Saturday, 19 October 2013

25 September 1804

Barbuda September 25th 1804

                I should have sooner informed you of my arrival, but as Mr. Hodge told me he had wrote you I deferred it until I could give you some account of the Island.  I left England on the 20th of May and arrived at Antigua on the 5th of July but was detained there until the 21st on which day I reached this place, since which time I have been endeavouring to make myself as much acquainted with the nature of the Island as possible. I am very much pleased with the Country preferring it greatly to Antigua, and as yet have I reason to think but that the climate will agree perfectly well with my constitution.  From the observations I have been able to make I find in the first place a very valuable stock of Negroes, amounting in all to three hundred and fourteen including children, many of them very able tradesmen of every description, and I general very healthy in the field we can muster from forty to fifty, who are at this time when the weather will permit, employed in weeding the corn yams etc which are all expended on the Island, none having been exported for  several years and I am informed that this work takes up nearly one half of their time notwithstanding they feed themselves several months in the year,  and for which purpose they are allowed as much ground as they can manage, in which they work the Sunday and Saturday afternoon at other times they are employed in cutting wood for sale, burning lime, drising sheep, repairing the fences or any other occasional work, I am keeping a diary of their times which will enable me to send you a copy as often as you may desire it. There are also in and about the enclosures nearly five hundred head of cattle, but the exact number has never been ascertained, many of them are very old, several oxen are fifteen years and some older, and many of those that have not yet been worked are as much as six and seven years old, there are from three to four hundred more in the woods.  The horses, mares & colts are about one hundred; the sheep of which it is impossible to ascertain the number, and they are all over the island, are thought to be from twenty to twenty five thousand, Hog in the domestic state there is not one, there are some wild in the woods, but they cannot be brought to any account, and are only as well as the goats taken for the use of the Negros.  The island according to a plan of it here consists of 39376 acres including the salt pond; about 1497 acres on by are enclosed, said that divided into ten divisions, the island at this time has a very favourable appearance, there having been a great plenty of rain, consequently great plenty of feed for the stock, but I am informed that one part of the year during the dry months, the island is very much distressed; when they are obliged to feed the cattle on bush, at which time great numbers of the old ones die; there is some hay made every year, but not nearly enough to serve them in the very dry season, it is therefore kept for the horses as they will not like the cattle and sheep eat the bush; it would therefore be a great object to raise something that might supply the place of grass during the dry weather, there is very little cultivation carried on, everything being left to nature except the corn, which takes up so large a part of the Negros time, and the greatest part of that time is employed in weeding, the method used in cultivating it consists in making small holes at four feet from each other, in which the corn is planted, when the grass and weeds are cut down with hoes, and in this almost all the labour consists, and if it proves a wet season which we ought always to wish for, the ground is never clear, nor is it ever thoroughly moved.  There are spots of very good ground on the island, where ploughs may be used to great advantage, both in raising corn, and also some sort of food for the cattle, but of what kind I am as yet at a loss to say, but that great benefit would arise from the  use of the plough I have not the least doubt of, especially as there is such a number of young Oxen on the place and now perfectly idle, there may be a little difficulty in establishing it at first but that will very soon be yole over.  As to the accounts they are all kept at Antigua, and we know nothing of them here neither of the disposal of the stock we sent off, there is an agent at St Johns a Mr. Besouth who sends here for what he may want therefore the only thing which ????? ????? in my power to do is to keep as exact account of the difference ??? the of out from the island, but as to the ?????? where and how  ??? are disposed of I am entirely ignorant, there has been nothing of consequence sent from here since my arrival, but as it is your desire that I should send you the accounts, I will request with your permission to have a copy of the sales sent me as also an invoice of whatever maybe sent here, which is not at present done.  Mr. Huggins, the present manager of the island is a native of Antigua, he is a very active young man, and I understand considered there a very good planter, in which line he had hither there are two other men on the island, I am therefore at present mearly a lookeron, but shall endeavour to make myself as useful to as possible and it will give me the greatest satisfaction to find that my conduct meets with your approbation.  There was a Vessel wracked on the island on the night of the 7th inst. But very little of the cargo has been saved.  I shall be very much obliged to you for the permission to have the use of a horse.

I have the honour to be, sir
Your most obedient and very humble servant
John James 

Reference: JJ251 Robson Lowe collection on microfilm 24995, University of Texas at Austin, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection.

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