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THE author of the following Account of Jamaica has endeavoured to avoid, as much as possible, treading in the footsteps of those who have already written on the same subject. The mere repetition of a task anticipated by others, though offered in a new shape, would be quite superfluous. His object is rather to supply, by particular observations on various topics connected with such account (which those writers have either not touched on, or noticed but slightly) that information which may perhaps interest and amuse in a greater degree than the more systematic and general description of a country, Though such writers have either disdained or neglected to enter minutely into many of these subjects, it will yet be allowed that they are deserving of a little more attention. The minuter traits and more gradual shades of life and man
ners, doubtless convey a more accurate knowledge of a people, besides the entertainment afforded, than those general outlines and more obvious features which the formal historian would probably content himself with exhibiting. Into such miputiæ the author will occasionally enter, apd he will sometimes interweave with his descriptions such facts, anecdotes, and notices, as have come within his own knowledge, or have been derived from authentic sources. His principal view is to exhibit a picture of society and manners in this island (which will in some measure apply to the other West India islands); to describe the different ranks and classes of the whites, and of the free people of colour and blacks; to give an account of the slaves, their character, customs, condition, and treatment; and whatever else is dependent on, or may arise out of these subjects.
A residence of twenty-one years in Jamaica, and in a situation where he had opportunities of knowing and observing much on the topics he has discussed, will, the author trusts, enable him to perform this task with truth and accuracy. He will not be so confident as to say, that ne errors whatever will be found to have crept into his production ; but he will at least flatter himself, that none of any moment will be discovered; and he can boldly affirm, not one originating from partiality, prejudice, or misrepresentation.
In order to give consistency and connection to the whole, he will offer sketches of the history, topography, government, colonial laws, commerce, productions, &c. of this island. Elaborate or learned disquisitions on these subjects he does not aim at; nor are they at all wanted in such a work. They are to be found in the pages of more voluminous and scientific writers; to copy whom would be altogether unnecessary. At the same time, whatever opinions, sentiments, or observations of the author's own, may occasionally occur, he will of course not fail to offer. Perhaps owing to changes produced by time, or to his seeing things in different points of view from others, he may sometimes differ from them in his opinions and representations. This he cannot help: but he can. at least say, that the account he gives is in a great measure the result of his own personal experience and observation, unaided and unrestrained by the pages of any writer whatever, and unbiassed by any motives but those of a love of truth.
Geographical Situation of Jamaica.—Sketch of
its Discovery, and Settlement, and subses quent History.
THE island of Jamaica is one of that great cluster of islands that lie in the gulph of Florida, and go under the name of Caribbees; they are divided into windward and leeward. Jamaica belongs to the latter division, and is situated between 17. 44. N. L. and 75. 55. and 78. 48. W. L. it is 180 miles in length from east to west, and 60 miles in its greatest 'breadth. This island was discovered by the great Columbus, in 1494, after he had discovered Hispaniola and Cuba, in the neighbourhood of which islands it lies, at about thirty leagues distance from each. But it was not till fifteen years after, that the Spaniards made any settlement in Jamaica; and then, it is asserted, they behaved to the unfortunate inhabitants with all that barbarity and oppression with which they treated the natives of every country they conquered, and which have fixed a