ST. HELENA is the most solitary island of the Southern Atlantic Archipelago. In 15° 55' south latitude and 5° 49' west longitude, alone it stands, in the very midst of the South Atlantic Ocean, 1140 miles distant from the African Continent on one side, 1800 from South America on the other, 698 from the Island of Ascension, and 4000 from England. No human eye ever saw this rocky spot in its primeval grandeur until the 21st of May in the year 1502, when one of the earliest and bravest navigators, Commodore John de Nova Castella, commanding a Portuguese fleet on its return from India, discovered it. He found there no aborigines, nor was any trace of man's work to be seen. This celebrated voyager with his companions had, however, the satisfaction of seeing the Island in all the pristine beauty of its native vegetation. Unfortunately in those days it never occurred to them to make a collection of its plants, or other productions; and all we know of it at that period is, that rich vegetation clothed its surface, the interior being described as an entire forest, with Gumwood and other indigenous trees over hanging some of the sea precipices. It requires some amount of faith on the part of the modern traveller, when told this, to see in the now dark, frowning, barren, rocky outside of St. Helena any probability of its ever having been green with verdure; but there are good reasons for believing the record of the discoverers to be correct. An abundance of fresh water, running down the valleys into the sea, existed then as now, but the only inhabitants seem to have been sea birds, seals, sea lions, and turtle; at least we are not informed of any others, although it is elsewhere recorded that one land bird was found there. These early navigators were generally on the look out for new islands, and
were quite prepared to stock and to colonize them whenever it was their fortune to discover them. The former they were quite prepared for on this occasion, by the fact of their having with them, and their leaving at the Island, a supply of goats, asses, and hogs, but it does not appear that any human being remained; nature was left in possession to reign alone for eleven years longer, disturbed only by the battle which has waged ever since between the goats and the native vegetation.
The day of its discovery being the anniversary of the birthday of Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, the island was called St. Helena, in honour thereof, by the Portuguese, and has retained the same name ever since.
In the year 1513, the Portuguese, partly with a view to colonize the place, and partly, as was their custom, to dispose of a prisoner, returned there from India, and left as its first human inhabitant Fernandez Lopez, a nobleman, who having incurred disgrace through desertion, was so rewarded; previously he had been mutilated by his nose, ears, right hand and little finger of the left hand being cut off, and he appeared to prefer this banishment to the reproach which he must suffer on being taken home to Europe. He thus had the honour of being the first Governor of St. Helena, and was provided with a few negro slaves, pigs, goats, poultry, partridges, guinea fowl, pheasants, peacocks, vegetables, roots, fig, orange, lemon and peach trees. After this poor creature had spent four years in cultivating the soil, his Robinson Crusoe style of life came to an end by his removal through orders from Portugal.
The Portuguese continued to make use of the Island as a place of call for homeward bound ships. On the 8th June, 1588, it was visited by Captain Cavendish, who anchored his ship off Chapel Valley (now James' Valley), and found there a settlement comprising several good buildings and a Roman Catholic church. The attempts of the Portuguese to introduce useful plants had evidently succeeded, for fig, lemon, orange, pomegranate, shaddock and date trees were then growing there, as well as parsley, sorrel, basil, fennel, aniseed, mustard, and radishes; he moreover found partridges, pheasants, guinea cocks or turkeys, with a large number of goats and wild pigs. Captain Cavendish had a good opportunity of investigating the place on this occasion, as it appears that he escaped meeting there the Portuguese homeward bound fleet by twenty
days, it having sailed just that time before his arrival. He does not seem to have molested the St. Helenians, for he took his departure after twelve days ; and the next visit of the English appears to have been in the year 1591, when Captain Kendall, commanding one of three ships which undertook the first trading voyage to India, and having only reached the Cape of Good Hope, was obliged to return, and called at the Island. One of the ships, commanded by Captain Lancaster, succeeded in reaching India, and on its return he visited St. Helena on the 3rd April, 1593, remaining there nineteen days. The place does not then appear, notwithstanding the flourishing condition in which it was found by Captain Cavendish only five years before, to have been a very desirable residence, for it is recorded that Captain Lancaster found there one of the crew of Captain Kendall's ship, who was so overjoyed at once more beholding the faces of his countrymen, and the prospect of revisiting his native country, that for eight days he took no rest and died for want of sleep.
Probably the next visit of the English was when Captain Lancaster again arrived there, on the 16th June, 1603, on his return a second time from India, with two out of a fleet of four ships, that had left England in the interest of the East India Company. It became, about this time—little more than a century after its discovery—a resort of Dutch and Spanish ships, as well as English; and Portuguese authority seems to have lessened, through that power being interested in acquiring possessions elsewhere, and the Island was for awhile deserted, though still used by the captains and crews of ships as a South Atlantic Post Office. It was customary to place letters under huge boulders of stone, marked in a conspicuous manner, so that the crews of ships returning from India might obtain news from home. An interesting record of this period is still to be seen on a rude block of lava, measuring nearly five feet high, and two feet six inches wide, which has been preserved by being subsequently built into a large mass of masonry or mausoleum, in the Jamestown lower burial ground, erected "In Honour of the Memory of Mistress Ann Pyke, A.D. 1716," but hideous enough to terrify the ghost of that good lady, should it ever indulge in midnight rambles.
The Dutch traders to the East were the next to appropriate this deserted oceanic highway resting-place. They took possession of and retained it until the year 1651, when, in consequence of their esta-
blishing a colony at the Cape of Good Hope, they left St. Helena, and the English East India Company, being fully alive to its value, immediately took possession of it. They held it for ten years, and then obtained from King Charles the Second a charter to secure them in
its further possession. This Company becoming absolute owners of the place, at once commenced to establish a small colony. They erected fortifications, introduced settlers from England as well as new plants and stock, so that a general improvement took place, which so excited the covetous desires of its recent possessors, the
Dutch, that in the year 1665 they successfully attacked and again took possession of it. The English, however, speedily retook it, and within twelve months were in full possession; but these proceedings impressed them with the importance of strengthening their fortifications, and accordingly they pulled down the original fort, built in 1659, of which a stone record yet remains, and erected another, which doubtless forms the basement story of the present castle in Jamestown. This they called Fort James, in compliment to the then Duke of York (afterwards King James the Second), and this accounts doubtless for the change of name, about this period, from Chapel Valley to James Valley, and more recently to Jamestown.
Whether, during the first seven years of their renewed possession, the English were too much occupied with building fortifications and improving the place to spare time for recording their transactions or not is uncertain, but it is a fact that no written accounts of that period are forthcoming, and from tradition only is it gathered that the place was governed successively by men whose names were Dutton, Stringer, Swallow, Coney, and Bennett. They were succeeded by Captain Anthony Beale, during whose government, in the year 1673, the Dutch again took it, but not without considerable resistance on the part of the English, who were somewhat prepared for the attack. The Dutch, on this occasion, made their first attempt to land at Lemon Valley, on the leeward coast, but were observed by the English, who repulsed and drove them back with showers of rocks and stones hurled down the steep hill sides, until they were compelled to seek shelter on board of their ships. Even in modern warfare of the present day such a fusilade would be most formidable, but it only increased the determination of the Dutch for repossession; accordingly they waited until the darkness of night came on, when fortunately for them an Island planter, who with his slave had been fishing on the coast, lighted a fire to cook his supper. The Dutch, espying the light from their ships, directed their course towards it, and landed at a part called Bennett's Point. Probably by threats, they influenced the slave to guide them up the intricate paths of Swanly Valley to the mountain land near High Peak ; but the English also were on the alert, and were there prepared to meet them with a force of 500 men from the Island garrison. The battle of High Peak, which then took place, resulted in favour
of the invaders, who pushed onwards by way of Ladder Hill towards Fort James, into which the Governor and inhabitants had retired. After long and tedious attacks upon this fort it yielded to the Dutch. The Governor and English inhabitants, with their effects, made their escape on board of ships then in the harbour to the coast of Brazil, where, as good fortune would have it, they fell in with a British squadron under the command of Captain, afterwards Sir, Richard Munden, proceeding outwards for convoy to the East India homeward-bound fleet. Captain Munden, on learning what had happened at St. Helena, resolved to attempt its recapture, and immediately with his ships made sail for the Island, arriving there on the 14th .May, 1673. Being unobserved, and quite unexpected by the Dutch, early on the following morning he landed 200 men, under the command of Captain Kedgwin, at a spot on the eastern coast, which they called Prosperous Bay, and with them also a slave named Oliver, who had lately fled from St. Helena with Governor Beale. Their landing-place still retains the name of Kedgwin's Rock. Oliver, the slave, being well acquainted with the Island, piloted this little army inland up the steep and rugged cliffs until they reached an almost insurmountable precipice, which seemed to check their further progress, when one of the party named Tom, taking with him a ball of twine, and encouraged by the repeated exhortations of his companions, achieved the difficult and dangerous task of scaling it. By means of his ball of twine, Tom was able to establish a rope communication to assist his companions up the cliff, and in honour to his exploit the place to this day retains the name of "Holdfast Torn." Captain Kedgwin and his army, having Safely ascended the precipice, were able to gain the heights of Longwood, and proceeding by way of Huts Gate, where they obtained food from some cottagers, took up a position on the top of Rupert's Hill, overlooking Jamestown on its eastern side. During all this time Captain Munden, with his squadron, was making his way to the northern side of the Island, and appearing in front of Fort James just at the same time as Captain Kedgwin's army came up behind it, so astonished the Dutch that they immediately surrendered. The English then landed, and placing two guns in position on the hill to the eastward of Fort James, as a precautionary measure, thus commenced the fortification known to this day as Munden's Battery. This repossession by the English was accomplished in so short a space of time, and
there being no mail steamers or cablegrams in those days, intelligence of it had not reached Holland before a governor had been sent out to succeed the Dutch officer (supposed to be named Dyke) who had been temporarily placed in charge of the Island. Captain Munden had therefore the satisfaction of taking him prisoner on his arrival at St. Helena, as well as making prizes of several richly-laden Dutch ships, which, in total ignorance of what had taken place, put into the roadstead on the homeward-bound voyage. He then left the Island in charge of Captain Kedgwin. King Charles the Second again granted, by Charter dated 16th December 1673, the rights and powers of sovereignty to the East India Company, as lords proprietors of the Island,* who constituted a local government and raised an European garrison for its defence. Captain Kedgwin was, by his own wish, soon after succeeded by a new governor, Captain G. Field, and there is reason to believe that his valuable services, as well as Slave Oliver's, were remembered by the East India Company. Governor Field's members of council were not appointed by competitive examination; three of them being unable to sign their names, were well satisfied to assent to the Board's proceedings by affixing a hieroglyphical mark instead; nevertheless they managed very well the affairs of the country. Amongst other efforts to improve it they induced Europeans to settle there, obliging each owner of ten acres to maintain one European capable of bearing arms; landowners themselves also being required to do so, and to join the militia corps whenever danger threatened. They built batteries and mounted guns in various parts, and were no less strict in their moral code of laws than they were cruel in the punishments inflicted. Observance of Sunday was most strictly enjoined by proclamation as follows:—
"The Lord's Day be religiously observed through the said Island, and all persons hereby enjoyned to abstaine from all Bodily labour, unnecessary travell, or any secular employment (except workes of necessity and charity), and noe person presume to spend any part of that day in unlawfull sports, but all (who are able) are required to resort every Lord's day unto Publique place or places, where the worshipp of Almighty God is celebrated, and there joyne together in
* A copy of this charter as well as a copy of that of 1661 is printed in Brooke's Hist. of St. Helena.
the solemne exercises of Right Duties, and attendance upon God's holy ordinances." Also carefully to avoid the "odious sinnes of prophane swearing and curseing or commonly takeing the holy name of the Great Glorious God in vaine, and to abstaine from Drunckenness, stealing, thieving, and other horrid vices and wickednesses."
Transgression of such laws was soon followed by punishment, for we read that one "Sarah Marshall had one-and-thirty lashes on her naked body at the flagstaffe for scandelizing Captain Bendall." And "Parnum was fined 5s. for working on the Lord's day, and his wife 1s. for cursing the Island." But the severe determination to maintain order is more apparent by the following:—Sottoe, a slave, being chastised by his master, retaliated by attacking him with his knife; he did not murder or do his master much harm, but there being some dread of an insurrection amongst the blacks at the time, poor Sottoe was destined to be made an example of. Vainly he pleaded that a fellow slave named Rowland had instigated the attack on his master, and that he was urged on while under the exciting influence of a pipe of tobacco which he had stolen and smoked. It was ordered that his hand, wherewith he attacked his master, was to be cut off; he was then to be hanged, and when dead his head cut off and placed on the top of the Market-house as a caution to all other transgressors. Rowland was not allowed to escape either; he was to be led, with a rope round his neck, to witness his companion's execution, and after forty stripes administered on his naked body to have a pair of iron pothooks riveted round his neck until further orders. This frightful sentence was not, however, fully carried out. Sottoe's hand was cut off in presence of all the blacks, but his life was spared. The most common military punishment adopted was riding the wooden horse, as we see in the case of a soldier named William Melling, who, for swearing and incivility, "doe ride the wooden horse two houres with a bag of shott at each heele;" also, "Richard Honeywood who doe rid ye wooden horse halfe an houre with two musketts at each heele for slighting the Government and malitiously revenging himselfe." Slaves were punished by seventy-five lashes, with five drops of burning sealing-wax dropped on the naked body, for attempting to get away from the Island; while other terrible measures were dealt out to similar offenders.
The English occupation of the Island was never again disturbed
by foreign powers, and it has remained a British possession ever since. Governor Field was succeeded by Major John Blackmore, a man of great piety, who unfortunately, in consequence of the bad roads existing at the time, slipped off the path near Chubb's Spring and was killed. This did not happen, however, until after he had done much for the improvement of the place; a court of justice, assembling four times in a year, was established; a similar code of laws as that in force at Bombay was adopted; but trial by jury, in consequence of the smallness of the community, was only allowed where life, limb, or land were concerned, all other cases being decided by the Governor and Council by vote. At this time, coroner's juries sat and brought in such verdicts as this—"That all unanimously agree and verily believe that the said Denning dyed a naturall death, he haveing bin long under a lingring distemper of the fflux and his body wornd to a perfect anathomy." In the year 1676, the Island was honoured by a visit from the celebrated astronomer Halley, for the purpose of observations; he pitched his tent on a high mountain ridge, still bearing the name of "Halley's Mount," but tradition says that clouds and mist so surrounded the position of the savant as to materially diminish his opportunities for observation. Governor Blackmore was succeeded by the Deputy-Governor, Captain Joshua Johnson. For upwards of twenty years the little colony had thrived and prospered. There were certain times when all the inhabitants were required to assemble, like one large family, at Fort James, to be inspected. Crime seldom exceeded the very easy one of getting into debt, or slander, or such trivial offences. Governor Johnson was notably a good man, but there had been certain feelings of dissatisfaction growing up amongst the soldiers which he had failed to observe, and which, for want of being nipped in the bud, terminated fatally for him. On the 21st April, 1693, he retired unsuspectingly to rest as usual within Fort James. Amongst the State guard, on that night, was a soldier named Jackson, who, with three of his comrades, had planned a scheme to rob the Treasury and escape from the Island. When all was quiet in the dead of night, and the Governor slept soundly, they let several soldiers from other guards who were in their secret into the fort, and then sent messages, one by one, to all the other guards, calling them in also. On imparting their plans, any who objected to join them were immediately imprisoned without
noise in a dungeon built underground in the fort for the purpose of securing "villinous and desperat blacks." Governor Johnson was a remarkably early riser, and at daylight in the morning when lie came out in his "gowne and slippers," according to custom, to give the keys to the sergeant of the guard, he was forcibly seized by Jackson and several others well armed; doubtless they intended putting him also into the dungeon alive, but, on the Governor resisting, three of the party fired at and hit him in the head, mortally wounding him, but at the same time wounding Jackson in the arm. Having so far succeeded, the determination and cruelty of these ruffians became unbounded; they hurriedly disposed of the wounded Governor by throwing him into the guard house, but in order to quiet his wife, who had been aroused by the noise, they permitted her, with the assistance of two negro women, to drag his body upstairs to her own bedroom. The surgeon whom they had taken from the dungeon to dress Jackson's wound, was permitted by them, after they were well assured of the impossibility of his recovery, to visit the Governor, who died that night. The next act of these murderers was to secure all the roadways by which intelligence might penetrate to the country, all soldiers from the garrison who came to the fort being cast into the dungeon where they already had fifty prisoners ; others being sent to spike the guns overlooking the anchorage, while the ringleaders went into the Governor's closet and brought away all the treasure, the whole party proceeding with it on board of a ship named Francis and Mary, then lying in the roads, taking with them also the Lieutenant-Governor and several others, who, with the master of the vessel, they retained as their prisoners for the purpose of exchange, in order to procure the necessary supplies for their intended voyage. They sent one of their party on shore to intimate their intention of killing the prisoners unless their demand was complied with, and so they obtained provisions, exchanging their prisoners for them, at a spot half way between the ship and the shore, where they were beyond the range of the fort guns. Thus did these daring villains carry out their carefully planned scheme and escape no one knew whither. On shore a very chaos of excitement succeeded. The Lieutenant Governor, Captain Richard Keelinge, took the reins of Government; but the success of this plot spread the spirit of insubordination
keep it in check, not only amongst the European garrison but the black slaves also. He saw the arrival of an era for decisive action, and, like the saving of our West Indian possessions and the lives of the white residents there, through Governor Eyre's prompt measures, he also no sooner became aware of a conspiracy on the part of the blacks to massacre the Europeans, and follow Jackson's steps, than, without waiting to ask his honourable masters in England what he should do, he stamped it out by securing the ringleaders, one of whom was "hanged alive in chains on Ladder Hill and starved to death," while the other two were also "banged but cut down alive, and their quarters and heads put in some publique crossway for the publique view of all negros." Horrible as this was, we must remember that it happened nearly two centuries ago, when punishments were ten times as severe as they are now. Such is the change brought about by civilization, that a man who worries and tears his wife with a bull dog, is in England at the present time sentenced by an English magistrate to a few months' imprisonment only; while in those days a poor creature who attempted to injure his master by putting ground glass on the joint of meat served for his supper, was condemned to be burnt in the presence of all the adult blacks in the place, each one of them being compelled to bring in a load of wood to help in burning him.
Governor Keelinge died, after a long illness, in 1697, and was succeeded by Captain Stephen Poirier, whose government was unmarked by any particular events. News of the war between, France and England reached them in due time, and defensive steps were taken ; nevertheless two of the Company's ships were boarded and cut out of the roadstead by two French two-deckers, which went under Dutch colours in broad daylight. As soon as they were discovered, the Governor gave orders to fire upon them. But alas! the powder was not at hand, neither would the sponges fit the guns and, as he had no Whitworth or Armstrong cannon, the French ships with their prizes were soon beyond reach. To guard against another occurrence of this kind, the Company directed that all ships approaching the harbour should communicate first by boat with Bankses, and this was notified to them much in the same manner as is now the Daily News, one penny, to the British public at the Metropolitan railway stations; a huge board with large letters, directing them to "send a boat," was placed on Buttermilk Point,
where it remains to this day, though not in such a fair and gaudy condition as the newspaper announcement.
Under the fostering care of the East India Company, this little colony continued to grow up and flourish, during the next hundred and thirty-years. They lavished large sums of money upon it in doing all that could be done to make it prosper; they fortified it in almost every spot where cannon could be placed, so that at the present time it is dotted all over with obsolete batteries and guns. They viewed it, in fact, as their pet child, and as many another has done, it turned out in the end to be their spoilt child. So jealous were they of its welfare, that lest it should in any way become contaminated, they punished witchcraft severely, turned Quakers away, and would not suffer a lawyer to dwell there, lest unnecessary litigation should occupy the minds of the people. But with all their anxiety, the Company was sadly unfortunate in the selection of its clergy; one after another they served to cause dissension instead of union, and to such an extent that, in 1719, Governor Pike deemed it necessary to interfere, and very justly "reprimanded the parson for making great alterations and omissions in the Church service; and since then, to make us amends, lie had read the prayer for the Honble Company, but leaves out their being Lords proprietors of the Island; and whereas, before it was used by all chaplains that has been here to insert, immediately after the petition for those in the Company's service abroad, these words 'More especially the Govr. and Council of this place;' and since he constantly omitts that sentence, and has given out by his brother that he don't think them worth praying for, the Governor says there is an old Pro-verb 'No penny no paternoster,' so we say, no paternoster, no penny, and are very well contented because we think the prayers of such a fellow can do us but little good." What effect the withholding of the parson's salary had is not recorded, but there is reason to think it only hardened him in the pursuit of his refractory course, because soon after he was "locked up and confined for persisting in reading the collect, epistle, and gospel for the 1st Sunday in Advent after the Governor call'd to him, in a very mild manner, saying 'Doctor, you are wrong, this is the second Sunday in Advent."'
Neither was the Company always successful in obtaining very high-class men to rule their Island people, for, during the temporary succession of Governors Poirier and Goodwin a period of disorder,
through their administrative weakness, occurred. The energy and vigour of Captain John Roberts, who arrived in 1708, and Captain Mashborne's co-operation, however, caused matters to assume a healthier state; industry was encouraged, lime burnt, Munden's Battery erected, sugar-canes planted, bricks and tiles made, with many such undertakings, which gave employment to the islanders. The succession of Captain Bouchier was unfortunate, for of him it is chiefly recorded, that the Government gardens were laid waste and thrown into pasture for his asses, of which he kept a numerous stud; and in order to indulge in his favourite exercise of riding them in an weathers he erected a shed 400 feet in length at the Company's expense. His eccentricities continued until the close of his government, and it is said that "he stripped Government House of all that was portable when he left, even the locks and the keys from many of the doors, and everything else that might be serviceable to him on his voyage home."
At this period the population numbered 832, in about equal proportions of whites and blacks, and it went on steadily increasing at the rate of about forty-five or fifty each year.
Governor Pike's speciality appears to have been agricultural improvement. He also constructed the first safe roadway from the town to the country by way of Ladder Hill. His administration was, however, characterized by much severity, of which an anecdote is told that some soldiers, whom he had unjustly punished, escaped from the Island and his power in an open boat, and performed a voyage of near 4500 miles, eventually arriving at Nevis. He was transferred to Bencoolen, but was, in 1731, reappointed Governor of the Island, where he died seven years afterwards. On the 13th June, 1719, Mr. Edward Johnson assumed the government, and died after four years' administration. The Senior Member of Council, Mr. Edward Byfield, succeeded him for a short time until Captain John Smith arrived from England, who is described as a man capable of seeing others' faults more than his own; and, seeking popularity as a moral reformer, like others of his class, fell into disfavour through his inconsistency, and by orders from the Company was succeeded by Mr. Byfield, as Governor for the second time.
The change that was coming over the Island, through the destruction of the native vegetation, at this time attracted attention,
and several plans for its preservation were adopted. Governor Byfield himself did good service in taking care of two young Redwood plants, which he discovered, until they produced a considerable quantity of seeds. Furze was abundantly planted to serve as fuel and lessen the cutting of indigenous trees for that purpose; all goats and sheep were destroyed for a period of ten years, so that indigenous plants shot up spontaneously in great numbers, and, it is said, many parts of the Island, where no trees had grown for many years, became covered with wood. It was not only in this that Governor Byfield characterized his reign; he distinguished himself as a sound economist, unalloyed by meanness, and retired from office in 1731, when Governor Pike's second rule commenced, during which he showed himself more arbitrary and severe than before. At his death Mr. Goodwin, Senior Member of Council, succeeded to the Governorship, but, as he only lived one year, an opportunity occurred for an intriguing knave called Duke Crisp, who was second in the Council Board, and therefore next to succeed to the office, to rob the Government to the large extent of 6284l. Knowledge of his proceedings having reached the Company, Mr. Robert Jenkins, commanding one of their ships, was sent Out to investigate the matter. It was on the voyage out that his ship was boarded by Spaniards, who insulted and tortured him by tearing off one of his ears, which, it is said, upon his return to England, he exhibited before the House of Commons, and being asked by a member what he thought and did when they mangled him, made that memorable reply, "I committed my soul to God and my cause to my country."* Duke Crisp was, however, soon dismissed with disgrace, not only from the office of acting Governor, but also from the Company's service, Mr. Robert Jenkins taking his place at the head of affairs until the new Governor, Major Thomas Lambert, arrived on the 22nd March, 1741. He died a few months after, and, for a short time, until the arrival of Colonel Dunbar on the 11th March, 1743, an opportunity occurred for the Senior Member of Council, Mr. George Powell, who, as a matter of rule, succeeded to the acting premiership, to exhibit his unprincipled character. Governor Dunbar has left a memorial of his reign to the present day in the avenue of Peepul trees which he planted in Jamestown. After three years he was succeeded by Mr. Charles Hutchin-
* Brooke's History of St. Helena.
son, who, amongst other improvements, introduced Scotch firs, oak, and cypress trees, and reformed the mode of conducting trials. After eighteen years of a useful public career, he retired on an annuity of 300l. a year, which the Court of Directors were pleased to award him in consideration of his valuable services. It was during his government that, in the year 1761, the Island was selected as a spot for the observance of a transit of Venus on the 6th June, and Dr. Maskelyne and Mr. Waddington visited it for that purpose. It is said that their observations were unsuccessful. They took up their position on the high land, at or near to Halley's Mount, and during the occurrence the mountain, as it frequently is now, was enveloped in clouds. The lower land is at all times much better suited for astronomical observations, because the atmosphere of the higher region is constantly more or less charged with moisture. Governor Skottoe, who followed next in order, turned his attention to the preservation of the native woods, and, amongst other works, caused the water from Chubb's Spring to be conveyed to the town by means of a leaden pipe instead of open drains; and also the erection of St. James's Church and the infantry barracks. After eighteen years he resigned the government to Mr. Daniel Corneille, who, in consequence of new regulations being put in force, which deprived the soldiers of their meeting-houses and free use of spirits, had, in the year 1783, very soon after his assuming the government, to suppress a mutiny which occurred in the garrison, and which his leniency caused to assume larger proportions than it would have done had he acted more decidedly at the commencement. On Christmas Eve the spirit of insubordination commenced to show itself; three days afterwards the men, in a drunken state, became riotous, and, under a Sergeant Tooley, assembled with their arms in a body of 200, with the intention of taking possession of Ladder Hill Fort. It happened, however, that while they were on their way, the Governor, with the Lieut.-Governor, Major Graeme, was returning by Ladder Hill road from the country, and, looking down into the valley below, observed their movements; he accordingly directed Major Graeme to procure arms, while he proceeded to meet and reason with them. This act on the part of the Governor had for a time its effect on the men, but they gained their desire, and the punch or drinking-houses were again opened to them. The evil effects of this success were very soon after apparent, and the Governor became aware of the mistake
he had made, through the disorderly and riotous conduct of the soldiers which followed; accordingly he changed his policy towards them, and having secured Sergeant Tooley as a prisoner, he proceeded with the men of the main guard to the barracks to confront the mutineers, but only to find, on arrival there, that the larger portion of the garrison had betaken themselves to the high land with the view of gaining possession of the Alarm House, a position which commanded the town, and where there was a small guard with several guns. Major Graeme by the Governor's directions, proceeded immediately on horseback, by way of Side Path, to gain the Alarm House, if possible before the mutineers, who had taken the route directly up the steep, rugged hillside. At one part of Major Graeme's perilous ride—for he took the shortest way that a horse could possibly travel—the mutineers were very close to, and fired several shots at him ; but he succeeded in arriving at the Alarm House guard before them, and, with the assistance of the six men on duty, fired several rounds of grape shot from the field pieces stationed there at the mutineers as they advanced. It was then dark, and they cunningly evaded the discharge by throwing' themselves flat on the ground at the time, then surrounding Major Graeme, they pursued him for a considerable distance, firing at him several times. He escaped back to Jamestown late that night, but in the meantime the Governor had despatched Major Bazette with a detachment of seventy men, who, taking a circuitous route, approached the mutinous party in the rear, but found they had fortified their position on all sides with the Alarm House guns, and received him with a shower of grape shot. Major Bazette's party, however, made a dash at and secured the gun from which it proceeded, scattering those who had worked it, and, following up the attack with the aid of musketry, eventually overcame the mutineers, many of whom, taking advantage of the darkness, deserted their own, and joined the Governor's side, while others took refuge in the Alarm House. Two of Major Bazette's men were killed in this attack, while several of the mutineers were wounded, and one hundred and three taken prisoners. These were tried by court-martial, and, with the exception of four, all sentenced to death; eventually, however, nine only of the leaders were put to death.
On the resignation of Mr. Corneille, Mr. (afterwards Colonel) Robert Brooke was appointed Governor in 1787, and it was at this
time that the trial of acclimatizing European troops for India, by a short period of previous service at St. Helena, was found to be so successful. The Island garrison was augmented to a battalion of Infantry and a strong corps of Artillery, while many other changes and improvements were also effected during the governorship of this energetic man, including the establishment of telegraphs, the conveyance of water from Plantation House to Ladder Hill Fort, also from near Diana's Peak to Longwood, and the construction of the lower wharf and crane at Jamestown. He also laid the foundation of the present Government House. It was in the year 1795, on receiving intelligence of the Dutch joining in the war with England, that, with the assistance of H.M.S. Sceptre and several of the Company's ships, he captured and made prizes of eight richly-laden Dutch East Indiamen, while calling at St. Helena on their way home to Europe. For this act, as well as his energetic despatch of a portion of the St. Helena garrison, consisting of near 400 men, nine pieces of ordnance with ammunition, ten thousand pounds in specie, and a quantity of provisions, to assist the then small garrison at the Cape of Good Hope, he was deservedly commended. In ill-health he retired from the Government in the year 1800, Lieut.-Colonel Robson acting in his stead for a few months until the arrival of Governor Colonel Patton in March, 1802, to whom is due the merit of improving the watercourses by puddling them with a mixture of lime, gravel, and clay, which he called puzzolana; also the construction of batteries, one of which, situated on the western side of Jamestown, to this day bears his name. In the year 1805, the garrison of St. Helena afforded a reinforcement, amounting to 260 men, to General Beresford's expedition against Buenos Ayres in South America. Much annoyance seems, just at this time, to have occurred to all in the Island through the rapid spreading of the blackberry plant, which had been introduced, it is said, about five-and-twenty years previously. It quickly overspread the best pasture lands, and, though never entirely extirpated, a considerable effort was made at that time to do so. A much more serious cause for alarm than brambles, however, occurred a few years afterwards, when, in the year 1807, measles was introduced, and, almost the whole population being at once attacked therewith, threw the place for a time into the greatest state of disorder. This disease again appeared in the year 1843, and in a similar manner,
attacked almost everybody in the Island, on each occasion causing considerable mortality. The price of labour was now increasing rapidly, in consequence of a good deal of attention being diverted from agricultural pursuits to trade, and, as at that time slavery existed, the price of a good slave increased during a period of twenty years from 40l. to 150l.
Lieut.-Colonel Lane succeeded Governor Patton, who left in bad health for Europe in July, 1807, and acted through twelve months, when, on the 4th July, 1808, he was succeeded by Major General Beatson, a man of high intelligence and energetic habits, who, during the five years he remained at St. Helena, certainly did more than any Governor before him, and perhaps as much as any since, to improve and develop the resources of the place. His first act was to introduce men from England who were accustomed to farming, and also about 650 Chinese from Canton; these latter proved themselves so useful as mechanics and gardeners that much of their handiwork and patience may even to the present day be traced in the cut and carved lava stone which adorns some of the best buildings. It is much to be regretted that such industrious men have quite disappeared. A year or two ago the last remaining Chinaman died at a good old age, and besides what is mentioned above, the only records of their time exist in the Chinese cemetery, at a spot called New Ground, and an extremely picturesque little Jos house at Black Square; but both of these are fast falling into decay.
The chief object with Governor Beatson for introducing additional labour being to lower the price of Island-grown produce, he very soon had the satisfaction of seeing his efforts successful, and many articles of food, including potatoes, were in consequence reduced in price. With a view further to encourage the cultivation of land, he was the means of putting a stop to the practice, which had long existed, of provisions being sold from the Company's stores at less than cost price. In many ways he encouraged cultivation; he introduced many new plants, and tried numerous experiments in growing corn, roots, and vegetables—indeed, so identified himself with this subject that the results of his many trials are to this day quoted in evidence of the capabilities of the soil of the Island.* Of course when experiments are tried under entirely
* Most of Governor Beatson's experiments have been recorded in a volume called "Beatson's Tracts," but it is now out of print.
favourable circumstances, such as it is quite possible to secure when dealing with small quantities, the results have to be received with caution; nevertheless, Governor Beatson demonstrated clearly that, with sufficient care, both soil and climate are capable of producing most uncommon results. The native or indigenous plants also attracted his attention, and, in order to preserve them if possible from destruction, he caused all the goats then running wild or uncared for to be destroyed, compensation being allowed to the owners. There were so many of these creatures at that time, and they were so destructive to young plants, that it was almost impossible to rear any new forest-trees ; and when they were destroyed, the extension of plantations became very general.
Although so much of Governor Beatson's attention was devoted to agricultural and horticultural pursuits, his efforts in other channels for the good of the settlement were not the less successful. The evil effects of an excessive use of spirituous liquors amongst the soldiers were very apparent, and he determined to check, if not wholly correct this vice. Having been the means of preventing any further importation of rum, he substituted for it, as rations to the soldiers, beer, which at that time was brewed in the Island, and Cape wine. Other measures also were taken to render this change likely to have the desired effect, but, as might almost have been anticipated, a spirit of dissatisfaction arose which threatened serious consequences, and afforded an opportunity for a display of that firmness and decision of character, which, amongst other abilities, General Beatson possessed.
Threatening letters having come into the hands of the Governor, he took such precautions as seemed necessary for the occasion, and the circumstances which then occurred will be best told in General Beatson's own words, contained in his report to the Court of Directors. He wrote: "After issuing these orders I left the Castle, at four in the afternoon; but, contrary to my usual custom of returning home by what is called the Governor's path, I thought it proper to show to such as might be watchful, that the violent anonymous paper, the writing on the church, 'a hot dinner and a bloody supper,' and that on the Castle gate, 'this house to be let on Christmas-day,' the one alluding to the festival dinner, and the other to my vacating the Castle by being sent off the Island, had produced no 'apprehensions in my mind. I therefore desired my horses to be brought to the Castle
gate, where I mounted, passed slowly in front of the main guard, who were supposed to be concerned in the intended mutiny, and I proceeded gently through the town, stopping occasionally, and conversing with several people I met. It seems that one of the most forward in the mutiny (Berwick, who has since been hanged) passed close to me. I did not observe him, but he was, seen from a window, after I had proceeded a few yards beyond him, to turn round, and, in the most contemptuous manner, by his looks and the motions of his clenched fist and arm, fully to express his desperate intentions. This information did not reach me until after he was hanged. About five o'clock in the evening I arrived at Plantation House. I sent for Mr. Ford, the head overseer, to inquire regarding the characters and dispositions of the Artillery and Infantry stationed there as a working party. He assured me they were all good men, and that I might depend on them. Lieutenant David Pritchard, whom I had selected to take charge of this guard, soon after arrived. I desired, him to inspect their arms, and to get the men immediately accoutred. I had previously ordered supplies of musket and rifle ammunition to be sent, which arrived before sunset.
"The men of the guard, consisting of thirty-two, were then ordered into Plantation House, and, as Captain Benjamin Hodson had been instructed to give a general alarm upon the first appearance of commotion (which would soon bring the volunteers to my post), I was certain, therefore, of being reinforced long before the mutineers could reach me; and, under these circumstances, I had no doubt as to the issue, being firmly determined not to yield a single point, nor to suffer my person to fall into their hands.
"According to information I have since received, the mutiny was not to have broken out until the morning of the 25th. It had been settled by the mutineers that when the troops paraded for relieving the guard, the whole of the regiment, joined by the main guard on duty, after seizing their officers, should march to Plantation House and seize me; but, most providentially, the measures I had adopted made a change in their plan; and the ringleaders, seeing I was preparing, considered that no time should be lost, and therefore they commenced their operations within five hours after I had left the Castle."
The brains of the mutineers were not idle either, and, instead of directing their attention at once to seizing the person
of the Governor, they thought to render their undertaking more likely of success by proceeding at first in quite an opposite direction, to gain possession of Colonel Broughton, the Lieutenant-Governor, who resided at Longwood, and retain him as a hostage. An incorrect rumour of their intention reached the Governor, who continues his statement thus:—
"At half-past seven o'clock I received a report that the mutinous troops intended to proceed to Longwood, for the purpose of getting possession of some field-pieces and ammunition. Upon bearing this, although I did not know how far it might be depended on, I sent an express to the Lieutenant-Governor, in which I suggested the advance of some field-pieces to oppose the mutineers if they should move in that direction."
The mutineers, however, some 120 in number, arrived at Longwood before the Lieutenant-Governor was fully prepared for them, and, taking him by surprise, they compelled him to march with them towards Plantation House, the Governor's residence.
In the meantime the Governor had made his position strong with what faithful soldiers he could command, augmented by the volunteers or Island militia (which had been called out by a general alarm) amounting altogether to about 130 men.
Intelligence of the mutineers' proceedings seems to have preceded them in their march, and to have reached the Governor, for he continues This information gave me at first some uneasiness, on account of the danger to which my friend and colleague would be exposed in the intended attack upon the mutinous troops; but there was no alternative, for however much I value the life of Colonel Broughton, I could not permit considerations of a private nature to interfere with my public duties, nor to deter me from carrying into execution the plans I had formed, which were imperiously necessary for restoring military subordination and the peace and order of this settlement.
"At the same time I considered it proper to make an attempt to rescue his person from the impending danger. I therefore wrote a pencil note to Captain Sampson, directing him to advance with thirty chosen men, and with these it was intended to form an ambuscade on the left flank of the mutinous column, and to commence the attack by giving them one fire in such a manner as to avoid Colonel Broughton (who might be distinctly seen by the two
lights which the mutineers had imprudently with them), and immediately after to rush upon them with the bayonet.
"I had just given these orders when Major Wright arrived, and informed me that the mutineers had halted within fifty or sixty yards of Major Kinnard's post, and had sent forward to offer the conditions on which they would surrender. The negotiations were intentionally protracted until daylight on the 24th, which having terminated in the unconditional surrender of the whole party, the attempt to rescue Colonel Broughton became unnecessary.
"The first proposals sent to me by the mutineers were, 'that grievances must be redressed, and a promise given that the soldiers should have regular issues of spirits from the stores :' to which I sent word by Major Wright, 'that I would grant no terms; I could not treat with rebels, and that if they did not instantly surrender, I would put every man to the sword.'
"Major Wright soon after returned, and told me the mutineers hoped I would grant terms; and it was suggested by some persons around me that the life of Colonel Broughton would be in great danger if the attack were made. To this suggestion I replied, that the mutineers having possession of the Lieutenant-Governor would be no security to themselves; and I returned them a second message, apprizing them of this resolution, and that I would instantly order them to be fired upon, and the whole destroyed, if they did not submit. Upon receiving this reply, they began to waver, and they finally proposed to Majors Wright and Hodson that all they would now ask was my promise of pardon; but this I positively refused, and at the same time informed them, if they did not yield unconditionally, that Major Kinnard had now received my orders to put the whole of them to death. It was now daylight, and, seeing a superior force opposed to them, they at length surrendered, saying they would trust to my mercy.
"Of about two hundred men that sallied at night from Jamestown, upon this mad and desperate enterprise, only seventy-five remained together in the morning."
The mutineers were then confined as prisoners at High Knoll, where on the following day (Christmas-day) nine of them, being ringleaders in the matter, were tried by court-martial and sentenced to death. Within a very short time after their sentence six of these were hung at High Knoll.
The General Court-martial re-assembled again on the following day, when three more received similar sentences, but it was deemed sufficient to carry out one only, and that was done in the presence of the whole garrison assembled in Jamestown. Some of the remainder were committed to prison, and, the spirit of insubordination having been crushed out, they were finally permitted to return to their duty.*
A successful result of General Beatson's measures for checking the amount of drunkenness will be gathered from the following:
"The houses for retailing spirits were abolished on the I 5th of May, 1809. The garrison at that time consisted of about one thousand two hundred and fifty men, of whom one hundred and thirty-two were sick in hospital. Four months after that abolition the patients were reduced to forty-eight."†
Governor Beatson's energy and ardour as displayed in his war against the goats was, however, less successful; for, notwithstanding his efforts to effect their total extermination, his measures were imperfectly carried out, so that in a few years they increased again in numbers, and threatened to destroy not only the indigenous plants, but all other vegetation as well.
Of all the good that General Beatson proposed and did for the Island, perhaps none has caused a more lasting tribute to his memory than the measures he took for importing forest trees, planting the Island, the preservation of the indigenous flora, and his extensive and indefatigable experiments in agriculture, the results of which he has left on record, in a periodical work called "The St. Helena Register," as well as his "Tracts on St. Helena." General Beatson retired from the Government at the expiration of five years, but his successor, Colonel Mark Wilks, was a man of larger mind than to fall into the common course of undoing what a predecessor has done, and accordingly concurred in most of Governor Beatson's plans for the improvement of the place and its people. He arrived at the Island on the 22nd June, 1813, and it was during his reign that the most remarkable event occurred which ever befell St. Helena.
* Governor Beatson, in thanking the loyal portion of the garrison, specially mentions the Artillery as being free from this spirit of insubordination.
† Beatson's Tracts on St. Helena.
The British Government having determined on the undignified proceeding of banishing the Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte to the Island of St. Helena, he arrived there in H.M.S. Northumberland, under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, on the 15th October, 1815. He was accompanied by Marshal and Countess Bertrand, Count and Countess Montholon, General Gourgaud, Count Las Cases with his son, and eight servants. The excitement caused in the Island was naturally very great, and rendered more so by the very unexpected nature of the event, the inhabitants having received no intelligence on the subject until a few days previously, when, by the arrival of H.M.S. Icarus, they were informed of the proximity of Napoleon.
It was of course necessary for the Crown to appoint the officer into whose custody Napoleon was to be entrusted, and accordingly Lieut.-General Sir Hudson Lowe arrived at the Island on the 14th April, 1816, in that capacity, and also relieved Colonel Wilks of the Government. The Island was still to belong to the East India Company, but as this appropriation of it would necessarily involve a heavy expenditure, it was arranged that the Company should bear the annual expenses of the place to the extent of the average sum which had been spent in former years, and that the Crown should bear the remainder.
The history of Napoleon's life and captivity at St. Helena has already, through differences of opinion, led to much discussion, and filled several large-sized volumes. It is not, therefore, intended here to enter further into the matter than to record the leading events connected with his sojourn at the Island.
The merits and demerits of Sir Hudson Lowe have been fully set forth, as well as Napoleon's behaviour under such severely trying circumstances. To a man of his mind and character his trial must have been of the most bitter kind, and if there had been any desire on the part of his captors to ameliorate or soften the galling circumstances which at every point surrounded him, there seems to have been a failure certainly in the selection of the man to whom his keeping was confided.
Until the arrival of Sir Hudson Lowe, the custody of Napoleon was in the hands of the Admiral who had taken him to the Island, and with whom he appeared to be upon the most friendly terms.
The garrison sent to the Island at this time consisted of H.M. 66th Regiment and the second battalion of H.M. 53rd Regiment.
It was two days after his arrival that Napoleon first set foot upon his prison shores. He then walked to the house which had been hurriedly prepared for his reception. It is somewhat remarkable that this house, which still stands at the entrance to the Castle Gardens, was that in which the Duke of Wellington also remained for one night, when, some time previously, he had visited St. Helena on his return from India to Europe.
On the following day Napoleon, in company with Sir George Cockburn and Count Bertrand, visited Longwood, the spot which had been selected for his future residence ; the house intended for his temporary abode being then occupied by the Lieut.-Governor. The road from Jamestown to Longwood passes by the Briars, a picturesquely situated residence, then occupied by a Mr. Balcombe. Napoleon was pleased with this spot, and wished to occupy, until Longwood House could be prepared for him, a small, partially detached building now known as The Briars Pavilion. Here he resided for nearly two months, and some account of his life at this period has been written by a daughter of Mr. Balcombe.*
From The Briars Napoleon removed to Longwood, and there occupied what is now known as the Old House. In 1819, the British Government commenced the erection of a large and commodious residence for his reception, at an enormous cost; but this pile of buildings, now known as Longwood New House, was scarcely finished before the Emperor's death. It is said that Napoleon used to watch the erection of these buildings, and was known to say that he would never occupy them.
It was during Sir Hudson Lowe's Government that water was conveyed from the mountain near Diana's Peak to Deadwood, and from a stream near Oak Bank to Francis Plain, with a view to affording a supply for the troops then encamped at those places. He also took much interest in the question of abolishing slavery, and was instrumental in bringing about the rule that all children born of a slave woman from and after Christmas-day, 1818, should be considered free.
* Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon I., by Mrs. Abell (late Miss Elizabeth Balcombe). London: Sampson Low & Co.
The Island, fostered and cared for in every way by the East India Company, had, at this time, risen to the very acme of its prosperity. The great increase in the circulation of money, caused by the large garrison which came in with Napoleon, was soon felt by the inhabitants to be to their advantage; but unfortunately this cause of prosperity, like the lavish expenditure of the Company, only tended to draw away the attention of the inhabitants from cultivating the soil to more easy and ready, but less certain, methods of earning a living. In the history of St. Helena it is much to be regretted that artificial sources of trade have always led to a neglect of agricultural industry, and as generation after generation grew up dependent upon other sources, the inhabitants, not having been forced to it, have never learnt the true value of the soil around them.
Napoleon, very soon after his arrival, showed a disinclination to be sociable; doubtless he was aware, even at that time, of the presence of a disease, which, unsuspected by those around him, was so silently but surely hastening a termination of his earthly career. His illness, as it became serious, was of brief duration, and at about six o'clock in the evening of the 5th May, 1821, he died at Longwood Old House.*
* The Post-Mortem Examination of the First Napoleon's Body.—In the exhibition at present open in the Mechanic's Hall, Dumfries, there is shown by Major Young, of Lincluden, a lock of hair cut from the head of the Great Napoleon after death, a letter in connexion with which is of some historical value. Hitherto French writers have represented that the postmortem examination of Napoleon's body was an unwarrantable liberty, taken in opposition to the deceased's wish. The letter was only discovered, along with the lock of hair, three years ago, by Major Young, in a secret drawer of an old
writing-desk belonging to his father, to whom the epistle was written by Dr. Short, a native of Dumfries, who held the office of principal medical officer of the British staff at St. Helena, and who superintended the dissection. It is as follows:—
"'St. Helena, 7th May, 1821.
"'MY DEAR SIR,—You Will, no doubt, be much surprised to bear of Bonaparte's death, who expired on the 5th of May, after an illness of some standing. His disease was cancer in the stomach, that must have lasted some years, and been in a state of ulceration some months. I was in consultation and attendance several days, but he would not see strangers. I was as officially introduced the moment he died. His face in death was the most beautiful I ever beheld, exhibiting softness and every good expression in the highest degree, and really seemed formed to conquer. The following day I superintended the dissection of his body—(at this time his countenance was much altered),—which was done at his own request, to ascertain the exact seat of the disease (Which he imagined to be where it was afterwards discovered to be), with the view of benefiting his son, who might inherit it. During the whole of his illness he never complained, and kept his character to the last. The disease being hereditary, his father having died of it, and his sister, the Princess Borghese, being supposed to have it, proves to the world that climate and mode of life had no hand in it, and contrary to the assertions of Messrs. O'Meara and Stokoe, his liver was perfectly sound; and had he been on the throne of France instead of an inhabitant of St, Helena, he would equally have suffered, as no earthly power could cure the disease when formed.' "—North British Advertiser, 2nd August, 1873.
His heart was placed in spirit, and in his military uniform the body lay in state on the two following days, the Star of the Legion of Honour on the side, and a crucifix on his breast. The room was draped in black, and there were in attendance Count and Countess Bertrand, Count Montholon, the priest, physician, and servants.
"Preparatory to the funeral, the body was put into a leaden coffin, in the dress in which it had lain in state, including boots and spurs. The leaden coffin was enclosed in two others, made of mahogany; the outer coffin had plain top and sides, ebony round the edges, and silver head screws. Pursuant to military orders for conducting the ceremony with the honours, usually paid to the remains of a General of the highest rank, the left side of the road from Longwood gate, in a direction towards the burying place, was, on the 9th May, lined with all the troops of the garrison; the Royal Artillery on the right of the whole, then the 20th Regiment, the Royal Marines, the 66th Regiment, the St. Helena Artillery, the St. Helena Regiment, and on the left the St. Helena Volunteers. The body, in a car drawn by four horses, and the whole of the funeral procession, passed along the front of the line of troops, the band of each corps playing solemn music. When the procession cleared the left of the line it was followed by the troops, until they took up a position upon the road above the burying place; and at the moment the body was lowered into the grave three discharges were fired from eleven pieces of artillery."*
Thus, in a pretty little green verdure-clad valley, situated below Hut's Gate, and distant somewhat more than a mile from Longwood, was Napoleon buried. It is said that, when alive, he frequently resorted to this secluded spot, and, from a clear little spring of water which bubbled up through the moss-covered bank, had the water for his own use carried to Longwood, and that in accordance with his own expressed wish it was selected for his grave.
Sir Hudson Lowe left the Island on the 25th July following, Mr. Thomas Henry Brooke assuming the temporary government, and the troops which had been sent to the Island in consequence of Napoleon's residence were at once removed. The Island, as a watering station for East India traders, being of the utmost importance at this time, the lower wharf in Jamestown was much
* Brooke's History of St. Helena, 1824.
enlarged, and additional accommodation provided for watering the ships which called at the port.
The value of the Island for purposes of British commerce with the East was now fully developed; indeed, without it that great trade could not have been carried on with the success that attended it, and Brigadier-General Walker, who arrived on the 11th March, was another of those highly distinguished Indian officers who then sought the post of Governor. Under these circumstances, it is not remarkable that the withdrawal of the large additional expenditure caused by Napoleon's captivity was so little felt by the inhabitants.
Governor Walker extended to St. Helena those philanthropic measures which had characterized his service in the Bombay Presidency, and he made great efforts to improve the religious as well as the moral condition of the St. Helena slaves.
The institution of agricultural fairs, ploughing matches, and other means of encouraging the inhabitants to rely more upon the produce of the soil, were prominent amongst his many undertakings. He laid the foundation of the Head School building in 1824, and, in 1827, commenced the building of the military offices on the main parade in Jamestown.
His successor, until whose arrival on the 29th of April, 1828, Mr. T. H. Brooke again filled the post of Acting Governor, was Brigadier-General Dallas, an officer of equally high standing, and in his energy for the welfare of the Island even surpassing any of his predecessors. Aided by an able executive he carried out many public works of improvement, amongst which were—the construction of the inclined plane or ladder from Jamestown to Ladder Hill, commenced in August, 1828, and finished in December of the following year; the sinking of a well to the depth of eighty-three feet in Rupert's Valley, in the year 1830, with a view to obtaining water and fertilizing that portion of the Island; and, in the following year, the construction of the infantry barracks in the town, and the establishment of fire plugs for service in case of fire.
It was during his government, in the year 1832, that the East India Company abolished slavery in the Island, purchasing from their owners the freedom of the slaves, at that time in number 614, for a sum of 28,062l. 17s., thus putting an end, amongst other abuses, to such atrocious placards as the following:—
"At the same time will be let for five years, two women servants, two girls, and a good fisherman."*
"Also will be sold at the said house, a slave boy aged nine years, and a slave girl aged seven years, with a few articles of furniture, &c."†
The East India Company having reared this little settlement in the lap of luxury through a period of 182 years, sparing nothing that could add to its prosperity and advancement, as well as to the comfort and enjoyment of its inhabitants, it is not to be wondered at that the latter little understood the meaning of self-reliance. The annual expenditure in the Island by the Company amounted to eighty or ninety thousand pounds, and they maintained a garrison there of three companies of artillery, called the St. Helena Artillery, a St. Helena Regiment of four companies, in all 700 strong, exclusive of a corps of militia; but ere long, a heavy blow fell upon this flourishing, peaceful, and happy British Settlement—one from which it has never recovered, and since which it has gradually descended in the scale of prosperity.
It was in the year 1833, that the St. Helenians received the almost crushing intelligence, that, by Act of Parliament dated 28th August of the same year, the Island was no longer to be ruled by the Honourable East India Company after the 22nd April, 1834, but to be transferred to His Majesty'; Government. There was little time allowed for reflection; the garrison was dispersed, some being pensioned, some taking office under the new Government; while the Civil Establishments were broken up, and many who had been accustomed to affluence were reduced almost in a moment to comparative poverty.‡ On the 24th February, 1836, Major-General Middlemore arrived, and, with a garrison composed of H.M.'s 91st Regiment, took possession of the Island in the name of King William the Fourth.
The East India Company's Governor had received an income of about 9000l. a year, while the Governor appointed by the Crown was to receive about one-fourth of that amount. Plantation House, his residence, a mansion with its undulating and well-wooded park,
* The Monthly Register, St. Helena, 1810.
‡ So hard did the Company's treatment of their servants press upon many of them, that twenty years after this event officers of high rank might be seen digging the soil side by side 'with their own negro servant in the struggle to support their families.
pretty enough to satisfy the tastes of any English gentleman with an income of ten or fifteen thousand a year, was thus to be shorn of much of its ancient glory; and many other old, time-honoured institutions suffered in a similar degree. The establishment, however, continued to be composed of a Governor and Council, a large civil staff,* and a moderate garrison. As doubtless many of the labouring classes also felt this change, a small amount of emigration to the Cape of Good Hope took place in 1838, the same year which was rendered memorable in the annals of the Island by a short visit from Prince William Henry Frederick, a grandson of William I., King of Holland.
In the year 1840, H.M. Government established a Vice-Admiralty Court at the Island for the trial of vessels engaged in the slave trade on the western coast of Africa. Many of these vessels were taken to the Island during the following ten years, condemned, sold, and broken up; while their human cargoes were fed, clothed, and retained at a depot formed for the purpose in Rupert's Valley, until they were sufficiently recovered from their emaciated condition to bear a voyage to the British West Indian possessions, where a demand existed for their labour.† A visit to a full-freighted slaveship arriving at St. Helena is not easily to be forgotten ; a scene so intensified in all that is horrible almost defies description. The vessel, scarcely a hundred tons burthen at most, contains perhaps little short of a thousand souls, which have been closely packed, for many weeks together, in the hottest and most polluted of atmospheres. I went on board one of these ships as she cast anchor off Rupert's Valley in 1861, and the whole deck, as I picked my way from end to end, in order to avoid treading upon them, was thickly strewn with the dead, dying, and starved bodies of what seemed to me to be a species of ape which I had never seen before. One's sensations of horror were certainly lessened by the impossibility of realizing that the miserable, helpless objects being picked up from the deck and handed over the ship's side, one by one, living, dying, and dead alike, were really human beings. Their arms and legs were worn down to about the size of a walking-stick. Many
* A Supreme Court was established also in 1839.
† When able, during the interval before embarkation, they were employed on the Public Works in the Island.
died as they passed from the ship to the boat, and, indeed, the work of unloading had to be proceeded with so quickly that there was no time to separate the dead from the living.
Not only did the establishment of the Liberated African Depot at the Island afford a considerable amount of employment to the people, but it was also the cause of bringing to the place a large expenditure of money. Her Majesty's ships of war, composing the British squadron then cruising on the West Coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave trade, made it their head-quarters for recruiting health, and through this means thousands of pounds were annually circulated. This source of profit did not, however, last for many years, and while the Islanders were rejoicing in it, they were unaware of the disadvantages ultimately arising from it; viz., the introduction of a new race of people, which, after some few years, developed into a poverty-stricken, dependent portion of the population.
After some years the squadron was reduced, the Liberated African Establishment abolished, and, in 1874, excepting an occasional visit from a British gunboat, which appears more by accident than by any other means to get to St. Helena, the place, once so gay with naval men and ships, now knows them no more. But the negroes, which could have been best spared, still remain.
There was yet another, and even still greater, evil which arose out of this Liberated African depot, and that was the introduction of the termites or white ants, which were taken into the Island in some logs of wood from one of the slave ships, and, creating much havoc in the houses and property of Jamestown, ruined many of its inhabitants. The St. Helenians naturally feel the strong claim they have upon Great Britain, their Island home having aided so much in building up her commercial greatness and prosperity; but apart from this they very reasonably expect aid from England, because it was through her successful efforts to suppress the slave trade on the West Coast of Africa that both the aforementioned causes have added So greatly to the impoverishment of the place.
It was on the 8th of October, in this same year, viz., 1840, that the French frigate, La Belle Poule, accompanied by the corvette Favourite, with his Royal Highness the Prince de Joinville and suite, arrived at the Island for the purpose of removing Napoleon's remains to France. The body was exhumed on the 15th, taken from the
peaceful little "Vale of the Tomb," and, amidst military funeral honours, placed on board of the frigate, which sailed three days afterwards for France.
An establishment was formed at Longwood, under the direction of General Sir Edward Sabine, during this same year, for the purpose of meteorological observations, and a magnetic observatory erected there. The observations were conducted for a period of five years, by officers and non-commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery, selected for the purpose, and were then published.
In the year 1842, Governor Middlemore was succeeded by Colonel Hamelin Trelawney, and in the same year the Island was garrisoned by an European regiment of five companies, raised expressly for the purpose and styled the St. Helena Regiment, instead of, as hitherto, by a regiment of the line. The garrison at this time consisted of a battery of Artillery in addition to the St. Helena Regiment.
During the following year, St. James' Church was extensively repaired and a new steeple and spire erected.
On the death of Colonel Trelawney on the 3rd May, 1946, Colonel George Brodie Fraser, R.A., the senior officer commanding the troops, succeeded by virtue of his official position to the Government; but on the arrival of Colonel John Ross to assume command of the St. Helena Regiment a few months afterwards, he, being senior in the army to Colonel Fraser, took the post of Acting Governor until Major-General Sir Patrick Ross, the newly-appointed Governor, arrived at the Island in November, 1846.
The erection of a fine Hospital, with every requisite for medical and surgical treatment, took place in the year 1847. It being intended, by the imposition of a small fee upon all ships anchoring in the roadstead, that their masters and crews should receive the benefits of the institution free of any further charge. Many a seafaring man, and many ships' crews, stricken down by scurvy or other diseases, have reason to be grateful to this valuable institution which, open to all nations, lay directly on the high road of their voyage home.
Sir Patrick Ross took a general interest in the welfare of the Place, especially in the promotion of the agricultural and horticultural exhibitions, and it was during his government that the new church of St. Paul was erected in place of " the old country church,"
ST PAUL'S CHURCH
and a new road made from The Briars over Cat Hole to Francis Plain, the labour employed thereon being chiefly that of prisoners and liberated Africans. On his death, in August, 1850, Lieut.-Colonel Clark, the officer commanding the Royal Artillery, acted as Governor for a few months, until the arrival of Colonel (now Sir) Thomas Gore Browne, C.B., in July, 1851. Governor Gore Browne remained only three years and a half, when he was promoted to the Governorship of New Zealand. His chief object at St. Helena was to make some changes in the civil establishments, so as to reduce the annual grant made by the Government for their support. This was of course a disadvantage to the place; still Colonel Gore Browne merely carried out his instructions. Amongst the special objects of his attention may be mentioned a scheme for establishing a village or settlement at Rupert's Valley, to relieve the overcrowded state of Jamestown, and, with a view to furthering this end, he caused a new jail, a sort of model prison, designed by Colonel Jebb, and sent out from England,* to be erected there, and also conveyed water to the valley by means of iron pipes leading from The Briars over Rupert's Hill. The departure of Governor Gore Browne with his family was a matter of much regret to the inhabitants, for they had won respect and esteem on all sides. The senior military officer, Colonel Vigors, acted as Governor until the arrival of Sir Edward Hay Drummond Hay, Kt., on the 10th October, 1856.
Hitherto the Church of England had reigned supreme in the Island, it having been included in the See of Cape Town, and subject to periodical visits from that Bishop; but as the Church was represented on the spot only by a colonial chaplain and a garrison chaplain, a very inadequate number of clergymen, Dissent, which was introduced by a Scotch Baptist Minister about the year 1847, soon spread, and became a popular sectarian distinction amongst the native population.
The first Bishop of St. Helena was appointed in the year 1860, his diocese including the neighbouring island of Ascension, the British residents at Rio, and other similar places situated on the coast of South America. With most characteristic energy and ability, Bishop Piers Claughton mapped out the Island into several
* This building, being chiefly constructed of timber, was burnt to the ground in less than an hour by a military prisoner confined therein, in the year 1867.
parishes, pressed forward the work of church building until each parish had its church, and, appointing a clergyman to each, he was just upon the point of visiting the wealthy settlements on the Brazilian coast, and Europe as well, to raise funds for the permanent establishment and endowment of this compact little church fabric, when, unfortunately for the Island and its people, his translation to the See of Colombo took place. His strong influence for good over the minds of others did much to raise the moral tone of St. Helena society, and, though his residence was a short one, no departure was ever more grieved over than that of Bishop Claughton and his family.
Sir Edward Hay Drummond Hay devoted much attention to public works, and carried out some schemes which had been projected by his predecessor, Colonel Gore Browne, amongst which may be mentioned the settlement in Rupert's Valley, and the main drainage works of Jamestown. Improved dwellings for the poor were erected in one of the worst localities in the town; new custom houses were built, and the supply of water for the ships increased by additional lines of pipes. His attention was also given to the improvement of the local corps of militia. In 1857, the church of St. John in Jamestown was commenced, and, in 1861, that of St. Matthew at Hut's Gate was built; but of all the events which occurred during Governor Drummond Hay's time, the most important by far, was a visit to the Island, in September, 1860, by His Royal Highness Prince Alfred (now Duke of Edinburgh), who was an officer serving in the Royal Navy at the time, on board of H.M.S. Euryalus. As might be expected, the first visit from a Royal Prince of England threw the whole place into a flutter of excitement. Triumphal arches, garlands, and floral decorations of all kinds lined the streets and wharves, in such a way as perhaps had never been seen before. Everything was ready, everything was perfect. As minutes passed away, and as the time named for the ship's arrival approached, the very height of expectation was attained, but no proud and gallant ship made its appearance that day, nor yet the next, and great was the grief of the Islanders at the prospect of the Prince arriving only to see the faded remnants of their loyal demonstrations. After a few days' suspense, however, the good ship with the Prince did arrive, and gave the people of St. Helena an opportunity of pouring out their pent-up feelings in a right hearty loyal welcome.
ST MATTHEW'S CHURCH, LONGWOOD
His visit was but a brief one; he honoured the Governor by dining at Plantation House, attended a ball at the Castle, and sailed again on the evening of the same day that he arrived.
Admiral Sir Charles Elliot, K.C.B., relieved Governor Drummond Hay on the 3rd July, 1863, and administered the Government for seven years, during the whole of which time his kind, courteous, and gentle manners won for him the highest esteem and respect from all classes. He was, perhaps, one of the most energetic Governors that ever ruled at St. Helena, and in every way endeavoured to promote the advancement of the place; though struggling against great difficulties, viz., a diminishing revenue, he achieved many highly successful results.
Almost his first act was to declare war against the termites or white ants, and he reconstructed nearly the whole of the public buildings in Jamestown, which they had destroyed, in a substantial manner, with stone, iron, and teakwood. For the first time, a direct monthly mail communication from England by steamers was established. He largely augmented the water-works of the town, both for supplying ships and for a supply in case of fires. But no Governor, since General Beatson, has done so much to encourage the introduction of new and valuable plants. Amongst others, he imported a large number of Mexican pines, which have taken well to the climate and the soil at Plantation, and the quantities of Norfolk Island pines and Bermuda cedars which Sir Charles reared and distributed throughout the Island, give promise of a lasting memorial to his name. It was at this time that Dr. Hooker, the Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew, judging from his acquaintance with the soil and climate of St. Helena, advised the Government to undertake the culture of the Cinchona plant on the mountainous parts of the Island. Sir Charles Elliot most readily supported and assisted the scheme. A skilled gardener was sent out from Kew, and a plantation of Cinchona soon sprang up in the neighbourhood of Diana's Peak, promising the greatest success and a source of much profit; but, most unfortunately, Sir Charles Elliot's successor being unable to see the advantage of such an undertaking, the plantation was neglected and ultimately abandoned.
Sir Charles Elliot was succeeded in the government by Admiral Patey, in the year 1870, who took out to the Island in his pocket the
pruning knife of retrenchment. It is true that the Civil Establishment was very much larger than need be, but to reduce it without injuring its efficiency required much care and judgment, and after he had spent a year or two in endeavours to lessen the expenditure, the Home Government considerably reduced the salary, and appointed the then Colonial Secretary, Hudson Ralph Janisch, Esq., to succeed him as Governor of the Island.
Twenty years ago St. Helena was left, so far as communication with Europe was concerned, quite outside of civilization; five months at a time elapsed without its inhabitants hearing a word of home news, or even seeing a newspaper; but now the great strides of oceanic steam navigation have brought it, as well as other places, so to speak, nearer to England, and by mail packet from Southampton it may be reached in from seventeen to twenty-one days. The first week of the voyage is occupied in reaching Madeira, by which time the sea-sick voyagers, about whose sufferings so many accounts have been written, have sufficiently recovered to enjoy the enchanting break afforded by a few hours ashore in that lovely island. The next few days are occupied in steaming down amongst the beautiful islands of the Canarian Archipelago, with, generally, a fair view of the renowned Peak of Teneriffe towering high above the clouds. A sight of Cape Verde, on the coast of Africa; and a day or two, by way of change, of that intolerable damp, steamy, hot atmosphere so inseparably associated with equatorial regions; and then a week or ten days amongst the fresh South-east trade winds, the deep blue seas of the South Atlantic, with bright sunny skies, and St. Helena is reached; the voyager looking back with pleasure to what has been in reality nothing more than an agreeable yachting trip, instead of the much-dreaded long sea voyage. The arrival of the English mail, the greatest event of the month, was formerly announced with a great display of bunting and firing of guns, but, the spirit of economy having extended to that remote spot, much of this has passed away. Even the long familiar boom of the morning and evening gun has ceased to gladden the ears of the people by reminding them that theirs is a garrison town; and the most striking announcement of important arrivals is the reverberating shouts and screams of "St-e-e-e-e-a-mer ! M-a-n-o-o-w-a-r !" which the street boys and the whole out-door population send forth on the occasion. The dark, barren cliffs of the Island, rising from six to seven hundred feet
ST JAME'S CHURCH, JAMESTOWN
perpendicularly from the sea, when viewed from the roadstead where the mail packet anchors, seem to frown fiercely at the new arrival, and, without any doubt, are most forbidding. The little town appears oddly enough placed in a deep-cut ravine in this mighty wall of rock. No verdure, a few Peepul trees excepted, meets the eye to relieve the tedious monotony of dust-coloured rocks and dust-coloured houses. Nevertheless, there is something that strikes the beholder as picturesque in what lies before him. On either side of the town the bills bristle with cannon; on the left is Munden's Battery; on the right is Ladder Hill, the chief fortress of the place, where a small garrison, consisting of a company of Artillery and one of Engineers, is quartered, and where waves the British Union Jack, so dwindled down in size through the spirit of economy as to call from visitors the universal inquiry, "What flag is that?" To the left of Munden's is Rupert's Valley, where a recently formed village appears, and where stands the deserted establishment for the reception of Africans rescued from slavery by British cruisers on the West Coast of Africa. On landing, the stranger is beset by a whole rabble of dirty boys, each eager to get possession of his order to find him a horse or carriage to visit Napoleon's tomb, to conduct him to an hotel, or in some way to make something out of him. Horses there are plenty of, and even carriages can be found for a trip to the tomb and back at the moderate charge of two or three pounds! But hotel accommodation is wretched, unless a new one has been established and has not had time to fall into the degraded "wine and beer shop" condition of its predecessors. Fair board and lodging can, however, be obtained privately either in the town or country at the moderate rate of 6s. daily for each person. The town is entered by a fine open quadrangle or parade, around which stand the church, court-house, castle, and other Government buildings. A long and wide street stretches up the valley, with houses on each side, amongst which are the foreign Consulates, private dwellings of no ordinary pretensions, and shops. The latter supply almost every class of European goods at about 30 to 75 per cent higher than English prices, but the shops themselves have a dusty, neglected, and uninviting look, as though the articles exposed in the windows had been there since the days of Noah. The arrival of a mail steamer or man-of-war throws the whole place, from the Governor downwards, into a state of excitement; but still there remains something of the every-day look of dejection about it.
The officers' guard-house is converted into a Customs baggage warehouse, while the sentry boxes are playthings for ragged little black boys; and the large barracks are left, almost empty, to fall a prey to the white ants. Upon the whole the town is strikingly better in appearance than would be expected. The streets are good, and so are the houses, but there are no gas or other lamps to rival the brilliant light of the moon and stars. With its immediate neighbourhood it numbers about 290 houses, which, a few years ago, were valued at 120,000l., including two churches, a chapel, two hospitals, a markethall, and at least six schools. There are three gardens, two of which are public, and the other, well known to visitors as "The Maldivia Fruit Gardens," is situated at the head of the town and valley in which it lies, and where grow the only mango trees in the Island. The population of the town is somewhat more than one-half that of the whole island, or about 3500 persons. The most striking erection in the place is "The Ladder," the ascent of which is much more fatiguing than at first sight appears. Some visitors accomplish it, and even descend it again, but only to pay the penalty next day of being scarcely able to move their limbs.
Three roads lead from the town to the high land, or country, as it is generally called; one follows up the direction of the ravine, and, passing Francis Plain cricket-ground, about two miles distant from the town, leads to Oak Bank, one of the prettiest country residences, and the central part of the Island generally; but the road is exceedingly steep and unfit for riding or driving, and the same spots are better, though not so quickly, reached by the other roads which zigzag up the face of the hills on either side of the town. That on the east, called "Side Path," passes close to The Briars, where Napoleon Bonaparte lived for a time previous to his residence at Longwood, and winds round the valley of "The Tomb," through the village of Hut's Gate to Longwood, distant about four and three-quarters miles from the starting-point. Deadwood and Longwood together form a large open plain, nearly 2000 feet above the sea, now scarcely wooded at all, but attractive through the lovely and picturesque mountain scenery of its neighbourhood. Deadwood is the spot usually selected for fairs, races, and such like amusements, and Longwood constitutes the largest farm in the island. After the death of Napoleon on the 5th May, 1821, the house he occupied, as well as that newly-erected for him,
THE ROOM IN WHICH NAPOLEON DIED AT LONGWOOD
with Marshal Bertrand's house, were all considered as part of Longwood farm, and the former, used as barns and cattle-yards, fell into a state of ruin until the year 1858, when it, with the site of The Tomb, was purchased by the Emperor Napoleon the Third, with a view of restoring the last residence of his illustrious uncle, and guarding from further desecration that Spot in the little green valley, so lonely and so distant, yet so sacred to the hearts of all true Frenchmen. Three officers, with a party of Engineers, were sent out from France to carry out these restorations, upon which a large sum of money was expended; and ever since, the "Old House" at Longwood, and the "Valley of the Tomb," have been under the immediate charge of a non-commissioned officer residing at each, and an officer who rents and occupies a portion of the "New House." Very great care was exercised, in rebuilding the "Old House," to restore it as near as possible to its state when occupied by the Emperor, and as much of the old materials as could be used were again employed. A great difficulty, however, appeared towards the completion—not a scrap or vestige of the original wall papers remained, and no clue as to their design or colour could be obtained; when a remarkable instance occurred of the highly objectionable habit of Englishmen carrying away relics, being turned to useful account. Aware of the difficulty experienced by the engineer in this respect, I mentioned it in conversation in presence of an officer who had just arrived at the island, on his way home from India. This officer had visited Longwood thirty years previously, and carefully preserved a scrap of paper from the wall of each room ; he kindly placed these specimens at the disposal of the French officer, who sent them to Paris, where new papers, exactly resembling the original, were manufactured and sent out to St. Helena. Thus restored, unfurnished, but with a beautifully executed white marble bust of the Emperor placed on the spot where he breathed his last, now stands "Longwood Old House."
The tomb, where his body rested from the 8th of May, 1821, until the 15th of October, 1840, when it was removed to a handsome sarcophagus in the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, to lie, in accordance with his expressed wish, on the banks of the Seine, is, together with the little spring of clear water which bubbles from the rock, carefully railed round and guarded, so that no ruthless hand now, as formerly, hacks and chops away the remains of two
old willow trees which still hang over the tomb itself. These trees, though descended from, are not the original willows ; and it is commonly rumoured that more than one or two generations have been carried away piecemeal by visitors as relies.
There are fifty miles of road throughout the Island, and well laid out, considering the very steep nature of the country. They have, moreover, been kept, until recently, in good repair; and the ride or drive along the mountain-tops, from Longwood across Sandy Bayridge, and by Government House to Ladder Hill and Jamestown, is, for beauty of scenery, scarcely to be surpassed. The shady lanes, lined on each side with bright yellow blossoms of gorse, brilliant scarlet geraniums, and the deeper tints of the fuchsia mixing with the blue-green foliage and orange-coloured blossoms of the buddlea, and the pale-green leaves of the young oak trees, are very charming, and not less so when these suddenly give place to a rich meadow or sunny hayfield. The intricate nature of the roads, winding in and out of numerous valleys and ravines, sometimes making it necessary to travel more than a mile to reach a spot but a few hundred yards distant, conveys an impression of greater size than that which the place really possesses, and several days, at least, are necessary to obtain even a general idea of the Island. The most picturesque and English-like lane is that leading from the Cathedral to the westward of the Island, and is well worthy of a visit from the passing stranger.
The Island was until lately divided into three parishes, respectively called Jamestown, St. Paul, and Longwood. Each had its church, and the former the district church of St. John in addition. The Baptists have erected three chapels. There are at least fifteen schools in the Island, and about one-seventh of the whole population attend them.
There are eight or nine institutions, some of them very excellent, but all are suffering severely from the poverty which now prevails throughout the community. Amongst the principal may be mentioned the Library, established in 1813, and supported by subscriptions; it contains many interesting old books, but few modern publications. The Benevolent Society, founded in 1814, for educational purposes and acts of benevolence, is one of the most valuable institutions of the place ; it supports three schools entirely, and gives such aid to others as the funds, which are dependent upon
donations and subscriptions, will allow. The Hussey charity, established in 1865 for the education of Africans at St. Helena, is well endowed and capable of carrying on extensive work. The African Benefit Society, instituted in the same year, is supported by subscriptions, and affords pecuniary relief to Africans in sickness, and provides them with means for decent interment. The Mechanics' and Friendly Benefit Society, founded in 1838, and supported by subscriptions, is a most excellent society, numbering several hundred members; its objects are to afford relief to them when ill, to grant annuities to widows and orphans, and assistance towards funeral expenses of deceased members. The Poor Society, established in 1844, has almost similar objects, but fewer members. The Social Society, commenced in 1845, is similar to the last two, but under different regulations; and the Church Society, established in 1845, distributes aid to the clergy, catechists, and scripture readers, from funds collected by subscriptions, and grants from the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. There are two Masonic Lodges, and a Regiment of Militia, as well as a Corps of Rifle Volunteers; and, in internal telegraphic communication, St. Helena is not behind the rest of the world, electric wires stretch from post to post, along the roads and up and down the hills throughout the Island. The superficial area, that is the horizontal base upon which the Island stands, now measures 45 square miles, or 28,800 acres; of this 1816 acres are quite barren, indeed for a mile inland from the sea, excepting in the ravines where they intersect the coast, few plants are to be seen ; next to this, advancing towards the interior, there is a belt of semi-barren land, principally covered, with wire grass, cactus, and other shrubs with a few trees, leaving the interior, an area of 8284 acres, covered with the richest verdure to the very mountain tops. About 6100 acres are private freehold property; the remainder belongs to the Crown, and is occupied thus : let on lease, 1950 acres; appropriated as common pasture, 1800 acres; used for Government purposes, 250 acres; and, not in use, 18,700 acres. A large part of this last is barren, but a considerable portion of it is suitable for sheep pasture ; the soil is productive, and capable of growing oats, barley, potatoes, mangold wurzel, and other crops with great success. Wheat has subsequently been found not to answer, as the ear mildews in consequence of the moisture always present in the atmosphere. I feel assured, however, that the blights
now complained of (excepting the potato blight and rot, which are both common diseases in the Island), together with the poor crops obtained, and the general barrenness of the fruit trees, will not be remedied so long as the existing system, by which all the vitality of the Island is drained away, remains unchecked. The whole of the manure, which accumulates from stables, stockyards, &c., in the town, is thrown into the sea, instead of being conveyed up the hills, and returned to the land. By this long-continued practice the lands have become almost exhausted. Moreover, a large quantity of guano, collected around the coast, is exported to Europe, instead of being used in the Island, and it is much to be regretted that the Government permit it, merely for the sake of swelling the revenue by a paltry charge of 10s. per ton exportation fee. With such a system continually at work, is it surprising that the farmer obtains but a poor crop, and fruit trees blight and dwindle away ? rather is it a matter of astonishment that he obtains any return at all. Forty two years ago General Dallas, then Governor of the Island, was fully alive to this most ruinous system, and, with a view of supplying some practical means for lessening the cost of conveying the manure from the town up the hills, and back to the lands in the country, caused the erection of the ladder or inclined plane. This engineering work, carried out under the directions of Lieutenant G. W. Melliss, an artillery officer, comprised a ladder 900 feet in length, with upwards of 600 steps, communicating up the side of the hill from Jamestown to Ladder Hill, at an angle of 39' or 40', with a tramway on either side, upon which waggons, in connexion with ropes and machinery at the top, travelled up and down. By this means manure was conveyed up an almost perpendicular height of 600 feet and deposited, from whence it could easily be conveyed by the farmers. A secondary use of this "St. Helena Railroad" was to convey stores from the town to the garrison stationed in the Fort of Ladder Hill, and, as it would be most invaluable for both these purposes in the present day, it is very greatly to be regretted that the whole construction has fallen into disuse and bad repair, the woodwork being eaten by white ants. Indeed, it is said that these insects visited Ladder Hill through the medium of its longitudinal wooden sleepers.
An excellent stimulus to farming interests has also been allowed to die out with "The Agricultural and Horticultural Society," which,
twenty years ago, held its bi-annual vegetable, fruit, flower, and cattle shows, awarding prizes for the finest specimens.
There are in the country 266 distinct properties, with about 200 houses, valued at 66,000l. It naturally strikes a stranger as remarkable that, with so much available land—and good land too, for the soil which is produced by decomposed basaltic rocks is well known to be amongst the very best—the number of cattle and sheep should be so small in proportion, and still more so that these are, to a large extent, imported from the Cape of Good Hope. Also that no articles for export are produced, though many useful plants grow in abundance; salt could be obtained by evaporation of the sea water; fir timber could be cut on the Island; and yet these things are imported; and while any amount of yams could be easily grown, as was done formerly under the East India Company's Government the whole native population prefer to live upon rice imported from the East Indies. The farmers even seem barely able to exist upon their highly-mortgaged properties, which, in many instances, have passed into the hands of the most moneyed mercantile firms of the place, and the result is a monopoly, with complete stagnation of agricultural interests. There are a comparatively large number of handsome country villa residences, with 80 or 100 acres of land attached, well suited for gentlemen's seats, but many of them are now vacant so far as the house is concerned, while the land is but half cultivated. The finest property in the Island is the Governor's official residence, called "Plantation House," a well-built, moderate sized mansion, containing forty rooms, standing in the midst of 176 acres of picturesque park land, crowded with oaks, Norfolk pines, Scotch firs, and other handsome trees from temperate as well as tropical climes. It was erected in 1791, is distant nearly three and a half miles from the town, at an elevation above the sea of 1791 feet, and is worthy of a visitor's attention, who will do well, however, to totally disbelieve the guide boys' anecdote when they point out a huge cave in the rock on the side of the lawn as the place where Sir Hudson Lowe confined Napoleon, in order that he might watch him from his front door steps.
Nothing can be more deplorable than the state of the Island at the present time. The ships calling at the port, the chief trade of the place, lessen day by day. Formerly, when almost all vessels coming from the East were compelled to make some intermediate
port for fresh provisions, &c., they called at St. Helena, finding it safer and more accessible than the Cape of Good Hope, and a thousand ships a year was the average number that cast anchor in the roadstead. But they now make swifter passages, they are better manned, better provisioned, and can easily make a voyage from the East to Europe without the delay of an intermediate stoppage, It is these causes, more than the opening of the Suez Canal route, that 'Lessen the number of ships calling at St. Helena and reduced it in the year 1870 to 677. This, of course, chiefly tends to lessen the prosperity of the place, but the disbanding of the St. Helena Regiment, and, after it had been replaced for several years by detachments of Line regiments from the Cape of Good Hope, the entire withdrawal of that portion of the garrison, aided very considerably in reducing the local revenue from 21,000l. to about 14,000l. per annum.
The view taken of St. Helena by the Home Government has, I think, altogether been a mistake. It has been looked upon as a colony, and, under the management of the Colonial Office, made self-supporting. It has, however, no claim to the former, and endeavours to make it the latter must end in failure. The place is really a fortification, and, as the key to the whole South Atlantic, is one of England's greatest fortresses, and as such ought to be under the control of either the Admiralty or the War Department.
The Government maintains there now only a small garrison, consisting of a battery of Artillery and a company of Royal Engineers, and it spends annually about 1000l. upon military works, so that the fortifications are in ruins and neglected, and what new batteries have been undertaken remain in an unfinished state, while the modern guns sent out from England lie here and there unmounted and half buried in rock and debris.*
An artillery officer told me a few years ago, that if he was required to man the batteries in the Island he would be able to place but, one man to each gun; and the defences altogether wear such a dilapidated appearance that foreign naval and military
* It must not be understood that the officers stationed at St. Helena are responsible for this state of things. Governors, as well as able engineer officers, including, of late years, Colonel Stace, R.E., and General Freeth, R.E., have repeatedly urged upon the Home Government the importance of maintaining the Island in an efficiently fortified state.
visitors to the place are struck with astonishment. Of course the idea of the Government in allowing these things so to be, is that of economy, but it is highly questionable economy, and there can be little doubt that Koffee Kalkalli, King of Ashantee, against whom England lately went forth to war, has, to some extent, taken his measure of British greatness from the ruined and deserted batteries of St. Helena, and the apparent inability of England to place and maintain them in proper order.*
* Many liberated Africans, after residing for thirty years at St. Helena, whose only knowledge of England has been her ruined fortresses there, and her apparent inability to spend more than a few thousand pounds occasionally upon them, have returned to their native country, Africa, and doubtless taken with them many tales of England's poverty.