« ZurückWeiter »
general opinion here, that there is an insufficiency of steady and continuous labour in this
11. The question is then, whether an attempt shall be made to induce the creole
12. Your Excellency recommends an increase of wages. The current rate of wages here is 10 d. a day, and usually 1 s. in crop season to non-resident labourers; that is to say, to those not residing on estates, and generally 9 d. a day to resident labourers, although on some estates no difference is made between the resident and non-resident. The resident labourer is allowed in all cases a house, and at least an acre of provision-ground, the value of which is nominally reckoned at 3 d. per diem, but this is by no means confined to one acre, some having as much as three or more in cultivation. Thus you will perceive that the labourer is not directly charged rent for his house and grounds; but, with all the advantages I have pointed out, there is but a difference of about one penny per diem made between the resident and non-resident labourer. I find that out of 23 estates from which I have got information, 22 afford medical aid and medicines gratis; the 23d does not, b: cause there is no medical man in the neighbourhood. I certainly had been led into error on this point; I had been informed that the custom of employing a medical man to attend the estate's labourers had been very generally abandoned; this I find by the papers now before me is not the case.
13. The labourers here have not been in the habit of raising much cane in their provision grounds, but that has been principally owing to the low price of sugar. They have been able, at the expense of much less physical labour, to grow provisions for the sale of which they are not restricted to this Island but have a ready market in Trinidad, and are justly satisfied with the large profits they make in that Island. Since the rise in the price of sugar, the cultivation of the cane has become much more general among the labourers, and I cannot find, by strict inquiry, that any discouragement is thrown on it by the planters.
With the terms on which the sugar is manufactured you are well acquainted; for one half of the produce, the canes are carted from the field and manufactured into sugar. You say in the 20th paragraph of your Despatch that in Barbados the planter lends his boilinghouse, taking only one quarter of the produce. If the accommodation afforded by the planter in Barbados is limited to the loan of his boiling-house, I think the advant ge is on the side of the Grenada labourer.
14. Whatever injury the planter may have received from injudicious treatment of the labourers for some years after emancipation, and to which your Excellency very justly attributes a great portion of the distress to which the West India Islands have been subjected, it cannot be said that in Grenada the importation of foreigners has alienated the affections of the labourers and endangered their civilization, by forcing them to abandon that labour for which they are specially fitted, the first introduction of strangers having taken place in May last, with the exception of a few hundred Portuguese introduced some years ago. If the policy pursued by the planter in Grenada has proved ruinous to himself by depriving him of the services of the creole labourer, it can scarcely be asserted that it has driven the latter to the woods, where he lives in barbarism and idleness. It has had the effect of establishing a class of persons unknown in Barbados. Land is cheap in Grenada, either to purchase or rent, and consequently squatting scarcely exists. A proprietary body has sprung into life, daily increasing its numbers and the extent of its operations, and far from retrograding in the scale of civilization. Such a class I consider likely in the course of time to exercise a considerable influence over the political and commercial status of the Island.
15. Where such a field is open to the labourer, the condition of that class cannot be said to be unfavourable, nor is it probable that any but very strong inducements would lead him to neglect his own property, and to return again to the condition of an estates' labourer.
16. From among the owners and renters of land at the seasons when the planter requires least labour he is able to get more than sufficient; but when the canes require weeding the supply of labour is most uncertain. The labourer's land at that time requires attention as well as the planter's, and, as a matter of course, has the preference.
17. I think I have laid before your Excellency a fair exposition of the condition of the labouring classes in Grenada, and of the relation in which they stand to the planters. They have a prospect of attaining a position of independence which is beyond the reach of the labourer in Barbados, where he is dependent on his employer, whom he dare not displease, as his services can be dispensed with, owing to the facility of supplying his place. In Grenada the reverse is the case; the planter is at the mercy of the labourer, who has it almost in his power to dictate terms to his master.
18. My opinion, that a comparison can scarcely be drawn between Barbados and Grenada labour, and that the same system of management will not be attended with the same success, has been strengthenei from a conversation I had a few days since with a gentleman who has lately undertaken the management of an estate here, having been for 15 or 16 years previously settled in Barbados
He says that according to his experience, the creole works harder in Barbados than here; that here the labourer is too independent, and that if spoken to as in Barbados he would shoulder his hoe and leave the fie.d. It is also a remarkable fact, that several Barbados planters have tried sugar cultivation in Grenada, and have, I believe, with one exception, failed.
19. The cost the planter is willing to incur on account of coolie labour, clearly demonstrates the correctness of your assertion, that he could afford to give a higher rate of wages than is paid to the creole labourer, and yet make the cultivation of sugar profitable; but it must be borne in mind that in the item of wages the creole is already on an equality with the coolie, and the greater cost of the latter is caused by the expense of transport from India. The planters admit that the creole is a more able-bodied labourer than the Indian, and physically better fitted for hard work, but maintain that his value is greatly decreased by his unwillingness to labour steadily and uninterruptedly.
20. With respect to the expediency of raising wages, one planter states as follows:"It may safely be advanced that the present rate of wages, with the advantages enjoyed by the native population, has been ample to allow by far the greater number of our effective creole and African population to settle on their own lots of land of from one to two acres, where the settler builds himself a Roseau house," (all the materials taken from the proprietor's land in the mountains), "where he keeps a pig, and cultivates provisions more than ample to supply his wants. He is there in the height of his ambition; seldom works on a sugar estate, except perhaps in crop-time, when he comes in for the sweets, which is always given to the labourers. It is not meant to be said that this is invariably the case, but it appears to be the prevail ng feature, as seen in the present day in the rural districts of this Island; in fact, it is known that, for the most part, the labourers work, on an average, throughout the year continuously only three days a week; the wages for which time, together with the advantages enjoyed by them, and which they take, whether at work or absent from work, enabling them to live at ease during the remainder of the week. From this it is only fair to infer that an increase of wages would only tend for a time to the encouragement of the cane cultivation, but would eventually increase permanently the number of small settlers."
21. This impression that increased wages would only temporarily benefit the estates is so general among the planters, and has taken such strong hold of their minds, that I fear there is at present little probability of their being induced to change their views. Supposing them, however, willing to adopt a more liberal scale of wages, I am not by any means sanguine that it would have the effect of enabling Grenada to dispense with immigration. I do not think that a sufficient number of creoles, willing to contract with the planters for constant work, can be obtained at any price, unless the extent of cultivation be much reduced, which, by making land cheaper than it is, would offer to the labourer still greater inducemen's to become a small proprietor.
22. Whilst advocating that the current rate of wages should be raised, and that the attempt should be made in that way to induce the creole to give his undivided labour to the sugar estates, I am firmly of opinion that immigration, for a time at least, is extremely desirable. This Island is capable of supporting a much larger population than it at present possesses; and although the superior skill of the Barbados planter is generally acknowledged throughout the West Indies, I cannot but attribute a great portion of the prosperity of that Island to its superabundant population, which has enabled the planter to apply his experience and skili to practical purposes.
23. I regret to find that you are of opinion that the explanations I have offered in my Despatch of the 7th August, No. 47, on the subject of the rate of wages paid to coolies in the several British Colonies, will not be considered satisfactory either to the Indian Government or the Secretary of State. I am still, however, under the impression that, with the advantages possessed by the Indian labourer in Grenada, among which I do not reckon as the least the proverbial healthiness of the Island, in consequence of which very few days are lost to the labourer by sickness, he will, at the termination of his contract of service, have saved more money than in some of the larger colonies. Ground provisions, such as yams, sweet potatoes, &c., are easily produced, and it is found that the coolie soon acquires a taste for this description of food. An arrangement has been made with the employers, by which the labourers are supplied with the articles of consumption to which they are accustomed, at cost price ice, at 23 d. per lb.; peas, at 24 d. per lb.; flour (wheat or corn), at 3 d. per lb.; and salt fish, at 3d. The Immigration Agent, Mr. Cockburn, remarks: "I have reason to believe that already they (the coolies) are saving money, as several have stated their wish to deposit part of their earnings with me." Although the planters will not pledge themselves to raise the rate of wages, some of them stating that property in Grenada cannot afford it, I believe that they would consent rather than forego the advantages they expect to derive from an access to the number of the labouring population. This would bring about a general rise in wages throughout the Island.
24. I am aware that I have replied most imperfectly to your Despatch, and it is with extreme diffidence that I have undertaken the task. Your Excellency being well acquainted with the conflicting views likely to be entertained by persons on such a subject as that under consideration, and with the defective and contradictory nature of the information to which I have had to trust, will, I hope, make allowance for the many incongruities which I fear will be apparent in this Despatch.
His Excellency Governor Hincks,
I have, &c. (signed)
C. H. Kortright.
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor Hincks to the Right Honourable the
Windward Islands, Barbados,
(Received, 15 June 1858.)
I HAVE the honour to report to your Lordship the arrival at Grenada on the 22d instant of the ship "Fulwood," from Calcutta, with 362 coolie immigrants.
The number embarked was 402, of which 40 died during the passage from various causes. The remaining 362 are with few exceptions in good health. I hope to have the honour of transmitting to your Lordship full returns by the next mail.
I have, &c. (signed)
COPY of a DESPATCH from Governor Hincks to the Right Honourable the Governor Hincks
Windward Islands, Barbados,
(Received, 19 July 1858.)
(Answered, No. 19, 17 September 1858, p. 107.)
I HAVE the honour to transmit to your Lordship the copy of a Despatch from Mr. President Checkley, together with sundry enclosures, which will I trust supply all necessary information as to the condition of the coolie immigrants per ship "Fulwood."
2. It would appear from the report of the surgeon that great laxity is still permitted at Calcutta. The surgeon states that "many of the coolies were embarked in a miserable condition, weak and emaciated. I can say they were put on board to die"! Again, he observes, that he can "conscientiously say," that many died for "want of nourishment."
Enclosure in No. 5.
3. The authorities in Grenada seem to have been highly satisfied with the conduct of the captain and of the surgeon of the "Fulwood," and to have considered it expedient to award them gratuities in testimony thereof. The immigrants were landed in good health, and have been disposed of among the planters.
Government Office, Grenada,
REFERRING to my Despatch, No. 49, Executive, of the 25th May last, I have now to transmit in duplicate the several documents necessary to afford your Excellency full information respecting the coolie immigrants arrived heie by the ship "Fulwood" on the 22d
2. Upon the arrival of the "Fulwood" I appointed a committee of five gentlemen to apportion the immigrants to the several applicants, with directions to adhere as strictly as circumstances would permit to the instructions conveyed by Lieutenant Governor Kortright
No. 4. Governor Hincks to the Right Hon. Lord Stanley, M. P. 27 May 1858.
to the Right Hon. Lord Stanley, M. P. 14 June 1858.
No. 54. 5 June 1858. Enclosure.
Encl. in No. 5
£. 50. £ 25.
to the committee appointed by him to allot the coolies by the ship "Maidstone" in 1857, and I have much pleasure in reporting to your Excellency that in the performance of that duty they have exercised a sound and impartial judgment. The distribution of the coolies was subsequently made by the Immigration Agent in accordance with the allotments made by the committee.
3. By the Immigration Agent's report herewith forwarded, your Excellency will find that the coolies were landed in a very healthy state, and I have also to report that in acknowledgment of the kindness, care, and attention shown to the immigrants during the voyage by the captain and surgeon of the "Fulwood," gratuities have been awarded by the advice of the executive Council of Filty pounds to the former, and Twenty-five pounds to the latter, both of which sums together with the surgeon's account, amounting to 159 l. 16 s., have been paid out of the funds in the island available for immigration purposes.
4. I have the honour to inform your Excellency that I have drawn a bill of exchange, dated the 2d instant, at 30 days' sight, to the order of W. J. Fitzsimons, commander of the ship "Fulwood" on the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners for 4,147 l. for the passage money of 319 adult coolie immigrants.
5. This addition to the labouring population has been accepted by the agricultural body with the greatest satisfaction, and there is little doubt but that it will conduce materially to the general welfare of the Colony at large.
His Excellency Governor Hincks,
I have, &c. (signed)
Sub Enclosure in No. 5.
F. Y. Checkley,
Immigration Office, Grenada, 30 May 1858.
I HAVE the honour to report, for the information of his Honor the President, that the ship"Fulwood," W. J. Fitzsimons, commander, arrived here from Calcut a on Saturday the 22d instant, after 85 days' passage, with 362 coolie immigrants, who were safely landed on the 29th, and distributed amongst the several estates specified in the annexed schedule, as nearly as could be without separating families, in accordance with the recommendation of the committee appointed by his Honor to assist me in regulating the allotment.
2. I feel much pleasure in stating that the immigrants arrived in most excellent condition, stout, hale, and strong, and had every care and attention paid them during the voyage, as is testified, not only in the report of the surgeon of the ship, but manifest in the clean and healthy condition in which they have been landed, not one name being on the sick list.
3. Forty died on the passage, of fever, dysentery, and debility, which prevailed principally amongst the children and the aged; but I am assured that everything was done that could be done under the circumstances for their comfort and relief in sickness.
4. I am satisfied that the provisions of the Imperial Passengers Act and the Indian Emigration Act have been well carried out, and that the terms of the charterparty have been fully complied with.
5. Captain Fitzsimons has called my attention to an apparent discrepancy in the classification of the ages, several of those put down as infants appearing to be above that age, as fixed by statute, from which he complains that his ship will suffer considerable loss, as no pas-age-money is allowed tor infants; but as the regulations direct that the classification shall be made at the port of embarkation, and the age fixed, according to the law of India, at the time of the sailing of the ship (as specified also in the 11th para. of the charterparty), I submit that it is not in my province to re-classify them on arrival here.
Samuel Mitchell, Esq., Colonial Secretary.
6. But as the captain deserves great credit for the evident care he took of them on board, and the unexceptional condition in which he landed them, and as I consider that every encouragement should be held out to ships conveying immigrants to this port, I would respectfully recommend that a bonus of two rupees (four shillings) a head on the total number of souls landed alive be awarded to the commander, and of one rupee to the surgeon.
I have, &c.
(signed) Y. Cockburn, Immigration Agent.