum est, pelagus quantos apperimus in usus!

Nunc forsan grave, reris opis; Sed læta recurret

Cum ratis et Caram Cum mihi reddet solenne!

Quis pudor heu nostros tibi tunc audire labores;

Quam referam visas tua per Suspiria gentis!”

Valerius Flaccus.

Printed by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard, & J. Edwards, Pall Mall, 1796.




J. G. Stedman.

Tiverton, Devonshire,
January 1, 1796. [iii]



This Work being perhaps one of the most singular productions ever offered to the Public, I think it right to give the Reader a short sketch of what he is going to peruse.—I have endeavoured to arrange matters in some degree like a large garden, where one meets with the sweet-smelling flower and the thorn, the gold-bespangled fly and loathsome reptile, the richest glowing plumage and the darkest shades; the whole so variegated as to afford, I hope, both information and amusement, without racking or depressing the spirits, and damping the mind; not indeed in the modern pomp and brilliancy of style, but in a simple tale, where TRUTH is the chief ornament. [iv]

Here, in the different characters of a Commander—a Rebel Negro—a Planter, and a Slave—not only tyranny are exposed—but benevolence and humanity are unveiled to the naked eye. Here the Warrior—the Historian—the Merchant—and the Lover of Natural Philosophy, will meet with some gratification; while, for having introduced my private adventures, I must make some apology—but none for those of the lovely Slave, who makes not the least interesting figure in these pages—as female virtue in distress, especially when accompanied with youth and beauty, must ever claim protection.

Upon the whole, perhaps, some allowance may be made, when the Reader considers he is perusing no romance composed of fiction, but a real history, totally unembellished with the marvellous;—the production of an Officer, whose pen and pencil have alone been employed—and ON THE SPOT, a circumstance but very seldom met with.

As to the shocking cruelties that here are so frequently exposed, let it suffice to say, that to deter others from similar inhuman practices, and teach [v]them virtue, was my sole and only motive; while, on the other hand, it must be observed that Liberty, nay even too much lenity, when suddenly granted to illiterate and unprincipled men, must be to all parties dangerous, if not pernicious. Witness the Owca and Sarameca Negroes in Surinam—the Maroons of Jamaica, the Carribs of St. Vincent, &c.

While the Colony of Surinam however is reeking and dyed with the blood of the African negroes, truth compels me to observe, that the Dutch there are not the only guilty; but that to most other nations, and particularly the Jews, is owing this almost constant and diabolical barbarity.

Reader, peruse the pages annexed with impartiality and with temper—sort the flowers from the weeds—divide the gold skilfully from the dross—and perhaps you may not regret the hours you have thus dedicated. A few orthographical errors and inaccuracies have been discovered, particularly in the First Volume, from my having unavoidably been prevented from superintending its progress while in the press: But in a short Errata, and particularly in the Index, [vi]to which I refer the curious, will be found properly spelt the names of men and things.—Let it however not be understood, that I ever laid claim to excellence in writing or drawing; but if the plain and MANLY TRUTH, so often spoken of, and so seldom found, are of any avail—I presume to hope, that these Volumes are not entirely unworthy the attention of a British Public. [vii]





  • Auckland (Lord) British Ambassador at the Hague.
  • Ackland (Sir Tho. Dyke) Bart. Killerton.
  • Anderson (Lady) York.
  • Ashmead (Wm.) Esq. London.


  • Bute (Rt. Hon. Earl of).
  • Bristol (Rt. Hon. Earl of).
  • Bamff (Rt. Hon. Lord) 6th Dragoons.
  • Barrington (Rt. Hon. Lord Viscount).
  • Boydell (Rt. Hon. John) Lord Mayor of London.
  • Baring (Charles) Esq. Exon.—5 Copies.
  • Barwell (——) Esq. London.
  • Broadley (R. Carlisle) Esq. York.
  • Broadley (Isaac) Esq. Branlingham, Hull.
  • Barker (Thomas) Esq. Jamaica.
  • Bain (——) Esq. M. D. Bath.
  • Burk (Geo.) Esq. Waddon Court, Devon.
  • Batt (J. F.) Esq. Richmond.
  • Brown (E. H.) Esq. Richmond.
  • Black (John) Esq. of the Hon. East India Company’s Service. [viii]
  • Besly (Wm.) Esq. Tiverton, Devon.
  • Bates (Ralph) Esq. 6th Dragoons.
  • Bastard (John P.) Esq. Kitley, M. P.
  • Brown (Wm.) Esq. Wiveliscombe.
  • Bush (Baron de) Commandant at Curacao.
  • Bolls (And.) Esq. Capt. in the Dutch Navy.
  • Bloys de Treslon (Cor.) Esq. Capt. in the Dutch Navy.
  • Brown (——) Esq. Bristol.
  • Bulguin (Mr. ——) Bristol.
  • Blake (Mr. Wm.) London.
  • Boudler (Mrs.) Bath.


  • Canterbury (His Grace the Archbishop of)
  • Chichester (Sir John) Bart. Youlston.
  • Chichester (Mrs.) Arlington.
  • Chichester (Miss)
  • Chichester (Miss Mary Macdonald).
  • Cholwich (John B.) Esq. Farringdon House.
  • Cambridge (R. O.) Esq. Twickenham.
  • Cholmley (Nath.) Esq. Howsham.
  • Cowley (John) Esq. London.
  • Campbell (Rt. Hon. Ilay) Edinburgh.
  • Cholmondeley (G.) Esq. London.
  • Croft (John) Esq. York.
  • Cooksley (J. Sparkes) Esq. Ashburton.


  • Dover (Rt. Hon. Lord).
  • Douglas (Gen. Robert) Holland.
  • Duntz (Sir John) Bart. Rockbere House.
  • Drew (Richard) Esq. Exeter.
  • Dennys (Nicholas) Esq. Tiverton.
  • Dowce (Francis) Esq. Richmond.
  • Danby (Wm.) Esq. Swinton.
  • Drummond (J.) Esq. M. D. Jamaica.
  • Ducarrell (——) Esq. Exmouth. [ix]
  • Delaval (E. Hussey) Esq. London.
  • Dickenson (Benj.) Esq. Tiverton.
  • Dunsford (Mr. Martin) Author of the Memoirs of Tiverton.
  • De Graav (Gid. And. D.) Esq. Surinam.
  • Des Borgnes (Col. Briseval) Fourgeoud’s Marines.


  • Erving (George) Esq. London.
  • Euler (——) Esq. for the Library of his Serene Highness the Prince of Orange.


  • Fitzwilliam (Right Hon. Earl)
  • Ferrier (Col. Ilay) of His Majesty’s Scots Brigade.
  • Fredericy (——) Esq. Governor of Surinam.
  • Freeman (——) Esq. Chute Lodge.
  • Freeman (Mrs. Elizabeth).
  • Fitzgerald (Miss) Grange, Ireland.
  • Follet (Rev. Mr. John) Tiverton.
  • Fattet (Mr. Barth. François).
  • Flower (Mr.) London.
  • Flower (Mr. Benj.) Cambridge.


  • Guildford (Right Hon. Earl of).
  • Gordon (Col. Robert) Deputy Governor at the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Graham (John) Esq. M. D. Jamaica.
  • Grinstone (Henry) Esq. Weston.
  • Grinstone (Thomas) Esq. Kilnwick.
  • Goodwin (G. R.) Esq. Bath.
  • Godefrooy (Mrs. Eliz.) Surinam.
  • Gray (Miss Jane) Edinburgh.


  • Heathfield (Rt. Hon. Lord).
  • Harrowby (Rt. Hon. Lord) Sandon, Staffordshire.
  • Hamilton (Sir Alexander) Bart. Retreat.
  • Hildyard (Sir Robert D’Arcy) Bart. Winestead, York. [x]
  • Hastings (Warren) Esq. late Governor General of Bengal.
  • Hamell (Colonel) Cape of Good Hope.
  • Home (Colonel Alexander) His Majesty’s Scotch Brigade.
  • Hamilton (Robert) Esq. of the Hon. East India Company’s Service.
  • Hunter (——) Esq. M. D. York.
  • Hamilton (Major) Exon.
  • Hilton (William) Esq. Jamaica.—2 Copies.
  • Hecke (C. A.) Esq. Demerary.
  • Harding (Rev. Mr.) Barnstaple.
  • Heathfield (Thomas) Esq. Nutwell.
  • Heneman (Gysbert) Esq. Hague.
  • Haringman (John) Esq. Admiral in the Dutch Navy.
  • Hogg (Jos.) Esq. Tiverton.
  • How (J. M.) Esq. Wiscome Park.
  • Hartford (Jos.) Esq. Bristol.
  • Hobroid (Mrs.) Richmond.


  • Incledon (Robert) Esq. Pilton House.
  • Incledon (Capt. T.) 3d Regiment of Foot.
  • Jermain (Thomas) Esq. Bristol.
  • Johnson (J. R.) Esq. Jamaica.


  • Keates (Rev. Richard) Tiverton.
  • Kincaid (Patrick) Esq. Exon.
  • Knight (Mr. Charles) Knightsbridge.
  • Kennedy (H. J.) Esq. Cleves.
  • Knollaerdt (——) Esq. Fourgeoud’s Marines.


  • Lardner (John) Esq. London.
  • Lardner (Richard) Esq. Tiverton.
  • Lardner (James) Esq. Axminster.
  • Louïs (Mr. Jean) Exon.




  • Macpherson (Sir John) Bart, late Governor of Calcutta.
  • M’Queen (Dundas) Esq. Edinburgh.
  • Macallester Loup (Duncan) Esq. Hague.
  • Macauley (Alex.) Esq. London.
  • Macauley (Angus) Esq. Bath.
  • Macleod (Colonel) of His Majesty’s Scots Brigade.
  • Mackay (John) Esq. London.
  • Mackay (Hector) Esq. War Office.
  • Maddison (Thomas) Esq. M. P.
  • Mowbray (Robert) Esq. M. D. Cockayrny.
  • Moore (John Hartnoll) Esq. Cadeleigh Court.
  • Marshall (Mr. Robert) Tiverton.
  • Moens (Mr. Adrian) Rotterdam.
  • Medlaer (George Crawford) Esq. Fourgeoud’s Marines.


  • Northcote (Sir Stafford) Bart. Pine’s House.
  • Nagle (Joseph) Esq. Calverleigh.
  • Nagle (David) Esq. Bath.
  • Nibbs (J. Langford) Esq. Beauchamp.—2 Copies.
  • Needham (John) Esq. Gray’s Inn.
  • Noot (Captain) Fourgeoud’s Marines.
  • Nichols (Rev. Mr.) Richmond.
  • Newte (Rev. Mr.) Titcombe, Devon.
  • Newte (Thomas) Esq. late Captain in the Hon. East India Company’s Service.
  • Newbiggen (Miss Jane) Edinburgh.


  • Owens (George) Esq. Tiverton.


  • Pepperel (Sir William) Bart. London.
  • Palmer (Thomas) Esq. Berkley Square.
  • Palmer (William) Esq. London. [xii]
  • Plidell (J. M.) Esq. 6th Dragoons.
  • Peachey (John) Esq. M. P.
  • Prince (J. D.) Esq. Holland.
  • Perret Gentilly (Major) Fourgeoud’s Marines.
  • Polson (Hugh) Esq. Exmouth.
  • Popple (Rev. Mr.) York.


  • Ryder (Right Hon. Dudley) M. P.
  • Rockby (Right Hon. Lord) Horton, Kent.
  • Ricketts (Hon. W. H.) Jamaica.
  • Ricketts (E. Jarvis) Esq. Jamaica.
  • Rosendaal (Countess de) Holland.
  • Rolle (John) Esq. M. P. Tidwell.
  • Ridsdale (G. W.) Esq. 6th Dragoons.
  • Rolland (Adam) Esq. Advocate, Edinburgh.
  • Robinson (William) Esq. Writer to the Signet, Edinburgh.
  • Robinson (Capt. Thomas) of the Hon. East India Company’s Service.
  • Rigaud (P.) Esq. R. A.
  • Reynsdorph (Andrew) Esq. Surinam.
  • Reay (Henry N.) Esq. Blenkwell, Durham.


  • Spencer (Rt. Hon. Lord Henry).
  • Strickland (Sir George) Bart. Bointon House, York.—2 Copies.
  • Strickland (Lady Eliza Letitia).
  • Strickland (Miss Charlotte).
  • Strickland (William) Esq. York.
  • Strickland (Capt. Geo.) 8th Regiment.
  • Sykes (Sir Christopher) Bart. York.
  • Small (Major Charles) Isle of Man.
  • Small (Peter) Esq. Montreal, Canada.
  • Stuart (Hon. General John).
  • Sampson (James) Esq. late His Majesty’s Consul General at Morocco. [xiii]
  • Suttell (G.) Esq. York.
  • Sturgeon (T. W.) Esq. Trowbridge.
  • Swale (——) Esq. London.
  • Sheriff (Mr. Robert) Leith.
  • Stedman (John) Esq. M. D. Edinburgh.
  • Stedman (Capt. Wm. George).
  • Stedman (Miss Catherine) Edinburgh.
  • Sharrat (Mr. John) Walsall.
  • Sheldon (Miss Ann) Exon.
  • Somerville (Miss Elizabeth) Edinburgh.


  • Todd (Mr. John) York.—2 Copies.
  • Tozer (Aaron) Esq. of the Hon. East India Company’s Service.


  • Vance Agnew (Robert) Esq. Edinburgh.
  • Van Coeverde (Colonel) Fourgeoud’s Marines.


  • Willoughby de Broke (Rt. Hon. Lord).
  • Westerloo (General) Holland.
  • Wemyss (Major) 11th Regiment of Foot.
  • Wierts (Francis) Esq. Captain in the Dutch Navy.
  • Winsloe (Thomas) Esq. Collipriest.
  • Woolery (R. P.) Esq. Jamaica.
  • Williams (Jos.) Esq. Jamaica.
  • Wyville (Rev. Christopher) York.
  • White (James) Esq. Counsellor, Exeter.
  • Wray (G. Lewis) Esq. Spence Farm.
  • Wood (Bevis) Esq. Tiverton.
  • Worth (John) Esq. Worth House, Devon.
  • Worth (Mrs. Mary) Tiverton.
  • Wray (Mrs.) Richmond. [xiv]
  • Watt (Mr.) London.
  • Wardlaw (Mrs. Susan) Edinburgh.


  • York (His Grace the Archbishop of).
  • Yorke (Hon. John).





Chapter I.        Page 1.

Introduction.Revolt among the Negroes in Dutch Guiana—An Expedition sets out from the Texel—Short Account of the Voyage—The Fleet arrives in the River Surinam—Reception of the Troops in that Colony—Sketch of the Inhabitants, &c.

Chapter II.        Page 30*.

General Description of Guiana—of the Colony of Surinam in particular—Accounts of its earliest Discovery—is possessed by the English—by the Dutch—Murder of the Governor, Lord Somelsdyk—The Settlement taken by the French, and ransomed.

Chapter III.        Page 53.

First Revolt of the Negroes; Causes thereof—Distracted State of the Colony—Forced Peace concluded with the Rebels—Mutiny of Sailors, Soldiers, &c. [xvi]

Chapter IV.        Page 74.

Short Interval of Peace and Plenty—The Colony plunged in new Distress by a fresh Insurrection, and nearly ruined—Review of the Troops for its Defence—An Action with the Rebels—Gallant Behaviour of a Black Corps—The Arrival of Colonel Fourgeoud’s Marines.

Chapter V.        Page 86.

The Scene changes—Some Account of a beautiful Female Slave—The Manner of travelling in Surinam—The Colonel explores the Situation of the Rivers—Barbarity of a Planter—Wretched Treatment of some Sailors.

Chapter VI.        Page 107.

Account of a dreadful Execution—Fluctuating State of political Affairs—Short Glimpse of Peace—An Officer shot dead; his whole Party cut to Pieces, and the general Alarm revived throughout the Colony.

Chapter VII.        Page 132.

Armed Barges are sent up to defend the Rivers—Description of the Fortress New Amsterdam—A Cruise in the upper Parts of Rio Cottica and Patamaca—Great Mortality among the Troops—View of the Military Post at Devil’s Harwar. [xvii]

Chapter VIII.        Page 178.

Three Estates burnt, and the Inhabitants murdered by the Rebels—Real Picture of Misery and Distress—Specimen of a March through the Woods of Surinam—Colonel Fourgeoud and the remaining Troops leave Paramaribo.

Chapter IX.        Page 194.

Some Diseases peculiar to the Climate—Groupe of Negroes newly imported going to be sold—Reflections on the Slave Trade—The Voyage from Africa—Manner of selling them in the Colony—Description of a Cotton Plantation.

Chapter X.        Page 216.

Colonel Fourgeoud marches to the Wana Creek—Harasses the Enemy—Account of the Manicole Tree, with its various Uses—March to the Mouth of Cormoetibo River—Some Rebels taken—Shocking Treatment of a wounded captive Negro.

Chapter XI.        Page 258.

The Troops march back to the Wana Creek—The Rebels pass near the Camp—Pursued without Success—Great Distress for Want of Water—Mineral Mountains—The Troops arrive at La Rochelle, in Patamaca. [xviii]

Chapter XII.        Page 285.

Description of the Town of Paramaribo and Fort Zealandia—Colonel Fourgeoud’s March to the River Marawina—A Captain wounded—Some Privates shot—Strange Execution in the Capital—Account of Fort Somelsdyk—Of the Hope in Rio Comewina.

Chapter XIII.        Page 311.

A Sugar Plantation described—Domestic Happiness in a Cottage—Further Account of Fourgeoud’s Operations—Dreadful Cruelties inflicted by some Overseers—Instance of Resentment in a Rebel Negro Captain.

Chapter XIV.        Page 338.

Colonel Fourgeoud at Paramaribo—Example of Ignorance in a Surgeon—of Virtue in a Slave—of Ferocity in a Commander—The Troops re-enter the Woods—Account of Loango Dancing—Uncommon Proof of Fidelity in a Negro.

Chapter XV.        Page 378.

Description of the Indians, Aborigines of Guiana—Their Food—Arms—Ornaments—Employments—Diversions—Passions—Religion—Marriages—Funerals, &c.—Of the Caribbee Indians in particular—Their Trade with the Europeans.


A MAP of Guiana &C. by J. G. Stedman

A MAP of
by J. G. Stedman

London, Published Decr. 2d, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.





Introduction.Revolt among the Negroes in Dutch Guiana—An Expedition sets out from the Texel—Short Account of the Voyage—The Fleet arrives in the River Surinam—Reception of the Troops in that Colony—Sketch of the Inhabitants, &c.

The exploring of foreign countries having of late years, and particularly since the recent discoveries of the immortal Captain Cook, so generally been the object of persons both in private and public situations; and the histories of their labours and pursuits being so interesting to the curiosity of the public, I have ventured to offer such observations as I have had an opportunity of making in a very singular part of the globe, on which few Englishmen have been thrown, either by accident [2]or curiosity. The colony of Surinam, in Dutch Guiana, so far as it is inhabited and cultivated by Europeans near the sea-coast, has indeed been known for many years past. But the deep inundations, with the impenetrable thickness of the woods, have been such constant discouragements and obstructions to discovery, that but very little true information concerning that country has as yet been obtained, except what relates to such objects of commerce as are common to most of the tropical settlements. This publication, therefore, is chiefly intended to particularize such circumstances and events as the necessity of penetrating into the interior parts of the country have enabled me to make, and forced on my observation.

The feeling part of my readers, I must hope, will receive with some indulgence a work proceeding from an officer, who, from his early youth, was debarred in acquiring perfection, either as a writer or a painter, by his military and maritime profession. I nevertheless humbly flatter myself that whatever may be found wanting in style and elegance, is in some degree compensated by that fidelity and correctness, which can alone be the work of a pen and pencil employed on the spot. With respect to a few quaint expressions, and even oaths, as spoken by common soldiers, sailors, &c. that sometimes unavoidably occur in the narrative of this wonderful expedition, I must humbly request the world not to be startled at them, not only because the shades of black and white [3]enliven the picture, but because I am determined to write truth only, and expose vice and folly in their native colours.—Come then, my friends

“Together let us beat this ample field,

Try what the open, what the covert yield;

The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore

Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar:

Eye Nature’s walks, shoot Folly as it flies,

And catch the manners living as they rise;

Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;

But vindicate the ways of God to man.”


I will now boldly launch out on the difficult task.—As the nature, however, of these transactions can only be understood by a reference to the occasion which called me thither, I feel myself under the necessity of still premising a few words upon that subject.

Every part of the world, where domestic slavery is established, may be occasionally liable to insurrection and disquiet, more especially where the slaves constitute the majority of the inhabitants; but the colony of Surinam, in Dutch Guiana, has been peculiarly unfortunate in this respect. Whether from the shelter which is afforded to the fugitives by the immense forests which overspread the most considerable part of this country, or whether the government of this settlement be radically defective, it is a certain fact, that its European settlers [4]are constantly exposed to the most violent ravages, and the most desperate outrage. Of these circumstances this is not however the place for a minute detail. Let it suffice therefore for the present, only to observe, that these repeated revolts and insurrections demanded at length the most vigorous measures for the restoration of a general peace; and that the accounts transmitted to Holland, in the year 1772, that a considerable body of armed people of this description had assembled in the forests, and became extremely formidable to the colony, determined their High Mightinesses the States of the United Provinces to send out a sufficient maritime force to oppose the insurgents, and, if possible, to quell the insurrection.

The British navy had ever been my choice and ambition, in which I was well recommended; but the small hopes of preferment I had naturally to expect in time of peace, and my paternal estate being lost just after my birth by accidental misfortunes, induced me to relinquish the hopes of advancement in the sea service, and to accept an ensign’s commission, presented me without purchase, in one of the Scots brigade regiments in the pay of Holland, where Sir Joseph York (late Lord Dover) at that period was ambassador from the British court; before which nobleman I had the honour to take the usual oaths of abjuration and allegiance to my King and Country, as registered at the British war-office.—This point I have also thought it right to premise, as [5]a duty owing to myself, to shew the world in general that it was necessity not choice that compelled me to enter into a foreign service; though perhaps a more ancient and distinguished corps does not exist than the above brigade has proved to be, both in this island and on the continent, for above two hundred years.

At the time of the above insurrection I was Lieutenant in the Honourable General John Stuart’s regiment; when, impressed by the hopes of traversing the sea, my favourite element, and in some measure gratifying my curiosity, in exploring a part of the world not generally known; still more by the prospect of that preferment which might be consequent on so dangerous an expedition; I instantly solicited admission into a corps of volunteers which was preparing to sail for Guiana, and had the honour, by his Serene Highness William V. Prince of Orange, to be advanced to the rank of Captain by brevet1, under Colonel Louïs Henry Fourgeoud, a Swiss gentleman, from the Alpine Mountains, who was appointed our commander in chief.

Having taken the oaths of fidelity on the 12th of November to the new corps, and prepared what was necessary for the voyage, I bade farewell to my old regiment, and immediately sailed to the island of Texel, where several of our gentlemen were already assembled; [6]and where, on going ashore, I had nearly perished by the boat’s shipping a sea, and sinking in the surf.

The island of Wieringen was however the spot of general rendezvous: here Colonel Fourgeoud arriving on the 7th of December, the volunteers were all assembled, to the number of five hundred fine young men; and on the morning of the 8th we were formed into seven companies, and embodied as a regiment of marines. Besides the Boreas and Westellingwerf men-of-war, commanded by Captains Van de Velde and Crass, three new frigate-built transports were put in commission, carrying ensign, jack, and pennant, and armed with from ten to sixteen guns, as sloops of war; on board these vessels we embarked the same afternoon under a general salute, then took the command, and did the duty as in the navy.

Our departure was not however immediately consequent on our embarkation. We lay wind-bound in the Texel roads for many days, during which time one of our young officers, a Mr. Hesseling, was unfortunately seized with the small-pox: this gentleman, in order to prevent his infecting the ship’s company, was ordered on shore to a town on the land’s end, called the Helder, where I conducted him in a pinnace, and where we left him behind us; but on my return, the surgeon declaring he saw the symptoms of the same disorder on myself, I was also immediately ordered to the island of Texel. Having passed a most anxious quarantine in this place, I had [7]the good fortune however to escape the loathsome malady, and to the Doctor’s surprize appeared once more on board perfectly well, just before the signal gun was fired for the fleet to weigh anchor. This circumstance cannot but induce me to wish that those in particular who are destined for a military or a naval life would avail themselves of the art of inoculation, in order to avoid a painful anxiety to themselves, and a most dangerous infection to their fellow-creatures.

On Christmas-day our small fleet put to sea, at eight o’clock, A. M. with a fresh breeze from E. N. E. in company with above one hundred vessels bound for different parts of the globe, and the most beautiful clear weather. Having safely got without the soundings, and saluted each other with nine guns, we kept our course down channel, and soon passed the North Foreland, the Isle of Wight, and Portland Point; but here the Westellingwerf, having sprung a leak, was obliged to part company, and run into Plymouth for repair.

The wind now freshened as we approached the Bay of Biscay, where the mate of the vessel directed my particular attention to a kind of sea-swallow, commonly distinguished by the name of the Storm-bird2, from its supposed property of foretelling an impending tempest. The colour of this bird is a very deep blue approaching to black, and enlivened by some variegated tints; its size is about [8]that of a large martin or swallow; it is web-footed; the bill is very long and sharp, and the wings of an extraordinary length, which enable it to fly very fast, and for a considerable time, skimming with incredible velocity around the horizon: it subsists entirely upon fish, which is probably the cause of its being sensible of the first indications of whatever may prevent its usual supply of food: it then flies along with extreme swiftness, in order to avoid the storm; but if overtaken by it, drops its wings, and floats upon the surface of the waves.

On the following day, January 2d, 1773, the predictions of the storm-bird were verified: a heavy gale sprung up from N. N. E. by which, off Cape Finisterre, the Boreas and Vigilance were separated from us. We kept our course during the night with double reefed topsails, and all the hatches laid, which made our men in general very sick. Here I ought not to forget that by way of experiment we had slung the hammocks athwart ships, and not as usual fore and aft; which method we found however to be both so roomy and convenient, that it has been since adopted by several other vessels.

On the morning of the 4th we spied a stout ship to windward in the offing, bearing streight down upon us. Conjecturing she might be an Algerine pirate from the African coast, and now but two ships out of five, we prepared to engage her; she however soon proved to be the Boreas man-of-war, which had parted company on the 2d. From this date the men were daily exercised at [9]the great guns, and by firing at a target suspended from the yard-arm.

On the 14th, in the morning-watch, we passed the Tropic, when the usual ceremony of ducking the fresh-water sailors was ransomed by tipping the foremast men with some silver. About this time the Boreas most unluckily lost one of her best seamen, the boatswain’s mate, whose hand slipping by the wet, he pitched from the fore-yard-arm into the sea. His presence of mind in calling to the captain, as he floated alongside, “Be not alarmed for me, sir,” in the confidence of meeting with relief, attracted peculiar compassion, and even caused some murmuring, as no assistance was offered him; in consequence of which, after swimming a considerable time within view, the unfortunate young man went to the bottom.

We now were got in the tract of the trade winds, which blowing continually east, and the weather becoming from day to day more temperate, made the voyage exceedingly pleasant; more so by the many dolphins or dorados, which beautiful fish seem to take peculiar delight in sporting around the vessels. The real dolphin, which is of the cetaceous kind, was anciently celebrated in poetic story on account of its philanthropy and other supposed virtues: but to the dorado or dolphin of the moderns, this character is far from being applicable, this fish being extremely voracious and destructive, and is known to follow the ships, and exhibit his sports and gambols, not from attachment to mankind, but from the more selfish [10]motive of procuring food, particularly on the eve of an approaching storm, of which he appears perfectly sensible. The circumstance which chiefly entitles the dorado to our attention is, the unrivalled and dazzling brilliancy of its colours in the water, the whole of its back being enamelled with spots between azure blue and a reflecting light sea-green, on a very dark ground, which appears as bespangled all over with jewels, and forms a most beautiful contrast to the belly, which is of a whitish cast; the fins and tail are of a golden dye: the length of this animal is from five to six feet, and its form tapers from the head towards the tail, which is divided, and terminates not unlike the shape of a crescent. The head is round, and preceded by a kind of snout; the jaws are armed with several sharp teeth, and the eyes are remarkably large. The scales of the dorado are uncommonly small, and it is furnished with a fin, which runs along its back from the one extremity to the other.

Our progress was now daily marked by increasing warm weather, which released me from the confinement of a disagreeable cabin crowded with officers, most of whom had never been to sea, and enabled me to pursue my favourite amusements, whether of reading above deck, or exercise in the rigging. Thus circumstanced I, on the 17th, had the happiness of rendering a most important service to one of our young officers, a Mr. du Moulin, who by a sudden roll of the vessel was actually thrown over the gunwale; at that moment happening to stand [11]without-board in the main-chains, I fortunately grasped hold of him in his fall, which saved him, as he could not swim, from inevitable death.

The Harangus Volans, or Flying Fish. The Dorado, or Dolphin of the Moderns.

The Harangus Volans, or Flying Fish.
The Dorado, or Dolphin of the Moderns.

London. Published, Decr. 1st 1791 by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

The entrance into warmer regions gave occasion to an observation perhaps not generally known, which (though uncouth) must be of great importance to sailors; namely, that between the Tropics, while vermin may remain in the head, none can possibly continue to exist in the bedding, cloaths, linen, &c. Having humbly apologized for the above remark to my delicate readers, I will endeavour to describe a curious animal with which these seas abound, and which appears to sail on the surface of the waves with a side-wind, while by the sailors it is vulgarly called a Portuguese man-of-war, and is probably either the Nautilus or the Argonauta of Linnæus. This wonderful creature, when above water, assumes the shape of an expanded fan, decorated with a beautiful red border, while the lower extremity is fixed to a shell as thin as paper, or rather a kind of boat, which is sunk below or raised above the surface of the sea, and guided in any direction, at the pleasure of the animal, by means of six tentacula or limbs, which it uses as oars. When these creatures are touched by the hand, they occasion, like the sea blubber or jelly fish, a painful tinkling sensation, which continues for several minutes.

The two following days it blew very fresh, and heavy seas washed over the vessel; during which, while helping to put a reef in the main-top-sail for a little exercise, I lost [12]every one of my keys, which dropped from the yardarm into the sea. This trifling accident I should never have related, had it not proved a very great inconvenience, by debarring me from coming at my private property, particularly since the whole ship’s company, officers included, lived on salt provision alone, a pig and a couple of lean sheep excepted, whose legs had been broken by the rolling and pitching of the vessel. This manner of living on salt-beef, pork, and peas, like common sailors, was introduced by our commander in chief, in order to enure us (he said) to such food as we were likely to be alone supplied with in the woods of Surinam; and from the generous motive of regaling his American friends with European refreshments—such as live sheep, hogs, fowls, ducks, bacon hams, bullocks tongues, preserved vegetables, pickles, spices, &c. all of which were provided by the town of Amsterdam in profusion. But good intentions do not always meet with their rewards; since the worms, without any one’s permission, laid hold of the greatest part of the dead stock for themselves; who were, for a punishment, together with their plunder, thrown overboard into the ocean. Let me add, that instead of plate, our meals were frequently served up in small wooden tubs of not the most cleanly appearance, and only once a day; which negligence, however, I am willing to impute to Monsieur Laurant, the colonel’s French valet-de-chambre. In short, the scurvy and other loathsome disorders began to make their appearance; dejection and low-spirits took place throughout the [13]ship, while I complained aloud, and from that moment date the good-will which Colonel Fourgeoud manifested towards me in particular, as will be seen throughout the expedition. It is with pain that I relate this passage—but no consideration shall prevent me from bringing to light particular foibles, as it will ever give me the greatest pleasure to render virtue conspicuous.

About the 20th of January, we observed great numbers of flying fish, the exocœtus volitans of Linnæus, which is about the size of a herring. The back of this animal is flat, and of an olive-brown colour; the sides and belly of a resplendent silvery white; the mouth small; the eyes large; the tail bifurcated; and the scales hard, smooth, and silvery. Upon occasion the pectoral fins are used as wings by this fish, yet no longer than while they continue wet, for as soon as the moisture is dried, the animal drops back into the sea. The surface of these fins is of a golden hue, beautifully variegated near the edges with spots of azure blue: their length is equal to that of the body of the fish; and its flight, which is undertaken in order to avoid the pursuit of the dorado, and other large fish, is always straight forward, and of short duration, on account of the necessity of repeatedly wetting its wings3. These animals are frequently [14]found on board vessels, and sticking in the shrouds, which is probably to be ascribed, not, according to the opinion of some, to their seeking a refuge there from the attacks of fish or sea-birds, but simply to their flight being obstructed by an object, which, as they always fly in a direct line, they have not the power to avoid. The fate of this animal seems peculiarly severe, at it is the prey both of the scaly and feathered creation, and frequently meets its doom in that element to which but a moment before it had committed itself for protection.

Becoming extremely low-spirited towards the close of our voyage, I now had recourse to daily sea-bathing, and to a chearing glass of claret, two ankers of which had been provided for each officer, independantly of his own stock. These means proved efficacious, and I found myself in a few days perfectly recovered from my complaint. On the 30th the weather became hazy, when the ships brought-to and hove the lead in thirteen fathom foul water. The following day we passed several large black rocks to windward, called the Constables, and cast anchor near the Euripice, or Devil’s Islands, off the coast of South America. The Euripice Islands are situated about twenty-four miles from the French settlement of Cayenne, bearing N. N. W. in north latitude, five degrees twenty minutes, and consist of a ridge of small uninhabited and very dangerous rocks for shipping. Here the current runs constantly from the S. E. to the N. W. at the rate of sixty English miles in twenty-four hours: [11*]consequently every vessel which happens to pass the mouth of the river Surinam must make a considerable circuit in order to regain the possibility of entering that river.

While we remained in this situation, we observed the narwhal, or sea-unicorn, and one or two large turtles, floating past the ship’s side. The former of these is a large fish, and very distinguishable by a long spiral excrescence on its nose, like a tapering twisted rope. The one we saw at this time (though some are said to be forty or fifty) appeared but six or eight feet in length, and its horn about four, which weapon is dreadfully offensive to many fishes, especially to the whale; and when polished (either in hardness or whiteness) is considered not to be inferior to ivory. The narwhal, which is of the cetaceous kind, and consequently viviparous, is more frequently found in cold than warm climates. The female is said to be unprovided with that protuberance so remarkable in the male. It appears that some authors have confounded this animal with the sword-fish, to which however it does not prove to have the very smallest resemblance.

Another animal, which is called the saw-fish, carries also an offensive weapon. The projecting bone of this is three or four feet long, flat, and both sides armed with strong sharp-pointed spikes, which give it somewhat the form of a saw; this saw, which is covered over with the same rough, slimy, darkish-coloured skin that covers [12*]the whole animal, begins to spread itself near the eyes, and thus continues spreading till it forms the head of a flattish triangular appearance, close to which are the two pectoral fins. Above the eyes are two large holes, which I apprehend to be the organs of hearing, and not, as some suppose, intended by nature for the purpose of spouting water. Almost directly under them is the mouth, which is something in the form of an half-moon, apparently without teeth, and between that and the under part of the spiked saw are the nostrils. The body of the saw-fish is not much larger than the head, with two strong dorsal fins, the one near the middle, the other near the tail, which is partly bifurcated, and raised perpendicular, the largest part upwards, without rays. The back is covered over with a dark slimy skin; the whole forming a very hideous appearance. This fish fights with the largest whales, till the sea all around is died with blood, seldom quitting its adversary till it has vanquished and killed it. I have seen this monster out of the water, and its whole length measured about fourteen feet.

View of the Constable Rocks off Cayenne, from N. E. The Saw-Fish, & part of the Head reversed.

View of the Constable Rocks off Cayenne, from N. E.
The Saw-Fish, & part of the Head reversed.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

The turtles are divided into two species, and are generally distinguished in Surinam by the names of calapee or green turtle, and carett. The former of these sometimes weighs four hundred pounds, and has a flattish shell; but the carett is inferior both in size and quality, except with respect to its shell, which is more valuable, and of a more convex form. Both the calapee and carett deposit their eggs, which are very excellent food, in the sand, [13*]where they are hatched by the heat of the sun. The manner of taking these animals is by turning them on their backs with a hand-spike when they are discovered on shore, and leaving them in this situation till a convenient opportunity occurs for carrying them away; for such is the heaviness of their structure, or so languid are their powers, that they are utterly unable to turn themselves, and effect their escape. They are publickly exposed to sale by the butchers in Surinam, like the shambles meat in the European markets, and are esteemed the most delicate food between the months of February and May.

On the morning of the 1st of February we now once more went under way, and kept course in shore till the evening, when we came to an anchor off the mouth of the river Marawina; this river has occasioned the loss of many ships, by seamen fatally mistaking it for the river Surinam, to which its entry bears indeed a very great resemblance. What renders the first so dangerous, are the numerous rocks, small islands, and quick-sands with which it is crouded; besides its being so shallow at high-water mark (and even with spring-tides) that all ships of any considerable burthen immediately run a-ground, and go to pieces.

On the 2d, having got our anchor a-peak by daybreak, we again set sail, keeping course along the coast; when having doubled Braam’s Point with a light breeze, under top and top-gallant sails, we finally entered the beautiful river Surinam; and at three o’clock, P.M. dropped anchor before the new fortress called Amsterdam; [14*]and here we were extremely happy to meet with our friends in the Vigilance, which vessel (as I have mentioned) had parted company with us in a gale of wind on the 2d of January, off Cape Finisterre, and arrived two days before us in this river.

Our ships crews now were in the highest flow of spirits, seeing themselves surrounded by the most delightful verdure, while the river seemed alive by the many boats and barges passing and re-passing to see us, while groups of naked boys and girls were promiscuously playing and flouncing, like so many Tritons and Mermaids, in the water. The scene was new to all, and nothing was heard but music, singing, and cheering on deck, as well as in the rigging, from the ideas of happiness which each individual now promised himself in this luxuriant flourishing spot, while between decks the heat was become insupportable: but how miserably these poor fellows were mistaken in their reckoning shall soon be seen.

I must indeed acknowledge that nothing could equal the delicious sensations with which we seemed intoxicated by the fragrance of the lemons, limes, oranges, and flowers, wafted over from the adjoining plantations that line the banks of all the rivers in this ever-blooming settlement, and of which charming fruit, &c. large clusters were sent on board our ships by Colonel de Ponchera of the colonial troops; this gentleman, being the commandant of Fort Amsterdam, also saluted the vessels with nine guns from the batteries, while with an equal number we returned him the compliment [15]from the ships. A long-boat, with one of our captains, was afterwards dispatched to Paramaribo, to announce to the governor the arrival of the troops in the colony.

A Female Negro Slave, with a Weight chained to her Ancle.
 Bartolozzi Sculpt.

A Female Negro Slave, with a Weight chained to her Ancle.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1795, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

During our stay in this place the companies frequently walked on shore, and I accompanied them in their excursions; but the pleasure I had flattered myself with, from exchanging the confinement of a ship for the liberty of ranging over a delicious country, was damped by the first object which presented itself after my landing. This was a young female slave, whose only covering was a rag tied round her loins, which, like her skin, was lacerated in several places by the stroke of the whip. The crime which had been committed by this miserable victim of tyranny, was the non-performance of a task to which she was apparently unequal, for which she was sentenced to receive two hundred lashes, and to drag, during some months, a chain several yards in length, one end of which was locked round her ancle, and to the other was affixed a weight of at least a hundred pounds. Strongly affected with this shocking circumstance, I took a draft of the unhappy sufferer, and retained a dreadful idea of the inhumanity of the planters towards these miserable subjects to their power.

The grass in this part of the country was very long and coarse, and afforded a harbour to two species of very disagreeable insects, termed Pattat and Scrapat lice by the colonists, which settled on every part of our persons. [16]The former of these is so small as to be scarcely visible; the latter is something larger, and formed like a crab, and both agree in adhering closely to the skin, and occasioning an intolerable itching. These insects abound most during the rainy season, when the best means of avoiding their attacks is supposed to be by walking barefoot, as they are believed to fasten more easily, and consequently in greater numbers, upon the cloaths, whence however they very speedily find their way to the skin. We did not get rid of our disagreeable companions till our return to the ship, when we washed the affected parts with the juice of limes or lemons, which considerably alleviated our troublesome sensations.

On the 3d of March we received a visit from several officers of the Society, or West India Company’s troops, accompanied by a number of other gentlemen, to welcome our arrival in the colony. Nor were they satisfied with paying us merely a compliment in words, but regaled us with a large quantity of excellent fruits and other refreshments. They came in very elegant barges or tent-boats, adorned with flags, and attended by small bands of music. The vessels were rowed by six or eight negroes, who were entirely without cloaths, except a small stripe of check or other linen cloth, which was passed between their thighs, and fastened before and behind to a thin cotton string tied round their loins. As the colonists generally make choice of their handsomest slaves for this office, and to attend them at table, &c. [17]the rowers, who were healthy, young, and vigorous, looked extremely well, and their being naked gave us a full opportunity of observing their skin, which was shining, and nearly as black as ebony. This scene was however contrasted by the arrival of two canoes filled with emaciated starving wretches, who clamorously solicited relief from the soldiers, and were ready to fight for the possession of a bone.

The day following our Commander in Chief was visited by a Mr. Rynsdorp, who introduced to him two black soldiers, manumized slaves, who composed part of a corps of three hundred which had been lately formed. These men were exhibited by Mr. Rynsdorp as specimens of that valiant body, which but a short time before had most gallantly distinguished itself by the protection it had afforded to the colony.

Whilst we still remained at anchor before the fortress Amsterdam, I received a polite invitation from one Mr. Lolkens, a planter, to whom I had been recommended, to accept the use of his house and table on our arrival at Paramaribo, the capital of the colony.

On the 8th we once more went under way, and after the usual ceremonies on both sides on leaving the fortress, sail’d up the river Surinam with drums beating, colours flying, and a guard of marines drawn up on the quarterdeck of each vessel. Having at length reached Paramaribo, we finally came to an anchor within pistol-shot off the shore, receiving a salute of eleven guns from the citadel Zealandia, which was returned by all the ships of our small fleet. [18]

After being confined nearly the whole of sixty-three days within the limits of a small vessel, and upon an element to which few of the troops had been accustomed, it would not be easy to describe the pleasure we experienced on finding ourselves once more on land, and surrounded by a thousand agreeable circumstances.

The town appeared uncommonly neat and pleasing, the shipping extremely beautiful, the adjacent woods adorned with the most luxuriant verdure, the air perfumed with the utmost fragrance, and the whole scene gilded by the rays of an unclouded sun. We did not however take leave of our wooden habitation at this time, but the next day were formally disembarked with a general appearance of rejoicing; all the ships in the roads being in full dress, and the guns keeping up an incessant fire till the whole of the troops were landed.

All the inhabitants of Paramaribo were collected to behold this splendid scene, nor were the expectations they had formed disappointed. The corps consisted of nearly five hundred young men; (for we had been so fortunate as only to lose one during the voyage) the oldest of whom was scarcely more than thirty, and the whole party neatly cloathed in their new uniforms, and in caps ornamented with twigs of orange-blossom. We paraded on a large green plain between the town and the citadel, opposite to the Governor’s palace; during the course of which ceremonies several soldiers fainted from the excessive heat. The troops then marched into quarters prepared for their reception, whilst the officers were regaled with a dinner by the Governor, which would have derived a [19]considerable relish from its succeeding the salt provisions, to which we had so long been confined, had any contrast been necessary to heighten our opinion of its elegance. But the choicest delicacies of America and Europe were united in this repast, and served up in silver. A great variety of the richest wines were poured out with profusion; the desert was composed of the most delicious fruits, and the company were attended by a considerable number of extremely handsome negro and mulatto maids, all naked from the waist upwards, according to the custom of the country; but the other parts of their persons arrayed in the finest India chintzes, and the whole adorned with golden chains, medals, beads, bracelets, and sweet-smelling flowers.

After partaking of this superb entertainment till about seven o’clock, I set out in search of the house of Mr. Lolkens, the hospitable gentleman who had so obligingly invited me to make it my own. I soon discovered the place, but my reception was so ludicrous that I cannot forbear relating the particulars. On knocking at the door, it was opened by a young female negro, of a masculine appearance, whose whole dress consisted of a single petticoat, and who held a lighted tobacco-pipe in one hand, and a burning candle in the other, which she brought close to my face, in order to reconnoitre me. I enquired if her master was at home, to which she replied, but in a language totally unintelligible to me. I then mentioned his name, on which she burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, [20]displaying two rows of very beautiful teeth; and at the same time, laying hold of the breast-buttons of my coat, she made me a signal to follow her. I was much at a loss how to act, but went in, and was ushered by the girl into a very neat apartment, whither she brought some excellent fruit, and a bottle of Madeira wine, which she placed upon the table. She then, in the best manner she was able, informed me that her masera, with the rest of his family, was gone to spend a few days at his plantation, and that she was left behind to receive an English Captain, whom she supposed to be me. I signified that I was, and filled her out a tumbler of wine, which I had the utmost difficulty to persuade her to accept; for such is the degrading light in which these unhappy beings are considered, that it is accounted a high degree of presumption in them to eat or drink in the presence of an European. I contrived for some time to carry on something like a conversation with this woman, but was soon glad to put an end to it by recurring to my bottle.

Tired with the employments of the day, I longed for some rest, and made a signal to my attendant that I wanted to sleep: but my motion was strangely misconstrued; for she immediately seized me by the neck, and imprinted on my lips a most ardent kiss. Heartily provoked at this unexpected, and (from one of her colour) unwelcome salutation, I disentangled myself from her embraces, and angrily flung into the apartment allotted [21]for my place of rest. But here I was again pursued by my black tormentor, who, in opposition to all I could say, insisted upon pulling off my shoes and stockings, and in a moment disencumbered me of that part of my apparel. I was extremely chagrined at her conduct, though this is an office commonly performed by the slaves in Surinam to all ranks and sexes without exception. Nor ought any one to conceive that this apparently extraordinary conduct resulted from any peculiarity of disposition in the girl; her behaviour was only such as would have been practised by the generality of female negro slaves, and what will be found, by all who visit the West India settlements, to be characteristic of the whole dark sisterhood.

Finding in the morning that my friend the planter was not returned, I took leave of his mansion, and very hospitable servant; and after visiting the soldiers in their new abodes, was conducted by the quarter-master to a neat habitation appropriated to my use. I found the house entirely unfurnished, though not destitute of inhabitants; for, leaving my Captain’s commission, which was of parchment, in the window, the first night, I had the mortification to find in the morning that it was devoured by the rats.

Having taken possession of my habitation, my next wish was to furnish it properly; but all cares of this nature were rendered unnecessary by the generous hospitality of the inhabitants; the ladies supplied me with tables, chairs, [22]glasses, and even plate and china, in great abundance; and the gentlemen loaded me with presents of Madeira wine, porter, cyder, rum and sugar, besides a quantity of the most exquisite fruits. Amongst the latter I was particularly struck with the shaddock and awara; the former of these, which is of a very agreeable flavour, between a sweet and an acid, is produced from a tree supposed to be transplanted from the coast of Guinea4, by a Captain Shaddock, whose name it still retains throughout the English West India islands, but is called pompelmoose in Surinam. This fruit appears to be of the orange species, but is as large as the head of a child of eight or ten years old; the skin is extremely thick, of a bitterish taste, and a pale yellow or citron colour. There are two species of the shaddock, of which the pulp of the one is white, and that of the other a beautiful pale red, which may be safely eaten in considerable quantities: indeed it is esteemed by the natives, who are in general remarkably fond of it, as very salubrious.

The Fruit called Avoira. The Shaddock Apple.

The Fruit called Avoira.
The Shaddock Apple.

London Published Decr. 1st 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

The awara, or avoira, which is less remarkable for the excellence of its flavour than its beautiful appearance, grows upon a species of palm-tree, and is of an oval form, about the size of an Orlean plumb, and of a rich deep orange colour, nearly approaching to red. It is much esteemed by the negroes, who exercise their ingenuity [23]in forming rings out of the stones, which they decorate with cyphers, initial letters, and other devices, then dispose of them to the Europeans, who mount them in gold. These stones are large, extremely hard, and as black as jet or ebony, but the pulp which surrounds them is very thin.

This day, on examining into the state of our remaining live stock, such as hogs, sheep, ducks, geese, fowls, and turkies, we found them nearly as many in number as when we first sailed from Holland: these were all sent to the colonel’s poultry-yard at the head-quarters, while we had the additional mortification of seeing above sixty large kegs with preserved vegetables, &c. and just as many fine Westphalia hams (being perfectly rotten) thrown into the river Surinam to feed the sharks.

I now observed, on the second morning after our landing, that my face, my breast, and hands were entirely spotted over like the skin of a leopard, occasioned by myriads of gnats or musquitoes, which flying in clouds, had kept me company during the night, though the fatigue from my voyage, and the oppressive heat of the climate, had sunk me into so profound a sleep, that I was insensible of their stings, till I perceived the effects. These insects are inconceivably numerous here during the rainy season, and particularly on the banks of creeks or rivers. None are secured from their attacks, but they peculiarly infest strangers in preference to the natives; and wherever they insert their proboscis, and remain [24]unmolested, they suck the blood till they are scarcely able to fly. Every puncture they make is succeeded by a large blotch, or rather tumour, accompanied with an itching, which is almost intolerable. The presence of the musquitoes is indicated by their buzzing noise, which alone is sufficient to make one sweat, and which is so very disagreeable to those who have suffered from their stings, as to have obtained for them the name of the Devil’s Trumpeters. They are indeed inconceivably troublesome in every respect. The candles are no sooner lighted in an evening, than they are stuck full of them; all kinds of food and drink are exposed to their disagreeable visits, from which even the mouth and eyes are not exempted.

The best cure for their stings is an application of the juice of lemons or limes, mixed with water, which is also a tolerable preservative against their attacks. Immediately before shutting the windows, the inhabitants commonly burn tobacco in their apartments, the smoke of which occasions the insects to fly about the room, when the negro girls unreservedly throw off their petticoats, which is the whole of their covering, and running naked about the chamber, chase the gnats therewith out at the windows, or destroy them. The more delicate or luxurious amongst the natives still employ their slaves in fanning them during the whole night, excepting such as have green gauze doors to their beds or pavilions; but the generality of the people in Surinam sleep in roomy [25]cotton hammocks, which are covered with a very large thin sheet, suspended from a tight line immediately over them, something like the awning of a ship, which serves in some measure to keep off these troublesome insects, and the want of which had exposed me to be thus stung all over.

There are also in Surinam a still larger species of gnats or musquitoes, called mawkers, the stings of which are extremely painful indeed; but as they are much less numerous than the former, they are not nearly so troublesome to the inhabitants, and are consequently less remarked.——But to proceed:

On the morning of the 22d, an elderly negro-woman, with a black girl about fourteen, entering my apartment, it would be difficult to express my astonishment when she gravely presented me her daughter, to become what she was pleased to term my wife. I had so little gallantry, however, as to reject the offer with a loud laugh; but at the same time accompanied the refusal with a small but welcome present, with which they appeared perfectly satisfied, and departed with every possible demonstration of gratitude and respect. The girls here, who voluntarily enter into these connections, are sometimes mulattoes, sometimes Indians, and often negroes. They all exult in the circumstance of living with an European, whom in general they serve with the utmost tenderness and fidelity, and tacitly reprove those numerous fair-ones who break through ties more sacred [26]and solemn. Young women of this description cannot indeed be married, or connected in any other way, as most of them are born or trained up in a state of slavery; and so little is the practice condemned, that while they continue faithful and constant to the partner by whom they are chosen, they are countenanced and encouraged by their nearest relations and friends, who call this a lawful marriage, nay, even the clergy avail themselves of this custom without restraint; witness the Rev. Mr. S—dh—s, Mr. T—ll—t, &c. Many of the sable-coloured beauties will however follow their own penchant without any restraint whatever, refusing with contempt the golden bribes of some, while on others they bestow their favours for a dram or a broken tobacco-pipe, if not for nothing.

The hospitality I had experienced on our first arrival in the colony was not confined to that time only: I had a general invitation to visit, besides his excellency the governor, and Colonel Texier, the commandant, in more than twenty respectable families, whenever it suited my convenience; so that, though the officers of our corps had formed a regimental mess, I had seldom the honour of their company. One gentleman, a Mr. Kennedy, in particular, carried his politeness so far, as not only to offer me the use of his carriage, saddle-horses, and table, but even to present me with a fine negro boy, named Quaco, to carry my umbrella as long as I remained in Surinam. The other gentlemen of the regiment also [27]met with great civilities, and the whole colony seemed anxious to testify their respect, by vying with each other in a constant round of festivity. Balls, concerts card-assemblies, and every species of amusement in their power, were constantly contrived for our entertainment. The spirit of conviviality next reached on board the men-of-war, where we entertained the ladies with cold suppers and dancing upon the quarter-deck, under an awning, till six in the morning, generally concluding the frolic by a cavalcade, or an airing in their carriages. This constant routine of dissipation, which was rendered still more pernicious by the enervating effects of an intensely hot climate, where one is in a perpetual state of perspiration, already threatened to become fatal to two or three of our officers. Warned by their example, I retired from all public companies, sensible that by such means I could alone preserve my health, in a country which has such a tendency to debilitate the human frame, that an European, however cautious to avoid excesses, has always reason to apprehend its dreadful effects.

Dissipation and luxury appear to be congenial to the inhabitants of this climate, and great numbers must annually fall victims to their very destructive influence. Their fatal consequences are indeed too visible in the men, who have indulged themselves in intemperance and other sensual gratifications, and who appear withered and enervated in the extreme; nor do the generality of [28]the Creole females exhibit a more alluring appearance; they are languid, their complexions are sallow, and the skin even of the young ladies is frequently shrivelled. This is however not the case with all; and I have been acquainted with some who, preserving a glow of health and freshness in their lovely countenance, were entitled to contend for the prize of beauty with the fairest European. But, alas! the numbers of this last description are so small, that the colonists in their amours most usually prefer the Indian negro and mulatto girls, particularly on account of their remarkable cleanliness, health, and vivacity. For the excesses of the husbands in this respect, and the marked neglect which they meet from them, the Creole ladies most commonly, at a very early period, appear in mourning weeds, with the agreeable privilege however of making another choice, in the hopes of a better partner; nor are they long without another mate. Such indeed is the superior longevity of the fair females of Surinam, compared to that of the males (owing chiefly, as I said, to their excesses of all sorts) that I have frequently known wives who have buried four husbands, but never met a man in this country who had survived two wives.

The ladies do not, however, always bear with the most becoming patience the slights and insults they thus meet with, in the expectation of a sudden release, but mostly persecute their successful sable rivals (even on suspicion) with implacable hatred and the most unrelenting [29]barbarity; while they chastise their partners not only with a shew of ineffable contempt, but with giving in public the most unequivocal marks of preference towards those gentlemen who newly arrive from Europe; which occasioned the trite proverb and observation in the colony, that the Tropical ladies and the musquitoes have an instinctive preference for a newly-landed European: this partiality is indeed so very extreme, and the proofs of it so very apparent and nauseous, that some command of temper is necessary to prevent the disgust which such behaviour must naturally excite, particularly where the object is not very inviting; nay, it was even publicly reported at Paramaribo, that two of these Tropical Amazons had fought a duel for the sake of one of our officers.

I must now mention a word or two of the Governor and Colonel Fourgeoud; when I will endeavour to put an end to this long chapter: for, notwithstanding the polite reception our whole corps had met with ever since we first landed in the colony, it was evident to perceive that mutual coolness which subsisted between him and our commander in chief, who indeed gave the first public cause of animosity, on the very day of our debarkation, by drawing up his regiment with their backs toward the governor’s palace.

It is easy to conceive that the disgust which so early and so reciprocally manifested itself between the above two gentlemen, who were both of them our commanders, [30]but totally independent of each other, could not but make our stay at Paramaribo extremely disagreeable to all the officers in our regiment, as well as those of the Society corps: the consequence of which was, that having resided but a few weeks in the colony, it was thought proper by the governor to acquaint Colonel Fourgeoud, that, “as the rebel negroes seemed no further disposed to disturb the tranquillity of the settlement, its own troops, and the corps of black rangers, were deemed sufficient for its defence; in consequence of which, Colonel Fourgeoud, with his marines, no longer being wanted, was at liberty to return to Europe whenever he thought proper.”

Various were the feelings of pleasure and reluctance with which our gentlemen received this news: preparations were, however, made for our departure; but in a few days these were again suspended by the inhabitants, who clamorously insisted on our staying; when the wooding and watering the vessels was provisionally stopped, but the ships still kept in commission on speculation. It was during this interval of leisure and uncertainty that I seriously thought of employing myself in writing a short history of the colony, and of drawing such objects as I thought most suitable to compleat my little plan. In these designs, besides consulting the best authors on the subject, I had the honour to be materially assisted by his excellency the governor, who not only favoured me with several manuscripts, but daily furnished me with such a [*29]succession of animals, shrubs, &c. as I was desirous of being acquainted with:—thus, independant of that coolness which was so evident between these two veteran officers, I made it my earnest study and endeavour, if possible, to keep friends with both parties; and, independant of that duty which I owed Colonel Fourgeoud, as my commander in chief, to treat the governor of the colony with that respect which I thought was due to his dignity, his rank, and his conduct; and in which motive (though not by all) I was steadily supported by the most respectable officers in the corps.

I will now endeavour to fulfil the task I have undertaken; and commence with a general description of this WONDERFUL COUNTRY. [30*]

1 Each officer was permitted to re-enter his former regiment, if he survived the expedition, and returned to Europe, a vacancy being there preserved for him during his absence. 

2 The Stormy Petrel of Pennant. 

3 I have never seen this necessity properly accounted for: probably the mucus which covers the fins or wings may become so consolidated by the heat of the sun, and the action of the air, that it may impede their motion; or it may be that the fish itself cannot endure to be long out of its proper element: either of these suppositions will account for its dropping so often as it were involuntarily on board ships, and into the mouth of its enemies, the dolphin, dorado, &c. 


——Exotic of Cerean dye,

Sweet acid offspring of an injur’d sky;

O Shaddock! like thy country, captive led,

And doom’d to grace the board her children spread.



General Description of Guiana—of the Colony of Surinam in particular—Accounts of its earliest Discovery—is possessed by the English—by the Dutch—Murder of the Governor, Lord Somelsdyk—The Settlement taken by the French, and ransomed.

The discovery of Guiana, by some called “the Wild Coast,” has been long (though with uncertainty) attributed to the Spanish commander Vasco Nunes, who, in the year 1504, after discovering Cuba to be an island, landed on the continent of South America, penetrated as far as between the rivers Oroonoko and Amazon, and comprehended that country in the extensive tract of land, to which, in contradiction to Cuba and the adjacent islands, he gave the name of Terra Firma.

This country, the length of which is about 1220, and the breadth about 680 geographical miles, is situated between eight degrees twenty minutes north, and three degrees south latitude, and between fifty and seventy degrees twenty minutes west longitude from the meridian of London, in the N. E. part of South America. Its boundaries are marked by the rivers Viapary or Oroonoko on the N. W. and by the Maranon or river Amazon on the S. E.—The N. E. is washed by the Atlantic Ocean; and the river Negris, or Black river, terminates its extent on the S. W. which form it into a kind of island, and separate it from New Grenada, Peru, and the Brazils.

A Map of Surinam

A Map

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

Though situated, like Guinea, under the Torrid Zone, [31]the heats in Guiana are much more supportable than those on that part of the African coast. The scorching rays of the sun are in Guiana daily tempered by cooling breezes from the sea; while in Guinea the intense heat is increased by the wind blowing continually over the land, and in its passage traversing numerous sandy desarts. The easterly or trade winds, which generally blow between the Tropics, are extremely refreshing to the coast of Guiana, between the hours of eight or ten in the morning, and six o’clock in the evening, when they cease to operate, and a zephyr is scarcely ever heard to whisper during the night. These winds are succeeded by thick fogs, and vapours exhaled from the earth, which render the nights in this country not only very chilly, but extremely damp and unhealthy. The length of the days and nights in Guiana never varies much more than forty minutes during the course of the year, as the sun always rises about six in the morning, and sets at the same hour in the evening.

The rainy and dry seasons which divide the year, as cold and warm weather divide it in Europe, may be termed the winter and summer of this country. There is however one remarkable difference between the European seasons and those in Guiana, which is, that Guiana has annually two winters and two summers, which are distinguished from each other by the appellation of the greater and the smaller, not because the rains are less violent in the two latter seasons, or the heat less intense, but from an opinion which has prevailed, that their period of duration is but about half as long as that of the [32]former. This distinction however appears to be more imaginary than real, as far as respects the rainy seasons; for as these downfalls of water only take place when the sun is vertical, which it is near the line twice a year, and for an equal portion of time, the continuance of the rains will probably be equal in both seasons.

The difference between the dry seasons indeed may be accounted for from the greater commencing in Surinam at the time when the sun is about to cross the equator in its course to the tropic of Capricorn, often in October, when a continual drought and scorching heat begin to take place, till its return in March. This is succeeded by violent uninterrupted rains till June, during which time the sun has travelled to the tropic of Cancer, and a short season of parching heat again takes place, till about July, which is once more followed by incessant rains till October, and thus the revolution of the different seasons is completed1.

The continuance of the rains during the time when the sun is vertical in this climate, is necessary to the existence of animal and vegetable life, which without these seasonable refreshments must languish and expire under the fervid influence of its rays. But though I have mentioned stated periods for the variations of the [33]seasons in Guiana, yet it is necessary to remark that these changes are not uniformly produced at the same time, but, like the European seasons, occasionally vary. The changes are always accompanied by tremendous claps of thunder, and very vivid flashes of lightning, which continue during several weeks, and are frequently fatal both to the cattle and inhabitants of this country.

Some parts of Guiana present a barren and mountainous aspect, but in general the soil is abundantly fruitful, the earth during the whole of the year adorned with continual verdure, the trees loaded at the same time with blossoms and ripe fruit, and the whole presenting to the view the delightful union of spring and summer. This general appearance of fertility, particularly in Surinam, may be ascribed not only to the rains and warmth in this climate, but also to its low and marshy situation, which prevents the intense heats from destroying vegetation, and from the extreme richness of the soil, particularly in those parts which are cultivated by European industry. It must indeed be confessed, that such situations are far from being favourable to health; but the spirit of gain is a very powerful principle, and the certainty of present profit will generally be considered as a weighty counterpoise to those evils which, if ever encountered, appear at a considerable distance; and as they are sometimes escaped, may be always esteemed as uncertain.

The uncultivated parts of Guiana are covered with [34]immense forests, rocks, and mountains; some of the latter enriched with a great variety of mineral substances; and the whole country is intersected by very deep marshes or swamps, and by extensive heaths or savannas. The stream along the coast flows continually towards the north-west; and the whole shore is rendered almost inaccessible from its being covered with dangerous banks, quicksands, bogs, and rocks, with prodigious bushes, and a large quantity of brushwood, which are so closely interwoven as to be impenetrable.

The Spanish, Portugueze, and Dutch, are the only nations which possess settlements in this part of Terra Firma, excepting the small colony of Cayenne, belonging to the French, which is situated between the river Marawina and Cape Orange. The dominions in Guiana, subject to Spain, are situated on the banks of the Oronoque, and those of Portugal extend along the shores of the river Amazon. The Dutch settlements, which spread along the coasts of the Atlantic ocean, and reach from Cape Nassau to the river Marawina, are Essequibo, Demerary, Berbice, and Surinam2; the last of which is the most extensive and valuable, and that portion of the Dutch possessions to which the succeeding account will be chiefly confined. This industrious nation endeavoured, in the year 1657, to establish a small colony on the banks of the river Poumeron, but in 1666 this settlement [35]was demolished by the English. Nor were they more successful in one which they founded in 1677, on the river Wiapoko or Oyapocko, which was immediately invaded and destroyed by the French.

The Dutch consider the beautiful and once flourishing colony of Surinam as extending over the whole of that territory which is encircled on the west by the river Kanre or Cange, about forty miles from the Corantine, and on the east by the river Sinamaree. But these limits are disputed by the French, who confine the boundary of Surinam to the banks of the Marawina, upon which they station a military force.

The principal rivers that belong to this settlement are the river Surinam, from which the colony takes its name, the Corantine, the Copename, the Seramica, and the Marawina. Of those rivers the first only is navigable, the rest, not excepting the Marawina, being, though very long and broad, so shallow, and so extremely crouded with rocks and small islands, that they are of little consequence to Europeans, nor are their banks inhabited except by some of the Indians or natives of the country. The river Surinam, whose mouth is situated in about six degrees north latitude, is, at its entrance, nearly the breadth of four English miles, and in depth from sixteen to eighteen feet at low-water mark, the tide rising and falling above twelve feet; this breadth and depth is continued from its mouth upwards to the distance of eight or ten miles, when it divides itself into [36]two branches, winding to the S. S. E. for the length of upwards of 120 miles. All this extent is navigable for small craft, but beyond this distance the river proceeds directly south; sometimes in its course surrounding small islands, and sometimes forming small cataracts. The source of this beautiful river has never yet been discovered by Europeans. All large vessels, after entering the Surinam, ought to keep rather near the east shore; the opposite side being very full of shoals, as far as the town of Paramaribo, which is about eighteen miles from its mouth. The other branch, into which this large river is divided, is named Comawina, and keeps due east for about sixteen miles, with a depth of about three or four fathom at high-water mark; but as the tide makes a difference of twelve feet, it is not considered as navigable for any ships of burthen, though its breadth may be computed at about two miles. At the distance of sixteen miles, the river Comawina is again divided into two branches, one of which bears the same name to the S. E. for a length of above fifty miles, and that of Cottica to the E. S. E. for more than forty miles, when this last takes a meandring course to the S. S. W. for the distance of twenty-four or thirty miles. Into all these rivers, the courses of which are not straight but serpentine, are discharged a number of very large creeks or rivulets, the banks of which are inhabited by Europeans, and cultivated with sugar, cocoa, cotton, and indigo plantations, which form the most delightful prospects that [37]can be imagined to those who travel by water, the universal mode of journeying in this country, as the soil is in general ill adapted for the construction of roads; and in some places the woods, &c. are absolutely impenetrable, a small path of communication between Paramaribo and the river Seramica being the only passable road that I know of in the settlement. The rivers whose banks are uncultivated, such as the Corantine, Copename, Seramica, and Marawina, afford but little matter for description: it is therefore only necessary to remark, that they are generally from two to four miles in breadth, exceedingly shallow, and crowded with quicksands, small islands, and rocks, which form a number of beautiful cascades. In the river Marawina is frequently found a curious stone or pebble, which is known by the name of the Marawina diamond, and which being polished, bears a very near resemblance to that most valuable gem, and is consequently often set in rings, &c. &c. In all the above rivers, without exception, the water rises and falls for more than sixty miles from the mouth, occasioned by the stoppage of the freshes by the tide; yet fresh water may generally be met with about twenty-four or thirty miles from the mouths of these rivers for watering the ships. The water of the river Surinam is accounted the most excellent, and is brought by the sailors from as far as the Jew Savannah, which is above forty miles from the town of Paramaribo. The circumstance [38]most injurious to ships in these rivers is, that their bottoms are often affected by a kind of water-worm, the ravages of which are the most effectually prevented by frequently careening the vessels, in order that they may be properly cleaned, scraped, caulked, and payed. For that purpose the coal-tar, invented by the Earl of Dundonald, (for which a patent of twelve years was granted to him) is greatly preferable to any other material which can be applied for this use.

It is high or low water nearly every six hours and half; the spring tides rise regularly twice a month, when the river swells to a considerable degree, which, from various circumstances, is often of infinite benefit to the planters.

It may be perhaps expected, in this place, that I should add a few words concerning the defence of the above rivers, though that is a subject which I purpose to treat more at large on another occasion. On the east side of the mouth of the river Surinam is a small promontory, called Braam’s Point, which I think originally had been named Pram’s, or Parham’s Point, after Francis Lord Willoughby of Parham, to whom this settlement was granted by King Charles the Second in 1662, and which spot is supposed to be the first on which Lord Willoughby landed in 1652, ten years before he obtained the charter from his sovereign. This point is not fortified; but about eight miles upwards are two [39]redoubts, one on each side of the river, called Leyden and Purmerent, and a little higher up is the new fortress called Amsterdam, built on the point of land which separates the two rivers, Surinam and Comewina, from each other; and whose fire, crossing with that of the two redoubts, protects the entry of both these rivers.

Near the town of Paramaribo, and about six or seven miles from the fortress Amsterdam, is the citadel which bears the name of Fort Zealandia, protecting the town and all the shipping in the roads; and about sixteen miles from Fort Amsterdam, on Rio Comewina, is a fortress called Somelsdyk, which commands the two opposite shores, viz. those of Rio Comewina and Rio Cottica. Besides these, there are military posts on the Corantine, the Seramica, and Marawina. Next to these is a strong guard at the mouth of the Mott Creek, about thirty miles below the river Surinam, where a fire-beacon or light-house is erected on the coast, to warn the ships bound for the river that they are past the mouth of the dangerous Marawina. This guard also fires a few guns, to apprize the colony when ships are within view and steering for the coast. Along the higher parts of the rivers Surinam, Comewina, and Cottica, advanced guards are also continually kept, to protect the inhabitants from inland invasions by the Indians or fugitive negroes. In these fortifications consists the principal defence of this settlement; besides a small armed bark or guarda-costa, which [40]cruises between the river Marawina and Berbice, to give intelligence in case of any threatening danger to the colony.

I had almost forgotten to mention, that a path fortified with military posts had been projected, and was actually begun, from the upper parts of the river Comawina to the river Seramica; but the plan did not succeed, and the line, which is called the orange-path, is at present in the state of a wilderness.

Having thus described the surface of the country in general, with its boundaries, rivers, &c. I shall proceed to an account of the earliest discoveries and most remarkable revolutions of this once flourishing colony, which escaped being visited by the gallant Admiral Rodney in the last war.—That part of Terra Firma, which is called Guiana, or the Wild Coast, and in which lies the colony of Surinam, is said by some to have been first found out by the justly celebrated Christopher Columbus, in the year 1498, whence he was sent home in chains; though others contend that it was not discovered till the year 1504, by Vasco Nunes, a Spaniard, as was stated in the beginning of this Chapter.

In 1595 it was visited by Sir Walter Raleigh, under Queen Elizabeth, who also sailed up the river Oronoque above 600 miles, in search of the supposed El Dorado, and in hopes of discovering the gold-mines, of which he had the most lively expectations, from samples of a [41]marcasite, which the Spaniards call Madre de Oro3. In 1634, a Captain Marshall, with about sixty English, were discovered in Surinam employed in planting tobacco, according to the relation of David Piterse de Vries, a Dutchman, who conversed with them upon the spot. In 1640, Surinam was inhabited by the French, who were obliged to leave it soon after, on account of the frequent invasions which they justly suffered from the Caribbean Indians, for having, like their neighbours the Spaniards, treated them with the most barbarous cruelties. In the year 1650, this colony being vacant, Francis Lord Willoughby of Parham, by King Charles the Second’s permission, sent thither one vessel, equipped by himself, to take possession of it in the name of his royal master; a little after which he dispatched three vessels more, one of them carrying twenty guns. All these were well received by the Indians or inhabitants of the country, with whom they entered into friendly treaties, and a kind of negociation. Two years after this Lord Willoughby went over himself, and leaving several good and wholesome laws and regulations for the government and defence of the colony, returned to England, whence he continued to supply the settlement at his own expence with men and ammunition. On the second day of June, [42]1662, the colony of Surinam was granted by charter of Charles the Second to Francis Lord Willoughby, and at that lord’s desire to be divided with Lawrence Hide, second son of Edward Earl of Clarendon, for them and their descendants for ever: the original record of this charter is to be found in the chapel of the Rolls. In 1664, the English captured the New Netherlands, since called New-York, from the Dutch.

In the year 1665, Surinam was successfully cultivated, mostly by planting tobacco. They had also raised above forty fine sugar plantations, and erected a strong fortress of hewn stone for their defence. It is proper however to remark, that some suppose these improvements were effected by the Portuguese, though at what period is uncertain; while the French strenuously dispute the point, and insist that they were the work of Monsieur Ponsert de Bretigny, when France had possession of that country. However this may be, the fortress is situated about sixteen or eighteen miles from the mouth of the river Surinam, and these industrious settlers found themselves perfectly happy in a small town which they had built under the walls. Their felicity was not of long duration; for in the wars between Charles the Second and the United Provinces, the Dutch having been driven in 1661 from the Brazils by the Portuguese, took the colony of Surinam from the English in 1667, under the command of a Captain Abraham Criuvon, who was dispatched [43]for that purpose by the province of Zealand, with three ships of war and 300 marines. The English commander, William Biam, lost the settlement of Surinam by surprize, when above 600 of the best men in the colony were at work on the sugar plantations. This neglect appears from the trifling loss of the Dutch, who in storming the citadel had but one man killed. They immediately planted the Prince of Orange’s flag on the ramparts, and gave now to this fortress the name of Zealandia, and that of New Middleburge to the town of Paramaribo, after making the inhabitants, amongst other contributions, pay one hundred thousand pounds weight of sugar, and sending a number of them to the island of Tobago. This event took place in February, and in July following the peace was concluded at Breda. But, most unluckily for the new possessors of Surinam, it was concluded unknown to the English commodore, Sir John Harman, who in October that same year, having first taken Cayenne from the French, entered the river with a strong fleet of seven ships of war, two bomb-ketches, &c. and retook the colony from the Dutch, killing on this occasion above fifty of their men, and destroying nine pieces of cannon in Fort Zealandia. The new inhabitants were now in their turn laid under contribution, and the Dutch garrison were transported as prisoners to the island of Barbadoes.

At the discovery, in Surinam, that the peace had been concluded in Europe between the contending powers, [44]before Commodore Harman retook the colony from the Dutch, considerable tumult and disorder took place among the inhabitants, who knew not whom they ought to acknowledge as their lawful sovereign. At length, by an order of King Charles, the settlement was ceded to the Dutch, in 1669, when twelve hundred of the old inhabitants, English and negroes together, left it, and went to settle on the island of Jamaica. At the close of the succeeding war, it was agreed by the treaty of Westminster that Surinam should be the property of the Dutch for ever, in exchange for the province of New-York, which accordingly took place in the year 1674; and after this period the colony of Surinam was never more in the possession of Great Britain. In 1678, a Mr. Heynsius was governor of the colony, and a Captain. Lightenburgh commander of the troops.

The Dutch for the first few years enjoyed little satisfaction in their new possessions, as they were daily harrassed by the invasions of the Carribbean Indians, to whom they were much more obnoxious than the English had been: indeed they carried their resentment so far as to murder several of the Dutch settlers. In addition to this, the province of Zealand, to which the colony properly belonged, being perpetually at variance with the other United Provinces concerning the sovereignty of this settlement, and not being of themselves able to support the great expence which was requisite for its preservation and defence, at last resolved to sell the whole to the Dutch West India [45]Company; which they did in the year 1682, for the sum of £.23,636 sterling, including all the warlike stores, ammunition, &c. amongst which were fifty pieces of cannon. At the same time they obtained a charter from their high mightinesses the States General, exempting them from duty for ten years. A few months after this, however, the West India Company, notwithstanding the above charter of indemnification, finding the other necessary expences of the settlement also too great for them, again transferred two-thirds of the colony of Surinam, the one to the town of Amsterdam, the other to the house of Somelsdyk, at the same price for which they had bought it, and these three together formed a society, to whom (still under the sanction of their high mightinesses) was some time afterwards intrusted, by a resolution of the States General, the sole and entire direction of the affairs of this country.

Such was the situation of Surinam, and in this manner all matters were finally settled, when Cornelius Van Aarsen, lord of Somelsdyk (as being one of the proprietors) went over with three hundred men, with whom he also took some felons sentenced for transportation. At his arrival, in 1684, he took the command as governor general of the colony. He then created a court of policy, to assist in the administration of justice; with the members of which, as well as with the inhabitants, he lived in a state of continual dissension. The consequence was, that they sent several complaints against him to Europe, notwithstanding [46]he had made a favourable peace with the Caribbee, Warowa, and Arawakka Indians, as well as with a few run-away negroes, who had been settled at Rio Copename since the English left the colony.

This unfortunate gentleman’s reign, however, lasted but a short space, viz. till the year 1688, when on the same day both the governor and deputy governor, Mr. Verboom, were murdered by their own soldiers, owing, as was alledged, to their having not only forced the men to work like negroes in digging canals, &c. but also obliged them to subsist on very bad and short allowance, which drove them to this act of desperation4.—I am sorry to say this treatment is too frequently the case in the settlements, as I shall afterwards have occasion to prove. Such indeed was the confidence of these assassins, that they offered to give in their defence, and assign their reasons for committing this act of cruelty.

As the particulars of the assassination are not uninteresting, I shall beg leave to trespass upon the reader’s patience by a brief recital of the transaction.

The governor was walking under a grove of orange-trees, near his own house, with Mr. Verboom, when unexpectedly ten or twelve armed soldiers (seemingly drunk) accosted them, and immediately insisted on less work and better subsistence. The governor drawing his [47]sword to force them back, was instantaneously shot through the body in many places, and died upon the spot; his companion, on the other hand, received but one wound, and did not expire till the ninth day after. This done, the rioters, accompanied by several accomplices, marched in triumph to Fort Zealandia, which they took without resistance, and made themselves masters of the gunpowder and victualling magazines. After this, the garrison having joined them, they formed a ring, and chose out from among them a commander in chief, and several other officers to whom they all swore to be faithful, as also to each other, to the last drop of their blood. What is very remarkable, is, that their new chief, the very same afternoon, ordered the body of the massacred governor, Somelsdyk, to be interred in Fort Zealandia with decency and military honours; and even the great guns were fired from the walls, and three rounds with small arms by the rebels.

The magistrates and other inhabitants of Surinam now beheld themselves in a most unpleasant situation, and were obliged even to enter into a capitulation with the insurgents in the fort, the principal articles of which were, that the latter should evacuate Fort Zealandia, for which they were to receive a few hundred pounds; that they were then to be permitted to embark on board the transport ship Salamander, to quit the colony without molestation, and to set sail for what part of the world they should prefer: they accordingly, to the amount of above one [48]hundred, were sent on board; but no sooner did they prepare to weigh anchor for their departure, than the ship was boarded by several small vessels, privately armed and manned for the purpose. The rebels were compelled to surrender at discretion, and a few days after were tried for murder and rebellion; when eleven of the ringleaders were executed, three of them were broke alive upon the rack, and eight were hanged on the gallows in irons. The rest obtained their pardon; but being no longer to be depended on, were gradually discharged from the colonial service, when others could be procured to replace them.

In the following year the widow of Somelsdyk offered to transfer her portion in this settlement to King William the Third, but to no purpose; while a Mr. Scherpenhuysen was sent over to Surinam from Holland, with a fresh supply of men and ammunition, to take the command in the room of the late Lord of Somelsdyk, as governor of the colony. Mr. Scherpenhayzoen, at his arrival, finding every thing in the utmost confusion, in order to apply the speediest means of redress, established a court of justice, which differed from that formed by his predecessor, Governor Somelsdyk, in this particular, that the former is invested with the management of all military and criminal affairs, and the latter with that of all civil processes and pecuniary matters. Both of these courts still remain, and of both the governor is always president.

This gentleman was also very diligent in establishing [49]many good laws and institutions; and had just begun to put the colony in a proper state of defence (of which at this time it stood greatly in need) against its domestic and foreign enemies, when war was declared between France and the United Provinces; and the same year the settlement of Surinam was attacked by Admiral Ducasse with a strong fleet, which, however, Governor Scherpenhayzon very courageously beat off, after they had begun to cannonade Fort Zealandia.

In 1692 Jeronimus Clifford, an Englishman, was condemned to be hanged (which sentence was changed to seven years imprisonment in the fortress Somelsdyk) on pretence of having insulted a magistrate who had arrested him for debt. On application, however, from the court of Great Britain, he was set at liberty in 1695, by desire of the King, when he made a demand on the colony of 20,000 guineas, for damages and false imprisonment; which being refused, his heirs have continued to claim it since 1700 to so late as 1762, but hitherto without obtaining any satisfaction.

During the succeeding war which happened in 1712, the French Commodore Jaques Cassard, met with the same reception from Governor De Gooyer, which Ducasse had experienced from Scherpenhayzon before Zealandia; but four months after he returned with better success, and laid the colony under contribution for a sum of about 56,618l. sterling. It was on the 10th of October that he [50]entered the river of Surinam, with six or eight ships of war, accompanied by a number of small vessels, in which fleet were embarked 3000 men. The largest ships were Le Neptune of 74, on board which he himself commanded

Le Temeraire of 60 guns
Le Rubis - 56
La Vestale - 48
La Parfaite - 48
La Meduse - 36

The 11th Cassard sent a long-boat with a white flag, and an officer to treat with the inhabitants for contributions, which, if they refused to pay, he threatened to bombard the town of Paramaribo5. The boat, however, was obliged to return on board without any satisfactory answer. The river Surinam, just before Fort Zealandia, being above a mile in breadth, the Meduse and several flat-bottomed vessels with French troops, being favoured by a very dark night, found means to sail up beyond Paramaribo without being observed by the Dutch, with an intention to plunder the sugar and coffee plantations [51]that are situated above that town: but on the 15th, the besieged prepared two large flat-bottomed barges filled with combustible matters, such as old junk, tar-barrels, &c. and anchored them on the other side of the river, directly opposite to the town, to which fire being applied, both were set in a blaze, and discovered the smallest boats of the enemy as they tried to get up the river through the darkness of the night. Thus discovered, few escaped without damage from the guns of the fort, and those of the trading vessels that lay in the roads, who sunk some of the flat-bottomed boats, a great part of the crews of which were drowned. This stratagem, however, did not prevent Cassard’s people, who had hasted forward, from pillaging and setting on fire the plantations; while he himself, having at last anchored before the town of Paramaribo, threw above thirty shells into it, and kept up a close cannonade both upon that and Fort Zealandia, till the 20th of October, when he sent a second message with one of his captains to the Dutch, demanding of them finally, whether they would capitulate and pay contribution, which, if they now dared to refuse, he threatened fire and destruction to the whole settlement.

The Dutch finding their ruin inevitable if they persisted, demanded three days cessation of hostilities to deliberate, which being granted, they at last complied with commodore Cassard’s demands; and accordingly on the 27th, a treaty of twenty-four articles being settled between [52]them, they paid the demanded contribution of 56,618l. sterling to the French, principally in sugar, negro slaves, &c. having but little gold or silver in the colony. This was no sooner accomplished, than the commodore weighed anchor, on the 6th of December, 1712, and with his whole fleet left the settlement of Surinam. [53]

1 I cannot but notice in this place a strange error, into which Mr. Guthrie has inadvertently fallen, in dating the commencement of the dry season at the north tropic, from the time when the sun is vertical at the tropic of Capricorn; and describing it as continuing till the sun is again vertical at Cancer, or from the beginning of January to the latter end of May. 

2 See the Map prefixed to this work. 

3 Of this extraordinary enterprize the curious reader may see a full account, written by Sir Walter Raleigh himself, as it was published by Dr. Birch, in 1751, among the rest of Raleigh’s works, printed for Dodsley, in two vols. octavo. 

4 Somelsdyk had the character of a tyrant; he was, under the cloak of religion, despotic, passionate, brutal, and cruel; he even ordered an Indian chief’s head to be struck off for some domestic misdemeanour, for which he could not produce, especially in those days, the smallest shadow of authority. 

5 In the year 1667, Captain Abraham Cruisen gave the town the name of new Middleburg; but it was before and after called nothing but Paramaribo, which is said to be the true Indian name, and should signify The Spot of Flowers. This is the general account. But in my opinion not only Parham’s Point, but the Para Creek, and the town of Paramaribo, nay, even the great water called the Golden Parima, on Parham Lake, took their names from Francis Lord Willoughby of Parham; who, as I have mentioned, received this settlement from Charles the Second, and was one of the first possessors of this beautiful country. Surinam is also called a province by the Dutch, but mostly known by the name of colony, settlement, &c. 



First Revolt of the Negroes; Causes thereof—Distracted State of the Colony—Forced Peace concluded with the Rebels—Mutiny of Sailors, Soldiers, &c.

No sooner was this unfortunate colony delivered from its external and avowed enemies, than it was attacked by internal foes of a more fierce and desperate nature.

The Carribbean and other Indians had, indeed, in former times, often disturbed this settlement; but, as I have already mentioned, a peace being established with them, after the arrival of Governor Somelsdyk in this colony, they have inviolably adhered to it ever since, living in the greatest harmony and friendship with the Europeans.

The revolted negro slaves are the enemies of whom I now propose to speak, who for some time diffused a general terror over this settlement, and threatened its total loss to the states of Holland.

From the earliest remembrance some fugitive negroes have taken refuge in the woods of Surinam; but these were of very small consideration till about the year 1726, or 1728, when their hostile numbers were much increased, and they had acquired lances and firelocks, which they had pillaged from the estates. By the accession of these [54]arms, in addition to their usual weapons, bows and arrows, they were enabled to commit continual outrages and depredations upon the coffee and sugar plantations, as well from a spirit of revenge for the inhuman treatment which they had formerly received from their masters, as with a view of carrying away plunder, and principally gunpowder and ball, hatchets, &c. in order to provide for their future subsistence and defence.

These negroes were in general settled in the upper parts of the river Copename and Seramica, from the latter of which they take the name of the Seramica rebels, in distinction from the other gangs which have since revolted.

Several detachments of military and plantation people were sent against them, but were of very small effect in reducing them to obedience by promises, or extirpating them by force of arms.

In 1730, a most shocking and barbarous execution of eleven of the unhappy negro captives was resolved upon, in the expectation that it might terrify their companions, and induce them to submit. One man was hanged alive upon a gibbet, by an iron hook stuck through his ribs; two others were chained to stakes, and burnt to death by a slow fire. Six women were broken alive upon the rack, and two girls were decapitated. Such was their resolution under these tortures, that they endured them without even uttering a sigh.— [55]

“Some Afric chief will rise, who scorning chains,

Racks, tortures, flames, excruciating pains,

Will lead his injur’d friends to bloody fight,

And in the flooded carnage take delight;

Then dear repay us in some vengeful war,

And give us blood for blood, and fear for fear.”

And so it actually was in this instance, for this inhuman massacre produced an effect very contrary to what had been expected. Indeed it so much enraged the Seramica rebels, that for several years they became dreadful to the colonists; who no longer being able to support the expences and fatigues of sallying out against them in the woods, in addition to the great losses which they so frequently sustained by their invasions, of which they lived in continual terror, at last resolved to treat for peace with their sable enemies.

Governor Mauricius, who was at this period at the head of the colony, now sent out a strong detachment to the rebel settlement at the Seramica river, for the purpose of effecting, if possible, a peace so ardently desired. This detachment, after some skirmishing with the straggling rebel parties, at last arrived at their head quarters, where they demanded and obtained a parley. A treaty of peace, consisting of ten or twelve articles, was actually concluded between the different parties in the year 1749, similar to that which had been made by the English in the year 1739, with the rebels in the island of Jamaica.—The chief of the Seramica rebels was a Creole negro, [56]called Captain Adoe, who upon this occasion received from the governor, as a present, a fine large cane, with a silver pummel, on which were engraven the arms of Surinam, as a mark of their independence, and a preliminary to the other presents that were to be sent out the year following as stipulated by treaty, particularly arms and ammunition, on the performance of which the peace was to be finally concluded. Adoe presented in return a handsome bow, with a complete case of arrows, which had been manufactured by his own hands, as a token that during that time all enmity should cease on his side.

This affair gave great satisfaction to many and indeed to most of the inhabitants of Surinam, who now flattered themselves that their effects were perfectly secure; while others regarded this treaty as a very hazardous resource, and even as a step to the inevitable ruin of the colony.

I must confess indeed, that, notwithstanding the good intentions of Governor Mauricius, nothing appears to be more dangerous than making a forced friendship with people, who by the most abject slavery and ill usage are provoked to break their chains, and shake off their yoke in pursuit of revenge and liberty, and who by the trust which is placed in them have it in their power to become from day to day more formidable.

The insurrection having risen to such a height, the colonists ought perhaps to have continued to oppose it, while they were possessed of the power of opposition, not indeed [57]from a motive of cruelty, but for the political good of so fine a settlement.

If it appeared that cruelty and ill treatment had driven these poor creatures to these extremities, policy, not less than humanity, ought to have dictated to the colonists a different conduct in future; but it may be asked, Whether it is possible to keep the African negroes in habits of obedience and industry without the strictest and often the severest discipline?—No. But I ask again, Why is it necessary to inflict such inhuman tortures, according to the humour and caprice of an unfeeling master, or a still more unprincipled overseer? Why should their reasonable complaints be never heard by a magistrate who has it in his power to redress them? Is it because this magistrate is a planter, and that he is interested in the arbitrary government of this unhappy race?—This is too evident.—It would, however, be great injustice if I were not to bear witness that I have not unfrequently seen the plantation slaves treated with the utmost humanity, where the hand of the master was seldom lifted, but to caress them; and where the eye of the slave sparkled with gratitude and affection.

Let us now proceed, and see what were the fruits of making peace with the Seramica rebels.

In 1750, which was the year after, the promised presents were dispatched to Captain Adoe; but the detachment that carried them were attacked on their march, and the whole of the corps murdered on the spot by a [58]desperate negro, called Zam Zam, who not having been consulted concerning the treaty of peace, had afterwards put himself at the head of a strong party, and now carried off the whole stock of the detachment, consisting of arms, ammunition, checked linens, canvas cloth, hatchets, saws, and other carpenter’s tools; besides salt beef, pork, spirits, &c. and kept them as his own private property. Adoe, on the other hand, not receiving the presents at the time he expected, too hastily concluding he was only to be amused with expectation till a reinforcement of troops should arrive from Europe to subdue him, renewed his incursions: by this accident therefore the peace was immediately broken; cruelties and ravages increased more than before, and death and destruction once more raged throughout the colony.

In 1751, this settlement was in the utmost distress and confusion; when, in compliance with a request of the inhabitants, presented to the States General, Baron Spoke was sent to Surinam, with six hundred fresh troops drafted from the different regiments in the Dutch service, and on their arrival the members of the court were ordered to send Governor Mauricius to Europe, to account for his proceedings; who never returned to the colony, having in 1753 asked and obtained his dismission, after having been honourably acquitted. Baron Spoke, who during the absence of Mauricius was appointed to officiate as governor, found every thing in the greatest disorder, disunion having even arisen between the inhabitants and their rulers, [59]to which it was highly necessary to apply the speediest means of redress. This application was indeed made by the Baron, but he died the year after, and a general distraction again took place.

In 1757, the aspect of affairs daily becoming worse, (during the administration of a Mr. Cromelyn, who now was governor of this colony) a new revolt broke out in the Tempaty Creek amongst the negroes, owing to the treatment which they received from their masters. This fresh insurrection indeed soon became of the most serious consequence. The new rebels joined themselves to sixteen hundred of the old fugitive negroes already settled in eight different villages near Tempaty Creek, and after repeated battles and skirmishes, the enemy being mostly well armed, and in their resistance generally successful, the colonists saw themselves once more reduced to sue for peace with their own slaves, near Tempaty Creek, as they had done in the year 1749 with the rebels of Seramica.

During this last revolt, a Captain Mayer, of the Society Troops, being tried for cowardice by a court martial, and found guilty, was ordered to be shot through the head; he was accordingly led to the place of execution, where, after every preparation for completing the sentence, he was pardoned by the Governor, who not only shewed him every civility, but actually preferred him to the rank of major. [60]

To evince the absurdity of that prejudice, which considers human creatures as brutes, merely because they differ from ourselves in colour, I must beg leave to mention a few of the principal ceremonies that attended the ratification of this peace.

The first thing proposed by the colonists was a parley, which was agreed to by the rebels; when the last not only desired, but absolutely insisted, that the Dutch should send them yearly, amongst a great variety of other articles, a quantity of good fire-arms and ammunition, as specified in a long list, expressed in broken English, by a negro whose name was Boston, and who was one of their captains.

Governor Cromelyn next sent two commissioners, Mr. Sober and Mr. Abercrombie, who marched through the woods, escorted by a few military, &c. to carry some presents to the rebels, previous to the ratification of the peace, for which they now were commissioned finally to treat.

At the arrival of the above gentlemen in the rebel camp, at the Jocka Creek, about fifteen miles east of the Tempaty Creek, they were introduced to a very handsome negro, called Araby, who was their chief, and born in the forests amongst the last sixteen hundred that I have just mentioned. He received them very politely, and taking them by the hand, desired they would sit down by his side upon the green; at the same time assuring them they need not be under any apprehensions of evil, since [61]from their coming in so good a cause, not one intended, or even dared to hurt them.

When the above-mentioned Captain Boston, however, perceived that they had brought a parcel of trinkets, such as knives, scissars, combs, and small looking-glasses, and forgotten the principal articles in question, viz. gunpowder, fire-arms, and ammunition, he resolutely approached the commissioners, and demanded, in a thundering voice, whether the Europeans imagined that the negroes could live on combs and looking-glasses; adding, that one of each was quite sufficient to let them all see their faces, while a single gallon of Man Sanny, viz. gunpowder, would have been accepted as a proof of their confidence; but since that had been omitted, he should never consent to their return to their countrymen, till every article of the list should be dispatched to them, and consequently the treaty fulfilled.

This expostulation occasioned the interference of a negro captain, called Quaco, who declared that these gentlemen were only the messengers of their governor and court; and as they could not be answerable for their master’s proceedings, they should certainly return to the settlement without injury or insult, and no person, not even he, Captain Boston, should dare to oppose them.

The chief of the rebels then ordered silence, and desired Mr. Abercrombie to make up a list himself, of such articles as he, Araby, should specify; which that gentleman [62]having done, and promised to deliver, the rebels not only gave him and his companions leave peaceably to return with it to town, but allowed their governor and court a whole year to deliberate whether they were to chuse peace or war, unanimously swearing that during that interval all animosity should cease on their side; after which, having entertained them in the best manner their situation in the woods afforded, they wished them a happy journey to Paramaribo.

One of the rebel officers, on this occasion, represented to the commissioners how deplorable it was that the Europeans, who pretended to be a civilized nation, should be so much the occasion of their own ruin by their inhuman cruelties towards their slaves. “We desire you,” continued the negro, “to tell your governor and your court, that in case they want to raise no new gangs of rebels, they ought to take care that the planters keep a more watchful eye over their own property, and not to trust them so frequently in the hands of drunken managers and overseers, who by wrongfully and severely chastising the negroes, debauching their wives and children, neglecting the sick, &c. are the ruin of the colony, and wilfully drive to the woods such numbers of stout active people, who by their sweat earn your subsistence, without whose hands your colony must drop to nothing; and to whom at last, in this disgraceful manner, you are glad to come and sue for friendship.” [63]

Mr. Abercrombie now begged that he might be accompanied by one or two of their principal officers to Paramaribo, where he promised they should be well treated; but the chief, Araby, answered him with a smile, that it was time enough a year after, when the peace should be thoroughly concluded; that then even his youngest son should be at their service, to receive his education among them, while for his subsistence, and even for that of his dependants, he should take the sole care upon himself, without ever giving the Christians the smallest trouble.

After this, the commissioners left the rebels, and the whole detachment arrived safe at Paramaribo.

The year of deliberation being ended, the governor and court sent out two fresh commissioners to the negro camp, to bring the so much wished-for peace to a thorough conclusion; which, after much debate, and many ceremonies on both sides, was at last finally agreed upon. Presents were promised to be sent by the Christians, agreeable to the wishes of the negroes; while these last, as a proof of their affection to the Europeans, insisted that each of the commissioners should, during their remaining stay in the rebel camp, take for his constant companion, one of their handsomest young women.—They treated them also liberally with game, fish, fruit, and the choicest productions of the forest, and entertained them, without intermission, with music, dancing, and repeated volleys.

At the return of the commissioners, the stipulated presents [64]were sent to the negroes at the Jocka Creek, and, what is remarkable, under the care of the identical Mr. Mayer, who had formerly not dared to fight against them, and escorted by six hundred men, soldiers and slaves. The pusillanimity of this gentleman, however, appeared again on this occasion, and he had nearly undone the whole business by departing from his orders, delivering all the presents to the rebels without receiving the hostages in return. Fortunately Araby kept his word, and sent down four of his best officers as pledges to Paramaribo. By this the peace was perfectly accomplished, and a treaty of twelve or fourteen articles was signed by the white commissioners, and sixteen of Araby’s black captains, in 1761; which ceremony took place on the plantation Ouca, in the river Surinam, where all the parties met, this being the spot of rendezvous appointed for the purpose, after four different embassies had been sent from the Europeans to the negroes.

Signing this treaty alone, however, was still not considered as sufficient by the rebel chief Araby and his people. They immediately bound themselves by an oath, and insisted on the commissioners doing the same, after the manner which is practised by themselves, not trusting entirely, they alledged, to that made use of by the Christians, which they had seen them too frequently violate. It must indeed be confessed, that the negroes themselves are uncommonly tenacious of these solemn engagements, as I never heard of an instance, during all [65]the time I resided in the colony, of one of them violating his oath.

The solemnity made use of on this day, consisted in each party’s letting a few drops of blood with a lancet or penknife from the arm, into a callibash or cup of clear spring water, in which were also mixed a few particles of dry earth, and of this all present were obliged to drink, without exception, which they call drinking each other’s blood, having first shed a few drops upon the ground by way of libation; when their gadoman or priest, with up-cast eyes and out-stretched arms, took heaven and earth to witness, and with a most audible voice and in a most awful manner, invoked the curse of the Almighty on those who should first break through this sacred treaty made between them, from that moment forward to all eternity. To this solemn imprecation the multitude answered Da so! which signifies in their language Amen1.

“Then loudly thus, before th’ attentive bands,

He calls the gods, and spreads his lifted hands:

O first and greatest Power, whom all obey,

Who high on Ida’s holy mountain sway;

Eternal Jove! and yon bright orb, that roll

From east to west, and view from pole to pole!

Thou mother Earth! and all ye living Floods!

Infernal Furies, and Tartarean gods,

Who rule the dead, and horrid woes prepare

For perjur’d kings, and all who falsely swear!

Hear and be witness.” — — —


“From the same urn they drink the mingled wine,

And add libations to the pow’rs divine.

While thus their pray’rs united mount the sky,

Hear, mighty Jove! and hear, ye gods on high!

And may their blood, who first the league confound,

Shed like this wine, distain the thirsty ground!”

Homer’s Iliad.

The solemnity being ended, the chief Araby and each of his captains (to be distinguished from the inferior negroes, as the Seramican chief Adoe had been before in 1749) was presented with a fine large cane and silver pummel, on which was also engraven the arms of the colony.

The above-mentioned negroes are called Oucas, after the name of the plantation where the peace articles were signed; and by that name they are since distinguished from those of Seramica, whom I have already described.

At this time the charter was renewed to the West India Company by their High Mightinesses, for the term of thirty years longer (as it had been before in 1670, 1700, and 1730) in consideration of a loan of about five million sterling, at the rate of six per cent.

This same year peace was also a second time concluded with the Seramica rebels, who were at that time commanded by a negro called Wille, instead of their former chief Adoe, who was dead. But this second peace was unfortunately broken by a rebel captain, called Muzinga, who had received none of the presents, which [67]had in fact been again intercepted and captured on their way to the chief Wille, as they had been formerly on their way to the chief Adoe, by the very same enterprising and rapacious plunderer Zam Zam, with this difference only, that none of the detachment that were sent with them were now murdered, as on the preceding occasion, nor even one single person injured.

Upon this supposed breach of faith, captain Muzinga fought most desperately against the colonists, he gave battle face to face, and beat back, at close quarters, above one hundred and fifty of their best troops, killing numbers, and carrying off all their baggage and ammunition.

Soon after this, however, when the real cause of Muzinga’s discontent was known, means were found and adopted to pacify this gallant warrior, by making him receive and share the presents sent out by the colonists, on an equal footing with his brother heroes, when peace was a third and last time concluded in 1762, between the Seramica rebels and the colony, which has providentially been kept sacred and inviolable, as well as that with the Ouca negroes, to this day. By their exertions in the field they thus obtained their freedom.

“O Liberty! thou goddess heavenly bright,

Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight;

Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign,

And smiling Plenty leads thy wanton train. [68]

Eas’d of her load, subjection grows more light,

And Poverty looks cheerful in thy sight;

Thou mak’st the gloomy face of nature gay,

Giv’st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day.”

The hostages and chief officers of both the above-mentioned negro cohorts, on their arrival at Paramaribo, were entertained at the governor’s own table, having previously paraded in state through the town, accompanied by his excellency in his own private carriage.

By their capitulation with the Dutch, the above Ouca and Seramica rebels must yearly receive, as I have mentioned, a quantity of arms and ammunition from the colony, for which the Europeans have received in return the negroes’ promises of being their faithful allies, to deliver up all their deserters, for which they are to receive proper premiums, never to appear armed at Paramaribo above five or six at a time, and also to keep their settlement at a proper distance from the town and plantations: the Seramica negroes at the river Seramica, and those of the Ouca negroes at the Jocka-creek, near the river Marawina, where one or two white men, called post-holders, were to reside among, them, in the quality of envoys.

Both these tribes were supposed, at the period I speak of, to amount in all to three thousand, and but a few years after, by those that were sent to visit their settlements (including wives and children) they were computed to [69]be not less than fifteen or twenty thousand. They are already become overbearing and even insolent, brandishing their silver-headed canes in defiance of the inhabitants, and forcing from them liquors, and very often money, and reminding them how cruelly their ancestors had murdered their parents and their husbands.

From these circumstances, and their numbers increasing from day to day, I must conclude, that should the peace be ever broken, these new allies will become the most dreadful foes that ever the colony of Surinam can have to contend with.

In 1763 the town of Paramaribo would have been burnt down to the ground, had it not been prevented by the courage and intrepidity of the sailors, who, at the hazard of their lives, without other assistance, prevented a general conflagration.

About this time a mutiny broke out on Board the outward-bound East Indiaman, Neimburgh, commanded by Captain Ketell. The crew, consisting chiefly of French and German deserters, who had been kidnapped in Holland, rose in arms against their superiors, and having murdered most of the officers and warrant officers, while others were put in chains, carried the vessel to the Brazils, there the ringleaders went on shore, and being engaged in riot and disputation soon discovered what they were to the Portuguese governor, in consequence of which they were all taken into custody; but their accomplices on board suspecting what [70]had happened, immediately slipped their cable, and set sail for the island of Cayenne, where this piracy was put to an end; for the French seizing ship and crew, delivered both to the colony of Surinam, where, in 1764, seven of the most guilty were executed on board the same vessel which they had captured, then at anchor in the roads before the town of Paramaribo. One of these unhappy wretches was decapitated, and six hanged to the yard-arm, whose heads were also chopped off and planted upon iron spikes on the beach, in a cage made for the purpose. The others, who had been taken by the Portuguese, were sent from the Brazils to Amsterdam, after which they were also executed in Texel roads on board the Westelingwerf man of war, which ship was that sent out with us from Holland: their bodies were afterwards gibbeted in iron harness, and placed for an example along the coast.

This same year also, three of the society or colony soldiers, who had been guilty of mutiny and desertion, were executed in Surinam; but as their case is the most peculiar of its kind that ever happened, I must also beg leave to give some account of the transaction.

During the time of an insurrection, which happened in the year 1761 among the negro slaves in the colony of Berbice, where they had not been treated so cruelly as in other colonies, not only a regiment of marines, commanded by Colonel de Salse, which now belongs to General Douglas, was sent over from Holland to that [71]settlement, but troops also from the neighbouring colonies were dispatched, in order to subdue the revolt. In this design they soon succeeded, since the woods in that part, being of small extent, are easily penetrated, which prevents the rebels from forming settlements, and since from the same cause they will not serve to conceal them from their pursuers. The consequence was, that after numbers had been shot dead, and others taken prisoners, the rest were forced to surrender at discretion, and implore for mercy, or they must have been starved to death for want of subsistence.

During these troubles, it happened that one officer and about seventy men, sent from the colony of Surinam, had been posted on the banks of the river Corrantine. This detachment, together with a party of Indians, who are natural enemies to the negroes, but friends to the Europeans, had one day beaten the rebels in a skirmish, having killed several of them, and retaken about the value of twenty or thirty pounds sterling in effects, which the negroes had pillaged from the neighbouring estates. The officer who commanded this detachment having, however, unwarrantably distributed this booty among the Indians alone, without giving a share to his soldiers, disgusted them so much that they revolted; and deserting their commander, took their march for the river Oronoque through the woods, in hopes of soon falling in with Spanish settlements and being relieved: but how miserably were these deluded men mistaken, and disappointed [72]in their desperate undertaking, by meeting the rebels or bush negroes on the second or third day of their march! These, notwithstanding the solemn protestations of the soldiers, that they were come without any evil intention towards them, and their intreaties to let them pass by unmolested, were suspected of being sent out to spy and betray them; the negroes therefore insisted that they should lay down their arms at mercy, which the deserters having complied with, the rebels immediately dressed them in one rank. Then having picked out ten or twelve to assist them in attending the sick and wounded, repairing their arms, and trying to make gunpowder, (in which however they miscarried) they condemned all the others to death, which was instantly put in execution, and above fifty of those unfortunate men were one by one shot dead upon the spot.

It may well be supposed, that those who were saved alive by the negroes must have spun out a very melancholy existence among them, and indeed most of them died within very few months after by ill treatment, hardships, and want; and when the rebels surrendered themselves to the Europeans at discretion, the few remaining miserable wretches that were still found alive, were directly loaded with irons, and sent back from the colony of Berbice to Surinam, where three of them were executed in the town of Paramaribo, one being hanged, and two broken alive upon the rack. One of these miserable wretches was a Frenchman, called Renauld, who seemed to have imbibed the sentiments of the negroes [73]by his residence amongst them. With a truly heroic spirit he comforted his accomplice, who was a German, and, tied down by his side, just ready to receive the dreadful blows, he exhorted him to preserve his courage; adding, that the voyage of life would soon be over, while his own bones were breaking by the executioner with an iron bar.

The ring-leading negroes were roasted alive by half dozens in a shocking manner, being chained to stakes in the midst of surrounding flames, and expired without uttering a groan or a sigh. The miserable fate of so many poor wretches excited great commiseration; and it is impossible to reflect, without the strongest feelings of indignation, on a punishment so shocking to humanity, inflicted upon men, the most of whom were drove to misconduct by tyranny and oppression. But at the same time I shall ever think it my duty to support that the strictest discipline and subordination (when tempered by justice) is absolutely necessary amongst all large bodies of people, of whatever class or description, not only for the good of the public in general, but as the surest means of avoiding severity on the individual (the usual consequence of too much lenity) and of being painfully obliged to establish good order at last by a perpetual round of reluctant rigour and chastisement.——We will now leave these sable scenes, and point out what happened in the colony of Surinam, during its short and flourishing state. [74]

1 This fact is noticed by the Abbé Raynal. 



Short Interval of Peace and Plenty—The Colony plunged in new Distress by a fresh Insurrection, and nearly ruined—Review of the Troops for its Defence—An Action with the Rebels—Gallant Behaviour of a black Corps—The Arrival of Colonel Fourgeoud’s Marines.

In 1764, gold and silver specie being scarce, cards were stamped, to the amount of 40,000 l. value, which passed as cash, at a discount of ten per cent.

In 1765, a considerable degree of commotion was excited in the colony, on account of a free negro woman, called Elizabeth Sampson, marrying an European; she was worth above 100,000 l. sterling, inherited from her master, whose slave she had formerly been: having addressed herself to their High Mightinesses, her request was granted; and accordingly, being christened, she entered into the lawful bond of matrimony with a Mr. Zubli.

In the succeeding year the colony was visited by an earthquake, which however did very little damage.

In 1769, the whole coast was on fire, from Cayenne to Demerary: this happened in the dry season, when all the forest is parched by the heat, and the underwood choked with dried leaves. The flames, which were supposed to have been kindled by the neglect of the Indians or rebels, were so violent, that they threatened [75]destruction to several estates, and during the night appeared most tremendous from the sea; while the east wind made the smoke so thick throughout the day, that one person could not see another at the distance of six yards. During this time it is not surprising that the smell was almost insupportable.

This same year, a quantity of rock crystal was discovered in the inland parts of Dutch Guiana.

In 1770, the house of Somelsdyk sold its share or portion of the colony to the town of Amsterdam for the sum of 63,636l. sterling; so that from that period that city possesses two-thirds, and the other third still belongs to the West India Company, which, as I have already stated, form together the society of Surinam.

The colony now seemed in a prosperous and flourishing state, since the concluding of the treaty with the Seramica and Ouca negroes, and every thing exhibited an aspect of peace and good order. The inhabitants believed their persons and effects in perfect security, so that nothing was thought of but mirth and dissipation, which was soon extended to lavishness and profusion. Surinam resembled, indeed, a large and beautiful garden, stocked with every thing that nature and art could produce, to make the life of man both comfortable to himself, and useful to society: all the luxuries, as well as the necessaries of life, abounded; every sense was apparently intoxicated with enjoyment; and, to use the [76]figurative language of a sacred book, Surinam was a land that flowed with milk and honey.

But this delusive felicity lasted not long. The planter, too earnest to become immediately opulent, never once considered the wretchedness of the slave; while drunkenness, luxury, and riot, became predominant in the one party, the misery of the other proportionably increased; nor did the destruction that so lately threatened them seem to have the smallest influence on their minds; at the same time the successful example of the Seramica and Ouca negroes served to stimulate the other slaves to revolt, and from these complicated causes the colony was again plunged into its former abyss of difficulties. The most beautiful estates in the settlement, called Plantations, were once more seen, some blazing in flames, and others laid in ashes; while the reeking and mangled bodies of their inhabitants were scattered along the banks of the river Cottica, with their throats cut, and their effects pillaged by their own negroes, who all fled to the woods, men, women, and children, without exception.

These new revolters were now distinguished by the name of the Cottica Rebels, from the spot on which their hostilities commenced; and their numbers augmenting from day to day, they soon became as formidable to the settlement as the Seramica and Ouca negroes had formerly been, and in 1772 they had nearly given the finishing blow to Surinam. At that period all was horror and consternation—nothing but a general massacre [77]was expected by the majority of the inhabitants, who fled from their estates, and crouded to the town of Paramaribo for protection. In this situation of affairs, the inhabitants were obliged to have recourse to the dangerous resolution of forming a regiment of manumitted slaves, to fight against their own countrymen. When we consider the treatment which was so generally exercised against the slaves of this settlement, it must surprise the reader to be told, that this hazardous resolution had providentially the desired effect. These brave men performed wonders above expectation, in conjunction with the Colonial or Society troops, whose strength and numbers alone were no longer thought sufficient to defend this settlement. But not to rely absolutely on such precarious assistance, the society of Surinam made application to his serene highness the Prince of Orange for a regular regiment, and our corps was in consequence dispatched in the manner which has been already related. As, however, the events which preceded our arrival were of the utmost importance, I shall endeavour to lay before my readers the most authentic information I was able to obtain.

The regular troops from Europe that belong to the society of Surinam, were intended to be twelve hundred men when complete, divided into two battalions, paid partly by the society, and partly by the inhabitants: but they can never produce that number in the field, for many reasons—such as their either dying on their passage, while they [78]are seasoning to the climate, or during their dangerous and fatiguing duty in the woods and swamps. Besides this number, a reinforcement of three hundred more was now sent them from the town of Amsterdam; but of these poor wretches scarcely fifty were landed fit for service; the remainder, owing to the inhumanity of their leader, Mr. H., having participated in a fate little better than that of the poor African negroes in the vessel of the inhuman Captain C—gw—d, who, in 1787, threw 132 living slaves into the sea to perish. The unhappy creatures, under the command of Mr. N. were starved and tormented by unnecessary severity; and his lieutenant, unable to continue a witness of the tyrannical punishments he inflicted, leaped from the cabin window, and terminated his existence.

The military in Surinam are composed of several very good and experienced officers, and well inured to the service, but for their private men I cannot say much; they are, in fact, little better than the outcasts of all nations: they are of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and seem by chance wafted together from all the different corners of the globe. Notwithstanding this, however, it has often been found that they behave well in action, and have on many different occasions, by their bravery, been of infinite service to this settlement1.

Here is also a small corps of artillery, being part of the [79]twelve hundred, which I must acknowledge to be a very fine company in all respects. As for what they please to call their militia, they are, a few gentlemen excepted, who command them, so strange a collection of ill-disciplined rabble, that they can scarcely be mentioned as fighting men.

With respect to the new-raised corps of manumitted slaves, though in number they amounted but to three hundred, they indeed proved ultimately of as much service to the colony as all the others put together2. These men were all volunteers, and in general stout able young fellows, selected from the different plantations, the owners of whom received for them their full value in money. None were accepted but those who were reputed to be of unexceptionable character. It must, however, be observed, that what we Europeans call a good character, was, by the Africans, looked on as detestable, particularly by those born in the woods, whose only crime consisted in revenging the wrongs done to their forefathers. I have been an ocular witness to astonishing proofs of the fidelity of these enfranchised slaves to the Europeans, and their valour against the rebel negroes.

Their chief leaders are three or four white men, called Conductors, to whom they pay the strictest obedience: [80]one or two of these attend them when they set out on any enterprize of consequence. Every ten privates have one captain, who commands them in the forest by the different sounding of his horn, as the boatswain commands the seaman by his call, or as the cavalry of Europe are directed by the sound of the trumpets in the field; by which they advance, attack, retreat, spread, &c.: they are armed only with a firelock and sabre. Of both these weapons they understand the management in the most masterly manner; they generally go naked, in preference, in the woods, excepting trowsers, and a scarlet cap, the emblem of liberty, on which is their number, and which, together with their parole or watchword, which is orange, distinguishes them from the rebels in any action, to prevent disagreeable mistakes. They have, indeed, of late years, been farther distinguished by green uniforms.—Thus far as to the force of the colony.

I have already stated, that the newly revolted rebels, called Cotticas, were just preparing to give the finishing blow to Surinam; and I shall now proceed to relate how this catastrophe was prevented.

A Coromantyn Free Negro, or Ranger, armed.

A Coromantyn Free Negro, or Ranger, armed.

London, Published Decr. 2d, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

These negroes, being commanded by a desperate fellow named Baron, had erected a strong settlement between the river Cottica and the sea-coast, whence they sallied forth to commit their depredations on the plantations in Cottica river, &c. [81]

I have called this settlement strong, because, like an island, it was entirely surrounded by a broad unfordable marsh or swamp, which prevented all communication, except by private paths under water, known only to the rebels, and before which Baron had placed loaded swivels, which he had plundered from the neighbouring estates: it was moreover fenced and inclosed on every side by several thousand strong pallisadoes, and was on the whole no contemptible fortification. To this spot Baron gave the name of Boucou or Mouldered, intimating that it should perish in dust rather than it should be taken by or surrendered to the Europeans. He even presumed to suppose, that it would never be discovered.

After many marches and counter-marches, however, this nest of desperadoes was at last discovered, by the vigilance and perseverance of the Society troops, and the black soldiers or rangers, by which name I shall for the future distinguish them, their service being chiefly like that of the rangers in Virginia, who were sent out against the Cherokee Indians. Another settlement of the rebels was, indeed, well known to exist in that corner of the colony, known by the name of the Lea-shore, and situated between the rivers Surinam and Seramica; but here the situation, by marshes, quagmires, mud, and water, is such, that it fortifies them from any attempts of the Europeans; nay, they are even indiscoverable by negroes, so thick and impenetrable is the forest on that spot, and so choked with thorns, briars, and every species of underwood. [82]

From these coverts they sally forth in small parties, during the night, to rob the gardens and fields surrounding Paramaribo, and carry off the young women, &c. In this wilderness a young officer, Lieutenant Freidrecy, was lost two or three days and nights, as he went out on a shooting party, and would probably never have been heard of, had not the governor, by ordering a gun to be fired at intervals, given a signal for him to find his way back, and thus restored him once more to his friends.

As soon as it was determined that the rebels commanded by Baron, at Boucou, should be besieged and rooted out, a strong detachment of white and black troops were sent against them, under the command of the brave Captain Myland, who was to head the first; and Lieutenant Freidrecy, a spirited young officer, with the conductors, was to lead the latter. The detachment, on their arrival at the marsh, however, were obliged to encamp on its borders, not being able to pass through it on account of its unfordable depth.

On the discovery of the troops, the bold negro Baron immediately planted a white flag within their view, which he meant not as a token of peace, but of defiance; and an incessant firing instantly took place on both sides, but with very little effect.

It was then projected to throw a fascine bridge over the marsh, by the troops; but this plan, after several weeks had been spent in the attempt, and a number of men [83]shot dead while employed upon it, was of necessity laid aside. Thus every hope of passing through the marsh into the fortress being frustrated, and the food and ammunition being considerably lessened, added to the loss of many men, affairs were at length arrived at such a crisis, that the siege must have been broken up, and the remaining troops must have marched back to Paramaribo, had not the rangers, by their indefatigable efforts, and (however strange to think) implacable enmity against the rebels, found out and discovered to the Europeans the under-water paths of communication to Boucou, several being shot and drowned in the execution of this important service.

Captain Myland with the regulars, on this intelligence, now forded the swamp on one side, and instantly making a feint attack on the fortress, drew Baron with all the rebels, as was expected, to its defence; while Lieutenant Freidrecy, with the rangers, having crossed the swamp on the other side, embraced the opportunity of leaping, with his black party, over the palisadoes, sword in hand, without opposition.

A most terrible carnage at this time ensued, while several prisoners were made on both sides, and the fortress of Boucou was taken; but Baron, with the greatest number of the rebels, escaped into the woods, having first found means, however, to cut the throats of ten or twelve of the rangers, who had lost their way in the marsh, and whom he seized as they stuck fast in the [84]swamp; and cutting off the ears, nose, and lips of one of them, he left him alive in this condition to return to his friends, with whom however the miserable man soon expired.

This Baron had formerly been the negro slave of a Mr. Dahlbergh, a Swede, who on account of his abilities had advanced him to the rank of a favourite, had taught him to read and write, and bred him a mason; he had also been with his master in Holland, and was promised his manumission on his return to the colony. But Mr. Dahlbergh breaking his word with regard to his liberty, and selling him to a Jew, Baron obstinately refused to work, in consequence of which he was publicly flogged under the gallows. This usage the negro so violently resented, that from that moment he vowed revenge against all Europeans without exception; fled to the woods, where putting himself at the head of the rebels, his name became dreadful, and particularly so to his former master Dahlbergh, as he solemnly swore that he should never die in peace till he had washed his hands in the tyrant’s blood.

To those who know how greatly mankind are affected by self-interest, it will not appear so extraordinary, as it may to a superficial observer, that these black rangers should so inveterately engage against their friends and countrymen. What will not men do to be emancipated from so deplorable a state of subjection! and this emancipation was obtained upon more certain and advantageous [85]grounds by the consent of the Europeans, than if they had absconded into the woods. Having thus once engaged in this service, it is evident they must be considered by the other party as apostates and traitors of the blackest dye; they must be convinced, that defeat must not only expose them to death, but to the severest tortures; they were therefore fighting for something more than liberty and life: success was to bring them the most solid advantages, miscarriage was to plunge them in the severest misery.

The taking of Boucou was now greatly spoken of, and deemed a very severe blow to the rebels; both the regulars and the rangers, indeed, behaved with unprecedented intrepidity and courage. Captain Myland’s gallant conduct was most highly acknowledged; while Lieutenant Freidrecy was presented by the Surinam Society with a beautiful sabre, a fusee, and a brace of pistols, mounted in silver, and ornamented with emblems expressive of his merit; besides which, he obtained the rank of captain. It must be confessed, that on this occasion the whole detachment, white and black, without exception, justly met with the fullest marks of approbation for their spirited behaviour.—In this state were the public affairs of Surinam; when, in 1773, our fleet dropped anchor before the town of Paramaribo. [86]

1 A corps of European chasseurs, or rifle-men, was since added to these troops, after the manner of the light infantry in England. 

2 Blood-hounds were also proposed, to discover and attack the rebel negroes in the woods, but never adopted, from the difficulty of their proper training, &c. 



The Scene changes—Some Account of a beautiful Female Slave—The Manner of travelling in Surinam—The Colonel explores the Situation of the Rivers—Barbarity of a Planter—Wretched Treatment of some Sailors.

Having in the first chapters given some account of our incorporation, our voyage, our landing, and our reception in the colony, in February 1773; and having described the colony of Surinam, its boundaries, and revolutions, from its earliest discovery; I shall now proceed in my narrative, by connecting the proceedings of our little corps with the general chain of events; and write precisely what I have learned by local and ocular observation.

Having already stated that from our arrival till February 27th, we seemed to be landed in Guiana for little more than idle dissipation; I shall now proceed from the same date, which was about the commencement of the rainy season, when our mirth and conviviality still continued, to present to the reader, as a contrast to the preceding scenes of horror, a description of the beautiful mulatto maid Joanna. This charming young woman I first saw at the house of a Mr. Demelly, secretary to the court of policy, where I [87]daily breakfasted; and with whose lady Joanna, but fifteen years of age, was a very remarkable favourite. Rather taller than the middle size, she was possessed of the most elegant shape that nature can exhibit, moving her well-formed limbs with more than common gracefulness. Her face was full of native modesty, and the most distinguished sweetness; her eyes, as black as ebony, were large and full of expression, bespeaking the goodness of her heart; with cheeks through which glowed, in spite of the darkness of her complexion, a beautiful tinge of vermillion, when gazed upon. Her nose was perfectly well formed, rather small; her lips a little prominent, which, when she spoke, discovered two regular rows of teeth, as white as mountain snow; her hair was a dark brown inclining to black, forming a beautiful globe of small ringlets, ornamented with flowers and gold spangles. Round her neck, her arms, and her ancles, she wore gold chains, rings and medals: while a shawl of India muslin, the end of which was negligently thrown over her polished shoulders, gracefully covered part of her lovely bosom, a petticoat of rich chintz alone completed her apparel. Bare-headed and bare-footed, she shone with double lustre, as she carried in her delicate hand a beaver hat, the crown trimmed round with silver. The figure and appearance of this charming creature could not but attract my particular attention, as they did indeed that of all who beheld her; and induced me to enquire from Mrs. [88]Demelly, with much surprize, who she was, that appeared to be so much distinguished above all others of her species in the colony.

“She is, Sir,” replied this lady, “the daughter of a respectable gentleman, named Kruythoff; who had, besides this girl, four children by a black woman, called Cery, the property of a Mr. D. B. on his estate called Fauconberg, in the upper part of the river Comewina.

“Some few years since Mr. Kruythoff made the offer of above one thousand pounds sterling to Mr. D. B. to obtain manumission for his offspring; which being inhumanly refused, it had such an effect on his spirits, that he became frantic, and died in that melancholy state soon after; leaving in slavery, at the discretion of a tyrant, two boys and three fine girls, of which the one now before us is the eldest1.

“The gold medals, &c. which seem to surprize you, are the gifts which her faithful mother, who is a most deserving woman towards her children, and of some consequence amongst her cast, received from her father (whom she ever attended with exemplary affection) just before he expired.

 J Holloway Sculpt.


London Published Decr. 2nd. 1793, by J. Johnson. St. Paul’s Church Yard.


“Mr. D. B. however, met with his just reward: for having since driven all his best carpenter negroes to the woods by his injustice and severity, he was ruined, and obliged to fly the colony, and leave his estate and stock to the disposal of his creditors; while one of the above unhappy deserters, a samboe2, has by his industry been the protector of Cery and her children. His name is Jolycœur, and he is now the first of Baron’s captains, whom you may have a chance of meeting in the rebel camp, breathing revenge against the Christians.

“Mrs. D. B. is still in Surinam, being arrested for her husband’s debts, till Fauconberg shall be sold by execution to pay them. This lady now lodges at my house, where the unfortunate Joanna attends her, whom she treats with peculiar tenderness and distinction.”

Having thanked Mrs. Demelly for her account of Joanna, in whose eye glittered the precious pearl of sympathy, I took my leave, and went to my lodging in a state of sadness and stupefaction. However trifling, and like the style of romance, this relation may appear to some, it is nevertheless a genuine account, and on that score I flatter myself may not entirely be uninteresting to others.

When reflecting on the state of slavery altogether, [90]while my ears were stunned with the clang of the whip, and the dismal yells of the wretched negroes on whom it was exercised, from morning till night; and considering that this might one day be the fate of the unfortunate mulatto I have been describing, should she chance to fall into the hands of a tyrannical master or mistress, I could not help execrating the barbarity of Mr. D. B. for having withheld her from a fond parent, who by bestowing on her a decent education and some accomplishments, would probably have produced, in this forsaken plant, now exposed to every rude blast without protection, an ornament to civilized society.

I became melancholy with these reflections; and in order to counterbalance, though in a very small degree, the general calamity of the miserable slaves who surrounded me, I began to take more delight in the prattling of my poor negro boy Quaco, than in all the fashionable conversation of the polite inhabitants of this colony: but my spirits were depressed, and in the space of twenty-four hours I was very ill indeed; when a cordial, a few preserved tamarinds, and a basket of fine oranges, were sent by an unknown person. This first contributed to my relief, and losing about twelve ounces of blood, I recovered so far, that on the fifth I was able, for change of air, to accompany a Captain Macneyl, who gave me a pressing invitation to his beautiful coffee plantation, called Sporkesgift, in the Matapaca Creek.

Having mentioned tamarinds, I will, before we proceed [91]on our journey, embrace the opportunity of introducing a short description of them. The tree on which this fruit is produced is about the size of a large apple-tree, and is very strait, and covered with a brownish-coloured bark; the twigs are slender, arched, and knotty, producing leaves and a pod, which will be best known by the annexed representation, where A is the leaf of the natural size; B the extremity of the branch; C the fruit green and unripe; D the pulp, which is brown when in perfection; and E the purple kernels or stones that are inclosed within it. The upper part of the leaves are a darker green than underneath: upon the whole, they form a very agreeable shade, on which account the tamarind-trees are frequently planted in groves.

Sprig of the Tamarind Tree.

Sprig of the Tamarind Tree.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

The male and female species bear a remarkable distinction in their colour; that of the first having the deepest hue.

I shall not presume to be minute with respect to the medicinal qualities of these or any other vegetable in Guiana, which are as amply as I believe justly described by Dr. Bancroft, in his letters to Dr. Pitcairn, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London, except in mentioning such efficacy as I have found them to possess by my own experience, and which consists in the pulp; which when preserved is a most delicious refreshment in hot climates: it is a laxative, and when dissolved with water, makes a very cooling and agreeable beverage, and [92]is much recommended in all diseases, particularly in fevers.

We now set out from Paramaribo for Sporkesgift, in a tent-boat or barge, rowed by eight of the best negroes belonging to Mr. Macneyl’s estate; every body, as I have already mentioned, travelling by water in this colony.

These barges I cannot better describe than by comparing them with those that accompany what is usually styled the Lord Mayor’s Show on the river Thames. They are, however, somewhat less, though some are very little inferior in magnificence, and are often decorated with gilding and flags, filled with musicians, and abound in every convenience. They are sometimes rowed by ten and even by twelve oars, and being lightly built, sweep along with astonishing celerity. The rowers never stop, from the moment they set out till the company is landed at the place of destination; but continue, the tide serving or not, to tug night and day, sometimes for twenty-four hours together, singing a chorus all the time to keep up their spirits. When their labour is over, their naked bodies still dripping with sweat, like post-horses, they headlong, one and all, plunge into the river to refresh themselves:—

“The wanton courser thus, with reins unbound,

“Breaks from his stall, and beats the trembling ground;

“Pamper’d and proud, he seeks the wonted tides,

“And laves in height of blood his shining sides.”

View of the Estate Alkmaar, on the River Commewine.   Representation of a Tent Boat, or Plantation Barge.

View of the Estate Alkmaar, on the River Commewine.
Representation of a Tent Boat, or Plantation Barge.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.


We now passed a number of fine plantations, but I could not help taking particular notice of the Cacao estate, called Alkmaar, situated on the right side in rowing up the river Comewina, which is no less conspicuous for its beauty than for the goodness of its proprietor, the invaluable lady the widow Godefroy, whose humanity and friendship must always be remembered by me with gratitude.

At our arrival on the estate Sporkesgift, I had the pleasure to be the spectator of an instance of justice which afforded me the greatest satisfaction.

The scene consisted in Mr. Macneyl’s turning the overseer out of his service, and ordering him to depart from the plantation in an inferior boat, called a ponkee3, to Paramaribo, or wherever he thought proper; which was instantaneously put in execution. The cause of his disgrace was having, by bad usage and cruelty, caused the death of three or four negroes. His departure was made compleatly joyful to all the slaves, by an holiday, which was spent in festivity, by dancing and clapping hands on a green before the dwelling-house windows.

The overseer’s sentence was the more ignominious and galling, as at the time of receiving it a negro foot-boy, who was buckling his shoes, was ordered back, and he was desired to buckle them himself. The spirited conduct of this planter, the joy of his negroes, the salubrity of the [94]country air, and the hospitable manner in which we were entertained at his estate, had such an effect on my constitution and my spirits, that on the ninth I returned, if not recovered, at least greatly benefited, to Paramaribo. But I should be guilty of partiality, did I not relate one instance, which throws a shade over the humanity even of my friend Macneyl.

Having observed a handsome young negro walk very lamely, while the others were capering and dancing, I inquired into the cause of his crippled appearance; when I was informed by this gentleman, that the negro having repeatedly run away from his work, he had been obliged to hamstring him, which operation is performed by cutting through the large tendon above one of the heels. However severe this instance of despotism may appear, it is nothing when compared with some barbarities which the task I have undertaken will oblige me, at the expence of my feelings, to relate.

On our return to the town of Paramaribo, the only news that occurred consisted in a few shocking executions; also that the Boreas man of war, Captain Van-de-Velde, had sailed for Holland; and that Colonel Forgeoud had on the eighth, the Prince of Orange’s anniversary, entertained a large company with a ball en militaire, in the officers guard-room. The music on this occasion consisted of two fiddlers only, who had the confidence to make the colonel pay one hundred and twenty Dutch florins for rosin and catgut. [95]

About this time I was attacked by a distemper called the prickly heat, by the colonists rootvont. It begins by the skin taking a colour like scarlet, (occasioned by a number of small pimples) and itching inconceivably; under the garters, or any place where the circulation is impeded, the itching is almost insupportable.

With this pest all new-comers from Europe are soon infested; the cure is to bathe the parts with the juice of limes and water, as for the bites of gnats or musquitoes. The prickly heat is supposed to be a prognostic of good health by the inhabitants; which I have reason to think true, since from that period my health and spirits were perfectly re-established, and I was once more as happy as Paramaribo could make me.

At this time Colonel Fourgeoud set out with a barge, to inspect the situation of the rivers Comewina and Cottica, in case the actual service of our troops should soon be wanted; being at his departure saluted by the guns from Fort Zealandia, and by those of the ships in the roads. This compliment I acknowledge astonished me, after the coolness which took place, and was now rooted, between this gentleman and the governor of the colony.

As we were still in a state of inaction, I made another excursion, with a Mr. Charles Ryndorp, who rowed me in his barge to five beautiful coffee estates, and one sugar plantation, in the Mattapaca, Paramarica, and Werapa Creeks; the description of which I must defer to another occasion; [96]but on one of which, called Schoonoort, I was the witness to a scene of barbarity which I cannot help relating.

The victim of this cruelty was a fine old negro slave, who having been as he thought undeservedly sentenced to receive some hundred lashes by the lacerating whips of two negro-drivers, in the midst of the execution pulled out a knife, which, after having made a fruitless thrust at his persecutor the overseer, he plunged up to the haft in his own bowels, repeating the blow till he dropped down at the tyrant’s feet. For this crime he was, being first recovered, condemned to be chained to the furnace which distils the kill-devil4, there to keep in the intense heat of a perpetual fire night and day, being blistered all over, till he should expire by infirmity or old age, of the latter of which however he had but little chance. He shewed me his wounds with a smile of contempt, which I returned with a sigh and a small donation: nor shall I ever forget the miserable man, who, like Cerberus, was loaded with irons, and chained to everlasting torment. As for every thing else I observed in this little tour, I must acknowledge it to be elegant and splendid, and my reception hospitable beyond my expectation: but these Elysian fields could not dissipate [97]the gloom which the infernal furnace had left upon my mind.

Of the coffee estates, that of Mr. Sims, called Limeshope, was the most magnificent, and may be deemed with justice one of the richest in the colony. We now once more, on the sixth of April, returned safe to Paramaribo, where we found the Westerlingwerf man of war, Captain Crass, which had arrived from Plymouth in thirty-seven days, into which port he had put to stop a leak, having parted company with us, as already mentioned, off Portland, in the end of December 1772. This day, dining at the house of my friend, Mr. Lolkens, to whom I had been, as I have said, recommended by letters, I was an eye witness of the unpardonable contempt with which negro slaves are treated in this colony. His son, a boy not more than ten years old, when sitting at table, gave a slap in the face to a grey-headed black woman, who by accident touched his powdered hair, as she was serving in a dish of kerry. I could not help blaming his father for overlooking the action; who told me, with a smile, that the child should no longer offend me, as he was next day to sail for Holland for education; to which I answered, that I thought it almost too late. At the same moment a sailor passing by, broke the head of a negro with a bludgeon, for not having saluted him with his hat.—Such is the state of slavery, at least in this Dutch settlement!

About this time, Colonel Fourgeoud made a second excursion, and now departed with a barge, to explore the [98]banks and situation of the river Surinam, as he had before done those of Rio Comewina and Rio Cottica.

At this time died Captain Barends, one of the masters of the transports, which were still kept in commission, in case they should be wanted for our return to Europe. Five or six sailors now were buried every day, belonging to the merchant ships, whose lamentable fate I cannot pass by unnoticed, being actually used worse than the negroes in this scorching climate, where, besides rowing large flat-bottomed barges up and down the rivers, day and night, for coffee, sugar, &c. and being exposed to the burning sun and heavy rains, and besides stowing the above commodities in a hold as hot as an oven, they are obliged to row every upstart planter to his estate at a call, which saves the gentleman so many negroes, and for which they receive in return nothing—many times not so much as a mouthful of meat and drink; palliating hunger and thirst, by begging from the slaves a few bananas or plantains, eating oranges and drinking water, which in a little time relieves them from every complaint, by shipping them off to eternity. In every part of the colony they are no better treated, but, like horses, they must (having unloaded the vessels) drag the commodities to the distant store-houses, being bathed in sweat, and bullied with bad language, sometimes with blows; while a few negroes are ordered to attend, but not to work, by the direction of their masters, which many would willingly do to relieve the drooping sailors, to whom this usage must be exceedingly [99]disheartening and galling. The planters even employ those men to paint their houses, clean their sash-windows, and do numberless other menial services, for which a seaman was never intended. All this is done to save the work of their negroes; while by this usage thousands are swept to the grave, who in the line of their profession alone might have lived for many years; nor dare the West India Captains to refuse their men, without incurring the displeasure of the planters, and seeing their ships rot in the harbour without a loading;—nay, I have heard a sailor fervently wish he had been born a negro, and beg to be employed amongst them in cultivating a coffee plantation.

I now took an early opportunity to enquire of Mrs. Demelly what was become of the amiable Joanna; and was informed that her lady, Mrs. D. B. had escaped to Holland on board the Boreas man-of-war, under the protection of Captain Van-de-Velde, and that her young mulatto was now at the house of her aunt, a free woman, whence she expected hourly to be sent up to the estate Fauconberg, friendless, and at the mercy of some unprincipled overseer appointed by the creditors, who had now taken possession of the plantation and stock, till the whole should be sold to pay the several sums due to them by Mr. D. B.—Good God!—I flew to the spot in search of poor Joanna: I found her bathed in tears.—She gave me such a look—ah! such a look!—From that moment I determined to be her protector against every insult, and persevered, as shall be seen in the sequel.—Here, reader, let my youth, blended with extreme sensibility, plead my [100]excuse; yet assuredly my feelings will be forgiven me—by those few only excepted—who delight in the prudent conduct of Mr. Incle, to the hapless and much-injured Yarico at Barbadoes.

I next ran to the house of my friend Lolkens, who happened to be the administrator of Fauconberg estate; and asking his assistance, I intimated to him my strange determination of purchasing and educating Joanna.

Having recovered from his surprize, after gazing at me silently for some time, an interview at once was proposed; and the beauteous slave, accompanied by a female relation, was produced trembling in my presence.

Reader, if you have perused the tale of Lavinia with pleasure, though the scene admits of no comparison, reject not the history of Joanna with contempt.—It now proved to be she who had privately sent me the cordial and the oranges in March, when I was nearly expiring, and which she now modestly acknowledged “was in gratitude for my expressions of compassion respecting her sad situation;” with singular delicacy, however, she rejected every proposal of becoming mine upon any terms. She was conscious, she said, “that in such a state should I soon return to Europe, she must either be parted from me for ever, or accompany me to a part of the world where the inferiority of her condition must prove greatly to the disadvantage of both herself and her benefactor, and thus in either case be miserable.” In which sentiments Joanna firmly persisting, she was immediately permitted to withdraw, and return to the house of her aunt; while I could only intreat of [101]Mr. Lolkens his generous protection for her, and that she might at least for some time be separated from the other slaves, and continue at Paramaribo; and in this request his humanity was induced to indulge me.

On the 30th the news arrived, that the rangers, having discovered a rebel village, had attacked it, and carried off three prisoners, leaving four others dead upon the spot, whose right hands, chopped off and barbecued or smoke-dried, they had sent to the governor of Paramaribo as a proof of their valour and fidelity.

On receiving this intelligence, Colonel Fourgeoud immediately left the river Surinam, where he still was, and on the first of May returned to town, in expectation of his regiment being employed on actual service, but there the business ended; and we still, to our utter astonishment, were allowed to linger away our time, each agreeably to his own peculiar fancy. On the 4th of May, the rangers however were reviewed in the Fort Zealandia, at which ceremony I was present, and must confess that this corps of black soldiers had a truly manly appearance: warriors whose determined and open aspect could not but give me the satisfaction of a soldier in beholding them. They here once more received the thanks of the governor for their manly behaviour and faithful conduct, particularly at the taking of Boucou; besides which, they were entertained with a rural feast, at the public expence, at Paramaribo, to which were also invited their families; and at which feast several respectable people of both sexes made their appearance with pleasure, to witness the happiness of their sable friends, the day being [102]spent in mirth and conviviality, without the least disturbance, nay even with decorum and propriety, to the great satisfaction of the inhabitants.

The Westerlingwerf, Captain Crass, now left the river also, bound for Holland, but first for the colony of Demerary. Thus both ships of war having sailed without us, there was some reason to suppose we were soon to be employed on actual service. There were many motives, indeed, for wishing either that this might be the case, or that we might speedily be permitted to return to Europe. Not only our officers, but our privates, began to feel the debilitating effects of the climate, and many, of that continued debauchery so common in all ranks in this settlement: and as hard labour and bad treatment constantly killed the poor sailors, so now our common soldiers fell the victims of idleness and licentiousness, and died frequently six or seven in a day; whence it is evident to demonstration, that all excesses, of whatever kind, are mortal to Europeans in the climate of Guiana.

But men will give lessons which they do not themselves observe. Thus, notwithstanding my former resolution of living retired, I again relapsed into the vortex of dissipation. I became a member of a drinking club, I partook of all polite and impolite amusements, and plunged into every extravagance without exception. I did not, however, escape without the punishment I deserved. I was seized suddenly with a dreadful fever; and such was its violence, that in a few days I was no more expected to recover. In this [103]situation I lay in my hammock until the 17th, with only a soldier and my black boy to attend me, and without any other friend: sickness being universal among the new-comers to this country, and every one of our corps having so much to do to take care of themselves, neglect was an inevitable consequence, even among the nearest acquaintance. This, however, is a censure which does not apply to the inhabitants, who perhaps are the most hospitable people on the globe to Europeans. These philanthropists not only supply the sick with a variety of cordials at the same time, but crowd their apartments with innumerable condolers, who from morning till night continue prescribing, insisting, bewailing, and lamenting, friend and stranger without exception; and this lasts until the patient becomes delirious, and expires. Such must inevitably have been my case, between the two extremes of neglect and importunity, had it not been for the happy intervention of poor Joanna, who one morning entered my apartment, to my unspeakable joy and surprize, accompanied by one of her sisters. She informed me that she was acquainted with my forlorn situation; that if I still entertained for her the same good opinion, her only request was, that she might wait upon me till I should be recovered. I indeed gratefully accepted her offer; and by her unremitting care and attention had the good fortune so far to regain my health and spirits, as to be able, in a few days after, to take an airing in Mr. Kennedy’s carriage. [104]

Till this time I had chiefly been Joanna’s friend; but now I began to feel I was her captive. I renewed my wild proposals of purchasing, educating, and transporting her to Europe; which, though offered with the most perfect sincerity, were, by her, rejected once more, with this humble declaration:

“I am born a low contemptible slave. Were you to treat me with too much attention, you must degrade yourself with all your friends and relations; while the purchase of my freedom you will find expensive, difficult, and apparently impossible. Yet though a slave, I have a soul, I hope, not inferior to that of an European; and blush not to avow the regard I retain for you, who have distinguished me so much above all others of my unhappy birth. You have, Sir, pitied me; and now, independent of every other thought, I shall have pride in throwing myself at your feet, till fate shall part us, or my conduct become such as to give you cause to banish me from your presence.”

This she uttered with a down-cast look, and tears dropping on her heaving bosom, while she held her companion by the hand.

From that instant this excellent creature was mine;—nor had I ever after cause to repent of the step I had taken, as will more particularly appear in the course of this narrative. [105]

I cannot omit to record, that having purchased for her presents to the value of twenty guineas, I was the next day greatly astonished to see all my gold returned upon my table; the charming Joanna having carried every article back to the merchants, who cheerfully returned her the money.

“Your generous intentions alone, Sir, (she said) were sufficient: but allow me to tell you, that I cannot help considering any superfluous expence on my account as a diminution of that good opinion which I hope you have, and will ever entertain, of my disinterested disposition.”

Such was the language of a slave, who had simple nature only for her instructor, the purity of whose sentiments stood in need of no comment, and these I was now determined to improve by every care.

I shall now only add, that a regard for her superior virtues, so singular amongst her cast, gratitude for her particular attention to me, and the pleasure of producing to the world such an accomplished character under the appearance of a slave, could alone embolden me to risk the censure of my readers, by intruding on them this subject: let this be my apology, and if it be accepted but by few, I shall not be inclined to complain.

In the evening I visited Mr. Demelly, who, with his lady, congratulated me on my recovery from sickness; and at the same time, however strange it may appear to many readers, they, with a smile, wished me joy of [106]what, with their usual good-humour, they were pleased to call my conquest; which, one of the ladies in company assured me, while it was perhaps censured by some, was applauded by many, but she believed in her heart envied by all.—A decent wedding, at which many of our respectable friends made their appearance, and at which I was as happy as any bridegroom ever was, concluded the ceremony; with which I shall beg leave to conclude a chapter, which, methinks I hear many readers whisper, had better never had a beginning. [107]

1 In Surinam all such children go with their mothers; that is, if she is in slavery, her offspring are her master’s property, should their father be a prince, unless he obtains them by purchase. 

2 A samboe is between a mulatto and a negro. 

3 A ponkee is a flat-bottomed boat of four or six oars, something like a square-toed shoe; sometimes it has a tilt, and sometimes not. 

4 Kill-devil is a species of rum which is distilled from the scum and dregs of sugar cauldrons. This is much drunk in this colony, and the only spirits allowed the negroes; many Europeans also, from a point of œconomy, make use of it, to whom it proves no better than a slow but fatal poison. 



Account of a dreadful Execution—Fluctuating State of political Affairs—Short Glimpse of Peace—An Officer shot dead; his whole Party cut to Pieces, and the general Alarm revived throughout the Colony.

On the 21st of May our Lieutenant Colonel Lantman died, and a number of our officers lay sick.

Instead of gaiety and dissipation, disease and mortality now began to rage amongst us; and the devastation increased from day to day among the private men, in a most alarming proportion. The remains of the deceased officer were interred with military honours, in the centre of the Fortress Zealandia, where all criminals are imprisoned, and all field officers buried. At this place I was not a little shocked, to see the captive rebel negroes and others clanking their chains, and roasting plantains and yams upon the sepulchres of the dead; they presented to my imagination, the image of a number of diabolical fiends in the shape of African slaves, tormenting the souls of their European persecutors. From these gloomy mansions of despair, on this day, seven captive negroes were selected, who being led by a few soldiers to the place of execution, which is in the Savannah, where the sailors and soldiers are interred, six were hanged, and one broken alive upon the rack, with an iron [108]bar; besides which a white man was scourged before the court house, by the public executioner, who is in this country always a black. The circumstance which led me to take particular notice of this affair, was the shameful injustice of shewing a partiality to the European, who ought to have been better informed, by letting him escape with only a slight corporal punishment; while the poor uneducated African for the same crime, viz. stealing money out of the Town Hall, lost his life under the most excruciating torments, which he supported without heaving a sigh or making a complaint; while one of his companions with the rope about his neck, and just on the point of being turned off, uttered a laugh of contempt at the magistrates who attended the execution. I ought not in this place to omit, that the negro who flogged the white man inflicted the punishment with the greatest marks of commiseration. These transactions almost induced me to decide between the Europeans and Africans in this colony, that the first were the greater barbarians of the two—a name which tarnishes Christianity, and is bestowed on them in too many corners of the globe, with what real degree of justice I will not take on me to determine.

Having testified how much I was hurt at the cruelty of the above execution, and surprized at the intrepidity with which the negroes bore their punishment, a decent looking man stepped up to me, “Sir, (said he) you are but a new-comer from Europe, and know very little [109]about the African slaves, or you would testify both less feeling and surprize. Not long ago, (continued he) I saw a black man suspended alive from a gallows, by the ribs, between which, with a knife, was first made an incision, and then clinched an iron hook with a chain; in this manner he kept alive three days, hanging with his head and feet downwards, and catching with his tongue the drops of water (it being in the rainy season) that were flowing down his bloated breast. Notwithstanding all this he never complained, and even upbraided a negro for crying while he was flogged below the gallows, by calling out to him—You man?—Da boy facy? Are you a man? you behave like a boy. Shortly after which he was knocked on the head by the commiserating sentry, who stood over him, with the butt end of his musket.”—“Another negro, (said he) I have seen quartered alive; who, after four strong horses were fastened to his legs and arms, and after having had iron sprigs driven home underneath a every one of his nails on hands and feet, without a motion, he first asked a dram, and then bid them pull away, without a groan; but what afforded us the greatest entertainment, (continued he) were the fellow’s jokes, by desiring the executioner to drink before him, in case there should chance to be poison in the glass, and bidding him take care of his horses, lest any of them should happen to strike backwards. As for old men being broken upon the rack, and young women roasted [110]alive chained to stakes, there can nothing be more common in this colony.”—I was petrified at the inhuman detail; and breaking away with execrations from this diabolical scene of laceration, made the best of my way home to my own lodgings.

On the 24th, having received a supply of provisions from Holland, and absolutely doing no service in the colony, it was universally resolved that we should proceed home; our regiment, notwithstanding its being partly paid by the United Provinces, still being exceedingly chargeable to the society and the inhabitants, who, in conjunction, paid all other expences; thus, in the hopes of sailing in the middle of June, the transports were ordered a second time to wood, water, and make all other necessary preparations.

I must say nothing of what I felt on this occasion; I continued, however, not long in this state of suspense; for the following day intelligence being brought that a plantation was demolished, and the overseers murdered by the rebels, our stay was prolonged a second time, at the request of the governor himself and inhabitants; and, in consequence, the three transports, which had since February the 9th been kept waiting at a great expence, were finally put out of commission, and the provisions stowed at the head-quarters in a temporary store-house erected for that purpose.

A Negro hung alive by the Ribs to a Gallows.
 Blake Sculpt.

A Negro hung alive by the Ribs to a Gallows.

London, Published Decr. 1st., 1792, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

The minds of the people began now to be quieted, finding at last that the troops were in earnest preparing [111]for actual service, a circumstance greatly, indeed, to be lamented as to the occasion, but certainly much better for the colony, than to let the regiment linger away an idle life at Paramaribo.

Thus our warlike preparations for some days proceeded, and our marines appeared in excellent spirits; when again, on the 7th of June, to our unutterable surprize, we were for the third time officially acquainted, that things seeming quiet, and presuming that tranquillity was at last re-established, the colony of Surinam had no farther occasion for our services; these fluctating councils did not fail to produce much discontent among the military, as well as the inhabitants; and cabals were formed, which threatened to break out into a civil contest.

Some charged the governor with being jealous of the unlimited power which was vested in Colonel Fourgeoud, who was also by many others blamed as abusing that power, and as not treating the governor with that civility, which he might have evinced without lessening his own consequence. Thus, while one party acknowledged us to be the bulwark of the settlement, by keeping the rebels in awe, the opposition hesitated not to call us the locusts of Egypt, who were come to devour the fruits of the colony.

Without entering into the merits of the question, it is sufficient to say, that our life was rendered very uncomfortable, and a great number of us could not help thinking, [112]that between the two parties we were but ill treated. This same day, while at dinner on board a Dutch vessel in the roads, the company were alarmed by the most tremendous clap of thunder I ever heard in my life. On our side of the continent, several negroes and cattle were killed by lightning; while, on the other side, nearly at the same time, the city of Guatimala, in Old Mexico, was swallowed up by an earthquake, by which eight thousand families are said to have instantly perished.

On the 11th, the ships, being taken again into commission, were ordered with all possible expedition to prepare for our final departure, and every one was making himself ready for the voyage.

Being thus apparently disengaged from military service, I received a polite invitation from a Mr. Campbel, who was lodged with a Mr. Kerry at my friend Kennedy’s, to accompany him on a visit to the island of Tobago, where I might recruit my debilitated health and dejected spirits. His plan was to return with me by the Leeward Islands to Europe. It was, indeed, to me a most agreeable offer, all things considered, and I should certainly with pleasure have accepted it, had not my application to Colonel Fourgeoud been prevented by a fresh alarm, which was received on the 15th. The substance of this was no less, than that an officer of the Society troops had been shot dead by the rebels, and his whole party, consisting of about thirty men, entirely cut to pieces. So alarming a piece of intelligence could not fail to throw the whole [113]colony once more into the utmost confusion and consternation; the above gentleman, whose name was Lepper, and only a lieutenant, was in a great measure the cause of this misfortune, by his impetuosity and intrepidity, totally unregulated by temper or conduct1; but as this censure in general terms may appear severe, it becomes in some degree incumbent on me to relate the particulars.

The period when this unhappy event took place, was that which, in the language of the colony, is termed the short dry-season. During this, Mr. Lepper having been informed that between the rivers Patamaca and Upper Cormootibo, a village of negroes had been discovered by the rangers some time before; he determined with his small party, which was only a detachment from the Patamaca post, to sally through the woods and attack them. But the rebels being apprized of his intentions by their spies, which they constantly employ, immediately marched out to receive him; in his way they laid themselves in ambush, near the borders of a deep marsh, through which the soldiers were to pass to the rebel settlement. No sooner had the unfortunate men got into the swamp and up to their arm-pits, than their black enemies rushed out from under cover, and shot them dead at their leisure in the water, [114]while they were unable to return the fire more than once, their situation preventing them from re-loading their musquets. Their gallant commander, being imprudently distinguished by a gold-laced hat, was shot through the head in the first onset. The few that scrambled out of the marsh upon the banks were immediately put to death in the most barbarous manner, except five or six, who were taken prisoners and carried alive to the settlement of the rebels. The melancholy fate of these unfortunate men, I shall, in a proper place, describe, as I had it since from those that were eye-witnesses of it.

The intelligence had scarcely reached Paramaribo, than the whole town was in a tumult; some parties were so vehement that they were ready to tear the governor and council to pieces, for having dismissed Colonel Fourgeoud with his regiment; while others ingenuously declared, that if we were intended for no further use than we had hitherto been, our company might without regret be dispensed with. All this could not but be exceedingly galling to our officers, who wished nothing more than to be employed on actual service for the advantage of the colony. On the other side, most bitter lampoons were spread through the town against the governor and his council; libels of such a black and inflammatory nature, that no less than a thousand gold ducats were offered as a reward for the discovery of their author, with a promise of concealing the name of the informer if he required it: but the whole was to no purpose, and neither author nor [115]informer made their appearance; the general clamour however still continuing, the governor and council were forced a third time to petition us to remain in Surinam, and to protect the distracted colony. To this petition we once more condescended to listen, and the ships were actually a third time put out of commission.

We, however, still continued doing nothing, to the unspeakable surprize of every person concerned: the only part on duty, hitherto, having consisted of a subaltern’s guard at the head-quarters, to protect the chief, his colours, his store-houses, pigs and poultry, which guard regularly mounted every day at half past four o’clock, and another on board the transports, until the provisions had been stowed on shore in the magazines. This, a few field-days excepted, when the soldiers were drilled for pomp alone in a burning sun till they fainted, comprehended the whole of our military manœuvres. But I perceive the reader is already impatient for some information respecting these two extraordinary men, who, from their inveteracy and opposition to each other, as well as from other causes, were the authors of these unaccountable and fluctuating proceedings; and the outlines of these two characters may perhaps assist in unravelling the mystery.

As the ingredients of flattery or fear make but a small part of that man’s composition who presumes to give them, and who pretends perfectly to have known both, [116]the reader may depend on having them painted in their true original colours, however strong the shades.

Governor Nepveu was said to be rather a man of sense than of learning, and was wholly indebted to his art and address, for having risen to his present dignity from sweeping the hall of the court-house. By the same means he was enabled, from nothing, to accumulate a fortune, by some computed at no less than eight thousand pounds sterling annually, and to command respect from all ranks of people, no person ever daring to attack him but at a distance. His deportment was affable, but ironical, without ever losing the command of his temper, which gave him the appearance of a man of fashion, and rendered his influence almost unbounded. He was generally known by the appellation of Reynard, and was most certainly a fox of too much artifice to be run down by all the hounds in the colony.

Colonel Fourgeoud was almost exactly the reverse of this portrait. He was impetuous, passionate, self-sufficient, and revengeful: he was not cruel to individuals, but was a tyrant to the generality, and caused the death of hundreds by his sordid avarice and oppression. With all this he was partial, ungrateful, and confused; but a most indefatigable man in bearing hardships and in braving dangers, not exceeded by Columbus himself, which, like a true buccaneer, he sustained with the most heroic courage, patience, and perseverance. Though unconquerably [117]harsh and severe to his officers, he was however not wanting in affability to the private soldiers. He had read, but had no education to assist him in digesting what he read. In short, few men could talk better, but on most occasions few could act worse.

Such were the characters of our commanders, while the opposition of two such men to each other could not fail to produce unhappiness to the troops, and operated as a sufficient cause for the fluctuating state of political affairs in this dejected colony.

As we still continued totally inactive, I am necessarily deprived of the pleasure of relating any of our hero’s warlike atchievements.—To relieve the sameness of the narrative, I therefore take the liberty of describing one of his favourites.—This was no other than a bird called the toucan, and in Surinam banarabeck or cojacai, either from its bill having some resemblance to that fruit, or from its being accustomed to feed on it, and perhaps from both. This animal the colonel kept hopping tame amongst his poultry.

The toucan is not larger than a tame pigeon, and yet its beak is no less than six inches in length, if not more. It is shaped like a jackdaw, carrying its tail almost perpendicular, except when it flies: its colour is black, except a little white under the throat and breast, which is bordered with red in the form of a crescent reversed, and a few feathers above and under its tail, some white and some crimson. The head is large, with a blueish ring [118]round the eyes, of which the iris is yellow, and its ash-coloured toes are much like those of a parrot. Its remarkable beak deserves the most particular attention, which is serrated, and of a size utterly disproportioned to its body. This beak, however, which is arched, is as thin as parchment, and consequently very light; it is yellow on the top, and on the sides of a beautiful deep orange, inclosing a tongue which bears a strong resemblance to a feather. The toucan feeds on fruit, especially pepper, and is very domestic.

The Toucan & the Fly-catcher.

The Toucan & the Fly-catcher.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1794, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

I shall here also take the opportunity to describe another tame bird, which I saw with pleasure at the house of Mr. Lolkens, and which I take to be what we call the fly-catcher; they denominate it in this country sun-fowlo, because when it extends its wings, which it frequently does, there appears, on the interior part of each wing, the most beautiful representation of a sun. This bird is about the size of a woodcock, and of a golden colour, but speckled; its legs are very long, and also its slender bill, which is perfectly strait, and very pointed. With this it darts at the flies while they creep, with such wonderful dexterity and quickness, that it never misses the object, which seems to constitute its principal food; and this property renders it both useful and entertaining. This bird might, with some degree of propriety, be styled the perpetual motion, its body making a continual movement, and its tail keeping time like the pendulum of a clock. [119]

Having described these two contrasts in appearance, I must add, that neither they, nor any of those birds in Guiana which are remarkable for their beautiful plumage, ever sing with any degree of melody, three or four perhaps excepted, whose notes are sweet, but not varied. Of these I shall speak at a proper opportunity.

“———— ——— ——— For Nature’s hand,

That with a sportive vanity has deck’d

The plumy nations, there her gayest hues

Profusely pours. But if she bids them shine,

Array’d in all the beauteous beams of day,

Yet, frugal still, she humbles them in song.”

One bird more I shall only mention in this place, which may be considered as the rival of the mock-bird, viz. the Caribbean wren. This bird, which is called by the Surinam colonists Gado fowlo, or the bird of God, probably from its familiarity, inoffensiveness, and its delightful music, is rather larger than the English wren, which in its plumage it much resembles; it frequently perches upon the window-shutters with the familiarity of the robin. From its enchanting warbling, it has been honoured by many with the name of the South American nightingale.—But to proceed with my narrative.

On the 21st died Mr. Renard, one of our best surgeons, who was buried the same afternoon, a process quite necessary in this hot country, where putrefaction so instantaneously takes place, and more especially when the [120]patient dies of a putrid fever, which is in this country extremely frequent. This dreadful disease first appears by bilious vomiting, lowness of spirits, and a yellowish cast of the countenance and eyes; and unless proper remedies be immediately applied, the distemper becomes fatal, and certain death in a few days is the consequence. The belly-hatty, or dry-gripes, by some compared to the Devonshire cholic, is also a common complaint in this country, and not only causes excruciating pains, but is exceedingly dangerous. This also had now attacked a great number of our people. As to the causes of this disorder I can give no account. The prevailing symptom is an obstinate costiveness, which they endeavour to remove by a quantity of castor oil taken internally, and also injected by the rectum.

It was, indeed, lamentable to observe the state to which we were already reduced, from a corps of the finest, healthiest young men that ever sailed from Europe, with blooming fresh complexions, now changed to the sallow colour of a drum-head. It was no alleviation of the calamity to reflect, that all this waste of life and health had been hitherto to no purpose; though some persons chose to report, that the whole was no more than a political scheme to have another regiment added to the war-establishment in Holland, as Colonel De Salve’s marines had been before: but to this others gave but very little credit.

Of the hospitality of the country at least we could not [121]complain, since this was actually one of the principal sources of our misfortunes, and we were likely in a few months to be caressed to death by the civilities of the men, and the kindness of the ladies: a circumstance which rendered Surinam a real Capua to these brave fellows.

On the 27th of June, the gentleman-like Lieutenant-Colonel Baron de Gersdorph died, much regretted indeed by every person; while the grim King of Terrors, conscientiously beginning at the head of the corps with the field officers, could not fail to afford some consolation to the inferior gentry who succeeded to their places, by the appointment of Colonel Fourgeoud, the commander in chief, who himself exhibited as yet no symptoms of mortality. Major Becquer was now made lieutenant-colonel, and a Captain Rockaph advanced to the rank of major.

The European animals that live in this country are no less debilitated and diminutive than the human species. The oxen, for instance, are very small2, and their beef not near so delicate as it is in Europe, owing probably to their perpetual perspiration, and the coarseness of the grass on which they feed, which is not so good as that of the salt marshes in Somersetshire. On the banks of the Oronoque the oxen run wild, and are sold by the Spaniards for two dollars per head. A single piece of ready-roasted [122]beef is often sent from Europe to Guiana as a most valuable and delicate present. The manner of preserving the meat for this long voyage, when roasted, is by putting it in a block-tin box or cannister; then filling up the empty space with gravy or dripping till it is perfectly covered over; after which the box must be made fast and soldered round about, so that neither air nor water can penetrate: by this means I was told it may be with safety carried round the globe.

The sheep in this country are so small that, when skinned, they seem not larger than young lambs in Whitechapel market; they have no horns nor wool, but strait hair, and are to an European but very indifferent eating: the more so, since all beef, mutton, &c. must be consumed the same day that it is killed, which causes it to eat tough, while keeping it longer exposes it to putrefaction. Neither of these animals are natural to Guiana: the breed has been imported from the Old Continent. So also was the breed of the hog, but with far better success; for these animals, in my opinion, thrive better in South America than in Europe. The hogs here are large, fat, good, and plentiful; as in England, they feed on almost every thing that is eatable, and on the estates are often fattened with green pineapples, a fruit which grows spontaneously in this climate, and of which they are exceedingly fond. As for the poultry, nothing can thrive better; the common fowls are here as good and as plenty as in any country, but [123]smaller, and their eggs differ in shape, being more sharp-pointed. A smaller species of the dunghill kind, with rumpled inverted feathers, seems natural to Guiana, being reared in the inland parts of the country by the Indians or natives. The turkeys are very fine, and so are the geese, but the ducks are excellent, being of the large Muscovy species, with crimson pearls betwixt the beak and the head: these are here juicy, fat, and in great plenty.

After the various delays we had experienced, the reader will be surprized to learn that the hour of action at last arrived, and all the officers and men were ordered to be ready at a minute’s warning to set out on actual service, though our little corps was already melted down from five hundred and thirty able men to about three-fourths of that number, by death and sickness, the hospital being crouded by invalids of every kind. The loss of so large a proportion of men was supplied in a manner that will appear extraordinary to a European.

There were two negroes, one called Okera, the other Gowsary, two desperadoes, who had both been rebel captains in the colony of Berbice, and who, for taking Atta their chief, and delivering him to the governor of that settlement, had received their pardon. By these two men the most inhuman murders had been committed on the Europeans in the year 1762, when the revolt was in the above colony. These were now admitted as private [124]soldiers in our regiment, and were Colonel Fourgeoud’s greatest favourites.

Before we left Paramaribo, I had an opportunity of seeing two very extraordinary animals of the aquatic kind; the one was in Mr. Roux’s cabinet of curiosities, and is called in the colony jackee, in Latin, rana piscatrix. This fish is about eight or ten inches long, without scales, exceeding fat and delicate, as I can testify by experience, and is found in all narrow creeks and marshy places. But what is extremely remarkable is, that this creature, however incredible it may appear, absolutely changes to a perfect frog, but not from a frog to a fish, as Merian, Zeba, and some random historians (among whom I am sorry to name Westley) have been pleased to assert; and of this truth I was at this time fully satisfied, by seeing the above animal dissected, and suspended in a bottle with spirits; when the two hinder legs of a very small frog made their appearance, growing inside from that part of the back to which usually the intestines are fixed. I nevertheless humbly presume to suppose, in this case, that the jackee is neither more nor less than a kind of tadpole, which grows to a large size before it undergoes the usual transformation.

The other animal I saw at the house of my friend Kennedy: this is what Dr. Bancroft calls the torporific, and others the electrical eel, and which Dr. Firmyn supposes to possess the same qualities with the torpedo. [125]This wonderful animal is of a lead-blue colour, formed in a great measure like an eel, with one large fin that runs below from head to tail, not unlike the keel of a ship. It lives only in fresh water: its length is called by some three feet, and by others is asserted to be not less than four or five times as much3. When this animal is touched by the hand, or any rod of metal or hard wood, it communicates a shock, the impulse of which produces the same effect as electricity; and Dr. Firmyn has even assured me, that the shock of this electrical eel has been communicated to him through the bodies of eight or ten people, who stood hand in hand for the purpose of trying the experiment.

For my own part, all that I can say concerning this animal is, that I saw it in a tub full of water, where it appeared to be about two feet long; that I threw off my coat, and having turned up my shirt-sleeves, tried about twenty different times to grasp it with my hand, but all without effect, receiving just as many electrical shocks, which I felt even to the top of my shoulder, to the great entertainment of Mr. Kennedy, to whom I lost a small wager on the occasion. The electrical eel swims forward or backward at pleasure, it may be eaten with the greatest safety, and is even by many people thought delicious.

It has been said, that this animal must be touched with both hands before it gives the shock, but this I must [126]take the liberty of contradicting, having experienced the contrary effect: it is also alledged, that they have been found in Surinam above twenty feet long, but one of that length never yet came within the scope of my observation; nor have I ever heard of any person being killed by them, according to the account which is given by the same author, Alexander Gardon, M. D. F. R. S. in a letter to John Ellis, Esq. dated Charlestown, South Carolina, August 14th, 1774.

It is a painful circumstance, that the narrative of my travels must so frequently prove the record of cruelty and barbarity: but once for all I must declare, that I state these facts merely in the hope that it may, in some mode or other, operate for their future prevention. Before my departure, I was informed of a most shocking instance of depravity, which had just occurred. A Jewess, impelled by a groundless jealousy, (for such her husband made it appear) put an end to the life of a young and beautiful Quadroon girl, by the infernal means of plunging into her body a red-hot poker. But what is most incredible, and what indeed will scarcely be believed in a civilized country, is, that for this most diabolical crime the murderess was only banished to the Jew-Savannah, a village which I shall afterwards describe, and condemned in a trifling fine to the fiscal or town-clerk of the colony.

Another young negro woman, having her ancles chained so close together that she could scarcely move her [127]feet, was knocked down with a cane by a Jew, and beaten till the blood streamed out of her head, her arms, and her naked sides. So accustomed, indeed, are the people of this country to tyranny and insolence, that a third Israelite had the impudence to strike one of my soldiers, for having made water against his garden-fence. On this miscreant I took revenge for the whole fraternity, by wresting the offending weapon out of his hand, which I instantly broke into a thousand pieces on his guilty naked pate.

I nevertheless was just enough to flog another man out of the regiment, for picking a Jew’s pocket: and, to their credit be it mentioned, that so jealous are the Dutch soldiers of what they call a point of honour, that were a thief to be known, and kept in the ranks, the whole regiment would lay down their arms. This etiquette is of great utility, and would be no bad practice to be introduced into some other armies, where a thief is too often accounted as good as another, if he is so fortunate as to be six feet high.

About this time Colonel Fourgeoud issued the following orders, viz. that in case it ever happened that two officers, or under-officers, of equal rank, the one of the European the other of the Society corps, should meet on any military duty, the first should always take the command, independent of seniority, unless the latter bore a higher commission. [128]

We now seriously prepared for victory or death, on board the wooden walls of the Colony, which consisted of half a dozen crazy old sugar barges, such as are used by the colliers in the Thames, being only roofed over with boards, which gave them the appearance of so many coffins; and how well they deserved this name, I am afraid will too soon appear by the number of men they buried.

On the first of July were dispatched for the river Comewina, one captain, two subalterns, one serjeant, two corporals, and eighteen men. Of this captain, I cannot help mentioning a very singular circumstance—the first day we landed in this colony, having entered the lodging on which he was billetted, his landlady declared she should ever pride herself in shewing all the civility in her power to either marines or naval officers, as she owed her life to one of them, who had some years before picked her up in an open boat with several others, after they had been tossed about sixteen days without either compass, sail, or provisions, a little sea-biscuit and water excepted, on the Atlantic ocean. To avoid circumlocution, this very gentleman, whose name was Tulling Van Older Barnevelt, proved to be the individual officer who had saved her from the jaws of death, as he at that time belonged to the navy, being a lieutenant of a Dutch man of war.

This same day we also dispatched another barge with two subalterns, one serjeant, one corporal, and fourteen [129]men, commanded by Lieutenant Count Randwyck, to the river Pirica; and in the evening, having entertained some select friends in my house, I bade farewell to my Joanna, to whose care I left my all; and herself to the protection of her mother and aunt, with my directions for putting her to school until my return: after which, I at last marched on board, with four subalterns, two serjeants, three corporals, and thirty-two men under my command, to be divided into two barges, and bound for the upper part of the river Cottica.—

Now my Mulatto cast a mournful look,

Hung on my hand, and then dejected spoke;

Her bosom labour’d with a boding sigh,

And the big tear stood trembling in her eye.

The above barges were all armed with swivels, blunderbusses, &c. and provided with allowance for one month: their orders were (that which went to the Jews Savannah excepted) to cruize up and down the upper parts of the rivers, each barge having a pilot, and rowed by negro slaves, ten of which were on board of each for the purpose, and which made my complement, including my black boy Quaco, exactly sixty-five, thirty-five of which embarked with myself. With this ship’s company was I now stowed in my hen-coop; while on board of my lieutenant’s barge the crew consisted of twenty-nine only, and consequently were less crowded. [130]

I must take notice that from our first landing in Surinam till this time our private men were paid in silver coin, which the captains had proposed to exchange for card money, at the rate of ten per cent. gain for them; by which the poor fellows would have benefited between two and three hundred pounds sterling per annum, to buy refreshment: but Colonel Fourgeoud insisted they should continue to receive their little pittance in coin, which in small sums was of no more value than paper; and I thought unaccountably hard, since this was hurting the whole, without profit to one single individual. One thing more I must remark, which is, that all the officers who were now proceeding upon duty continued to pay at the mess, which cost each captain at the rate of forty pounds; but for which, in his barge, he was to receive in provisions after the rate of ten pounds (thus he lost thirty pounds; and these provisions were salt beef, pork, and pease) on an equal footing with the private soldiers, a few bottles of wine excepted. But certainly some greater indulgence was due, and I must say necessary, to officers, who were going to be stationed where absolutely no kind of refreshment was to be had, being surrounded by the most horrid and impenetrable woods, beyond the hearing of a cannon-shot from any port or plantation whatever. This was not the case with the other barges, who were stationed in the midst of peace and plenty, being within view of the most beautiful estates. We were indeed pitied [131]by all ranks without exception; who foreseeing our approaching calamities, crouded my barge with the best commodities they had to present, which they insisted upon my accepting. But the reader will have a better idea of the liberality of my benefactors from the following list, than from any encomiums which I could pass upon it:

24 Bottles of best claret, 6 Bottles of muscadel,
12 Ditto of Madeira, 2 Gallons of lemon-juice,
12 Ditto of English porter, 2 Gallons of ground coffee,
12 Ditto of English cyder, 2 Large Westphalia hams,
12 Ditto of Jamaica rum, 2 Salted bullocks tongues,
2 Large loaves of white sugar, 1 Bottle of Durham mustard,
2 Gallons of brandy, 6 Dozen of spermaceti candles.

From this specimen the reader will easily perceive, that if some of the inhabitants of the colony of Surinam shew themselves the disgrace of the creation, by their cruelties and brutality, others, by their hospitality and social feelings, approve themselves an ornament to the human species.—With this instance of virtue and generosity, I therefore conclude this chapter; and trust I shall ever be found more ready to record the good actions of my fellow-creatures, than to remark their defects. [132]

1 This gentleman formerly belonged to the life-guards in Holland, from which he fled, after thrusting his antagonist through the heart with his sword in a duel. 

2 This I am astonished to see contradicted by Dr. Bancroft, who says they improve in South America, while one bullock of Smithfield market assuredly weighs down two of the largest in Guiana. 

3 Mr. Greenwood, of Leicester Fields, has told me himself that he killed one of eleven feet long. 



Armed Barges are sent up to defend the Rivers—Description of the Fortress New Amsterdam—A Cruise in the upper Parts of Rio Cottica and Patamaca—Great Mortality among the Troops—View of the Military Post at Devil’s Harwar.

On the third of July, 1773, at four o’clock in the morning, the fleet cast off from their moorings, and with the ebb tide rowed down as far as the fortress New Amsterdam, where, being wind and tide bound, we dropped anchor off the battery.

It may not be improper, in this place, to describe the dress of our marines, which was blue turned up with scarlet, short jackets, and leather caps. They carried a musquet, sabre, and pistols; a large wallet or knapsack across one shoulder, and their hammocks slung over the other. While in the woods, they wore trowsers and check shirts, with short linen frocks, as most adapted to the climate.

A private Marine of Col. Fourgeoud’s Corps.
 Blake Sculpt.

A private Marine of Col. Fourgeoud’s Corps.

London, Published Decr. 2d, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

Having first reviewed both my ship’s companies, viz. four subalterns, two serjeants, three corporals, thirty-two privates, two pilots, twenty negroes, and my black boy Quaco; and having placed the arms, consisting of blunderbusses, swivels, &c. stowed the luggage, and slung the hammocks, I perused my orders, which were to cruise [133]up and down Rio Cottica, between the Society posts, La Rochel at Patamaca, and Slanswelvaren above the last plantation, to prevent the rebels from crossing the river, to seize or kill them if possible, and protect the estates from their invasions: in all which operations I was to be assisted, if necessary, by the troops of the Society on the above posts, with whom I was also to deliberate on the proper signals to be given in case of an alarm.

Having now time and opportunity, I visited the fortress called New Amsterdam.

This fortification was began in the year 1734, and finished in 1747. It is built in the form of a regular pentagon, with five bastions, being about three English miles in circumference, surrounded by a broad fosse, which is supplied from the river, and defended by a covert way, well palisadoed. Its foundations are a kind of rocky ground; and its principal strength by water a large bank of mud off the point, supported by a strong battery of cannon, which prevents even flat-bottomed vessels from making any approach in that quarter; and by crossing the fire of the guns with the opposite redoubts, Leyden and Purmerent, it protects the entry of both the rivers, Surinam and Comewina, as I have said before: it has, besides, powder-magazines and victualling-offices, and is well provided with all the other necessary buildings for the use of a strong garrison. There are even a corn-windmill, and a cistern which will hold [134]above a thousand hogsheads of water. This in fact is no more than necessary; since, according to my opinion, it will take the whole army of Surinam to defend so large an extent for any length of time. Adjoining to the fortress is also a large spot of ground, well stocked with plantains, yams, &c. in order to feed the Society slaves, which are kept here, at the colony’s expence, to work at the fortifications, under the inspection of a proper overseer.

In this fort is generally stationed a small garrison, commanded by an officer of the artillery, which obliges all vessels whatever to bring-to, shew their colours, and salute them with seven guns each, the compliment being answered with three guns from the battery, and the hoisting of a flag on the ramparts. I shall only add, that this fortress is, on the north-east side, surrounded with bogs and impenetrable bushes, and that the spot was, from these circumstances, formerly called the Tyger’s Hole.

Having described Fort New Amsterdam, I cannot leave it without taking notice of some very remarkable fish, which are always seen in great quantities near this fortress, and which have actually four eyes, swimming constantly with two above and two under the water. These fishes are about the size of a smelt, and swim in shoals with incredible velocity; they seem principally to delight in brackish water, are accounted no bad eating, and are called coot-eye by the inhabitants of the colony.

View & Plan of the Fortress called Amsterdam.
 T. Conder Sculpt.

View & Plan of the Fortress called Amsterdam.

  • 1. Governours House
  • 2. Artillery Officers
  • 3. Victualling Office
  • 4. Main Guard
  • 5. Infantry Officers
  • 6. Carpenters Lodge
  • 7. The Church
  • 8. Corn Windmill
  • 9. Secretary’s Office
  • 10. Barracks
  • 11. Smith’s Forge
  • 12. Grove of Orange Trees
  • 13. Gunpowder Magazine
  • 14. Fresh Water Cistern
  • 15. The Great Floodgate
  • 16. The Landing Place
  • 17. The Great Mud-bank
  • 18. Ground for Plantains

London, Published Decr. 1st 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.


This evening my sentinel being insulted by a rowboat, which damned him, and spoke of the whole crew in the most opprobrious terms, I immediately manned the canoe, and gave chace; but by the help of hoisting a small sail, and the intervention of a dark night, the rogue, who kept course towards Baram’s Point, had the good fortune to escape my resentment.

On the fourth of July, in the morning, we weighed anchor; and having doubled the Cape, rowed with the flood till we arrived before Elizabeth’s Hope, a beautiful coffee plantation, where the proprietor, Mr. Kleynhans, inviting us on shore, shewed us every civility in his power, and loaded my barge with refreshing fruits, vegetables, &c. He told us that he pitied our situation from his heart, and foretold the miseries we were going to encounter, the rainy season being just at hand, or indeed having already commenced, by frequent showers, accompanied with loud claps of thunder. “As for the enemy,” said he, “you may depend on not seeing one single soul of them; they know better than to make their appearance openly, while they may have a chance of seeing you from under cover: thus, Sir, take care to be upon your guard—but the climate, the climate will murder you all. However,” continued he, “this shews the zeal of your commander, who will rather see you killed, than see you eat the bread of idleness at Paramaribo.”—This pleasant harangue he accompanied with a squeeze by the hand. We then took our [136]leave, while the beautiful Mrs. Dutry, his daughter, shed tears at our departure.—This evening we anchored before the Matapaca Creek.

I here created my two barges men of war, and named them the Charon and the Cerberus, by which names I shall distinguish them during the rest of the voyage; though the Sudden Death and Wilful Murder were much more applicable, as will be seen. We now continued rowing up the river Cottica, having passed, since we entered Rio Comewina, some most enchantingly beautiful estates of coffee and sugar, which line the banks of both these rivers, at the distance of one or two miles from each other.

My crew having walked and drest their dinner ashore on the plantation l’Avanture, we anchored, on the evening of the 5th, before Rio Pirica.

On the following day we rowed still further up the river Cottica, and went on shore on the estate Alia. At all the above plantations we were most hospitably received, but we met with fewer plantations as the river grew narrower.

On the 7th we continued our course, and having walked ashore on the estate Bockkestyne, being the last plantation up the river Cottica on the right, except one or two small estates in Patamaca, at night we cast anchor at the mouth of Coopman’s Creek. This day the Charon was on fire, but happily it was soon extinguished.

On the 8th, we again kept rowing upwards, and at eleven o’clock A. M. cast anchor off the Fort Slanswelvaren, [137]which was guarded by the troops of the Society. Here I stepped on shore, with my officers, to wait on Captain Orzinga, the commander, and delivered three of my sick men into his hospital; where I beheld such a spectacle of misery and wretchedness as baffles all imagination: this place having been formerly called Devil’s Harwar, on account of its intolerable unhealthiness—a name by which alone I shall again distinguish it, as much more suitable than that of Slanswelvaren, which signifies the welfare of the nation.

Here I saw a few of the wounded wretches, who had escaped from the engagement in which Lieutenant Lepper, with so many men, had been killed; and one of them told me the particulars of his own miraculous escape:—“I was shot, Sir,” said he, “with a musquet-bullet in my breast; and to resist or escape being impossible, as the only means left me to save my life I threw myself down among the mortally wounded, and the dead, without moving hand or foot. Here in the evening the rebel chief, surveying his conquest, ordered one of his captains to begin instantly to cut off the heads of the slain, in order to carry them home to their village, as trophies of their victory: this captain, having already chopped off that of Lieutenant Lepper, and one or two more, said to his friend, Sonde go sleeby, caba mekewe liby den tara dogo tay tamara; The sun is just going to sleep, we must leave those other dogs till to-morrow. [138]Upon saying, which (continued the soldier) as I lay on my bleeding breast, with my face resting on my left arm, he, dropping his hatchet into my shoulder, made the fatal wound you see, of which I shall perhaps no more recover.—I however lay quite still. They went away, carrying along with them the mangled heads of my comrades, and five or six prisoners alive, with their hands tied behind their backs, of whom I never since have heard. When all was quiet, and it was very dark, I found means, on my hands and feet, to creep out from among the carnage, and get under cover in the forest, where I met another of our soldiers, who was less wounded than myself; with whom, after ten days wandering, in torment and despair, without bandages, not knowing which way to proceed, and only one single loaf of black bread for our subsistence, we at last arrived at the military post of Patamaca, emaciated, and our putrefied wounds full of live worms.”

I gave the miserable creature half-a-crown; and having agreed with Captain Orzinga upon the signals, we left this pest-house, and stepping on board my man of war, rowed up till we arrived before a creek, called Barbacoba, where we once more came to an anchor.

On the following day we continued to row farther up the river, till we came before the Cormoetibo Creek, where we moored the fleet, as being my head [139]station, by Colonel Fourgeoud’s command. Here we saw nothing but water, wood, and clouds; no trace of humanity, and consequently the place had a most dismal, solitary appearance.

On the 10th I detached the Cerberus to her station, viz. Upper Patamaca; for which place she rowed immediately, with a long list of paroles, according to my orders, but which were never of any service.

We now tried to cook the victuals on board; our furnace was a large tub filled with earth, and we succeeded, at the expence of having almost scalded one of my men to death, and at the hazard of setting the barge once more on fire. As we had no surgeon along with us, this office fell to my lot; and, by the help of a small chest of medicines, I performed so well, that in a few days the scalded marine recovered.

To prevent, however, a similar accident again, I sought an opening in the creek above-named, which having found not very far from the mouth, I ordered my negroes to build a shed, and my men to dress their victuals below it, placing sentinels around them to prevent a surprize, and in the evening we returned to our station. This cooking we continued to perform every day, until the fourteenth, when we rowed down to Barbacoba.

Here we built another shed on the 15th, for the same purpose; and then, the rain already beating through my decks, we rowed down to Devil’s Harwar for repair, where I put one of my negroes sick in the hospital. [140]

On the 16th, I got my deck caulked and payed, and sent an account of our arrival to Colonel Fourgeoud.

On the 17th, we returned to Cormoetibo Creek, having lost an anchor among the roots of the mangrove-trees that on both sides line the banks of all the rivers in the colony. These trees are of two species, the red and the white, but the former is that of which I now speak: it rises from a number of roots that shew themselves above ground for several feet before they are joined together, and form the trunk, which is both large and tall; the bark is grey on the outside, but the inside is red, and used for tanning leather. The wood is reddish, hard, and good for building and other purposes; but the most remarkable property of this tree is, that from its extended branches, and even its trunk, descend thousands of ligneous shoots, like the ropes of a ship, which dropping to the earth, take root and again re-ascend, forming for a great circumference an impenetrable thicket, while, like so many props, they keep the tree steady in all weathers. The white mangrove is found mostly in places more distant from the water.

This evening my sentinel, when it was very dark, called out that he saw a negro, with a lighted tobacco-pipe, cross the Cormoetibo Creek in a canoe. We lost no time in leaping out of our hammocks; but were not a little mortified, when one of my slaves declared it was no more than a fire-fly on the wing—which actually was the case. [141]

These insects are above an inch long, with a round patch under the belly, of a transparent greenish colour, which in the dark gives a light like a candle: its eyes are also very luminous, and by the light of a couple of these flies one may see very well to read small print. There is another species, which is smaller, and only to be observed when they fly elevated, at which time they appear like the intermitting sparks of fire emitted from the forge of a blacksmith.

On the 18th, having nothing else to do, I shot a bird, which is here called a tigri-fowlo, or tiger-bird, but which I take to be of the heron species; it is about the size of a heron, but of a reddish colour, covered over with regular black spots, from which it has derived its name: its bill, which is long and strait, as also the legs and toes, are of a pale green colour, and seem to indicate that it lives upon fish: the neck is also long, from which hangs down a kind of hoary feathers. On the head, which is small, it has a roundish black spot, and its eyes are a beautiful yellow.

By a water-patrole from the Cerberus I received intelligence this evening, that the men began to be sickly; and on the following day I was informed, that on the spot where we had dressed our victuals, in the Cormoetibo Creek, and which is on the rebel side of the river, a strong detachment had lately been murdered by the enemy. I therefore ordered the shed to be burnt to the ground, and the meat to be dressed on board the barges. [142]Here all the elements now seemed to unite in opposing us; the water pouring down like a deluge, the heavy rains forced themselves fore and aft into the vessel, where they set every thing afloat; the air was infested with myriads of musquitoes, which, from sun-set to sun-rising, constantly kept us company, and prevented us from getting any sleep, and left us in the morning besmeared all over with blood, and full of blotches. The smoak of the fire and tobacco, which we burnt to annoy them, was enough to choak us; and not a foot-step of land could we find, where we might cook our salt provisions in safety. To all this misery may be added, that discord broke out between the marines and the negroes, with whom, as promises or threats had as yet no weight, I was obliged to have recourse to other means. I tied up the ringleaders of both parties; and after ordering the first to be well flogged, and the latter to be horse-whipped for half an hour, after due suspence and expectation, I pardoned them all without one lash. This had equally the effect of the punishment, and peace was perfectly re-established; but to prevent approaching disease was totally out of my power. Not all the golden rules in Doctor Armstrong’s beautiful poem upon health could avail in this situation.

We rowed down on the 20th, till we arrived before the Casepoere Creek, in hopes of meeting some relief, but were equally uncomfortable. So very thick were the musquitoes now, that by clapping my two hands together, [143]I have actually killed to the number of thirty-eight at one stroke.

In rowing down to Barbacoeba, we saw one or two beautiful snakes swim across the river. In the course of our progress we occasionally met with a little relief, by stepping ashore under the shade. I now had recourse to the advice of an old negro.—“Caramaca,” said I, “what methods do you take to preserve your health?”—“Swim every day twice or thrice, Sir,” said he, “in the river. This, Masara, not only serves for exercise where I cannot walk, but keeps my skin clean and cool; and the pores being open, I enjoy a free perspiration. Without this, by imperceptible filth, the pores are shut, the juices stagnate, and disease must inevitably follow.” Having recompensed the old gentleman with a dram, I instantly stripped and plunged headlong into the river. I had, however, no sooner taken this leap, than he called to me for God’s sake to come on board; which having done with much astonishment, he reminded me of the alligators, as well as of a fish which is here called pery.—“Both these, Sir,” said he, “are exceedingly dangerous, but by following my directions you will run no hazard. You may swim entirely naked, only take care that you constantly keep in motion; for the moment you are quiet, you run the risk of their snapping off a limb, or being dragged to the bottom.” [144]

Having mentioned the alligator, I shall take the liberty to offer to the reader (though he cannot but have met with some account of this creature in reading different voyages) some particulars which I have myself observed, or of which I have been informed on the best authority.

The Leguana or Iguana Lizard of Guiana.   The Alligator or Cayman of Surinam.

The Leguana or Iguana Lizard of Guiana.
The Alligator or Cayman of Surinam.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson., St. Pauls Church Yard.

It is an amphibious animal, and found in most rivers in Guiana; its size is from four to eighteen or twenty feet in length; the tail as long as the body, both of which are on the upper part indented like a saw, its shape being something like a lizard; the colour on the back is a yellowish brown, approaching to black, variegated on the sides with greenish shades, the belly being a dirty white; the head is large, with a snout and eyes somewhat resembling those of a sow; the last immoveable, and guarded each by a large protuberance or hard knob. The mouth and throat, extremely wide, are beset with double rows of teeth, that can snap almost through any bone: it has four feet, armed with claws and hard sharp-pointed nails. The whole animal is covered over with large scales, and a skin so thick that it is invulnerable, even by a musquet-ball, except in the head or the belly, where it is most liable to be wounded; its flesh is eaten by the natives, but is of a musky taste and flavour, owing it is said to a kind of bags or bladders which are on the inside of each limb. The alligator lays its eggs on the shore to a great number in the sand, where they are hatched by the sun, the [145]males eating the greater portion of them. On land this animal is not dangerous for want of activity, but in the rivers, where he is often seen lurking for his prey, with his muzzle alone above water, something like the stump of an old tree, he is truly tremendous to all that approach him; yet of man, as I have seen, he is afraid, during the time he keeps his hands and feet in motion, but no longer. Some negroes even have the courage to attack and vanquish the alligator in his own element, notwithstanding his violent strength and unequalled ferocity, being particularly fond of human flesh.

The difference between the above animal and the crocodile (which is also found in Surinam) consists not merely in the name, but in the shape and in the nature also, the latter being longer and more slender in proportion, and not so ferocious; the alligator or cayman (as called by the natives and negroes) is besides more frequently met with than the crocodile, which partly may be the cause of its being supposed to be more destructive. I shall only add, that in Asia there is a considerable difference to be found upon a nice examination between the above two reptiles, where they are also larger than they are in any parts of America.

Had it not been for an accident, these creatures would never have been known by any other name than that of crocodile: for had the first navigators seen any thing more resembling their form than a lizard, they would have adopted that which the Indians called them by, viz. [146]the cayman; but the Spanish sailors remarking their great resemblance to that little reptile, they called the first of them which they saw lagarto, or lizard. When our countrymen arrived, and heard that name, they called the creature a-lagarto, whence is derived the word alligato, or alligator.

The great advantage of such repositories of Natural History as the British Museum is, that they enable the lover of nature and truth to be satisfied by his own eyes of the extraordinary and almost incredible productions of nature. In the above-named collection may be seen a crocodile, differing in some particulars, but chiefly in its dimensions, from the creatures of the same name in other parts of India. Though so numerous in Bengal, I never heard upon good authority of one much larger than this, which measures, above twenty-one feet. It was taken in the river Indus, but not till it had received on many parts of its body several three-pound balls, many of which could not penetrate, or produce the least effect against his scales.

As I cannot so easily produce my voucher, I must pledge my veracity for another specimen, which I have myself seen; which proves to me that there have been some of this species of more than twice the size of that which may be measured in the Museum.

At Maestricht, in 1781, I saw the head of a crocodile petrified, which had been dug out of Mount Saint Pierre: [147]the body of which, by calculation, must have measured above sixty feet in length.—Query, when, or how, did this animal come there? Yet there with astonishment I beheld it, in the possession of a priest, who since sent it to Paris as a very great curiosity.

In Guiana there are said to be lizards of the size of five or six feet; but that species which is here called the iguana, and by the Indians the wayamaca, is seldom above three feet long. From the head to the extremity of the tail, it is covered over with small scales, reflecting very brilliant colours in the sun; the back and legs are of a dark blue, the sides and belly of a yellowish kind of green, as also the bag or loose skin which hangs under its throat. It is spotted in many parts with brown and black, and its eyes are a beautiful pale red, while the claws are of a deep chesnut colour.

This lizard, like the alligator, has its back and tail indented, both which are formed into a sharp edge. It lays its eggs in the sand, and is often seen among the shrubs and plants, where the Indians shoot it with their bows and arrows. These people esteem its flesh, which is very white, as a great delicacy; it is sold dear at Paramaribo, and bought as a dainty by many of the white inhabitants. This creature’s bite is extremely painful, but seldom attended with bad consequences.

But to return to my negro Caramaca, I acknowledge his account at first discouraged me from the [148]plan of daily bathing for health; but finding by following his direction that the dangers he represented were to be avoided, I resolved to follow it, and derived great benefit from the practice as long as I remained in the colony. This negro also advised me to walk bare-footed and thinly dressed. “Now is the season, Massera,” said he, “to use your feet to become hard, by walking on the smooth boards of the vessel; the time may come when you will be obliged to do so for want of shoes, in the midst of thorns and briers, as I have seen some others. Custom,” said he, “Massera, is second nature: our feet were all made alike. Do so as I advise you; and in the end you will thank old Caramaca. As for being thinly dressed,” continued the negro, “a shirt and trowsers is fully sufficient; which not only saves trouble and expence, but the body wants air, as well as it does water: so bathe in both when you have the opportunity.”—From that moment I followed his counsels, to which, besides being cleanly and cool, I in a great measure ascribe the preservation of my life. I now frequently thought on Paramaribo, where I enjoyed all the delicacies of life; while here I was forced to have recourse to many expedients much worse than any savage; yet should I not have repined had any person profited by our sufferings.—But I am forgetting the articles of war, viz. implicitly to obey, and ask no questions. [149]

Having, on the 22d, sent my serjeant and one man sick to the hospital at Devil’s Harwar, we now rowed again to the head station before Cormoetibo Creek.

Here one of my negroes caught some fish, amongst which was the torporific eel already described, which he dressed and eat with his companions; the others were the pery and que-quee: the pery was that mentioned by the old slave as dangerously rapacious. This fish is sometimes near two feet long, of a flattish make, scaly, and of a blueish colour; the mouth large, and thick set with sharp teeth, which are so strong, and the pery so voracious, that it frequently snaps off the feet of ducks when swimming, nay even the toes, the fingers, and the breasts of women. The que-quee may be called a fish in armour, being covered over from head to tail with brown coloured moveable rings, sliding the one over the other, and joined like those of a lobster, which serve for its defence in place of scales. This last is from six to ten inches long, with a large head and of a roundish shape. Both the pery and the que-quee are very good eating.—But I must for some time lay aside the description, and return to my journal.

The 23d, being the day appointed by Captain Orzinga and myself for the trial of the signals, at twelve o’clock precisely the whole number of blunderbusses and swivels were fired at Devil’s Harwar on board the Charon, and on board the Cerberus still stationed at Patamaca; which proved to be to no purpose, no person on board either of [150]the vessels having been able to hear the report of the guns fired by the other. During this, however, I met with a small accident, by firing myself one of the blunderbusses, which I placed like a musquet against my shoulder; when I received such a stroke by its rebounding as threw me backward over a large hogshead of beef, and had nearly dislocated my right arm. This however it seems was owing to my ignorance of the manner of using the blunderbuss, as I have since been informed that all such weapons ought to be fired under the hand, especially when heavy charged; and then by swinging round the body suddenly, the force of the rebound is broken, and the effect scarcely sensible. I insert this only to shew in what manner heavy-loaded muscatoons ought always to be fired; especially since, without any aim, the execution from their wide mouth is almost equally fatal.

On the 26th, by a canoe that came down from Patamaca, I received intelligence that the Cerberus was in danger of being surprised by the enemy, who had been discovered hovering round about her; and the part of the river where she was moored being very narrow, I considered her situation as critical. I therefore immediately rowed the Charon up before the Pinneburgh Creek; and having manned the yawl, as being the most expeditious, went myself, with six men, to their assistance: but was agreeably surprised at finding the whole to be a false alarm. In the evening we returned back to [151]our station. In rowing down I was astonished at being hailed by a human voice, which begged me for God’s sake to step on shore. This I did, with two of my men; when I was accosted by a poor old negro woman, imploring me to afford her some assistance. It seems she was the property of a Jew, to whom belonged the spot of ground where I found her, and where the poor creature lived quite alone, in a hut not larger than a dog-kennel, surrounded by a wilderness, with only a few plantain-trees, yams, and cassava, for her support. She was no longer of use to work on the great estate, and was banished here only to support her master’s right to the possession, since this spot had been ruined by the rebels. Having left with her a piece of salt beef, some barley, and a bottle of rum, I took my leave, when she offered me in return one of her cats: but this I could not accept, for by this token, I mean upon the information of the cats, my negro rowers firmly insisted that she must be a witch; which evinces that this superstition is not confined to Europe.

In this creek, the banks of which on both sides are covered with mangrove-trees, thorns, and briers, we found floating on the surface of the water a kind of large white nut, which seemed to have dropped of themselves by ripeness from the shell. They are sweet, crisp, and exceedingly good eating; but I neglected to inquire from what tree they had fallen. A kind of water shrub, called the mocco-mocco, is here also to be found in great [152]quantities. It grows about six or eight feet high, thick at bottom, jointed and prickly all the way to the top, where it is very small, and divided into three or four large smooth oval leaves, which possess almost the quality of blistering by their violent adhesion to the skin.

As we approached the Charon in the evening, I found my sentinel fast asleep, which enraged me so much, that having quietly entered on board the barge, I fired my pistol close to his ear, just over his head, assuring him that I would the next time blow it through his brains: the whole crew flew to their arms, and the poor fellow had nearly leaped into the water. But however it might be necessary to threaten in this manner, at a post where a surprize might be fatal, it would have been excessive cruelty to have executed it in such a situation, where the bite of the musquitoes rendered it impossible to reckon upon sleep at stated times; and thus the interruption of it at one time made the approach of it unavoidable at another.

We now returned, on the 27th, to Cormoetibo Creek, where my negroes, having been ashore to cut wood for the furnace, brought on board a poor animal alive, with all its four feet chopped off with the bill-hook, and which lay still in the bottom of the canoe. Having freed it from its torment by a blow on the head, I was acquainted that this was the sloth, called loyaree or heay by the natives, on account of its plaintive voice. It is about the size of a small water-spaniel, with a round [153]head something like that of a monkey, but its mouth is remarkably large; its hinder legs are much shorter than those before, to help it in climbing, being each armed with three very large and sharp claws, by which it holds its body on the boughs, but which, as being offensive weapons, my negroes had so cruelly chopped off: its eyes are languid, and its voice is squeaking, like that of a young cat. The greatest particularity of this creature however is, that its motion is so very slow, that it often takes two days to get up to the top of a moderate tree, from this it never descends while a leaf or a bud is remaining; beginning its devastation first at the top, to prevent its being starved in coming to the bottom, when it goes in quest of another, proceeding incredibly slow indeed while on the ground. Some say, that to avoid the pain of exercising its limbs, it forms itself into a ball, and drops down from the branches: that may be true or not, but this I know to be a fact, that it cannot mend its pace.

The Ai, & the Unan; or the Sheep & Dog Sloth.
 Barlow sc

The Ai, & the Unan; or the Sheep & Dog Sloth.

London, Published Decr. 2nd, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Of these animals there are two species in Guiana, viz. the Ai and the Unan; but in Surinam distinguished by the names of the Sicapo and Dago luyaree, or the Sheep and the Dog Sloth, on account of their hair; that of the first being bushy, and of a dirty grey, while the other is lank and reddish-coloured. This last has also but two claws on each foot, and the head is less round than the former. Both these creatures, by forming themselves in a clew, have often more the appearance of excrescences in the bark, than that of animals feeding upon the foliage, [154]which frequently prevents them from being discovered by the natives and negroes, who devour their flesh with avidity.

Now came down from Patamaca, on the 28th, Lieutenant Stromer, the commander of the Cerberus, in a burning fever, and scorched by the sun in an open canoe, drinking cold water from the river as his only relief. In this situation, a Jew soldier, of the Society post La Rochelle, accompanied him, with the account that the rebels had actually passed the creek two days before, one mile above the last estate, as had been first reported, viz. marching from east to west.—He at the same time delivered to me a negro woman, with a sucking infant, who had formerly been stolen by the rebels, and had now found means to make her escape. From below I received also the news, that Major Medlar had sent to town from the Jew Savannah two dried hands of the enemy, killed by the rangers; that an officer with ten men and some provisions were landed at Devil’s Harwar, there to be under my command; and that one of my marines at that place was dead. The same dispatches brought an order for me to look out for a dry spot, and, if possible, to build a temporary storehouse.

I immediately detached my lieutenant, Mr. Hamer, to take the command of the Cerberus, and having weighed anchor, rowed down till I arrived before the Casepory Creek, where we passed such a night as no pen can describe:—The sick groaned, the Jew prayed aloud, the soldiers swore, the negroes intreated, [155]the women sung, the child squeaked, the fire smoked, the rains poured down, and the whole vessel stunk to such a degree, that I began to think myself but little better off than the unfortunate persons who were confined in the black hole at Calcutta. At six o’clock the next morning, however, the joyful sun broke through the clouds, and I dropped down with the Charon before Devil’s Harwar.

On the 29th, I delivered my sick officer and five sick men, besides my other passengers, for whom I had done all that was in my power, but that was very little; and having stowed the newly-arrived provisions in a proper place, I once more returned to my dreadful station, where I came to an anchor on the first of August.

The following day, between the showers, we saw great numbers of monkies, of which I shot one, and having had no fresh meat for a long time, I ordered it to be dressed, and eat it with a good appetite. We were at this time in a shocking situation, not only wanting refreshment; but the men’s cloaths and hammocks were rotting from day to day, not only from their being almost constantly wet, but being also composed of the very worst materials sent from Holland.

On the third, I received the account that Lieutenant Stromer was dead at Devil’s Harwar.

On the fourth, we dropped down before the place, to bury him directly, in the hope of doing it with decency, but we were disappointed; for having contrived to make [156]a coffin of old boards, the corpse dropped through it before it reached the grave, and exhibited a shocking spectacle: we nevertheless found means to go through the rest of the interment with some decorum, having covered it over with a hammock by way of a pall; then fired three vollies with all the troops that had strength to carry arms. This being over, I regaled the officers with a glass of wine, and once more took a farewell of Devil’s Harwar.

On the sixth, having first written to Colonel Fourgeoud, to acquaint him that the rebels had passed above La Rochelle, and that I had found a spot for a magazine at Barbacoeba, I informed him also of the death of my lieutenant, Mr. Stromer; and recommended my serjeant, who had been an officer of hussars, for advancement.

To give the reader some idea of this spot called Devil’s Harwar, I will here take the opportunity to describe it.

This place was formerly a plantation, but is now entirely occupied by the military, who keep here a post, to defend the upper parts of the river Cottica. The soil is elevated and dry, which makes it the more remarkable that it should be so extremely unwholesome, yet such it certainly is: and here hundreds of soldiers have been buried. It lies on the right side of the river as you go upwards, and had formerly a path of communication with the river Pirica, on which were a few military guards; but this is now little frequented, and quite overgrown.

View of the Post Devil’s Harwar, on Rio Cottica. The Armed Barges, commanded by Captn. Stedman.

View of the Post Devil’s Harwar, on Rio Cottica.
The Armed Barges, commanded by Captn. Stedman.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.


The buildings on Devil’s Harwar are all made of the pina or manicole-tree; which tree, and the manner of using it for houses, &c. I shall afterwards attempt to describe: but now must content myself with only saying, that on this post the buildings consist of a dwelling-house for the commanding-officer, with four very good rooms; another for the subalterns; a good lodge for the private soldiers; and an hospital for the sick, which is large and roomy: but this is no more than is necessary, as it never is without inhabitants. There is also a powder and victualling magazine, proper kitchens, a bake-house, &c. besides a well with fresh water. The Society troops feed a flock of sheep, pigs, and poultry at this place, for the use only of the hospital: here was also at this time a cow, which had been allotted for the rangers after Boeccow was taken, but the feast had not been kept at this place. She had now a calf, and afforded milk for the officers to their tea, &c. but for us poor fellows in the barges there was nothing at all of the kind. I may add, that some of the officers had also little gardens here, which afforded them sallad, &c.

The circumstance which renders Devil’s Harwar so unhealthy, in my opinion, is the myriads of musquitoes that prevent the people from rest, and the multitudes of chigoes or sand-fleas which abound in that station.

On the seventh, I arrived again at Cormoetibo Creek, where I resolved to make a landing on the south shore at all hazards, for my own soldiers to cook their beef [158]and barley; concluding it as well to be shot by the enemy at once, as to be gradually consumed to death on board the Charon. It was, however, a difficult task to find the smallest spot for the purpose, the whole of that shore being so very marshy, and over-grown with every kind of underwood, that we could scarcely put our new project in execution; till at last, my negroes having made a temporary kind of bridge, to step from the yawl upon a small speck of dry ground, and having formed a slight shed of manicole-leaves to keep off the rain, we found means to keep in a fire, and were infinitely more comfortable than we were on board the Charon. Our danger in this situation, however, was certainly greater than in our former station; since an old rebel settlement was not very far from this place, which was called Pinneburgh, from a neighbouring creek; though others alledge that it obtained this name from the sharp pins stuck in the ground, like crow-feet, or cheveux de frize, with which the rebels had formerly fortified and defended it. Notwithstanding this village had been demolished, it was well known that the rebels still frequently visited the spot, to pick up some of the yams and casadas (which the ground continued, in its uncultivated state, to produce) for a temporary subsistence. I was indeed almost absolutely convinced that the rebels, who had lately passed above La Rochelle in Patamaca, were at this moment encamped at the above spot Pinneburgh, and ready to commit some depredations on the estates on [159]the river Cottica or Pirica, if not to attack ourselves; on this account I always kept double sentinels round the landing-place, and gave orders that no men should be allowed to speak or make any kind of noise while on that spot, in order that we might hear the smallest rustling of a leaf, and so obviate our danger by vigilance and alacrity.

On the 8th my other officer Macdonald fell sick, but refused to be sent to Devil’s Harwar, as he would not suffer me to be left quite by myself.

I have said that we had no surgeon, but carried with us a parcel of medicines, which consisted of emetics, cathartics, and powders, of which I knew not the proper use. At their desire, however, I daily distributed them to the men, who, loading their stomachs with heavy salt provisions, and using no exercise, had sometimes occasion for art to assist nature. But these briny meals of pork and beef, Colonel Fourgeoud insisted were much more wholesome food in a tropical country than fresh provisions; for, by a most curious theory, he asserted that the latter corrupted in the stomach by the heat, whereas the others underwent a proper digestion. Unfortunately for us, there were but few on board either the Cerberus or the Charon, whose stomachs were in a state to digest such food. I had also some plaisters on board the barge, but these were soon expended by the running ulcers, with which the whole crew was covered; and this was easily accounted for, since in this climate, [160]where the air is impregnated with myriads of invisible animalcula, the smallest scratch immediately becomes a running sore. The best antidote and cure for such complaints in this country is lemon or lime acid, but this we had not. The next best mode of treatment is never to expose an open wound, or even the smallest scratch, to the air; but the instant they are received, to cover them with grey paper wetted with spirits, or any kind of moisture, so that it may stick to the skin. For my own part, no man could enjoy a better state of health than I continued to enjoy, wearing nothing but my long trowsers, and checked shirt loose at the collar and turned up in the sleeves. Nay, even when the sun was not too hot, I stripped all together, and twice every day continued to plunge into the water: by these means I was always cool and clean; I also daily used a cheering glass of wine, having first hung it a few fathoms under water, which rendered it much more cool and pleasant.

During all these hardships, I must not forget the high gratification which was afforded us one day by a few marcusas that we found in this place, which had been left there standing ever since the estate, many years ago, had been destroyed. There was indeed but one single old tree, I should rather say a shrub, for the plant which bears them falls more properly under that description. This delicious fruit is of an oval form, and of an orange or golden colour; the blossom resembling the passion-flower. They are commonly larger, but some less than [161]a hen’s egg, and are broken open as one would break an egg; they are then found to inclose an ash-coloured succulent jelly, full of small seeds. This is sipped out of the shell, being sweet mixed with acid, of an exquisite flavour, and so cool that it reminds one of ice marmalade.

Here we remarked a variety of beautiful butterflies, particularly some of an azure blue, which are exceedingly large, and between the showers skimmed and hovered amongst the green boughs, to which their ultramarine hue, brightened by the sun, bore the most enchanting contrast: but as I could not catch one of them while I staid here, I must defer the farther description to another part of the work.

This evening we heard the sound of a drum, which we could suppose to be no other than that of the rebels; nevertheless we determined to continue dressing our victuals ashore, still keeping on our guard, according to the advice of Mr. Kleynhans.

On the 9th Mr. Macdonald was much worse; however, on seeing me receive a letter from Colonel Fourgeoud, he seemed to revive, as we all did, expecting now to be relieved from our horrid situation. But what was our mortification, at reading that we were still to continue on this forlorn station! This letter was accompanied by a present of fish-hooks and tackle, to make up for the deficiency of other refreshments; and, indeed, of salt [162]provisions, which began daily to get both worse and less—

Timeo Danæos et dona ferentes.

The receipt of such unwelcome intelligence made the whole crew declare they were sacrificed for no manner of purpose; while the negroes sighed, pronouncing the words, Ah! poty backera! Oh! poor Europeans! By the distribution however of a few tamarinds, oranges, lemons, and Madeira wine, which were by this opportunity sent me by my best friend at Paramaribo, I found means to impart, not only to my officers, but also to my drooping soldiers, some relief. But this cheering sun-shine could not last long: and the day following we were as much distressed as ever, when I had once more recourse to the nimble inhabitants of the forest, and brought down two monkies with my gun from the top of the mangroves, where they were sporting in flocks consisting of some hundreds.

On the 11th, I sent two men sick to the hospital, and the same evening we again heard the drums. On the following day, at noon, we were disturbed by a hurricane; the Charon broke loose from her anchors, and was driven ashore, her upper works being terribly damaged by the stumps of trees, &c. that hung over the river, while the water from the clouds broke in upon us like a torrent, and I expected no less than a shipwreck. [163]

On the 15th the other officer, Lieutenant Baron Owen, came down sick from the Cerberus, and at his request I ventured to send him down to Paramaribo. I now received another letter from Colonel Fourgeoud, with a little money for the men to purchase refreshments, where nothing was to be met with: but not a word intimating that we were to be relieved.

On the 20th I received a report, that the Cerberus, having only four private men left, had retired to the post at La Rochelle; and, on the 21st, I sent two of my men to her assistance, and ordered her back to her former station.

I now was myself at last attacked with a fever, and upon the whole felt myself in a truly distressed condition; deprived by sickness of my two only officers, and my serjeant. My men upon the three stations (viz. the two barges and Devil’s Harwar together) melted down to fifteen, from the number of forty-two, without a surgeon, or refreshment, surrounded with a black forest, and exposed to the mercy of relentless enemies; who must be formidable indeed, should they be informed by any means of our defenceless situation. The remaining few were, with truth, declaring they were doomed to destruction; insomuch, that they could with difficulty be prevented from mutiny, and from proceeding down the river Cottica with the Charon against my orders.

For my own part, I was not altogether free from uneasiness. In fact, a few troops from all quarters ought [164]to have marched against the enemy, when they crossed the Patamaca Creek; that is, from La Rochelle, Devil’s Harwar, and the river Pirica; when, being assailed at once from three quarters, the rebels might have been, if not entirely routed, at least severely punished for their presumption: not to speak of the happy effect which such a check must have had in saving the lives and property of those victims, who, after such incursions, are generally devoted to their rage.

On the 23d I felt myself rather better; and between the fits of the fever shot a couple of large black monkies to make some broth, to supply the want of fresh provisions; but as the destruction of one of these animals was attended with such circumstances, as for ever after had almost deterred me from going a monkey-hunting, I must beg leave to relate them as they happened:—Seeing me on the side of the river in the canoe, the creature made a halt from skipping after his companions, and being perched on a branch that hung over the water, examined me with attention, and the strongest marks of curiosity: no doubt, taking me for a giant of his own species; while he chattered prodigiously, and kept dancing and shaking the bough on which he rested with incredible strength and agility. At this time I laid my piece to my shoulder, and brought him down from the tree into the stream;—but may I never again be a witness to such a scene! The miserable animal was not dead, but mortally wounded. I seized him by the tail, and taking it in both [165]my hands to end his torment, I swung him round, and hit his head against the side of the canoe; but the poor creature still continued alive, and looking at me in the most affecting manner that can be conceived, I knew no other means to end this murder, than to hold him under water till he was drowned, while my heart felt sick on his account: for his dying little eyes still continued to follow me with seeming reproach, till their light gradually forsook them, and the wretched animal expired. I felt so much on this occasion, that I could neither taste of him nor his companion, when they were dressed, though I saw that they afforded to some others a delicious repast.

That monkies, especially when young, are no bad food, may easily be accounted for, since they feed on nothing but fruits, nuts, eggs, young birds, &c.; and indeed, in my opinion, all young quadrupeds are eatable: but when one compares those which are killed in the woods to those filthy and disgusting creatures that disgrace the streets, no wonder that they should disgust the least delicate stomach. As for the wild ones, I have eaten them boiled, roasted, and stewed, and found their flesh white, juicy, and good: the only thing that disgusted me was, their little hands and their heads, which when dressed, being deprived of the skin, appeared like the hands and the skull of a young infant. I have already observed that there are in Guiana many different species, from the [166]large ourang-outang to the very small sarcawinkee. The former, however, I never have seen, nor heard described, while I was in this country; as for the latter, I shall describe him on another occasion, and shall only, for the present, give an account of those which I met with on this cruise. That which I shot the second instant is what is called in Surinam micoo: it is nearly the size of a fox, and of a reddish grey colour, with a black head and very long tail. Those I killed on the tenth were indeed exceedingly beautiful, and much more delicate when dressed than the former: they are called the keesee-keesee by the inhabitants, are about the size of a rabbit, and most astonishingly nimble. The colour of their body is reddish, and the tail, which is long, is black at the extremity; but the fore-feet are orange colour. The head is very round, the face milk white, with a round black patch in the middle, in which are the mouth and the nostrils; and this disposition of the features give it the appearance of a mask: the eyes are black, and remarkably lively. These monkies we saw daily pass along the sides of the river, skipping from tree to tree, but mostly about mid-day, and in very numerous bodies, regularly following each other like a little army, with their young ones on their backs, not unlike little knapsacks. Their manner of travelling is thus: the foremost walks to the extremity of a bough, from which it bounds to the extremity of one belonging to the next tree, often at a [167]most astonishing distance, and with such wonderful activity and precision, that it never once misses its aim: the others one by one, and even the females, with their little ones on their backs, which stick fast to the mother, follow their leader, and perform the same leap with the greatest seeming facility and safety: they also are remarkable for climbing up the nebees or natural ropes, with which many parts of the forest are interwoven. These nebees grow in such a manner as to afford the appearance at first sight of a fleet at anchor.

The Mecoo & Kishee Kishee Monkeys.
 Blake Sculpt.

The Mecoo & Kishee Kishee Monkeys.

London, Published Decr. 2nd. 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

The monkies, I am told, have sometimes two young ones sucking, like the human species. I have been a witness how these animals towards sun-set ascend to the tops of the palm-trees, some of which are above one hundred feet in height, where they sleep safe in the large diverging branches. The keesee-keesee is such a beautiful and delicate fond creature, that it is by many people kept as a favourite, when it wears a silver chain. Besides its mimic drolleries, it is remarkable for its good-nature and chirruping voice, which pronounces peeteeco peeteeco without intermission. They are easily tamed, and are taken by means of a strong glue made by the Indians, which is something like our European bird-lime.

The other species, of the shooting of which I have just given the horrid account, were called by my negroes monkee-monkee. The only facts which I can relate farther of them is, that they are in size between the two former described, and all over black. One circumstance I ought [168]not to omit, which is very remarkable, viz. that one morning I saw from my barge a monkey of this kind come down to the water’s edge, rinsing his mouth, and appearing to clean his teeth with one of his fingers: he was first discovered by one of the slaves, who pointed him out to my great amusement.

Here I shall end the subject for the present, after adding that the above animals are sociable, and that they are very tenacious of life, as I have shewn. It is almost superfluous to mention, that the usual distinction between what are called monkies and apes, consists in this, that the first have all tails, of which the latter are divested; but never having met with in Guiana any of the latter description, I believe them more to be the inhabitants of Asia and Africa, than of the part of the new world distinguished by the name of South America, The monkies are often mischievous near the plantations, where they commit depredations on the sugar-canes, &c. yet of this I but one time have been a witness.

As I am speaking of the animals found in this part of the country, I must not omit the otters here, called tavous, which in the Cormoetibo Creek frequently attracted our attention by their disagreeable noise: as they are amphibious, they live mostly on fish; they are about three feet in length, grey-coloured, and all over spotted with white; their legs are short, they are web-footed, and armed with five claws; the head is round, the nose beset with whiskers like a cat; the eyes are small, and [169]placed above the ears; the tail is very short. This animal moves aukwardly upon land, but in the rivers proceeds with great velocity. In Guiana it is said there is another species of otters, which are much larger, but these I never saw.

Notwithstanding the favourable appearances of the preceding day, I was, on the 24th, exceedingly ill indeed, not being able to sit up in my hammock, under which the black boy Quaco now lay, crying for his master, and on the following day the poor lad himself fell sick; at the same time I was also obliged to send three men in a fever to Devil’s Harwar. As misfortunes often croud together, I received, at this fatal period, the melancholy account that the officer, Mr. Ower, was also dead, having expired on his passage downwards at the Alida estate, where he was buried. My ensign, Mr. Cottenburgh, who had since gone to Paramaribo, died next; and for myself no better was now to be expected. In the height of a burning fever I now lay, forsaken by all my officers and men, without a friend to comfort me, and without assistance of any kind, except what the poor remaining negro slaves could afford me, by boiling a little water to make some tea. In this situation the reader may judge of the consolation which was afforded me, the very evening when these accumulated misfortunes seemed to threaten our extinction, by the receipt of an order from the Colonel, to come down with both the barges to Devil’s Harwar, where I was again to take post [170]on shore, and relieve Captain Orzinga, of the Society service, who with his men was to proceed to La Rochelle in Patamaca, to strengthen the troops already there. Ill as I was, this had such a powerful effect on my spirits, that I immediately ordered the Cerberus down to the mouth of the Cormoetibo Creek, where she joined me that evening.

On the 26th, we bid farewel to this destructive place; and having weighed anchor, rowed down as far as Barbacoeba, during which time a circumstance happened, which will probably prove more entertaining than the repeated accounts of sickness and deaths.

As I was resting in my hammock, between the paroxysms of my fever, about half way between Cormoetibo and Barbacoeba, while the Charon was floating down, the sentinel called to me that he had seen and challenged something black and moving in the brushwood on the beach, which gave no answer; but which, from its size, he concluded must be a man. I immediately dropped anchor; and having manned the canoe, ill as I was, I stepped into it, and rowed up to the place mentioned by the sentinel. Here we all stepped ashore to reconnoitre, as I suspected it to be no other than a rebel spy, or a straggling party detached by the enemy; but one of my slaves, of the name of David, declared it was no negro, but a large amphibious snake, which could not be far from the beach, and I might have an opportunity of shooting it if I pleased. To this, however, I [171]had not the least inclination, from the uncommon size of the creature, from my weakness, and the difficulty of getting through the thicket, which seemed impenetrable to the water’s edge; and therefore ordered all of them to return on board. The negro then asked me liberty to step forward and shoot it himself, assuring me it could not be at any great distance, and warranting me against all danger. This declaration inspired me with so much pride and emulation, that I determined to take his first advice, and kill it myself; provided he would point it out to me, and be responsible for the hazard, by standing at my side, from which I swore that if he dared to move, I should level the piece at himself, and blow out his own brains.

To this the negro cheerfully agreed; and having loaded my gun with a ball-cartridge, we proceeded; David cutting a path with a bill-hook, and a marine following, with three more loaded firelocks to keep in readiness. We had not gone above twenty yards through mud and water, the negro looking every way with an uncommon degree of vivacity and attention; when starting behind me, he called out, “Me see snakee!” and in effect there lay the animal, rolled up under the fallen leaves and rubbish of the trees; and so well covered, that it was some time before I distinctly perceived the head of this monster, distant from me not above sixteen feet, moving its forked tongue, while its eyes, from their uncommon brightness, appeared to emit sparks of fire. I now, resting my piece [172]upon a branch, for the purpose of taking a surer aim, fired; but missing the head, the ball went through the body, when the animal struck round, and with such astonishing force as to cut away all the underwood around him with the facility of a scythe mowing grass; and by flouncing his tail, caused the mud and dirt to fly over our heads to a considerable distance. Of this proceeding however we were not torpid spectators, but took to our heels, and crouded into the canoe. The negro now intreated me to renew the charge, alluring me the snake would be quiet in a few minutes, and at any rate persisting in the assertion that he was neither able nor inclined to pursue us; which opinion he supported by walking before me, till I should be ready to fire. And thus I again undertook to make the trial, especially as he said that his first starting backwards had only proceeded from a desire to make room for me. I now found the snake a little removed from his former station, but very quiet, with his head as before, lying out among the fallen leaves, rotten bark, and old moss. I fired at it immediately, but with no better success than the other time: and now, being but slightly wounded, he sent up such a cloud of dust and dirt, as I never saw but in a whirlwind, and made us once more suddenly retreat to our canoe; where now, being heartily tired of the exploit, I gave orders to row towards the barge: but David still intreating me to permit him to kill the animal, I was, by his persuasions, induced to make a third and last attempt, in company with him. [173]Thus, having once more discovered the snake, we discharged both our pieces at once, and with this good effect, that he was now by one of us shot through the head. David, who was made completely happy by this successful conclusion, ran leaping with joy, and lost no time in bringing the boat-rope, in order to drag him down to the canoe; but this again proved not a very easy undertaking, since the creature, notwithstanding its being mortally wounded, still continued to wreath and twist about, in such a manner as rendered it dangerous for any person to approach him. The negro, however, having made a running noose on the rope, and after some fruitless attempts to make an approach, threw it over his head with much dexterity; and now, all taking hold of the rope, we dragged him to the beach, and tied him to the stern of the canoe, to take him in tow. Being still alive, he kept swimming like an eel; and I having no relish for such a ship-mate on board, whose length (notwithstanding to my astonishment all the negroes declared it to be but a young one come to about its half growth) I found upon measuring it to be twenty-two feet and some inches; and its thickness about that of my black boy Quaco, who might then be about twelve years old, and round whose waist I since measured the creature’s skin.

Being arrived along-side of the Charon, the next consideration was, how to dispose of this immense animal; when it was at length determined to bring him on shore at Barbacoeba, to have him skinned, and take out the [174]oil, &c. In order to effect this purpose, the negro David having climbed up a tree with the end of the rope, let it down over a strong forked bough, and the other negroes hoisted up the snake, and suspended him from the tree. This done, David, with a sharp knife between his teeth, now left the tree, and clung fast upon the monster, which was still twisting, and began his operations by ripping it up, and stripping down the skin as he descended. Though I perceived that the animal was no longer able to do him any injury, I confess I could not without emotion see a man stark naked, black and bloody, clinging with arms and legs round the slimy and yet living monster. This labour, however, was not without its use, since he not only dexterously finished the operation, but provided me, besides the skin, with above four gallons of fine clarified fat, or rather oil, though there was wasted perhaps as much more. This I delivered to the surgeons at Devil’s Harwar, for the use of the wounded men in the hospital, for which I received their hearty thanks, it being considered, particularly for bruises, a very excellent remedy. When I signified my surprize to see the snake still living, after he was deprived of his intestines and skin, Caramaca, the old negro, whether from experience or tradition, assured me he would not die till after sun-set. The negroes now cut him in slices, in order to dress and feast upon him, they all declaring that he was exceedingly good and wholesome; but to their [175]great mortification I refused to give my concurrence, and we rowed down with the skin to Devil’s Harwar.

The skinning of the Aboma Snake, shot by Cap. Stedman.
 Blake Sculpt.

The skinning of the Aboma Snake, shot by Cap. Stedman.

London, Published Decr. 2d. 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Of this species several skins are preserved in the British and Mr. Parkinson’s Museums. It is called by Mr. Westley Lyboija, and Boa in the British Encyclopœdia, to which publication I refer the reader for a perfect account, and an excellent engraving, of this wonderful creature, which in the colony of Surinam is called Aboma. Its length, when full grown, is said to be sometimes forty feet, and more than four feet in circumference; its colour is a greenish black on the back; a fine brownish yellow on the sides, and a dirty white under the belly: the back and sides being spotted with irregular black rings, with a pure white in the middle. Its head is broad and flat, small in proportion to the body, with a large mouth, and a double row of teeth: it has two bright prominent eyes; is covered all over with scales, some about the size of a shilling; and under the body, near the tail, armed with two strong claws like cock-spurs, to help it in seizing its prey. It is an amphibious animal, that is, it delights in low and marshy places, where it lies coiled up like a rope, and concealed under moss, rotten timber, and dried leaves, to seize its prey by surprize, which from its immense bulk it is not active enough to pursue. When hungry, it will devour any animal that comes within its reach, and is indifferent whether it is a sloth, a wild boar, a stag, or even a tiger; round which [176]having twisted itself by the help of its claws, so that the creature cannot escape, it breaks, by its irresistible force, every bone in the animal’s body, which it then covers over with a kind of slime or slaver from its mouth, to make it slide; and at last gradually sucks it in, till it disappears: after this, the aboma cannot shift its situation, on account of the great knob or knot which the swallowed prey occasions in that part of the body where it rests till it is digested; for till then it would hinder the snake from sliding along the ground. During that time the aboma wants no other subsistence. I have been told of negroes being devoured by this animal, and am disposed to credit the account; for should they chance to come within its reach when hungry, it would as certainly seize them as any other animal. I do not apprehend that its flesh, which is very white, and looks like that of fish, is in any respect pernicious to the stomach. I should have had no objection to the negroes eating it till it was consumed, had I not observed a kind of dissatisfaction among the remaining marines, who would not have been pleased with my giving the negroes the use of the kettle to boil it. The bite of this snake is said not to be venomous; nor do I believe it bites at all from any other impulse than hunger.

I shall only add, that having nailed its skin on the bottom of the canoe, and dried it in the sun, sprinkling it over with wood-ashes to prevent it from corruption, I [177]sent it to a friend at Paramaribo, whence it was since sent to Holland as a curiosity.

However extraordinary this account may appear to many readers, let them peruse the narrative which is related by a gentleman in the island of Ceylon, who saw a tiger killed there by a snake he calls the anacunda, but in a quite different manner, and their wonder will cease. I must add, however, that this gentleman’s relation is so very marvellous, that, notwithstanding what I have experienced, I must confess it very greatly staggered my faith1.

This business being ended, I also made an end of the cruise, by dropping down before the Society post Devil’s Harwar, in order the next day to assume the command. [178]

1 Doctor Bancroft mentions the power of fascination in the aboma. This I am obliged to contradict. Nor can I, without great difficulty, attribute this quality even to the rattle-snake. 



Three Estates burnt, and the Inhabitants murdered by the Rebels—Real Picture of Misery and Distress—Specimen of a March through the Woods of Surinam—Colonel Fourgeoud and the remaining Troops leave Paramaribo.

On the 27th of August I relieved Captain Orzinga with his men, and took the command of Devil’s Harwar, having been on board the Charon exactly fifty-six days, in the most wretched condition that can be described: but I hoped now to get the better of my complaint by the help of a few refreshments, such as milk, &c. which could not be obtained in our former situation. The Society troops (above one hundred in number) being to set off next day with my empty barges to La Rochelle, in Patamaca, I reviewed my marines, when I found I had left out of five officers but two, who were both sick, the three others being dead; I had also only one serjeant, two corporals, and fifteen privates, out of fifty-four healthy men, who embarked with me on the 2d day of last July. This army was not more than sufficient to defend the hospital, (which was crouded with sick) the ammunition and victualling magazine, &c. on a spot where lately had been kept three hundred soldiers, particularly [179]while the enemy were certainly lurking not far off: in consideration of which, the Society Captain reinforced me with twenty of his men. The next evening he entertained me and my two subalterns with a supper of fresh meat, both roast and boiled, to our great comfort and surprize; but which, to my unspeakable mortification, proved to be the individual poor cow with her calf, on whom we had built all our hopes for a little relief. It appeared that one of his sentinels, as concerted between them, had shot it by a wilful mistake. Thus did Captain Orzinga, for the sake of a momentary gratification, deprive us all of that lasting comfort on which we had so much depended, and of which we had so much need, being altogether emaciated for want of wholesome and nutritive food.

On the morning of the 28th the Society troops rowed to Patamaca, when, examining the twenty soldiers they had left me, they proved to be the refuse of the whole, part with agues, wounds, ruptures, and rotten limbs, and most of them next day were obliged to enter the hospital.

On the 29th, having bastonaded my late pilot for stealing from the soldiers, I dispatched the information to Colonel Fourgeoud, that I had taken post, and acquainting him with my weak situation, requested a proper reinforcement. In the evening two of my men died.

All things now being regulated and settled, I thanked Heaven in the expectation of getting some rest, being [180]still extremely weak; and with these cheering hopes retired at ten o’clock at night to my hammock; but this tranquillity was again of short duration, for having scarcely closed my eyes I was awaked by my serjeant, and the following letter put into my hand, sent by an express from the captain of the militia, or bargers in Cottica.


“This is to acquaint you, that the rebels have burnt three estates by your side, Suyingheyd, Peru, and L’Esperance, the ruins of which are still smoking; and that they have cut the throats of all the white inhabitants that fell in their way. As on their retreat they must pass close by where you are posted, be on your guard.—I am in haste.

“Your’s, &c.

(Signed) “Stoeleman.”

Conscious of my defenceless situation, I immediately started up; and the express who brought the letter having spread the news the moment of his landing, there was no necessity for beating to arms, since not only the few soldiers who were well, but the whole hospital burst out; and several of them, in spite of my opposition, crawling on their hands and feet to their arms, dropped dead upon the spot.—May I never behold such another scene [181]of misery and distress! Lame, blind, sick, and wounded, in the hope of preserving a wretched existence, rushed upon certain death! They could only, in a word, be compared to the distressed army and navy at Carthagena, commanded by the British Admiral Vernon, whom Thomson describes—

—— —— —— “You, gallant Vernon, saw

The miserable scene, you pitying saw,

To infant weakness sunk, the warriour’s arm;

Saw the deep-racking pang, the ghastly form,

The lip pale quivering, and the beamless eye,

No more with ardour bright.”

For my own part, I was in a very weakly condition indeed; however, we continued to lie all night on our arms, during which I pressed the messenger to stay, in order to add one to our miserable number, being determined to sell our lives as dearly as possible. But no enemy appearing in the morning, we buried the dead in their hammocks, not having a board to make a coffin on the whole post. In this situation I lost all patience, and had the audacity to write to my commander, that (besides what had happened) my last men stood upon the brink of the grave, from hardships and for want of being properly supported; the very waiters of the hospital having deserted on the moment of my arrival here, and gone to Paramaribo. Our whole number, indeed, was [182]now melted down to twelve men, who were to protect twelve buildings, and that with no more than two very small chests of ammunition, and no retreat for the sick, as the barges were gone to Patamaca, and the last canoe dispatched with my letter to Colonel Fourgeoud; for I had set adrift that belonging to the express, who was a book-keeper of a neighbouring plantation, in order to prevent him or any other from making their escape. In this situation, I was now obliged to convert the slaves into soldiers: these I armed with a hatchet, not daring to trust them with a firelock. For this whole night we again watched under arms, and in the morning found two more of our little party dead on the ground.

I now began really to think we were all devoted to destruction, while the men, regardless of all order (self-preservation excepted) threw out the most bitter invectives against their persecutor, Fourgeoud, which I could not prevent; nor can I help remarking the generalship of the rebel negroes, who had kept lying quiet till the removal of the Society troops from Devil’s Harwar, and seized the very first day of their departure, convinced of its being guarded only by my sick and emaciated soldiers, in order to commit their depredations on the Cottica estates. They well knew that my force was not sufficient to pursue them, nay, hardly to stand in my own defence: all this, however, was but according to my expectation; while, on the contrary, had my strength been sufficient, they could never have escaped [183]at least from being cut off in their retreat, especially if the troops in Rio Perica had acted conjointly with those in Cottica, by patroling the path between the two rivers, across which the rebels were twice unavoidably obliged to pass.

On the 1st of September we waited once more till morning, and then buried another of my poor men; while I yet cannot conceive how any one was able to survive such a series of toil, in such a debilitated state, and in a tropical climate; yet some did, though few. At length, being persuaded that the rebels must have past the Cordon, without having thought proper to pay us a visit on their retreat, I determined to let the remaining few watch no longer, but permit them to die a natural death. At last, in the evening, when all was too late, there came down by water from the post La Rochelle to our assistance, one officer and ten men.—I having had but nine left to do the duty at the time of their arrival.

On the 2d another man died; and I once more reviewed my forces, which now amounted exactly to seven marines, the few scarecrows of the Society excepted; however, the chance of being massacred by the rebels was at this time over, thanks alone to their pusillanimity, or rather their hurry!

I now received a letter from Colonel Fourgeoud, condoling with me on the loss of so many good officers, acquainting me that I was to be reinforced; and that on my recommendation my serjeant, Mr. de Cabanus, was appointed [184]an ensign; which gave me pleasure, and took place at a very suitable time, since this day my poor Ensign Macdonald was sent down very sick to Paramaribo. I answered to all this, that I was obliged to him; adding, that while I remained without reinforcement, I could not be accountable for what consequences might happen, in a place where I was left to defend a whole river with none but sick people; and even these without sufficient ammunition, and hourly expiring for want of proper medicines, or a surgeon to attend them, there being none here but one or two surgeon’s mates belonging to the troops of the Society, who could do little more than occasionally draw blood, and cut off a beard or a corn.

On the 4th we buried another of my marines, and on the following day another died; and I had not one now remaining who was not ill, or who was not rendered unserviceable, by his feet being swelled with the insects called chigoes: these poor men were mostly Germans, who had been accustomed to a healthy climate in their own country. I began now to be reconciled to putting my last man under ground, and almost wishing to leap into the grave after him myself; when a barge arrived from Paramaribo with the proper reinforcement, ammunition, provisions, medicines, a surgeon, and an order from my chief to trace out the track of the rebels immediately, on the former path of communication called the Cordon, between Cottica and Perica, and to write him [185]the result of my discoveries; he intimated also that he intended to keep his magazines at Devil’s Harwar, and that I was not to make use of the spot I had found out for that purpose at Barbacoeba Creek.

On the 6th I prepared to march myself, having recovered a little strength, on the grand project of discovery, and then placed the ammunition in the magazine.

As the manner of marching in this country is so very different from that in Europe, I shall, before we set out, endeavour briefly to describe the nature of these expeditions.

In the first place, in Surinam no such thing is practicable as three or even two ranks; thus there is no marching by divisions or platoons;—but the whole party being dressed in one rank, face to the right, and every man follows his leader, the negro slaves interspersed between the men, in order to guard their persons as well as what they carry; and this manner of marching is called Indian file. With a detachment of sixty men, consisting of one captain, two subalterns, two serjeants, four corporals, one surgeon, and fifty privates, twenty negro slaves at least ought to be employed, for the use of whom their masters are paid at the rate of two shillings sterling a day by the colony; and this is a much greater expence than waggons and horses would be, which in this country cannot be employed for military service. [186]

The manner of interspersing them amongst the troops is as follows: The foremost are generally two negroes, with bill-hooks to cut a way, so as to make a practicable path, with one corporal and two men to reconnoitre the front, and, in case of necessity, to give the alarm; and then one subaltern, six privates, and a corporal, form the van. Then follows, at some distance, the corps in two divisions; in the first, one captain, one corporal, twelve privates, one surgeon, and two negroes to carry the powder; in the second, is one serjeant and twelve privates; and then again follows, at some distance, the rear guard, consisting of one subaltern, one serjeant, one corporal, and eighteen privates, with sixteen negroes to carry the medicines, beef, bread, spades, axes, rum, &c.; the sick also are carried. The three last of all being one corporal and two men at a distance, to give the alarm in case of an attack, as the others had orders to do in the front, which ends the train.

Order of March thro’ the Woods of Surinam.
 T. Conder Sculpt.

Order of March thro’ the Woods of Surinam.

References to the above March.

1. Two Negroes with Bill hooks to open a Path. Van. } A
2. One Corporal & Two Privates, to cover the Van.
3. One Subaltern, Six Privates, & one Corporal.
1. The Captain or commanding Officer. Main Body. } B
2. The Surgeon.
3. Two Privates, to cover the Powder.
4. A Negro with a Box of Ball Cartridges.
5. Two Privates.
6. A Negro with a Box of Ball Cartridges.
7. Eight Privates.
8. One Corporal.
9. Twelve Privates.
10. One Sergeant.
1. A Subaltern Officer. Rear Guard or Corps de Reserve. } C
2. Two Privates.
3. Three Negroes, with Medicines, Kettles, Axes, Spades, &c.
4. Two Privates.
5. Three Negroes with Salt Beef, Salt Pork, &c.
6. Two Privates.
7. Three Negroes, with Black Bread, or Rusk Biscuit.
8. One Private.
9. Two Negroes, with Kill-devil, or New Rum.
10. One Private.
11. One Negro, with the Captain’s Provisions.
12. One Private.
13. One Negro, with Provisions for the two Subaltern Officers.
14. One Private.
15. Three Negroes to carry the Sick & Wounded.
16. Six Privates.
17. One Sergeant.
18. One Corporal & two Privates, to cover the Rear.

Marks to be cut on the Trees on a March.

Fourgeoud’s 1st. Column, Sub. A. 2d. Ditto, Sub. B. 3d. Ditto, Sub. C.
Society’s 1st. Column, Sub. D. 2d. Ditto, Sub. E. 3d. Ditto, Sub. F.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791 by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Every thing being ready, according to the above rules, for my small party, which consisted of myself, an officer of the Society, Mr. Hertsbergh, one surgeon’s mate, one guide, two serjeants, two corporals, forty privates, and only eight negro slaves to cut open the passage, and carry the baggage, we faced to the right at six o’clock in the morning, and sallied forth into the woods, keeping our course directly for the Perica river; and having marched till about eleven o’clock on the Cordon, I discovered, as I had expected, [187]the track of the rebels by the marks of their footsteps in the mud, by the broken bottles, plantain-shells, &c. and found that by appearance it bore towards Pinneburgh, already mentioned.

I had now indeed found the nest, but the birds were flown. We continued our march till eight o’clock, when we arrived at the Society post Soribo, in Perica, in a most shocking condition, having waded through water and mire above our hips, climbed over heaps of fallen trees, and crept underneath on our bellies. This, however, was not the worst, for our flesh was terribly mangled and torn by the thorns, and stung by the Patat lice, ants, and wassy-wassy or wild bees. This last is an insect not larger than an English blue-bottle fly, and is of a black colour, quite different from our bees; they are never kept in hives, but swarm wild in the forest, where they build in hollow trees or between the branches; their nests being sometimes as large as an inflated cow’s bladder, to which they bear no bad resemblance, both in colour and smoothness, except in being less regularly oval; from these abodes (when the nest or the branches are inadvertently touched) thousands of warriors sally forth; and this little flying army is extremely formidable, pitching always by instinct on the eyes, lips and hair, whence they cannot easily be dislodged; their stings generally cause a fever, and swell the parts so very much that they occasion blindness for several hours; their honey [188]is of a dark-brown colour, and so is their wax, but gummy, being both of little value.

The worst of our sufferings, however, was the fatigue of marching in a burning sun, and the last two hours in total darkness, holding each other by the hand; and having left ten men behind, some with agues, some stung blind, and some with their feet full of chigoes. Being in the most hospitable manner received at Soribo by the commanding officer, I went to my hammock very ill of a fever.

On the following morning I felt myself better for my night’s rest; but neither myself nor my men were able to march back, wherefore the other captain sent a small party of his soldiers to pick up the poor marines I had lost the day before, and of whom they brought with them seven, carried in hammocks tied to poles, each by two negroes, the other three having scrambled back to Devil’s Harwar.

During our stay here I wrote a letter to Colonel Fourgeoud, couched in such terms as few people in their full senses would do to their commanders, viz. that I had found the path; that if I had had support in time I might have cut off the enemy’s retreat, instead of finding their foot-steps only; but that now all was too late, and the party all knocked up to no purpose. This letter, I have been since told, incensed him, as it is easy to suppose, in the highest degree. Being sufficiently refreshed to renew my march, we left Soribo on the 9th, at four o’clock in [189]the morning, and at four o’clock P. M. arrived, after indescribable sufferings, at Devil’s Harwar, covered over with mud and blood, and our legs and thighs cut and torn by the thorns and branches; most of the men being without shoes and stockings of necessity, while I, who had gone this march in the same condition from choice, had absolutely suffered the least of the whole party, by having inured myself gradually to walk barefooted on the barges.

At Devil’s Harwar, I now found Lieutenant Colonel Westerloo and a quarter-master arrived to take the command, his troops not being expected till the next day. I was by this circumstance, however, made exceedingly happy, hoping at last to meet with some relief; and having ceded him my written orders, the magazine, hospital, &c. &c. I stripped and plunged into the river to wash myself and take a swim, by which (being before much over-heated) I found myself greatly refreshed, as well as by receiving a quantity of fine fruit, Jamaica rum, wine and sugar, from Joanna;—but how did my blood chill, when the quarter-master told me, as a secret, that my serjeant, one Fowler, having first got drunk with my wine, offered violence to this poor woman; and that he was to be at Devil’s Harwar next day, when I should see the marks of her just resentment on his face!

The reader will, I trust, excuse my violence, when I [190]tell him, that I vowed immediate destruction to the villain: and having ordered a negro to cut twelve bamboo canes, I retired like a person deprived of his senses, determined to punish him according to his supposed crime.

On the 10th there arrived two subalterns, with a second barge full of men, ammunition, medicine, and provisions, which having marched into quarters and stowed, I sent for the hapless Fowler, whose face being in three places wounded, I locked him up in a room, and, without asking one question, broke six of the bamboos over his head, till he escaped all bloody out at the window, and my resentment gradually abated. He certainly had suffered much, but nothing equal to what were my sensations, at being still further informed, that Colonel Fourgeoud had seized all my effects, which he had sealed and locked up in an empty store-room, in expectation of my decease, which, according to all appearances, might be looked for; while my house was given to another, by which means I could not procure so much as a clean shirt to relieve me from my disgraceful tatters: nevertheless, by the hope of going down myself, my spirits were supported. The other news, of more importance, was, that the hero in person, with most of the troops, had at last left Paramaribo; that he had quartered them partly at Devil’s Harwar, in Rio Cottica, the estate Bellair, in Rio Perica, [191]and at the estates Clarenbeek, and Cravassibo, in Rio Commewina; whence, conjunctly with the troops of the Society and the Rangers, he intended to move in quest of the rebels; that he had also ordered all the barges to be relieved at last, and their remaining troops to reinforce the above-mentioned posts, which I must remark was a very wise and well-planned regulation.

From Patamaca we were informed, that the rebels, on their repassing the river above La Rochelle, had again destroyed a small estate, and murdered its proprietor, a Mr. Nyboor.

It was either about this time, or very shortly after, that an overseer escaped by the assistance of a negro boy, who, desiring him to leap into a canoe, and lie down flat upon his belly, leaped himself into the water, where, by swimming with one hand, and guiding the canoe with the other, he ferried his master safe over the creek Patamaca, through a shower of musquet bullets, the rebels firing upon them all the while, but without execution; however, for this material piece of service, he was recompensed the week after with three hundred lashes by the same master, only for having forgotten to open one of the sluices or flood-gates.—On this act of inhumanity I shall make no comment, but proceed to my own miserable situation. Having remonstrated with Lieutenant Colonel Westerloo on the state of my health, which disabled me from joining the corps on their march, [192]I requested that I might be removed to Paramaribo for the chance of recovery; but this he peremptorily refused to allow me, by Colonel Fourgeoud’s express command. The refusal of so reasonable a request made me almost distracted, and agitated my spirits so much, that on the morning of the 12th, determined to exchange my wretched existence one way or other, I insisted on being immediately removed, or wished for death, which the surgeons declared must be the consequence soon, if I was not permitted to go down, and in the meanwhile I vowed that I should attribute my decease to their unprecedented barbarity. A consultation was now held on the subject; and at last, not without great difficulties, a boat was ordered to row me down to Paramaribo, but no white servant was permitted to attend me. Thus leaving the Lieutenant Colonel employed in fortifying Devil’s Harwar with pallisadoes, where now also was a numerous garrison, I at twelve o’clock at noon walked to the water-side, supported by a negro, on whose shoulder I rested, till I at length stepped into the boat, followed by my black boy Quaco, and finally left the diabolical spot where I had buried so many brave fellows.

On the 14th, having rowed day and night, at two o’clock in the morning, we arrived at the town, extremely ill indeed; where, having no residence of my own, I was hospitably received at the house of a Mr. [193]De La Marre, a merchant, this gentleman not only received me, but immediately sent a servant for poor Joanna, who was at her mother’s, and another for a physician to attend me, as my weak and hopeless condition now required every assistance that the town of Paramaribo could afford. [194]



Some Diseases peculiar to the Climate—Group of Negroes newly imported going to be sold—Reflections on the Slave Trade—the Voyage from Africa—Manner of selling them in the Colony—Description of a Cotton Plantation.

September 15th, I found myself in an elegant and well-furnished apartment, encouraged by the hopes given by the physician, caressed by my friends, and supported by the care and attention of my incomparable Mulatto.

A Captain Brant having at this time the command in Colonel Fourgeoud’s absence, he sent, the morning after my arrival, my trunks and baggage, which had been sealed up; but on looking into them, I found I had enemies at home as well as abroad; since most of my shirts, books, &c. were gnawed to dust by the blatta or cockroach, called Cackerlakke in Surinam: nay, even my shoes were destroyed, of which I had brought with me twelve pairs new from Europe, as they were extremely dear and bad in this country.

This insect, which is of the beetle kind, is here one inch and sometimes two inches long, oval, flat, and of a dark reddish colour. By getting through the locks of chests or boxes, it not only deposits its eggs there, but commits its ravages on linen, cloth, silk, or any thing that [195]comes in its way; by getting also into the victuals and drink of every kind, it renders them extremely loathsome, for it leaves the most nauseous smell, worse indeed than that of a bug. As most West-India vessels (especially those loaded with sugar) bring them home in great quantities, I shall say nothing more concerning them, only that they are seldom seen to fly, but creep very fast; and that the best, and I think the only way to keep the boxes free from them is, to place them on four empty wine bottles kept free from dust, which, by their smoothness, prevent the infects ascending to get through the key-holes, or even the smallest openings in the bottoms; but this precaution had been neglected by my good friend Colonel Fourgeoud. I found, however, linen sufficient for present use, and by the industry of Joanna I was soon provided with a new stock. None can conceive the comfort I felt in being properly dressed and shifted; my mental faculties were recruiting apace, and I felt with gratitude the blessing of a strong constitution; but poor Macdonald was still ill at Mr. Kennedy’s, who had humanely afforded him an asylum on his return from Devil’s Harwar.

Having now time, I inquired concerning Fowler’s conduct; when, to my infinite surprize, I was informed that he had indeed got drunk, as was reported to me, by which he had fallen amongst the bottles and cut his face, but that he never had attempted the smallest rudeness: so much indeed was his conduct the reverse of what [196]had been reported, that his inebriety had proceeded from his resentment at seeing both me and Joanna ill treated, and my property transported away against his inclination. I was now extremely chagrined at my past conduct, and was gently reproved by the cause of it, to whom I promised to be Fowler’s friend for ever after—and I kept my word. My fever was now much abated, but I was infested with another disorder peculiar to this climate, and which I am afraid I shall but indifferently describe: it is called in Surinam the ring-worm, and consists of long scarlet irregular spots, particularly on the under parts of the body, which increase in magnitude from day to day, unless prevented by timely application. Those spots are surrounded with a kind of hard callous border, and are as troublesome by their itching as the prickly heat, or the sting of the musquitoes; and so very infectious is this complaint, that if any person seats himself by chance on a chair immediately after another who has the disorder, he is almost certain to be infected with it: it is, I believe, very difficult to get rid of; but the best cure is to rub the spots with a composition of refined salt-petre, benzoin, flower of brimstone, and white mercury, mixed with fresh butter or hog’s lard. The numerous inconveniencies to which the inhabitants of this climate are exposed, are almost inconceivable.

On the 26th I had a relapse, and was twice bled in one day. I was also this morning visited by poor Mr. Heneman, [197]a young volunteer I have not before mentioned, who looked like a ghost, and was left sick at Paramaribo to manage for himself.

On the 2d of October I was a little better, and was exalted from living like a savage, to the temporary command of a few troops left at Paramaribo, Captain Brant being ordered to join Fourgeoud in Rio Comewina; when the colours, regiment’s cash, &c. were transmitted to my own lodging, and a sentinel placed before my door.

The first exercise I made of my power was to discharge the sour wine, which had been bought for the sick officers as well as the men, whom I supplied, from the money now in my possession, with good wholesome claret; but I was sorry not to be able also to exchange the salt beef, pork, and pease, that were left at the hospital, for fresh provisions. This step was however particularly forbidden by the commander; while the butter, cheese, and tobacco were taken away, for which they got one quart of oil amongst ten, and their bread reduced to two pounds each man for a whole week. As to the officers, they were left to shift for themselves, or submit to the same allowance, notwithstanding they kept on paying their quota to a regimental mess, which now no longer existed.

On the 3d, I took the air for the first time on horseback, in company with Mr. Heneman, though we could not ride above three English miles distance out of town, on a species of gravel that leads to the Wanica Path, which I have already mentioned as communicating with [198]the river Seramica, and as the only passable road in the colony. During this little ride, which (on account of the dry season being commenced) we took at six o’clock in the morning, we observed a great number of those large and elegant birds, known by the name of macaws, but in Surinam called ravens, from their proportion to the parrots, which may be looked upon as a kind of tropical crows.

The macaws are divided into different species, of which I shall only describe two, wishing to say nothing for which I have not competent authority, as I am sorry to observe too many authors have done, among whom are men of genius and learning: some indeed may have erred from ignorance or wrong information, but numbers for the gratification of vanity have, I fear, been guilty of imposing on the too credulous public.

The blue and yellow macaw is as large as a barn-door fowl, with short legs and a crooked bill, like that of the common parrot; the former dark coloured, with four black claws, two before and two behind; the latter also black, the upper mandible alone moveable. Its tail is like a wedge, and consists of a few very long and strait feathers. The back of this bird, from the head (the top of which is a sea-green) to the extremity of the tail, is a most beautiful azure blue, and, underneath, its whole body is of a pale orange colour; round its eyes it is perfectly white, interspersed with black rings, composed of very small feathers.

The Blue & Yellow & the Amazon Macaw.

The Blue & Yellow & the Amazon Macaw.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

The other is called in Surinam the Amazon macaw. [199]This is rather less than the former; its tail, legs, and bill, are formed in the same manner, but the latter is of a dirty white; the head, the neck, and breast of this bird are of a bright scarlet, the space round the eyes only excepted, where it is white, with black rings; its wings may be said to be divided by bars into four colours, being scarlet at the top, next green, then yellow and blue, down to the extremity of the tail, which in the sun shines with a brilliancy and effect unequalled by art. The macaws fly in couples, and have a shrill disagreeable shriek, and bite severely; their bill being very hard and sharp, which is of great use to them in climbing: they are easily tamed, and may be taught to speak like other parrots. The Indians frequently bring them to Paramaribo, where they part with them for a bottle of rum, or for a few fish-hooks.

This evening arrived sick, from the head-quarters at the estate Crawasibo in Comewina, Colonel Texier, the commanding officer of the Society troops. This gentleman had intended to have marched conjunctly with Colonel Fourgeoud through the woods, in quest of the rebels; but his constitution, already weak, not being able to support the regimen of the commander in chief, and to live only on salt provisions, had begun to flag from the beginning, till he was sent home to Paramaribo in this drooping condition.

On the sixth of October the fever had left me, and the ring-worms began to abate; but the misery and hardships [200]which I had so lately undergone still had an effect upon my constitution, and enormous boils broke out on my left thigh, which entirely prevented me from walking. My physician, however, ordering me daily to take the air, I had an opportunity this day of waiting on his excellency the Governor of the colony, by the help of my friend Kennedy’s chaise; and as I returned homeward, I stopped the carriage at the water-side, to behold a group of human beings, who had strongly attracted my attention. This group I shall circumstantially endeavour to describe. They were a drove of newly-imported negroes, men and women, with a few children, who were just landed from on board a Guinea ship that lay at anchor in the roads, to be sold for slaves. The whole party was such a set of scarcely animated automatons, such a resurrection of skin and bones, as forcibly reminded me of the last trumpet. These objects appeared that moment to be risen from the grave, or escaped from Surgeon’s Hall; and I confess I can give no better description of them, than by comparing them to walking skeletons covered over with a piece of tanned leather.

“And the Lord caused me to pass by them round about, and behold there were many in the open valley, and lo they were very dry.

“And he said unto me, Son of Man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God thou knowest.”—Ezekiel, xxxvii. ver. 2, 3.

Group of Negros, as imported to be sold for Slaves.
 Blake Sculpt.

Group of Negros, as imported to be sold for Slaves.

London, Published Decr. 2d, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.


Before these wretches, which might be in all about sixty in number, walked a sailor, and another followed behind with a bamboo-rattan; the one serving as a shepherd to lead them along, and the other as his dog to worry them occasionally, should any one lag behind, or wander away from the flock. At the same time, however, equity demands the acknowledgment, that instead of all those horrid and dejected countenances which are described in pamphlets and news-papers, I perceived not one single downcast look amongst them all; and I must add, that the punishment of the bamboo was inflicted with the utmost moderation by the sailor who brought up the rear.

Having viewed this sad assemblage of my fellow-creatures with amazement, I drove home to my lodgings in a state of perfect humiliation; where I noted down, as I could learn it from the best authority, both white and black, what is really the fate of these people, from the last moment of their liberty in Africa, to the present period of their slavery in America: and this I shall endeavour to relate, preceded by a few of my own unbiassed sentiments upon the Slave Trade, which has lately been the object of both public and private investigation; and this, I trust, I shall do with that candour and impartiality which not only every gentleman, but every man, should think it necessary to be possessed of.

It has been said, Will you, for the sake of drinking rum, [202]and sweetening your coffee with sugar, persevere in the most unjust and execrable barbarity?—To this it is answered, Take care, lest, under the enthusiasm of humanity, you do not, at the expence of your neighbour, and perhaps of your country, inconsiderately give up your advantages, without the least chance of benefiting or improving the condition of those, whom I most heartily join with you in calling our brethren.

After so many volumes which, within a few years, have been written on this subject, it may appear great presumption in me to offer my poor opinion: but I have made it a rule, among the various subjects I have mentioned, to dwell on those only to which I have been an eye-witness; and which I am convinced there are few others in this country that have seen and so accurately observed. I have seen the most cruel tortures inflicted, for submitting to the desire of a husband, or for refusing the same to a libidinous master, and more frequently a rascally overseer: nay, even on the most innocent, from the false accusations of a lustful woman, prompted alone by jealousy. I have seen in other places, negro slaves as well treated as the most favoured servants in England; and as I have seen some sailors, soldiers, and apprentices, most tyrannically treated when under the command of ill-tempered despots, I must pronounce the condition of such not to be envied even by negroes. If, therefore, so much depends on the disposition or humour of those who are exercising a [203]permanent or a temporary power, we must duly consider, before we hastily judge the whole from partial information.

Cruelty is too often exercised in our plantations; but if not so shockingly to human nature as in other countries, what are we doing by a sudden emancipation, but turning the poor creatures over to more cruel masters? The quantum of sugar, &c. will be had, and must be provided by negroes, natives of Africa, who alone are born to endure labour under a vertical sun.

The national character of these people, as I have remarked it, where they are as free to act by their own will and disposition as in Africa, is perfectly savage; the twenty thousand Ouca and Seramica free negroes have lived separated, and under no controul of Europeans, for a number of years, and yet I have never seen any marks of civilization, order, or government among them, but, on the contrary, many examples of ungovernable passion, debauchery, and indolence.

I love the African negroes, and have shewn how sincerely I have felt for them on many occasions; and whatever wrong construction may be put on what I have said on this subject, I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that my words could be submitted to the consideration of that respectable body the British parliament; and so far be regarded, as to prevent the fatal decision of a total abolition of slavery till 1800, or the beginning of next [204]century. For if such a measure should be rashly enforced, I take the liberty to prophesy, that thousands and thousands, both white and black, may repent, and more be ruined by it, when the evil can no more be redressed.

From what I have learned by inquiry, from persons well informed on the subject, it clearly appears, that numbers of the negroes offered for sale have been taken in battles, and made prisoners of war; while many others have been scandalously kidnapped, and some others transported for offences, &c.; of all which I shall produce a few examples in future.

These groups of people are marched from every inland part, to the factories erected by different nations upon the coast, where they are sold, or more properly speaking, bartered, like the other productions of their country, viz. gold, elephants teeth, &c. to the Europeans, for bars of iron, fire-arms, carpenters tools, chests, linens, hats, knives, glasses, tobacco, spirits, &c. Next they are embarked for exportation, during which time they, without contradiction, feel all the pangs that mental or corporeal misery can inflict. Being torn from their country and dearest connections, stowed hundreds together in a dark stinking hold, the sexes being separated; while the men are kept in chains to prevent an insurrection. In this manner are they floated over turbulent seas, not certain what is to be their destiny, and generally fed during [205]the passage with horse-beans and oil for their whole subsistence. But these sufferings are often alleviated with better food by the more humane: so far, that none or few of the cargo die during the passage, and the whole crew arrive healthy in the West Indies. I even remember one instance, where the captain, mate, and most of the sailors, having expired at sea, so that the remaining few could not work the ship without the negroes assistance, yet these last having been well treated, helped at last to run the vessel on shore, by which means they not only saved many lives, but tamely and even chearfully allowed themselves to be fetched and sold to any person who would please to buy them.—Having made these reflections, I shall now briefly proceed with the manner in which the slaves are disposed of.

No sooner is a Guinea-ship arrived, than all the slaves are led upon deck, where they are refreshed with pure air, plantains, bananas, oranges, &c. and being properly cleaned, washed, and their hair shaved in different figures of stars, half-moons, &c. which they generally do the one to the other, (having no razors) by the help of a broken bottle and without soap. After this operation, one part of them is sent ashore for sale, decorated with pieces of cotton to serve as fig-leaves, arm-bands, beads, &c. being all the captain’s property; while the others spend the day in dancing, hallooing, and clapping hands on board the vessel. [206]

Having sufficiently described their figures after landing, we now may suppose them walking along the water-side, and through the streets, where every planter picks out that number which he stands in need of, to supply those lost by death or desertion, and begins to make a bargain with the captain. Good negroes are generally valued at from fifty to a hundred pounds each. Amongst these, should a woman chance to be pregnant, her price is augmented accordingly, for which reason I have known the captain of a Dutch Guinea vessel, who acknowledged himself to be the father, take advantage, with a brutality scarcely credited in the story of Inkle and Yarico, of doubling the value, by selling his own offspring to the best bidder; for which however he was highly censured by his companions.

The next circumstance that takes place before the bargain is struck, is to cause the negroes for sale, one after another, to mount on a hogshead or a table, where they are visited by a surgeon, who obliges them to make all the different gestures, with arms and legs, of a Merry-Andrew upon the stage, to prove their soundness or unsoundness; after which they are adopted by the buyer, or rejected, as he finds them fit for his purpose, or otherwise. If he keeps them, the money is paid down; and the new-bought negroes are immediately branded on the breast or the thick part of the shoulder, by a stamp made of silver, with the initial letters of the new master’s name, [207]as we mark furniture or any thing else to authenticate them properly. These hot letters, which are about the size of a six-pence, occasion not that pain which may be imagined, and the blisters being rubbed directly with a little fresh butter, are perfectly well in the space of two or three days. No sooner is this ceremony over, and a new name given to the newly-bought slave, than he or she is delivered to an old one of the same sex, and sent to the estate, where each is properly kept clean by his guardian, instructed and well fed, without working, for the space of six weeks; during which period, from living skeletons, they become plump and fat, with a beautiful clean skin, till it is disfigured by the inhuman flogging of some rascally proprietor, or rather his overseer.

Here I must leave them for some time, and continue my narrative, after observing that the negroes are composed of different nations or casts, such as the

  • Abo,
  • Conia,
  • Blitay,
  • Coromantin,
  • Congo,
  • Gango,
  • Konare,
  • Riemba,
  • Loango,
  • N. Zoko,
  • Nago,
  • Papa,
  • Pombo,
  • Wanway,
  • &c. &c.

With most of which I have found means to get acquainted, and of which I shall speak more amply in another place of this narrative.

On the 10th, the surgeon having lanced my thigh, I scrambled out once more, to witness the selling of slaves [208]to the best bidder. After what has been related, the reader may form some judgment of my surprize and confusion, when I found among them my inestimable Joanna; the sugar-estate Fauconberg, with its whole flock, being this day sold by an execution, for the benefit of the creditors of its late possessor, Mr. D. B. who had fled.

I now felt all the horrors of the damn’d. I bewailed again and again my unlucky fortune, that did not enable me to become her proprietor myself, and in my mind I continually painted her ensuing dreadful situation. I fancied I saw her tortured, insulted, and bowing under the weight of her chains, calling aloud, but in vain, for my assistance. I was miserable, and indeed nearly deprived of all my faculties, till restored by the assurances of my friend, Mr. Lolkens, who providentially was appointed to continue administrator of the estate during the absence of its new possessors, Messrs. Passelege and son, at Amsterdam, who bought it and its dependants for only four thousand pounds.

No sooner was he confirmed in his appointment, than this disinterested and steady friend brought Joanna to my presence; and pledged himself, that in every service which he could render to myself or her, and which he had now more in his power than ever, no efforts on his side should be wanting. This promise I desired him to keep in remembrance, and accordingly he ever since most nobly persevered. [209]

Being informed that Colonel Fourgeoud had left Crawassibo estate, and entered the woods just above the plantation Clarenbeck, on his way to the Wana Creek, to try if he could fall in with the rebels, I requested, by a letter, that I might join him there as soon as I should be recovered, and having shipped off for the last-mentioned estate medicines and such surgeons of ours as had been left at Paramaribo, I employed Mr. Greber, the surgeon of the Society, on my own authority, and at the regiment’s expence, to attend the sick officers and soldiers, who were left in town, destitute of cash, and now without assistance. At the same time I also ordered to be purchased two more ankers of the best claret for their support. Thus was I determined properly to avail myself of my command, which at best could but last a few days longer.

This evening my friend De La Mara took his departure, with his twenty-five free mulattoes, for the river Surinam; he being a captain of the militia, and they being infinitely preferable to the European scarecrows.

I was so far recovered as to be able to ride out every morning, when the following ludicrous adventure happened to me on the road that leads to Wanica. In this place a Mr. Van de Velde, boasting how fast his horse could gallop, proposed to me to run a race; to which I agreed, allowing him the start at twenty paces distance. The start indeed he had, but did not long retain his advantage, [210]for my English horse passing him with the rapidity of a cannon-shot, his galloway sprung, rider and all, through a hedge of thick limes, and left poor Mr. Van de Velde, not like Doctor Slop, in the dirt, but like Absalom, hanging among the branches.

The horses in Surinam are little better or larger than asses (except those which are brought from North America or Holland, the latter of which are generally employed for carriages) yet they are useful in the sugar-mills, where a number of mules are also employed. These last are brought over from Barbary, and sometimes sold as high as fifty guineas. None of these animals are indigenous to Guiana; but, as many other animals have been imported, and become the inhabitants of the climate, to save unnecessary repetition I here give the following list of such quadrupeds as are not natives of the new continent:

  • The Elephant,
  • Hipopotamus,
  • The Rhinoceros,
  • Cameleopard,
  • Camel,
  • Dromedary,
  • Lion,
  • Tiger,
  • Panther,
  • Sheep,
  • Hog,
  • Goat,
  • Dog,
  • Badger,
  • Sable,
  • Stoat or Ermine,
  • Hyæna,
  • Jackall,
  • Wild Goat,
  • Rabbit,
  • Small Guinea Stag,
  • Ferret,
  • Rat,
  • Mouse,
  • Fat Squirrel,
  • Garden Squirrel,
  • Marmot, [211]
  • Horse,
  • Ass,
  • Zebra,
  • Ox,
  • Buffalo,
  • Genett,
  • Civet,
  • Cat,
  • Antelope,
  • Chamois Goat,
  • Ichneumon,
  • Jerboa,
  • Maki; and several kinds of Monkies.

Should the number on this list seem rather great, I in that case refer to the celebrated Count de Buffon, whence it was extracted.

On the 18th arrived sick from Devil’s Harwar Ensign Mathew, one of the officers by whom I had been relieved; and the same day he was followed by his commander and friend, Colonel Westerloo, supported by two soldiers. They had ridiculed me for complaining, after a confinement of so many weeks on board the barges; while these gentlemen had been out but a few days and always on shore, the latter of them having attempted to accompany the old Colonel Fourgeoud to Wana (whom he had joined at La Rochelle in Patamaca) but was completely unfitted for proceeding by his very first entry into the woods. I was at dinner with a Mr. Day, when I saw him pass by a miserable spectacle, and chusing to forget what had passed at Devil’s Harwar, and in reality having a regard for this gentleman, I started up immediately, and got him a coach, in which I accompanied him to his lodgings, where, having placed a centinel before his chamber-door to keep out the rabble, I sent for [212]a Doctor Van Dam, as well as a Doctor Rissam, an American, to attend him, forbidding all other communication, that of an old negro woman, his man servant, and a black boy excepted, and by these means I apparently preserved his life.

On the 20th, Lieutenant Count de Randwyk came down also indisposed with Ensign Coene, and at last my poor old shipmate Lieutenant Hamer, who had been kept at Devil’s Harwar near four months, till, overcome by disease, he obtained leave to be transported to Paramaribo.

On the 22d, the governor sent me a cotton twig, which I copied; and as I cannot have a better opportunity, I will now proceed to a description of that useful plant, which has only been cultivated in Surinam from about the year 1735, but not with advantage till about the years 1750 or 1752. There are several species of the cotton-tree, but I shall confine myself to that which is the most common and the most useful in this colony. This species of cotton, which grows upon a tree about six or eight feet high, bears before it is a year old, and produces two crops annually, each of about twenty ounces in weight; the leaves are something like those of the vine, of a bright green, and the fibres of a cinnamon colour. The cotton-balls, some of which are as large as a small hen’s egg, and divided in three parts, grow on a very long stalk, and in a triangular pod, which is first [213]produced by a yellow flower, and when ripe opens of itself, and discloses the globular contents as white as flakes of snow; in the middle of these are contained small black seeds, formed not unlike those that are usually found in grapes. The cotton will prosper in any of the tropical soils, and produces a good profit if the crops are not spoiled by a too long rainy season, being cultivated with very little trouble and expence: all indeed that is required is, to plant the seeds at a little distance from each other, when each seed, as I have said, produces the first year it is put in the ground. The separation of the seeds from the pulp, is the work of one man only, by the help of a machine made for the purpose; after which the cotton has undergone all the necessary process, and is put in bales of between three and four hundred pounds weight each for transportation, which bales ought to be well moistened at the time of stowing it, to prevent the cotton from sticking to the canvas. In the year before my arrival in Surinam, near three thousand bales of cotton were exported from this colony to Amsterdam and Rotterdam alone, which produced about forty thousand pounds sterling. The best estates make twenty-five thousand pounds weight. The average prices have been from eight pence to twenty-two pence per pound. The raw material is spun in the West Indies by a rock and spindle, and extremely fine, when by the negro girls it is knit into stockings, &c. one pair of which are [214]sometimes sold for the price of a Portuguese joe, or sometimes for two guineas. The Indians or natives of Guiana make very good hammocks of cotton, which they barter with the inhabitants at Paramaribo for other commodities.—In the annexed plate A is the twig itself, B the pod, C the cotton-ball, and D the seed, but on a smaller scale than nature. I should here also describe the coffee, cacao, sugar, and indigo plantations, but must reserve them till another occasion, having made it a rule to speak of things only as they occur, which is more pleasant to myself, and better adapted to diversify my narrative.

Sprig of the Cotton Tree.

Sprig of the Cotton Tree.

London, Published Decr. 1st 1791 by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Being now perfectly recovered, I resolved to join Colonel Fourgeoud at the Wana Creek, without waiting his orders, and to accompany him on his excursions through the forest: in consequence of which, having first cropt my hair, as being more convenient in the woods as well as more cleanly, and provided myself with the necessary bush-equipage, such as jackets, trowsers, &c.; I waited on the governor to ask his commands; he entertained me in a most polite manner, and told me, that what I was now going to suffer would surpass what I had already undergone. I nevertheless persisted in wishing to go without waiting an order from the chief, and accordingly applied to the magistrates for a boat, and the necessary negroes to transport me; which being promised for the succeeding day, I transferred the colours and regiment’s cash, with the command of the remaining sick troops, to [215]Lieutenant Meyer, the only healthy officer then at Paramaribo.

Indeed the colours, the cash, and the sick soldiers were nearly of equal use in Surinam, the first never having been displayed except at our landing, the second invisible to all except to Colonel Fourgeoud, and the third dying away one after another. [216]



Colonel Fourgeoud marches to the Wana Creek—Harasses the Enemy—Account of the Manicole Tree, with its various Uses—March to the Mouth of Cormoetibo River—Some Rebels taken—Shocking treatment of a wounded captive Negro.

On the 25th of October, being ready to proceed upon my second campaign, I repaired to the water-side at six o’clock in the evening; where, instead of a tent boat, I found a greasy yawl, with a few drunken Dutch sailors, to row me to an estate in the river Comewina, whence they were going to bring their captain back to Paramaribo, and from which place I might, if I pleased, beg the rest of my passage upwards, or manage for myself in the best manner I was able. I had already one foot in the boat, when, reflecting that I was going voluntarily on a hazardous expedition, without orders, and only from a desire to serve an ungrateful people, I repented, and stepped back upon the shore, where, positively declaring I would not move in their defence till I should be decently transported, should the whole colony be on fire, I was seconded by all the English and Americans in the town, and a general tumult took place. The Dutch exclaimed against the expence of a tent-boat [217]which would cost them thirty shillings, when they could have the other for nothing; while the others declared they were a set of mean and parsimonious wretches, who deserved not the smallest protection from Colonel Fourgeoud’s troops. A mob collected, and a riot ensued, before Mr. Hardegen’s tavern, at the water-side, while hats, wigs, bottles, and glasses, flew out at his windows. The magistrates were next sent for, but to no purpose: and the fighting continued in the street till ten o’clock at night, when I with my friends fairly kept the field, having knocked down several sailors, planters, Jews, and overseers, and lost one of my pistols, which I threw after the rabble in a passion; nor would it have ended here, had not my friend Mr. Kennedy, who was member of the Court of Policy, and two or three more gentlemen whom he brought with him, found means to appease the disputants, by declaring I had been very ill treated, and should have a proper boat the next day.

Having now slept and refreshed myself a few hours, I was waited on by four American captains, viz. Captain Timmons of the Harmony, Captain Lewis of the Peggy, Captain Bogard of the Olive Branch, and Captain Minet of the America, who insisted on my refusing any vessel whatever from the colony this time, and offering to send me up in one of their own boats, manned by their own sailors only, to which each would equally contribute. I can aver, that notwithstanding the threatening rupture between Great Britain and her Colonies, which seemed [218]then upon the eve of breaking out into open violence, nothing could surpass the warm and cordial friendship which these gentlemen possessed, not only for me, but for every individual that bore a British name, or had any connexion with that island; professing, that they still retained the greatest regard for every thing in Britain, but its administration. I accepted of their very polite proposal; after which, having received a letter from Mr. Kennedy, to be delivered to one of the militia captains, a Mr. N. Reeder, in the river Comewina, with orders to send me farther up in a proper tent-boat; and having arranged matters in such a manner at home, that neither Colonel Fourgeoud nor the cock-roaches could injure me, I shook hands with my Mulatta, and at six in the evening repaired once more to the water-side, escorted by my English and American friends, where, having drank a bowl of punch, we separated. I then departed for my station, they having hoisted the colours on board all their vessels in the road, and at the boat’s going off saluted me with three cheers, to my great satisfaction, and the mortification of the gaping multitude by which we were surrounded. We soon rowed beyond the view of Paramaribo.

Being arrived at the fortress of New Amsterdam, we were obliged to stop for the return of the tide, to row up the river Comewina. In this interval, I was genteelly entertained with a supper by the Society officers quartered there; but at twelve o’clock we got aboard, and [219]having rowed all night, I breakfasted with Captain Macneyl, who was one of General Spork’s captains in 1751; after which we once more set out, and arrived at the plantation Charlottenburgh, where I delivered Mr. Kennedy’s letter to Mr. Reeder, who promised next morning to assist me. So much incensed was I at the usage I had met with at Paramaribo, and so well pleased with the English sailors, that I ordered the tars a dinner of twelve roasted ducks, and gave them thirty-six bottles of claret, being my whole stock, besides a guinea. With the ebb tide they took their leave, and rowed down to their vessels, as well pleased, and as drunk as wine or strong spirits could make them.

I now pursued my voyage upwards as far as the estate Mondesir; afterwards, having viewed the ruins of the three estates, Zuzingheyd, Peru, and L’Esperance, which had been burnt when I commanded at Devil’s Harwar, I arrived at Lepair. Here one of the overseers gave me an account of his miraculous escape from the rebels, which I shall relate in his own words.—“The rebels, Sir,” said he, “had already surrounded the dwelling-house in which I was, before I knew of their being in the plantation, and were employed in setting fire to the four corners of it, so that to run out of doors was rushing on certain death. In this dilemma I fled to the garret, where I laid myself flat upon one of the beams, in hopes of their dispersing soon, and that I might effect [220]my escape before the building should be burnt down; but in this I was disappointed, as they still remained; and at the same time the flames encreased so fast, that the heat became insupportable in the place where I was, and I had no other alternative left, than to be burnt to death, or to leap from a high garret window into the midst of my exasperated enemies. This last measure, however, I resolved upon, and had not only the good fortune to light unhurt upon my feet, but to escape without a wound, from among so many men armed with sabres and bill-hooks. I flew to the river-side, into which I plunged headlong; however, not being able to swim, I immediately sunk to the bottom; but (said he) I still kept my full presence of mind, and while they concluded me to be drowned, found means, by the help of the moco-moco and mangrove roots, to bring myself not only under cover of the impending verdure, but just so far above water with my lips as to continue in a state of respiration till all was over. Having killed every other person, the rebels departed, and I was taken up by a boat from my very perilous situation.”

On the 30th I arrived at Devil’s Harwar, and the succeeding day rowed up the Cormoetibo Creek; where, having tied the boat to a tree which overspread it with thick branches, we quietly lay down to sleep during the night; myself and Quaco in the boat upon the benches, and the negroes under the seats, except those whom I [221]ordered alternately to keep watch, and awake me if they heard the least rustling in the woods, forbidding them all absolutely to speak or make any noise, lest the rebels, who were hovering on both sides of the Creek, might hear and surprize us. As for myself, who was the only white person amongst them all, I was confident I should not, in such a case, escape their fury. After these precautions, we all lay down and slept soundly, from nine o’clock till about three in the morning, at which time Quaco and myself were both suddenly thrown down from our benches, by the boat all at once heeling upon one side, while all the negroes leaped overboard into the water. I instantly cocked my pistol, and jumping up, asked aloud what was the matter? positively determined to defend myself to the last extremity, rather than be taken alive by so relentless an enemy. For the space of a few seconds I obtained no answer, when again the boat suddenly rectifying itself (by the motion of which I was thrown off my feet) one of the swimming negroes called out, “Masera, da wan sea-cow;” and to my great happiness it proved to be no other than the manati, or sea-cow, which is called in Cayenne the lamentyn. By the account of the negroes it had slept under the boat, which, by the creature’s awaking, had been lifted up and thrown upon one side, and again replaced when the manati made its escape from underneath it. I did not so much as see the creature, nor indeed hardly had the negro, owing to the darkness of the night, which lasted some hours [222]after; but during that time we had no further inclination to rest. At last the sun’s bright beams began to dart through the trees and gild the foliage; on which we cast off from our moorings, and continued rowing up Cormoetibo Creek (which was now very narrow) till near noon, when we discovered a smoak, and at last came to the mouth of the Wana Creek, which runs into the Marawina, and which was the place of rendezvous, where however the troops were not yet arrived; and opposite to which were encamped a few of the rangers, to guard the provisions that were waiting the arrival of Colonel Fourgeoud and his party from Crawassibo, and last from Patamaca.

One of the rangers having killed a tattu or armadillo, called in Surinam capasce, I shall embrace this opportunity of describing it.—This animal is with propriety sometimes stiled a hog-in-armour; its head and ears being much like those of a roasting pig, and its whole body covered over with hard shells like shields, sliding in moveable rings, like those of the quee-quee fish already mentioned, the one over the other, except on the shoulders and the rump, which are covered something like turtle, with one solid mass of unmoveable bone, called by some a cuirass and a helmet. Of this creature there are many species in Guiana, the largest being from the snout to the tip of the tail above three feet in length, of a reddish colour, and marked all over with hexangular figures. Its eyes are small, the [223]tail long and thick at the root, and tapering gradually like a carrot towards the point, and is covered over like the body with moveable rings. This animal has four short legs with four toes, armed with two claws on the fore-feet, and five on those behind. The armadillo walks generally during the night, being seldom seen through the day, and sleeps in burrows under ground, which it makes with great facility, and in which it sticks so fast that the strongest man cannot draw it out, though he were to pull its tail with both hands. When attacked or terrified, it forms itself into a round ball like a hedge-hog, making its cuirass and helmet meet together, in which are enclosed its head, feet, and whole body. This creature feeds on roots, insects, fruits, birds, &c. and when dressed appeared to me a tolerably good dish, though in general by Europeans it is accounted no great delicacy; the Indians are, however, extremely fond of it.

I shall, in this place, also take the opportunity of mentioning the Guiana porcupine, which is frequently called here the adjora. This animal, which is from its muzzle to the root of the tail sometimes three feet in length, is covered with hard prickles, the feet, the face, and part of its tail excepted. These prickles are about three inches long, yellow at the root, a dark chesnut colour in the middle, and white at the points; they are extremely sharp, highly polished, and moveable, serving for the creature’s defence, which, when irritated, it dresses in [224]array, and makes a formidable appearance before its adversary; at other times these prickles lie flat on its back, something like the bristles of a hog. The head of the porcupine is of a roundish make, and joined to the body by a remarkably thick short neck; its eyes are large, bright, and placed under the ears, which are very small and round; it never bites. On each side of its nose it has long whiskers, very like the otter or the cat; its feet are shaped much like those of a monkey, which assist it in climbing trees to seek for its food, in which its long tapering tail is also very serviceable, which, like a fifth limb, it twists about the branches, and which near the extremity is covered over with hair like the face, the under part near the tip only excepted, which is perfectly callous and black, as are also the inside of all its feet. The hedge-hog of this country is, I think, little different from that of the old continent, being about eight or ten inches in length, covered over with pale yellow prickles, but with hair on the face and under the belly, which is rather softer and longer than in the hedge-hog of Europe. It has dark brown spots like eye-brows over its eyes, and no ears but auditory holes, and five toes with bended claws on each foot; its tail is very short, and its defence consists in forming itself into a round ball in the manner of the armadillo. Its food consists of fruit, roots, vegetables, insects, &c. and its flesh is not disesteemed by the Indians or natives of the country.

The Armadillo & Porcupine of Guiana.
 Barlow fc.

The Armadillo & Porcupine of Guiana.

London, Published Decr. 2nd, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Colonel Fourgeoud not having yet arrived, I amused [225]myself with swimming, and paddling up the mouth of the deep Wana Creek, with a canoe; during which time a Mr. Rulagh, one of our officers who was with me, observed (in the top of a mangrove-tree) a battle between a snake and a frog; and for an additional proof that frogs are to be found in trees, I refer the reader to the Monthly Review for March 1785, page 199, where, in the Abbé Spallanzani’s Dissertation upon Frogs, the Tree Frog is particularly mentioned. But finding this animal amongst the branches did not so much excite my surprize, as the contest between a snake and a frog, which I shall distinctly relate, and in which the poor frog lost the battle. Indeed when I first perceived him, his head and shoulders were already in the jaws of the snake, which last appeared to me about the size of a large kitchen poker, and had its tail twisted round a tough limb of the mangrove; while the frog, who appeared to be the size of a man’s fist, had laid hold of a twig with the claws of its hinder legs, as with hands. In this position were they contending, the one for life, the other for his dinner, forming one straight line between the two branches, and thus I beheld them for some time, apparently stationary, and without a struggle. Still I was not without hope, that the poor frog might extricate himself by his exertions; but the reverse was the case, for the jaws of the snake gradually relaxing, and by their elasticity forming an incredible orifice, the body and fore-legs of the frog by little and little disappeared, [226]till finally nothing more was seen than the hinder feet and claws, which were at last disengaged from the twig, and the poor creature was swallowed whole by suction down the throat of his formidable adversary, whence he was drawn some inches farther down the alimentary canal, and at last stuck, forming a knob or knot at least six times as thick as the snake, whose jaws and throat immediately contracted and re-assumed their former natural shape. The snake being out of our reach, we could not kill him, as we wished to do, to take a further examination. Thus we left him, continuing in the same attitude without moving, and twisted round the branch.

On the third of November, one party of the troops being arrived, and encamped on the south-west side of the Cormoetibo Creek, about one mile above the mouth of the Wana Creek, I went with a couple of rangers to pay them a visit; when Major Rughcop, the commanding officer, informed me that Colonel Fourgeoud had marched last from Patamaca in two columns, of which he led the one, while the other was hourly expected; and that the rest of the regiment was divided between the rivers Cottica, Perica, and Comewina, excepting those that were sick in the hospital at Paramaribo. I was now in excellent health and good spirits; and in the hopes of being reconciled to Fourgeoud by this voluntary proof of my zeal for the service, I returned to the rangers’ camp to wait his arrival. I was indeed well acquainted with his [227]irreconcileable temper, and at the same time conscious of my own wild and ungovernable disposition, when I thought myself ill treated; but soon forgot trifling injuries, and was now determined, by my active and affable behaviour, to make him my friend if possible.

The Sculls of Lieut. Leppar, & Six of his Men.

The Sculls of Lieut. Leppar, & Six of his Men.

London, Published Decr. 2d, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

At length the wished-for hour arrived; and being apprized of Colonel Fourgeoud’s approach, I went half a mile from the camp to meet him, acquainting him that I was come pour participer de la gloire, and to serve under his immediate command, which he having answered with a bow, I returned it, and we marched together to the rangers’ camp.

The occurrences in this march were the troops taking from the enemy three villages, particularly one called the Rice Country, on account of the great quantity of rice which was found there, some ripe and some in full blossom, which we totally destroyed, after putting the rebels to flight. These were commanded by one Bonny, a relentless Mulatto, who was born in the forest, and was quite unconnected with Baron’s party, which had lately been driven from Boucou. We further learned that they had found seven human skulls stuck upon stakes, under which lay mouldering the bodies above ground, and part of the garments, (as may be seen in the annexed plate) and which proved them to be the remains of the unfortunate Lieutenant Lepper, with six of his unhappy men, most of whom being taken alive, had one by one been stripped naked by the rebel negroes at the arrival in their village, and (for the recreation of their wives and children) by Bonny’s orders flogged to death. [228]This information we got from a rebel woman, who had been made a prisoner by Fourgeoud on his march through the above village or rice condre, and whom we treated with every kindness.

This inhuman conduct in Bonny was directly opposite to that of Baron, who, notwithstanding all his threats and menaces, it was well known had sent back to Paramaribo different soldiers, whom he might have killed. He even assisted in concealing them from his enraged accomplices, and furnished them with provisions, perfectly sensible that they were not the cause of the disturbance. But not a ranger, as I have said before, that had the misfortune to fall into his hands could escape his ungovernable fury.

On further conversation, we found that the whole party, being nearly starved, had conjunctly called out for bread, as it was known that there was plenty in the boxes, but that it had been kept back three days, and rice served out in its stead. To suppress this kind of mutiny, the officers had rushed in amongst the men with cocked pistols and drawn swords, and indiscriminately laying hold of the first in their way, had unluckily seized a poor man named Schmidt, whom, notwithstanding all the others averred to be innocent, they had, for an example to the rest, bastonaded between two corporals, till the blood gushed out of his mouth like a fountain;—and thus ended the revolt. One of the conductors, named Mangol, disdaining at all to serve under Colonel Fourgeoud’s command, had left him without asking his consent, after which he [229]forsook the service entirely. These were the particulars of the march in both columns, from Crawassibo in Comewina to the Wana Creek.

Whilst I was now about noon resting in my hammock very contentedly, I was accosted by my friend Lieutenant Campbell, who acquainted me, with tears in his eyes, that the evening before Colonel Fourgeoud had given to the officers of the Surinam Society, not only of that brave and gallant corps the Scots brigade in the Dutch service, but of the British in general, the most unmerited character that could be invented. I immediately started up; and having got Campbell’s information confirmed, went to Fourgeoud, and asked him in public the cause of this unmanly slander. He replied with a stare, that his observations only regarded my petticoat-trowsers, which I wore for coolness and conveniency, as many British seamen do, and which he had never seen on the mountains of Switzerland. But as to the rest of what was said respecting us, he laid it totally to the charge of Mr. Stoelman, captain of the Cottica militia, who was absent. Thus I could only answer by denouncing, in the severest terms, vengeance upon this assassin of our reputation; and after promising to transform my short trowsers into long ones, we coolly separated.

An hour however after this, I received a sudden order to cross the Cormoetibo River, and be henceforth under the command of Major Rughcop, who was with his party [230]or column at this time encamped on the south-side at the mouth of Wana Creek. “Force is indeed the ruling principle in military affairs,” says a certain author; and, upon the whole, could the ingenious advice given to a commander in chief, as published in a late pamphlet, have been read by Colonel Fourgeoud, I must have imagined he had studied it, sentence after sentence, since nothing could better correspond with his general character.

Being arrived in Major Rughcop’s camp, and having got a couple of negroes to serve me, the next measure was to build a hut, or, more properly speaking, a shed over my hammock, to keep me free from the rain and the sun, which was done within the space of one hour. As these huts are of very material and of general use in tropical marches and campaigns, where no tents can be pitched, and where (as I have seen, so many thousands of these temporary erections) I will describe the manner in which they are constructed, being not only extremely curious, but very useful on different occasions—curious, because neither hammers nor nails, nor indeed any kind of carpenter’s tools are required; a strong cutlass or bill-hook being all that is wanted,—and useful, as they are instantly raised, and form not only lasting, but the most delightful and convenient habitations, with even two stories, one above the other, if required.—For these erections not more than two articles are wanting; the first the manicole, by the French called latanie, and here parasalla, [231]or the pine-tree; and the second the nebees, called by the French liannes, by the Spaniards bejucos, and in Surinam tay-tay.

The manicole-tree, which is of the palm-tree species, is mostly found in marshy places, and is always a proof of a rich and luxurious soil. It is about the thickness of a man’s thigh, very strait, and grows to the height of from thirty to fifty feet from the ground: the trunk, which is jointed at the distance of two or three feet, is of a light-brown colour, hard externally for the thickness of half an inch, but pithy, like the English elder, and good for nothing within, except near the top, where the wood becomes green, and incloses a delicious kind of white fruit, called cabbage, and which, being peculiar to all the palm-trees, I shall on another occasion amply describe. On the top of all this the manicole-tree spreads in beautiful green boughs, with leaves hanging strait downwards like silk ribbons, which form a kind of umbrella. The manner of using it for building huts or cottages, is by cutting the trunk in pieces of as many feet long as you wish to have the partition high; for instance, seven feet, which pieces are next split into small boards, the breadth of a man’s hand, and divested of their pithy substance, and then they are fit for immediate use. Having cut and prepared as many of these laths as you wanted to surround the dwelling, nothing remains but to lash them in a perpendicular position and close to each other to two cross bars of the same tree fixed to [232]the corner posts, and the whole is cut and shaped with the bill-hook alone, and tied together by the nebees or tay-tay, which I think have derived their name from our verb to tie, since the English had possession of the colony. The nebees are a kind of ligneous ropes of all sizes, both as to length and thickness, that grow in the woods, and climb up along the trees in all directions: they are so plentiful and wonderfully dispersed, that, like the ligneous cordage of the mangrove, they make the forest appear like a large fleet at anchor, killing many of the trees by mere compression, and entwining themselves with each other to the thickness of a ship’s cable, without any kind of foliage, which gives them sometimes a wonderful appearance, particularly when ascending lofty trunks in a spiral manner to the top, from which they next hang down to the earth, take root, and re-ascend. Sometimes the thin nebees are so closely interwoven, that they have the appearance of fishing nets, and game cannot get through them. These nebees are exceedingly tough, and may be used for mooring large vessels to the shore. Having only to add, that some of the species are poisonous, especially those that are flat, grooved, or angular, I shall proceed to the roofing of the cottage.

This is done by the green boughs or branches of the same manicole-tree that made the walls, and in the following manner: each bough, which I can compare to nothing so well as to the shape of a feather, and which [233]is as large as a man, must be split from the top to the bottom in two equal parts, as you would split a pen, when a number of these half boughs are tied together by their own verdure, and form a bunch; you next take these bunches, and tie them with nebees one above another upon the roof of your cottage, as thick as you please, and in such a manner that the verdure, which looks like the mane of a horse, hangs downwards. This covering, which at first is green, but soon takes the colour of the English reed-thatching, is very beautiful, lasting and close, and finishes your house, as I have said, without the help of a hammer or nails; the doors and windows, tables, seats, &c. are made in the same manner, so are the inclosures for gardens, or other places for keeping cattle; and by this conveniency it is that the rebel negroes never want good houses, which, if burnt to ashes one day, are again perfectly rebuilt the next, though they never rebuild them exactly in the places where they have once been discovered by Europeans. The Indians, instead of the manicoles, generally cover their wigwams with tas or with trooly, of which I shall speak on another occasion. I ought not to forget, that the seeds of these trees are contained in a spatha, near the top, of thirty or forty knotty fibres, forming a species of broom, for which they are used throughout the colony; thus, while the manicole supplies the materials for a house, it affords also the means of keeping it clean. This tree produces also the cabbage, which, as I have [234]said, is found in all the other palm-trees, &c. The hut that I now lay under was not built in the convenient manner above described; it was not requisite, for the short time we generally continued in one place: my habitation consisted only of a roof or cover without any walls. The manner of erecting these little sheds, which every private soldier builds for himself, is simply by planting four forked poles in the ground, at such a distance that a hammock can conveniently hang between them; next, to rest two short poles, strong enough to support the weight of the body in the above forks, the one at the head and the other at the feet, to which are fastened the clews of the hammock. On the other extremities of these are laid two long sticks, and on them again two short ones, and thus alternately two long and two short, all which diminish by degrees. When the whole is finished, the top must be covered with branches from the manicole, exactly as they grow, without either splitting or tying them, and as thick as the season may require.

When this temporary fabric is completely finished, it will not only keep dry both the inhabitants and their boxes, but (by the help of the nebees) fuzees, swords, pistols, &c. may be suspended from the rafters. As I have been describing the manicole, I am induced also to mention the cocoa-nut tree, as I think it resembles that more than any of the palm species. This tree, which is so much celebrated, as affording to man food, clothing, shelter, &c. possesses not, in my opinion, all those qualities, [235]but still is well worthy of notice. It grows like the former, in a tall jointed trunk, sometimes from sixty to above eighty feet high, and is thick in proportion, but seldom perpendicularly straight: its bark is of a grey colour; the wood is hard without, but pithy within, like the elder in Great Britain; its branches are larger, and of a deeper green, than those of the manicole-tree, but are equally divided, with pinnated leaves on both sides, which in the other I compared to green ribbons; but they neither hang so straight downwards, nor are the branches regularly arched, which gives them the appearance of large feathers, and they spring up at the top, in proportion as they fade and go off at the bottom: the cocoa-tree also produces a cabbage at its summit, but is too valuable to be cut down for the sake of a prize so inadequate to the loss of its other produce. It bears the nuts when six or eight years old, after which period it is never seen without them; they grow usually six or eight on one stalk, which diverges from the heart of the tree; they are the size of a man’s head, but more conical. The nut, it is well known, when divested of its husk, is exceedingly hard, and requires a hammer to break it, or to be sawed through the middle to procure the nourishment it affords; when young, this consists of a white liquid, which I can compare to nothing better than to milk and water mixed with sugar, and which is an exceedingly cool and agreeable beverage; but at a riper period this is formed into a crisp kernel, which adheres close to the inside of the shell [236]for about half an inch thick, while it remains perfectly hollow within. This kernel, which has a fine flavour, and tastes like the liquid, is good eating, as most of my readers have probably experienced.

In the plate annexed, A, is the manicole-tree; B, the trunk split into laths; C, the nebees to tie them together; D, the leaf split from the top downwards; and E, the same tied into bunches; F, is the cocoa-nut tree; G, the figure of one of its branches; H, the cocoa-nut in the green husk; and I, the same diverted of that outer substance.

The Manicole & the Cocoa-Nut Tree.

The Manicole & the Cocoa-Nut Tree.

London, Published, Decr. 1st, 1791 by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

But to proceed with my narrative.—While we continued in this station, one morning, being returned from a patrole, with twenty marines and twenty rangers, and sitting round a species of table to take some dinner with the other officers, I was rudely insulted by a Captain Meyland, of the Society troops, who, as I said, with Lieutenant Fredericy, had taken Boucou, and who was Colonel Fourgeoud’s countryman and friend. The affront consisted in Meyland’s handing round to each a drop of claret, he having indeed but one bottle left, and, in an impertinent manner, excepting me alone, although I held the glass in my hand to receive it. Justly suspecting this insult to originate from my commander in chief, rather than appear to seek a quarrel, I endeavoured to make an apology, telling him, I had inadvertently erred in holding out my glass, not imagining I was to be distinguished from the other officers; assuring him it was not for the value of his wine, which I politely relinquished to my [237]next neighbour; but this concession had no other effect than to increase the wrath of my fierce adversary, who, apparently mistaking it for pusillanimity, became overbearing and scurrilous, in which he was seconded by all the other Swiss and Germans without exception. I said no more, and having tore away a wing of a boiled bird called powese, that stood before me (which bird had been shot by one of the rangers) I devoured it with little ceremony, and left the table, with a determination to support my character or die. Thus resolved, I first went to the hut of a sick soldier, whose sabre I borrowed (my own being broken) on pretence of going out to cut a few sticks; after this I went in quest of Mr. Meyland, and found him contentedly smoking his pipe by the water-side, looking at one of his friends who was angling. Having tapped him on the shoulder, I hastily told him, before the other, that now if he did not fight me that instant like a gentleman, I was determined to take revenge another way, with the flat of my sabre, where he stood. He at first declared that he had only meant a joke, and seemed for peace; but perceiving that I persisted, he with great sang froid knocked the tobacco-ashes from his pipe against the heel of his shoe; then having brought his sabre, we walked together without seconds about half a mile into the wood: here I stopt the captain short, and drawing my weapon, now desired him to stand on his defence; this he did, but at the same time observed, that as the point of his sword was broken off, we were unequally armed; and so indeed we were, his being [238]still near one foot longer than my own; therefore calling to him that sabres were not made to thrust, but to cut with, I offered to make an exchange; but he refusing, I dropped mine on the ground, and eagerly with both hands endeavoured to wrest his from him, till (as I had hold of it by the blade) I saw the blood trickle down all my fingers, and I was obliged to let go. I now grasped my own sabre, with which I struck at him many times, but without the least effect, as he parried every blow with the utmost facility; at last, with all his force, he made a cut at my head, which, being conscious I could not ward off by my skill, I bowed under it, and at the same instant striking sideways for his throat, had the good fortune to make a gash in the thick part of his right arm at least six inches long, the two lips of which appeared through his blue jacket, and in consequence of which his right-hand came down dangling by his side. I had, however, not escaped entirely unhurt, for his sabre, having passed through my hat without touching my scull, had glanced to my right shoulder, and cut it about one inch deep. At this time I insisted on his asking my pardon, or on firing both our pistols left-handed; but he chose the first, which ended the battle. I now reminded him that such Swiss jokes were always too serious to Englishmen; when we shook hands, and I conducted him, covered with blood, to the surgeon of his own corps, who having sewed up the wound, he went to his hammock, and for the space of several weeks performed no duty. Thus was I reconciled to Captain [239]Meyland; and what gave me the greatest satisfaction, was his acknowledging the affront was offered, as finding it would be agreeable to Fourgeoud to have me mortified; and indeed ever after this acknowledgment we lived in the utmost intimacy. Peace, however, was not yet decreed to be my lot, for that very afternoon I found myself under the necessity of challenging two other officers, who had espoused Meyland’s quarrel against me at dinner; but in this I had the satisfaction of establishing my character without violence or bloodshed, both of the gentlemen acknowledged their error; and I became at once the favourite of the camp.

On the 9th of November both columns met, and encamped together on the north side of the Wana Creek, near its mouth, where it runs into the Cormoetibo, placing advanced guards at both creeks, at one mile distance from it; and this very evening I took the opportunity of acquainting Colonel Fourgeoud, that I had nearly cut off the head of his beloved countryman in a duel (well knowing he must be informed of it by others); which trespass he was not only pleased graciously to pardon, but to tell me with a smile that I was a brave garçon, but in those smiles I put no more trust than I would in the tears of a crocodile.

My doubts of his friendship were soon confirmed, since my only true friend, Campbell, going down sick to Devil’s Harwar, he would not so much as allow the boat or ponkee to wait till I had finished a letter, directed to Joanna, [240]for some clean linen; however, a ranger (of which corps I by this time was become a remarkable favourite) found means to enable me to overtake this poor young man in a corialla or small canoe, composed of one single piece of timber; when, shaking hands with Campbell, we separated with tears, and I never saw him more, for he died in a few days after. Colonel Fourgeoud now being determined to scour the north banks of the Cormoetibo, we broke up in two columns, viz. his own first, and that of Major Rughcop, to which last I still belonged, following; we left behind a strong guard, with the provisions for the sick. Before we set out, I shall specify the substance of our orders to be observed on a march, as issued since by the chief on the 15th of August 1774 at Caravassibo, and which, though nine months after this date, (being rather late) are so judicious, that they do infinite honour to his Adjutant Captain Van Giurike, who had the principal share in their composition: in

Article I. Quietness and sobriety was strongly recommended.

Article II. On pain of death none to fire without receiving orders.

Article III. Also death to whoever quits or loses his arms.

Article IV. The same punishment for those who dare to plunder while they are engaging the enemy.

Article V. An officer and serjeant to inspect the distribution of the victuals at all times; and [241]

Article VI. Each officer to be limited in the number of his black attendants.

The other orders were, “That in case our marines marched in two or three divisions or columns, they were to mark the trees with a sabre or bill-hook, to give intelligence to each other where they had passed, in the manner noticed on Plate XX. where A, B, and C, denote the marks cut by our first, second, and third division or column, and D, E, and F, the marks made by the several divisions or columns of the troops of the Surinam society; which marks were to be cut in such trees only as were on the left side in marching. Also when the troops marched over sandy desarts, heaths, or savannahs, they were occasionally to drop small twigs or reeds, tied together in the form of a cross: and in each camp, on the troops leaving it, were to be left a bottle and blank paper; but if any thing particular should happen, the same to be specified thereon. In case of the troops being attacked on a march, a small entrenchment was to be formed of the baggage-boxes, at the back of which the negro slaves were to lie flat on the ground; and this entrenchment to be defended by the rear-guard only, while the other troops had orders not to linger on the defensive, but vigorously, with bayonets fixed, to rush in upon the enemy’s fire; nevertheless humanely giving quarter to all such as should be taken alive, or surrender themselves to the troops.” These were the stated rules of our future military conduct; but for the present I beg leave to observe, that [242]every thing was in the most unaccountable hurry and confusion. In this way, however, we proceeded, keeping our course toward the mouth of the Cormoetibo Creek, each officer provided with a pocket compass, by which we were to steer, like sailors, through a dark wood, where nothing is to be seen but the heavens, as at sea nothing appears but clouds and water: thus those who were acquainted with navigation were the best qualified for marching, and ran the least hazard of losing themselves in a black unbounded forest. But those wretches who most deservedly attracted my pity, were the miserable negro slaves, who were bending under their loads; whose heads, on which they carry all burthens, bore the bald marks of their servitude;—they were driven forward like oxen, and condemned to subsist on half allowance, while they performed double drudgery. In short, to increase our misfortune, though in the dry season, the rains began to pour down from the heavens like a torrent, continuing all night: during this deluge (according to Colonel Fourgeoud’s order) we were all ordered to encamp without huts or other covering of any kind, slinging our hammocks between two trees, under which, upon two small forked sticks, were placed our fire-arms, as the only method of keeping the priming-powder dry in the pan; above this piece of architecture did I hang, like Mahomet betwixt the two loadstones, with my sabre and pistols in my bosom, and, in spite of wind and weather, fell most profoundly asleep.

On the 14th, at five o’clock in the morning, I was [243]awaked by the sound of Up! up! up! when the rain still continuing, the half of the officers and men were sick, and I rose from my hammock soaked as in a wash-tub; having secured the lock of my firelock, in imitation of the rangers, with a piece of the bark of a palm-tree, and swallowing a dram, with a piece of dry rusk biscuit, for my breakfast, we again marched on. But I ought not to forget mentioning the negroes, who had the whole night slept in the water on the ground, and yet were in better health than any of the Europeans. Had we now been attacked by the enemy, we must inevitably have been all cut to pieces, being disabled from resisting with our firearms, in which not only the priming but even many of the cartridges were completely wet; this might have been prevented by having cased and waxed down our arms, as is practised by the buccaneers of America; but these were trifles not to be thought of: one thing, however, now happened which threatened to be no trifle, and that was, that the provisions were gone, and those we expected to meet us in the creek not arrived, having by some mistake been neglected. By this accident we were now reduced, officers and men without exception, to subsist on one rusk biscuit and water for our allowance for twenty-four hours, to keep us from starving1: while it is to be remarked, that Monsieur Laurant, our hero’s [244]French valet-de-chambre, who had charge of the provision, was blown down to Baram’s point, and another time sunk with all the provisions; which produced the impertinent remark from some of the soldiers, that the devil had mistaken him for his master. In the midst however of this distress, we were again presented by one of the rangers with a large bird, called here boossy-calcoo, being a species of wild turkey; of this fortunate acquisition it was resolved in the evening to make broth, each throwing a piece of his rusk biscuit into the kettle, and (standing round the fire) beginning to ladle away as soon as the broth began to boil, which had another virtue, viz. notwithstanding its being put over at six o’clock in the evening, at twelve o’clock at midnight the kettle was just as full as the first moment we had begun supper, though the broth was rather weaker I must acknowledge, the heavy rain having dashed into it without intermission. During this severe storm we were as destitute of huts as the night before, but I availed myself once more of my English petticoat trowsers, which, loosening from my middle, I hung about my shoulders, and continuing to turn round before the fire (like a fowl roasting on a string) I passed the hours with rather more comfort than my miserable coughing companions. All I can say of the bird above mentioned is, that I thought it differed little from the common turkeys, which here frequently weigh above twenty pounds.

The largest bird in Guiana is there called tuyew, and by [245]others emu. It is a middle species between the ostrich and the cassowary, as I was told, for I never saw one in the country: it is said to be about six feet high, from the top of the head to the ground; its head is small, its bill flat, the neck and limbs long, the body round, without a tail, and of a whitish grey colour; its thighs are remarkably thick and strong, and it has three toes on each foot, while the ostrich has but two. This bird, it is said, cannot fly at all, but runs very swiftly; and, like the ostrich, assists its motion with its wings: it is mostly found near the upper parts of the rivers Marawina and Seramica. When speaking about birds, notwithstanding few of them sing here with any degree of melody, for which the beauty of their plumage is thought by some to compensate; I was, during this march, so much charmed with two in particular, that I was induced to put their sweet notes to music. Those of the first

Rather quick
Musical score.
[ MP3 | MuseScore ]
The second slow
Musical score.
[ MP3 | MuseScore ]

These notes they sung so true, so soft, and to such proper time, that in any other place I should have been inclined to believe they were the performance of a human artist upon his flute. As I never saw either of those birds but imperfectly and at a distance, I can say nothing more concerning them, than that they are frequently heard in marshy situations. [246]

On the succeeding morning we marched again through very heavy rains, which by this time had swelled the water so high in the woods that it reached above our knees, and prevented us from crossing a small creek in our way, without the help of a temporary bridge.

I prevailed therefore on the rangers, with the help of a few slaves, to erect one, which they did in the space of forty minutes, by cutting down a straight tree, which fell directly across the creek, to this they also made a kind of railing; but still with this our commander Rughcop, whose temper was soured by misery, and whose constitution was already broken by hardships, was not pleased. He paid the rangers for their pains with oaths and reproaches, who, with a smile of contempt, left him swearing, and crossed the creek, some by swimming, and others by climbing up a tree whose branches hung over it, from which they dropped down on the opposite shore; in this I followed their example: and here we stopped till the arrival of the poor trembling and debilitated Major Rughcop, with two-thirds of his troops as sick as himself.

I still continued in perfect health, but I was much stung by different insects, and torn by a thousand thorns or maccaws, particularly one species, which are strong black prickles of several inches long, that break short in the wound; they project like the back of a porcupine, on a kind of low or dwarf palm-tree, called the cocareeta, whose large branches diverge from the earth like the fire of a Fúzz from a bomb. Another inconvenience to [247]be met with throughout all the low and marshy places in the forest, is a kind of roots called matakee, and more vulgarly trumpets, on account of the form, resembling the windings of that instrument, which rise above ground like nebees, three or four feet high, continuing thus to an almost endless length, and so thick that, like our brambles, no dog can get through them; over these matakees it is extremely difficult to walk, as they every moment catch hold of the feet, and frequently trip up the body, unless at every footstep care is taken to step clear over them, which for short-limbed men is an absolute impossibility. With this inconvenience we were troubled throughout the whole march; but we had no opportunity of falling in with any kind of good roots, vegetables, or fruits for food, except a few maripas, which are a species of nuts that grow on a tall palm-tree, and are very much like the Avoira that I have already described, only larger, and less of an orange colour, the stone and kernel being exactly the same.

We marched again with better weather, and arrived before noon at Jerusalem, near the mouth of Cormoetibo Creek, where I had formerly halted during my cruise. Here Colonel Fourgeoud, with his drooping soldiers, was arrived just before us; and here we made our appearance, in such a shocking situation as will scarcely admit of description. It is sufficient to say, that the whole little army was exhausted by famine and fatigue, a very small number excepted; while several, unable to walk at [248]all, had been carried upon poles by negro slaves in their hammocks: and during all this time we had discovered nothing. One thing is to be considered, that while the old gentleman himself went through all the above-mentioned hardships, (to which he seemed as invulnerable as a machine of iron or brass) we had the less reason to complain of bad usage. In short, having as usual plunged in the river, to wash off the mire and blood occasioned by the scratches, and having taken a refreshing swim, I looked round for my negroes to erect a comfortable hut; but in this I was disappointed, as they were employed by Mr. Rughcop to build his kitchen, although he had as yet nothing to dress in it. This piece of unpoliteness I for once overlooked; and the rangers having made me a nice bed of manicole-branches on the ground, (there being no trees in the place to sling a hammock) and having lighted a blazing fire by the side of it, I lay quietly down next to them on my green mattress, where, in a clear moonshine night and no rain, I fell sound asleep. But about two hours before day-break I awaked, when the fire was out, the moon was down, and I almost dead with the cold dew and the damp that exhaled from the earth, being so stiff and benumbed that I had scarcely strength to crawl on hands and feet, and awake one of my sable companions; he, however, having kindled a new fire, I recruited so as at six o’clock to be able to rise, but with such excruciating pain in one of my sides that I could not avoid groaning aloud; but to prevent Fourgeoud [249]and the others from hearing, I hid myself in the skirts of the wood; the pain however still augmenting, I soon was prevented from breathing without the greatest difficulty, and at last fell down behind the rotten trunk of an old cabbage-tree. In this situation I was discovered by one of the negro slaves who was going to cut rafters, and who, supposing me dead, ran instantly back, and alarmed the whole camp. I was taken up and carried in a hammock, by the care of a Captain Medler, under proper cover, and one of the Society surgeons instantly sent for to attend me. By this time I was surrounded by spectators, and the pain in my side became so acute, that, like one in the hydrophobia, I tore my shirt with my teeth, and bit whatever chanced to come near me; till being rubbed by a warm hand on my side with a kind of ointment, the complaint suddenly vanished like a dream, and I felt myself completely recovered.

To prevent a relapse, however, the first use that I made of my strength was to cut a cudgel, with which I swore to murder the Berbice ruffian, Geusary, who had the management of the slaves, if he did not instantaneously employ them to build for me a comfortable hut, let who would order the contrary, my life being the dearest thing I had to regard; and following him close at his heels, with my cudgel clubbed upon my shoulder, I had the satisfaction to be well housed in the space of two hours. I must not omit, that Colonel Fourgeoud, during the crisis [250]of my illness, had made me an offer of being transported to Devil’s Harwar; but this I refused.

On the 18th the news arrived, that poor Campbell died on the preceding day; and now Major Rughcop himself was sent down extremely ill, being the eleventh sick officer during this short campaign. Being now almost starving for want of provisions, we were most opportunely supplied by a quantity of fish, particularly the jackee, already described as changing to a frog; and the warappa, which is of the same size, and equally good, both being very rich and fat; these fish were so plentiful in the marshes, where they were left by the retreating waters, that our negroes caught many with their hands, but mostly by striking at hazard in the mud with their bill-hooks and sabres; after which, grasping with their fingers, they brought up pieces and half fishes in great abundance. Another fish they also caught in the creek, called coemma-coemma, which is from one to three feet long, exceedingly sweet, but not near so delicious as the jackee, or warappa, which two last the negroes generally smoak-dry or barbacue, and which I was glad to eat without either bread or salt. The barbacuing consists in laying the fish upon twigs of wood above the fire, where, by the smoak, they dry to a consistency that gives them no disagreeable taste, and will preserve them for several weeks together: thus prepared, they require no further dressing. [251]

On the 20th we detached a captain, with twenty privates and twenty rangers, to reconnoitre the demolished village of Boucou: on the following day Major Rughcop died; and now Colonel Fourgeoud resolved to march himself to Boucou, leaving me the command of four hundred men, white and black, two hundred of whom were sick in their hammocks; but of that number I transported thirty to die at Devil’s Harwar, while I sent sixty rangers with leave down to Paramaribo. These latter went away declaring, that Fourgeoud’s operations were only calculated to murder his own troops instead of the enemy’s. Such is the nature of the negroes, that where they know nothing is likely to be done, they will not march; it is indeed extremely difficult to maintain proper discipline among them, and when they expect to see the enemy, nothing can possibly keep them back. It is amazing to observe, with what skill one negro discovers the haunts of another: while an European discerns not the smallest vestige of a man’s foot in the forest, the roving eye of the negro-ranger catches the broken sprig, and faded leaf trod flat, without ever missing it; but when he finds the marks of the enemy being near, he can then no longer be restrained. This undoubtedly is inconsistent with modern tactics, but indicates that spirit of liberty, which in antient times alone completed the valiant soldier; and such was at this time the native and natural spirit of a people, who had but yesterday been slaves. [252]

On the evening of the 21st, I availed myself once more of being commandant, by sending two barges for provisions, the one to La Rochelle and the other to Devil’s Harwar, which last brought back a box with Boston biscuit, sent me from Paramaribo.

On this day two slaves were put in confinement, accused of having taken pork from the magazine; and I was addressed by the troops to inflict an exemplary punishment, the common soldiers despising the negro slaves, as in their imagination greatly below themselves, and stupidly considering them as the causes of their distress. Having found a large piece of pork in their custody, yet having no proof that was sufficient to establish the theft, I found myself greatly at a loss to distribute justice with satisfaction to both parties; the Europeans unmercifully accusing, and the poor slaves vindicating their starved companions in such a clamorous style, that the whole camp was in an uproar. The first persisted that the latter had stolen it, and the others that they had saved it from their allowance, to take to their families. Affecting, therefore, the stile of a despotic prince, I ordered first a ring to be formed of the plaintiffs, and next the prisoners to be let within it. I then, with a stern and loud voice, commanded a block and a hatchet to be brought. It was with heart-felt satisfaction that I found this solemn apparatus, and the apprehension that we might commit a rash and criminal action, soon dispelled every feeling of [253]resentment in the soldiers, and I was implored by the very accusers to shew mercy. Obdurately stopping my ear, however, to all intreaty from either side, I made a strong negro slave take up the hatchet, and instantly chop the pork into three equal pieces; when, giving one share to the prosecutors, another to the malefactors, and the third to the executioner for having so well done his duty, the farce was ended to general satisfaction, and I heard no more of robberies or complaints.

On the 24th in the evening, two officers of the Surinam Society troops arrived from Devil’s Harwar, recovered from their late indisposition. One of them, calling himself Le Baron de Z—b—h, and being infected with the esprit de corps, on his arrival seemed determined to espouse Captain Meyland’s cause, abruptly alledging, that I had disgraced him by epithets unbecoming his dignity. I was amazed, and being conscious of my innocence, endeavoured to explain the matter in a friendly manner, in which I was seconded by a Mr. Rulagh, one of my officers; but the German, instead of being appeased, grew more outrageous, and plainly told me that he insisted on satisfaction. I never had less inclination to battle in all my life, I therefore left him without a reply, and walked towards my hut in the most gloomy mood imaginable. It was not long, however, before I felt my indignation suddenly re-kindle, when, armed with my sabre and pistols, I returned, fully determined to end the quarrel in the moon-shine. But now, finding the Baron retired to his hammock, I dispatched Mr. Rulagh with a [254]summons, desiring he would tell him, that if he did not instantly turn out to fight me, I should come in, cut down the clews of his hammock with my knife, and treat him as I thought his pride and insolence deserved. Upon this appeared a figure that will never be effaced from my memory.

The Baron was more than the middle size, extremely thin and sallow, his meagre visage ornamented with a pair of enormous red whiskers under the nose, while a white queue near three feet long adorned his graceful back. He was in his under-waistcoat, and walked on stocking soles, which were black silk, darned with white worsted; these hanging down upon his heels, discovered his miserable spindle shanks; while on his head he wore a striped worsted night-cap of all colours, also in many holes; and over his breech his valour was displayed by his colours, which hung out, but the blazon of which I must not attempt to describe. Such was the figure that now, with all humiliation, offered to give me a buss, and intreated my forgiveness, pretending not to have understood me; which last I having granted with a loud laugh and a dram of brandy, he faced about, and by the quick step re-entered his den.

On the 26th Colonel Fourgeoud, with his party, returned from his trip to Boucou, having surrounded three straggling rebel negroes unarmed, as they were cutting a cabbage-tree for their subsistence. While one of them, called Passup, had escaped, another was taken alive, and a third, with his thigh shot to shivers by a slug cartridge, [255]was first lashed hands and feet, and thus, carried by two negroes on a pole, in the manner of a hog or a beer-barrel, bearing all the weight of his body upon his shattered limbs, which were dropping with blood, without a plaister or a bandage to cover the wounds, and with his head hanging downwards all the time; in which manner the unhappy youth, for he had not the appearance of being twenty, had been brought through thick and thin for above six miles distance from the camp, while he might just as well have been carried in one of the spare hammocks of the soldiers. I was shocked and surprised at this act of barbarity in Fourgeoud, whom I never had observed to be cruel in his cooler moments to an individual; indeed I must do him the justice to say, quite the reverse, unless he was opposed, as I must own he sometimes was by me; but on this occasion he was so flattered with this trophy of victory, that every spark of feeling and humanity was extinct. The body being laid on a table, I implored one of the surgeons, called Pino, to dress his wounds; on which, that he might seem to do something, he put just as many round patches as the slugs had made holes, declaring he could never recover, and singing Dragons pour boire during the operation.—Poor negro! what must have been his feelings! The fever increasing, he begged for some water, which I gave him myself clean out of my hat, when he said, “Thank ye, me Masera,” sighed, and, to my inexpressible satisfaction, [256]instantly expired. His companion, called September, was more fortunate, for Fourgeoud, in hopes of making some discoveries, regaled and treated him with more distinction than he did any of his officers; while September, looking as wild as a fox newly caught, was put in the stocks during the night; and his companion was interred by the negro slaves, with those marks of commiseration which his unhappy fate demanded from every human being. According to their custom, they spread his grave with the green boughs of the palm-trees, and offered a part of their scanty allowance by way of libation. The following day Mr. Stoelman, the militia captain, being arrived, to stay one day only in the camp, I took the opportunity to remind Colonel Fourgeoud of what he had told me concerning his unbecoming insinuations, which I begged him now to repeat in that gentleman’s hearing, as I was determined to have this matter cleared up, and to obtain that satisfaction to which I thought myself entitled. But the gallant Colonel was not easily brought to proof.—He now imputed all the blame to Major Rughcop, who was dead, and requested of me to say nothing more about it. I left him with contempt, and shook hands with my supposed adversary; and then, to his inexpressible surprize, told him all that had happened. The consequence was, that in less than two hours the captain quitted Fourgeoud and Jerusalem in disgust, and was followed by the remaining rangers. [257]

On the 29th, Captain de Borgnes was made major in Rughcop’s place; but no new subalterns were created, Fourgeoud declaring he had no more materials to fabricate them with: which in part might be true amongst the serjeants; but two brave youths, both gentlemen’s sons, who had entered as volunteers, and gone through every danger and fatigue, remained unnoticed in the ranks, the one named Sheffer, the other Meyer;—such ever was, and ever will be, too frequently, the consequence of wanting friends and fortune.

“Et genus et virtus nisi cum re vilior alga est.”


1 This rusk biscuit is made of a coarse rye loaf, cut in two, and baked as hard as a stone; I often broke it with my fuzee, and was glad to eat it, though mouldered, and impregnated with worms, spiders, gravel, and even broken bottles. 



The Troops march back to the Wana Creek—The Rebels pass near the Camp—Pursued without Success—Great Distress for Want of Water—Mineral Mountains—The Troops arrive at La Rochelle, in Patamaca.

On the 30th of November, 1773, the whole of the troops broke up together, and leaving Jerusalem, we once more marched back to the Wana Creek, but did not keep exactly the track that had brought us thither: Colonel Fourgeoud, however, revoking his former orders, now allowed his remaining party to sling their hammocks under cover, of which indeed he, at this crisis, condescended to set them the example; thus were we at least more comfortably lodged, but, I am sorry to add, not more comfortably victualled, while the old gentleman himself wanted for nothing that was good.

We continued our march for three days successively, with good weather; but I was every night awaked out of my sound sleep by a sentinel, who was sent by the colonel’s orders to disturb me, with a charge of having whistled or spoke.

On the 3d we arrived once more at the Wana Creek. Here, after a fatiguing march, I flattered myself with the hope of recruiting my exhausted strength and spirits by a quiet night’s rest; but was once more awoken, though [259]so sound was my sleep, that the sentinel was obliged to shake me three or four times by the shoulder. I then started up, denying the charge; but Fourgeoud himself, sitting upright in his hammock, now swore, in a tremendous voice, that he was determined to hang and quarter whoever should dare to disobey his orders, the dark and gloomy woods resounding with his bellowing threats. A deadly silence succeeded this storm throughout the camp, till I happened to break it, by bursting out into an immoderate fit of laughter, in which I was instantly accompanied by so many others, that he began to roar like thunder, without being able to distinguish one person’s voice from another. In this music he was seconded by a large toad, called here the pipa, to which monster he actually gave shelter in his hut, and which kept croaking every night, with such a voice as could only be exceeded by Fourgeoud himself, or by that of his countryman, a Swisserland bear. Morpheus I now invoked to befriend me again, but to no purpose, such was the impression which these several roarings had left on my mind;—and in this gloomy temper I shall describe this hateful gloomy animal, the colonel’s dear companion, viz. the pipa, the largest of all the toads in South America, if not in the world.

The pipa is an animal supposed by some to partake of both the nature of the frog and the toad. It is the most hideous of all creatures upon earth, covered over with a dark brown scrophulous skin, very uneven, and marked with irregular black spots; the hinder feet of the creature [260]are webbed, and the toes longer than those before: thus it can both swim and leap like a frog, in which it differs from other toads. Its size is often larger than a common duck when plucked and pinioned; and its croaking, which takes place generally in the night, inconceivably loud. But what is most remarkable in this monster, is the manner of its propagation: the young ones being hatched till they become tadpoles, in a kind of watery cells on the back of the mother, in which the embrio’s existence first commences; for on the back she is impregnated by the male, and thence issues this most extraordinary birth.

Toads are not venomous, as is generally imagined, and are even tameable: as, for instance, Mr. Awcott fed one for many years, and Colonel Fourgeoud kept his as a domestic favourite during the whole time of our campaign at Wana Creek; indeed I myself have since lodged a tame frog. That the last mentioned animals are eatable as far as their thighs, I also know by experience: but their taste is extremely insipid.

To return at once to my hammock and journal,—The croaking of this pipa; the hammering of another, which produces a loud and constant sound of tuck, tuck, tuck, from sun-set to sun-rise; the howling of the baboons; the hissing of the snakes, tigers, &c.; to which add the growling of Fourgeoud, and sometimes heavy rains into the bargain, made the night very uncomfortable and gloomy indeed. The rising sun, however, dispelled my resentment; and having taken a sound nap during the day, I was as well [261]after it, and as well pleased, as the forest of Guiana could make me.

On the morning of the 4th, I discovered a couple of fine powesas on the branches of a high tree near the camp, and requested liberty from the chief to shoot one of them, which however was bluntly refused me, on pretence that the enemy might hear the report of my musquet, though by the way, if it be not a solecism so to express myself, they knew better where we were than we did ourselves. A little after, however, a large snake appearing on the top of another tree, it was ordered to be shot immediately, whether from fear or antipathy I know not. On the discharge of the musquet the animal fell to the ground, quite alive, and slided instantly into a thicket near the magazine. Upon this occasion I had an opportunity of remarking the uncommon intrepidity of a soldier, who creeping in after the reptile, brought it out from among the brambles, superstitiously pretending that he was invulnerable to its bite. However this may be, the snake, which was above six feet long, erected its head and half its body successively to attack him, and he as often knocked it down with his fist, and at last with his sabre severed it in two pieces, which ended the battle; for doing which he was regaled by Fourgeoud with a dram of rum.

Lest I should be accused of introducing a word which is probably new and unintelligible to my readers, I will beg leave to add, that the powesa, or peacock-pheasant of [262]Guiana, is a beautiful bird indeed, about the size of a common turkey, to which it bears a resemblance both in appearance and taste. Its feathers are a shining black, except on the belly; its legs are yellow, and also its bill, except near the point, where it is blue and arched. Its eyes are lively and bright, and on its head it is crested with a brilliant plume of black frizzled feathers, which give it a noble appearance. These birds cannot fly far; and being easily tamed, may be reared for domestic purposes: at Paramaribo they are frequently sold for more than a guinea a piece. Another bird peculiar to Guiana, called by the French the agame, and in Surinam camy-camy, I will also take this opportunity to describe.—It is, like the former, nearly the size of a turkey, but totally different in its formation and plumage; its body, which has no tail, being perfectly the shape of an egg: it is also black, except on the back, where it is of a grey colour, and on its breast, where the feathers are blue and long, hanging down like those of the heron. The eyes are bright, the bill is pointed, and of a blueish green, as are also its legs. The vulgar name of this bird in this country is the trumpeter, on account of the sound it frequently makes, which bears some distant resemblance to that of a trumpet, but whence that sound proceeds is not in my power to certify: some suppose it is made by the nose. Of all the feathered creation this bird is the most tameable, and the greatest friend to man, whom it follows, caresses, and even seems to protect with the attachment of a dog. I [263]have seen many of them kept on the estates, where, like the powesa, they are reared for domestic uses, and feed among the turkeys and other poultry.

The Agamy & Powese or Peacock Pheasant.
 Barlow fc.

The Agamy & Powese or Peacock Pheasant.

London, Published Decr. 2nd, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

On the 6th I received six gallons of rum from Paramaribo, four of which I gave as a present to Fourgeoud.

About six in the evening two of our slaves, who had been out to cut manicoles, brought intelligence that a gang of rebels had passed not above a mile from the camp, headed by a Captain Arico, with whom they had spoken on the banks of the Cormoetibo Creek, but could net tell which way they steered their course, so much had they been terrified. On this information we received orders to pursue them by break of day; and the next morning, at five o’clock, all was ready, and we again broke up, leaving a detachment with the stores, and repaired to the spot whence the intelligence proceeded. Here we saw a large palm or mawrisee tree1, floating in the river, and moored to the opposite shore by a nebee, which plainly indicated that Arico, with his men, had crossed the creek, which they do by riding astride on the floating trunk, the one behind the other, in which manner they are ferried over, (sometimes with women and children) by those who are the best swimmers.

Notwithstanding this plain evidence, the faith of our colonel, Fourgeoud, now began to waver, and he averred that it was no more than a stratagem of the rebels, who, he said, had come from the place to which we supposed [264]them gone, and who had only tied the tree across the river to deceive us.

To this opinion neither myself nor the other officers could subscribe; but no arguments would prevail with him, and we marched directly from them, viz. east, instead of crossing and pursuing them west, as the rangers would certainly have done: thus we kept on till it was near dark, though the bread was forgotten, and the whole day not a drop of water to be obtained, marching through high sandy heaths or savannahs. After inclining a little to the right, we were just upon the point of making a camp, when a negro called out that we were come to the Wana Creek. This in my ears was a welcome sound; and giving him a calebash, and the best part of a bottle of my rum, I desired him to run to the creek, and make me some grog, and this he did; but the poor fellow, never having made grog before, poured in all the spirits and but very little water, doubtless thinking, that the stronger it was the better; which beverage I swallowed to the bottom, without taking time to taste it, and I became instantly so much intoxicated that I could hardly keep my feet.

On the 9th we found ourselves returned to our old camp, from a fruitless cruise, when Colonel Fourgeoud set the captive negro September at liberty, who followed like a shepherd’s dog attending a flock; but our commander in chief was indefatigable, and not only crossed and reconnoitred the west side of the creek himself, but filling our knapsacks, [265]we the next morning set out in the same track we had kept the eighth, he still persisting that he should overtake the enemy. Having thus marched till towards dark, we altered our course, and passed the night in an old camp of the rebel negroes, having again passed the whole day without water.

The following day we still proceeded, but neither enemies nor water were to be found: the men and officers now began to be extremely faint, and some were already carried in their hammocks. It was by this time indeed insufferably hot, being in the very heart of the dry season. In this dilemma we dug a hole six feet deep, in the bottom of which a ball cartridge being fired, a little moisture began to trickle forth, but so slow and so black, that it proved not to be of the least use.

We still marched on, and encamped in an old weedy field, where the rebels some time before had cultivated plantations. During the night it was truly affecting to hear the poor soldiers lament for want of drink, but to no purpose; for in spite of all this misery, Fourgeoud still persisted in going forward even the third day, building his hopes on meeting with some creek or rivulet to alleviate this general distress. In this he was however mistaken; for having again, on the 12th, marched over burning sands till about noon, he dropped down himself, amongst a number of others, a miserable spectacle, for want of means to slake their raging and intolerable thirst. It was happy that in this situation we were not attacked [266]by the negroes, as it must have been impossible to make any resistance, the ground being strewed with distressed objects that appeared to be all of them in raging fevers. Despair now seemed to be impressed even upon Fourgeoud’s countenance, as he lay prostrate on the earth, with his lips and tongue parched black; and in this condition, though so little deserving of it, he again attracted my pity.

During all this, some of the soldiers still devoured salt pork, while others crept on all fours and licked the scanty drops of dew from the fallen leaves that lay scattered on the ground. I now experienced the kindness of which a negro is capable when he is well treated by his master, being presented by one attending me with a large calibash of as good water as ever I drank in my life; and this he met with, after unspeakable difficulty, in the leaves of a few wild pine-apple plants, from which it was extracted in the following manner:

The plant is held in one hand, and a sabre in the other, when at one blow it is severed from the root, through the thick under parts of the leaves. It is then held over a cup or calibash, and the water flows pure, cool, and to the quantity sometimes of a quart from each plant. This water has been caught in the time of the rains by the channeled leaves of the plant, and conveyed to their proper reservoir. Some other negroes found means to relieve themselves by the water-withy, but this was not sufficient to assist the dying troops. [267]The water-withy is a kind of very thick nebee of the vine species, which grows only in very sandy places, this being slashed with the sabre in long pieces, and suddenly held to the mouth, produces a limpid stream, and affords a pleasing, cool, and healthy beverage, of great service in the parching forests of Guiana.

As Providence had graciously sent me this supply, I could not for my soul resist the impulse of sharing my relief with poor Fourgeoud, whose age and natural infirmities pleaded greatly in his favour; and who, being now refreshed, saw himself at last obliged to return, without any further hope of overtaking the enemy. But so exhausted was the party, that many were carried on long poles in their hammocks by the slaves.

As his last resource, our commander now detached the Berbicean negro, Gausarie, by himself, to try if he could bring him any intelligence while we continued our retreat. As we returned by our former footsteps, and of consequence approached the pit we had dug yesterday, I was convinced that by this time it must contain clear water. I therefore dispatched my boy Quaco to the front, to fill one of my gallon bottles before it should be changed to a puddle, and this he did; but being met on his return by Colonel Fourgeoud, he with the butt end of his gun relentlessly knocked the bottle to pieces, and doubling his pace, placed two sentinels at the pit, with orders to preserve the water all for himself and his favourites. But at this moment subordination being extinguished, [268]the two protectors were forced headlong into the pit, followed by several others, who all fought to come at the water, which being now changed to a perfect mire, was good for nothing. Having slung our hammocks in an old rebel camp, a dram of kill-devil was distributed to each without distinction; but, as I never used this fluid, I offered my share to my faithful negro who had given me the water: this being observed by old Fourgeoud, he ordered it to be snatched out of the poor man’s hand, and returned into the earthen jar; telling me, “I must either drink it myself, or have none.” I was exceedingly exasperated at this mark of ingratitude, and finding means to procure that very evening a whole bottle, I gave it to the slave.

Near midnight, accidentally good water was discovered—Good God! what joyful news!—how sweet the taste! surpassing any wine; and such as I shall ever gratefully remember!—Now all drank heartily, and Fourgeoud ordered a warm supper to be boiled for himself, but not so much as a fire to be lighted for any other person, forbidding even the cutting of a stick; thus were we forced to eat our salt beef and pork raw. However, having tied my small allowance to a string, I hung it quietly over the side of his kettle, to have it dressed; but his black cook chancing to drop a log of wood upon another in his eagerness to assist me, alarmed the hero, when I was obliged to drop my luncheon into the kettle, and take to my heels.

The old gentleman now insisting that some person had [269]cut sticks against his orders, I quietly stepped up to his hammock in the dark, to undeceive him, and softly assured him that the whole camp was fast asleep; when he, on pretence of not knowing me, suddenly gave a loud roar, and with both his hands caught hold of me by the hair of the head. I escaped, and got fairly under cover, while he called, “Fire at him! fire at him!” to the infinite amusement of the whole camp, who lay in their hammocks convulsed with laughter. Having found out Quaco, I instantly sent him back to bring my luncheon; and such was his diligence, that he actually brought me back a piece of beef at least ten times as large as what I had left, with which I had once more the satisfaction to regale the poor slaves: and thus ended this horrid day.

The 13th we once more returned to the Wana Creek, fatigued beyond the power of description with these fruitless sufferings.

Here the old gentleman regaled his friends with my rum in my presence, and without offering me a single drop. Here also I found a letter from the island of Ceylon in the East Indies, where my friend and relation, Mr. Arnoldus De Ly, being governor of Poind-de-Gale and Maturee, I was invited to come and find my fortune ready made, but which for the present my evil stars prevented my accepting, as it would have been dishonourable to leave the service at this juncture. [270]

The following day the negro Gausarie returned from his expedition, reporting that he had discovered nothing.

Captain Fredericy, who had marched on the 20th ult. with forty men, white and black, from Jerusalem, not having been heard of since, it was apprehended he had met with some dreadful accident, and, in consequence, on the 15th, two captains, two subalterns, and fifty men, were dispatched to the river Marawina for some intelligence.

The post at the Marawina, which is called Vredenburgh, consists of houses surrounded with palisades in a kind of square, which are all built of the manicole-tree, with which the woods of Guiana so much abound. On the outer side are a guard and four sentinels, and the fort itself is defended by several cannon. It is situated in an opening, on the banks of the river, where is placed a large flag, and where the garrison communicates with the French post on the opposite shore, both being situated at but little distance from the mouth of the Marawina. To give the best idea of this spot, I shall present the reader with a view of it, as also of our situation at the Wana Creek, which, however beautiful on paper, was a dreadful post to many unfortunate sufferers.

In the annexed Drawing, three camps are distinctly exhibited; those of Colonel Fourgeoud and of the deceased Major Rughcop, on both sides of the Wana Creek, and that which was lately the rangers, directly opposite to its mouth.

The Military Post Vreedenburgh, at the Marawina.   View of the three Encampments at the Wana Creek.

The Military Post Vreedenburgh, at the Marawina.
View of the three Encampments at the Wana Creek.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.


The barges, &c. were ordered on the same day to bring up provisions, and take down the sick; but at this very time the whole camp was attacked by that dreadful distemper the bloody flux, which is both infectious and epidemical, and daily carried numbers to their grave. An emetic, or some other medicine, administered at random, were the only relief in our power, as there was not a proper surgeon on the spot, all of them being engaged at the hospitals in Comewina and in Paramaribo.

The poor slaves were peculiarly unhappy, who, as I have stated, having but half allowance, lived for months on the produce of the cabbage-tree, seeds, roots, wild berries, &c. and to this circumstance may be attributed the first introduction of this dangerous disease into the camp. So starved indeed were these wretched negroes, that they tied ropes or nebees about their naked bodies, which is a practice of the Indians when their abdomens are shrunk with hunger, as they find by experience, or at least fancy, that the pain occasioned by want of food is relieved by the compression. I, however, with a few others, escaped the infection, but I was laid up with a miserable bad cold and swelled foot; which disease is called the consaca, and is not unlike our chilblains in Europe, as it occasions a very great itching, particularly between the toes, whence issues a watery fluid.

The negroes are very subject to this complaint, which they cure by applying the skin of a lemon or lime, made as hot as they can bear it. [272]

I have frequently had occasion to mention our provisions, viz. salt beef, pork, rusk, biscuit, and water, for our allowance, which were dealt out regularly every five or six days; the two former having perhaps made the tour of the world, after leaving Ireland, and were even so green, so slimy, so stinking, and sometimes so full of worms, that at other times they would not have remained upon my stomach; but I have not described our furniture. This, however, will not occupy much time, as it consisted only of a square box or chest for each officer, to carry his linen, fresh provisions, and spirits, when he had either. These boxes served not only as cupboards, but as chairs and tables in the camp. On a march they were carried on the head of a negro: I must observe, moreover, that we had no light after six o’clock in the evening, that of the moon excepted, when all was solemn and melancholy beyond description.

I had not so much as a trencher, bason, spoon, or fork: for the first and second I made a negro’s calibash serve me; a fork I wanted not, and a spoon but seldom: instead of that article, therefore, I used a folded leaf, agreeably to the practice of the slaves; and as for a knife, each person carried one in his pocket. I at last contrived to make a lamp by breaking a bottle; in which having melted some pork, it produced a quantity of oil, and a slip of my shirt served for a wick. Necessity is proverbially ingenious, and in such a situation every nicety is forgotten. Indeed, could I now have had what [273]formerly I left upon my plate, I should have ardently thanked God for it.

When speaking of ingenuity, I ought not to forget a number of pretty baskets which were made by the negroes in the camp, and which, they having taught me to construct, I also made to amuse myself, and sent them as presents to several friends at Paramaribo. These baskets were composed of a kind of strong ligneous cord that is found in the bark of the cabbage-tree, and, as Dr. Bancroft expresses it, consists of a web-like plexus, which is divided cross-wise in long, hard, polished threads, brown and as tough as whalebone. These threads are drawn from it, and the filaments or fibres are made use of as withies are used in England. For holding fish at ombre or quadrille, nothing can be better or more beautiful; but those that are large for holding fruit, vegetables, &c. are quite different, and made of a kind of bulrush, called warimbo, which is first split and deprived of its pithy substance: the thin nebees make also no bad baskets. The negroes here besides made curious nets, and even hammocks, of the silk grass plant.

This is a species of wild aloe that grows in the woods: the leaves are indented and prickly, and contain longitudinally very strong and small white fibres, which are bruised and beaten to hemp. With this we made ropes stronger than any in Europe. These would answer perfectly for the rigging of ships and other purposes, had it not been discovered that they are sooner liable to rot [274]in the wet. This kind of hemp is so very much like white silk, that the importation is forbidden in many countries, to prevent imposition by selling it for the same; and the fraud is more difficult to be detected when it is artfully mixed with silk. By the Indians this plant is called curetta, and in Surinam vulgarly Indian soap, as it contains a saponaceous, pulpy substance, which answers for washing as common soap, and is employed for that purpose by the negroes and many others. Another plant much resembling this, is by the black people termed baboon knifee, as it sometimes cuts through the skin to the very bone, of which I myself had some proofs in this wilderness, but without any ill consequence.

In the manner I have already related the time was spent during this period, in which the whole camp was destitute of stockings, shoes, hats, &c. Colonel Fourgeoud walked a whole day barefooted himself to furnish an example of patience and perseverance, and to keep the few remaining troops from murmuring. In this respect I had fairly the advantage of all the company, my skin being (the swelled foot or consaca, and a few scratches excepted) perfectly whole from my habit of walking thus, while not a sound limb was to be found among the rest, whose legs in general were broken out in dreadful ulcers, with a discharge of pus. I have already in part accounted for this inconvenience, and shall still farther account for it, by observing, that while the stockings and shoes of these unhappy people remained, they were never [275]off the feet of many wearers, who, after marching through water, mud, and mire, in this filthy condition, rested during the night in their hammocks, where, in fair weather, before morning this filth was dried upon their limbs, and in consequence caused an itching and redness on the skin, which by scratching broke out in many places; these wounds soon became scrophulous, and ended in open sores and ulcers, which, from the want of care and proper application, often changed to mortification and intolerable swellings, by which some lost their limbs, and others even their lives when they were not saved by amputation. Such were the causes, and such the effects of the evils we had to struggle with; but they were far from the whole of our wretchedness, and might be called only the precursors of what we had still to undergo.

At this time a compliment of a fine ham and a dozen of port-wine being sent me by Captain Van Coeverden, I gave all in a present to poor Fourgeoud, who was emaciated with fatigue, except four bottles which I drank with the other officers; and next day, the 29th, I had the honour to be ordered on a patrol with Colonel des Borgnes and forty privates once more, to try if we could not take the negroes who had crossed the creek three weeks before.

Having dropped down the river with a barge, in which we lay all night, we landed the following morning, and marched N. E.; after which, being without a compass, we soon lost our way, and having crossed a large sand-savanna, [276]slung our hammocks in the skirts of a thick and obscure wood. On the 31st we again set out the same course, in hopes of meeting with the marks of some former path cut upon the trees by some of our troops; but were mistaken, for having got into a marsh, where we waded till noon up to our chins, at the hazard of being drowned, we saw ourselves under the necessity of returning the same way we came, perfectly soaked and in rags; and after a forced march encamped once more on the banks of Cormoetibo Creek, in such a heavy shower of rain during the whole night as I did seldom remember, which caused so much confusion and hurry, each striving to build his shed, and get under cover first, that I got a broken head, but persevering was one of the first in slinging my hammock; above which spreading green boughs, and under which having lighted a comfortable fire, I fell most profoundly asleep in the middle of the smoke, which saved me from the stings of the musquitoes.

While speaking of insects, I ought not to forget that this evening one of the negro slaves who had been looking for dry wood, presented me, to my great surprize, with a beetle no less than three or four inches in length, and above two in breadth, called in Surinam the rhinoceros, on account of its proboscis or horn, which is hooked, forked, and thick as a goose-quill; on the head it has many hard polished knobs; the limbs are six; the wings are large, and the whole animal is perfectly black, being the largest of all the beetle kind in America. [275*]

In Guiana is also another species of these insects, called the cerf-volant, or flying hart, from its extuberances resembling the horns of a stag: both these beetles fly with an uncommon buzzing noise, and are so strong, that but very few birds dare to attack them. One of the greatest plagues however we met with in the forest, was a fly as large as a common bee the stings of which were almost equally powerful; the negroes call it the cow-fly; this I can best I think compare to what is called the hippoboscus or horse-fly in Great Britain.

Having slept most soundly for six or seven hours, in spite of the rains, the smoke, the musquitoes, and my broken head, I turned out perfectly refreshed at five, and at six we commenced the year 1774, by marching up along the banks of the Cormoetibo till mid-day, when we arrived once more at the grand encampment at the mouth of the Wana Creek, from, as usual, a fruitless cruize.

On the 3d, to our joy returned also Captain Fredericy, with his party, bringing in a captive negro in chains, called Cupido; and relating that a poor soldier of the Society troops, on receiving his pardon, when on his knees to be shot, was gone out of his senses.

Colonel Fourgeoud being finally determined to break up this campaign, sent out a party of sixty men to cruize on the way to Patamaca before him.

I now washed my shirt, the last I had, in the Wana Creek (but was obliged to keep swimming till it was dried by the sun) my letter, sent for linen, having never reached [276*]Paramaribo, and what I had brought with me being torn to rags.

On the 4th of January, at six o’clock in the morning, all were ready to decamp. Thus having sent down the barges with the sick to Devil’s Harwar, we at last crossed Cormoetibo Creek, and marched first directly south for Patamaca, over steep mountains covered with stones and impregnated with minerals. This again contradicts Dr. Bancroft’s observations, these mountains not being above twenty miles from the ocean, though he asserts that no hill is to be found at near fifty miles from the sea. In the evening we encamped at the foot of a high hill, where we found a small rivulet of good water, and a number of manicole-trees, the two chief requisites. It is curious, and indeed beautiful, to behold, in the space of an hour, a green town spring up as it were from nothing, and a little after all the fires lighted, on which the men are boiling their hard fare, while others are employed in drying their cloaths; though, as I have stated, this last was by no means a general rule, the greater number preferring to let them rot on their bodies.

This night, however, the whole camp was disturbed by a diarrhœa, occasioned by drinking the water we found here, which indeed was very pure, but was so impregnated with minerals, that it tasted almost like that of Bath or the German Spa. This is a circumstance which I think indicates that these mountains contain [277]metals, if the Dutch would go to the expence of searching in their bowels.

On the 5th we marched the same course again over mountains and dales, some of which were so excessively steep that one or two of the slaves, not being able to ascend them loaded, threw down their burdens, and deserted, not to the enemy, but found their way to their masters estates, where they were pardoned; while others tumbled down, burthen and all, from top to bottom.

This evening we found our quarters ready-made, and lodged in the wigwams or huts that were left standing, when the rice country was destroyed, and Bonny with his men put to flight; in that where I lay I found a very curious piece of candle, which the rebels had left behind, composed of bees-wax and the heart of a bulrush.

Bonny’s own house, where Fourgeoud lodged, was a perfect curiosity, having four pretty little rooms, and a shed or piazza inclosed with neat manicole palisades.

The whole corps appearing on the 6th excessively fatigued, Fourgeoud ordered a general day of rest, only detaching Captain Fredericy with six men, as he knew the country best, to reconnoitre the banks of the Claas Creek, a water that issued from near this place in the upper parts of Rio Cottica. They were hardly marched when the eye of our chief by chance falling on me, he ordered me instantly to follow alone, and return with a report of what I could discover on the other side the creek. I overtook the party soon, when after a short march we [278]were in water up to our very arm-pits; Fredericy now ordered a retreat, but desiring him to wait for me, I took off all my cloaths, and with only my sabre in my teeth, swam by myself across the Creek, where having ranged the opposite shore, and finding nothing, I again swam back, after which we all returned to the camp.

At noon, making my report to Colonel Fourgeoud, he was astonished indeed at this desperate action, which in fact he had not expected; but I was not less amazed when he took me by the hand, entertaining me with a bottle of wine, and ordering Monsieur Laurant to set some bacon-ham before me, to find, however incredible it may appear, that the one was actually sour, and the other creeping with live worms; while my own provisions, now his, which were fresh, were withheld me. This meanness so much exasperated me, that, starting up, I left Fourgeoud, his valet, his wine, and his reptiles, with that contempt which they deserved, alleviating my hunger with a piece of dry rusk biscuit and a barbacued fish, called warappa, which I got from a negro.

Azure blue Butterfly of South America.

Azure blue Butterfly of South America.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

On the 7th of January we marched again; and this day having caught one of those beautiful large butterflies of which I made mention during my cruize in the river Cottica, I will here attempt to give a more particular description of it, though I know nothing about their names. This fly measured, in the extension of the wings from tip to tip, about seven inches; the colour of both the superior and inferior wings is of such a vivid and splendid [279]blue, as can only be compared to the azure sky in a bright day, to which not the purest ultramarine coloured sattin can approach: the under side is of a lovely brown variegated with spots. I cannot help repeating, that its skimming and hovering with such a magnitude, and such a hue, among the different shades of green, had the most enchanting effect. Of the antennæ, head, thorax, and abdomen, I shall only say that they were dark coloured. This fly, if I mistake not, is, according to the division of Linnæus, of the Danai species. I never saw the chrysalite or aurelia; but the caterpillar, which is of a yellowish grey colour, is as thick as a large man’s finger, and about four inches long. The annexed drawing I have improved from one of Miss Merian. Various and innumerable indeed are the butterflies with which the forests of Guiana abound; some people, in fact, who make fly-catching their business, get much money by it; and having arranged them in paper-boxes, with pins stuck through them, send them off to the different cabinets of Europe. Doctor Bancroft mentions, touching them with spirits of turpentine as necessary to preserve them, but fixing a piece of camphor in the box with the flies is quite sufficient.

This evening we encamped near the Patamaca Creek, where the poor negro woman cried bitterly, and scattered some victuals and water at the root of a tree by way of libation, as being the spot where her husband was [280]interred, who had been shot in some former skirmish by the Europeans.

Here Captain Fredericy and myself, walking without the skirts of the camp in a sandy savannah, discovered the fresh footsteps of a large tiger with her young, at which time they are extremely ferocious: we thought it prudent therefore to make a sudden retreat. I measured the diameter of the dam’s claws printed in the sand, which were nearly of the dimensions of an ordinary pewter-plate.

Having marched a few hours longer the succeeding morning, we at last arrived at the Society post La Rochelle in Patamaca; such a display of meagre, starved, black, burnt, and ragged tatterdemallions, and mostly without shoes or hats, as I think were never before beheld in any country. They could be compared to nothing but a gang of gypsies, while their leader was not unlike Bampfield Moore Carew, and myself at best like the forlorn Crusoe in his worst condition, with my only check shirt and the one-half of my trowsers, the rest being torn away. Here we found a set of poor wretches ready to enter the woods which we had just left, and destined to undergo in the same manner the severest misery that ever was inflicted on sublunary beings. I have already mentioned the prickly heat, ring-worm, dry gripes, putrid fevers, biles, consaca, and bloody flux, to which human nature is exposed in this climate; also the musquitoes, Patat and Scrapat lice, chigoes, cock-roaches, [281]ants, horse-flies, wild-bees, and bats, besides the thorns, briers, the alligators, and peree in the rivers; to which if we add the howling of the tigers, the hissing of serpents, and the growling of Fourgeoud, the dry sandy savannas, unfordable marshes, burning hot days, cold and damp nights, heavy rains, and short allowance, the reader may be astonished how any person was able to survive the trial. Notwithstanding this black catalogue, I solemnly declare I have omitted many other calamities that we suffered, as I wish to avoid prolixity, though perhaps I have been already too often guilty of it. I might have mentioned indeed lethargies, dropsies, &c. &c. besides the many small snakes, lizards, scorpions, locusts, bush-spiders, bush-worms, and centipedes, nay, even flying lice, with which the traveller is perpetually tormented, and by which he is constantly in danger of being stung; but the description of which cursed company I must defer to another opportunity.

The reader may form some conception of the famished state in which we came hither, when I inform him, that the moment of our arrival, observing a negro woman supping on plantain broth from a callibash, I gave her half-a-crown, and snatching the bason from her hands, I devoured the contents with a greater relish than I have ever tasted any delicacy before or since during my whole existence. I now observed to Colonel Fourgeoud, how pitiable it was, not to regale his remaining soldiers with vegetables and fresh beef or mutton, besides providing [282]them with hats, stockings, shoes, &c.; but he replied, that Hannibal had lost his army at Capua by too much indulgence. In short, he quoted not only Hannibal but Horace for his example, according to the advice given in a certain pamphlet,

Ibit eo quo vis qui Zonam perdidit;

and appeared fully convinced, that no persons will behave so desperately in action as those who are tired of their lives.

On the 11th, the other party which had left Wana the day before ourselves, arrived, having, according to custom, neither taken nor seen any thing.

On the 12th, one of the rebels with his wife came to La Rochelle, and surrendered themselves voluntarily to the commander in chief. This day Fourgeoud acquainted me now himself, that I was at liberty to go and refit at Paramaribo when I thought proper. This proposal I gladly accepted, and that moment prepared for my departure, with some other officers, leaving behind us himself and a band of such scare-crows as would have disgraced the garden or field of any farmer in England. Among these was a Society captain, named Larcher, who declared to me he never combed, washed, shaved, or shifted, or even put off his boots, till all was rotted from his body. At last arrived the happy hour, when, taking leave of my tattered companions, I and five more, with a [283]tent-boat and six oars, rowed strait down for Paramaribo, still in good health and in a flow of spirits, and at the very summit of contentment.

At Devil’s Harwar I met a cargo of tea, coffee, biscuit, butter, sugar, lemons, rum, and twenty bottles of claret, sent me by my friends, directed to La Rochelle, which I again, notwithstanding the barbarous usage that I had so lately met with, gave all in a present to poor Fourgeoud, twelve bottles of wine excepted, which we drank in the barge to the healths of our wives and mistresses; nor could I help pitying Colonel Fourgeoud, whose age (he being about sixty) and indefatigable exertions claimed the attention of the most indifferent: for during this trip, though but few rebels were taken, he had certainly scoured the forest from the river Comewina to the mouth of the Wana Creek, dispersed the enemy, and demolished their habitations, fields, and gardens, and thus cut them off from all prospect of support.

On the evening of the 13th, we supped at the estate Mondesire, and thence kept rowing down all night and day, shouting and singing till the 15th at noon, when, the tide serving, we went on shore at the fortress Amsterdam; whence crossing the river, we arrived before Mr. De Lamar’s door at Paramaribo. I stept ashore among a croud of friends, who all flocked round to see and to welcome me to town.

I next sent for my inestimable Joanna, who burst [284]into tears the moment she beheld me, not only for joy at my still existing (for it had been reported that I was no more) but also from seeing my very distressed situation.—Thus ended my second campaign, and with this I put an end to the chapter. [285]

1 The largest of all the palm species. 



Description of the town of Paramaribo and Fort Zealandia—Colonel Fourgeoud’s march to the river Marawina—A Captain wounded—Some Privates shot—Strange Execution in the Capital—Account of Fort Somelsdyk—Of the Hope in Rio Comewina.

Being once more arrived at Paramaribo, it will not be improper to introduce in this place some account of that beautiful town. Before I commence the description however, I must observe, that being long accustomed to walk bare-footed, I could not bear the confinement of shoes and stockings for some time, they heated and even swelled my feet so much, that, dining on the 16th of January with my friend Kennedy, I was actually obliged to throw them off at his house, whence he was so kind as to send me home in his whisky. I have already mentioned that Paramaribo is situated on the right side of the beautiful river Surinam, at about sixteen or eighteen miles distance from its mouth. It is built upon a kind of gravelly rock, which is level with the rest of the country, in the form of an oblong square, its length is about a mile and a half, and its breadth about half as much. All the streets, which are perfectly straight, are lined with orange, shaddock, tamarind, and lemon-trees, which appear in everlasting bloom; while at the same time their branches [286]are weighed down with the richest clutters of odoriferous fruit. Neither stone nor brick is made use of here for pavement, the whole being one continued gravel, not inferior to the finest garden walks in England, and strewed on the surface with sea-shells. The houses, which are mostly of two, and some of three stories high, are all built of fine timber, a very few excepted; most of the foundations are of brick, and they are roofed with thin split boards, called shingles, instead of slates or tiles. Windows are very seldom seen in this country, glass being inconvenient on account of the heat, instead of which they use gauze frames; some have only the shutters, which are kept open from six o’clock in the morning until six at night. As for chimnies I never saw one in the colony, no fires being lighted except in the kitchens, which are always built at some distance from the dwelling-house, where the victuals are dressed upon the floor, and the smoke let out by a hole made in the roof: these timber houses are however very dear in Surinam, as may be evinced by that lately built by Governor Nepven, which he declared had cost him above £.15,000 sterling. There is no spring water to be met with in Paramaribo, most houses have wells dug in the rock, which afford but a brackish kind of beverage, only used for the negroes, cattle, &c. and the Europeans have reservoirs or cisterns, in which they preserve rain-water for their own consumption; those of nicer taste let it first drop through a filtering-stone into large jars or earthen [287]pots, made by the native Indians on purpose, which they barter at Paramaribo for other commodities. The inhabitants of this country, of every denomination, sleep in hammocks, the negro slaves excepted, who mostly lie on the ground; the hammocks used by those in superior stations are made of cotton, ornamented with rich fringe; these are also made by the Indians, and sometimes worth above twenty guineas; neither bedding nor covering is necessary, except an awning to keep off the musquitoes. Some people indeed lie on bedsteads; in that case they are surrounded, instead of curtains, with gauze pavilions, which admit the air freely, and at the same time keep off the smallest insect. The houses in general at Paramaribo are elegantly furnished with paintings, gilding, crystal chandeliers, china jars, &c.; the rooms are never papered or plaistered, but beautifully wainscoted with cedar, Brazil, and mahogany wood.

View of the Town of Paramaribo, with the Road & Shipping from the opposite Shore.

View of the Town of Paramaribo, with the Road & Shipping from the opposite Shore.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1794, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

The number of buildings in Paramaribo is computed at about one thousand four hundred, of which the principal is the governor’s palace, whence there is a private passage through the garden which communicates with Fort Zealandia.—This house, and that of the commandant, which has lately been burnt, were the only brick buildings in the colony. The town-hall is an elegant new building, and covered with tiles; here the different courts are held, and underneath are the prisons for European delinquents, the military excepted, who are confined in the citadel of Fort Zealandia. The Protestant church, [288]where divine worship is performed both in French and Low Dutch, has a small spire with a clock; besides which there is a Lutheran chapel, and two elegant Jewish Synagogues, one German, the other Portuguese. Here is also a large hospital for the garrison, and this mansion is never empty. The military stores are kept in the fortress, where the Society soldiers are also lodged in barracks, with proper apartments for some officers. The town of Paramaribo has a noble road for shipping, the river before the town being above a mile in breadth, and containing sometimes above one hundred vessels of burthen, moored within a pistol shot of the shore; there are indeed seldom fewer there than fourscore ships loading coffee, sugar, cacao, cotton, and indigo, for Holland, including also the Guinea-men that bring slaves from Africa, and the North American and Leeward Island vessels, which bring flour, beef, pork, spirits, herrings, and mackarel salted, spermaceti-candles, horses, and lumber, for which they receive chiefly melasses to be distilled into rum. This town is not fortified, but is bounded by the river on the S. E.; by a large savannah on the W.; by an impenetrable wood on the N. E.; and is protected by Fort Zealandia on the east. This citadel is only separated from the town by a large esplanade, where the troops parade occasionally. The fort is a regular pentagon, with one gate fronting Paramaribo, and two bastions which command the river; it is very small but strong, being made of rock or hewn stone, surrounded [289]by a broad fosse well supplied with water, besides some out-works. On the East side, fronting the river, is a battery of twenty-one pieces of cannon. On one of the bastions is a bell, which is struck with a hammer by the sentinel, who is directed by an hour-glass. On the other is planted a large ensign-staff, upon which a flag is hoisted upon the approach of ships of war, or on public rejoicing days. The walls are six feet thick, with embrasures but no parapet. I have already spoken of its antiquity.

Plan of the Town of Paramaribo.
 T. Conder Sculpsit

Plan of the Town of Paramaribo.

  • A. Fort Zealandia.
  • B. Governours House.
  • C. Military Hospital.
  • D. Court House.
  • E. Calvinist Church.
  • F. Lutheran ditto.
  • G. Portuguese Synagogue.
  • H. German ditto.
  • I. Exchange Coffee-house.
  • K. Col. Fourgeoud’s Head Quarters.
  • L. Gardens &c.
  • M. Projected Streets &c.

London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Paramaribo is a very lively place, the streets being generally crouded with planters, sailors, soldiers, Jews, Indians, and Negroes, while the river is covered with canoes, barges, &c. constantly passing and repassing, like the wherries on the Thames, often accompanied with bands of music; the shipping also in the road adorned with their different flags, guns firing, &c.; not to mention the many groupes of boys and girls playing in the water, altogether form a pleasing appearance; and such gaiety and variety of objects serve, in some measure, to compensate for the many inconveniencies of the climate. Their carriages and dress are truly magnificent; silk embroidery, Genoa velvets, diamonds, gold and silver lace, being daily worn, and even the masters of trading ships appear with buttons and buckles of solid gold. They are equally expensive at their tables, where every thing that can be called delicate is produced at any price, and served up in plate and china of the newest fashion, and [290]most exquisite workmanship. But nothing displays the luxury of the inhabitants of Surinam, more than the number of slaves by whom they are attended, often twenty or thirty in one family. White servants are seldom to be met with in this colony.

The current money, as I have already stated, are stamped cards of different value, from five shillings to fifty pounds: gold and silver is so scarce, that the exchange premium for specie is often above ten per cent. A base Dantzic coin called a bit, value something less than sixpence, is also current in Surinam. English and Portuguese coin are sometimes met with, but mostly used as ornaments by the Mulatto, Samboe, Quaderoon, and Negro girls. The Negro slaves never receive any paper money, for as they cannot read they do not understand its value; besides in their hands it would be liable to many accidents, from fire or children, and particularly from the rats, when it becomes a little greasy.

This town is well supplied with provisions, viz. butcher’s meat, fowls, fish and venison. Vegetables in particular the country abounds with; besides the luxuries peculiar to this climate, they import whatever Europe, Africa, and Asia can afford. Provisions, however, are excessively dear in general, especially those imported, which are mostly sold by the Jews and masters of ships. The first enjoy extraordinary privileges in this colony; the latter erect temporary warehouses for the purpose of trade, during the time their ships are loading with the [291]productions of the climate. Wheat flour is sold from four pence to one shilling per pound; butter two shillings; butcher’s meat never under one shilling, and often at one shilling and six pence; ducks and fowls from three to four shillings a couple. A single turkey has cost me one guinea and a half; eggs are sold at the rate of five, and European potatoes twelve for six pence. Wine three shillings a bottle. Jamaica rum a crown a gallon. Fish and vegetables are cheap, and fruit almost for nothing. My black boy, Quaco, has often brought me forty oranges for six pence, and half a dozen pine-apples for the same price; while limes and tamarinds may be had for gathering. House-rent is excessively high. A small room unfurnished costs three or four guineas a month; and a house with two apartments on a floor, lets for one hundred guineas yearly. Shoes sell for half-a-guinea a pair; and a suit of cloaths, with silver binding, has cost me twenty guineas.

The wood with which the houses are generally built deserves also to be noticed, viz. the Wana, and the Cuppy. The Wana is a light durable timber of a coarse grain, and does not take the best polish; it is of a very pale red, approaching mahogany, and mostly used for doors and cupboards, also for boats and barges. This tree grows to a considerable height1. [292]

The Cuppy-tree resembles the wild chesnut, is hard, knotty, and durable; it is sawed into boards, and used to enclose the houses for fences, instead of brick and stone walls; the timber is of a brown colour, and takes a good polish.

For a better idea of this town, I shall refer the reader to the annexed plan; and proceed to give some further account of its inhabitants.

The whites or Europeans in this colony, and who reside principally in town, are computed at five thousand, including the garrison. The negro slaves at about seventy-five thousand. The military mount guard every morning at eight o’clock, in the fortress; but the safety of the town is entrusted to the burghers or militia, who keep watch during the night. At six o’clock in the morning, and the same hour in the evening, the morning and evening guns are fired by the commanding ship in the harbour; at the evening signal, all the flags are instantly lowered on board the different vessels; their bells are set a ringing, whilst the drums and fifes beat the tattoo through the town. The watch is then set, and no negro of either sex is allowed to appear in the streets or on the river, without a proper pass signed by his owner; without this he is taken up, and infallibly flogged the next morning. At ten at night, a band of black drums beat the burgher, or militia retreat, through the streets of Paramaribo. [293]

At this time the ladies begin to make their appearance, who are particularly fond of a tête-à-tête by moon-light, when they entertain with Sherbet, Sangaree2, and wine and water; besides the most unreserved and unequivocal conversation concerning themselves, as well as the peculiar qualifications of their husbands, and the situation of their female slaves, whom they propose the acceptance of to the gentlemen they converse with at so much per week, according to their own estimation. Sometimes placing half a dozen of them in a row, the lady says, “Sir, this is a callebasee, that is a maid, and this is not”—thus are they not only unreserved in their conversation, but also profuse in their encomiums upon such gentlemen as have the honour of their instructive company, and whose person or figure meets with their approbation.

They are also rigid disciplinarians, as the backs of their poor slaves, male and female, sufficiently testify. Thus every country has its customs, and from these customs exceptions are to be made; for I have known ladies in Surinam, whose delicacy and polite conversation would have graced the first circles in Europe. Besides the amusements of feasting, dancing, riding, and cards, they have a small theatre, where the inhabitants of fashion act plays for their own amusement, and that of their friends. As they are elegant in their dress, so they [294]keep their houses extremely clean. They use the finest linen, exquisitely well washed with Castile soap; its whiteness can only be compared to mountain snow, and would make the best bleached linen in Europe appear like canvass. Their parlour floors are always scoured with sour oranges cut through the middle, which gives the house an agreeable fragrance: the Negro girls taking one half in each hand, keep singing aloud while they rub the boards. Such is the town, and such are the inhabitants of Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam; and the character will apply to the natives of all the Dutch settlements in the West Indies. But to return to my narrative. Being once more reconciled to shoes, I visited Colonel Westerloo on board a West-India ship, bound for Holland. This gentleman, who had relieved me at Devil’s Harwar when I was ill, was now himself in a most miserable condition, having lost the use of his limbs. In this debilitated state, it was doubtful whether any thing but the air of his native country would recover him. Several officers were now under the necessity of selling their effects to procure a subsistence, not being able either to procure their pay or allowance from Fourgeoud. I felt this hard usage the less, from the kindness I experienced from my numerous friends.

On the 28th of January, as I was walking in the morning by the river side, I saw a fish brought ashore, that deserves to be mentioned for its size and goodness, being [295]sometimes near two hundred pounds weight3. It is here called grow-muneck, or grey friar, and is said to be of the cod genus, to which it bears some resemblance in shape and colour, the back being a dark olive brown, and the belly white; it was soon cut up into large slices, several of which I purchased, and sent as presents to my friends; as it was, in my opinion, even superior to turbot. It is an inhabitant of the sea, but is sometimes to be met with in the rivers. The negroes here are the only fishermen, and are regularly trained up to this profession by their masters, who make them pay a certain sum weekly. If they are expert and industrious, they soon acquire money for themselves, and some even become rich; but, on the contrary, if they are indolent, and do not fulfil their weekly engagements, they are certain to be punished very severely.

This custom is also common to many other trades, and by perseverance and sobriety they are actually enabled to live happily. Thus I have known slaves in Surinam, who have bought slaves for their own use. Some purchase their freedom from their masters, whilst others keep their money, preferring to be the slave of an indulgent master; being, so long as they continue slaves, free from all duties and taxes, which, in case of manumission, they become liable to. A particular instance of this kind was a negro blacksmith, named Joseph, who being offered his [296]liberty upon account of his long and faithful services, positively refused it, chusing rather to be the slave of a worthy master. This man had several slaves of his own, kept a decent house, with handsome furniture, and some plate; and when visited by his humane master or mistress, entertained them with Sangaree, port or claret. I must, however, acknowledge this to be a very singular instance; and observe, that although a few live comfortably at Paramaribo, the greatest number are wretched, particularly those governed by a lady, who have many wales to show, but not the smallest indulgence to boast of.

Among the slaves, those of the class called Quaderoons are in general much respected for their affinity to Europeans; a Quaderoon being the offspring of a white and a mulatto, and they are very numerous in this colony.

Here one not only meets with the white, the black, and olive, but with

“The Samboe dark, and the Mulatto brown,

The Mæsti fair4, the well-limb’d Quaderoon.”

These boys are generally placed out to some good trade, such as cabinet-makers, silversmiths, or jewellers; whilst the girls are employed as waiting-women, and taught the arts of sewing, knitting, and embroidery, to perfection: they are generally handsome, and take much pride in the neatness and elegance of their dress.

Female Quadroon Slave of Surinam.

Female Quadroon Slave of Surinam.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1794, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.


To give the reader a more lively idea of these people, I shall describe the figure and dress of a Quaderoon girl, as they usually appear in this colony. They are mostly tall, straight, and gracefully formed; rather more slender than the Mulattoes, and never go naked above the waist, like the former. Their dress commonly consists of a sattin petticoat, covered with flowered gauze; a close short jacket, made of best India chintz or silk, laced before, and shewing about an hand-breadth of a fine muslin shift between the jacket and the petticoat. As for stockings and shoes, the slaves in this country never wear them. Their heads are adorned with a fine bunch of black hair in short natural ringlets; they wear a black or white beaver hat, with a feather, or a gold loop and button: their neck, arms, and ancles are ornamented with chains, bracelets, gold medals, and beads. All these fine women have European husbands, to the no small mortification of the fair Creolians; yet should it be known that an European female had an intercourse with a slave of any denomination, she is for ever detested, and the slave loses his life without mercy.—Such are the despotic laws of men in Dutch Guiana over the weaker sex.

But to change the subject.—The tyranny of our commander, Colonel Fourgeoud, seemed daily to increase. Lieutenant Count Runtwick, who was to proceed for Holland with Colonel Westerloo, being sick, was ordered to remain in Surinam, for having only said that he had [298]been ill treated by him. As a specimen of his justice, I will only observe, that all the officers had now subsisted a whole year upon a private soldier’s allowance of salt provisions, a few weeks at Paramaribo only excepted. This accommodation cost me thirty pounds; but I have already mentioned he kept back our money, and why should he not our allowance also, it not being the part of a good soldier to inquire after trifles?

On the 1st of February we, however, received notice that henceforth we should pay nothing, provided we could fast; but that if we could not, ten pounds yearly was to be the ne plus ultra of the expences for our salt beef and pork.

On the 2d I received intelligence that Lieutenant Colonel Becquer, scorning any longer to partake of Fourgeoud’s bounty, had suddenly given up the ghost, by which in rotation I became possessed of his vacant company. This was some compensation for so much trouble and fatigue. But to counterbalance this good fortune, a certain lady, whose husband had shewn me extraordinary civilities, now made me an offer, which I could not with honour accept; besides, I had been sworn at Highgate. But persisting in my refusal of her favours and golden presents, I at last felt the effects of a woman’s hatred and revenge. Her husband, who had lately been so much my friend, and whose honour I, in this instance, so much respected, was suddenly perverted into a bitter enemy. I bore their frowns with resignation, conscious of my own rectitude, [299]in not committing a trespass of which too many others would have made a boast. Shortly after, however, this gentleman again became my friend, even more than before this affair happened, having been perfectly undeceived.

On the 6th, a poor drummer of the Society brought me a present of some alligato, or more properly avogato pears and oranges, for having supported him, he said, in Holland against my servant, who had knocked him down. This trait of gratitude afforded me more pleasure than the coolness of my late friend had given me pain.—The avogato pear grows on a tree above forty feet high, and not unlike a walnut-tree: the fruit, which is about the size and colour of a large pear, viz. a pale green, is the most exquisite, in my opinion, of any in the colony, or even in the world; the inside is yellow, and the kernel is inclosed in a soft rind like a chesnut. The pulp is so salubrious and nutritious, that it is often called the vegetable marrow, and is frequently eaten with pepper and salt: nor can I compare it to any thing so well as a peach, melting in the mouth in the same manner, not so sweet indeed, but incomparably more delicious.

The oranges in Surinam are of three different species; the sour, the bitter, and the sweet, all being originally imported from Spain or Portugal. The sour oranges are an excellent cure for sores and running ulcers, so common in this climate, but painful in the operation; for which reason they are only used for the negroes, who it [300]is supposed may bear any thing. The bitter are only used for preserving: the sweet, which have a luscious taste and exquisite flavour, may be eaten freely, without any pernicious effects, which is not the case with that kind called the China apples, which I shall afterwards describe. The trees that bear all these species are truly beautiful, and never without fragrant blossoms or fruit throughout the year.

On the 16th, the news arrived that Colonel Fourgeoud, with the remaining troops, having marched from La Rochelle, had been attacked by the rebels; and amongst others Captain Fredericy, marching in the front, had been shot through both thighs. This brave officer, clapping both his hands on the wounds, and sitting in water up to his breast to conceal the bleeding, and prevent his misfortune from discouraging the troops, remained in this situation until the surgeon had dressed them, when he was carried in his hammock by two negroes.

Nothing, indeed, could exceed the zeal which both this officer, and Fourgeoud’s adjutant, Captain Vangewrike, shewed during the whole expedition; continually upon service, whether their constitutions could bear it or not. But honour was the only advantage they derived from a five years assiduous and extraordinary attendance. In my opinion, Colonel Fourgeoud never recompensed them according to their merit; while he treated the subalterns, and even some field officers, worse than ever I did my corporals. [301]

I now made another offer to join him in the woods; but instead of permission, he sent me orders to hasten to L’Esperance, in English the Hope estate, as I shall henceforth call it, situated in the upper part of Rio Comewina, there to take the command of the whole river during his absence; which being new to me, I repaired to this post with the greater satisfaction.

Having provided myself with a compleat camp-equipage, and purchased provisions, I was soon ready to depart for my new station. But before I leave Paramaribo, I must remark, that during my stay there no less than nine negroes had each a leg cut off, for running away from their masters. This punishment is a part of the Surinam administration of justice, and is performed at the desire of the proprietor, and was executed by a Mr. Greuber, the surgeon of the hospital. During this inhuman operation, the poor sufferers very deliberately smoaked their pipe of tobacco. For this service the surgeon received about six pounds a limb: but, notwithstanding his great abilities, four of them died immediately after the operation. A fifth destroyed himself, by plucking away the bandages and bleeding to death during the night. These amputated negroes are common in this colony, and are employed in rowing the boats and barges of their masters. Others are seen deprived of an arm; and this is the forfeit for daring to raise it against an European.

I embarked on the 17th of February for the Hope, in [302]the river Comewina, on board a decent tent-boat rowed by six negroes, having once more bid adieu to my beloved Joanna. In the evening I passed the Sporksgift estate, in the Matapica Creek; the next day I arrived at Arentrust in Comewina, having passed the Orelana Creek and the fortress Somelsdyk, which is about sixteen miles above Fort Amsterdam, and forms the separation between that and the river Cottica, commanding the two opposite shores by the fire of its cannon. This fortress was built in the year 1684 by Governor Somelsdyk, whose name it still bears. It is built in the form of a pentagon, having five bastions mounted with artillery; it has a fosse, and is well provided with military stores: though it is not large, it is well defended, especially by its low and marshy situation. Not far above this, to the right, is a fine creek, called Comete-Wana.

On the 19th, about noon, I reached the Hope; having found this river still more charming than the river Cottica, both being bordered with beautiful estates of coffee and sugar, the first of which abounds principally near its mouth. About half way up both these rivers are also in each a Protestant church, where the plantation people resort to hear divine worship: the expence of the parson, &c. being paid by the planters.

The estate L’Esperance, or the Hope, where I now took the command, is a valuable sugar-plantation, situated on the left side of the Comewina, at the mouth of a rivulet called Bottle Creek, and almost opposite to another creek [303]called Cassivinica: the Bottle Creek communicating with the Comewina and Pirica, as the Wana Creek does with Cormoetibo and Rio-Marawina.

Here the troops were lodged in temporary houses built with the manicole-tree; but the situation was so low and marshy as at spring-tides to be entirely under water. The officers were all crowded in one apartment of the same construction; while the planter’s fine house, which might have been serviceable for the pleasure and health of these gentlemen, was made use of by nobody but the overseer of the estate.

About a cannon-shot higher up the river is the estate Clarenbeek; where I went, on the 22d, to examine the state of the hospital, and where I found the troops more disagreeably quartered than at the Hope, owing chiefly to the amazing number of rats with which this place was infested, destroying the men’s clothes and provisions, and running over their faces by dozens as they lay in their hammocks. The only mode of remedying this horrid inconvenience, was to break holes in the bottoms of quart bottles, and then string them like beads upon the lashings of each hammock, both at head and foot: when this was properly done, their polish rendered it impossible for the rats to reach the canvas.

Here the crowded hospital afforded a melancholy spectacle, by the miserable objects it presented. Humanity suffers so much from such scenes, that I felt myself happy upon my return to the Hope. My orders here were [304]much the same as they had been at Cottica, viz. to protect the estates from the enemy: the parole or watchword was regularly sent me by Colonel Fourgeoud. One of the Berbice negro captains, before mentioned, named Ackeraw, here discovered an old decrepid slave called Paulus, belonging to this estate, to be his brother. He acknowledged him with cordial affection, and treated him with much kindness: the scene of their meeting was of course very interesting. In my walks round this plantation, I had an opportunity of observing several curious birds, which I shall now embrace the opportunity to describe.

The queese-queedee, so called on account of its note, is about the size of a thrush, and of a brown colour, except the breast and belly, which are of a beautiful yellow: it is very mischievous, and an unwelcome guest upon the plantations. The wild pigeons are also common here. I shot one that was very large, and resembling what is called the ring-tail pigeon of Jamaica. Its back and sides were of an ash colour; the tail a lead colour; the belly white; the neck reflecting a changeable green and purple; the iris and feet of this pigeon were red. I have also seen the dwarf pigeons here walking in pairs. They are about the size of an English sparrow, and rather of a lighter colour. I take these to be the picui-nima of Marcgrave. The eyes were bright, with a yellow iris, and upon the whole these diminutive creatures are very pretty. They are called steen-duyfie by the Dutch, because [305]they are frequently found amongst stones and gravel. 5Turtles are also found in Guiana, but seldom near the plantations, as they delight chiefly in the deepest recesses of the forest. They build their nests in trees of the thickest foliage, where I have found them, and even stroked them with my hand, without their attempting to fly away. They are little different from those in Europe in point of colour, but rather less, and their wings of a more considerable length than those of any other dove or pigeon whatever.

I became daily more charmed with my situation; I was at liberty to breathe freely, and my prospects of future contentment promised amply to compensate for my past hardships and mortifications. Respected as the prince of the river; caressed by the neighbouring planters, who plentifully supplied me with presents of game, fish, fruit, and vegetables, I was scarcely the same man, and had very few wishes unsatisfied.

One day (the 5th of March) during my residence here, I was surprised by the waving of a white handkerchief from a tent-boat that was rowing up the river; when, to augment my happiness, it unexpectedly proved to be my Mulatto, accompanied by her aunt, who now preferred Fauconberg estate, four miles above the Hope, to residing in the town; and to this plantation I immediately accompanied them. [306]

Here Joanna introduced me to a venerable old slave, her grandfather, who made me a present of half a dozen fowls. He was grey-headed and blind, but had been comfortably supported for many years through the kind attention of his numerous offspring. He told me he was born in Africa, where he had once been more respected than any of his Surinam masters ever were in their country.

It will no doubt appear surprising to many of my readers to find me mention this female slave so often, and with so much respect; but I cannot speak with indifference of an object so deserving of attention, and whose affectionate attachment alone counter-balanced all my other misfortunes. Her virtue, youth, and beauty gained more and more my esteem; while the lowness of her birth and condition, instead of diminishing, served to increase my affection.—What can I say farther upon this subject?—Nothing; but content myself with the consolation given by Horace to Phocius, the Roman soldier:

“Ne sit ancillæ tibi amor pudori, &c.”

“Let not my Phocius think it shame

For a fair slave to own his flame;

A slave could stern Achilles move,

And bend his haughty soul to love:

Ajax, invincible in arms,

Was captiv’d by his captive’s charms.


“Atrides ’midst his triumph mourn’d,

And for a ravish’d virgin burn’d;

What time the fierce barbarian bands

Fell by Pelides’ conquering hands,

And Troy (her Hector swept away)

Became to Greece an easier prey.

“Who knows, when Phillis is your bride,

To what high rank you’ll be allied?

Her parents dear, of gentle race,

Shall not their son-in-law disgrace.

She sprung from kings, or nothing less,

And weeps the family’s distress.”

On the 6th of March I returned to the Hope, loaded with fowls, aubergines, brocoli, agoma, and a few Surinam cherries. The aubergines are a species of fruit which grows in the shape of a cucumber; they are of a purple colour without, and white within; they are cut in slices and eaten like sallad, sometimes stewed: they are very good and wholesome. The leaves of the tree which bears this fruit are large and green, covered with a purple-coloured down. The agoma is a bitterish vegetable: the brocoli as in Europe, but scarce. The cherries are ribbed, very sour, and unless very ripe fit only for preserving.

On the prince of Orange’s anniversary, the 8th of March, I invited some company to drink his health, [308]whilst Colonel Fourgeoud kept scouring the bushes; but the sum of his operations amounted only to having some of his men shot by the negroes, some lost in the woods; whilst the rebel Cupido escaped with all his chains. Of two men he sent me for the hospital at Clarenbeek, one was terribly cut by the rebels.

I received a present of a haunch of venison on the 17th from a Mr. D’Onis; and one of my slaves presented me with a lizard called sapagala, which is less in size and less agreeable food than the iguana, which I have already described, and which the Indians call wayamaka. Of this last dainty I did not partake, but gave it to the overseer, while with the venison I entertained all my officers.

The Bajew, or Stag of Guiana. The Wirrebocerra, or Small Deer.

The Bajew, or Stag of Guiana.
The Wirrebocerra, or Small Deer.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Pauls Church Yard.

Of the deer species there are two kinds; the stag or largest, called the bajew, is about the size of the English roebuck, with short curvated horns; the eyes are bright, and full of fire; the tail short; the hair a reddish brown, except the belly, which is white. These animals, when pursued, run with amazing strength and velocity. They are frequently seen near the plantations, where they commit great devastations among the sugar-canes; they are often shot by the negro or Indian huntsmen, which the planters keep on purpose. Hunting is impracticable as a sport to Europeans in this country, owing to the thickness of the woods. The deer are sometimes taken alive in crossing rivers, which they often [309]take to when over-heated, or to escape their enemies. The flesh of this stag is neither fat, tender, nor juicy, being much inferior to the European venison, though greatly esteemed by the inhabitants of Surinam. The other species the negroes call boosee-cabritta; the Indians wirrebocerra. These are much smaller, and more nimble in leaping; their colour a yellowish brown, covered with small white spots; their eyes lively and piercing; their ears narrow and short; they have no antlers; their limbs are small, but nervous and strong; and their flesh more delicate than any other venison I ever tasted.

On the 21st, having visited Mr. and Mrs. Lolkens at Fauconberg, we, after dinner, walked to a brick-manufactory, called Appe-cappe, which lies in the neighbourhood, and belongs to Governor Nepveu; where they make as good brick, and as expeditiously, as in Europe. It is also a profitable business, not being common in Surinam. This I only relate as a proof of the abundant advantages of this country; where, moreover, the wood for burning the bricks may be had for cutting, if the inhabitants chuse to be industrious. We were here, however, so pestered with clouds of insects, called monpeira, that I was glad to take my leave, and return to the Hope. The monpeira are the smallest kind of gnats, but equally troublesome with the larger species called musquitoes. They fly so thick and close together, that they appear like a cloud of black smoke: they are so small that [310]numbers of them stick in the eyes, whence they cannot be extracted without pain, and even danger.

I always visited by water, having at the Hope an elegant tent-boat, with half a dozen negroes at my command, who also shot and fished for me. Upon the whole, I was here so happy and so much respected, that I could almost have engaged never more to change my situation. [311]

1 This Dr. Bancroft, I think, calls the Tetermer

2 Water, Madeira wine, nutmeg and sugar. 

3 Dr. Fermyn is mistaken, when he says this fish weighs but forty pounds. 

4 The offspring of an European and of a Quaderoon

5 Dr. Bancroft erroneously calls this bird the only dove in Guiana. 



A Sugar Plantation described—Domestic Happiness in a Cottage—Further Account of Fourgeoud’s Operations—Dreadful Cruelties inflicted by some Overseers—Instance of Resentment in a Rebel Negro Captain.

I have already said that I was happy at the Hope; but how was my felicity augmented, when Mr. and Mrs. Lolkens came to visit me one evening, and not only gave me the address of Messrs. Passalage and Son at Amsterdam, the new proprietors of my Mulatto, but even desired me to take her to the Hope, where she would be more agreeably situated than either at Fauconberg or Paramaribo. This desire was unquestionably most readily complied with by me; and I immediately set my slaves to work, to build a house of manicole-trees for her reception.

In the mean time I wrote the following letter to Messrs. Passalage and Son.


“Being informed by Mr. Lolkens, the administrator of the estate Fauconberg, that you are the present proprietors; and being under great obligations to one of your Mulatto slaves named Joanna, who is the daughter [312]of the late Mr. Kruythoff, particularly for having attended me during sickness; I in gratitude request of you, who are her masters, to let me purchase her liberty without delay: which favour shall be ever thankfully acknowledged, and the money for her ransom immediately paid, by

Your most obedient servant,
John Gabriel Stedman,
Captain in Colonel Fourgeoud’s
Corps of Marines.”

This letter was accompanied by another from my friend Lolkens, who much cheared my prospects by the assurance of success.

Having dispatched these letters to Holland, I had now the opportunity of observing the whole process of a sugar-plantation; of which I shall endeavour to give an accurate description.

The buildings usually consist of an elegant dwelling-house for the planter, outhouses for the overseer and book-keeper, besides a carpenter’s lodge, kitchens, store-houses, and stables, if the sugar-mills be wrought by horses or mules; but on the Hope these are not requisite, as the wheels move by water, stored in canals during the spring-tide by means of sluices, which being opened at low water pour out like a deluge, and set the machinery in motion. A sugar-mill is built at the expence [313]of four thousand, nay sometimes seven or eight thousand pounds.

A particular description of its construction might be too tedious. I shall only observe, that the large water-wheel moves perpendicularly, and corresponds with another large wheel placed in an horizontal direction, and this again acts upon three cylinders or rollers of cast-iron, supported underneath by a strong beam, so close together that when the whole is in motion, they draw in and squeeze as thin as paper, whatever comes between them. In this manner the sugar-cane is bruised, to separate the juice or liquor from the trash.

Those mills that are wrought by cattle are constructed, upon the same principles, only the horses or mules answer the purpose of the horizontal wheel, by dragging round a large lever. If the water-mills work the fastest, and be the cheapest, yet as they must wait for the tides, they can only work part of the day; whereas the cattle-mills are always ready whenever the proprietor finds it convenient to use them. Adjoining to the mill-house is a large apartment, also built of brick, in which are fixed the coppers or large cauldrons to boil the liquid sugar. These are usually five in number; opposite to these are the coolers, which are large square flat-bottomed wooden vessels, into which the sugar is put from the cauldrons to cool before it is put into hogsheads, which are placed near the coolers upon strong channeled rafters, that receive [314]the melasses as it drops from the sugar, and convey it into a square cistern placed underneath to receive it. The distillery joins this apartment, where the dross or scum of the boiling sugar is converted into a kind of rum, mentioned before, and known by the name of kill-devil. Every estate in Surinam keeps a tent-boat and several other craft, for the conveyance of their produce; they have also a covered dock, to keep them dry and repair them.

The sugar estates in this colony contain five or six hundred acres; the parts for cultivation being divided into squares, where pieces of cane, about one foot long, are stuck into the ground in an oblique position, in rows straight and parallel. They usually plant them in the rainy season, when the earth is well soaked and rich. The shoots that spring from these joints are about twelve or sixteen months in arriving at maturity, when they become yellow, and of the thickness of a German flute, and from six to ten feet in height, and jointed, forming a very beautiful appearance, with pale green leaves like those of a leek, but longer and denticulated, and which hang down as the crop becomes ready for cutting. The principal business of the slaves during the growth of the canes is pulling up the weeds, which would otherwise impoverish them.

The Sugar Cane, in its four different Stages.

The Sugar Cane, in its four different Stages.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson St. Pauls Church Yard.

Some sugar estates have above four hundred slaves. The expence of purchasing these, and erecting the buildings, [315]frequently amounts to twenty or five-and-twenty thousand pounds sterling, exclusive of the value of the ground.

But to give the reader a clearer idea of the sugar-cane, which is supposed to be a native of Guiana, I refer him to the annexed plate, where he may view it in the different stages, though on a smaller scale than nature; A being its first appearance above the ground; B the cane come to half maturity; C the same with drooping leaves, when fully ripe; D a piece cut off at one end, and broken off at the other.

We shall now examine its progress through the mill: here it is bruised between the three cylinders or rollers through which it passes twice, once it enters, and once it returns, when it is changed to trash, and its pithy substance into liquid, which is conducted as extracted, through a grooved beam, from the mill to the boiling-house, where it is received into a kind of wooden cistern.

So very dangerous is the work of those negroes who attend the rollers, that should one of their fingers be caught between them, which frequently happens through inadvertency, the whole arm is instantly shattered to pieces, if not part of the body. A hatchet is generally kept ready to chop off the limb, before the working of the mill can be stopped. Another danger is, that should a poor slave dare to taste that sugar which he produces by the sweat of his brow, he runs the risk of receiving [316]some hundred lashes, or having all his teeth knocked out by the overseer.—Such are the hardships and dangers to which the sugar-making negroes are exposed.

From the above wooden cistern the liquor is let into the first copper cauldron, filtering through a grating to keep back the trash that may have escaped from the mill; here, having boiled some time, and been scummed, it is put into the next cauldron, and so on till in the fifth or last it is brought to a proper thickness or consistency to be admitted into the coolers: a few pounds of lime and allum are thrown into the cauldrons to make it granulate; thus it is boiled gradually stronger and stronger, until it reaches the last cauldron. When it is put into the wooden coolers the sugar is well stirred, and scattered equally throughout the vessels; when cold it has a frozen appearance, being candied, of a brown glazed consistency, not unlike pieces of high polished walnut-tree. From the coolers it is put into the hogsheads, which, upon an average, will hold one thousand pounds weight of sugar; there it settles, and through the crevices and small holes made in the bottoms it is purged of all its liquid contents, which are called melasses, and, as I have said, are received in an under-ground cistern. This is the last operation, after which the sugar is fit for exportation to Europe, where it is refined and cast into loaves. I shall only farther observe, that the larger the grain the better the sugar, and that no soil can be more proper for its cultivation than Guiana, the richness of which is inexhaustible, [317]and produces upon an average three or four hogsheads per acre. In 1771, no less than twenty-four thousand hogsheads were exported to Amsterdam and Rotterdam only, which, valued at six pounds per hogshead, though it has sometimes sold for double, returned a sum of near one hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling, besides the vast quantity of melasses and kill-devil; the first computed at seven thousand hogsheads, and sold to the North Americans for twenty-five thousand pounds; the second, which is distilled in Surinam, and used chiefly by the negroes, valued at as much more, which produces no less than two hundred thousand pounds per annum1.

The kill-devil is also drank by some of the planters, but too much by the common soldiers and sailors, and, when new, acts as a slow pernicious poison upon an European constitution. On the contrary, it never hurts the negroes, but is even necessary and wholesome, especially in the rainy seasons, when they are sometimes indulged with a single dram per day by their masters, though this custom is far from being general. There is no part of this salutary plant useless; the chaff refuse, and leaves of the cane, being used for manure and fuel. All the estates are closely surrounded by the uncultivated forest, whence the herds of wild deer often commit very great ravages, when the pieces being surrounded by [318]armed negroes, and dogs set in to disperse them, they are frequently shot. From what I have said upon this subject alone, the reader may form an idea of the riches with which this country abounds; which, nevertheless, did not seem to stimulate its enemies during the late war to attempt the possession of it: but I must say, I doubt whether Surinam, in the hands of any other nation than the Dutch, would not cease to be of its present consequence, the Hollanders being indisputably the most patient, persevering, industrious people that inhabit the globe.

Notwithstanding, however, the immense wealth that the West Indies in general afford, it will ever be my opinion that the Europeans might live as comfortably, if not more healthily, without them; the want of sugar, coffee, cotton, cacao, indigo, rum, and Brazil wood, might be amply supplied by honey, milk, wool, Geneva, ale, English herbs, British oak, &c.

And now once more to resume my narrative:—I have already mentioned that my slaves were employed in preparing an house for the reception of my best friend, which was about six days in completing. It consisted of a parlour, which also served for a dining-room; a bed-chamber, where I also stowed my baggage; a piazza or shed to sit under before the door; a small kitchen detached from the house, and a poultry-house, the whole situated on a spot by itself, commanding an enchanting prospect on every side, and surrounded with paling to keep off the [319]cattle. My tables, stools, and benches, being all composed of manicole boards, the doors and windows were guarded with ingenious wooden locks and keys, that were presented me by a negro, and were the work of his own hands. My house being thus far finished and furnished, my next care was to lay in a stock of provisions from Paramaribo, viz. a barrel of flour, another of salted mackarel, which in this country are delicious, they are imported from North America; hams, pickled sausages, Boston biscuit; also wine, Jamaica rum, tea, sugar, a box of spermaceti candles; also two charming foreign sheep and a hog, sent me by Mr. Kennedy from his estate Vriedyk, besides two dozen of fine fowls and ducks presented me by Lucretia, my Joanna’s aunt; while fruit, vegetables, fish, and venison, flowed upon me from every quarter as usual.

On the 1st of April 1774, Joanna came down the river in the Fauconberg tent-boat, rowed by eight negroes, and arrived at the Hope: I communicated to her immediately the contents of my letter to Holland, which she received with that gratitude and modesty in her looks which spoke more forcibly than any reply. I introduced her to her new habitation, where the plantation slaves, in token of respect, immediately brought her presents of casada, yams, bananas, and plantains, and never two people were more completely happy. Free like the roes in the forest, and disencumbered of every care and ceremony, we breathed the purest ether in our walks, and refreshed [320]our limbs in the limpid stream: health and good spirits were now again my portion, while my partner flourished in youth and beauty, the envy and admiration of all the colony.

Colonel Fourgeoud now intending to quit the woods, and encamp at Magdenberg, a post near the source of the Comewina, I sent a large barge with provisions, escorted by an officer and twenty men, to that place; and upon reviewing my remaining marines, they did not amount to twenty men, besides a small detachment at Calis, near the mouth of Cassivinica Creek. Higher up the same creek, at an estate called Cupy, were also posted an officer and a few soldiers.

On the morning of the 4th, I was witness to a very wonderful battle between two snakes, the one about three feet long, the other no more than fourteen inches; when, after a severe contest of near half an hour, during which time the many wreathings and twistings were truly curious, the largest gradually shifting his gripe, at length caught the smallest by the head, and absolutely swallowed him alive.

My negro boy about this time throwing out some red-hot embers, I was surprized to see the frogs eat them with avidity, without receiving any visible damage from the fire, which most probably they had mistaken for the fire-fly. I saw another frog in the sugar-mill, feasting upon a regiment of ants, which are here very numerous, licking them up with his tongue as they marched before [321]him. Another of these animals slept every day upon one of the beams of my cottage, which it regularly left every night; this was called yombo-yombo by the negroes, from its great power in leaping: it is very small, almost flat, a fine yellow, with black and scarlet specks; it is frequently found in the upper stories of houses, where it arrives by climbing up the walls. We thought it a pretty little animal, and would allow nobody to hurt it.

On the morning of the 8th, between six and seven o’clock, whilst we were interring one of my serjeants, we heard the report of several minute guns towards the river Pirica; in consequence of which, I immediately detached an officer and twelve men to give assistance. They returned next day with an account that the rebels had attacked the estate of Kortenduur, where, having pillaged some powder, the plantation slaves being armed by their master, had bravely beaten them back before my assistance could be of use.

A small detachment from Colonel Fourgeoud at Wana Creek arrived at the Hope on the 11th, with September, the negro prisoner, who related that the rebels had spoken to Fourgeoud, and even laughed at him, having overheard him giving his orders, viz. not to fire on them, but to take them alive: and that amongst those lost in the woods was the unlucky Schmidt, who had lately been so unmercifully beaten, and of which he had never yet recovered.

About the 13th, the spring floods broke down the [322]dams, and laid our whole post under water, except the spot where I had pitched my cabin, which remained dry, but unfortunately by this accident the officers and men were up to the knees in water. My worthy friend Mr. Heneman, the volunteer, arrived at this time from Colonel Fourgeoud’s camp at Wana Creek, with a barge full of men and ammunition; he was now entered a lieutenant in my company: he informed us, that the remaining troops were marching for Magdenberg in Upper Comewina, there to go into quarters. This poor young man was much emaciated with misery and fatigue, I therefore introduced him at his first landing to the care of Joanna, who was a most incomparable nurse, and under whose care he felt himself extremely happy.

On the 14th, Colonel Fourgeoud with his troops being arrived at Magdenberg, the officers and privates of the Society, and the rangers to the amount of near two hundred men, were sent down in barges to be stationed on different parts of the river Pirica. Some landed at the Hope to refresh, and behaved so very disorderly, as to oblige me and my officers to knock them down by half dozens, to keep the peace till they departed the same day, after which I dispatched a tent-boat and eight oars to row the commander in chief with some of his favourites to Paramaribo, from which place he at last permitted the much-injured Count Rantwick to sail for Holland.

On the 16th, the greatest part of the sheep belonging to this estate were unfortunately poisoned by eating duncane, but mine, amongst some others, luckily escaped. [323]I am sorry to say I have not particularly examined the duncane, as it is called by the negroes. All that I can say is, that it is a shrub with a large green leaf, something like that of the English dock; it grows spontaneously in low and marshy places, and is instant death to whatever animal eats of its leaves; the slaves therefore should be obliged carefully to root it out from the grass savannas or meadows where cattle graze, since sheep and bullocks are said to be remarkably fond of it, though contrary to nature, as most animals know, it is said, instinctively how to distinguish their food from their poison. But the sheep in question not being the natural inhabitants of Guiana, may for that reason be admitted as an exception to this general rule. This baneful plant had inadvertently been permitted to grow in a negro’s garden, to which the sheep got access by breaking down the fence, which occasioned this unpleasant catastrophe.

In this garden I saw several other roots and plants that deserve to be noticed. The yamesy, or yam, a well-known root in the West Indies, delights in a fat soil; this grows in Surinam sometimes to the weight of two or three score pounds, and an acre will produce an astonishing quantity2; its taste is very agreeable, either boiled or roasted, easy of digestion, and very wholesome. The inside is of a whitish colour, without it is of a deep purple approaching towards black; its shape is very irregular. [324]The yams are cultivated by cutting them in pieces like potatoes; they are planted a few feet distant from each other, and in about six or eight months they arrive at maturity; they are known to be fit for use when the top or leaves begin to lose their verdure, till then they are of a deep green colour, and creep along the ground like ivy, with ligneous shoots. The yam is amongst the principal food of the slaves throughout the West Indies, and is alone sufficient to supply the want of bread; also being capable of preservation for almost a year, it is often transported, and used upon long voyages, and frequently brought to England. Another small root I found here, known in Surinam by the name of naapjes, and which is eaten in the same manner as the yams, but is infinitely more delicious; both the one and the other serve here for food, as potatoes, carrots, or parsnips do in England.

The maize or Indian corn, which I also saw in this garden, grows on high perpendicular stalks, with long pale green leaves; the grain is of a shining yellow colour, as large as marrow-peas, and closely set together, round ears that are the size of the largest European carrot. This grain is cultivated in great quantities in Surinam; it is not only used for their poultry and cattle of every species, but is also ground into meal, of which the Creoles make excellent puddings and cakes, which are of a nourishing quality. With this they sometimes eat the young pods of the ocro, or althea plant, which grows upon a very small [325]shrub, with oblong leaves, and which when boiled, as Dr. Bancroft expresses it, are of a mucilaginous, slimy, and lubricative texture, which ropy or glutinous quality, however disgusting in appearance, makes a very rich sauce when properly seasoned with Cayenne pepper.

The same evening that proved so fatal to the sheep, as I was walking out with my gun, as usual, I shot a bird called here the subacoo; it is a species of the grey-heron, its bill and legs of a greenish black, and very long, the last appearing as if jointed by large scales of a hard and horny substance, and the claws on each middle toe are denticulated. This bird, though apparently the size of a common fowl, was so very light, that an English house-pigeon would have easily counterbalanced it; when dressed we found it to have a fishy flavour.

I have for some time been happily silent upon the subject of cruelty; and sorry I am, at a time when all appeared harmonious and peaceable, to be under the necessity of relating some instances, which I am confident must inspire the most unfeeling reader with horror and resentment. The first object which attracted my compassion during a visit to a neighbouring estate, was a beautiful Samboe girl of about eighteen, tied up by both arms to a tree, as naked as she came into the world, and lacerated in such a shocking manner by the whips of two negro-drivers, that she was from her neck to her ancles literally dyed over with blood. It was after she had received two hundred lashes that I perceived her, with her [326]head hanging downwards, a most affecting spectacle. When, turning to the overseer, I implored that she might be immediately unbound, since she had undergone the whole of so severe a punishment; but the short answer which I obtained was, that to prevent all strangers from interfering with his government, he had made an unalterable rule, in that case, always to double the punishment, which he instantaneously began to put in execution: I endeavoured to stop him, but in vain, he declaring the delay should not alter his determination, but make him take vengeance with double interest. Thus I had no other remedy but to run to my boat, and leave the detestable monster, like a beast of prey, to enjoy his bloody feast, till he was glutted. From that day I determined to break off all communication with overseers, and could not refrain from bitter imprecations against the whole relentless fraternity. Upon investigating the cause of this matchless barbarity, I was credibly informed, that her only crime consisted in firmly refusing to submit to the loathsome embraces of her detestable executioner. Prompted by his jealousy and revenge, he called this the punishment of disobedience, and she was thus flead alive. Not having hitherto introduced the Samboe cast, I take this opportunity, by here representing the miserable young woman as I found her to the attention of the sympathizing reader.

Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave.

Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave.

London, Published Decr. 2d. 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

A Samboe is between a mulatto and a black, being of a deep copper-coloured complexion, with dark hair, that [327]curls in large ringlets. These slaves, both male and female, are generally handsome, and chiefly employed as menial servants in the planters’ houses.

At my return to the Hope, I was accosted by Mr. Ebber, the overseer of that estate, who with a woeful countenance informed me he had just been fined in the sum of twelve hundred florins, about one hundred guineas, for having exercised the like cruelty on a male slave; with this difference, that the victim had died during the execution. In answer to his complaint, so far from giving him consolation, I told him his distress gave me inexpressible satisfaction.

The particulars of this murder were as follow: during the time that Captain Tulling commanded here, which was a little time before I came to the Hope, it happened that a fugitive negro belonging to this estate had been taken upon an adjoining plantation, and sent home, guarded by two armed slaves, to Mr. Ebber; which fugitive, during the time Ebber was reading the letter that accompanied him, found means to spring aside, and again escaped into the forest. This incensed the overseer so much, that he instantly took revenge upon the two poor slaves that had brought him, tying them up in the carpenter’s lodge. He continued flogging them so unmercifully, that Captain Tulling thought proper to interfere, and beg for mercy; but, as in my case, his interference produced the opposite effect: the clang of the whip, mixed with their dismal cries, were heard to continue [328]for above an hour after, until one of them expired under the cruel lash, which put an end to the inhuman catastrophe. A law-suit was instantly commenced against Ebber for assassination. He was convicted, but condemned to no other punishment than to pay the afore-mentioned hundred guineas, which price of blood is always divided between the fiscal and the proprietor of the deceased slave; it being a rule in Surinam, that by paying a fine of five hundred florins, not quite fifty pounds per head, any proprietor is at liberty to kill as many of his own negroes as he pleases; but if he kills those of his neighbour, he is also to pay him for the loss of his slave, the crime being first substantiated, which is very difficult in this country, where no slave’s evidence can be admitted. Such is the legislature of Dutch Guiana, in regard to negroes. The above-mentioned Ebber was peculiarly tyrannical; he tormented a boy of about fourteen called Cadetty, for the space of a whole year, by flogging him every day for one month; tying him down flat on his back, with his feet in the stocks, for another; putting an iron triangle3 or pot-hook round his neck for a third, which prevented him from running away among the woods, or even from sleeping, except in an upright or sitting posture; chaining him to the landing-place, night and day, to a dog’s kennel, with orders to bark at every boat or canoe that passed for a fourth month; and so [329]on, varying his punishment monthly, until the youth became insensible, walking crooked, and almost degenerated into a brute. This wretch was, however, very proud of his handsomest slaves, and for fear of disfiguring their skins, he has sometimes let them off with twenty lashes, when, for their robberies and crimes, they had deserved the gallows. Such is the state of public and private justice in Surinam. The wretch Ebber left the Hope upon this occasion; and his humane successor, a Mr. Blenderman, commenced his reign by flogging every slave belonging to the estate, male and female, for having over-slept their time in the morning about fifteen minutes.

The reader will, no doubt, imagine, that such cruelties were unparalleled; but this is not the case, they were even exceeded, and by a female too.

A Mrs. S—lk—r going to her estate in a tent-barge, a negro woman, with her sucking infant, happened to be passengers, and were seated on the bow or fore-part of the boat. The child crying, from pain perhaps, or some other reason, could not be hushed; Mrs. S—lk—r, offended with the cries of this innocent little creature, ordered the mother to bring it aft, and deliver it into her hands; then, in the presence of the distracted parent, she immediately thrust it out at one of the tilt-windows, where she held it under water until it was drowned, and then let it go. The fond mother, in a state of desperation, [330]instantly leapt overboard into the stream, where floated her beloved offspring, in conjunction with which she was determined to finish her miserable existence. In this, however, she was prevented by the exertions of the negroes who rowed the boat, and was punished by her mistress with three or four hundred lashes for her daring temerity.

Colonel Fourgeoud moved on the 20th, with all his troops, from Magdenberg, in order to establish his head-quarters nearer the infirmary. His army being in a very sickly condition, he fixed upon the estate called New Rosenback, situated between the Hope and the hospital, for his encampment. Thither I immediately repaired, to pay my respects to the chief; when I saw the remainder of his miserable army landed, and received a further detail of the campaign. I have already mentioned Captain Fredericy’s being wounded; one man lost by neglect, and another cut and disarmed; the captives running away, chains and all; the hero scoffed at, and ridiculed by his sable enemies:—I shall now add, that a sick marine was left to die or recover by himself; and that one of the slaves, by bad usage, had his arm broke. The captive negro woman was also gone, never more to return to her conqueror, considerably increased in size from her connection with the troops, and likely to present a new recruit to her dusky monarch. These were the particulars of the last campaign. But I must mention [331]the humanity of a poor slave, who, at every hazard, deserted Fourgeoud to attend the dying marine; and having performed the last sad office of friendship, returned to receive his punishment, but to his infinite surprize was pardoned.

In justice to Colonel Fourgeoud I must say, that upon such expeditions, and in such a climate, many of these accidents cannot be prevented; and that while he killed his troops by scores, without making captures on the enemy, he nevertheless did the colony considerable service, by disturbing, hunting, and harassing the rebels, and destroying their fields and provisions. For, it is certain, no negro will ever return to settle in those haunts from which he has been once expelled. Colonel Fourgeoud’s partaking personally in every danger and fatigue at his age, must make some amends for the other faults that stained his character, and may even serve, in some measure, to establish his reputation as a man of patience and fortitude. It would give me infinitely more pleasure to write nothing but in his praise; but truth, and the general benefit of mankind, requires, that whilst I display his good qualities I also point out his failings, as they may serve to correct others, and by these means even his vices may be rendered useful. What could be more ridiculous, than paying his troops with silver at Paramaribo, where paper was just as good? and now, while in the rivers, giving them cards, for which they [332]could not procure a yam or a bunch of plantains, while he had whole chests of specie in his possession? But his object was to gain a profit of ten per cent. on the pay of the whole regiment, and for this he was justly blamed by the corps in general.

On the 21st, several officers came to visit me at the Hope, whom I entertained with a fish dinner—amongst which were the kawiry, the lamper, and macrely-fisy, all which I shall briefly describe. The kawiry is a small fish without scales, the head is large, with two long antennæ or whiskers projecting from the upper jaw, and is very plentiful in the rivers. The lamper is a species of the lampern, that are caught in the Thames: those of Surinam are not large, but very fat, of a round shape, slimy or glutinous; its colour a blueish green with yellow spots, except the belly, which is white; this fish, like the salmon, frequents both the sea and the rivers. The macrely-fisy resembles a mackarel, whence it has its name, only its colour is more blueish and not near so splendid.

We were very happy, and my guests perfectly satisfied with their entertainment. But on the morning of the 22d my poor Joanna, who had been our cook, was attacked with a violent fever; she desired to be removed to Fauconberg, there to be attended by one of her female relations, which I complied with. But on the evening of the 25th she was so extremely ill, that I determined to [333]visit her myself, but as privately as possible, as Fourgeoud was to visit me at the Hope the next day; for his satirical jokes upon such an occasion I could very well dispense with; and I knew the most laudable motives were no protection against the ungovernable sallies of his temper.

However difficult the undertaking, as I had to pass close to his post, I like another Leander was determined to cross the Hellespont; of which having informed my friend Heneman, I set out about eleven at night in my own barge, when coming opposite New Rosenback, I heard Fourgeoud’s voice very distinctly, as he walked on the beach with some other officers, and immediately the boat was hailed by a sentinel, and ordered to come ashore. I now thought all was over; but, persisting to the last, I told the negroes to answer Killestyn Nova, the name of an adjoining plantation, and thus got leave to proceed unmolested. Soon after I arrived safe at Fauconberg, and found my dearest friend much better.

But on the 26th, in the morning, mistaking the daylight for moon-shine, I overslept myself, and knew not how to return to the Hope, as my barge and negroes could now not pass without being well known to the Colonel. Delay was useless; so out I set, trusting entirely to the ingenuity of my slaves, who put me ashore just before we came in sight of the head-quarters; when one of them escorted me through the woods, and I arrived [334]safe at the Hope. But here my barge soon followed under a guard, and all my poor slaves prisoners, with an order from Fourgeoud for me to flog every one of them, as they had been apprehended without a pass, while their excuse was that they had been out a fishing for their Massera.

Their fidelity to me upon this occasion was truly astonishing, as they all declared they would have preferred being cut in pieces, rather than betray the secrets of so good a master. However, the danger was soon over, as I confirmed what they had said, and added, that the fish were intended to regale the hero; after which I made a donation of two gallons of rum among my sable privy-counsellors. This passage, however trifling, may serve as a sample not only of European weakness, but of African firmness and resolution.

Notwithstanding my preparation, still Colonel Fourgeoud did not visit me on the 27th, but the next morning Joanna arrived, accompanied by a stout black, who was her uncle, and whose arm was decorated with a silver band, on which were engraved these words: “True to the Europeans.” This man, who was named Cojo, having voluntarily fought against the rebels, before his companions, by the inhuman treatment of Mr. D. B. and his overseer, had been forced to join them. From these he related to us the following remarkable story, having a little girl, called Tamera, by the hand:—“This child’s father,” said he, “is one whose name is Jolly [335]Cœur, the first captain belonging to Baron’s men, and, not without cause, one of the fiercest rebels in the forest, which he has lately shewn on the neighbouring estate of New Rosenback, where your colonel now commands. On that estate one Schults, a Jew, being the manager at that time, who formerly was the manager of Fauconberg, the rebels suddenly appeared, and took possession of the whole plantation. Having tied the hands of Schults, and plundered the house, they next began to feasting and dancing, before they thought proper to end his miserable existence. In this deplorable situation now lay the victim, only waiting Baron’s signal for death, when his eyes chancing to catch the above captain’s, Jolly Cœur, he addressed him nearly in the following words:—‘O Jolly Cœur, now remember Mr. Schults, who was once your deputy-master; remember the dainties I gave you from my own table, when you were only a child, and my favourite, my darling, among so many others: remember this, and now spare my life by your powerful intercession.’—The reply of Jolly Cœur was memorable:—I remember it perfectly well: ‘But you, O tyrant, recollect how you ravished my poor mother, and flogged my father for coming to her assistance. Recollect, that the shameful act was perpetrated in my infant presence—Recollect this—then die by my hands, and next be damn’d.’—Saying this, he severed his head from his body with a hatchet at one blow; with which having played [336]at bowls upon the beach, he next cut the skin with a knife from his back, which he spread over one of the cannon to keep the priming dry.”—Thus ended the history of Mr. Schults; when Cojo, with young Tamera, departed, and left me to go, with an increased impatience, to receive the news, that I soon was to expect from Amsterdam, viz. when the deserving Joanna should be free from the villainy of such pests of human nature.

On the 28th, Colonel Fourgeoud arrived about ten o’clock with one of his officers, and with the very devil painted in his countenance, which alarmed me much. I, however, instantly introduced him to my cottage, where he no sooner saw my mate, than the clouds (like a vapour by the sun) were dispelled from his gloomy forehead: and I must confess, that I never saw him behave with more civility.

——“Her heavenly form

Angelic, but more soft and feminine,

Her graceful innocence, her every air

Of gesture, or least action, over-aw’d

His malice; and with rapine sweet bereav’d

His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought.”

Milton. [337]

Having entertained him in the best manner we were able, and now related the story of the Hellespont, he laughed heartily at the stratagem, and giving us both a shake by the hand departed to New Rosenback, in good-humour and perfectly contented.—From all the preceding circumstances, the above Chapter may be stiled the golden age of my West India expedition. [338]

1 The first sugar was refined anno 1659. 

2 Sometimes from ten to twenty thousand pounds weight. 

3 These triangles have three long barbed spikes, like small grapplings, projecting from an iron collar. 



Colonel Fourgeoud at Paramaribo—Example of Ignorance in a Surgeon—Of Virtue in a Slave—Of Ferocity in a Commander—The Troops re-enter the Woods—Account of Loango Dancing—Uncommon Proof of Fidelity in a Negro.

Having delayed his departure to the 29th of April, Colonel Fourgeoud now finally rowed down for Paramaribo, accompanied by a few of his officers, to refresh themselves; of which, in truth, they had great need, while an armed barge kept floating up and down the river, and while the remaining emaciated troops (which were melted down to a very small number, and unfit, till recruited in their constitutions, for any further military service) greatly required some rest. Just before the chief’s departure, he sent me (who now commanded the river) the following very curious instructions, which, as a proof of his generalship, I cannot help inserting: Amongst others, “to ask the planters if the rebels were come to their estates, in which case to attack and drive them away; but not to follow them, unless I was sure that I certainly should conquer them, and for any miscarriage I should be called to an account;” which is, in plain English, that “if I attacked the enemy without [339]success, I must be punished; and if I did not attack them at all, I was to be called to account for neglect of duty.” However judicious the other articles I had received, I could not help thinking the above so very absurd, that I immediately returned them back by an officer, and had the good fortune (at my request) to get them changed into common sense.

How happy was I at this time in particular, who wanted for nothing, and who had such an agreeable partner constantly near me, whose sweet conversation was divine music to my ears, and whose presence banished every languor and hardship from my mind!

One day, straying with me through a watery savanna, I shot a bird, which I found to be the spur-winged water-hen of Edwards. This beautiful creature is supposed to be of the plover kind, with the body about the size of a pigeon, being of a deep cinnamon colour, between red and a very rich orange; the neck and belly are perfectly black, the larger feathers of the wings of a bright yellow, and armed on each pinion with a short and sharp horny spur, which it uses for its defence, as game-cocks use theirs in England. It has no tail; its bill is near two inches in length; its legs are long, and, as well as the bill, are of a yellowish green colour; its toes, especially the hinder ones, are of a remarkable length, and seem calculated to support its weight in the mud, where it is most frequently seen, if not wading in the water to seek its food. These birds, like plovers, never swim; they have [340]a scarlet crest and small pearls (like those of the Muscovy duck) separating the bill from the eyes; they are always seen in pairs, and when they fly produce an agreeable whistling from their throats. The spur-winged water-hen, on account of its great beauty, reminded me of another fine bird I lately saw upon one of the neighbouring estates, but which I had forgotten to mention: this was the Guiana curlew, here called flamingo, from its great resemblance to the famous bird of that name, seen in Canada and many parts of North and South America, and which is supposed to be of the crane kind, with its body as large as that of an European swan. This bird, however, is only the size of a small heron; it has no tail, but a very long neck, and long limbs, with four toes: the head is small, and the bill also long, round, and arched. The flamingo lays always two eggs, which, when hatched, the chickens appear black, next grey, then white, as they come nearer maturity; and, finally, the whole bird becomes a bright scarlet or crimson, some not lighter than the colour of blood. They live in society like the storks, and mostly on the banks of rivers, or near the sea, where they are seen in such amazing flocks, that the sands seem dyed with vermilion; these birds, when young, are accounted very good eating, and are so tame, that on the plantations they are frequently seen walking and feeding among the poultry, though fish and animal food they generally prefer.

The Spur winged Water hen of Guiana. The Red Curlew of Surinam.

The Spur winged Water hen of Guiana.
The Red Curlew of Surinam.

London, Published Decr. 2, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.


Thus I daily found some new object to describe, and spent the most agreeable hours, constantly accompanied by my young mulatto, upon this Elysian plantation—but alas! all at once, in the midst of my hopes, my truly halcyon days were blasted, and I was almost plunged into despair, by receiving the fatal news of the death of Mr. Passalage at Amsterdam, to whom I had written to obtain my mulatto’s manumission; and what must certainly redouble my distress, was the situation in which she proved to be, promising fair to become a mother in the space of a few months. It was now that I saw a thousand horrors intrude all at once upon my dejected spirits; not only my friend but my offspring to be a slave, and a slave under such a government!—Mr. Passalage, on whom I relied, dead—the whole estate going to be sold to a new master—I could not bear it, and was totally distracted; nay, must have died of grief, had not the mildness of her temper supported me, by suggesting the flattering hopes that Lolkens would still be our friend. In the midst of these reflections, on the evening of the 4th, we heard the report of several alarm-guns towards the North East, on which, by day-break next morning, I sent a detachment to Rio-Pirica, which returned about noon with the account of the rebels attacking the estate Merseille, in the river Cottica; but that they had been beaten back by the plantation slaves, as they had before by those of Kortenduur. The other news was, that they had ill treated a party of poor Indians, suspecting them to have assisted [342]the estates in making their defence; also that at Paramaribo, an insurrection was discovered among the negroes, who had determined to join the rebels, after first having massacred all the inhabitants; that, however, they were detected, and the ringleaders executed.

On the morning of the 6th, we again heard several musquet-shot in the woods, which apprehending to be some European party that had lost their way, I made my sentinel answer the signals of distress, by firing his piece alternately with theirs, shot for shot, to which I added two drums, that kept beating for several hours without intermission, when the report of their fire-arms gradually approached nearer and nearer: and now at length appeared a Society serjeant and six privates that belonged to Reedwyk in Pirica, and had been lost in the forest for three days, nearly starved, without hammocks, meat, or drink, excepting water. Having refreshed them in the best manner I was able, they all recovered to my very great satisfaction, though one of them remained perfectly blind for several hours, with the sting of a kind of wasps, which are known in this country by the name of marobonso; of which the only thing that I can say is, that they are extremely large, live in hollow trees, are the strongest of the bee kind, and sting so violently, that the pain is excruciating, and always occasions a fever.

Having, on the 12th, swam twice across the river Cottica, which is above half a mile broad, I came home in a shiver, and next day had an intermitting fever: by abstaining, [343]however, from animal food, and using plenty of acid with my drink, I had no doubt of getting well in a few days; the more so, as tamarinds grew here in profusion.

Indeed, on the 16th, I was almost perfectly recovered, (weakness excepted) when about ten in the morning, as I was sitting with Joanna before my cottage, I had an unexpected visit from a Mr. Steger, who happened to be one of our surgeons. After having felt my pulse, and examined my tongue, he declared without ceremony that I should be dead before the morrow, unless without further delay I made use of his prescription. I acknowledge the sentence staggered me so much that, though at other times I never used medicines at all, I instantly swallowed the dose, which he had prepared for me in a tumbler, without hesitation, but almost as instantly I dropped down on the ground.

In this manner I lay till the 20th, being four days before I came to my senses, when I found myself stretched on a mattrass in my little house, with poor Joanna sitting by me alone, and bathed in tears, who begged of me at that time to ask no questions, for fear of hurting my spirits, but who next day related to me the dismal transaction, viz. that the moment I fell, four strong negroes had taken me up, and by her direction placed me where I now was; that the surgeon having put blisters on several parts of my body, had finally declared that I was dead, and had suddenly left the plantation, when a grave [344]and coffin were ordered for my burial on the 17th, which she had prevented by dropping upon her knees to implore a delay; that she had dispatched a black to her aunt at Fauconberg for wine-vinegar, and a bottle of old Rhenish, with the first of which she had constantly bathed my temples, wrists, and feet, by keeping without intermission five wet hankerchiefs tied about them, while with a tea-spoon she had found means to make me swallow a few drops of the wine mulled; that I had lain motionless during all that time; while she had day and night, by the help of Quaco and an old negro, attended me, still hoping for my recovery: for which she now thanked her God. To all this I could only answer by the tear of sympathy that started from my eyes, and a feeble squeeze of my hand.

I had, however, the good fortune to recover, but so slowly that, notwithstanding the great care that was taken of me by that excellent young woman, (to whom alone I owed my life) it was the 15th of June before I could walk by myself, during all which time I was carried on a species of chair by two negroes, supported on two poles like a sedan, and fed like an infant, being so lame and enervated that I was not able to bring my hand to my mouth; while poor Joanna (who had suffered too much on my account) was for several days following very ill herself.

Great was the change from what I had been but so shortly before—then the most healthy and most happy [345]in body and mind, and now depressed to the lowest ebb, in my constitution and my spirits. My friend Heneman, who visited me every day, at this time told me that upon information he had discovered the medicine which had so nearly killed me to be only tartar-emetick and ipecacuanha, but in too great a quantity, viz. four grains of the first, mixed with forty grains of the latter; the surgeon having measured my constitution by my size, which is above six feet. I was so much incensed at this piece of stupidity, that on the 4th of June, having drank his Britannic Majesty’s health in a rummer of Madeira, and the fatal surgeon coming to make me a bow, he no sooner put his foot on the landing-place, where I was sitting in my palanquin or chair for air, than, having previously clubbed one of the poles that carried me, upon my shoulder, I let it fall upon his guilty pericranium, my strength being as yet too feeble to aim a blow. The poor fellow no sooner felt the weight of the pole, than forgetting the rest of his compliments, he skipped back into his boat with all expedition, with which he decamped as fast as the negroes could row him, to our no small entertainment, who saluted him with three cheers.

About this time, while the troops were doing nothing, two of the bravest men in the colony, with the rangers, entered the woods, viz. Captain Fredericy, and the militia captain, Stoelman; they killed three or four of the rebels, and took a few more prisoners, who had been starving for want of subsistence ever since Fourgeoud had ransacked [346]the surrounding forest, and destroyed their fields. In the creek Patamaca, also two rebel negroes, attempting to plunder Mr. Winey’s plantation, were shot by his slaves, who sent their right hands barbacued to Paramaribo.

Being still so weak that I was unfit for any duty, even at the Hope, I now surrendered the command of that post to the next officer in rank: and expecting that a change of air would be beneficial to me, with the previous knowledge of Colonel Fourgeoud, I went on a visit to a neighbouring estate, called Egmond, where the planter, Monsieur de Cachelieu, a French gentleman, had given me a most hearty invitation, with Joanna, my boy Quaco, and a white servant. At this place I was extremely comfortable, and nothing could be better calculated for my speedy recovery than this Frenchman’s hospitality and good-humour. How inconsistent with this was his injustice and severity to his slaves! For instance, two young negroes, who well deserved a flogging, by breaking in and robbing their master’s store-house, came off with a few lashes; while two old ones, for a trifling dispute, were each condemned to receive no less than three hundred.

On my asking the cause of this partiality, I was answered by Mons. de Cachelieu, that the young ones had still a very good skin, and might do much work; whereas the old ones had long been disfigured, worn out, and almost unfit for any service; nay, that killing them altogether would be a benefit to the estate.—At Arentrust, [347]a few plantations lower down, some days before, a poor negro was sent with a letter from his proprietor to the manager there—this last, not liking the contents, gave the messenger four hundred lashes, telling the innocent man, at the same time, to carry that for the answer to his master.

But to return to my French host, (who was, in this alone excepted, as polite, hospitable, and well-bred a man as ever I would wish to converse with) I must mention some particulars of his remarkable œconomy, viz. a West-India rabbit, called in Surinam coney coney, and by the Indians puccarara, but properly the agouti, I saw one day come roasted to the table. Of this, he and I eat one quarter. Next day it made its appearance a la crapodine, that is, with salt and pepper on the gridiron. The third day the remaining half entered in the form of a French fricasee; and a fourth, the last quarter was converted into what I call meagre soup.

This I relate as a fact; and though the planter, his overseer, his dog, and his two cats, could not weigh fourteen stone amongst them all, no family in Surinam could be more healthy or contented.—As an instance of abstemiousness, the overseer, Mr. Bodewyn, declared that he never had fought a battle, fired a musquet, mounted a horse, or taken any illicit freedom; though he acknowledged he was every day dressed and shaved by the soft hand of a young negro female.

Nothing could be better than the oranges and china [348]apples that I found on this estate.—The first I have already described; and, though often confounded with the latter, it is a very distinct fruit upon the whole. The china apples, or civil oranges, as they are usually called, differ in this from the other oranges, that they are more lucid, and of a more savoury taste; that the shell is smoother, thinner, and not so deep coloured; and particularly, that while the oranges may be eaten in any quantity, without pernicious consequences, the immoderate use of the china apples is by long experience in this colony found to produce very dangerous effects. This fruit being here much the same as that which comes from Lisbon, it is supposed to have been imported at first (as was the other) by the Portuguese or the Spaniards; and it may well be conceived, that in those countries, where it drops ripe from the trees in golden clusters, it must be incomparably more delicious than it can ever be tasted in Great Britain, being sent thither green, after which it indeed becomes orange, but can never arrive to its proper state of maturity. As for the fine fragrance that is diffused through all this colony, by the continued groves of orange-blossoms and odoriferous fruits that it produces, it can be more easily conceived than described. I also found some fine lemons on this estate, which however are here thick shelled, but very large. There are also a species of sweet ones, which are smaller, and which have, in my opinion, a very insipid taste.

Having mentioned Mons. de Cachelieu’s fine fruit, I [349]ought not to forget his excellent French wines, which were perfectly unadulterated and truly delicious, particularly his muscadell. But in spite of all these good things, I still continued a valetudinarian, being oppressed with weakness and indigestion. Thus, in hopes that exercise on horseback might do me good, I determined to take leave of my hospitable French friend, and ask leave of absence to go for some time to Paramaribo.

In consequence, on the 9th, Colonel Fourgeoud arriving in the river at the estate Crawassibo, and expecting soon to renew his manœuvres, I, on the 10th, wrote him a letter for the above purpose, and also for above six months pay, which was due to me. I was answered, on the 12th, not only with a negative to both my requests, which had been granted to other officers, but in so truly impertinent a style, as I could not, even from himself, have expected—such as calling in question my zeal, though he knew I was sick; and refusing me my own money, or even the proper remedies and means of recovering. This incensed me so much, that I wrote him a second letter, to let him know I was incapable of doing or asking any thing unbecoming my character, but on the contrary (ill as I was) ready to give him such proofs of my honour as should leave him no farther room to doubt of it, should he be pleased to put it to the proof. This epistle, weak and unfit as I was for service, I followed in person two days after, with my French [350]friend Cachelieu for my companion and voucher, who gave me the use of his tilt-barge with eight oars for the purpose.

On our arrival I expected to see Fourgeoud raging with resentment, that he would put me under an arrest, and ask an explanation of our last correspondence. But I dreaded not the worst that he could do, after the many trials to ruin me which he had already put in execution, and death itself was almost preferable to his cruelty.

Monsieur de Cachelieu and I, however, were both disappointed. He not only took us politely by the hand, but solicited us to dine with him, as if nothing had happened. But this affectation I despised, and refused to accept of his invitation with contempt, in which I was followed by the French planter. When, in my turn, I enquired for the cause of his refusing my request, and sending me so strange a letter, this was the answer—That thirty or forty of the Ouca negroes, who were our allies by treaty, had deceived him, in doing nothing while they had been in the woods, and during the time he had been at Paramaribo: that he was in consequence determined to push on the war with double vigour; on which account he had not only forbidden me to go to town, but had since ordered even all the sick officers to come up and to follow the enemy, while they had strength or breath remaining, not so much as leaving one at Paramaribo to guard the colours and the regiment’s chest, which had both been left to the care of [351]a quarter-master.—This, indeed, was literally the fact; but to this he might safely, and without hurting his conscience, have added, the inveteracy of his disposition, with which he had determined to persecute me and some others to annihilation. I ought to mention, that it was not till about this time that he issued orders to be observed on a march, and that previous to this every thing was performed in perfect hurry and confusion, which indeed even afterwards was too frequently the case.

Having now been near two months on the estate Egmond, where I could not recover, and not being permitted to go to Paramaribo, I preferred returning back again to take the command at the Hope; where having entertained Monsieur de Cachelieu in the best manner I was able, this gentleman in the evening returned to his plantation.

At the Hope I found my friend Mr. Heneman (who was now made a captain) very sick, with several others. All these, as well as myself, were left without a surgeon, medicines, or money; while, as I stated before, the many hogsheads of wine sent from Amsterdam, together with scores of kegs containing preserved vegetables, and other fresh provisions, were forever kept invisible from the poor, emaciated, and languishing troops, for whom they had certainly been intended by that city. I indeed here made one more attempt to recover our property, but to no purpose; money, medicines, wine, and refreshments, were all kept back. Thus did we continue to pine and lose strength, instead of gaining it. I mean the greatest part [352]of us: as for myself, I had the least cause to complain, being well attended by Joanna and my servants, who the next day all arrived from Egmond at the Hope, besides receiving presents, which were as usual sent me from all quarters. One additional inconvenience I however felt—my feet were infested with chigoes, which I partly impute to having, during my illness, worn stockings and shoes while at the good Frenchman’s estate Egmond. Of this troublesome insect I have already made some mention, as being extremely numerous at Devil’s Harwar, but now shall circumstantially describe it.

The chigoe is a kind of small sand-flea, that gets in between the skin and the flesh without its being felt, and generally under the nails of the toes; where, while it feeds, it keeps growing till it becomes the size of a large pea, causing no further pain than a disagreeable itching; in process of time it appears in the form of a small bladder, in which are deposited thousands of eggs or nits, and which, if it breaks, produce so many young chigoes, that in course of time create running ulcers, which are often of very dangerous consequence to the patient: so much so, indeed, that I have known a soldier, the soles of whose feet were obliged to be cut away with a razor, before he could recover; and some men have lost their limbs by amputation—nay even their lives, by having neglected in time to root out these abominable vermin. The moment, therefore, that one perceives a kind of itching and redness more than usual [353]about the feet, it is time to begin extracting the chigoe that occasions it: this is done with a sharp-pointed needle, at which operation the black girls are extremely dexterous, taking every care not to occasion unnecessary pain, and to prevent the chigoo or bladder from breaking in the wound. The cure is to put tobacco-ashes in the orifice, by which in a little time it is perfectly healed. Being at this time, as I have just mentioned, infested with the chigoes, Joanna with her needle picked twenty-three of these insects out of my left foot; which being all hatched under the nails, caused, as may be imagined, the most terrible torment, but which I bore without flinching, with the resolution of an African negro. These are the insects called niquas by the Spaniards at Carthagena.

On the 21st I received a letter from the commander in chief, not an answer to my last, but orders to send him up to the estate Crawassibo (which was at present his head-quarters) all the provisions, kettles, axes, &c. that could be spared from the Hope, as he was preparing to re-enter the woods. I accordingly dispatched them the next day: but the supply of victuals was not great; for a whole barge, with beef and pork, bound for the Hope, had been shipwrecked in the river.

On the 25th Mr. Steger, the surgeon who had so nearly poisoned me that I could not yet get the better of the effects of his ignorance, was discharged from the regiment, as incapable of his profession. Still, notwithstanding my unsettled state of health, as several officers [354]were going to join Fourgeoud about this time, and weak as I was, I intreated once more to be one of the party. But on the morning of the 26th, his adjutant, with another surgeon, visiting all the troops that were in Comewina, I was deemed totally incapable of supporting the fatigue: indeed so much so, that relapsing on the 29th, I was even glad to be superseded in the command of the river by the major, Mr. Medlar, who arrived at the Hope this day for that purpose. Nevertheless I was condemned to linger at this place, while one month at Paramaribo might have perfectly recovered me.—I had now nothing to do but to continue my drawings, for which the above gentleman at that time offered me one hundred crowns, but my desire was, if possible, to complete the collection; and when I had the strength, I walked round the plantation with my gun. Amongst others, I shot, on the 3d of September, a small bird, called kibry-fowlo, on account of its continuing in a manner constantly under cover. It was about the size of a thrush, and very much the colour of a quail, which it also exactly resembled in shape, but the limbs were rather longer, and the bill was extremely sharp-pointed. This bird is very seldom seen on the wing, but runs incredibly fast through the grass and savannas, where it hides itself the instant it is perceived. When dressed, it was as fat as a lump of butter, and as delicious as an European ortolan.

On the 11th of September, Fourgeoud at last broke up from Crawassibo, and, with all the able troops he could [355]collect (which were now not much more than one hundred) he again marched into the forest after the enemy; having previously taken away the post from the Jew Savannah, which he placed at the forsaken estate Oranjebo, in the very upper parts of Rio Comewina, leaving the river Surinam to take care of itself.

On the 19th of this month in the forenoon, a herd of wild swine, called pingos, (more than two hundred in number) having lost their way in the forest, came to the Hope, galloping over the plantation, when above a score of them were killed by the negroes, who knocked them down with their bill-hooks and axes. In Surinam the wild boars are of three species; which I will embrace this opportunity to describe—these are the pingos or waree above-mentioned, the cras-pingo, and the Mexican hog, called the peccary. The pingos are about the size of our English small hogs; they are black, and have coarse bristles thinly scattered; they live in herds of sometimes above three hundred, in the thickest parts of the forest, and run always in a line, the one closely following the other; when the foremost or leader is shot, the line is instantly broken, and the whole herd is in confusion; for which reason the Indians take care (if possible) to knock their captain on the head before the rest; after this the others even often stand still, stupidly looking at one another, and allowing themselves to be killed one by one, of which I have been a witness. They do not attack the human species, nor [356]make any resistance at all, like the European wild-boar, when wounded, as has been by some authors erroneously asserted. As for their attacking dogs, I can say nothing about it, never having had any with me when I met them.—The cras-pingos are large, armed with strong tusks, and their bristles still coarser than the former. This large species indeed are very dangerous, as well from their strength as their ferocity, attacking any thing that obstructs them in their way, especially when wounded. They move in the same manner, and in as large herds, as the former, but inhabit chiefly the more inland parts of the country. Both these species, when they hear the smallest noise in the forest that indicates danger, stop short in their course, form in a close body, and gnash their teeth, preparing themselves for defence against the enemy: I am of opinion that these are not natural to Guiana, but originally from Africa and Europe. Their flesh is eaten with avidity by the natives, and even esteemed by the white inhabitants, but is in my opinion dry, hard, and unsavoury.—That species which is called the peccary or Mexican-hog, is alone supposed to be indigenous to Guiana, and will not intermix with either the wild or domestic hogs. This animal is particularly remarkable by having an orifice on the back, which is vulgarly mistaken for its navel, and which, being about one inch deep, contains a stinking fetid liquor, which some compare to the smell of musk, but which is so very disagreeable, that the instant the animal is killed, [357]the natives take care to cut away this part with a knife, to prevent its infesting the flesh, which it would soon do, making it so disgusting as not to be eatable. The length of the peccary is about three feet: it has no tail; fine limbs, short tusks, and yellowish grey bristles, much resembling those of an English hedge-hog; on the back they are very long, but on the sides and on the belly they are both short and very thinly scattered. This creature has a light-coloured spot that comes down from the shoulder on each side the breast, something like a horse-collar. Hogs of this species are more uncommon in the low and marshy countries than in the inland parts, where they prefer feeding amongst the mountains and dry savannas. The peccary is easily tamed, and in that state harmless and inoffensive, but not so stupid as is asserted by the Count de Buffon, who says, they know no person, and have no attachment to those that feed them; for Major Medlar had one at the Hope that followed him like a dog, and shewed the greatest delight in being caressed by its master. I ought also to observe that it is, when irritated, very vicious and mischievous. They go in large herds as the other species, produce many young at a time, and their grunting is extremely loud and disagreeable.

The Pingo Warree, or Wild Boar of Guiana. The Pecary, or Mexican Hog.

The Pingo Warree, or Wild Boar of Guiana.
The Pecary, or Mexican Hog.

London, Published Decr. 2nd, 1793, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

On the morning of the 29th, we again heard the report of several guns toward the river Cottica, where it since appeared the rebels were a second time beaten back from [358]the plantation Merseille, by the fidelity and bravery of the slaves belonging to that estate.

On the 8th of the succeeding month, we received the news, that Colonel Fourgeoud, having discovered and destroyed some fields belonging to the enemy (who had again kept up a distant conversation with him) and having found the mangled remains of poor Schmidt, who had been murdered by the rebels, as I related above, was once more come with his troops to Magdenberg, where he encamped till the eleventh. He then re-entered the forest, previously sending to the Hope the sick, and with them a young officer under an arrest, in order to be tried for not being able to undergo the fatigues as well as himself. In other words, having been ordered to watch two days and two nights, the youth had proved unequal to the task, and had dropt asleep under arms, as he was sitting on the ground. The climate indeed was such that even without these trials nature was often overcome.

The preservation of Fourgeoud’s vigour hitherto may, in a great measure, be attributed to his continually drinking a medicine he called tisan, in large full basons, which had a most nauseous taste, and was composed of the jesuits bark, cream of tartar, and stick-liquorice, boiled together, which he drank as hot as he could bear it, and to which having accustomed his constitution, he could not do without it. In this, however, he was followed [359]by none of the rest, as they were apprehensive that when this should once cease to operate, (which it must at last) all other medicines in time of real need would be ineffectual. As for my own part, I still continued to be so exceedingly weak, that I almost despaired of evermore recovering; while my depressed spirits, on account of Joanna’s critical and almost hopeless situation, greatly contributed to prevent the restoration of my health. These alarms were not diminished on the 21st, when, being visited by Mr. and Mrs. Lolkens at the Hope, this gentleman told me, that the whole estate Fauconberg was again transferred, with its dependants, since the death of Mr. Passalage; that the new proprietor was a Mr. Lude of Amsterdam, with whom he had not the smallest interest; and that there was in town a general report that we had both been poisoned. This sentence was, however, greatly alleviated by the kindness of his lady, who insisted that my Joanna should accompany her to Paramaribo immediately; where, at her own house, she should meet with every care and attention that her situation could require, till perfectly recovered: for this I thanked her in the best manner I was able, and poor Joanna wept with gratitude. Having therefore conducted them as far as their estate Killestyn-Nova, where we dined, I took my leave of them and Joanna, and bid them all an affectionate farewell for the present.

At my return to the Hope, my indignation was scarcely [360]to be restrained within the bounds of prudence, when I found myself upbraided by my mess-mates for taking care of my own offspring: “Do as we do,” said they, “Stedman, and never fear. If our children are slaves, they are provided for; and if they die, what care we, should they be d—n’d in the bargain? Therefore keep your sighs in your own belly, and your money in your pocket, my boy, that’s all.”—I repeat this in their own language, to shew how much my feeling must have been hurt and disgusted with similar consolation.

The following morning, awaking by day-break in my hammock, the first thing that I saw, when looking up, was a snake about two yards long, hanging with its head downwards like a rope, and straight above my face, from which he was not one foot distance, while his tail was twisted round the rafters under the thatch. Observing his eyes bright as stars, and his forked tongue in agitation, I was so distressed that I scarcely had power to avoid him, which however I did, by running out; after which, I heard a rustling in the dry thatch, where the negroes attempted to kill him, but in vain, he having escaped, and thus I cannot say what species he belonged to. Being now by myself, and rather startled by this unwelcome guest, I shut up my house, and lodged and messed with my friends the Major, Heneman, and Macdonald.

On visiting my boxes, I now found that great depredations had been committed by the ants, which are throughout all Guiana so very numerous, and of so many different [361]species, that once I had a pair of new cotton stockings perfectly destroyed by them in one night only. Those which frequent the estates are generally small, but very troublesome. The only way possibly to keep them from the refined sugar, is by hanging the loaf to the ceiling on a nail, and making a ring of dry chalk around it, very thick, which crumbles down the moment the ants attempt to pass it. I imagined that placing my sugar-boxes in the middle of a tub, and on stone, surrounded with deep water, would have kept back this formidable enemy, but to no purpose: whole armies of the lighter sort (to my astonishment) marched over the surface, and but a very few of them were drowned. The main body constantly scaled the rock, and in spite of all my efforts made their entry through the key-holes; after which, the only way to clear the garrison is to expose it to a hot sun, which the invaders cannot bear, and all march off in a few minutes. That the ants provide for winter, as not only Dr. Bancroft and many others, but even King Solomon, reports, is found to be an error by the most modern investigation. In Surinam, indeed, there is no winter; but where there is, the ants lie dormant, during which torpid state they want no food.

My friend Captain Van Coeverden, at this time, marching in the woods, suffered a much worse depredation at Paramaribo, where not the ants, but the negro-slaves, had broken open his boxes, and robbed him of all his best effects, and near twenty guineas in money. [362]

On the 6th, a marine drowned himself, in one of those phrenzy fevers which are so common in Guiana. About the same time another Society soldier was shot by order of a court-martial. Thus perished those men who were spared by the climate or the enemy.

Having written to a Mr. Seifke, to enquire whether it was not in the power of the Governor and Council to relieve a gentleman’s child from bondage, provided there was paid to its master such a ransom as their wisdom should judge adequate; I received for answer, that no money or interest could purchase its freedom, without the proprietor’s consent; since, according to law, it was just as much a slave as if it had been born in Africa; and imported from the coast of Guinea. This information now perfectly completed my misery, and I at last had recourse to drinking; which temporary relief, however, only caused my spirits to flow higher, in order to make them sink lower after its evaporation. During this conflict it happened that I was invited with the Major to dine, at an estate called Knoppemonbo, in the Casavinica Creek, where a Mr. De Graav, the proprietor, did every thing in his power to amuse me, but to no purpose.—At last, seeing me seated by myself on a small bridge that led to a grove of orange-trees, with a settled gloom on my countenance, he accosted me, and taking me by the hand, to my astonishment, pronounced the following words:

“Sir, I am acquainted by Mr. Lolkens with the cause of your just distress. Heaven never left a good intention [363]unrewarded. I have now the pleasure to acquaint you, that Mr. Lude has chosen me for his administrator; and that from this day I shall pride myself in making it my business to render you any service with that gentleman, as well as the virtuous Joanna, whose deserving character has attracted the attention of so many people, while your laudable conduct redounds to your lasting honour throughout the colony.”

No angel descending from above could have brought me a more welcome message; and no criminal under sentence of death could have received a reprieve with greater joy. The weight of a mill-stone was removed from my labouring breast; and having made Mr. De Graav repeat his promise, I felt I should yet be happy. Soon after this I was surrounded by several gentlemen and ladies, to whom my friend had communicated his generous intentions. They congratulated me on my sensibility, and on having met with so valuable an acquaintance. All seemed to partake in the pleasure that I now felt; and the day being spent in mirth and conviviality, I returned to the Hope, much better pleased than when I left it, where next day the whole company was entertained by Major Medlar; nor did we separate, or cease feasting up and down the river, till the 13th, when we once more spent the day at Knoppemonbo.

Here Mr. De Graav, having bought some new slaves, gave a holiday to all the negroes on his estate; and here I had the opportunity of seeing the diversions peculiar [364]to that people: but of these I must reserve the particular account to another occasion, and for the present only give a short description of the Loango dancing, as performed by the Loango negroes, male and female, and not by any others; which consists from first to last in such a scene of wanton and lascivious gestures, as nothing but a heated imagination and a constant practice could enable them to perform. These dances, which are performed to the sound of a drum, to which they strike time by clapping of hands, may properly be considered as a kind of play or pantomime divided into so many acts, which lasts for some hours. But the most remarkable is, that during this representation, the actors, instead of being fatigued, become more and more enlivened and animated, till they are bathed in sweat like post-horses, and their passions wound up to such a degree, that nature being overcome, they are ready to drop into convulsions.

However indelicate the above exhibitions may be, fashion has rendered them no more disgusting than any other diversions to the European and Creole ladies, who in company with the gentlemen croud about them without the least reserve, to enjoy what they call a hearty laugh; while such scenes would change an English woman’s face from white to scarlet.

That custom and habit give a sanction, and render familiar, in some countries, many things which would be considered as preposterous in others, is an observation, which is more or less verified, in proportion to the variety [365]of places which the traveller has visited. An officer in the India service has, in a late publication, described the variety of attitudes, gestures, looks, sighs, expressions of desire, fear, hope, trepidation, and every gradation of passion, which is acted by the dancing-girls in the East Indies; and yet, though these young women are exerting all their faculties for promoting wantonness in the beholders, to obtain a living, the whole race of Gentoo women are most remarkable for the purest minds of any people in the universe1. [366]

On the 14th I returned to the Hope, where I saw my cottage unroofed by a storm; but which now expecting no more to inhabit, I permitted to go to ruin—

“The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces, &c. shall dissolve.”

Be that as it may, I had passed in it the happiest days of my whole life-time.

On the 26th Colonel Fourgeoud marched once more to the Wana Creek; but having taken the troops from the Jew Savannah, the rebels availed themselves of their absence, and not only pillaged a plantation in the river Surinam, but burnt several dwellings in the Creek Casavinica. From the above river they were bravely pursued by a feeble Society-detachment, which chanced to be there, but without success; two soldiers were killed, and Mr. Negle their leader, with several others, wounded. The major now broke up the new post formed at Oranjebo, which he also dispatched after the enemy; and having ranged a whole week in the forest, also returned without any manner of success. These frequent miscarriages evince how difficult it is for European troops to carry on a war in the forests of South America.

The 30th of this month being the anniversary of St. Andrew, and now finding myself in excellent spirits, I roasted a whole sheep, with which I entertained all the officers on the Hope, as well as with a couple of gallons of good Jamaica rum in punch, which we drank to the healths of all our friends on the old continent. This festivity I [367]repeated on December the 4th, on receiving the tidings that my Joanna was delivered of a strong and beautiful boy. That very morning I dispatched another letter to Mr. Lude at Amsterdam, to obtain her manumission, couched much in the same terms as that which I had written to his predecessor Mr. Passalage, only praying for dispatch, as I was now uncertain how much longer the expedition was to last; in which request I was again seconded by my new friend Mr. De Graav, as I had been before by Mr. Lolkens; after which I entertained the sick with a dozen of old Rhenish, received from the former gentleman, which had been in his cellar from one thousand seven hundred and twenty-six.

Walking round the plantation the morning of the 10th with my gun, I found the whole of the slaves on the estate in a mutiny, on account of the cruel usage inflicted by the managers: happily for all parties the interference of the military soon ended this matter to mutual satisfaction. These frequent disturbances, which I have at different times mentioned, plainly indicate the inclination of the negroes to break out in an open rebellion; and this would certainly have been more often attempted, had they not been awed by the troops. The same morning I brought home two birds, the one called toreman, the other a species of grass-snipe. The toreman, or banaquaw, is a shining black bird, as large as a pullet, with grey legs, and a bill of a dark brown colour; it is very good eating, and easily discovered in the trees (where it [368]perches on the highest branches) by its note repeating distinctly the word banaquaw, banaquaw, at the approach of any person in the forest; which has also occasioned the name of toreman, and which signifies, in the negro language of Surinam, a tale-bearer or a spy; on this account the rebels in particular have an invincible hatred against it.

The grass-snipe is something less than a woodcock, of a beautiful silver-grey colour, and in shape much like the snipes of Europe. This bird is mostly found in the wet savannahs; it is very plump, and exquisitely delicate food.

On the 11th the estate Rectwyk in Pirica was attacked, but the enemy was beaten back by the military.

Colonel Fourgeoud being now again arrived at Magdenberg, and I at last, being perfectly recovered, after seven months illness, I ventured to propose, by another letter to the commander, that I might accompany him on his future excursions in the woods, or go for some time to Paramaribo; but neither the one or the other request was yet granted. In this situation I wrote a letter to town, to inform my poor friend that I was well, with which I went to the river side to look out for a boat, and towards noon hailed the tent-barge belonging to Fauconberg, which was rowing with the overseer to Paramaribo. This was, unfortunately, a new superintendant; and not knowing me, he refused to come ashore for the message. However, seeing the negroes rest upon [369]their oars, I took the letter in my teeth, and leaped instantly into the river to dispatch it, knowing they would put me again on terra-firma. Having thus swam with the stream, in my shirt and trowsers, till I came within two oars length of the boat, I held up the letter in my hand, and called out, “Who the devil are you, that refuse to take on board a piece of paper?” When, being answered in French, “Je suis Jean Bearnee, paysan de Guascogne, à votre service,” I had the mortification to see them pull away without a possibility of overtaking them, or returning. In this distress I had now nothing left but to perish, it being impossible to swim against the stream, especially as I was incumbered with my clothes. I struggled, however, but sunk twice to the bottom in the attempt; and must inevitably have been drowned, had I not caught hold of a projecting paleing that was erected in the river for the purpose of catching fish. To this I remained sticking fast; when a Dutch carpenter, who observed me from the top of the sugar-mill, called out, that the English captain was trying to kill himself. On this news a dozen stout negroes immediately leapt into the river, and having dragged me safe ashore (under the direction of my good friend Medlar, who was inclined to believe the report) lifted me upon their shoulders to carry me home. The disappointment, the danger, the anger, vexation, and shame (for there was no contradicting them) had by this time wound up my passions to such a height, and made such an impression on my spirits, that I became perfectly [370]mad, and had almost perpetrated the act of which I was accused; since, on crossing over a small bridge, I actually gave a sudden twist, and, from their shoulders, threw myself with a jerk headlong over the balustrades once more into the water. Here a second time I was picked up by the negroes; and now the suspicion being confirmed that I intended suicide, I was put to my hammock, with two sentinels appointed to guard me during the night, while several of my friends were shedding tears around me. Having, however, drank some mulled wine, I enjoyed a sound nap till morning; when appearing calm and perfectly composed, my words, to my great joy, began to gain credit, and the apprehensions of my companions were dispelled.—Such was the danger to which I was exposed by the unkind and inhospitable behaviour of this Frenchman, who nearly obliterated the memory of this transaction by his many succeeding instances of unprecedented brutality. The following day, however, by one of my negroes and a small canoe, I sent my letter to Paramaribo. Seeing now about noon a melasses-boat at anchor before the Hope, in which was broiling in the sun an English sailor and two negroes, I made the first come ashore, and entertained the poor fellow with a bowl of punch and a good meal of eggs and bacon, to his great surprize, he not having expected this kindness, or to be accosted in his own country language at this place. What were this man’s grateful acknowledgments, whose name was Charles Macdonald, will be seen in the sequel of my work. [371]

A melasses-boat is a barge rowed by two oars, which fetches this commodity in large hogsheads from the sugar plantations, and delivers it on board the English-American vessels for exportation, to be distilled into rum in the islands; for which they pay the Dutch, on an average, three guineas per hogshead.

On the 16th another officer arrived from our hero under an arrest (the first was a Mr. Geelguin, and this was a Mr. Neys), for the crime of contending with the free negro Goasary for a bunch of plantains. Both these young men were afterwards sent to Europe by Fourgeoud, in expectation that they would be broke by a court-martial; but, after a very short confinement, they were honourably acquitted, to the joy of the whole corps, and the mortification of this hectoring Swiss. Such was the inveteracy of this old gentleman, who had not the smallest consideration for the foibles of youth; and who constantly saw the mote in the eye of his neighbour, overlooking the beam that appeared so conspicuously in his own. As I have been speaking of plantains, I shall take this occasion to give some account of a production, which, in fact, I ought to have described long before.

This is rather a plant than a tree, as the trunk has neither wood nor bark, but consists of a stamen enwrapped by green vascular hulks, succeeding each other in the manner of an onion, and above ten inches in diameter. These hulks rise alternately about fourteen feet distance from the ground, and form not in branches, but in leaves, that [372]spread like an umbrella, about twelve or fourteen in number, so as to cover the tallest person. They are of a shining sea-green till they fade, and hang down in tatters, as their places are supplied by the young ones. From the centre of all this there grows a strong stalk, about three feet long, and bending downwards by the weight of a purple spatha, something like a calf’s heart; and on this stalk grows the fruit called plantains, in the shape of cucumbers, and above one hundred in number, which is usually called a bunch. Each tree, or plant, bears but one of these bunches at a time. When it is cut down, it is speedily supplied by the young shoots, which spring from its bulbous root, and which in the space of ten months time are ready to undergo the same operation. It requires a rich nourishing soil to make it prosper, without which it never arrives at proper maturity. This fruit being divested of its tegument when green, has in the inside a pale yellow farinaceous substance, and supplies (as I have already intimated) the want of bread, when either boiled or roasted: it has an agreeable taste, and is very wholesome; when the shell becomes yellow the inside is soft, and then may be eaten raw, having much the taste of a very ripe pear; but when arrived at that degree of maturity it is only used by way of dessert.

The Plantain Tree, and the Banana.

The Plantain Tree, and the Banana.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

Another species resembling this, is the banana, which only differs from the plantain, in its fruit being less, and more oval, and this species is never eaten till it is yellow and fully ripe. The former is most useful in point of [373]food; but this last, which has the flavour of musk, is accounted by far the most delicate. For a more perfect idea, however, than I am capable of giving by description, I refer the curious to the annexed plate; where A is the plantain-tree with its fruit; B the young shoots that succeed it; C the fruit in its green tegument; D the same, cut through the middle; and E the fruit called banana, in full maturity. In Surinam the first is known by the name of banana, and the second goes by that of bacooba.

I now, obtaining my friend Medlar’s concurrence, took a trip on the 18th to Paramaribo; where I found my boy bathing in Madeira wine and water2, while his mother was happy, and perfectly recovered. Having seen them well, and presented Joanna with a gold medal, that my father had given my mother on the day of my birth, also thanked Mrs. Lolkens for her very great kindness, I immediately returned to the Hope, where I arrived on the 22d.

The poor negro whom I had sent before me with a letter had been less fortunate than I was, having his canoe overset in the middle of the river Surinam, by the roughness of the water. With great address, however, he kept himself in an erect posture (for this man could not swim), and by the buoyancy and resistance of the boat [374]against his feet, he was enabled just to keep his head above the water, while the weight of his body kept the sunk canoe from moving. In this precarious attitude, he was picked up by a man-of-war’s boat; who, taking away the canoe for their trouble, put him on shore at Paramaribo. He kept the letter, however surprising, still in his mouth, and being eager to deliver it, he accidentally ran into a wrong house; where, being taken for a thief (for refusing to let them read it), he was tied up to receive four hundred lashes; but, fortunately, was reprieved by the intercession of an English merchant of the name of Gordon, who was my particular friend, and knew the negro. Thus did the poor fellow escape drowning, and being flogged, either of which he would have undergone, sooner than disclose what he called the secrets of his masera.—Query, How many Europeans are possessed of equal fidelity and fortitude?

Having lately mentioned the mode of catching fish by means of a projecting paleing, it will probably not be disagreeable to the reader to have some account of it, particularly as on many different occasions it helped me to a comfortable dinner. It consists simply of a kind of square enclosure, that juts out into the river, surrounded by long palisadoes of the manicole-tree, tied very close together by nebees. In this fence is a large door, which is left open with the flood, and shut at high water, to prevent the enclosed fish from escaping; and by this simple contrivance the negroes and Indians frequently catch very large [375]quantities. Amongst those taken lately, were the logo-logo and matuary. The first is a species of eel, and is sometimes two feet long, and very thick; dark blue on the back and sides, but whitish on the belly: it is extremely fat, and very good eating. The other is a small sweet fish without scales; but one thing very remarkable is, that in Surinam most fishes, the moment they are out of the water, begin to make a noise, not unlike the grunting of a small pig: and that fish have hearing (after many doubts and disputes) has of late been clearly demonstrated by the most able inquirers into the history of nature3.

Having on the 23d dined at the estate Knoppemonbo, I will also mention two birds, which attracted my particular attention. The one on account of the very great peculiarity of its nest; it is called in this country lipee-banana, as supposed to feed much on the ripe bananas. Whether this is the mock-bird of Dr. Bancroft, I know not, but in some particulars it approaches his description.

These birds that I speak of had taken possession of a large tree near the water-side, which the negroes told me they had frequented undisturbed for many years; they were at least above two hundred in number, about the size of English thrushes, some were a shining black, with the tails and part of the wings of a bright crimson; the others were also black, but their tails and wings of a fine yellow colour. The first I was informed were the [376]males, and the latter the females of the same species: they indeed whistled a variety of notes, but neither had that melody or imitation of other songsters, which is so generally ascribed to the mock-bird, and which, besides, I never heard mentioned in Surinam. These birds had their nests (above threescore in number) fixed to the extremity of the branches, where they were dangling in the wind, resembling egg-nets stuffed with hay, of which, indeed, they were built; and about the middle of them there was a small hole, at which the birds enter and go out. The bottom is built wide, and perfectly round; there they lay their eggs, and hatch their young ones, while the spiral roof protects them from birds of prey, and from the weather. But what is of more consequence, the monkeys, which are so numerous in this country, are, by such a situation, prevented from destroying them, since the branches or twigs from which they depend, though strong enough to support the nests, and what is in them, are too weak to bear the load of more weighty invaders; and, for greater security, I may add, they are mostly built depending over water.—(See the nests in Plate XLV.) The other bird which I shot in returning home, was the Surinam falcon or hawk. Its size and shape was like those of the same species in England: its colour light brown, variegated on the breast and tail with specks of red, black, and yellow; its tongue was cloven, its eyes remarkably bright, its legs a citron colour, and its talons armed with long and sharp-pointed claws. This bird is exceedingly [377]destructive to the plantations, committing great ravages amongst the poultry, &c.

But I must once more return to the operations of our commander in chief, who having rested a few days at Magdenberg, again marched, on Christmas-day, with the remaining handful of his men, to the Jew Savannah, whence he returned (having seen nothing) back to Magdenberg, with the new title of being himself the wandering Jew. This did not prevent me and Major Medlar from renewing our solicitations to accompany him in his expeditions; but we were still prevented by his going to town, where about this time a fresh supply of troops was hourly expected to arrive from Europe. At last, however, he gave me leave to follow him, with some other officers who were actually in want, at a time when fifteen hogsheads of fine claret, and fifteen thousand florins in specie, were waiting his commands at Paramaribo. [378]

1 Not to go so far eastward, it is notorious that nearly similar to these dances are those which we find practised on a part of this continent. They are called fandangos, and are said to have been brought from Peru to Spain. As I have been favoured with a very accurate and curious description of them, extracted from a collection of letters of Emanuel Martinus, dean of Alicant, I shall venture to insert it as it came to my hands, since I doubt not but it may afford amusement to some of my readers, while I hope the admission of it will not be offensive to others; it being my wish and desire to please all, by bringing to light whatever might otherwise escape observation.

E.M. I.A. suo.

I nunc, et veterum morum licentiam accusa, nostrorum verecundiam lauda. Nosti saltationem illam Gaditanam, obscœnitate suâ per omne ævum famosam. At qui hodiè ipsammet per omnia hujus urbis compita, per omnia cubicula, cum incredibili astantium plausu, saltari videas. Nec inter Æthiopas tantum et obscuros homines, sed inter honestissimas fœminas, ac nobili loco natas.

Saltationis modus hoc ritu peragitur. Saltant vir et fœmina vel bini vel plures. Corpora ad musicos modos per omnia libidinum irritamenta versantur. Membrorum mollissimi flexus, clunium motationes, micationes femorum, salacium insultuum imagines, omnia denique turgentis lasciviæ solertissimo studio expressa simulacra. Videas cevere virum, et cum quodam gannitu, crissare fœminam, eo lepore ac venustate, ut ineptæ profecto ac rusticæ tibi viderentur tremulæ nates Photidos Appuleianæ. Interea omnia constrepunt cachinnis et ronchis. Quin spectatores ipsi satyricæ atellanæque ορχησεως furore correpti, in ipso simulatæ libidinis campo, leni quodam gestu nutuque, velitantur ac fluctuant. 

2 This, however uncommon it may appear to an European, is often practised in Surinam by such as can afford it; amongst which class was the hospitable Mrs. Lolkens, who generously presented Joanna with the wine. 

3 See the account given to the Members of the Royal Society, by John Hunter, Esq; F. R. S. 



Description of the Indians, Aborigines of Guiana—Their Food—Arms—Ornaments—Employments—Diversions—Passions—Religion—Marriages—Funerals, &c.—Of the Caribbee Indians in particular—Their Trade with the Europeans.

On the 18th of January 1774, I at last bid farewell to the Hope, of which I am convinced the reader by this time is as tired as I have been. Thence rowing down, I slept at the estate Arentlust, and next day dined at the beautiful plantation Catwyk. In this place I had nearly ended all my travels; for Mr. Goetzee, the owner, having lent me one of his horses to ride round the estate, the animal and I both at once disappeared: a wooden bridge over which we passed being rotten, the part under us gave way, and we dropped through into the canal. With much exertion however (being alone) I got ashore, and having run to call some negroes, the horse, which stuck in the mud, was (though with great difficulty) extricated.

In the evening I rowed to Paramaribo with the ebb tide, which gave me an opportunity of seeing the mangroves that line the banks of the river Surinam full of oysters, stuck in the branches like fruit, from the water’s edge up to high-water mark. These oysters attaching [379]themselves to trees as they do to rocks, has given rise to the vulgar error that they grow, or vegetate like fruit; but it is not more extraordinary that they should stick on any one substance than on another, for many species of shell-fish are as commonly found to adhere to ships’ bottoms as to rocks. These oysters, which at some distance look like mushrooms, are, indeed, very small and trifling; for one hundred are not comparable to one dozen that come from Colchester. In Surinam are also a kind of muscles, but these are so small and insipid, that they are scarcely worthy of mention.

The day after my arrival I visited the governor: as also Mr. Kennedy, Mrs. Lolkens, Mrs. De Melley, &c. who all congratulated me on my acquaintance with Mr. De Graav, and highly honoured me, and approved of what I had done for my Mulatto and her infant.

On the 22d, our few remaining troops being mostly at Paramaribo, a Mr. Van Eys gave an entertainment to the whole corps.

On the 25th a great number of Indians, or natives, arrived at Paramaribo; which afforded me an opportunity of seeing and describing this people, who are the aborigines of the country. These Indians, who appear the happiest creatures under the sun, are divided into many casts or tribes, such as the

  • Caribbees,
  • Accawaus,
  • Worrows,
  • Arrowouks,
  • Taiiras, and
  • Piannacotaus;


besides which, there are many others whose manners are unknown to us. All these tribes of Indians are in general of a copper-colour; while the negroes of Africa, that live under the same degree of latitude, are perfectly black. This, however inconceivable it may appear, is easily accounted for, when one considers, first, that the American Indians in Guiana are constantly refreshed by the cooling sea breeze, or easterly wind, that blows between the tropics; and that those who dwell in Terra-Firma and Peru, on the West coast, enjoy that same easterly breeze, still kept cool by the great chain of inland mountains over which it passes, and which have their summits perpetually covered with snow. While the inhabitants of Africa, south of the river Senegal, get the same east wind rather heated than cooled, by the prodigious quantity of inland, hot, sandy deserts over which it passes.

Indian Family of the Carribbee Nation.
 Benedetti Sculpt.

Indian Family of the Carribbee Nation.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1792, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

These are the most probable reasons why the Americans are of a copper-colour or red, and the inhabitants of Africa, called Negroes, are black, viz. the one being more burnt by the sun than the other, and not because they are two distinct races of people: since no person who examines and reflects, can avoid seeing that there is but one race of people on the earth, who differ from each other only according to the soil and the climate in which they live. I am further of opinion, that these aborigines, or Indian natives, will appear to have still less title to be called a distinct people from those of the old continent, when we consider the proximity of Russia to North America, [381]whence apparently they have emigrated, and hitherto but thinly peopled the New World, the Mexicans and a few others excepted, till they were butchered by Spanish avarice and superstition. A happy people I call them still, whose peace and genuine morals have not been contaminated with European vices; and whose errors are only the errors of ignorance, and not the rooted depravity of a pretended civilization, and a spurious and mock Christianity.

“Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor’d mind

Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind

His soul, proud science never taught to stray,

Far as the solar walk, or milky way;

Yet simple nature to his hope has giv’n,

Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav’n;

Some safer world, in depth of woods embrac’d,

Some happier island in the wat’ry waste;

Where slaves once more their native land behold,

No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.

To be, contents his natural desire,

He asks no Angel’s wing, no Seraph’s fire;

But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,

His faithful dog shall bear him company.

Go, wiser thou! and, in thy scale of sense,

Weigh thy opinion against Providence.”

For my part I must say, with Socrates, that this kind of poverty is alone the truest kind of riches; as those who want least approach nearest to the gods, who want nothing. [382]This naturally leads me to the speech of an Indian, in reply to a sermon preached by a Swedish minister at an Indian treaty, held at Covestogue, of which the principal substance was as follows:

“Do you then really believe, that we and our forefathers are all, as you would teach us, condemned to suffer eternal torments in another world, because we have not been taught your mysterious novelties? Are we not the work of God? And can the Almighty not manifest his will without the help of a book? If this is true, and God is just, then how is it consistent with his justice to force life upon us without our consent, and then to condemn us all to eternal damnation, because we did not meet with you. No, Sir, we are convinced that the Christians are more depraved in their morals than we Indians, if we may judge of their doctrines by the general badness of their lives.”

There cannot indeed be a more laudable undertaking, than the endeavour to engraft divine truths on the pure minds of these innocent people, so worthy of instruction; but I fear, and it is too observable, that the words of one good man will have but little effect, when the practice of the far greater number of Moravian preachers settled amongst them on the banks of the Seramica rivers, where they endeavour to convert the negroes as well as the Indians, is in direct contradiction to his life and precepts.

All the Guiana Indians believe in God as the supreme [383]author of every good, and never inclined to do them an injury; but they worship the devil, whom they call Yawahoo, to prevent his afflicting them with evil, and to whom they ascribe pain, disease, wounds, and death; and where an Indian dies, in order to avert future fatality, the whole family, soon after, leave the spot as a place of residence.

The Guiana Indians are a perfectly free people, that is, they have no division of land, and are without any government, excepting that in most families the oldest acts as captain, priest, and physician, to whom they pay a reverential obedience: these men are called Peii or Pagayers, and, as in some civilized nations, live better than all others.

Polygamy is admitted among them, and every Indian is allowed to take as many wives as he can provide for, though he generally takes but one, of whom he is extremely jealous, and whom he knocks on the head the moment he receives a decided proof of her incontinency. These Indians never beat their children on any account whatever, nor give them any education, except in hunting, fishing, running, and swimming; yet they never use abusive language to each other, nor steal; and a lye is totally unknown among them. To which I may add, that no people can be more grateful when treated with civility, of which I shall in future relate a remarkable instance: but I must not forget that, on the other hand, they are extremely revengeful, [384]especially when, as they suppose, they are injured without just provocation.

The only vices with which to my knowledge they are acquainted, if such amongst them they may be called, are excessive drinking when opportunity offers, and an unaccountable indolence: an Indian’s only occupation, when he is not hunting or fishing, being to lounge in his hammock, picking his teeth, plucking the hairs from his beard, examining his face in a bit of broken looking-glass, &c.

The Indians in general are a very cleanly people, bathing twice or thrice every day in the river, or the sea. They have all thick hair, which never turns grey, and the head never becomes bald; both sexes pluck out every vestige of hair on their bodies, that on the head only excepted: it is of a shining black, which the men wear short, but the women very long, hanging over the back and shoulders to their middle; as if they had studied the scriptures, where it is said that long hair is an ornament to a woman, but a disgrace to a man.

The Guiana Indians are neither tall, strong, nor muscular: but they are straight, active, and generally in a good state of health. Their faces have no expression whatever, that of a placid good-nature and content excepted; and their features are beautifully regular, with small black eyes, thin lips, and very white teeth. However, all the Guiana Indians disfigure themselves more or less by the use of arnotta or rocow, by [385]them called cosowee, and by the Dutch orlean. The seeds of the arnotta being macerated in the juice of lemon, and mixed with water, and gum that exudes from the mawna tree, or with the oil of castor, composes a scarlet paint, with which all the Indians anoint their bodies, and even the men their hair, which gives their skin the appearance of a boiled lobster; they also rub their naked bodies with caraba or crab-oil. This, it must be allowed, is extremely useful in scorching climates, where the inhabitants of both sexes go almost naked. One day, laughing at a young man who came from the neighbourhood of Cayenne, he answered me in French, saying, “My skin, sir, is kept soft, too great perspiration is prevented, and the musquitoes do not sting me as they do you: besides its beauty, this is the use of my painting red. Now what is the reason of your painting white?” [meaning powder in the hair] “You are, without any reason, wasting your flour, dirtying your coat, and making yourself look grey before your time.”

These Indians also make use of a deep purple blue, which they call tapowripa; but this is purely for ornament, and is absolutely indelible for about nine days. It is the juice of a fruit in size like a small apple that grows on the lawna tree, and which is bruised and macerated in water. With this these people make figures on their faces, and all over their bodies, resembling hieroglyphicks, like those that were a few years since called [386]à la Grec in Europe, and are still cut in coal-grates, fenders, &c. But for a more correct idea I must refer the reader to the annexed plate, where the children alone are not painted. So very permanently does this paint adhere to the skin, that one of our officers, who could not believe the fact, having by way of a frolic made a pair of enormous whiskers with it on his face, was obliged, to our great amusement, to parade Paramaribo with them for above a week, and wait till they gradually disappeared.

The only dress worn by these Indians consists of a slip of black or blue cotton worn by the men to cover their nakedness, and called camisa; something like that of the negroes. Being wound round their loins, it passes through between their thighs, and the ends of it, which are very long, they either throw over their shoulders, or negligently let them trail on the ground. For the same purpose, the women wear an apron of cotton, with party-coloured glass beads strung upon it, which they call queiou. This covering is of no great size, being only about one foot in breadth by eight inches in length, ornamented with fringes, and fastened round the waist with cotton strings; but being heavy, though of no larger dimensions, it answers all the purposes for which it was intended. Many also wear a girdle made of human hair round their waist, through which, before and behind, they fasten a square broad piece of black cotton, but lighter, and without a train, like the camisa of the men: both sexes wearing these belts or girdles so low, that they [387]almost slide down over their buttocks, and make their bodies appear wonderfully long.

In the inland parts, many Indians of both sexes go quite naked, without any covering whatever. The Indian women also, by way of ornament, often cut small holes in their ears and their lips, in the first of which they wear corks or small pieces of light wood, and through their lips they stick thorns, and sometimes all the pins they can lay hold of, with the heads inside against the gums, and the points like a beard dangling down upon their chins. Some wear feathers through their cheeks and through their noses, though this is but seldom. But the most unaccountable ornament in my opinion is, that the girls at ten or twelve years old work a kind of cotton garter round their ankles, and the same below the knee; which being very tight, and remaining for ever, occasions their calves to swell to an enormous size by the time they are grown women, and gives their limbs a very odd and unnatural appearance. They also wear girdles, bands, and bracelets, of various coloured beads, shells, and fish-teeth, about their necks, across their shoulders, or round their arms, but generally above the elbow. Upon the whole, the Indian women, naturally disagreeable in their shapes, with their toes turned inwards, are still less attractive by their ornaments. But from this general description I must exempt one cast in particular, called Arrowouks, whom I shall describe in their proper place. [388]

The ornaments of the men consist of crowns of various coloured feathers, or a sash of boars or tygers teeth across one shoulder, as a token of their valour and activity. The chiefs of families sometimes wear the skin of a tyger, and a silver plate resembling a croissant, called by them a caracoly; they also frequently have small oval bits of silver in the cartilaginous separation of their noses, and sometimes a green or yellow coloured stone. All these nations live in the forest, near rivers, and along the sea-coast, where they are scattered in small villages or hamlets. Their houses or wigwams, which they call carbets, are built as I have already described those of the negroes; but instead of being covered with the leaves of the manicole-tree, they are covered with the leaves of rattans or jointed canes, here called tas, which grow in clusters in all marshy places: but they mostly use troolies, which are leaves that diverge immediately from the root, and are no less than twenty or twenty-four feet in length, and from two to three in breadth, and this will for years effectually exclude all inclemencies of weather.

Their furniture is very simple, but sufficient for their wants, consisting of a few black earthen pots of their own making; a few callebashes or gourds; a few baskets, called pagala; a stone to grind, called matta, and another to bake their cassava bread; a fan to blow the fire; a wooden stool or mulee; a sieve they call manary; a press to squeeze the wet cassava, called matappy; and a cotton hammock or net for them to sleep in. [389]

Besides these, since their intercourse with the Europeans, many of them are furnished with a hatchet and a knife, which last, like a dagger, the Indians always wear by their side. But I must not forget that every Indian family is provided with a large boat or canoe to carry all that they possess when they travel by water, which is not unfrequent.

The only vegetables cultivated by these people are the yams, plantains, and bananas, already described, and particularly cassava or manioc. This last is a shrub, which grows about three feet high, of a grey colour, and knotted; the leaves are digitated and large, and supported by cinnamon-coloured foot-stalks. Of this shrub there are two species, distinguished by the appellation of the sweet and the bitter cassava, of which the roots alone are for use. These are soft and farinaceous; and in colour, size, and shape, much resemble European parsnips. The sweet cassava, roasted in hot ashes, like the green plantains, and eaten with butter, is an agreeable and healthy food, tasting much like the chesnut. But the bitter cassava, which when raw is the most fatal poison both to man and beast, is (however strange it may seem) when prepared by fire, not only a very safe food, but the most natural bread of the Indians in this country, as well as of several Europeans and negroes. The manner in which the Indians prepare it is first by grinding or grating these roots on the matta or rough stone: [390]after which they put it in a press, to separate the juice from the meal. This press is a kind of long tube, made of warimbo or reeds; which being hung to a tree, and filled with ground cassava, a heavy stone or log of wood is fixed to the bottom, the weight of which gradually lengthens the tube, which is compressed in proportion, and the liquid substance is squeezed through the plated reeds. This done, the meal is baked on a hot stone in thin round cakes, until it becomes brown and crisp, and then it is a wholesome food, that will keep good for half a year; yet I must acknowledge that the taste, which by that process becomes sweetish, is at the same time extremely insipid. The extracted water of this root, if not carefully prevented by the slaves, is sometimes drunk by cattle, and poultry on the estates, whom it instantly kills with convulsive tortures and swelling; yet this very liquid, if boiled with pepper, butcher’s meat, &c. is frequently made use of for soup. None should use the cassava root for food but such as are perfectly acquainted with it: many people having been poisoned, to my knowledge, by using the one species for the other; the distinction between the two consisting chiefly in a tough ligneous fibre or cord running through the heart of the sweet or innocent cassava root, which the fatal or bitter has not. The acajou nuts are also used by the Indians; and they often bring them to Paramaribo, where they are called inginotto. The kernels of these nuts are in size and shape very like [391]lambs kidneys, and are exceedingly delicate. They grow very far inland upon high trees, which having never seen, I cannot describe.

The other food of the Indian consists of sea and land turtle, and crabs, called seereeca, which last are seen in great quantities in the mud all along the coast of Guiana at low water. Of these they are extremely fond, as also of the river lobsters called sarasara, which are here in great abundance. But nothing pleases them so much as the iguana or wayamacca lizards, that I have already described: every thing they eat is so highly seasoned with Cayenne pepper, that the mere tasting of their food excoriates the mouth of an European. They use little or no salt, but barbacue their game and fish in the smoke, which equally preserves it from putrefaction; and if an Indian has neglected to provide food by hunting or fishing, his hunger is asswaged by eating the seeds of the green-heart or the eta tree, or of similar productions of the forest.

Their drink consists of various fluids, such as the juice of the coumoo fruit. The coumoo tree is one of the smallest of the palm kind. Its seed grows in bunches of purple blue berries, resembling grapes, the pulp of which thinly adheres to a round hard stone, about the size of a pistol bullet. These berries are dissolved and macerated in boiling water; which beverage, when mixed with sugar and cinnamon, is frequently used by the fair inhabitants: it tastes very much like chocolate. [392]A drink they call piworree is a composition of the cassava bread, chewed by the females, and fermented with water, when it has something of the taste of ale, and will intoxicate. It appears at first very extraordinary, that what has been within the teeth, mixed with the saliva, and spit from the mouths of others, should be drank without loathing by the people of any country: but those who have read Cook’s Voyages will find that this practice was so common in the islands he discovered, that had he not complied with it, his refusal might have fatally offended the inhabitants. His officers, indeed, did not think it so necessary for them to comply, and therefore excused themselves from the disgusting draught. A beverage nearly of the same kind they compose from the maize, or Indian corn, which is first ground and baked into bread, after which it is crumbled and macerated with water till it ferments like the former, and this they call chiacoar. Another drink called cassiree is also much used by these Indians, being a composition of yams, cassava, sour oranges, and sugar or treacle, well macerated, and fermented with water. I shall only add, that all these beverages are inebriating, if used beyond moderation, which is frequently the case with both males and females among the copper-coloured generation I am speaking of. This is the only time when they are unruly, and when quarrels arise among themselves.

In pronunciation the language of the Indians in general much resembles the Italian, their words being sonorous [393]and harmonious, mostly terminating with a vowel, as may be observed by the few specimens above. They have no calculation of time, a string with some knots being the only calendar they are acquainted with. Their musical instruments consist of a kind of flute called too-too, and made of a single piece of thick reed, on which they make a sound no better than the lowing of an ox, without either measure or variety.—Another instrument is also used by them to blow upon, called quarta (by Ovid a sirinx; by some poets Pan’s chaunter) and consists of reeds of different lengths, that are joined together like the pipes of an organ, but even at the top, which they hold with both hands to the lips, and which, by shifting from side to side, produces a warbling of clear but discordant sounds, agreeable to none but themselves; nor have I seen a better representation of the god Pan playing on his chaunter, than a naked Indian among the verdant foliage playing upon one of those reedy pipes. They also make flutes of the bones of their enemies, of which I have one now in my possession. Their dancing, if such it may be called, consists in stamping on the ground, balancing on one foot, and staggering round in different attitudes for many hours, as if intoxicated.

The Indians are a very sociable people among themselves, and frequently meet together in a large wigwam or carbet that is in every hamlet for the purpose, where, if they do not play or dance, they amuse each other with fictitious stories, generally concerning ghosts, witches, [394]or dreams, during which they frequently burst out into immoderate fits of laughter. They greatly delight in bathing, which they do twice at least every day, men, women, boys, and girls, promiscuously together. They are all excellent swimmers without exception. Among these parties not the smallest indecency is committed, in either words or actions.

The employments of the men are, as I have stated, but very few, and, indeed, may be comprized in two words, hunting and fishing: at both of these exercises they are indisputably more expert than any other nation whatever. For the first they are provided with bows and arrows of their own manufacturing, the arrows being of different kinds for different purposes. The Indian bows are all made of the hardest and toughest kind of wood, about five or six feet in length, and wonderfully well polished; and this is effected by means of a stone. In the middle they are wound round with cotton, and strung with chords made of silk-grass. The arrows are generally about four feet long, made of a very straight and strong kind of reed, to the end of which is fixed a thin twig about one foot long, to balance them; this is armed with a point made of steel or of fish-bone, generally barbed. Some of the Indian arrows are pointed like a lance, others are doubly and trebly barbed, and so contrived as to stick in the wound when the reedy part is pulled back. These are used mostly for game and fish; for though they be not mortal, [395]they encumber the first, and being buoyant bring the latter to the surface, till both are taken. These arrows, like all others, are stuck with feathers six or seven inches long. Some arrows have blunted heads instead of points, about the size of a large chesnut, like what our ancestors called bolts; with these they do not kill, but stun the macaws, parrots, and small monkeys, so that they can take them with their hands, soon after which they recover, and are sent alive to Paramaribo. Some of the arrows for killing fish have the appearance of a trident, three and sometimes five barbed sticks being fixed to the reed instead of one, which enables them to shoot fish even at random. A few of the above arrows are frequently dipped in the woorara poison1, which is instantaneously fatal: but when intent on certain destruction, this people make use of another kind of arrow that is not above ten or twelve inches long, extremely thin, and made of the hard splinters of the palm-tree bark, having, instead of feathers, one end wound round with a tuft of raw cotton, so as to fill up a hollow tube made of reed near six feet in length, through which they blow them with their breath. These little implements of death will carry to the distance of forty paces, and with so much certainty, that the intended [396]victims never escape, the points being dipped in the woorara poison. As an instance of the dreadful effects of this poison, I shall only mention a negro woman, who, during the late rebellion in Berbicè, being slightly wounded by a poisoned arrow, not only almost instantly expired, but her sucking infant, though not touched by the arrow, lost its life by tasting her milk.

Their manner of catching fish is much the same as I have described at the Hope, by inclosing the entry of small creeks or shoal water with a paleing, shooting them with their trident arrows, or poisoning the water by throwing in it the roots of hiaree2, in Surinam called tringee-woodo or konamee, by which the fish become stupified, and are taken by the hand, while they float on the surface of the water; as boys in England, who by mixing the Coculus Indicus, or drugs of similar effect, with baits which the fish will take, find them soon after rise to the surface, whence, if they are not speedily taken, they will recover and escape, the drugs only stupifying them for a while. These are the only occupations of the men, except making their furniture, ornaments, and arms.

I must not forget that every Indian carries a club, which they call apootoo, for their defence. These clubs are made of the heaviest wood in the forest; they are [397]about eighteen inches long, flat at both ends, and square, but heavier at the one end than the other. In the middle they are thinner, and are wound about with strong cotton threads, so as to be grasped, having a loop to secure them round the wrist, as the sword-tassels are used by some cavalry. One blow with this club, in which is frequently fixed a sharp stone, scatters the brains. They are used by the Guiana Indians like the tomahawk by the Cherokees, on which, besides other hieroglyphical figures, they often carve the number of persons they have slain in battle. The manner of fixing the stone in the club or apootoo is by sticking it in the tree while it is yet growing, where it soon becomes so fast that it cannot be forced out; after which the wood is cut, and shaped according to fancy.

The women are occupied in planting cassava, plantains, and other roots, besides yams, &c. in dressing the victuals, and in making earthen pots, bracelets, baskets, or cotton hammocks. Their best baskets are called pagala, and are formed of a double matting of rushes called warimbo, some white, some brown, between which is a separation of tas, or trooly-leaves, to keep out the wet. The covering is usually larger and deeper than the basket itself, which it altogether envelopes, and thus makes it stronger; the whole resting on two cross pieces of wood fixed to the bottom. Their hammocks are woven, which must require a considerable portion of time and trouble, being done [398]thread after thread, traversing the warp in the manner that a hole is darned in a stocking; after which they are stained with the juices of trees according to fancy.

The Indian girls arrive at the time of puberty before twelve years old, indeed commonly much sooner, at which time they are married. The ceremony consists simply in the young man’s offering a quantity of game and fish of his own catching, which, if she accepts, he next proposes the question, “Will you be my wife?” If she answers in the affirmative, the matter is settled, and the nuptials celebrated in a drunken feast, when a house and furniture is provided for the young couple. Their women are delivered without any assistance, and with so little inconvenience or suffering, that they seem exempt from the curse of Eve. They go about the menial services for their husbands the day after their delivery; then, however ridiculous and incredible it may appear, it is an absolute fact, that every one of these gentlemen lie in their hammocks for above a month, groaning and grunting as if they had been themselves in labour, during which time all the women must attend them with extraordinary care and the best food. This the Indian calls enjoying himself, and resting from his labour. Most of these people esteeming a flat forehead a mark of beauty, they compress the heads of their children, it is said, immediately after their birth, like the Chactaws of North America.

No Indian wife eats with her husband, but serves him [399]as a slave: for this reason they can take but very little care of their infants, which, nevertheless, are always healthy and undeformed. When they travel, they carry them in small hammocks slung over one shoulder, in which sits the child, having one leg before and the other behind the mother. For an emetic they use the juice of tobacco, which they seldom smoke.

When the Indians are dying, either from sickness or old age, the latter of which is most frequently the cause, the devil or Yawahoo is at midnight exorcised by the peii or priest, by means of rattling a calibash filled with small stones, peas, and beads, accompanied by a long speech. This office is hereditary, and by these pretended divines no animal food, as I have before said, is publicly tasted, and yet on the whole they live better than all the others. When an Indian is dead, being first washed and anointed, he is buried naked, in a new cotton bag, in a sitting attitude, his head resting on the palms of his hands, his elbows on his knees, and all his implements of war and hunting by his side; during which time his relations and neighbours rend the air by their dismal lamentations; but soon after, by a general drunken riot, they drown their sorrows till the following year. This practice, by the way, bears some affinity to Dr. Smollet’s description of a burial in the Highlands of Scotland. At the expiration of the year, the body, being rotten, is dug up, and the bones distributed to all the friends and acquaintance, during which ceremony the former rites [400]are repeated for the last time, and the whole neighbourhood look out for another settlement. Some tribes of Indians, having put their deceased friends in the above posture, place them naked for a few days under water, where the bones being picked clean by the piree and other fish, the skeleton is dried in the sun, and hung up to the ceiling of their houses or wigwams; and this is done as the strongest instance of their great regard for their departed friend.

When these Indians travel by land, their canoe, which is made of a large tree hollowed by means of fire, is always carried along with them to transport their luggage across swamps, creeks, and rivers; it is, like themselves, all over besmeared with arnotta. If they travel in the rivers, they generally paddle against the tide, to have a better opportunity of shooting such game as they see in the trees or on the banks; whereas, if they went with the current, the rapidity of the stream would often make them run past it. When travelling on the coast, it frequently happens that these canoes ship a sea which fills them, but no such thing as a shipwreck is heard of: both sexes immediately leaping over-board; then with one hand they hang by the canoe, with the other, and by means of calibashes, they throw out the water.

Notwithstanding the Guiana Indians are upon the whole a peaceable people, they sometimes go to war among themselves, purely for the sake of capturing prisoners, to which they are too much encouraged by the [401]Christians, who receive them in exchange for other commodities, and make them slaves, which is too frequently practised. But these kind of slaves are only for shew and parade, as they absolutely refuse to work, and if at all ill-treated, or especially if beaten, they pine and languish like caged turtles, even refusing food, till by affliction and want they are exhausted, and finally expire.

The Indians always fight their battles by midnight: indeed their contests resemble more a siege than a battle, as these broils consist only in surrounding the hamlets of their enemies while they are asleep, making prisoners of the women, boys, and girls, while they shoot the men with poisoned arrows, or with their clubs or apootoos divide their sculls when they come to close quarters; they also scalp their male prisoners, bring home their hair, and even their bones, as trophies of war, and presents to their wives, unless they intend to sell them to the Europeans at Paramaribo. In their open rencounters, which happen very seldom, the bows and barbed arrows are their principal weapons of offence; with these they often kill at the distance of sixty paces; nay, the swiftest bird in its flight, provided it has the magnitude of a crow, seldom escapes them. In truth, such is the skill of these people at these manly exercises, that the best archers at Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt, must have yielded to their superiority. [402]

Now with full force the yielding bow he bends,

Drawn to an arch, and joins the doubling ends;

Close to his breast he strains the nerve below,

’Till the barb’d point approach the circling bow.

Th’ impatient weapon whizzes on the wing,

Sounds the tough bow, and twangs the quivering string.

Pope’s Homer.

I shall only add farther on this subject, that when these Indians go to war they chuse one general commander, whom they distinguish by the title of Uill.

The trade or traffic which the Indians of Guiana carry on with the Dutch consists chiefly in slaves, earthen jars, canoes, hammocks, baskets, Brazil-wood, hiaree-roots, macaws, parrots, monkeys, balsam capivi, arracocerra, caraba or crab oil, and arnotta, for which they receive in return checquered cloth, fire-arms, gun-powder, hatchets, knives, scissars, different coloured beads, looking-glasses, fish-hooks, combs, needles, pins, &c. The balsam capivi exudes from the bark of a thick tree that grows far inland, with large pointed leaves, bearing a fruit like a cucumber. This gum is yellow, hard, and transparent, resembling amber; when melted, it has an agreeable smell: its uses are for varnish, and to stop diuretic complaints, &c. The gum called arracocerra exudes from an inland tree also; it is yellow as the former, but tenacious and soft; it has a most fragrant smell, and is held in great esteem by the Europeans as well as Indians, [403]on account of its efficacy in curing wounds, and many other complaints. The caraba or crab oil is made by bruising, macerating, and boiling the kernels that grow on the crab-tree in brown angular nuts, much about the size of a large chesnut; this oil, which is bitter, besides anointing the Indians, is used for many purposes by the Europeans. The tree grows to near fifty feet high, with leaves resembling those of the laurel; but as I neither have seen this nor the two former growing, to my knowledge, I can say nothing more concerning them. The mawna tree is high, straight, and light brown coloured; its leaves are oval; its nuts resembling nutmegs, but without either taste or flavour. The gum exuding from its trunk by incisions in the bark is dissolved by the Indians in water, and, as I have said, mixed with arnotta to anoint them. The castor or palmachristi bush, by botanists called the ricinus, is a shrub about four feet high, jointed, being covered with large digitated leaves on long foot-stalks, viz. both the stem and the branches. This shrub consists of the red and the white, and produces triangular nuts inclosed in a green hulk, which, when ripe, turns to brown, and falls off. From these nuts is expressed the castor oil; in Surinam it is called carrapat oil; it is very like that made of olives, and, as I have mentioned before, is much used by the Indians to paint themselves with.

Among all the Indian nations, the Caribs are the most numerous, active, and brave. These reside in great numbers [404]near the Spanish settlements, which they often harass, in immortal revenge for the inhuman cruelties inflicted on their forefathers at Mexico and Peru. They are commanded by a captain, and assemble by the blowing of a conch or sea-shell; they have also frequent battles with neighbouring Indians; but what disgraces them above all others in Terra Firma is, that however unnatural it may seem, and however much it has been contradicted, they are anthropophagi or cannibals; at least they most certainly feast on their enemies, whose flesh they tear and devour with the avidity of wolves, though this is generally supposed to be more from a spirit of revenge than from any depravity in their taste.

The Accawaw Indians are few in number, and live farther distant from the sea than the former. Though like these they live in friendship with the Dutch, they are both treacherous in administering slow poison concealed under their nails, and very distrustful, as they palisade the ground round their hamlets with poisoned spikes.

The Worrow Indians, if not the most cruel, are the most despicable of any in Guiana. These are settled along the coast from the river Oronoque to Surinam; they are dark-coloured and extremely ugly; though strong they are pusillanimous, and withal so very lazy and indolent, that their poverty will scarcely afford them a covering to hide their nakedness, which they often supply by the web-like bark of the palm-tree. They often go quite naked, and are stinkingly dirty; from [405]their sluggish inactivity they are reduced to live mostly upon crabs and water. If it should seem strange to have called these people happy, let it be recollected that their wishes are confined to their enjoyments, and that no Indian was ever heard to complain that he was unhappy.

The Taiiras are settled also on the sea-coast between Surinam and the river Amazon. These are exceedingly numerous, being computed, in this settlement alone, to amount to near twenty thousand: they are a very peaceable but indolent people, and in many particulars resemble the Worrows.

The Piannacotaus live very far inland, and are enemies to the Europeans, with whom they refuse all connection or dealings whatever: of this tribe the only thing that I can say farther is, that they would murder all the Christians in Guiana, if they had an opportunity.

The only Indian nation within my knowledge now remaining to be mentioned are the Arrowouks, my favourites;—but as this Chapter is already swelled to a considerable length, I must defer them to another opportunity.——Thus for the present do I take my leave of this happy people, who with the distinctions of rank or land (the causes of contention in more enlightened states) are unacquainted; who know no evil but pain and want, with which they are very seldom afflicted in this ever-verdant, this ever-blooming climate; who, while their wishes are so very limited, [406]possess all that they desire in this world: and who, while they expect a future state, never give their minds the smallest uneasiness, but die in peace; nay, who seldom think upon to-morrow. But while I allow them this species of negative happiness, let it not be understood that to the contented European I have held up their condition as an object of envy.

For a better idea of their furniture, ornaments, and arms, I refer the curious to the annexed plate, where

  • No 1. is an Indian coriala or canoe, which is generally made of one tree.
  • 2. Paddles in place of oars.
  • 3. A sieve called manary.
  • 4. An Indian fan, or way-way.
  • 5. A stool called mulee.
  • 6. A pagala or basket.
  • 7. A matappy or cassava press.
  • 8. An Indian bow.
  • 9. Arrows for shooting fish.
  • 10. A blunted arrow for birds.
  • 11. Common arrows barbed.
  • 12. Small poisoned arrows.
  • 13. The pipe or tube to blow them.
  • 14. A crown of various feathers.
  • 15. An apron called queiou.
  • 16. An Indian earthen pot.
  • 17. An apootoo or Indian club. [407]
  • 18. An Indian cotton hammock.
  • 19. A sash of tigers or wild boars teeth.
  • 20. A magic shell or gourd.
  • 21. An Indian flute called too-too.
  • 22. A flute made of the human bone of an enemy.
  • 23. An Indian flute or syrinx called quarta.
  • 24. A stone to grind cassava, called matta.

Arms, Ornaments & Furniture of the Indians.

Arms, Ornaments & Furniture of the Indians.

London, Published Decr. 1st, 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.

For a fuller botanical description than either my knowledge or my limits will allow, I refer the reader to the ingenious Dr. Bancroft, whose merit in this particular is perhaps known by few, but who claims every attention from having lived so long in Demerary; and to whom the thanks of the world in general are due, for his ingenious “Letters to Dr. Pitcairn, F. R. C. P. &c.” published in 1766.



1 The bark of a tree so called, mixed with others; but for a very particular description of this acute poison, viz. of its composition, and of its dire effects, I refer the reader to Dr. Bancroft, and the repeated experiments which that gentleman has made to ascertain its instant fatality. 

2 This tree is much sought after by the Indians, who send quantities of it to Paramaribo and the plantations. 





Aboma snake, p. 176

Accawaw Indians, 404

Acajou-nuts, 390

Adjora-porcupine, 223

Agame-bird, 262

Agoma-shrub, 307

Ai, sloth, 153

Alligator, 144

Althea-plant, 324

Amsterdam, fort, 133

Amazon macaw, 198

Ants, small 360

Animals, foreign, 210

Argonauta, 11

Armadillo, 222

Arracocerra gum, 402

Avoira nuts, 22

Avogato pear, 299

Aubergines, 307



Bajew, stag, 308

Banana, 372

Balsam capaivi, 402

Baboon knifee, 274

Baskeeta, 273

Bee, insect, 187

Bitter, orange, 299

Birds, musical, 245

Boucow town, 81

Boossy-calcoo, 244

Blue and yellow macaw, 198

Blatta-beetle, 194

Braam’s Point, 38

Brocoli, 307

Brick manufactory, 309

Bullocks, 121

Butterfly (azure), 278



Calapee turtle, 12*

Carett turtle, 12*

Carribbean wren, 119

Capasee, animal, 222

Camee-camee bird, 262

Casava (sweet), 389

—— (bitter), 389

Caraba oil, 403

Castor bush, 403

Caribbee Indians 403

Cayman, 144

Crystal, 75

Constable rocks, 14

Commewina river, 36

Cottica river, 36

Cooteye fish, 134

Cotton tree, 212

Cock-roche, 194

Cocoa-nut tree, 234

Cocareeta tree, 246

Coemma-coemma fish, 250

Consacca, ground itch, 274

Corn, Indian, 324

Coemoe tree, 391

Crocodile, 145

Cras pingoes, 356

Cherries, 307

Cuppy tree, 292

Curetta, 274

Curlew (red), 340

China apple, 348

Chigoe, insect, 352



Devil’s Islands, 19

Devil’s Harwar, 156

Diamond (Marawina), 37

Dolphin, or dorado, 9

Doves (turtle), 305 [410]

Dog, sloth, 14

Dry gripes, 120

Ducks, tame, 123

Duncane poison, 322

Dwarf pigeon, 304



Euripice islands, 14

Emu, bird, 244

Eta tree, 139

Exocœtus volitans, 13

Electrical eel, 124



Falcon (Surinam), 376

Flying fish, 13

Flycatcher, bird, 118

Flying heart, beetle, 275*

Fire-fly, 141

Fowls (common), 122

Flamingo, 340

Fire-ants, 91

Frog (tree), 225



Guiana, 30*

Gnats, 23

Ground itch, 271

Grow munik fish, 295

Grass snipe, 368

Green turtle, 12*

Geese, 123



Hanquaw bird, 367

Hawk, 376

Hog (common), 122

—— (hedge), 224

—— (Mexican), 356

Horse, 210

Horse-fly, 275*

Hiaree tree, 396

Heron (grey), 325

—— (spotted), 141

Honey, 187

Hog, 122



Jackee fish, 124

Iguana lizard, 147

Inginotto, 390

Indians (American), 379

—— Carribbee, 403

—— Accawaw, 404

—— Warrow, 404

—— Taiiras, 405

—— Piannacotaw, 405

—— Arrowauka, 189

Indian wheat, 324



Kaweeree fish, 332

Kisshee-kisshee, 166

Kibry fowlo, 354

Kill devil, 96



Lamantyn, 221

Lamper fish, 332

Lawna tree, 385

Lemons, 348

—— sweet, 348

Lizard (Leguana), 147

—— Sapagala, 308

Lipee bana bird, 375

Lice, common, 11

—— pattat, 15

—— serapat, 15

Lota, disease, 274

Lolo-logo fish, 375



Marawina river, 13*

—— diamond, 37

Mawkers, gnats, 25

Mangrove trees, 140

—— —— white, 140

Marcusa tree, 160

Macaw (blue and yellow), 198

—— Amazon, 199

Manicole tree, 231

Mattakee roots, 247

Maripa tree, 247

Maize, Indian corn, 324

Mackreelee fish, 332

Matuaree fish, 375

Manioc root, 389

—— bitter, 389

Mawna tree, 403

Marrobonso-bees, 342

Meecoo monkey, 166

Mineral water, 276*

—— mountain, 276*

Mocco mocco tree, 151

Monkee monkee, 167

—— meecoo, 166

—— kisshee kisshee, 166 [411]

Monkey (Ourang Outang), 166

Mompeira gnat, 309

Musquetoes, 23

Mulatto, 86

Muscles, fish, 379

Mot creek, 39

Mexican hog, 356



Narwhal, 11*

Nautilus, 11

Naapjes, a root, 324

Negroes, 200, 356

—— different nations, 207

Nebees, natural ropes, 231

North Capper Whale, 384

Nests (curious bird), 376

Newmara fish, 46



Occro shrub, 324

Oysters, 378

Otters, 168

Ourang Outang, 166

Oroocoocoo snake, 132

Orange tree, 348

—— bitter, 299

—— sour, 299

Oxen, 121



Parasalla tree, 231

Paramaribo town, 285

Palmachristy, 403

Pacca, animal, 403

Palm-tree (avoira), 22

—— cocoa nut, 234

—— coemoe, 391

—— cororeeta, 246

—— manicole, 231

—— maripa, 247

Pattat lice, 15

Petrel, storm bird, 7

Pery, fish, 149

Peacock pheasant, 261

Pipa frog, 259

Pine apple, 214

—— wild, 266

Pigeon (ring-tailed), 304

—— dwarf, 304

Pingoes, wild boar, 355

—— crassy, 356

Pecary, 356

Piannacotaw Indians, 405

Porcupine, 223

Powese bird, 261

Pomegranates, 212

Plantation (cotton), 212

—— sugar, 314

Plover, bird, 218

Plantains, 371

Prickly heat, 95

Putrid fever, 120



Quaderoon, 296

Queequee fish, 149

Quisqueedee bird, 304

Quail, 354



Racasiry gum 402

Rattans 388

Rhinoceros beetle, 276

Ringtailed pigeon 304

Ricinus shrub 403

Ring-worm, disease 196

Ronæ Piscatrix 124

River Surinam 35

—— Comewina 36

—— Cottica 36

—— Serameka 35

—— Coppename 35

—— Marrawina 13*



Saw-fish 11*

Sapagala lizard 308

Sabacoo bird 325

Samboe 326

Sarra-sarra lobsters 391

Seereeca crabs 391

Sea swallow 7

—— unicorn 11*

—— turtle 12*

Silk grass 273

Somelsdyk fort 302

Sour orange 299

Sword-fish 11*

Surinam river 35

Sun fowlo 118

Swine 122

Sugar-cane 314

Surinam, colony 34

Sweet orange 348

Storm-bird 7 [412]

Serapat lice p. 15

Shaddock 22

Sheep 122

Stag (bajew) 308

—— wirrebocerra 309

Spur-winged water-hen 339

Snipe (grass) 368

Snake (aboma) 170

—— water 143

Sloth (sheep) 14

—— dog 14



Tamarind tree 93

Tavous, animal 168

Tapoeripa 385

Tas rattans 388

Taiiras Indians 405

Texel Island 5

Tiger bird 141

Torporific eel p. 124

Toucan, bird 117

Toreman bird 367

Toad 259

Turkies 123

Tuyew bird 245

Turtle doves 305

—— sea 12*

Troolies, plant 388



Unicorn (sea) 11*

Unan sloth 153



Vreedenburgh fort 270



Wassy-wassy bees 187

Warrappa fish 250

Warimbo reed p. 274

Wana tree 291

Wayamaka lizard 147

Warrow Indians 404

Water worm 38

—— withy 267

—— hen 339

Wild turkey 244

—— aloes 274

Wirrebocerra stag 309

Woorara poison 395

Wieringe island 6

Worms (bush) 283



Yams, a root 323

Yombo-yombo frog 321



Zealandia fort 39 [413]


Directions for placing the Plates.

Vol. I.

FRONTISPIECE to face Title.
Plate I. Map of Guiana, &c. facing Page 1
—— II. The Harangus Volans, and Dolphin or Dorado 10
—— III. View of the Constable Rocks, and the Saw Fish 12*
—— IV. A Female Negro Slave in Chains 15
—— V. The Fruit called Avoiar, and Shaddock Apple 22
—— VI. Map of Surinam 30*
—— VII. A Coromantyn free Negro or Ranger armed 80
—— VIII. A Female Mulatto 88
—— IX. Sprig of the Tamarind Tree 91
—— X. A View of the Estate Alkmaar, and Tent Boat 93
—— XI. A Negro hung alive by the Ribs to a Gallows 110
—— XII. The Towcan and the Flycatcher 118
—— XIII. A private Marine of Col. Fourgeoud’s Corps 132
—— XIV. View and Plan of the Fortress called Amsterdam 134
—— XV. The Leguana Lizard, and Alligator 144
—— XVI. The Ai and Unan Sloth 153
—— XVII. View of Devil’s Harwar, and the armed Barges 157
—— XVIII. The Mecoo and Kisshee Kisshee Monkeys 166
—— XIX. The Skinning the Aboma Snake, shot by Capt. Stedman [414] 174
Plate XX. Order of March through the Woods of Surinam facing Page 186
—— XXI. The Blue and Yellow, and the Amazon Macaw 198
—— XXII. Groupe of Negroes imported to be sold for Slaves 200
—— XXIII. Sprig of the Cotton Tree 214
—— XXIV. The Armadilla and Porcupine of Guiana 224
—— XXV. The Skulls of Lieut. Lepper and his Companions 227
—— XXVI. The Manicole and the Cocoa-nut Tree 236
—— XXVII. The Agamy and Powese, or wild Turkey 262
—— XXVIII. The Post Vreedenburgh, and Encampments at Wana Creek 270
—— XXIX. Azure blue Butterfly of South America 278
—— XXX. View of Paramaribo and the Shipping 286
—— XXXI. Plan of the Town of Paramaribo 288
—— XXXII. A Female Quaderoon 296
—— XXXIII. The Bayew and Wirrebocerra Stags of Guiana 308
—— XXXIV. The Sugar-cane in its four different Stages 314
—— XXXV. Flagellation of a female Samboe Slave 326
—— XXXVI. The spur-wing’d Water Hen, and Curlew 340
—— XXXVII. The Pingo and Pecary wild Boar of Guiana 356
—— XXXVIII. The Plantain Tree, and the Banana 372
—— XXXIX. Indian Family of the Charribbee Nation 380
—— XL. Arms, Ornaments, &c. of the Indians 406





Page 17, line 2, for nakedness, read, being naked.
9, Rynodorp, Rynsdorph.
15*, 27, Sorapat, Scrapat.
35, 3, Oyapoa, Oyapocko.
17*, 27, Zelandia, Zealandia.
48, 19, Scherpenhayzoen, Scherpenhuysen.
61, 12, Mansancy, Man Sanny.
61, 19, Quacoo, Quaco.
78, 7, Mr. N. Mr. H.
81, 10, Boucon, Boucou.
92, 12, gilded flags, gilding and flags.
96, 1, Schovnort, Schoonoort.
109, 13, Da cay facy, Da boy facy.
112, 4, claps of thunder, clap of thunder.
113, 11, day season, dry season.
116, 3, Nepseu, Nepveu.
134, 22, this town, this fortress.
135, 11, Mr. Klynhams, Mr. Kleynhans.
136, 28, Fort Slanswelveren, Post Slanswelvaren.
141, 18, heavy feathers, hoary feathers.
169, 14, Mr. Owen, Mr. Ower.
16, Estate Alica, Alida estate.
183, 28, Mr. Cubanns, Mr. de Cabanus.
188, 8, Scribo, Soribo.
190, 28, Bellaiz, Bellair.
191, 1, Charenbeck, Clarenbeek.
194, 17, Cakreluce, Cackerlakke.
197, 25, Henaman, Heneman.
212, 1, Dr. Rissam Dr. Kissam.
219, 10, when the tide ebbed, with the ebb tide.
225, 3, Mr. Ruback, Mr. Rulagh.
246, 28, Fusee, Fúzz.
247, 17, Aweyza, Avoira.
262, 12, Cani-cani, Camy-camy.
266, 27, from, by.
276*, 24, diuretic complaint, a diarrhœa.
289, 4, is a clock, is a bell.
296, 10, Weals, Wales.
303, 3, Comewina, Marawina.
309, 7, escaping, leaping.
370, 22, English soldier, English sailor.
389, 10, and Manioc, or Manioc.
395, 6, bols, bolts.



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The following corrections have been applied to the text:

Page Source Correction Edit distance
xiii, 129, 186 [Not in source] . 1
xviii, 39, 43, 43, 47, 47, 47, 49, 49, 50, 51, 95, 101, 107, 285, 287, 287, 288, 289 Zelandia Zealandia 1
15 Sorapat Scrapat 1
33 [Not in source] of 3
35 Oyapoa Oyapocko 3
48 Scherpenhayzoen Scherpenhuysen 3
61 mansancy Man Sanny 4
61, 90, 344 Quacoo Quaco 1
67 providentally providentially 1
78 Mr. N. Mr. H. 1
81, 82, 83, 83, 85, 101 Boucon Boucou 1
92 gilded flags gilding and flags 6
96 Schovnort Schoonoort 2
109 Da cay fasy Da boy facy 3
112 claps clap 1
113 short-day season short dry-season 3
116 Nepseu Nepveu 1
129 cowded crowded 1
133, 136, 137 Slans Welveren Slanswelvaren 3
134 town fortress 7
135, 161 Klynhams Kleynhans 2
141 heavy hoary 2
167 heighth height 1
169 Mr. Owen Mr. Ower 1
169 estate Alica Alida estate 11
183 Mr. Cubanns Mr. de Cabanus 5
186 Captains Captain’s 1
187, 188, 188 Scribo Soribo 1
190 Bellaiz Bellair 1
191 Charenbeck Clarenbeek 2
194 cakreluce Cackerlakke 7
196 hog’s-lard hog’s lard 1
196, 197 Henaman Heneman 1
219 When the tide ebbed With the ebb tide 11
225 Mr. Ruback Mr. Rulagh 3
228 Shmidt Schmidt 1
246 fusee Fúzz 5 / 4
247 aweyza Avoira 5
262 cani-cani camy-camy 4
266 from by 4
267, 306, 368 , . 1
275* hore-fly horse-fly 1
276* diuretic complaint diarrhœa 14
289 clock bell 5
296 weals wales 2
303 Rio-Comewina Rio-Marawina 4
309 escaping leaping 3
323 foil soil 1
370 soldier sailor 5
383 ever every 1
387 geneneral general 2
389 and or 3
395 bols bolts 1
411 p. [Deleted] 3
414 Buttterfly Butterfly 1