Page images
PDF
EPUB

mun; or nabob, without at the same time possessing any extraordinary share of brilliant talents, or considerable claim to public gratitude for services rendered, he only exposes himself to ridicule, dislike, and opposition. His purpose defeats itself; for as he rises preposterously in his own, he sinks, in proportion, in the public estimation. He is greut only by the smiles of fortune, and obeyed, not respected, only because he is powerful. If this personage be not a married man, he has, as a coinpanion, an over-grown black, or Mulatto woman, who has, perhaps, brought into the world for him a numerous illegitimate progeny, and has obtained over him a complete ascendency and sway. She is his frieud, his adviser, and, in many things, his directress : she manages his household affairs, has the use of his equipage, and is the partner of his bed ; only, perchapce, when he can escape the jealous observation of this female Argus, that he consoles himself, at times, in the arms of some younger dingy nymph. His spurious issue be doats on with aş parental a fondness as if they were the offspring of a more virtuous and tender union; he lavishes on them abundance, he sends them to Europe, where they are liberally educated, and, if the laws of the colony would permit bim, he would, at his decease, bequeath the bulk of his fortune to them. This is the

This is the way in which pinetenths of the male inhabitants of Jamaica live,

Not one out of an hundred of this proportion is without his dingy female companion. Should this Nabob, this man of wealth, take it into his head, after all, to enter into the holy bands of matrimony, at an advanced period of life, when the feelings and affections of the heart are almost extinguistied, it can only be an union of interest on one side, and of dotage on the other. He pays homage at the altar of Hymen too late, and finds that he has only the dregs of a mis-spent, dissolute life to bestow on his blooming but meretricious bride. If he revisits his native country, he must of course make a grand dash. He attracts,' by a splendid and ostentatious display, the stare and the envy of the empty and the avaricious; but excites in the breast of the wise and the thinking, a contenipt of his vanity, and a sympathy for the hollowness of his comforts. This picture is equally applicable to the East as to the West India Nabob, of this cast.

The author has somewhere heard or read a humorous story of one of these great men of wealth. On returning home from abroad with an immense fortune, and wishing to astonish the

uondam acquaintances of his youth, he drove, in princely state, with a splendid equipage, and nuinerous retinue of servants in gaudy liveries, to the humble village of his nativity. The poor people gazed with astonishment on this phenomenon of grandeur, and were delighted with the handfuls of silver which were thrown among them by the unknown hand. Our Nabob enquired for the principal inn of the place; but, alas ! there was no mansion there fit for the reception of so magnificent a guest; and but one petty alehouse, the owner of which was a sort of Factotum, as the sign he exhibited over his door indicated; being an intimation, that the ingenious owner acted in the treble capacity of parishclerk, grave-digger, and barber-surgeon, and politely inviting the passenger to step in either to be shaved, his corns cut, a tooth drawn, or a little blood let. To this humble abode was our great man obliged to adjourn for a while. Not a soul knew a word about him; all was amazement, whisper, and conjecture! till the Nabob ordered his valet de chambre to go and inform his father that he desired an interview with him : the old man was surprized at the sight of this sable Mer-cury, bedizened out as he was in a glittering livery; but when he heard his message, that manly and honest pride, which is necessary to keep the poor but irreproachable man from sinking into contempt, was instantly awakened. He indignantly desired the footman to tell his master, that, “ if he was too great a man to wait upon his father, he ” (the latter) " would not demean himself by waiting on his proud and undutiful

son.!..

Young men coming abroad to either of the In dies, should be cautioned to keep a watchful guard over their tongues, when asked questions relative to the kindred and connections of Nabobs ; otherwise they may unfortunately blab out yery unacceptable pieces of information, such as may injure their own interests, disgrace their patrons, and enrage their friends and families. Some very humourous mistakes of this kind sometimes occur,—where the equivoque between untutored sincerity on one hand, and offended pride on the other, would have formed an excellent scene in a modern comedy.

The man who has acquired a considerable de gree of wealth and influence in Jamaica, is en, abled thereby to appear with great eclat, and make a very conspicuous figure, both by the splendour of his establishment, and by the rank, place, and honorary distinction, which he spares neither pains nor expence to obtain. In so narrow a sphere, such men shine with a dazzling lustre, and spread a broad bluze of light; in Great Britain they appear, like dim stars, shorn of their beams; there they shrink into compara- : tive insignificance. The proud and supercilious upstart to wealth and distinction, has been here spoken of. It is not from thence to be inferred, that there are not many worthy individuals who acquire, in the West Indies, the advantages of wealth, yet retain the good sense and liberality

not to expose themselves by idle and ostentatious parade, to assume extraordinary honours, to triumph in the superiority of wealth, or insult, by an implied comparison, or the authority of power, indigent and unfriended merit.

« PreviousContinue »