Friday, March 12, 2010

05Dec1871, First Day in Kingston

KINGSTON, Tuesday, December 5th, 1871.
—We drove up to Capt. Cooper's to hear what we had better go and see, and he sent us a glorious drive down by the sea-coast. The sun too hot to be borne without shade, though we got back by 9.30 ; but moving through the air we were quite cool and the beauty was indescribable.

The first thing that struck one all of a heap was the common roadside hedges being made of huge cacti ! We saw a humming-bird. Coming home to breakfast (which didn't come off till past 11, for we did our drive on a cup of coffee and a banana), we got into a state of mind at hearing nothing from the Governor, to whom we sent our letters of introduction yesterday ; however, at 12 a delightful A.D.C. turned up of the name of Capt. Lanyon [FN: Afterwards Sir Owen Lanyon.], who proved to have been a Bromsgrove boy and to have played formerly in the great Stourbridge and Bromsgrove matches agst various brothers of mine, and to have heard of the famous Lyttelton 11 match ! He took possession of us, and carried us off to see the Lunatic Asylum and Penitentiary. The Asylum the most admirable thing I ever saw, under Dr. Allen, who found it in '64 in the most fearful state of filth and mismanagement and has got it into perfect order. Thirty-seven per cent. of the patients are cured, though only dangerous maniacs are admitted : everyone does work of some sort or other, and so much money is made thereby that the whole cost per head a week, including every expense, is 7s. and a few pence. We saw them at dinner, men and women in the same shed at separate tables, waited upon by patients, with perfect order and quiet : Grace beautifully sung and most touching to hear. No punishments, no padded rooms ; the most violent are put for a short time when they break out into railed spaces in the open air, and that is all the physical restraint used.

Captain Lanyon after this packt off Shepherd and the luggage in a carriage (N.B. we ought only to have brought a portmanteau between us in the way of heavy luggage), and we shortly followed in another and drove off to the mountains. After mounting for an hour, we got upon horses that were waiting for us and rode the rest of the way, about 2½ miles. It is quite impossible to describe this wonderful and glorious ride, but I do trust we shall never forget it : the great crumpled mountain-spurs clothed with astonishing vegetation from base to summit, the splendid colouring, the delicious air, and then soft night-fall and fireflies. The luggage went up this last stage on the heads of negroes ! At last we came into a clean little bungalow of a house all open doors and windows, and were kindly received by Sir John Grant, a big nice Scotchman. Civilised dressing and dinner very nice ! The only other guests are certain Hutchins's ; he came about irrigation business.

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