« PreviousContinue »
race from indiscriminate slaughter at all seasons. A penalty of five pounds is, however,' very properly exacted from the person who wantonly kills a carrion crow (a species of the vulture) in the neighbourhood of the towns. This bird, though frightful and disgusting to the sight, is, however, a most useful and salutary appendage to the climate, by destroying those 'nuisances 'which might otherwise fill the air with pestilential vapours.
Except the amusements here enumerated, there are few the inhabitants of Jamaica can have recourse to, but such as originate in a friendly interchange of visits. The inhabitant of the town, as well as the country (unless constantly engaged in some active employment that engrosses the whole of his time), is liable to the dull uniformity of a perpetual unvaried sameness of life and objects ; unless, happily actuated by a spirit of inquiry and taste for study, he employs the leisure hours of life in gratifying curiosity, and adding to the acquisition of knowledge. An account of a battle by land, or fight by sea, is therefore as acceptable to him as to inost of our political quid-nuncs; and one will see clusters of those politicians' gathered together in the towns and villages on a Sunday or Monday morning waiting the coming in 'of the post-boy, with a xious looks, on the arrival of a packet from
the greater part impatient to know the
prices arid sales of sugar, rum, coffee, &c. and all solicitous to learn the important events of the war, as if their very existence depended on the issue of a siege, or the event of an expedition. Those vicissitudes of European warfare greatly contribute to keep their minds from a stagnant languor, and give a new spring to conversation and to conjecture. There are some tolerable good newspapers for the circulation of this sort of intelligence.
The inhabitants of this country, particularly the Europeans, are peculiarly fond of convivial parties, though perhaps not so much now as formerly. This is another source of amusement and occupation of spare time. Besides numerous private parties, there are frequent tavern dinners on various public occasions ; as freemasons' dinners (there are no less than seventeen lodges in the island), military dinners, vestry dinners, grand jury dinners, peace dinners, king's birth-day dinners, governor's dinners (while that officer performs his military tour), victory dinners, &c. &c.
On these occasions no expense is spared to render the entertainment costly and splendid. Every luxury is catered up for the purpose, and copious libations of various wines, and other good things, are poured forth to the jolly god of good fellowship. Indeed, neither Hygeia nor the goddess of prudence have often a voice at these jovial meetings. It is rather to be
apprehended, that there is a greater actual risk of the sacrifice of health, than a certainty of the enjoyment of pleasure at them, particularly in such a climate, where irregularity and intemperance must be doubly injurious. Hard drinking is, however, not quite so much the fashion here at present as in former times, when unbounded dissipation was the “ order of the day,” both at public and private entertainments; and when it was conceived by the master of the feast, if a private one, that he did not treat his guests with a cordial welcome if he did not, ere they quitted his table, deprive them of the use of their reason and their legs; or, if a public one, he was considered as a disaffected person who did not get most loyally drunk.
But the shameful excesses formerly practised by the white people on the estates exceeded all credibility. But of this more will hereafter be said.
There is in Kingston, and one or two of the parishes, an annual meeting, called the European club, the members of which are all Europeans, as the name imports. The qualification for a constituent member is a thirty years! residence in Jamaica; and for an bonorary onę twenty-five years. The generality of them, there ; fore, must be old, or elderly men, seasoned to the climate and to good drinking. It must
4 venerable spectacle, to see this groupe of grey:
beards "moistening the clay” with the juice of the grape, and gaily recalling, over the beloved potation, the days of frolic and of 'youth.
Many thousands are annually wasted on these expensive entertainments. If, however, when the tidings of a glorious but sanguinary victory arrive, the sums that are expended in this sort of rejoicing were consecrated to another use--the contributing to the support of the unfortunate widows and orphans of the brave fellows who may have perished in the conflict, it would be more honourable to the country as well as to the cause of humanity,
It is, on the whole, much to be wished, that a few polite and elegant amusements were encouraged in this island, if it were only for the accommodation and pleasure of the fair sex, whose happiness the generous and the amiable of mankind must consult in preference to their own. They cannot participate in many of the diversions, revels, and relaxations of the other sex. Amusements calculated at once to please and instruct, would animate and enliven them, afford topics for conversation, and impart an emulation of higher excellencles, by communicating new ideas. The embellishments of the mind give a dignity and interest to the charms of the person, and correct, as we acquire them, the defects of early habit and education. Without some degree of mental attainment and cultivation, the com:
pany of the most lovely woman would soon become insipid. It is this which makes her doubly enchanting, and rivets the chains which beauty had forged. To this it need only be added, that, when possessed of this intellectual grace, the West India beauty displays attractions and amiableness perhaps equal to any on earth,