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ST. LUCIA

obtainable in St. Lucia, and the price of necessaries in the case of agricultural labourers,
I have the honour to state that the current rate of wages varies according to the localities,
the different periods of the year, the exigencies of the planters, and the description of work
performed. It is never less than 10 d. a day in any part of the island, and it is often
is. 3 d., sometimes 1s. 5d. This is particularly the case during crop time, and for night-
work performed in the manufactories.

2. The price of necessaries is less subject to fluctuation. Upon this point the annexed
Table may be relied on as correct; I should add, however, that in the circumstances of
St. Lucia, owing to the extensive provision grounds attached to tbe different estates, and
to the waste lands, whether belonging to the Crown or to vacant successions, which an in-
dustrious labourer may easily convert into provision grounds; the question as to the price of
necessaries, especially as regards the articles of food, presents but little difficulty. Another
advantage in this respect is derived from the great abundance of fish. On this question
I have received from the stipendiary magistrate of the 1st district a communication contain-
ing some interesting particulars, extract of which is herein enclosed.

3. While on this subject, I may advert to the fact, that by this mail I have the satisfaction
of transmitting to your Excellency copy of the Supplementary Immigration Ordinance,
passed on the 14th July last, by which the objections to the former Ordinance have been
removed. Coupling this circumstance with the gratifying intelligence conveyed in your
Excellency's Despatch, No. 126, of the 24th July, and with the great advantages held out
by St. Lucia to industrious immigrants, I venture to express the hope that the promised
Indian labourers will soon be sent to this island. That they are much needed and anxiously
expected, your Excellency had an opportunity of ascertaining during your recent visit to
this island.

I have, &c.
His Excellency Francis Hincks, Esq.,

(signed) H. H. Breen,
Governor in Chief.

Administering the Government.

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Extract from a Letter from Mr. Stipendiary Magistrate Jennings, dated 29 July 1857.

Having given the information immediately called for, I trust your Excellency will not consider the following observations out of place, and which I forward, as it appears to be your Excellency's desire to ascertain the means a coolie, when introduced into the Colony, would have at his disposal for benefiting himself.

The money wages of the labourers in St. Lucia must be considered as only a part payment for their work, for there is not an estate in this district whereon there are not large quantities of uncultivated land, which the labourers working on the estate are permitted to cultivate at pleasure; they are also permitted to keep stock; and many of them, by the means of their gardens, horses, cows, and pigs, more than double the amount of their money wages.

A proof of the great ease with which a labourer in St. Lucia may not only live well, but amass considerable sums of money, is shown by the present condition of numbers of the African immigrants imported into the island in 1849-50. Many of these people are now proprietors o from three to ten acres of fine rich soil, where they keep horses, cows, pigs,

&c.,

ST. LUCIA.

&c., in several instances to the number of 12 to 14 heads. Many of the immigrants, to my certain knowledge, were owners of a horse, or one or two cows, before they have been a year relieved from their contracts.

Fish is so abundant, and so easily caught, that a labourer must be more than lazy if he cannot, on almost any evening after he has finished his work, when employed in the field, and should he not go to his garden, contrive to catch enough for the use of himself and family. Crabs, of which the labourers make free u:e, are obtainable by any one who chooses to look for them.

Game is also very easily obtained, and affords a source of income to many an industrious man.

In consequence of the foregoing facilities, the agricultural labourer spends very little for his food, except salt fish and salt pork (with the latter he seasons his pot of vegetables), his garden providing him with esculents, and his gin or rod with flesh, for which, however, he cares little, except on Sundays, when he generally indulges himself with a small portion of butcher's meat.

(True extract.)
(signed)

H. H. Breen,

Colonial Secretary

Enclosure 3, in No. 2.

Encl. 3, in No. 2. (No. 135.)

Windward Islands, Barbados, Sir,

19 August 1857. Your Despatch of the 3d instant, No. 66, Executive, with the accompanying extract from a letter of Mr. Stipendiary Magistrate Jennings, has engaged my best attention.

2. I am sorry, though I cannot say that I am surprised, to learn that the vicious systemwhich has been the main cause of the diversion of creole labour from the sugar estates in all the Colonies, except Barbados, prevails in St. Lucia, and under which the labourers have been permitted to occupy, without rent, Crown lands, or those belonging to vacant successions, which ought to be protected by the Government or the estates of the planters.

3. Had the planters, at the period of emancipation, adopted the rule of charging rent for all lands occupied, and had the Government insisted on the payment of a heavy weekly or monthly tax from all those occupying Crown or other vacant lands, the negroes would have had to labour as they do in Barbados.

4. Again, had the proprietors, while charging a fair rent for the occupation of their land, unconnected altogether with the question of wages, encouraged the labourers to cultivate the sugar-cane, by affording them facilities for manufacturing their small crops, as they do in Barbados, taking only one-fourth of the produce, I am.persualed that with eve moderate wages there would have been in St. Lucia a superabundance of labourers.

5. My belief is, that the reason why the Barbados labourers refuse to emigrate is, that, even with low wages, they are better off than the labourers in the other Colonies, owing to the highly judicious treatment which they have received from the planters.

6. Whether it be possible to recover for the sugar estates the labour which has been diverted from them, owing to a most erroneous policy, is a question which I have no means of determining. I must say, however, that the impressions which I have received during my visit to St. Lucia, and which I am persuaded are correct, are, that in the principal sugar district, the Soufriere Quarter, the resident proprietors of unencumbered estates are in pros-perous circumstances, and have had no just cause of complaint, either on the score of want of labour, or on other grounds.

7. I was also led to think that St. Lucia had suffered much from the rashness and overspeculation of individuals, and that estates had been thrown out of cultivation, not from want of labour, but from want of capital to employ labour, owing to their having been mortgaged to so great an extent that no further loans could be obtained on them.

8. I believe now that there is an ample supply of labour in St. Lucia, which ought to be made available; but, owing to the situation of the estates which are near the coast all round the island, the labourers on the abandoned estates are not likely to leave them to go upon others without some inducement greater than has yet been offered, and I am by no means prepared to affirm that any inducement which it would be in the power of the planters tu offer would be sufficient.

9. I have not now to consider the expediency of introducing coolie labourers. Before I assumed the government of these Colonies, the Ordinance providing for immigration had been sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government, and my duty was simply to carry it out, and I have studiously refrained hitherto from expres-ing any opinions officially on the subject, though it has been constantly under my consideration.

ST. LUCTA.

10. The question which has arisen is a practical one of great importance. Can the St. Lucia planter's expect coolie labourers unless they are prepared to give the same wages as those which prevail in British Guiana ? I am not clear, from your D-spatch, as to the rate of wages which I should be authorised to insorm the Secretary of State is current in St. Lucia.

11. I was repeatedly informed, when there a few weeks ago, that it was 10 d. per day. The wages for nightwork, or in the crop time, are entirely beside the present question. What do the planters ordinarily pay their labourers, by the day or by the task ? Has any tariff been agreed upon for taskwork, and, if so, has it been published ? You are aware that the system of taskwork prevails generally in the Colonies, and that the coolies will expect to work under it. 12. Are there in St. Lucia, as in Barbados, classes of labourers to whom different

wages are given? I fear that without more precise explanation as to rates, where there is so wide a range as from 10 d. to 17 d., the Secretary of State would be rather embarrassed than otherwise by your Despatch.

13. You must recollect that if the coolies should be informed that wages are 1 s. 5 d. a day they will expect to receive that amount and not 10 d. It would therefore, I think, be advisable for you to get the leading applicants for coolie labourers to state the rate of wages they are prepared to give, and as I am anxious to have some idea of the entire number required, I have prepared a form of return, which I hope you will be able to get filled up, and several copies of which have the honour to transmit. I may observe, that on one occasion the planters in Trinidad refused to receive coolies after they had been landed, and thus caused a good deal of embarrassment.

14. I transmit here with the copy of a Despatch which I have recently addressed to Lieutenant Governor Kortright on the labour question. You will understand this as a mere expression of my individual opinions on this very important question. They have not been cominunicated to the Secretary of State, because until now no practical question has arisen to call for their communication.

15. I do not think that in St. Lucia, any more than ia Grenada, sufficient inducements have been offered to the creole population to labour, while facilities of all kinds have been afforded to them to cultivate lands for themselves.

16. I shall be very glad indeed to receive from you any observations with reference to my views that may occur to you, and I trust that you will have no hesitation in conveying them with the most perfect freedom. The labour question in these Colonies has certainly not yet been satisfactorily solved, and opinions may be advantageously canrassed, and the facts on which they are based scrupulously examined.

17. While I rely with great confidence on the correctness of the opinions which I have formed, mainly because they are in accordance with well established economical principles, I invite the closest scrutiny of my theory, and the most rigid examination of all facts and figures.

I have, &c.
His Honor the Administrator,

(signed)

F. Hincks. St. Lucia.

Encl. 4, in No. 2.

Enclosure 4, in No. 2.
(No. 33.)
Sir,

St. Lucia, 3 September 1857.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's Despatch of the 19th
August, No. 135, Executive, on the labour question, together with the copy of a Despatch
addressed by your Excellency on the same important subject to Lieutenant Governor
Kortright.

2. Your Excellency kindly invites me to canvass with freedom the opinions which you have expressed in those documents, and I shall avail myself of this perinission to offer such observations as may occur to me on this, of all questions, the most vital to the West Indies.

3. On the advantages and cheapness of free labour, as compared with slave labour, there can be but one opinion in so far as these Colonies are concerned. From my acquaintance with the different estates in this island, exterding over a period of 28 years, and my intimate knowledge of the position and circumstances of their owners, derived fiom the Mortgage Office, which has been for nearly the same space of time under my direction, I can affirm that under the free-labour system many of the planters have not only paid off the debts contracted during slavery, but have become enriched. Where this is not the case the result is to be ascribed either to want of capital, want of labour, want of proper mauagement, the drought which prevails in certain districts, absenteeism, or rash speculation.

4. Of all descriptions of free labour the one which is best suited to these Colonies is that of their native population. Where that fails, the deficiency should, if practicable, be supplied by African immigration. The labourers of that class, imported some years ago into St.

Lucia,

ST. LUCIA.

Lucia, have proved a blessing alike to themselves and to their employers. In many instances they have realised little fortunes; and where they have remained upon the estales they have been the means of keeping up the little cultivation that is carried on there. No wonder, then, that our planters of French origin should look with feelings of jealousy, and even of despair, upon the successful efforts made by their neighbours of Martinique to import Africans into that flourishing Colony.

5. That there is a great deficiency of creole labour in St. Lucia is a well-known fact. The only question is, how is that deficiency to be supplied ? The remedy suggested by your Excellency is to attract the creole labourers to the estates by offering them increased wages, say 1 s. 6 d. per day. In order to judge how far this scheme is applicable to the circumstances of St. Lucia, and how far it is likely to produce the desired result, we must examine more closely the actual state of things. No doubt, if the labourers, as in the case of a “strike” in our manufacturing districts at home, had suddenly withdrawn from the estates, and refused to work, the offer of an increase of wages might be resorted to with success; but such is not the case. The St. Lucia labourers have been retiring, one by one, froin the estates for the last 20 years; nol in consequence of the low rate of wages, but rather because those wages, coupled with the advantages obtainable in other respects, enable them 10 save money, and purchase small portions of land, which they cultivate on their own account.

6. In order to bring about this state of affairs, three things are requisite, and they are found in the case of St. Lucia, namely, extensive tracts of land out of cultivation, owners disposed to sell, and labourers with money in hand, ready to purchase. When this system commenced, it is likely that the planters foresaw to what it would lead in the long-run; but present interest made them overlook remote or contingent evils; a'd, moreover, it would have required a combination of the whole body of planters to check that which each, separately, had no objection to encourage.

9. The purchase of small portions of land has now proceeded to an incalculable extent. This is shown in some measure by the return furnished by me to Mr. Drysdale in May 1856, and published with his report on the Blue Book for 1856; and it is further illustrated by the extraordinary number of barrels of sugar which some of the merchants of Castries have purchased this year from the small cultivators. These, too, it must be remembered, are altogether apart from that class of small proprietors who confine their operations to the raising of provisions, stock, &c.

8. Another fact which is, I think, demonstrated by these data is, that the St. Lucia labourer has no cause to complain of ill-usage from the planters. The Barbados planters are known to be a very humane and liberal body of men; but, in spite of our drawbacks and deficiencies in other respects, I have no liesitation in affirming that in no island in the West Indies have the planters shown themselves more liberal to their labourers than in St. Lucia. This may be inferred from the circumstance, above stated, of so many of the labourers saving money from their wages to purchase small estates; and it is illustrated in another sense by the small number of complaints brought by the labourers against their employers. Had Barbados possessed the same abundance of land as St. Lucia, no judicious treatment of her labourers would have prevented them from purchasing their one or two acres, where there were acres to purchase. The Barbadians may thank the density of their population for the prosperity of their Colony. To the sparse and scattered character of hers, St. Lucia will be ever indebted for the low rank which she holds among these islands,

9. Such being the state of things in this Colony, the offer of an increase of wages would not be productive of any corresponding benefit to the planter; to be attended even with a show of advantage, it should come from the planters as a body, and not from any of them in particular. If made by a certain number only, it might have the effect of benefiting them; but, instead of bringing back the negroes who have retired from the estates, it would draw them from one estate to the other, to the prejudice of those who did not concur.

10. The negroes, if I may judge from the sample with which I am best acquainted (those of St. Lucia), are fond of their ease and their independence.

Within the last twenty years some thousands of them have got married in this island.

They begin to have a notion of bringing up a family, and all these ideas find their development and indulgence much more adéquately upon their own estate” than in the position of dependents upon the estate of another.

To me this feeling seems very natural; it is the inevitable consequence of their emancipation from slavery; and whatever becomes of the labour question, I confess I should regret to see any system devised which should have a tendency to stifle that feeling in the negro's breast. Let us have freedom in industry, as well as in commerce, and matters will find iheir own level.

11. The offer of an increase of wages to the labourers of St. Lucia would, therefore, in my opinion, be productive of no good result

. That the present high price of sugar calls for some increase in the ordinary rate of wages, I freely admit, and I should hope that no planter would be so blind to his interest as to withhold it from his labourers. But that the offer of 1s. 6 d., or even 2 s. a day, would have the effect of bringing back to the estates negroes who are in the enjoyment of their little properties, is a proposition from which I must respectfully dissent. It might have that effect upon some of those who are in the precarious occupation of Crown or vacant lands, and upon a few idlers in the towns and villages, but it would leave the supply of labour nearly the same as before. 12. The occupiers of Crown lands, and of those belonging to vacant successions in St.

ST. LUCIA.

Lucia, are not so numerous as might at first be supposed; very few negroes have their
houses upon those lands, and when they occupy them at all it, is merely to make their
garders upon them. No one is more alive to his interest than the negro; he is perfectly
aware of the uncertainty of his tenure in relation to all such lands; and, whenever his
means admit of it, he is never slow in exchanging that uncertainty for a less exceptionable
title elsewhere. Since my assumption of the government several applications have been
made to me by parties desirous of being authorised to occupy, or to continue in the occupa-
tion of, Crow i lands; but I have withheld my sanction in every instance,

12. No supply of labour at all adequate to the wants of the Colony being obtainable from
its internal resources, the remedy consists in immigration in some shape or other, and as that
of the coolies seems the only kind available for the present, our best exertions should be
employed to render it beneficial to all concerned. For that purpose I agree with your
Excellency that it is desirable the St. Lucia planters should be prepared to give the coolies a
higher rate of wages than that at present established.

14. In my Despatch of the 3d August, No. 66, I stated that the wages in St. Lucia ranged froni 10 d. to 1s. 5d. per day, according to the localities, the period of the year, and the work performed. To make this more explicit, I may add that an industrious labourer can earn 1s. per day, one working day with another, throughout the year. The annexed table, compiled from returns with which I have been furnished by the stipendiary magistrates, will show the rate of wages obtainable upon the principal estates.

15. The St. Lucia planters seem averse to taskwork, and only resort to it when they are
unable to procure regular labour by the day; it prevails, however, to a considerable extent
upon many estates. There is no tariff for such work, each job being regulated by mutual
agreement between the parties as circumstances arise.

16. There are not in St. Lucia, as in Barbados, classes of labourers to whom different
wages are given; the only division here is that of men, women, and boys, whose wagts
vary accordingly. Upon this point the table already referred to will furnish some further
information.

17. Every labourer regularly employed upon an estate is provided with a house and pro-
vision grounds free of charge; if not regularly employed, he gives one day's work in the
week in the name of rent for his house.

18. In St. Lucia the emancipated negro is not unwilling to work for hire ; but if he has money, and finds land to purchase, he prefers to purchase the land ; and who can blame him?' The white man would do the same in similar circumstances.

19. Before the receipt of the forms transmitted with your Excellency's Despatch of the 19h August, No. 135, Executive, I had prepared a somewhat similar form, copy of which I sent to Dr. Bennett, with a request that he would furnish me with such replies as his experience as a planter might enable him to make.

I am now in possession of Dr. Bennett's answer, copy of which, and of the queries put to him by me, I have the honour to transmit herewith.

20. From Dr. Bennett's statement, your Excellency will perceive the difficulty of filling up those forms of return in anything like a satisfactory shape. That difficulty I have already experienced to a considerable extent; and I resolved at last upon despatching a gentleman to visit the principal estates in the different districts, and collect the particulars as far as practicable from the planters themselves. The person I have selected for this duty is Mr. Dreuil, who, from his experience as a planter of 18 years' standing, and his constant communication with the estates as chief revenue officer, seems well qualified for the task. He has not yet returned to Castries, and I am therefore precluded from forwarding the returns by the present steamer.

21. The annexed return will show the names of the applicants for coolie labourers, the names of the estates, and the number of labourers required in each case. I have written to the different applicants to ascertain the rate of wages they are prepared to give, and shall report the result by the earliest opportunity.

I have, &c.

(signed) Henry H. Breen,
His Excellency, Francis Hincks, Esq.,

Administering the Government.
Governor-in-Chief.

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A STATEMENT of the current Rate of Wages paid to Agricultural Labourers in the different

Districts of St. Lucia, as furnished by the Stipendiary Magistrates.

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