Friday, March 12, 2010

18Dec1871, To Work or Be Independent

Monday, December 18th, 1871.
—These little houses are very primitive : one sleeps under unceiled shingle roofs, with unglazed windows fitted only with jalousies ; and these and all the other arrangements make them delightfully cool. We hear various views and opinions. Mr. Royes does without coolies, and is frantic at the proposal to defray a larger proportion than is now defrayed of the expenses of immigration, out of general taxation. He manages his negro population with peculiar tact apparently, for he gets them to work for him all the year round ; how, is a mystery, or indeed how anybody gets any regular work done for wages ; the negroes being able to live even on small acre or half-acre freehold plots ; and to do well on larger ones, which they seem able to buy at a cheaper rate than they can rent them. This must be a great nuisance to the owners of large estates, whose sugar spoils at certain seasons if kept waiting ; but I don't see how they can expect people to work for them who can be independent. Mr. Kerr and Mr. Cooke go in for coolies ; and Mrs. K. has a darling pretty little dot of an Indian boy of 8 in training for a house servant ; he waited famously and seemed as tractable as an angel. The coolies keep quite separate from the negroes ; when they are of high caste, they are troublesome from their customs, but low-caste ones seem only to object to having anything to do with beef, and their children gradually get over this. No regular attempt is made at Christianizing them, but they are glad to be educated by whites. One instance we have heard of a coolie marrying a brown girl.

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